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An internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company, Zahner, sought to expand its existing facility at 8th and Paseo Blvd. in Kansas City, Missouri. The design would have to provide partial transparency and showcase the company’s ability to produce highly engineered forms. Designed by Crawford Architects, the building is able to accommodate Zahner’s expansion needs and show off their impressive abilities to manipulate metals.

The team’s investigation into patterns on metals in nature resulted in a design resembling sand ripples. The natural oxidation pattern was used to create a 3 dimensional digital surface model of the façade. The design also explores Zahner’s skin systems, with the steel backup system being completely exposed. The surface, which is usually applied to the structure, is exempted for the design. Instead of the applied skin defining the form, the totality of all the fins combine to create the overall pattern, while converting an inherently 2-dimensional skeletal system into a collective 3-dimensional sinuous wave pattern. The system’s key components are vertically oriented DT* fins made from a half-circle shaped aluminum extrusion riveted to a water jet cut 3/16” aluminum plate. Placement of the fins is every 24 inches on center with an Inverted Seam™ dry-set glass panel system in-between producing a structural curtain wall set on a cast-in-place concrete base.

The resulting envelope seems to grow out of the rigid form of the existing facility, at the same time providing transparency between the interior activities and the surrounding urban environment.

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