Posts tagged with "Glass":

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Passive House Laboratory by GO Logic

Architects deliver a North American first with Warren Woods Ecology Field Station.

When Belfast, Maine–based architecture firm GO Logic presented the University of Chicago's Department of Ecology and Evolution with three schematic designs for the new Warren Woods Ecology Field Station, the academics decided to go for broke. Despite being new to Passive House building, the university was attracted to the sustainability standard given the laboratory's remote location in Berrien County, Michigan. "We presented them with three design options: one more compact, one more aggressive formally," recalled project architect Timothy Lock. The third option had an even more complicated form, one that would make Passive House certification difficult. "They said: 'We want the third one—and we want you to get it certified,'" said Lock. "We had our work cut out for us." Thanks in no small part to an envelope comprising a cedar rain screen, fully integrated insulation system, and high performance glazing, GO Logic succeeded in meeting the aesthetic and environmental goals set down by the university, with the result that the Warren Woods facility is the first Passive House–certified laboratory in North America.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kneer-Südfenster (glazing), Neopor (structural insulation), pro clima (breathable building paper)
  • Architects GO Logic
  • Facade Installer GO Logic (general contractor), Ebels Construction (carpentry)
  • Location Warren Woods, MI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System cedar rain screen with high performance glazing, integrated insulation
  • Products locally-sourced Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding, Kneer-Südfenster windows and doors, Neopor insulation, pro clima Solitex Quatra-Fronta Building Paper, SIGA tapes
Warren Woods' envelope begins at ground level, with a shallow foundation utilizing GO Logic's patented L-shaped EPS insulation around the edges, and a continuous air-seal layer between the foam and the slab. "The system allows us to pour consistent slab-on-grade without any thermal bridging," explained Lock. The sealing layer connects into the wood stud wall backed by graphite-impregnated Neopor insulation. The architects chose the insulation for its high R-value, knowing that they would need to compensate for the relatively large amount of surface area dedicated to the exterior wall. Pro clima one-way breathable building paper allows the building to expel moisture. GO Logic installed a rain screen of Eastern White Cedar vertical gap siding sourced from the Upper Peninsula "because of the aesthetic goals of the client," said Lock. "They desired a contemporary aesthetic but also [the look of] a Midwestern barn." The architects planned the interior space and allotted glazing judiciously, locating the laboratory on the north side of the building. Its position, under the cantilever over the entry, maximally reduces solar gain—an important consideration given the heat generated by the equipment inside. The classroom space, on the other hand, is positioned on the building's south side, punctuated by a long strip of Kneer-Südfenster glazing. "We are highly critical of windows that are available domestically," said Lock. "The big drawback with North American windows is that the tradeoff for a higher R-value is significantly reduced solar heat gain." Instead, the firm imports Kneer-Süd's products directly from Germany. "In Northern Europe they know how to get all the heat from the sun that they can," he observed. "We also love the way they look." The windows and doors are fully integrated into the air-seal layer using one-way breathable tapes from SIGA, imported (like the pro clima paper) through 475 High Performance Building Supply in Brooklyn. A custom-fabricated stainless steel accordion screen shields the classroom-side glazing from both intruders and the sun. "It's good for security—the university likes that," said Lock. "But the screen was also big for us to control the amount of heat that enters during the summer months and shoulder seasons." The idea, he explained, is that when classes are in session and the weather is nice, the occupants can throw open the doors. When only the laboratory is in operation, the closed screen will cut back on heat gain. In addition, the steel mesh "became something that was also a really exciting design feature," said Lock. "It had a great effect—not just cooling the space, but also softening the natural light."
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Unveiled> 41-story office and hotel tower in Chicago’s West Loop

