There's no web site yet where architects can vet products by the ratings of other architects. We need an "epinions," a "cnet," or an "amazon.com" for building products. No one wants to take a chance on a product untested in the real world—not when your clients' good opinion and safety is riding on your spec list. That's why, every year, we go to the experts—you—and ask for your best bets. And here they are.
Anne Fougeron, AIA
Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco
Fougeron appreciates the flexibility of Profilit's modular, U-shaped panel. Cast glass channels in extruded aluminum frames can be installed for long or tall spans without added supports. Low-E and solar control variations reduce heat and UV transmissions, while transparency levels can be altered with tinting. Double glazing increases sound and thermal insulation properties. Fougeron includes it in projects such as this one because "we find it to have an important scale." Westcrowns, 910.579.4441; www.westcrowns.com
Fiberstone cuts marble, granite, or onyx as thin as 3 to 4 millimeters and then fuses it to tempered, extra-clear glass to form a translucent stone. Fougeron selected white onyx for these cabinets in her own home, but she's looking forward to using the French product for an exterior wall. The company also suggests the diaphanous sheets for work surfaces, illuminated ceilings, doors, light fixtures, and shower partitions. Fiberstone, 011.33.4.72.91.54.54; www.fiberstone.com
Dennis Luedeman does custom metalwork and fabrication based on architects' designs and concepts. Fougeron values his ability to comprehend the aesthetic she wants and transform it into a functioning piece. "It's a collaborative effort that frees us up to do other things," says Fougeron, who calls upon Luedeman's skills for everything from massive window walls to finer points like this art gallery detail. Dennis Luedeman, 510.658.9435.
Christian J. Ladds, AIA
Lerner | Ladds + Bartels, Providence, R.I.
Engineered lumber combines the strength of steel with the look of wood, says the maker of Paralam. Ladds likes the aesthetic, economic, and load-bearing virtues of the product in such spaces as this curved circulation spine. The engineered beams span longer runs and withstand higher stresses than traditional sawn lumber. American Pole & Timber, 800.460.8627; www.americanpoleandtimber.com
When LL+B seeks a high level of exterior finish, the firm often specs milled reverse board and batten. Ladds says, "This siding detail, with its refined shadow lines, can be used to distinguish the more formal components of a composition." By replacing some of the boards with glazing, Ladds generated narrow, vertical voids in a symmetrical sequence for this Jamestown residence. Liberty Cedar, 800.88CEDAR; www.libertycedar.com
Cetol TGL is a highly transparent exterior finish that won't obscure the color and grain of natural woods. Available in either a satin or gloss, the product is also water repellent and UV resistant. Sikkens, 866.SIKKENS; www.sikkens.com
Despite their name, quarry tiles are made, not quarried, from a mixture of natural ingredients including clay and shale. Metropolitan Ceramics fires the tiles at temperatures above 2,000 degrees for low absorption rates and high tensile strength. The unglazed tiles are ideal for heavily trafficked or wet areas. Metropolitan Ceramics, 800.325.3945; www.metroceramics.com
Frank D. Welch, FAIA
Frank Welch & Associates, Dallas
"The elastomeric acrylic finish has expansion resistance and doesn't stain or mildew, which is important in Texas humidity," says Welch of Senergy fiber-reinforced, hard-coat stucco wall systems. Available in 3/8-inch to 7/8-inch thicknesses, the systems can be retrofit as well as used in new construction. The company makes 15 wall systems including their new Cement-Board Stucco. Senergy, 800.221.9255; www.senergy.cc
St. Joe Brick Works has been hand-pressing Louisiana clay into wood molds for 113 years. Welch likes the distinctive iron pyrite flecks and shape of the brick. In this project, he chose light hues with matching tinted mortar that's applied flush for a monolithic look. Four sizes and two pavers are offered in 14 color blends including full range and light rose. St. Joe Brick Works, 985.863.6161; www.stjoebrickworks.com
Berridge standing seam roof gives Welch another weapon against the unrelenting Texas climate. The company's fluoropolymer resin coatings protect the panels against ultraviolet radiation and carry a 20-year guarantee against cracking, peeling, and fading. Welch usually selects a heavy, zinc-coated steel finish. "I like the monochrome look of the dark blue-gray color and that it's flat without any sheen." Berridge, 800.231.8127; www.berridge.com
Beth Reader, AIA
Reader & Swartz Architects, Winchester, Va.
