Computer-aided manufacturing has revolutionized the field of facade production over the last decade. Dana K. Gulling, author of Manufacturing Architecture, describes the overall trend as one of “custom repetitive manufacturing,” which reestablishes a level of customizability in industrial processes and facilitates fruitful collaboration between architects, facade engineers, and manufacturers from the design-assist phase to completion. To learn a bit more about the shift, AN surveyed leading facade engineers about how it affects their work. Erleen Hatfield Managing Partner, Hatfield Group Custom repetitive manufacturing (CRM) has the potential to change how we design and construct buildings by making advanced digital design processes—like computational and parametric design—a viable option for a broader range of clients. This results from custom-designed elements being fabricated cost-effectively and with minimal production waste. In our work as a design-driven engineering firm, we embrace CRM as a powerful tool for realizing even the most technically demanding architectural designs. Before CRM, fabricating the type of custom elements associated with these processes was too expensive for most clients—it only made sense for high-budget projects, so the tremendous potential of digital design methods could not be realized on a broad scale. Michael Min Ra Cofounding Partner, Front Inc Key factors driving the realization of custom systems and components are a combination of conceptual demand and corresponding supply through advancements in and adaptations of technology in design tools, transfer of data, and compatible methods of manufacturing. This sequential exchange of digital data from relatively low-resolution initial design to highly refined final solution enables successful custom fabrication and assembly of parts, and variability within given system parameters and schedules. This mode of practice is applicable to both repetitive and variable facade typologies. Repetition offers profound advantages in allowing more detailed definition with simplified cost control, whereas variety can be accommodated through instantiation. As the costs of digital design processes diminish and designers’ manufacturing and construction knowledge expands, this process of customization will proliferate to the extent seen in other industries that benefit from economies of scale. Anna Wendt Director, Buro Happold Repetitive manufacturing has long been admired from a cautious distance by both engineers and architects. Cost efficiency, precision, mass production, and shorter lead times are advantages that shouldn’t be ignored. The increasing opportunity to introduce unique, customizable features to the repetitive manufacturing process provides further opportunities for ensuring that a sense of craftsmanship is achieved for iconic buildings. An example where the Buro Happold facade engineering team has pioneered the use of such technology is on the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The project, designed by Snøhetta, has a unique facade comprising an intricate surface made from 215 miles of CNC-bent stainless steel tubes. Innovative planning and design allowed the design to be optimized and developed for production by the facade contractor seele. Benson Gillespie Partner, SURFACE DESIGN GROUP The ability for fabricators to provide custom facade systems has been a blessing for smaller and midsize projects. Our 10 Jay Street project [in Brooklyn, New York], designed by ODA, is a great example of this trend, where a completely custom curtain wall system was used to achieve a geometrically complex facade design at a relatively limited scale. We expect that custom facade systems will only increase throughout the industry as parametric software becomes more integrated within design and fabrication processes. This trend has led to an increase in the numbers of international fabricators participating in the design-assist and bidding processes, as their custom systems are often competitively priced in comparison with standard systems offered by local vendors. This leveling of the global playing field has significantly expanded the options available to designers and owners. Chris O’Hara Founding Principal, Studio NYL The most important aspect of maximizing custom fabrication in mass production is to use the technology judiciously. Oftentimes in our studio, we try to take complex forms and develop them for modest budgets. To achieve this goal, we use a “kit of parts” mentality. We use mass-produced extrusions for glazing systems and mass-produced cladding support systems for our opaque cladding, and marry them with a substructure that can be digitally fabricated or arranged in a unique geometry to realize complex forms or longer spans. Often lost in our ability to fabricate is the reality of installation. We can solve the translation of fabrication to installation through panelization, but in our experience it often is the marriage of high tech and low tech that leads to the best results. The fun and challenge is: How do we manipulate the systems our installers are comfortable with and use basic principles to make them unique? Ashley Reed Director, DeSimone Consulting Engineers When we consider the repetitive manufacturing and automation of building enclosure systems, we need to evaluate three distinct phases: design, fabrication, and installation. Advances in fabrication technologies and installation practices are instigating a collapse of the latter two