To whom do you turn when it’s never been done before?
Envision a metallic sculpture gracing the 3-story lobby of your client’s next signature building. A feature staircase winds its way up to, not one, but 3 mezzanine areas overlooking the main entrance with the sculpture centering the grand space. The complexities of building such a beautiful one-of-a-kind space begin to baffle you and your building partners. Just how can all these pieces come together successfully to complete this building that will be among the city’s greatest edifices?
Custom architectural metals is a construction specialty that often tests the mettle of the building contractor and fabricator for dealing with complex and difficult-to-produce building components composed of various metals. It’s often the metals that create a bottleneck in the process of completing a building, due primarily to miscommunication that so often leads to rework and delay. Most metal fabrication companies are far enough removed from the construction business, and vice versa, that clear lines of communication and seamless overlap of knowledge rarely exist to ensure that difficult metal installations go smoothly.
Construction management (CM) is a preferred implementation model largely because of the manager’s ability to understand and coordinate multiple building specializations at once. All of those construction specialists, in turn, rely on their own ability to successfully coordinate the multiple facets that make their work come together. The custom metal work in a building can be likened to being its own construction project within an overall building plan.
Best Practices in Architectural Metals
When artistry, manufacturing and construction are coordinated strategically by a specialized niche expert, just about any vision is possible for implementation to architectural reality. The architectural metals consultant is the point of coordinated knowledge that provides architects, owners, construction teams the exact fabricating and construction details required for successfully installing the most difficult-to-produce, unique building features.
The design stage is generally the best time for the metals consultant to be called in. The consulting team or individual assists the architect in determining the feasibility of using metals for unique features. The owner and architect can be well advised on the best ways to achieve their vision for a new building, addition or remodeling project.
Following a review of plans or renderings, the metals consultant becomes the point person who works with everyone involved in designing, fabricating, welding, transporting, rigging, installing and constructing the custom metal work. The consultant establishes clear lines of communication and remains open to any and all questions coming from engineering down to the construction crew.
Professor David P. Billington of Princeton University classifies work as “structural art” when the architecture and engineering design attains excellence in three areas: efficiency, economy and elegance. The designer “must exercise his or her creativity and playfulness to create an elegant structure within the constraints imposed by engineering requirements.”
The metals consultant’s job is to help achieve excellence in efficiency, economy and elegance for the most challenging metals installations. With the right knowledge and experience guiding the architectural metals components, that “creativity and playfulness” in design can go farther to create structures that truly inspire.