All posts in Facades+

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Textile Hybrid

Fabrics could be the next big thing in facades
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Humans have been using fabric to create shelter for thousands of years. If a set of groundbreaking researchers and designers have their way, however, applications of textile-based architectural elements have the potential to play an important role in shaping the future of enclosures as well. Across scales and methods of application, research into the use of textile-based elements in architecture has increased over the last 15 years as professional and university teams in Europe and the United States have embraced robotic weaving applications, custom-designed carbon fiber textiles, and experimental fabric facades. With an eye toward wrapping ever-larger structures, creating unique sensory experiences, and engineering a more sustainable future, new applications of fabrics have the potential to change the face, look, and feel of architecture as we know it. Fiber Composite Dome Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design
Universities in Germany are leading the charge, especially at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) in Stuttgart, where Professor Jan Knippers has developed methods for creating textiles from bendable composite elements, including carbon and glass fibers. Knippers is currently working on develop- ing the latest iteration of his Elytra pavilion, a Fiber Composite Dome prototype structure that will make its debut at the National Garden Show in Heilbronn, Germany, later this year. The 40-foot-wide dome is made of woven glass carbon fiber elements connected only by steel washers and bolts. To create the pavilion, Knippers has designed a geometric array of 60 resin-impregnated fiber body assemblies that come together to distribute structural loads from the dome elegantly and efficiently. The precision-driven arrangement also extends to the size and organization of each strut’s individual carbon fibers, which are robotically arranged into place, baked in an oven until stiffened, and finally assembled into taut spanning assemblies. When erected into the final spherical shape for the pavilion, a secondary shell made of ETFE polymer is added on top for protection from the elements.
CRC1244 Demonstrator Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design
Building-scale research is also taking place in Germany, where Dr. Walter Haase, managing director of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC1244) at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) in Stuttgart is really pushing the envelope. Fourteen university-based research teams are working there to develop ways to “create more living space with less material” by using fabric-based facade and building elements to drive innovation in overall building design. The group is currently building a 120-foot experimental modular tower that will serve as a testing site for new fabric-based facade and building technologies that could transform the way buildings are designed, fabricated, used, and even recycled.
The elemental steel strut and concrete tower exists to test out new material approaches for each of its square-shaped levels, with a specific focus on folded surface structures, innovative processing of conventional fabrics, geometrically deformable structures, and origami-inspired folding structures that can be used to create lightweight sandwich panels. The tower is designed with flexibility in mind so that fabric-based facades developed by academic and industrial project partners can be tested and switched out as necessary in the coming years. Allianz Field Populous
In terms of real-world applications, fabric-based architectural strategies are coming to lighting as well, especially in the realm of stadium design, where membrane materials like PTFE and other custom fabrics are used to wrap wide and often curvilinear stadium geometries with ease. The Populous-designed Allianz Field soccer stadium in Minneapolis, for example, features an 88,000-square-foot transparent and laminated custom PTFE fabric facade created in partnership with fabricator Walter P Moore specifically for this project. Stretched over a parametrically designed steel rib substructure, the fabric facade is backlit with 1,700 emotive LED lights that can be programmed to glow for various occasions.
Populous is also behind the Daily’s Place Amphitheater and Flex Field project in Jacksonville, Florida, a unique dual-use space that blends a performance amphitheater with a practice football field. There, fabric roof panels are hung from steel trusses that frame the space. The outer steel structure allows for a monolithic fabric ceiling that can be bathed in LED light. Social Sensory Architectures Lab for Material Architectures
At the University of Michigan A. Alfred Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, for example, Sean Ahlquist is working across disciplines and with industrial and corporate partners to develop articulated material structures and design approaches that “enable the study of spatial behaviors and human interaction.” Ahlquist’s research focuses on using computational design and fabrication to create structures and spaces that move “beyond materialization” to focus on “sensing, feedback, and engagement as critical factors of design exploration,” according to a recent scholarly article he wrote. Using CNC knitting, hybrid yarns, and other digital fabrication techniques, Ahlquist’s research team is able to generate pre-stressed lightweight structures, innovations in textile-reinforced composite materials for aerospace and automotive design, as well tactile sensory environments that can act as “interfaces for physical interaction.”
