Contemporary stone envelope asserts the continued relevance of book learning at GVSU.For the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, SHW Group, now Stantec, considered a brick skin to tie it to the surrounding edifices. "But at the end of the day, the library, we believe, is one of the most important buildings on campus," said senior design architect Tod Stevens. "That's where we started to have a conversation about the library as it moves into the 21st century. We wanted to signal the continued importance of the library to university life." To do so, the architects designed a quartzite envelope whose random pattern of stones sits in tension with an interlaid stainless steel grid. On the building's north facade, a 40-foot-tall glass curtain wall creates an indoor/outdoor living room on the campus's main pedestrian axis, and reveals Pew Library's state-of-the-art interior to passersby. Stantec chose a multi-hued quartzite, said Stevens, as a nod to the limestone banding on many of GVSU's historic buildings. In addition, he explained, "when it rains, it brings out the red and other colors embedded in it. Even on a grey day, you can see that this building has personality and sparkle. And that red knitted it back to the other buildings as well." The architects wanted the stones set in a random pattern because, said Stevens, "the pattern really talks about the care that it takes to build this building: one stone at a time is the importance of this building." But achieving such a level of craftsmanship was easier said than done. "Nobody wants to take ownership of what it looks like," explained senior project architect Joe Mitra. "We spent a great deal of time coming up with a strategy to create that pattern. No two of the rectangular spaces are identical. Instead every stone is planned. We made shop drawings for each one." The purposefully irregular stone design is counterposed to a surrounding stainless steel grid. "This is a contemporary building, and we wanted to signal that on the stone facades," explained Stevens. "We wanted to get that snap: it's a crisp conversation between the quartzite and the metal reveals." Faux copper accents signaling entry points on the stone cladding nod to other contextual cues, including Cook Carillon Tower. With respect to installation, maintaining a constant level of humidity was a special concern, given Michigan's hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. After performing a number of moisture-migration analyses in WUFI, the architects settled on a 2 1/4 inch stone veneer backed by a 1 3/4 inch cavity and 3 1/2 inches of insulation. "The corners are mitered," noted Mitra, "so the stone looks thicker; you don't get that feel of veneer." On the north side of Pew Library, the architects pulled the massive curtain wall away from the stone to create a multi-purpose atrium. "The aspirations for LEED on this project were the highest we could get," said Stevens. "Bringing light into the building is fundamental. Flooding the library with natural light from the north was one of the drivers of the design. A side benefit," he noted, "is that when students are working late into the evening, the glass wall signals and shows their scholarly work." The triple-glazed curtain wall is hung from a twinned truss system. "We wanted the structure behind the glass to disappear," said Mitra. "It wanted to look light. We did a lot of physical models to test different systems. Ultimately, the twinned truss system at each of the column heights allowed us to have that transparency; you can see the building behind it." On the south, east, and west sides of the building, the size of the windows indicates the program within. Smaller windows mark individual study spaces, while larger apertures attach to communal meeting areas. To mitigate thermal gain, the architects employed a number of shading strategies, including horizontal sunscreens, interior motorized shades, extruded mullion caps, and 18-inch insets for the vertical punch windows. On the roof plane, Stantec created a landscaped terrace for student use. Pew Library, with its Automated Storage and Retrieval System and 31 types of indoor and outdoor seating, has been celebrated for its high-technology approach to learning. Its message—literally written in stone—is that the library is not dead. Far from it. Though it has been carefully adapted to meet the needs of today's students, GVSU's newest monument to education suggests that the university library remains a place worth celebrating, a beacon for the campus's thriving intellectual life.