This week an already roiling real estate market in Chicago's West Loop got hotter still. The latest entrant is a $400 million mixed-use tower designed by Goettsch Partners—a 350-room, four-star hotel beneath about 600,000 square feet of offices that will surely stoke the continued evolution of the area from post-industrial grittiness into a sleek, high-rent hub for technology companies and haute cuisine. Crain's Chicago Business reported Florida-based developer Joseph Mizrachi will further thicken an already competitive field of downtown office space, building on his 2012 acquisition of a 1.1 million-square-foot office tower at 540 West Madison Street. His group, Third Millennium Partners, hopes to start work by mid-2015 on a 1.2 million-square-foot building just to the west, at 590 West Madison Street. Goettsch Partners' design is restrained, concealing its luxury hotel rooms and undoubtedly high-tech offices in tranquil planes of glass, scored with white mullions that stripe the building's bifurcated mass vertically.

As for the crowded market, Crain's says Mizrachi enjoys an advantage over the competition:

Because the foundation already was poured for the new building years ago when a second office tower was planned, the new tower can be built in as little as 20 months, giving Mizrachi's plan an advantage over some competitors, [J.F. McKinney & Associates Executive Vice President Mark] Gunderson said. Work could begin with as little as 200,000 square feet of office space leased in advance, he said.
It also might compete by offering office rents slightly lower than its neighbors, which include 52 and 53 story towers from developers Hines Interests and John O'Donnell.
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Sturgess and RJC Soar with Glass Skywalk

Parabola cantilever walkway delivers park visitors to the brink.

Concerned that visitors to Canada's national parks were becoming increasingly disengaged from both the experience of the outdoors and the reality of climate change, Parks Canada launched a search for private-sector initiatives to reverse the trend toward drive-through tourism. Brewster Travel Canada answered the call with a limited design competition for a walkable structure in Jasper National Park's Sunwapta Valley. "One of the bus drivers suggested that we do something over this particular gorge, Trickle Creek Canyon—something that could be suspended off the side of the mountain that brought visitors into a more intimate relationship with the Athabasca Glacier and its melting," explained Sturgess Architecture principal Jeremy Sturgess. With design-build team lead PCL Construction Management and structural engineer Read Jones Christoffersen (RJC), Sturgess' firm crafted a cantilevered walkway that, clad in weathering steel and glass, defers to its natural surroundings while providing breathtaking views of the glacier and valley floor. Though not a facade itself, Glacier Skywalk warrants discussion within the context of high-performance building envelopes for its innovative structure and streamlined approach to materials—the "+" in Facades+. Though the expected solution to the competition brief was a suspension bridge or other high-masted element, "we thought as a team that this approach would not be appropriate to the site," recalled Sturgess. "As much as we were going to make something courageous and heroic, we also wanted it to be subtle." RJC's Simon Brown came up with the idea of a parabola cantilever that draws visitors 35 meters beyond the face of the cliff. Sturgess Architecture focused on minimizing the material palette, relying primarily on Corten and glass, plus gabion mats filled with local rocks and concrete on the adjoining interpretive walk. "The idea was that the Corten would emulate the ferric oxide outcropping that you see on the existing mountainside," said Sturgess. "We wanted the whole element to feel fractal and extruded from the mountainside. As much as it was clearly manmade, it was to be as sensitive to the local environment as possible."
  • Facade Manufacturer Beauce Atlas (steel), Josef Gartner (structural glass), Heavy Industries (Corten)
  • Architects Sturgess Architecture, Read Jones Christoffersen (structural engineering)
  • Facade Installer PCL Construction Management
  • Location Jasper National Park, Alberta
  • Date of Completion May 2014
  • System steel parabola cantilever walkway with Corten elements and structural glass floor
  • Products Josef Gartner structural glass, custom Corten elements from Heavy Industries
Glacier Skywalk's signature design element is its glass floor, constructed in three layers—two structural, the third designed to be easily replaced if broken or otherwise damaged. "I'm a little nervous about walking on glass floors," admitted Sturgess. Several times he suggested replacing the glass with an opaque material to save money, but the rest of the team refused to let go. "Normally when I've worked in design-build, the gun is to our head and the finger's on the trigger," said Sturgess. "In this case, every time we suggested, 'We can save money here,' everyone on the design team was so in love with the concept, we couldn't lose anything lightly." Sturgess Architecture swapped Rhino models with PCL, RJC, and Heavy Industries, who formed all of the Corten work, throughout the design development phase. "I've never gone through such an extraordinary hands-on design process working with the actual craftsman of the solution," said Sturgess. "This iterative process of working with the team as we crafted every piece kind of by hand—though on the computer—is what led to the success of the project." In combination with its geologically inspired cladding, Glacier Skywalk's minimal structure delivers an illusion of weightlessness that only adds to the sense of exposure. The curvature of the walkway allowed RJC to install a nearly invisible cable suspension system to counterbalance its outward propulsion. "It expresses the thrust from the mountainside, and it does it in a way that makes it feel like a really integral fit with the [landscape]," said Sturgess. "The success is that it's not too much."
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Product> Design Diagnosis: 12 of the best new healthcare furnishings

