Posts tagged with "Facade":

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Nashville breaks ground on Bridgestone’s 30-story tower in downtown SoBro district

Nashville, long known more as a mecca for Country Music than a development hotspot, is enjoying a downtown resurgence. Projects like Music City Center and the redevelopment of the Tennessee capital's convention center are forging a new urban character for Nashville. The latest example is a new office tower that will stand among the city's tallest buildings. Work began last week on the $232.6 million, Perkins + Will–designed headquarters for Bridgestone Americas. The tire company is one of the largest private employers in downtown Nashville. Their move from existing offices near the airport brings 1,700 employees—600 of whom currently work out of state at facilities in Bloomingdale, Illinois, and Carmel, Indiana—into downtown Nashville's SoBro district. Named for its location south of Broadway, SoBro has seen rapid development in recent years, including tvsdesign's Music City Center—a 2.1-million-square-foot convention center with a wavy roof meant to evoke the rolling hills of Tennessee. The move also comes with a public sector price tag. Bridgestone's move qualifies for tens of millions of dollars in city and state tax incentives, as reported in the Tennesseean:
The transaction is contingent on $50 million in Metro incentives and an undisclosed package from the state that, according to sources familiar with the deal, is comparable to the city's commitment.
At 30 stories the new tower would be among the city's tallest buildings. The last office tower built in Nashville was the Pinnacle at Symphony Center—a 29-story, LEED Gold building designed by Pickard Chilton and Everton Oglesby Architects that opened in 2010. Due in mid-to-late 2017, the new 514,000 square foot building will feature four parallel planes reaching up from a sleek, glassy facade.
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BALANCED DOORS BY CRL-U.S. ALUMINUM SOLVE PROJECT AVAILABILITY DILEMMAS WITH DELIVERY IN UNDER 30 DAYS

  Meeting tight project deadlines and remaining on budget with custom high performance entrance systems can be difficult to coordinate, as high-grade commercial doors with short lead times are not easily obtainable. CRL-U.S. Aluminum has solved this issue with its line of Balanced Doors, which can be crafted and delivered in less than 30 days and competitively priced compared to traditional swing doors. These performance-driven systems are not bound by common availability delays or premium costs that often hinder the architectural community’s confidence in specifying balanced doors. Whether it’s Chicago’s high wind pressures or the nearly 300,000 daily riders at New York City’s redesigned Fulton Center, CRL-U.S. Aluminum Balanced Doors are precision-engineered and tested to withstand maximal wind and traffic applications while effortlessly accommodating A.D.A. accessibility needs. CRL-U.S. Aluminum’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and innovative engineering approaches have allowed architects to design confidentially without compromising aesthetic vision in the interest of budget or lead time – an assurance no other manufacturer can offer. To learn more, visit crl-arch.com/balanced-doors or see CRL-U.S. Aluminum at Facades+ in Los Angeles, Feb. 5
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Pictorial> OneEleven, Chicago’s ritzy Loop residential with a rocky history

Developers Related completed its resurrection of 111 West Wacker Drive earlier this year, opening a luxury rental tower on the Chicago River where for years stood a ghostly concrete frame left over from a previous owner's attempt to build. The site was originally intended to house the first Shangri-La Hotel in the U.S. Four years after the recession halted construction with just 28 stories of structural skeleton complete, Related broke "ground" again, this time planning about 60 stories and about 500 luxury apartments. That redevelopment finished up this summer, opening in July. About 60 percent of the units have since been rented, said Related spokeswoman Tricia Van Horn. Renting is the only option for the 504 units, which range from 575-square-foot studios to three-bedroom, three-bath residences of 2,400 square feet. They cost anywhere from $2,395 to $11,500 a month for one of the four penthouses. OneEleven's segmented construction led to some interesting design adaptations. Having scaled back from pre-recession ambitions, the new owners stacked a smaller building on top of the 28-story base, bifurcating the floorplate and creating some interesting outdoor spaces where the Shangri-La plan juts out at the 28th floor. A recessed zig-zag in the facade references datum lines of nearby buildings and alludes to the unusual construction history while shielding the transition between its disjointed floorplans. Views from outdoor “Club OneEleven” down Clark Street are spectacular, if marred a bit by the building's neighbor to the south. But rather than cram lower south-facing floors with low-light apartments, Related conceded that space to back-of-house, building systems and some amenities. The luxury rentals are targeted to “people who are really interested in having an urban life,” Van Horn said, underscoring the building's singular position in this section of the Loop not typically known for residential developments. Take a look inside OneEleven with these photos by Scott Frances.
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Talking tall buildings in Shanghai

