FRP is still seen by many people in the architectural world as an exotic building material. Its track record in architecture isn’t a thousand years, or even a hundred, and to many design professionals, it may seem unproven, slightly sexy, and possibly dangerous.
This blog has focused a great deal on the creative envelope-pushing that is enabled by FRP, the extraordinary level of customization – and mass customization – achieved by forming FRP through digital fabrication methods. Custom FRP elements can produce shapes that have never previously existed in nature, taken straight from computer creation into the physical world. As we noted recently, the same methods can also reproduce and restore existing architectural works, substituting for deteriorated stonework, sculpted plaster, or other traditional materials.
However, we have not mentioned a very widespread form of architectural composite that might labeled “commodity FRP.” There are hundreds of manufacturers of off-the-shelf fiberglass architectural elements and ornaments. Columns, domes, cupolas, balustrades, and cornices are abundantly available. The online catalogs include dozens of project photos that suggest there are many FRP architectural elements in use on a wide variety of buildings.
The gallery below is a mere sampling.
We offer no argument for or against the architectural interest of these items. The point is simply to acknowledge that they exist, and are widely distributed across the landscape.
If you think of architectural FRP as exotic, unfamiliar, or common, these photos must give you pause. How much fiberglass architecture do you see every day without knowing it?
Images sourced as noted.