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The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy sits on the old Voelcker Dairy Farm in north-central San Antonio. The 330-acre natural park is well-known as an urban oasis featuring a nature center, outdoor classrooms, dog parks, play and workout areas, walking, hiking, biking trails, and a managed wildlife habitat. 

A masterplan community called Churchill Estates with moderately priced homes sits adjacent to the park. The property owner’s house was built on a bluff overlooking the park and is not included in the neighborhood homeowner association.

 

The current homeowner spotted a Texas Railing Systems truck at a Home Depot parking lot in Kerrville, about an hour northwest of San Antonio. “He took a picture of our truck door, and two years later, he called for us to provide the railing for his home,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. 

The Texas Railing Systems crew also completed a tree top skywalk in Hardberger Park as part of a 150-foot land bridge for wildlife crossing over Wurzbach Parkway, connecting the two halves of the original dairy farm land.  

Uecker uses CR Laurence as the framework and Ultra-tec Invisiware® as part of their in-house product designs on most projects. His team installed both for this project. “The ease of use is great because it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications, and we understand the Invisiware system,” said Uecker.

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural, contemporary railing specialty company with more than one thousand projects throughout the Texas with long-standing commercial, residential, and manufacturing relationships, including their long-time supplier, Cable Art.    

Much of the country’s workforce is transitioning back to office spaces after more than a year of working from home, and workers’ expectations have changed. In response, business and commercial property owners, designers, and architects are now modifying their approach to better accommodate the preferences of their staff and tenants.

Even well-respected brands like Steelcase are acting on recent studies explaining the shifting outlook of employees. They’re now reimagining their offerings to ensure that companies create spaces where their staff can feel most comfortable and productive.

Here, we’re sharing four office trends that you’ll want to consider.

The Rise of Resimercial

According to the experts at Wayfair, Resimercial workplace design is here to stay. Employees expect a comfortable place to spend their workdays; for employers, creating these hospitable – even fun – spaces help to ensure happy, more engaged workers.

Millennials and Gen Z, now most of the nation’s work population, are leading with a “work any time, any place” mindset and want a workspace they can feel at home. Typical Resimercial contains breakout spaces with a style that involves a mix of textures and silhouettes, house plants, comfortable seating, durable upholstery, and natural fibers.

A Room with a View

Gone are (or should be) the days of working in an office made of four solid walls. Creating additional outdoor spaces, bringing the outside-in by integrating biophilic elements, or emphasizing daylighting by implementing walls made of windows, has the power to transform the work setting by reducing stress and enhancing the mood.

While windows certainly play a central role in helping to lighten up an environment, there are other ways to reimagine a conventional office space, create open areas and improve line of sight. Get inspired by checking out how Ultra-Tec cable railing was used to bring both an aesthetic design and an open, up-to-date feel to office and commercial spaces

Add Texture: Combine the Old with the New 

Incorporating various textures and textiles in the design or accessorizing of an office can add life and a sense of interest to a space. According to Parterre, blending old and new elements – including a mix of different metal finishes – can create an alternative style that delivers a warm feeling to what may have traditionally been a run-of-the-mill atmosphere.

Ultra-tec’s mix of finishes and accessories (including bronze) pair beautifully with wood, stone, and other natural materials that offer a diverse range of design options.

Opt for Sustainability 

The choices you make when planning your space matter to your team. According to Allwork and a survey by Fast Company, sustainability is an important criterion for today’s workforce. The cable railing from Ultra-Tec is environmentally friendly, there is little waste in the product, and it is 65% recyclable. Selecting alternatives that support the environment demonstrates to employees that you’re a company that cares.

Are you considering simple ways to update your commercial building designs in response to these workplace shifts? Contact us to see how our solutions can simplify and enhance your projects. 

Deep Texas Hill Country Roots

For more than 120 years, Moore’s Home Furnishing grew from a general store, a lumber store, to its current iteration of a furniture store. Early on, with deep roots in Texas Hill Country, they instilled solid and deep belief and business philosophies, including “unwavering outstanding customer service.” It has served them well.

The current location opened in 1975, and in 1996, Bill and Rachel Johnston purchased it. Bill is the great-great-grandson of Thomas Jasper Moore, who established the first store in 1892 (in Ingram). In 2018, celebrating 126 years in business, a ribbon-cutting of the newly renovated retail store, designed by Huser Construction Company, was unveiled. In addition to updating the store’s exterior, they redesigned the entry, office area, and design center.

