Restoration & Traditional Design
Stainless Steel's Increasingly Significant Role in Architecture

Stainless steel has been playing an increasingly significant role in architecture, including restoration and traditional design.

Because of its beauty, durability and energy savings, it has increased in popularity in recent years. While its initial use in architecture dates back to the 1920s, this material is considered modern by historical standards and has been used primarily in modern architecture. On the surface, it seems surprising to see a trend toward stainless steel in historic restorations, but when we consider its superior durability compared to traditional materials, it is perhaps the most respectful choice to preserve important architecture from the past. 

Until recently, stainless steel finish choices were too bright and glaring to fit with the traditional design. Perhaps this delayed the use of this material for restorations and traditional buildings. The development of InvariMatte®, a uniform, low glare micro-embossed stainless steel texture by Contrarian Micro Textures, by Rigidized® Metals Corporation, opened the door, not only to glare-sensitive buildings like airport roofs and urban high rises but also to historic structures and traditional architecture. Further, InvariMatte®’s tendency to absorb color from its surroundings helps it fit in with any design.

Historic restorations involve painstaking attention to detail in pursuit of honoring the past. When the Brattonsville Historic District which is part of the York County Culture & Heritage Museums in South Carolina undertook the renovation of the Brattonsville Brick House to restore it to its original form (believed to have been built between 1850 – 1870) they discovered a Thomas Jefferson tinplate roof preserved in situ. To do justice to this, Contrarian Micro Textures’ InvariMatte® Stainless Steel was selected. At that time in history, it was customary to paint metal roofs tinner’s red and to be true to history the stainless steel was in fact painted that color. 

At Sam Houston State University in Texas when the restoration of historic Austin Hall was researched, the university desired a durable roof that was beautiful and required minimal maintenance. They too chose InvariMatte® Stainless Steel.  Their traditional design required the roof to resemble metal shingles and the stainless was formed to historic specifications, resulting in a handsome roof that looks like it has always been there. The previous roof had been copper and was replaced with InvariMatte® because of its ability to last without degrading over time.

Dirt-resistant InvariMatte® does not contribute to heat island effect (it actually sends 94% of the Sun’s rays back into the atmosphere) and it offers thermal properties that include savings on insulation costs as well as lowering heating and cooling costs. 

At Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey the Lighthouse Keeper’s porch roof needed to be repaired. The team chose InvariMatte®. They too painted it to be true to its historical roots.

The new Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee which opened in October 2015 is traditional in design and InvariMatte® Stainless Steel was chosen for the roof of the canopy that shelters students and others as they walk through the area. This is the first new all-academic building on the East Side campus since 1995.

The Willow School Wellness Center in Gladstone, NJ achieved LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge’s Net Zero Energy Consumption chose InvariMatte® as well. In addition to its attributes, there are pluses from a construction perspective as it forms well and was preferred to zinc coated stainless according to Jerry Strober of Strober Roofing & Sheet Metal.

The Hanover School in Massachusetts selected InvariMatte® as well for the roof of a new building designed to honored the area’s history. The design was developed through inclusive community visioning workshops which included parents, students, the business community and teachers. The result was a mutual desire for a school building that builds community.

Whether developing plans for a historic restoration, a traditional renovation, or even a modern design for that matter, InvariMatte® Stainless Steel is a wise choice for its many outstanding qualities of beauty, durability, energy savings and dirt resistance. Contrarian Micro Textures is known for its product execution for architectural applications of stainless steel and titanium. For more information and examples of InvaiMatte® projects please explore our website and see some of the many creative uses for this outstanding material.