A recent project for Exhibit Columbus in Columbus, Indiana, creates custom textile micro-architectures by manipulating fibers and stitches to generate “instrumentalized, simultaneous structural, spatial, and sensory-responsive qualities” in fabric structures that can be used by children with autism to filter and manage multiple sensory inputs.
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Brutalismo

Harvard updates skin of brutalist campus center for the 21st century
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The Greater Boston area is home to a large collection of brutalist structures. Now, with these historic buildings passing their semicentennials, municipalities and institutions are reappraising their original designs and coming up with solutions to adapt them to contemporary needs. Harvard's Smith Campus Center, a colossal academic building located on Massachusetts Avenue across from Harvard Yard, is an exemplar of this trend, with a significant overhaul led by design architect Hopkins Architects and executive architect Bruner/Cott Architects consisting of facade restoration and the insertion of glazed pavilions. Formerly known as the Holyoke Center, the Smith Campus Center, completed in 1966, was designed by Josep Lluis Sert, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1953 to 1969. In total, the center's original design encompassed over 360,000 square feet and reached a height of 10 stories. The massing was generally an extruded H-shaped plan, with a three-story pavilion found on the north elevation. For the design team, the goal of the project was the retention and strengthening of the original concrete-and-glass facade through sealant removal, concrete cutting and chipping, and glass replacement, and the opening of the ground level with a new glass curtainwall.
  • Facade Manufacturer Roschmann Steel & Glass Constructions, Inc Saint-Gobain
  • Architect Hopkins Architects (Design Architect) Bruner/Cott Architects (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Installer Roschmann Steel & Glass Constructions, Inc
  • Construction Manager Consigli Construction Company
  • Facade Consultant Simpson Gumpertz Heger Arup (structural engineer)
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom Roschmann Steel & Glass system
  • Products Saint Gobain Glass COOL-LITE SKN 076 II
The design team conducted extensive studies prior to the intensive intervention. "Restoration originated in 2008 with a study by Simpson Gumpertz & Heger and Bruner/Cott Architects," said Bruner/Cott principal Henry Moss. "Two vertical drops down the 100-foot height of Sert's concrete facade identified areas of incipient spalls from cast-in-place concrete. In 2013, the same team did a binocular survey from street level to locate fractures and estimate the frequency of different types of repair for the building as a whole." Similar to many mid-century structures, the Smith Campus Center was beleaguered by environmental performance issues—low-E coatings did not exist in this area, and the bulk of the building's windows were single glazed. To bring the Center up to contemporary environmental and performance standards, Bruner/Cott designed a new system of insulated glazing systems. Additionally, Sert's original design featured non-tempered glass—the present building code requires safety film for any fenestration located 25 feet above pedestrian areas. "On all but the north elevation, new clear films provided enhanced solar control with a slight shift towards a bluer hue," continued Moss. "Thirty-five-year-old reflective solar films were removed from all elevations to restore the figure-ground relationship between translucent and clear panes in the composition of facades by restoring transparency to Sert's "vision panels." While a significant portion of the project was dedicated to the renovation of Sert's brutalist complex, the footprint's forecourt provided an opportunity to embed a contemporary welcome pavilion. The pavilion's new glass panels, typically measuring 7'-8" wide by 11'-2" tall and 1 ¾" thick, were double-laminated with polyvinyl butyral and a 16mm argon-filled void. The glass curtainwall is held in place by toggles fastened back to the custom-fabricated interior columns. Panels located atop the pavilion are 7'-8" feet wide and 18'-3" tall. Henry Moss, Bruner/Cott principal, will be presenting a deeper dive into this project at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Boston on June 25. For more details, along with registration info, visit Facades+ Boston.
