Kentucky’s LEED Gold-certified, award-winning Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) Northeast Regional Branch features naturally sustainable RHEINZINK-prePATINA® graphite-grey zinc exterior wall cladding. Designed by JRA Architects and MSR Design, the newly constructed, 40,000-square-foot facility serves 170,000 people in eastern Jefferson County.
Blending modern amenities within a historical landscape, the LFPL Northeast Regional Branch presents a “pavilion in the park.” Shaded by mature heritage shade trees, a stylized front porch entry welcomes visitors to the library.
RHEINZINK-prePATINA exterior wall cladding contributed to the LFPL’s aesthetic, performance, and sustainable goals. The double standing seam zinc panels form the façade’s arched, overlapping, metal “curtains,” which frame openings to reveal the activity within the library’s contemporary interior. RHEINZINK’s natural material further supports the building’s resiliency and longevity with a lifespan of up to 100 years or more.
The library’s effective and efficient design embellishes on a low-rise box structure with prominent metal and glass architectural features that add organic fluidity and visual interest. The project’s thoughtful approach was recognized with a 2021 Honor Award from American Institute of Architects (AIA) Kentucky and a 2021 AIA Minnesota Commendation for Excellence in Design for Equitable Communities. The library also was featured in The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design’s 2020 Award winners.
Among the library’s winning design elements, the AIA Kentucky Honor Award jury commented on the high-quality, uniquely shaped materials, and the façade’s visual connection to the green space. Shaded by numerous mature trees, the building and site planning also were praised as being “very sensitive, creating interesting spaces that would encourage return visits.”
Matthew Kruntorád, AIA, LEED AP, principal at MSR and architect for the project, credited the role of metal in defining the LFPL Northeast Regional Branch. “Metal inconspicuously supports the sweeping curtainwall to enable panoramic views into the landscape,” he shared in a Metal Construction News article. “It offers a fascinating textural pattern that enlivens the opaque portions of the façade.”
RHEINZINK-prePATINA graphite-grey zinc counterbalances the clear anodize of the aluminum window framing, the reflectivity of the transparent glass expanses and the bright white roof atop the library, lending gravity and permanence to an otherwise airy building. The organic curves, shaded surfaces and patinated zinc integrate the building into the wooded park’s rolling landscape.
To create the distinctive zinc-clad façade, approximately 9 tons of 24-guage RHEINZINK-prePATINA Graphite Grey were supplied by Oakland Metal Sales. Rigidized® Metals Corp. fabricated the zinc material into double standing seam panels. A portion of these panels were embossed by Rigidized using a special striated appearance to accentuate the subtle shade differences within the library’s overall texture.
RHEINZINK-prePATINA zinc achieves its graphite-grey color through a proprietary processing method that results in a pre-weathered appearance. The look is representative of a naturally patinated zinc panel, which normally would take years. The finish will continue to patina over time responding to Louisville’s unique climate and conditions. The corrosion-resistant metal requires minimal maintenance over its long lifespan. At the end of its use on the library, the metal is 100% recyclable.
American Roofing and Metal installed RHEINZINK’s zinc panels in sweeping, overlapping layers with long arching curves. The installers worked closely with construction manager Sullivan|Cozart to meet the project’s budget and schedule, as well as its performance and sustainability requirements.
Following two years of construction and a year of successful operations, the Northeast Regional Branch library earned LEED Gold certification. In addition to the sustainable zinc cladding, green building design features and environmentally responsible material choices include geothermal heating and cooling, optimized ventilation systems, recycled rubber flooring, and energy-efficient glazing systems.
- Owner: Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville, KY
- Architect of design: JRA Architects, Louisville
- Executive architect: MSR Design, Minneapolis
- Construction manager: Sullivan|Cozart, Louisville
- Zinc wall cladding – installing contractor: American Roofing and Metal Co. Inc., Louisville
- Zinc wall cladding – fabricator and embosser: Rigidized® Metals Corp., Buffalo, NY
- Zinc material – distributor: Oakland Metal Sales, Inc., Auburn Hills, MI
- Zinc material – manufacturer: RHEINZINK, Woburn, MA
- Photographer: CKP Studio – Cory Klein Photography