phases. However, people are still superior at improvising and handling the complexity of on-site conditions and fabrication. Enclosure systems consist of assemblies designed to withstand loads and integrate varying levels of boundaries to control heat, air, and moisture. Currently, the fabrication of assembly components is automated, but the compilation of these components into the ultimate assembly is still largely reliant on human labor. Alloy Kemp Associate, Thornton Tomasetti Custom repetitive manufacturing has forced us to be smarter about where we implement custom solutions and repetitive processes. Designing bespoke facades, even if they’re easier to realize now, still can incur increased costs. For example: Processes like heat-welding ETFE panels or laying up composites over a mold can be programmed to be repeated even when the physical output is different. But for curtain wall extrusions, numbers of dies are still a major cost factor. Attaching mullions at varying angles is less influential on cost. While we’re past the point of specifying one typical detail, not everything can be made fully custom at the same economy. It’s the fun, exciting challenge of being a facade engineer: to make complex facades developable from a repeated kit of parts and processes. Karen Brandt Senior Principal, Heintges Although custom repetitive manufacturing is not a new technique for some materials in facades, like terra-cotta, exploration, and advancement of the design potential of custom repetitive manufacturing is increasingly a part of our consulting work with architects. We’ve observed a shift in interest from designing “one-off” final products to interest in custom tools used in the fabrication process that have the potential to amplify the value of both human and machine fabrication time. There is a fascinating range in “custom tool” approaches: from an extremely expensive but reusable tool used for the fabrication of complex bent architectural glass to an extremely inexpensive, but ultimately disposable, CNC-routed foam mold for architectural precast concrete. Sustainability will ultimately be the most important consideration to advance these approaches.
Posts tagged with "Heintges":
Thomas Phifer and Partners’s Glenstone Museum rises from the landscape with subtle monumental tectonics
Brought to you with support fromWith an extensive private collection of contemporary art ranging from the large-scale sculptural work of Michael Heizer to the oil-on-canvas abstracts of Mark Rothko, the new Glenstone Museum addition—opened in Fall 2018 and located in suburban Potomac, Maryland, just 15 miles from the city center of Washington, D.C.—is a testament to the role of placemaking as a tool of monumentality. Designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges, the expansion of the Glenstone Museum consists of a single interconnected structure built of gargantuan precast concrete blocks semi-submerged into the landscape and illuminated by deftly placed moments of curtain wall. The project, formally dubbed The Pavilions, is a significant expansion of the preexisting Glenstone Museum and adds 204,000-square-feet of built space to the complex. Although one continuous structure, the varying heights of the pavilions and their position within the surrounding landscape lend an illusion that each exhibition space is an independent pavilion.
Facades+ Washington, D.C., on February 20 as part of the “Placemaking and Monumentality: Opaque Facade Strategies” panel.For Thomas Phifer and Partners, the choice of precast concrete stemmed from the client and design team’s intent to work with materials that clearly expressed the museum’s construction and structure. The concrete blocks were produced by manufacturer Gate Precast, who developed a custom blend of sand, fine aggregate, and a consistent mixture of white and gray cement. The design team collaborated closely with the manufacturer, testing a range of concrete mixes and forming techniques, and ultimately traveled to Gate Precast’s plants in North Carolina and Tennessee for review of the 26,000 concrete blocks prior to the shipment to the site. “The beauty and diversity that is evident in the finished blocks were a true expression of the variability of working in concrete,” said Thomas Phifer and Partners director Michael Trudeau and Heintges associate principal Aaron Davis. “The vagaries of casting, stripping, seasonality of fabrication, temperature and humidity during curing are allowed to express themselves in the overall palette of the installed facades.” The precast blocks were arranged in a standard running bond pattern—every succeeding row of bricks is offset from that below—and typically measure 12"-by-12"-by-6". The weight of each block is formidable; each weighs approximately 900 pounds and were craned into position individually. While the monumentally-scaled masonry appears load-bearing, the design team utilized various subtle structural techniques to offset the overwhelming mass of the project. The blocks bear onto a concrete haunch rising from the foundation wall and are further held by continuous bands of spliced stainless steel rebar. A thin layer of mortar was applied between the narrow joints of the running bond to allow for setting and leveling, while concealed breaks mitigate expansion and contraction. Natural light for the museum primarily derives from two sources; monumental glass walls and fogged skylights. For the former, the design team hoped to blend the characteristics of both