All That Shimmers

Sequin Shopping Center Wall Wows in San Diego, California

by Devon Jackson, freelance writer for the construction industry

Not all that shimmers in this world is sure to fade.  In fact, the shimmering sequin wall of metal built by California Sheet Metal, for Westfield UTC mall in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, ought to last well into the next century and beyond.  Even better, it’s not only built to last, it’s the first wall of its kind in San Diego.

         Westfield’s design team came up with the idea of a shimmering, or sequined, façade for the shopping center and turned to California Sheet Metal, El Cajon, California, because of their experience in this growing phenomenon of ornamental sheet metal in architecture.  The building features over 3,200 stainless-steel panels that were fabricated and installed by California Sheet Metal.  The wall was 3D-laser-scanned in order to facilitate the precise design and layout of the concrete embeds and the sub-frame.

         Once the panels were scanned and fabricated, they were then attached to the galvanized HSS tube steel support framing using two stainless-steel spindles as hinge points at the top of each sequin square.  These hinge points allow the panels to pivot with the wind, creating the shimmering effect, not unlike the undulations of a boat’s sail as it moves over the ocean.  Granex blue in color, with just a bit of space in between them, these light-interference, stainless-steel panels are etched-steel sourced from British metal finisher Rimex.

         As companies like California Sheet Metal continue to push the design envelope in the world of sheet metal fabrication, architects continue to innovate accordingly. 

         “There’s been a substantial increase in the use of imagery in sheet metal applications,” said Scott Hollingsworth, California Sheet Metal’s business development manager.  “In a case like this sequin wall, when you execute it with the kind of artistry and craftsmanship that we bring to all our projects, it gives the structure texture.  It creates a real impression that people remember.  The amazing thing is it doesn’t even take much wind to create this effect and it gives the building a whole new, three-dimensional look.”

         As collaborative as they are creative, the highly experienced team at California Sheet Metal is as innovative as architects are forward thinking.  The advances in 3-D technology and software have allowed both sides to keep up with each other.  “We build what architects dream up,” said Hollingsworth.  “What makes this type of project so attractive is that it’s not just a façade or the outside of a building.  It’s art.  It’s ornamental art steeped in craftsmanship and the kind of sincerity of thought and intention that we really believe in here at California Sheet Metal.  Plus, it’s really cool.”

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