Home > Architecture, Building > Copper: The Preferred Architectural Material (Part 1 of 2)

Copper: The Preferred Architectural Material (Part 1 of 2)

November 3rd, 2009

Larry Peters2

By Larry Peters, Copper Development Association Project Manager & Architectural Applications Specialist

Larry Peters, Architectural Applications Specialist, has worked with the Copper Development Association (CDA) for 10 years, consulting on the use of copper sheet metal – roofing, flashing, gutters and wall cladding. He has an engineering background from the US Military Academy (West Point). Larry was an Army officer and has worked in the construction field for the last 15 years. He’s always had a great interest in architecture.

In my opinion, there’s no comparison when it comes to copper. Copper is generally the best metal option and arguably the easiest metal to work with, too.

At the CDA, I’m part of our building construction team. We often deal with the end user, the building designer, contractor or architect. We arrange installation training for sheet metal contractors. Other times we get calls from building owners who need advice. We’ve addressed questions from universities, governments, even an archdiocese. We get calls from homeowners, too. A lot of them are considering copper for a roof or a wall. They’ve heard about using metal wall cladding or they’re thinking about siding and have seen some pictures of buildings with copper walls. They ask us how they can achieve a certain kind of look on a building – and the pluses and minuses. There are a wide range of questions.

ITP, Freeman Sheet MetalWe help them as much as we can. We also have an online Design Handbook that has a lot of information on copper’s properties and uses. It’s the best place to search for answers to sheet copper detailing questions.

Over the past few years, I’ve answered questions from an architectural firm regarding an antebellum house in Alabama. It’s a challenging project because the mansion was constructed over a number of years in phases. There was little regard to the proper function of the roof system. The architect felt more comfortable by requiring the sheet metal contractor have hands on training to help their crew learn traditional copper installation skills.

It’s rewarding to see copper used well in architecture. There’s a beautiful sense of place when you’re around a well-designed, interesting-looking and lasting building that can sustain the elements and continue to do so over time.

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