Posts tagged with "Glass":

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Are glass skyscrapers still the way forward?

In the wake of a slew of criticisms on numerous glass skyscrapers' over-reflective properties, some architects and critics are asking if it's time to reassess our view on using glass facades in the future. Contemporary architecture today is at a crossroads: Do we continue to enamor the structures that reach up into the sky in a display of corporate might with reflective sheaths of glass? Take advantage of the new technology that is allowing the sun to power these buildings? Or do we take a step back and re-evaluate our position on the all-glass facade altogether? Fred A. Bernstein of the Architectural Record laments that today the "relentless repetition of glass facades leads to a numbing sameness." "Is that a building?" said a designer to Bernstein , "I thought it was a pavilion for a plexiglass convention." It's no surprise that the person, who was passing by Fumihiko Maki's creation at 51 Astor Place, feels disillusioned. At one end of the spectrum, you have cities like Bath in England where such glass behemoths are nowhere to be found. You are surrounded by the Georgian works of John Palmer, who's Lansdown Crescent, despite its scale, is not overwhelming. At the other end, you have cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, which are filled with an unprecedented amount of glass high-rise structures, their facades lost in the sky with light bouncing off one another. Where then, do we draw the line? With modern skyscrapers being the architectural product of an ever changing, neo-liberalist, globalization obsessed corporate society, such a line may even be impossible to draw. The case for glass—to pardon the pun—is clear. For companies, having floor to ceiling windows helps break down the stratified hierarchy that was once commonplace in such office buildings by giving all employees, not just the boss, a panoramic view. When used effectively, an elegant glass facade can convey honesty and open-mindedness and even perhaps financial transparency. This may be why the style is so popular amongst financial firms, despite the fact this isn't always the case. Developers are also under pressure to maximize space. Having a thin skin such as glass is an easy solution that enables the architect to sell the building's space as good value for money. Plus, the advancement of photovoltaic cells now means that they can be installed as windows, further advocating the facade style as an economically viable asset. PV company SolarWindow, which specializes in PV-based window solutions claims that when installed on four sides of a 50-story building, 1.3 gigawatt-hours of energy can be generated. Architect Ken Shuttleworth however, has different ideas. Despite being part of the team behind the glass clad Swiss Rae building in London, he has since done a U-turn by stating that he is "rethinking" everything he as done in the last 40 years. Shuttleworth's voice is echoed by many in what is an emerging discourse on the glass structures that run the risk of becoming the scourge of the skyline. "We need to be much more responsible in terms of the way we shade our buildings and the way we thermally think about our buildings," he told the BBC last year. The only thing that appears to be halting the perpetual rise of the glass facade in the United States is a shortage in the material. Failure of the market to produce however, has not stopped developers, who according to WSJ’s Robbie Whelan, have now delved into the glass manufacturing industry. Developer, Related Cos has even gone so far as to take production methods into its own hands—building its own glass factory to create the largest private development in American history. Bruce Beal Jr., Related’s president chose to embark on the endeavor for a handful of skyscrapers and apartments on Manhattan’s West Side as part of the Hudson Yards scheme. Across the Atlantic, the trade association "Glass for Europe" is understandably keen to dismiss the growing concern about the once ubiquitous glass facade and advocate the fact that glass is fully recyclable. Pressure from trade unions isn't enough it seems to sway architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff who, like Shuttleworth, isn't a fan of the glass skyscraper. Speaking to the BBC he said, "as someone who spends their entire life staring at buildings, I am a bit bored by the glass box. They were radical in the 1920s and now they are just cliches, expensive ones at that," he said. "Now we are having to be more thoughtful about how and where we use glass. Maybe architects will become more inventive in how they use windows, instead of plastering them across whole facades." Technological advancements may be the only way this question will truly be answered, but for now, money talks and that appears to be what governs the modern architectural style today.
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Who needs Paris? Chinese copycat culture strikes again with I.M. Pei’s Louvre

China is no stranger to unashamedly ripping off landmark Western structures—the country has replicas of the Eiffel Tower and several renditions of the White House. However, this time they have copied one of their own architects, I. M. Pei, with a 1:1 duplicate of the Louvre in a Shijiazhuang theme park. The latest addition to the country's collection of replica Parisian architecture lies among overgrown shrubs and unkempt grass in an obscure amusement park in Hebei province. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sits adjacent to an ancient Egyptian Sphynx. China has already created "Little Paris" in Yuhang, Hangzhou, Zhejiang (East China), which features more mock-Parisian style architecture replete with Tower de Eiffel (though not the real one, obviously). Is this latest piece of "mockitecture" a tipping point or a simply one of more to come?
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NBBJ’s New Orleans hospital embodies resilience

High performance and cultural relevance meet in concrete, metal, and steel mesh envelope.

