Monumental Metalwërks Architectural Wall Cladding System Used for the Port of Miami Tunnel

Metalwërks, a leader in architectural metal cladding and ornamental metals, recently served as turnkey specialty contractor for the design, fabrication and installation of the Port of Miami Tunnel. The tunnel, which spans Biscayne Bay, was completed in May 2014.

Metalwërks provided a monumental architectural wall cladding system for the $667 million project, which links the world’s busiest cruise ship port to highways I-395 and I-95. The tunnel, essential for continued growth at the seaport, will ease traffic congestion in downtown Miami and offer direct access for commuters, visitors and cargo trucks. It will accommodate approximately 16,000 vehicles per month.

Metalwerks_Port-of-Miami-Tunnel_Press-ReleaseBouygues Civil Works Florida, the project contractor, specified Metalwërks after a personal referral from John Wheaton, PE, LEED BD& and President of Wheaton and Sprague Engineering Inc. Wheaton served as the structural engineer assigned to the architectural wall cladding portion of the project and recommended Metalwërks based on the ability to design, fabricate and install highly complex architectural metal cladding systems.

“We’re always quick to recommend Metalwërks because of their full-service ability to fabricate, install and add value with the intellectual capital they possess,” says Wheaton. “The team has proven to be highly capable and distinguish themselves in a commodity market.”

Design concepts were first created by existing design team members, Metalwërks then created fabrication drawings, pre-positioned and fabricated raw materials.

All of the fabricated system components for the project were produced and staged for shipment to the site from Metalwërks’ Elkton, MD facilities to sequence with the installation schedule. During the design finishing process, the details were tweaked to create custom details at nonstandard areas of work as well as optimize fabrication and installation efficiencies in response to a severely compressed schedule.

“This was a challenging project with a tight turnaround and not many other firms I know could have handled the job with such determination,” added Wheaton.

Metalwërks completed the project on an accelerated schedule:

  • The company estimated the value of the work over Thanksgiving weekend 2013 and established final contract terms during the evening of December 9, 2013.
  • The wall cladding portion of the project was mobilized in the field during the week of January 7, 2014. The subcontract installer, Mohawk, performed layout and installed the first of 7,000 anchor clips the same week.
  • Panels and frames began shipping 6 weeks later and the final panels were erected during the week of May 16, 2014.

“This was one of the most challenging projects we have undertaken not because of the technical aspects of the products or scope, but because of the compressed schedule for completion,” says Steve Scharr, Director of Business Development at Metalwërks. “We assembled an excellent team of vendors, project managers and our subcontract installer was top notch. This was truly a well-choreographed  collaboration from the original estimate through contract negotiations and final execution.”

The design of the system required an integrated factory pre-finished aluminum architectural panel, structural aluminum mullion framing, pressure plates, snap covers and anchorage system to complete the interior facing of the curved tunnel walls. The transitional areas at the tunnel exit entry points inside the concrete bulkhead structures and the five cross passage tunnel portals connecting the two 40’ diameter tunnel bores were also clad with Arcwall panels and supports.

All exposed surfaces of these assemblies facing the tunnel walls were coated in a PPG 3 coat Duranar XL “Crystal Springs” or “Raccoon Fur Gray”. Duranar XL coating—specified by Arquitectonica, the Miami-based architectural firm that designed the tunnels—is a three-part coating system consisting of a urethane primer coat, a decorative color coat and a protective fluoropolymer clear coat. Arquitectonica selected Duranar XL Crystal Blue to coat the 4,000 metal panels lining both sets of tunnel walls.

To learn more about the Port of Miami Tunnel, please visit

* Patent Pending