Contrarian Micro Textures Honored with Green GOOD DESIGN Award 

Contrarian Micro Textures has been Selected as a Recipient of a Green GOOD DESIGN Award for Corporations
The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design have named the winners for the 2012 Green GOOD DESIGN Awards for corporations. Four companies were honored with the award: Contrarian Micro Textures, Allison Park, PA, USA; Ahrend Cradle to Cradle Co., Royal Ahrend BV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Kimball® Office, Jasper, IN, USA; Adobe Systems, Inc., San Jose, CA, USA.

“We are humbled to be the recipient of this prestigious award,” said Jim Halliday, of Contrarian Micro Textures. “The company was founded in 2001 on the premise of technological and marketplace innovation for the purpose of developing stainless steel and other high quality metals for use in architecture. We produce metals specifically for the project, offering technological support and knowledge to improve the performance and appearance of metals used in architecture,” he explained.

Stainless steel is exceptional for a number of reasons, including its recycled content (75% in the US, over 60% worldwide), it does not emit harmful VOCs into the environment (as painted surfaces can do), requires minimal maintenance and will last the lifetime of the building. The Chrysler Building, built in 1930, has been cleaned only twice since then, yet it gleams with beauty as it welcomes visitors flying over New York City.

Stainless steel is harmless to living beings and is used in medical technology, cookware, utensils and jewelry. However, its friendliness to mankind and living creatures is just the start of how it contributes to the environment. First, it is strong enough that panel systems can make use of lighter gauges, using less material and resources to create it. The thermal reflectance of stainless steel is very useful in controlling energy costs for heating and cooling. Further, the long term savings of maintenance costs should not be underestimated, not to mention the service interruption that repairs and painting require. Once the building is torn down, its stainless components have high scrap value as they are 100% recyclable without limit as to downstream application, assuring the material will live on in the form of new stainless steel products.

Green GOOD DESIGN identifies and emphasizes the world’s most important examples of sustainable design and develops a public awareness program to the international general public about which companies are doing the best job in sustainable design for our world environments.

Architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning projects, products and graphic designs from all over the world are considered for Green GOOD DESIGN awards, honoring the most important manufacturers and design firms that contribute to a sustainable planet.

The original GOOD DESIGN award, founded in Chicago in 1950, remains one of the oldest and most important Awards Programs worldwide.
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New Bridgestone Technology Center Adds to Firestone Campus 



In 2005 Bridgestone began looking at renovating an existing building for their Technology Center and determined after studying the parameters that it was not cost effective to retrofit and therefore decided to look for a new site within their campus. The existing building that they had hoped to use, the Harvey Firestone Building, is still in service at this time for making racing tires. The new Technology Center is located on the corner of South Main Street and Firestone Boulevard in Akron, Ohio on the existing Firestone campus. Across the street from the new Technology Center on South Main is the location of the new parking structure that has just been completed. It will be accessible to the new Technology Center via an enclosed foot bridge.

Bridgestone merged with Firestone in 1988 to form a truly global company. Harvey S. Firestone founded Firestone in 1900 and his many innovations made tires what they are today. Bridgestone was founded in 1931 by Shojiro Ishibashi whose name in English means stone bridge and he chose Bridgestone as his company’s name. At that time it was the largest investment in an American Company ever by a company from Japan.

Among Firestone’s innovations is the dismountable rim, for the first time making it possible for drivers to change their own tires, the first angular non-skid tread which made automobiles easier to control and from 1920 – 1966 every winner of the Indy 500® used Firestone Tires.

The new technology facility is four stories high and 262,000 square feet. The building houses the research laboratory for testing newly advanced tire compounds and the prototype and quality control engineering offices as well; the project is designed to reach LEED® Gold Certification. Sol Harris/Day Architects, North Canton, Ohio, was chosen for the project and worked to create an inspiring new building created to maximize natural light, thus the saw-toothed design. “Part of our goal was to develop spaces that are inspiring and attractive to young people thereby improving job satisfaction as well as employee retention. The building houses two functions, the testing laboratory and the offices,” explained Bob Marshall, Project Architect.

The new Bridgestone campus is accessed through a drive that snakes through the facilities and leads to the statue of Harvey Firestone in the middle near the main entrance. The labs and testing facility are located in the north wing on the third and fourth floors; the offices are in the north and south wing on the second floor and utilize all of the third and fourth floors of the south wing.

United States Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, USGBC LEED®, promotes a whole building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas. The criteria include the following categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, locations and linkages, awareness and education, innovation in design and regional priority which changes by location. To achieve Gold LEED® status requires meeting criteria in those areas.

The building is clad in InvariMatte® stainless steel; developed by Contrarian Micro Textures. It has a matte finish that looks like silk metal. Stainless steel garners LEED® points for recycled content and more if fabricated within 500 miles of the project.

“Zinc was first considered for the building, but zinc develops a patina, and a consistent color was desired, so we looked at anodized. Upon review, we thought the anodized finish was too reflective and hard looking. Contrarian’s team met with the architect and the owners and they loved InvariMatte with its soft reflection, changing with the weather and time of day,” explained Rick Kruger, Firestone Director of Technical Services.

