Regardless of materiality, we have had great success—and fun—in our exploration of computational design and digital fabrication methodologies. For the ongoing LA Rams stadium, we worked with Zahner to develop the metal cladding system. Our team was able to optimize the structural performance and detailing of the perforated metal skin by leveraging parametric design tools and fabrication technologies. In the end, the design of a custom perforation pattern was able to be realized by a digital workflow that exported analytical models directly into fabrication files for over 150,000 panels.AN: Minneapolis is experiencing a period of tremendous growth. A factor in this growth is the concentration of manufacturing and facade management firms. In your opinion, how does this proximity between design practices and manufacturers influence the execution of projects in the area? JS: We are somewhat spoiled by access to world-class glazing, sheet metal, and curtain wall fabricators right in our backyard. In many ways, one of the biggest benefits is easily facilitated collaboration between makers and designers, especially at those early "what if" design stages when fabricator expertise can help give an innovative concept legs. I think one of the biggest areas for untapped collaborative potential is the very unique brain trust that exists in the local region in terms of custom curtain wall engineering. I'm especially looking forward to this panel to see representatives from some of these influential players together in the same room to discuss the current climate and what the future holds for Minneapolis and beyond. WB: The most dynamic and successful designs attain prominence only by close cooperation and understanding between the design, manufacturing, fabrication, and installation teams. This is true in facade design perhaps more so than in any other subset of the building industry. With the importance of the building enclosure being far from lost on a design community in such a climate, combined with the fact that Minneapolis is a national hub for the production of cutting-edge systems; this design and construction community is exceptionally well-positioned to capitalize on this collaborative potential. As the desires and needs for high performance, increased quality, and more formally demanding skins continue to evolve; it’s exciting to see what creativity and innovation, whether in the form of panelization, various fabrication technologies, or other, will permeate into local works and how. AN: Increasing regulation coupled with the growing demand for sustainable design is fueling the proliferation of high-performance enclosure systems. How are Alliiance and StudioNYL addressing this challenge and what lessons can be learned from Minneapolis? JS: To start with, we're trying to set our goals on every project well beyond the minimal baseline of code regulation and treat performance and sustainability as integral components to the design process. Our office is a signatory to the 2030 Commitment which means we're also doing as much measuring as we can so that we can build a living data set to analyze and track trends as we go. The surge in the accessibility of analytical tools is having an impact across the profession, and we're incorporating these tools more frequently and earlier in the process to predict performance and even feedback into the process as a design-driver. Being located in Minneapolis, our frame of reference, of course, is cold climates and all the challenges they bring—so that means we often come to a project with a critical eye towards envelope performance. Marrying these technical demands of thermal performance, durability, and occupant comfort with early design concepts can make for a very rich approach to facade design—an approach that can be a valuable reference outside the region as all buildings become more closely scrutinized for performance. WB: As a firm, we’ve been pursuing sustainable initiatives in our enclosure, as well as in our structural, projects for years. Fortunately, this has become a prevailing sentiment found in not only my ASHRAE committee work where widespread thermal bridging code provisions are near, but also on the job site where the application of thermal break technologies is no longer viewed as a “specialty item."
As a result, “high performance” is being pushed even higher. Our work with Payette on Amherst College’s new Science Center, a 2019 COTE Top Ten award winner, is one shining example of this; while the recladding of the Social Security Administration’s half-century-old HQ we have underway with Snow Kreilich and HGA in Maryland is another.
One of the most compelling byproducts of such works is how quickly these tenets are reaching the mainstream, where I’ve even witnessed firsthand how net-zero and developer-driven goals can align on a mixed-use project. Another collaboration with Pyatt Studio on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation is seeing 21 net zero, low-income homes being built.More information regarding Facades+ Minneapolis can be found here.
