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Shohei in L.A.

OMA unveils fresh renderings for its first cultural project in Los Angeles
The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Gruen Associates, and Studio-MLA are working toward a November 11 groundbreaking for the new Audrey Irmas Pavilion, an addition to the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Ahead of this weekend’s groundbreaking ceremony, OMA has unveiled a batch of new renderings of the 55,000-square-foot cultural center. The two-story, trapezoidal pavilion will contain two large event spaces within its sloped walls, including a rooftop terrace designed by Studio-MLA. The main gathering space along the ground floor will be elliptical in nature and will provide arched openings along two of the principal facades. The second space will run perpendicular to the ground floor space and will be outlined as a trapezoid along the opposing set of exterior walls. The terrace will stream daylight through the pavilion via a circular opening. The addition will allow the temple to offer supportive services for its congregants, including hot meal programs and medical clinics, Urbanize.LA reported. Renderings for the project depict a singular volume skinned with hexagonal stone cladding, with each of the stone tiles containing a rectangular glass block at its center. Gruen Associates is working as the executive architect for the project, which was designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas. In a press release announcing the groundbreaking, Shigematsu said, “Focusing on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange, the pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence.” Shigematsu added, “We are thrilled to break ground on this significant project that will provide a new anchor for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the broader Los Angeles community.” The project represents OMA’s first cultural commission in the region and will join the firm’s forthcoming First and Broadway Park—also designed in collaboration with Studio-MLA—in Downtown Los Angeles and The Plaza, a mixed-use shopping complex slated for Santa Monica, as other works under development nearby. Plans call for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion to be completed by 2020.
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Wake Up, Dematerialize

L.A. artist designs glitchy facades to revitalize stale housing models
If you are one of the many people concerned that apartments in American cities are all starting to look too much alike, there might be hope for you yet. Los Angeles–based artist and educator Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini is currently working on a collection of glitchy apartment facades that aim to break up the monotony of some of those developments. With her designs, Manferdini is hoping to "re-open a discussion on the role of fantasy in art and architecture" by bringing beguiling geometric patterns and bright colors to at least seven multi-family complexes envisioned by FMB Development and a collection of other local architects, including Archeon Group, Dean Larkin Design, and Open Architects. Los Angeles–based FMB bills itself as a "community-oriented developer of luxury residential real estate," including the types of market-rate apartments that some Los Angeles homeowners might view as obtrusive in their neighborhoods. That's where Manferdini steps in by designing structures with interlocking blocks of patterned surfaces and expanses of varying opacity that work to simultaneously highlight and break down each of the proposed buildings. Manferdini explained that the designs are driven by the idea that, "facades are important for the city at large because they are inevitably the background of our public imagination." Manferdini added, "Facades negotiate how the privacy of human interactions come to terms with a surrounding cultural context." In L.A.'s densely-packed, low-slung urban neighborhoods, where privacy comes at a premium, sites are strictly limited in terms of height and allowable bulk, decorative elements help play a role in bridging the visual gap between existing housing stock and the types of multi-unit complexes needed to address the region's housing crisis. Manferdini's work for FMB builds on a series of exhibitions she crafted as part of her artistic practice, including the Graham Foundation–supported Building the Picture, a collection of drawing-photograph hybrid images that were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. For the exhibition, Manferdini created a series of fictional patterned facades partially inspired by some of the Chicago-based work of Mies van der Rohe. The layered, abstracted images proposed methods for obfuscating the underlying scale and window patterning of the hypothetical apartment structures by combining oblique and projected patterns on a collection of planar and faceted building forms. Manferdini explained further, saying, "The work insinuates that surfaces now have an unprecedented ability to be embedded simultaneously with optical affect and cultural associations," a concept that is ideally suited for testing in the real world through its application on the apartment buildings in question, according to the artist.

At 1017 Sierra Bonita, for example, Manferdini uses blue, white, and black Trespa panels, custom fritted glass, and gray stucco to lend a three-story apartment block atmospheric qualities. Hanging plants and balconies filled with hedges and landscape design by Green Republic Landscapes further dematerialize the five-unit building.

