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Women in Facades

Leading women working in facade design address industry’s challenges
We surveyed the leading women in the facade design and manufacturing industry and asked: What do you find most interesting about facade innovation today? What are you working on now and what do you think we will see in five years? Their responses, organized into six categories, offer an informal cross section of the challenges facing the facade industry—climate change, security—and of a coming multi-material revolution in facade design.
  • Topic Legend

  • Heading toward decarbonization
  • Technological change
  • Inspiration
  • Special Projects
  • Material innovations—laminated glass and stone
  • Trends in facade design
Emilie Hagan Associate Director, Atelier Ten Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and facade innovation presents an exciting way to take action. Over the next 12 years, we need to make big changes to reduce global emissions worldwide and within the built environment. Implementing innovative designs that balance embodied carbon reduction, energy performance, and life cycle is one way to make a difference. We are now testing the global warming potential of facade options by comparing pairings of cladding material and insulation that offer the same thermal performance. We’re looking at materials like polyiso, spray foam, and mineral wool, as well as ceramic tile, terra-cotta tile, and GFRC tile, which all vary greatly in terms of their life span, global warming potential, resource depletion, and acidification. Nicole Dosso Technical Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Beyond materiality, our 35 Hudson Yards project is emblematic of a collective process between the architect, developer, fabricator, and supplier. New Hudson Facades and Franken-Schotter, who quarried, supplied, and fabricated the Jura limestone used in the facade, helped to drive improved energy performance as well as optimize the geometry, manufacturing, and material selection. The return of materiality to the facade is a departure from the monolithic slick glass facades that have dominated the image of the super tall tower for the last two decades. The approach of combining materials pays homage to the historic fabric of New York City facades, which predominantly fancied the use of stone, brick, and terra-cotta. Doriana Mandrelli Fuksas Partner, Studio Fuksas The quality of projects over the last 20 years has grown a lot, and nobody and nothing prevents us from thinking that the creation can continue to expand. I have a positive vision of the future, a future made up of large infrastructures: of museums, of innovative workplaces, of spaces dedicated to new technologies, of spaces where people can meet. The Shenzhen Airport has the skin of a honeycomb-shaped beehive. No one knows where it comes from, but clearly it is variable from every point of view and changes with every change of light, internal or external. Imagining a facade seems too simple, but complicated, too. I let it arrive as the last stage or last section, from the center to the outside. At the end of a path inside the building, of a cinematographic montage that leads to discover what you want to see, the facade arrives. Unexpected, scandalously irreverent. Pam Campbell Partner, COOKFOX Architects One of our projects, One South First in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, uses large-scale, 3-D-printed molds to create pre-cast facade panels. We designed several variations of panels to respond to specific solar orientations; beyond the facade’s shape, the finish and crisp edges were particularly important, creating an interplay of reflection and shadow on the building’s surface. Odile Decq Founder, Odile Decq Studio Glass is a material that can solve in one all the questions an architect faces when designing a facade today: lighting outside and inside, protection from too much solar heating, isolation from the cold, providing a multiplicity of aspects, colors, textures, inclusion, and more. I’ve always said: if steel was the material for building innovation at the end of the 19th century, glass is the material for the end of the 20th century. From the beginning of my career I have been fascinated by glass evolution and the way facades have been modified thanks to this fantastic material. Its various qualities, its treatment, and its plasticity are what I am searching for in terms of innovation today. My research today is oriented toward sensible facades that can be joyful and sensual at the same time. Elena Manferdini Founder, Atelier Manferdini In particular, our office proposes an alternative language for traditional facades, based on vibrant color schemes and geometric patterns, along with augmented reality applications, whose aim is to engage new subjectivities. Passivity is the dominant state of today’s subject, who, conditioned to consume images, confuses them with reality; but our work suggests that a new breed of reactionary subjectivities is now possible. These imaginative facades become a political space for nuance and personal participation. Facades, even when buildings are privately owned, are important for the city at large because they are inevitably the background of our public imagination. Any facade language strategy is by default political because it negotiates how the privacy of human interactions comes to terms with a surrounding social and cultural context. Andrea Love Principal and Director of Building Science, Payette I am working on a tool to look at the impact glazing has on summer comfort to complement the Glazing and Winter Comfort tool we developed a few years ago. We’re also doing life cycle assessment of the typical facade systems we use to understand their embodied environmental impact. We are continuing to explore new ways to leverage simulation tools to understand performance and drive design on several projects across our office. The thing I find most interesting about facades today is the increase in attention paid toward their role in building performance and occupant comfort. Whether it is a high-performance facade for passive survivability for resiliency or consideration of the embodied carbon impact, I find it exciting to see how we as an industry are embracing the important role that facades play.
Jennifer Marchesani Director of Sales and Marketing, Shildan Group When Shildan introduced terra-cotta rainscreen to the United States market 20 years ago, the panels were red, small, and flat. Now our capabilities are amazing. We just completed the Sentry Insurance Building in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, designed by Flad Architects, with the largest terra-cotta rainscreen panels in the world (10 feet long). We are seeing a trend toward complex terra-cotta shapes unitized in curtain walls on high-rise buildings. Custom 3-D shapes and curved terra-cotta elements are gracing more buildings, adding a complexity in production and systems, but resulting in unique, one-of-a-kind facades. Stacey Hooper Principal, NBBJ This is a time of revolutionary technology and digital fabrication, which is propelling imaginative industry partnerships to realize more complex, efficient, and high-performance building facades, built faster than ever before. This sea change will be pushed along by stricter codes, accountable system performance, and reduced market shares for curtain wall systems that don’t pursue meaningful change. Valerie L. Block Architectural Marketing Consultant, Kuraray America, Inc. I have seen more laminated glass used in facades over the past 20 years. There are several reasons for this, including building code requirements for impact protection of openings; blast and security requirements for exterior glazing in certain building types and locations; and a desire to incorporate minimally supported glass systems, where a concern for post-breakage glass retention has led to the specification of laminated glass. I have seen a growing concern over security. Architects working on K-12 and higher education projects are designing facades to resist intrusion, and in some cases, to provide ballistics resistance in the event of an active shooter. Tali Mejicovsky Associate, Facade Engineering and Building Physics, Arup I am most interested in designing for net zero energy and innovations that push for best performance. Some ideas include the use of FRP framing, thin glass in conventional assemblies, and designing for disassembly and recycling.
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envelop(e)

