Architect Odile Decq, director of Paris-based Studio Odile Decq, has won the 2016 Jane Drew Prize for "her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture." Past recipients of the award, administered by Architects' Journal, include Grafton Architects' Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (joint awardees, 2015), Kathryn Findlay (2014), Eva Jiřičná (2013), and Zaha Hadid (2012). Decq's recent work includes the Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum in Nanjing, China (2015), the form of which was inspired by the slope of the site; and the Saint-Ange Residency in Seyssins, France (2015), winner of the Blueprint Award for best non-public project. Decq, whose multidisciplinary office boasts a portfolio ranging from plans for social housing to high-tech lighting fixtures, will deliver the opening keynote address at April's Facades+ NYC conference. Decq's interest in the field of high performance building envelopes dates back over 25 years, she explained. "Before the 1990s, facades were composed by architects as holes in a wall," said Decq. "Thanks to [developments in] glass technology and, specifically, the screwed and suspension systems developed by [Irish structural engineer] Peter Rice—who did the first suspended facade in Paris at the end of the 1980s—facades have become surfaces." Decq's first large commission, the Banque Popular de l'Ouest in Rennes (1990, in collaboration with with Peter Rice), features the first facade built using double-glazed suspended glass with external sun shades. Since then, she said, "I have been interested in the facade considered as a transparent surface to which layers outside and inside can be added." Some such additions occur inside the glazing itself, as at the MACRO, Contemporary Museum in Rome (2010); others consist of attached components, such as louvres, that create a sense of depth. "As [in] Alice in Wonderland, the way through the looking glass transforms our vision," concluded Decq. Meet Decq and other award-winning designers, fabricators, builders, and academics at Facades+ NYC. Learn more and register today on the conference website.
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When Kreysler & Associates's Bill Kreysler signed on to participate in the "Emerging Craftsmanship in Digital Fabrication" panel at April's Facades+ NYC conference, he immediately zeroed in on the second word in the title. "I don't think of craftsmanship the way most people do," he said. "When I say 'craftsmanship,' I think that applies as much to someone sitting in front of a computer with a 3D Rhino model as it does to a guy in a wood shop in Renaissance Italy." But just as a room full of woodworking tools does not, in and of itself, guarantee the quality of a carpenter's output, explained Kreysler, "just because you have a 3D computer program doesn't mean that somehow everything you do is going to be perfect—in fact, it's frequently not the case." Other fabrication specialists participating in the not-to-be missed discussion include moderator Hauke Jungjohann (Thornton Tomasetti) and co-panelists L. William Zahner (A. Zahner Company), James Carpenter (James Carpenter Design Associates), and Mic Patterson (Enclos). The gap between the potential offered by digital tools and the reality of building a high performance facade is exactly where things get interesting, said Kreysler. "Designers are becoming much more entangled in the manufacturing process," he observed. Once upon a time, a designer's involvement in every stage of a project's development, from concept through construction, was par for the course. But mass production techniques and concerns over liability eventually encouraged AEC industry professionals to retreat to separate camps. With the introduction of digital design tools, the pendulum began its swing back. "All of a sudden architects are designing buildings that nobody knows how to build," said Kreysler. Armed with 3D design documents, computer cutting tools, and other technology, designers are once again equipped to help brainstorm solutions to construction quandaries. As much as digital design software has enhanced the architect's skill set, specialized fabrication knowledge and experience remains relevant. Recent technological developments "are good for architects who are skilled, but that's where craftsmanship comes into it," said Kreysler. "If you don't know your tools, you can design something that turns out not to be possible to build." A practiced fabricator, meanwhile, spends his or her working days discerning the line between the buildable and folly. "The architect is discovering that in certain circumstances their best friend is the fabricator, the guy who says you can [manipulate a given material] this much—that's the kind of embedded knowledge that general contractors don't have, that architects don't have," said Kreysler. "It's a hive of bees rather than a lone operator. That's antithetical to the traditional mode in the construction industry. We're in a state of transition; the industry is changing, which is good." Hear more from Kreysler and co-panelists at Facades+ NYC. Register today to secure a space at the symposium on Day 1 and your preferred lab or dialog workshop on Day 2.
