Central Library in Austin, Texas used perforated anodized aluminum as a central façade design element; Credit: Metal Architecture.

Paul Deffenbaugh, Editorial Director of Metal Construction News, shares his views on the the latest in metal design trends. Mr. Deffenbaugh sits on the judging panels of several design awards and listens as they discuss the merits and qualities of some of the most exciting architectural designs in the world. He says, “Over the last couple of years, we have identified a handful of design trends in the metal construction industry.” They include: use of perforated materials inside and out, use of bright colors, use of cantilevered planes, increase in customization, and how fabricators and installers are becoming linchpins in the construction team.

Mr. Deffenbaugh explains, “The increase in the use of perforated metal materials both for exterior and interior applications is overwhelming. To my mind, the trend began in the southwest where designers relied heavily on perforated panels to provide shading against the harsh sun, but others quickly picked up on it as a way to manage more sophisticated daylighting schemes. Inside the buildings, we’re seeing perforated panels used to expose MEP systems and open up the interior.” 

A geometric pattern based on the shape of lotus flowers is punched into steel panels cladding the upper stories of this residential and commercial building in the South Korean city of Daegu; photo credit: Dezeen

As it relates to using bright colors, he comments that “designers are using smooth metal panels and letting color do the talking without playing with texture such as ribbed panels or perforations. Architects are specifying combinations of colors, splashing them across large façades and adding intersecting colors to the heavily adopted practice of designing with intersecting planes.”

The trend of using more cantilevered planes, Deffenbaugh explains that this design element is no longer just to provide outdoor space that shades, but is now being used to form outdoor rooms, breaking the barrier between inside and outside of the building.

Busan Cinema Center has the Longest Cantilever Roof in the World; photo credit: Tekla

In the metal building system category, the increase in customization is especially true. Pre-engineered metal buildings account for approximately half of all one- and two-story buildings constructed in the United States, according to the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, which shows how effective and efficient these building types are.

Lastly, If increased customization is true in the metal building system category, it is running wild and rampant through the metal wall fabrication and installation arena. Fabricators and installers increasingly are asked to make and install wall systems that do everything you can do with a piece of paper. Designers work more closely with fabricators to be able to deliver on their vision and fabricators and installers will be asked to push their own limits to be able to execute a vision that is unique.

Metal Construction News is a partner publication to METALCON and the sponsor of the show guide at the annual tradeshow.