With the rise of evidence-based design, comfortable spaces are eclipsing clinical environments in healthcare facilities. These new products satisfy both the aesthetic and performance demands of the medical community. Regard Nurture by Steelcase This system of waiting-area furniture is designed to adapt to a wide variety of spaces, and has features—flexible power locations, integrated tables, privacy booths—that allow people to connect or retreat. True Wood Rite Door Assa Abloy/Adams Rite Dual levers inset on either side of the door activate the top latching mechanism, allowing each leaf to function on its own, doing away with additional parts such as floor strikes, center latches, flush bolts, astragals, and coordinators. Dart Designtex This woven upholstery has a finish that provides high-level stain resistance and limited bleach cleanability. The patterned textile is offered in nine colorways. Flop Sofa, Palisade Collection Nemschoff For round-the-clock use, this sofa converts to a sleeper simply by adjusting the back cushion; there is no finger-pinching, heavy mechanism to maneuver. Lighting and power ports options. Designed by Jess Sorel. ICU 300 Dorma With single, bi-parting, or telescopic operation, these manual sliding doors allow for continuous observation of patients while providing quick and easy access in emergency situations. Programma 400 ALU pba This full collection of grab bars, shower seats, and other bathroom accessories is fabricated of anodized aluminum with nylon elements. Collective Time Shaw In tiles and broadloom, this carpeting collection takes design cues from circadian rhythms, translating data into color and texture patterns. Lifetime commercial warranty; Cradle-to-Cradle Silver certified. VitalSign 2/90 Sign Systems This signage system relies on a magnetic tool—instead of human hands—to change medical alerts and icons, reducing the transmission of infectious disease in healthcare facilities. ProLine Drain Quick Drain USA Fabricated of 304 stainless steel and measuring 1.5 inches wide, this linear drain features an integrated flange, easing the installation of barrier-free showers. A sloped interior trench eliminates standing water in the drain. Color Select USAI Lighting The first architectural LED downlighting fixture to offer independent control of both color temperature and intensity, this technology effectively mimics natural daylight and satisfies the needs of healthcare workers and patients alike. Plus System Pressalit Horizontal and vertical wall tracks and brackets allow bathroom fixtures to be repositioned as needed, with ease and precision. Fabricated of strong, lightweight aluminum and polystyrene, lifts are offered with a choice of manual, pneumatic, and electric power. Corning Med-X Glass McGrory Glass The high barium and lead content of this glass is designed to shield against 80-300kV X-rays while providing an optically neutral appearance. With plates measuring up to 54 inches by 108 inches, it maximizes views for medical technicians.
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Overland Unclogs Historic Plumbing Warehouse

San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.

Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city's burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building "is simple," said project architect Patrick Winn, "but it's really elegant and beautiful when you're able to look at it." The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. "When we first viewed it, it was really far gone," recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole. Prior to renovation, Hughes Warehouse was entirely encased in a double-width brick wall, except for a few garage door openings and two levels of clerestory windows. While the clerestories, approximately 16-20 inches and 20-25 inches in width, provided a good dose of daylight to the interior, they did not provide views out, nor did they facilitate the transition from parking lot to studio. "At Overland we really enjoy blurring the line between the outdoor, natural realm and the indoor, built realm," said Winn. "Right from the get-go we said: we have to cut a courtyard into the building and elongate that entry sequence." Overland carved out approximately 2,000 square feet of space for the new courtyard, which is faced with a custom glass and steel curtain wall. The transparent opening floods the office interior with light and frames views for the occupants. It has also become a de facto community space. "What's been nice is that runners' groups and cycling groups are starting to use our courtyard as a hub for activity," said Winn, who notes that live music and other events at a neighboring coffee shop are an additional draw. "It's brought a lot of life and energy into our space from the courtyard." To secure the courtyard after hours, the architects designed custom steel gates to replace the original, graffiti-covered garage doors. To tie-in to the warehouse's arts-district location, and to pay homage to the graffiti, Overland looked to Jackson Pollock for inspiration. They pixelated photographs on Photoshop before transferring the file to AutoCAD and sending the pattern on to Rivercity Industries, who laser-cut the design into the doors. The doors themselves were fabricated by Overland Workshop. "From the exterior, especially when the lights are on, when you drive by, there's almost a twinkling effect," said Winn of the perforated gates. "They're really neat."
  • Facade Manufacturer Overland Workshop, The Beck Group, Sharp Glass, Tower Steel
  • Architects Overland
  • Facade Installer The Beck Group
  • Location San Antonio, Texas
  • Date of Completion December 2012
  • System Existing brick facade with custom steel and glass curtain wall, glass and steel punch windows, clerestories
  • Products custom steel and glass curtain wall, high-performance windows, Lutron automatic shades, custom gates by Overland Workshop
The architects punched additional windows into the remaining brick facade. "We decided to honor the old brick building," said Winn. "Any new insertion is done with steel and glass." To mitigate solar gain, the new windows are extruded about a foot on the east side of the building, and about two feet on the west. The clerestories and courtyard curtain wall are equipped with automated shades. Though the original steel frames around the clerestory windows would only accept 1/4-inch laminated safety glass, the new windows feature one-inch-thick high performance glass. Additional sustainability measures include a complete board insulation system over the roof. "We loved having brick on the interior, so what we couldn't do there in terms of insulation, we made up for on the roof," explained Winn. "We over-insulated it." A rooftop solar setup offsets about 60 percent of the office's energy consumption. In addition, the architects re-used original materials wherever possible. They built the interior stairs out of old joists, and the contractor saw-cut discarded concrete into pavers for the abutting alley. Even the brittle roof decking found a second life as board forms for the building's cast-in-place concrete elements. The Hughes Warehouse building has exceeded the architects' expectations in terms of bringing the office back together, said Winn. "It's done wonders for us from the standpoint of office culture. People seem to really love working here—it's not a place that's a drag to work in, it's very comfortable." He noted that in less than two years the firm has grown from just over 40 members to about 70, and recalled several recent events, including art shows and a courtyard holiday party, held in the renovated space. "I have to say that Overland's been elevated to a whole other level."
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Grappling with Glare in High-Performance Facade Design

Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Scott Johnson's Museum Tower in Dallas, and Rafael Viñoly's Vrada Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas have at least one thing in common. All three provoked the ire of their neighbors when glare from their reflective facades raised sidewalk temperatures, blinded drivers, or—as in the Museum Tower case—jeopardized the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center’s collections. Glare is increasingly a problem in facade design, says Curtainwall Design Consulting president Charles Clift, in part because of the tools contemporary architects have at their disposal. "The conclusion I came to is that the digital age of architecture has allowed designers to create anything they can imagine, but with that comes some unintended consequences." Clift and other experts in high-performance envelope design, including George Loisos (Loisos + Ubbelohde) and Luke Smith (Enclos), will dig into the problem of glare in a symposium panel at this month's Facades+ Dallas conference. Nasher Sculpture Center director Jeremy Strick, David Cossum of the City of Dallas, and the Dallas Morning News' Mark Lamster will join them to discuss the reflectivity challenge within the local context. The conversation will continue on day 2 of the conference at the "Curating Daylight: Effective Control of Interior Illumination & Issues of Exterior Reflectivity" dialog workshop (led by George Loisos and Susan Ubbelohde), which meets at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Advancements in building materials offer one solution to the glare challenge, which exists in tension with the demand to reduce thermal gain. "An easy way for the facade to accomplish sustainability goals is to use highly reflective glass, but obviously that rejected glare goes back into the environment," said Clift. Happily, innovations by today's glass manufacturers, including low-e coatings, boost performance, reduce glare, and allow a decent amount of visible light transmission. External or internal sunshades can also do double duty as thermal barriers and glare blockers. But both specialty glass and shading structures come at a cost, and are often the first to go when the budget gets tight. "A lot of the time, the issue of glare has been taken into account in the design process, but it’s one of the first components that might get value-engineered out," said Smith, who will moderate the panel. Municipal-level regulation is another possible fix for the reflectivity problem. Clift reports that some Dallas builders he’s talked to are confident that the market will sort things out. They say that the Museum Tower/Nasher Sculpture Center debacle "is such a bad situation that a savvy developer won’t do that in the future." Smith is not so sure. "This is an urban problem, but as soon as the city tries to step in, people say, 'No, this has nothing to do with the city,'" he said. "I think the problem is getting worse because density is increasing in cities, and right now glass is predominantly the building material of choice." Dallas, he notes, is the perfect place to explore the glare issue. "The city’s going through a regeneration: the place is coming back. Plus, it’s sunny, and they like glass buildings." To hear more from Smith, Cliff, and the other panelists about the problem of glare, register today for the Dallas Facades+ conference. The complete lineup of symposium speakers, dialog workshops, tech workshops, and networking events can be found on the conference website.
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GLUCK+ Screens a Modern Great Camp

Custom sliding wood shades maximize privacy and views in Adirondack Mountains retreat.

