Posts tagged with "curtain wall":

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SOM rethinks city hall design with a new energy-efficient skin

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SOM has designed a master plan for downtown Long Beach, California, which involves new mixed-use developments across a 22-acre area. The Long Beach City Hall and Port Headquarters complex, comprising two new buildinds, is the first outcome of this planning effort. The project, led by SOM in collaboration with Syska Hennessy Group, Clark Construction Group, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls International, is part of the largest public-private development on the West Coast, attracting attention and visits from municipalities across the country. The project team was able to reduce risk to the public side through a public-private partnership with a facilities operation maintenance (P3FOM) delivery method.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Industries
  • Architects SOM
  • Facade Installer Benson Industries; Clark Construction Group, LLC (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Benson/SOM/Clark (facade development); Nabih Youssef Associates (structural analysis)
  • Location Long Beach, CA
  • Date of Completion 2019 (projected)
  • System curtain wall
  • Products unitized facade assembled by Benson from insulated glass (Viracon), extruded aluminum, formed aluminum (City Hall building), and shadow boxes composed of extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face (Port building)
The project will replace Long Beach’s old city hall while adding new civic and infrastructure amenities such as parking, landscaping, a library, and marketplace. The two new buildings are identical in massing and proportion, utilizing long and narrow floor plates with split cores to offer better connections between interior and exterior environments. Syska Hennessy Group, the MEP and sustainable design consultant on the project, said the building's operating costs and carbon footprint were designed to be 50 percent lower than those of a standard office building. This was achieved through a collaborative design process involving preliminary energy modeling, solar shading studies, and building system schematic sketches to help resolve architectural and programmatic decisions. The primary feature of the project is an underfloor air conditioning system integrated into the floor plate structure. The design approach allows for taller ceiling heights and yields improved daylighting and aesthetics by exposing the ceiling finishes. Syska said the project is targeting LEED Gold certification, with all buildings exceeding ASHRAE 90.1-2007 by at least 22 percent before renewables are taken into account, and 34 percent after. Exterior curtain walls are composed of insulated glass manufactured by Viracon. The glazing is integrated into extruded aluminum framing fabricated and painted in Korea. The components were sent to Benson Industries' assembly shop located in Tijuana, Mexico, where they were assembled into unitized systems. This approach minimized costly labor on the job site. Subtle detailing differences emerged on the building envelope, which is composed of unitized facades fabricated and installed by Benson. At City Hall, the facade features solid white panels made from formed aluminum, while units with shadow boxes at the Port building are made from extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face. These “shadow box” assemblies were carefully designed to be contextual and were inspired by colors and textures taken from shipping containers at the nearby Long Beach Port. The project, currently under construction, is scheduled for a late-2019 opening.
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Structural rationalism meets architectural elegance in Hangzhou, China

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For over eight decades, SOM has been a leading voice in emphasizing structural poetics, or the integration of architectural and engineering efforts into built form. This mashup of rationalism and elegance was on full display at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennale, where they collaborated with Mana Contemporary to deliver a pop-up exhibition titled "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]," that ran from September 2017 through early January 2018 at the Ace Hotel. Among sketches, study models, and impressive structural mockup systems sat a lineup of more than 30 structural models at 1:500 scale, arranged by height.
  • Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Location Hangzhou, China
  • Date of Completion 2021 (projected)
  • System unitized curtain wall
  • Products custom unitized glass curtain wall with integrated metal clad shadow box and horizontal fins
Hangzhou Wangchao Center has seamlessly grown out of this impressive survey of work—a design that exists as proof-of-concept to SOM’s design approach. Along with a robustly reinforced concrete core, the 54-story mixed use tower is defined by eight “mega-columns,” as defined by SOM, which weave back and forth as they track upwards. Secondary perimeter columns establish uniform bay spacing to the interior, connected diagonally to the primary corner columns with a Vierendeel transfer truss. Beyond creating an expressive formal shape, the structural configuration offers performance benefits such as wind load reduction and flexible column-free interior floor plates. The resulting unitized facade was carefully designed into a rationalized stepped surface to allow for flat planar glazing units. The canted curtain wall, which follows the tapered massing of the tower, is organized into floor-to ceiling units which slip past the finished floor level to create a sense of continuity from the interior. A recessed shadow box and horizontal fin assembly further articulates a reveal gap between floor plates. This carefully developed building envelope detail offers a discrete path for the building to accommodate natural ventilation.
The ground floor building enclosure was engineered to accommodate 36-foot-tall glazing panels around the perimeter of the tower, dissolving the boundary between the surrounding cityscape, and highlighting a massive stone-clad core that blooms outward into the space of the lobby. The tower is currently under construction, with piles for the foundation system being driven into the ground. The project will be complete by 2021 just ahead of Hangzhou’s hosting of the 2022 Asian Games, a multi-sport event held every four years.
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A closer look at lighting integration on Wilshire Grand’s spine

