Facades pro Hagy Belzberg to architects: bring engineers on board sooner

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Belzberg Architects' Gores Group Headquarters remodel. (Bruce Damonte)

Belzberg Architects’ Gores Group Headquarters remodel. (Bruce Damonte)

Architects have long relied on engineers to help execute formally or functionally complex concepts. But, as Belzberg Architects founder Hagy Belzberg points out, “architects usually work out a schematic design” in response to a client’s needs, “only later to invite the engineer to help substantiate their idea.”

Belzberg’s own experience collaborating with facade engineers at Arup suggests a different approach—one in which the designers and consultants trade ideas and expertise from the very beginning.

With Arup’s Matt Williams, Belzberg will outline some of the benefits of a close association among AEC industry professionals through two cutting-edge case studies at next week’s Facades+ LA conference.

Belzberg and Williams’ dialog workshop, “Process Shaping Design: Design, Digital Fabrication, and Delivery” is organized around two projects with distinct origins. The first is the Gores Group Headquarters (9800 Wilshire Boulevard) in Los Angeles. “The building will be a case study in how adaptive facades can help us reappropriate existing buildings so we don’t have to knock them down,” said Belzberg. Digital fabrication technology, he explained, allowed Belzberg Architects to craft a new envelope that is “highly sculptural and unique, but still performative.”

Facade detail, Gores Group Headquarters. (Bruce Damonte)

Facade detail, Gores Group Headquarters. (Bruce Damonte)

The second case study examines a series of commercial buildings in Mexico City. “It’s the same digital fabrication on a new building,” said Belzberg. In contrast to the more typical approach, Belzberg Architects brought Arup on board before touching pencil to paper (or hand to computer mouse). “What we’re trying to promote is a case study in which we brought in the engineers on day one, so it becomes more performative, more efficient, and even more cost-effective,” said Belzberg.

Belzberg Architects' Rio Tiber, Mexico City. (Courtesy Belzberg Architects)

Belzberg Architects’ Rio Tiber, Mexico City. (Courtesy Belzberg Architects)

Besides sharing some of their own work, Belzberg and Williams hope to use the workshop to dig into other examples—cases contributed by the participants themselves. “No one’s going to have to do any homework, or any sketches,” said Belzberg. “But we want people to come in with case studies of their own that we can work on: Not just questions and answers, but we’re hoping that other architects will bring real-life scenarios so that we can brainstorm opportunities. It’s not just about our work, but an opportunity to discuss audience case studies.”

To sign up for “Process Shaping Design” or another lab or dialog workshop, register today for Facades+ LA. Learn more and review the symposium agenda on the conference website.

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