Posts tagged with "Glass":

9 interior operable wall solutions for flexible public and private spaces

These indoor applications allow for flexibility, creating hybrid public and private spaces for a party of one—or just a party. PlybooDoor Krownlab This barn door–style system opens on a rolling track mounted on a trolley bracket. Each panel features small slats that help to absorb sound while adding a decorative architectural element. This system is offered in six natural wood finishes and available in sizes customizable down to a fraction of an inch. Pivoting Shoin Lualdi Fashioned from a glass-and-aluminum profile, this pivoting partition system creates indoor environments pleasing to pass through and view from afar. It can be integrated with operable and fixed panels and is available in a palette of woods, metals, and glossy and opaque lacquered colors. glassBOX–F Carvart This glass cubicle system incorporates multiple glass panels that slide to-and-fro. It incorporates a front panel on a plane that is steadily secured by an overhead bar. Views from the other side are obstructed by a privacy trim that lines each door and divider. Acousti-Seal Continuously Hinged Automated Wall System Modernfold This hinged partition is connected to create one complete system: a continuous interlocking panel. The setup time is speedy with the help of an electric motor that triggers opening and closing with a simple push of the touchpad. Series 600 Hufcor A clever set of multiple moveable flat panels lets the user choose what area of the wall to shut or open. Available in 3- and 4-inch thicknesses, the welded steel frame makes the system great for very tall ceilings. Fireframes with Pilkington Pyrostop TGP Narrow steel profiles support Pilkington Pyrostop fire-resistant glass, creating seamless modular glass systems for offices and other commercial applications. The doors can be assembled as single or double leaves. LC Privacy Glass Innovative Glass Creating on-demand privacy with the flip of a switch and a voice command, this glass comes equipped with digital technology that instantly changes the face of the glass panels from transparent to frosted. Accordion Folding Wall PK-30 System The panel suspension located in the middle of the partition allows the door to slide without a bottom guide channel track, which means space will appear seamless when the door is open. SPW4S Raydoor This Folding End opening system comprises opening panels that neatly stack to the side, allowing easy passage between the screen areas. It can be installed as a single or pair of doors and is offered in laminate and veneer finishes.

35 booths not to miss at the AIA 2018 Architecture Expo

The AIA 2018 Conference is almost here, and architects are already flocking to New York City for one of the biggest architecture events each year. The AIA Architecture Expo will be happening on June 21-22. The theme this year is "Blueprint for Better Cities," featuring materials that have a controlled ecological footprint. More than 800 leading brands and manufacturers will exhibit their cutting-edge technologies in the 200,000-square-feet gallery at the Javits Center. If you are planning your visit to the A’18 Expo, be sure to visit our editors’ picks of manufacturers and brands (which are also our distinguished sponsors). AkzoNobel - 449 Avenere Cladding - Swirnow - 4366 Bison Innovative Products - 4344 C.R. Laurence - 1945 Cambridge Architectural Mesh - 1715 Florim - 215 FunderMax GmbH - 662 GKD-USA, Inc. - 957 Graphisoft - 105 greenscreen - 828 Guardian Glass - 1003 InsiteVR - 1374 IrisVR - 1362 J.E. Berkowitz - 1981 Kawneer - 556LL LaCantina Doors - 1329 NBK North America - 4703 PlanGrid - 4006 PPG - 4225 Rieder North America - 4631 Rigidized Metals - 4540 ROCKWOOL - 1411 SageGlass - 4737 Shildan Group - 2657 Specified Technologies - 735 Swisspearl - 1562 TerraCORE - 4353 Tournesol Siteworks - 4630 Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing - 4937 Unilock - 4835 Viracon - 1767 Vitro Architectural Glass - 1631 Vitrocsa/ HIRT Windows, divisions of Goldbrecht - 2531 W&W Glass, LLC/Pilkington Planar Structural Glass - 1681 YKK AP America - 507

Ian Ritchie advocates for subtlety and organic geometries in glass architecture

On April 19, for the afternoon keynote of The Architects Newspapers 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 sites 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 Peis 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 structures final design.