In September the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) gathered high-minded designers, developers and engineers for a conference in Shanghai. CTBUH, which often partners with AN on conferences, including our own Facades+ events, invited me to serve as a special media correspondent for the conference, held September 16–19. I spent most of the time conducting video interviews with the symposium guests, which we'll post here on the AN blog as they become available. For now, here' a quick overview of the topics discussed. The theme of this year's conference was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.” It was an especially relevant topic given the venue—held in the elegant, SOM-designed Jin Mao Tower, the conference looked for lessons (and warnings) in the kind of supertall, super-dense development that turned the Lujiazui area of Shanghai's Pudong district from farmland into a world financial center in just 20 years. Symposium presenters tackled sustainability from several angles. Matthew Clifford, head of energy and sustainability services for North Asia at JLL, stressed building operation and management is as important as design when it comes to energy use and building performance. Cathy Yang, manager of Taipei 101, recounted how “greening” the 101-story building did not turn a profit until the initiative's sixth year, but then made up for it in just three years. The Taiwanese supertall remains the largest LEED Platinum–certified building in the world. Jianping Gu of Shanghai Tower Construction and Development espoused the benefits of the “stereoscopic” form of his building, which at 2,073 feet is set to become the tallest building in China upon completion next year. “If you compare Shanghai Tower to Taipei 101Petronas Towers, those were all isolated," Gu said. "There were already two towers in the vicinity when we started. We had to pay particular attention to harmonizing with those buildings. We consider this an issue of sustainability.” But towering, monumental architecture may not be for everyone. David Gianotten, an OMA partner heading the firm's Hong Kong office, told me OMA gets so many briefs seeking “iconic” design that the word has begun to lose its meaning. “If everything's special, then nothing's special,” he said. That debate continued onto the conference floor, where developers discussed how China's third- and fourth-tier cities should embrace the tall building boom—or whether they should at all. On the conference's final day, Mun Summ Wong of Singapore-based WOHA talked about the psychological environment of horizontal cities, and how tall buildings should better embrace the human scale. “The idea is to inject more urban life into the high-rise city,” Wong said. “We introduce horizontal movement in the high-rise building because it changes the dynamic. When you talk to the people next to you in an ordinary high-rise, it is considered rude. But in the street, you talk to people, build relationships and bonds.” Similarly, Yang Wu of the Bund Finance Center warned of the risks of homogeneous skylines. “When I open my eyes in the morning and I am in Shenzhen, I still think I am in Shanghai because they look the same,” he said. “[China is] duplicating buildings and the mistakes of the West. There is focus on building bizarre and tall buildings but ignorance of the connotations–resulting in cold buildings for cold cities. As a developer, I call on architects: you need to have your own independent ideas that bring vitality.” You can read more about the conference on CTBUH's website. Check back here as we post video interviews.
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Product> Surface Effective: Eight Innovative Cladding Materials & Systems

From enhancing aesthetics with digitally-printed ceramic panels to increasing build-speed via all-in-one insulated metal panel systems, these innovative building products offer specialized facade solutions to architects. ClearShade Insulated Glass Panel Panelite A glazing solution that optimizes both daylight and solar heat control, its honeycomb insert is offered in a range of colors and patterns; customization is available. Dekton Cosentino Available in sheets up to 126 by 56 inches and thicknesses of 8, 12, and 20 millimeters, this ultra-compacted material has a high compressive strength, is non-porous, and UV resistant. In ten colors and textures. Dot-to-Dot Tagina The system is based on three-dimensional ceramic modules that function as pixels when mounted to an exterior facade. Consulting with the manufacturer, designers can create their own limited edition glazed porcelain tiles for ventilated facades or other architectural coverings. Benchmark Kingspan A single package system that combines the energy efficiency of IMPs with a proprietary carrier panel system that accommodates many cladding options, including aluminum composite material, metal composite material, ceramic granite, thin brick, plate, high pressure laminate, and ceramic tile. Renewall Lamboo Laminated bamboo elements are up to 20 percent more stable than hardwoods, while milling, sanding, and finishing using conventional machinery. Its naturally occurring silica content resists insects and fungal agents. LEED eligible. Hashtag Cambridge Architectural In panels up to 96 inches wide, the flattened surface area of this rigid stainless steel mesh boosts reflectivity. Produced from 100 percent recycled materials, it is LEED eligible. Lea Lab Lea Ceramiche Architects can create their own custom cladding imagery on ultra-thin, oversized ceramic panels using the Lea Lab digital printing technology. Upload high-resolution files, specify the panel size, and the manufacturing process is initiated. Baltic GKD Metal Fabrics With a range of visible light transmittance from .28 to .42 and a solar gain coefficient of between .20 and .29, this metal fabric makes an effective sunshade.
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Such Great Heights: CTBUH names world’s best tall buildings

