Buildings Reimagined

August 12th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Film Companies Help Commercial Owners Give their Buildings a Face Lift

By Tara Taffera

While COVID-19 may change the landscape of office vacancy rates as more business owners recognize the viability of employees working from home, building owners are looking to update the exterior to draw in potential occupants— reimage or reface it if you will. This is good news for window film companies equipped to offer this type of architectural install. It is a tall order, however, and not one any film shop can take on. While some in the industry refer to this type of makeover as building wraps, those we spoke to say that is not the best term as it causes some people to think this is similar to vehicle wraps. In reality, it’s a different animal all together.

A Building Face Lift

“A building wrap is really a face lift—a renovation or a refacing of a building’s exterior,” says Jeff Franson, CEO of Window Film Depot. “People use the term building wrap, and that vernacular is okay, but it’s really building reimaging.”

The whole concept is you are trying to take a decades-old building, and make it more enticing for building owners, and for employees to want to work there, says Franson. By wrapping them with films and architectural finishes, or graphic films you can take these into the 21st century.

“Mainly, you are trying to increase the property value of an aging building … The ROI is making your building a sexier, more modern and cool place so it attracts talent to that property,” Franson says.

“Building reimaging is what we call it and that is taking an old building that looks dated and offering the owner the opportunity to update the look of the building without reglazing it,” says Brad Campbell, president of Campbell Corp. “We let them [building owners] keep all the original materials. We apply vinyl to the spandrel, paint the window mullions and reseal the building. Then we add colored window film to make the windows pop and cover up old, tired colors.”

Campbell teamed up with Erik Bond, owner at Spin Imaging Inc., in Long Beach, Calif., to work on some of these projects to which Bond refers to as façade resurfacing. And Bond should know, as he says Spin Imaging has about 30 high rise buildings under its belt. (Bond says he brought Campbell
in to help with the window tint portion.)

Ryan King, owner at Tint by Masters Gulf Coast in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, throws yet another term into the mix—façade rejuvenation. His company is a long-time 3M dealer that focuses on residential and commercial projects.

When Ferrari went through a corporate identity update several years ago, they called on Tint by Masters to update the exterior. “The building was ivory, and we turned it into a matte gray,” says King. “It was not an option for them to close the dealership and paint it. We were able to come in and do this in stages while they still stayed open.”

The company also updated a local Kia dealership due to a fading exterior. And that’s the cool thing about it, says Campbell. “With building reimaging, we want to change people’s perspective. They drive by and see the same building but now with a different look [or color],” says Campbell.

In 2008 King’s company bought a sign business, and says that is the funnel from which a lot of this reimaging business comes through.

Future Demand

Those we interviewed said although the offices segment of the architectural market is strained due to COVID and more employers shifting to home offices, for those employers who do choose to rent office space, it will become even more of a competitive market that will force building owners to make updates.

“You are making a relatively low investment, and you will see an increase in demand–not a decrease even though the office market is under considerable stress,” Franson says.

Franson says suppliers are doing a really good job of bringing more products with longer warranties to market. “Now there are 10-15 year warranties and a building owner is looking at it saying I will get my ROI in 5 years,” he adds.

King agrees that having a good warranty is ideal, and says 3M offers a robust warranty on its film used in these types of projects.

Tara Taffera is the editorial director of WINDOW FILM magazine. She may be reached at ttaffera@glass.com.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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