Public Space Architecture & Fabrication

Translucent Resin SignagePublic spaces require clear and coherent wayfinding signage. Design professionals are under pressure to develop signage programs that successfully enhance the visitor experience. This is particularly critical in large public assembly spaces such as airport terminals. Directing large groups of pedestrians in a terminal is no easy task. Design professionals are increasingly looking for ideas to create signage with solid surface. Ideas that capture the attention of visitors to provide visual cues to keep pedestrian traffic flowing.

Many times typical “off the shelf” cheaper plastic signage solutions are not distinctive enough to grab the attention of pedestrians in a busy public space. With signage from multiple vendors competing for attention in an airport terminal, it can be a struggle to stand out. Most signage fabricators can’t provide creative design assist experience to design professionals. Design professionals need fabricators with demonstrated knowledge of LED lighting, solid surface and translucent resin sheet materials. The fabricator’s ability to CNC machine various graphic font types and experience with handcrafted dimensional letters is critical. Backlit signage requires careful attention to the finer details of the finishing process.

Because of ASST’s depth of experience we can provide a wealth of knowledge for your signage project. We can share creative ideas and best practices on incorporating solid surface signage into your next project. Whether you are looking for opaque solid surface dimensional letters or translucent backlit resin letters, ASST can help. We can provide you with the project inspiration and technical details to make your wayfinding strategy a success!


Let us assist you with your next solid surface signage project! Whatever you need, ASST can build it to your exact specifications, in a safe manner, and to the quality standards you expect. Contact us now online or call us at 717-630-1251.



Krion

Custom solid surface Porcelanosa Krion wall cladding with lighted thermoformed bump-outs in NYC. Mancini Duff is the Architect. ASST is the fabricator. At ASST we are Going Beyond the Surface Level. www.asst.com


Solid Surface Public SeatingPublic seating in high traffic applications can take quite a beating. Design professionals are under increasing pressure from clients to provide seating solutions that are both durable and comfortable. Many are unaware of the flexibility solid surface provides to create seating that conforms ergonomically. The inherent performance characteristics of thermoformed solid surface materials provide an amazing opportunity to increase the longevity of public seating.

Design professionals today are bombarded with a plethora of furniture seating solutions. Unfortunately, many of these “seating systems” are poorly manufactured with planned obsolescence. Constructed of cheaper plastics, many of these systems fail soon after warranty expiration. This is hardly a strategy for clients looking to be environmentally responsible. Design professionals need to provide smart ergonomic seating solutions addressing both performance and value. These challenges seem insurmountable when industry standard public seating systems don’t fulfill your specified requirements.

ASST has the capability to help. With a state-of-the-art thermoforming studio we can create ergonomic seating to your exact design specifications. We can share past solid surface project case studies to inspire your creativity. Working in concert with your team, we provide design assistance and credible information to present to your clients. Tailored services to meet busy design professional’s needs are what we do!


Let us assist you with your next solid surface seating project!  Whatever you need, ASST can build it to the exact specifications, in a safe manner and to the finest quality standards you expect. Contact us now online or call us at 717-630-1251.



Modular Vanity SystemDesigning restroom spaces that are both attractive and durable is a challenge. Properly designed public restroom facilities can enhance the experience for those who use and maintain their appearance. Restrooms in public spaces must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Studies have shown that proper design and planning reduces both queuing issues and facility vandalism.

Traditional plastic laminate vanity countertops and drop-in china sink bowls provide an opportunity for moisture to destroy a particle board substrate. This creates an optimal environment for bacterial growth. We have all witnessed restroom countertops with laminate surfaces that have swelled from exposure to water.

To address this common problem, ASST developed a wall hung solid surface vanity system. The 30” wide modular units utilize a sturdy aluminum and polyethylene support structure with a removable solid surface front panel. The front panel is removable allowing for easy access to plumbing. The Modular Vanity system™ is available in 30” wide increments and includes a solid surface top, backsplashes, side panels and your choice of an integral mounted sink. The system is available in all solid surface sheet products such as Corian, Avonite and Staron. Without wood that can rot and grow mold, the system is perfectly designed to handle rigorous public restroom environments.

Get a solid surface vanity counter solution that will last for your next project.  Call us today for a project specific price quote at 717-630-1251 x305.


Cover of ISFA Countertops and Architectural Surfaces Magazine featuring ASST's thermoformed spiral staircase project
Photo of complex thermoformed spiral staircase fabricated by ASST

Photo by Chuck Choi Architectural Photography – click to enlarge

A Project WIth a Twist

Fabricator conquers complex commercial construction of KRION® solid surface stairway

By Andrew Dreves, ASID

Spiral staircases are certainly nothing new but fabricating an enormous one in solid surface with compound angles, well that is new. And that’s exactly the project that renowned architectural firm Payette had in mind for an atrium in the building that would connect both 75 and 125 Binney Street, in the heart of Boston, that when completed would be the home of Ariad Pharmaceuticals.