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the nonprofit arbiter on tall building design, has named its 2014 picks for best tall buildings. Among the winners are a twisting tower in Dubai, Portland's greenest retrofit, and a veritable jungle of a high-rise. The four regional winners are: The Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, USA (Americas); One Central Park, Sydney, Australia (Asia & Australia); De Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands (Europe); and Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE (Middle East & Africa). Portland’s Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building is not a new building. Designed by SOM in 1974, the office tower used a pre-cast concrete façade that had begun to fail by the turn of the 21st century. Bainbridge Island, Washington-based Cutler Anderson Architects and local firm SERA modernized the 18-story, 512,474 square-foot structure that is now targeting LEED Platinum. One Central Park in Sydney uses hydroponics and heliostats to cultivate gardens and green walls throughout the tower, cooling the building and creating the world's tallest vertical garden. OMA’s De Rotterdam is the largest building in the Netherlands, and its form playfully morphs the glassy midcentury office high-rise in a way that’s part homage and part experimental deconstruction. In the Middle East, Dubai’s twisting Cayan Tower (formerly The Infinity Tower) is a 75-story luxury apartment building that turns 90 degrees over its 997-foot ascent. Remarked the CTBUH panel: “happening upon its dancing form in the skyline is like encountering a hula-hooper on a train full of gray flannel suits.” CTBUH will pick an overall “Best Tall Building Worldwide” winner at their 13th Annual Awards on November 6, at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Their panel of judges includes Jeanne Gang, OMA’s David Gianotten, Laing O’Rourke’s David Scott, and Sir Terry Farrell, among others. OMA’s CCTV Tower in Beijing won last year’s competition. Most of the 88 contest entries were from Asia, CTBUH said, continuing that continent’s dominance of global supertall building construction. CTBUH's international conference will take place in Shanghai in September. You can find more about the 2014 CTBUH awards, including a full list of finalists, at their website.
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Letter to the Editor> Improvising Modernism

[Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted response to a back-page comment written by Pamela Jerome (“The Mid-Century Modernist Single-Glazed Curtain Wall Is an Endangered SpeciesAN 05_04.09.2014). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Pamela Jerome’s thoughtful comment on mid-century modernist curtain walls raises a number of important issues that deserve further study. Having successfully redeveloped two major twentieth century commercial buildings, I believe that those buildings are probably the least understood in all of preservation theory. They were built by unsentimental men in pursuit of trade, commerce, and wealth. There was never a moment’s hesitation to alter them time and again as tastes changed, neighborhoods evolved, and tenants came and went. Those commercial cultural issues are just as important as the aesthetic issues inevitably associated with any building, and they are very hard to reconcile. Mid-century modernism really expressed the world’s rebirth from the horrors of World War II, a feeling clearly seen in every part of the UN campus. Lever House, the Seagram Building, and scores of other projects of that time express it, too. One of the ways we can see it is in the refusal to accept the state of the art as a limitation. When Lever House survived Swanke Hayden Connell’s proposal that it be demolished and replaced with an SHC design based on a Wurlitzer jukebox, it was landmarked. Around that time, SOM, where I was an associate, received an AIA award for the building. In celebration, the partners displayed the original curtain wall details as fine art on our main floor, revealing that Lever House’s magnificent curtain wall was cobbled together from miscellaneous iron sections, bent plates, and who knows what else; and a far cry from the sophisticated aluminum curtain wall systems of the 1980s. With nothing to guide them but their desire, they were determined to create something brilliant with the means at their disposal. And they did. David A. Lederman Streetwood Management
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Broad Collection Sues Seele over Problematic Los Angeles Museum Facade

