Search results for "Facades+ AM"

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one panel to rule them all

This New Zealand library beams with luminous aluminum and indigenous motifs
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The 2011 Christchurch earthquake devastated much of New Zealand's capital city, knocking down or severely compromising civic buildings across the metropolitan area. Located within the cordoned off Central City Red Zone, the Christchurch Central Library was closed to the public for three years prior to its ultimate demolition in 2014. Completed in October 2018, the new Central Library, titled Turanga after the Māori word for base or foundation, designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects features a luminous perforated aluminum veil that cloaks a seismically engineered unitized curtain wall assembly.

The 102,000-square-foot library rests atop a rectangular stone-clad podium detailed with expansive representations of Māori artwork. Rising to a height of five stories, the facade fissures to orient itself toward local geographic landmarks, including the mountain ranges of Maungatere, Ka Tiritiri o te Moana, and Horomaka.

 
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Alutec (curtain wall), Metal Concept (veil), Southbase Construction
  • Architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Architectus
  • Facade Consultants Mott Macdonald, Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers
  • Location Christ Church, New Zealand
  • Date of Completion October 2018
  • System Unitized glass curtain wall with clip-on cassette metal veil
  • Products Metal Concepts perforated aluminum sheets, Alutec unitized thermally broken aluminum curtain wall

The principal facade element, a wedge-shaped aluminum perforated panel system, was designed as an oversized evocation of the native evergreen species used for traditional Māori textiles. Each panel is approximately a standard height of just under five feet, with widths varying between two, four, and six feet. Similar to the flexibility considerations of the concrete structural system, the design team placed an open joint between each story of perforated panels to allow for differential movement during a seismic event.

For the golden veil that courses across the facade, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects coordinated with local fabricator of architectural metalwork, Metal Concepts. The aluminum sheets were pre-anodized to ensure color consistency and were subsequently cut, perforated, and folded into their respective shapes. To connect the panels to the curtainwall assembly, each is outfitted with a slotted hole at the rear of the frame which is fastened to a series of hooks extending from the story-height mullions of the unitized curtain wall. 

The perforations of the aluminum panels follow an approximately 2.5-square-inch triangular grid, with an indentation located on the corners of each triangle. Measuring just under an inch in diameter, the perforations play two roles; accentuating the depth and texture of the facade–the luminosity of the aluminum panels intensifies at sunset–and filtering light through the glass curtain wall.

For the design team, which worked in collaboration with Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers, one of the crucial considerations for the facade and structural systems was durability during a future seismic event. According to the architects, this seismic force-resisting system is composed of a series of flexible concrete walls that shift during earthquake accelerations. With a system of “high tensile, pre-tensioned steel cables that clamp the wall to the foundations with approximately 1,000 tons of force per wall,” the building is capable of returning to its original position following a sizable earthquake.