For the stakeholders involved in building the new Rev. Avery C. Alexander Academic Research Hospital (also known as University Medical Center, or UMC) in downtown New Orleans, the project was about much more than replacing facilities damaged during Hurricane Katrina. "The grander story is the effort to rebuild New Orleans," recalled NBBJ principal Jose Sama. "There was a lot of emotional attachment to the original hospital, Charity Hospital, and also—rightly so—the pride the community has for the character of the city. Everyone wanted to make sure the project was going to be something that was of New Orleans." In a joint venture with Blitch Knevel Architects, NBBJ rose to the challenge with a design that subtly reflects the city's cultural heritage. The building envelope, a combination of precast concrete, metal panels, high performance glazing, and stainless steel mesh, contributed significantly to both the project's aesthetic aspirations and its performance goals. The overarching concept for UMC, explained Sama, was to "create a performance in place." For the architects, "performance" holds a double meaning. "Performance is embedded in [New Orleans] culture, but this is a more high-level sense of performance," said Sama. "Place," in turn, draws on the city's climate and character. "We looked at various clues in the urban environment and how those could affect the design," said Sama, recalling visits to the hospital's Canal Street neighborhood and the French Quarter. Then, of course, there are the environmental threats made all too clear by the Katrina experience. "We completed [the design] with the understanding that we had to create an envelope that could withstand hurricane-force winds and missile impact," said Sama. "That was an important piece of selecting the glass and the curtain wall system." In fact, most of the damage sustained by Charity Hospital was the result of flooding rather than high winds. As a result, the architects faced a mandate to elevate all critical hospital functions above 22 feet. "We envisioned this as a floating hospital," said Sama. "The notion was that the more public zones, the softer spaces like dining, registration, and the lobbies, would occur at the ground level. Then you move up to an elevated plane of critical services. That way they could function regardless of flooding." The building envelope reflects this programmatic move: The first floor of the central campus structure—the diagnostic and treatment center—is wrapped in a transparent curtain wall with a strong emphasis on the horizontal while the upper, critical floors feature a precast concrete facade. The two other project components, the medical office building and the inpatient towers, offer variations on the theme. The former is clad in an insulated metal panel system, the latter in precast concrete, glass, and stainless steel mesh.
  • Facade Manufacturer Harmon (window walls), Centria (metal panels), Cambridge Architectural (metal mesh)
  • Architects NBBJ, Blitch Knevel Architects
  • Facade Installer F.L. Crane & Sons (metal panels, diagnostic building), Crown Corr (metal panels, clinic), Harmon (glazing), River City Erectors (metal mesh)
  • Facade Consultants IBA Consultants
  • Location New Orleans, LA
  • Date of Completion August 2015
  • System precast concrete and metal panels with high performance curtain walls and stainless steel mesh accents
  • Products Harmon window wall systems, Centria insulated metal panels, Cambridge Architectural mesh in Mid-Balance, Scale, and Shade
A number of subtle gestures connect the hospital exterior to New Orleans' history and culture. One thing Sama noticed on his site visits was that "the notion of the garden is important, and the notion of getting outdoors." With that in mind, the architects created a central entry pavilion "designed such that you have a very pronounced sense of entry created by a porch, or a projecting eave—it almost has the effect of a trellis," said Sama. They also created informal gardens wherever possible. The signature garden, nestled between the towers and the diagnostic center, is water-based, and imagines the seating areas as lily pads floating on a pond. "The idea that here in the middle of New Orleans you find a water-intensive garden was really critical," said Sama. The patient towers, too, embody a strong connection to the outdoors via balconies for patients and staff. Metal scrims in Cambridge Architectural's Mid-Balance architectural mesh simultaneously provide aesthetic interest and fall protection. "We studied what we could do with the scrim," said Sama. "We think we picked just the right scale. It's appropriate for someone sitting on the balcony, but also for someone walking by." The mesh panels produce a "soft veil effect," he observed. "In the morning light, it glistens. The intent was to create a memory of Mardi Gras beads, in terms of color and glistening. People will pick up on that different times of day." Cambridge Architectural contributed to several other elements of the project. Mesh fins in the Scale pattern are attached with a custom cable tensioning system to the upper levels of the patient towers, to provide solar shading. On the parking garage portion, designed by Blitz Knevel Architects, 86 panels of Scale mesh again add both visual impact and fall protection without compromising ventilation. On the south elevation of the garage leading to the UMC helipad, a custom-built shade mesh fin system cuts solar gain and glare. Many of the references embedded in the new UMC hospital—the way in which the towers' orientations recall traditional New Orleans shotgun houses, or the connection between the stainless steel mesh and Mardi Gras beads—are so understated as to operate on almost a subliminal level. But like the city itself, the building comes alive at night, finally, and literally, revealing its true colors. "The building from the outside is very neutral," explained Sama. But thanks to accent colors on the inpatient tower stairs, revealed through translucent glass, plus accent lighting on the bulkheads above, after dark the towers shine, he explained. "The whole point was that at night they would glow with color from within."
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KVA Brings Digital Brick to Harvard

Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.

Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kansas Brick (brick), Wasau (glazing)
  • Architects Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Facade Installer Consigli (masonry), Gilbert & Becker Roofing (copper)
  • Facade Consultants BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick walls, including parametrically-designed corbeled entry pavilion, with high performance glazing and custom copper roof
  • Products 500 Harvard brick from Kansas Brick, Wausau 4250-Z Zero Sightline insert windows, Wasau 6250 S-Series SuperWall curtain wall system
Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
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Hord Coplan Macht Pushes Performance at CSU

Ultra efficient curtain wall system marries transparency and sustainability.

For some institutions, building "sustainably" means doing the bare minimum—checking the boxes of government or in-house requirements and then moving on. Such was not the case at Colorado State University, where campus officials aspired to a higher standard for the new Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Bioengineering Building. Though mandated by state law to achieve LEED Gold on new construction, the dean urged the architects—design architect RATIO Architects and architect of record Hord Coplan Macht (previously SLATERPAULL)—to aim for Platinum. At the same time, school authorities placed an extra emphasis on a tight envelope, having had difficulty maintaining pressurization in another recently-constructed facility. Thanks to a combination of an ultra-efficient curtain wall system, spray foam insulation, and exterior and interior sunshades, the designers exceeded the client's performance expectations without sacrificing the program's focus on visibility and connectivity. The ultimate goal of achieving LEED Platinum directly shaped the facade of the classroom and office building. "[The dean] wanted to get to Platinum," recalled Hord Coplan Macht's Jennifer Cordes. "We knew the only way to get there was if we had a significant building envelope designed to add photovoltaics." The PV panels themselves would have to wait, due to budget constraints. In the meantime, Hord Coplan Macht focused on two other challenges: the desire to prevent any loss of pressurization; and the need to rectify the design architect's vision of a glass box with the reality of the Colorado climate. "When we added these issues together, we had to get creative with the building envelope," said Cordes, who also acknowledged the role local municipal rebates played in incentivizing a high-performance design. The design concept for the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Building, said Cordes, "was to create the space in between. The space between the research laboratories and the student classrooms was really where the students were going to learn from the researchers." The architects arranged the labs along the north side of the building; faculty offices and teaching spaces line the south elevation. The programmatic separation allowed them to sequester the two components' mechanical systems—a boon to efficiency—and to carve the center of the building into a naturally-ventilated three-story atrium that is a perfect space for casual interactions among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer (curtain wall)
  • Architects RATIO Architects (design architect), Hord Coplan Macht (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer J.R. Butler (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultants Pie Consulting & Engineering (design review)
  • Location Fort Collins, CO
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System ultra high performance curtain wall system with sandstone accents, spray foam insulation, integrated external sunshades, internal sunshades
  • Products Kawneer 1600UT System1 curtain wall, Kawneer Trifab 451 UT thermal framing, Kawneer Versoleil SunShade outrigger system, Kawneer GLASSvent windows, SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 low-e glazing, SunGuard SuperNeutral 54 low-e glazing
Elsewhere, the focus on connecting students with faculty and researchers is materialized in large expanses of glass. Hord Coplan Macht's principal challenge was to rectify the emphasis on transparency with the mandate to minimize thermal gain. "We started to look at the window to wall ratio," recalled Cordes. "Our first [number] was outrageous. [So we looked] at how we could insulate a curtain wall system and get an R-value of 20 even within that." The solution, which the architects developed in concert with Kawneer, involved back-panning, adding polyiso behind all the spandrel glass to effectively decrease the window to wall ratio. They then added a sheet metal back-panning system inside the curtain wall frame for vapor barrier, plus insulation and GWB. Large panes of stone backed with spray foam insulation provided additional energy savings. "Spray foam insulation is very cost-effective, and you get a high R-value per inch," explained Cordes. "It allowed us to get some significant walls into our system." On the vulnerable south facade, the architects deployed both external and internal sunshades. On the exterior, an integrated sunscreen helps cut back on solar gain. On the interior, the designers sloped the ceilings to help bounce light into the space. The internal light louvers they used, which Cordes compares to "good-looking mini blinds," are "pretty impressive and work really well," she said. The interior shading system "managed the glare and also increased the daylighting, pushing light deeper into the space." All of the exterior glass carries a low-e coating, but the architects chose a higher visibility glass for use on the south facade, to further enhance daylighting. Installing the thermally broken Kawneer 1600 curtain wall system proved trickier than Hord Coplan Macht had anticipated, said Cordes, in part because the contractors—working during the winter—installed the back panning from the inside out, rather than the reverse. But the extra coordination was well worth it, as the project's LEED scores and post-occupancy energy and water use data have demonstrated. "With the caveat that the building is being used a little more than was projected in the model, it's performing better" than expected, said Hord Coplan Macht's Ara Massey. "Per the facilities manager, it's one of the best performing buildings on campus." For Cordes, no reward could be greater. "I think the one [thing] we're most proud of is that it's performing so well," she said.
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Brooks + Scarpa’s Double-Skinned Research Center

