One only had to glance out the window to understand why the 18th floor of Mart Plaza hotel was the perfect venue for the Chicago addition of the Facades+ Conferences. With views of 333 W. Wacker, the Willis Tower, and a handful of new towers under construction, the history of the modern facade was on display. The conversation in the symposium would be equally as rich with local and international speakers. The morning’s keynote address from Chris Wilkinson of London-based WilkinsonEyre, explored the latest in novel skin technologies from the fantastic flowing domes of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay project, to the ship like Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, UK. The diverse range of projects presented by Wilkinson were shown along with insights into the process that lead their award winning solutions. In the case of the Mary Rose Museum, the recovered Mary Rose Ship is at the center of the design literally and ideologically. In particular, special care was taken to provide the precise environmental conditions needed to preserve the 420-year-old vessel. In his afternoon keynote address, Chicago’s John Ronan of John Ronan Architects discussed the political and social impact facades can have on a neighborhood. In the case of two of the public projects presented, brightly colored panel facades at once announce the project as a neighborhood institution, while providing a physical safety barrier in areas of the city where gun violence is too often a part of a high schooler’s life. Using a similar system of metal paneling for decidedly different reasons, Ronan described the iconic nature and tranquil interior provided in his Poetry Foundation building in downtown Chicago. Ronan closed with a detailed look at the high-tech skin of the forthcoming Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Mies van der Rohe–designed Illinois Institute of Technology campus. The project’s inflated ETFE foil cushion skin regulates interior climate by controlling a moveable interior membrane with a variable air pressure system. Other presentations included a discussion between 2015 AIA Chicago Gold Medal winner Carol Ross Barney, architecture critic Lee Bey, and Chicago Public Building Commission Executive Director Felicia Davis, on building in the public realm for the public good. Maged Guirguis of SOM and James Rose of the Institute for Smart Structures presented AMIE, the Additive Manufacturing/Integrated Energy project, a 3D printed house and vehicle pairing reimagining energy use. The day also included presentations from over 20 other experts in facade design, manufacturing, engineering, and the Methods + Materials gallery. Day two of the symposium included workshops and presentations from leaders in the global facade dialog, including representatives from Buro Happold, SOM, and Autodesk. The workshops provided for a hands-on, one-on-one, chance to discuss and explore the latest in facade technologies and design practices. Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos and Eric Owen Moss will give keynote addresses at the next Facades+ event on January 28th–29th in Los Angeles.
Posts tagged with "Chris Wilkinson":
Ask London-based WilkinsonEyre Director Chris Wilkinson to describe some of the interesting facades he has worked on recently, and you will hear him rattle off a dizzying array of materials, from glass to stone, concrete, brick, and timber. But while his firm's varied portfolio includes the gamut of traditional building materials, his approach to envelope design could hardly be classed as such. Wilkinson, who will deliver the opening keynote at the Facades+ Chicago conference in November, professes a special interest in exterior technologies having to do with reflectivity, shading, ventilation, and responsiveness. With respect to color and reflectivity, Wilkinson prefers to look back—way back—at Westminster Abbey Chapter House, built around 1250 and restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the early 1870s. The Chapter House "is the most magnificent stone and glass facade, full of color and very elegant," said Wilkinson. "That's inspired some colored projects we've done," including the Queen Mary, University of London mathematics building and the University of Exeter Forum. Wilkinson is also eager to talk about the Dyson campus in Malmesbury, UK. "It's a research building in the middle of the country," he explained. "It's a relatively large building, but you can't really judge the size of it because of its reflectivity." On the traditional materials front, Wilkinson is particularly excited about the stone "veil" WilkinsonEyre has developed for the Crown Sydney Hotel in Sydney, Australia. "It's equivalent to what I would call Gothic stone tracery," he said. "We're using modern technology to recreate the sort of effect you got in Gothic times. It's something that they found very interesting in Australia, because they don't have any old buildings there." Wilkinson's apparently never-ending curiosity extends to responsive facades. In addition to his firm's work with dichroic glass, he points to a scheme to construct drum-shaped residential buildings within the 1867 gasholder guide frames at King's Cross. "It's a fairly normal facade system, but with an outer layer of shading shutters that open and close at the touch of your iPhone," explained Wilkinson. "These are circular buildings, so you can imagine the effect will be quite dynamic." As to why the materials and systems he uses changes so much from project to project, Wilkinson is clear that everything originates from the brief and context rather than a preconceived commitment to diversity. "I'm not trying to be different for the sake of being different," he said. "I'm looking for something that's relevant to that particular project." At the same time, he balances pragmatics with an inner drive for innovation. "I and many of my colleagues have an interest in exploring possible new uses of old materials, and in exploring uses of new materials," said Wilkinson. "We like pushing the boundaries, really. And we try not to do anything that's ordinary." Hear more from Wilkinson and other movers and shakers in the world of building envelope design and fabrication at Facades+ Chicago. Visit the conference website for more information or to register.