Search results for "solar panels"

Placeholder Alt Text

Making Waves

The Global Hub’s undulating facade turns toward Lake Michigan for inspiration
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The newest major addition to Northwestern University in Chicagoland, the 415,000 square-foot Kellogg School of Management’s Global Hub, establishes a formidable cornerstone for the campus’s border with Lake Michigan. KPMB Architects, a Toronto-based firm with a significant background in sustainable institutional design, addressed the region’s weather extremes with a well-executed layout and an undulating triple-glazed glass curtain wall.
  • Facade Manufacturer Guardian Glass, Interpane Glass, Coil (aluminum mullions), Bison (wood decking)
  • Architects KPMB Architects
  • Facade Installer Ventana Design-Build Systems, Power Construction
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti
  • Location Evanston, Illinois
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System A concrete system with glass curtain wall panels
  • Products Guardian Glass SNR-43, Interpane Glass 46/31
According to Senior Associate Kevin Thomas, the first inspiration for the building’s six-story curvilinear form is the rolling movement stemming from the adjacent Lake Michigan. The nearby shoreline stabilization system, composed of boulders and precast concrete, has been consistently smoothed over by wave patterns. For KPMB, “the use of glass helps break down the mass of the large structure while maximizing visual connections to the adjacent lake and Chicago skyline." The 160,000 square-foot curtain wall is designed with horizontal and vertical anodized aluminum mullions, and a reflective glass coating. While sections of the facade are curved, the design team worked closely with the manufacturer to incorporate narrow curtain wall modules and vertical glass fins at every frame to blur hard edges. Each triple-glazed glass panel is tied to the structural frame with modified steel angles painted to match the curtain wall and aluminum anchor hooks. The result is a sweeping surface that simultaneously reflects other wings of the building and the ever-changing environmental conditions. Although glass panels of various sizes are the primary material element, KPMB Architects added certain details to diversify the dominating blue-green color palette. The elevations are unified by reddish-brown Brazilian walnut soffits that crest and wrap around the building. Brazilian walnut, a hardwood, was chosen for its durability and minimal maintenance. The Global Hub’s layout consists of four wings, perceived by the design team as independent buildings, rotating around a centrally placed atrium. Swooping white balconies, interconnected by pale-yellow wood bridges and an expansive two-story stairwell, are the main conduits of interior circulation. The glass curtain wall and a band of rooftop clerestories, clad with high-performance translucent glazing, flood the interior with natural light without significantly producing thermal heat. The project, part of KPMB Architects' long-running collaboration with Transsolar KlimaEngineering, was designed with a number of features to boost environmental performance. These measures include a geothermal energy system embedded beneath an adjacent football field, a ventilation system that circulates fresh air, and an automated shading system. In 2018, the Global Hub received LEED platinum certification.
 
Placeholder Alt Text

Clay Everywhere

Morris Adjmi gives classic New York terra-cotta cladding a modern twist
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Morris Adjmi Architects has just completed its wedge-shaped 363 Lafayette mixed-use development in New York City. The project is located in the heart of the NoHo Historic District, a context known for its mid-rise store-and-loft buildings clad in detailed cast iron and stone.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terracotta, Belden/Tristate Brick, Vitro Glass, Tristar Glass
  • Architects              Morris Adjmi Architects
  • Facade Installer PG New York (terra-cotta), IHR1 (brick), TriStar Glass
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion Fall 2018
  • System Terracotta rainscreen on a frame wall system flanked by brick piers
  • Products Win-vent series 850 frames, Solarban z60 glass, custom-made rainscreen produced by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, and installed with TerraClad clip system
363 Lafayette’s site is prominent, with three visible elevations to the north, south, and west. The ground floor of the building is dedicated to commercial space and extends from Great Jones to Bond Street. Due to zoning and site constraints, the massing of the west facade is set back, with eight floors of office space rising midway through the elevation. The development’s facade is defined by horizontal and vertical bands of white brick, produced by Belden/Tristate Brick, which frame a charcoal-colored terra-cotta curtain wall. For the color scheme and materiality of 363 Lafayette, Morris Adjmi reinterpreted the area’s historically narrow terracotta mullions, window surrounds, and brick piers, into a much wider layout. Designed by the firm and crafted by Buffalo’s Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC), the geometric pattern of the terra-cotta reliefs was conceived by the design team as an abstraction of neighboring Classical and Richardsonian Romanesque detailing. The custom-made terra-cotta rainscreen was installed on BVTC’s TerraClad clip system that attaches to a perimeter concrete beam and a medium-gauge framing wall. A series of gaskets and isolators allow the system to adjust to thermal expansion while reducing wind-induced vibration. Elongated rectangular windows, fabricated by TriStar with Win-Vent frames and Vitro Glass, are placed between chamfered terra-cotta mullions. Why does the building twist? Lafayette Street used to proceed north from Great Jones Street until the end of the 19th century when the street was excavated from the IRT subway. The excavation of the street led to the creation of odd-shaped sites, such as 363 Lafayette. According to the design team, “the building’s twist serves to reflect the cut of the street and to architecturally engage the setback with the lower portion of the building.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Power to the People

