For el dorado Principal Josh Shelton, facade design and fabrication are simultaneous, rather than sequential, practices. “el dorado was founded on the premise that design and fabrication were a unified act,” he explained. The firm often prototypes or constructs physical components of its project in its in-house fabrication shop. “Our approach to facade design evolves from that hands-on rigor and sense of craft that we’ve developed over the last 20 years of being a practice,” said Shelton. Shelton will participate in the “Materials + Surfaces” presentation block at the upcoming Facades+AM Kansas City symposium with A. Zahner Company‘s L. William Zahner and Paul Neidlein, of JE Dunn Construction.
Shelton is particularly intrigued by opportunities to combine new technologies and traditional materials. As an example, he cites an el dorado project in Denver‘s LoDo district. Faced with strict contextual constraints, the firm is taking “a very high tech approach to the design of brick facades, using computational design to pixelate bricks,” said Shelton. “We’re meeting historical guidelines in fresh, innovative ways. We’re using a refined sense of craft to take a material that evolved from an artisan material to a very vanilla material, back to a more artisan approach.”
In Kansas City, noted Shelton, el dorado is not alone in exploring the synergy between design and fabrication. “We’ve got a deep bench with regard to good architects,” he said. “There’s also a rich tradition of craft and making. It’s on that tradition of great architecture and smart fabrication that we’ve molded our practice.”