Posts tagged with "Thornton Tomasetti":

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Why is ETFE the material of choice for U.S. stadia?

"Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Thankfully "E-T-F-E" does. The material—commonly referred to by its acronym—is all the rave within the architecture world right now, mostly notably seen in contemporary stadia design.

A Project Engineer at New York firm, Thornton Tomasetti, Alloy Kemp spoke to The Architect's Newspaper about the material's key role in stadia projects such across the U.S. These included: the Banc of California Stadium (for the Los Angeles Football Club, MLS) and the U.S. Bank Stadium (for the Minnesota Vikings).

With regard to the latter example, the stadium makes use of a 240,000-square-foot transparent ETFE roof—the largest of its kind in the country. Here, transparency facilitates clear views outside and bathes the playing field in natural light. This also aids climate control within the space, a key factor when growing pitch-perfect grass. While the ETFE system facilitates solar gains, excess heat vents at the stadium's peak supplement ventilation requirements.

The latter meanwhile uses the material expose the structure as a roof clad with 190,000 square feet of ETFE film reveal long-span cantilevers. Kemp pointed out that the material lets a full spectrum of UV light through, something "which aids in plant growth." She also cited the material's "high span to weight ratio" and "its ability to warp" that allow "lighter and sparser structure," as a main reason for its selection. Additionally, kemp added that a low friction coefficient means with regular rainfall, it is capable of cleaning itself with little maintenance necessary.

Another stadium, this time for the LA Rams team, also makes use of ETFE. The stadium, designed by New York–based HKS, features a giant triangular roof supported by thick columns and made of the material. This super-roof also spans across an adjacent outdoor lobby called “champions plaza” to be used as a communal gathering spot for game day spectators. For year-round events, the stadium features a transparent ETFE canopy covering nearly 19 acres. The canopy allows all sides of the building to remain open to the air, allowing natural breezes to pass through while protecting the up to 80,000 patrons from inclement weather.

Alloy Kemp will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York on April 6 There she and Edward Peck of Forum Studio will discuss ETFE's use in the LA Football Club and Minnesota Vikings stadiums as well as in the DS+R's Hudson Yards Culture Shed. Seating is limited. To register, go to

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Stacking glass bars in Chicagoland

