Foreman Fabricators is the proud winner of a Gold award in the prestigious international metalcraft competition administered by the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA). Foreman is a multi-time NOMMA award winner for their custom architectural metal work, and this year they took gold for their world-class Top Job at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Clayton, Missouri.
The finished project is simply gorgeous, crafted with a mirrored copper plate that is so unique, it can’t help but grab your gaze. Next time you banquet at the Ritz, your eyes will immediately turn to the captivating reflective copper finish on the ceiling, stove hood and soffit in the kitchen serving area. It really is stunning. You’ll find more of Foreman’s copper and bronze work in the Ritz’s Cigar Club lounge.
“The contractor, BSI Constructors, asked us to bid on the Ritz job because they know we can handle unique, tough projects like this one,” says Rob Rolves, owner of Foreman Fabricators. “We’ve been around for over 60 years, and it’s rare to see a project of this magnitude made from mirrored copper. Copper is a super-soft metal, and with the mirror finish it’ll scratch if you even look at it wrong.”
“From the time we took the raw sheet off the truck, through fabrication in our shop, delivery and installation, this stuff risked getting damaged. Huge thanks to everyone involved in this project, especially our Project Manager, Alex Nanna, and our guys in the shop, they knew this project was special and it shows in their work. And I’ve got to mention the team at Vogel who did the installation for us – zero damage during install – amazing.”
The NOMMA Gold award was bestowed in the “Unusual Ornamental” category, and this accolade is special because it is judged by Foreman’s peers in the metal fabrication industry. “When the fabricators you know and respect give you a gold, that means something,” Rolves continues. “The metal fab folks will understand how challenging this project was and how well it went. We tried to predict exactly how much material we’d need as we did not want to over-purchase due to the great expense and got that on order as it had a considerable lead time. We designed a support system for the panels and did mock-ups to make it efficient. We did last minute measuring due to shifting conditions on surrounding site construction, then made test pieces to ensure exact fits – sometimes this took multiple attempts to get the best fit. Then each piece was fabricated to match the test piece. Finally, all were lacquered, delivered and installed with pretty much zero issues, and get this, zero leftover stock. And like I said before, this stuff dents and scratches if you breathe on it. We’re really proud of this one! It was one of those special projects where each step was a challenge that could have had issues, but because everyone did an amazing job things slowly but surely slotted into place.”
- Designing Support System.
- The job drawings just showed the ceiling panels and called out support for them, so we had to design the support bracketry used to mount everything. Tim Lovell, our senior estimator, did a stellar job designing it and the team added ideas as we made mock-ups.
- Fabricating Mirror Copper Finish Material.
- Because copper is so soft, and especially because of the mirror finish, it took tender loving care in the fabrication process to avoid dents and scratches in the finished product. This included fabricators wearing soft gloves at all times when handling the copper.
- Clear-Coat Lacquering.
- To prevent the copper from oxidizing, once the parts and panels were fabricated, clear-coat lacquer was applied. Everything was hand-checked and wiped down before lacquering because any blemish would become permanent after that.
- Lacquering mirror-finish is tough because the coating can run so easily on application. Mid-America Specialty Services did a good job for us and went out of their comfort zone on the timeline to meet our schedule. Thanks, Mid-America!
- With the clear lacquer on top of the mirror finish, any little scratch or even a smudge from finger oils would jump out under the coating, so again, everyone who handled the fabricated parts wore soft gloves until each piece was in place on the job site.
- Field Dimensions.
- As can happen with these types of jobs, we had to keep on top of adjacent construction and adjust our field dimensions multiple times along the way to make sure our final fabrication sizes exactly matched the actual finished dimensions at the job site.
- Of course, no building or room is perfectly square and exactly as drawn to the fraction of an inch when constructed. And because of smaller bends and lots of notches, the delicate copper and other fabrication factors, you couldn’t just make minor field adjustments to snug parts into place on site. To make sure everything fit together properly on install, Foreman had to continuously adjust template parts for the framework along the way, fabricating many individual parts immediately ahead of installation and delivering them to keep just ahead of the installers to prevent delays.
- The Usual Construction Adjustments.
- As is typical, final construction decisions on flooring, light locations and, as options and availability became clear, adjustments had to be made before install. Additional studwork had to be installed around the entire ceiling perimeter for mounting the framework and panels, and of course that changed install scheduling.
- Panel Hole Locations.
- Due to construction adjustments, many hole locations on panels had to be measured, drilled and cut on site due to final lighting placements and other factors. This was a major change as the project was bid with the plan to cut the holes while cutting the perimeter, which would have been much easier and decreased part handling three-fold.
- Installers had to install certain panels, use a laser to mark the centers for lighting, remove it, then precisely drill and cut holes, then re-install each piece, all without damaging these incredibly vulnerable parts. (The installers from Vogel, our installation partner, did an absolutely amazing job. Thanks Vogel!
- Waste Prevention.
- This project had very little margin for error, and every part had to be right the first time. The mirrored copper plates take weeks to deliver, so ordering new material would have caused unacceptable delays.
As with any project, Foreman was just one player among the companies and subcontractors involved in making the Ritz Carlton mirrored copper project a reality. Foreman respects and appreciates the role each company played in the success of this project.