On March 10, Facades+AM, the half-day spin-off of the popular Facades+ conference series, returns to the nation's capital. The symposium is co-chaired by FXFOWLE senior partner Mark Strauss and FXFOWLE principal Kevin Cannon. "One of the things we noticed over the last year is that there's a lot of emphasis on expanding the envelope not just in terms of ideas in Washington, but also responding to environmental concerns," said Strauss. "There's an interest in sustainability from the public side, but also from the development side." Facades+AM DC will comprise one keynote address and two closely-related panel discussions. After registration, breakfast, and opening remarks from Strauss and Cannon, Handel Architects president Gary Handel will deliver a talk on his firm's new residential tower for Cornell University's New York City Tech Campus. The tower's facade is a key contributor to its status as the world's largest and tallest building designed to Passive House standards. "One aspect we haven't seen very much in Washington, but thought we could use this even to push, is to explore the idea of Passive House and its impact," said Strauss. "It will be interesting to hear about the challenges" Handel has encountered in scaling up, added Cannon. Handel's keynote address sets the stage for the morning's first panel, "Facades and the Environment." Presenters include Roger Frechette III (Interface Engineering), Robert Moje (VMDO Architects), and Nora Wang (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory). The discussion will center on how changes in environmental design, including the rise of net zero, have influenced architecture and building performance. In addition to hearing from Moje, whose firm actively explores the intersection between sustainability theory and practice in school design, "We're going to talk to engineers who are looking at how you begin to quantify and measure these things," said Cannon. The final panel, on "The Future of the Office Building," brings together Akridge's Bob Schofield, Duncan Lyons (Gensler), and Marc Simmons, of Front, Inc. "There's been a revolution around office buildings," observed Strauss. "We're re-thinking the face of the office building, but the panel is also going to explore how the work environment is changing, and how that influences facades." In reference to FXFOWLE's own portfolio, including a contemporary project in Turkey and the New York Times building (Renzo Piano), Cannon said, "We've been doing a lot of work lately on seeing how the inside of the building influences the facade. We want to see how those influences will land in DC." Join Strauss, Cannon, and other movers and shakers in the world of building envelope design and fabrication March 10 at Facades+AM DC. Learn more and register today on the conference website.
“We don’t need walls anymore. We need living, breathing systems that provide so much more to the urban realm than keeping in conditioned air and keeping out noise and pollutants.” - Will Wright, AIA|LALos Angeles’ 2016 Facades+ Conference, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper, is the 18th event in an ongoing series of conferences and forums that have unfolded in cities across the nation, including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, D.C., and Chicago. Held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, the conference incorporated architects, engineers, fabricators, and innovative material manufacturers into a multidisciplinary two-day event covering the state of building envelope design thinking today. The daylong symposium kicked off with spirited remarks by Will Wright, Director of Government & Public Affairs at AIA L.A., where he set forth a plea for stronger emphasis on localism and craftsmanship. Co-chaired by Kevin Kavanagh and Alex Korter of CO Architects, the event included AIA LA, four local architecture schools – UCLA, USC, Woodbury, and Cal Poly Pomona – and a robust collection of Los Angeles-based architecture firms. Four panel discussions throughout the day covered the influence of building envelopes on business, education, structural design, and data analysis. The conversations engaged audience participation through an interactive, web-based tool called Sli.do. In a morning panel discussion titled “Money Well Spent? An Owner’s Perspective on the Value of Facades,” moderator Kevin Kavanagh spoke with representatives from Kaiser Permanente, Kitchell, and The Ratkovich Company on finding the right balance between aesthetics, energy performance, fiscal responsibility, and efficient project scheduling. During breaks, conference attendees attended a “Methods+Materials” gallery that highlighted innovative building envelope materials such as electrochromic glass, metal mesh fabric with integrated media display, and ultra-compact surfacing products. The symposium was highlighted by keynote addresses from Enrique Norten and Eric Owen Moss. Norten’s opening keynote set forth an argument for a socially responsible architecture integrated into the city via infrastructural, landscape, and public space projects. He cited works of his firm, TEN Arquitectos, which incorporate topographical manipulations of the landscape to establish social spaces of public engagement. His work intentionally camouflages the building envelope into a contextual landscape—be it an adjacent park or cityscape—to dissolve the separation between public and private. Eric Owen Moss spoke in the afternoon, questioning at what point the conceptual content of a project becomes lost amidst constructional realities. Through recent work of his firm, Eric Owen Moss Architects, he focused on building envelope details that strayed from original design intent, transforming in concept and tectonics as engineers, fabricators, and contractors participated in the process. In a panel discussion titled “Bytes, Dollars, EUI: Data Streams and Envelopes,” Moderator William Menking, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, spoke with Atelier 10, Gehry Technologies, and CPG regarding tools and processes facilitating facade analysis and optimization. Sameer Kashyap (Gehry Technologies) shared perhaps the most bewildering stat of the day—that GT was able to script processes which allowed two people to produce over 1200 shop drawings per day for 33 weeks in the coordination of a highly complex facade system. Paul Zajfen of CO Architects rounded out the day with a presentation titled “Facades: A Manifestation of Client, Culture, Climate,” where he argued for contextually specific design producing a facade that “would not be possible at any other time—and in no other place.” The symposium was followed on day two with a series of “dialog” and “lab” workshops covering net-zero facade systems, digital fabrication processes, curtain wall design, and advanced facade analysis. A full roster of organizers and sponsors can be found on the conference website. The Los Angeles event was the first in 2016 of a seven-city lineup, and will be followed by a Facades+AM morning forum in Washington, D.C., on March 10th. The next two-day conference will take place in New York City April 21st and 22nd.