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Over sixty years ago the original Wilshire Grand Hotel opened as the Hotel Statler, thanks to the City of Los Angeles, which issued the largest single building permit in their history for the construction of the $15 million project. That landmark legacy continues today, as the new 1,100-foot-tall Wilshire Grand tower lays claim to being the tallest building in Los Angeles, the tallest building in California, and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.  
  • Facade Manufacturer StandardVision (facade lighting); C.R. Laurence (glass entrance systems supplier); Viracon (cladding);  Schuff Steel (structural steel); Conco (concrete)
  • Architects AC Martin
  • Facade Installer Turner Construction (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Benson Industries (facade consultant); Heitmann & Associates, Inc. (facade consultant); Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineering); Brandow & Johnston (engineer of record); Glumac (MEP Engineer)
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System curtain wall, with integrated LED
  • Products custom LED
The tower formally breaks from a 1974 ordinance requiring towers to have flat roofs for helicopter rescue in the event of fire. A tapered form was permitted due to advances in fire safety and building technology, such as a reinforced concrete central core that exceeds the city’s current fire code. The facade features a fully integrated, centrally controlled experiential LED lighting developed by StandardVision. The linear fixtures were custom made per floor, and installed throughout each of the tower's 73 floors. One centrally controlled system ties the entire system together. This allows possibility for the facade for incorporate full motion video, artwork, accent lighting, and brand signage as desired. All linear accent lighting was integrated into the glazing panels, and the fixtures were pre-installed in the facade contractor’s shop prior to site delivery. This unitized approach minimized staging time on-site and allowed for a smooth installation workflow. Joshua Van Blankenship, vice president of media platforms for StandardVision, said this was one of the biggest challenges of the project. Another technical challenge was to ensure lighting occurred seamlessly despite traveling over expansion joints in the facade and encountering over 200 parametrically controlled panel widths. “Resolving these two factors with Benson [the facade contractor] allowed us to save tens of thousands of man-hours in exterior installation, and focus our budget on providing the technology solution the architect wanted without a single SV change order,” he said.
Penetrations through the building envelope were reduced to a singular point per floor level. A small kick plate access hatch offers accessibility from the interior. This utility space houses LED drivers for the fixtures and wiring for the system. The detailing and design coordination of this moment in the facade went through rigorous proof of concept water-testing to ensure performance. Van Blankenship credits a close design-build relationship between documentation and fabrication teams at Benson and StandardVision for the success of the integrated lighting system. “Our designers in L.A. were regularly working these shifted-hours to have time to overlap with Benson's Singapore team, and by the end of the process, we were incredibly efficient in defining how our respective scopes were going to relate.” he said. “Throughout this entire process AC Martin, Turner and Rosendin (the electrical contractors) were great partners in helping to make this hybrid system work.” Wilshire Grand’s lighting system highlights a robust curtainwall system that was optimized for California’s seismic loads and solar gain. Thornton Tomasetti developed a parametric facade panelization model that consolidated and synchronized information in required for architectural documentation and specialty construction. Concurrently, Glumac developed energy models and shading studies throughout the design process to study building envelope performance. The models take into account shade from DTLA’s surrounding context cast onto the tower, proposing a series of varied fin depths along the south facade. This level of study saved curtain wall material while maximizing the shading potential of the building envelope. California’s Title 24 energy code limits glazing to 40 percent window-to-wall ratio (WWR), but with these advanced parametric modeling and analysis tools, the design teams were able to demonstrate a larger WWR of 50 percent could still outperform California code baseline through careful specification of glazing material, insulation values, and shading schemes.  
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Flying dormers and a gridded facade in Lower Manhattan