The Trespa panels make another appearance in red, blue, and black at 1408 Poinsettia, where Manferdini has arranged ascending striped patterns with vertical building elements that camouflage each of the three-bedroom small-lot subdivision homes. At 1139 N. Detroit, Manferdini pursues a more subdued approach by using custom-designed mosaic tiles and painted stucco. In each of the projects, Manferdini works to play off of the architectural elements using unconventional patterning and color choices, perhaps a welcome approach for Hardie-panel weary observers. The designs are due to come online soon: Many of the projects are currently undergoing planning review, and 1408 Poinsettia is currently under construction.
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Booming Beantown

Facades+ Boston will dive into the materials and methods transforming facade design
On November 9, Facades+ is headed to Boston for a full-day conference. The conference features a range of facade specialists and manufacturers, ranging from stone fabricator Quarra Stone to Boston's very own designLAB Architects. Chris O'Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL, and Rishi Nandi, associate at Perkins + Will, are co-chairing the event. With decades of experience across the globe, both firms have been recognized with design awards for their advanced enclosure systems and finely executed architectural preservation projects. To learn more about what the two practices are up, AN interviewed the two co-chairs on the complexities of architectural preservation, environmental performance, and digital fabrication. The Architect's Newspaper: Both Perkins + Will and Studio NYL have been involved in numerous preservation projects. Could you expand on the difficulties of bringing historic structures up to contemporary standards, blending new design elements with the old, and the opportunities present with these projects? Rishi Nandi: The revitalization of historic buildings is challenging but pays great dividends. These buildings often represent something well beyond the program they house to their communities. Approaching the projects in a manner that is responsive to the neighborhood’s needs is critical since the structures often embody the resilience and stability of the communities they are embedded within. The most difficult part of any restoration is making sure the improvements you are making do not have any unintended consequences. For instance, many historic structures breathe differently than today's facade systems. This becomes a significant issue when one considers improving the performance of the envelope through insulation and air barriers. Understanding the hygrothermal properties of the walls is critical to ensure that potential compromising events like freeze-thaw do not occur. Matching old with new is also critical. We simply do not make component pieces the same way they were when many of these buildings were built. For example, no one is field fitting and assembling windows on site to conform to glazing dimensions that are all slightly off. The good news is that mass manufacturing is changing rapidly and customization options that did not exist in the 1980s have proliferated. We are often now able to work with fabricators in a hands-on way to create matching components that can replace those that we have to. By this, I mean that the first option in our approach is to rehabilitate as much as we can. Some of this is driven by the aesthetic. The majority of this, however, is driven by the consideration that the reuse of the existing structure and envelope has a significant environmental and social benefit. In these scenarios, we are able to keep intact the community's connection to the identity of the structure while significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the building through the reduction of primary materials. Chris O'Hara: Existing and historic buildings are a fantastic challenge. As we are always discussing sustainability, and it generally focuses on energy performance and recycled materials, it pales in response to what we can do by saving the embodied energy of an existing structure and breathing new life into it. Taking that existing structure that is either of an age where insulation was not considered and thermal comfort was managed through thermal mass and passive means, and mixing it with modern mechanical systems relying on a reduction of air exchanges–or worse yet a building designed with modern mechanical systems but an ignorance of envelope due to cheap energy–requires more analyses and more clever solutions. Management of the thermal performance of the existing building while trying to take advantage of the systems' drying potential is fun. Getting these buildings to perform at a high level is likely the most good we can do as a facade designer. What do you currently perceive to be the most exciting trends in facade design that boost environmental performance? RN: There are a lot of great products on the market including nanogel insulations, fiber reinforced polymer (FRP), and advances in glazing. That being said, as an architect, I have a tough time understanding the environmental impact of our products. We need better data from manufacturers that tell us clearly the waste stream. We need to know how much water is being used to make the products. Manufacturers should be required to help us better understand the life cycle carbon footprint of the products we are using. This information should be mandatory and should be directly influencing the way we make product selections and decisions. We can then have a more informed discussion on environmental impacts and, hopefully, then come up with a strategy on how to begin to address the concerns addressed within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s most recent report. CH: Fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) and vacuum insulated systems. For the FRP, our ability to more cost-effectively thermally break and structure our faces with nearly thermally inert materials opens up possibilities in how we build. Vacuum insulated glass and vacuum sealed nanogel insulation are offering the ability to drastically improve our system U values while thinning down our assemblies. Although these technologies are still new to the market and come with a cost, like all other advances we have seen in the last 20 years or so I expect that cost to come down as we find how to use these systems more efficiently. Digital fabrication offers incredible possibilities for the mass production of individual facade components. In your experience, how is this technology reshaping the industry and your projects in particular? RN: Technology is reshaping our approach. Digital fabrication workflows are being created that are beginning to bridge the gap between documentation and fabrication. Working from a common platform has a number of benefits including allowing for a more detailed conversation on material applications and efficiencies. Robotics and digital printing allow us to create the right responsive materials that maximize the material return while minimizing waste. This increased communication is pushing more and more early involvement from manufacturers. We have employed modified delivery methods such as the integrated design process and design assist to help engage fabricators earlier to better our designs, drive a level of cost certainty and work within proprietary systems that help minimize team risk. The result is a blurring of traditional lines. The next step to me is a disruption in the way we work. We are already starting to see it with companies like Katerra, who with their digital platform are looking for ways to deliver entire projects at all phases from design to construction completion using prefabricated components and an integrated approach not yet seen by the industry. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next 15 years and the types of efficiencies that may be gained and what it means for the way we all work and deliver projects. CH: The use of digital fabrication seems to have found its way into most of our current enclosure projects, although the aesthetic is not always driven by the technology. We have found that the speed and precision it affords makes it an important part of our toolbox. Whether it is used for an elaborate cladding geometry or for the precise fabrication of repeated parts, it has really opened up the possibilities of what we can achieve while still being conscious of the parameters of schedule and cost. To do this the designer needs to understand the craft that goes into this work. Many do not understand that even with the technologies available there is still craft. The difference between this and a carpenter is simply what is in the tool belt. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
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No Shingles Here

