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Metal panels add colorful touch to Michael Graves-designed rehab hospital

Michael Graves, founder of Michael Graves & Associates, was an international architectural icon. He was known not only for his buildings’ post-modern design flourishes, but also for several lines of household goods that are as fun to look at as they are functional to use. Following a severe infection that led to the amputation of both of his legs, he also became an advocate for adaptive design, a passion that came through in one of his final projects. The Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha, Neb., combines many aspects of his long career together in a facility that delivers the latest rehabilitative technologies to patients recovering from a broad range of physical and cognitive injuries.

Using pavilion-style massing to break large structures into more visually bite-size pieces is one Graves touch that comes through in the hospital’s exterior, with multiple roof gables adding height to what might otherwise have been a horizontal, strip-mall-style façade. Those gables are emphasized by the use of 50,000 sq. ft. of 0.24-gauge Snap Clad metal roofing panels in a Forest Green finish, from Petersen’s PAC-CLAD line. The panels’ crisp coloring draws a visitor’s eyes upward, clearly defining the roofline against the open sky surrounding the hospital.

The design team, which also included Omaha-based DLR Group and the Dallas office of the architecture and engineering firm Page, also incorporated 1,000 sq. ft. of Petersen’s 0.24-gauge Flush Panels in Sierra Tan, along with 600 sq. ft. of PAC-750 Soffit in Forest Green. Kewit Building Group of Omaha was the project’s general contractor.

Graves’ influence extended into the hospital, as well, as he brought his own experience living with disability to the design of furniture and other features for the 110-bed, $93 million facility. Sadly, Graves died about 6 months before the hospital’s completion. Memorials were set up in his name to benefit its ongoing operations.

“We feel honored to have known him,” said Madonna president and CEO in a statement following the architect’s death. “His joy, creativity and genius were unparalleled.”