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The big apple

John Cetra of CetraRuddy talks recent projects and Facades+ New York
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On April 2 and 3, Facades+ is returning to New York for its largest annual conference, which is split between a full-day symposium followed by the second day of intensive hands-on workshops led by dozens from across the country. Co-chair John Cetra, founding principal of New York-based practice CetraRuddy, collaborated with The Architect's Newspaper in the curation of panels themes and speakers. Panels include; “Materiality & Fabrication: Bespoke Facade Solutions,” “Scaling up Passive House | For the Greater Good,” “Optimizing the Form,” and “Adaptive Reuse Challenges in NYC Historic Icons.” UNStudio founding principal Ben van Berkel and WXY principal-in-charge Claire Weisz are leading the morning and afternoon keynotes, and Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto of Reiser + Umemoto will dive into their spate of recently completed projects. Prior to the conference, AN sat down with Cetra to discuss architectural trends reshaping New York City and the firm’s recent body of work. AN: Over the last thirty years, CetraRuddy has successfully navigated New York's real estate landscape to deliver scores of projects across building scales. What lessons have been learned and what advice would you give young firms today? John Cetra: We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past 30 years. One of the most salient is that to successfully navigate the New York real estate landscape, architects need to understand the unique context we have to work in and in particular, the zoning resolution and its nuances. In our practice, an advanced understanding of the requirements has allowed us to create unique buildings forms like One Madison and ARO. This applies across the board, whether in contextual zones, landmarked districts, or not. We value context and history, but we are also open and receptive to new thinking, and we like to weave the two together through design. At Fotografiska, we created a new multi-use event space on the top floor of an 1890s-era building by exposing the structural beams holding up the roof. This is an entirely new space—but it celebrates the original materiality and design of the building in a very respectful way. One of the panels will include your recently completed ARO. Can you explain the significance of the project from the perspective of facade design and engineering? ARO’s facade is crucial to its design—it enhances and clarifies the building’s massing, and works in harmony with the tower’s shape. The signature fenestration pattern is comprised of a glass curtain wall with a light metal net that creates a singular graphic overlay or a ‘second skin.’ This net employs 18-inch-deep “fenders" that act as an integrated solar device, reflecting light as the glass areas absorb light. In this way, the sun is a friend of this building—the sky is reflected in its glass and the metal fenders protect the interiors from sunlight at high angles. As the light changes throughout the day, the articulation of the facade creates depth and visual interest, responding to the time of day and weather. From a technical perspective, the unitized curtain wall system required the design team to minimize the number of custom panel sizes and conditions. Even though the massing undulates and projects forward in cantilevered sections, there are only six different shapes and unit sizes that made up the entire facade. You worked closely with AN to co-curate the upcoming conference. What do you hope will be the primary takeaways of the conference? I think the conference will show that there are no set, universal rules, and that building facades can be of very high quality because of the tools we as architects and designers have at our disposal. Digital technology combined with architectural creativity, a thoughtful understanding of context, and understanding of program can result in beautiful buildings that are sustainable, a pleasure to live or work in, and thoughtful additions to our built environment. Additionally, in terms of contextuality, façade design can successfully contribute and respond to the local built environment. The technology exists now to create site-specific, context-aware facade solutions that are also really attractive and, most importantly, climate-responsive. This is a heartening advance that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming conference. Further information regarding Facades+ New York can be found here.
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Spy Craft

The International Spy Museum is veiled in cantilevered glass megapanels
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The International Spy Museum presents a striking figure in the relatively staid streetscape of Washington, D.C. The building opened in May 2019 and was designed by London-based Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) in collaboration with architect-of-record Hickok Cole, and replaced the original home of the Spy Musem that was constructed in 2002. The project is a demonstration of high-tech architecture; notably, the pleated glass veil shrouding an atrium and circulation space—both cantilevered off the primary black aluminum-clad exhibition-space structure. L'Enfant Plaza is not the most exciting corner of Washington, D.C.—the megaproject, designed by I.M. Pei and developed by William Zeckendorf, is often derided for its overwhelming massing and dearth of pedestrian amenities. The International Spy Museum is located within a forecourt of the megaproject and, in its idiosyncrasy, establishes a formidable presence in the area. The project rises to a height of 130 feet, the height limit within the city, and is primarily encased in a tapered aluminum black box lifted off the ground by pilotis. Total square footage for the museum comes out to approximately 120,000 square feet divided across seven stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Roschmann Macalloy Sadev Sika
  • Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Hickok Cole Architects (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Installer Custom Glass Services
  • Facade Consultant Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Washington D.C.
  • Date of Completion December 2019
  • System Custom glass veil system
  • Products AGC Interpane Ipasol Neutral 73/42 Macalloy stainless steel tensions rods
The location proved a challenge for the design and construction teams; the museum stands atop the L’Enfant Plaza metro station, a subterranean shopping mall, and, for good measure, a parking garage. To minimize operational disruption to the sites below, the design and structural teams opted to use lower impact hollow-bar micropiles for the foundation and established a schedule to allow multiple construction crews to operate simultaneously. Harking back to the design of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's 1977 Centre Pompidou, all of the structural elements and principal routes of circulation are fully presented at the primary west elevation. Sloped red steel fins rising from the collonade of pilotis that ring the structure and, quite literally, do the facade’s heavy lifting. Each rises to a height of 70 feet and were shipped from Virginia to the site in two pieces and assembled in-situ. “From these five points, the facade is suspended on a trapeze of bespoke steel fabrications, that collectively resolve the gravity loads and lateral forces, in addition to the potential differential drift,” said Hickok Cole senior associate Bryan Chun. “Along with RSHP, we engaged Eckersley O’Callaghan as the facade consultant from the onset of the design process, their expertise and acumen were essential to define the limits of each member, and we selected Roschmann Glass specifically for their ability to engineer in a design-assist capacity.” The panels for the fritted-glass veil are massive and measure 7'-6" by 18'-6" each, and stacked, the total height of the glass curtainwall is 60 feet. In lieu of mullions, the veils are held together with stitch plates that lend sufficient stability to allow the laminated glass to run less than an inch thick. While the primary elevation is the project’s showstopper, the curatorial spaces are equally impressive. Aided by 3D-modeling software used during the design process, each structural beam is outfitted as a conduit for the museum’s MEP and HVAC systems, a strategy that allowed for nearly undisrupted 22-foot floor-to-floor heights as well as clear 60-foot floor spans.