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New New Brutalism

OMA completes Brutalist-inspired tower in Stockholm
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The first of two new OMA-designed Brutalist-inspired towers, known as Norra Tornen, has officially been opened in Stockholm, Sweden. The 125-meter-tall residential tower is the tallest in the city, and when joined by its partner will act as a major gateway into the city.
  • Facade Manufacturer SCF Betongelement AB
  • Architects OMA
  • Facade Installer Havator
  • Facade Consultants Arup
  • Location Stockholm, Sweden
  • Date of Completion September 2018
  • System pre-cast concrete modules
  • Products Robotically bush hammered stone aggregate concrete panels
Formally and materially, the project is defined by 5,000 prefabricated panels, which also act as the main framework for the building. The “sandwich” panels include all the wall systems, including the windows, insulation, and exterior facade. This system, which is manufactured in Sweden, means that construction can happen at a breakneck speed, with new floors rising by the week. The facade is composed of robotically bush-hammered multi-colored stone aggregate concrete panels. From a distance, the tan concrete form of the building makes the Brutalist reference very clear. Upon closer inspection, the striated articulation of the concrete is highlighted by large pink, yellow, red, and brown aggregate embodied along the panels' ribs. Thanks to the pixelated form of the building, the facade’s surface area is greatly increased. This provides space for more windows, to capture as much fleeting Nordic sunlight as possible, as well as numerous recessed terraces for the temperate summers. It is also on these terraces that the finely finished facade can best be experienced. This articulation of form and choice of material ended up being the major architectural moves of the project, as the overall shape of the building was inherited by developer Oscar Properties from an earlier design by a city architect. OMA partner and lead designer of Norra Tornen, Reinier de Graaf was on hand for the opening of the building saying, “With a limited articulation of a given form, without breaking any rules, we were able to produce something that was quite different, quite surprising.” He continued to discuss the link between the industrial processes of building the prefabricated tower and its form. “It’s about repetition. It's about repeating one detail, in and out, and reversing it every other floor. And from the one repetitive industrial detail we can produce something highly varied.” When the second tower is completed next year the two towers will in some ways bring Brutalist architecture full circle. The term “Nybrutalism,” was first used in Sweden by famed local architect Hans Asplund in the 1950s and made famous by Reyner Banham. With the recent popularity of Brutalism in academic circles and preservation efforts around the world, it was only a matter of time before a major contemporary project be completed in the much-maligned style.
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Seeing Through the Rain

Facades+ Seattle will trace the rise of Pacific Northwest design
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Over the last three decades, Seattle has experienced explosive population and economic growth, that has fundamentally reshaped the city’s architectural makeup as well as its AEC community’s relationship to national and international trends. On December 7, Facades+ Seattle will bring together local practitioners in an in-depth conversation around recent projects and innovative facade materials and design. Consider architecture and design practice Olson Kundig. Founded in 1966, the firm has established an international reputation for blending high-performance enclosure systems with the craftsmanship of local artists and artisans. Principal Blair Payson will serve as co-chair for the conference, with other principals of the practice moderating the three panels.
  • Co-Chair Blair Payson, Principal Olson Kundig
  • Firms Olson Kundig Gensler Katerra PAE Front Inc. Werner Sobek Thornton Tomasetti Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Panels Integrated Envelopes: New Project Delivery Workflows Envelope Performance: Current Trends in Codes, Energy and Comfort Envelope Design: Innovations in Facade Materials and Design
  • Location Seattle
  • Date December 7, 2018
One such project is the recently completed Kirkland Museum in Denver, which features an array of glazed terracotta baguettes produced by NBK Terracotta arranged in a unique alternating pattern, and amber-colored glass inserts produced by small-scale manufacturer John Lewis Glass Studio based out of Oakland, California. The firm collaborated with local sculptor Bob Vangold to embed a sculptural form within the facade. To achieve this effect, the sculpture is anchored along the horizontal roof edge with a series of base plates. On a larger scale, the Olson Kundig-led renovation of Seattle’s Space Needle recently wrapped up after 11 months of sky-high construction. The project entailed the removal of decades of haphazardly designed additions in favor of an open-air viewing area. Working with facade consultants Front Inc., the design team converted floors within the top of the Space Needle to transparent glass panels providing revolving views on the city below, and wrapped the observation deck with 11-by-7-foot, 2.5-inch-thick glass panels produced by Thiele Glas and installed by a team of robots designed by Breedt Production. Just south of Seattle’s Space Needle, the trio of Amazon Spheres consists of approximately 2,500 glass panels suspended over a complex steel truss system. Collaborating with NBBJ Architects, Front Inc. led exhaustive case studies, with the help of custom-built software tools, to develop a glass tiling scheme matching visibility requirements for occupants and light exposure for the greenhouse within. Following the creation of multiple digital models, Front Inc. led the fabrication of full-scale mockups of the design to test the computer-generated models. Representatives of these two firms, as well as Gensler, Katerra, Werner Sobek, Thornton Tomasetti, and Eckersley O'Callaghan, will be on hand to dive deeper into the architectural resources and trends present in both Seattle and the rest of the country. Further information regarding Facades+AM Seattle may be found here.
 
