Long Beach, CA
Made in the Shade: SAF Tapped for Parking Garage Facade at Long Beach City College
Custom-Fabricated Sunshades Make 500-Space Parking Structure Shine
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to upgrading and renovating the campus of Long Beach City College (LBCC), which was founded nearly a century ago in 1927 in Long Beach, CA. Campus-wide construction continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this modernization plan included a new four-level parking structure with more than 500 parking spaces. Designers needed to focus their efforts on materials that would serve the functional role of sunshading for the garage while maintaining an aesthetic appeal that would bring the facade to life.
McCarthy Building Companies, a national construction firm, tapped SAF for its metal fabrication expertise, specifying a total of 529 aluminum fins for the parking garage’s exterior. SAF used 1/8-inch 3003 aluminum sheet to fabricate fins around extruded tubing. The fins, which range from 12 inches to 20 inches in width extending outward from the building, are designed to provide shading for the garage as well as diminish the intensity of headlights during the evening hours. 24,000 square feet of SAF fins were finished in a three-coat XL Kynar® White Ice Metallic color finish and an additional 900 square feet of 1701 brackets were finished in three-coat XL Kynar® Stieglitz Silver.
Fabricating the fins around a structural component (the extruded tubing) allowed both structural framing and the aesthetic cladding to be installed in a single process by McCarthy, which significantly accelerated installation timelines. Structural brackets (3/8-inch wall angle and made from 6061-T6 aluminum) were installed with milled slots and through holes to allow all brackets to be installed prior to the fins. This also permitted the installation team to adjust to field conditions on the fly if necessary.
“Our goal was to provide a high-performance product that met the aesthetic requirements of the job while minimizing time-on-site for the installation crew,” said Luke Lynam, senior project manager at SAF. “We pre-drilled holes in 2x4s and in the 1/8-inch aluminum fins because we didn’t want to have to deal with 2x4s in the field. We prefabricated everything at our SAF West facility to ease on-site labor and streamline the construction schedule.”
The tubing that was used was integrated within the fin so that the McCarthy team could install the entire aluminum fin system at once instead of in two separate phases. For a large-scale facade project such as the LBCC parking deck, this saved a significant amount of time, labor, and dollars.
The architectural fins needed to be fabricated up to 20 feet in height, which required ingenuity from the SAF West fabrication team. In fact, SAF created custom, 20-foot bending jigs to ensure consistency and increase throughput during the manufacturing process.
“At SAF, we strive to Make a Difference. Serve. Share. Create. – a motto that we live by every day,” added Lynam. “We are willing to explore new fabrication techniques to solve for custom specifications and applications. LBCC is just the most recent example. This modern parking garage facade makes a bold statement with functional sunshades that reduce solar heat gain while still utilizing natural light.”
SAF collaborated with McCarthy Building Companies to complete the parking garage in early 2021. The garage prioritizes energy efficiency by including electric vehicle charging stations, solar panels, and biofiltration systems. In addition, a portion of the facade is dedicated to signage that will share information with students and visitors as they travel through campus.