Next, in talking about the design of Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Arts 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 firms output.

Ritchies drive to bridge the highly technical, manufactured character of glass with natural objects and processes was also highlighted by his presentation of the firms recently completed, 150,000-square-foot Sainsbury Wellcome Center.

Located in Londons 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.

Swiss office retrofit features a sophisticated glass skin

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A new renovation and extension to the Swiss Société Privée de Gérance (SPG) features a complex facade composed of four layers of glass. Designed by Italian firm Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti, the sophisticated building envelope offers a new aesthetic identity for the office headquarters while achieving energy efficiency.
  • Facade Manufacturer Stahlbau Pichler
  • Architects Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti; Fossati Architectes SA (Technical direction)
  • Facade Installer Metal Glass Sagl
  • Facade Consultants Stahlbau Pichler (facade consultant); BCS SA (facade engineer); SIMOS (facade lighting design); Wintsch&Cie (structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering)
  • Location Geneva, Switzerland
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System double skin curtain wall
  • Products custom screen-printed glazing blades with aluminum attachments
The facade is composed of a double skin envelope, which allows the envelope to be naturally ventilated. A perimeter ventilation system paired with an interior forced air system reduces overall energy demands on the building by addressing thermal extremes at the facade. Vertically oriented glass fins treated with a frit coating are employed as a solar shading device. Stahlbau Pichler, the project's facade consultant, worked with the architectural team to develop the enclosure system's steel structural components which support the glass fins. The composition of glass and steel establishes a rhythmic composition that blurs light reflections, materiality, and the profile of the building. The facade system relies on repetition to produce these complex aesthetic effects. In a press release, principal Giovanni Vaccarini said the team’s design process was inspired by weaving: “Weaving is the first step in composing... the weaving is a rhythm of signs, an abstraction of meanings, figures, and suggestions.” Here, a triple-layer glazing assembly offers thermal protection, while the fourth layer of glazing is offset to establish a ventilated cavity space. Within the assembly, micro-perforated shading similar to Venetian blinds offer regulation of daylight. Outboard of the building envelope, the brise-soleil screens are composed of screenprinted glass. Stahlbau Pichler’s engineering helped to minimize visual distractions of the glass fin anchoring system. Their work also managed the 100-ton glass weight, a primary concern due to the structural constraints of the existing building.
The effect of the facade can also be experienced from the interior, where Vaccarini says the assembly produces what he called an augmented window. “From the outside, the ‘thick’ surface of the screenprinted glass panels and the steel become a volume and define the very body of the architecture, whose outlines dematerialize into a pulsating material entity sensitive to color changes in the surrounding area,” Vaccarini said. “Our perception of the building is continuously transformed. The overlapping visions we have of it, from both the inside and out, produce a kinetic effect.” At night, the effect is intensified when glass panels and the edge profiles of custom-profiled aluminum anchors are lit by a bright white LED lighting system designed by SIMOS. This graphic further softens the perimeter surface of the building, producing what the architects call a visual reverberation effect.

