Construction of the $40.8-million, 164,000-sq-ft BAE Systems Building allowed its owner, a global defense contractor, to consolidate the 650 employees required to support its engineering, operations and security functions, some of them working in an adjoining 50,000-sq-ft prototype facility.

The building, a skewed four-story, curved-glass parallelogram, cants toward a nearby roadway to create a unique and commanding presence, its glazed, low-E curtain wall mirroring the owner's desire for transparency. The project team collaborated closely with the glazing supplier to execute the symmetries required for exterior panels, with curved members installed in sections to achieve the desired slants.

Collaboration also was required to meet sustainable design criteria. In addition to enhancing aesthetics, silkscreen frit along the building's south elevation reduces solar glare and thermal loading, the pattern decreasing in intensity from west to east. In the prototype facility, excess waste heat from air compressors is captured to preheat domestic hot water.

During the due diligence for pre-purchase, surveyors discovered chlorinated solvents both beneath and outside the property, formerly home to a manufacturing plant. With foundations, steel framing and ground floor utilities already in place for the office building, team members moved quickly to implement a solution, protecting site workers, infrastructure and utilities from unacceptable vapor exposure. Workers monitored and mitigated health and safety risks throughout construction, subjecting soil to continual testing after remediation.

As work progressed, crews enclosed the steel frame in reinforced polyethylene plastic sheeting, allowing them to proceed with plans to construct the building from the inside out during winter months. Behind the barrier, workers placed concrete, erected drywall, painted walls and completed interior finishes before installing the building envelope.

BAE Systems Sterling Heights Facility, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Key Players

Owner BAE Systems, York, Pa.

GC Walbridge, Detroit

Designer SmithGroupJJR, Detroit