Off the shelf… almost.


Mies famously inverted the old aphorism and said “God is in the details.” The truth is that you may find either God or the devil depending on the time you invest and the care you take to make sure the big idea is carried all the way through to its execution. There is also a point of diminishing returns.


A friend of mine spent some time in Sir Norman Foster’s Hong Kong office in the 1990’s. He once told me that the Bank of Hong Kong was designed right down to the custom fasteners – up to and including specifying the thread pitch. I sometimes wonder if this experience had anything to do with my friend opting for a career in the hospitality industry once he returned to the states.


I confess to a fetish for details. I can get really excited about a countersunk stove bolt or a properly sized clevis but my enthusiasm stops somewhere short of Sir Norman’s. The detail shown above is an exterior guardrail to be installed on a project currently under construction. The railing itself is mill finish stainless for weathering and it’s anchored to the adjacent concrete and masonry cheek-wall with an off the shelf and commonly available concrete anchor. But then there’s the nut. The stock fastener that comes with the concrete anchor is fine if it’s concealed within other construction but it just doesn’t look finished if left exposed to view. Hence the specified acorn nut. And yes I checked to be sure the thread pitch would match.



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