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Concrete Treat

Thomas Phifer and Partners’s Glenstone Museum rises from the landscape with subtle monumental tectonics
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With an extensive private collection of contemporary art ranging from the large-scale sculptural work of Michael Heizer to the oil-on-canvas abstracts of Mark Rothko, the new Glenstone Museum addition—opened in Fall 2018 and located in suburban Potomac, Maryland, just 15 miles from the city center of Washington, D.C.—is a testament to the role of placemaking as a tool of monumentality. Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges, the expansion of the Glenstone Museum consists of a single interconnected structure built of gargantuan precast concrete blocks semi-submerged into the landscape and illuminated by deftly placed moments of curtain wall. The project, formally dubbed The Pavilions, is a significant expansion of the preexisting Glenstone Museum and adds 204,000-square-feet of built space to the complex. Although one continuous structure, the varying heights of the pavilions and their position within the surrounding landscape lend an illusion that each exhibition space is an independent pavilion.
  • Facade Manufacturer Gate Precast MBM Konstruktionen GmbH
  • Architect Thomas Phifer and Partners
  • Facade Installer National Enclosure Corp Gate Precast
  • Facade Consultant Heintges
  • Structural Engineer SOM
  • Location Potomac, MD
  • Date of Completion October 2018
  • System Hand-set, monumental architectural precast units Moment-Clamped and bi-directional offset glazing units
  • Products Custom Gate Precast concrete blocks Laminated, double glazed units with flush stainless steel finish plates
For Thomas Phifer and Partners, the choice of precast concrete stemmed from the client and design team’s intent to work with materials that clearly expressed the museum’s construction and structure. The concrete blocks were produced by manufacturer Gate Precast, who developed a custom blend of sand, fine aggregate, and a consistent mixture of white and gray cement. The design team collaborated closely with the manufacturer, testing a range of concrete mixes and forming techniques, and ultimately traveled to Gate Precast’s plants in North Carolina and Tennessee for review of the 26,000 concrete blocks prior to the shipment to the site. “The beauty and diversity that is evident in the finished blocks were a true expression of the variability of working in concrete,” said Thomas Phifer and Partners director Michael Trudeau and Heintges associate principal Aaron Davis. “The vagaries of casting, stripping, seasonality of fabrication, temperature and humidity during curing are allowed to express themselves in the overall palette of the installed facades.” The precast blocks were arranged in a standard running bond pattern—every succeeding row of bricks is offset from that below—and typically measure 12"-by-12"-by-6". The weight of each block is formidable; each weighs approximately 900 pounds and were craned into position individually. While the monumentally-scaled masonry appears load-bearing, the design team utilized various subtle structural techniques to offset the overwhelming mass of the project. The blocks bear onto a concrete haunch rising from the foundation wall and are further held by continuous bands of spliced stainless steel rebar. A thin layer of mortar was applied between the narrow joints of the running bond to allow for setting and leveling, while concealed breaks mitigate expansion and contraction. Natural light for the museum primarily derives from two sources; monumental glass walls and fogged skylights. For the former, the design team hoped to blend the characteristics of both unitized curtain walls and storefront facades—a high-performance enclosure with maximum transparency. The solution is remarkably complex—the glass panels measure 9'-by-22' and cantilever from the floor and ceiling slabs, and are moment-clamped at the base of the panel and framed in steel. “The outer-most glass plies on both inner and outer laminated layers of the IGU are offset from one another in plan, providing recesses where the stainless steel plates can be connected—gaskets sit between the inner face of the stainless steel plates to protect the glass from contact with the metal and providing a high-performance dual-deal connection between units,” continued Trudeau and Davis. “The poetic rigor of the design is revealed here again; the width of the stainless steel plate is identical to the depth of the IGU. In plan, the unit-to-unit joint is a perfect square.” Thomas Phifer and Partners director Michael Trudeau and Heintges associate principal Aaron Davis will present the Glenstone Museum at Facades+ Washington, D.C., on February 20 as part of the “Placemaking and Monumentality: Opaque Facade Strategies” panel.
