Having someone on staff who speaks the architects’ language also could prove helpful for composites manufacturers. Riebe finds that his background as a licensed architect allows him to serve as a guide to architects making decisions on materials during the design process. “One strategy would be to hire a recent grad of an architectural program, as they most likely will know the latest modeling and manufacturing tendencies in the industry,” he suggests.
Riebe’s architectural background also has helped him understand the importance of getting involved early in the process in a design-assist role. “We essentially become consultants and part of the team in the hope of securing the actual fabrication down the road,” he explains.
But Van Dyck points to one more obstacle that still needs to be overcome: convincing owners that composites belong in architecture. “That right now is our hurdle. We’ve proven concepts, we’ve proven the value proposition, and we’ve proven the cost is not insurmountable, but we’re working on getting these clients excited about making the leap to be the first to do something like that,” he says. “It’s a two-sided effort: designers need to overcome this fear factor, but owners do, too.”