Brought to you with support from
Chicago architects Goettsch Partners, along with Clayco and Thornton Tomasetti, among others, have achieved U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum certification on a new North American headquarters for Zurich Insurance. The campus, located in suburban Chicago is the largest LEED Platinum Core and Shell v2009 project in the U.S. and the only LEED Platinum CS v2009 project in Illinois. The building achieves a 62.7 percent whole-building energy cost savings, making use of multiple green roofs, energy efficient technologies, rainwater harvest and re-use, accommodations for electric and low-emitting vehicles, and native landscaping with more than 600 trees on 40 acres.
  • Facade Manufacturer FacadeTek (Indianapolis) for Ventana
  • Architects Goettsch Partners; Clayco (developer/design-builder)
  • Facade Installer CK2 installer (contracted by Ventana)
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti (sustainability consultant / daylighting / façade performance); CDC (unitized curtain wall design for Ventana / FacadeTek); Sentech (engineering of glass fin lobby wall and ventilated double skin façade)
  • Location Schaumburg, IL
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Unitized curtain wall with integrated horizontal aluminum sunshades, structurally glazed ventilated double wall
  • Products Shanghai Pilkington / Carey Glass / PPG-Oldcastle (exterior glazing); Ventana / FacadeTek-CDC/ Active Glass (Curtain wall and storefront systems); Ventana / Sentech (Structural glass systems); Prodema (exterior soffits); Horiso (Double-skin façade cavity shading); Lutron (Interior solar control shading)
The building is composed of three primary “bars” stacked and arranged to maximize views of the surrounding landscape and optimize solar orientation. The composition is benchmarked off the top volume, which was rotated 22-degrees. Paul De Santis, principal of Goettsch Partners, said this calculated move aligns the building with downtown Chicago, over 30 miles away. "The idea that you are in the suburbs but have a visual connection to the city resonated with Zurich's leaders." The lower bar on the east side of the campus is set 90-degrees off of the top bar, which helps to deflect northern winds and buffers sound from a nearby highway. Its rotation allows for direct sun in the courtyard near midday, promoting outdoor campus usage during the lunch hour. The curtain wall facade wraps outboard of three super scale trusses that are set 60 feet on center, achieving an 180-foot span over the middle of the campus, and a 30-foot cantilever at the perimeter. Michael Pulaski, vice president of Thornton Tomasetti, said that their team fine-tuned the glazing characteristics on the building, and custom designed a shading system that reduces peak gains and optimized daylighting. Detailed daylighting studies, using parametric software like Honeybee, were used to evaluate the effects of automated interior blinds and fine-tune the depth of the exterior shading devices for each orientation. The analysis optimized the depth of the shades for energy performance, which reduced peak solar gain for better thermal comfort and the size of the mechanical systems. De Santis said that in addition to this significant work to manage electricity usage, the management of water on site helped the project achieve its LEED Platinum rating. To push the project from a gold to platinum rating, De Santis said, "it comes down to two things: energy and water." The project team also incorporated features such as 1 acre of green roofs, native planting strategies, and large water retention areas for landscaping irrigation. The most advanced facade assembly occurs along the glazed south-facing wall of a three-story cafeteria where a ventilated double-wall facade was specified. Here, to verify performance and optimize the façade for reduced energy consumption, Thornton Tomasetti provided computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling. The 4.5-foot-wide double wall with integrated shades is designed to reduce solar gains in summer, while increasing the gains in the winter, as well as to improve daylighting, resulting in an estimated 33 percent energy savings in the adjacent space. Elsewhere, a single low-e coating on the number two surface (inner side of the exterior layer) continues through the insulated spandrel panels to produce a more uniform aesthetic while helping to minimize solar heat gain. The ground floor features a more transparent recessed glass, which De Santis said was an aesthetic and compositional move to help the upper floors read as "floating" volumes. With approximately 2,400 employees moved into the facility, the campus was designed to accommodate up to 2,800 employees. De Santis said the two lower bars are designed to extend an additional 100-linear-feet if and when more space is needed in the future: "It's very rare to work on a 26-acre site. We're used to working in very urban conditions. So the idea that the land allows for some of these growth strategies is very natural for the project. The longer these bars get, the more elegant the architectural expression will be."
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Thornton Tomasetti to hold event encouraging young women’s interest in science and engineering careers

On October 10 this month, New York engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti will host an event aimed at young women interested in science and engineering careers.

The event will start at 9:00 a.m. and run through until 1:00 p.m. (breakfast and lunch will be served), and will be located at the Thornton Tomasetti offices in New York City on 51 Madison Avenue, 18th Floor.

The event aims to address the following questions:

What does a structural engineer do? What does a facade engineer do? What is blast engineering?

Can girls succeed as engineers?

What is the difference between an engineer, an architect, and a sustainability consultant?

How can I start designing buildings?

Additionally, other small group tours and hands-on activities will take place. The event is open to all high school girls, though spaces are limited. For those interested, RSVP to: Vanessa Rodriguez: VRodriguez[at], 917-661-7800.