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Glass-and-Brick

UN Studio enlivens a storefront in Amsterdam with flowing glass
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Completed in December 2019, The Looking Glass is a four-story mixed-use renovation for developer Warenar Real Estate that offers a thoughtful solution for merging contemporary design within the centuries-old Museum Quarter of Amsterdam. Designed by Dutch architectural practice UN Studio, the approach addresses both the contextual and use demands of the site with finely curved glass panels and well-crafted brick masonry. The project faces the Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat, one of Amsterdam's primary retail corridors. Like much of the Netherlands’ architectural vernacular, the area is composed of three to four-story structures of sober restraint. Ornament is largely limited to spandrel brickwork detailing and carved wood brackets at the cornice—this is not a setting for ostentatiousness. UN Studio’s design respects this heritage while heightening the streetscape with a constrained aesthetic flourish, that, in its curvaceousness and subtle steelwork, bears resemblance to a playful Art Noveau storefront in the style of Victor Horta or Frantz Jourdain.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cricursa Octatube Van der Sanden Group
  • Architect UN Studio Gietermans & Van Dijk Architecten (executive architect)
  • Facade Installer Octatube Nederland Wessels Zeist
  • Facade Engineer ARUP
  • Structural Engineer Brouwer en Kok
  • Location Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Date of Completion Decembr 2019
  • System Custom glass-and-steel system
  • Products Low-iron Cricursa glass Van der Sanden Group brick slips
Each bay is comprised of two primary features, low-iron glass boxes and brickwork. At the second story, the glass boxes protrude significantly from the facade before curving and overlapping the groundfloor’s glazing. The maneuver lends a flowing quality to the facade while maintaining full transparency of the lintel and brick-chevron frieze. Each of the glass panels is bonded with structural silicone, and their seams are obscured by narrow and polished stainless steel frames. On the ground floor, the concave underbelly of each curved panel transitions to a broad stainless steel strip that furthers material differentiation at street level. The windows were assembled off-site—no small feat considering that their average height is approximately 27 feet—and installed as prefabricated pieces. The renovation, which removed the first three stories of brick in favor of glazing, required the insertion of narrow columns of glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels between the window bays. Following the installation of glazing, the GFRC components were covered in a rigid insulation layer. The new masonry is entirely comprised of hand-molded, reddish-brown brick slips produced by the Van der Sanden Group; the brick slips are glued to the insulation membrane and largely follow a Dutch-bond pattern. Although the inclusion of brick on the renovated facade is only surface level, their hand-molded fabrication lends an imperfect and wrinkled surface with slight variances in dimension—a gradient of patina blending with the overall streetwall. UN Studio founder Ben van Berkel will discuss The Looking Glass, and other projects, at the opening keynote for Facades+ New York City on April 2nd.
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Mullion Free

REX and Front's 2050 M Street stands lightly with fluted glass
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Set to open in mid-March, 2050 M Street is a novel commercial project located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. REX, an architecture and design firm based in New York, is the design architect for the project. In contrast to the imposing massing of Beaux-Arts, Brutalist, and droll mid-century Miesian bootlegs that dominate the capital, the project presents a subtle and refined approach to the office block typology with its array of fluted glass panels. Founded two decades ago by Joshua Ramus, REX has led an impressive array of completed and ongoing projects, including the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, Brown University's Performing Arts Center, and the retrofit of 5 Manhattan West. An instrumental collaborator in over thirty of their projects is facade consultant Front Inc., with whom they share an office space in DUMBO, Brooklyn. “Both companies share a mutual understanding of the other’s values, aspirations and skillsets with each practice leveraging the other to create opportunities for innovation within real and tight project constraints,” said REX founding principal Joshua Ramus and Front Inc. founding principal Marc Simmons. “REX and Front also share a rigor and discipline during an always iterative design process but also as pertains to creative procurement, in close cooperation with owner and construction manager, and focused quality review during the shop drawing, prototyping, testing, assembly and installation phases of the work.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Fabbrica Tianjin North Glass AGC Asia Guardian Glass Gastaldello Sistemi YKK
  • Architect REX
  • Facade Installer TSI Wall Systems
  • Facade Consultant Front Inc.
  • Developer Tishman Speyer
  • Structural Engineer LERA Consulting Engineers
  • Location Washington, D.C.
  • Date of Completion August 2019
  • System Custom flush-glazed curtain wall system
  • Products Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 low-E coating Guardian UltraClear low-iron glass AGC Stopsol Supersilver Gastaldello Sistemi aluminum framing
Tishman Speyer is the developer of 2050 M Street, whose construction was overseen by the managing director of design and construction, Rustom Cowasjee. The non-concrete block structure construction began in March 2018 and facade installation wrapped up in August 2019. The massing of the twelve-story office building is rectangular and boxy, a common trait in D.C. to maximize square footage within the city’s zoning constraints and height limitations. For REX, one of the challenges of the project was to establish a lightness and verticality for what is an overwhelmingly horizontal project. To heighten the sense of verticality of 2050 M Street, the design team turned towards the architectural technique of fluting; a feature stemming from antiquity, where shallow vertical grooves were largely applied to columns and pilasters. In place of detailed masonry, the enclosure is composed of approximately 900 curved IGUs, their outward-facing concave surfaces treated with a pyrolytic coating, and form a high-relief facade with a striking kaleidoscope-like impression of the surrounding streetscape and weather features. Each floor-to-ceiling panel measures 11'-3" by 5'—those at the top two floors are 12'-10" and 12'-13" tall and form a quasi-cornice above the top slab edge—and have a 9'-6" radius formed through a heat roller tempering process. The project is topped by a separate row of 4'-tall panels that serve as a parapet.  The curvature of the panels also plays a critical role in the office building's remarkable degree of transparency; the compressive strength of the curves allowed for the panels to be mullion-less, and only supported by brackets anchored to the floor slab and laterally restrained at the head to allow for differential movement. As an additional measure to heighten the lightness of the facade, the structure’s perimeter columns are set back over 12 feet from the glazing to permit nearly undisrupted outward views. Following REX’s design intent for 2050 M Street, Front Inc. developed a comprehensive system with prescriptive specifications for all aspects of the glass assembly. The design and analysis package was the basis for the facade bid package for prospective fabricators and sub-contractors—Tishman Speyer funded full-scale mockups from each bidder for on-site evaluations by the design team. Ultimately, two firms were signed on to handle fabrication: Tianjin North Glass handled the fabrication of the IGUs cut from Guardian Glass and AGC Asia glass sheets, while Fabbrica managed the aluminum-and-glass modules at their Connecticut facility and handled shipment to Washington, D.C. “The engagement with the glass fabricators started during schematic design and continued even after the last piece of glass was shipped to the site,” continued Ramus and Simmons. “The actual design of the panels remained unaltered when we received manufacturer feedback; the focus was confirming the viability of cost, quality and schedule of fabrication.” REX founding principal Joshua Ramus, Front Inc. founding principal Marc Simmons, and Tishman Speyer managing director of design & construction Rustom Cowasjee will present 2050 M Street at Facades+ Washington, D.C. on February 20 as part of the "Curved and Pleated: Advanced Applications of Glass" panel.
