Posts tagged with "Glass":
On April 19, for the afternoon keynote of The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference in New York, architect Ian Ritchie discussed his decades-long involvement in forward-looking glass architecture. Beginning with the tongue-in-cheek statement, “Glass is the answer; what was the question?” the British architect detailed the technological specifications and design considerations behind his projects. Ranging in size from personal residences to convention centers, the projects convey his expertise with manufactured materials.
As head of his own practice, Ian Ritchie Architects, Ritchie’s process is influenced by a range of fields, from neuroscience to poetry.
Ritchie began with one of his earliest projects, the self-constructed Fluy House (1976). Composed of a prefabricated set of materials, including a lightweight steel frame and pre-cast concrete floor slabs, Ritchie described his early curtain wall as “glass acting as a windbreaker,” a thin protective barrier between shelter and the site’s surrounding countryside.
Ritchie also described projects he worked on as a founding partner of the engineering firm, RFR Engineers. For example, he talked about unique projects such as engineering I.M Pei’s Louvre Pyramids, which entailed the creation of a full-scale Kevlar mockup and the use of "phantom fixing” to insure the transparency of the glass structure’s final design.
Next, in talking about the design of Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art’s circulation towers and the Messe-Leipzig Glass Hall, Ritchie described how unique engineering devices such as externally suspended and grid-worked glass panels bring the tectonics of design and engineering into public view while creating open and accessible spaces.
In line with his firm’s straightforward forms, Ritchie was critical of the contemporary trend of hyper-engineered glass facades with multiple curves and contortions, asking, "Is architecture intelligence or indulgence?" Instead, he emphasized the natural, biological forms that influence his creative process and, ultimately, his firm’s output.
Ritchie’s drive to bridge the highly technical, manufactured character of glass with natural objects and processes was also highlighted by his presentation of the firm’s recently completed, 150,000-square-foot Sainsbury Wellcome Center.
Located in London’s Fitzrovia, a central city district surrounded by architectural conservation areas predominantly comprised of Georgian architecture, Ritchie saw the Sainsbury Wellcome Center as a “melting ice block spilling into the surrounding neighborhood." To fulfill this analogy, the firm opted for translucent cast glass with vertical, corduroy-like detailing that imitated the stone rustication and brick-and-mortar facades of the surrounding area.
Ritchie concluded with a call for architects to recognize that current glass design and architecture may be surpassing contemporary engineering capabilities. In his view, too many architects are acting as sculptors, an approach that will fail to “make glass warm and haptically friendly” to the public.
The Lotte World Tower rises from bustling Seoul, South Korea, as a sleek new city icon. For the team behind the 123-story building at global architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), creating this seamless silhouette meant a challenge of engineering ingenuity—and quite a bit of glass.
“Even though it looks like one big monolithic tower, there are 20 different types of glass on that tower,” explained KPF’s Richard Nemeth, managing principal for the project, which opened earlier this year. The 1,821-foot-tall silhouette was inspired by traditional Korean forms like pottery and paintbrushes, but its multiple functions helped dictate the form as well. Office space is located at the bottom, while the tower tapers in two directions—“think football instead of baseball”—offering smaller spans from core to glass toward the top of the tower, where the residences, hotel, and observation deck are located.At the base, a 100-foot-tall lobby utilizes a gradient of mirrored frits on the glazing to provide shading while accommodating views at ground level; at the top of the tower, frits were used to highlight the diagrid of the belt trusses. The residences utilize laminated safety glass on the inner lite with heat-strengthened glass on the outer lite, while the hotel and office sections use heat-strengthened glass for both. To keep the building from looking like a “giant patchwork quilt,” Nemeth said, the KPF team ensured that the outer lite is always the same thickness, with the reflective coating on the number-two surface. “Then, whatever you do on your inner lite is much less visible to the outside, because it’s inside the reflective coating,” he explained. While the world’s fifth-tallest building includes a number of innovative energy-saving strategies, for many visitors the tower’s crowning achievement is the glass-floored observation deck—the world’s tallest. Cantilevering out, it offers views some 1,600 feet down—with just three layers of 10-millimeter-thick tempered glass with SentryGlas Plus interlayers separating viewers from the ground.
With a theme of “Future Energy,” Kazakhstan’s Expo 2017 is expected to draw more than two million tourists to Astana, the capital city. At the center of it all is the Kazakhstan Pavilion—by Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture—which is capped with a glass dome 262 feet in diameter and and houses the “Museum of Future Energy.”The form was inspired by expos of the past, like the Montreal Biodome from Expo ’67, as well as Kazakhstan’s president himself, who specifically told the firm he wanted a sphere, said Founding Partner Gordon Gill. But earlier examples failed to complete the circle—Gill’s team wanted to go further.
“We said, ‘If we’re going to do that, let’s do a true sphere,’” Gill recounted. “Instead of segmented glass, we decided to do double-curved, insulated, fritted glass.” While the form posed engineering challenges due to the undefined transition of heat across its surface—which the team solved by using convection to move air throughout the space—fabricating the glass panels proved an engineering feat of its own.
“We thought it was going to be pretty straightforward,” Gill said. “After all, doesn’t every car have double-curved glass on the windshield? But we only found three manufacturers on the planet that could deliver double-curved insulated glass.” Eventually choosing Italy’s Sunglass for the job, together they considered a number of designs, ultimately choosing to utilize a rhombus shape with horizontal members that could be rationalized with the floor line in installation.The building envelope is essentially a glazed unitized curtain wall system. Aluminum mullions, which are supported off a primary and secondary steel frame system that forms an elegant diagrid shell, provide support and thermally isolated connections to the pavilion's doubly-curved insulated glazing units. A perforated enclosure housing a radiant heating system is supported off horizontal mullions. To the exterior, ceramic frit glazing is specified on the outboard laminated lite of the curtain wall, while ultra clear low-iron glass with a low-E coating was included throughout the project. The envelope also features integrated LED illumination and shading systems within the exterior curtain wall mullions.
To maximize views from the inside and reduce the number of glass panels, they opted for a three-meter-sized lite for a total of about 2,900 double-curved spherical panels with an additional 315 double-curved panels to make up the side walls of the wind turbine inlet at the top of the sphere, as well as 388 flat panels with integrated photovoltaics from Ertex.
“There’s a lot of science behind this simplicity,” Gill said. “It seems so straightforward and almost like a one-liner, but it unfolds in front of you as you go through it to reveal a whole litany of sophistication.”