Shiny new objects

As an architect, I am always interested in new finishes that can help add depth, texture and color to a structure.  The wide variety of exterior finish products that are in today’s marketplace is almost unlimited.  So too are the details and products used in their installation.

When on a jobsite, I cringe when I see multiple materials, tapes, fasteners and barriers used to create a reliable envelope that helps protect the building from the elements – especially where we live in the upper Midwest.  Most failures occur where there is a joint in between materials that needs protection added to it to make the exterior barrier continuous.  As we continue to expand the finish palette of our architectural precast concrete (see previous blogs on terracotta, graphic concrete, thin brick, 3D printing, form liners, etc) we want to make sure that they are as durable and reliable as one would expect to see with any precast finish.

With our new lightweight cladding systems (Slenderwall and Integrated Enclosure System – or IES) we are able to use precast concrete as a weather, air and vapor barrier.  This helps us simplify and minimize the number of joints and fasteners needed to complete the building envelope.  This also allows us to add other finishes to the face of the precast, knowing there is a very durable and reliable substrate protecting the building behind those finishes.

These finishes can include (but are not limited to) the wide array of metal and laminate panels.  Designers will be able to expand the amount of materials that can be incorporated on these precast cladding panels, allowing for a much more unique design.  Another benefit of this process will allow for these materials to be installed off-site in an enclosed facility, which will improve quality and speed up construction – but that will be covered in another blog . . . Stay tuned!

Ed Muehlberg
Architect