Now more than ever, architects and manufacturers are collaborating closely on bespoke solutions to unusual project conditions. The interplay between building products, design documentation, and details is complex—and manufacturers are stakeholders that play a critical role in solving new challenges alongside design teams.

Architects can often find synergies and efficiencies in realizing their design intent with help from the technical expertise and resources of building product manufacturers. Manufacturers have deep knowledge about materials, how they behave, and how they can be made into products. With this expertise, they can work with architects to assess the practicality of design elements, offer alternatives when needed, and produce components that stay true to the original design.

This article explores three in-depth case studies collected by Acelab, a platform that connects architects and manufacturers directly for project collaboration. Each case study presents a unique set of challenges and demonstrates how architects and manufacturers are working together to create innovative solutions.

Case Study 1: Hohmann & Barnard resolves issues in facade detailing

Hohmann & Barnard has carved out a niche as an innovator of building envelope solutions, particularly across thermally efficient cladding support, air barriers, and rainscreen systems. These include innovations like a silicone non-combustible air barrier, which can meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association’s 285 test for fire propagation in wall assemblies. H&B stands out for its approach to cladding connections, where its engineering team consistently devises inventive solutions tailored to the unique conditions of each project.

By designing, manufacturing, and fabricating critical components in tandem with a dedicated engineering team, H&B can respond to project specifications brought to them by design teams. Their integrated control over production translates into superior quality and flexibility for building envelope design.

In this example, architects approached H&B for a project with varied facade materials. Three sides of the building were brick cladding using H&B’s TBS system, and the back facade was clad with thin panels requiring an engineered substructure. The architects asked H&B to develop a solution for a rainscreen system on this facade and to streamline the entire project's façade attachment system.

Drawing upon its Rainscreen Support System’s thermal efficiency and durability, H&B unified discussions around detailing the building envelope as one cohesive system. With one design contact from the architect’s team, H&B developed a solution that addressed all facade attachments and resolved issues across the different cladding materials.

Through this case study, the value of the manufacturer design-assist is evident. This consolidated approach ensured all elements were considered in harmony during design, thereby enabling the delivery of a thoughtfully detailed facade.

This strategic intervention was possible because of H&B’s expertise in building envelope products and its holistic perspective on projects. By thinking expansively about multiple aspects of construction, they provided invaluable assistance to the design team—effectively combining different product lines to address and resolve a complex challenge.

Case Study 2: Monarch Metal customizes a system for heavy stone cladding

Monarch Metal has established itself as a prominent player in the building industry with a specialization in cladding and innovative attachment systems. Its product range, which predominantly consists of aluminum due to its high recyclability, caters to both interior and exterior applications. Monarch Metal is particularly recognized for their customizable snap-and-lock systems, which are designed for ease of installation and adaptability across various architectural needs.

Its offerings are characterized by non-progressive systems that allow for individual panel installation and replacement without the need to dismantle the entire assembly. This feature is particularly beneficial for maintenance and long-term adaptability of building facades. Manufactured in the United States, Monarch Metal's all-in-one products reflect an integration of quality materials and thoughtful engineering.

The company's customer service ethos is another cornerstone of its reputation. Monarch Metal is committed to giving personalized attention to every project regardless of scale, and to firms of any size. This is backed by an in-house engineering team that provides valuable design support, offering solutions and recommendations on spacing and installation tailored to each project.

A case study that exemplifies Monarch Metal’s expertise is the company’s collaboration on the Le Solano project in Montreal, Quebec. Here, they faced the challenge of designing a substructure system capable of supporting heavy stone panels while maintaining an aesthetic of minimal projection from the wall surface. The architect required a concealed fastener system that could integrate seamlessly with undercut anchors.

Monarch Metal rose to the occasion by adapting one of its stock systems to meet these specialized requirements. The upgraded clip was engineered to accommodate the undercut anchors effectively, ensuring a secure and durable hold for the stone facade panels. This solution not only met but exceeded the architect's specifications, contributing significantly to the elegance and durability of Le Solano's exterior.

The success at Le Solano stands as a testament to Monarch Metal’s ability to deliver customized solutions within its product line-up—a reflection of its flexibility and technical acumen.

Case Study 3: HySecurity ensures special security requirements are met in design and installation

HySecurity specializes in industrial gate operators, perimeter security solutions, and crash-rated vehicle barriers designed for high-security applications. Its products are tailored for critical facilities such as government buildings, airports, and industrial sites.

The company focuses on markets that require robust security measures, including government and petrochemical sectors, and airports. HySecurity works closely with architects and engineers to provide detailed design guidance and installation training. Installers must be trained and authorized by HySecurity to ensure proper installation practices.

With over 35 years in the industry, HySecurity is known for durable products. Its hydraulic systems have fewer moving parts, leading to greater reliability and less maintenance. This results in a lower total cost of ownership over time. The products are built to last decades, not just years. The control systems offer detailed event logs with date and time stamps and remote maintenance access. They also have user-configurable settings for various security scenarios.

Architects approached HySecurity on the design of a judges’ parking structure for a U.S. District courthouse. Special security considerations and multiple HySecurity products like bollards and crash bars were specified for entry and exit points of the structure. To solve for design constraints and ensure optimum performance, the design team asked HySecurity to take over entry and exit point designs.

HySecurity laid out options for the architects, created drawings that configured itsproducts into their top use, and augmented the architect’s designs with islands. The company provided CAD and BIM files that streamlined document delivery and ensured project security specifications were met. The result was a safe, inviting parking structure design that worked seamlessly with the architect’s design vision.

New tools: Bridging the gap between architects and manufacturers

Architecture is a dynamic and iterative process. Through a collaboration between architects and manufacturers, design-assist can become integral to realizing innovative design solutions. By working with each manufacturer in these case studies, Acelab is facilitating more seamless design assists to enhance efficiency and foster creativity.

Explore Acelab’s AI–powered tools to optimize product selections based on criteria such as cost, availability, aesthetics, performance and sustainability. The platform offers architects a comprehensive database of manufacturers, materials, and products, empowering them to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of design. Acelab is a free materials research, selection, and collaboration platform for architects, by architects.