unitized curtain walls and storefront facades—a high-performance enclosure with maximum transparency. The solution is remarkably complex—the glass panels measure 9'-by-22' and cantilever from the floor and ceiling slabs, and are moment-clamped at the base of the panel and framed in steel. “The outer-most glass plies on both inner and outer laminated layers of the IGU are offset from one another in plan, providing recesses where the stainless steel plates can be connected—gaskets sit between the inner face of the stainless steel plates to protect the glass from contact with the metal and providing a high-performance dual-deal connection between units,” continued Trudeau and Davis. “The poetic rigor of the design is revealed here again; the width of the stainless steel plate is identical to the depth of the IGU. In plan, the unit-to-unit joint is a perfect square.” Thomas Phifer and Partners director Michael Trudeau and Heintges associate principal Aaron Davis will present the Glenstone Museum at
Brought to you with support fromLocated just south of San Francisco's Financial District and blocks away from the bay, MIRA Tower is a housing development that grabs your attention with a highly detailed geometric form. The project joins a spate of recently completed and under construction towers in the Transbay Development Zone, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects' Salesforce Tower and the Heller Manus Architects' 181 Fremont. Designed by Studio Gang Architects in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges and fabricator Permasteelisa, the tower presents a spiraling aluminum-and-glass facade arranged in a panoply of bay windows and terraces. Developed by Tishman Speyer, the size of the project is formidable and consists of both a tower and a terrace of townhouses—with a footprint of 50,000 square feet and spanning 700,000 gross square feet. To comply with FAR constraints and rules set out by the district zoning guidelines, the initial design reached a height of 300 feet. Following a request to the city government, the allowable height of the tower was raised to 400 feet with the inclusion of 156 below-market-rate apartments, or just under half the total number of units.
Studio Gang turned towards the architectural vernacular of the San Francisco-area for the overall form and massing of the tower and townhomes, reinterpreting classical bay windows into a contemporary gesture. There are ten different bay geometries: each is an isosceles triangle 14-feet wide and with differing spandrel and glazing dimensions, and with a maximum depth of six-and-a-half feet. Thirty bay window units are found at each level, adding up to, in total, over 1,000 across the tower. Shifting the bay geometries was not the initial direction of the project but a discovery during the design phase that, through offsetting and repeating a set of variations every 10 floors, a profound level of detail could be added to the project without causing undue complications in fabrication and construction. Through the inclusion of bay units across the facade, each residence is afforded daylight from multiple directions and sweeping views of the city at large. Facade consultant Heintges joined the project during the early schematic design phase to both conceptualize the enclosure design and develop a facade system with sufficient waterproofing and compatibility with locational seismic requirements. “In this system, the windows act like a freestanding window wall, loaded at the sill and allowing movement at the header,” said the Studio Gang design team. “The spandrel panels, on the other hand, are rigid enough to take the wind loads and transfer the window loads down to the slab.” The resiliency of the tower is further strengthened by a heavy central core that allows for exterior pieces to move independently of another during seismic events. For the longterm maintenance of the facade (specifically window washing at great heights) Studio Gang and Heintges incorporated a number of intermittent stabilization anchors across the bay units. In collaboration with building maintenance consultant CS Caulkins and cleaning device fabricator Sky Rider, the design team developed a custom platform capable of being lifted between the bays by integrated attachment points. The project broke ground in late 2017 and topped out in mid-2019; Permasteelisa handled the fabrication and installation of the facade panels and typically fitted out each floor in four days, completing the job at the tail end of 2019. The bays were fastened directly to the slab edge from within the building, a measure that, along with the division of spandrel and infill, reduced the use of a crane on-site and in turn lessened energy consumption and neighborhood disruptions stemming from site logistics. “Three-dimensional aluminum spandrels cover the slab edge and are anchored to the post-tensioned slab with steel embeds that extend vertically,” continued the Studio Gang design team. “Behind the aluminum panels are stiffeners that resist wind loads, reduce deflections, and control flatness. In order to realize the steps between bay geometry variations, there is always a horizontal portion of the panel which either faces up as a sill condition or down as a soffit condition.” Studio Gang principal Steve Wiesenthal and Heintges senior principal Karen Brandt will present MIRA Tower at Facades+ San Francisco on January 31 as part of the “Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations” panel.
