Selected for its vibrant metallic look, three-dimensional visual effect, long lasting and low maintenance, and sustainable qualities, anodized aluminum provided the perfect texture and finish to the new “100 Above The Park” landmark residential tower located near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

According to a recent feature article in DesignandBuildwithMetal, “The aluminum surfaces really stand out, at about a 10 degree angle, in tiers of 4-story-high leaves that suggest a golden crown. Architecture writers heralded the confident symbolism of this first St. Louis project of the hot and prolific Chicago architectural firm Studio Gang as ‘the giant crystalline headdress’ appropriately located at 100 Kings Highway. The name ‘100 Above the Park’ describes the design concept: by tilting the curtain wall system towards the greenery of Forest Park below, the apartment complex was specifically designed to connect people in the interior to the surrounding environment.”

From early on in the design process, a metallic finish comparable to the way that the stainless steel surface of St. Louis’ iconic Arch takes on the color of the sky as weather changes and as the sun moves across the sky from dawn to dusk was researched. To achieve the desired look, the architect selected tilted rainscreen panels composed of lightweight aluminum and attached to non-bearing cold-formed steel framing.

Photo credit: Studio Gang

Then, a corrugated pattern for the texture of the aluminum panels was chosen with a panel fabricated from anodized aluminum from Lorin Industries, with ClearMatt® finish, Architectural Class 1. The anodized aluminum was selected for its vibrancy and the corrugated rainscreen panels and flat trim panels on the façade were used as well as for fabricated “blades” over the garage area. Anodizing aluminum builds a crystalline structure that reflects and refracts light in a way that creates a three-dimensional metallic look—precisely the look sought by the architect.

Additionally, this metal process will age well while maintaining its exceptional aesthetic qualities for decades to come with minimal maintenance. Anodized aluminum is created through an electrochemical process in which a very hard oxide layer is grown from the aluminum itself, rather than being painted on or applied. The raw aluminum is bonded at the molecular level to create a surface that is thick, translucent, and very hard — much harder than the base aluminum itself.

According to information from Lorin Industries, the surface hardness is second only to diamond and is therefore unmatched in abrasion resistance and durability. Therefore, anodized aluminum will never chip, flake, or peel and will never rust, patina, or weather.

Not only distinctive and long lasting appearance, but anodized aluminum is also good for environmental sustainability. The metal reduces solar energy absorption — It has a high SRI (solar reflectance index), meaning more of the sun’s heat energy is reflected away from the building, and thereby keeps buildings cooler, mitigates the urban heat island effect and reduces energy consumption costs. After oxygen and silicon, aluminum is the third most plentiful element on earth and anodized aluminum is also a 100% recyclable product.