As part of the remodel, cable railing was specified for the stairs and the loft area. The original cable specification, by another company, made it too costly to complete. Texas Railing Systems worked with the Huser Construction to value-engineer a system that would work with their budget. “The specified system was exceedingly over budget, and we stepped in with a value-engineered system that benefited the project,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. 

Sleek and Modern Stainless Steel Installation

Texas Railing Systems recommended a stainless-steel framework using an inch and a half stainless steel posts, a hardwood top rail and handrails, and Ultra-tec Invisiware® 1/8-inch cable. The result is a sleek and modern update of the interior, opening up the store’s views.

“Ultra-tec’s Invisiware is our cable railing fitting preference; it is sleek and nearly invisible hardware,” said Mr. Uecker. “The hardware is easy to adjust and is our first choice go-to for cable products, and it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications.”

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural contemporary railing specialty company with more than one thousand projects throughout the Texas Hill Country. They have long-standing relationships in commercial, residential, and manufacturing, including their long-time supplier, Cable Art.

“We feel Ultra-tec is a superior product line for our cable business,” added Mr. Uecker.

Commercial Vertical Cable with Invisiware® Receivers

Law offices move to higher ground with impressive style

Haynes & Boone, LLP, one of Houston’s largest corporate law clients, recently moved to higher ground—occupying the 38th, 39th, and 40th floors in the LyondellBasell Tower Houston Center property, an urban, mixed-use office campus in the center of downtown. The client recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation improvement, designed by Houston-based Kirksey Architecture and remodeled by HITT.

The public area located on the 40th floor consists of half reception and half office area. “We wanted to create a very welcoming hospitality-like space and used high-end finishes in warm and earth tones blending stone, antique bronze interior glazing frames and wall cladding, and rich velvet fabrics,” said Liang Wu, AIA, LEED AP, and senior associate at Kirksey Architecture. A lovely welcoming statement for visitors.

 

Interconnecting stairs make an entrance

The previous space, also three floors, featured an interconnecting stair system between floors, and the client wanted the same for the new space. Instead of using the existing stair in place, Kirksey Architecture designed new interconnecting stairs within the general office area. Local fabricator Hybrid Fab, known for its architectural metal design, fabrication, and installation expertise, fabricated the decorative metal around the stairs.

The stair treads were finished with a neutral color to blend seamlessly with the high-end look and feel of the space, using LVT (luxury vinyl tile) resembling a natural wood. The landings on the office floors — 38 and 39 — use more durable materials like porcelain tile with a marble pattern and LVT to endure day-to-day use, while the reception features natural wood consistent with the high-end finishes for the client’s guests.

Cable railing adds creative element

Taking a cue from the resimercial design trend — merging residential aesthetics into commercial spaces — to boost employee creativity and innovation, Kirksey showed the client images of inspiration during the design phase. One of the design elements, cable railings for the interconnected stair system, the client liked, and it became a focal point.

The drawings called for suspended vertical cables, and there are 55 cables on either side of the stairway. Kirksey engaged with Hybrid Fab to design the cable railings.

Blair Corporation, Hybrid Fab’s go-to for cable railing installations, sent a variety of Ultra-tec cable diameters to consider for the project. Hybrid Fab conducted 10-foot vertical tensioning testing with the cable. When you tension all 55 cables at 220 psi, that’s a lot of pulled weight and the area couldn’t span that much tension vertically.

“It was at that time we knew the cable would become a decorative element rather than a structural matter,” said Wu. “We used full height structural glass for the vertical span in conjunction with a stainless-steel guard rail for code compliance.”

 

Quality products offer unobstructed views

Jack Blair, owner of Blair Corporation, and his crew installed Ultra-tec cables using Invisiware® fittings and accessories for an impressive finish to complement the overall design aesthetics. “Ultra-tec offers a very consistent, high quality product and well thought out design,” said Blair. “Ultra-tec’s products are easy to work with and install.”

With sweeping views of the city from virtually all four sides of the office building, material choices mattered. The use of cable railings offers unobstructed views, and now employees of Haynes and Boone can enjoy from their office and while using the interconnecting stairs. An excellent office perk for all.

Ultra-tec stainless steel cable railing products are an excellent choice for a variety of commercial designs, offering unobstructed views and a spacious appearance. The most common use of cable railings in designs today are horizontally run cable railing system for interior and exterior applications.