In a recent interview, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Senior Associate Kevin Rice told AN that the "veil" at Los Angeles' Broad Museum—a facade made of hundreds of molded Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels, had been delayed by over a year. "Some of the things took longer to make than they thought, but there aren’t really problems with it," Rice said. But now it looks like the issues with the museum's facade are more severe than initially thought. The LA Times has reported that the Broad Collection and contractor Matt Construction are suing Seele, the engineer of that facade, seeking $19.8 million in damages relating to the delay. Other damages, according to the complaint (PDF), include breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and fraud and deceit. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Seele "violated the important 'aesthetic aspect' of the architect's design," and its mockups were "unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project." As a result the firm was not able to meet its October, 2013 deadline to design, fabricate, and install the facade, setting the project's timeline way back. The Broad's lawsuit also names Zurich American Insurance Company and Fidelity and Deposit Company—backers of a bond guaranteeing Seele's work—as defendants. "Seele did not possess the necessary skill, experience, resources, commitment or ability to perform the work at The Broad museum," the complaint stated. Broad Foundation spokesperson Karen Denne told AN, "we're not commenting—the lawsuit speaks for itself." As of now the museum is still set to open in 2015, but the exact date remains up in the air.
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Jamie Carpenter Dresses up Dallas’ Cotton Bowl in Disco Fashion

Jamie Carpenter, the world-renowned architect who has left his mark on projects like New York City's Millennium Tower, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and others, recently revealed his latest work, Light Veil, at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Cotton Bowl Public Art Project, a $25.5 million endeavor aimed at revamping the stadium, included a contest that Carpenter won out for equipping the stadium with a new facade. Carpenter’s design relies on the sole use of hanging mesh ribbons whose delicate strength elicits an ethereal effect. The facade is constructed out of uniformly spaced thin mesh ribbons, 2 feet wide and 50 feet long, that weigh in at a slight 80 pounds. Up close, the strong parallel lines impress with their connotations of durability, reliability, and uprising power—positive associate qualities for any sports stadium. From a distance, however, the impact is wholly different yet just as impressive. The ribbon’s interact with natural sunlight to create a shimmering front, hence the aptly named Light Veil. Some writers have dubbed Carpenter’s treatment as “gift-wrapped.”  The phrase keys into the fact that the design’s simple elegance delivers a surprise no matter which way you turn. Carpenter’s work delights in the interplay between light and glass, and could be considered a signature trait of his work. “The brighter a material gets, the more solid it feels,” Carpenter has said, thereby highlighting the underlying paradox of the Cotton Bowl’s new face: how basic structural elements solidify the intangible in a very real way. The Cotton Bowl Project included adding more club seats, concession stands, and general clean up.  The veil, which cost $8 million to complete and comes third or fourth in a trend of mesh facades, allows the audience to more fully experience the interplay between the sporting event, the stadium’s interior, and the city beyond.
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Skyscraper Expert Gordon Gill Talks High-Performance Facades

Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.” Gill titled his keynote talk “Skin Deep” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what facade design ought not to be. “A lot of times facades are treated that way, as just a wrapper to make the building look good, when in fact we find their roles to be much deeper,” said Gill. “The role of the facade is really an amazing opportunity to change perceptions of space, to change thermal compositions of space, to change experiences of space on either side of that fence.” Gill has plenty of experience designing high-performance facades for challenging climates, from the heat of Dubai to the cold of Kazakhstan, where, he said, the air was so frigid and dry that he saw ice on the floor of the car that picked him up from the airport. “It’s amazing the environments that we have decided to occupy, and in doing so then we turn to these envelopes to protect us, everything from our coat to our building,” he observed. Gill embraces technology as a means to the end of high performance. “I’m a big fan of trying to get the most out of everything, and the technology plays a pretty big role in that for me,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a whole host of factors, including massive wind loads, movements of buildings, safety and protection in something that’s one kilometer tall, you’ve stretched the boundaries of conventionalism, you’ve gone beyond the normal expectations of materials. So now it becomes this combination of things you have to do to solve the problems.” Balancing performance and sensitivity in a facade, said Gill, is “like conflict resolution at the threshold of the built environment”—and technology can be an important mediator. “I would just put out a little call to arms for everyone who’s out there in this business, because we do have a responsibility to improve the environments that we design and work in,” concluded Gill. “I think beauty [has] a pivotal role and [is] a quality we all want to pursue, however, it shouldn’t be at the cost of intelligence, performance, and all the other things that make our environments valuable to us. I look forward to seeing more of that in the architecture that’s being produced—from us, too.”
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Product> Master Glass Solutions for Interiors and Facades

