Listening to the Architect

“Thinking Outside The Extrusion”

12:11:29 PM on 03/30/2010

As Manager of Kawneer’s Architectural Services Team, (AST) I have the opportunity to talk with architects and designers all over the globe on a daily basis. At times, this can be challenging, enjoyable, frustrating and informative (which one of these tops my list can vary from day to day). One thing is for certain – when working with a creative customer there is never a dull moment!

Today, I would like to talk about a challenge that I have run into often. Designers like to think big. They like to push the envelope, stretch the imagination and stretch our capabilities. At times I have had to negotiate their dreams and visions into something we could accomplish.  Although confident we could provide a solution, it was sometimes frustrating for me to have to suggest scaling back on the designer’s dream.  After all, what is the point of dreaming big if people tell you “fantastic dream but you might want to change it here, here and here?”  I believe that Kawneer is a “solutions” company – a “We Can Do It” company.  So when designers came to me with a challenge I did what we do best; looked for a solution.

The demand for bigger elevations; bigger glass; bigger daylight; and the demand for bigger blending of the exterior with the interior has been a constant. Meeting this demand has been a challenge. Historically, Kawneer is known for providing the market with the most comprehensive line of architectural aluminum building products and solutions.  Don’t get me wrong; I love aluminum! It is a fantastic material with so many great characteristics. It can be extruded into wonderful shapes, it’s easy to fabricate, easy to finish and it lasts for years. In fact, Alcoa estimates that over 70% of all the aluminum that we have produced is still in the market. But there comes a time to think outside the given and to look at a material that allows us to provide a solution for monumental elevations beyond the capability of aluminum. That was when I met Forster Profile Systems, based out of Switzerland. 

Forster is a leading European manufacturer of steel and stainless steel profile framing systems. They produce steel and stainless steel storefronts, curtain walls and doors to meet the demand for fire-rated frames. Fire-rated frames is a space that Kawneer has not been able to enter with aluminum but Forster steel frames now gives us the best-in-class for this growing market. Steel frames can have up to 3X the structural capability of aluminum.  The capability of steel allows us to pick up where aluminum leaves off.  By aligning steel framing systems with our aluminum we now have all the arrows in our quiver that we need.  We can now let the dreamer dream big dreams and hit the target. 

I am very excited about the recently announced partnership between Kawneer and Forster Profiles. This is a great partnership and truly makes Kawneer an even bigger “solutions” company.  Having Forster steel and stainless steel systems available now, I don’t have to negotiate.  I simply change my thinking from aluminum to steel and “keep the dream alive”. Where aluminum ends, steel begins.  I can now tell designers, “33-foot free standing curtain walls, sure!”  “Curtain walls with verticals 10-feet on center, why not?” As a true solutions company we are providing solutions and  I am proud to say that I manage a cutting edge department in a true solutions company!  Where I once was challenged, I am now excited about all that we have to offer designers with big dreams!

To learn more about Kawneer's Steel and Stainless Steel Framing Systems by Forster click here

Do you dream big? I would love to hear more about your design goals or your thoughts.




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