Colored concrete and perforated fins keep this downtown school cool
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Completed in November 2017, the Perkins Eastman–designed School of Nursing and Science Building occupies a former parking lot in downtown Camden, establishing a new institutional heart for Rutgers University in the slowly reviving city. The design inhabits a formidable full-block mass, reaching a height of four stories with a multidimensional facade of high-performance concrete and glass curtainwall shaded by perforated panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer, Taktl, Glazing Concepts
  • Architects Perkins Eastman, NELSON Architects (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Glazing Concepts, Robert Ganter Contractors
  • Facade Consultants Atelier Ten
  • Location Camden, New Jersey
  • Date of Completion November 2017
  • System Kawneer 1600 with concrete panels and curtain wall window modules
  • Products Kawneer 1600 Wall System, TAKTL Architectural Ultra High Performance Concrete, Glazing Concepts window modules
Similar to other urban centers across the Rust Belt, Camden has undergone a significant period of economic stagnation and demographic decline since the mid-20th century. However, the continued expansion of healthcare institutions, such as the Nursing and Science Building, is fundamentally reshaping the city’s character. The project is located on a triangular site adjacent to Camden City Hall, and the residential neighborhood of Lanning Square. Owing to the irregularity of the site, each elevation of the 101,000-square-foot project is a different length. Rather than attempting to establish conformity across the Nursing and Science Building, Perkins Eastman’s design plays with each facade's unique dimensions. The southwest elevation features a hollowed-out frame filled by a three-story glass facade, while the northeast elevation recalls the more traditional masonry punched window style found around the area. For the rainscreen, Perkins Eastman turned to TAKTL, a design and manufacturing operation located in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, to produce rectangular high-performance concrete panels. To blend in with the prevailing use of stone ashlar and brick for historic buildings in downtown Camden, the concrete panels are colored reddish-brown and finished to resemble non-glazed terra-cotta. The panels, measuring one-by-three feet, are face-fastened with color-matched screws to the light-gauge structural steel stud framing. While the rainscreen serves as an oversized framing device, the bulk of the 110,000-square-foot project resides behind glass curtain wall. Sections of the curtain wall bulge from the assembly, providing room for a variety of functions within. “The facade is composed of two distinctive wall types,” said James Butterfield, RA, design Principal at Perkins Eastman. “One which employs a full-height, vertical perforated metal shading system, and a second which introduces opacified shadowbox panels to minimize the quantity of unshaded vision glass.” Each curtainwall module reaches a height of 30 feet and is anchored at the end of each concrete slab. Aluminum brackets project from the Kawneer-produced wall system and are fastened to the 1/4-inch-thick vertical perforated panels at four points. The overall goal of these devices is the mitigation of solar incidence and internal glare associated with typical large-scale curtain wall design.
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Hello Neigh-bor