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Más Maas

Winy Maas will be the new editor in chief of Domus (but not for long)
Winy Maas, cofounder of MVRDV, is about to take on a new role that he, even with his wildly accomplished career, has never previously taken on. He will be the new editor in chief of Domus, the storied Italian architecture magazine. But, alas, not all things can last forever. He will only direct the publication for 10 issues to be released in 2019. His tenure will be a part of the magazine's 10x10x10 strategy, which aims to put 10 prominent designers behind the editorial helm over the next 10 years, each one overseeing 10 issues each. Maas will be the second participant, the first having been Italian architect and designer Michele De Lucchi, who was in charge for 2018. The magazine, however, is no stranger to having a design professional at the helm. Gio Ponti founded the media outlet in 1928, an event which will be commemorated by the completion of the 10x10x10 project in 2028. In a statement, Maas laid out his vision for his reign:
We need an agenda for change. Our planet is subject to dramatic climate changes that require all of us—politicians, urban planners, and citizens—to accelerate our action to save it. But we are still too slow. Domus will act as such an agenda.
The issues will focus on "the city of the future," and will collectively comprise a unified product once complete. Maas put forward a series of questions that will shape his editorial position:
Can our cities surprise us? Can they be more responsible? More open? More curious? Brave and experimental? Truly green? Bio-diversified? Human, social, intimate, accessible, free, heterogeneous? Different? Can they be pleasant, beautiful, exciting?
He also called for things to be better:
Better materials, better bathrooms, better facades, better houses, better cities, and a better world, which ranges from the mass production of cars to bricks, from roads to infrastructure, including nanomaterials, and large-scale planning.
Readers will be able to get their hands on this better magazine in January when the first issue is scheduled to come out.
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Pilkington Spacia™: Innovation for historic restoration

It is well known that in recent years, and in years to come, energy codes for buildings have and will continue to become stricter. This is driven by a desire to reduce the environmental impact of a building as well as to reduce the cost to maintain that building.

One area that many look to when trying to improve a building is in its windows. Older buildings, created decades ago, or longer, were fitted with single pieces of monolithic glass, providing poor insulation. Eventually, IGUs, or insulated glass units, were created to improve insulation. IGUs were created using 2 pieces of glass and a spacer and therefore were much thicker than the original windows. Unfortunately, this meant choosing improved insulation at the sacrifice of the building's original appearance. Additionally, switching to the IGUs also meant the costly process of ripping out the original window sashes.

Finally, VIG, or Vacuum Insulated Glazing was created to provide the best of both worlds. Pilkington Spacia™ is the first commercially available vacuum insulated glazing product and it provides the thermal insulation of an IGU at the thickness of a standard monolithic piece of glass. Pilkington Spacia™ is now available in North America.

