What role does fabrication play in building envelope design?

Submitted by Katy Tomasulo on Thu, 05/25/2023 - 05:50
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AIA partner ALPOLIC explores the opportunities of collaboration."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Projects begin with a concept, and there is an entire team of designers and contractors who play an important role in turning that concept into reality. For architects, understanding the world of fabrication can help facilitate designs, to push boundaries while ensuring the end project remains structurally secure and practical in execution. The best fabrication companies work collaboratively to make sure wall assemblies are meticulously designed, expertly manufactured, and installed with precision. "]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[0],1,"Fabricators are the manufacturers of exterior cladding systems"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"For designers looking to use panelized exteriors featuring "],[0,[1],1,"metal composite materials (MCM)"],[0,[],0,", fiber cement, plate metal, and more, it may be surprising to hear that while architectural product manufacturers produce the quality look and innovative materials, they often do not manufacture the cladding system. Rather, skilled fabrication teams use materials like MCM to create the complex forms and assemblies that make building exteriors both safe and beautiful. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Facilitating project management, drafting, estimating, and installation quality, fabricators take the unique challenges of each project and use premium architectural materials to present customized solutions. Their proprietary panelized wall systems, based on aluminum extrusions, are engineered with the budget, environmental loads, "],[0,[2],1,"fire testing standards"],[0,[],0,", and material tolerances in mind. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Architectural cladding is just one component of the wall assembly described in a project\u2019s "],[0,[3],1,"specification "],[0,[],0,"\u2014the framework that details the scope, materials, and methods required. Architects will specify a list of standards for a given project. For a fa\u00e7ade featuring MCM, that might mean including the "],[0,[4],1,"finish criteria"],[0,[],0," or attachment systems. The specification may require a certain paint system or "],[0,[5],1,"warranty"],[0,[],0," coverage. These specs are sent out to general contractors who then get subcontractors to bid on the work. It may be the roofer or glass shop who then reaches out to the fabricator for the wall assembly."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,0],[1,"h3",[[0,[0],1,"Fabricators help translate the design intent to deliver design solutions"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Often the first step for fabricators is interpreting the architect\u2019s drawings. These give fabricators a rough idea of what the architect wants the end product to look like. From there, the fabrication team would draw it to be more specific to the products offered. Through project management, the fabricator\u2019s details and "],[0,[6],1,"attachment methods"],[0,[],0," help reconcile the design with the build constraints also ensuring the project stays on schedule and within budget. It\u2019s a matter of trying to get it tailored to fit. Fabricators know what the job needs and what the client wants."]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[0],1,"Collaboration is key"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"After submitting drawings to the general contractor for approval, the actual custom metal fabrication process could begin. Routed and formed into panels, the materials are shipped out to the jobsite where the erection team can install. Installation may or may not be done by the company that fabricates the panels, so clear diagrams and open communication between the site and fabrication shop are vital."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"It\u2019s important for fabricators to find the right material for the job for projects of all sizes. Factors like budget, sustainability, and safety are paramount for all in the architecture, engineering, and construction (ACE) industry. Premium material manufacturers offer expert support staff and have a dedicated technical services department on hand to help answer design questions, working directly with fabricators to bring visions to life. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[7],0,"Learn more about the MCM design and specification process by "],[0,[8],1,"scheduling an AIA presentation"],[0,[],1," today. "]]]]}
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Understanding the world of fabrication can help architects push the boundaries of exterior design. ALPOLIC explores the opportunities of collaboration.
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