How a building can go from an idea on paper to a soaring, 20-story structure in just a few months is amazing.
And often what makes a building interesting to me are the little details, the blink-and-you'll-miss-them flourishes that architects sometimes add. Such ornamentation isn't as common today, but a century ago, copper cornices, steel steeples and shiny copper-clad domes were signs that a building or its owner held an important place in the community.
But when ornate building styles such as Beaux Arts and Classical Revival fell out of favor starting in the 1930s, some of the structures that featured their characteristics were allowed to deteriorate. Fortunately, in the 1970s a new appreciation of these buildings and their unparalleled craftsmanship began to take hold. Cities created historic districts and promoted preservation and restoration through tax credits.
Sheet-metal contractors who specialize in such projects have profited handsomely from this trend. We've profiled several of them in SNIPS, including Nashville, Tenn.'s R.D. Herbert & Sons Co., and Kevin and Mike Bristlin, owners of Minnkota Metals & Roofing in Spring Lake Park, Minn. The Bristlin brothers have worked on a number of century-old houses on St. Paul, Minn.'s historic Summit Avenue. When I interviewed the brothers in September 2002, they said knowing that work they performed with their own hands will last for generations was the best part of their jobs.
"I get a thrill," Kevin Bristlin told me. "I can't even drive through a neighborhood and not see a job we didn't work on somewhere."
That comment says a lot about the diversity of architectural sheet-metal work, where contractors are expected to be able to work on anything from a copper dome to a simple weather vane. That diversity is also why I love to write about those kinds of projects. Not every contractor can handle them, and those who do are justifiably proud and usually have a story to tell.
It seems I'm always using this page to solicit input from readers, but if your company has been involved in any noteworthy architectural sheet-metal projects, please write, e-mail or give me a call. Whether big or small, all projects present some challenges, and how you overcame them may interest other contractors. If you have high quality or high-resolution images, please share those as well. It seems most contractors are using digital cameras to document their work these days. That's fine, but please set your camera to the highest resolution it can handle. The so-called "thumbnail images" that look great on your Web sites don't reproduce very well in our magazine.
Travels and travailsThis is the time of year when the Snips staff spends a great deal of time on the road, attending conventions, trade shows, and when time permits, readers' sheet-metal shops. It can sometimes get a little tiring, running from show to show, airport to airport, but we know how important our presence is at events such as Metalcon, Fabtech and the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International annual convention. Readers who cannot attend these events count on us to report on what new products were on display or what the industry trends are.
By the time you read this, Snips will have attended four conventions in a little more than three months. Look for full coverage from all of these events in upcoming issues.