New high-tech cladding panels last longer and are easier to install

New manufacturing methods have made cladding and paneling more structurally sound and less cumbersome to install. These systems are highly customizable and are made to last from season to season.

Apollo II CertainTeed

These all-black shingles generate energy without the bulky infrastructure that typically accompanies solar panels. Simply installed directly on the roof, the environmentally conscious system can be employed on new and existing structures.

Marmi Maximum Imperial White Fiandre

Fiandre’s engineered tiles emulate the bold veining that occurs in marble. Unlike the natural stone, these porcelain slabs are lightweight and resistant to stains and wear and tear.

GRP SIDING Technowood

Made from fiberglass-reinforced polyester, this panel system is designed to withstand the weight of the most taxing structural applications. To fulfill the most decorative requirements, the siding is available in six natural wooden tones and seven varnished colors.

StoVentec Glass Sto Corp.

These glass-faced composite panels create a decorative reflective surface that provides thermal insulation. Made to order, each panel is offered in a variety of sizes, shapes, and custom colors.

Vintago Swisspearl

These fiber cement panels highlight the sanding production process with surfaces characterized by an undulating coarse grit. It will be available to specify in June upon its release in the U.S.

Porcelain Open-Joint Cladding Solutions Porcelanosa Facades Porcelanosa’s facade system incorporates all the colors and textures from its interior porcelain surfaces (including wood, concrete, stone, technic, or metals) for the building envelope. The system prevents moisture build-up and heat transfer via a ventilated air cavity directly behind the panels.
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Total Transformation

KieranTimberlake’s vision for Washington University to open this fall
Sweeping changes are coming this fall to half the urban campus of Washington University in St. Louis. For the past two years, construction has been underway on the 166-year-old institution’s east end—a $280 million vision that includes several new projects by KieranTimberlake for the university’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The Philadelphia-based firm announced construction was nearly complete on the upcoming Anabeth and John Weil Hall, an 82,000-square-foot space with state-of-the-art graduate studios, classrooms, and digital fabrication labs. Further details were also released on the expansion and renovation of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, which is set to open in late September with a major thematic exhibition by Ai Weiwei. The lower section of the Danforth campus, which sits just behind St. Louis’s largest landscape, Forest Park, will be better connected to the city through these mega-enhancements and will serve as a welcoming entrance for visitors, students, and faculty alike. At the core of the project for the Sam Fox School is Weil Hall, the new hub for all art, design, and architecture programs which were previously scattered in different buildings. The new structure will feature a striking facade with opaque glass walls and vertical aluminum fins that allow natural light into the facilities and promote energy efficiency. Collaborative workspaces and loft-style studios will be arranged throughout but will be connected visually by a luminous, two-story central interior courtyard that will highlight the movement and activity going on within the school. Weil Hall will stand out in clear contrast to its surrounding structures on the southeastern corner of campus. Aligned on a stretch of land with two Beaux-Arts buildings and three seminal projects by former Washington University associate professor Fumihiko Maki (including the Kemper Art Museum), the contemporary structure embodies a new era for the Sam Fox School. KieranTimberlake has also designed an upgraded look for the adjacent Kemper Art Museum, one that complements the school next door and helps it stand out in the surrounding sea of institutional structures. Designed by Maki in 2006, the limestone-clad building will be completely renovated and expanded with a new, 2,700-square-foot gallery and a soaring, glass-lined lobby. It will also boast a shiny new exterior featuring 34-foot-tall stainless steel panels that will reflect the dynamic campus, its landscape, and the sky. Michael Vergason Landscape Architects has created an extensive masterplan for the museum’s grounds and sculpture garden that blends with the firm’s overall vision for the east end of the Danforth Campus. In collaboration with KieranTimberlake, MVLA will transform what’s now a series of parking lots into a car-free park, featuring native plantings and ample pedestrian space.
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Sunny Days

