A welcoming approach is a standard requirement for important buildings. The recently opened Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA) in Washington, D.C.’s Congress Heights neighborhood needed a profile suited not only to the major-league teams it serves, but also to a complex mix of other buildings that will surround it.

The 118,000-square-foot arena—the home court of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the main training facility for the NBA Wizards and the site of concerts and events—is also part of a larger 2 million-square-foot redevelopment that includes thousands of housing units, offices, and retail spaces.

To help it blend into its neighborhood, the project’s owner and developer Events D.C. turned to the design team of Rosetti Architects and Marshall Moya Design.

Initially, the plan called for terracotta panels to mirror nearby brick buildings, but due to high cost, the architects changed the design to insulated metal panels in terracotta-like colors. Working with Kingspan and their Optimo metal wall panel system, the team chose Colonial Red, Redwood, Sandstone, and Bone White (all standard Kingspan colors) and Audubon Russet, a custom color from Valspar. To allow faster panel installation for the project, Kingspan provided multiple panel sizes, utilizing 24-inch, 30-inch, 36-inch, and 40-inch panels as wider options.

Another goal for the exterior was a full wall envelope with no exposed fasteners—a challenge, as the arena has more than 53,000 square feet of panels. Kingspan provided a concealed fastener solution for a smooth, flat appearance without the need for exposed trim

at the base, corners, or openings. The ESA has more than 4,000 linear feet of extrusions, all painted to match the panel colors, and there are also 1,500 trimless ends on the building. Kingspan used factory folded corners to provide a clean 90-degree bend without the need for formed trim or corner extrusions.