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Celebrated as one of a handful of single-block streets in New York City, Renwick Street was once known as an historic printing district and creative area that championed both artistry and industry. New York-based ODA Architecture, the firm behind 15 Renwick Street, said the project works within the constraints of NYC’s zoning code to expand the outdoor rooftop living space of the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer NYR Building Facades
  • Architects ODA Architecture
  • Facade Installer NYR Building Facades
  • Facade Consultants Forst Consulting and Architecture, PLLC
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System unitized curtain wall, curtain wall, punched windows on concrete structure
  • Products aluminum fins & window units (sourced and installed by NYR Building Facades); Zebrano 2403 aluminum inserts (profile color: sublimation wood effects); Stucco byBravo Construction (rear facade); Zahner Metal copper pre-patina sheets (“Dirty Penny” finish); Alucobond metal panels
Coining this massing strategy as a “dormer manipulation,” the architects rearranged allowable volumes of space above the setback line throughout the width of the building. This produces 15 percent more outdoor terrace space and serves twice as many units, extending across the uppermost floors of the building. As a result, the facade appears as a gridded block that fragments at the top, revealing an inner layer to the building. The architects said 15 Renwick was the first in a long line of designs that employ this massing strategy which has evolved into a common practice for their firm. The 31-unit building contains a unique mix of townhouses with private yards, penthouse duplexes, and two- and three-bedrooms. The building is composed of a typical concrete structure with added lateral bracing in the 15-foot cantilevered "flying dormer" massing. The residential units are clad with a carefully detailed unitized curtain wall system that was delivered in collaboration with NYR Building Facades who integrated design, fabrication, and installation of the facade. The unitized systems were prefabricated for each residence and transported to the site where they were quickly and easily installed. Among the most notable features of the facade are the 10-inch-deep projecting fins clad in a dark anodized aluminum. While the fins taper to a narrow width, ODA said their depth helps to provide privacy, blocking views into the units from the sidewalk. The fins feature a wood grain insert on the exterior side which produces a visually striking aesthetic. “The wood trim inserts around the aluminum windows give a warm tint to the facade and create layers of color with different sun exposures.” Beyond the dark anodized fins, copper is utilized as an accent material. ODA said the success of this project stems from the material qualities of the facade: “The integration of the hand-installed copper on the ground floor with the unitized facade system show the level of bespoke design of the facade and the richness of materials and their own requirements for detail solutions.”
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Stacking glass bars in Chicagoland

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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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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s water-inspired facade

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The School of Freshwater Sciences is the first of its kind in the country, supporting a regional initiative to establish Milwaukee as a global hub for water-related research and technology. Located in the city's Harbor District, the project is an anchor for the re-utilization of industrial brownfield sites. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Milwaukee-based architecture firm Continuum, the project is a long, linear addition to an existing building that was once used as a ceramics factory. The facility accommodates a dock for research vessels that have direct access to Lake Michigan. Natalie Gentile, ‎associate principal at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, said the design concept was about discovering a facade solution inspired by the visual qualities of water. She said flying into Milwaukee over Lake Michigan gives a unique vantage point of the water, and provided a departure point for the school's facade concept: “We loved the way the water responds to different daylight conditions, and we were hoping to capture some of that in the building elevation." The building integrates custom TAKTL panels with a Kawneer curtain wall into a thoughtful composition of horizontal and vertical regulating lines. The majority of the exterior shell is flat, but the project team was able to produce depth and curvilinearity through subtle two-dimensionally profiled shapes. Curves were rarely—but impactfully—incorporated into the facade. Custom-profiled louvers cast undulating shadow lines over the building, while a parapet wall camouflages the reading of the facade as a flat surface.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL (UHPC); Kawneer (curtain wall); Goldray Industries (glazing)
  • Architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (Design Architect); Continuum Architects + Planners, S.C. (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Installer JP Cullen
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Milwaukee, WI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System rainscreen, curtain wall
  • Products TAKTL panels in Kalahari finish; Centria panels; Kawneer 451T curtain wall
The primary section of the facade is flanked by a set of gently curved bays and an elliptical stairwell inspired by boat hull geometry. The curtain wall incorporates extended mullion cap extrusions of varying length, evoking verticality of dripping rain, and cantilevered panels that give the facade a sense of movement akin to the flow of water. The curtain wall system picks up the geometry established by ribbon windows on the central portion of the facade. The compositional logic of the resulting grid is a response to a state of Wisconsin requirement that limits view glass percentage on facades dependent on solar orientation—in this case, the south-facing building was allowed to be composed of 30 percent openings along its primary facade. A set of ribbon windows set to this target established a grid with spandrel glass and rainscreen panels infilling opaque areas. The project team conducted numerous color studies looking at how to add dimension to the flat facade. The team arrived at a solution that incorporated five colors into a specific patterning that utilizes a proportioning system of one-thirds of a standard panel size to limit material waste. Gentile said the panels played a significant role in producing the water-inspired visual effects she sought: "I'm really pleased with how the TAKTL panels are performing in terms of meeting our architectural goals for replicating the way water reflects light under different lighting conditions.” She said photography taken in the morning versus the evening shows how the building—clad in blue panels—can range anywhere from golden to violet hues. “We were very concerned about the sheen of the panels. We knew this modest sheen was important to getting us that changing coloration and reflectivity." Bob Barr, principal of Continuum, said the project successfully worked with the state's regulations on view glass percentage to producing an impactful facade: “To have something very visible after the limitation of the glazing is why we played so much with the patterning of the spandrel glass."
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A 1,000-foot gradient tower of stainless steel and glass

