When designing The Academies of Loudoun, a new 305,000 square-foot STEM education and career readiness academy based in Leesburg, Virginia, Stantec envisioned a design scheme that would support the innovation, exploration, research, and collaboration facilitated by the campus. To create a highly flexible, functional learning environment, the firm leaned on materials that were both design-forward and physically sturdy—finishes that could handle the wear and tear of a high-traffic campus while providing aesthetics on-par with the innovation championed at the school.
To create the railing infill for the expansive open-area common spaces that span three levels, Stantec utilized Banker Wire’s architectural wire mesh pattern, FPZ-46. Specified in a stainless steel finish, and fabricated within a U-edge frame, this pattern has a 3:1 ratio, and is defined by an asymmetric flat top warp wire and a plain crimp fill wire. While this pattern’s high percentage open area—approximately 64%—is evident, when the pattern is viewed from the below, ground floor angle, the wire mesh appears more tightly woven. With its deep crimp warp, and the slightly heavier, shallow crimp fill wire, this rectangular mid-fill pattern is a popular choice for such railing infill projects.
The stainless steel finish of the wire mesh railing infill highlights the industrial heft of the concrete-poured floors. Similarly, through the woven form of the individual wires, the rectangular openings of the FPZ-46 pattern complement the organic shapes featured on the graphic typographic mural, which sits above the communal staircase seating. Defining this dual stairway/seating area, ash-colored wood was installed, adding warmth to the common spaces. Through prioritizing a stainless steel, wood, and concrete materiality, the pops of color—created through furniture accents, such as the green chairs on the ground floor—are further accentuated.
Holistically, Banker Wire’s mesh provides both form and function to the innovative academy’s interior scheme—creating the important safety barriers in the high-traffic communal areas while adding an industrial aesthetic that underscores the practical but supportive interior scheme.