Feature Wall Welcomes Travelers

Travelers arriving at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee are now greeted by a stunning new baggage claim area. Photos: Mark Kempf, St. Louis. Travelers arriving at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee are now greeted by a stunning new baggage claim area. Photos: Mark Kempf, St. Louis.

A stunning new baggage-claim area now greets air travelers at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. The high-traffic area needed a durable interior and exterior material that also improved the aesthetics. This was accomplished by a single-source supplier, Dri-Design, Holland, MI, that manufactured Shadow Series wall panels, standard flat wall panels, and column covers for the renovation and expansion project.

“There are various infill, wall, and column-cover conditions where metal panels could achieve that level of durability, provide a long-lasting color and finish, and be easy to maintain,” said Debra Sider, principal with Engberg Anderson Architects, Milwaukee. “In addition, the panels were installed in both existing and new construction locations. From an aesthetic perspective, the metal panels provided continuity across the overall building.”

The 0.080-in. aluminum standard and Shadow Series wall panels were finished in Bone White and Bright Silver. They were installed by Architectural Products of Wausau, Wausau, WI. Shadow Series panels can be manufactured with varying depths. This freedom to design each panel provides the ability to create a dynamic, one-of-a-kind surface on nearly any façade. The substrate or weather barrier do not need to be modified.

The white panels were used outside and the silver panels used for an interior feature wall, which runs the length of the building and through to the exterior. The feature wall adds a mosaic quality to the interior space, consistent with other design features in the project.

Skylights that run the length of the building illuminate the panels, bringing a reflective and color-changing quality to the multi-dimensional wall. The smooth-finish white panels blend with the other white-clad buildings adjacent to the baggage claim. “The dimensional feature wall is very dynamic, both elegant and playful at the same time,” Sider said. “The flat panels used on the column covers and other exterior walls are stunning. Metal panels were installed using a rainscreen system that meets our constructability standards. The details work well with the other exterior glass and precast materials.”

Dri-Design was selected because it could serve as a single-source provider for all of the metal products. It also provided a variety of highly durable and long-lasting colors and finishes. The baggage claim building is designed to be LEED certified, and the Dri-Design products added points for recycled content, recyclable material, regional fabrication, and no VOCs. Lastly, it was economical and cost competitive.

John H. Schremp, P.E., president of Architectural Products of Wausau, added: “Dri-Design was also selected for its unique rainscreen design using a solid-aluminum sheet. The highly automated fabrication of the panels ensured that the panels would have extremely tight tolerances. At the interior, the product was selected again for its high quality in fabrication and also for the ability to provide a shadow-wall feature extending over the 600-ft.-long wall.”

This three-phase project took place from September 2013 to July 2015. Working on an existing building required coordination and scheduling. The owner did not want to disrupt the more than 800,000 passengers who travel through the airport each month. Some wall-panel details had to be determined on site to conform to existing conditions that were not apparent during the design stages. Dri-Design worked with the architect and the contractor to provide the most appropriate solutions.

The project addressed 45,000 sq. ft. of space in the basement to accommodate five conveyors, two data rooms, other updated rooms, and new and updated building systems; 45,000 sq. ft. of space on the first floor, including five carousels, seven entries, north and south lobbies, gathering space, seven baggage-service offices, general offices, ADA restrooms, and vending areas; and the second floor added 4,000 sq. ft. for 10 offices, as well as new north and south mechanical penthouses for HVAC and electrical systems.

Baggage claim is rarely a traveler’s favorite place, but the upgrades at Mitchell airport make the experience a more pleasant one.

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