Advance EMS of Dixon

View of Structure from Higway 38

As part of a larger master plan to design a new campus headquarters for a client in Dixon, Illinois we were first tasked with an exterior restoration of the original structure on the site. The building, constructed in 1986 is a unique backsplit structure with a clerestory roof that commands your view when entering the city from the East side along Highway 38. While it was originally built as a chiropractic office, it had spent years trading hands without ever finding an owner who seemed a good fit. That is until now. The current owner, Advance EMS of Dixon, has been an absolute treat to work with, open to new ideas and interested in respecting the original design while undertaking the restoration, something I strongly felt necessary.

Linear LED Light Study.png


The first thing you notice about the original structure is the unique roofline as one approaches along that egress into the city. My first goal was to highlight and accentuate that feature by introducing a design element which had yet to be implemented by any of the building's previous owners. With such a visible location, and somewhat a fixture of that side of town, the building really serves as an anchor in the community tying its present to its near past. When I first saw the building from this angle, which I will admit was not until my second visit  I knew instantly what I wanted to do. While just a rough study the image below shows the way in which we plan to install LED linear lighting along the entire perimeter of the building in the overhang. This will create a dramatic feature that will accentuate that interecting roof line that I've come to love and have incorporated in the Project's logo. With any large project I have, since college, enjoyed creating a logo for each of my project's. As with this most are relative to a certain structural or physical aspect of the design; in this case the roof lines.





The second feature that you are instantly aware of is the rich red cedar siding. Upon closer inspection one will notice the unique manner in which the siding is installed using a series of trim boards in layers such that only a small band on each facade is actually comprised of true lap siding. This was one element of the original design I was intent upon restoring to its original state. ARK's partnership with Diamond Kote, a finishing manufacturer of LP SmartSide cedar siding allows us to provide custom color matching to all of our clients at the same price of one of their standard finishes! No other contractor in the area has yet had the ability to offer such a personalized, custom option for siding your new or existing home or office.


Thankfully, the client was in total support of restoring the original color and while we could not be for certain what that original color looked like prior to fading we were able to provide them samples Diamond Kote had prepared for us ahead of time. The final selection was made; 'fresh clay' by Benjamin Moore. It wasn't until writing this article however that I realized where I had seen this color before. Ever with our finger on the pulse of current design trends "Fresh Clay" was nearly a spitting image of 2019's color of the year "Cavern Clay"!



After pricing out the siding with the soffit and fascia however it became apparent some value engineering needed to be applied in order to make the project financially responsible while maintaining responsible design practices. Two of ARK's core hallmARKs became essential at this juncture. First, our persistent dedication to value engineering and secondly, our insistence that high-quality custom design must not always be extravagantly expensive; rather, you can achieve high design on a low budget through careful planning, artful design, and an experienced design-build team; all of which is available here at ARK Building Solutions. Knowing the roof needed some work, and with its purpose in maintaining the building's integrity, we began our engineering there. One thing we discovered after going through the original drawings was that the red roof that is currently on the building, was not the original roof. This allowed us the freedom to look at reinventing the structure for a new, bold client while still respecting the original design and owner, using the roof as that portion of the design in which the unique identity would be formed. It was decided that an elastomeric coating would provide the greatest value given the existing condition of the roof in conjunction the alternative costs to replace it completely. For less than half the cost of installing a new metal roof the Durathane coating will provide thermal and moisture protection for well over half the life cycle a new roof would have provided. Furthermore, there was already some preventative maintenance performed on the roof earlier in the year. It was at that time determined to be in fairly decent condition with only minor substrate issues left unaddressed. Durathane was specifically chosen as it allows for custom colors most elastomeric roof coatings do not provide. But what color to choose?

Before answering cosmetic questions such as that we proceeded on with our value engineering analysis. Following an exploration of the roof it only makes sense to follow the flow where we come to the soffit and fascia. The existing soffit and fascia was of the same red cedar material as the siding but unlike most structures of a similar nature the soffit and fascia on this building was significantly more complex and certainly more costly. First the fascia stood an exceptional 19" in height; much taller than the 8"-10" fascia common on wood-framed commercial structures. Secondly the soffit was a whopping 51" in width; around the entire perimeter of the building! This proved to be a major factor in the rising costs one would not first consider until analyzing the composition as we did. To restore the soffit and fascia in the manner which it was originally built required the implementation of quite unique constructions. First, the fascia, being stepped already added a layer of assitional cost but it's height was the major issue. instead of being able to use a 1x8 or 1x10 trim board as would be typical we needed something that would meet or exceed the 19" height of the original construction. The only cedar-like product wide enough to do so was LP's 24" wide siding panel, although this presented some issues of its own.


The other major issues was the width of the soffit, at 51", even two runs of the standard 24" wide soffit panel was still not enough to cover the original composition and a third 1x6 trim board, of a different thickness than the adjacent soffit panels would have to be added. Considering the significant issues we were encountering with the soffit and fascia we knew there had to be a better solution. That solution came in the form of metal. By utilizing a custom break we could replicate the profile on the existing fascia and even include a separate channel at the bottom of it to mount our linear LEDs! What's more we could use a heavier 26 gauge 12" soffit panel and run it perpendicular to the sidewall. Unlike many interior finishes there aren't nearly as many color options when it comes to exterior steel finishes so there is always a concern the right "look" will be achievable however by working with an experienced designer you can always find a solution.  

To assist our client I prepared renderings of three exterior finish options for the soffit and fascia with the intent of matching the roof coating with the steel selected below. Where a year ago I may have suggested the charcoal and simply left it at that, without any further exploration, I actually had my eye on a different color of which I have wanted to use for some time but never had the opportunity until now. Burnished Slate, a Metal Sales color, is strikingly similar to Sherwin William's color of the year 2021, Urbane Bronze, and for the same reasons as it was selected as color of the year I wanted to utilize it's cousin Burnished Slate on this project. It offered a chance to utilize an often overlooked building material, particularly in commercial office design, and highlight it for the high-design effect it can produced when used properly. It wasn't even a month later, after Sherwin Williams announced their color of the year that we were proven to be correct in our assumption!


We'll be sure to attach before and after photos when the job is finished later this year! Stay tuned!