Architect-led design build firm GLUCK+ designed the Lakeside Retreat in the Adirondack Mountains on an historic blueprint: the Great Camps, sprawling summer compounds built by vacationing families during the second half of the nineteenth century. "The clients wanted to hold events there, and to make a place where their kids—who were in college at the time—would want to spend time," said project manager Kathy Chang. "They wanted to create different ways of occupying the space." GLUCK+ carved the hilly wooded site into a series of semi-subterranean buildings, of which the two principal structures are the family house and the recreation building. These buildings are, in turn, distinguished by massive lake-facing glass facades, camouflaged by wooden screens designed to maximize both privacy and views. The project, explained Chang, "was really about sculpting in and out of the landscape, manipulating the ground plane." By using the existing site as a primary element of construction, the GLUCK+ team was able to accomplish two things. First, "it gave us a new level area for the clients to hang out outside," said Chang. "It provided a new way to occupy the site, because before there was no flat ground." Second, they were able to manipulate the program so that the mechanical spaces were tucked into the underground portions of the houses, making way for a transparent facade along the lakeside. "The fact that so much of the program is buried allowed us to build the glass facade, despite the energy requirements," said Chang. The custom curtain wall is in fact quite simple, said Chang. "What made it custom was sizes and the ability to integrate the screen support: we have various slope conditions, and at the highest point the pieces are really very heavy." GLUCK+ installed Siegenia lift and slide hardware to insure easy operation of even the largest sliding glass doors. "The client was really intrigued with the idea of open sleeping porches," said Chang. "They wanted to be able to open up the house and have the breeze come through."
  • Facade Manufacturer Sanxin Facade Technology Limited (curtain wall, sliding doors), Rio Welding (screen frames), Northern Hardwoods (wood louvers), Precise Painting and Wall Covering, Inc. (wood louvers)
  • Architects GLUCK+
  • Facade Installer Architectural Glass and Mirror (curtain wall, sliding doors), V & H Construction (screens)
  • Location Adirondack Mountains, NY
  • Date of Completion 2010
  • System custom glass curtain wall with sliding glass doors, custom sliding wood screens on Cor-ten frames
  • Products custom sliding doors, custom fixed glass, Siegenia sliding door hardware, custom milled Cambia by NFP thermally modified poplar louvers
The screen system was partly a response to concerns expressed by the local environmental commission. "The commission was very nervous about having a tall glass building facing the lake," recalled Chang. "We set the buildings back from the lake, in the trees. In addition, part of the idea of the screen was to break down reflections from the glass so that it wouldn't be so apparent from the lake." The wood shades are arranged in two layers, both attached at the top to the underside of the roof slab. Stainless steel outriggers placed in the window system between the first and second stories provide an additional point of attachment for the screens above and below. To reduce the gravity load, the outriggers are supported by cables attached to the roof slab. Each screen comprises thermally modified poplar slats from Cambia Wood affixed to a Cor-ten frame with horizontal steel elements for additional strength. "We calculated that there's almost four miles of wood, so we really spent a lot of time looking at different options, at different ways to price it and build it," said Chang. "We looked at doing this in mahogany or other woods typical for outside use, but both the weight and expense were prohibitive." GLUCK+ performed analyses to determine which rooms would require more or less privacy, or open spaces at sitting or standing levels for views. Many of the screens are designed to slide from side to side. In addition, some individual slats can be rotated to enhance privacy. On the top level of the buildings, the (fixed) inner layer of screening doubles as a balcony guardrail. GLUCK+ used the same poplar on the buildings' other exterior walls, some of which are occupied underneath, others serving as filler. "We used the same wood in a more solid condition to try to tie those walls in with the screen, and with the solid earth," said Chang. "It's really hard to tell where the building stops and the landscape begins." Because one building was ahead of the other during construction, Chang and her colleagues had the opportunity to compare the uncovered curtain wall with its shaded neighbor. "The unscreened building just looked naked and cold," she said. "It didn't have this life to it." The clients, reluctant at first to embrace the screens, agreed. "In the beginning of the process, the clients were a little worried about losing the view," recalled Chang. "We needed iterations of the mockups to convince them: no, it's actually adding to it. It ended up being one of their favorite parts of the whole project."
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Antoine Predock’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights Opens In Winnipeg

The Antoine Predock–designed Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg last Friday with a ceremony featuring an indigenous blessing, performances by Ginette Reno, The Tenors, Maria Aragon, and Sierra Noble, plus remarks by several Canadian government officials as well as representatives of the museum. With its Tyndall limestone ramparts, layers of curved glass, and projecting Tower of Hope, the museum evokes the wings of a dove—the symbol of peace—enfolding an ancient mountain. The carefully choreographed entry sequence leads visitors from the building's rocky base down into the carved-out Great Hall, through a hidden winter garden, and, finally, up to the Tower of Hope, whose structure frames views of the city and beyond. Geological and astronomical references abound, from the 450-million-year-old limestone itself to the orientation of the stone-clad Roots, whose apertures welcome the solstice and equinox sun. The brainchild of the late philanthropist and entrepreneur Israel Asper, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the world's only museum focused exclusively on human rights. It opens to the public on Saturday, September 27. Antoine Predock will deliver the opening keynote address at next month's Facades+ Dallas conference, during which he will discuss the conceptual and technical drivers of the museum's design. For more information or to register, visit the conference website.    
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Product> Exterior Glass: Eight options with special functions built in

