Volume 35, Number 3, March 2000

Making a Statement

Designing Buildings with an
Emphasis on Appearance

by Tom O’Malley and B.E. Blank

Architects are designing buildings and functional entrances with more emphasis on appearance.
Access control is still the main function of an entrance, but now entrances are becoming a building’s statement to the public.

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LOEWS THEATRES in Schaumburg, Ill. utilizes a radiused aluminum canopy in a Kynar painted finish.

In some cases, the design of the entrance dictates the material required. If a metal design is complex and certain connections or anchors need to be made, aluminum is used. Aluminum can be notched, cut, punched, sheared, bent, and welded: Some of these techniques are not available with other metals. Ease of formation is another reason aluminum is used more often than other metals. Durability and functionality dictates the use of stainless steel. Metal choice is also mandated by the final appearance or finish of the entrance.

Aluminum is the material needed when a painted look is desired. When a metallic look is preferred, stainless steel, in either a polish or satin, is the top choice. Most statement entrances are moving toward the all-metal look. The marketplace is seeing an influx of stainless, brass, and anodized finishes with this movement. Polished stainless steel and brass are the two main finishes we see today in the glass door entrance market. This trend is not only being seen in the high-end glass door market, but also in the storefront market.

The industry’s ability to clad storefront doors and framing in metal finishes make functional storefront entrances a building’s statement. In conjunction with the storefront material, curtainwall framing is also being cladded with different materials to give a metallic look.

Architectural metals now serve as a functional covering for exterior hardware and building facades to give a polished appearance. Support mullions and other metal braces are also being cladded in the same finishes as the storefront doors and framing. To ensure no damage occurs to the claddings and to reduce seams in the metal, this application process is usually done after the store or office entrance area is installed.

A building’s exterior glass windows are incorporating more architectural metals as well. With increased emphasis being placed on cost savings, sunshades are becoming more common to keep future cooling costs down. Since most of the exterior windows are in the main view of the public, architectural metal sunshades are moving up the list in popularity for energy cost savings.

Glazing contractors, who in the past have passed on this work, are now eager to take on the growing trend of architectural metal installation. In the coming years, the market should be prosperous.

Tom O’Malley serves as sales manager for Doralco. B.E. Blank is vice president of operations.


Copyright 2000 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.