The Wonderful Company’s new Career Center showcases a modern, sustainable and resilient exterior clad in RHEINZINK-prePATINA® Graphite-Grey architectural zinc with a lifespan of up to 100 years, serving generations of learners. Designed by AECOM, the architects selected RHEINZINK-prePATINA for its longevity, durability and naturally evolving appearance.
Wonderful Career Center is located in Shafter, California, approximately 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Developed by Wonderful Real Estate, construction on the training facility began in 2021 and was completed in 2022. It offers three classrooms, four laboratories and an expansive conference room.
To clad the 37,200-square-foot structure, Old Country Millwork supplied Four C’s Construction with approximately 8 tons of RHEINZINK’s architectural zinc. Four C’s fabricated the natural metal material into 12-inch-wide reveal wall panels and installed 7,600 square feet on the building’s exterior.
“There is a long tradition of zinc in the vernacular architecture of the Central Valley. Its durability and reduced maintenance are among the many reasons for its use,” explained AECOM’s associate and project designer, Alec Andrade, RA, NCARB. “The client always seeks to provide value in their endeavors. A cladding which has an extended lifespan is part of that search for added value. RHEINZINK was a logical choice for this rather harsh climate and will naturally age to an evolved patina,but remain coherent with the environment.”
RHEINZINK-prePATINA zinc achieves its graphite-grey color through a proprietary accelerated processing method that results in a pre-weathered appearance. The look is representative of a naturally patinated zinc panel, which normally would take years. The finish will continue to patina over time responding to California’s unique climate and conditions.
Andrade continued, “There is a mild greenish tint to the zinc patina, which complements the dominant landscape feature of this site – which are groves of almond and pistachio trees. The building exterior palette is minimal and uses materials in their natural state, fiber cement board, zinc cladding, glass. No additional color or finish which requires maintenance were used.”
The zinc wall panels’ vertical orientation on the Wonderful Career Center complements the windows’ rectilinear form and contrasts with the sun screen’s horizontal battens. The reveal panels precisely align to present a neat, clean look with uniform vertical and horizontal spacing. The wall cladding’s tongue-and-groove system simplifies installation and gives the appearance of being invisibly attached to substructure. The natural metal cladding, windows and shading systems support the Career Center’s energy-efficient operations and provide its occupants with thermal comfort, natural light and outdoor views.
“The exterior envelope is super-insulated to exceed Title 24 energy requirements and the breathable rainscreen system, including zinc and fiber cement, is an integral part of the energy-efficient solution. Both materials are ultimately recyclable and their resource-conscious production supports the effort to reduce embodied energy in the building, while providing high-performance weather and thermal protection,” added Andrade. “A solar carport provides energy to offset consumption on an average day making the building near net-zero energy.”
Wonderful Career Center’s current offering is the Wonderful Technical Operator Program, with a curriculum that prepares students for high-paying roles through mechanical and electrical training. Area businesses also are anticipated to offer customized employer training programs.
Andrade elaborated, “The goal of the project was to add an amenity complex to the nearby industrial park, which would serve the tenants as an educational/training center for the long-term benefit of the community.”
Wonderful Career Center joins a 98,000-square-foot corporate campus that includes a conference center, wellness center and amenity center for more than 200 employees and the surrounding community. It is part of Wonderful Industrial Park, a 1,625-acre world-class distribution center on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway main line. Its proximity to major Western population centers and convenient connections to West Coast ports make it a vital hub for industrial operations.
The Wonderful Company is a privately held $5 billion company committed to offering high-quality, healthy brands and helping consumers make better choices, every day. Its diverse holdings make it the world’s largest grower of tree nuts, America’s largest citrus grower and the world’s largest flower delivery service with the Teleflora network of florists.
According to the company’s website, “We believe there is incredible power in the Wonderful family of brands to inspire healthier choices and to support our communities. By helping nourish our neighbors with high-quality, healthy products, we believe we can grow a better world.”