© Brett Boardman Photography

Pushing the Building Envelope: Metal Products for Creating Striking Façades

Ever since Frank Gehry made his mark with a certain sculptural museum in Spain, the architecture world has seen a steady push of the envelope — quite literally — with metal. We take a look at a few recent intriguing metallic façades, skins and other building envelope elements that have piqued our interest — and the products that helped achieve these designs.

Sheila Kim Sheila Kim

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Ever since Frank Gehry made his mark with a certain sculptural museum in Spain, the architecture world has seen a steady push of the envelope — quite literally — with metal. We take a look at a few recent intriguing metallic façades, skins and other building envelope elements that have piqued our interest — and the products that helped achieve these designs as well as additional brands you should know in creating your own stunning original façade.

Sherbourne Common Pavilion

Sherbourne Common Pavilion, Toronto, Canada

An anchor at the intersection of different park elements, this pavilion was thoughtfully designed by Teeple Architects to play backdrop to various activities — amphitheater, skating rink, playground and water channel — while providing an open gateway that both welcomes visitors and frames views of the Lake Ontario waterfront. Its channel, which cuts right through the building, helps divert storm water from the lake and into a basement under the pavilion that houses an ultraviolet water filtration system.

The architects specified a deep and warm VMZinc product for the rainscreen cladding while selecting a lighter-hued polished VMZinc material under the “archway.” As sunlight and reflections off the water passing underneath hit the polished panels, the shimmery arch calls passersby to it like moths to a flame. This exterior materials palette has also helped the project attain LEED Gold.

Grand Théâtre d’Albi, Albi, France

One would assume that veiling a building with a metal-mesh box takes away from the main structure’s beauty. But that’s not so with this theater addition designed by Dominique Perrault Architecture. Here the architect conceived a completely detached open-top box with curved copper-toned mesh sides that swoop to just above the building’s roof line.

This feature softens the look of the main brick and concrete building while also functioning as a screen to protect against harsh sun, wind and rain. And, the mesh tension is adjustable as needed to meet different conditions and programs. The veil is made with GKD’s Metal Fabrics, which are available in a wide range of weave patterns, openness and finishes.

Grande Théâtre d’Albi

Waterfront Pavilion, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, Australia

At first glance this waterfront institution looks as if its undulating form is constructed with a curved corrugated material. But on close inspection, one discovers the articulated façade is composed of slices that pitch the roof panels at varied rising and falling angles.

The project’s architect, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) tapped building-envelope specialist Kingspan to help realize the custom design. In addition to ACM cladding, Kingspan offers engineered façade systems utilizing ceramic tile, porcelain stone and thin brick to suit a variety of building styles.

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography


Australian National Maritime Museum pavilion

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

© Brett Boardman Photography

Project 2XmT

Though this pavilion hasn’t been been realized, it deserves mention for its eye-catching study in geometry and physics. In fact, the University at Buffalo design team won multiple 2014 Architizer A+Awards for the concept, which proposes using self-structuring lightweight screens custom fabricated by Rigidized Metals in thin-gauge textured stainless steel.


Project 2XmT

Pure + FreeForm

This company offers both façade/exterior metal panel systems and interior wall cladding products in a wide variety of styles and finishes: corrugated, dry joint plate, face fastened, flush, color, faux patina, etc. The exterior-grade products are fully customizable, Class A fire rated, single skin and 100 percent recyclable after use as they’re aluminum.


Pure + FreeForm

Móz Designs

Though known for interior metal finishes such as column covers, protective wall panels, decorative privacy screens and more, Móz also offers a number of products that are suitable for exterior use and can had some luster or dimension: solid-core 20-gauge stainless steel sheets, corrugated metal panels, perforated or patterned-and-coated aluminum panels and more.

Móz Designs

Looking for more ideas? Click here to learn how Architizer Source can help you find the right material and hardware options.

© 35astudio

HOUSE R // 35astudio

Casa d'Agosto, Italy

© Luuk Kramer - © Fact Architects

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