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Spotlight on the City

National Building Museum chronicles Baltimore’s urban history through movie theaters
A new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., chronicles the stunning and somewhat sad history of cinema houses in America’s Charm City. Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters opens tomorrow, November 17, showcasing the work of award-winning Baltimore Sun photographer Amy Davis. The show is based on Davis’s year-old book of the same name, which features 72 Baltimore buildings photographed from 1896 to today. Collected over a decade, her colorful documentary photography pits the current state of these once-opulent downtown theaters and modest neighborhood cinema houses with vintage black-and-white photos of the structures in their heyday. Curator Deborah Sorensen worked with Davis to collect over 100 architectural fragments and pieces of theater ephemera to populate the exhibition, each adding a layer of tangibility to the buildings detailed in the book. Along with these elements, personal stories unveiled through text illuminate both the local story of Baltimore’s own 20th-century urbanization, segregation, and suburban sprawl, as well as the national trends in theater design and the ever-evolving movie-going experience. “Baltimore was already a mid-size city at the turn-of-the-century,” said Sorensen. “As a case study, it mirrors the development of the film industry and how it shaped cities across America. Movie palaces were being built to reflect local civic pride and the power of movies. If you look at when cities really started booming, it’s when these structures were coming online.” Davis’s photographs not only unveil the architectural history of movie theaters, but track these shifts in local population, land use, and urban history in Baltimore. In the early 1900s, famous architects were called upon to design grand cinema houses for downtown commercial districts. Many sported shiny, stand-out marquees and seated up to 2,000 people. Post-World War II, the city had 119 theaters of varying sizes and designs, but due to the introduction of television and mega-malls, the way people consumed films dramatically changed, as well as the way theaters were constructed. Davis conducted 300 interviews with movie exhibitors, theater employees, property owners, and filmgoers to get at the heart of these theaters and their surrounding locales. She photographed the buildings as they stand today—some revitalized as performing arts centers, churches, or concert venues, others still derelict and falling apart, and some completely demolished. Their successful, or in some cases poor, evolutions point to local investment in preservation and development over time. “We’re looking at the rise of movie-going and the decline of downtowns through the lens of this particular place,” said Sorenson. “It’s a reality that many American cities have faced and are trying to recover from."  Since the first movie theater opened its doors in the late 19th century, Baltimore has been home to a total of 240 cinemas. Today, it has only five functioning theaters, not including the homogenous AMC or Regal theaters common today. Two outstanding examples include the legendary Hippodrome, built in 1914, and Parkway, built in 1915. Both came back to life after multi-million dollar restoration and expansion projects. Not all movie theaters across the country have been so lucky. Flickering Treasures gives visitors an in-depth look at Baltimore’s former movie palaces and neighborhood film houses, as well as notable architects and industry entrepreneurs through poignant case studies and enlightening biographies. With photographs of rarely-seen interiors and much-need information on the history of these unique facades, Davis shines a spotlight on over a century of change in one American city. Flickering Treasures is open through October 14, 2019. For a sneak peek of the show, visit Davis's Flickering Treasures on Facebook.
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Slumped and Carved

Nike’s new House of Innovation brings an undulating glass facade to Fifth Avenue
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On the corner of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, the Nike House of Innovation announces its presence on this stretch of largely historic masonry structures with a striking slumped-and-carved glass facade. The 68,000-square-foot recladding and interior design project replaces the avenue elevation of the concrete-and-glass Pahlavi Foundation Building (formerly owned by the Shah of Iran and recently seized by the Federal Government).
  • Facade Manufacturer Cricursa (glass), Seele GmbH
  • Architects Nike Global Retail Design, CallisonRTKL
  • Facade Installer Seele GmbH
  • Facade Consultants Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, Mode Lab
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion November 2018
  • System Curved and annealed glass curtain wall units
  • Products Curved Annealed - Crisunid, Low-E / Selective Coatings - Crislan
For the six-story structure’s recladding, the design team reached out to Spanish glass manufacturer Cricursa. Based in Barcelona, the company has specialized in curved glass since the early-20th century. To give the glass its shape, the modules are slowly heated to the softening point, around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, where the materials slumps into customized molds. Once the glass panels have achieved their desired geometry, they are slowly cooled in a process called annealing. Installed as a double-glazed curtain wall, a low emissivity coating was applied to each panel to reduce heat transfer on both sides of the glazing. The size of the glass modules is largely standardized, measuring approximately 8 by 14 feet. However, where the entrance tapers upward, Cricursa fabricated three variations of trapezoidal panels and a singular triangular panel. The glass manufacturer fabricated five full-scale mockups of the modules to allow for thermal and structural load testing prior to full production. After testing, approximately 100 windows were shipped to Seele GmbH's facility in Augsburg, Germany, for assembly. Novel in terms of architectural application, the slumped glass was also CNC-carved with a series of striations perched at a 23.5-degree angle in the style of Nike’s iconic Swoosh logo. Andy Thaemert, Nike senior creative director, described this effect as accomplishing the brand’s goal to “create static architecture that feels like it's in motion.” From street level and within the House of Innovation, views through the glass present constantly shifting refractions of adjacent buildings. As a re-cladding project, the facade’s assembly is relatively straightforward. According to Heintges, the facade consultants for the project, "the glass facade is hung from the existing roof level with a grid of custom shaped steel mullions and transoms, pinned back for lateral loads at the 5th, and 3rd floor, and just above the ground." In total, the exterior envelope went from steel to glass in roughly four months. The project follows the Nike House of Innovation 001 constructed in Shanghai in October 2018, while a third is planned for Paris in 2019
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Limest Pun Ever