EPFL puts new high-efficiency rooftop solar panels to the test
While solar panels have become increasingly common, the ones usually found on rooftops and the like can convert at most between 17 and 19 percent of received solar energy to usable electricity. This average yield has plateaued, increasingly only about 3.5 percent since the 2000s. More efficient panels are available, like those used on satellites, but they remain cost prohibitive. Insolight, a Swiss startup from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), claims to have developed a scalable alternative, however. The company's new technology uses the same high-efficiency cells found in orbiting satellites but assembled in such a way that minimizes cost differences. Insolight's Mathieu Ackermann, Laurent Coulot, and Florian Gerlich have constructed arrays of very small versions of these high-efficiency cells, mounted with an optical magnifier that concentrates sunlight around 100 times, resulting in cells that take up less than .5 percent of the panel’s surface area but harvest a much larger percentage of the light hitting the panel. Most concentrator-operated solar systems require constant maneuvering to be tilted towards the sun. In order to maximize efficiency without requiring new mounting technology or complicated tilting mechanics, each of the cells is detailed so that it can make tiny, millimeter-level movements to position itself to track the sun without all the cost, space, and reliability issues found in many already available concentrator systems. Insolight's “microtracking” can reportedly capture 100 percent of the light that hits it, regardless of its angle of incidence. The ultra-thin panels can be mounted similarly to any traditional photovoltaic cell, even in a hybrid array layered with standard panels, which is especially useful for cloudy days. The panels spent a year on the roofs of an EPFL pilot site and worked “without a hitch,” according to the trio. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, Insolight projects that the panels could cut electricity bills by as much as 30 percent, as well as provide a greater return on investment than other commercially-available solar options. The company hopes to bring its first products to the market in 2022. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
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Above and Beyond

Pepsi denies plans to advertise in space
Soft drink giant PepsiCo has shot down reports that it plans to advertise in low Earth orbit (LEO), after reports surfaced last week in Futurism that the company was working on a “space billboard.” Using a small fleet of satellites armed with reflective mylar sails, the company was reportedly going to advertise a new drink called Adrenaline Rush, targeted to a “stereotyped” minority—gamers. Enter Russian company StartRocket, which has proposed using CubeSats—satellites that measure 4-inches-by-4-inches-by-4-inches—to create orbital billboards that would be visible all over the planet. The tiny satellites would be ferried into LEO via a rocket, and their solar panels and large mylar sails would unfold after the satellites were ejected from the main vessel. The CubeSats would then arrange themselves to form an image or message, and the “billboard” would be visible at dawn or dusk as they reflected sunlight. Although costs have been dropping and the same basic principles that StartRocket wants to build off of have been used for artistic purposes, no form of space-based advertising has ever been successfully deployed before. If the company can make its CubeSat system work, its floating advertisements would circle the Earth from approximately 250-to-310 miles away and would have a viewable surface area of about 19 square miles. On April 13, it seemed that Pepsi was going to be the first soda in space. A Russian PepsiCo spokesperson, Olga Mangova, told Futurism that the company had partnered with StartRocket and was working to create the advertising campaign of the future. Then, Pepsico made an abrupt about-face. “We can confirm StartRocket performed an exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements using the Adrenaline GameChangers logo,” a PepsiCo spokesperson told SpaceNews. “This was a one-time event; we have no further plans to test or commercially use this technology at this time.” However, as Futurism points out, this was likely an attempt by PepisCo to deflect criticism after the company came under heavy fire on social media over the proposal. A PepsiCo spokesperson "clarified" that there had been a translation error between the media and the company's Russian employees, and that they had been referring to a high-altitude balloon test earlier in April, not a future campaign. That wouldn't make sense, as Futurism had originally queried them over their future plans, and Mangova confirmed that they would be using an "orbital billboard"—distinctly different from a balloon. StartRocket were similarly unable to provide updated information on any ongoing, or past, PepsiCo collaborations. While no laws prohibit advertising in space in such a way that would be visible from Earth, it’s likely any real attempt to create an unavoidable billboard in the night sky would be met with pushback. Still, if it becomes cheap enough, the night sky could one day become home to airborne advertisements (but asteroid-anchored condo towers remain unlikely).
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Olde Towne Booming