How an architect is using solar power to prevent Puerto Rico’s next disaster
Like millions of other Americans, Jonathan Marvel, founding principal at Marvel Architects, remembers watching media coverage stream in from Puerto Rico in September 2017 after Hurricane Maria struck the island. The devastation was extraordinary. As later studies would reveal, an estimated 2,975 people died as a result of the storm and 3.4 million people lost power. It was one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike the U.S.  Now, one year after Maria, Marvel and his partners at Resilient Power Puerto Rico (RPPR) are building a series of solar installations that are bringing emergency power to community centers in informal settlements across the island. Using state-of-the-art Tesla Powerwall batteries, RPPR has enabled these centers to generate solar power during good weather and store it for the blackouts that follow hurricanes and other disasters. Local people can use the centers as shelters where they can charge their phones to find their loved ones, store perishable food, or power life-saving home healthcare devices. The goal of the group was not to rebuild the island's existing infrastructure after Maria, but to provide a new resilient system that would support informal communities when the next storm would inevitably arrive. “When Maria hit," Marvel said, "it hit home.”  Marvel had just returned from Puerto Rico when Maria arrived. He had been helping his mother, who lives on the island, recover from Hurricane Irma, which had blown through only two weeks before. Rather than just sending money to aid organizations, Marvel worked with friends and colleagues Cristina Roig-Morris, ESQ, and José J. Terrasa-Soler, ASLA, to do what architects do best: design a solution to a problem. “Architects jump in,” Marvel said. “We’re the first responders from the professional world. We’re trained to think comprehensively; we’re trained to put the social impact first and foremost.” Rather than tackling the entire enormity of the disaster, Marvel's team focused on power. Electricity, as Marvel put it, "is the basis of all things in the 21st century,” and according to CNN, the hurricane caused the worst blackout in U.S. history. The goal of the group was not to restore electricity to the whole island; that would be an enormous task and one that a slew of government agencies were already working on. Instead, they looked at how they could create supports in the electrical web to catch the most vulnerable when they fell. RPPR’s solution is straightforward but steps neatly aside of the established way of doing things. “We’ve been very deliberate to stay outside of local politics and federal politics,” Marvel said. Instead, the group looked for creative solutions permissible under existing laws. The sun being an abundant resource on the tropical island, solar power provided an obvious place to start exploring possibilities, but they found there were restrictions on what they could do with private generation. “Before Maria, there was a lot of solar power, but it was illegal to store with batteries,” Marvel said. “After Maria, batteries were allowed without permits, which allowed us to start our system legally. But we still can’t distribute past the property line.” Across the country, small-scale solar generation is tightly regulated by power authorities that have been accused of trying to squash home power generation so that utilities can maintain a monopoly on the electricity market. Puerto Rico allowed domestic power storage in Maria's wake, but still would not allow RPPR to create an alternative power network. RPPR would have to make the most of small-scale installations. Doing a lot with a little is a common practice in Puerto Rico, where resources don't always flow as easily as they do on the mainland. Marvel’s mother, the architect and planner Lucilla Fuller Marvel, had worked extensively with community centers in informal settlements across the island (her book Listen to What They Say presented a bottom-up approach to planning in Puerto Rico), and the group realized that they could focus on powering existing hubs. By installing solar panels and batteries, each community center was able to serve a broad population with relatively little effort. “Each site serves a population about 3,000–5,000 people because of the density,” Marvel said. Thousands of people are able to take advantage of the basic amount of electricity available at each installation during post-disaster blackouts when the central power grid collapses. The focus on informal communities also helped RPPR avoid federal bureaucracy, which, Marvel said, “was completely caught off guard.” While President Trump has recently insisted that his administration got “A Pluses” for their response to the storm, Marvel saw the situation differently: “The federal government does not have a great track record on the lower 48 when it comes to hurricane recovery…but states really help each other out." Puerto Rico, being an island and a relatively isolated territory in the Carribbean, is often forced to go it alone. "Puerto Rico doesn’t have anybody waiting to help. The governor of Puerto Rico was counting on the feds…but the feds didn’t step it up.” When it came to designing the installations, RPPR focused on efficacy rather than looking for a flashy, aesthetically-driven design. Panels are installed in prosaic rooftop setups, but Marvel said that he looked for lessons from what survived the storm when it came time for detailing, and the results have proved resilient. The project’s successes have won new backers and collaborators, and enabled it to broaden its ambitions. Tesla joined the project by providing their home storage batteries, and a variety of foundations have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in support. Now the project has 28 installations across the island, with 30 more in the pipeline. RPPR and Marvel’s work in Puerto Rico tells the story of a resilient network of communities, badly battered but bouncing back from catastrophe. It’s far from the narrative perpetuated by the current presidential administration, which maintains that the federal government saved a helpless island from impending doom. The project also presents a model for how architects can engage with their communities aside from multimillion-dollar cultural projects or philanthropic endeavors in remote countries. “I think it is very easy for architects to jump into these disasters and think of these solutions. Architects are really well equipped and we do it all the time.” The design’s success comes not out of formal gymnastics or phenomenological effects, but from the social and political structures the project engages and builds on. Ultimately, Marvel credited the served communities for the project’s success. “It’s a generous population,” he said. “They open up their hearts and their houses to each other.” The project shows that when people are willing to lend a helping hand, powerful resilience is possible.
Placeholder Alt Text