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If it looks like stone

German hotel greets the street with a sintered stone facade
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Completed this year, the Flare of Frankfurt is a seven-story, mixed-use project of hotel rooms, residences, and offices located in the center of the German city. The 260,000-square-foot project, designed by German-Iranian architectural practice Hadi Teherani, is clad in three-dimensional slabs of sintered stone. The massing of the complex matches the cornice line of the surrounding historic building stock and is split in two by a courtyard—offices and hotel rooms to one side and residences to the other. Between the wings is a smoothed facade segment with small punched openings. Window openings for the rest of the street-facing elevations are rhythmic, with the panels overlayed in a form reminiscent of a stretcher-bond brick pattern, albeit oversized and projecting from the structure.
  • Facade Manufacturer Neolith Schüco International KG
  • Architect Hadi Teherani
  • Facade Installer FFM Barczewski
  • Facade Consultant Zentrale Technik for Ed. Züblin AG
  • Location Frankfurt, Germany
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Lithodecor Airtec Stone
  • Products Neolith Arctic White Silk
For the design team, the diversity of surrounding structures was a characteristic to embrace and embed within the facade’s design. The project is located on the northern terminus of Frankfurt’s Grosse Eschenheimer Strasse, a north-south axis squarely embedded within the city center. Frankfurt, like much of Germany, was severely damaged during World War II. As a result of wartime damage, the general streetscape of the city is marked by rehabilitated historic structures linked by post-war modern and contemporary infill. “We wanted a strong coherence of the design language throughout the project in order to lead to a compelling address in the city of Frankfurt,” said Hadi Teherani Senior Architect Christian Bergmann. “It takes up elements of the surrounding building which come from a variety of different epochs—bay windows of stone-clad listed houses from the turn of the century and curtained post-war structures from the 1950s onward.” Produced by Neolith, the three-dimensional sintered Arctic White Silk panels measure approximately 10 feet by 38 feet. The panels are produced with the use of three principal resources: granite powder, glass minerals and silica, and natural oxides. To create the slabs, the materials are subjected to extremely high pressure and are subsequently baked in a kiln where temperatures top out at 2200° F—the result is a cladding and surfacing material similar to stone in both appearance and performance. The approximately quarter-inch-thick sintered stone slabs are mounted atop a facade system, Lithodecor’s Airtec Stone, consisting of an aluminum substructure placed along a lightweight concrete base. After the panels were assembled, Lithodecor coordinated with the contractor to transport the system through Frankfurt’s narrow street network to the site. According to Lithodecor’s head of product management, Phillip Wirtz, the panels were “literally hooked onto supporting steel beams, a process requiring a high degree of precision.”
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On Chestnut Hill

NADAAA integrates past and present at Beaver Country Day
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The Beaver Country Day School, founded in 1920, is located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The school completed three major expansions to its campus over the course of its near-century-long existence, and in 2017, NADAAA and facade consultant Studio NYL completed a project to bridge these accretions into a cohesive whole with a comprehensive revamp of the interior and an enclosure system dominated by vertically-shingled phenolic panels and an expansive glass curtain wall. The oldest structure on the campus is the masonry-and-brick main academic building. The science wing and library were both constructed in the second half of the twentieth century, with the library being a brutalist, largely concrete presence. To link these structures into a more cohesive space with a greater connection to the principal academic building, the design grafted an additional floor atop the 1967 additions and created a new three-floor hall.
