Students at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Pacific campus have the opportunity to live, worship and play together in the new St. John Paul II Newman Center. From the start of the student housing design phase, BVH Architecture, Omaha, wanted to use metal wall panels that would inspire the students to live the journey for which they were called in a building that enlightened their college experience. Dri-Design's VMZINC Series panels were chosen for their appearance, scale and durability. The center has 49 apartment-style units for 164 students with a chapel, courtyard, prayer garden, gathering space, library and rectory, as well as an adjacent Oratory.

"We desired an economical, durable yet refined material to clad the large student housing exterior," says Dennis Coudriet , principal with BVH Architecture. "The immense size of the area to be clad in metal required BVH to search for a material that could reduce the scale through texture and pattern."

​The installer, SGH Concepts, Omaha, worked with the architect to find the right exterior cladding. Dri-Design was selected because BVH Architecture wanted a pressure equalized rainscreen system with a VMZINC finish.

"This was a look the architect was going for from the inception of the project," says Troy Burkey, regional sales manager with SGH Concepts. "They wanted something lightweight, very sustainable and affordable in a VMZINC Quartz finish."

​SGH Concepts installed 28,142 square feet of 1-mm-thick VMZINC Series Panels. VMZINC Series Panels incorporate the distinctive tones and textures of nature to create a refined and unforgettable visual experience.

“Using many common size panels is a cost-effective solution for an innovative design,” says Brad Zeeff, president of Dri-Design. “The cost effectiveness comes from optimization of materials and manufacturing. We created an automated production process that minimizes waste, reduces production costs and saves our clients money.”

For the installation, a continuous insulation system was installed over the exterior sheathing and weather barrier.  The panels then were installed over horizonal sub girts. SGH Concepts has worked with Dri-Design panels for about 15 years, and they appreciate the ease of installation.

While being cost effective, the panels do not skimp on aesthetics. In fact, the QUART-ZINC panels will naturally patina over time, showing the true beauty of zinc. It also complements the center’s other natural material choice, limestone.

"The eventual patina will show how the building ages gracefully,” Coudriet says. “Both materials are real, authentic materials that are appropriately durable, economical and correspond well with the client’s goals. The Dri-Design metal panel is intentionally limited to the student housing program while the limestone is reserved for the sacred elements of the Oratory. The VMZINC adds a long-lasting refined facade that is self-weathering with texture enhanced by the pattern and patina."

With the center, the Archdiocese of Omaha now has a space that is similar to a traditional abbey, with residential and worship spaces. The design respects the Catholic faith tradition along with contemporary elements to inspire young adults. The construction and design team has won several national and local design awards for theses efforts.

For more information about the Dri-Design® Wall Panel System, visit