Shadow Boxer

SOM rethinks city hall design with a new energy-efficient skin
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
SOM has designed a master plan for downtown Long Beach, California, which involves new mixed-use developments across a 22-acre area. The Long Beach City Hall and Port Headquarters complex, comprising two new buildinds, is the first outcome of this planning effort. The project, led by SOM in collaboration with Syska Hennessy Group, Clark Construction Group, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls International, is part of the largest public-private development on the West Coast, attracting attention and visits from municipalities across the country. The project team was able to reduce risk to the public side through a public-private partnership with a facilities operation maintenance (P3FOM) delivery method.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Industries
  • Architects SOM
  • Facade Installer Benson Industries; Clark Construction Group, LLC (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Benson/SOM/Clark (facade development); Nabih Youssef Associates (structural analysis)
  • Location Long Beach, CA
  • Date of Completion 2019 (projected)
  • System curtain wall
  • Products unitized facade assembled by Benson from insulated glass (Viracon), extruded aluminum, formed aluminum (City Hall building), and shadow boxes composed of extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face (Port building)
The project will replace Long Beach’s old city hall while adding new civic and infrastructure amenities such as parking, landscaping, a library, and marketplace. The two new buildings are identical in massing and proportion, utilizing long and narrow floor plates with split cores to offer better connections between interior and exterior environments. Syska Hennessy Group, the MEP and sustainable design consultant on the project, said the building's operating costs and carbon footprint were designed to be 50 percent lower than those of a standard office building. This was achieved through a collaborative design process involving preliminary energy modeling, solar shading studies, and building system schematic sketches to help resolve architectural and programmatic decisions. The primary feature of the project is an underfloor air conditioning system integrated into the floor plate structure. The design approach allows for taller ceiling heights and yields improved daylighting and aesthetics by exposing the ceiling finishes. Syska said the project is targeting LEED Gold certification, with all buildings exceeding ASHRAE 90.1-2007 by at least 22 percent before renewables are taken into account, and 34 percent after. Exterior curtain walls are composed of insulated glass manufactured by Viracon. The glazing is integrated into extruded aluminum framing fabricated and painted in Korea. The components were sent to Benson Industries' assembly shop located in Tijuana, Mexico, where they were assembled into unitized systems. This approach minimized costly labor on the job site. Subtle detailing differences emerged on the building envelope, which is composed of unitized facades fabricated and installed by Benson. At City Hall, the facade features solid white panels made from formed aluminum, while units with shadow boxes at the Port building are made from extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face. These “shadow box” assemblies were carefully designed to be contextual and were inspired by colors and textures taken from shipping containers at the nearby Long Beach Port. The project, currently under construction, is scheduled for a late-2019 opening.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Pretty Penny