Reader believes in Expanko cork enough to use it in her own home--which means partner and husband Charles Swartz also had to approve. From more than 15 shades and patterns, Reader and Swartz selected a traditional cork look in medium tones with a matte finish. Gloss or matte polyurethane, natural wax, or unfinished tiles come standard in 12-inch and 24-inch squares, as well as custom sizes. Expanko, 800.345.6202; www.expanko.com
For rolling ladders and doors, Reader specs heavy-duty barn door hardware. National's galvanized trolley rails and offset bolt hangers can hold up to 450 pounds, allowing Reader to design a pocket door without tearing up a wall or roll this story-and-a-half library ladder along its track. National, 815.625.1320; www.natman.com
"Inexpensive, durable, and deep" are just some of the qualities Reader admires in Silgranit sinks. The composite material uses 80 percent natural granite mixed with acrylic resin for a sink that's heat, stain, scratch, and chip resistant with penetrating color pigments and a nonporous, hygienic surface. Blanco America, 800.451.5782; www.blancoamerica.com
Trim Tex shadow bead connects drywall with interior door and window jambs for a clean look, Reader says. She has the vinyl trim spray-painted dark gray or black for a deep shadow effect, as shown in this project. The company offers such other options as 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch-deep reveal beads for breaking up long expanses, plus fiber optic reveals for that Las Vegas look. Trim Tex, 800.874.2333; www.trim-tex.com
Finne Architects, Seattle
The Clouds line is a versatile hardware system that supports a wide range of fixtures. Finne favors the simplicity of the pendant. With its silver canopy and clear anodized aluminum hardware, it makes a subtle statement. The 91/2-inch-long, 4-inch-in-diameter unit comes in various colors. Resolute, 206.343.9323; www.resoluteonline.com
"There is nothing comparable to the natural beauty of clear, vertical-grain Douglas fir windows," Finne says. He specs custom units from Quantum Windows & Doors for projects like the one shown here. But he's also careful to warn his clients that natural wood windows require regular maintenance to maintain their beauty. Quantum Windows & Doors, 800.287.6650; www.quantumwindows.com
on the lever
For entry doors, Finne likes hardware with a solid, handcrafted look. Enter Rocky Mountain Hardware, which specializes in stock and custom architectural products, including this large hook lever. Made from solid cast bronze, the 4 1/4-inch-long lever projects 25/16 inches and comes in seven finishes, including the silicon bronze with a light patina shown. Rocky Mountain Hardware, 888.788.2013; www.rockymountainhardware.com
The understated style of the Nyhavn copper wall-mount fixture from Louis Poulsen Lighting means it's equally at home in Finne's new Modern work as well as his more traditional renovations. Principally a downlight, the fixture's rings shed a small amount of illumination on the unit itself. Choose from brushed or lacquered copper, natural painted aluminum, and white. Louis Poulsen Lighting, 954.349.2525; www.louispoulsen.com
tara dome Finne is impressed by the engineering and durability of Dornbracht's Tara Classic lav faucet. It works well in many settings, says the architect, who used the widespread version for this powder room. Dornbracht USA, 800.774.1181; www.dornbracht.com
Samuel E. Olshin, AIA
Atkin Olshin Lawson-Bell Architects, Philadelphia
you've got mail
Vario letterboxes from Siedle Communication Systems of America earn Olshin's stamp of approval. Spec these stylish snail-mail vessels with a host of high-tech components, including a swivel camera, a speaker, and an information module that displays house numbers and logos. Large boxes can accommodate small packages and magazines; components are finished in white, titanium, silver metallic, or graphite metallic. Siedle Communication Systems of America, 800.874.3353; www.siedleusa.com
Duratherm's custom wood windows and doors are highly praised by many architects. Olshin particularly appreciates the manufacturer's willingness to combine different wood species on the interior and exterior of its windows. The casement section shown here, for instance, features ash and teak. Duratherm Window Corp., 800.996.5558; www.durathermwindow.com
Olshin is a big fan of Peace Valley Tile, describing the company's handmade flat- and high-relief ceramic products as "unique." Suitable for interior and exterior applications, the tiles come in glazed and unglazed variations. Peace Valley Tile, 215.340.0888.
