The Challenge

Kansas City-based metal fabricator, Zahner, decided to expand their factory by adding a 6,200-square-foot high-bay fabricating studio. The intent was to convert an underutilized area into a large column-free assembly space with ample clear height to move material around on two large cranes and make a seamless connection to the existing factory. The client desired a facility that exemplified the most creative aspects of their building engineering solutions highlighting a distinctive use of their new ZEPP system, a patented prefabricated building system to streamline complex structural forms.

The Solution

The location for this expansion ties into the northern façade of a 30-year-old weathering steel clad facility and re-imagines a roughly paved concrete assembly yard surrounded by an unsightly chain link fence with a new facility. Beyond pure utility, the facility sought to provide transparency, characterize where Zahner is headed in the future, and showcase their ability to produce highly engineered forms. Crawford used a computer-based algorithm to convert a concept sketch tonal values for the façade into a 3-dimensional digital surface model. The resulting form grows out of the rigid, solid geometry of the existing building’s east façade with a single sweeping motion and increases in complexity as it moves around the corner to the west, paying tribute to both Zahner’s past and future.


The result is a dynamic, rippling surface that breathes new life into the surrounding urban environment and showcases Zahner’s ability to act as a bridge between art and science of building. This reinvestment into the neighborhood stands as an inspiration of industrial recovery for the area.

  • AIA Kansas City, 2011 Design Excellence Award
  • AIA Kansas City, 2010 Monsters of Design Award