Perforated steel and translucent glass balance privacy and pop.

For their Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) in Monterrey, Mexico, Metalsa, a global manufacturing firm that specializes in automobile and truck chassis, did not want just another factory. Rather, the laboratory and testing facility, located in a state-sponsored research park adjacent to the Monterrey airport, was to be a "showpiece," explained Brooks + Scarpa Architects principal Lawrence Scarpa, "not just for their clients but from a work environment point of view, and a sustainability point of view." Despite the many challenges inherent to building across the United States-Mexico border, the Los Angeles architects succeeded in delivering a LEED Platinum design wrapped in a striking double skin of translucent glass and perforated steel panels. The facility's uneven sawtooth profile is the product of both historical and contextual references. "They are an industrial company, and I always loved the old warehouses with the north-facing clerestories, designed back when there was no electric lighting," recalled Scarpa. "That was what I was thinking about before I even went to the site." His first visit to Monterrey confirmed his instinct. "The mountains there are really sharp and jagged like that—it was an immediate concept for the building," said Scarpa. Like their 19th-century antecedents, moreover, the clerestories provide daylight and allow hot air to accumulate high above the inhabited spaces, thus reducing reliance on artificial lighting and cooling. The resulting form had one major drawback, however. "The issue we were faced with was that the primary way you enter the building is from the west, so we would have a broad face in the worst possible thermal position," said Scarpa. To solve the problem of solar gain without sacrificing the sawtooth roofline, Brooks + Scarpa implemented a double skin with an outer layer composed of perforated steel panels. With a wraparound sunscreen in place, explained Scarpa, "we could have a translucent skin behind it, but could modulate light and heat gain."
  • Facade Manufacturer Kinetica
  • Architects Brooks + Scarpa, Homero Fuentes, Centro de Diseño (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Kinetica
  • Facade Consultants SPID Ingenieros (engineering)
  • Location Monterrey, Mexico
  • Date of Completion 2012
  • System perforated steel panels, translucent glass
  • Products Tiger Drylac coated steel with anodized silver super polyester, fluted glass installed with 3M VHB tape and Dow Corning 795 structural silicone
Several factors influenced the perforation pattern on the outer skin. It began as an abstraction of Metalsa's corporate identity, said Scarpa, but evolved to respond to programmatic requirements. Perforations of different sizes and densities reflect the need for more or less privacy. Areas related to proprietary research and development are more opaque, while the office spaces cantilevered over the transparent northwest entrance benefit from the additional daylighting allowed by broader perforations. CMI's translucent inner skin of fluted glass refracts light, preventing glare from interfering with computer-based work. To prevent the occupants from feeling trapped in a windowless box, the architects carefully modulated the distance between the envelope's two layers. "When you're on the interior, it doesn't just look like a blank wall," said Scarpa. "When you're on the inside, you can't see through it, but you can see shadows move on the translucent surface." Designing for an out-of-country client is bound to produce hiccups, and the Metalsa project was no exception. For instance, Brooks + Scarpa had initially imagined that the auto giants would fabricate the perforated metal skin in-house, but turned to another supplier when disrupting the company's manufacturing flow proved cost-prohibitive. The architects nevertheless made the best of the situation, streamlining their vision to fit the situation at hand. "The technology that was available to us in Mexico is not overly sophisticated, so from the get-go we decided to take a more simplistic approach, utilizing a multi-layered skin," said Scarpa. "It was easy to construct, and it's not difficult to understand."
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nARCHITECTS reveals Café Pavilion for Cleveland’s revamped Public Square

