With technologies advancing and new building strategies emerging, “knocks-off” are becoming more prominent in conventional practice. Let me ask a question: does a faux brick paneling material make the applied building not real? Absolutely not. No matter if the façade is a real masonry composition or brick panel system applied to the structure, the building will still serve its purpose. Personally, I am caught in the middle of this argument. Though I like real, authentic construction methods, I am all for progression and innovation. But as the economy changes, the one thing that seems to be the deciding factor is ultimately money.
My first time back on the University of Minnesota campus from the summer months, I was walking past the new 17th Ave dorm facility being constructed. Quickly gazing at the façade along 4th Street, I noticed the brick cladding mimicking the next door fraternity houses. Not taking notice to the structural system behind, I was completely convinced of the masonry system. It was not until later that I realized the façade was in fact paneled. My point is that brick faux paneling is so realistic that this new building completely fooled an architecture student.
Along with appearing extremely realistic to the eye, these “fake” panels are also a cheaper solution to the authentic masonry construction. Instead of spending vast amounts of money for masons to lay the brick and for the material, faux panels can easily be installed as a “curtain” on the structure. This solution allows for the exterior walls to be non-load bearing, which is more economical and sustainable. These panels also come in a variety of different materials and textures such as metal, wood, and other stones. Regardless of whether a building applies “fake” materials, the appearance in the end is the same as those that are authentic. As technologies advance, will you be able to tell the difference between real and fake?