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SOM’s Neil Katz on parametric modeling in facade design

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) associate Neil Katz describes his approach to crafting facades as involving a “computational design” methodology. In computational design, the architect generates solutions to a particular problem by first defining a set of rules and criteria for the model. Though the many tools Katz uses during this process include intangibles like “a desire to explore as many valid options as possible” and his office’s collaborative environment, in many instances he also performs literal computation—specifically, parametric modeling. Katz will moderate a panel on “Creating Complex Facades with Parametric Control” at next month’s Facades+ Chicago symposium. On day two of the conference, he and SOM colleague Joel Putnam will lead a dialog workshop on “New Techniques in Parametric Design." Parametric modeling can be the means to several ends, explained Katz. First, it can be used to explore a building’s massing, taking into account constraints like program, site, climate, context, and the overarching design concept. When applied to facade panelization, meanwhile, parametric control works with a different set of rules, including the relative flatness of the facade or the desire for regularity or other panel properties. Finally, observed Katz, “analysis and simulation, and visualization of the results, is also part of the parametric process—and can be a parametric process in its own right.” Katz’s affinity for parametric design is in part an outgrowth of his interest in programming. “Even in school, but especially when I started working at SOM, this ability became a natural part of creating models, and performing many of the tasks I was given,” he said. During the 1980s, as a design student enrolled in computer science courses, he was an anomaly. But that may be changing. “For many years, engineers [also had to have] some expertise at programming to do their work,” said Katz. “That’s becoming true for architects as well. I would say that most architecture students are now interested in acquiring and using this skill.” He has observed a similar shift among his fellow architects at SOM. “More and more, my colleagues are building their own models, and my contribution is helping to develop a strategy to make the model as powerful and flexible as possible,” said Katz. Like Katz, his co-panelists are working to solve some of the challenges inherent to parametric design, including the time it takes to perform the various analyses. Tristan d’Estrée Sterk, of Formsolver and ORAMBRA, is “currently developing a tool (Formsolver) which will allow architects to easily optimize a building’s form and material use as little energy as necessary,” said Katz. Matthew Shaxted will also join the conversation. Parallel.Works, the firm he co-founded, gives AEC industry professionals access to the computing power necessary to perform many of the analyses described above. “Parallel.Works does not create new tools, as Formsolver does, but allows people to use existing tools in a more powerful way,” observed Katz. Thornton Tomasetti vice president Hauke Jungjohann is the third member of the panel. A specialist in parametric modeling, form optimization, and digital information transfer, Jungjohann leads the Facade Engineering practice for the firm’s East U.S. Region. Hear from Katz, d’Estrée Sterk, Shaxted, Jungjohann, and other leaders in the field of building envelope design and fabrication November 5-6 at Facades+ Chicago. Learn more and register today by visiting the Facades+ website.
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Two of the biggest names in engineering, Weidlinger and Thornton Tomasetti, have joined forces

Two of the world’s most respected engineering firms, Thornton Tomasetti and Weidlinger Associates, have merged. Operating under the Thornton Tomasetti name, the deal means that the firm will now offer 10 practices offering a "broader range" of service to its clients as well as employing 1,200 staff and operating in 34 cities across the globe. The 10 practices will include:
  • Forensics
  • Renewal
  • Weidlinger Applied Science
  • Property Loss Consulting
  • Structural Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
  • Weidlinger Protective Design
  • Facade Engineering
  • Weidlinger Transportation
  • Sustainability
The Weidlinger name was kept in some services due to industry reputation. The firm will remain headquartered in New York City, with offices at the current 51 Madison Avenue and 40 Wall Street locations.
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How architects are building a “soil sandwich” to keep plants from cooking at Hudson Yards’ rail-yard-topping Public Square