The Longchamp Racecourse goes for the gold with a metallic facade
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In 2011, Dominique Perrault Architecture (DPA) was chosen by France Galop, the governing body of horse racing in France, to redesign and modernize Paris’s venerable Longchamp Racecourse. Located in the city’s second largest park, Bois de Boulogne, the design of the 160,000-square-foot project seeks to connect to the surrounding landscape—the racecourse’s most prestigious events occur during the fall—with a luminous gold-yellow aluminum and steel facade. Construction of the project was completed in January 2018.
  • Facade Manufacturer GKD (metal mesh), Saint Gobain (glazing), LCD Pose (mesh frames),          Bysteel
  • Architects Dominique Perrault Architecture
  • Facade Installer Bouygues Bâtiments Ile-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Bysteels (curtain walls)
  • Facade Consultants Terrell Group
  • Location Paris, France
  • Date of Completion January 2018
  • System Metal and glass curtain wall
  • Products GKD AISI Type 316 SS,SGG PLANITHERM XN thermal comfort double glazing on SGG DIAMANT extra-light glass, LCD Pose mesh frames
Opened to the public in 1857 as part of Haussmann’s civic improvement schemes, the Longchamp Racecourse has undergone significant transformations over the course of its century-and-a-half existence, including the destruction of two historic grandstands in favor of mid-century concrete pavilions that dwarfed their surroundings. DPA's update stripped away these bare concrete additions, built a new 10,000-person capacity grandstand, and restored surrounding historic structures, with the goal of boosting year-round use of the facility and its overall cohesion with the surrounding city. The new 525-foot-long grandstand has a polished golden hue, which contrasts with the bright white coloring of adjacent historic structures. Aluminum and steel in a variety of treatments and configurations clad a steel and concrete structural system. For the curtain wall, DPA opted for sliding, 10-foot tall stainless steel mesh panels stretched within a frame by a simple pin and rod mechanism. Produced by metal fabrics manufacturer GKD and framed by LCD Pose, the operable panels are a subtle kinetic element that facilitates natural ventilation and light filtration. An aluminum rainscreen, produced and installed by Bysteel, courses across the complex in flat rectangular panels to create a protruding chevron frieze. Below the cantilevered top balcony, the iridescent cladding serves as a semi-reflective soffit that distorts the scene below. Glass panels, measuring approximately six feet in width and four feet in height, line the grandstand as a semi-translucent balustrade. To ensure visibility of the racetrack for the audience, glass manufacturer and glaze specialist Saint Gobain provided low-iron SGG Diamant panels, facilitating greater light transmittance and minimal green tint. The panels were screen printed with pixelated patterns evoking foliage across the facade. The massing of the grandstand is meant to represent the motion of a galloping horse: the top floor dramatically cantilevers 65 feet over a steel-and-concrete console and inclines toward the adjacent racecourse. With open-ended terraces—referred to as "transparent shelves" by DPA—and a design that faces outward, the crowd is afforded vistas of the stables below and the city beyond.
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The Future of Retail?