Facades+ Boston will dive into the trends reshaping the city
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On June 25, Facades+ is returning to Boston for the fourth year in a row. The conference, organized by The Architect's Newspaper, is a full-day event split between a morning symposium and an afternoon of workshops led by top AEC practitioners. Leers Weinzapfel Associates (LWA), a Boston-based firm with projects nationwide, is co-chairing the conference. Panels for the conference will focus on the changes underway in Boston, ranging from new educational structures, the city's new tallest residential building, and historic preservation projects. Participants for the conference's symposium and workshops include Behnisch Architekten, Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Bruner / Cott, Arrowstreet, Consigli Construction, Walter P. Moore, Autodesk, Atelier Ten, Harvard GSD, the Wyss Institute, and Okalux. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, LWA's designer and business development representative Zhanina Boyadzhieva and associate Kevin Bell, the conference co-chairs, discuss their firm's growing body of work and the developmental trends within the city of Boston. The Architect's Newspaper: Boston is known as a relatively quiet city with a predominantly low-slung skyline. How is current development reshaping that identity and what does it mean for the future? Zhanina Boyadzhieva: Boston is indeed a “quiet” city, but it is also a hub of innovation and creative thinking. In the past few years, we have observed dynamic design work, largely by local firms, on several fronts: 1) creative re-envisioning of historical landmarks through readaptations and additions such as Smith Center at Harvard University and Congress Square in downtown Boston 2) careful insertions of new landmarks in the skyline such as One Dalton 3) fast development and growth of existing or new resilient neighborhoods such as Harvard’s Allston campus. Each design solution addresses unique urban conditions and entails holistic thinking about city planning, resilience, and sustainability, coupled with a sense of function, form, materiality, and human experience. Naturally, facades combine all of these considerations and become dominant players in the reshaping of cities. The diversity of approaches we observe—controlled material juxtapositions of old and new, sculptural form-making, and playful screening strategies—are testaments to ongoing design experimentations here. There is a search for new methods to address creative reuse, high performance, material fabrication, and user experience.  AN: The city possesses one of America's largest concentrations of brutalist buildings, as well as large historic districts. How can Boston embrace its heritage while moving forward? Kevin Bell: The rich building history of Boston, including modern landmarks like City Hall, and its brutalist companions make for wonderful urban fabric for intervention and a great place for an architect to practice. This history should serve to elevate our expectations for new buildings and major renovations in the city. The recent warming to Boston’s brutalism, its strong geometry and bare materials, is welcome, encouraging designers to consider rather ignore these local icons. It presents the opportunity to consider adaptation and re-envisioning through sustainability’s lenses, the human experience, and materiality. If we can dramatically improve the energy efficiency and human use in these sensitive historic buildings, we can achieve the same in new construction and create a model for continued improvement. AN: What innovative enclosure practices is LWA currently executing? KB: As a firm, we have a legacy of designing efficiently in an urban context. Often, our site is an existing historic building or a tightly constrained sliver of land, or sometimes, there's no site at all. This fosters a sensibility within the studio toward compact volumes, materially efficient, with taut fitted skins, a practice that serves us well as we work to make evermore energy efficient and sustainable buildings. We're also redefining our performance expectations around our clients' commitments to energy efficiency, many of whom have established operational carbon neutrality as their aim by mid-century. The enclosures we design today will be part of that efficiency equation. They must be considered to be part of a carbon neutral organizational environment as a performance baseline above simple compliance with today's codes or target certifications. Envelope performance, especially the use of innovative glazing materials, is a logical extension of the way we think about reactive, efficient space and energy efficiency targets in building enclosure design. Our Dartmouth Dana Hall renovation and addition, under construction now, is an example of this process and practice. We worked closely with the college to define a program for building reuse around its energy use reduction targets that dramatically improved envelope efficiency. Through the design process, we worked with our design and construction partners to continually refine the design while holding to incremental improvement in energy efficiency at each step; our modeled efficiency improved even as we moved through cost reduction exercises. The result is a highly insulated building, triple glazed throughout, with a thermally improved, south-facing glass curtainwall system combining vacuum insulated high-performance glass modules with integrally solar shaded, triple glazed vision glass as part of a building with a predicted energy use index (pEUI) in the middle twenties before the introduction of site renewables. AN: Which materials do you believe are reshaping facade practices? ZB: Materials are the agents of larger design strategies shaping the practice such as resilience, sustainability, and human experience. The aim to rethink and cherish historical buildings, for example, leads to a careful layering of existing and new materials that contrast and simultaneously enhance each other. Heavy textured concrete at the Smith Center is supplemented by light and open transparent glass, green walls and warm wood. Traditional brick block at Congress Square is juxtaposed with a floating glass box on top of sculptural fiber-reinforced plastic panels. On the other hand, the vision to create new landmarks that celebrate and reshape the Boston skyline result in the careful sculpting of distinctive volumes as in One Dalton, a tall glass skyscraper with careful incisions of exterior carved spaces for human use. Finally, the goal to produce energy efficient but playful envelopes leads to a game of patterns composed of an inner insulated layer with an outer wrapper of perforated metal screens or angled aluminum fins. Each choice of material and its manipulation reflects a larger vision to create a unique experience in the city. Further information regarding Facades+ Boston can be found here.
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To Infinity and Beyond

