This project includes the addition of a bold new entry vestibule at FirstMerit's corporate office building at Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron along with 700 linear feet of 15’ high insulating curtain wall glazing at the Plaza level which replaces an original single pane system. The new energy efficient curtain wall is the final step, following previous interior renovations, in addressing interior comfort issues present in the first floor lobby, café and office spaces and helps to create a unified user experience. It also complements the design of the new vestibule to create a brighter and more open feeling aesthetic supporting the FirstMerit brand. The new vestibule, clad in a composite metal panel rain screen system with full height glass, extends into the recently renovated Cascade Plaza and establishes a defined presence for the company. Upon the project’s completion, FirstMerit will see immediate improvements in both comfort and aesthetics as well as a considerable savings in energy usage over time.
The project posed several challenges with regard to timing, phasing and requirements of local authorities. With the Cascade Plaza renovations beginning in 2014, the Vestibule foundations were fast-tracked allowing them to be placed concurrently with the rest of the City’s plaza work. This allowed the remainder of the vestibule, now under construction in conjunction with the curtain wall replacement, to be completed independently on FirstMerit’s desired timeline. Special considerations for the phasing and temporary protection of the project were also necessary as contiguous areas have been continuously occupied by employees during construction. Due to the building’s proximity to the Cascade Plaza and adjacent buildings, coordination with the City and County was also essential in addressing design and easement approvals as well as fire safety concerns.