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Rust Belt Revival

RAMSA’s American Water headquarters brings detailed aluminum to the Camden waterfront
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Opened in December 2018, the American Water Headquarters is the most recent significant addition to Camden, New Jersey's, Delaware River waterfront and sits directly across from Philadelphia's Center City. Designed by New York's Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), the corporate project articulates the former industrial character of the Rust Belt with an aluminum composite facade studded with significant chamfered window bays. The footprint of the 230,000-square-foot project is narrow and rectangular as a measure to provide the office block with the greatest possible degree of water frontage. The east and west elevations are, as a result, 530-feet-long, highly visible throughout Camden and Philadelphia, and receive a remarkable degree of solar exposure. For RAMSA, the material choice of aluminum composite, and its bespoke detailing for the American Water HQ, addressed contextual concerns and performance requirements. “We sought a material with a subtle yet lively reflective sheen to respond to the ever-changing sun and sky,” said RAMSA partner Meghan McDermott. “The color of panels varies from white to silver to dark gray at various times throughout the day, and at sunset, the facade glows with pink and purple tones.” For the design team, it was critical to maintain outward views whilst mitigating solar gain and glare. The use of chamfered and recessed facade panels was a response to this performance requirement, and their design was developed over the rigorous study of sun angles and sightlines.
  • Facade Manufacturer Almaxco Viracon Bamco
  • Architects RAMSA Kendall/Heaton Associates (architect of record) Gensler (interior design)
  • Facade Installer BAMCO National Glass
  • Facade Consultants Curtainwall Design Consulting
  • Structural Engineer Thornton Tomasetti
  • Location Camden, New Jersey
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Custom stick-built curtain wall
  • Products Viracon VRE30-46 Viracon VNE24-63 Almaxco Aluminum composite panel FCL0720 Silver Metallic w/ PVDF coating
Notably, the project's facade is not unitized but was assembled on-site from individual components. Manufacturer Almaxco produced and painted the aluminum composite sheets at their plant in Singapore. The sheets were then shipped to New Jersey for assembly by fabricator and installer Bamco. The decision to assemble on-site resulted from costs associated with prefabricated panelized systems as well as the logistical challenges of transporting what would have been 10-by-16-foot modules through densely populated southern New Jersey. Although the construction of the facade was not realized until installation, RAMSA and facade fabricator Bamco conducted several full-scale mock-ups at their facility to review detailing issues while also rehearsing installation and assembly. There were areas of particular scrutiny within the overall facade assembly; slip-joints at the reveals, the corner medallions of the panels, and the traveling stair of the west elevation. According to McDermott, “The angles at the traveling stair were especially tricky—triangular panels of glass had to work within minimum glass dimensions for coatings, and the medallions had to follow the slope, requiring origami-type folding of the individual pieces.” Although composite aluminum is the facade's primary stylistic element, certain moments break from this material-centric approach. The two entrances, located at the center of the east and west elevations, are denoted by four-story structural glass walls that illuminate the building's atrium and are on axis with Cooper Street towards the center of Camden.
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Terra-Cotta Loving

Omgivning and Spectra return L.A.'s Broadway Trade Center to turn-of-the-century splendor
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Los Angeles's Broadway is home to one of the finest assemblies of Commercial Style buildings in the country, consisting of steel structures with box-like massing, clad with richly ornamented terra-cotta or cast-iron, and lightened with large rectangular and divided windows. Constructed over several phases starting in 1908, the Broadway Trade Center, initially known as Hamburger's Department Store is a prominent example of the style within this district and was once the largest department store west of Chicago, sitting on half of a city block and measuring a total of 1.3-million square feet. After decades of decay and ultimately abandonment, the historic structure is getting a new lease on life due to the rehabilitation efforts of architecture and design firm Omgivning and contractor Spectra. Founded in 2009, Omgivning is not specifically a preservation architect, but the firm has established a particular expertise in the rehabilitation of historic structures within the Los Angeles-area and had led the overhaul of dozens of neglected structures.
  • Facade Manufacturer Spectra Gladding McBean
  • Architect Omgivning
  • Facade Installer Spectra
  • Structural Engineer TTG
  • Location Los Angeles
  • Date of Completion TBD
  • System Historic Commercial Style structure with Chicago windows and ornamental terra-cotta
  • Products Restored wood window frames and terra-cotta replacements
Historic tax credits are a key component to the feasibility of restoration projects and maintaining the original design is an inherent requirement. “In terms of facades specifically, we knew that we needed to maintain unaltered facade on all four elevations to comply with the requirements of working with historic buildings,” said Omgivning projects director Peter Rindelaub. Conforming to these requirements also led Omgivning to place new building air supply and exhaust louvers within a rooftop addition, while obscuring the path of utilities to the new electrical transformers. Restoration of the facade began with exhaustive archival research of the department store. While historic photographs were readily available, the team had to procure shop drawings from ceramics manufacturer Gladding McBean, the original producer of the terra-cotta cladding, who joined the restoration to replace damaged components. Only so much of the structure’s condition can be gleaned from research, and contractor Spectra handled the bulk of on-site inspection. “The survey entailed a hands-on inspection of the terra-cotta and windows,” said Spectra project manager Dick Gee. “A visual survey can only identify so much, while a hands-on survey after scaffolding is erected allows for a more accurate reading of the building.” Most of the terra-cotta was repaired in place; color-matching mortar applied to tile cracks, and faded segments brushed down and repainted. If a section of cladding proved non-salvageable, Spectra measured individual components and produced molds that were subsequently shipped to Gladding McBean's facilities just outside of Sacramento and reproduced to match their original size perfectly. Replacing and repairing the fire escapes and window frames were the other significant aspects of the facade restoration. For the latter, Spectra built an entire woodshop within the building to restore the decaying windows and immediately reinstall them—a more cost-effective and ultimately more pragmatic option than repairing offsite. Exterior restoration is essentially complete, while interior building renovations are ongoing.