NASA’s habitats of the future will be 3D printed on Mars
After four years, three stages, and countless submissions, NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is winding to a close. The space agency’s competition to design a habitat that could be built on the Moon, Mars, or other planets made of local materials is reaching the final stage, and NASA has awarded $100,000 to be split among the three winners of the complete virtual construction stage. Eleven teams submitted proposals for the complete virtual construction stage, and on March 27, New York’s SEarch+ and Apis Cor took first place and received $33,954.11; the Rogers, Arkansas–based Team Zopherus took second and received $33,422.01; and New Haven, Connecticut’s Mars Incubator placed third and received $32,623.88. The complete virtual construction challenge asked teams to digitally realize their designs in the Martian environment using BIM, building off of an earlier stage in the competition that involved renderings. This time, competitors were judged on the habitat’s layout, programming, scalability, spatial efficiency, and constructability. Smaller 3D-printed models and videos were also produced. SEarch+ and Apis Cor proposed a series of tiered, rook-like towers printed from Martian regolith. The habitat’s hyperboloid shape, resembling a squeezed cylinder, arose naturally from the need to contain the building’s inward pressure; in a low-pressure environment, the greatest force exerted on a pressurized structure is a gas pushing outward (think of inflating a balloon). The habitat’s living areas and laboratories are connected but compartmentalized in case of an emergency thanks to a central service core. Each hexagonal window assembly was designed to be easily assembled in-situ and would contain redundant seals and pressure panes. Zopherus’s concept was simpler and lower to the ground, consisting of a series of latticed domes. The habitat(s) would be assembled by a lander, which would launch a series of autonomous robots to collect the raw materials. It would then mix the materials and print each hexagonal structure from the ground up, making “concrete” from Martian dirt, ice, and calcium oxide. The habitat and adjoining modules would be optimized to capture as much sunlight as possible, but would also include sliding panels to shield the windows for when the solar rays would be too intense. Mars Incubator chose to use a modular panel system for their proposal, utilizing regolith to create the panels’ plates. A central icosahedron would connect to several supplementary pods, and the entire structure would be elevated via a series of support struts, with the critical systems buried below. The primary living space would branch off and connect to a vestibule, multi-use space, and bio-generation pod where plants could be grown. The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program and is managed in part with Bradley University. The complete virtual construction stage was the fourth of five stages in the third phase, and the last leg of the competition will be held from May 1 through 4 at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where teams will 3D print one-third scale versions of their habitats. The winners will split an $800,000 pot.
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Love to Build

AN Interior Top 50 designers share their favorite building materials
We surveyed the AN Interior Top 50 interior architects and designers and asked them to reveal what they love to build with. You’ll find their favorite products and materials below.
Pigmented Silver Nitrates Rafael Prieto Founder and Creative Director, Savvy Studio “As a studio we always like to experiment with materials to discover new colors and shapes. Here we work on the superposition of layers of pigmented silver nitrates and then polish them to create random effects of colors and shapes.”
Soy-Based Spray Foam Insulation Chris and Dominic Leong Partners, Leong Leong “High-performance and aesthetically uncanny, soy-based spray foam insulation is a perfect example of the type of materiality we are interested in. Commonly used for insulation, spray foam has an organic quality that is never entirely predictable. It’s a very low-fi product that has an amazing sculptural plasticity and formlessness—a kind of industrial wabi-sabi effect.”
Expanded Metal Mesh Benjamin Cadena Principal, Studio Cadena “By carefully hanging rolls of standard industrial-grade expanded mesh from the ceiling, we are able to drape it much like a fabric. By hanging the metal mesh draperies like a fabric in the space, from a distance they become more translucent and lose their harshness to great effect. By hand painting the material and using it an unexpected way, we can transform it into something else.” Tiles and Finishes by Concrete Collaborative Morris Adjmi Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects “In our interior projects, we love to use concrete for its natural character, precision, durability, economy, range of surface textures, and depth of color. It’s also environmentally friendly. Our go-to concrete provider is Concrete Collaborative for everything from terrazzo to polished tiles [Laguna] and panels, flooring [Ventura], pavers for the outdoors, and stair treads.”
Calacatta Viola Marble by ABC Stone Oliver Haslegrave Creative Director and Founder, Home Studios “Stone is a lifelong favorite material, especially honed marble. We’ve used it in nearly every element of our interiors over the years—surfaces, seating, tables, lighting, votives. Plus, we love searching for the perfect slab.” Cloudburst Concrete 4011 by Caesarstone Alda Ly Principal, Alda Ly Architecture & Design “We’re very picky about finding the right amount of movement in solid surfaces. We love when it feels natural but doesn’t go overboard. Caesarstone’s Cloudburst Concrete is a natural concrete color with a beautiful cloudy patina. The larger the slab, the more pattern is visible.” Colored Film by Solar Graphics Craig Steely Principal, Craig Steely Architecture “I’m excited about our recent experiments to create space with colored films on glass. We have been using colors and their shadows to imply architecture and create hierarchies in our spaces. I’m interested in the contrast between physical materials and colored light and shadow as space delineators.”
Roll-A-Tex (medium grain) Jaffer Kolb and Ivi Diamantopoulo Principals, New Affiliates “Roll-A-Tex is a great additive to use with paint to create a rocky surface texture. We used it in a display for Opening Ceremony as a way of setting it apart from all of its slick neighboring materials. Plus, texture helps mask surface flaws like a panacea.”
Inky Custom Glaze by Boston Valley Terra Cotta Michael Chen Principal, Michael K Chen Architecture (MKCA) “It’s the rare interior of ours that doesn’t incorporate some degree of three-dimensional or sculptural texture. We’re often looking for ways for surfaces to be more lively, and to produce a certain play of light and shadow. For that, we often look to three-dimensional ceramics. Often when the work is inside, and especially in cities, you’re confronted with spaces that are challenged in terms of natural light. It’s incredible how much dimension can be coaxed out of a fairly dark space though texture and reflectivity.”
Terrazzo by John Caretti & Co Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley Principals, Norman Kelley “Terrazzo comes in many finishes and applications, most commonly poured and polished. This typically presents a smooth surface with a variegated appearance. For our Aesop Lincoln Park project, we wanted those attributes in reverse. Something that appeared monolithic from afar, with texture and variation up close. Instead of polishing, we opted for exposing a monochromatic palette of gray-black aggregate within a warm gray cement base. Applied with a trowel, the material seamlessly transitions the horizontal and vertical surfaces of a series of interior steps.”
Kenyan Black Marble by SMC Stone Alexander Gorlin Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects “Kenyan Black Marble is one of my favorites for the graphically swirling veins that are especially expressive in a residential setting. I love to select the exact slab and lay out the location of the design on the slabs themselves.” Vinyl by 3M Primo Orpilla Principal, Studio O+A “When the challenge is getting the maximum visual impact, you really can’t beat vinyl. Our designers have developed a sophisticated approach to matching vinyl wall graphics to the spaces they are meant to transform—kinetic patterns for active areas like break rooms and town halls; quieter patterns for places where people need to concentrate. Vinyl is our Brand Studio’s go-to product—it can turn a wall into an abstract canvas or a giant photograph. It can travel down the wall and continue onto the floor. We use vinyl on glass-walled conference rooms for privacy and on bare concrete surfaces to make them playful. We use it to give staircases personality and to introduce color into offices that might otherwise default to neutral. And if you’re trying to hint at a cultural reference without getting too literal, vinyl is perfect for replicating indigenous art and textiles, from Finland to Indonesia.” Corian Wil Carson Design Director, 64North “One of our favorite materials is Corian because of its flexibility and the diversity of applications we can use, and misuse, it for—especially in terms of its ability to be machined or bent. Whether we are machining 2D patterns into its surface or creating more complex 3D relief, its ability to be shaped combined with its visual and haptic qualities gives us a quite rich, mutable palette to work with.”
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CU soon

