AIA Convention 2013: Expo

Creeper Bear can see down your shirt

Creeper Bear can see down your shirt

The Expo floor is always a really exciting place. There’s a lot of energy there, not to mention free coffee, alcohol and tape measures. Oh, and useful products. Right. Truth be told, I wasn’t as diligent about documenting the Expo floor this year as I was in Washington, DC. For starters, I spent a lot less time there this time around, and during the time I was there, I was more focused on trying (in vain) to get enough tape to do a podcast. Still, there’s some new stuff to talk about. Check this out:

Expo_Ray Splinter Cell

That’s me eschewing boring-old regular reality for the virtual kind. Hi-Tech Outsourcing takes the 3D model that you already have, textures it up but good, and then lets you actually walk around in it. It’s surprisingly convincing once you have that headgear on and can’t see anything else. I didn’t necessarily believe I was in another world, but I did lose all respect for the objects and space around me in this one, flailing about like a loon.

This item falls into the “boring but necessary” category:

Expo_Schock Isokorb

Schoeck offers ways of creating a thermal break between the inside and outside of the building in two especially tricky areas: balconies and canopies. Thermal breaks are those areas in which something that conducts heat runs from inside to out. In traditional construction, studs and brick ties are examples of thermal breaks. These items dramatically increase the U-value of an assembly. Like I said, boring but necessary.

What do you think this thing is?

From the Sundolier Website, I didn’t get a picture of it from the Expo.

I think it looks like some kind of satellite, and to an extent it is. But instead of collecting TV or radio signals, it collects light and shoots it into a tube. At the other end of the tube the light is diffused again, lighting up a huge area like a gym or open office. It’s super cool, right? I just kind of wish it looked cooler on the roof.

I saw some more “artisan” type stuff there this year than last. There was a woman who did fused art glass and a guy that made a custom table for the Emerging Professionals Booth. Another booth with a personal touch were the people at Robert Stone, Inc. who made this stone sink:


Usually sandstone is a pretty porous material, which means using it for a countertop is asking for maintenance nightmares like staining and chipping. However, the specific sandstone that these guys are quarrying is especially dense, so you can do cool things like make a sink out of really unique cuts.

Lighting stairways is tough if you’re a picky architect. Step lights are good, but are often ugly or don’t provide good light. Light from under the railing is good, but can be a detailing challenge. Efficient-Tec has a lot of nice options for railings with or without light, and if they can do this:


they can probably handle whatever railing you are looking for.

Here are a couple of high-end products for you. My guess is these are the first things to get value-engineered (VE’d, if you want to sound hip), but they look cool while they’re in the project. Parasoleil has some really nice panels for a good-looking canopy:


I really am fascinated by shadows, and half the fun of these things is the cool shadow pattern they create. And now that you have a cool canopy over your patio, you should have a huge door that opens out onto it.


Sure, any old sliding door will fill an opening, but you can only walk through half of it. This opens the whole way and stacks neatly to one side. And if you look close, Centor has detailed a really nice screen that recesses into the wall.

Best booth award time! There were a bunch of cool-looking booths, but Prescient had a second storey and a balcony, so it wins.

Expo_Prescient Booth

That’s it! There’s still another post coming about the city of Denver and how cool it was, so check back for that someday. I’ll leave you with a pop quiz. Look at this picture and take a guess as to what need is not being filled by the design.


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