  • Facade Manufacturer FunderMax Efco Viracon
  • Architect NADAAA
  • Facade Installer R&R Group
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL
  • Location Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System EFCO Series 402 Thermal Storefront Framing EFCO System 5600 Curtainwall
  • Products Viracon Bronze VNE1-63 & VE4-2M,and Clear VNE1-63 Fundermax Phenolic Panels F Quality 8mm Finish: Enigma 0923NT Greengirt Simple Z 300 3" Cosella Dorken: Delta Fassade S
The focal point of the nearly 40,000-square-foot project is the courtyard with a landscape designed with Reed Hilderbrand. From there, the project has a cohesive character defined by wood-veneered phenolic panels that modulate from flat cladding to projecting fins for sun-shading. Each of the panels is attached to light-gauge steel stud walls through a fiberglass stand-off and hidden aluminum brackets. "We wanted the intervention to reinforce the courtyard's insularity but allow views from all the surrounding spaces," said NADAAA principal Arthur Chang. "The phenolic panels treated with a light wood finish line the open-air chamber, contrasting it with the brick and concrete of the existing architecture, creating a uniquely singular identity for this interior public space." Within the courtyard, one of the more technologically complex components is the transition from the rainscreen to a projected glass curtainwall. The curtainwall effectively functions as a cantilevered bay window, providing natural light for an internal corridor that serves as a recreational area for students. According to Studio NYL founding principal and facade director Chris O’Hara, “The challenge of the projected glass curtainwall resulted from maintaining a thin visual structure while maintaining thermal continuity. Steel blades jut out from the structure to cantilever the window, which is in turn sided with metal flashing and insulated by two layers of adjacent Dow blanket to maintain thermal continuity.” The north elevation of the Research + Design Center significantly breaks from the material palette of the courtyard with an angled glass curtainwall. For the curtainwall, the design team utilized EFCO's System 5600, which effectively conceals the fasteners holding the glass panels in place. Custom aluminum snap covers are placed horizontally across the curtainwall, a stylistic flourish to evoke the brick bonding of the historical context while also diffusing rainwater.
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Allianz Field

Allianz Field, Minnesota United’s new home, glows with PTFE-coated facade
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Completed in March 2019, Allianz Field is a 346,000-square-foot soccer stadium located centrally between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The project was executed by Populous, Walter P Moore (WPM), Mortenson Construction, and FabriTec Structures, and it features a facade of woven fiberglass clear-laminated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—effectively a tensile membrane capable of shielding the audience from the elements while transmitting twice as much light as other PTFE membranes.
According to the design team, the client initially approached Populous and Walter P Moore to produce a stadium with a translucent facade. The group was aware of a clear PTFE laminate being developed by French manufacturer Saint Gobain—now known as Illuminate 28—and facilitated the shipment of moderately sized samples from the company. These samples were used to construct a 6-by-6-foot mockup with the material to gauge its tensile and lighting qualities. The design and construction of the stadium occurred as the facade material was being developed.
  • Facade Manufacturer Saint-Gobain
  • Architect Populous
  • Facade Installer Mortenson GC FabriTec Structures
  • Facade Consultant Walter P Moore
  • Location St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Date of Completion March 2019
  • System PTFE-coated fiberglass membrane suspended over steel structural system
  • Products Illuminate 28
The enclosure system of the stadium consists of three interconnected layers: the exterior skin of PTFE-laminated fabric, a secondary backup system of steel driver pipes and armatures, and a circular colonnade of steel columns.
In abstract terms, this enclosure system sounds simple enough. However, unlike rigid cladding materials, the tensile strength of fabric is ultimately determined by the 3-D shape it is stretched into. “We never knew if our fabric shapes would work or not from an engineering standpoint until after the design was complete,” said Populous associate principal Phil Kolbo. “To achieve the design, Populous and WPM had to set up a cohesive process that could design, test, and modify the supporting steel quickly and iteratively to satisfy both the design and engineering requirements of the skin.”
In total, over 90,000 square feet of fabric wrap the stadium. Due to budget constraints, the design team had to maximize the spans between structural components. Utilizing Rhino and Grasshopper 3-D imaging software programs, WPM created nearly 50,000 analysis elements to locate sites where the fabric was overstressed. This information was then exported from Rhino to Tekla software and delivered to the steel fabricator.
“Once we had a fabric and driver pipe design, then it was supporting the process throughout getting the owner, Mortenson, and FabriTec comfortable with the material and construction process,” said Walter P Moore principal Justin Barton. “It started in February 2016 and went all the way through FabriTec’s final installation and punch list in late 2018, nearly 24 months of continual conversation.”