Architects have long relied on engineers to help execute formally or functionally complex concepts. But, as Belzberg Architects founder Hagy Belzberg points out, "architects usually work out a schematic design" in response to a client's needs, "only later to invite the engineer to help substantiate their idea." Belzberg's own experience collaborating with facade engineers at Arup suggests a different approach—one in which the designers and consultants trade ideas and expertise from the very beginning. With Arup's Matt Williams, Belzberg will outline some of the benefits of a close association among AEC industry professionals through two cutting-edge case studies at next week's Facades+ LA conference. Belzberg and Williams' dialog workshop, "Process Shaping Design: Design, Digital Fabrication, and Delivery" is organized around two projects with distinct origins. The first is the Gores Group Headquarters (9800 Wilshire Boulevard) in Los Angeles. "The building will be a case study in how adaptive facades can help us reappropriate existing buildings so we don't have to knock them down," said Belzberg. Digital fabrication technology, he explained, allowed Belzberg Architects to craft a new envelope that is "highly sculptural and unique, but still performative." The second case study examines a series of commercial buildings in Mexico City. "It's the same digital fabrication on a new building," said Belzberg. In contrast to the more typical approach, Belzberg Architects brought Arup on board before touching pencil to paper (or hand to computer mouse). "What we're trying to promote is a case study in which we brought in the engineers on day one, so it becomes more performative, more efficient, and even more cost-effective," said Belzberg. Besides sharing some of their own work, Belzberg and Williams hope to use the workshop to dig into other examples—cases contributed by the participants themselves. "No one's going to have to do any homework, or any sketches," said Belzberg. "But we want people to come in with case studies of their own that we can work on: Not just questions and answers, but we're hoping that other architects will bring real-life scenarios so that we can brainstorm opportunities. It's not just about our work, but an opportunity to discuss audience case studies." To sign up for "Process Shaping Design" or another lab or dialog workshop, register today for Facades+ LA. Learn more and review the symposium agenda on the conference website.
Southern California's enviable climate and landscape—sunny skies, balmy temperatures, picturesque mountains, and surfer-friendly beaches—come at a geological cost: proximity to active earthquake faults. Local AEC industry professionals are adept at meeting detailed building code requirements for structural safety. But when it comes to cutting-edge facade systems, said KPFF principals Mark Hershberg and Nathan Ingraffea, designers and builders are left with little to go on. Hershberg and Ingraffea will dig into this and other challenges and opportunities associated with seismic design at this month's Facades+ LA conference in a panel on "Anchors & Approvals: Structure and Skin in Seismic Design." In addition to Ingraffea (Hershberg will moderate), panelists include Dana Nelson (Smith-Emery) and Diana Navarro (California OSHPD). "A tremendous amount of time has been spent to increase the safety of building structures in seismic events through continual updates of the code, but very little work has been done to understand the behavior of facade systems in seismic events," noted Ingraffea. "This is a shame since the value of the facade system could be just as high as the value of the structure itself, and failure of either one could be catastrophic. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to invest the time to modernize the code." In the meantime, designers, engineers, fabricators, and builders are left without "a well thought out design standard for seismic design of facade systems," said Ingraffea. The ASCE 7 contains only half a page on the topic. Worse still, the relevant text is "on one hand, very basic (one equation to check) and on the other hand overly onerous (dynamic racking tests), and they really do not apply to many modern facade systems," he said. As a result, building envelope design teams must tackle the issue of seismic design on a case-by case basis. "'Industry standard' is a term you hear a lot when you do a lot of facade engineering but from what I've seen the [seismic design] 'standard' is all over the board,'" said Ingraffea. In practical terms, a lack of data or guidance on seismic activity and building skins can cost precious time and money. "Most of the challenges we see with facade design in seismic hot spots are due to the amount of movement that can occur in a building system during a seismic event," explained Hershberg. "We service many clients who want to use new facade concepts or products that may have been developed overseas, and many times the products haven't been tested to determine the range of seismic movement that they can accommodate." The design team is thus forced to perform a series of qualification tests. "This introduces an additional set of schedule risks that are sometimes overlooked," said Hershberg. Learn more about the ins and outs of seismic design at Facades+ LA. Check out a full conference agenda and register for lab or dialog workshops today on the conference website.
