Silvercote’s Robert Tiffin Wins MBMA Innovation Award
Building Relationships with the Architecture Community and Changing Perceptions of Industry
Jan. 15, 2020 -- Metal buildings are modern, resilient and sustainable buildings designed for the future. Unfortunately, this fact isn’t immediately obvious to everyone – even those working in the construction and design industry.
"There is this perception of metal buildings as being rusty boxes only good for manufacturing and distribution, but nothing could be further from the truth,” states Silvercote National Accounts Manager Robert Tiffin.
This sentiment emerged from a 2019 industry perception study of nearly 1,000 design professionals conducted by the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA). And Tiffin, whose passion for the metal building industry is evident from the moment you meet him, was determined to do something to change people’s – specifically, architects’ – minds about the modern, dynamic design possibilities presented by metal buildings.
When the call came for submissions for the MBMA’s 2019 Innovation Award, Robert leveraged the opportunity to draw much-needed attention to this perception problem and garner support from his fellow members to influence attitudes about the industry.
Establishing Relationships and Changing Perspectives
Through 2019, the MBMA and American Institute of Architects (AIA) were less like friends and more like acquaintances. The two groups obviously knew of one another, but the affiliation was weak – a point emphasized by the disappointing opinions expressed in the perception survey. This is exactly what Tiffin was determined to change. He proposed the creation of an MBMA Architecture Committee to foster a relationship with key architecture audiences. This mutually beneficial plan would ignite a concerted effort on the part of the metal building industry to engage with national and local architectural communities and change perceptions through knowledge sharing. In turn, the architectural community would be exposed to the latest and greatest advantages of utilizing metal buildings for their designs.
"Addressing misperceptions about metal buildings should be one of our top priorities as an organization," said Tiffin. "By establishing stronger relationships with top architecture associations like the AIA, we are able to share the advantages of metal buildings with an audience that is incredibly important and influential when it comes to advising their clients on building design and composition. And in return, the architectural community receives the latest research and data on a versatile building practice they may not have given much thought to before."
After an evaluation process that judged submissions based on project costs, feasibility and, most importantly, benefit to the metal building industry, the MBMA Board selected Tiffin and his proposal to establish a formal Architecture Committee as the 2019 Innovation Award winner. Tiffin will chair the newly formed committee, marking the first time an MBMA associate member will lead one of the organization’s committees.
Just the Beginning
The formal award was presented at the organization’s annual meeting in December, and the group is quickly getting to work putting ideas into action. The first step is promoting the December MBMA release of its latest continuing education course titled "Creative Design Alternatives Using Metal Building Systems," produced in partnership with the AIA and Architectural Record magazine. The course provides one Learning Unit credit for AIA members. It’s just the first of several co-produced courses planned.
MBMA also held its first Architecture Faculty Workshop in Houston, Texas, to share the advantages and opportunities of metal building systems with those leaders teaching and influencing the next generation of architects.
"We are just getting started, but I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far in addressing the outdated image of metal building materials," said Tiffin. "I look forward to deepening the relationship between the metal building and architecture communities, as it will undoubtedly lead to even more modern, attractive and sustainable buildings for us all to enjoy."