Brought to you with support fromOn April 4 and 5, Facades+ is returning to New York for the eighth year in a row. Organized by The Architect's Newspaper, the New York conference brings together leading AEC practitioners for a robust full-day symposium with a second day of intensive workshops led by manufacturers, architects, and engineers. Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, and Toshiko Mori are respectively leading the morning and afternoon keynote addresses for the symposium. In between the keynote addresses, representatives from Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Permasteelisa, Cooper Union, Gensler, Heintges, Atelier 10, Transsolar, Walter P. Moore, Schüco, Frener & Reifer, and Behnisch Architekten, will be on hand to discuss recently completed innovative projects. New York-and-Frankfurt based practice 1100 Architect is co-chairing the conference. In anticipation of the conference, 1100 Architect's Juergen Riehm sat down with AN to discuss the firm's ongoing work, the conference's program, and trends reshaping New York City's built environment. The Architect's Newspaper: It is safe to say that New York City is undergoing a tremendous period of growth. What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends within the city? Juergen Riehm: You’re right; New York City is undergoing big change and growth. I would say that one of the big drivers of that change—and one of the exciting trends—is the investment in the city’s public spaces. There has been such transformation along the waterfronts and in parks across all five boroughs, and that has really catalyzed growth. We have worked with several city agencies for many years and in different ways, including with the Department of Parks & Recreation, which has been an exciting partnership, contributing to these changes. One of the projects we currently have in design for NYC Parks is a new community center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. There, we are designing a 33,000-square-foot community center. The facade will perform in a number of ways. Since it is a community center, we want it to be as open and transparent as possible, and it also needs to be robust and durable. The building is on track to meet the city’s new sustainability standards LL31/32 and LEED Gold. There has been so much attention on new large-scale developments like Hudson Yards or the supertall towers in Midtown, but one of the other exciting trends right now is the renewed attention on optimizing the performance of existing buildings. It is something we will address during Facades+ NYC, but there is great work happening now on restorations of historic buildings—at the Ford Foundation or the United Nations, for example—that not only addresses decades of wear and tear, but that also brings these structures up to full 21st-century performance standards. AN: 1100 Architect is based in both New York and Frankfurt. What are the greatest benefits of operating a trans-Atlantic practice? JR: Our practice has always been deeply rooted in New York—just as it has also always had an international footprint. From our earliest days, we delivered projects overseas, so it seems like part of 1100 Architect’s DNA to have an ongoing dialogue with other geographies. We launched our Frankfurt office about 15 years ago, and, as you suggest, it does bring benefits. In general, we find that it has a reciprocal sharpening effect, with each location informing the other with different materials, technologies, and delivery methods. AN: Which projects are 1100 Architect currently working on, or recently completed, that demonstrate the firm's longstanding demonstration of sustainable enclosures? JR: Well, the NYC Parks community center in East Flatbush is a good example. It’s an exciting project in many ways—including the fact that we are designing it to the City’s new LL31/32 sustainability standards. In every way, we are really pushing for optimal performance, and the high-performance envelope plays an integral role toward that end. We were recently awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of State, so we are poised to begin working on diplomatic facilities around the world, so the safety and security of facade systems will be a paramount consideration. In Germany, we are renovating a 19,000-seat soccer stadium and adding a new training facility, using an innovative and high-performance channel-glass facade. We recently completed a Passive House–certified kindergarten there, too, which involved a high-performance facade. AN: Are there any techniques and materials used in Germany or the EU that should be adopted in the United States? JR: In Germany, I find that there is a more closely integrated relationship between government, the building industry, and the architectural profession. With environmental standards, for example, the goals set by the government are quite ambitious, and it has resulted in a closely integrated process of meeting those goals. In this moment of deregulation in the U.S., it seems like a good time to consider the value of the government’s role in moving toward energy efficiency. AN: Where do you see the industry heading in the coming years? JR: By necessity, I see it moving toward higher standards of energy performance. Climate science is calling for it and the marketplace is increasingly looking for it, so the architecture and building industry will need to deliver. And as I mentioned at the start of this conversation, I also think there will be a lot of focus on updating existing buildings to enhance performance. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