Philip Johnson’s Sculpture Gallery gets a renovation worthy of the original

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Philip Johnson’s property in New Canaan, Connecticut, is synonymous with his iconic Glass House, but the Sculpture Gallery of 1970 is worthy of pilgrimage itself. “This is still the single best room that I have ever designed,” Johnson said of the gallery in a 1991 interview for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • Facade Manufacturer PPG (glass); Oldcastle (skylight system); National Cathode (lighting)
  • Architects Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects
  • Facade Installer Nicholson & Galloway
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location New Canaan, CT
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System aluminum extrusion system and glass skylighting
  • Products Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® BMS-3000 skylight system
Incorporating the influence of Greek architecture, the Sculpture Gallery is an interplay of intersecting angles set within a sloped landscape, capped with a glass ceiling supported by tubular steel rafters that cast dramatic shadows on the work inside. As the years wore on, the original roof began to leak, damaging the lighting and heating systems and staining the building’s tubular steel skeleton. Restoration was needed, and as part of that effort, Ted Hathaway, a member of the Glass House Advisory Council and president of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (the most significant benefactor of the Glass House site since its opening in 2007), donated a new aluminum extrusion system and glass skylighting. The restoration tackled numerous issues, like bringing the skylight up to contemporary standards while respecting Johnson’s original intent. “The Sculpture Gallery is renowned for the shadow pattern that is produced on the interior of the building on sunny days,” Glass House Director Gregory Sages said. “The glass needed to be upgraded to a laminated product that meets current building code. Maintaining the height and width of the extrusions was essential to replicating the shadow pattern Johnson created.” The factory that created the original glass is no longer in operation, so Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope utilized glass provided by PPG to develop a modern replacement, landing on a 9/16-inch laminated safety glass with quarter-inch Solarcool Gray #2 outboard lite, a clear polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer, and quarter-inch clear inboard lite. “We were able to find an exact match that is reflective from the outside and transparent from the inside,” Sages said. Though the original aluminum could support the new glass, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope’s BMS-3000 skylight system with stepped-and-overlapped guttering was utilized to prevent further leakage. Matching the original lighting proved a challenge of its own. The team experimented with energy-efficient LED lighting, but was disappointed by the effects. They found the solution with the original supplier, National Cathode, which produced tubes matching the original output volume and color temperature—meaning the restored building will match the original whether the lights are on or off. The success of the project was underscored when original project architect Horst Hahn visited the site, giving it his stamp of approval. Now, just as Johnson put it in that 1991 interview, “the roof then becomes a substitute for the heavens.”

Seoul’s latest skyscraper utilizes 20 different types of glass

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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.

  • Facade Manufacturer Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group, Daejin (Guardian, Jin Jing, HanGlas), North Glass (glass suppliers)
  • Architects Kohn Pedersen Fox
  • Facade Installer Lixil Group (facade subcontractor); Lotte (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Alt Cladding (facade design engineer); Curtainwall Design Consulting (facade construction engineer); Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (wind engineer); Leslie E. Robertson Associates (structural engineer)
  • Location Seoul, South Korea
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System curtain wall
  • Products DuPont SentryGlas Plus (laminated glass); mirrored frit; heat-strengthened glass; reflective coatings 

“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.
 

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s ambitious glass sphere pavilion

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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.”

  • Facade Manufacturer Sunglass (glass); Ertex (PV); Metal Yapi (steel); Aden Metal (curtain wall)
  • Architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Facade Installer Sembol (contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Werner Sobek (structural engineer)
  • Location Kazakhstan
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System double-curved insulated glass
  • Products Sunglass (glass); Ertex (PV); Metal Yapi (steel); Aden Metal (curtain wall)
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.”

New York Botanical Garden hosts large Dale Chihuly exhibition

Artist Dale Chihuly has returned to New York City with his first show in ten years: a grand exhibition in the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The showcase, titled CHIHULY, includes glasswork sculptures that will be radiating throughout the gardens all summer long, by day and night. With site-specific installations, CHIHULY aims to interact with the landscape of the gardens to build a dialogue between movement, color, and light. “The New York Botanical Garden is the perfect setting for Dale Chihuly’s art,” stated Gregory Long, chief executive officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President of the NYBG. “Our historic landscape is an open-air museum, providing a thrilling opportunity for our visitors to see the spectacular installations, especially when they will be lit at night.” During “CHIHULY Nights” the sculptures come alive with light amongst a program of special activities and events. Adults and children are welcomed to experience evening celebrations, with art programs, films, poetry events, and concerts that all take place once the sun goes down. Tickets for "CHIHULY Nights" are available to be purchased here. The exhibition, which runs until October 29, 2017, features over 20 installations and early works by Chihuly. The entire exhibit allows viewers to see the evolution in Chihuly’s work, as well as the development processes of specific artworks. Some of the installations are reconfigurations of well-known Chihuly pieces such as Chihuly’s Tower and Chandelier, but older works and personal drawings of the artist will also be on display at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. The exhibit also allows a unique interactive experience through a virtual tour. Guests can access the tour on their smartphones and engage with the installations based on their specific locations—the tour's digital map includes additional information on the artwork and the artist’s process in conceiving it, as well as a social platform to post photographs captured by visitors. For more information, visit the NYBG website.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s SOMA Towers