Building America’s largest private real estate development in history would be a tricky proposition whether or not it was taking shape over an active rail yard in the middle of the densest city in the country. But, of course, that is exactly where Hudson Yards—the mega development with those superlative bragging rights—is taking shape. To support the 17-million-square-foot project, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), alongside Thornton Tomasetti, designed a massive steel platform (video below) that caps the rail yard allowing trains to move below and towers to rise into the Manhattan skyline. After years of failed attempts to build at the site, the project finally broke ground in 2012. Today, the platform is expanding horizontally and the first glass tower, also designed by KPF, is nearing completion. Planting a forest of skyscrapers above the rail yard has obviously required some engineering ingenuity, but planting an actual forest—or at least 200 trees—at Hudson Yards is no easy task task, either. To ensure that all of the trees, flowers, and plantings in Hudson Yards’ 4.5-acre “Public Square” flourish, landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz had to solve a tricky equation of its own. Since the green space sits atop the new platform, the firm created a special soil to provide necessary drainage and nutrients for the plantings. There is also a “soil sandwich” of sand, gravel, and concrete slab to help trees’ roots expand horizontally. In the mix, plans also call for a rainwater collection system that will irrigate the space by pooling “every drop of rainwater that falls on the Hudson Yards Public Square". Er, maybe not every rain drop will be collected but we get the idea. There's another hidden challenge for sustaining plant life in the Public Square lurking just beneath the surface, as well: the heat rising from train tracks below. That heat, if left alone, would essentially cook the roots of any plants sitting above it. To keep the trees and plants comfortable, coolant is being pumped into the concrete slab. There are also 15 jet-engine-sized fans to further dissipate the heat. The site’s developers—Related and Oxford Properties Group—are celebrating the space as a great new public amenity (it’s right there in the name: Public Square). But while the space is open to the public and can be used for cultural events and movie screenings, it’s pretty clear that it is designed to be a money-maker for the development. The Hudson Yards’ website boasts that the Public Square can be used for “marquee events” like “signature product launches” and “brand installations.” You can also expect plenty of models during Fashion Week, which will relocate to the complex's Culture Shed. Speaking of money, the day after the Public Square plan was revealed by the developer, the Independent Budget Office projected that Hudson Yards will cost the city an additional $368 million through 2019, bringing the price tag for the entire project to $947 million, as reported by DNAinfo. The city has provided $3 billion in bonds for the project along with the 7 train extension that will service the site. Revenue from residential and commercial tenants at Hudson yards was supposed to offset the cost, but that hasn't happened just yet.
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Facades+ Tech Workshops: Quick-Take Continuing Education

In the constantly-evolving AEC industry, the importance of continuing technical education is difficult to understate. Yet learning opportunities for design and construction professionals tend to occupy two extremes, explained Thornton Tomasetti’s Jonatan Schumacher. “You can take a class, which is a long undertaking,” he said. “Or you can watch online lectures, which require self-motivation.” The Facades+ conference series offers a happy medium in the form of day-long tech workshops, providing hands-on exposure to new tools under the guidance of subject specialists. “The tech workshop is a unique opportunity, especially given how busy AEC professionals are,” said Schumacher, who will co-teach “Responsive Facade Prototypes” at next month's Facades+ NYC with colleague Grace Koerber. “It’s just long enough that you get a good understanding of what the topic is, but short enough that if it’s not for you, you haven’t committed a lot of time.” Schumacher, who has participated in past Facades+ tech workshops both as a student and as an instructor, points out that the courses meet a range of needs and levels of experience. “The workshop we’re about to teach is to explore something new, and hopefully whet someone’s appetite,” he said. “Other workshops are designed to help you freshen up on the topic, or add skills.” As for the tempo of the day, “it’s usually pretty fast paced, such that you get quite a good amount of exposure to the subject,” explained Schumacher. Participants in the tech workshops can expect to learn from each other as well as their instructors. “It’s a real community,” said Schumacher. “You can meet new people in your city that are interested in the same things. It’s nice to create that network, and hopefully stay in touch afterwards.” The facilitators, too, get something out of the courses. “It’s a lot of fun because we can teach subjects that we can’t necessarily do in our day to day jobs,” said Schumacher. “It’s usually something that we’re passionate about. I always enjoy spreading the word.” Other tech workshops on offer at Facades+ NYC include “Photogrammetry: Scanning to 3D Models,” with Justin Nardone and Ben Howes, also of Thornton Tomasetti. SHoP Architects’ John Cerone, Victoire Saby, and John Guilford will lead Parametric Facade Systems & Logic Sequencing,” and Matt Jezyk and Colin McCrone, both of Autodesk, will co-teach “Dynamo Tools for Facade Design in Revit.” For more information or to register, visit the Facades+ NYC website.
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Learn and Earn CES LU Credits at Facades+ Los Angeles