New renderings for one of the largest public space projects in the Midwest have been revealed, showing a new 2,500-square-foot “Café Pavilion” in Cleveland's Public Square. Brooklyn's nARCHITECTS designed the structure, which appears in renderings via project lead James Corner Field Operations. It will be the only structure on the 10-acre square, besides the existing Soldiers and Sailors' Civil War monument. Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major overhaul led by designers and engineers at at James Corner Field Operations, Cleveland's own LAND Studio and Westlake Reed Leskosky, as well as transportation consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard. The project aims to remake the splintered downtown park into a pedestrian-friendly destination that will catalyze development in the area. The cafe structure will serve as a billboard for that transformation. A curated “art wall” faces out, beckoning pedestrians passing by Terminal Tower and acting as the primary entrance to Public Square. Stainless steel panels and tall glass windows broadcast modernity on the building's other faces. “As a building with no back, each side of the Café Pavilion is meant to be a unique ‘front’ façade that offers a different experience,” reads the project description. The cafe, currently under construction, is expected to open in 2016.
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Muñoz & Company Quilt with Glass and Masonry

Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.

For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive."
  • Facade Manufacturer Trulite (curtain walls and glazing), Pac-Clad (metal panel system)
  • Architects Muñoz & Company/KAI Texas LLC
  • Facade Installer Denison Glass & Mirror (curtain walls and glazing), City Masonry (masonry), J&J Roofing (metal), Satterfield & Pontikes Construction (general contractor)
  • Location Dallas, TX
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System multicolored glass curtain walls, masonry with transparent glass inserts, metal panels
  • Products Trulite aluminum curtain wall system, Pac-Clad metal panel system, brick from Blackson Brick Co.
On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
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VDTA’s Taut-Skinned Godfrey Hotel

Metal and glass accentuate Chicago high-rise's iconic form.

Given the odds stacked against it, Godfrey Hotel's 2014 opening in Chicago counts as a major victory—even if it took more than a decade to get there. Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) signed on to the project in 2003, after being approached by a developer affiliated with a mid-market hospitality chain. Four years later, following a delay in financing, construction was finally underway. Then the recession hit, the original developer went under, and the building remained half-finished. The case languished in bankruptcy court until 2012, when Oxford Capital Group purchased the property. Fortunately, boutique hotel operator Oxford Hotels and Resorts hired VDTA to complete the project—with few changes to the original plans. "It's interesting that through the course of the almost four years that this sat wrapped in tarps, it remained desirable," said VDTA's David Jennerjahn. "For the hotel operator, it was a really distinguishing architectural design." Together with its cantilevered form, Godfrey hotel's slick metal panel and glass facade combines function and aesthetics in an iconic package. The hotel appears as a series of three offset rectangular boxes, stacked vertically. "The building has a very symbolic form—what I would call a very muscular form—and none of that is arbitrary," said VDTA's Joe Valerio. The offsets serve two purposes. First, they express the building's structure, which follows the staggered truss system developed in the 1960s by William LeMessurier, a noted structural engineer. As the name suggests, LeMessurier's method involves staggering story-high steel trusses on alternating column lines, thus creating large clear span interiors. Though the staggered truss system is usually deployed to create buildings that "look like a cereal box," said Valerio, VDTA approached their structural engineer with an alternative proposal. "We nonchalantly said, 'There's a lot of redundant strength there. [The volumes] should be able to cantilever out,'" he recalled. The structural engineer gave them the go-ahead, and Godfrey Hotel's unique form was born. As an additional benefit, the stacked configuration allowed the architects to carve the interior spaces into a variety of room types and sizes, an idea they prized from the project's beginning—and which Oxford Hotels and Resorts, in particular, embraced.
  • Facade Manufacturer Metl-Span (insulated metal panels), Oldcastle (punched windows, storefront), Pittco Architectural Metals (curtain wall)
  • Architects Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
  • Facade Installer All American Exterior Solutions (metal panels), Alliance Glazing Technologies (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultant Curtainwall Design Consulting
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System insulated metal panel system with integrated aluminum punched windows, aluminum curtain wall system
  • Products Metl-Span insulated metal panel system, Reynobond aluminum composite panels, Pac-Clad corrugated perforated panels, Oldcastle aluminum punched windows and aluminum storefront, Pittco aluminum curtain wall, Nanawall moveable storefront, PPG Solarban 60 glazing
Like the offsets, said Jennerjahn, the building's skin performs a specific set of functions even as it "works toward the goal of creating a distinctive boutique hotel image." On the north and south facades, an insulated metal panel system from Metl-Span attaches directly to the stud work, doing triple duty as weather barrier, vapor barrier, and insulation. Integrated punched windows nod to the River North neighborhood's masonry fabric, while the panels' taut surface avoids detracting attention from the building's unique shape. Finally, said Jennerjahn, "using a metal skin on a metal frame building was another tie to an honest expression [of the structure]." The east and west facades are almost entirely transparent. "In 2003, no one had heard of LEED," said Valerio. Noting the potential for solar gain, he explained, "If we were designing the building today, we wouldn't have all-glass walls on the east and west elevations. We put them there because we wanted to take advantage of the views." The glass also reveals the staggered truss system. Because the trusses run north-south, opening the building to the east and west was the only way to show them off. "That created other opportunities we did not even think of," said Valerio. In some cases, he said, "the trusses really become a part of the room," operating as built-in furniture. Despite the change in ownership and an eleven-year gap between conception and execution, Godfrey Hotel's architectural design remained almost entirely unaltered. "There were some changes internally, but the exterior of the building and the expression of the building were very consistent," observed Jennerjahn. Valerio agrees—and is humble enough to acknowledge the unusual serendipity of the situation. "Oxford fundamentally built the hotel exactly as we had designed it," he said. "It was really just an amazing kind of dumb luck."
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Mecanoo Brings Dutch Craftsmanship to Boston