“The stainless steel on the southwest side will fight the heat gain and reflect the heat,” explained Matt Sutter, AIA, LEED® AP and Principal in Charge at Sol Harris/Day. On the atrium walls, the stainless steel panels make the transition from interior decorating to exterior sheeting. It visually opens the view and expands both the indoors and the outdoors making the inhabitants feel part of the larger environment.

The Bridgestone Technology Center has a vegetated roof which has a major impact on the building, it absorbs water, offers insulation, reduces the heat island effect and is a nice place to take a break or have lunch. There is a cistern for runoff that holds 35,000 gallons which will be used for irrigation. Bio-swales take parking lot runoff into an area that percolates down into the ground; the water flows over walls and more walls and is almost a waterfall feature. Native plants are used as well in the landscaping and all this has an immense impact on the storm system.

The Technology Center is the first to use a new filtered hood exhaust system in the testing labs; it was designed by Erlab, a French company. Heating and cooling are re-circulated to areas of the building that need it, eliminating areas that are overly warm or cool. This offers big savings in heating and cooling costs.

The northeast side of the building is open with windows providing natural light, on the east, west, and south there is a roller shade system that filters direct light. Day lighting sensors turn off lights when natural light is plentiful. Part of achieving LEED® points includes maximizing natural light and outdoor views. The building’s open office space style allows a view from one wing to the other.

The stainless steel cladding was fabricated by Firestone Building Products in Minnesota and installed by The Geist Company, Cleveland. “The installation of the metal cladding went well, although the corners were tricky, and we worked with the architect to solve the design issues,” explained Thom Geist, President of The Geist Company.

The company hosted a grand opening celebration with local, state and federal officials as well as other distinguished community guests on April 11, 2012.
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Mansueto Library Dedication Celebrated at University of Chicago 



New Library Links to Existing Regenstein Library via Bridge

The University of Chicago celebrated the formal dedication of the Joe & Rika Mansueto Library in October 2011at Harper Memorial Commons. The new library houses a state-of-the-art automated retrieval system that accepts requests from anywhere on campus or across the world. The stacks are located under the library and the depth of the storage area is fifty feet underground. It takes a few minutes to retrieve an item and when it is ready an email is generated to the requestor notifying them that the article is ready for pick up.

In 2003 the University commissioned a task force to review library space and shelving capacity. The University Library needed room to grow and after careful consideration decided on the automated storage and retrieval system. It resides under the beautiful new Mansueto dome which is glass and elliptical in shape. The new library can hold up to 3.5 million volumes. It is connected to the existing Regenstein Library via a bridge and connecting circular building known as the knuckle (connecting joint).

Helmut Jahn, President, CEO of Murphy/Jahn was the architect. His unique glass dome design stands out handsomely without overwhelming the commons area. The dome is placed at an angle in deference to the Henry Moore statue on the grounds. The glass is supported by light steel grid made up of steel tubes spaced about 6 feet in each direction. The steel grid is attached to the concrete ring beam for support. They have created a distinctive space at the University of Chicago Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. The circular building or knuckle is attached to the Regenstein Library and is connected via a bridge to the Grand Reading Room. “The knuckle of the connecting bridge is clad with InvariMatte® which could be described as metallic silk and sets the tone for entering the Reading Room,” explained a spokesman for Murphy/Jahn.

The ceiling of the knuckle radiates from the center as if it is made of stainless steel sunbeams. “We are honored to be part of this important addition to the University of Chicago and that our signature product InvariMatte® was chosen for the circular building knuckle,” explained Jim Halliday, of Contrarian Micro Textures.
Ceilings Plus performed the installation of the transition space which leads to a walkway that is set at a 45 degree angle that ends at the entrance of Grand Reading Room.

The Grand Reading Room opened in May 2011 and it is an inspirational space with natural light and unobstructed views. It resides inside the dome and the natural light is diffused by special glass. The high performance glass provides an unobstructed view while shading 57% of the light using frit dots and offering insulation from the solar heat. The furniture, long wooden tables with simple wooden chairs enhance the space with a certain simple elegance.

The Mansueto Library houses a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory that will preserve rare materials in their original form. In addition to traditional bookbinding equipment there is an ultrasonic encapsulator with a suction table, a special paper washing sink and fume hoods.

The digitization laboratory uses digital cameras and scanners to take high resolution digital images that preserve rare materials in their original form and can be shared worldwide. These new spaces and technologies position the University of Chicago as a leader in tools for collections, preservation, and collaboration.
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Art Gallery of Alberta Features Spectacular Aurora Borealis 



Undulating Ribbon Weaves Inside & Out

The stunning Art Gallery of Alberta was designed by architect Randall Stout of Randall Stout Architects, Los Angeles. The design reinvents the museum’s public spaces through a continuous stainless steel surface that moves lithely through the museum’s interior and exterior spaces,” courtesy Randall Stout Architects' website. Known by many as the “Aurora Borealis” it is that dramatic architectural feature that uses Contrarian Micro Textures’ non directional, low gloss, uniformly textured InvariMatte® stainless steel finish.