SHoP’s American Copper Buildings wear a skin designed to age gracefully
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The aptly named American Copper Buildings, two copper-clad towers designed by SHoP Architects on Manhattan’s First Avenue between East 35th and 36th Streets, rise to 48 and 41 stories respectively. The two towers, “bent” in the middle, are linked by the first new sky bridge in New York City in more than 80 years.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Jangho, ELICC Group
  • Architects SHoP Architects
  • Facade Installer Jangho, ELICC Group
  • Facade Consultants Buro Happold Engineering
  • Location New York City
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Unitized aluminum frame system mounted to slab edges
  • Products SEFAR® VISION Fabric, Copper composite panel with fire-retardant core and stainless-steel backing
The panels that give the buildings their name are made with a copper composite that includes a fire-retardant core layer and a stainless-steel backing. The facade system is a unitized aluminum frame mounted to the buildings’ slab edges. When asked about the material choice, Ayumi Sugiyama, director of cultural projects at SHoP, told AN, “We love our ‘live’ materials at SHoP, using metals that continue to oxidize and have an evolving appearance and where the oxidation of the material protects or preserves itself.” The project team considered many metal alloys for the towers but chose copper because of its transition over time from a bright, shiny material into a darker brown finish and finally to a green patina. “It’s a material New Yorkers are familiar with—we see it on our Statue of Liberty and the roofs of iconic buildings such as the Woolworth Building,” said Sugiyama. Along with the richness and patina of the copper, SHoP aimed to create a facade that used texture and variation to accentuate the form of the buildings. The firm did this by staggering the patterns of the panels emanating from the sky bridge. The overall pattern seems complex at first glance, however, the system was standardized for ease of fabrication and installation. Each unit used one of four typical window sizes. The sky bridge itself, a 100-foot-long, three-story structure, is clad in glass with an aluminum mesh interlayer. The mesh fabric is a contrast from the copper of the two towers and seems opaque from the exterior. The aluminum finish faces the exterior, while the interior is painted black and visually recedes, allowing for views of the city. The fabric interlayer also improves thermal performance by reducing solar gain.
Placeholder Alt Text

Lens Flare

This concrete screen wall was inspired by the proportions of camera lenses
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The Fort Worth Camera building, a new photography studio and retail space, is surrounded by notable concrete neighbors, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth by Tadao Ando and the Kimball Art Museum by Louis Kahn. Ibanez Shaw Architecture responded with its own concrete novelty inspired by the building’s program.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Tim Pulliam Concrete (concrete sub-contractor/installer) Fort Construction (general contractor), PPG (low e Solarban)
  • Architects Ibanez Shaw Architecture
  • Facade Installer Tim Pulliam Concrete (concrete sub-contractor/installer), Fort Construction (general contractor, steel glass system fabricator), United Glass (glazing)
  • Facade Consultants HnH (structural engineer), W.J. Simpson Co. (concrete shop drawings)
  • Location Fort Worth, Texas
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Tilt-up site-cast concrete panels, steel plate window enclosure
  • Products PPG low e Solarban glass, site cast concrete panels by Tim Pullium Concrete
The primary facade is a site-cast concrete panel system which used tilt-up construction with steel anchors cast into the wall. The concrete wraps the perimeter of the building and transitions into an aperture screen on its most prominent street frontage. Ibanez Shaw decided upon concrete as the best material because security was a major concern for the client. The concrete provided protection at the street level and all the glazing on the building was either elevated above ground or made too small for a human to fit through. The seven standard aperture settings of a camera lens inspired the design of the concrete feature wall. The shape and proportions of the apertures were directly translated from these lenses and then modified to make them into standard-size openings. The formwork for the wall was made by gluing wood blocks together, which were then vacuum formed into fiberglass. The array of 25 fiberglass shapes were filled with grout and then cast around to create the screen wall. Because each hole is conical in shape, the aperture wall faces toward the interior and allows light and views into the courtyard. Across the courtyard from the concrete screen is a glass wall that allows views into the studio spaces. There was some initial concern about how the concrete would turn out. Bart Shaw, principal of Ibanez Shaw Architecture, told AN that with concrete, “you never know what’s going to come out. This big perforated concrete wall is going to sit across from the museum district, and when they lifted it out of the formwork it was pretty incredible.” The fiberglass formwork gave each aperture a smooth finish and release which contributed to the aesthetic of the wall. Aside from the concrete aperture wall, there is another distinguishable feature to the facade: a large window with a yellow steel enclosure. This glazing fronts a children's area on the interior and creates a framed window nook that faces the adjacent residential neighborhood. It is also the only glazing on the north facade of the building. The rest of the glazing fills the east and west facades.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fiber Cloud

