A Return to Quality with High Profile and Shadowline
Working on a research building at his alma mater, the University of Southern California, Chris Anderson found inspiration from designers of the past.
“I was tasked with examining these historic buildings on USC’s campus,” said Anderson, a senior architectural designer in HOK’s Washington, DC office. “I was in awe of the amount of detail, care and craftsmanship that went into them. Looking back, I’m in awe of old-world craftsmanship and architecture.”
Anderson has now designed two offerings for HOK Product Design, LLC: the High Profile ceiling system and Shadowline coping. Both products originated from Anderson’s desire for quality and dissatisfaction with similar products available in the marketplace.
“There has been a resurgence in appreciation for quality products,” Anderson said. “There is an understanding that longevity has real value.”
While working on HOK’s Sky Train project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Anderson became frustrated by the market’s existing baffled ceiling systems, which he calls the “least artful ceiling system I’ve seen.” Yet the system had remained virtually unchanged for three decades.
“The owner wanted a ceiling system that was accessible and that performed well,” Anderson said. “As designers, we wanted both those things as well as a system that was beautiful.”
Manufactured by Hunter Douglas, High Profile’s extrusion-based system involves pushing aluminum through a die, much like a cookie cutter, to form baffles that are pristine in appearance and unparalleled in strength.
“The key is the process by which they are made,” Anderson said. “It has been around a long time, but extruding aluminum is still very effective.”
Like the High Profile system, Anderson’s first product originated in frustration with the status quo. Dissatisfied with the aesthetic of commercially available wall coping systems, including the ubiquitous inverted ‘U’ coping that we see so often in today’s built environment, Anderson set out to design his own. Thus was born the new Shadowline Wall Coping system, which is manufactured by the W.P. Hickman Company in Asheville, N.C.
“Twice in my career I’ve had custom-shaped coping removed from a job, either for cost reasons or because it didn’t meet wind testing requirements,” said Anderson. “This was frustrating because the off-the-shelf solutions either weren’t compatible with my projects from a design perspective or offered only the most mundane solution.”
Anderson’s Shadowline Coping provides an attractive new performance-tested option with an indented profile that creates visual depth at the parapet edge. The durable design ensures it will retain its shape and integrity throughout a building’s life.
“The shape is compatible with a more contemporary aesthetic,” explained Anderson. “It makes a subtle statement without drawing too much attention to itself. The reveal makes for a more rigid assembly and combats the natural tendency of sheet metal to change shape over time.”
The creation of the Shadowline system is an extension of what HOK’s designers do every day, said Anderson. “We solve problems in the most elegant way possible.”
Anderson has advice for other first-time product designers: “Take note of any opportunities you see during your day to day efforts at work. The HOK Product Design Balance Beam glowing handrail is a great example to learn from: It’s simple, intuitive and necessary.”