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Phantom Threads

James Carpenter Design Associates lets the light into Nordstrom with gargantuan double-curved glass panels
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Over the last four decades, James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) has been a pioneer in advanced glass installations and facade design, with projects ranging from the Museum at the St. Louis’ Gateway Arch to the Fulton Center Sky Reflector Net. The new Nordstrom flagship store in New York is located at the podium of the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture-designed Central Park Tower, the world’s tallest residential structure. The storefront is yet another demonstration of JCDA’s proficiency in lightness and transparency, evident in the undulating curtain wall of double-curved and supersized glass panels. The JCDA-designed curtain wall is the public face for the retailer along the store's south and north elevations—the store also includes several buildings located on adjacent Broadway. Reaching a height of seven stories, the translucent exterior presents a striking streetwall that, in certain respects, resembles the articulated stone-and-brick massing of abutting historic structures, and, according to JCDA, its wavelike form is an homage to the East and Hudson Rivers bounding Manhattan.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cricursa Tvitec
  • Designer James Carpenter Design Associates
  • Facade Installer Permasteelisa
  • Facade Consultant Surface Design Group
  • Facade Structural Engineer schlaich bergermann partner
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom curtwainwall system
  • Products XXL Cricursa Curved Glass
Spanish glass manufacturer Cricursa—one of the few with the technical capacity to produce extra-large curved glass panels—was pulled into the project at an early stage. According to JCDA, “The design started with the glass itself and worked out to the surrounding frame system, so ensuring the bent profiles were achievable both in terms of structure, manufacturing, handling, and shipping was important in the early design stages, most critically in the visual mockup and the performance mockup stages.” In total, there are five typical profiles and four unique corner profiles, and their dimensions range in height from 17'-6" to approximately 19'-6", and in width from 3'-10" to 6'-2". The result is a striking succession of convexities and concavities following an A-A-B-B rhythm, with occupiable spaces similar to that of bay windows. It is difficult to overstate the complexity of the curtain wall system, and New York-based facade consultant Surface Design Group played an essential role in balancing aesthetic concerns, thermal performance, structural behavior, and code compliance. “The final glass composition was developed as a slump formed, complex curved, insulated glass unit, comprised of various layers of laminated, low-iron glass and a subtle, custom ceramic dot frit pattern,” said Surface Design Group partner Benson Gillespie. “Aluminum mullions were stretch-formed to an exacting tolerance that matched the glass.” The curtainwall is backed by a diaphanous steel mesh veil, that, similar to the now-defunct pool room of the Mies van der Rohe’s Four Seasons, filters daylight and adds a layer of depth, with shadows and iridescence, to the facade.  
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Wavy Aluminum

Studio Gang's MIRA Tower twists with alternating window bays
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Located just south of San Francisco's Financial District and blocks away from the bay, MIRA Tower is a housing development that grabs your attention with a highly detailed geometric form. The project joins a spate of recently completed and under construction towers in the Transbay Development Zone, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects' Salesforce Tower and the Heller Manus Architects' 181 Fremont. Designed by Studio Gang Architects in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges and fabricator Permasteelisa, the tower presents a spiraling aluminum-and-glass facade arranged in a panoply of bay windows and terraces. Developed by Tishman Speyer, the size of the project is formidable and consists of both a tower and a terrace of townhouses—with a footprint of 50,000 square feet and spanning 700,000 gross square feet. To comply with FAR constraints and rules set out by the district zoning guidelines, the initial design reached a height of 300 feet. Following a request to the city government, the allowable height of the tower was raised to 400 feet with the inclusion of 156 below-market-rate apartments, or just under half the total number of units.  
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Alucabond Euro Sabbiature Ductal Permasteelisa
  • Architect Studio Gang Architects
  • Facade Installer Permasteelisa
  • Facade Consultant Heintges
  • Location San Francisco, CA
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Custom aluminum curtainwall system
  • Products AGC Interpane Planibel Clearlite with Ipasol Shine 59/32 & Planibel Clearlite ACM Panels by Alucabond L01 UHPC Ductal Panels
Studio Gang turned towards the architectural vernacular of the San Francisco-area for the overall form and massing of the tower and townhomes, reinterpreting classical bay windows into a contemporary gesture. There are ten different bay geometries: each is an isosceles triangle 14-feet wide and with differing spandrel and glazing dimensions, and with a maximum depth of six-and-a-half feet. Thirty bay window units are found at each level, adding up to, in total, over 1,000 across the tower. Shifting the bay geometries was not the initial direction of the project but a discovery during the design phase that, through offsetting and repeating a set of variations every 10 floors, a profound level of detail could be added to the project without causing undue complications in fabrication and construction. Through the inclusion of bay units across the facade, each residence is afforded daylight from multiple directions and sweeping views of the city at large. Facade consultant Heintges joined the project during the early schematic design phase to both conceptualize the enclosure design and develop a facade system with sufficient waterproofing and compatibility with locational seismic requirements. “In this system, the windows act like a freestanding window wall, loaded at the sill and allowing movement at the header,” said the Studio Gang design team. “The spandrel panels, on the other hand, are rigid enough to take the wind loads and transfer the window loads down to the slab.” The resiliency of the tower is further strengthened by a heavy central core that allows for exterior pieces to move independently of another during seismic events. For the longterm maintenance of the facade (specifically window washing at great heights) Studio Gang and Heintges incorporated a number of intermittent stabilization anchors across the bay units. In collaboration with building maintenance consultant CS Caulkins and cleaning device fabricator Sky Rider, the design team developed a custom platform capable of being lifted between the bays by integrated attachment points. The project broke ground in late 2017 and topped out in mid-2019; Permasteelisa handled the fabrication and installation of the facade panels and typically fitted out each floor in four days, completing the job at the tail end of 2019. The bays were fastened directly to the slab edge from within the building, a measure that, along with the division of spandrel and infill, reduced the use of a crane on-site and in turn lessened energy consumption and neighborhood disruptions stemming from site logistics. “Three-dimensional aluminum spandrels cover the slab edge and are anchored to the post-tensioned slab with steel embeds that extend vertically,” continued the Studio Gang design team. “Behind the aluminum panels are stiffeners that resist wind loads, reduce deflections, and control flatness. In order to realize the steps between bay geometry variations, there is always a horizontal portion of the panel which either faces up as a sill condition or down as a soffit condition.” Studio Gang principal Steve Wiesenthal and Heintges senior principal Karen Brandt will present MIRA Tower at Facades+ San Francisco on January 31 as part of the “Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations” panel.  
