L. William Zahner is the president of A. Zahner Company in Kansas City, Missouri. His firm has designed and fabricated stunning metal façades for high-profile projects by Frank Gehry, Morphosis, Kieran Timberlake Associates and other notable architects and firms. RECORD’s November 2005 cover featured Zahner’s exterior envelope for San Francisco’s de Young Museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Zahner has authored two books on architectural metals, and his family-run company has won dozens of awards. On Oct. 10, Zahner will speak at the 2007 Innovation Conference in NYC. The title of his presentation: “Torqued, Punched, and Folded: Making Metal Building Skins.” 

William Zahner
William Zahner.

Click here for a slideshow of Zahner's work.

Watch a 9-minute video interview with Zahner, who discusses his company's 100-year history, changing technologies in the metal fabrication industry, and what it's like to work with architects such as Howard Elkus and Frank Gehry.

Jenna M. McKnight: What will you speak about at Innovation?

William Zahner: I will describe how one metal fabrication firm is able to interpret and deliver the phenomenal designs being created today. 

JM: What is one of your more challenging projects in recent years?

WZ: The Neiman Marcus facade in Natick, Massachusetts. We were asked by the design team of Neiman Marcus and Howard Elkus to develop an undulating surface, 40 feet by 410 feet, which will emulate a scarf draped around a large box. The ‘scarf’ was made of layered colored stainless steel and shaped by our Zahner Engineered Profile Panel (ZEPP) system.

JM: What is your firm working on right now?

WZ: Currently we are working on several complex projects: The Art Gallery of Alberta, designed by Randall Stout; the Jewish Museum of San Francisco, designed by Daniel Libeskind; the Tulsa Arena, designed by Pelli; and several other intriguing projects.

JM: In terms of metal, what’s the next big thing?

WZ: The changing façade created by dynamic movement and textural interface with light.