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In a unique collaborative partnership with Bellevue, Washington-based Su Development—who participated as client, developer, and contractor—Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) has completed its second and final phase of development for the SOMA Towers project in Seattle. The team’s shared interest in pairing high design with efficiencies in construction sequencing has resulted in a unique mixed-use development involving two residential towers, a multilayered podium of tiered public plazas, and below-grade parking.
  • Facade Manufacturer Su Development; Northglass Industrial (glazing)
  • Architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Facade Installer 288 Soma LLC
  • Facade Consultants Morrison Hershfield (facade); KPFF + DCI (facade structure)
  • Location Bellevue, WA
  • Date of Completion Phase 1 (2014); Phase 2 (2017)
  • System Window Wall Modules
  • Products Slab Closure/Louver Extrusions: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (design); Su Development (procurement)
The facades of the towers are carefully composed of five-foot window wall modules that utilize a range of clear and frosted glazing. The outcome is a compositional strategy of varied mullion subdivision spacing within each stacked module, visually disrupting a repetitive modular system achieving what Robert Miller, principal at BCJ, called “a real trickery of the eye." The facade is shaped by post-tensioned concrete slab floor plates, whose curvature is a response to structural optimization of cantilevered distances. The architects worked with structural engineers and analysis software to evaluate stresses on the cantilevered slabs early in the design process. The project team would extend cantilever distances on under stressed areas of the slab and shorten distance or add back spans to areas of the slab that were over-stressed. This game of pushing and pulling yielded floor plates with a unique curvature optimized to a material and structural efficiency. Floor plates were further refined through repetition to allow formwork to be reused over many floor levels. Perimeter curvature was rationalized into a faceted geometry corresponding to the roughly five-foot-wide window wall units, which were designed to be installed from the interior side. This allowed for a safer and more cost-effective installation process. One of the challenges of the facade design was in the composition of the elevation, which sought a varied and dynamic grid at odds with the modularity of the construction assembly. The project was designed to prescriptive energy codes, which only allowed for a maximum open area of 40-percent at the time of Phase 1, and 30-percent by the time the second tower was under construction. In order to make the facade feel like it contained more glass, the architects created a matte black spandrel to simulate the aesthetic of glass. The change in energy code standards from Phase 1 and Phase 2 introduced another level of compositional rigor to the project, which sought aesthetic compatibility between the two towers. A horizontal wainscot band located 30-inches above the floor plate also helped to cut down op open glazing percentage. To avoid an unwanted horizontal aesthetic, the architects integrated full height spandrels to the window wall composition to break up the grid. The corners received full height glazing at a slightly wider width than the modular window wall units to accommodate tolerance in the floor slab perimeter geometry. One of the unique details of this project was Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s treatment of the slab edge. The detailing of the slab edge is a custom extrusion - a channel assembly with an infill panel on the face that performs as a louver composed of 90-degree angles to appear visually crisp. This detail allows a consistent aesthetic that integrates otherwise random vent openings into the compositional logic of the facade. Kirk Hostetter, Senior Associate at BCJ said the detail "articulates the top and bottom of the slab edge, and introduces a crispness to the edge that you don't typically see." Elsewhere, at the main entrance to the podium, a 70-foot circulation “cone” and 80-foot-long suspended leaf-shaped canopy of glass, aluminum, and steel, were also designed with the same approach to construction efficiency. These custom entry components were fabricated and pre-assembled in Taiwan, then disassembled and shipped to the site where they were reassembled. On the unique design process that marries development, client, contractor, and architectural thinking from day one, Miller said "Our buildings conceptually are strong enough that they can take a looser approach to the details. If some details get modified along the way, we can usually work together to make something that works for John Su's business plan and our design ambitions." He concluded, "Su Development has a keen interest in design. The fact that they value design allows us to do our job well. Shared admiration for skill sets and willingness to collaborate is what made this project possible."