The role of glass continues to expand in architecture as new performance properties and aesthetic qualities come to market in a steady flow. From photovoltaic glazing to printing technologies that address the issue of avian impacts, the material has become an active, dynamic force in buildings. SunGuard SNX 51/23 Guardian For commercial use, this high-performance, low-E glass has a VLT above 50 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient below .25. Solarban z75 PPG Featuring a neutral, cool-gray tint, this low-emissivity glass offers an intelligent combination of visible light transmittance, solar control, and light control. View Dynamic Glass View As the sun intensifies, a nanotech interlayer regulates an electric current that shifts ions in the glass, automatically darkening them. Offered in panels up to 5 feet by 10 feet. Ornilux Mikado Arnold Glas  This bird-protection glass features a patterned UV coating that is visible to birds, but virtually transparent to the human eye. i-Glass Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope  This screenless technology can print multiple colors and complex designs on exterior and interior glass. LightZone SageGlass  Variable tint zones within a single pane of electrochromic glass allows great flexibility for managing solar heat gain and glare. CLASS Sapphire Saint Gobain In sheets up to 9 inches by 26 inches and 12 inches by 24 inches, this transparent ballistic-resistant material achieves a 40 percent lighter and 40 percent thinner system than a glass-only design. DigitalDistinctions Etch Ink Viracon This ink simulates the look of acid-etched or colored-etched glass without high-pressure sand blasting or dangerous acids.
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Marlon Blackwell Puts on a Clinic with Vol Walker Hall

University of Arkansas  addition celebrates the future with a contemporary rewrite of Neoclassicism.

As head of the architecture department and distinguished professor at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, Marlon Blackwell was uniquely qualified to oversee the renovation and expansion of the school's home, Vol Walker Hall. To unite the school's landscape architecture, architecture, and interior design departments under one roof for the first time, Blackwell's eponymous firm designed a contemporary west wing to mirror the east bar on the existing Beaux-Arts style building, constructed in the 1930s as the university library. But the Steven L. Anderson Design Center—which tied for Building of the Year in AN's 2014 Best of Design Awards—is more than a container for 37,000 square feet of new studio, seminar, and office space. It is also a teaching tool, a lesson in the evolution of architectural technology writ in concrete, limestone, glass, steel, and zinc.
  • Facade Manufacturer Stone Panels (limestone), Tulsa Dynapan (architectural concrete), Rheinzink (zinc panels), L&L Metal Fabrication (metal/glass curtain wall), Kawneer (other curtain wall)
  • Architects Marlon Blackwell Architect, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects (associate architect)
  • Facade Installer ACE Glass Construction Corp. (glazing), Baldwin & Shell Construction Company (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultant Heitmann & Associates, Inc. (curtain wall), Clarkson Consulting (concrete)
  • Location Fayetteville, AR
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System custom curtain wall with frit glass fins, limestone rain screen, zinc panels, architectural precast concrete
  • Products Stone Panels StoneLite limestone rain screen, architectural precast concrete from Tulsa Dynaspan, Rheinzink zinc panels, Viracon frit glass, Kawneer curtain wall, Viracon insulated glass
"Our strategy was to create a counterweight to the existing building," explained Blackwell. Rather than a layered steel-frame construction, Marlon Blackwell Architect opted for a post-tensioned concrete structure to convey a sense of mass and volume. "We also wanted to demonstrate what you can do with new technology like post-tensioned concrete, such as introducing a cantilever and introducing a profile that has minimal columns in the spaces," he said. "All of that is a didactic tool for our students to contrast and compare with the load-bearing technology of the existing structure." The exterior of the Steven L. Anderson Design Center also reflects on changes to architectural practice during the last 80 years. "We really wanted to develop a strong profile of the building, in contrast to Vol Walker Hall," said Blackwell. He describes the effect as a figure-ground reversal: where in the older structure the mass of the building is the ground and the windows and ornament act as figure, in the new wing the mass is the figure and the fenestration the ground. To create what Blackwell terms a "condition of resonance" between the Design Center and Vol Walker Hall, the architects engaged Clarkson Consulting to develop an architectural concrete to match the color of a local Arkansas limestone no longer available. They echoed the Indiana limestone on the older wing with panels sourced from a quarry only 50 miles from the original. But instead of grouting the limestone cladding on the new wing, Blackwell chose a limestone rain screen system from Stone Panels. "That allows us to go much thinner but much larger," he said. "Again, we're using the same materials but showing how the advancement of technology allows for a different expression of architecture." The defining feature of the Design Center is the more than 200-foot-long glass and steel curtain wall on the western facade. Knowing that the western exposure would provide the only source of natural light for the new wing, the architects worked to balance the need for light against the threat of solar gain. To complement the existing building, they chose a fascia steel curtain wall custom-fabricated by local company L&L Metal Fabrication. With curtain wall consultants Heitmann & Associates, Blackwell developed a brise soleil comprising 3/4-inch by 18-inch frit glass fins, angled to filter sunlight into the Design Center's 43-foot-deep studios. "What we like about it, too, is that it's one big window," said Blackwell. "It allows it to feel as if we've cut a section right through the building. At night the entire facade becomes a beacon, allowing for a nice interface between the school of architecture and the rest of the community." Other details, including the monolithic concrete pours designed to lighten the Design Center's connection to the ground, and zinc cladding used on the top floor to sharpen the profile of the main body, continue the dialogue between the new structure and its Neoclassical neighbor. "There are a lot of little things that give a tautness to the expression of the new addition, and give it its own identity," said Blackwell. "But at the same time, one of the things we were faithful to was trying to analyze and uncover units of measure and proportion on the old building, and apply that to ours." Perhaps more importantly, the building works as a design school—and Blackwell would know. "There's certainly contrast on the outside," he said. "But there's an almost resonant seamlessness on the inside."
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Vintage Glass Blocks For Sale For a Good Cause