Morphosis Architects created a cloud-like facade using reinforced fiber modules
  • Architects Morphosis
  • Facade Contractors/Suppliers POSCO (Steel Curtain Wall), ALU EnC (Aluminum Curtain Wall), Korea Carbon (GFRP), Korea Tech-Wall (GFRC), Han Glass (Glass), Steel Life (Interior Liner)
  • Facade Consultants Arup, FACO
  • Location Seoul, South Korea
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Brise-soleil system on the main, west-facing facade
  • Products Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) using one of Kolon’s own high-tech fabrics, Aramid
Magok is an emerging techno-industrial hub located on the outskirts of South Korea’s capital, Seoul. In 2013, The Kolon Group—a multinational corporation and leading Korean textile manufacturer—approached Morphosis Architects for a new consolidated headquarters within the district. The goal? A wholly unique design capable of housing the conglomerate’s diverse divisions while showcasing its array of manufactured products.

After half a decade of design and construction, the 820,000-square-foot Kolon One & Only Tower opened on August 23, 2018.

The project follows Founding Principal Thom Mayne’s preference for hyper-engineered, non-traditional forms. Sloped planes and yawning fissures wave across the facade and interior.

Carbon fiber–reinforced concrete piers, rising at acute and obtuse angles, are the primary compressive support for the structure.

The atrium is a vast space measuring approximately 140 feet tall and 330 feet long and provides inward and outward views. Dubbed “The Grand Stair” by the design team, the centrally-placed path of movement is meant to serve as a quasi-public space and a facilitator of vertical and horizontal circulation. Morphosis has lined the entire height of the atrium with 400 fiber-reinforced translucent polymer panels measuring 30 feet wide. Produced by Kolon, the panels are fastened to the interior structure by stainless steel armatures.

The west-facing facade has a dramatic inflection that defines the structure’s exterior. Morphosis describes the main facade as “an interconnected array of sunshades that form a monolithic outer skin, analogous to woven fabric.” The woven embellishment—featuring the Kolon-produced Aramid, a reinforced fiber with a greater tensile strength than iron—was designed parametrically to balance the interior’s need for outward vistas and shading requirements. Stan Su, director of enclosure design at Morphosis, views the sprawling sunscreen as carrying a “cloud-like plasticity in form while maintaining a remarkably high tensile strength.”

Each knot of “woven fabric” is fastened to the curtainwall with traditional stainless steel brackets that cut through exterior joints to the steel mullions that ring the structure.

While the western elevation is the primary face of the development, the facility was designed holistically. Stan Su states that “the pared-back embellishment of the three other elevations is a response to their interior functions; lab and office blocks comprise what can be considered the rear of the building.” The curtain wall wrapping these elevations largely consists of Han Glass’s low-iron glass and ALU EnC produced aluminum cladding, a measure to match the clear view and visibility requirements of the client.