This Arizona medical school blends into the desert with a folded copper facade
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Located on the northern border of Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, sits a new medical research building for the University of Arizona. The 10-story Phoenix Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building (BSPB), designed by CO Architects, joins their preexisting structure on the Biomedical Campus to combine lecture halls, research facilities, and public functions. The design of the building’s facade is intended to blend into the Arizona desert landscape with folded and perforated copper panels. The building rises immediately adjacent to CO Architects' Health Sciences Education Building, with the tightly packed nature of the campus serving as a passive shading device for both public and interior spaces. Additionally, the building runs along an east-west axis to reduce solar exposure during the morning and afternoon.
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Kovach Building Enclosures
  • Architects CO Architects
  • Associate Architects Ayers Saint Gross
  • Contractors DPR Construction Sundt Construction
  • Structural Engineers John A. Martin & Associates
  • Energy & Environmental Design Atelier Ten
  • Location Phoenix, AZ
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Copper rainscreen and sunshade
  • Products Custom-fabricated copper panels
For the design of the building's envelope, CO Architects analyzed and incorporated the natural features of the surrounding Sonoran Desert. Specifically, folds within the copper panels are intended to reflect the physical traits of the Saguaro Cactus. The skin of the cactus undulates as a means of self-shading so the successive floors of panels on the facade protrude to mimic geological striations while also shading bands of fenestration below. Notably, the copper skin is located two inches from the structure's thermal barrier, effectively wicking away heat by serving as an enveloping chimney. In total, nearly 4,800 panels weighing approximately 295,000 pounds wrap the building. According to the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was creating a semi-standardized cladding that visually remained unique. "How do we create a vision, a geological imprint onto the building," said CO Architects' Principal Arnold Swanborn. "How do we create a pattern that was not repetitious?" To this effect, the design team generated six groups of panel types—each is comprised of four modules of the same height and width. Modules within specific panel types were alternated to display a breadth of visual striations. Kovach Building Enclosures, based out of Arizona, manufactured and installed the facade panels. Remarkably, over 90 percent of the cladding was fabricated with recycled copper—ranging from multi-ton ingots to gauged coils. According to Swanborn, the manufacturer effectively "negotiated between what our dream was, and what was feasible." To this effect, the design team utilized BIM software to generate 3-D models of the panels for Kovach to analyze. Over the course of the nine months, the manufacturer detailed each panel via a brake press, relying on a team of two to operate the machinery.
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alpine views