Curving brick and glass facade heralds Roxbury's resurgence.

By locating their new administrative building in beleaguered Roxbury, Boston Public Schools [BPS] made a powerful statement of faith in the area's resurgence."Bringing the BPS right into the heart of Roxbury anchors the redevelopment of the neighborhood," explained Friso van der Steen, manager of international projects at Mecanoo. The Dutch architects collaborated with local firm Sasaki Associates on the project—their first built in the United States—which involved renovating the facades of three historic buildings and weaving them into a coherent whole with a new volume. Described by Mecanoo as "a Bostonian building with a Dutch touch," the structure's curving brick and glass envelope projects a hopeful future for Dudley Square. When Mecanoo and Sasaki won the competition to design the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in 2009, the largely vacant site in Dudley Square, Roxbury's commercial and transportation hub, "contained a number of derelict buildings," recalled van der Steen. These included the 1895 Ferdinand building, which was to be integrated into the project. The architects convinced Mayor Thomas Menino to add two other historic structures to their portfolio: the 1888 Curtis building, and the 1890 Waterman building. "This allowed a design inclusive of the three corners of the triangular plot," said van der Steen. In cooperation with preservation consultants Building Conservation Associates, Mecanoo and Sasaki completely restored the facades of the three existing buildings, each of which was built in a different style. The five-story Ferdinand was constructed of limestone, terra cotta, brick, and granite, and is characterized by large oval windows at the corners and ends of the building, plus a large copper ornamental cornice adorned with cast lions' heads. The red brick Curtis was built in the Queen Anne style, while the Boston Granite Waterman features copper bay windows brought up to snuff by the renovation team.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott
  • Architects Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates
  • Facade Installer Grande Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Building Conservation Associates (restoration)
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick laid in three finishes and bonds with vertical punched windows
  • Products Medium Ironspot #46 bricks in smooth, velour, and artisan finish, supplied by Spaulding Brick Company
For the new volume, the architects looked both to the surrounding urban fabric and to their own strengths. "Boston has a very rich tradition of using brick," said van der Steen. "Coming from 'the clay country,' The Netherlands, we have used brick in many projects, and we really wanted to use it here to show off the craftsmanship that goes into bricklaying." Working with Iron Spot brick in three different finishes—smooth, velour, and artisan—the design team deployed a variety of bonds—running, stack, and soldier—to create delicate reliefs and shadow effects. "Mecanoo and Sasaki spent a lot of time and effort to design an inviting, permeable public space," said van der Steen. Vertical punch windows render the curving brick facades of the new volume permeable, while the transparent entry invites residents to take advantage of the community resources (including a neighborhood gathering space and facilities for obtaining informal business guidance). A sixth-floor roof deck overlooking downtown Boston makes a visual connection to the city center, and the illuminated mechanical penthouse serves as an orientation point after dark. From the beginning, said van der Steen "we wanted to make one building that united the three old facades. While the historic buildings maintain the feel and scale of Dudley Square, the central volume injects a powerful, tacit modern aesthetic." The word "tacit" is key, he explained, as the discreet character of the undulating brick and glass envelope introduces the new while remaining deferential to the old. "Together, these elements create a rich texture both physically and conceptually, a stepped form which respects the historic volumes of the original buildings."
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Glass and Concrete Arts Center by Machado and Silvetti

Curved curtain wall and textured composite rain screen create a new focal point on the Hamilton College campus.