Limestone load-bearing exoskeleton spawns outrage in London
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In a time when stone is primarily used in facades as screen walls or purely decorative cladding, London’s 15 Clerkenwell Close by Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects (ATA) brings structure to the fore with a load-bearing masonry exoskeleton. Since construction in November 2017, the mixed-use development, which is the home of Taha and his practice, has proved contentious between critics and local authorities. While the firm was awarded the 2017 RIBA Award, the Islington Council has ordered the architect to demolish the structure for a perceived incongruity with the surrounding historical context—albeit a significant portion of Islington's architectural stock was built in the mid-20th century with half brick facades—a major complaint being the rustic quality of the limestone slabs.
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Stonemasonry Company Ltd, Ace Sheet Metal Ltd, Glasstec Ltd
  • Architects Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects
  • Facade Consultants Webb Yates Engineers Ltd
  • Location London, United Kingdom
  • Date of Completion November 2017
  • System Concrete floor slabs fastened to load-bearing masonry with unitized glass-and-wood curtain wall
  • Products Limestone blocks, double glazing bonded through nylon thermal isolators to bronze finished metal curtain wall system
To source the limestone facade, ATA went across the English Channel to a quarry outside of Lyons-la-Forêt in Northern France. According to Project Architect Dominic Kacinskas, "the region is noted for its continued use of strength certificates with a generations-old workforce well trained in extracting stone and splitting it accordingly." In contrast to historic and contemporary stone construction that is polished, chiseled, or hammered into a relatively smooth surface, the project’s columns and lintels are left in their semi-unfinished state. Striped indentations formed from the splitting process and fossilized remains track across the facade along with the smooth faces of bedding planes. Columns and lintels, all roughly measuring 10 feet by 1.5 feet by 1.5 feet, are stacked atop each other in a six-story square grid. Each block is bonded to the next with just under an inch of mortar and gravitational force. In total, the limestone exoskeleton weighs just under 250 tons. The reinforced concrete floor slabs, measuring nearly eight inches thick, are embedded with a series of steel plate casts that are bolted to external metal bosses through thermal isolator nylon plates. The metal bosses are in turn grouted into a system of galvanized steel I-beams placed at the meeting point of horizontal and vertical stone elements. Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects were able to execute a continuous bespoke curtain wall inches behind the load-bearing masonry effectively disengaged from the structure through the use of pinpointed metal fastenings. Window openings, composed of double-glazed units with metal brass finished frames, follow the equal subdivision of the exterior's stone structural grid. The design team placed solid oak timber panels where outward views are not permitted by the columns, which are grafted atop a solid oak sub-frame. Along the side elevations of 15 Clerkenwell Close, the design team elected to keep intact the original red brick party walls abutting adjacent structures. This decision is most apparent on the northwest elevation where a new grid of limestone, and infill grey brick, is cut into the party wall to support the insertion of new floor and roof slabs. Why the controversy? The Islington Council contends that Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects did not accurately display the finish of each stone component of the facade. According to the firm, the rough finish of the limestone, formed by millions of years of fossilized marine organisms, quartz pockets, and other sedimentary products, "is only discoverable weeks before installation on site as the stonemasons sub-divide the extracted stone into sizes set by the structural engineer." An appeal against the motion of demolition will occur in April 2019.
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A dialogue of surface: House of Religions, Bern, Switzerland
Religious believers from local communities conceived the idea for this ambitious project in Bern, Switzerland, well over a decade ago. As a result of their vision for creating an interreligious space, Europan5 launched an architectural competition in 1999, which was won by Madir Shah of Urbanoffice in Amsterdam. The competition marked the start of a fifteen-year-long process of realization. The core idea for this project was the creation of a place that would accommodate sacred spaces for five world religions under one roof. A unique place of worship that facilitates the meeting of people from different cultures, nationalities, and religious groups in one place. Dark gray Swisspearl Texial panels with two different embossed surface textures were used as the primary cladding material; this was well chosen as it is neutral and restrained, allowing the reflective, glazed section housing the religious spaces to be more prominent. Furthermore, as the fiber cement panels allow a great deal of flexibility, it gave the architects the freedom to configure the fenestration in different ways and to denote the various stacked functions. Read more about our new Swisspearl Texial facade panel on our blog “A Swiss pearl for the world."
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Apply for the 2019 Forge Prize
The Forge Prize recognizes innovation in the use of steel. Established by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the prize invites designers to submit proposals for visionary designs that embrace steel as the primary structural component. Organized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), it is intended to engage designers in developing imaginative designs that bolster steel as the 21st-century building material of choice through a two-stage design challenge, culminating with a public announcement event of winners in summer 2019. Projects can focus on Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS), Modular Construction, Long-Span, Reuse, Systems, Urban Density, etc., but are not limited in their scope or complexity. The Forge Prize is open to all innovative uses of structural steel. Get inspired! Grand Prize The grand prize winner will receive $20,000. Eligibility The Forge Prize is open to designers practicing in the U.S. or Canada. Entries will be accepted from individuals as well as teams. Team submissions are required to have a designated Team Lead. Individuals or the Team Lead should be an emerging professional, in the process of licensure or within 10-years of licensure. For full details and to submit visit www.forgeprize.com.
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Fat Stacks

