An undulating aluminum panels rainscreen features around 9000 individual triangular panels, with 1000 high performance glass units.York University is a research-oriented public university in Toronto known for its arts, humanities & business programs. Nestled into the landscape on the edge of campus and overlooking a pond and arboretum, the Bergeron Center for Engineering Excellence is a 169,000 sq. ft., five-story LEED Gold facility housing classrooms, laboratory spaces, offices, and flexible informal learning and social spaces. Designed with the idea of a scaleless, dynamically changing cloud in mind, ZAS Architects + Interiors designed an ovoid-shaped building wrapped in a custom triangulated aluminum composite panel (ACP) cladding with structural silicone glazed (SSG) type windows. Costas Catsaros, Associate at ZAS, says the building will help to establish the emerging school by establishing a dynamic, ever-changing identity. There are two main generators of the Bergeron Centre’s cloud geometry: the building floor plate shape, and various forces manipulating the topology of the cladding surface. The floor plan is designed around 8 curves: a primary curve establishing north, south, east, and west orientations, along with a radius at each corner. Center points of the radii provide reference points for additional sets of geometry and field surveying benchmarks during the construction phase. The resulting ovoid-shaped floor plate, challenged the architects with developing an effective way to wrap the building. They focused on the work of Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science, whose tessellation patterns inspired an efficient way to generate repetitive patterns using a limited number of shapes. Through an intensive design process, the architects were able to clad 85% of the building using only three triangular shapes, scaled based on industry standard limitations for ACP panel sizes. The other panels were cropped by undulating edge geometry along the soffit and parapet edge curves of the surface. To achieve a dynamic effect, the panels inflect at up to 2” in depth, creating an individualized normal vector per panel. By canting the triangulated panels, subtle variation in color and reflectivity is achieved. Additionally, the architects scattered color-changing dichroic paneling throughout a field of reflective anodized panels, while dark colored panels casually cluster around window openings to blur the perceptual edge between solid and void. The building substrate framing is designed with the complex geometry of the rainscreen system in mind. A modular pre-framed structural unit was developed through a highly coordinated BIM information exchange process which resulted in custom support collar detailing at window openings, a unique two-piece girt system to provide concealed attachment for the ACP panels, and a method to allow for up to 1” of tolerance within the wall assembly through reveal gaps in the cladding. During this process, a design model was passed along from the architects to the structural engineer, who developed a construction model in a 3D CAD Design Software. This model was utilized to generate shop drawings, and shared with the steel fabricator, who shared the model with Flynn, a building envelope consultant, to coordinate the rainscreen panelization with respect to window openings in the building envelope. Catsaros says this was a very successful leverage of BIM technology: "It was a very intense process, but worth it in the end. Laing O’Rourke [general contractor] was able to close in the building a lot faster than if this had been done in a conventional process." Closing in the building early in the construction process was critical on this job, which required an opening date in time for the beginning of the school year in September. This required a peak in construction activity during the middle of winter, which would have presented difficulty on an open job site. The off site production and rapid assembly of the building envelope established a warm dry environment for the installation of sophisticated (and costly) laboratory equipment and building systems, none of which would have been possible with the threat of cold weather and moisture an open building invites.