When a team of architects from Boston-based Machado and Silvetti Associates first visited Hamilton College several years ago, they thought they were interviewing for a single project—an art museum. But they soon found themselves talking campus officials into a second commission, for the Kennedy Center for Theatre and Studio Arts (KCTSA). "They talked about how important it was to coordinate the museum with proposed studio arts building," recalled Machado and Silvetti's Edwin Goodell. "We made the plug that they could be designed by the same firm." The college agreed and tasked the architects with designing both spaces, which together form a new arts district on the Clinton, New York, campus. The larger and more recently completed of the two buildings, the KCTSA invites engagement with the thriving arts program through a curved glass curtain wall, while concrete panels and locally sourced stone protect the students' workspaces and pay homage to historic Hamilton architecture. The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art and the KCTSA were originally sited on opposite sides of campus. But a rearrangement of the construction timeline necessitated a new location for the museum. "That allowed us to place it where it wanted to be, across from the studio arts building," said Goodell. "It allowed us to start thinking about the area as an arts lawn." At the time, the lot on which the KCTSA now stands was punctured by a muddy pond. "It was an eyesore, and not something people thought of as an amenity," explained Goodell. Seeing an opportunity to create a campus focal point, Machado and Silvetti worked with landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand to transform the pond into a sparkling water feature. To suggest an embrace of the new green space, and to reduce the impact of the studio arts building's large scale, the architects pushed the structure to the southern edge of the site. The KCTSA program comprises a disparate array of studio and performing arts uses. Luckily, Machado and Silvetti had recent experience with just such a complicated mix on a similar project, the Black Family Visual Arts Center at Dartmouth. There, the architects took a neighborhood-based approach, addressing each distinct set of requirements through strategic adjacencies—placing the print-making classrooms and support spaces together in a back chemistry corridor, and keeping the workshop separate from the digital media labs to reduce sound transfer. But the neighborhood solution came at a cost. "What we learned at Dartmouth is that this generally leads to a rabbit's warren of a plan," explained Goodell. For the Black Family Center, Machado and Silvetti untangled the mess by way of a central arts forum, off of which each neighborhood had its own "front door." At Hamilton College, they opted instead for a glass corridor wrapped around the north edge of the building. "It became clear that having one unifying element on the north facade was a critical move," said Goodell. "The glass wall is that major architectural gesture." In addition, he explained, "especially at dusk, you see the senior studio students working, you see the theater lobby being used by various groups, you see people circulating down the corridor. It's a very activated facade, and that light and activity spills into the landscape, making it a friendly space."
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer (curtain wall, glazing), Trulite (insulated glass), Taktl (concrete panels)
  • Architects Machado and Silvetti Associates
  • Facade Installer BR Johnson (glazing), ProClad (concrete), Remlap Construction (stone)
  • Facade Consultant Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Hamilton, NY
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System double glazed curtain wall, concrete rain screen, locally-quarried stone
  • Products Kawneer Clearwall SSI curtain wall, Kawneer 1600 UT System 2 fixed windows, Kawneer 1600 Glassvent Outswing operable windows, Trulite 1-inch insulated glass units, Taktl concrete panels, Alcove Bluestone from New York Quarries
The architects considered a structural glass curtain wall system but soon decided that an entirely unbroken wall would be "a little too slick, almost corporate," said Goodell. They went instead with a more simple system featuring double glazing and a thermally broken frame. Machado and Silvetti carefully controlled the width of the spandrels and the alignment of doors along the back wall of the corridors to reduce the appearance of horizontal banding. "We wanted it to read as full height, and I think it does in most light conditions," concluded Goodell. Most of the space behind the curtain wall is dedicated to circulation, requiring little in the way of sun control. In the affected studio and classroom spaces the team provided a combination of motorized and manual shades. Unlike on the north, on the south facade "all program types are sun sensitive, so the wall wanted to be much more protective, with discrete apertures where it was beneficial to the programs," said Goodell. The architects selected a concrete rain screen solution from Taktl for several reasons. The material allowed them to gesture toward the nearby cluster of buildings designed by Benjamin Thompson during the 1950s (originally Kirkland College). The ability to add texture to the panels, meanwhile, presented an opportunity to evoke the site's landscape, which once included a dense grove of trees. That history "inspired us to create something that had that type of verticality," explained Goodell. The vertical ribs also play to Hamilton College's unique weather effects, altering the facade's appearance depending on the angle of light and amount of moisture in the air. The KCTSA's theater volumes are clad in stone from a nearby quarry. "Incorporating stone was important for many people at Hamilton," said Goodell, explaining that many of the campus' older buildings were built from the material. In search of a local product with the requisite strength, Machado and Silvetti hit upon Alcove Bluestone. "It was an important historical reference, but it also brings color and warmth," said Goodell. "Artists tend to like white walls, so we had limited options to do color in the building; the stone in the theaters is critical. As you ascend through the lobby, the stone really becomes a dominant material around the whole center of the building." Outside, the visual magic continues. Though the curtain wall as a whole describes a broad curve, the individual panes of glass facing the pond are flat. As a result, the building's natural surroundings bounce back to the viewer in unexpected ways. "It creates amazing reflections," said Goodell. "We kept thinking we'd done something wrong in our renderings because you'd see these rippling effects. It takes the already lush landscape and magnifies it."
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LS3P Wraps Live Oak Bank in Cypress