In a bid to secure LEED Gold Certification, Morphosis added a number of sustainable and environmentally-friendly interventions; Kolon One & Only Tower is decked with a green roof, solar photovoltaic panels, and geothermal heating and cooling mechanisms. Additionally, Morphosis reduced concrete use by 30 percent through a bubble deck slab system which uses plastic balls as a form of reinforcement. Further projects by Morphosis Architects will be discussed during Facades+ LA October 25-26.
Placeholder Alt Text

Desert Green

Mexico is building Latin America’s largest solar installation
While the current American government squanders time and opportunity in the pursuit of short-term profit by imposing disruptive tariffs and curtailing sustainability-focused goals, Mexico is powering ahead with a broad effort to generate up to 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2024.

As a part of that transformative effort—until recent years, Mexico’s energy industry operated as an oil-forward, state-run monopoly that was one of the world’s largest crude oil producers—Italian energy giant Enel is working on a 2,900-acre solar panel installation in the state of Coahuila that will generate enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes by year’s end.

The gigantic installation covers more area than 2,200 football fields and will yield the largest solar installation within Latin America and the largest outside of China and India, QCR reports. The installation will be made up of 2.3 million solar panels that are designed to move with the sun in order to generate the largest possible amount of renewable energy and will be joined in coming years by a slew of new solar installations. And while the American solar business has been booming in recent years, efforts by the Trump administration to knee-cap the country’s sustainable energy revolution with new tariffs have helped to ensure that the positive economic benefits of this energy transformation will be enjoyed by foreign firms. In Mexico’s case, it is European companies that will see the greatest reward: According to QCR, Spanish energy firm Iberdrola is building two solar parks in Mexico, with Holland’s Alten, Britain’s Atlas Renewable Energy, and Enel each working on additional installations of their own. Enel is working on a pair of wind farms in Mexico, as well. Despite Trump’s fossil fuel–oriented approach to energy policy, the American green energy movement continues to grow at a healthy clip. A recent report indicates that roughly 18% of America’s energy comes from renewable sources, a figure that is greatly surpassed in states like California, where officials recently moved to require solar panels on all new homes starting in 2020. The state recently hit its 2020 30 percent renewable energy goal two years early, and last year, the state’s California Independent System Operator, an outfit that tracks energy production, briefly reported that a whopping 67 percent of California’s energy came from renewable sources. To boot, a 2017 report from the United States Department of Energy found that the solar industry alone employed more American workers than all of the fossil fuel industries combined. For now, government-led energy reforms in Mexico are due to move ahead amid their own presidential transition while America continues to rely on the private sector for its energy transformation.
Placeholder Alt Text

Deux Face

Aluminum complements wood in this office building’s woven skin
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Laval, a town in western France town historically known for the manufacturing of fine linens, has received a new 24,000-square-foot, three-story office building featuring unique ornate screening systems. Designed by Paris-based Périphériques on a small parcel of land, the project supports a growing culture of startup companies by bringing together multiple organizations with large shared collective spaces. The relatively straightforward massing of the building comprises a subtly shaped box defined by required setbacks and two subtractive cuts for daylight penetration, punctuated by a central wood-clad courtyard and roof terrace.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer WICONA
  • Architects Périphériques
  • Facade Installer ISORE; MIRO (construction)
  • Facade Consultants Egis Bâtiments Centre Ouest (technical engineer)
  • Location Laval, France
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Reinforced concrete frame with timber and aluminum screens
  • Products Perforated metal corners, mirrored stainless steel siding by ISORE
The courtyard massing scheme sets up two primary facade responses: an external perforated aluminum screen and an internal, diagonally installed wood screen. The architects said the main goal for these two assemblies was to create different atmospheres, a device to mediate the surrounding landscape, and an intimate courtyard patio. “The perforated metal offers a way to observe the landscape from inside the office and creates a kinetic effect from the outside,” said Emmanuelle Marin, principal at Périphériques. The primary external facades are organized into approximately 18-inch modules defined by vertical floor-to-ceiling bands of glazing interspersed with insulated metal panels. Perforated bronze and silver–colored aluminum angles were set at contrasting angles to produce what the architects call a “kinetic screen.” This solar shading device is attached back to the primary facade slab edge. The spacing and overlap of the two layers of aluminum are responsive to solar orientation and internal program. The courtyard is lined with a timber sunscreen composed of four-inch thick horizontal members set at a slight inclination set along a 4-foot grid. A continuous pathway framed by the building envelope wraps the courtyard on the inside, and an interior glass wall buffers noise and filters daylight. HVAC and plumbing systems are organized along this pathway for efficient, centralized distribution.    Marin said one of the successes of the project is the softening of the urban environment, achieved by the courtyard massing and wood cladding. “The acoustics within the courtyard patios are very interesting, producing an effect that makes the outdoors feel more like an interior space.”  
Placeholder Alt Text

