Rockfon Case Study - Ceiling system delivers “wow factor” at Florida’s Manatee Technical Institute

August 29, 2017

Serving nearly 1,000 students in Florida’s Sarasota/Bradenton area, the new Manatee Technical Institute (MTI) Main Campus building represents a modern,  high-tech training facility to meet the workforce needs of the 21st Century. Designed with the latest energy-efficient construction and teaching  technologies, this facility compares with surrounding universities in quality and features. The school’s multi-purpose lobby is its main feature, serving as a 700-person reception area or reconfigured as a 400-seat dining hall. The two-story space directs the eye upward to a sloped, curved ceiling created using ROCKFON’s products. Acousti Engineering Company of Florida installed approximately 27,000 square feet of SpanAir metal ceiling panels.

Located at 6305 State Road 70 East in Bradenton, Florida, the two-story, state-of-the-art $44 million facility boasts 210,000 square feet of space.

More than 50 career technical programs are taught here, including architecture and construction, manufacturing, automotive collision repair, digital video production, culinary arts and more. Previously, many of these programs were offered at the original campus (now designated
as West Campus), which opened its doors in 1963. 

The 50-year-old Manatee Technical Institute is a post-secondary adult, career and technical education center. Today, MTI’s four campuses span 321,067 square feet and enroll nearly 2,000 students. The alumni have won more SkillsUSA medals than any other school in the nation for the past nine years. MTI broke ground on the Main Campus project in March 2011, although it was 15 years prior that architectural firm Fawley|Bryant developed the school’s Master Plan.

“During the course of developing that Master Plan the seeds were sown for a new campus,” explains Fawley|Bryant’s director of interior design, Sarah Colandro, ASID, LEED® AP ID+C. Realizing the potential and value MTI has for the community, the district in 2003 committed to creating a new MTI “state-of-the-art, globally recognized campus” and through a competitive interview process hired the team of Fawley|Bryant and internationally-known architects Hellmuth Obata Kassabaum (HOK) to design the new MTI. 

Designed to Impress 
Dr. Mary Cantrell, director of MTI, could not contain her enthusiasm for the new Main Campus building. She was quoted in the Herald Tribune saying, “It’s so beautiful, it takes your breath away. … Here everything is designed the way it should be.” “The open space that awaits guests when they first walk into the building and look slightly left is meant to induce the ‘wow’ factor. Creating a space of unique grandeur was a key element for the architect and general contractor,” explains Jackie Drake, ASID, IIDA. As a licensed interior designer with Acousti, Drake worked closely with the design team and ROCKFON’s team to bring this impressive vision to reality. “It’s a massive space. Fawley|Bryant was able to bring it to the next level. They chose a metal ceiling system to maximize the height of the lobby space, follow the curve of the roofline and complement the overall, modern look of the building,” adds Drake. 

She continues, “Acousti, the ceiling subcontractor, took the aesthetic and functional intent of the architect, and the budget of the general contractor to provide this technical institute with a lobby ceiling system to fulfill all needs. Vaulting up past the second floor, challenges were encountered with the difficult angles. The installation team consisted of true artisans. [These] products were able to encompass all of the project’s requirements; providing a custom fit at a good value.” 

Scheduled for Success 
In addition to the physical challenges, Drake notes, “Time is always a factor in construction and this held true during the interior construction of this project as well.” The Main Campus building construction was completed in 18 months. Having solid relationships and clear communications between the building team members can make a difference in meeting critical deadlines during fast-paced construction schedules. 

“Kudos to the general contractor, The Beck Group, for bringing this team together during the preliminary steps of the project. Thanks to Acousti’s strong relationship with Beck, we had an open door policy for communication,” praises Drake. “Because of this relationship and early involvement, the process was less stressful for everyone and contributed to a positive, helpful attitude. Beck listened to our recommendations for fitting within the budget and maintaining the design intent. The end result was a super-pretty space that met the client’s needs.” One of Acousti’s trusted...

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