Brought to you with support fromThe San Francisco Bay Area is nourishing one of the country's most active architecture scenes. Fueled by a booming technology sector, rapid population and commercial growth are delivering exciting new projects to the region. On February 7, The Architect's Newspaper is gathering leading local and California-based design practices for Facades+ San Francisco, a conference on innovative enclosure projects across the city, state, and country. Participants include EHDD, BuroHappold Engineering, CallisonRTKL, CO Architects, Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, and David Baker Architects. Joe Valerio, founding principal of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDT), will co-chair the half-day symposium. AN interviewed Valerio about what VDT is working on and the firm's perspective on San Francisco's architectural trends. The Architect's Newspaper: San Francisco is arguably the nation's leading technological hub. How do you see this role impacting the architectural development of the city, and what do you perceive to be the most exciting facade trends in San Francisco today? Joe Valerio: Perhaps, the pressure that technology companies are creating on the building sector will finally lead to real innovation in how we build things. The San Francisco building sector does not have the capacity to move forward using conventional means. I believe that continual innovation will help the city catch up to its vast demand. It’s an exciting time for design in San Francisco. With technology evolving at such a rapid rate, it has been interesting to see how it is beginning to manifest itself in architecture, both physically and experientially. For instance, in the physical sense, buildings like the de Young Museum or the Transbay Terminal are utilizing parametric modeling to create interesting forms and textures with metal mesh. Faceted glass is also being implemented in interesting ways in high-rise projects, such as the LinkedIn headquarters or the Oceanwide Center. But on the experiential side, digital is becoming a new palette for architectural design. The Salesforce lobby, for example, uses digital projection mapping to draw people in from the street. Its translucent facade almost disappears from view, making the lobby feel like its extension. This is something that we have been experimenting with in our own work, in projects such as Art on theMart in Chicago or the YouTube lobby in San Bruno. What projects is VDT working on, and what innovative enclosure practices are being used? JV: We are developing a graduate student village for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, with our partners at Lend Lease Communities, and are looking at a wide range of modular and prefabricated construction techniques to meet the speed at which we need to deliver this project. New modular techniques that implement cross-laminated timber and steel into their modules are allowing us to go higher than the five stories limited by wood stick construction. We’re also implementing modular prefabricated cold-formed steel panel systems for quick assembly on site. Universities present tremendous opportunities in housing, and we find that embracing challenging parameters leads to very exciting outcomes. VDT is located in multiple cities across the country; what are the particular challenges and benefits of working in San Francisco? JV: One of the most exciting aspects of working in San Francisco is our client base. We work with companies that are constantly pushing the boundaries of technology, and for us, finding new ways to meet their needs with architecture is a thrilling prospect. Quite often, our work in the city deals with very interesting pre-existing buildings, such as in the case of Adobe Town Hall. Here we were challenged to both expand and reinvent the company’s dining experience all the while preserving a building that’s listed as a historic landmark. Its previous function as a tool factory became the driving force behind a new design, conceptually celebrating culinary tools developed by their new chef, and digital tools that Adobe continues to develop to this day. It’s opportunities like this that constantly pique our interest in San Francisco. But on the other side of the coin, having such a highly innovative and skilled architecture community has created a severe labor shortage in the city—a constant reminder of how thankful we are to have such a talented team. Is there a particular technique or materials that VDT is experimenting with? JV: There has always been a drive to bring new materials into our enclosures. Yet these systems are still dominated by old techniques and primitive materials such as glass. We have experimented with new materials such as ETFE, and we would forecast that assembling these old materials in innovative ways is the path forward. Remember the iPhone has a glass screen. Additionally, cross-laminated timber (CLT) continues to show a lot of promise. We have been working with a company on modular prefabricated CLT housing at a larger scale, and we’re excited to see how we can begin to leverage cost and design with new techniques. Further information regarding Facades+ San Francisco may be found here.
Brought to you with support fromOn the corner of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, the Nike House of Innovation announces its presence on this stretch of largely historic masonry structures with a striking slumped-and-carved glass facade. The 68,000-square-foot recladding and interior design project replaces the avenue elevation of the concrete-and-glass Pahlavi Foundation Building (formerly owned by the Shah of Iran and recently seized by the Federal Government).
