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Metal wall panels add eye-catching edge to new Florida shopping center

Developers of the new Shoppes of St. Johns wanted something a bit more architectural than a run-of-the-mill strip mall in their plans for the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., shopping center. So, designers with the Jacksonville, Fla., firm of Dasher Hurst Architects offered up a tiered design clad in a modernist mix of materials. Metal panels from Petersen play a key role in this effort, adding an industrial edge to the sand and brown earth tones that predominate across the façade.

“It was good to have the metal panels for that – they have some texture and shadow lines,” says Glenn Dasher, AIA, Dasher Hurst’s principal and co-founder, adding that he’s seeing growing interest in bringing this more urban look into suburban locations. “It seems like people are more responsive to that, in a positive way, than they were in the past.”

In total, the 42,000-sq.-ft. development encompasses 26,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 16,000 sq. ft. of offices. To address its site aside the busy U.S. 1, Dasher’s team also had to ensure the retail strip incorporated enough architectural interest to catch the eyes of passing motorists. Along with the variety of cladding materials, designers also used massing to break up what otherwise could have been a monotonous run of storefronts.

“It’s a shopping center, so there’s kind of a standard type – a long, tall, one-story building,” Dasher says. “So, we broke it up into the tower elements. They had an anchor tenant in Ace Hardware taking up the corner, so we made that the taller tower, with the others as secondary accents.”

More than just one-dimensional parapets, the towers add depth to the structure. To boost visibility in the evenings, their glassed-in tops are illuminated at night to act as beacons for potential shoppers.

Some 3,400 sq. ft. of Precision Series HWP panels from Petersen’s PAC-CLAD line were incorporated as accents at both corners, and to punctuate storefronts on either side of the building’s towers. The Weathered Zinc-finished panels are installed to create a strong horizontal element as a counterpoint to the towers. Corners are finished with edge metal fabricated from Petersen’s sheet-metal product line.

“I like the way it frames the panels,” Dasher says of this corner-trim treatment. “It’s almost like thinking about a wood panel, with the edge to it.”

Thorne Metal Systems of Jacksonville installed Petersen’s PAC-CLAD panels. Cody Thorne, the company’s office manager, notes that anchor tenant Ace Hardware liked the look of the panels so much that they requested the material be extended beyond the architects’ original plans.

“In the drawings, they’d only specified the panels for three-quarters of the building,” Thorne says. “We had to continue it, because Ace liked it so much, they wanted it on their part of the buildout, too.”

Thorne is a fan of HWP panels, as well, noting its ease of installation. “That’s the great thing about that panel – it’s very simple and straightforward,” he says. “It’s a great panel to use.”

And he’s equally enthusiastic about Petersen. “We’ve always had a close relationship with Petersen,” he says. “They’ve always taken care of us over the years.

Dasher, who has also specified Petersen products for previous projects, agrees with this assessment. “I’ve worked with Petersen, and my general impression from all my experience has been really good,” he says. “If I’ve needed samples I know I’ve got those in the past.”

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