BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - On the cover of this month's Snips is the Ceridian Corp. headquarters building near Minneapolis, constructed recently with an eye-catching exterior architectural copper panel system.

Ceridian is a leading information services company that serves human resources, transportation and media markets.

The building's exterior copper system is structural, composed of dual laminated copper panels with a polyethylene core, supplied by Mitsubishi Alpolic' of Norfolk, Va. Outokumpu American Brass, Buffalo, N.Y., supplied the copper for this unusual building application, with fabrication by Metal Specialty Systems, a 15-year-old Chicago-based company and erector Harmon Inc.

Mike Challenger, sales rep. for Metal Specialty Systems, tells us the exterior copper was bright as a new penny when installed, but already has weathered considerably, which is exactly the aesthetic effect the architect - Hammel Green and Abrahamson Inc., or HGA - had in mind.

The copper panels were 100% manufactured in-shop, said Challenger, then installed on-site, by bolting onto a stainless subframe bolted through a curtain wall, with the panels screwed to the subframe through prepunched holes. The job required about six workers working off and on over a period of 10-12 weeks. A total of 36,000-sq.-ft., of 12-ounce copper was used. While some aluminum was also used on the exterior, anything metal directly attached to the copper had to be stainless steel, due to the incompatibility of the two metals, copper and aluminum. Challenger said his company has been working successfully with these type panels for the past five years.

Materials were chosen to harmonize with the environment. Wisconsin limestone, shallow quarried and laid up "rough-faced" to show its texture and color conveys a rugged warmth. Copper, used as the predominant accent material, adds another rich, natural dimension and its ever-changing patina will evolve over the life of the building. Inside, the cherry of the lobby and muted use of colors and finishes "instills a comfortable timelessness."

"We felt it was important to maintain the integrity of this site and allow it to have an intimate relationship with the structure," says Loren Ahles, principal and project architect. "It was our hope that through this bond it would appear as though the building has always been there." Throughout the process, Ceridian and the designers conferred with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Friends of the Minnesota Valley, The Audubon Society, and other environmental organizations to reduce environmental impact and establish a working model of stewardship.

Ahles and his team, led by project designer Kara Hill, chose to position the structure along the crest of a bluffnlying among the trees rather than rising above themntaking advantage of existing clearings, retaining trees of the old oak savanna and replanting to reinforce the site?s natural strengths. HGA also addressed issues of parking with a detached, isolated structure (connected by a climate-controlled walkway) that allows for quick entrance and exit, yet minimizes vehicular presence within the site.

This stunning visual effect of exterior copper adds a distinctive faæade unlikely to be found in any other buildings in the area, which is another advantage. Even the building site is exceptional: it is situated on a bluff with a pleasing natural outlook, with some treetops at eye level.

According to Ceridian, "All of our businesses help customers improve their productivity and competitive position." The company's human resources businesses include providing benefits administration and retirement plans services; human resource management systems and payroll and tax filing services; increasing workplace effectiveness; payroll and human resources management; and computer training and performance support programs. Ceridian's businesses also include Comdata, which provides transaction processing and information services to the transportation and other industries.

The lower floor of the five level new building is a common area for employees that includes conference rooms, a training room, kitchen and cafeteria (Woodland Café), employee store (Bluff Shop), lactation room, and fitness center with locker rooms (River Valley Fitness Center). The exterior features Chilton stone and curtain wall consisting of horizontal metal panels and clear glass. The campus includes a walking trail and landscaping highlighting natural elements of the Minnesota River Bluff.

More than one thousand tons of structural steel was used in construction of the building, along with 13,326 yards of concrete used to build the facility and parking lot, and 1,537 gallons of paint.