Populous Associate Principal Phil Kolbo, Walter P Moore Project Manager Justin Barton, Mortenson GC Project Engineer Nate Weingart, and FabriTec Structures Executive Vice President Tom Wuerch, will be joining the panel "Stadium Rising: The Complexities of Allianz Field’s Woven PTFE Facade" at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Minneapolis conference on July 24.
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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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clay for days

University of Oregon's Tykeson Hall announces a campus presence with a terra-cotta and brick facade
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Tykeson Hall, currently wrapping up construction, is nestled in the center of the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus. Designed by Portland’s OFFICE 52 Architecture, the intervention consolidates classrooms, academic advisors, counseling, and tutoring for nearly 23,000 students under one roof. The 64,000-square-foot academic building carefully inserts itself into the campus with a variegated terra-cotta and brick facade with moments of glass curtain wall. The building, like much of the campus, rises as a rectangular mass with a series of incisions and setbacks for daylighting and programmatic purposes. To match with the cornice height of the surrounding structures, Tykeson Hall tops out at four stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer Shildan Group Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry Kawneer Vitro Hartung Viracon
  • Architects OFFICE 52 Architecture Rowell Brokaw Architects
  • Facade Installer Streimer Sheet Metal Davidson's Masonry Culver Glass Company
  • Location Eugene, Oregon
  • Date of Completion Summer 2019
  • System Kawneer 1600 Wall System Open-joint rainscreen system with a fully thermally broken aluminum window system
  • Products Custom extruded terra-cotta tiles by Shildan Group Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry Columbia Red and Autumn Blend Vitro Solarban 60 & 70 Viracon VE-1-2M
The principal material for the exterior envelope is a terra-cotta rainscreen system composed of 3,100 vertical tiles manufactured in Germany by the Shildan Group. This is the first application of terra-cotta on the historic campus in over eighty years—and earlier examples are chiefly decorative rather than performative. All of the terra-cotta tiles roughly measure six inches by three-to-five feet and are clipped to an aluminum grid at both their top and bottom. In using such a straightforward fastening method, the tiles can be easily removed, repaired, or replaced. Visually striking from multiple vantage points across the campus, the pattern of the matte-glazed terra-cotta tiles was developed from the study of Oregon's natural landscape and the architectural context of the University of Oregon's campus. "We looked at numerous color combinations and determined that five colors were necessary so that no color was ever repeated adjacent to itself on any side," said Office 52 founding principal Michelle LaFoe and principal Isaac Campbell. "We then produced keyed drawings that called out every one of the 3,100 tiles, and we made full-scale mock-ups of the final options in our studio. The final resolution of the palette came down to a gray palette that had both warm and cool colors." The most common material element found throughout the campus is brick, loadbearing in the case of historic structures, curtain for the contemporary. The existing brick color palette is largely brownish-red and arranged according to the simple Stretcher bond pattern—bricks overlaying each other midway on each successive course. For the project, the university required OFFICE 52 Architecture integrate this overarching aesthetic into the design of Tykeson Hall. To this end, the design team researched prospective brick layouts to enliven the facade along the east, north, and south elevations of the project. "During our research, we discovered an interesting pattern known as an English Cross bond, which creates a diagonal pattern by staggering the vertical mortar joints from course to course," continued LaFoe and Campbell. "Intrigued with this pattern and seeking to increase its scale, we added a course of longer Norman bricks to the pattern, creating a new pattern which we called a Norman Cross bond." For the coloring of these three elevations of brick, OFFICE 52 Architecture worked with Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry to develop a custom-blend of their Columbia Red and Autumn Blend brick types. In total, 78,000 bricks were used for the project, with the design team using building information modeling software to ensure the pattern corresponded with window returns and corner finishes. The bulk of the project's fenestration is composed of punched window openings. However, one-story glass curtainwall projects from the prevailing sedimentary mass along the north, west, and south elevations. Tykeson Hall is estimated to be completed in July 2019.