Curtain Call

The Ballet Memphis building shines behind a corrugated copper curtain
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The new home for Ballet Memphis, designed by archimania, reveals itself in layers. It is an upgrade from their previous facility which the company had outgrown and was located outside of an urban context. The new Ballet Memphis building is designed to engage the public through movement, culture, and connection to the community. It houses rehearsal space for the professional dance company, a dance school for over 200 children, and community dance and pilates classes. The largest rehearsal studio also doubles as a performance venue.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Ralph Jones Sheet Metal (corrugated copper panels), Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (glazing), PAC-CLAD (metapanels)
  • Architects archimania
  • Facade Installer Ralph Jones Sheet Metal (metals), Cooper Glass company (glazing)
  • Facade Consultants Smith Seckman Reid. Inc (structural engineer)
  • Location Memphis, Tennessee
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Corrugated copper screen, metal rainscreen, curtain wall
  • Products Natural copper metal panels corrugated and perforated to specifications, PPG solarban 70XL glazing units, PAC-CLAD weathered zinc metal panels
The facade consists of a corrugated copper screen fronting the sidewalk and a series of courtyards, a glass curtain wall at ground level, and a weathered zinc rainscreen above. From the beginning, the project team at archimania wanted the building to extend the historic street promenade but current setback codes required the building to sit further from the sidewalk. The copper screen brings the building's presence to the sidewalk and ties back into the rest of the structure. The corrugated copper screen wraps around the entirety of the building. The portions of the facade facing the street are perforated to allow visibility and light into the building while also acting as a brise soleil and shading the building from direct solar radiation. Facing the parking lot at the back of the building, the copper consists of solid panels with punched windows. Although the copper screen is mostly freestanding, it is tied back to the primary structure through a robust steel frame. Structural members had to be larger than usual due to the building’s location in a seismic zone. However, the design of the screen reduces the visual profile of the structure through flush detailing and a copper trim that surrounds every edge. One of the challenges the architects faced with the screen was its length. When detailing an uninterrupted four-hundred-foot wall, they wanted to break up the scale so that it wouldn’t overpower the street. The design of the screen responds to the meandering path of pedestrians through specific cuts into the elevation. These apertures create unique urban spaces that exist between the ballet’s street presence and the primary mass of the building. A glass curtain wall clads the majority of the building’s ground level at a height of either twelve feet or twenty feet dependent on the size of the studio behind it. This creates a visual connection between pedestrians passing the ballet and allows for views of the performances and practice happening within the studios. The facade transitions to an opaque weathered zinc panel as the building rises in height. For the largest ballet studio, there is a layer of perforated zinc over the top half of the curtain wall that controls the amount of daylight permeating the space. Additionally, on the interior of the curtain wall, archimania included an operable shading system for another layer of both daylight and privacy control. At the moment where the zinc facade meets the sky, Ballet Memphis wanted a unique formal move to signify its presence. The largest studio space rises up to five stories and creates a swooping parapet inspired by the movement of dancers. This allowed the building to have a signature cap and redefined the scale of the largest studio as it rises on each corner.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Prime Paradise

How Amazon achieved crystal clarity in its glass domes

NBBJ designed a trio of connected glass orbs with living walls at the new Seattle headquarters for online retail giant Amazon. According to an announcement on Amazon’s blog, the spherical design—a project seven years in the making—was “chosen due to its natural occurrence in nature and as a nod to historic conservatories, like Kew Gardens.” This atypical meeting place away from the typical office towers provides a treehouse-like environment for employees, complete with terraces, water features, soaring staircases, and wooden decking.

The construction required more than 620 tons of steel supported by a burly concrete base to buttress the triangular insulated glass units fashioned from modularized Vitro glass. The open floor plan comprised three spherical units enveloped in Ultra-clear Vitro Starphire low-iron glass, which allows for higher visible light transmission, heightening views from multiple angles. “Iron is what makes glass appear green," said Andre Kenstowicz, Vitro Glass manager on the project. "Low iron Starphire glass eliminates the 'green' hue of traditional clear glass so the only green that you see is from the 300 species of tropical plants inside of the Amazon Spheres.” There are around 40,000 plants in the project.

