According to Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president of Chicago-based JAHN, contemporary facade design neglects one of the building envelope’s foremost responsibilities: storytelling. “There is a focus now on using the building massing to convey the key message,” he said. “However, I think it’s through the facade that we can bring a more compelling narrative about how the building functions.” As an example, Gonzalez-Pulido pointed to Mies van der Rohe’s One IBM Plaza, which he can see from his office. “When you look at the mechanical floors, they’re treated differently,” he said. “In the lobby, the glass is different. This is actually the responsibility of the facade—it’s more than a piece of glass and metal to cover the building.” Gonzalez-Pulido, who will deliver the afternoon keynote at facades+ Chicago later this month, framed the problem in terms of lightness. “Lightness is not only a physical property but a metaphysical property,” he said. “There’s been a tendency of loading skins with unnecessary elements for the sake of aesthetics. The facade is regulating so many important things that we have to be more conscious of it. If we are, the impact of buildings on the urban environment will be much more positive than it has been.” Architects should take their cue from the automobile and aircraft industries, he said, and discard homogeneity in favor of innovative materials and assemblies. The tendency toward standardization, Gonzalez-Pulido said, does not just have aesthetic consequences. It also sacrifices environmental performance. “It bothers me that buildings are so passive when the environment is changing constantly,” he said. “By facades being so mundane, as they are in a lot of buildings right now, we’re relying more on internal systems as opposed to the skin itself to really improve performance.” In the best-case scenario, the building envelope should facilitate “invisible acclimatization,” explained Gonzalez-Pulido, “creating ideal conditions of comfort and energy consumption without you being an active regulator or manipulator.” One key to correcting the imbalance between form and function, Gonzalez-Pulido argued, is convincing clients that high-performance facades are worth the initial cost. “That’s part of the reason why we’re creating this very boring look to buildings, because clients are so aware of what it takes to make a building inexpensive,” he said. “They’re pushing architects to the cookie cutter. This is dangerous—we’re not inventing things, we’re trying with aesthetics to make a difference.” Luckily, some clients can be talked out of a preference for glass boxes. This is what happened at the Veer Towers in Las Vegas (2010), where JAHN convinced an initially skeptical MGM that external shades were essential in a desert environment. “This is a remarkable story of how we were able to turn around the destiny of a building in its context, through collaborative effort, integrated design, and a committed client,” Gonzalez-Pulido said. Ultimately, it is up to architects to realize the building envelope’s full potential, Gonzalez-Pulido said. “Only if we push our boundaries, remove our preconceptions, and respond to the different context where we’re actually influencing through our design will we be able to make real progress,” he said. “It’s not just a technical question, but a moral question.”
Posts tagged with "Facades Conference":
Like our skin, a building's facade is a critical intermediary between its interior functions and the outside environment. High-performance envelope design thus incorporates a variety of concerns, from aesthetics to sustainability. Next month, leading AEC industry professionals will gather in the Windy City for facades+ Chicago to discuss the future of facade design through the lens of the conference theme: resilience. For more information or to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website.