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A nearly 1,000-foot, mixed-use tower was recently completed in Guangzhou, the third largest Chinese city behind Beijing and Shanghai, about 75 miles northwest of Hong Kong. This is the third project that Chinese-based R&F Properties has developed with Chicago-based architect Goettsch Partners. The building, named R&F Yingkai Square, benefits from a masterplan that is almost fully realized—to date— and involves planned gardens, cultural space, museums, and mixed-use towers. Paul De Santis, principal of Goettsch Partners, said the Pearl River area of Guangzhou was envisioned 15 to 20 years ago, and is nearly complete today. “In China, the context often changes too rapidly to formally respond, but the government was very committed to this particular master plan. It gave us an opportunity to be contextually sensitive."
  • Facade Manufacturer Sanxin Facade Technology Ltd.
  • Architects Goettsch Partners, Guangzhou Residential Architectural Design Institute (Associate Architect)
  • Facade Installer Sanxin Facade Technology Ltd.
  • Facade Consultants R&F Properties Development Co. (structural engineer); Arup (MEP Engineer); BPI (Lighting designer)
  • Location Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System reinforced concrete with curtain wall
  • Products Linen finish Stainless steel panels by Rimex; Akzo Nobel (architectural coatings); CSG (tower low-e glass and lobby low-iron glass)
Angular canted corner walls break up the massing of the otherwise boxy tower, providing specific views out into the city. While the northwest corner provides good views 250 feet above neighboring buildings, the northeast corner is best viewed only 100-feet high. This led to a “syncopation,” as De Santis called it, in the location of the 8- to 10-story chamfered corners. He said other view corridors into the cityscape can improve or get worse depending on height. "We use the corner carves to not only architecturally call out the mixed use stacking of the building but also highlight those signature moments." A nearly 14-foot-high reinforced concrete floor-to-floor spacing accommodates a 10-foot clear ceiling. The exterior wall is a unitized curtain wall system. Operable ventilation for occupant comfort is incorporated into the system. The glass is an insulated low-e assembly with an aluminum mullion system. A lot of energy was put into the detailing of the corner units, which are also unitized, but consist of three layers of laminated fritted glazing for added structural and aesthetic benefits. To address both daytime and nighttime lighting conditions, the frit is two-sided: white on the outside, dark on the inside. At nighttime, the glass can be "grazed" by LED's which allows for the building to be illuminated to the exterior without introducing light to the interior space. During the day, the dark frit from the interior is nearly imperceptible when looking outward to the exterior. A gradient of panelized stainless steel panels tapers into the curtain wall glazing. The architects say this composition is an expression of the gravitational quality of the tower and a response to the stacked program of the building. By utilizing opaque panels at the base of the tower, the shell of the building is responsive to a connective infrastructure of bridges and tunnels tapping into the building to support retail use. With office and hotel uses above, the panels give way to transparent view glass. The bulk of the building is dedicated to office use, organized into four zones. Situated within the office is a "sky lobby" for the office users. The Park Hyatt occupies nine floors above the offices, and the tower is capped off with hotel amenities such as a pool, lobby, lounges, three restaurants, and an outdoor terrace 300m off the ground. As stainless panels taper in width, their height and vertical spacing remains constant. Horizontal coursings slightly overlap at spandrel panels, which assume a unique, but repetitive, geometry. The composition allows for a more standardized view glass unit on each floor and De Santis assures us on the logic behind the facades panelization: "It looks more complicated visually than it actually is." One primary dimensional restraint was set by the glass manufacturer who limited a panel width to 600 mm, or around 24 inches, due to manufacturing processes. The final massing of the building was designed iteratively by incorporating a rigorous approach to wall modulation, accommodating glass manufacturing dimensional requirements to produce a "final" geometry of chamfered corners. The architects integrated lighting into the facade assembly in response to what they consider a cultural norm in tall Chinese construction projects. De Santis said, “Our number one goal was to try to manage light pollution—a serious issue in the city.” To combat this, the architects located LEDs behind stainless steel panels which cant outward as they taper up the building into thin vertical strips. This provides a subtle indirect lighting element without exposing the source. The architects went with this approach to avoid having to flood light or uplight the tower with harsh lighting. The LED's are programmable and can be syncopated, change colors, and dim to produce effects ranging from static to theatrical. De Santis says the ability of this project to cater to both a pedestrian and urban scale is particularly successful, and a good learning lesson for future tower projects. "The sense of intimacy we were able to achieve for the arrival sequence of the hotel. 300-meter (984-foot) tall towers have a big impact on your surroundings, and to get a level of intimacy means that you are able to incorporate an interesting level of detail and material selections. The feel of the space is anything but cold and austere, which is often the case in large tower buildings." De Santis explains the Hyatt hotel brand prides itself on this level of intimacy. “It's less about grand ballrooms and lobby spaces, and more about producing warmth and a human scale.” This triggered a change of material at the hotel drop off point. A dark anodized steel and Chinese screens in the ceiling pair with a simple natural stone that washes the entire space in a natural, light-toned coloration. This provides a backdrop for sculptural artwork and provides the basis for unique multi-story spaces "carved" into the tower in the upper floor lobby and lounge spaces. De Santis concludes, “Your tower can have an expression. You can create an intimate environment without losing the expression of its urban gesture."
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This Boston research facility is one of the first U.S. projects to employ large format GFRC fins and panels

