Using fiberglass molds enabled Kudless to achieve the curves and smooth finishes he wanted, producing the one-of-a-kind structure that the client had requested. “Doing something this radical, it’s amazing that it came in on budget and on time,” says Kudless. “It was more accurate than anyone thought it would be at the beginning, and it was only possible through using composites, the CNC router and the robots to mill the foam out first.”

Complex Geometries

While FRP can be used to make molds in architectural applications, it can also serve as the main material for some of the most stunning building exteriors in the world. Composite materials were featured in the eye-catching façade of the KAFD World Trade Center, the second-highest tower in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


BFG International manufactured more than 3,000 unique fiberglass panels for the façade of the World Trade Center in the King Abdulla Financial District in Saudi Arabia. Foam cores from Armacell gave the panels stiffness while keeping them light weight. Photo Credit: BFG

Working with Permasteelisa Dubai, BFG International developed and manufactured 3,000-plus unique exterior panels spanning an area of more than 47,000 square yards. “The challenge was creating the large variations in geometry within the tight dimensional tolerances in a very short span of time,” says Mathew Sailesh, business development and project manager at BFG. “The safety aspects were critical, and the entire assembly was tested and approved to meet NFPA 285 and ASTM E84 fire safety norms as per the building code.”

The fiberglass panels are a composite sandwich construction with a self-extinguishing, polyester-based, fire-retardant and UV-resistant gelcoat polyester skin and a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) foam core from Armacell. The foam gives the panels, some almost 50 feet long, the required stiffness and light weight. “The long span PET foam cored panels are tailor-made to meet stringent high-speed wind loading criteria,” says Henri Chapelle, Armacell Benelux S.A.’s sales and marketing manager for PET foams.

“It was definitely an achievement that the panels were supplied on time and with the desired geometry, so that each panel aligned perfectly and was assembled on spot with ease,” Sailesh says. All of the panels delivered to the site were dimensionally perfect, he adds. BFG completed the façade package at the end of 2016.

Optimizing Light and Heat

In Columbus, Ohio, panels from composite manufacturer Kalwall have provided natural lighting without unwanted heat to a century-old warehouse that is the production facility for a local distillery. The renovation design for the building, from Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design (JBAD), called for the removal of the middle third portion of Middle West Spirits’ one-story building and the construction of a 55-foot-tall structure in its place. But the polycarbonate material JBAD originally planned to use for the addition’s sidewalls was too expensive, so they approached Kalwall.