This memorial to Argentinian farmers glows with reinforced resin and burlap panels
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In 2011, Buenos Aires-based estudio Claudio Vekstein_Opera Publica (eCV) was approached by the government of Argentina's Sante Fe Province to design a space memorializing the centennial of the Alcorta Farmers Revolt. Founded in 1892, Alcorta is a small farming town laid out according to a dense and rigid grid surrounded by plotted agricultural land, an urban morphology typical of this southern corner of the province. From this historical context, eCV's Memorial Space and Monument of the Alcorta Farmers Revolt rises as an asymmetrical fissured edifice wrapped with semi-translucent, prefabricated epoxy resin-and-fiberglass panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer América Fiberglass, SRL, Rosario (resin panels)                              Del Balcón, Luthier's Workshop (molds)   
  • Architects [eCV] estudio Claudio Vekstein_Opera Publica
  • Facade Installer Coirini S.A. (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Mark West and Ronnie Araya (paneling), Ayelen Coccoz (artist) Tomas del Carril and Javier Fazio (structural)
  • Location Alcorta, Argentina
  • Date of Completion June 2018
  • System Structural steel with metal framing and epoxy resin and fiberglass cladding
  • Products Molded epoxy resin reinforced with fiberglass and burlap panels
The complex, located on an approximately 81,000 square-foot plot, is a visual homage to the town and region’s proud pastoral heritage. For the main northwestern facade, eCV Principal Claudio Vekstein turned to the region’s traditional forms; during the harvest season, farmers would pile their corn bags into hillock-scale mounds as a testament of collective pride in their work. Approaching the memorial from the southern border of the town, Vekstein achieves a material and symbolic bridge to the past with a vast canvas of an “insistent, alternating and syncopated relief of bags” formed out of epoxy resin, fiberglass, and rough burlap cloth. For the relief of the bags, eCV designed a set of rectangular molds of a standard height and varying widths. These modules are plugged into 275 alternating facade elements measuring approximately 3.5 feet in height and 7 feet in width. The billowing mass of the reinforced resin panels is broken by a series of narrow apertures of four different dimensions. The structure of the monument is highly visible, consisting of exposed and inclined steel beams and trusses planted into a concrete foundation. Mounting the precast facade panels onto the structure was a fairly straightforward operation: the panels are attached to a bracket-connected metal framing system with self-tapping screws. In total, the installation of the panels took approximately three weeks. A significant portion of the northwestern facade folds over the 4,300 square-foot built area and interior segments of the panels are backed by rows of grooved fiberglass. The rear elevations, which host offices of the Agrarian Federation and communal spaces, are fronted by rectangular corrugated sheets of metal that are similarly fastened to a framing system. During the day, the semi-translucent screen filters a soft yellow light into the memorial's principal spaces. The rough burlap fabric, which provides the panels their outward dark hue, takes on the form of a glowing and sinuous skin. As the sun sets and interior spaces are illuminated by artificial lighting, the facade becomes a lamp beaming toward Alcorta. Beyond the facade, eCV’s interior is spartan and reflective of the populist ethos of the overall design typology–the flooring is bare concrete, with steel trusses and cross braces cascading below the slanted roofline. After six years of episodic construction, the complex opened to the public on the 106th anniversary of the uprising in June 2018.
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Cu In My Dreams