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On the potomac

Hickok Cole and Facades+ will spotlight D.C. architectural design and technology
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As the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., is home to a thriving architectural culture, grounded in both historic and contemporary design. The upcoming Facades+ AM conference on February 20 will provide a forum for the city's design community to dive into the intricacies of some of the region's most significant architectural projects. The conference is co-chaired by Hickok Cole, a local firm with a significant body of work within the capital and across the country. Participating firms include the Center for the Built Environment, Front Inc., Heintges, REX, Steven Holl Architects, Thomas Phifer and Partners, Tishman Speyer, and Transsolar. Prior to the conference, AN sat down with Hickok Cole associate principal and co-chair Elba Morales, and director of sustainable design Holly Lennihan, to discuss the firm's ongoing projects and the programming of the morning symposium. AN: Over the last few months, Hickok Cole has guided the curation of Facades+ Washington D.C. What aspects of the capital's design culture do you hope are captured in the three panels, and what lessons do you hope are learned?  Elba Morales: As the Nation’s capital, DC is at the center of the news cycle spotlight. We say that national news is our local news because it unfolds blocks away from where we live and work. We understand that decisions at the federal level have a huge impact on our everyday lives. Because federal buildings—traditionally in light stone and with a monumental, institutional quality—dominate how DC is perceived architecturally, there is a misconception that the city’s new architecture is either stylistically undifferentiated from the traditional or is restrained. And the reality is that there are very interesting and forward-thinking buildings being built here, right now. There is a wide range of materials, scale, and placemaking power in a good number of buildings recently completed. We have very exciting and technically daring glass facades in the pleated glass veil of The International Spy Museum and in the fluted curved glass facade of 2050 M Street for example, which we’ll discuss in our first panel “Curved and Pleated”. On our second panel “Placemaking and Monumentality” we will feature two new civic buildings defined by their sculptural quality made possible by the use of solid facades. These buildings claim their place as objects in the landscape. The REACH at The Kennedy Center does so in an urban setting, while Glenstone emerges out of its pastoral setting. Both usher in a new contemporary monumentality that makes the case for classic modern and minimal architecture. And as a result of Mayor Bowser’s mandate, with the Clean Energy Act DC, we will transition to run on 100% renewable power and reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2032. This will require efficient and sophisticated facades that respond to the orientation and positively contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the building. In our “High-Performance Facades” panel, we will discuss case studies and assemblies that will be relevant to this effort of melding climate change mitigation goals with stunning architectural design. The convergence of these challenges and potential will inspire our planners, architects, engineers, and owners to keep elevating the quality of the architecture we produce. One panel, "Curved and Pleated: Advanced Applications of Glass," will feature the International Spy Museum. Which aspect of the project are you most excited to dive into, especially in juxtaposition to the second case study of the panel, 2050 M Street? We are thrilled that our first panel will feature two of the most daring and tectonically unique glass buildings in the city, The International Spy Museum and 2050 M Street. Hickok Cole is very excited to have partnered with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to collaborate on The International Spy Museum, because of its impactful architecture and the transformation of L’Enfant Plaza and 10th Street. The facade—designed by RSHP—draws inspiration from espionage by “hiding in plain sight” the program. The exhibit space is surrounded by an angled “black box” which is in turn, layered with an oversized pleated glass veil, supported by red fins and cantilevered over public space. The strong urban move creates a landmark at the peak of 10th Street that is visible from the National Mall. Internally, the veil houses the atrium and a grand staircase that connects the exhibits. As Architect of Record, we want to share the complexity of this feature facade, its tectonics, detailing, procurement, and construction to give the audience a sense of what it takes to follow through on a vision this bold. In parallel, we want to discuss with Tishman Speyer, REX, and Front, the stunning curved glass facade of 2050 M Street. This new office building features oversized, floor-to-floor, concave glass panels that take advantage of the structural properties of curved glass in compression to eliminate the vertical mullions typical in office building facades. The form of the glass panels—as well as the coatings— create an unusual pattern of transparency and modulated reflections that articulate the overall form. We are delighted to gain insights from the perspective of the client, the architect, and the facade consultant. The capital is no stranger to monumental design. From your perspective, what role does opacity place in the poignancy of The REACH and the Glenstone Museum? The most evident quality of opaque facades is the way in which the material itself reacts to natural light, the way it registers sunlight and shadows distinctly throughout the day and the nuances of the seasons. Opaque facades can convey weight and solidity, plasticity and sculptural qualities, scale, and monumentality, that afford them strong placemaking potential. The weathering of solid, opaque materials is distinct and specific. Natural forces continuously add architectural meaning and register the passage of time. And even though both of these buildings sit within—and relate to—the landscape differently, the openings in their facades frame views deliberately. The materiality, the sculptural qualities, and the solid to void interplay create a new kind of monumentality in the city, one that is minimalist