KieranTimberlake has long pushed the boundaries of conventional facade design. The Philadelphia-based firm started using pressure-equalized rain screen systems in the 1980s, well before other architects brought the technology on board. Their Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, at the University of Pennsylvania (2003), was the first actively ventilated curtain wall in North America. The designers at KieranTimberlake have introduced new materials and assemblies, such as the SmartWrap building skin deployed at Cellophane House, part of MoMA’s Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit. One of the firm’s latest projects, the Embassy of the United States, London, incorporates an outer envelope of three-dimensional ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels with integrated photovoltaic cells. Thus founding partner James Timberlake speaks from experience when he calls out the American AEC industry for a lack of attention to high-performance building envelopes. “We see performance—not only of the building, put particularly the facade—as being a critical element of architecture, and of the long-term sustainability of not only architecture but building in general,” said Timberlake. “We think that architects, manufacturers, and contractors need to be thinking innovatively in that way as they help build the future of not only North America, but China and Europe as well.” For Timberlake, who will deliver the keynote address at next month’s facades+ Chicago conference, the missing link is production. “I think the United States and North American market has abrogated its duty to produce high-performance, sustainable, and affordable facade choices over the last four decades,” he said. “The last time we produced anything that was innovative was in the late 1960s. Since then, all of that production went to Asia and Europe. I think it’s now time to make that stuff here.” Moving facade manufacturing back to the United States would benefit manufacturers and designers as well as the economy in general, says Timberlake. “The President of the United States has, in the last few weeks, put out a clarion call for manufacturing to return to the USA rather than offshoring. I think we can be competitive; I think we should be producing innovative wall strategies here,” he said, noting the potential impact on unemployment. “There have always been [American] companies that have been innovative with bespoke strategies, but at this point they are considered niche constructors. In the long term we would like to see those niche manufacturers expand their market reach to be the distributors for some of these other types of facade strategies, or even return to producing the kinds of curtain walls that made the Lever House and Mies van der Rohe’s buildings in Chicago, and made the gleaming skyscrapers of LA.” Architects, said Timberlake, would benefit from greater integration and lower labor and shipping costs were facade manufacture to relocate from abroad. The key to reintegrating facade manufacture and production, argued Timberlake, is demonstrating the existence of a market for cutting-edge envelopes. “They need to see that the design and engineering capability is here in the United States,” he said. “Three-dimensional design used to be the purview of Europe and Asia, but over the last five to ten years American architects and engineers have become quite capable of working three dimensionally. We’re turning out three dimensional designs and engineering solutions that are unique and innovative in terms of their technology, and also are affordable solutions and quite sustainable.” As proof that it can be done, Timberlake points to auto companies, including Volkswagen and Tesla, that have recently set up production centers in the United States. “I don’t see curtain walls and facades any different from that,” he said. “There’s a robust labor market ripe for that to be rolled out here.” Timberlake admitted that his concern with the building-products supply chain might strike some as unusual. “What architect thinks about that? We do,” he said, referencing KieranTimberlake’s history of integrating design and research. “We see economy as a part of design; design incorporates economy. You have to think about the market, sustainability, affordability, production, and manufacture. You have to think about how good it looks, and you have to think about whether you can get it to the marketplace.”
Among the AEC industry's most powerful tools are digital technologies, from parametric modeler software to environmental analysis programs. Neil Thelen (Diller Scofidio + Renfro), Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and Doris Sung (dO/Su Studio) took time out from April's facades+ NYC conference to talk to our partners at Enclos about how technology is shaping the future of envelope design. At next month's facades+ Chicago conference, a series of tech workshops will offer hands-on instruction in topics including facade panelization and optimization and collaborative design and analysis. For more information or to register, visit the conference website.
