March 2011

Whether intended to stand out as a design element, such as the new panel system below, or integrate seamlessly without much fanfare, the following ceilings all aim to work on a higher plane.

By Rita Catinella Orrell

Pixels Metal Panel System
If he were alive today, the French Postimpressionist painter Georges Seurat, known as the father of pointillism, might feel a certain affinity for USG’s Pixels panel system. Pixels utilizes a unique perforation process to replicate photographs, art, or logos onto the surface of wall and ceiling metal panels including USG’s Celebration, Panz, Curvatura, and Libretto systems. For a more dramatic effect, designs can be reproduced as a negative image that becomes a positive image when backlit by artificial or natural light.

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The system offers three levels of resolution based on budget, aesthetic vision, and ceiling height; holes can also be punctured at two angles. “The contractor pricing on this starts at $15 a square foot,” says Mark Miklosz, manager, specialty ceilings, USG. Miklosz cites a ballet- slippers ceiling for the Lisa Wilhelm Academy of Dance in Rocky River, Ohio (right), as a good example of a low-resolution option that would fall in this price range. He estimates a very high-resolution image that takes up a majority of the panel surface would bring contractor costs as high as $45 a square foot.

The process begins when the architect’s image is approved by USG. A few days later, the company produces a rendering of the image in a Pixels ceiling. Once the architect approves the rendering and design, there is a six-week turnaround.

The manufacturer is seeing interest in projects including high- end retail, K-12 schools, and higher education. “Almost anyone we have shown this to has thought of an application,” says Richard Murlin, architectural services manager, USG.

Pixels was an ideal solution for Laguna Beach, California–based, PDF Architects, who, as project managers for Paul Mitchell the School, were looking for innovative ways to communicate franchise branding. An installation of Pixels in the Charlotte branch of the franchise was created in collaboration with fixture design team Wadsworth Design. “The piece is a 6-by-8-foot backlit image that took the place of our standard wall-mounted colored images. These images would have been diluted by other architectural features of the space,” says Jennifer Hamner, LEED AP, a project manager with PDF Architects who worked closely with USG on the design and installation. Wadsworth Design’s in-house machinists incorporated the panels into custom furniture pieces, retail fixtures, and backlit wall-mount panels. “Pixels lends itself to far more applications than a standard metal ceiling panel,” says Hamner. “[Wadsworth Design’s] ability to fabricate components of the light cabinet that worked with the USG track made for an easy fabrication and installation process.”

Murlin adds that Pixels goes beyond the conventional application of metal walls and ceilings “to combining artwork and a sense of architectural pattern and rhythm that is fairly unique.” Pixels turned into art? Mais oui, Georges Seurat would be pleased. USG, Chicago. [Reader Service: March 2011, #200]

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