and classically modern. We are thrilled to be able to hear from the designers at Steven Holl Architects and Thomas Phifer and Partners, as well as from Heintges, the facade consultant at Glenstone. Washington D.C.'s city council recently passed a stringent clean energy act. What techniques and methodologies is Hickok Cole practicing to meet the code, and how do you perceive Transsolar and the Center for the Built Environment's participation in the third panel, "High-Performance Facades and Materials Research" informing the processes of local firms? Holly Lennihan: There are several significant changes in Hickok Cole’s design process due to the experience of working on the American Geophysical Union headquarters renovation to Net Zero Energy. First, we now insist that the full engineering team start concurrently with the design team. This early participation is furthered by staging a conceptual design charrette that lays out the potential strategies to achieve net-zero energy. Second, we seek partners that are willing to undertake new technologies. One example is when we considered heated mullions for a glass facade. A D.C. colleague put us in touch with a New York City-based engineer and a fantastically useful conference call ensued. The facade was detailed and evaluated; ultimately the system worked better on a colder environment than in our region. Third, we connect with universities that host research around the built environment. We collaborated on a graduate-level course for the University of Oregon’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment master’s program and we participate in monthly calls to discuss their diverse research projects. We are part of the University of Washington’s Embodied Carbon Network because we know that carbon will soon play a bigger role in how we think about the materials that go in our buildings. Locally, we have partnered with George Mason University’s Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship on grant funding for cross-laminated timber research and indoor air quality studies. Transsolar conveys a certainty that design and engineering should produce elegant, effective, smart, and cost-effective solutions. We believe that their projects will provide enlightening information and show their dedication to doing work that goes beyond ‘building-as-usual’ and will energize the audience to aspire to do better work in the DMV. The Center for the Built Environment plays a key role in providing practitioners data and in-depth analysis of building components, especially facades. Their rigorous and unbiased look at high-performance case studies creates a means for architects to adopt groundbreaking facade systems knowing the benefits and challenges. This information is also useful for owners, developers, and end-users. We hope that in the future, case studies from DC will make their way to the Center for review! Further information regarding the speakers and websites is found on the conference website.
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mirror mirror on the wall

MVRDV's Depot houses a national archive behind mirror glass
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The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (MBVB), located in Rotterdam's 10-acre Museumpark, is receiving a striking new addition designed by MVRDV. The Depot will house up to 125,000 of the museum's artworks not currently used for exhibitions, with over 70,000 of the pieces being made accessible to the public in a semi-curated format. In response to the site and the functional requirements of the project, Depot's spherical concrete shell has been clad with over 1,500 curved mirrored glass panels. For MVRDV, the location of the seven-story archive drove the decision to use mirror glass for the facade. "The project is situated in a piece of parkland between many cultural and medical institutions, so we did not want to turn our back to any of the neighbors, we wanted to visually enlarge the park," said MVRDV associate architect Arjen Ketting. "A piece of the park has been sacrificed to make space for this building, we visually reintroduce the setting in the facade." This effect is maximized by The Depot's circular massing which allows passing pedestrian to see around the corner of the structure towards the park's greater landscape.
  • Facade Manufacturer ShenZhen ShenNanYi Glass ODS Walasco Kingspan
  • Architect MVRDV
  • Facade Installer Sorba
  • Facade Consultant ABT
  • Location Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Date of Completion 2021
  • System Custom system of brackets
  • Products ShenZhen ShenNanYi Glass Mirror Glass
Depot broke ground in 2017 and rises from an approximately 22,000-square-foot concrete foundation that supports a seven-story, poured concrete sphere that cantilevers over 30 feet in every direction. At its thickest, the sphere is one-and-a-half-feet in section—a built-in anti-burglary measure—and is punctured by just a handful of window openings to prevent sunlight from reaching the interior. Brackets were anchored into the structure during the concrete pour, and are further supplemented by a secondary network of small black frames; Rotterdam's municipal code requires secondary safety measures for facade cladding. Installation of the mirrored panels began in April 2019 and are arranged into 26 horizontal layers consisting of 64 identical panels, with each layer conforming to the curvature of the concrete shell. Prior to fabrication, the design team digitally unfolded the sphere's surface into a two-dimensional format inlaid with the cutting pattern, which was in turn exported to the manufacturer. Each panel consists of two layers of glass separated by multiple layers of reflective foils, which were curved together during the fabrication process. A layer of insulation produced by Kingspan backs the panels and facade installer Sorba incised the membrane using a 3D model of the supporting brackets to reduce thermal bridging. Although the bulk of the mirrored panels are subject to the same treatment, there are certain segments that correspond to nearby structures. For example, a significant block of the eastern elevation is composed of a less reflective coating to guard the privacy of patients found at the adjacent Erasmus Medical Center. Additionally, mirrored glass panels abutting windows are treated to transition to those transparent moments. The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2020 and will open in 2021.