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Twisted Design

Florida garage adds new twist to stainless steel mesh facades
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Garages are fairly ubiquitous across Florida—the state has one of the highest car ownership rates in the country—but in recent years, the local typology has received a bit of a revamp. Opened in February 2019, Sarasota's St. Armands Circle Garage continues this trend with a spiraling stainless steel mesh skin. The $12 million project was designed by Sarasota-based Solstice Planning and Architecture and rises to a height of three stories to accommodate 480 spaces.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cambridge Architectural
  • Architects Solstice Architecture & Planning
  • Facade Installer L&S Erectors
  • Location Sarasota, Florida
  • Date of Completion February 2019
  • System Stainless steel mesh screen
  • Products Cambridge Architectural Volution mesh
The facade is clad with a total of 520 spiraling panels, with the majority measuring 1-foot wide by 20-feet tall. Encompassing over 9,000 linear feet of mesh, the panels are held together by 250,000 individual welds completed by hand by manufacturer Cambridge Architectural's fabrication team. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the project is prone to major hurricane winds during summer and fall. "In Sarasota we had to consider winds up to 50 percent higher than are common on most projects, so each of our system components required more custom design and manufacturing to account for extra wind load transfer," said Cambridge Architectural business director David Zeitlin. "In addition, there needed to be close collaboration with the structural engineering team on an ongoing basis to ensure proper integration into the garage, and together that the project met industry standards." To achieve the spiraling character of the panel, Cambridge Architectural and the installer L&S Erectors collaborated closely. Firstly, the mesh was welded to a series of base plates at Cambridge's manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Maryland. Once welded, the panels were shipped to the project site in Florida. As the concrete garage was poured, the construction team embedded mounting channels from the second to third stories. The plates at the end of each panel were then bolted to the channels and twisted into their distinctive shape on site.
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It's Alive

UNC Charlotte's Integrated Design Research Lab imagines an algae-glass curtainwall
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On the outskirts of Charlotte, the University of North Carolina’s Integrated Design Research Lab (IDRL) is hard at work researching new tools of building technology. Currently, the team is developing a unitized curtain wall prototype fitted with patterned bands of microalgae capable of filtering polluted air and converting it into a source of renewable energy. The research lab's microalgae facade prototype project began in the spring of 2012, and continued under Environmental Protection Agency and AIA research grants. The original team of two dozen students and faculty members, spanning the school of architecture, and the university's engineering, biology, and construction management departments, carried out a feasibility study focused on the speculative retrofitting of the Charlotte campus's Denny Building. The team discerned areas for considerable improvements in environmental performance as well as atmospheric carbon dioxide footprint. With this knowledge, the IDRL constructed multiple four-by-eight-foot physical prototypes allowing for the real-world analysis of environmental durability, structural integrity, and aesthetics.
  • Facade Manufacturer UNC Charlotte Integrated Design Research Lab
  • Collaborators Kyoung-Hee Kim Chengde Wu Douglas Cao Shikha Patel Jamar Moore Carlos Martinez Garrett Herbst
  • Location Charlotte, North Carolina
  • System Unitized glass curtainwall with an embedded algae matrix
"Our microalgae facade consists of two primary components: photobioreactors integrated with vision glazed panels attached to metal frames, and microalgae growing apparatus housed in metal frames," said IDRL director Kyoung-Hee Kim. "For quality control and speedy installation, our microalgae facade is configured as a factory assembled unitized facade system, each facade unit could be installed at the edge of the concrete slab or perimeter beam, with the microalgae growing apparatus installed on site." How does it work? Unfiltered air laden with carbon dioxide rises through the base of the curtainwall modules. The air is filtered as it rises through the matrix of the algae-embedded facade and is subsequently pumped into the building's HVAC system. Fresh microalgae are pumped into the top of the curtain wall module as the density of carbon dioxide increases. Serving as an air filter, the carbon-loaded algae is subsequently collected, dewatered, and either converted into energy on-site or transported to an outside refinery. There are additional benefits to the algae facade outside of air filtration and renewable energy production. Similar to glass curtainwalls studded with frits or brise-soleil, the patterned algae provide shading. Additionally, the color of the patterns is semi-customizable depending on the type of algae—Dunaliella, Chlorella, Haematococcus, or Coralline–embedded within. While prototypes for the research project have not yet been installed for full-scale development, Kim went on to note that "this technology is expected to have significant building energy reduction due to its good energy attributes and energy production potential. The US Department of Energy seeks to attain marketable net-zero energy buildings by 2025, and the project lays the technical foundation for future green buildings." Let's see what the future holds.