This Swiss cancer institute keeps out the sun with a continuous aluminum screen
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Behnisch Architekten's AGORA Pôle de Recherche Sur le Cancer in Lausanne, Switzerland, overlooks the historic core of the centuries-old city from a prominent ridgeline within the city center, contorting itself into multiple planes of curtain wall shaded by a continuous band of aluminum apertures. As an approximately 240,000-square-foot cancer research institute, the complex's program calls for easily navigable and well-illuminated corridors linking offices and research spaces for hundreds of practitioners. Additionally, the central meeting place of the facility—dubbed "AGORA" in homage to the ancient Greek sphere of public assembly—is topped with a semi-translucent ETFE canopy. "AGORA was our first effort at developing a stationary, responsive solar shading system, which developed out of the original competition design," said Behnisch Partner Robert Matthew Noblett. "The concept is essentially moving the sophisticated technology involved in responding to solar angles that change throughout the day and year and deploying it on the design side in the form of parametric modeling and fabrication, optimizing shading elements according to orientation and season."
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Sottas SA, Bulle
  • Architects Behnisch Architekten
  • Facade Consultants Emmer Pfenninger Partner Transsolar KlimaEngineering
  • Location Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Window hinges in plaster facade with folded aluminum panels as sun protection
  • Products Schueco Fenster-Systeme
The second skin of the building consists of a continuous aluminum screen that runs across the underlying glazed facade. Each of the facade's nine distinct planes is shaded with a unique variation of the screen; the skin on the north has relatively large openings while that on the south is more constrained. The panels consist of two folded aluminum pieces joined together to resist bending. For the shading requirements of the building, Behnisch Architekten developed a set of parametric guidelines for Rhino, Grasshopper, and AutoCAD. The length of the "P" line, the protruding-perforated aluminum flap, was determined by the "V" plane perpendicular to the facade, and the "H" plane parallel to the facade. After producing scores of digital simulations for sun and heat protection, light enhancement and glare, the design team built multiple physical models that were tested under artificial lighting. "The optimization of the facade is controlled both by the aperture and its orientation, which respond to the orientation of the glass surface and its type of glass," said the design team. "The same solar performance can be achieved for every given angle of the sun with an array of different geometries that offer all the different view openings and qualities."       The second skin is located approximately 2.6 feet from the inner facade, allowing for the insertion of a maintenance catwalk and over half-a-foot of space for the secondary structure supporting the shading panels. The secondary structure is composed of a series of diagonal steel rails running parallel to each other. Every short end of the panels are connected to the steel rails via simple fastener connections. Armatures extending from the inner facade support both the catwalk and the steel rail system. According to the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was the connection of the bands of aluminum apertures across nine unique facade planes. To maintain the visual continuity of the second skin, Behnisch Architekten collaborated with manufacturer and installer Sottas SA to produce a unique seam of aluminum pieces for each corner. In the coming years, Behnisch will monitor the performance of the complex's enclosure system. Lessons learned from the study of the structure will inform the design of similar systems for ongoing projects such as Harvard's School of Engineering an Applied Sciences and the ARENA HQ in Germany. Robert Matthew Noblett will be joining a panel, "Facade Syntax: Changing Context and International Regulations," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ New York conference, a two-day event at the beginning of April focused on the design and performance of facades.
   
   
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Bell Fab

Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs stays bright with the largest photovoltaic skylight in the U.S.
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The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, completed by Eero Saarinen in 1962, is a sprawling former research building clad in reflective glass and topped with a quarter-mile-long roof. After approximately a decade of real estate juggling, the property was purchased by New Jersey's Somerset Development in 2013, which began an extensive renovation of the property, including the replacement of the roof with the largest photovoltaic glass skylight in the United States. In December 2018, The Architect's Newspaper took a private tour of the renowned mid-century research lab with Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker. Much of the interior is still under a painstaking conversion designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects into contemporary tech-focused office space.
  • Facade Manufacturer Onyx Solar
  • Facade Installer Elite Industrial & Commercial Roofing
  • Facade Consultants Somerset Development
  • Location Holmdel, New Jersey
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Custom-fit and installed glass panels over existing frame
  • Products Onyx Solar Building-Integrated Photo-Voltaics
The atrium skylight consists of 3,200 panes of glass subjected to 24 different glazings and assembled in a series of ridges. Replacing the windows was fairly straightforward; the original glass was removed, then the existing frames were cleaned and then fitted with advanced weather strips to seal the building-integrated photovoltaics. However, the sheer scale of the project and its historic importance required unique approaches to the installation of the glass panels. The installation team had to carefully install the right glazing in the correct bay and row. “To mitigate this risk, we created a model of each of the three sky roofs and identified every glazing and the position of the glazing with each bay and row of the sky roof,” said Bell Works Chief Energy Officer/Chief Technology Officer Joel Shandelman. "This model ensured we had the exact number of each glazing and the respective permanent position of the skyroof.” The panels are composed of a central silicon film of photovoltaic glass laminated on both sides by tempered safety glass—providing the added benefit of reducing solar heat gain with a 20 percent visual light transmittance. In total, the approximately 60,000 square-foot glass installation annually generates nearly 90,000 kilowatt hours. In June 2017, after the skylight installation, the complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
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Ceramically Inclined

