Desert Museum a living example of sustainability

September 25, 2017

Rockfon Planostile® Metal Panel Ceiling System
Allows for Visual Continuity from Exterior to Interior

Visitors to the Water + Life Museum in Hemet, California may
not be aware that it is the first museum in the nation to earn a
LEED® Platinum designation by the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the
internationally-recognized benchmark for the design, construction
and operation of high performance green buildings, so the
achievement is quite significant.

This dazzling $40 million campus, which includes the Center for
Water Education and the Western Center for Archaeology and
Paleontology, covers 17 acres beneath the dams of Diamond Valley
Lake, a large man-made reservoir.

Designed by Lehrer + Gangi Design + Build Architects, the five steelclad
towers of the twin museums form an elongated front façade
against a dramatic desert skyline. A living example of sustainability,
the facility contains museum exhibit space, laboratories, classrooms,
administrative offices, support facilities, gift shops, a café, an interior
plaza and interpretive landscaping.

The museum takes great pride in promoting the facility’s environmental features such as one of the nation’s largest rooftop photovoltaic installations, state-ofthe- art irrigation systems using reclaimed water, and a sophisticated mechanical system of radiant heating and cooling.

From a design standpoint, the project owners—Metropolitan Water District and the Western Center
for Archaeology & Paleontology— set their sights on “a clean, modern look,” said Anne Marie Kaufman Perlov, Gangi project architect for the Water + Life Museum.

Rockfon Planostile® Delivers Visual Continuity

This vision is readily apparent in the museum’s airy floor plan
and endless windows, and extends upward to the ceiling design.
“We chose [Rockfon’s] Snap-In Planostile® ceiling system for
its materiality, as we needed a suspended ceiling to cover the
mechanical systems such as duct work and pipes,” said Perlov.
The Rockfon Planostile panels and Chicago Metallic Seismic 1200
suspension system were installed in the museum’s main exhibit
areas, as well as in the labs and administrative offices.

The snap-in feature of the Rockfon Planostile allows for visual
continuity from exterior to interior, described as a “seamless look” by
Perlov, in keeping with the overall museum design.

“We had to ensure that the ceilings were aligned and installed
properly outside in a high desert, windy climate,” says Perlov.
Rockfon Planostile snap-in ceiling panels can withstand positive and
negative wind load pressure UL580 assembly. This fact made them
the ideal candidate for this project.

John Autry, the ceiling installation contractor and project manager
for Orange County Plastering, says that the pattern layout was very
crucial to the building’s appearance. “All of the ceiling panels were cut on-site. It was challenging because they are thin and we had to be very diligent to ensure that the look was just right.” says Autry.
The end result was the “seamless look” the designers had envisioned, broken only by the floor-to-ceiling window walls.

Autry worked closely with Rockfon’s Technical Services team
who offered problem-solving support to the installers in the field.
“[Rockfon] didn’t manufacture any panels until everyone agreed
on the colors and suitability of the system design,” said Autry. “The
company was very responsive to all our needs which is why we
ended up with a beautiful finished product.”


Ceiling System Contributed to LEED Points

Rockfon Planostile acoustical metal panel is available with lay-in
or snap-in panels and is designed to integrate with a variety of
suspension systems. It’s offered in standard and custom perforation

Rockfon was able to provide the custom perforation pattern that
Autry was looking for. Availability, affordability and the company’s
ability to meet aggressive deadlines made Autry decide to spec and
install the Rockfon Planostile snap-in panels at the museum.

Both the Rockfon Planostile ceiling product and the Chicago Metallic
Seismic 1200 suspension system are sustainable and contributed
to the LEED points accumulated by the building. The steel has
minimum 25% post consumer recycled content while the aluminum
offers 100% post consumer recycled content.

Perlov’s first-time experience with the Rockfon Planostile snap-In
panels was a positive one. “I would certainly spec it again,” she said.
“The panels look beautiful.”

Click here to view the complete case study document.