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A digitally-designed medical products showroom plays well with its City Beautiful neighbors.The Global Center for Health Innovation, designed by LMN Architects along with the attached Cleveland Convention Center, is more than a showroom for medical products and services. Located adjacent to the Burnham Malls, the open space at the heart of Daniel Burnham’s Group Plan of 1903, the building is part of Cleveland’s civic core. “One of the things about the Global Center is that it has a unique expression and in particular the facade treatment,” said design partner Mark Reddington. “But it’s also a really integrated piece of a bigger idea and a bigger composition.” A dynamic combination of textured concrete panels and irregular slashes of glazing, the Global Center’s facade, which won honorable mention in AN’s 2014 Best of Design Awards, deftly negotiates the gap between the building’s historic context and its function as a high-tech marketplace. The Global Center’s City Beautiful surrounds influenced its facade design in several ways. “Part of the trick for us in looking at the Global Center,” said project architect Stephen Van Dyck, “was to try and make a building that was contemporary and relevant, but also a building that referred and deferred to its context materially and compositionally.” As a reflection on the solidity of the older structures ringing the Malls, the architects minimized glazing in the east face’s concrete system. In addition, they chose the color and aggregates of the concrete to mimic the tone of limestone. The texturing on the concrete panels, too, was informed by the Global Center’s context. “Like the classical buildings, there’s a lot of detail that shows up in different lighting conditions,” said Reddington. At the same time, the Global Center is very much a product of the 21st century. “There was an explicit intention in creating a facade whose qualities would not have been achievable without digital technology,” said Van Dyck. “It doesn’t look like it was handcrafted. It was primarily an exercise in allowing the technical means of creation and design to live forever on the outside of this building.” In particular, he said, the architects were interested in how their chosen material—precast concrete—allowed them to move beyond a punched-window system to a more complicated relationship between solids and voids. The result eventually became a scientific metaphor, as the designers observed the resemblance of the pattern to the twisting helices of a DNA molecule. LMN developed the facade design on a remarkably short timeline: about four months from concept to shop drawings. “The schedule requirements of the whole thing were absurd,” said Van Dyck. To make modifying the design as easy as possible, the architects developed a utility called Cricket to link Grasshopper and Revit. The ability to update the BIM model in real time convinced the design-build team to take risks despite the compressed timeframe. “Once they realized there was a strong mastery of the data, an ability to listen and incorporate the needs of [multiple] parties, that was really the breakthrough,” explained Van Dyck. “They said, ‘Hey, we can build something that’s a little unconventional.’” Besides their Cricket plug-in, a 3D printer was LMN’s most valuable tool during the design process. To explore how the panels’ texturing would animate the facade under different lighting conditions, they created plaster models from 3D-printed casts. “We had to do that because the geometry was so complex that we didn’t have any computers at the time that were capable of [modeling it],” said Van Dyck. “For us, working between the physical, digital, hand-drawn renderings were all so critical in discovering what we ultimately ended up building.” Sidley Precast Group fabricated the concrete panels with a surface pattern of horizontal joints that vary in depth and height. To minimize cost, the fabricators made almost all of the molds from a single 8-by-10-foot master formliner, with horizontal ribs spaced every 6 inches acting as dams for the smaller molds. While LMN Architects originally wanted to limit the number of panel types to eight, the final count was around 50, including larger pieces made by connecting smaller panels vertically. The approximately 400 precast panels were moved by crane to a system of vertical steel tubes running from slab to slab, then welded into place. The Viracon glazing was welded to the same tubes, a couple of inches back from the face of the concrete. The large atrium window on the building’s east face was manufactured by NUPRESS Group. For the architects, the significance of the Global Center’s facade remains tied to its broader context. Its design, while driven by modern technology, achieves a surprising degree of harmony with its surroundings. “Our building is in a way very classical, though it wasn’t an explicit intention of ours,” said Van Dyck. “To create a language that was both universal and also something that was really new—from our perspective that was a big achievement of the project.”
