Winters in Traverse City, Mich., can be brutal, and Westwind Construction, a Grand Haven-based owner developer, contractor and operator, knew its proposed four-story apartment building would need a durable and sustainable exterior. They wanted an energy-efficient exterior wall system that was also attractive and easy to maintain. At first, they tried life-sized samples of a stenciled brick design for the exterior wall. That didn’t achieve the look they wanted.

“We envisioned a modern, contemporary design and wanted a versatile exterior appearance, using as many textures as possible to provide exterior character,” says Mark Oppenhuizen of Oppenhuizen Architects. “Energy code requirements were also a factor, so having continuous insulation on the entire exterior of the building made good sense.”

Westwind and Oppenhuizen Architects out of Grand Haven have worked with Sto Corp. products numerous times and have a long history of success in using them. Oppenhuizen contacted FBM, the Sto Corp. distributor in Grand Rapids, Mich., to see what the best product choices might be. Once they started working with Sto the company had the advantage of assembling the exterior from a single source.

“We didn’t have to coordinate multiple contractors,” says Doug Meekhoff, project manager for Westwind Construction. “That made everything easier, considering we used four finishes—all from the same manufacturer.”


Wall Finishes

The company started with a StoTherm ci System as the exterior cladding for the entire 47,000-square-foot project. The system integrates continuous insulation, air and moisture barriers, drainage, and a variety of textured finish options to create a superior, sustainable wall. Finishes used included Stolit 1.5, a ready-mixed, acrylic-based, premium textured wall finish. In addition, Stolit Milano, another versatile ready-mixed, acrylic-based, decorative and protective wall finish was used. It can be applied as a light texture or a smooth finish, but the designers chose ultra-smooth for the project.

A limestone finish provided the project with the classic beauty of stone in a lightweight and easily installed premium architectural wall treatment. It features the look and feel of natural stone at a fraction of the expense. And finally, StoCreativ Granite completed the project. This acrylic-based wall finish is formulated for durability and low maintenance. It is trowel-applied and designed to provide the look of cut or polished granite, but in a versatile, lightweight form.

According to Phil Catalano at FBM, 13,000-square-feet of StoCreativ Granite was used in lieu of the stenciled brick look they had originally considered. Approximately 12,000-square-feet of specially-cut foam was used for lap siding to look like 12-inch reveal siding, adding a beveled treatment that accented the other two textures, and Stolit 1.5 was used along with 1,000-square-feet of Stolit Milano.


Overcoming Challenges

“There were some challenges on the project,” says Catalano. “It was a tight, confined site, and we had to use lifts and scaffolding while working through the Michigan winter. Fortunately, we were able to keep it dry.”

Additionally, the adjacent parking lot and sidewalks were being built at the same time as the building on one of the busiest urban streets in Traverse City, and the project’s exterior took about a year to complete. According to Oppenhuizen, Superior Plastering of Grayling, Mich., did a really nice job on the application, with quality workmanship that shows.

“Using the StoTherm ci System and Sto finishes added up to a combined weight savings and budget savings, while delivering the look and energy efficiency the owners desired,” says Catalano.

According to Meekhoff, the design of the 74-unit apartment complex is perceived as trendy, and the tan, green, and red colors are nicely compatible with the surroundings. “In fact, not only does it look good, but the exterior is also effective in muting the road noise,” says Meekhoff. “Westwind has an apartment there where our staff stays from time to time and it’s very quiet.” W&C