architecture - engineering - construction

Morin Case Study: CODE Building, Charlottesville, Virginia


Morin Case Study: CODE Building, Charlottesville, Virginia

The Project

Entrepreneurship in Charlottesville has a new, sustainable home that looks to a future of coworking and green space, along with a courtyard and amphitheater that invites collaboration. Insulated metal panels provided the backbone for a tight, thermally efficient envelope for a stylish building that could help achieve LEED certification.


  • The building seamlessly blends with its surrounding environment, while incorporating high thermal efficiency, rooftop terraces, courtyards and water-conservation features.
  • The building envelope is designed to meet AIA’s 2030 challenge for efficiency and thermal performance.
  • With the use of KarrierPanel, the building’s rainscreen achieves a high R-value and reduces energy consumption toward a goal of LEED certification.


The CODE Building was designed to serve as a destination for entrepreneurs in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia. As a centerpiece of the city, it is critical for the building to support emerging and established businesses, while emphasizing sustainability and wellness to support the greater community at large. The developer challenged architects to create a building that prioritized air quality, while providing an energy efficient design. The building was constructed on a triangular site that connects a historic main street to a pedestrian walkway. Architects had to connect both, while construction crews operated in a tight space.


Over the course of a five-year process, architects from Wolf Ackerman and EskewDumezRipple combined forces to create a building that prioritized sustainability as much as the building’s overall aesthetic. When examining façade choices, architects realized Kingspan’s KarrierPanel universal barrier wall met several needs for the building, especially allowing them the freedom to attach a specific façade without compromise.

KarrierPanel also helped meet AIA’s 2030 challenge for efficiency and thermal performance. KarrierPanel serves as the high-performing air and vapor barrier for the entire building by providing continuous insulation in an all-in-one product. KarrierPanel has an R-value of up to 8 per inch when equipped with QuadCore® closed-cell insulation core. Energy efficiency is so important for the CODE Building that there is a telemetry system that reports energy usage, providing monthly reports and even comparisons to other buildings.

The cavity between the façade and the KarrierPanel provides the duct for a necessary feature for the building: the direct outside air system (DOAS). The system pulls in fresh air from the outside, while only ventilating enough for heating or cooling. Continuous insulation from KarrierPanel also puts less strain on DOAS, leading to greater energy efficiency. Operable windows, a rare sight for an office building, further increase the CODE Building’s airflow.

The ease of the KarrierPanel system allowed installers from Glass and Metals, Inc. to streamline construction in tight quarters. The all-in-one insulated metal panels eliminated the work of several subcontractors, speeding up construction and allowing other crews more space to work.

“The KarrierPanel system not dictating what we had to do was a big factor for us. Maintaining the flexibility to achieve what we wanted and to not be hamstrung with our hands tied behind our back…was one of the big benefits for us.” - Fred Wolf, Partner at Wolf Ackerman Design


One of the keys to integrating the building into downtown Charlottesville was ensuring the façade meshed well with its historic surroundings, while meeting the developer’s special request for brickwork that reminded him of his childhood farm. After reviewing more than 50 thin brick options, architects found one that resonated with the developer and fit in with the historical context of the downtown area. The KarrierPanel system, which includes the KarrierRail, allowed architects the flexibility fasten the cladding back to the structure without worrying about the airtightness of the building envelope. The continuous insulation also helps to provide the soundproofing for a ground level auditorium.

To help achieve potential LEED certification, the CODE Building includes LED lighting, low flow fixtures and a rainwater and condensation capture system, used to irrigate green roofs on six floors, all planted with native plants. EV charging stations, bike racks and even showers for those who bike to work, help to further increase the building’s sustainability goals beyond its walls. A courtyard that includes a fountain and food stalls connects the pedestrian walkway to the main street, allowing the community to pass through. In creating a new center for collaboration, architects looked both to the past to the future to create a building that would inspire the community for years to come.

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