North Star Academy


The new North Star Academy, a Duluth (MN) Edison Charter School, offers the latest construction techniques designed to create a stimulating educational environment based on friendliness, openness and comfort that will enhance learning.  The 90,000 sq. ft. facility serves up to 900 kindergarten through 8th grade students.

Approximately 30,000 sq. ft. of Metl-Span 3” CF24 and CF36 Architectural Flat insulated wall panels finished in Tahoe Blue, Dove Gray, Regal Gray and Cool Zinc Gray were utilized to clad the multi-level structure.

Design for the project was provided by DLR Group, Minneapolis.  The design team, led by associate Mark Vetter, recommended insulated metal panels as the appropriate choice for the major exposed envelope material.  “The integration of thermal and moisture protection in a factory-foamed panel that could be directly and quickly applied to a steel frame in almost any weather was an important factor,” Vetter said.  “And the fact that the panels were lightweight for ease of handling made the value engineering decisions by the overall team relatively easy.”

The design team also wanted to explore the use of dominant colors and textures found in the natural northern Minnesota environment and nearby Lake Superior.  The four-color palette of warm. light-to-medium gray Metl-Span panels mixed with highlighted areas of blue panels provides for a large building that seems to set quietly in its surrounding.  “The sunlight on the panels creates ever-changing, multi-faceted hues and color values that make for a very interesting and nuanced envelope,” according to Vetter.
Installation of the Metl-Span panels was done by Specialty Systems, Inc., Burnsville, MN.  According to project manager Marshall Johnson, “This was probably the largest Metl-Span job we’ve done.  All of the panels were ordered from a field-measured cut list and installed using a customized clip system.  The site was tight and so was the schedule—we put up the whole job in a little more than a month.  Metl-Span really excelled on the project.”

The general contractor was Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, Duluth.