Peter Pfau, AIA
Pfau Architecture, San Francisco
For many residential practitioners, Bendheim is the preferred architectural glass supplier. Pfau is no exception, which is why he selected it for the exterior wall of this house. One of the largest resources for specialty glass in North America, Bendheim carries more than 2,000 stock products, including etched, laminated, and historically accurate restoration glass. Bendheim, 800.835.5304; www.bendheim.com
A longtime fan of bamboo flooring, Pfau now chooses Smith & Fong's Durapalm. The engineered product is made from plantation-grown palm that yields hard, stable, and durable flooring. It comes in 3/4-inch-thick, 3-by-72-inch strips with a factory-applied finish. Smith & Fong, 866.835.9859; www.durapalm.com
light the way
For track lighting, Pfau favors this fixture from Litelab. At 53/8 inches long and 43/16 inches in diameter, it suits office buildings and cozier galley kitchens. Pfau's tip: Forgo the large transformer if you're using it in a house. "Just have your electrician purchase off-the-shelf generic transformers," he says. The fixture comes in black, white, and custom colors. Litelab Corp., 800.238.4120; www.litelab.com
Franke says its EuroPro undermount sink suits both traditional and contemporary kitchens. Pfau agrees, dubbing it "extremely versatile" and "great looking." Made of 18-gauge stainless steel, the sink is 28 inches wide, 20 inches front to back, and 12 inches deep. It has a corner drain. Franke, 800.626.5771; www.frankeksd.com
"I don't even think about using another lever," says Pfau of Valli & Valli's Ecostyle interior door lever. The solid brass lever comes finished in oil-rubbed bronze and polished chrome, among others. Pfau's favorite? Satin nickel. Valli & Valli USA, 877.326.2565; www.vallievalli.com
Jean Rehkamp Larson, AIA
Rehkamp Larson Architects, Minneapolis
Custom stainless steel cabinets bring an industrial edge to this Rehkamp Larson timber frame design. Plus, says Larson, the brushed steel cabinets "catch and reflect the light throughout the day, so they are always changing." A practical, durable material, stainless steel has natural antibacterial characteristics that are useful in food prep areas. Nielsen's Equipment & Design, 763.536.9919.
Vaporproof ceiling fixtures can be gritty and bold, or remove the cage and fit them with a frosted glass globe, and they're downright elegant. Shake things up with red, blue, green, and amber glass or polycarbonate globes in cylindrical and ball shapes. RAB, 888.RAB.1000; www.rabweb.com
For wide-open spaces, especially those with high ceilings, Rehkamp Larson applauds the scale of Kohler's ProMaster faucet with pullout spray head. "It feels good in your hand," she says of the 27-inch-tall arched spout made of brass with a polished chrome finish. The hose extends 30 inches and has a rotating head for spray or aerated water flow. Kohler, 800.4.KOHLER; www.kohler.com
Mary Griffin, AIA
Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects, Berkeley, Calif.
Sebastopol specializes in custom wood windows of any size or specification. Their slim profile maximizes views, says Griffin, whose firm speced them for this impressive window wall. Sebastopol Window Co., 707.823.8796.
cool within reach
"Our kitchens are usually part of larger rooms, so we try to de-emphasize appliances," says Griffin of the stealth Sub-Zero 700 series. Varied combinations of refrigerators and freezers come in tall units or drawers. The series matches standard cabinet depth and can accept custom panels for seamless integration into kitchens, family rooms, master suites, and more. Sub-Zero, 800.222.7820; www.subzero.com
Empty beer bottles, old traffic lights, and even Cinderella's discarded slipper are transformed into countertops and fireplace surrounds by Counter Production. The handcrafted designs consist of 80 percent to 95 percent salvaged glass set in cast concrete and built to specification. Thousands of polished glass chips give depth and add sparkle to the hardy, nonporous surfaces. Counter Production, 510.843.6948; www.counterproduction.com.
