One continuing challenge is the higher initial cost of composite materials. But architects and engineers are beginning to understand the advantages of their light weight.

“If you could do with two pounds of plastic or FRP what you would otherwise need 30 pounds of concrete to do, that’s a big advantage,” Kreysler says. For the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s façade, for example, engineers eliminated more than a million pounds of support steel by using GFRP rather than glass reinforced concrete.

Architects will also come to appreciate the design freedom that only composite materials can provide. “Every new big project is a door opener for the next one,” says Patrick Noirclerc, a composite products engineer at Sika.

Incorporating FRP materials into smaller-scale, everyday buildings will help composites gain acceptance as well. Kreysler & Associates provided FRP library exterior façade panels for a junior college library. “It wasn’t super exotic, but with FRP they gave themselves something a little special,” he says.

Projects like this will also show the construction community what composites can do.

“This material is amazing, and it’s lighter than anything else you can use,” says Kreysler. “And, if your building has some repetition to it, it can be cost-effective, too.”

Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to mljay@comcast.net.

 

The Latitude office building in Paris features a facade of GFRP ribbons totaling 547 yards long.

Photo Credit: ©Nicholas Grosmond

It took hundreds of hours of CNC milling to produce the intricate molds for the ceiling panels in the Wu Tsai Theater in the Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

Photo credit: Diamond Schmitt

The Heritage luxury apartment building in Sao Paolo incorporates J-shaped composite frames.

Photo Credit: Gatron

This 50-foot-long CFRP residential bridge traverses a gully between the home’s deck and garage.

Photo Credit: Kreysler & Associates