03.19.10 Client News

Harvey B. Gantt Center reflects artistic, African heritage with exterior, metal cladding finished by Linetec

For 35 years, North Carolina’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture has celebrated the contributions of Africans and African-Americans to American culture. Opened in October 2009, the new center is named in honor of Harvey Bernard Gantt, a well-respected businessman who was the first African-American mayor of Charlotte and first African-American student admitted to Clemson University.

The 46,500-square-foot building is located at the heart of Charlotte’s central business district and serves as an epicenter for music, dance, theater, visual art, film, arts education programs, literature and community outreach. Designed by The Freelon Group Architects, the Gantt Center’s new home will be a key component in Phase One of Charlotte‘s Cultural Arts Facilities Master Plan. Batson Cook Company served as the $18.8 million project’s general contractor.

The Gantt Center’s exterior metal features are embellished with patterns reminiscent of quilt designs from the era of the Underground Railroad and inspired by woven, textile patterns from West Africa. These architectural references to African culture and African-American history underscore the building’s theme, while creating an innovative and inspiring façade.

To express this design, the architectural aluminum was furnished by Protean Construction Products, as supplied through Architectural Products Specialist, Inc. Protean provided 2,620 square feet of AP-COL 0.125-inch-thick, rolled aluminum, column covers and formed, beam wraps. An additional 6,240 square feet of ACM-100 Composite Metal Wall panels were formed from Alcan’s 4mm Alucobond® material.

Linetec finished Protean’s metal components using Valspar’s Fluropon Classic® II Silversmith paint. The two-coat, mica finish is one the company’s sought-out services. “Getting the metallic or mica flake to lay just right for color consistency is dependant on many variables,” explains Tammy Schroeder, Linetec’s marketing specialist. “Mica coatings consist of a color primer coat and a durable pearlescent color coat that utilizes inert, non-conductive mica pigmentation, rather than aluminum metal flakes found in metallic coatings. Mica coatings are less sensitive to flake orientation dynamics, and nearly eliminate the risk of color variation found in metallic coatings. Aesthetically, they offer a unique vibrancy and visual appeal to any project.”

The Gantt Center unites the aesthetic and the functional on the interior, as well as the exterior. The interior boasts presentation space, function space and a glass mural. An ornate, two-story staircase, known as “Jacob’s Ladder,” offers a meaningful centerpiece on the ground floor. The Freelon Group Architects explains, “This concept of hope, advancement and enlightenment through cultural awareness and education is expressed in the new Gantt Center design through its modern interpretation of Jacob’s Ladder. Stairs and escalators carry visitors up to the main second floor lobby from both ends of the building, while framing the central glass atrium. The striking visual effect is a direct allusion to the original Jacob’s Ladder and perpetuates the ideals of enlightenment and advancement through education.”

The American Institute of Architects’ Triangle and North Carolina chapters have honored the Center’s unique design. The project also was awarded “Best of 2009 Award of Excellence” from Southeast Construction magazine in the “cultural” category, recognizing the building team’s collaborative, creative efforts. “Each partner blended, wove and intertwined their techniques with dedication and determination for the benefit of the client and the project,” said Kathleen O’Callaghan, project manager with Batson Cook.

The Gantt Center’s consulting curator, Michael D. Harris, Ph.D., shares this enthusiasm for the resulting accomplishment, and those yet to come. He notes, “The three museum-quality galleries at the center of this new facility will establish Charlotte as a nationally significant place for the presentation of African American visual and expressive culture.”

Learn more about Linetec’s project success stories, eco-friendly anodize and other finish options at www.linetec.com.
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