Peter Arkle

From software that promotes proactive value engineering to ceramic cladding that cleans the air, these five products and technology show facades’ design potential.

ShopFloor, Zahner
Metal engineering and fabrication firm A. Zahner Co. is giving architects the ability to design custom metal facades and price their creations in real-time, rethinking the often-reductive process of value engineering. In an interview with ARCHITECT earlier this week, company CEO and president Bill Zahner discussed the new ShopFloor software suite and its inaugural CloudWall tool, which lets designers create a custom Cloud Wall façade—which first appeared on his company’s Kansas City, Mo., headquarters—for their own projects. The company plans to add more tools in early 2014, including one for creating and designing perforated panels for small-scale jobs as well as one to optimize the process of ordering and pricing curtainwall facades.

A. Zahner Co.

PrismFX, Alcoa Architectural
Building facades that respond to environmental changes such as the shift in daylighting levels throughout the day let designers incorporate dynamic elements into an otherwise-static construction. Alcoa Architectural’s PrismFX finish, designed for use with the company’s Reynobond composite panels and Reynolux profiles, changes the appearance of structures from muted blue, green, or silver hues in the morning to a bolder copper, violet, or gold palette in the afternoon. The finish is offered in nine colorways and it resists impact, humidity, salt spray, and abrasion.

Alcoa Architectural Products

Eco-Systems, William Lee Surface Design
With an exterior tile cladding system that incorporates flora and fauna, U.K. designer William Lee has developed a modular system for integrating vegetation into urban spaces. Eco-Systems installs using hooks, allowing for easy maintenance and replacement of dead plants. The system is offered in three profiles and a range of anodized color coatings.

William Lee Surface Design

Bios Self-Cleaning, Casalgrande Padanaand Toto
Airborne pollutants are not only damaging to the environment but also to the life and performance of buildings. The result of a partnership between Italian surfaces manufacturer Casalgrande Padana and Toto, the Bios Self-Cleaning façade incorporates a proprietary titanium-dioxide coating that, when activated by sunlight, decomposes nearby organic airborne pollutants, dirt, and grime that settles on the ceramic surface, allowing rainwater to wash it away.

Casalgrande Padana


Rheinzink, Protect
A transparent coating on the surface of Rheinzink’s prePatina protects the titanium zinc material from natural wear and tear—particularly in coastal or tropical climates or in areas subject to heavy foot traffic—preserving the façade’s original condition. Protect is recyclable and is offered with prePatina’s blue-gray and graphite-gray’s colors.