There’s an old saying that some engineers like to use: “If it can be drawn, it can be made.” But for the imagination, what’s there to limit what can be drawn? This notion challenges manufacturers and builders to figure out seemingly impossible fabrication and installation feats to satisfy the ambitious goals of owners and architects.
In a recent conversation… with a leading regional construction engineer about uniquely complex architectural metals, he affirmed a major issue we’ve seen repeatedly over many years. The approach many architects and construction managers take for specialized or complex metal fabrications is, in his words, to “bang a few heads together and just try to figure it out.”
When building something as critical as a grand feature stairway or awe inspiring ornamental metal facade, do you have a strategic approach focusing on best practices? Or, on the other hand, do unknown factors make your approach a bit desultory? After all, if something is “one-of-a-kind,” doesn’t that mean there’s no established paradigm or methodology in place to build it.
Who pays for troubleshooting and learning curves?
If “banging heads together” is the approach, it’s likely that a good chunk of the budget will be eaten up by “figuring out” how to fabricate and install a difficult architectural metal feature. Change orders and expensive rework can result. In some cases, we’ve even seen demolition, new fabrication and re-installation required on projects with no metals specialist on the team. (We’ve been called in after the fact.)
In the world of custom architectural metals, you can liken almost any fabrication to blocks, bars, sheets and slabs of metal awaiting the work of trained machinists and welders. These highly skilled craftsmen are precisely instructed by properly drawn shop details. Foresight into logistical considerations such as transport, onsite fabrication, crane, hoist, rigging or even helicopter enable preplanning for minimal interruption of other crews and reduced cost. Cosmetic finishes like powder coating, anodizing, paint and mechanical finishes are applied at the right stages. Intelligently engineered installation plans are set and the metal fabrications go into place like hand in glove – a glove that fits.
Class A building environments such as Corporate Offices, Universities, Museums, Hospitals, Court Houses and Luxury Residences require the best contractors to build them; to fulfill the designer’s goals of beauty and functionality. Well respected Class A Builders are guided by engineering teams who know the right specialists to call and when to call them.