Margaret M. Walter Wing at the Columbus Museum of Art

The new Margaret M. Walter Wing of the Columbus Museum of Art is a contemporary work of architecture featuring both interior and exterior custom-patinated copper sheets manufactured by Zahner.

In 2013, the Columbus Museum of Art's Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of beginning construction on a new expansion project which would enable the Museum to bring global exhibitions to the residents of Columbus, Ohio. The museum reached out to DesignGroup principal Michael Bongiorno whose design team, including Keoni Fleming, Annie Neumer, and Joseph Mayer, developed a strategy for the museum's expansion. The expansion's centerpiece, the Margaret M. Walter Wing, adds 50,000 square feet to the total square footage of the Museum's available gallery space, and is expected to reach a LEED Silver certification.

The architects worked with their client to develop a design which would pair the Museum's rich history with its promising future. The designers achieved this balance in many ways, including aesthetics. The design of the building's form is contemporary, featuring many modern architectural touches, while its surface is an antiqued copper, a rich material which would normally require decades of weathering to achieve.

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Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio.
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Columbus Museum of Art, North Entrance.
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Columbus Museum of Art, South Entrance.
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Columbus Museum of Art, East facade, glass, and limestone.
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Columbus Museum of Art, detail of the custom copper soffit.
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Columbus Museum of Art, detail of the custom copper flashing and metalwork.

Developing the Architectural Copper Panels with Custom Patina

Zahner has worked with patinated copper and copper-alloys since the company's establishment in 1897, but it was only a recent advancement by Zahner's research and development team that allowed the firm to match naturally aged copper.

Typically, architectural copper panels are installed as raw or 'red' copper sheets, and while this color will quickly morph from reflective reflective pinks and reds to a matte brown surface, it will still take another few decades before the metal fully patinates into the blues and greens.

An example of this slow patination process is the de Young Museum in California, which Zahner manufactured and installed in 2003-2005 as unpatinated copper panel system. Ten years later, the surface is now starting to show signs of green along the panel seams, but the overall tone is still a deep matte burnt umber tone. It is likely another ten to twenty years before the de Young will take on a green hue.

For the new CMA building, Zahner sped up the process. Zahner engineers manufactured pre-weathered custom blue-green copper using a rapid patina process. A process that normally takes twenty to thirty years was achieved in the span of a few weeks.

Zahner fabricated the building's custom flashing and standing seam roof and supplied the pre-patinated copper sheets for the copper wall panels. Keith Panel Systems (KPS) engineered and fabricated the wall panels on their KPS System 'A' which provides a compartmentalized and pressure-equalized rainscreen. Phinney Industrial Roofing coordinated the work with KPS and successfully completed the installation as the sub-contractor to Corna Kokosing Construction.

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Columbus Museum of Art, view from the main entrance.
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Columbus Museum of Art, view from the main entrance.
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Columbus Museum of Art, detail of the custom metalwork.