In the fast-paced world of building design, hands-on instruction in new methods can be hard to come by. Next month, attendees at Facades+ LA can take advantage of a unique opportunity for one-on-one guidance in digital tools at tech workshops intimately connected to the themes of the conference. "The tech workshops are a great way to learn cutting edge methods that are regularly at the core of what is presented in the symposium and dialog sessions," remarked Thornton Tomasetti's Matt Naugle, a veteran Facades+ tech workshop instructor. On day two of the conference, Naugle will co-teach "Advanced Facade Panelization Optimization Techniques" with Thornton Tomasetti colleague Daniel Segraves. "This workshop is a unique opportunity to explore methods of optimization in Grasshopper with a pair of instructors who professionally use these methods on complex designs," said Naugle. "By the end of the day, all attendees will have a strong understanding of how to embed these methods into their own design and engineering methods." During the first half of the day, enrollees will learn how to apply algorithmic approaches to panelization optimization. The afternoon session will focus on dynamic optimization using Kangaroo. Naugle and Segraves will lead participants through examples that they either build themselves or pull from sample files, depending on their level of experience. "Throughout the day we will pause to discuss the reasons and logic behind the methods present—discussing the merit for each procedure on different use cases," explained Naugle. Other tech workshops featured at Facades+ LA include "Environmental Performance in Building Envelope Design," taught by Mostapha Roudsari, also of Thornton Tomasetti, and "Enhanced BIM Workflows for Data-Driven Facades," with Case Inc.'s Tim Dumatrait. All workshop participants will benefit from interaction with their peers as well as the instructors. "The workshop typically brings together a diverse collection of architects, engineers, facade consultants, manufacturers, and construction experts creating a great dialog about the methods being taught," said Naugle. Register online today—tech workshops fill up well before the conference weekend. For more information on Facades+ LA tech workshops, dialog workshops, and symposium events, visit the conference website.
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Pictorial> Meet ARTIC, California’s newest intermodal transit station

On Monday, the city of Anaheim cut the ribbon on one of the most important transit stations in California history: ARTIC, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center. The multi-modal building, designed by HOK with engineering by Thornton Tomasetti and Buro Happold, contains facilities for regional rail, bus, automobile, and even bicycles, not to mention shops and restaurants. And if all goes according to plan, it will eventually be the southern terminus for the state's High Speed Rail system. The wide-open, multi-level structure, which looks out at Anaheim's Honda Center and the surrounding mountains, is topped with a glowing, diamond-gridded ETFE roof and fronted by two of the largest self-supporting curtain walls in the world. Check back for a full critique of the LEED Platinum project in AN's next West issue. But for now enjoy some early shots from the opening day. We're impressed that it still looks a lot like the renderings.

Facades+ NYC14 Video Interviews: Resilience

Climate change and extreme weather events have made resilience a watchword among AEC professionals. In this video from our partners at Enclos, filmed at facades+ NYC in April, Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan) talk about designing and engineering building skins to meet present and future environmental challenges. Resilience will take center stage at the facades+ Chicago conference July 24-25. Early Bird registration rates have been extended through Sunday, June 29. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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Canstruction LA: The City’s Most Architectural Food Drive Has a Record Year