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Parallel facade systems in contrasting materials mark the edge of development on a reimagined campus.The new Rutgers Business School in Piscataway, New Jersey, is more than a collection of classrooms and offices. The building, designed by TEN Arquitectos, is a linchpin of the university’s Livingston campus, reconceived as an urban center for graduate studies and continuing education. “It established a frame,” said project manager James Carse, whose firm created a vision plan for the campus starting in the late 2000s. “We were interested in really marking the edge of campus to motivate future development to respect the campus boundary, rather than allowing or suggesting that this was a pervasive sprawl. We wanted to make sure this would set a pattern where infill would happen.” The Rutgers Business School’s tripartite envelope reinforces the distinction between outside and inside. While the sides of the building facing the boundary line are enclosed in folded anodized aluminum panels, the glass curtain walls opposite create a visual dialogue with the rest of campus. In TEN Arquitectos’ early designs, the difference between the building’s outer and inner surfaces was not so stark. “We initially thought of [the entire envelope] as being more open,” said Carse. But budget constraints combined with university requirements regarding glazing in classrooms to suggest that the architects move away from an all-glass enclosure. “There was an ability to deploy the curtain wall over only a certain amount of the building in a responsible way,” said Carse. “We let the inside push back against the outside and suggest that this be more solid.” At the same time, explained Carse, “we didn’t want it to feel unchanging and heavy.” Working with Front Inc., TEN Arquitectos designed an anodized aluminum rain screen system, manufactured by Mohawk Metal Manufacturing & Sales, that incorporates an apparently random fold pattern to provide texture. (Thorton Tomasetti provided additional consulting and inspection services during construction.) After making aesthetic modifications in Rhino and 3ds Max, the architects ran their digital model through eQUEST energy analysis software to determine an angle of inclination that would prevent snow from accumulating on the folds. They came up with four standard dimensions that could be combined for a varied effect. “It’s a pretty amazing condition that’s been created with the variegated folded panels that face Avenue E and preserve and pick up the western sunlight as the sun sets,” said Carse. “The building changes throughout the day and picks up texture from its surroundings. The anodized aluminum plays off that nature of change and creates a softer facade than you’d expect from the use of metal itself.” The campus-facing sides of the building feature frit glass curtain walls fabricated by Beijing Jangho Curtain Wall Co. (Jangho) with glass from Xinyi Glass Holdings Limited. “We used the fritted glass to meet the solar performance that we were going for without completely exposing them,” said Carse, who noted that the walls appear nearly transparent at dusk and later, when the interior lights are on. “That’s part of the nature of the building,” he said. “The business school itself has classes going from around 8:30 a.m. until about 10 p.m., so the daily life is not just during the day. The building is really alive during those times and we wanted to make that evident.” During the day, the frit glass facade’s extra-wide mullions maximize the amount of daylight that filters into the offices and classrooms. The third component of the Rutgers Business School envelope is a transparent glass curtain wall introduced between the two primary facade systems. Besides serving as an intermediary between the anodized aluminum and frit glass surfaces, the transparent glass elements mark possible points of connection to future buildings as the campus continues to densify. “It allowed us infill,” said Carse. “This project served as a gateway building literally and figuratively,” said Carse. Cars entering campus from Route 18 pass directly through the Rutgers Business School building, its upper stories perched on canted columns. Though designed to indicate the campus’s outside edge—the end of development—the structure’s vital facade simultaneously signals a beginning, a freshly urban approach to campus design within a former suburban stronghold.
A renovation and addition bring an historic church complex into the 21st century.The Diocese of Toronto approached architectsAlliance (aA) about renovating the St. James Cathedral Centre with two objectives in mind. On a practical level, they wanted more space for the cathedral’s outreach program and the Diocesan archives, as well as quarters for the Dean of the Cathedral and visitors. At the same time, the Anglican leadership wanted to make a statement about the Church’s relevance to contemporary Canadian society. “The idea of the addition was to convey an image of the Church itself as a kind of more open institution, much more transparent and contemporary,” said aA’s Rob Cadeau. “[It was] really driven by the dean, who wanted to refresh the image of the Church.”The architects designed the addition to the Parish Hall as a glass cube. “There’s a lot of use of glass, both as a contemporary material, but also to convey that idea of transparency, for the symbolism of the project,” said Cadeau. At the same time, the see-through extension “defers to the old building. It doesn’t take away from the presence of the old building as opposed to solid masonry construction.” The upper stories of the stick system curtain wall are wrapped in a floating sunscreen comprising repeating bands of laminated glass. “It was very important to the church that there be a sort of green aspect to the design in the way it’s conceived and constructed,” said Cadeau. “So the sunscreen was designed as a passive means of providing shading.” To maximize shading during the summer and solar gain during the winter, aA ran the sunscreen design through shadow analysis testing in ArchiCAD. They worked with Stouffville Glass to engineer both the sunscreen and the curtain wall. The sunscreen hangs on a vertical system of stainless steel brackets anchored to the HSS beams surrounding the slab edge of the second and third floors. The glass panels’ interlayer is printed with a linear pattern recalling the original building’s narrow button bars. “The idea of the lines within the sunscreen was to create a finer grain of detail on the glass,” explained Cadeau. The curtain wall itself is built of Solarban 60 glass. “It still provides the U value we wanted, but we didn’t want too much reflectivity because it’s a fairly small building,” said Cadeau. The firm also improved the thermal performance of the original Parish Hall building, which opened in 1910. With help from a building envelope consultant, they ran a thermal analysis of the structure to determine how much spray foam insulation to insert between the masonry wall and a new stud wall. The goal was to boost insulation while allowing some heat transfer. “That’s very important in heritage upgrades,” said Cadeau. “[T]he mistake you can make is over-insulating. Masonry walls rely in some sense of heat loss so that the water [trapped inside] never freezes. If the water absorbed in the brick freezes it will start to crack the brick.” The new St. James Cathedral Centre unites a previously disconnected cluster of buildings across an enclosed courtyard. In that way, aA suggests, the glass addition functions as a contemporary cloister. “In a larger, urban planning sense [the objective] was to complete the ensemble of buildings, create more of a connection between the buildings as a whole,” said Cadeau.