Fire-resistant composite cladding opens endless options for designers

Approved per International Building Code (IBC) and featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, new Fireshield 285 enables large facades of almost any shape, contour and texture.

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Kreysler & Associates (American Canyon, Calif., USA) has created a new glass-fiber composite cladding material that solves the riddle of fire code compliance on high-rise structures. It turns designers loose to utilize the light weight and versatile plasticity of shape and texture afforded by reinforced composites using fiberglass and carbon fiber.

The new cladding composite, called Fireshield 285, will soon become the wavy, brilliant white, 10-story main facade of the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) expansion. The Fireshield 285 panel system recently passed one of the industry's most stringent fire tests, NFPA 285, which involves a full-scale mockup of a multistory facade system that is burned and tested for flame spread characteristics.

Kreysler & Associates believes Fireshield 285 is the first fire-resistant fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) cladding to pass NFPA 285.  President William Kreysler describes the patent-pending process as a “proprietary blend of synthetic resins, fiber and natural aggregate that provides an attractive but extremely durable, environmentally efficient and highly fire-resistant product.” It allows designers to create large facades of almost any shape, contour and texture that meet all requirements under the International Building Code (IBC). Kreysler notes, “Shapes that have never existed outside of a computer model are now possible, both unique and repetitive designs.” Panels can also be merged to create large, seamless facades.

One example is the SFMOMA expansion, designed by Norway-based Snohetta in collaboration with local firm EHDD. The curved surface of the Fireshield cladding creates a rippling horizontal texture reminiscent of the San Francisco Bay just a few blocks away. Fabricated by Kreysler & Associates, the 700 panels have a skin thickness of just 0.1875 inch (4.8 mm) and weigh on average only 5 lbs/ft2 (24 kg/m2). Some of the project panels are as large as 5.5 ft by 30 ft (1.7m by 9m).