The design for the monumental stairs was inspired by the red spiraling spool of thread depicted in the Ariad Pharmaceuticals logo. However, the design was highly complex with two surface planes meeting along a rising curve (see Figure 1). The difficulty of fabricating the project was nearly as massive as the project itself, so much so that most fabricators wouldn’t even attempt it. However, Payette already knew a company that would be likely to take on the challenge.

Figure 1

Figure 1 – click to enlarge

The Architectural Firm

Payette was no stranger to complex projects. Although it is based in Boston, it has completed advanced architectural projects around the world.

The firm was originally most well known for the many hospital and healthcare facilities it designed centered on enhancing patient experiences. It created architecture with an intimate connection to the landscape coupled with an abundant use of color and natural light to help orient patients and visitors. Through the promotion of the same humanistic values and fundamental design approach, over time the firm broadened its focus to include high-technology buildings, bringing deep technical expertise, commitment to rigorous research and
dedication to beauty to a new class of projects. Today, the practice has advanced as an international architectural thought leader, providing planning and design services to leading institutions across the country and abroad.

And it is that reputation that led to Payette being selected to work on this project. Similarly, the high regard that fabrication company ASST, based in south central Pennsylvania, was held in based on the positive outcome of the previous work it had performed with Payette, was the motivating factor to bringing the fabricator onboard for this difficult project. ASST had previously worked with Payette on the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and so the architect was familiar with the well-developed thermoforming capabilities ASST possessed. While other fabricators were invited to bid on the project, ultimately it didn’t necessarily come down to price, but rather ASST was selected because of its thermoforming experience and clean safety record combined with its ability to provide an adequate bonding on a large complicated project such as this to reduce owner and general contractor risk.

The Fabricator

So who was this fabricator daring enough to take on such a difficult project? If you ask anyone familiar with ASST, they likely won’t be surprised that the company stepped up to the plate. ASST is an award-winning specialty surfaces fabricator and manufacturer. As an industry leader, it specializes in complex fabrications and complete Division 6 millwork and casework solutions for the healthcare industry.

However, its work spans a variety of markets beyond healthcare, such as the education, retail and corporate/public space arenas. Known for its innovative (and patented) thermoforming technologies and product designs, ASST takes on project challenges others avoid. It brings to the table a passion for excellence — to go beyond and to build what some initially thought was impossible. Since its founding in 1998, ASST has developed an impressive portfolio of successfully completed projects with high-profile contractors, architects, interior designers and end users.

The company’s headquarters encompass 52,000 sq. ft. and includes both offices and fabrication facilities, including a very large thermoforming workshop. Among the equipment at the disposal of the 31 employees of the company are three thermoforming ovens and two vacuum tables, as well as a 60-ton proprietary press and a vacuum press related to patented ASST technologies. It also has three CNC machines: one 5-axis KOMO CNC machine, one 3-axis KOMO CNC machine and one 3-axis Heian CNC machine. For cutting parts the company also has a Schelling panel saw. The shop is set up into typical “line work” areas for more common flat fabrication work, but also has various open workshop areas for custom projects.

It seems ASST was custom-made for this highly custom project. But once they had been selected for the work, the venture had to be realized.

The Process

The architectural team underwent many design variations, but the main design intent was for the stair to appear to be fabricated from continuous solid surface.

The Porcelanosa Group’s Krion solid surface material, a relative newcomer to the U.S. solid surface market, was chosen by the architects because of its excellent thermoforming capabilities. According to the manufacturer, Krion is a “new generation of solid surface” and has a unique proprietary blend of approximately 75 percent ATH to 25 percent resin. This makes the material easier to thermoform, according to the company, and also best ensures color consistency throughout each sheet. Of course, each manufacturer touts a variety of properties that make it stand out from the rest, but as we all know, beauty (or in this case thermoformability) is in the eye of the beholder.

One of the main complexities of the project, beyond its size, was a result of the stairs having two curved and rising surface planes with cut angles that, by nature, constantly changed as the material pieces were routed to the correct dimensions. So, before any actual fabrication work could be done, modeling was required. Once an initial design was put together, a mockup of one landing was built in the ASST shop to verify the geometry (see Figure 2). Once it was created, the design could then be tweaked according to the architects input, with regard to the lighting and tread termination locations, etc.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – click to enlarge

 

Figure 3

Figure 3 – click to enlarge

To improve the flow of information between the fabricators and architect, a co-location work arrangement was established on-site in Boston to speed up the final design process and to improve communication among team members. With everyone working in one location for two weeks, design revisions were realized faster and coordinated across disciplines (see Figure 3). The group utilized 3-D modeling extensively when it came to determining the aspects of the steel substructure, built by DeAngelis Iron Work, for the plywood support ribs (see Figure 4). When all was said and done, 80 hours of design work were required.

 

Figure 4

Figure 4 – click to enlarge

 

Then came the 2,000 hours of fabrication, which included 196 hours of CNC programming and run-time on the 5-axis KOMO machine. And once all of the parts were fabricated, glued up and sanded, the panels were numbered, labeled and prepared for shipping to the site in Boston for assembly. Unfortunately, though, this wasn’t the end of the challenges involved in the project. As is the case with Northeastern winters, Boston was hit by weekly blizzards during installation. The extreme cold temperatures delayed the schedule by four weeks, and Boston officials even declared a state of emergency at one point with mandatory traffic shutdowns preventing deliveries to the site.

