If you’re walking down Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, you’ll find a 10-unit multifamily residence that stands out among the brownstones that surround it. The flat, reddish-brown face of the building features a copper screen perforated with an abstract image of the Brooklyn Bridge that over time will age from its bright metallic color to a green patina.

If you’re in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and wander onto Harvard University’s campus, you’ll see that copper was the metal of choice for preserving the original appearance and historical character of the roof at the law school’s Langdell Hall.

Those are just two of the projects that were recognized with 2016 North American Copper in Architecture Awards, which for the past nine years has honored building projects in the United States and Canada that use architectural copper and copper alloys in projects.

“Copper has been used architecturally for centuries, but every year I’m impressed by the ingenious and unconventional applications architects derive from this age-old metal,” said Stephen Knapp, director of strip, sheet and plate at the Copper Development Association, which organizes the program. “The award-winning projects exemplify not only the formability and durability of copper, but the incredible diversity in the world of architecture.”

Program officials announced 12 winners earlier this year in the following categories: new construction, renovation or restoration and ornamental application.

Here are this year’s winners. 

New construction

The seven winners in the new-construction category included two residential buildings, a mixed-use campus, an art museum, a science center, a retail and event center, and a historical landmark.

Fort Worth, Texas-based sheet metal contractor Ramon Franklin, working under general contractor Fort Construction, provided their expertise to the southern city’s Clearfolk Campus, a 7,000-acre mixed-use development consisting of three copper-clad buildings linked by carefully planned green spaces. The three pre-engineered steel shed structures with glazed openings were covered with 15-inch wide, 16-ounce copper roof and wall panels, with 1-inch double-lock mechanically seamed ribs. Nearly 40 tons of copper were used to cover all three campus buildings.

The 50,000-square-foot Margaret M. Walter wing at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio features pre-patinated copper additions on both the interior and exterior of the building. Architects at Columbus, Ohio-based DesignGroup chose the time-honored material because it complemented the bronze detailing on the historic wing and the naturally patinated copper roof and spires on a nearby church.

North Vancouver, British Columbia-based Keith Panel Systems engineered and fabricated the wall panels, which stagger and vary in length and width. Kansas City, Missouri-based sheet metal contractor A. Zahner Co. supplied the pre-patinated copper sheets for the wall panels and fabricated the building’s custom copper flashing and standing-seam metal roof. Phinney Industrial installed the copper.

In Hamilton, Ontario, sheet metal contractor Westmount Storefront Systems Ltd. worked under general contractor Ball Construction to construct a seven-story, 190,000-square-foot science center.

The David Braley Health Science Centre is a joint project between McMaster University and the city of Hamilton. The building’s interior and exterior are clad with custom-finished copper composite panels, which act as visual accents. Pittsboro, North Carolina-based DLSS Manufacturing applied a specialty finish to the composite natural copper materials in order to achieve the patinated aesthetic.

Fife, Washington-based Marvin Sheet Metal, working under general contractor PHC Construction, used pre-patinated copper on the Eagle Harbor Market Building, a facility in Bainbridge Island, Washington, that houses retail shops, restaurants, a bakery and an event center.

The building features 4,500 square feet of 20-ounce copper siding that’s been fabricated in repeating vertical flat-seam panels of three different heights and positioned with an undirected flow to give a more random appearance.

A 122-year-old historical building in Dallas received a new copper dome. Haslet, Texas-based BRI Commercial Roofing and Decatur, Alabama-based CopperWorks Corp. covered the 96.5-foot dome of Parkland Hall at Old Parkland with 3,000 interlocking rauten copper tiles in 32 rows. For low-pitch areas at the base and crown, CopperWorks fabricated and installed a double-lock standing-seam wall system. Flat-seam wall panels were used at the base of the dome and finial.

In Chicago, sheet metal contractor Chicago Copper & Iron Works, working under Goldberg General Contracting, used copper accents on an L-shaped home called Wood House. A copper screen, which comprises individual square and rectangular panels, wraps around one leg of the home on four sides. The large-format, pre-patinated copper panels were embossed and perforated to allow natural light into the second and third floor while maintaining privacy.

For the interior, large copper panels with a hand-weathered patina were used around the fireplace and as a backdrop. These copper panels are flowed through the exterior, where two of the panels are operable for outdoor storage and stair access to the roof deck.

Aperture 538, the 10-unit residential project in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, is adorned with an exterior copper screen that was finished to have a Corten-steel appearance and was perforated with an abstract image of the Brooklyn Bridge. The perforated facade, which allows ample light into the units, also has bi-fold shutters made of one-eighth-inch copper that pivot and slide along trolleys to open. Maspeth, New York-based Hi-Tech Metals Inc. was the copper screen fabricator for the project.

