Explorations, Defining Surface

March 2 to 25, 2011, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Explorations, Defining Surface

Exhibit of Fabrications Produced by A. Zahner Company

For more than a century, the A. Zahner Company has fabricated intricate metalwork for the built environment. The company has participated in the evolution from the tactile content of the artisan making components ranging from one-of-a-kind cornice shapes to the highly engineered shapely forms of a Gehry Partners design. In this evolution, Zahner technicians and engineers have successfully married the ability of fine crafted detail with a digital definition of three-dimensional form. The challenge has been to interpret the information conveyed by the designer and instill a parametric relationship. The relationship involves not only the interface of the various parts, but also how the machines that cut, shape, and pierce these parts interpret the design. This refined definition can be translated into the final product to produce a "machined" appearance and to enhance design intent. (Text adapted from Bill Zahner's article in Manufacturing Material Effects: Rethinking Design and Making in Architecture, page 68.)

"Explorations, Defining Surface," featured material investigations undertaken by Zahner for several different projects. Through the manipulation of plate metal, Zahner is able to produce a specific articulation of "surface" in support of an architectural concept. The utilization of parametric modeling and translation of that parametric data to manufacturing machinery, all while working in collaborative design partnerships with architects, has set the engineers and fabricators at Zahner apart from other manufacturers. The company has worked with major architectural firms such as Herzog & de Meuron, Morphosis, REX, Snøhetta, Zaha Hadid, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Gehry Partners, and FOA.

Zahner is an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company best known for the use of metal in the world of art and architecture. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Zahner employs nearly 200 craftsmen and engineers in its offices and two plants.


University Co-op Materials Lab, AIA Austin


Sydney Mainster

Faculty support

Charlton Lewis, Joyce Rosner

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