“The stainless steel has a finish that reflects color and light in a highly diffused manner. Whereas a smooth or polished stainless steel would shed unwanted visual glare and heat reflections, the finish on the borealis creates visual highlights without glare. The larger borealis surfaces reflect colors through gentle transitions that exist at the reciprocating angle of the line of sight. That is to say it behaves like a mirror, but with very “fuzzy” reflections. At some angles of view, one can see soft blues in the metal of a blue sky overhead. In the early morning and when viewed from the east some surfaces reflect back the warm, yellow morning light. During the evening the same effect can be seen from the west with the more orange and reddish tones of sunset softly appearing in the metal. At night time, the exterior stainless steel predominantly reflects the dark night sky allowing the white interior surfaces of the Borealis to become dynamic, welcoming illumination of architectural elements,” explained Randall Stout.

The undulating ribbon was fabricated by A. Zahner, Kansas City, MO. Zahner’s Hunter™ Pre-weathered Zinc which resembles slate or limestone was used throughout the interior and exterior of the building on flat and geometric surfaces. Flynn of Canada handled the installation.

The public is guided to entry points for the galleries, gathering spaces and event areas by the stainless steel ribbon as it shows visitors the way to their area of interest. The galleries are more traditional in shape which offers maximum flexibility for exhibitions, programs and shows.

In January Contrarian Micro Textures was honored with Metal Construction Association’s President Award for Overall Excellence for the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton. "We are honored to have our InvariMatte® stainless steel featured on this outstanding project. Randall Stout's creativity combined with expert fabrication and engineering on the part of A. Zahner Company add significance to our participation," Halliday explained when accepting the award. “While our participation on the project should be recognition enough, we are humbled that the MCA has honored us with the President's Award for Overall Excellence,” he added.

The addition added 87,000 sq. ft. to the museum, 30,000 of which is new exhibition space. Its original design was a 1960’s concrete structure. Access to Edmonton’s underground light rail system and public walk-way via the main lobby add to the amenities. The Art Gallery opened in 2009.
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Managing Fingerprints 



Law enforcement professionals may appreciate fingerprints that are easy to spot, but the rest of us don't. Stainless steel is an amazing material that provides beauty and permanence in a variety of applications. Stainless steel building envelopes will last as long as the building stands. While fingerprints are seldom an issue outside the building, interior elements like column covers and elevators are exposed to considerable pedestrian traffic. For these applications, managing fingerprints becomes important.

We use the term managing fingerprints because there is no way to avoid them where people are able to touch the surfaces of elevator cabs, doors, and other installations. If you have stainless steel appliances at home, chances are you have first-hand experience dealing with this issue. Stainless appliances are typically made with a #4 abraded finish which is among the most difficult finishes to maintain. The best solution at home is to use a stainless steel cleaner/polish in order to remove fingerprints and render the surface more cleanable going forward. However, this is not always the best solution for large installations in public buildings. It can be somewhat impractical, and therefore unlikely that an aggressive maintenance regimen will be put in place.
Beyond the use of a cleaner/polish, there are other ways to manage fingerprints on stainless steel finishes. First and foremost, choosing a finish that is more cleanable and fingerprint resistant goes a long way toward keeping the building looking fresh and minimizing maintenance costs. Anti-fingerprint coatings are also very helpful in this regard, but can be fairly expensive and may not perform well in outdoor applications.

Fingerprint Resistant Finishes
When viewed under a microscope, rolled in stainless steel finishes have a smoother surface texture than abraded ones. The process of producing abraded finishes tends to tear the surface, creating jagged features in the metal. However, the process of producing rolled in finishes does not involve metal removal. Further, the rolling process serves to tighten the surface. This results in smooth undulating features at the microscopic level which serve to limit the accumulation of surface contaminants (including human fingerprint residue), allow for easier cleaning and improve corrosion resistance.

Contrarian Micro Textures developed the InvariLux® finish for applications where dirt resistance and cleaning ability are important. In terms of hiding fingerprints in the first place and making it easy to clean them after the fact, InvariLux® is superior to other finishes on the market. These products all reside in a class above abraded finishes with respect to fingerprint resistance and ease of cleaning.

There are several anti-fingerprint coatings on the market, but the best we have encountered is FG3 produced by Tsukiboshi Art Company in Japan. The FG3 coating is available on much of their line of products which we distribute in North America. The coating is both UV stable and provides a degree of improved abrasion resistance. Cleaning ability is also greatly improved and it opens the door to use a variety of abraded finishes, including linear polishes similar to those on home appliances and multi-directional grit finishes in fingerprint sensitive environments. Media blasted finishes can also be coated with FG3 delivering the same improvements.

Other anti-fingerprint coatings on the market are less durable and are generally not UV stable. We suggest the designer is much better off choosing a fingerprint resistant stainless steel finish without a coating than opting for one of these.

Fingerprint management is just one aspect that designers should consider when choosing materials. Our sales representatives are well-trained in all design criteria relating to stainless steel and other high-performance architectural metals. Much can be gained by tapping into their experience early in the design process.
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