Restoration or renovation

The four winners in the restoration or renovation category included a military college, a historical organization’s library, an Ivy League-school building and a military campus building. 

In Kingston, Ontario, the Royal Military College’s Currie and Mackenzie buildings needed a complete replacement of the copper roofing systems, including the cornices, acanthus leaves, dormer cladding and ornamentation. Due to their historical heritage, the renovations required the assistance of heritage preservation consultant Andre Scheinman. The Currie Building was built in 1918 and is recognized as a heritage building by the Canadian government. The Mackenzie Building — considered one of the top 10 most significant heritage buildings in Canada, officials said — was built in 1876 and is a federal heritage building.

Barrie, Ontario-based sheet metal contractor Ultimate Construction Inc. worked with Limen Group Construction Ltd. and Canadian Brass and Copper on the project, which required many different copper roofing types, such as batten seam, interlocking small pan, standing seam, soldered flat seam and barrel roofs. The team used zinc-tin coated copper to achieve a low-maintenance, yet historically accurate result.

Washington, D.C.-based Daughters of the American Revolution hired sheet metal contractor James R. Walls Contracting, of Clinton, Maryland, and Roof Consultant Services Inc. to manage a major — and challenging — renovation on the exterior of its library.

When the initial cladding was removed, JRWCo found that the existing wall was terracotta block with parging instead of cement. Wood in the parging was deteriorated, rotten and loose. The company also found damage after the upper cornice and upper built-in gutters were removed. JRWCo installed counter-flashing on stone parapet, window sill flashing, and window side and radius head flashing. Each of the 26 windows was raised 8 inches to prevent water leaks, and expansion joints were fabricated and installed.

Copper wall cladding was later installed using three-quarter-inch lock cleats. Altogether, 500 24-by-28-inch copper wall panels were used. As part of the roof installation, JRWCo tied the existing batten-seam copper roof into the new upper built-in gutter and barrel dormer tops, which required the replacement of the lone roof drain in the gutter system. The job took 11 months and required strict historical and quality specifications.

Harvard Law School’s Langdell Hall, the world’s largest academic law library, required nearly 25,000 pounds of copper and 0.8 acres of PVC rubber for its roof replacement. In 1997, the 109-year-old neoclassical building had its interior significantly renovated with mechanical system upgrades, but still needed extensive repairs to the roof and limestone parapets due to water damage, leakage, cracked mortar and inadequate drainage.

Working under Milford, Massachusetts-based Consigli Construction Co., Titan Roofing of Springfield, Massachusetts, worked with Pennsylvania-based Hussey Copper to address the damage, while also keeping the historical integrity intact. Standing-seam and flat-seam copper panels were installed to replace existing copper panels and approximately 1,400 linear feet of zinc-coated copper was installed at the perimeter.

Altogether, the roof restoration included the replacement of multiple roofing systems, including built-up, metal standing seam and PVC membrane, and parapet flashing. The project was completed in four phases, which complied with Cambridge’s historic codes.

In Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Maury Hall received a complete roofing systems replacement. Built in 1907, Maury Hall’s original copper roof lasted more than 100 years, but was in need of an update.

Sheet metal contractor Wagner Roofing Co. of Hyattsville, Maryland, worked under Baltimore-based general contractor CER to complete the roof replacement, which included an upper double-lock standing-seam copper roof, “bullnose” copper cornice transition, a slate mansard, 34 dormers with double-lock standing-seam copper and fascia metal, eight copper hip metal caps and a built-in gutter with decorative copper fascia.

Overall, the project required more than 43,000 pounds of 20-ounce copper, which was manufactured by Rome, New York-based Copper Products.


A designated landmark building in Toronto won the award for ornamental application. 

The Hermant Building on Dundas Square received a facade restoration that involved the re-creation of a triple-door entryway with bronze doors, transoms and decorative-pressed bronze finishes. The original doors, which remained in place until the mid-1930s, were replaced with standard aluminum and glass doors. Markham, Ontario-based sheet metal contractor Heather & Little Ltd. were tasked with re-creating the original doors and only had one hand-drawn historical illustration to use as reference.

As a designated historic landmark building, materials and fabrication involved handmade bronze hardware and decorative-pressed bronze finishes. Heather & Little also hand-carved patterns for the decorative molds, pressed all of the decorative trims and made 16 custom door handles from three-quarter-inch-diameter solid bronze bar.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or email devriesj@bnpmedia.com.