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Ramsey Center to get new skin

Ramsey Center  to get new skin

The black glass Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center is an iconic structure on the Western Carolina University campus, but it will soon have a much different look following the WCU Board of Trustees’ Dec. 1 endorsement of a $3.9 million project.

“A year or so ago we replaced the roof. It was leaking badly and a continuation of that project as funds have become available is to replace the — for lack of a better word — skin on the building,” Mike Byers, vice chancellor for administration and finance, explained to the board during a Nov. 30 committee meeting.

The roof replacement wrapped up in December 2016, but water was still getting into the building from the gaskets between the existing aluminum frame and the glazing on the Ramsey Center’s exterior.

The new façade will replace the existing glazing system and is being designed as a “rain-screen” system with a composite thermal break attached to the existing aluminum framing system. This will serve to make the Ramsey Center more energy-efficient. The new façade will also allow for an increase in vision glass, providing a better view into and out of the building than presently exists.

Normally, the trustees would not be asked to approve a waterproofing project such as this, but the resurfacing will do more than exclude water from the building — it will transform the Ramsey Center from an all-black structure to a brick-colored one offset with sections in a neutral color yet to be determined.

“We knew that was going to change the look of the building,” Byers told the trustees. “For that reason we bring it to this board so you can have a better look at what we have in mind.”

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The trustees were careful to consider the implications of the color choice before approving the project.

“So what is that color, Joe? It looks kind of like Tennessee orange to me,” joked Chairwoman Pat Kaemmerling to Facilities Director Joe Walker.

“It’s tough to do in an architectural rendering, but it will be a brick color,” Walker assured her.

The new façade will match up as closely as possible with the color of brick, with the design including neutral-colored segments. The project will also include redoing the entrances to do away with the sloped canopies there now.

“If you look at that building, it looks very modern architecturally with the black glass,” Trustee Kenny Messer said of the Ramsey Center. “This building is 30 years old. Even though it may look somewhat new, a 30-year-old building — things happen even with the best construction.”

That’s true, Walker said, and it doesn’t help that the Ramsey Center was not built with the best construction.

With trustees’ approval, design work will move forward and is expected to wrap up in May, with bidding to take place in the spring as well. Once started, construction will take about 12 months.

“I think from an athletic standpoint that this is going to be a nice upgrade for sure from where we’re at,” Messer said.

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