Metal Builder

The Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson dealership in Pelham, Ala., is not just a successful business. It’s got the soul of a head-turning metal building and the free-spirit roar of the open road.

The building that houses the dealership was a top finalist for Building of the Year in the Design Build competition at Metallic Building’s national sales meeting.

Heart of Dixie exterior.jpgGeneral contractor Sam Lindsay of Four Star Builders, Inc., in Hokes Bluff, Ala., says the Heart of Dixie is the fourth Harley-Davidson building he constructed for the owner. The relationship began, says Lindsay, when his company was next door to a satellite Harley store. The owner of the Harley store bought the building Lindsay’s company was in and, “he eventually became our landlord.” That was the beginning of their business relationship. Four Star began to construct storage buildings for their landlord, and then began to build the Harley-Davidson satellite stores and dealerships.

The original Harley building in Pelham was a satellite store, but when it was to become a full-fledged dealership, a new building was needed. The design of the 51,000-square-foot facility is unique, says Lindsay. The dimensions are 275 by 80 feet and19 feet high at the low eaves.

The owner contacted a firm in California, and a team was formed to come up with a concept. The California design firm came up with a floor plan and outside designs, which Lindsay then took to his own engineers.

“It’s a unique design, especially the exterior,” says Lindsay. “The interior is one big showroom with one column. It’s pretty much a clear span with the one column in the middle. On the exterior, the corners are wrought with glass. There is colored motorcycle parking and a copper-colored roof.” In addition there is a large service department and rolling storage area. Exterior sidewalls and towers at the entrance complement the building. The sheer aesthetics of the building urged it forward in its nomination for Building of the Year.

Rock-trimmed exterior
“The exterior is different,” says Lindsay, “because of the rock work and the heavy glass. The tall glasswork required heavy framing. They are huge frames, bigger than normal.” He adds that although the shape is different from normal, it is fairly common steel building construction. Conventional materials were used for the exterior walls instead of traditional metal-building materials. A steel skeleton was used for the roof system.

The roof is a standing seam metal building roof. It’s single slope. “It’s not a complicated roof,” says Lindsay. “Except the corners, which required oversized gutters. The standing seam is a superior roof. It allows the roof to move, expand and contract.”

The Heart of Dixie building also features Metallic Building Company’s Long Bay System, custom engineered for structures with long and unusual spans. It is geared especially for buildings with large, open floor space, such as a motorcycle showroom. At the same time, it allows for unique building architecture.

For this Harley-Davidson dealership, Lindsay says the Long Bay System was the best way to go. “It can span up to 40 or 50 feet, and for this building, we spanned 45 feet, frame to frame,” he explains. “By using Long Bay, they use a joist type purlin. It’s a special purlin Metallic Buildings came up with. It’s like a joist, and it can span further. It eliminates frames and columns in the building.”

In the case of the Heart of Dixie, the lack of columns means the sprawling sales floor is wide open for displaying the bikes.

Another outstanding feature of the building is the galvanized canopies, with 24-guage Batten-Lok Kynar-coated roof panels. “It’s an angular-shaped frame, about 20 or 25 feet, and they’re exposed. The copper roof … creates the covered motorcycle part. It gives it a little bit of an unusual look. It’s something you don’t normally see exposed, the framing. But that’s the reason we used the galvanized, because of the exposure. But it blends well with the overall design,” says Lindsay.

Among the construction challenges were the glass frames used on the building. “The framing was heavier than normal,” says Lindsay, “and it had to be produced on a special run. That was a little touch-and-go for a while. But it went really well, I thought, for the size of the job.” A number of the other deliveries were also right down to the wire, which, Lindsay adds, caused some anxious moments, but the production was able to go on as scheduled.

On time, on budget

Four Star stayed both within the production time frame and within budget. The building cost $3.8 million and was constructed between June 2005 and March 2006. Nearly all of the work was subcontracted, with Lindsay’s company providing on-site supervision and some skilled labor.

Lindsay’s company has been in business since 1993. Most of the buildings he constructs are commercial or industrial. “Nearly all of our buildings are designed around pre-engineered steel buildings,” he says, including Heart of Dixie. “It’s an economical system to begin with. That was one savings for this building. And it goes up quicker than other types of construction. Any time you can speed the process up, it saves money.”

Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson dealership is something Lindsay is proud of. “It’s a job we like to show off. It stands out from other buildings we’ve done because of the types of materials used, the look it’s got. It’s different from a standard building because the owner was willing to pay for what he wanted. He had certain features he wanted and a look he wanted.”

There’s an additional feature, a crowning glory, as it were, that no contractor could construct.

“It is built on a high level and is adjacent to Interstate 65. It showcases the building,” says Lindsay. “It pops out at you.”

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