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East River Presence

Brooklyn waterfront office building features brick and glass curtain facades
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The Brooklyn waterfront is no stranger to development. Over the past two decades, swaths of post-industrial Williamsburg filled with warehouses and factories have been cleared in favor of glass-and-steel residential properties. One building, 25 Kent, an under-construction half-million-square-foot office tower designed by Hollwich Kushner as Design Architect and Gensler as Design Development Architect bucks the area's cliches with its bifurcated facades of brick, glass, and blackened steel. On a lot that measures 400 feet by 200 feet, the full-block project presents a formidable mass in comparison to its low-rise recent neighbors. Reaching eight stories, with floor to ceiling heights of 15 feet, the office tower is largely split between two staggered rectangular volumes linked by a hovering glass prism. Combining these three materials is not inherently novel, but the mix presented challenges in meeting increasingly stringent sustainability and LEED goals. "In lieu of brick returns, an aluminum perimeter trim was used in tandem with thermally broken window to achieve the best performance in a practical and cost-effective manner," said Yalin Uluaydin, senior associate at Eckersley O'Callaghan, the project's facade consultant. "Similar issues were addressed at the interface of the east and west facing aluminum curtain wall and underslung curtain wall. Mainly we had to address the offset mullions and how the curtain wall end panels are set in a brick opening on three sides."
  • Facade Manufacturer Summit Brick Pure+FreeForm Guardian Schüco
  • Architects Gensler Hollwich Kushner
  • Facade Installer CMI 
  • Facade Consultants Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Glass curtainwall with punched masonry
  • Products 25 Kent Blend Brick SCHUCO AWS 75. SI+ Guardian SN 70/41 Brooklyn Steel
The structure's facades are understated, rising with little in the way of outward ornament. The east and west elevations are clad in glass curtain wall modules tied to the structural slab edges with steel anchors. For the side-street elevations, the design team nods to the surrounding historic warehouses with multi-tone brick surfaces. Successive floors, which protrude and recess like an overturned-ziggurat, are clad in a custom blend of bricks patterned in a stretcher-bond format. Punched mullion-free window openings, measuring eight feet by ten feet, are rhythmically placed across these elevations to further daylighting while mirroring the stylistic qualities of adjacent structures. The windows, inset from the brick drape, are lined with custom 'blackened steel' finished aluminum. On the North and South streets, the retail storefront entrances are framed with printed 'blackened steel' aluminum portals, in a custom finish developed by Pure+FreeForm  The portal details were brushed with silver pearl and treated with a patinated gloss matte layer, providing subtle iridescent qualities. Proximity to the waterfront, although an amenity, also presented a structural challenge for the design team. "The foundation design is a continuous mat slab with thickened portions below the tower shear wall cores, and drilled tiedown anchors located outside the tower footprints to counteract hydrostatic uplift from groundwater," said Gensler Design Manager & Senior Associate Anne-Sophie Hall. "To accommodate the architectural intent of the vast column-free space in the central region of each floor plate, each of the six columns supporting the bridge slab has a 20-foot long rectangular drop panel to achieve the desired long span with a conventionally reinforced 12-inch slab, while eschewing post-tensioning or similar strategies which would have entailed additional costs or specialized subcontractors."
