Seattle Opera opened the doors to its new headquarters in December of 2018. As a glass-clad building, people walking by the new Opera Center can get a glimpse into the inner-workings of  the building’s activities, whether that’s a lecture or employees working in the costume room. However, a passerby would have no idea how much metal is used in the building.

More than 44,000 square feet of Kingspan KarrierPanels serve as a rainscreen for a variety of cladding in Seattle Opera’s headquarters. Designed by NBBJ architects, the $60 million facility encompasses 105,000 square feet across four stories.

KarrierPanel is an exterior envelope cladding system that serves as the building’s primary weather barrier and exterior insulation. KarrierRail provides a secure support that safely transmits positive loads from different facades to the structural supports behind the insulated panels. Benefits of KarrierPanel include speed of build and cost-effectiveness when compared to multi-component wall systems.

KarrierPanel helps create a high-performance building envelope that combines superior
R-values with low thermal bridging and airtightness. The panels have an R-value of 7.2 per inch ASTM C518 @ 75°F for standard PIR, and 8 per inch ASTM C518 @ 75°F when equipped with Kingspan’s QuadCore Technology, the company’s newest and highest-performing metal panel insulation.

The glass walls of the headquarters may not be typical for an administrative building, but they are a strategy to invite the public to experience one of the most complex art forms behind the scenes.

“This will be a way to really help the general public to see the opera in the making,” said Barbara Lynne Jamison, Seattle Opera’s director of Programs and Partnerships.

The new building is adjacent and connected via two doors to McCaw Hall, where the opera performs. This unusual, yet convenient, location helps streamline the months of preparation that go into each performance. Instead of shipping sets to numerous places, sets go directly to storage space next to McCaw Hall, and costumes are steps away from the stage.

“Seattle Opera will continue to break down barriers that have previously kept people from being able to participate in opera,” said Seattle Opera General Director Aidan Lang. “In addition to creating an environment for world-class artistry, we are establishing a welcoming and accessible community resource on the Seattle Center campus, inviting visitors to explore our city’s arts and cultural home.”