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Situated along Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, the Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering (CILSE) promises to bring a state-of-the-art research facility to the front door of Boston University's campus. The 170,000-square-foot nine-story building will serve faculty from schools and departments throughout BU's expansive neuroscience community, along with other universities in the Boston area. In a press release, BU issued the statement: "For decades, some of the most exciting research at Boston University has been unfolding in a row of buildings hidden on Cummington Mall, designed originally for making carriages instead of studying the life sciences." The university anticipates this new prominent location will "encourage the kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary research that will be the hallmark of 21st-century science." When complete, CILSE will be one of the first projects in the U.S. to employ large-format, glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) fins and panels. Under the design leadership of Boston-based architecture firm Payette, these products are being manufactured by Rieder Smart Elements GmbH, under their FibreC product line, and are being erected by Ipswich Bay Glass. Peter Vieira, associate principal at Payette, says there are two types of architecture on BU's campus: Perimeter buildings are influenced by a "red brick" style derived from the neighborhood character of Back Bay's Victorian brownstone homes. Meanwhile, the campus core follows a tradition established by early designers on the university's campus, namely Ralph Cram, who introduced a heavy limestone-clad deco-gothic aesthetic in the 1940s. Others followed Cram's lead: The Josep Lluis Sert School of Law—a 265-foot exposed concrete tower —was constructed in 1965 and recently renovated by Bruner/Cott. CILSE cleverly follows this "buff limestone" tradition by integrating a lightweight concrete materiality into a curtain wall system, nodding to history while maintaining the benefits of transparent glass. The mid-rise block features a half-inch-thick GFRC material installed in two applications. Fins to the north and west—where the building overlooks campus and public space—and panels to the south and east in coordination with internal programmatic spaces that are more specialized and private.
  • Facade Manufacturer Rieder Smart Elements GmbH (GFRC fins & panels)
  • Architects Payette
  • Facade Installer Ipswich Bay Glass
  • Facade Consultants Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2017 (projected)
  • System curtain wall on structural steel
  • Products Rieder ‘fibreC’ GFRC panels
The fins are four inches wide and set along a vertical spacing that varies across the facade, especially where the system approaches and rounds the corner. The fins project 14 inches from the curtain wall facade; their continuously formed U-shaped channels are pre-supported from a custom pre-assembled knife plate anchor developed by Ipswich Bay Glass. "The material became very interesting... because it is only a half-inch thick it can be bent, formed, and folded. It can be both a fin and a panel. One material used in two very different ways," Vieira said. Despite a minimal thickness, the GFRC panels can be worked when wet, prior to fully curing, enabling them to be folded into complex forms. At CILSE, the fins were manufactured from a precast panel, which was folded by hand (by three to four people at Rieder) to obtain a unique radiused profile. "While the technology exists to create sharp right-angle bends in the concrete (the favored approach for European applications), these channels were deliberately formed around a pronounced eight-millimeter radius, a detail selected to highlight the material’s thinness and plasticity." Furthermore, the material was available in a range of standard colors and textures, producing an aesthetic that is highly compatible to BU's buff limestone context. Notching of the fins occurs at the floor plates (14 feet floor-to-floor). These 16-inch reveals are a compositional strategy producing what Vieira calls a "deliberate effect." The cuts form shifting patterns, where "the play of the vertical rhythm of the fins, coupled with a periodic subtractive massing, produces a surface pattern that changes quite dramatically." As an added bonus, the notches reveal the GFRC's material thickness, especially at ground level where the length of the cut is exaggerated. “The building has a particular size and a particular massing. Devising a way to use this material that feels very much like a BU building—a Boston building— and produced in a way that engages the public. Not in an overt way, but in a very subtle nuanced way over and over again. This material can be formed and bent and expressed in a way creates a very contemporary building. It ties the building back to a tradition of building on campus that is going to be very unexpected and refreshing," Vieira said. CILSE broke ground in May 2015, with an expected completion date of spring 2017. The facility will house the Center for Systems Neuroscience, the Biological Design Center, the Center for Sensory Communication and Neuroengineering Technology, and a Cognitive Neuroimaging Center with a 3 Tesla fMRI—a fundamental tool for studying the brain’s trillions of neural connections and how they relate to human behavior.
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New sweeping “maker-space” library connects historic city to its new civic center