Paul Mankins, FAIA
Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture, Des Moines, Iowa
Composed of 100 percent acrylic or polyester resins reinforced by a web of glass fibers, LUMAsite sheets are shatterproof, says American Acrylic. The thin structural panels diffuse and transmit light. Although Mankins sticks solely to colorless frost panels, such lightly tinted colors as jade or sky are available. Standard sheets come with a satin finish on one side and a micrograin gloss on the other. American Acrylic, 800.627.9025; www.americanacrylic.com
For a durable yet smart-looking material, Mankins turns to mass quantities of Kirkby blue by Burlington Natstone. This compressed slate is quarried only in the English Lake District and comes in colors ranging from pale green to smoky blue. Flamed and honed are Mankins' favorite finishes; others offered include sanded, textured, grit-blasted, water jet, and cleft. Burlington Natstone, 972.985.9182; www.burlingtonstone.co.uk
Formerly imported under the Kroin name, Vola faucets have been a favorite of Mankins' firm for years. They slip seamlessly into architectural styles ranging from Craftsman to contemporary. And their sleek silhouettes mask advanced water conservation technology and easygoing ergonomics. Mix or match from 15 finishes, numerous trim styles, and multiple accessories. Hastings Tile & Bath, 800.351.0038; www.hastingstilebath.com
Nick Noyes Architecture, San Francisco
LaHabra's All-In-One concrete finish is an integral color system made from a combination of Portland cement, fine white aggregates, and plasticizing agents. Noyes applauds the product's "endless range of colors." Appropriate for exterior and interior applications, the system offers a smooth-troweled surface and saves money because no other products are needed. This Noyes project showcases the finish in red. LaHabra Stucco, 714.778.2266; www.lahabrastucco.com
For sleek glass openings, Noyes recommends Bonelli aluminum windows and doors. The glazing suits Modern architecture--such as this California residence by Noyes--especially well. The windows are custom made from clear or bronze anodized aluminum, or choose from among 180 powdered coated colors. Bonelli, 650.873.3222; www.bonelli.com
Like many architects, Noyes favors fiber cement shingles for their strength and durability. He specs Profile Series shingles from GAF because "they create a very taut skin and are very affordable." The maker claims the fireproof product will not warp, dent, rot, or expand and is resistant to termites and freeze-thaw conditions. Choose from three sizes: 9 by 32 inches, 12 by 24 inches, and 145/8 by 255/32 inches. GAF Materials Corp., 973.628.3000; www.gaf.com
Noyes admires the contemporary Italian flair of Varenna's Habit line of cabinets. The full overlay products are made in a variety of styles with numerous door options, including aluminum, etched glass, and Italian walnut. It has 13 different handle styles, glossy and embossed lacquered colors, and countertops in wood, steel, and stone. Poliform USA, 212.421.1220; www.poliformusa.com
Sandra Vitzthum, AIA
Sandra Vitzthum, Architect, Montpelier, Vt.
When Vitzthum specifies windows, she often selects casements or double-hung products from Marvin Windows & Doors. They offer high-quality details and "great technical support," she says. Casements have 49/16-inch jambs, bare wood interiors, and clear insulating glass. Units are available in standard and custom sizes, and in various species or in aluminum clad. Marvin Windows & Doors, 800.346.3363; www.marvin.com
The knowledge and professionalism of Conant Custom Brass earn praise from Vitzthum. The company fabricates light fixtures and restores or conserves vintage pieces. And it's recently expanded into custom metalwork and glass fabrication with a small forge and kiln. Conant Custom Brass, 800.832.4482; www.conantcustombrass.com
larose is a rose
Vitzthum's preferred millwork supplier is Larose Custom Woodwork. Despite its small size, the company ships lumber and custom products throughout the United States and even to Italy. "They can figure out almost anything, and they have an amazing supply of exotic and old-fashioned woods," the architect says. Larose fabricated the mahogany garage doors on this Vitzthum project. Larose Custom Woodwork, 802.479.0401
Maryann Thompson Architects, Cambridge, Mass.