Amazon is bringing its seamless automated grocery store to New York
Imagine a world where artificial intelligence tracks your every movement. A world where buildings have minds of their own, learning your behaviors, and collecting data from you as you come and go. While existing technology has not yet reached sci-fi levels, a visit to an Amazon Go grocery store can offer you a peek into this possible future of retail design. This week Amazon announced its plans to open a new store in New York, the first of its kind on the East Coast, before opening nearly 3,000 more nationwide by 2021. The company has already built out six Amazon Go stores in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. The cutting-edge stores, as shown within its first locations, are characterized by visual simplicity, clarity, and hyper-functionality. Through the stores' structural elements, including minimalistic facades, geometric configurations, and exposed raw materials, such as wood veneer and polished concrete, the interiors assume an industrial feel. They feature muted colors and black merchandise racks that give the stores a clean appearance as well. Meanwhile, ceiling cameras monitor shoppers as they wander through the aisles. The stores are unique in that they are void of cashiers, cash registers, and self-service checkout stands. Customers only need to walk in, take what they need, and leave. As they swing through the turnstiles on their way out, Amazon automatically bills their credit cards. Within minutes, a receipt is sent to the Amazon app, giving customers a summary of what they bought, what they paid, and the exact amount of time they spent in the store. The stores, which depend on highly sophisticated image recognition software and artificial intelligence to function, are expected to drastically transform the retail experience in unexpected ways. Amazon began working on retail stores five years ago with the goal of eliminating consumer criticisms and complaints, such as struggling to find products and waiting in long lines. Since the first Amazon Go store opened last January in Seattle, it has received tremendous praise and success. According to CNN, highly automated retail stores like Amazon Go are expected to become the norm within as little as 10 to 15 years. Research has shown that up to 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk of automation in the next decade, which will save retailers money on labor, as well as boost profits, but obviously cost retail workers their livelihood. Automated stores can facilitate the ordering and restocking process as cameras and AI track inventory in real-time. The removal of cash registers provides more space for inventory. Customer data can also be uploaded to the servers of each building, where retailers can present them with personalized discounts, offers, and other incentives. While Amazon has confirmed plans to open an Amazon Go store in New York, its location has yet to be determined.
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Nice to Meat You

Raw facade hardware gets spotlit in this flagship in New York’s Meatpacking District
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Since the construction of the High Line’s first section in 2009, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District has undergone a dramatic transformation from a declining industrial district to a burgeoning site of development attracting leading national and international firms. Now, California’s Backen & Gillam Architects has stamped its presence in the neighborhood with a modern aluminum-and-glass screen wall inserted atop a restored historic reddish-brown brick warehouse.
  • Facade Manufacturer Ahlborn Structural Steel, Inc
  • Architects Backen & Gillam Architects
  • Facade Installer Steadfast Development & Construction
  • Facade Consultants Jacqueline Pue-Duvallon Historic Preservation Consulting
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Pre-fabricated aluminum screen wall
  • Products Custom-designed black aluminum frames
Located on the corner of Little West 12th Street and 9th Avenue, the nearly 100,000-square-foot project for the retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware, now known as RH, is within the stringently-protected Gansevoort Market Historic District. The building itself was constructed over a century ago as a retail warehouse, and ultimately transformed into a garage for the renowned Astor family. For project lead Jim Gillam, the constraints set by the Landmarks Preservation Commission pushed the design team to draw upon the neighborhood’s prevailing historical elements: the bolts, splices, and rivet patterns found on steel and cast-iron awnings, as well as elevated infrastructure. The new black aluminum frames primarily consist of a set of prefabricated components. Each frame is composed of two aluminum cross braces which are fitted to a set of turnbuckles, allowing for the adjustment of tension across the screen wall. T-frames studded with bolts are the primary vertical and horizontal elements of the screen wall. These can be split into two categories: structural members that run the length of the elevation and drive into the building below, and beams supporting the overall rigidity of the frame. This entire system is connected to an array of vertical mullions through existing steel brackets and a new screen wall connector. For the project, Backen & Gillam worked closely with the manufacturer, Ahlborn Structural Steel, to produce a kit of parts that was easy to assemble on site. Every component shipped from Santa Rosa, California, was designed as a three-piece unit set to maximize space on the convoy of flatbed trucks that carted them across the country. Each aspect of the screen wall, down to the bolts, were numbered and classified to ease their installation. In total, the design and construction teams were able to erect the entire addition in approximately two weeks. Gillam's interior spaces maintain the structure's historical bones while providing room to breathe for the new. The central and defining moment of the internal spaces is the light-filled, six-story atrium extending the full height of the complex, with successive rows of fluted Corinthian columns bordering aluminum-and-glass balconies.
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Sandu Attitude

