Posts tagged with "glass block":

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Experimental glass block tower by MOS debuts at Chicago Architecture Biennial

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AN caught up with co-founders of MOS Architects, Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, and Seattle-based artist and designer John Hogan. The group collaborated with structural engineer Nat Oppenheimer of Silman Engineering to develop a prototype of an interlocking structural glass block. The work is part of Vertical City, a central installation at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, where sixteen "towers" respond to one of architectural history's most significant competitions: the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower. Curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, the towers will remain on exhibit in the Sidney R. Yates Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center through January 7, 2018.
  • Facade Manufacturer John Hogan Designs
  • Architects MOS Architects (Project Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, John Yurchyk, Nile Greenberg, Mark Acciari, Michael Abel, Paul Ruppert, Fancheng Fei.)
  • Additional Project Support Columbia University GSAPP, Princeton University School of Architecture, and College for Creative Studies Detroit
  • Facade Consultants Nat Oppenheimer, Silman Engineering (structural engineering)
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System load bearing glass block w/ aluminum support
  • Products soda-lime-silica glass hot-cast in custom manufactured graphite formwork
Called “& Another (Chicago Tribune Tower),” the project is an orderly stack of three types of modular block units rising to approximately sixteen feet tall. A custom-milled aluminum plate system interfaces with the glass block wall every two courses, providing lateral bracing. The assembly creates a translucent effect, blurring the legibility of the tower’s structural core. "We would like this to be a real building," said Michael Meredith. "This is a full-scale mockup of a 16-foot-tall glass wall. We didn't know what we were going to get at first. It was all a big experiment." The office tapped into technical Ph.D. papers and engineering research utilized in MVRDV's recent glass block project and looked into precedents from offices like Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Michael Meredith said the aesthetic qualities of the glass are what pique most visitors’ interest, but expects the work will spark a deeper conversation about architectural history. The installation pairs the repetitive, rational, and modular thinking of Ludwig Hilberseimer, best known for his ties to the Bauhaus and to Mies van der Rohe, with “one-liner” tectonic jokes—tower as a fluted column, a skyscraper with crenellation, etc.—in the manner of Adolf Loos who submitted a “joke” entry to the original 1922 competition. The tower sits just shy of sixteen feet, remaining "unfinished," with a final course of blocks scattered on the ground below. The glass blocks were handmade, so ensuring the assembly stayed vertically true was a primary concern to the project team. A "peg registration" system—precisely located bumps and divets—was incorporated into the formwork to assist in stacking the modular units. Despite this planning, Hogan said the group was not sure how much tolerance the individual units would have. The solution was to incorporate CNC-milled aluminum plates to provide a rigid template for the glass walls. "Engineering a system that basically gives you a reset every two courses was the best way for us to be confident the tower would stand straight." The glass block manufacturing process lasted only six days and resulting in 750 blocks from three distinct forms. The team used soda-lime glass, one of the most prevalent types of glass available, accounting for about 90% of manufactured glass today. For Hogan, the project is a continuation of techniques picked up at Alfred University in Western New York, a top-notch casting facility with what he calls “an incredible collection of scrap graphite” (an ideal material for hot-casting glass). Hot-casting is a process that involves pouring molten glass into a form. Graphite is an ideal form material as it can be removed almost immediately after the pour, whereas other materials require the glass to cool completely prior to removal—a lengthier process that is inherently more labor intensive.
Hogan said despite the fast timeframe and limited budget, the creative process was fluid and not predetermined from the start. "The lack of pressure MOS put on themselves to have a predetermined idea of where this thing is going and what it might become is something that aligns well with how I work." So what’s next now that the "mock-up" is complete? Hogan continues to “scale up” his efforts and will be completing a rooftop exterior screen installation later this year in Seattle. He credits this repetitive modular design approach as a way to continue working at a larger architectural scale. MOS Architects and Hogan plan to collaborate on future projects as well. "For me, this is just the beginning of a conversation," said Hogan. "The potential for building larger structures or any number of facade systems with this approach is something we are very excited about. Everything is automated and precise today, so the handmade qualities of building materials have become increasingly relevant.”
 
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UUfie Transforms Flagship Store With Icy Cool Glass Block

From Functional to Fashionable: glass blocks used to create a glowing facade in Shanghai.

Located in a high-end fashion district in Shanghai, this storefront was dramatically reclad in a custom glass block assembly by Toronto-based architecture studio UUfie. The facade is part of an adaptive reuse project, converting an old office building into a new flagship store for fashion house Ports 1961. Eiri Ota, the Director and Principal Architect of UUfie, says the design concept evokes the idea of a landform that resembles an iceberg floating freely in the ocean, “During the day, [the facade] mutes the surroundings, while subtly reflecting the sunlight. In the evening, the view is icy and crisp, and the surface illuminates with embedded LED lights integrated into the joints of the masonry.” The iceberg concept is inspired in part by the fashion brand’s celebration of the spirit of travel. The facade is composed of two types of glass blocks, a standard 12” (300mm) square block and a custom mitered block of the same dimensions. The use of corner blocks offers a seamless uninterrupted materiality. From a distance a larger grid emerges, registering the facade control joints and steel frame beyond. The grid acts as an organizing element for the building envelope, controlling the limits of the material while providing a basis for formal adjustments to the massing of the facade. At key moments, the building face pulls and pushes, establishing the main pedestrian entry and billboard displays for passersby. Ota relates these design moves to the building’s context, “the building has a sense of being undulated, expanding and contracting, as if it is shaped by its environment.”
  • Facade Manufacturer J. Gartner & Co. (HK) Ltd.
  • Architects UUfie (Design Architect)
  • Facade Installer J. Gartner & Co. (HK) Ltd.
  • Facade Consultants T/E/S/S atelier d’ingénierie (facade engineer); Inverse (lighting consultant); eightsixthree Ltd (project coordinator); Yabu Pushelberg (design producer)
  • Location Shanghai, China
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System Glass block on steel frame assembly with integrated LED lighting
  • Products 300mm x 300mm glass block, 300mm x 300mm custom corner glass block
UUfie was able to achieve a three-dimensional “corbeling” look for the glass block by carefully integrating steel plates into the design. As the facade tapers, the blocks rest on a stainless steel plate of the same dimension, which extends to a steel frame. LED lighting, inserted into the masonry joints casts light toward the interior, which is indirectly reflected back to the exterior, establishing a soft glow effect and conveying the depth of the assembly. UUfie’s Toronto-base office worked to refine the detailing of the wall system to ensure that the on-site assembly process would operate as smoothly as possible, which meant condensing the number of connections in the modular assembly down to a set of standard details. This effort doubly helped to establish a rigorously refined aesthetic and efficient construction process, reflecting Ports 1961’s approach to carefully honed craft production. The finishes selected for the facade were a thoughtful addition to the project. The glass block is a satin finish, and the underside of the exposed steel plates is shot blasted to create a soft matte finish. These deliberately “soft” finishes operate contextually to contrast with Shanghai’s electric chaos. Ota attributes the success of the project to the facade’s materiality and formal massing: “The differing geometries and changing perspectives of the facade express the transformative nature of the city and the people of Shanghai.”