"Let your imagination be your guide," Dynamic Windows & Doors tells its architect customers. That's because its custom windows come in any shape and size, and in species that include Douglas fir, Alaskan yellow cedar, and walnut, among others. For this renovation, Thompson chose mahogany. The company will also incorporate two species on one window and offers extruded solid bronze or aluminum cladding. Dynamic Windows & Doors, 800.661.8111; www.dynamicwindows.com
rocks of ages
Vermont Structural Slate specializes in custom architectural stone products in natural Vermont slates, quartzites, and sandstones from around the world. Thompson clad this chimney with 3/4-inch-thick Janegrey stone in a honed finish. Though available in many standard sizes, stones can be had in custom sizes depending on type, finish, thickness, and other factors. Vermont Structural Slate, 800.343.1900; www.vermontstructuralslate.com
Japan Colors by Ronan paints are finely ground, lead-free, flat paste colors that are used on furniture and cabinetry for such decorative applications as aging and faux finishing. For this closet, Thompson used the product in a blend of cobalt blue and chrome yellow. Also ideal toners for flat paints, they're available in 24 colors. Ronan Paints, 800.247.6626; www.ronanpaints.com
Thompson finds Longleaf Lumber's Clear No. 1 quartersawn heart pine ideal for flooring. This dense, reclaimed lumber has few knots or nail holes, the company says. Flooring is available in widths of 21/2 to 51/2 inches, though wider widths can be requested. Thompson has used 2-inch-thick slabs for stair treads. Longleaf Lumber, 617.625.3615; www.longleaflumber.com.
Peter Pennoyer Architects, New York City
Glass mosaic tiles add a translucency and complexity that ceramic cannot match. Pennoyer's favorite maker is Bisazza. "These mosaics have a combination of color, depth, and texture that make a brilliant surface," he says. Bisazza fabricates three glass mosaic lines: Vetricolor, Le Gemme, and Smalto. The 3/4-inch tiles are paper-faced mounted and are stocked in a variety of colors. Bisazza North America, 305.597.4099; www.bisazzausa.com
hide and seek
Leather is not just for accessories these days. Pennoyer uses it as an architectural spec. The product is "consistent, durable, and timeless," he says. He chose Edelman Leather's 18-inch-by-18-inch floor tile for the wall of this San Francisco project. Sound absorbent and warm, the tiles come in standard dimensions, nine shapes, and 16 colors. Custom colors are made upon request. Edelman Leather, 860-350-9600; www.edelmanleather.com
DuPont says its Corian acrylic polymer solid surface isn't just for kitchen countertops. Pennoyer, who likes it for backsplashes, agrees. It's "a perfect contrast to natural wood or stone counters," he says. Corian solid surface is water resistant, durable, and easy to maintain. Choose from more than 120 colors. DuPont Corian, 800.426.7426; www.corian.com
this way in
Select Interior Doors manufactures solid hardwood interior and entry doors. Pennoyer speced the interior products liberally in this New York apartment. The doors have solid poplar stiles and rails and medium-density fiberboard panels. The maker will work with architects to modify standard door profiles and dimensions. Stock thicknesses are 1 3/8, 1 3/4, and 2 1/4 inches. Select Interior Doors, 585.535.9900; www.sidl.com
Donald S. Cooper, AIA
Cooper Johnson Smith Architects, Tampa, Fla.
