Press Release for the University of Texas MATLAB Exhibition.
March 2 – March 25 at the Mebane Gallery, Goldsmith Hall.

“Explorations, Defining Surface: an Exhibit of Fabrications Produced by A. Zahner Company”


This exhibit, “Explorations, Defining Surface,” features material investigations undertaken by Zahner for several different projects. Through the manipulation of plate metal, Zahner is able to produce a specific articulation of “surface” in support of an architectural concept. The utilization of parametric modeling and translation of that parametric data to manufacturing machinery, all while working in collaborative design partnerships with architects, has set the engineers and fabricators at Zahner apart from other manufacturers. The company has worked with major architectural firms such as Herzog & de Meuron, Morphosis, REX, Snøhetta, Zaha Hadid, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Gehry Partners, and FOA.

For more than a century, the A. Zahner Company has fabricated intricate metalwork for the built environment. The company has participated in the evolution from the tactile content of the artisan making components ranging from one-of-a-kind cornice shapes to the highly engineered shapely forms of a Gehry Partners design. 

Explorations, Defining Surface: an Exhibit of Fabrications

In this evolution, Zahner technicians and engineers have successfully married the ability of fine crafted detail with a digital definition of three-dimensional form. The challenge has been to interpret the information conveyed by the designer and instill a parametric relationship. The relationship involves not only the interface of the various parts, but also how the machines that cut, shape, and pierce these parts interpret the design. This refined definition can be translated into the final product to produce a “machined” appearance and to enhance design intent. (Text adapted from Bill Zahner’s article in Manufacturing Material Effects: Rethinking Design and Making in Architecture, page 68.)

Zahner is an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company best known for the use of metal in the world of art and architecture. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Zahner employs nearly 200 engineers and artisans in its offices and two plants.

Sponsored by the University Co-op Materials Resource Center and AIA Austin. Organized and curated by Sydney Mainster, Materials Lab Curator, with faculty support from Charlton Lewis and Joyce Rosner.