In addition to being energy efficient, Kalwall’s panels are fire and impact resistant. The composite sandwich panels are 2¾ or 4 inches thick. They are formed by permanently bonding specially-formulated fiberglass reinforced translucent faces to a grid core constructed of interlocked, extruded structural aluminum or thermally-broken composite I-beams. The panel’s insulating properties are further enhanced by adding increased densities of either translucent spun glass “batts” (fibers) or aerogel.
With so much attention on sustainable design, more projects like Georgia Tech’s net-zero lab are sure to be on the horizon. “The future looks bright for composite sandwich panels because daylighting has become integral to successful designs,” says Kurt Kistler of Kistler-McDougall Corp., the official distributor of Kalwall panels in Georgia. “Without daylight, many minimum standards cannot be met.”
Attracting the Attention of Architects
While these three projects highlight the potential of composites, industry pros recognize that breaking into the architecture market isn’t easy. So how do you grab the attention of architects? The consensus is to pick partners that understand materials.
“There are firms with material sensibilities that are not stuck on ‘doing it my way,’” says Riebe. “They get incredible and new results in coordination with some of the best engineers and construction companies out there.” If you bind yourself with progressive architects, he adds, you’re likely to find business opportunities.
Kreysler concurs. “Architects who take the time to understand materials are more likely to be better clients,” he says. “There’s a real interest in composites on the part of younger, more forward-thinking architects. They are always looking for something new and unique. And fiberglass represents a material that offers design flexibility not available in conventional materials.”
Two architects and a general contractor shared what companies in our industry can do to increase the use of composites in architectural applications:
– Jefferson Ellinger
Founding Partner of E/Ye Design,
an architecture firm
– Matt Rossie
Vice President of Webcor Builders,
– Giancarlo Valle
Designer for Snøhetta,
an architecture firm
Several years ago, the large-scale use of FRP cladding on buildings such as the San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art would not have been possible. Two formidable challenges stood in the way – material limitations
in the International Building Code (IBC) and the National Fire Protection Association’s 285 test. To read our
exclusive online article about overcoming those challenges, visit compositesmanufacturingblog.com and click
on “Online Exclusives.”