From research to practice: Catching up with Jenny Sabin
Being able to translate research finds into practical applications on a construction site is never a sure thing, but having a lab-to-studio pipeline definitely helps. For Jenny Sabin, that means a close integration between her lab at the Cornell College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP), and her eponymous studio in Ithaca, New York. Sabin wears three hats: A teacher with a focus on emerging technologies at Cornell, principal investigator of Cornell’s Sabin Design Lab, and principal of Jenny Sabin Studio. The overlap between the lab and the studio means that Sabin has an incubator for fundamental research that can that can be refined and integrated into real-world projects. When AN last toured the Sabin Design Lab, researchers were hard at work using robot arms for novel 3D printing solutions and were looking at sunflowers for inspiration for designing the next generation of photovoltaics. The projects stemming from fundamental research have been realized in projects ranging from the ethereal canopy over MoMA PS1’s courtyard in 2017 to a refinement of the studio’s woven forms for a traveling Peroni pop-up. Rather than directly referencing nature in the biomimetic sense, Sabin’s projects instead draw inspiration from, and converge with, natural processes and forms. Here are a few examples of what Sabin, her team, and collaborators are working on. PolyBrick Brick and tile have been standardized construction materials for hundreds of years, but Sabin Design Lab’s PolyBrick pushes nonstandard ceramics into the future. The first iteration of PolyBrick imagined an interlocking, component-based “brick” that could twist, turn, and eliminate the need for mortar. PolyBrick 1.0 used additive 3D printing to create hollow, fired, and glazed ceramic blocks that could one day be low-cost brick alternatives that would enable the creation of complex forms. PolyBrick 2.0 took the concept even further by emulating human bone growth, creating porous, curvilinear components that Sabin and her team of researchers and students hope to scale up to wall and pavilion size. PolyBrick 3.0 is even more advanced. The 3D-printed blocks contain microscopic divots and are glazed with DNA hydrogel; the polymer coating can react to a variety of situations. Imagine a bioengineered facade glaze that can change color based on air pollution levels or temperature changes, or a component “stamped” with a unique DNA profile for easy supply chain tracking. Responsive textiles As Sabin notes, knitting is an ancient craft, but one that laid the foundation for the digital age; the punch cards used in early computers were originally designed for looms. As material requirements evolve, so too must the material itself, and Jenny Sabin Studio has been experimenting with lightweight, cellular structures woven into self-supporting forms. Sabin’s most famous such installations are gossamer canopies of digitally knit, tubular structures that absorb, store, and re-emit sunlight at night to illuminate repurposed spool chairs. MoMA PS1’s Lumen for YAP 2017, House of Peroni’s Luster, and the 2016 Beauty-Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial installation PolyThread have all pushed textile science forward. As opposed to rigidly defined stonework or stalwart glass, woven architecture takes on ambiguous forms. As GSAPP’s Christoph Kumpusch pointed out while in conversation with Sabin at the House of Peroni opening in NYC last October, these tensile canopies proudly display their boundary conditions instead of hiding them like more traditional forms. The dangling, sometimes-expanded, sometimes-flaccid fabric cones extrude from the cells of the woven canopy and naturally delineate the programming of the area below. These stalactites create the feeling of wandering through a natural formation and encourage a playful, tactile exploration of the space. Kirigami Origami and kirigami (a form of paper folding that requires cutting) are traditional practices that, like other techniques previously mentioned, have seen a modern resurgence in everything from solar sails to airbags. The Sabin Lab has taken an interest in kirigami, particularly its ability to expand two-dimensional representations into three-dimensional forms. The lab’s transdisciplinary research has blended material science, architecture, and electrical engineering to create rapidly deployable, responsive, and scalable architecture that can unpack at a moment’s notice. Two projects, ColorFolds and UniFolds, were made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation. ColorFolds was realized as a canopy of tessellated “blossoms,” each made from polycarbonate panels covered in dichroic film. The modules open or close in response to the density of the crowd below, creating a shimmering exploration of structural color—3M’s dichroic film produces color by scattering and diffusing light through nanoscale structures rather than using pigments. Visitors below the ColorFolds installation were treated to chromatic, shifting displays of light as the flock-like piece rearranged itself. UniFolds reimagined the Unisphere in Queens’s Flushing Meadow Park as part of the Storefront for Art and Architecture show Souvenirs: New New York Icon, which asked architects and artists to produce objects inspired by New York City icons. The 140-foot-tall, 120-foot-diameter landmarked Unisphere was the centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair, and Sabin Design Lab’s UniFolds piece references the utopian aspirations of the sphere and domed architecture more broadly. By using holes, folds, and strategic cuts, Sabin Labs has envisioned a modular dome system that’s quick to unfold and can be replicated at any scale, which is part of the “Interact Locally, Fold Globally,” methodology used to guide both kirigami projects.