As the buzzword "transparency" gains greater meaning in product specification, glass is an energy-saving, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing option. Strand 3form 3form’s Pressed Glass is newly available in the Strand pattern (above), a compressed interlayer of fine gauge threads in three monochromatic colorways. It can be further customized through color matching, etching, and fritting options. Available in widths as large as 
48 inches and lengths of 120 inches, it can be specified in either a 5/16-inch or 1 5/16-inch gauge thickness. Its inherent strength meets ANSI Z97.1 standards. DF-PA Dichroic Film 3M Architectural Markets 3M’s Dichroic films can be applied to any smooth surface with a pressure sensitive adhesive; the DF-PA is recommended for glass applications. Two color values—Chill and Blaze—span color ranges from blue to magenta to gold, in either a fully covered opacity, or as a decorative graphic. Durability complies with interior and exterior use, and the film can be easily removed from architectural screens, window fronts, curtain walls, or glazing when it is time for an update. Railings and Floors CARVART This structural laminated glass can be safely specified for floors and railings. Flooring can be installed as a freestanding finish or incorporated into another system with specially engineered mounting hardware, and stair treads can appear to “float” or integrate into stringers. For railings, top and side mounting options can be affixed to most structures, or can be suspended from coordinating adjustable point fittings. Railing caps are available in round, oval, or square profiles. Alice General Glass Digital printing directly to glass provides customization options as broad as the imagination of the architect or designer. Bespoke patterns or imagery can be specified, in addition to a selection of bright and monochromatic colors and patterns for glazing, curtain walls, or interior applications. Fully opaque backing is also available, enhancing the contrast and crispness of any printed design. SunGuard Super Neutral 68 Triple Glaze Guardian Industries Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 glazing offers improved solar control and abundant natural light. The Valley View project shown here uses SunGuard SN 68 triple glaze, providing a visible light transmission of 52 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.32. SunGuard SN 68 can also be laminated for noise reduction and hurricane protection. KnollTextiles Glass Collection Skyline Design Seven designs from KnollTextiles are rendered on glass through two production techniques:
Eco-etch achieves varying levels of opacity, and AST Digital Glass Printing introduces color to partial transparency. These options provide for customization of classic patterns 
like Divine and Enchantment, designed by Dorothy Cosonas, or the mid-century Cyclone and Fibra, designed by Eszter Haraszty. Liquidkristal Lasvit Designed by Ross Lovegrove, Liquidkristal was inspired by dynamic forms found in nature. The design was first modeled digitally to simulate thermo induction, which can imbue the qualities of water to glass under very high temperatures. A large-scale mold system was formed from the study’s results, to produce multiple pattern variations over multiple sheets. In addition to interior applications, Liquidkristal is also suitable for glazing and facades. Olivia Joel Berman Glass Studios The circular, three-dimensional pattern of Olivia is enhanced with subtle reflectivity to inflect motion into any space. Back painting options are available in a range of colors on panels measuring 53 by 108 inches. Produced for interior applications, it can be tempered for safety and impact resistance on exteriors as well. ClearShade Glazing Unit Panelite A honeycomb-like insert fits between two sheets of glass and redirects up to 70 
percent of natural light, reducing solar glare and heat gain for midday-SHGC measurements 
as low as 0.11. The cellular configuration is made from a durable but transparent polymer that is resistant to UV rays. The product’s bi-directional scattering distribution capabilities are compatible with Radiance, Energy Plus, and SketchUp modeling programs. Sungate 600 PPG This double-glazed insulated glass unit boasts an efficient configuration tailored to the region of application. In climates where heat gain is optimal, coating on the Number 3 
surface blocks heat loss for a U-value of 0.33, while maintaining a 0.65 SHGC and visible light transmittance of 71 percent. For higher insulation values, the Sungate 600 coating can be placed on the Number 4 surface when combined with a solar control low-e glass, for a net gain in U-value of 20 percent. SageGlass Simplicity Sage Electrochromics This electronically tintable glazing is available in a solar-powered, wireless format. In lieu of low-voltage wired connections, a strip of solar photovoltaics interfaces with a low-profile electronic controller and battery pack that can provide power for up to two days without a charge. The wireless system also configures with light and building management programs from Siemens, Lutron, Schneider, and Johnson Controls. Bistro Green Vetrazzo Vetrazzo, the recycled glass division of Polycor, has been diverting glass from the waste stream since 1996. The surfacing material uses consumer beverage containers, waste from glass manufacturers, building demolition, traffic light lenses, windshields, shower doors, and more. It takes nearly 1,000 bottles to make one 5- by 9-foot panel that is 85 percent glass by volume and bound with Portland Cement. Sixteen of Vetrazzo’s product lines are Cradle to Cradle certified. Dynamic Glass View Glass Insulated glass units as large as 5 feet by 10 feet feature programmable electrochromic levels of 60, 40, 20, and 4 percent tinting with user controls from a smart device app to reduce heating and cooling loads, electric lighting, and solar glare. An intelligent setting can be programmed for sensory occupancy to optimize energy usage as well as user comfort. All four tint levels can be achieved in one unit, with adjustment times akin to the passing of a cloud overhead.
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Bing Thom Architects Takes the Stage in Washington, D.C.

