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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. 

A Systematic Approach to Enhance Value, Lower Cost and Maintain Function

One of the most misunderstood processes in the building industry, from construction to engineering to product manufacturing, is value engineering. Value engineering is “a systematic approach that seeks to enhance value by eliminating unnecessary cost while maintaining function.” 

For most, the term value means low cost or budget-cutting, thereby reducing quality when defining the value is different for everyone and doesn’t always mean cutting costs.

The main objective of value engineering is to achieve the best value —maintenance, durability, long-term viability, aesthetics, and more — not just cutting costs.

 

Value engineering is not a new trendy term. During World War II, the country experienced material, parts, and a skilled labor shortage. At the time, General Electric engineers set out to source alternative and acceptable materials and components to continue manufacturing without compromising the integrity of the products.

Lawrence Miles, touted as the father of value engineering, lead the charge at General Electric, and today his value engineering techniques are used throughout the world. The Lawrence D. Miles Value Foundation advances the value engineering methodology with educational programs, international conferences and forums, new applications, and a research library.

Today, engineering and construction firms and product manufacturers employ a value engineering process. Each follows its standards and phases to achieve the end goal: to increase value at a low cost while maintaining optimal functionality. Value engineering is required for almost all government and military projects as well.

The process of value engineering is best when performed in the design phase. The subject matter expert involved in the project can incorporate the best options to improve the value from both the project and product perspective.

 

Value Engineering and Cable Railing Specification

There are many components to consider when specifying cable railing — number of posts, stainless steel cable, fittings, hardware — and installation, whether it’s new construction or a retrofit. Maximizing post placement and the frame integrity can significantly change the fittings and hardware used on the project and affect the bottom-line cost.

Using a rooftop deck as an example, install a double post in each corner opposite the building (or other structure) and a terminating post offset about two- to three-inches from the building for easy tensioning. This combination offers the most support and a smaller, concealed tensioner fitting option using our concealed Invisiware® receivers for a clean and seamless appearance. It also enables the cable to run continuously through the length of the run and through all posts, in most cases, — even around corners — without stopping and starting at each post.

In contrast, if using a single corner post option, the cable will typically terminate at each corner. In this scenario, the cable stops and starts at each post increasing the number of fittings required. Stopping and starting more often not only drives up cost, but it also changes the aesthetics and most importantly the integrity of the frame. That significantly increases the amount of tension on that single post, which jeopardizes the strength of the frame and its ability to maintain properly tensioned cables adding to the overall cost of the project.

At first glance, double corner posts may not seem aesthetically appealing until you compare it to the added exposed fittings required for a single termination post. See for yourself how you can achieve the high-end look with an unobstructed view using a double corner post setup for a cost-effective, seamless, and modern finish.

Value Engineering is not a one-size-fits-all process that simply cuts costs to save the budget. A holistic view of the project and the specifications are necessary to offer a beneficial solution that meets the customer’s goals without compromising functionality.

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.

Texas Hill Invisiware® Installation

On a small private ranch, nestled in the trees in the Texas Hill Country, is a residential home on the edge of a bluff with impressive views. There are four elevations of the house, and on the second floor, boasts a wrap-around deck.

One of the unique things Texas Railing Systems owner, Wayne Uecker, noticed when looking at the plans was a 40-foot-long ramp that ran from the ground level to the second floor. “It was a steep ramp not made for ADA use because it was only four-feet-wide.” The ramp was, however, built for the owners’ dogs. 

First, Texas Railing Systems installed cable railings and fittings for the full wrap-around deck and stair runs. During this installation, using the CR Laurence aluminum railing system as the framework, crews with Texas Railing Systems installed Ultra-tec’s Invisiware® 1/8-inch cable, a tropical hardwood for the top rail. This showcased a striking appearance. It’s no surprise that the project won a top place in the 2020 Ultra-tec Photo Contest.

cable railing system on deck
interior cable railing system

Enhanced Aesthetic

“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. Moreover, it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications.”

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural contemporary railing specialty company. They have 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.

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

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