SHoP Architects makes waves in D.C. with patinated copper and a trio of skybridges
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Located in the heart of staid Washington, D.C., SHoP Architects' 14-story Midtown Center establishes a prominent presence with a contorting copper-and-glass facade and a trio of sky bridges. Opened in September 2018, the one-million-square-foot project stands on the site of the former headquarters of The Washington Post.
  • Facade Manufacturer Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Tivitec, Soheil Mosun
  • Architects SHoP Architects
  • Facade Installer Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Clark Construction
  • Facade Consultants Curtainwall Design Consulting, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Washington D.C.
  • Date of Completion September 2018
  • System Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope WT-01 and WT-03
  • Products Pre-patinated copper components, Guardian Climaguard Premium 2T and AGC Stopray Vision 50T, Ipawhite Low-Iron Glass
Built according to a U-shaped layout, the street-facing elevations are defined by sawtooth protrusions on the curtain wall. The projections ripple across the elevation, originating from two corners of the facade and softening toward the center. Each of these three-dimensional units that hang off of the structure’s rectangular mass share a standard width of 5 feet and a height of up to 10 feet. While the use of a traditional material such as copper facilitates a stylistic link between Midtown Center and its historic surroundings, the metallic surface is also performative. The copper accretions are oriented toward the direction of the sun, reducing internal glare and solar heat. Each panel is clipped to the facade system with formed stainless steel angles and pop rivets. The three sky bridges that crisscross above the courtyard echo the use of copper as an exterior detail; approximately 350 vertical fins, two inches wide and five inches deep, line the skyways. Although the fins function as a brise-soleil for the suspended corridors, their primary effect is visual. A rich turquoise rhythm reflects off of the courtyard’s glass modules while ribs create a matrix of shadows below. The fins themselves are bolted to a substructure rail that is held three inches off of the glass by horizontal mullions running across the top and bottom of the sky bridges. To clad the bulk of the enclosure system, SHoP Architects turned to Spanish glass-fabricator Tvitec. For the 4,500 facade panels, the fabricator used Ipawhite low-iron glass subjected to multiple thermal coatings to ensure visibility while meeting thermal control standards. At the ground level, SHoP Architects collaborated with SCAPE to design the publicly accessible 15,000-square-foot courtyard. According to SHoP Founding Principal Gregg Pasquarelli, the design team "took inspiration from Washington's original master plan to create a building that allows the public to angle strategically across the site." Diagonal paths cut through the building, past sunken granite fountains and plots of landscaping.