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An in-progress look at the new transit hub's massive skylightAfter funding cuts and subsequent delays since construction started in 2005, the much-anticipated Fulton Street Transit Center is finally taking shape in Lower Manhattan. The $1.4 billion project will connect eleven subway lines with the PATH train, the World Trade Center, and ferries at the World Financial Center. In collaboration with artist James Carpenter, Grimshaw Architects designed the project’s hallmark—a 60-foot-tall glass oculus that will deliver daylight to the center’s concourse level. The hyperbolic parabaloid cable net skylight supports an inner skin of filigree metal panels that reflect light to the spaces below. AN took a look at the design’s progress with Radius Track, the curved and cold-formed steel framing experts who recently completed installation of the project’s custom steel panels: Metal framing was an ideal choice for the skylight’s large structure, whose 90-foot diameter required a high strength-to-weight ratio that couldn’t have been achieved with a heavier material like concrete. Cold-formed steel (CFS) could also be manipulated into the complex shapes necessary to achieve the skylight’s irregular shape. Though the project was originally designed as a stick-built structure, the design would have required workers to complete the construction of the complicated, sloping oculus walls while working five stories above ground. Proximity to the water raised concerns about severe storms that would have further compromised working conditions. The oculus also had to meet security standards surrounding the World Trade Center memorial sites, so the design team abandoned the stick-built approach and began to consult with Radius Track on an alternative construction method. The structure’s total surface area is approximately 8,294 square feet, comprised of 44 panels arranged in two tiers. Panel width is a constant 8 feet, while length ranges from 19 to 33 ½ feet excluding two smaller end panels measuring 4 feet by 14 feet. The knife-edge element at the top of the parapet is 167 feet long, with a profile that changes continuously along the diameter. Using BIM, Radius Track customized designs for the seven-layer panels that complete the walls of the oculus. The modeling software allowed the team to detect potential clashes within the panels and with other design elements early on, and also facilitated the rapid, offsite fabrication necessary for the project’s tight timeline. The custom panels are designed not only for performance but also for geometric precision. The seven layers include framing (studs, track, blocking, and knife-edge panels where applicable), steel decking, DensGlass sheathing (a drywall material used in exterior applications), waterproof membrane, drainage mat, insulation and curved metal girts to which exterior cladding is attached, and Tyvek wrap. While the materials used in the project are traditional, the methods to connect the layers are not. Each layer has its own particular pattern, making attachment details between the layers critical. (For example, the CFS layer is a grid, the decking consists of linear ridges aligned with one panel edge, and metal girts span across the panel.) Each layer required its own design and subsequent coordination to ensure the finished installation was as precise as possible. Several types of metal are used to create the oculus. The walls’ structural framing is 14 gauge (68-mil) cold-formed steel, a “beefier” design than Radius Track would typically employ because of high wind speeds and enhanced safety and security requirements that are now standard for government structures in New York City. Designers used 16-gauge CFS for the track that is wrapped horizontally around the oculus walls. Decking is VulCraft 3-inch steel decking and horizontal metal girts secure the insulation layers. At the parapet, Radius Track designed customized 16-gauge, laser-cut steel sheets to form the ever-changing slope that circles around the top of the structure. Some sections are opening to the public ahead of the anticipated mid-2014 completion, and the complex is eventually expected to serve 300,000 passengers each day with 26,000 square feet of new space that will also include new retail stores and restaurants.
Cast stone and steel become the medium for collaboration at Trahan Architects’ newest project.Trahan Architects’ Louisiana State Sports Hall Of Fame and Regional History Museum was designed with northern Louisiana’s geography in mind. Located in Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, the 28,000-square-foot building overlooks Cane River Lake at the boundary of the Red River Valley. While the museum’s exterior will be clad in a skin of cypress planks, a nod to the area’s timber-rich building stock, the interior spaces will be formed by a skin of more than 1,000 cast stone panels resembling land shaped by eons of moving water. As the panels begin to be installed, AN went behind the scenes to learn how the project is taking shape. Creating the building has been a largely collaborative effort. Texas-based Advanced Cast Stone will fabricate the stone panels, but the team involved in realizing the design also includes specialty steel consultant David Kufferman, steel geometry and detailing consultant Method Design, and Case, the firm providing the project’s fabrication modeling, BIM management, and technology consultation. Using