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The Rice is Right

The Gaia House is a 3D-printed prototype made of biodegradable materials
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WASP, a 3D printing studio based out of Italy, recently produced a full-scale residential prototype out of soil, rice products, and hydraulic lime. Measuring approximately 320-square-feet in plan, the project was completed in 10 days and was built in the town of Massa Lombarda in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The project, named Gaia House, aims to establish a template for mass-produced biodegradable and structurally efficient structures. The building rises from a circular concrete foundation, relying on a team-developed computational design to reduce the total quantity of materials while imprinting geometric variation across the facade.
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer WASP
  • Designer WASP
  • Location Massa Lombardo, Italy
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Computationally-designed
  • Products Raw soil, straw, rice husk, lime
For the fabrication of the residential prototype, WASP used a 3D printer suspended from a crane, aptly titled Crane WASP. The mixture, composed of 25 percent soil, 40 percent chopped rice straw, 25 percent rice husk, and 10 percent hydraulic lime, was dispensed onto successive layers with a series of triangular cavities placed between the primary interior and exterior courses. Rise husks were poured into the cavities to insulate the structure. Although the biodegradable material is suitable for use as an enclosure system, the principal load-bearing elements for the overhanging octagonal roof are wooden columns placed along the interior of the structure. For the interior of the structure, WASP softened the rustic materials by treating them with clay lamina and linseed oils. "Gaia is a highly performing module both in terms of energy and indoor health, with almost zero environmental impact," said the design team. "Printed in a few weeks, thanks to its masonry it does not need heating or an air conditioning system, as it maintains a mild and comfortable temperature both in winter and in summer." Currently, WASP is collaborating with the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia to develop a 3D-printed earthen wall with embedded floor and staircase systems, and is seeking to reduce construction time via the use of multiple printers working in tandem with each other.
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Tabula Rasa

An Israeli airport rises from the desert with a contorted aluminum facade
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In Israel's Negev Desert, a faceted mass has risen in the shroud of the Eilat Mountains. Designed by Amir Mann / Ami Shinar Architects and Planners, and Moshe Zur Architects, the Ramon International Airport is clad in large aluminum composite panels. Opened in January 2019, the principal terminal building of the airport measures nearly 500,000 square feet and replaces Eilat's preexisting airport located in the center of the city. While the tabula rasa-like setting of the desert allowed for a number of formal possibilities, the bareness of the surrounding landscape visually heightens subtle facade elements. The design team looked to the mushroom-like rock formations found in the adjacent Timna Park when shaping the building's mass, but the final form was driven by more than just aesthetics. The aluminum walls rise and double-over themselves as self-shading devices. "The slanting-out facades of the Terminal shade the building itself, while the cutting-edge aluminum panels, which insulate, help to reflect the UV rays through their pristine white coloring," said Amir Mann.
  • Facade Manufacturer Skycon
  • Architects Amir Mann / Ami Shinar Architects and Planners Moshe Zur Architects
  • Facade Installer Skycon
  • Facade Consultants Landman Aluminum
  • Location Eilat, Israel
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Aluminum clad walls fastened to a supporting system of aluminum profiles
  • Products Composite aluminum panels
After the initial form of the airport was decided on, the design team used parametric software to determine the dimensions of cladding elements—the largest is just over seven feet wide. The sheer size of the panels and their irregular shape required the use of reinforcements along their edges, which were then fastened to a supporting system of aluminum profiles. Project execution in the middle of the desert is no easy feat, and the design team had to develop and utilize multiple methods of delivery and construction. "The structural steelwork and cladding systems were produced off-site to minimize the amount of on-site welding that had to take place in the desert temperatures," said Mann. "Also, casting the concrete for the building's skeleton and the Airplane Aprons was done overnight, taking extra care to avoid damage and cracking of concrete due to the extreme range of temperatures between night and day." Throughout the design process, the architectural team collaborated closely with Skycon, the manufacturer and installer. While producing both the aluminum cladding and glass curtain walls, the fabricators built full-scale mockups of different building elements so the design team could refine certain details prior to installation.