Architect: DDG Location: New York, NY
Acting as design architect, developer, and general contractor, DDG developed a custom, cast-aluminum screen using 3-D modeling software and state-of-the-art hardware. A burlap texture was hand-applied to the set of 12 repeating components before the sand-cast molds were made and the finished components cast. The resulting sinewy surface creates dialogue with the cast iron historic buildings of the area.
Executive Architect HTO ArchitectStructural Engineer Severud Associates Fabricator Walla Walla Foundry RenShape Foundry Pattern & Tooling Board Freeman Manufacturing & Supply Company Aluma Black Birchwood Casey
Honorable Mention, Digital Fabrication: Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex
Architect: Payette Location: Boston, MA
The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at Northeastern University is a high-performance research building with a triple-glazed curtain wall and solar veil to help the building exceed 2030 energy savings goals.
Honorable Mention, Digital Fabrication: FilzFelt LINK
Architect: Gensler Location: Los Angeles, CA
Originally created as a one-time solution for Gensler’s Los Angeles office, the company recognized its wider possibilities and partnered with FilzFelt to produce a flexible modular panel system that adds texture and color to an environment while serving as a privacy screen, shade system, room divider, and acoustical element.
This Boston research facility is one of the first U.S. projects to employ large format GFRC fins and panels
Scheduled to open later this year, the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) on Northeastern’s campus is a 220,000-square-foot research complex that provides state-of-the-art infrastructure, fosters collaboration across disciplines, and increases the university’s capacity to hire top faculty and academic leaders. Prominently sited along an axial pedestrian approach within the private Boston-based research university, the design features a curvilinear translucent facade. The project is a showcase for Payette’s Building Science group, which integrates building physics thinking into the design process. The program was initiated over 5 years ago by Andrea Love, Associate Principal at Payette, and has grown to a specialized three-person team. In addition to overseeing all projects produced by the 140-person firm, the group takes on research initiatives. In 2012, Love, who recently spoke at Facades+ Boston, was awarded the AIA Upjohn Grant on “Thermal Performance of Facades,” a research project studying the effects of thermal bridging in 15 recently completed in-house projects. Love told AN that developing an “energy literacy” in the firm is their goal: the outset of all projects begin with “an intelligent starting point, derived from previous research and studies that have been performed.” For ISEC, the role of Love’s Building Science group was to first inform what kind of facade system was appropriate for the complex: Both performatively and aesthetically to maintain the design vision that had won them the project. The team initially thought a double-skin facade would perform best in the cold New England climate, but quickly determined that solar gain from the southwest facing glass facades would need to be managed. A high performance sun shading system was developed through an iterative process between the Building Science group and Payette’s project team, optimizing fin geometry to balance construction and budget constraints with digital analysis tools like Ladybug + Honeybee for Grasshopper. This method of working translated from the formal composition of the fins—their various curvatures, dimensional limits, and on-center spacing—to construction details which acknowledged a desire to simplify the installation process with a high performance agenda that resulted in minimal thermal breaks and the introduction of rubber pads to minimize thermal transfer. Love said the aluminum fins saved cost on multiple fronts, reducing energy usage by over half of what it would have been without the shading devices, and allowing for a more standard building envelope. “This allowed us to have a traditional curtain wall that is straight in the back, then produce curvature with the fin assembly, achieving a complex doubly curved geometry at a relatively affordable cost.” During value engineering, half of the aluminum fins were proposed to be eliminated to save cost. Through energy model analysis, the Building Science group determined proposed fin reductions would actually increase the cost of the project by requiring greater cooling loads. Love says an integrated design process is critical to proving the value of the firm’s work: “If you don't have that integrated design from the beginning, essential design components often get removed because you cannot prove their impact. this was very helpful to maintain the performative aspects of the design, but also the design vision throughout the design process.” Payette worked closely with ARUP and Permasteelisa Group on the development of the custom aluminum fin system. While a few key sections were produced for construction documents, the construction of facade components was largely referenced digitally by sharing Rhino geometry with fabricators who produced construction model geometry. With shell construction complete, the project is scheduled to open in November.