Designer Doors makes accurate representations of period hinged carriage house doors, Cooper says. Built in custom profiles and configurations, the doors have solid 1 3/8-inch Douglas fir frames, polystyrene insulation, and Western red cedar or medium-density overlay plywood fronts. The manufacturer will work with architects on door designs, as Cooper did for this project. Designer Doors, 715.426.1100; www.designerdoors.com
For contemporary houses, Cooper specifies Hansgrohe's Axor plumbing valves. Shown here in a firm project is the Terrano widespread wall-mounted lav set with traditional cross handles. The faucet, which uses ceramic disk technology, is 6 inches long with 35/8-inch handles. Finishes are chrome and satin. Hansgrohe USA, 800.719.1000; www.hansgrohe-usa.com
nautical and nice
To add an authentic maritime feel, Cooper uses bulkhead lights for his projects near the water. This spiffy little number is from Urban Archaeology. "It comes in a variety of finishes and is very durable in harsh environments," says the architect. The fixture is 12 1/2 inches long and 9 inches wide with its canopy. It comes in standard and custom finishes. Urban Archaeology, 212.431.4646; www.urbanarchaeology.com
Thomas Hut, AIA, and Jane Sachs, AIA
Hut Sachs Studio, New York City
Stoller Metals manufactures chemically etched brass and etched pewter sheets that are suitable for a myriad of architectural applications. Hut Sachs has taken a shine to its etched brass product. Here, Sachs says, "We used it under the skylight to reflect the sunlight. The etched finish gives the metal a warm tone." A coat of polyurethane stabilizes the patina. Select from two sizes: 3 feet by 8 feet and 3 feet by 10 feet. Stoller Metals, 206.903.6188; www.stollerinc.com
A garage door, Hut Sachs has discovered, is a very cost-effective way to achieve large openings in a home. The firm's favorite, shown in one of its projects, is made of aluminum and glass and hails from Arm-R-Lite. It boasts maintenance-free aluminum stiles and rails welded flush for a clean look. The product comes in custom sizes and with standard and custom glazing options. Arm-R-Lite, 800.554.5816; www.armrlite.com
Every architect has a favorite plastic glazing spec. Sachs touts Panelite, a structural panel containing a honeycomb core sandwiched between two lightweight fiberglass skins. In this project, Sachs says, the firm used the panel to create a blue partition with "depth and translucency" that "gives texture to the light as it bounces off the walls." The sheets are made in three series--cast polymer, mica, and glass cloth--and sold in 4-foot-by-8-foot and 4-foot-by-10-foot sizes in various colors. Panelite, 212.343.0995; www.e-panelite.com
Gary Furman, AIA
Gary Furman Architects Austin, Texas
The Happy D series by Duravit spurns telltale stylistic flourishes, enabling it to slip seamlessly into rooms of varying aesthetics. Furman pairs the units with his clean, elegant Hill Country vernacular. Made of vitreous China, sinks like the 271/2-inch pedestal basin shown come with pedestal covers or metal consoles. Duravit USA, 888.387.2848; www.duravit.comgroup therapy
For large window groups such as this one, Furman uses Kolbe & Kolbe's Sundance Series. The products, made of Douglas fir, "stand up well to the exterior elements and provide a rich palette on the interior," he says. The windows come in standard and custom sizes with a variety of grille and glass options. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., 715.842.5666; www.kolbe-kolbe.com
"Comfortable and deep" is how Furman describes stainless steel and copper soaking tubs by Diamond Spas, shown here in stainless steel. He especially admires the brushed finishes, which "subtly reflect the colors of the surrounding room." The luxurious double-wall unit (72 inches long, 42 inches wide, and 22 inches deep) has a contoured interior, so bathers can recline while elevating their feet. Choose from self-rimming or undermount styles. Diamond Spas, 800.951.7727; www.diamondspas.com
When Furman wants to use steel and glass doors in a dramatic way, he turns to the able metalworkers at Iron Craft Studio. The company fabricates its custom products from cold-formed steel to achieve perfectionist's tolerances. "The delicacy of the steel provides an almost invisible barrier between the indoors and outdoors," Furman says, who speced the studio's work in this project. Iron Craft Studio, 214.352.3042
Gwynne Pugh, AIA
Pugh + Scarpa Architecture, Santa Monica, Calif.
