Zenith Breathes Life into Glass and Steel

Culled from thisday Newspaper

Looking at the history of architecture in Nigeria, it can conclusively be argued that the Zenith Bank Headquarters structure is the nation’s first high-performance glass building.
The building, fondly known as Zenith Heights by its developer, is a landmark and a beacon in its own axis. It occupies about 2,200sqm of Ligali Ayorinde road on Victoria Island, Lagos, and stands elegantly tall at 73 meters, from ground zero to the tip of a 21 meters mast and that of a seven meters flag pole.
The tradition of erecting whole building employing mainly glass and steel is vested in Viracon, a high-profile company in the United States, which brags that its area of expertise spans “from imaginative aesthetics to strict environmental and energy issues to critical budget requirements…we know how to help you figure out a way to make it all work when it comes to innovative architectural glass and glazing solutions.”
The Viracon material used by Zenith Bank, is basically insulating, laminated, tempered, heat-strengthened, silk-screened, spandrel, wind/hurricane-resistant, acoustical, blast-mitigating and high-performance coated glass.
The sky is the limit when using this Viracon technology, as demonstrated in both the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse in Miami Florida, and the Zenith Bank building, which were designed with consideration for strict environmental and meteorological conditions, particularly wind movement from the Atlantic Ocean, in the case of Zenith Heights.
This technology was tested in 2005, when hurricane Wilma hit southern Florida where the Courthouse building “was put to the true test and it performed exactly as designed…without a single glass failure! The laminated glass protected the building envelope by staying intact and within the framing system”.
Zenith Heights, which is only about a hundred meters from the sea, has dual view of the Atlantic Ocean and of Victoria Island. Its construction was supervised and managed by the Bank’s Property Department from its ground-breaking stage between April and August 2002 to its main construction, which started in October 2002 and was completed in September 2005.
The idea behind the building was to developed a purely hi-tech building with foremost global rating and appeal. The use of glass stems from the fact that it is enduring and makes a better statement than other materials. Glass can hardly be put within the context of time like other materials that go in and out of vogue.
It is a building that will be around for all times, even in the environment laden with salt water wind from the sea, which corrodes the exterior of buildings around Victoria Island.
To reinforce the durability of the glass material used, Viracon gave Zenith Heights developer 10 years to 15 years warranty with a provision that the glass be cleaned, with the right agent, every three to six months to ensure that the glass lasts.
To hold the frame, the developer used galvanised steel to enable it stand corrosion, and this takes it to almost half the resistance of alluminium. This is used for the mast and the stainless steel handrails, which require light maintenance.
The concept is to use materials that would be near maintenance-free, and do not deteriorate as fast as conventional materials, they are pretty expensive. The whole building is awash with cream and gray colours that exude calm feeling for both staff and visitors. The interiors also have this effect on account of the soft-bright lights and the sound-proof system.
An electronically controlled revolving door admits staff and visitors and after clearing the reception area visitors are either admitted to a huge waiting room on the right or move on to the lift area through an airport-type baggage/personal scan system.
Transportation up and down all floors is done by means of four Otis lifts and a wide spiral stairways. The lifts have capacity for 16 persons each. Three of the lifts have panoramic view (transparent) and voice alert system, while the fourth is a service lift.
Granite finishing is used on all floors. The upper floors are raised to accommodate plumbing and electrical/electronic fittings. The ceiling is made of fire retarding material and it is fitted with smoke detectors and sprinklers, which are concealed within it, making the area visually appealing.
Construction experts supervised by the Bank’s Property Department include the main contractors, Cappa & D’ Alberto Plc.; the Architects, Adeniyi Coker Consultants Limited; Quantity Surveyors, Austin Onaro & Associates; Structural Engineers, Sanni Ojo & Partners; Mechanical, Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Claassen Auret SA in conjuction with Adeniyi Coker Consultants Limited; and Mechanical & Electrical sub-contractors, Etco Nig. Limited.
Others are Curtain Walling & Cladding sub-contractor, Pre-planPty. SA.; Lifts, Nigeria Motor Industries (OTIS); Voice & Data Cabling, Cyberspace Nig. Limited, Electronic Security & Access Control, Interface Technologies Limited, and Sewage Treatment Plant, Satec Limited.

An architect with decades of experience

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