A timber-backed glass facade provides transparency, acoustical isolation, and resiliency for a historic theater complex in the nation’s capital.

When the Mead Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. hired Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects to double the institution’s square footage without disturbing two historic theaters designed by treasured architect Harry Weese, it was clear to firm principal Michael Heeney that standard solutions would not suffice. For one, the theater facilities were insufficient and outdated. More troublesome, however, was the fact that passenger jet liners taking off and landing at Regan National Airport across the Potomac River were so loud they were interrupting performances. The architects had to find a solution to mitigate this cacophony both for the existing structures as well as for the expansion—a new theater called Arena Stage. “We had to achieve acoustical separation and isolation from exterior noise in a way that was respectful and maintained the integrity of the original structures,” Heeney told AN. Building off an approach that originated from a project in Surrey, British Columbia, the design team decided to wrap the triangular-shaped complex in glass with timber column supports, topped off with a 500-foot cantilevered roof. With the help of structural engineers at Fast + Epp and facade consultancy Heintges, the team extrapolated the Surrey solution to provide even greater transparency for the existing Weese theaters, Arena Stage, and a variety of mixed use spaces totaling 200,000 square feet.
  • Facade Manufacturer Icon Exterior Building Solutions, DuPont, Viracon, StructureCraft
  • Architects/Consultants Bing Thom Architects, Heintges, Fast + Epp, StructureCraft
  • Location Washington, D.C.
  • Date of Completion late 2010
  • System timber-backed glass curtain wall with Krypton-filled insulated glass units
The system features a series of columns milled from parallel strand lumber to taper at the base with an ellipse-shaped section. Each column stands between 45 and 63 feet high with a diameter of 22 by 32 inches. Spaced on 36-foot centers, the columns effectively support the dead load of the glass curtain wall in addition to the weight of the roof overhead. The total perimeter of the complex measures approximately 650 feet in length. The base of each column tapers to a painted cast iron base featuring an ellipse-shaped cutout. “There’s enormous force coming down through those columns, but we articulated it gracefully like a ballet dancer en pointe,” said Heeney. The columns tilt four degrees to minimize glare. Icon Exterior Building Solutions custom designed and extruded the aluminum-framed curtain wall with 12- by 7 ¾-foot trapezoidal insulated glass units. A ½ -inch krypton-filled space is sandwiched by a 3/8-inch outer glass pane with a low # coating on the No. 2 surface, and a ¼-inch inner lite for optimal acoustic insulation. The entire system hangs from ½ inch steel cables connected to a structural steel top truss. Lateral loads are handled by a horizontal paralam mullion system (9 inches deep, 3/12 inches thick, 12 feet in length) that ties back to the columns with 5- to 6-foot paralam struts, depending on the curvature of the glass. “Normally with a curtain wall, you build the structure and it comes after, but here we used the columns to take the structure in addition to the glazing,” explained Gerry Epp, partner at Fast + Epp and president of StructureCraft. “It’s a super efficient scheme because we executed the structure at the same time as the facade.” According to Heeney’s estimation, the Mead Center’s large-scale commercial timber-backed glass facade was the first of its kind in the US and has performed beyond the designer’s expectations. When a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the D.C. area in 2011, the glass curtain wall swung with the earth’s motion and then settled back into place. “Even though it’s not seismically designed, I think the West Coast designers’ inclinations made it inheritantly stable,” Heeney mused.