Cleve­land Browns sta­dium, other U.S. build­ings might sport flammable pan­els

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press AP pho­tos — The As­so­ci­ated Press

In pro­mo­tional brochures, a U.S. com­pany boasted of the “stun­ning vis­ual ef­fect” its shim­mer­ing alu­minum pan­els cre­ated in an NFL sta­dium, an Alaskan high school and a lux­ury ho­tel along Bal­ti­more’s In­ner Har­bor that “soars 33 sto­ries into the air.”

Those same pan­els — Reynobond com­pos­ite ma­te­rial with a poly­eth­yl­ene core — also were used in the Gren­fell Tower apart­ment build­ing in Lon­don. Bri­tish author­i­ties say they’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the pan­els helped spread the blaze that ripped across the build­ing’s outer walls, killing at least 80 people.

The pan­els, also called cladding, ac­cen­tu­ate a build­ing’s ap­pear­ance and im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. But they are not rec­om­mended for use in build­ings above 40 feet be­cause they are com­bustible. In the wake of last month’s fire at the 24story, 220-foot-high tower in Lon­don, Ar­conic Inc. an­nounced it would no longer make the prod­uct avail­able for high-rise build­ings.

De­ter­min­ing which build­ings might be wrapped in the ma­te­rial in the United States is dif­fi­cult. City in­spec­tors and build­ing own­ers might not even know. In some cases, build­ing records have been long discarded and nei­ther the own­ers, op­er­a­tors, con­trac­tors nor ar­chi­tects in­volved could or would con­firm whether the cladding was used.

That makes it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to know whether the Bal­ti­more Mar­riott Wa­ter­front ho­tel or Cleve­land Browns’ foot­ball sta­dium — both iden­ti­fied by Ar­conic’s brochures as wrapped in Reynobond PE — are ac­tu­ally clad in the same ma­te­rial as Gren­fell Tower, which was en­gulfed in flames in less than five min­utes.

Cleve­land’s chief build­ing of­fi­cial says pan­els used on a city-owned NFL sta­dium are “sim­i­lar if not iden­ti­cal” to those used at a Lon­don apart­ment tower that burned.

The In­ter­na­tional Build­ing Code adopted by the U.S. re­quires more strin­gent fire test­ing of ma­te­ri­als used on the sides of build­ings taller than 40 feet. How­ever, states and cities can set their own rules.

The top two floors of 1899 Wynkoop, a nine-story of­fice and re­tail build­ing in LoDo, were clad with Reynobond PE to lighten the ap­pear­ance and keep the build­ing from dom­i­nat­ing the sur­round­ing ware­houses, Ar­conic ad­ver­tises in pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als. About 13,000 square feet of the ma­te­rial was used, the com­pany said. Of­fi­cials in Den­ver’s com­mu­nity plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment of­fice have been look­ing into the mat­ter but haven’t been able to lo­cate the original build­ing plans. “Our ex­pec­ta­tion is that it was purged as part of our nor­mal records re­ten­tion process,” spokes­woman An­drea Burns said.

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