As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, “resilience” has replaced “sustainability” or “green building” as the goal of environmentally-sensitive design. The concept of resilience is particularly pertinent to the building envelope—the protective barrier between a structure’s occupants and the environment. But what, exactly, does resilience mean in the context of designing and engineering facades? This question is at the heart of the facades+ Chicago conference taking place July 24–25 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Over two days, leading facades specialists will explore the role of the building envelope in designing for resilience through a series of presentations and workshops. Thursday’s symposium features a roster of speakers including James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlake) and Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (JAHN), who will deliver the morning and afternoon keynotes, respectively. Mic Patterson (Enclos), Juan Moreno (JGMA), Jeff Holmes (Woods Bagot), Steve Nilles (Goettsch Partners), and Chris Stutzki (Stutzki Engineering) will also present on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to building for resilience with glass. In an afternoon panel, Matt Jezyk (Autodesk), Zach Krohn (Autodesk), Nate Miller (CASE-Inc.), and Andrew Heumann (NBBJ) will discuss the integration of design, simulation, documentation, and production. On Friday, participants choose from a series of dialog and tech workshops for in-depth exposure to special topics and technologies. Dialog workshops include “Evolution of Breathable Building Facades,” “ReVisioning of Existing Facades,” “Supple Skins: Emerging Practices in Facade Adaptation and Resilience,” and “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive.” Tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari, advanced facade panelization and optimization, collaborative design with Grasshopper, and environmental analysis and facade optimization. Conference attendees will have plenty of time between symposium events and during workshop breaks to network with other participants and meet vendors. A complimentary networking lunch is scheduled for both days. Thursday evening there will be a cocktail reception at the Adler & Sullivan-designed Art Institute Stock Exchange Trading Room. For more information and to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
Climate change and extreme weather events have made resilience a watchword among AEC professionals. In this video from our partners at Enclos, filmed at facades+ NYC in April, Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill), Edward Peck (Thornton Tomasetti), and James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan) talk about designing and engineering building skins to meet present and future environmental challenges. Resilience will take center stage at the facades+ Chicago conference July 24-25. Early Bird registration rates have been extended through Sunday, June 29. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]” Prince-Ramus, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next week’s facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference, approaches facade design as an integral part of the design process as a whole. That process, in turn, revolves around a concept he calls agenda. “We set out in our projects to figure out what the project’s agenda should be, then we set out to delimit the constraints,” he said. “Then we try to find the embodiment of the agenda that will fit seamlessly within those constraints.” REX’s current projects include a pair of headquarters buildings for sister media companies in the Middle East. The stone-clad towers are covered in retractable sunshades that reference a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. As an example of how constraints can influence facade design, Prince-Ramus cited the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. REX (with OMA) slashed the project’s envelope budget in order to build a theater that changes shape to suit different arts events. The money they were left with, said Prince-Ramus, was about what standard aluminum siding would cost—so they started there. “We made a dummy design where we spent a lot of effort trying to not design something aesthetically, but that we’d put it out to the market and uncover what in the market drove costs,” he said. In Dallas that turned out to be weight, since frequent hail storms require thick siding. REX/OMA developed a facade system of extruded tubes that would protect against hailstones while minimizing the amount of aluminum required. “We made something that was very beautiful and very unique,” said Prince-Ramus. “Certainly if we’d come back to the client with flat aluminum siding they would have said, ‘Put the money back into the facade.'...The success of the facade is why we were able to build a building that’s renowned for its ability to transform.” While the Wyly Theatre facade was shaped by financial constraints, the client’s particular vision informed the envelope for the Mercedes Benz Future Center in Stuttgart. “Part of the collective agenda was that the building should be very transparent, as opposed to museums, which tend to be very cloistered,” said Prince-Ramus. But the automaker also wanted the Future Center, which will display its vision for the future of automobile technology, to be “a beacon for sustainability.” REX’s current solution (which may change as the design develops) is to create a curtain-like sunshade that wraps around the all-glass building. The shade is opaque on one side of the building and nearly transparent on the other, and rotates with the sun’s movements. The curtain is a metaphor for the unknowability of the future: Prince-Ramus recalled the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, which says that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the value of certain variables. “The more you know of one, the less you know of others,” he said. “In discussions about the future, that idea seemed really inherent in what they’re doing [at Mercedes Benz].” Whatever the origin of a particular facade design, for Prince-Ramus it always comes back to performance, the standard that for him encapsulates both function and aesthetics. “The more we’ve used the word performance, the more I’m convinced it does have that dual meaning,” he said. “When [they] talk about a high-performance auto, they don’t just mean it goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. They mean it’s sexy, too.” To hear Joshua Prince-Ramus speak next week, visit the facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference website.
