© VUW Studio. Courtesy of Selldorf Architects

Few building materials can match the aesthetic and structural qualities of stainless steel. Consider the Chrysler Building, for example. The stainless steel roof finial of the Art Deco masterpiece is still going strong after nearly 90 years.

More recently, the material is enjoying a design renaissance as architects and designers apply its sleek aesthetic to light masks and masts, sunscreens, fencing, bollards, benches, railing infill, façade accents, air grilles, tree grates, entrance mats, and many other building components.

Why the surge of interest?

A good person to ask is Wade Brown, sales manager and product expert at Construction Specialties, a manufacturer of architectural building products with a 70-year legacy of offering a variety of aluminum and stainless steel product applications. The scale and customized application of stainless steel’s rebirth fascinates him.

“Stainless steel as a design accent for façades, landscaping, and building interiors has exploded in the last five to six years. Architects now specify stainless steel in customized ways we’ve never seen before,” Brown says.

Why the transformation? “Stainless steel has a modern, clean, and monolithic aesthetic,” Brown says. “It’s also durable, requiring little to no maintenance, and it’s recyclable.”

According to Brown, architects and designers looking to specify stainless steel architectural accents on their projects should ask the following questions:

  1. What is the fabrication company’s customization track record? Stainless steel is a commodity product. But that doesn’t mean every company is qualified to meet your custom design and fabrication requirements, especially on significant architectural projects.
  2. What is the company’s reputation for producing quality product solutions? Diana Firestone is the business development manager for a supplier of stainless-steel materials to fabricators like Brown’s company. Her unique industrywide perspective lets her see how different fabricators work with architects. “Not every company supports architects the same way,” Firestone says. “Take Construction Specialties, for example. Passing their quality tests is cause for celebration around here. Nothing gets past them. They set a very rigorous quality standard.”
  3. What is the company’s lead time? Meeting a design specification is one thing; delivering the goods on a timely basis is another. For example, Brown’s company minimizes lengthy waits by keeping stainless steel on hand, not relying on third parties. “We keep material in-house, so we can manufacture on demand. Our lead times are the best in the industry,” Brown explains.
  4. Who is the local rep? Not all fabricators have a local rep to help manage your project and provide hands-on assistance and project responsibility. Learn who your local rep is.
  5. Does the company offer technical services? Don’t risk a project with your own field measurements. A top fabricator will offer to assume the risk of measurements on request. Construction Specialties partners with customers to ensure a precision fit on custom applications or odd-shaped units, as well as unique support or framing requirements.
  6. What is the company’s response to special orders? Any manufacturer should approach original, unique design accents with a positive, can-do attitude.

Few materials lend attractiveness, sophistication, and permanence to a project like stainless steel. Consider all the ways this remarkable material can be customized to transform your next project. Check out this gallery of ideas at http://csinc.bz/gljan.