New-York Historical Society previews new Gallery of Tiffany Lamps

Yesterday morning, the New-York Historical Society previewed the totally transformed fourth floor of its Upper West Side museum—once a drab archive, it will soon host 100 Tiffany Lamps in a space designed by London- and Prague-based architect Eva Jiřičná. The creation of the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps was spurred by the discovery that Clara Driscoll, one of the “Tiffany Girls” (women who worked for Tiffany Studios and selected the glass fragments that went into the lamps), was a leading creative force and designed many Tiffany lamps herselfNew York City–based PBDW were the architects of record for the 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery, which features specially-crafted curving glass displays surrounded by a low-light environment and dark blue walls. Jiřičná's firm, who has come to specialize in glass construction, designed the LED-lit stairs with absolutely minimal metal details. In most instances, the stair's glass-to-glass metal connections are encased within the layers of laminated glass panes, making them totally flush and well-hidden. Furthermore, the stair's glass hangs off the nearby wall and works in tension. A small amount of give was engineered into the steps for users' comfort when walking upward. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiřičná Architects, said the staircase was "a feat of technology in the 21st-century" to match the technical achievement of Tiffany's 20th-century creations. In addition to telling the history of the Tiffany Girls and Clara Driscoll, visitors can create their own Tiffany lamp through an interactive digital installation (created by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Small Design firm Inc.) on the second floor. The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps is adjacent to the also-new 1,500-square-foot Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery, a space dedicated to exhibitions organized by the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. The newly-established Center is the first institution of its kind dedicated to public exhibits on women in American history. (The Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery will be inaugurated with Saving Washington, an exhibition on First Lady Dolley Madison, along with items from the archives of Billie Jean King, an interactive multimedia wall, among other artifacts.) Lastly, a new North Gallery will showcase objects from the museum's permanent collection. All the galleries will open to the public on April 29.

Machado Silvetti’s camouflaged desert fort addition

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How can you create an architecture that hides in plain sight? This was the task of architects at Boston-based Machado Silvetti who recently completed an adaptive reuse and addition to a historic fort and grounds within the city of Al Ain, about 100 miles south of Dubai on the border between United Arab Emirates and Oman. The project provides an exhibition facility that will help to preserve, and provide access to, collections relating to Gulf history.
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Architects Machado Silvetti
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Facade Consultants Adams Kara Taylor Facade (facade consultant); Simpson Gumpertz and Heger; Atelier Ten (MEP)
  • Location Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Date of Completion phase 1: 2011; phase 2: ongoing
  • System Structurally glazed double wall
  • Products Somfy Systems (vertical blinds); Luxar (glazing)
The architects said the addition is clad entirely in glass, with a floor plate that hovers slightly above the desert sands to offer unobstructed views of the landscape while lightly bearing on the land. “When you are inside the fort, what you get is a square cut out of the sky,” said Jorge Silvetti, principal at Machado Silvetti in an interview published on the firm’s website. “It has this emptiness which is so moving and beautiful. The idea was that whatever we put there [within the fort] should interfere in the least possible way with this emptiness even as we knew we had to locate a building in some of this open space.” This realization led to a design concept of “camouflaging” new program—through the use of minimal form, materiality, and detailing—to minimize the physical and visual impact. To achieve this effect, Silvetti said careful attention was paid to the detailing of elements like a ramping entry sequence. A thin slab pierced with lighting and bracketed by handrail posts set outboard of the walking surface establishes a visual effect of “floating” over the site. This was also a response, in part, to a requirement that the addition should respect the archaeology of the historic site. “We could not dig beyond about twenty centimeters into the earth, so really, there are almost no foundations!” Glass construction in a harsh desert climate, where temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, led to numerous technical challenges for the design team. The architects sited the building along the Fort’s south wall which provided shade for most of the day, with the exception of some morning sun. Working with Atelier Ten, Machado Silvetti studied the building’s responsiveness to the environment through digital modeling and analysis, identifying areas of the facade exposed to a significant amount of solar radiation. These areas were managed with a combination of double-glazing, low-e coatings, and sensored interstitial blinds within the cavity, to filter UV light and infrared radiation. The double-glazed facade is mechanically ventilated through a clever detail that introduces air underneath the floor. The air is passively cooled under the slab prior to circulating throughout the cavity of the double skin wall. Automated blinds, installed within the cavity, provide an additional layer of solar protection. In addition to the double glazed facade, glass is employed nearly everywhere that can be seen—in the guardrails, floors, and ceilings. “Even if it's not physically true, glass gives you the feeling of coolness, of cold; glass is a cold material. It is the opposite of a warm material... the opposite of wood, certainly the opposite of mud,” said Silvetti. “And for once, the coldness of a space was something that could be understood as good—psychologically.”