As Morrison Hershfield's Building Enclosure Commissioning Practice Lead, principal Stevan Vinci hears one question again and again: "The design team has an envelope consultant. What's the point of having a BECx authority on project?" The point, explained Vinci, is to ensure that the owner's expectations are understood and met throughout the design and construction process. "While the presence of a facade consultant on the design team adds value, their role may be limited to certain tasks or technical issues based on their specific project scope," he said. "The BECx authority works independently on behalf of the owner. The objective is to verify that the owner is getting what they are expecting and paying for." With Simpson Gumpertz & Heger's Jud Taylor, Vinci will offer an inside perspective on BECx services at this month's Facades+ LA conference in a dialog workshop on "Building Envelope Commissioning: The Who, What, & Why of BECx." Per Vinci, the BECx workshop targets "people in the design and construction community who want to know more about this service and how it will fit into their future projects, especially projects that will be using LEED v4." Designers, fabricators, clients, builders, and students will come away with a better understanding not just of the BECx process itself, but of how it can enhance a project's value. Architects, said Vinci, will also learn how to "effectively engage themselves in the Building Envelope Commissioning process." Vinci is eager to hear from BECx workshop attendees. "I'm looking forward to getting the audience's feedback concerning their perception and experience with BECx on projects as it stands today and where it can lead in the future," he said. "I not only enjoy being an educator but also learning from my audience's experiences." To register for Vinci and Taylor's BECx workshop or another lab or dialog workshop, visit the Facades+ LA conference website today. Secure your spot now and earn AIA CEUs in a unique, in-depth look at contemporary topics in facade design and fabrication.
Eric Owen Moss, principal and lead designer of Eric Owen Moss Architects, has spent decades in the metaphorical trenches of architectural practice. But when he speaks about truly innovative design, he harkens back to the literal trenches of World War I, where German architect Erich Mendelsohn sketched his Einstein Tower, later built in Potsdam. "Mendelsohn was drawing something that no one else was drawing," explains Moss, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at the upcoming Facades+ LA conference. "It was unique to him and his time and place." Moss contrasted Mendelsohn's work with the "swoopy Maya stuff" so many architects produce today. "There's a danger that the advent of Maya and Rhino and CATIA and all of this [technology] produces generic kinds of buildings," he said. "The power of the tools is dictating the design content." Instead, said Moss, the architect's tools, whether the Bauhaus-era parallel rule or today's digital modeling systems, should be a means to rather than the end of design. "I want to argue that architecture is still personal—it still has the aspect of Mendelsohn in the trenches—and that it's important that architecture not simply be a manifestation of the tools that are being used," he said. "It's not the plane that's flying the people, but the people are flying the plane." Meanwhile, the advent of digital design has introduced another set of problems—or, as Moss pointed out, opportunities. Today's AEC industry professionals use software "that is, by reputation, extremely precise, and extremely exact," he said. "There's a supposition that with sophisticated technological tools, it's all simple—and it isn't necessarily simple." Why not? The complicating factor is the human one. "I'm interested in talking about pieces that don't turn out the way you expect them too," explained Moss. Whatever the software designers promise, bringing a complex building envelope from concept to completion "is not necessarily easy. It's also contingent on the people." Returning to the distinction between innovative and run-of-the-mill architectural products, Moss recalled a recent public conversation with Frank Gehry. "We were talking about what would constitute a radical architecture," said Moss. In the end, he identified three necessary conditions. First, the work has to be inventive on a conceptual level. "It has to move architecture somewhere," said Moss. Second, the implementation of the project must also be innovative. Finally, he concluded, "the political side of the project has to be imaginative—meaning you have to get the city, the developer, the contractor to participate, to buy into it." Learn more from Moss and other facades experts, including morning keynote presenter and TEN Arquitectos founder Enrique Norten, at Facades+ LA, January 28-29. Register today at the conference website.
For Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, associate dean at Woodbury University School of Architecture, director of WUHO Gallery, and co-founder of [WROAD], architectural practice and education are inextricably intertwined. Wahlroos-Ritter, who joins moderator Alexander Korter (CO Architects) and co-presenters Michael Fox (Cal Poly Pomona), Quinyun Ma (USC), and Neil Denari (UCLA) in a panel on "Facade Education: Preparing Future Practitioners for True Performance" at next month's Facades+ LA conference, first taught at Cornell University after her work as project architect on the Corning Museum of Glass attracted the school's attention. That initial seminar, on the innovative use of glass in building envelopes, helped her carve out a professional niche in the field and also led to an appointment at Yale. At the time, recalled Wahlroos-Ritter, Yale did not offer courses like hers—neither classes on glass, specifically, nor on the intersection of architecture and engineering more generally. "That has changed a lot, [especially] when I think back on when I went to school," she said. The contemporary accreditation process, for one thing, "has elevated the need for systems integration," explained Wahlroos-Ritter. While in the past it had not been unusual for students and faculty from other disciplines to consult on student work, she said, "to rely on engineers to complete a project is new." Her students' relationship to technology like the performance simulation platform Autodesk Ecotect Analysis has also evolved since Wahlroos-Ritter began teaching. "Students are conversant with Ecotect as part of learning BIM," said Wahlroos-Ritter. "That's something I'm seeing more and more in curricula." Meanwhile, students gain hands-on experience in fabrication by building mock-ups of building envelope components. "I think in some ways the academy is leading that part of the conversation," said Wahlroos-Ritter. "Students are learning tools that aren't necessarily part of the trade. Many senior architects don't have the skills these students do." Wahlroos-Ritter relishes her job molding young minds. "For me, one of the exciting moments is the epiphany where students begin to see systems as an intrinsic part of design" rather than something to consider as a postscript, she said. "I talk about Louis Sullivan a lot. He considered the building a living, breathing organism—then everybody forgot about it, of course. I think there's a renewed appreciation for the role building systems can have in the perceptual narrative of a building." Catch up with Wahlroos-Ritter and other facade educators, designers, fabricators, builders, and researchers at Facades+ LA January 28–29. Register today on the conference website.
Barbara Bestor, a SCI-Arc graduate and founder of Bestor Architecture, has spent decades immersed in Los Angeles' design culture—and it shows. Her firm's work, which ranges from installations (Bestor co-curated Deborah Sussman Loves LA! at Woodbury University's WUHO Gallery) to corporate headquarters, retail and restaurants, and historic adaptations, celebrates the city's bold character while bridging the oft-overlooked gap between the bungalow vernacular and Hollywood huge. Bestor will speak to her experience as an urban mediator—between interior and exterior, low- and high-design, small and large—at next month's Facades+ LA conference. Bestor Architecture has wrestled with the question of scale on an operational level, too, as it recently began to tackle bigger commissions. One of the challenges that comes with growth is establishing a brand identity, explained Bestor, acknowledging the status of "architecture as a consumer project." "It's different from trying to be the slickest, most global" firm. Rather, Bestor Architecture's strengths lie in its characteristic approaches to design problems. One common technique—based on the firms origins "doing high design on a shoestring," said Bestor—is to "create atmospheric environments using two-dimensional themes," including graphics and materials, rather than focusing solely on formal expression. When it comes to development work, meanwhile, "there it's more form," she said. "We're trying to create new forms that aren't necessarily the developer's envelope, without screwing up their lines. The stuff we've done, the developer has to take a little leap of faith—but we wind up with much higher returns." Take, for example, the firm's 2015 Blackbirds, a group of 18 homes in the Echo Park neighborhood. The project answers the call for dense, high-quality housing that retains a connection to nature. Inspired by the disposition of early-20th-century Craftsman cabins, the community collects groups of houses into larger volumes, avoiding the repetitive strain associated with so many suburban tracts. Wrapped in sleek paneled exteriors that nod to board and batten construction, the homes retain a sense of Los Angeles' historic residential fabric without losing sight of contemporary spatial and environmental needs. Hear more from Bestor and meet other movers and shakers in the facades world, including Emilie Hagan, associate director at Atelier Ten, and Woodbury University associate professor and dean Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, at January's Facades+ LA conference. Learn more and register for symposium and workshop events today at the conference website.
