Brass, with its rich color, malleability, and innate beauty, can be made into many useful and visually stunning objects. You often see brass in jewelry, sculpture, and practical household fixtures, but have you seen them used in architecture?
The New School’s University Center in New York City recently underwent a massive brass undertaking. The designers cut up pieces of brass sheet metal into shingles and installed them onto the school’s exterior. A World-Architects Daily News article by John Hill describes the effort:
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s design for The New School’s University Center in New York City places classrooms, studios, labs, a library, a dormitory, a cafe, and an auditorium behind a façade of 5,277 hand-finished brass panels.
The brass shingles – scaled somewhere between the brick and cast iron of the older buildings and the glass, metal panels and precast panels of contemporary buildings – are an integral part of this dialogue. Breaking through the horizontal layers of the brass shingles are clear panes that follow the stairs snaking around the building. The glass and metal work together to express the social interaction and interdisciplinary exchange that the outboard circulation promotes.
What makes brass an ideal construction material?
Brass is tough and strong, and make for exceptionally functional and decorative architectural pieces. Brass naturally casts an air of sophistication to any home. Additionally, the metal is impervious to the elements and can naturally resist corrosion, allowing you to enjoy years of problem-free service. Chances are, it will even outlast the rest of your home.
Is brass expensive?
In some cases, solid brass can be more expensive than aluminum or plated steel. Then again, brass isn’t easily damaged like aluminum, and it won’t rust like plated steel. Although it may cost you more upfront, in the end, using brass as elements in your home’s architectural design can only save you money for the long years it will serve you.
Does a homeowner need to observe special care to maintain brass?
The most you’ll need to do to maintain brass is to wipe it clean periodically. That said, you may not even want to. Brass metals age with distinction, its hues turning into an elegant deep metallic brown over time. However, you may choose to apply lifetime coatings to help your brass pieces maintain their bright polished look.
(Source: The New School’s Brass Shingles, World-Architects Daily News, Oct. 3, 2014)