A’18: Trending Styles and Single-Source Solutions

Architects are looking for bold alternatives when it comes to daylighting solutions, including dynamic control of daylighting and gridless panels in the monolithic style currently in vogue. They also want single-source building partners.

Those were the takeaways of Sam Keller, Kalwall Creative Director, and Mark McNichol, Director of Sales for Structures Unlimited, Inc., Kalwall’s strategic partner, during the recent A’18, the annual AIA Conference on Architecture, in New York City.

Here are their thoughts after sharing ideas and best practices with people from across the world of building design.

Mark McNichol says…

Single-Source Stability: Traditionally, general contractors and engineers have preferred a construction partner offering a single-source, turn-key solution, while architects have been more focused on the final product.

But we’ve seen that changing. Why? Well, integrated design tools such as BIM, give architects the ability to understand from the beginning how decisions will affect the final product. But overall, there’s been a move toward more integrated project teams, including not only architects, engineers and contractors, but also owners, facility managers and specialty consultants.

The new goal is to get everyone, in all disciplines, on board with the complete vision of a project.

Having a single-source partner means having another member of a team that understands the vision from the very beginning. This is key as more projects emphasize the importance of building performance and the health of building occupants. LEED specifications and rigorous building codes for fire safety, hurricane protection and more are further driving changes.

Finally, in a time when the building industry is experiencing worldwide labor shortages, single-source partners ensure the project is done faster and smarter because the labor is already in place.

Having a partner such as Structures Unlimited for a particular part of a building project helps move a project along while making for better accountability and quicker fixes when there is a problem.

Sam Keller says…

Minimalist=monolithic: The gridless look is definitely something architects are favoring. As with any design element, we have to develop daylighting solutions that respond to the market without sacrificing value. That’s a challenge, but it’s an exciting one.

Since Kalwall began, we have been ahead of the curve with our technology. While we continue to focus on maintaining the integrity of the product, the design side of our panels have clearly grown beyond the shoji style we are noted for.

New styles of panels, from shape to color, continue to be developed, tested and put into market. That will continue. Our industry-leading technology is important, but so is the look of our products. Our customers care about both.

Getting Dynamic with Light Transmission: Dynamic control of light transmission has come a long way. It’s an application that can be used in a variety of ways, including in skylights and wall systems.

Architects are looking for the technology because of how it lowers energy consumption and affects LEED certifications. And by emphasizing a healthier design that minimizes glare and light transmittance, they are helping occupants be more comfortable and, generally, more productive.

Electrochromic technology is commonly associated with glass, but it can also be successfully used to darken the interior of translucent sandwich panels. The result is lowered solar heat gain, which reduces the use of heating and cooling systems.

It’s the best of both worlds, boosting energy savings by controlling HVAC loads but also adding a design element that provides a better environment for the people inside the building.

Architects will never stop trying to push the envelope and advance the way we live and work in buildings. Helping turn those visions into reality is what keeps us motivated

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