Facades+ Los Angeles co-chairs Kevin Kavanagh and Alexander Korter hope to shake things up when the acclaimed conference series returns to Southern California in January. Senior associate and associate principal, respectively, at CO Architects, Kavanagh and Korter have rethought the event in terms of architecture as process—a theme that also captures their personal approach to design. "Architecture is about managing and manipulating various drivers and influencers in order to enhance and inform design inspiration," explained Kavanagh. "It's a creative discipline, but a lot of the external drivers—cost, quality, owners' preferences—are as much a part of the design process. They shouldn't be looked at as restrictions, but are ultimately things to work off, that will make [the design] better." In other words, said Korter, Facades+ LA's content will revolve around "bringing process into [architecture], bringing performance into it as an equal partner in designing good, long-term sustainable buildings." The structure of the event reflects this approach. For the day-long symposium, Kavanagh and Korter worked to balance keynote presentations—which Korter characterizes as "more inspirational, design-driven in traditional terms"—with panels—to be "much more discussion-based, topic-based, and maybe less about case studies." Questions posed to and by the panelists may include, for instance, how owners view high-performance facades, and how best to make full and good use of available data streams. "The presentations look backwards, because they're about work that's been accomplished," added Kavanagh. "With the panels, we're asking, 'What's next?' We're taking it out of design and asking, 'What should facades do?'" "If the presentations are an inspiration and the panels are about areas of interest—very specific points of view—then the workshops are all about implementation," explained Kavanagh. "The ideal is that the attendees get something very concrete that they can take right into their day-to-day practice." The workshop offerings on day 2 of Facades+ LA will include deep dives into subjects including commissioning; what role facades play in boosting environmental performance; narratives of project execution; and the development of low-cost, high-performance curtain wall systems. Kavanagh and Korter quip that their relaxed yet dynamic approach to architecture (and conference planning) may not immediately appeal to Type-A AEC industry professionals. But in the end, they remain convinced that a fresh take will benefit all Facades+ LA participants, from architects to fabricators, builders, engineers, building owners, and academics. "Hopefully there is a little bit of chaos that will make it more fun, a little looser," said Kavanagh. For more information on Facades+ LA, visit the conference website. Check back often for up-to-date information on the symposium agenda and workshop offerings.
Kreysler & Associates' Joshua Zabel knows more than a thing or two about collaborating with architects to produce complex facades. "On the design side, increasingly complex projects call for earlier and earlier involvement from us for material and fabrication input," said Zabel. "With increasing frequency we're being called on by architects to contribute during SD and DD phases." Zabel will share the fabricator's perspective on teamwork in high performance envelope design and construction later this week at Facades+AM Seattle. His co-presenters on "Digital Collaborations: Applications, Realities and Opportunities in the Delivery of Complex Facades" include Jeffrey Vaglio (Enclos), David Sandinsky (NBBJ) and Marne Zahner (Magnusson Klemencic Associates). Digital design tools play a critical role in enabling an ongoing dialogue between designers and fabricators, said Zabel. "There's obviously a lot to be said for the ability to pass a 3D model back and forth or share drawings on a screen in real time with someone thousands of miles away," he explained. "It seems easy to forget it wasn't anywhere near as fluid, say, 15 years ago." More specifically, said Zabel, "It's interesting to me when we're able to communicate with architects at the level of programming the toolpath strategy for making molds with our CNC machine. Everything about that notion is enhanced by the collaborative use of technology." Zabel compares contemporary developments in design and fabrication technology to the introduction of another collaborative tool: the telephone. "CAD and digital fabrication processes are such useful tools for construction and collaboration, I imagine one day, like the telephone, we won't marvel at how useful it is, we'll just take it for granted," he said. At the same time, there remains room for improvement. Construction documentation standards, for instance, often necessitate creating traditional 2D models that are "simply impractical" in particularly complex cases such as SFMOMA rainscreen or Bing Concert Hall, said Zabel. The ease of communication "can also lead to overload and an environment where it can be difficult to find a foothold or pinpoint the important thing to focus on where everybody has access to all of the information all the time." Join Zabel and other movers and shakers in the facades world December 4 at Facades+AM Seattle. Register today on the symposium website.