History in the making - Case Study

August 22, 2017

Rockfon Helps History Center Connect the Past to the Present.

In New Bern, North Carolina, history is coming to life – and history is being made – at the North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace. For Rockfon, the project’s special challenges required solutions that broke new ground in custom ceiling panel fabrication.

The site selected for the new history center was the site of the former Barbour Boat Works warehouse located on the Trent River. The building featured massive steel trusses spanning the width of the building and other architectural elements typical of 19th century industrial style. Many features of the new, 60,000 square-foot history center were inspired by these design elements. By its very nature, the goal of the history center was to connect the past with the present. But the architectural design had to do more. The objective was to create a design that reflected the history of the town and industrial character of the waterfront site, while pioneering new ideas in sustainable building design. Two architectural firms took on the challenge: BJAC in Raleigh, N.C. and Quinn Evans in Georgetown, D.C.

The building’s sustainability goals were achieved in multiple ways, ranging from permeable surface parking areas and a constructed wetlands to energy-efficient operations and maintenance. According to Jennifer Amster, principal at BJAC, “We chose [Rockfon] Planostile panels for the ceilings in many areas because they have 75 – 100 percent recycled content and are 100 percent recyclable. That contributed to our sustainability objective, and helped elevate the ceiling system from one that delivered not only beauty and acoustic performance, but environmental benefits as well.” 

To maintain the historic integrity of the building, the architects modeled the design of the steel trusses and exposed masonry on original architectural elements found in the area. Then, they added modern metal and glass to allow views to the river from the central gathering spaces and create a contemporary atmosphere. Amster notes that, “Because we retained the building’s 19th century structural base, it was important that all other interior building elements fit within that structure. That presented some challenges for our suppliers and contractors.” For Rockfon, doing so required a unique approach to ceiling panel fabrication...

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