MIT researcher aims to expand the role of glass in construction

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Architect and educator Cristina Parreño’s ongoing research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is called “Tectonics of Transparency” and it's challenging the “generic-ness” of glass in construction today. The project is being realized through a unique format of prototypes divided into three formal categories: the Wall Series, Tower Series, and Shelter Series. Each type is further broken down into scales: a “model scale” of 8-cubic-feet, and an “installation scale” of inhabitable size. The format allows for experimentation with technique, and for multiple funding sources to support various components of the project. Parreño pinpoints her interest in expanding the role of glass to a 1950s patent on “float glass” by Pilkington, who developed a process for efficiently manufacturing large flat sheets of the material. “Despite its potential, modern technology didn’t fully exploit the multitude of material attributes offered by glazing, which in a flat, planar state can only be used as a non-structural infill,” Parreño told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) in an interview. “When expanded to a greater depth, glass acquires multiple properties that expand its role beyond that of a transparent or translucent infill. If we attend to some of these properties—which are not fully exploited when glass is presented in its planar state—we can begin to foresee another type of depth between the two sides of the material.” Parreño’s prototypes are primarily interested in exploiting the material’s compressive strength, along with producing new tactile and visual effects.
  • Facade Manufacturer Shouguang Jingmei Glass Product Co.,Ltd
  • Architects Cristina Parreño Architecture
  • Facade Installer Cristina Parreño Architecture with Turner Construction Special Projects Division (Tower Series assembly)
  • Facade Consultants Paul Kassabian, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (structural engineer)
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014-15
  • System clear sheet glass with UV-cured bonding agent
  • Products Glaverbel glass by Shouguang Jingmei; UV-cured adhesive by Loctite
  • Photos John Horner, Jane Messinger (Courtesy Cristina Parreño Archtiecture)
One of the main challenges of the project has been developing new working techniques to manage the fragility of the panes during fabrication. This fragility provides only small tolerances for assembly that in turn demand a high degree of precision. Parreño’s assemblies involve bonding individual profiles of glass together using a high-performance bonding agent activated by UV light. The compound cures thin and transparent, allowing for maximum visibility between panes. Parreño says this construction system permits the glass to fully express its own visual and structural capacities, but it makes the construction process far more labor intensive. The Tectonics of Transparency prototypes are a material translation of well-known concrete and brick structures to glass, as MVRDV recently developed for their Amsterdam Chanel store project. Parreño said MVRDV’s project demonstrates similar interests to hers, and that the interest of other architects in challenging the conventional use of glass “thickens the plot for discussions.” Parreño’s Tower Series reinterprets Uruguayan brick water towers built by Eladio Dieste, while her Shelter Series reinterprets Felix Candela’s ruled Mexican concrete surface structures. Beyond explorations into the structural capacity of glass, Parreño also relates to the qualities of light inherent through assembly techniques. She cites REX’s fluted facade as a reinvented curtain wall of curved panels that “catch light in unexpected angles, throwing distorted reflections back at the viewer.” These visual effects are a key influencer of Parreño’s Tectonics of Transparency: “By exploring the ability of glass to modulate light through its enhanced translucency, variable transparency, opacity and the greater or lesser internal reflection of external light.” Parreño says her next steps are to continue to “scale up” the prototypes, experimenting with how glass can move beyond the curtain wall. “The translation of these prototypes and small pavilions to a larger and more architectural scale is something that I am definitely interested in as the next step forward.”