Wood siding and high performance glazing invite nature into the workplace.

For their new headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, Live Oak Bank's leadership sought a design that reflected the institution's unique culture, particularly its focus on cultivating meaningful relationships with both customers and employees. "Their employees work hard," reflected LS3P's Laura Miller, whose firm was selected to design the building after a small local competition. "The folks who run Live Oak Bank want to recognize that." At the same time, she said, "they wanted it to be somewhat unassuming as well. They want to just quietly go about their business, and be the best at what they do." The architects' solution, a two-story U-shaped structure clad in local cypress and high performance glass, gives equal measure to both concerns. Plentiful glazing maximizes daylighting and views for occupants, while the long wood facades are designed to reflect attention back to the natural environment, further integrating the building into the site as the material weathers. The headquarters building's previously undeveloped site was a perfect fit for the project brief. Located in the heart of the city, the parcel is nonetheless adjacent to a nature preserve. "It's a little island of tranquility in the middle of Wilmington," said Miller. "It's convenient, but once you enter it, you feel like you're in a secluded, calm environment." Unlike the traditional office block, LS3P arranged the interior program in a U shape around a central courtyard. "It's not the most efficient in terms of square footage, but the bank wanted every single employee to have beautiful views either to the lake or to the grove of live oak trees," explained Miller. Courtyard terraces, decks, and a full-length second-floor balcony can be used as workspaces on nice days, and further encourage a dialogue between indoors and out.
  • Facade Manufacturer Special Wood (siding), Oldcastle (curtain wall), Reynobond (metal panels)
  • Architects LS3P Associates
  • Facade Installer Clancy & Theys (general contractor, siding), Binswanger Glass (curtain wall), Kistler McDougal (metal panels)
  • Location Wilmington, NC
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System cypress siding with high performance glazing, integrated sunshades, and metal panel accents
  • Products cypress siding, Oldcastle aluminum curtain wall with custom sunshades, Reynobond aluminum panels
In light of Live Oak Bank's desire for a building that blends into the natural environment, the architects gravitated toward wood siding. "We looked at quite a few images with different types of wood," said Miller. "Cedar is often used for building exteriors, but it's not something you find naturally here in eastern North Carolina." Instead, LS3P chose cypress, a local product that ages gracefully. Because they had a contractor on board right away, the architects were able to construct a series of mockup walls on the site even before it was cleared, demonstrating the appearance of the siding at installation, after one year, and after ten years. Per the client's wishes, LS3P designed the bank headquarters to provide every employee with daylighting and views. But the large amount of glazing that resulted presented a potential problem with thermal gain, especially on the south-facing facade. The architects selected a high performance glass, further protecting against glare and solar gain with fixed sunshades. Tested through a series of sun studies in Revit, the airfoil-shaped shades are integrated directly into the curtain wall system. Interior motorized blinds provide an additional layer of environmental control. On the stair towers and at the main entry, the architects offset the wood siding with grey metal panels. "The company is growing so quickly that we were constantly adjusting the design to accommodate more people," said Miller, noted that the project's square footage more than doubled between concept and construction. "The two legs of the U got pretty long. We wanted to break up the long horizontal facade, but we didn't want it to be jarring." Instead, the metal panels match the curtain wall framing and stucco base, maintaining the project's neutral palette. Live Oak Bank's new home does not look like the headquarters of a national bank. Rather, it looks like a comfortable place to work and visit, a place where ego takes a backseat to service. Fortunately, that is exactly what the project's clients—and its architects—wanted. "It's not a typical bank where people just drive through and get their cash," said Miller. "Their bank is really more about customer service and employee satisfaction."