AN recently got word of 1,500 vintage glass art blocks that are up for sale over on Etsy. These slabs won’t just add color to your home or garden, they will represent a donation to a great cause as the seller, the Unearthed Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin, is donating 15 percent of its proceeds to Heifer International. According to Unearthed, “these inch-thick, molded glass forms in a number of vivid colors make luscious eye candy when backlit in a window or light box.” The tiles, according to the gallery, date back to a 1980s-era stain glass-making company in the Midwest. You can check out the listing here.
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Product> Transparent Thinking: Five New Glazing Options

The dual role glass plays in architectural design—a material integral to both a building's appearance and its performance—makes selecting a specific product a tricky process. From energy-efficient glazing to decorative dichroic panels, here are a few new items to spur the imagination. Liquidkrystal Lasvit  Designed by Ross Lovegrove, these glass panels can be fixed into construction profiles or into building construction-assembly grooves. Specialty colors and finishes are available; panels range in size from 80 by 8 centimeters to 270 by 370 centimeters. Koda XT 3Form Refined design meets extreme durability in this translucent polycarbonate panel material. Specially formulated for exterior applications, it is a cost-effective alternative to glass. 8250 STX Wausau Factory-fabricated as an aluminum knocked-down system, this curtain wall offers glazing contractors an easy-to-install, non-thermal system for low- to mid-rise buildings. It features tubular vertical framing members in lieu of I-beams, to withstand wind loads without twisting at anchor points or buckling. VUE-30 Viracon This high-performance glass coating allows designers to maximize window-to-wall ratios, while exceeding industry and current domestic energy code requirements for sustainable design. The coating is available on any Viracon glass substrate, and can also be combined with silkscreen patterns or digital printing. Optichroic Dichroic Glass Bendheim This laminated glass is available in an assortment of surface combinations, including clear, etched, and etched patterns. It can be produced in sheets as large as 54 by 120 inches, without the long lead-times typically associated with specialty products.