Every year at about this time, Los Angeles' design community comes together for a good cause—and a chance to show off their ingenuity working with an unusual building material. We’re talking Canstruction LA, which just wrapped its eighth outing. Like other Canstruction events nationwide, Canstruction LA invites teams of architects, engineers, builders, and designers to design and build sculptures entirely out of canned food. The 2014 competition produced an array of impressive designs and—most importantly—donated 28,551 cans of food to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Canstruction LA is put on by an all-volunteer steering committee under the auspices of the Society for Design Administration. Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA, who serves on the committee, first read about the Canstruction program in a magazine. “[I] thought, this would be great for my clients to do,” said Taylor, who is the principal of Taylor & Company, a public relations firm for creative professionals. “I called up the national organization and said, ‘Who’s doing it in LA?’ They said, ‘No one. Why don’t you do it?’” So Taylor did, and the event keeps getting better. This year’s participants donated 7,000 more pounds of food than last year’s. Because the design teams are responsible for obtaining the cans, “it’s a major commitment for the firms that contribute,” said Taylor. Participants must also agree to a set of ground rules: they’re limited in size to a 10- by 10- by 8-foot cube; they have to use nutritious food, and the labels have to stay on. The designers can use a few additional materials to hold their creations together, but the sculptures should be mostly cans. The participating teams submitted drawings to the event organizers ahead of time. “Every year I look at them and I go, ‘There’s no way they’re going to be able to do that,” said Taylor. “And every year they knock me out.” Once on site, the designers have just one all-nighter to put their sculptures together. A jury of art, architecture, and culinary experts reviews the creations and awards several prizes, including the Juror’s Favorite, Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, and Structural Ingenuity. Visitors to the exhibition of finished works can vote for a People’s Choice honoree for one dollar, with all proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. This year’s Juror’s Favorite was FOOD FIGHT! by PCL Construction Services, KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison, a face-off between a container of french fries and an apple that reflects on Angelenos’ struggle to access nutritious foods. Best Use of Labels went to Reflecting Hunger, by Steinberg Architects, which is based on Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago. CANimal Style Trio, by American Society of Civil Engineers Younger Member Forum, which imagines a health-conscious update to the classic fast-food meal, took Best Meal. The spiraling Pineapple Twist, by NBBJ and Thornton Tomasetti won both Structural Ingenuity and People’s Choice. Honorable Mention went to CAN Get some Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones-inspired challenge to hunger by LARGE Architecture and HKS Inc. Canstruction LA 2014 took place for the second time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in downtown Los Angeles as part of the Downtown Art Walk. “Being open during the Downtown Art Walk is incredible,” said Taylor. “The number of people who go through, and the diversity of people, is fabulous, and so that’s been a really big boon. We hope to be downtown for many, many years and engage the downtown community.”
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Get Hands on Experience with Cutting-Edge Technologies at Facades+ Performance

Attention all AEC students and professionals: AN and Enclos’ Facades+ PERFORMANCE Chicago, the premiere conference on high-performance building envelopes, is less than three weeks away! Don’t miss your opportunity to work side-by-side with the industry’s leading innovators in our series of full day, hands-on technology workshops, intimate dialogs, and engaging symposia October 24th- 25th. Gain the knowledge and skills to work with the latest in cutting edge design and analysis technologies that are revolutionizing contemporary architecture, and transform your professional practice. Registered architects can earn 8 AIA LU credits. Space is limited, so reserve your seat before it’s too late! Watch as Ronnie Parsons and Mode Lab-partner Gil Akos fielding questions about technology-enabled creative practice from their first livestream broadcast! Register today to join Ronnie Parsons, founding partner of Mode Lab, as he teaches you the mechanisms for creating performance-based parametric systems with Grasshopper for Rhino3D in his workshop, “Dynamic Patterning and Surface Design.”  With over 100 workshops under his belt over the past four years, Parsons is committed to sharing his passion for the innovative design technologies that are transforming the AEC industries through engaging, hands-on educational experiences. And don’t miss out as Mostapha Roudsari, Integrated Applications Developer for Thonton Tomasetti, explores the latest techniques for building envelope performance evaluation with Grasshoper in “Environmental Analysis for High Performance Building Envelope Design.” Be there as Mostapha shares his expertise in developing automated performance-drive design and optimized workflows in an intimate, classroom setting, and assemble the tools necessary to push your projects to the highest standards of performance. To learn more about these and other exciting workshops, panels, and symposia, head over to the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site. Save the date: Facades+ PERFORMANCE, coming to Chicago, October 24th-25th!