Mad About Metal

November 1, 2010

NC2-AirtronicsSan Francisco architects recently teamed with a sheetmetal fabricator to punch, laser cut and bend their visions into reality. Two years ago, the architectural firm NC2 designed a Studio City apartment complex featuring custom woven-wood balcony railings. When the customer said its budget wouldn’t allow for wood railings, and suggested using standard welded pipe railings instead, the architects balked.


“Our railing design was a key aesthetic component of the entire project,” says NC2 president Russ Naylor. Rather than abandon the woven-pattern railing design, NC2 opted to create their design in sheetmetal. In fact, the firm has since found that by manipulating a flat sheet of metal, it can produce an aesthetically superior product for less than the cost of traditional pipe railings, while still allowing the designer to customize patterns.

Inspired, the firm recently launched its Bok Modern (Bok, pronounced ‘boke,’ means good fortune in Korean) line of decorative metal railings, panels and screens, targeting residential and commercial hospitality projects. To produce the products, San Jose, CA fabricator Airtronics Metal Products first investigated sourcing the work in China and became unsatisfied with the quality, turnaround time and freight costs.

“Some shops just didn’t have the right equipment,” says Naylor. For example, fabrication requires a laser bed that can accommodate a 5-by-10-ft. piece of sheetmetal.

The first joint projects completed by the NC2-Airtronics partnership included a Mill Valley residence and a Berkeley recreation center. For the residence, Airtronics used an Amada Gemini laser-cutting machine to cut water patterns into panels for exterior balconies and stairs. For the home’s art studio, the firm laser-cut a Roy Lichenstein-like design (as shown in the photo above) into panels for the loft and staircase. And for the recreation center, Airtronics created cat-eye-patterned panels for a business-center loft and staircase.

Potential joint projects on the horizon include a condominium complex in Hunters Point, CA, an athletic center at Laney (Oakland) College, and new-parking garage screening at the University of California San Francisco.

Airtronics: 408/977-7800;

Industry-Related Terms: Bed, Center, LASER, Point
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Airtronics Metal Products, Inc.

Technologies: Cutting


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