In spite of the challenges and compressed schedule, in the end 215 sheets of ½-in.-thick Krion solid surface in “Fire Red” and “Snow White” were installed using z-clips and the project was completed (see Figure 5). The final result is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment for all involved, and is another spectacular project for Payette and ASST to proudly hang their hats on. The author would like to offer special thanks to Payette’s Gordon Grisinger and Hillary Barlow for their design vision, steel fabricator DeAngelis Iron Work and ASST’s team (in no particular order): Nick Buckley, Josh Cowden, Brian Magness, Bob Hannigan, Mike Henry, Jared Shearer, John Sulc and the entire ASST production team.

Figure 5

Figure 5 – click to enlarge

About the Author

Andrew Dreves, ASID, is the director of marketing and Products Workshop for ASST, 350 South St., McSherrystown, PA 17344; www.asst.com. He is responsible for strategic business development, marketing, branding and product design initiatives for the company and can be reached by email at andrewdreves@asst.com or by phone at (717) 630-1251 ext. 305.



Restaurant owners looking to capitalize on the latest design trends may want to consider paring down the number of accessories and features in a dining space. According to The Independent, many restaurant owners who won this year’s Restaurant and Bar Design Awards used sleek design features and made the visual impact of a space rest more on the industrial design of the structure than using accessories.

“Good design is all about creating something that is going to last,” said Marco Rebora, the RBDA founder, according to the news source. “It’s not about spending millions of pounds on creating a huge statement. If you fail to consider how your guests are actually going to feel within that space, you will go bust within a year.”

Simplistic design grows in popularity
The Independent reported that the restaurants that have been gaining popularity and recognition for their design are incorporating simple aesthetic elements. The ornate design aesthetic that was so popular in previous decades is now out of style.

“The ostentatiousness of the pre-recession era has gone. Unrefined finishes and lots of stone and wood are key at the moment. Foster + Partner’s Atrium Champagne Bar is all about simple stone. Host, in Denmark by Norm Architects, is all very down-to-earth raw wood,” said Rebora.

Rustic designs feature shabby chic interiors
While some design professionals working on restaurants are creating spaces that remove the ornate look of decades gone past, others are trying to recreate a more lived-in look as if this design aesthetic has faded.

“It’s almost anti-design in that they are not slick but distressed and rustic, influenced by the rough-and-ready sensibility of pop-ups and the farm-to-table food trend,” said Bethan Ryder, author of two books on the subject – Restaurant Design and New Restaurant Design.

This means that designers are using reclaimed wood, different types of patterned metals and textured fabrics.

“I wanted to create the kind of place that I feel comfortable in but couldn’t afford a designer or expensive fixtures and fittings. The whole stripping back thing is something that is very important to me in terms of decor as well as the food that we serve – our dishes are very simple with very few ingredients,” Ben McCormack, editor of SquareMeal.co.uk, told the news source.

Using quality simple materials
SCULPTCOR® by ASST is a patented thermoformed architectural wall panel system that is built with beauty and function in mind. SCULPTCOR can be used in a wide range of applications in a restaurant from wall panels, column covers, exterior facades, elevator cladding, casework, ceiling panels and furniture.

The system is fabricated from a non-porous, stain-resistant and easy-to-clean surface that is ideal for a restaurant to use and offers the right blend of flexibility and statement for a restaurant looking to create an impression on diners.

Please contact ASST at 717.630.1251 x305 for architectural support or x307 for specific project estimating assistance.


Malls represent different things to different generations. As teens hang out at the food court, mothers are trying to get all of their shopping done for the day in one convenient stop. However, with the advancement and growing popularity of online shopping takes off, malls are seeing the number of visitors walking through their doors slightly decrease.

Importance of creating a memorable shopping experience
Despite this, sales are holding strong because those that are heading to the mall have a shopping plan of action in mind typically. Businesses are creating retail spaces that attract buyers who are looking for a particular experience that is not possible to attain online, reported QSR Magazine. However, that's not the case for smaller retail chains that are adapting to changing consumer trends.

Restaurants and other mall dining establishments that are doing well often create a unique experience for diners to appreciate. According to International Council of Shopping Centers spokesman Jesse Tron the focus is creating restaurants that feature entertainment as part of their integral offerings.

Malls attract people to spend considerable time in one place. As a result, people get hungry and start to looking for a place to eat. The restaurants that are doing better in malls and other large shopping venues are those that encourage people to spend time off their feet and enjoy a unique experience.

Creating mall dining establishments
Malls Owners and management companies are beginning to turn traditional food courts into more centralized, eye-catching spaces. Tron told QSR Magazine that malls are beginning to create more comfortable food courts that encourage people to spend more time. Personal spaces with greater privacy, comfortable seating and beautiful works of art are being included in the design concept. A focus on creating visually stimulating spaces will encourage visitors to spend a more time shopping.

Please contact ASST at 717.630.1251 x305 for architectural support or x307 for specific project estimating assistance.