Trahan’s 3-D documents, Case developed a set of customized automation procedures to create a final 3-D model with all of the stone panels, each with its own geometry. “If there’s not repetition with the panel typology, there can be repetition with the process of creating the files themselves and not necessarily the geometry,” said Case partner Ruben Suare. The firm’s software-agnostic approach allowed them to build the proper interface with a range of tools across ten different software packages. These models were used for structural analysis and coordination of all building systems, as well as for outputting shop tickets for use during fabrication. “This is an ideal situation for us because we are managing all 3-D information across the process,” said Case partner Federico Negro. They also created a clash-detection matrix to show where thickened panels would conflict with the project’s structural steel framework, to which the panels will be attached with embedded connections. Method Design served as a consultant to the engineer and stone fabricator to resolve these issues. “We basically had to develop tools to manage the tools,” said Method partner Reese Campbell, who previously worked with Negro at SHoP Architects. In all, Method designed 30 connection types for 1,150 panels, each with between 6 and 15 connections (each panel may attach with three to four connection types). Installation of the cast stone skin has begun and is scheduled for completion in the spring of next year, with an anticipated museum opening in the summer. Panels range in dimension from 2 by 2 feet to more than 15 feet square—the largest piece, to be installed on the atrium’s second floor, will weigh nearly 3 tons. Because panels are stacked in an offset-brick pattern, they must be installed in a specific order. “Not only is the finish of the piece important, its alignment with its neighbors and the grouting is important,” said Negro. “It’s a piece of sculpture.”
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A new cultural focal point takes shape in DallasWhen the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science was created from the 2006 merger of three city museums—the Museum of Natural History, The Science Place, and the Dallas Children’s Museum—the new institution set its sites on expanding programming with a new facility in the city’s Victory Park neighborhood. Now, the 180,000-square-foot Morphosis-designed Perot Museum of Nature & Science is slated for completion in 2013. Located at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street, it marks the future crossroads of the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project and the city’s cultural districts. Floating atop an irregularly shaped plinth that will be the base for a one-acre rooftop ecosystem, the museum’s striated concrete facade offers a first glimpse at the dynamic transformation of the site. Early renderings show a smooth monolithic cube as the museum’s main volume, but the Morphosis team began working with the Hillsboro, Texas, branch of Gate Precast early in the project to develop a horizontally striped precast concrete panel design for the facade. “They wanted something different from everything else in Dallas,” said Gate sales and marketing manager Scott Robinson. “The architects wanted it to be true, raw, and modern.” To this end, Morphosis selected a plain gray concrete mix, without pigment or white cement, for the facade, knowing there would be natural mottling to each panel. “They didn’t want the building to look painted,” said Robinson. In total, the company will fabricate 655 precast pieces for the project. Gate created a series of mock-ups using random combinations of convex and concave shapes that would flow seamlessly from one panel to the next. After refining the design in Revit, Gate’s BIM operators modeled more than 100,000 square feet of precast cladding on the museum’s exterior for Morphosis’ 3-D models. Wood-framed concrete molds constructed in a range of set dimensions (the average size is 8 by 30 feet) helped keep facade costs lower. Within these, convex and concave rubber pieces based on the team’s digital models can be placed to achieve the desired striation. In the harsh Texas sun, the random shapes cast bold shadows across the building’s elevations, gradually giving way to smooth concrete surfaces on the higher levels. Because the pattern continues at the building’s corners, end panels required a two-step process: The short end was poured and set first, then rotated to allow the long section to be poured before the two pieces were attached with a cold joint. The curved precast panels for the museum’s base created another challenge—building formwork in multiple axes. Gate’s engineering department created a series of geometric points and calculations for its carpentry wing, and carpenters built the formwork by hand without any CNC equipment. “The hard part is that they get a picture of what the panel looks like, and they have to build the reverse of that,” said Robinson. The curved precast panels will require nearly 80 unique molds in all, comprising about 15 percent of the project’s precast concrete. For its final contribution to the project, Gate will cast several pieces that Morphosis is referring to as “sticks”—long precast beams that will decorate the site as sculpture or functional elements once the new museum’s rooftop ecosystem, with landscape architecture by Dallas-based Talley Associates, is in place.