Like all three domes, the largest is glazed by the contractor Enclos with Vitro’s Solarban Solar Control 60 Low-E coating in double laminate, measuring approximately 90 feet tall and 130 feet wide. All 2,643 panels of glass achieve 73 percent visible light transmittance and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.40 across the visibly sinuous surface. This film beneath the surface limits the amount of radiation entering and consequently helps the interior to remain a stable, cool temperature.

NBBJ designed this biophilic environment to “inspire creativity and even improve brain function," according to the company’s blog. Luckily the public also has year-round access to the stimulating habitat at the base of the garden in the visitor center. There, in the thick of it, Seattleites can experience biodiversity in the heart of the city.

Architect: NBBJ

Location: Seattle

Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Glass Manufacturer: Vitro Architectural Glass, Northwestern Industries, Kuraray

Glass Fabricator:  Northwestern Industries, Inc.

Glazing Contractor: Enclos

Placeholder Alt Text

(Not Actually a Mansion)

BIG’s Shenzhen International Energy Mansion looks better than the renderings
Long after the golden era of corporate modernist skyscrapers (think Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, SOM’s Lever House, and so on), many contemporary office skyscrapers are still designed with traditional glass curtain walls that have low insulation and cause overheating from unnecessary direct sunlight. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) conjured an otherworldly alternative for Shenzhen International Energy Mansion: a sawtooth, zigzagging curtain wall comprising glass panels and powder-coated aluminum that blocks direct sunlight, thereby reducing solar gain by up to 30 percent. The 1-million-square-foot structure is composed of two towers and a nine-story connecting block complete with a shared cafeteria, conference rooms, and various retail shops: The uppermost 13 floors of the 42-story north tower houses the Shenzhen Energy Mansion headquarters. As a starting point, BIG considered the subtropical climate in Shenzhen, gauging how they could create comfortable working spaces in hot and humid conditions while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The solution? A passive facade. “Our proposal for Shenzhen Energy Mansion enhances the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade,” said Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and design director at BIG. Collaborating with Transsolar, the design studio dedicated to addressing climate change, the firm employed various solutions to reduce solar-derived heat and glare without relying on machines or heavy glass coating (which would make views out seem gray and bleak). The building has achieved two out of three stars with the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label and a LEED Gold rating. BIG and Transsolar developed a multifaceted passive program with a facade folded in an origami-like shape consisting of closed and open subsections. The closed sections provide high insulation values by blocking direct sunlight. “With solid facade panels on the southeast and southwest side for shading, the glazed facade facing northwest and northeast is able to achieve high sustainability requirements with more clarity and less coating,” said Pedersen. All in all, the effect enhances the environmentally sustainable performance of the building and creates an office mise-en-scène bathed in soft light reflected from the direct sunlight diffused between interior panels. Meanwhile, the double glazing applied to the low-e tempered Super Energy-Saving Insulated Glass Units (IGU) by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass on the folded facade provides open views through the clear glass in one direction via a series of simple deformations in the geometry that allows for larger openings. These interjecting pockets of glass create cavernous folds that interrupt the smooth facade in various interior areas, including lobbies, recreational areas, and meeting areas. This seemingly precarious arrangement of views is made possible by the aluminum cladding's comprising full-height extruded panels that form a meandering profile. The setup enables the panel system to interlock smoothly, creating a uniform surface with almost seamless joints. A profile of twists and turns accentuates the reflections of light. In effect, these solid facade panels located on the southeast and southwest sides directly obstruct solar penetration. “The amount of insulation used in the curtain wall is a result of optimization between visibility and sustainability,” said Pedersen. Location: Shenzhen, China Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group Consulting Architect: SADI Shenzhen Architecture and Design Institute Contractor: CSCEC Engineer: ARUP Facade Consultants: Front, Inc. and Aurecon Facade Contractor: Fangda Group Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar Glass Manufacturer, Supplier, Glazing: Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group Co., Ltd Windows: Aumüller Exterior Cladding Panels: Xingfa Aluminum