So much of design work today is solitary. It involves sitting in front of a computer—crunching data, building renderings, and running evaluations on digital models. But that’s not the full picture. AEC professionals rely on personal connections to identify projects, connect with clients, and learn new skills. Whether a business meeting or a chat over cocktails, face-to-face interactions still matter. The upcoming facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference offers plenty of opportunities for informal networking in addition to scheduled presentations and workshops. Attendees will have a chance to connect one-on-one with fellow designers, including many of the movers and shakers in the world of facade design and fabrication, during multiple networking breaks. Day one features both morning and afternoon networking breaks sponsored by W&W Glass and a complimentary lunch sponsored by KEPCO+. The day concludes with a cocktail reception sponsored by Autodesk. Symposium keynote speakers and presenters—including Gordon Gill (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill), Joshua Prince-Ramus (REX), Doris Sung (dO/Su Studio), James O’Callaghan (Eckersley O’Callaghan), Ana Bertuna (Related), and William Logan (Israel Berger & Associates)—will be on hand throughout. Day 2 similarly allows for morning and afternoon networking and refreshment breaks and an hour-long complimentary networking lunch. Participants in the day-long tech and dialog workshops can use these breaks to connect with other workshop attendees, get to know their instructors, and visit with colleagues enrolled in different programs. To register for facades+PERFORMANCE New York, visit the conference website. A full schedule, including networking breaks, is available here.
As most AEC professionals know, technology can be either a help or a hindrance when it comes to the design of high-performance building envelopes. Software programs like Grasshopper and Autodesk Vasari offer powerful tools for generating, modeling, and analyzing facades. But there’s a catch. Without a firm grasp of the programs’ capabilities, users can lose data, overlook important features, or otherwise negate the advantages inherent to digital design. Attendees at this month’s facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference will have access to hands-on instruction in a variety of digital design environments through a series of all-day tech workshops. In “Enhanced Parametric Design with Dynamo,” led by Gil Akos of Mode Lab, participants will learn the basics of parametric design within Vasari using Dynamo. Dynamo extends Vasari with additional generative and performance-driven design capabilities, and automates many design tasks. Workshop attendees will see how to use Dynamo throughout the design process, and will also get a sneak peak of work-in-progress versions of the software. “Environmental Analysis and Facade Optimization Strategies,” with Matt Jezyk, Ian Keough, and David Scheer of Autodesk, will also explore the application of Dynamo to facade design. Participants will practice using Dynamo to evaluate solar radiation on the exterior of a building and set up a recursive optimization strategy. Keough, who created Dynamo while working as a consulting engineer, will discuss the program’s unique parametric feature set. Workshop attendees will have a chance to use a soon-to-be-released milestone update to the software. Daniel Davis and Tim Dumatrait of CASE will lead “Parametric Dashboards.” This workshop will tackle the problem of data loss between design iterations, and outline strategies for capturing analysis data and using it to create visualizations and evaluate outcomes. Participants will use Grasshopper to analyze facade design options, then will export their data into external software and develop dashboards to graph and chart the outcomes. The fourth tech workshop, “Advanced Facade Panelization and Optimization Techniques” with Thornton Thomasetti’s Matthew Naugle, is already sold out. Participants will learn the basics of facade panelization and optimization using Grasshopper. The workshop will also explore three Grasshopper plugins: Galapagos, for facade optimization, Kangaroo, for advanced panelization techniques, and TT Toolbox, which allows users to track design iterations in Excel. To register for a tech workshop, see the event page. There you can also view pre-requisites and recommended software downloads.