The Shui Cultural Center connects to traditional life through copper and concrete
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Opened to the public in December 2017, West-Line Studio’s Shui Cultural Center is an imposing complex located in a valley within China’s rugged Sandu Shui Autonomous County. The complex, consisting of three single-gabled halls and a monumental tower, is a formidable display of timber-pressed concrete covered in pitched copper plates.
  • Facade Manufacturer Changsha Di Kai Construction Engineering Co., Chongqing Zhongbo Energy Conservation Glass Co.
  • Architects West-Line Studio. Lead Architects—Haobo Wei, Jingsong Xie. Architecture and Landscape Design–Hanmin Dan, Yudan Luo. Interior Design–Martina Muratori
  • Facade Installer Changsha Di Kai Construction Engineering Co., Ltd
  • Facade Consultants Changsha Di Kai Construction Engineering Co., Ltd
  • Location Sandu County, Guizhou, China
  • Date of Completion December 2017
  • System Concrete system clad in copper panels and glass
  • Products Custom made double-sided copper plates, and glass
The Shui people, concentrated in the county and the larger Guizhou province, are a distinct ethnic minority with a unique language and logographic writing system. For West-Line Studio, the project was an ambitious attempt to translate local customs into a cohesive design for a cultural center campus nearing 150,000 square feet. Placed atop an expansive concrete podium, the halls are of varying size, height, and function. They are unified by relatively hidden wall openings and approximately 4,000 perforated copper cladding panels. Each half-inch-thick panel, measuring four by two feet, was subjected to a multi-stepped anodizing process to overcome corrosion in the acid rain–drenched province and to boost iridescence. The perforations, numbering just under 50,000 in total, fulfill three functions. Structurally, gaps in the copper plate significantly reduce the dead load placed on cantilevered concrete trusses and the screen wall fastening system, composed of galvanized steel corners, sheets, and expansion-and-burst bolts. Aesthetically, the perforations create a patterned brise-soleil for the halls’ east and west elevations, filtering light through the narrow, rectangular glass panes that line the hall. Symbolically, the gaps are a nod to the Shui character for rain, which consists of tiered vertical bands. The interiors of the complex, marked by exposed concrete structural systems, are imprinted by the surrounding landscape through the use of pine panel-formed concrete. Sandu, relatively isolated from the country’s principal economic centers, is known for its dense Huashan pine and Chinese fir forests. The concrete detail effectively softens what could be considered an ominous space, transforming them into grey, oversized versions of the region’s traditional timber vernacular forms. The triple-glazed glass panels, produced 350 miles north in the megalopolis of Chongqing, largely insulate and guard the complex from the elements. However, West-Line Studio inserted two details that add color and symbolic depth to the cultural center. In the complex's ritual hall, glass panels are dyed to resemble typical batik tapestry patterns, blanketing the concrete walls and flooring with ever-changing color. Additionally, box-like concrete appendages marked with traditional Shui logographic characters protrude from this same hall. With a glance of sunlight, the characters are beamed downward, further tying the symbolic and material. Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the cladding panels as being made of bronze rather than copper.
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Brick Breaker

Brixels open up new possibilities for kinetic facades
New York–based multi-disciplinary studio, BREAKFAST, has unveiled a groundbreaking kinetic facade product dubbed "Brixels." The use of kinetic panels for facade and interior design has rapidly grown in popularity both domestically and abroad recently, animating visuals and opening new paths for natural ventilation. Each display is composed of an array of brick-sized pieces that are fully customizable in terms of massing, material, and finish. Through a central cavity, each individual piece is latched onto a central support shaft, which allows the objects to rotate in either direction. At the base of each central support shaft, BREAKFAST has inserted a series of printed circuit boards that are in turn connected to a Linux control computer. Through visual sensors, the installations can track and respond to adjacent physical movement or can be controlled directly through a web-based application. The multidisciplinary studio tested out their new technology with the 19-foot wide by 6-foot tall installation dubbed Brixel Mirror. Made of polished aluminum and matte-black steel, the pieces are capable of achieving 60 rpm via an app or one-on-one control. While Brixel Mirror is the most significant application of the technology-embedded material to date, Andrew Zolty, BREAKFAST’s co-founder and head of design, has big ambitions for the product. According to Zolty, the customizability of the interactive blocks allows them “to become part of the space, rather than an add-on, used to outfit or become interior walls, room dividers, fences, railings, or even building facades.” Brixels have been tested to withstand the elements outdoors; a building can be entirely clad in sprawling, perpetually moving paneling.
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Let me tallinn you something

