Bard College

Pushing the boundaries of stainless steel fabrication

Corrosion resistance, strength, durability, low maintenance and formability are among the defining and most valued characteristics of stainless steels, but the one feature that makes this material so appealing to architects and designers is its appearance.
 

A. Zahner Company is an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication firm headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Since its founding in 1897, it has been at the forefront of cutting-edge design and metal fabrication for art and architecture.  Under the management of L. William Zahner, the company began a rapid shift from regional projects to high-profile architecture, working with renowned artists and designers such as Walter De Maria, Foster + Partners, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, OMA and REX. In an interview in Stainless Steel World, Mr. L. William Zahner, CEO and President, shared his passion for stainless steel as well as his knowledge and experience of metal fabrication.

“Stainless steel demands precision. I like to say virtuosity – a term usually used in reference to artistic pursuit, but equally well suited to describe what is needed to achieve incredible work out of stainless steel. When you see it done well, like when you hear a great orchestral performance of Bach, you know it. It is the metal of art,” Mr Zahner stated.

At Zahner they work with all metals – copper alloys, aluminium, titanium, zinc and steel. “The choice of metal is secondary to the aesthetics, performance and cost,” explains Mr. Zahner. “As we get deep into what the designer hopes to bring to their client we often find that stainless steel offers a plethora of choices. It often boils down to whether the design calls for a gentle aging of the surface, what you might get from copper alloys, zinc and weathering steel, or if the design requires a stable, predictable appearance. For the stable, predictable surface appearance, it is difficult to beat stainless steel.”

 The most common grades used in architecture are 304, 304L, 316, and 316L, with extended corrosion resistance in environments subject to chlorides being the determining factor. But the knowledge needed to translate a design concept into a feasible, fully functional and aesthetically pleasing reality extends far beyond the issue of corrosion.

To read the full article please contact the Editor in Chief, Mrs Joanne McIntyre.

 

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