Innovations in building envelope design typically take one of two forms. The first concerns the materials themselves, and the application of developments in the science of glass, metal, concrete, wood, and plastics to architecture. The second has to do with how the facade mediates between the building interior and the environment. In a world of extreme weather events and rapid sociological change, architects must invent new ways to marry flexibility, resilience, and sustainability in facade design. The six Dialog Workshops at April’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York offer opportunities to explore these themes in depth. Participants choose one morning and one afternoon session, during which they will have a chance to learn from and interact with industry leaders in an intimate setting. The three morning sessions include “Broad-side,” led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Kevin Rice, with Peter Arbour (Seele) and Matthew Ostrow (Diller Scofidio + Renfro). Using DS+R’s Broad Museum as a case study, the panelists will discuss the processes and techniques of glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) facade design. Richard Green of Front, Inc. will coordinate “An ASTM Structural Glass Standard: The Need, the Philosophy, and the Direction” with Michael Ludvik (M. Ludvik Engineering), Louis Moreau (Agnora), and Keith Boswell (SOM). This workshop will explore the history of architectural glass and its resistance to use beyond window applications, and will provide an overview of efforts by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to develop structural glass standards. In the final morning Dialog Workshop, “Facade Health(care): Extended Building Envelope Lifespans through Permanence, Adaptability, and De-Generation,” presenters Kevin Kavanagh and Alex Korter of CO Architects will look at examples of successful healthcare facade designs and how their lessons might be applied to envelope design more generally. The afternoon Dialog Workshops include “Facade Metrics and Resilience: Real Life Difference During Times of Crisis,” coordinated by SOM’s Christoph Timm with panelists Nico Kinzi (Atelier Ten), Teresa Rainey (SOM), Daniel Vos (Heintges), Michel Michno (CH Holding), Markus Shulte (Arup), and John Lee (NYC Dept. of Buildings). The panelists will outline if-then design scenarios relating to today’s top environmental challenges, including extreme weather, man-made disasters, migration, and sociological changes. Mic Patterson (Enclos) and Bruce Milley (Guardian Industries) will co-coordinate “Reflections on Glass: The Aesthetics of Reflected Light” with panelist Tim Singel (Guardian Industries). The workshop will examine the visual behavior of architectural glass, including reflectivity and color, and will offer a first look at a new glass visualization tool developed by Guardian Industries. The third afternoon workshop, “Energy and the Envelope,” will by coordinated by Dr. Forrest Meggers (Princeton University) with panelists Cecil Scheib (Urban Green Council), Alejandro Zaera-Polo (AZPML & Princeton SoA), Erik Olsen (Transsolar), and Anna Dyson (CASE). The panelists will discuss facade design for environmental performance, asking how we might move beyond thick, insulated, stand-alone facades and toward building systems that treat the facade as an integral part of an overall environmental strategy. For more information on facades+PERFORMANCE Dialog Workshops, visit the event page. To register, click here.
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.”
San Francisco shone for the two days during the Facades+ conference on July 11th and 12th. Following the 2012 series dedicated to innovation, this year’s series focused on a variety of topics regarding sustainability. The conference not only addressed energy in building facades, but also the synergy of perspectives from architecture, engineering, and the construction industry that expand our understanding of high-performance building. The first day’s session dealt with performance as a key in the planning, development, and post occupancy stages. It detailed building system fabrication, materials, and optimization methods and tools. Energy simulations, laboratory tests and on-site measurements after one year of operation were shown for The New York Times building façade. Cases such as the window replacement in the UCLA CHS building and the Stanford Outpatient facility revealed the complexities imposed by working deep retrofit in existing building stock. The general session of the first day followed by in-depth workshops the second day. Dialog meetings covered materiality, technology, and new tools in the assessment of high-performance systems. Specialists from LBLN demonstrated how COMFEN, Therm, and Windows are capable tools for measuring performance in terms of energy transfer, daylighting, and costs. Technical sessions allowed useful software instruction and deep exploration of composite materials. Hands-on tools such as Rhino, Grasshopper, Firefly and other platforms showed the capabilities of current software packages. The session regarding responsive facades also included exploration of code-writing in Arduino micro-controller. Many thanks to The Architect's Newspaper and Enclos for providing us the opportunity to learn from cutting-edge firms such as BuroHappold, ARUP, SOM, Autodesk, YKK, Gensler, Morphosis, SGH, KPFF, Thornton Tomasetti, Perking+Will and others. Be sure to catch the next Façades+ in Chicago on October 24 and 25!