"We use it as a finish surface on cabinets and even as flooring," says Pugh of Dakota Burl. Manufactured from a rapidly renewable agricultural fiber, the panels have a natural burled wood pattern that's consistent through the board. The material comes in 4-foot-by-8-foot sections and in 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1-inch thicknesses. Standard woodworking tools, stains, and finishes can be used. Pugh had the top 18 inches sanded off to obtain a fine texture for these floating partitions. Phenix Biocomposites, 800.324.8187; www.phenixbiocomposites.com
"We use a lot of steel [as seen in these Pugh+Scarpa lofts] and often change the nature of the surface through rust or various chemical applications," Pugh explains. "Then we put Poxy-gard on it to darken the color and create this nice warm texture and tone." The clear epoxy has low VOCs and is lead and chromate free. Special wetting characteristics enable it to penetrate and protect rough surfaces, sharp edges, and odd angles. Pratt & Lambert, 800.buy.prat; www.prattandlambert.com
Just's self-rimming or undermount circular sinks work well in islands or wet bars. But at nearly 18 inches in diameter and 7 inches deep, they're substantial enough for other uses. Smaller sizes are offered if space is tight, and all sinks are made from hefty 18-gauge stainless steel. Just Manufacturing, 847.678.5150; www.justsinks.com
Homasote fiberboard turns recycled newspapers into versatile panels for sound control, insulation, sheathing, decorative treatments, and more. Pugh often applies the warm, gray-brown material as a wall covering. The formaldehyde-free products are resistant to termites, rot, mold, and fire. Homasote, 800.257.9491; www.homasote.com
Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, FAIA
Elizabeth Wright Ingraham Architects, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Spectra's lightweight modular concrete blocks are prefinished with a bonded, permanent glaze. For this project, Wright Ingraham speced cool blues with contrasting ochre accents. The fireproof, non-toxic blocks come in 80 colors and range in size from 12 by 12 inches up to 16 by 24 inches. Patterns, textures, curved corners, and trims are also offered. Spectra Development, 800.638.3188; www.spectraglaze.com
Wright Ingraham has been using this highly energy-efficient concrete building system since 1986, when she was one of the first U.S. architects to spec Thermomass. The pre-engineered, insulated wall system can be used with pre-cast, tilt-up, and poured-in-place concrete. The extruded Styrofoam insulation is sandwiched between two concrete layers--all held together by fiber-composite connectors. Thermomass, 800.232.1748; www.thermomass.com
One-piece, die-cast aluminum construction means these Bega wall sconces are seriously heavy duty for indoor or outdoor use. Wright Ingraham likes the pure lines of model 2488, which comes standard in black or white finishes or in custom colors. Bega Lighting, 805.684.0533; www.bega-us.com
Brian Mackay-Lyons Architect, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Green architecture not only considers a material's origins, but also how long it will last. With this is mind, MacKay-Lyons coats most exteriors with Duranar paints, which contain fluoropolymer resins to fight acid rain, humidity, salt air, chemical stains, and dirt buildup. He used a metallic hue for this steel, glass, and concrete house. PPG Industries, 800.258.6389; www.industrial-coatings.com
flock of cedar
For architecture exposed to harsh weather, such as this coastal home, MacKay-Lyons trusts Eastern white cedar shingles. "We use them like feathers on a duck--tightly spaced, woven corners, and in four layers," he says. When budgets permit, the firm prefers clear, smooth fits with no knots for a cleaner look. Lighthouse Wholesalers Lumber, 506.857.9977.
In the briny Nova Scotia climate, Galvalume coated steel guards against caustic winds and salt air. Cold-rolled steel is dipped into an aluminum-zinc bath to create highly corrosive-resistant sheets. Corrugated Galvalume wraps this MacKay-Lyons residence. International Steel Group, 610.694.2424; www.intlsteel.com
Holophane commercial pendants offer just the generic industrial look that MacKay-Lyons favors. For the firm's office space, he chose the energy-efficient Century series, which combines stainless steel braces, a cast aluminum frame, and glass or metal hulls. Holophane, 740.345.9631; www.holophane.com