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Once marketed as "The City Above Toronto," the City of Vaughan is considered to be one of the fastest growing suburban cities in the Greater Toronto Area. Their new five-year-old Civic Center campus is situated just outside the historic community of Maple, an agricultural center dating back to the mid-1800's, and it's commuter rail station linking the city to downtown Toronto. The upcoming Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension—projected to open in 2018—along with a planned transit-oriented development that anticipates housing for 25,000 residents and employment for over 11,000 workers promises to establish a new identity for Vaughan. Nestled in between all of this is the City's latest project: the Vaughan Civic Centre Resource Library. Designed by Toronto-based ZAS Architects, the building responds to a "library of the future" brief with a sweeping glass and steel "maker-space" dedicated to community learning, gathering, creating, and celebration. Peter Duckworth-Pilkington, Principal at ZAS, says the library functions as a connective building between Vaughan's City Hall, completed in 2011, and the historic town center of Maple. A sweeping roofline, which tapers from a monumental civic scale down to a smaller two-story height, establishes the massing of the library. "We used the metaphor of a tent: the idea that this was a large tent the community could come into and participate in community activities like author readings, maker-spaces for art and music, and other gathering spaces." The facility is also located 2-miles away from Canada's Wonderland, the county's first (and largest) amusement park. Duckworth-Pilkington says this adjacency had an influence on the design. "The curve to the roof forms were inspired metaphorically by the flamboyant curves and edges of Canada's Wonderland's roller coasters." The structural and facade system was specifically designed to provide an engaging and transparent relationship to the city. A "V" configuration of primary steel columns produces a large-scale truss-like system that maintains open ground level with larger spanning members set up higher in the roof plenum. Set outboard of the steel frame is a curtain wall facade that dynamically curves, cants, and tapers. A compositional grid, set at an angle, provides the basis for mullion and panel spacing. The panel sizes of 1500mm (roughly five feet) subdivide by halves and thirds tracking up the facade, helping to organize and visually break up the lengthy elevation.
  • Facade Manufacturer Noram Glass; Alumicor Limited; Ontario Panelization
  • Architects ZAS Architects
  • Facade Installer Noram (ACP & curtain wall glazing); Ontario Panelization (porcelain panels at main entrance)
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Vaughan, Ontario (Canada)
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System curtain wall
  • Products Alcotop (aluminum composite panel system); Alumicor (glazed aluminum curtain wall); Ontario Panelization (porcelain enamel faced panels)
The shapely box was designed utilizing three sets of software: Grasshopper provided the initial project geometry, a design model was developed in Rhino, and the working drawings were produced in Revit. From here, the model was further developed by the steel company to develop shop drawings. Once the primary steel frame was erected, curtain wall installers used a full 3_D scan of the frame to benchmark their shop drawings off of, to account for any construction tolerances deviating from the initial digital model. About 60% of the facade is composed of glass, which features a custom-designed frit pattern developed in-house by the architects. The pattern transitions from large densely packed squares to a lighter array of dots, achieving a gradient effect that is responsive to viewing angles and solar orientation. "The frit was meant to dissolve the solidity of the metal panel into the transparency of the glass," said Duckworth-Pilkington. The fritting also helps to deter bird strikes, a concern given the building's park-like setting. The canted facade incorporates an extended cap mullion detail that provides additional solar shading and places additional emphasis along one of the primary walkways leading to the main entrance. The facade material changes at the library entrance, which has been formally carved out of the box-like massing of the building. The ceramic panels set in a triangulated patterning create what Duckworth-Pilkington calls an "ice cream bar" effect of a hard chocolate shell on the outside, with an ice cream center. The facility is designed to accommodate Maple's library branch, a mere 8-minute walk away, and is set to officially open on September 10th, in coordination with a new council and new school year. The city has commissioned ZAS to design a new branch library about 10 minutes away from this location with a similar design brief. Designs have been completed on that project, which is currently out for bid.
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First look at DS+R’s new 14-story “Study Cascade” at Columbia University Medical Center