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Facades+ SF

EHDD discusses Facades+ and industry trends in the Bay Area
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On January 31, The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference series is returning to San Francisco. The conference co-chair is EHDD, a Bay Area firm with particular expertise in sustainable design. The morning is split into three panels discussing the resilient design features of 181 Fremont and The Exchange; the complex facade assemblies of Mira Tower and 950 Market Street; and the refurbishment of the historic Pacific Gas & Electric along with the building reuse of 633 Folsom. Participating firms include Atelier Ten, Handel Architects, Heintges, Heller Manus Architects, Gensler, RCH, Studio Gang, SGH, The Swig Company, and WJE. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper EHDD principal Brad Jacobson, associate principal Lynne Riesselman, associate Ivan Chabra, and senior associate Katherine Miller discuss the curation of the morning symposium as well as their present body of work. AN: San Francisco, and the Bay Area as a whole, is undergoing a tremendous phase of growth and development. What opportunities and challenges does that present for AEC practitioners, and how is EHDD addressing them?  Brad Jacobson: Economies go in cycles, and we have been riding a long wave. These times of optimism are opportunities to explore innovative solutions to some of our toughest problems. Here in the Bay Area, these range from climate change, to housing affordability, to enriching public discourse. We’ve been finding success, for example, designing with Mass Timber as an alternative to concrete and steel. It radically reduces embodied carbon emissions while resulting in an aesthetically higher quality product that also allows for prefabrication and streamlined construction processes. The tremendous amount of construction we are seeing bakes in our city's fabric for decades, if not centuries, both in terms of identity and performance. Key efforts, such as building electrification to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, are a priority as these decisions are difficult to undo. Nearly all of EHDD’s projects in design are all-electric, and we’ve been advocating with local municipalities considering electrification ordinances. A core part of our mission as a design firm is enabling our clients to change the world for the better. For KQED, our new Headquarters design opens up the building to better engage and connect with the community. We need to redouble our efforts to support institutions like KQED who are helping keep our City open, democratic, and equitable at a time when the profit motive is so strong. California is no stranger to natural disasters and is facing increasing strain from climate change. 181 Fremont is a model of earthquake resiliency and The Exchange for a large-scale demonstration of LEED qualification. From your perspective, what lessons can be learned from these two case studies and which recent projects by EHDD demonstrate the firm's commitment to resilient design? Lynn Rieselman: Resiliency is such a complex topic. By examining these projects in juxtaposition, we identify how they show leadership in two distinct aspects of resilient design. Sustainability is one cornerstone of resilience: the more effective we are, collectively from a sustainability standpoint, the less our resilience will be tested in the long run. Despite being a speculative office building, and over 700,000 square feet, the Exchange was designed to achieve dual LEED Platinum and Well Certification. It’s an excellent example for the commercial development sector that sustainable design can and should be pursued at every scale. In contrast, the design of 181 Fremont exemplifies excellent resilience against known threats. The project is designed above and beyond code with the intention that it would stay operational after a major seismic event, a plan that is proudly expressed through its triangulated exoskeleton. This strategy protects the investment made in the building, and creates the potential for the project to act as a resource for its community by providing shelter to others in the event of a major regional disruption. The third prong of resilience that we must consider as a design community is speculative resilience, or how our designs will address threats that emerge as the effects of climate change become more tangible. At EHDD, we regularly work on the waterfront, leading us to consider the more pessimistic predictions around sea-level rise. For example, our recent project concept for the National Aquarium of New Zealand identified a multi-faceted resilience strategy, including: a visitor level raised above a worst-case 100-year storm surge, a water-tight basement with sealed penetrations, elevated mission-critical equipment, and a site design that restores native marsh and dune ecology to channel flooding from the building. The design is also intended to exceed seismic codes and has an envelope that incorporates passive design strategies, so the building remains occupiable and comfortable in the event of power loss. MIRA Tower and 950 Market Street demonstrate a spate of new San Francisco developments pushing the envelope in terms of facade cladding and assembly. What do you hope will be the main takeaways from "Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations?" Ivan Chabra: As Brad mentioned, this phase of rapid growth will set the trajectory for the character of our city and region for many years. In addition to making sure we are addressing pressing environmental and social issues, this is a unique opportunity to explore the potential of architectural expression. Both of these new buildings depart from the Miesian paradigm of shear glass curtain walls, taking advantage of the three-dimensional opportunities of facade design and fabrication. Utilizing repetition and variation to create complex geometries, these additions to the San Francisco streetscape and skyline add texture and dynamism to the city without resorting to historicism or purely sculptural form-making. These two projects do so with very different techniques, from the materials that are used to the level and scale of prefabrication (and how that affected the erection process), to the hidden elements and details that make these complex geometries possible. I hope that we gain insight into these differences and an understanding of the parameters of cost, schedule, character, and performance which drove these decisions. It is safe to say that preservation and building reuse are essential to responsible urban growth; Pacific Gas & Electric and 633 Folsom are two sides of the same coin on this subject. How will the audience benefit from the juxtaposition of the two case studies and which facade strategies to be presented are you most curious about. Katherine Miller: Reuse of existing buildings is absolutely essential to responsible growth. From a carbon reduction perspective, retrofits have a huge advantage over new construction. New buildings, even buildings that are 30% more efficient than average existing buildings, can take decades to pay back the emissions generated from their construction. If we are going to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the State of California – to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – we need to turn our attention to upgrading our existing building stock. We aren’t going to get there only by building new, energy-efficient structures. Most of the buildings that exist today will still exist in 2050, and this is especially true in a heavily built-up and historic city like San Francisco. The two projects in this panel represent opposite ends of the building re-use spectrum. The 215 Market Street project is a historic restoration and refurbishment of a landmarked 1924 terra-cotta and wood window facade, while 633 Folsom is a transformative re-clad and expansion of a 1966 building. I’m looking forward to hearing about the process that led to the decision to re-use and invest in these existing structures rather than sell or re-build. I think it’s not a coincidence that both buildings have long-term owners with long-range views and a deep history in the City. In terms of specific facade strategies, for 215 Market, I’m interested to hear how a small investigation into window leaks morphed into a full-fledged multi-phase refurbishment. For 633 Folsom, I’m interested to learn how the exterior’s transformation benefits the interior experience through improved daylighting and views. Further information regarding Facades+ San Francisco can be found here.