An Estonian office block receives a splash of color with an aluminum mesh facade
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Estonia-based architectural practice molumba has enlivened a suburban office block with a unique concrete and aluminum screen assembly. The project was commissioned by AS Elering—the nation’s largest transmission systems operator for electricity and natural gas—as a dramatic, three-fold expansion of the preexisting structure in Mustamäe, a southwestern neighborhood in the nation’s capital of Tallinn.
  • Facade Manufacturer Metal-Disain Oü (metal sheets), Talot AS (concrete panels), JU-Metall Oü
  • Architects molumba, Eeoo Stuudio Oü (interior)
  • Facade Installer Oma Ehitaja
  • Facade Consultants Novarc
  • Location Tallinn, Estonia
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Steel frame with prefabricated concrete panels and metal sheets
  • Products Metal-Disain Oü PW keevisrest
Over 140 turquoise mesh piers ring and visually buttress each elevation, a play on historical castellation and Gothic design found throughout Tallinn’s Old Town. The piers are built of full-length aluminum strips measuring 12 to 41 feet, which are in turn welded to a series of connecting bars. Each pier possesses its own steel support structure consisting of two internal, vertical columns fastened to the welded connecting bars. The design of the complex references the spindly and bundled power line, a ubiquitous feature across urban landscapes. AS Elering operates a multi-acre electrical substation next door. According to design lead Karli Luik, molumba envisioned the project as “the brain of the electricity and gas transmission network, monitoring and administrating their vitally important circulation.” As a vitally important aspect of Estonia’s energy infrastructure, the entire 40,000 square-foot complex is ringed by a perimeter wall fashioned of the same turquoise aluminum screen. For molumba, the bigger question was how to give the mesh triangles a truly functional quality outside of their aesthetic elements. The two planes of the piers form an acute isosceles triangle: the two congruent sides measure just under four feet while the base is approximately three feet. This shorter edge is placed atop the building’s 20 by 10 foot black precast concrete panels and wedged between window openings. With a 41-degree circumcenter angle, the piers function as effective passive sun shades for office functions within. Additionally, the mesh frame serves as an industrially-produced lattice screen for future vegetative growth to coil up the facade. The interior, designed by Stuudio Oü, features a design that similarly echoes the building's utilitarian function. Spiraling stairwells, built of concrete and steel, vertically course through the east and west elevations of the headquarters, while exposed pipes, cables, and pendant lamps made of recycled insulators line the ceiling and walls. A central vegetated courtyard and a two-story, wood-paneled stairwell, with steps of varying size, are the office block's principal communal areas. At the core of it all lies the "Brain," where the nation's energy transmission network is surveilled through a hippodrome of monitors.
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Making Waves

The Global Hub’s undulating facade turns toward Lake Michigan for inspiration
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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.
 
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Creating Kultur

Herzog & de Meuron releases new renderings for Berlin’s Museum of the 20th Century
Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron has released revised renderings for its four-story addition to Berlin's Kulturforum (Culture Forum) complex. The firm's winning entry for the Museum of the 20th Century, first revealed in 2016, is intended to increase gallery space for the Mies van der Rohe–designed Neue Nationalgalerie, store artworks, and connect the different cultural institutions in the area. The design is developed in collaboration with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Berlin State Museums, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The building nods to the nearby Matthew Church in both its materiality and form, with its pixelated brick patterning and a vernacular gabled roof profile. The design also references warehouses, barns, and train stations. News renderings show a building with distinct facades on each side and multiple entry points that open to different parts of the cultural complex and the city, with a central area for showcasing large-scale modernist art. The multiple-entry design also allows for events to take place in a screening theatre outside of regular museum hours. Overall, the museum demonstrates a decidedly urban ethos in fully embracing its surrounding context, from the architecture by van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun to much older structures. According to Jaques Herzog, "Our urban planning concept for the Kulturforum is a concept of density, not of emptiness. It organizes an interplay of buildings put into precise relation with each other, and it also initiates the interaction of the cultural institutions established in those buildings."