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  The Vagelos Education Center is a new state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building at Columbia University Medical Center. The building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect, is a 100,000-square-foot, 14-story glass tower that incorporates technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces, and a modern simulation center to reflect how medicine is taught, learned, and practiced in the 21st century. The design seeks to reshape the look and feel of the medical center and create spaces that facilitate a medical education. The project, which broke ground in September 2013, comes amidst a wider campus revitalization plan for CUMC that involves increases to green space, renovations to existing buildings, and the construction of new facilities. All new construction and renovation projects within this plan work toward the goal of minimizing CUMC’s carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025. On a larger scale, the Vagelos Education Center will help to define the northern edge of the campus, providing a bridge to the surrounding Washington Heights community. In a press release, Elizabeth Diller, founding partner at DS+R said, “Space matters for structured and informal learning. To support Columbia’s progressive medical education program, we designed a building that will nurture collaboration.” This is reflected in the most captivating feature of the building: A highly transparent south-facing 14-story “Study Cascade,” designed to be conducive to team-based learning and teaching, that opens onto south-facing outdoor spaces and terraces. The organization of the interior spaces produces a network of social and study “neighborhoods” distributed along an exposed, interconnected vertical staircase that extends the height of the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gartner (Glass Fin Curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America, (Unitized Curtainwall)
  • Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (design architect); Gensler (executive architect)
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner (Glass Fin Curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America, (Unitized Curtainwall)
  • Facade Consultants Buro Happold Consulting Engineers P.C. (curtain wall)
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System GFRC panels, Unitized aluminum mullion curtain wall, and an insulated stick built glass fin curtainwall enclosing a reinforced concrete core with post-tensioned concrete slabs
  • Products Bischoff Glastechnik AG (glass) ; Josef Gartner (glass fin curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America (unitized curtainwall); David Kucera Inc. (precast glass fiber reinforced concrete cladding), IMETCO (metal panels); Bilfinger (metal screen); Resysta Tru Grain Wood Composite (exterior wood); Blumcraft / C.R.Laurence (doors)
DS+R’s design takes advantage of an incredible view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The building is composed of cantilevered post-tensioned concrete slabs cast with Cobiax void formers to achieve a lighter weight long span system. These slabs form the basis of the Study Cascade, and spring from a site-formed reinforced concrete core providing structural shear capacity for the building. The vertical core programmatically divides the education center into two halves: a south-facing active collaborative zone, and a north-facing series of specialized spaces that include classrooms, administrative offices, and a “Simulation Center” of mock examination and operating rooms. The facade system works to visually express these two types of spaces from the exterior. The Study Cascade reads more as a continuous unfolding of the ground plane in large part due to a highly transparent stick-built curtainwall system that incorporates glass fin supports, low iron glass, and a low-e coating. GFRC paneling follows the trajectories of the formal folds of the slab edges, further defining each interior zone. Around the side and rear of the building, at the location of specialized educational spaces, the slabs normalize into a more typical repetitive spacing, and are clad with a unitized aluminum mullion curtainwall integrated with GFRC elements to provide a more controlled day lit environment. Ceramic frit glazing, set in one large gradient pattern, transitions from transparent to opaque along the side elevation, filtering and diffusing sunlight while mitigating solar gain. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the building integrates a range of sustainable features, such as locally sourced materials, green roof technologies, and an innovative mechanical system that minimizes energy and water use. In addition to specialized glazing coatings and assemblies, the facade incorporates both fixed and operable shading to optimize the regulation of daylighting and solar gain by program area. “The Vagelos Education Center started with a clear vision as a place of excellence for higher learning that would also act as a much needed social center,” said Madeline Burke-Vigeland AIA, principal at Gensler. “Because of everyone’s deep involvement, it has transformed into something that exceeds even those high expectations: a vibrant new hub for Columbia's Medical Center campus.”
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Colorful “little mountains” highlight Eastern Europe’s first children’s museum and science center

The 35,000 sq. ft. building celebrates three artisanal crafts significant in Bulgaria: textiles, wood carving, and glazed ceramics.

Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership has designed a new children’s museum called "Muzeiko" in Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia to balance complex form, regional relevance, and whimsical fun. Their client, the America for Bulgaria Foundation, wanted international expertise paired with state of the art materials. The architects responded to the geography of the Sofia Valley, a region surrounded by mountain ranges, with abstracted forms referring to the nearby Balkan mountains, triangulated in a "scientific" manner. This thematic element, coined “Little Mountains” by the architect, is composed of a rainscreen assembly consisting of high pressure laminate (HPL) panels with printed graphics clipped onto a wall system framed by a combination of a primary steel framework, and a fiber reinforced concrete shell. The panels are differentiated with color and patterns unique to traditional artisanal Bulgarian crafts. Textiles and embroidery, wood carving, and glazed ceramics were studied by the architects, and reduced into three color-saturated patterns which were ultimately applied to three forms. Another feature of the building is a “super insulated” curtain wall assembly of triple glazed low-e glass, custom built locally by TAL Engineering. The glass panels were some of the largest available in the region at the time, sized at 7’-4” x 10’-10.” A custom ceramic frit pattern, developed by the architects, creates a “cloud-like” effect while establishing view control and addressing solar gain concerns on the south facade. The curtain wall extends beyond the roof to form a parapet guard at the roof deck, where the frit pattern dissolves enough to catch a glimpse of the sky beyond the facade from ground level. Also notable is a custom gray coloration on the mullions, which is the result of numerous mockups studying the least visually distracting color to the overall system.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAL Engineering (building envelope)
  • Architects Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership; A&A Architects (Associate Architect)
  • Facade Installer Bigla III Ltd. (contractor, constr. manager)
  • Facade Consultants TAL Engineering (building envelope)
  • Location Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System rainscreen on steel frame, high performance curtainwall, green roof
  • Products high pressure laminate (HPL) panels with printed media, triple insulated low-e glazing panels with applied ceramic frit
Beyond the curtain wall assembly, notable sustainable features include solar panel array on the south wing, recycled grey water for irrigation, and interpretive sustainable features on display throughout the interior of the building. A key precedent for the project is the University of Mexico City, says Lee Skolnick, FAIA, Principal of LHSA+DP, which has an “incredible facade of mosaic tile.” Skolnick says the project was an attempt at the time to marry modern architecture with cultural significance. "It’s a concept that has been used rarely throughout recent architecture history. 'Interpretive content' on the face of the building is coming back, but it is not universal. We much more often see patterning that is geometric or structural — a geometric blanket that wraps a form. We are looking for something that is more highly specific than that.” At key moments along the building envelope, the colorful “little mountain” forms visually penetrate beyond the curtain wall system into the interior, establishing specialized programmatic spaces such as a gift shop, cafe, eating area, restrooms, and multipurpose workshops. One challenge the design team faced was developing a patterning for the rainscreen panels. They began by considering a variety of materials and fabrication methods available, from ceramic materials, to fabrics, to etched metal panels. Ultimately the architects chose a high pressure laminate (HPL) material for maintenance, manufacturing quality and consistency, detailing control, and lifespan of material. Through a process of "continual sampling, processing, and refining," the architects arrived at a set of patterns which boldy abstract the colors, patterns, and textures of Bulgarian artistry.
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Thomas Phifer and Partners’ elegantly functional box saturated in daylight

The 10-story courthouse includes ten courtrooms for the District Court of Utah, fourteen judges’ chamber suites,  administrative Clerk of the Court offices, the United States Marshal Service, United States Probation, and other federal agencies.

Thomas Phifer and Partners recently completed a United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City for the General Services Administration (GSA). The 400,000 sq. ft. project consists of a blast resistant shell clad with a custom designed anodized aluminum sun screen. The screen is arranged in four configurations dependent on solar orientation, performing as a direct heat gain blocker on the south facades, while subtly changing to a louvered fin configuration on the east and west facades. The architects won the project in a national competition in the late nineties, however it was just recently completed. Thomas Phifer, Director of Thomas Phifer and Partners, says that during the duration of the project various site changes occurred, and the building design naturally evolved into a particular focus: “We began to think about a building that embodied light as a metaphor for the enlightenment of the courts. It began to fill these spaces inside the courtrooms, the judges chambers. The design came from a sense of light.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Global (curtain wall)
  • Architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects (executive architect)
  • Facade Installer Okland Construction
  • Facade Consultants Reaveley Engineers + Associates (structural engineering), Weidlinger Associates (blast engineering)
  • Location Salt Lake City, UT
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System Aluminum and Glass Unitized Curtain Wall, Insulating Glass with Ceramic Frit Screen, Anodized Extruded and Milled Aluminum Sun Screen, Mirror Polished Stainless Steel Plate, Thermal Finish White Granite
  • Products Benson Global (Anodized Aluminum Curtain Wall), Southwest Architectural Metals (Metal Specialties), Beehive Glass Inc. (Glass Specialties), Viracon, St. Gobain (Glass), Sierra White Granite (Cold Spring Granite Stone)
Phifer said a precedent for the project is Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum (1982-1986). In Judd’s project, each of the boxes he crafted have the same outer dimensions, with a unique interior offering up a variety of tectonic conditions. Some of the boxes are transected, while others have recesses and partitions. Phifer says the project inspired an interest in detailing of the aluminum sun screen: “What’s interesting about his [Judd’s] boxes is their extreme simplicity: it’s important how the plates come together…the beautiful screws. You see the thickness of the aluminum, and the construction honors the material,” says Phifer. “The boxes begin to honor the light surrounding it.” The architects worked with the curtain wall contractor to develop a custom designed louver system from extruded and milled aluminum components to manage daylight. Everything had to be designed with calculations and technical documentation, including plenty of mock-ups. Phifer says this level of detailing is at the heart of their office’s production: “the facade system developed here was completely new.” This system is punctured in selective places on the facade with a polished stainless steel portal celebrating very specific spaces within the interior such as the judge’s chambers. “It has the character of receiving light and being a real part of the environment,” says Phifer on the outcomes of the decade-long project. The project could be considered a super-scaled descendant of one of Judd’s well-crafted boxes, but also should be a sophisticated addition to Thomas Phifer and Partners’ repertoire of working with light (a portfolio that includes a 2011 AIA Honor Award for the North Carolina Museum of Art). The results are a robust box, with a beautifully simple, passive performative agenda.