Technological innovations have helped bring Modern Architecture to the forefront of today’s sustainable designs. Aesthetically pleasing concepts such as clean lines, rectangular forms, open concepts, and large glass spans are key characteristics of this style that emphasizes function. One technology that has emerged to help bring these designs to reality is Stainless Structurals’ laser welding production process of sharp cornered architectural steel profiles.
Glass Curtain Walls and Structural Glass
One walk around New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or Seattle and one can see the many construction projects for high end residential and commercial buildings. A closer look will reveal a more recent trend of larger curtain walls, including those with glass to make the building envelope seem almost transparent. The same design concept is happening across the country in other building storefronts such as museums, libraries, monuments, and more. Floor-to-ceiling glass spans are growing by the day as architects want sustainable designs with breathtaking views.
There are many benefits to these large glass spans. The biggest is that they provide natural light which can provide sufficient light for the interior. This reduces the need for artificial lighting and provides an energy savings. Glass is also heat absorbing and can reduce the effects of solar radiation by 25% or more. Thicker glass is becoming more popular as it meets higher deflection limits and wind loads. The daylight and views of the outside also help architects achieve LEED requirements.
With larger and thicker glass becoming very popular, many companies had to adapt in the construction of the framing and curtain walls. The standard aluminum systems will not support the loads of the larger glass and make glass curtain wall dimensions very limited. Fortunately, technologies such as laser welding were developed to produce profiles that mimic the look of an aluminum extrusion but in stainless and carbon steel. These steel profiles provide 3 times the strength of aluminum and the sizes can even be smaller than the aluminum counterpart can. Steel mullions and supports allow for much larger glass spans, giving people views of what they want to see instead of what is behind the glass. They also allow for custom shapes of glass such as triangles instead of basic rectangles. Architectural steel profiles produced by Stainless Structurals allows for more glass in modern architecture.
Architectural Steel Profiles for Glass Applications
When Stainless Structurals started production of laser welded stainless steel in the United States, it opened up an initial market for architectural steel profiles. With our 2020 expansion of our Conroe, Texas facility, a carbon steel line was added, specifically to target architectural applications. The same profiles such as channels, beams, tees, and tubes are now available in both stainless and carbon steel. This gives architects the ability for sustainable designs using more glass in both corrosive and non-corrosive environments.
The most common applications for our architectural steel profiles generally involve glass. This includes structural glass spans, glass curtain walls, glass shoes, and glass canopies. Laser welded profiles have 90 degree corners and straight edges, making them perfect for glass and glazing projects. One of our most iconic projects was that of the Space Needle renovation where we produced a custom channel that holds the glass panels of the observation deck. Along with our custom sections, we routinely produce laser welded tees and sharp cornered tubing that is used for the mullions or supports of glass curtain walls. A recent example is the Tufts Library renovation that had very large glass spans to allow for stunning views of the courtyard and grounds.
Expand your Designs with Stainless Structurals
Stainless Structurals takes the phrase “think outside the box” to heart and we pride ourselves on creating steel profiles that allow architects, engineers and designers to do just that. We are the only source for laser welded stainless and carbon steel profiles that allow for large structural glass designs and curtain walls to become a reality. Our team is ready to assist you expand your horizons. Contact us today for more information on our architectural steel profiles, customization capabilities and standard structural shapes inventory.