Author Archives: CS Editor

Adaptive Reuse: Inner-city high school campus builds up

he doors used effectively separate the elevator lobby area from the corridors in Georgia’s North Atlanta High School high-rise building.  Photos © Jim Roof/Won-Door FireGuard

The exterior of the 11-story renovation of North Atlanta High School. Photos © Jim Roof/Won-Door FireGuard

by Sharon Haddock

The new North Atlanta High School has risen from the ashes of an old office complex and now boasts safe access and egress for students across campus.

Designed by Collins Cooper Carusi Architects along with Cooper Carry & Associates, the 23-ha (56-acre) site was previously a complex of aging IBM office buildings that included two 11-story towers. Reborn as a school, the project is targeting Silver under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Opened as of November 2012, it also showcases—particularly to school districts looking for more land and space—that valuable, finite inner-city space can be effectively and efficiently repurposed.

Door specifications
Horizontal sliding accordion fire doors were specified for 48 openings. These doors were chosen to separate and protect—among other access points—the express elevator doorways that will transport students rapidly to the upper floors.

“We needed to get 2400 kids up to the classrooms on the upper floors,” said Margarita R. Perez, the onsite architect for Collins Cooper Carusi Architects. “Our primary concerns were the up-and-down access and security—that is where the doors came in.”

The accordion fire doors make easy and safe access for the surges of students trying to make their way from class to class on different levels.

This shows the exterior of the 11-story renovation of the North Atlanta High School.

The doors used effectively separate the elevator lobby area from the corridors in Georgia’s North Atlanta High School high-rise building.

“We needed elevator lobbies with large openings and we still had to meet code,” said Perez. “Basically, we were handed a glass box to work in. Our openings had to be quite large to really allow the kind of flow we needed.”

Perez said the doors and a destination elevator system—where people are grouped in the elevators according to the various floors they want—solved many of the design problems for the 11-story school.

The North Atlanta High School project is different from the conventional design and construction of educational facilities. Perez said her firm and the contractor ended up modeling almost every move to be sure what they were doing would work with existing low ceilings and infrastructure.

Office conversion
‘Adaptive reuse’ is the term used for this type of project where office towers were converted into an educational space. One of the original towers was razed, and the other was renovated into 37,161 m2 (400,000 sf) of classroom space, as well as a cafeteria, administration offices, media center, and library in the three lower floors.

The new tower houses the gymnasium, a 600-seat auditorium, theater, and performing arts space. Each building is 121 x 30.5 m (400 x 100 ft) with the dimensions and low ceilings dictated by what had been in place before. Further, the parking lots have been converted into baseball fields laid out among the existing woods.

The project cost the school district a total of $132 million—a fair price given the fact large enough plots were otherwise unavailable for purchase in the area. This made it one of the largest investments by Atlanta Public Schools on the north side of Atlanta in decades—a response to significant increases in enrollment numbers.

This door can disappear into a pocket support in the high school.

This door can disappear into a pocket support in the high school.

Sharon Haddock is a freelance writer with experience as a reporter/editor for The Deseret News, Provo City, and Won-Door Corporation. She can be contacted at


Updating values for polyiso

The January issue of The Construction Specifier included the article, “Impact of Advancements in Model Energy Codes,” by Jared O. Blum. We received the following letter to the editor from Tim Merchant of the EPS Industry Alliance, an organization representing those in the expanded polystyrene community.

The EPS Industry Alliance has always supported informative articles that advance the knowledge, proper use, and application of foam insulation. That said, the article makes some inaccurate claims regarding R-value of polyisocyanurate (polyiso) insulation that we would like to address.
The chart on page 68 lists the R-values of several foam insulations, including polyiso, which it says has an R-value of 6. This is in alignment with ASTM C1289-13, Standard Specification for Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation Board, and Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (CAN/ULC) S770-09, Standard Test Method for Determination of Long-term Thermal Resistance of Closed-cell Thermal Insulating Foams as of your publication. However, new testing methods developed in 2013 have shown the R-value of 25 mm (1 in.) of polyiso is 5.6—seven percent less than the measure of previous standards.
Last June, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) announced it would be updating its QualityMark-certified R-value program to reflect the new data, which was determined using a new test method for finding long-term thermal resistance (LTTR). The new 5.6 R-value rating was to be incorporated in Canadian and U.S. standards as of January 1, 2014. Please keep this in mind for future articles related to the R-value of polyiso insulation.

We asked the article’s author to respond:

ASTM C1289-13 was updated last year, and features important improvements regarding the prediction of long-term thermal resistance value (i.e. R-value) for various polyiso insulation boards. The article published in this issue of The Construction Specifier was originally written before PIMA and its members began reporting LTTR values in accordance with the standard on January 1, 2014 as part the PIMA’s QualityMark program.
To participate in PIMA’s QualityMark certification program, a Class 1 roof is suggested to have a design R-value of 5.7 per inch. It should be noted polyiso is unique in the R-value increases with the thickness of the foam, so 76 mm (3 in.) of polyiso has a higher R-value per inch than 50 mm (2 in.).
Since its founding, PIMA has been active in the harmonization of relevant standards to provide greater continuity in the reporting of polyiso roof insulation thermal values throughout North America. This is why the association implemented the industry-wide QualityMark certified R-value program for rigid polyiso roof insulation in 2004. The update to this standard provides more data to aid in the prediction of long-term thermal performance of North America’s most popular rigid roof insulation.

Metal roofs and claddings

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) has published new technical bulletins and white papers on its website regarding building with metal walls and roofs. The new website additions include the technical bulletin, “Roof Covering Repair Requirements and the International Code.” This offers information on types of repair materials and how to use them within the building code. “Proper Tools for Fastening Metal Panels” is guide to fastening of metal panels to both wood and metal frame buildings. The white paper, “Choosing Between Fire Retardant and Standard-core Metal Composite Material (MCM)” clarifies allowable use of standard and fire-retardant MCM as per the 2006 to 2012 editions of the International Building Code (IBC). Finally, “Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs) and NFPA 285” provides information on testing IMPs in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285, Standard Fire Test Method For Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-load-bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components. These documents can all be accessed at

Pressure-treated Southern Pine 101

The Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) has published the 2014 edition of Pressure-treated Southern Pine. The resource provides information regarding the correct specification and use of pressure-treated Southern Pine material. Included in the document is an introduction to wood preservatives, sections on fasteners and connectors, as well as design values and proper storage. Also included in this edition are American Wood Protection Association’s (AWPA’s) standard preservatives, and International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES) evaluated preservatives. The aim of the document is to provide specifiers practical information on common uses of these materials. To access a free copy of the document, visit

Duct construction app

The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) has released an app for the third edition of its manual, HVAC Duct Construction Standard—Metal and Flexible. The app provides a simplified process for finding construction options for rectangular ducts with dimensions up to 3048 mm (120 in.) for applications discussed in the manual. It provides options for internal and external reinforcements. Internal options are limited to electrical metallic tubing (EMT) conduit tie rods, and external reinforcements are limited to angles. The app will provide users with a written description of the duct, as well as a visual image of it. It is intended to be used in conjunction with the manual, and is largely used for onsite work. It is available at the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store.