The use of cable railings for commercial projects offer architects and designers flexibility, versatility, and a modern approach to any design. Cable railings also allow a creative and easy to install alternative for fabricators and installers. In addition to design and creativity, there are key design considerations for a successful cable railing system installation.

Stainless-Steel Cable Railing Strength

Cable, also referred to as wire rope or aircraft cable, is very strong in tensile strength and is designed to be flexible. The degree of flexibility varies depending on the cable’s diameter and construction (1×19, 7×7, 7×19, etc.), the tradeoff for flexibility is strength, and the opposite is also true.

For commercial projects or anywhere there is heavy pedestrian traffic, we recommend a 3/16-inch diameter cable (316-grade stainless steel). It is most commonly used and is durable, low-maintenance, and is attractive. For a variable aesthetic option, other diameters are available from 1/8-, 1/4-, 5/16-, and 3/8-inches.

Stainless-Steel Cable Railing Flexibility

Cable flexibility is an important consideration when designing a cable railing application. The International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) require that a 4-inch sphere shall not pass through any portion of the installed railing. Because of this code requirement, the use of the most rigid of cable construction possible is ideal. Having the rigidity to prevent deflection of a horizontal run cable subjected to a vertical load is partly mitigated by the cable’s lack of flexibility.

The IBC requires cable designs to withstand a single concentrated load of 200 pounds applied in any direction at any point along the top. Also, attachment devices and supporting structures — handrails and guards — transfer the load to structural elements of the building.

Other factors include the tension — to at least 225 pounds — of the cable, the span between supporting intermediate members, the cable’s diameter, the vertical spacing of the cables on center, and temperature at the time of installation. Temperature fluctuations can cause variations in cable tension due to differing thermal expansion of the railing frame and the cable.  Depending on geographic locations, cable railings installed outdoors may experience large swings in temperatures; hot summer days to the cold winter nights may be a 140-degree difference.

The use of a stainless-steel railing frame virtually eliminates temperature-induced tension changes because it contracts and expands at the same rate as the stainless-steel cable.

Alternative materials like carbon steel, aluminum, and wood each expand differently than stainless and railing frames made from these materials and will exhibit varying cable tension with changes in temperature.

Post Spacing for Cable Railing

Intermediate posts or braces support the cable as it passes through the railing frame’s posts. An intermediate post is a structural post that runs from the top rail to the mounting surface, and a brace is a lighter weight material, supporting the cable and placed between posts.

While cable can run quite long distances (as much as 60-feet or more) between end posts, it will need support at intervals — intermediate posts or braces — to avoid cable deflection in excess permitted by building codes.

It is recommended to space posts or braces at a maximum of 48-inches with center cables 3-1/8-inches apart.

stainless-steel metal railing

Stainless-Steel Cable Railing Tension and Top Rail

Mounting and tensioning hardware is attached to end posts and work together to minimize the deflection. Posts must not deflect perceptively as the cables are tensioned to a minimum of 225 pounds at heights of 36- to 42-inches. It is crucial to minimize end post deflection, and potential bending, as an incredible amount of force is placed on the end post with ten or more lines.

A sturdy top rail is required to support the tensioning end posts and prevent bending under the strain of the tensioned cables. The most commonly used top rail for commercial use is stainless steel due to its resistance to corrosion and low maintenance.

Designing with Stainless Steel Vertical Railings

Vertical cable railings — cables run from the top rail to the bottom rail — are becoming increasingly popular to differentiate a project for either interior or exterior use. The building code requirements apply to vertical cable railings; however, the installation of vertical railings differ.

Framing material — pipe, or structural square or rectangular tube framing (stainless steel for exterior use) — with a minimum wall thickness of ¼-inch is ideal.  Cable braces are appropriate for replacing every eight cables to keep the top and bottom rails from bending when the cables are tensioned.

In this example, we recommend using the Invisiware® Threaded Stud on one end of the cable and screwed into a drilled and tapped hole in the underside of the top rail. An Invisiware® Receiver inserted into a hole drilled through the bottom rail. A threaded stud on the other end of the cable, tensioned by turning the receiver with an Allen wrench, completes the run.

Stainless steel cable railings and fittings offer a beautiful, low maintenance option to enhance interior and exterior designs. Ultra-tec products also contribute to LEED® credits benefiting architects, designers, and building owners to achieve required building certifications.

To learn more, contact us.

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