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An active light display animates the facade of a new office building in Warsaw, Poland, highlighting the Wola neighborhood’s transition from industrial manufacturing to a new residential and office district. The Prime Corporate Center was designed by Chicago-based architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz in conjunction with the Warsaw office of Epstein.

(courtesy Golub GetHouse).

  • Facade Manufacturer
    Guardian Glass (glazing); Aluprof / Widok (curtain wall)
  • Architects
    Solomon Cordwell Buenz (design architect); Epstein (local architect); Golub GetHouse (developer)
  • Facade Installer
    Widok
  • Facade Consultants
    Candelux (lighting consultant); Luxmat (LED programming consultant)
  • Location
    Warsaw, Poland
  • Date of Completion
    2016
  • System
    unitized curtain wall with integrated LED
  • Products
    MB-SR50N HI Mullion-transom wall by Aluprof

The building’s design addresses varying vehicular and pedestrian arrival points by segregating car drop-off from those arriving by public transit. An additional 15 stories of offices above an eight-story base is coordinated with the scale of the street.

Martin Wolf, principal at Solomon Cordwell Buenz, said the simplicity of the building allowed his team to focus on a sophisticated facade composition: “This project became an exercise in pattern, geometry, and very subtle layers of texture. We achieved this through the combination of fritted glass panels, clear view glazing, and a selective articulation of the curtain wall system.”

At night, a grid of LED lights incorporated into the unitized curtain wall system to produce a delicate, shifting array of color and pattern that dramatizes the exterior wall. Guardian Glass’s Poland manufacturing facility provided glazing and worked with the project team to integrate LED wiring into the curtain wall. These linear lights are wired into a central computer housed in the building, which hosts a computer sequencing program. The technology allows for Prime’s facade to be easily programmed by the building operator, who can flexibly produce variation in lighting schemes.

Prime’s building envelope features integrated building systems to control the MEP/FP systems, a monitoring system that optimizes water and electrical power consumption, a heating recovery system, and an interior shading system to help manage solar heat gain. The office plates are designed for future flexibility, incorporating a raised floor system and column-free interior space. These features contribute to the building’s BREEAM certification, a UK green building rating system.

Wolf said the Solomon Cordwell Buenz’s office continues to have an ongoing interest in integrative lighting techniques, and that LEDs allow for an impressive amount of variables for any project team to work with. “The beauty about LED is that if you wire it properly, you have an infinite array of color, sequencing, intensity, and timing.” Facades like Prime’s, which have the capacity for coordinated building-scale lighting schemes, have the opportunity to communicate with the city utilizing data analysis, upcoming cultural events, and atmospheric conditions. According to Wolf, Prime is an “incredible work of art,” and adds “a needed touch of whimsy” to the urban context.

A video of the facade lights in action can be seen below:

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