Spanish glass manufacturer Cricursa. Based in Barcelona, the company has specialized in curved glass since the early-20th century. To give the glass its shape, the modules are slowly heated to the softening point, around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, where the materials slumps into customized molds. Once the glass panels have achieved their desired geometry, they are slowly cooled in a process called annealing. Installed as a double-glazed curtain wall, a low emissivity coating was applied to each panel to reduce heat transfer on both sides of the glazing. The size of the glass modules is largely standardized, measuring approximately 8 by 14 feet. However, where the entrance tapers upward, Cricursa fabricated three variations of trapezoidal panels and a singular triangular panel. The glass manufacturer fabricated five full-scale mockups of the modules to allow for thermal and structural load testing prior to full production. After testing, approximately 100 windows were shipped to Seele GmbH's facility in Augsburg, Germany, for assembly. Novel in terms of architectural application, the slumped glass was also CNC-carved with a series of striations perched at a 23.5-degree angle in the style of Nike’s iconic Swoosh logo. Andy Thaemert, Nike senior creative director, described this effect as accomplishing the brand’s goal to “create static architecture that feels like it's in motion.” From street level and within the House of Innovation, views through the glass present constantly shifting refractions of adjacent buildings. As a re-cladding project, the facade’s assembly is relatively straightforward. According to Heintges, the facade consultants for the project, "the glass facade is hung from the existing roof level with a grid of custom shaped steel mullions and transoms, pinned back for lateral loads at the 5th, and 3rd floor, and just above the ground." In total, the exterior envelope went from steel to glass in roughly four months. The project follows the Nike House of Innovation 001 constructed in Shanghai in October 2018, while a third is planned for Paris in 2019For the six-story structure’s recladding, the design team reached out to
A timber-backed glass facade provides transparency, acoustical isolation, and resiliency for a historic theater complex in the nation’s capital.When the Mead Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. hired Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects to double the institution’s square footage without disturbing two historic theaters designed by treasured architect Harry Weese, it was clear to firm principal Michael Heeney that standard solutions would not suffice. For one, the theater facilities were insufficient and outdated. More troublesome, however, was the fact that passenger jet liners taking off and landing at Regan National Airport across the Potomac River were so loud they were interrupting performances. The architects had to find a solution to mitigate this cacophony both for the existing structures as well as for the expansion—a new theater called Arena Stage. “We had to achieve acoustical separation and isolation from exterior noise in a way that was respectful and maintained the integrity of the original structures,” Heeney told AN. Building off an approach that originated from a project in Surrey, British Columbia, the design team decided to wrap the triangular-shaped complex in glass with timber column supports, topped off with a 500-foot cantilevered roof. With the help of structural engineers at Fast + Epp and facade consultancy Heintges, the team extrapolated the Surrey solution to provide even greater transparency for the existing Weese theaters, Arena Stage, and a variety of mixed use spaces totaling 200,000 square feet. The system features a series of columns milled from parallel strand lumber to taper at the base with an ellipse-shaped section. Each column stands between 45 and 63 feet high with a diameter of 22 by 32 inches. Spaced on 36-foot centers, the columns effectively support the dead load of the glass curtain wall in addition to the weight of the roof overhead. The total perimeter of the complex measures approximately 650 feet in length. The base of each column tapers to a painted cast iron base featuring an ellipse-shaped cutout. “There’s enormous force coming down through those columns, but we articulated it gracefully like a ballet dancer en pointe,” said Heeney. The columns tilt four degrees to minimize glare. Icon Exterior Building Solutions custom designed and extruded the aluminum-framed curtain wall with 12- by 7 ¾-foot trapezoidal insulated glass units. A ½ -inch krypton-filled space is sandwiched by a 3/8-inch outer glass pane with a low # coating on the No. 2 surface, and a ¼-inch inner lite for optimal acoustic insulation. The entire system hangs from ½ inch steel cables connected to a structural steel top truss. Lateral loads are handled by a horizontal paralam mullion system (9 inches deep, 3/12 inches thick, 12 feet in length) that ties back to the columns with 5- to 6-foot paralam struts, depending on the curvature of the glass. “Normally with a curtain wall, you build the structure and it comes after, but here we used the columns to take the structure in addition to the glazing,” explained Gerry Epp, partner at Fast + Epp and president of StructureCraft. “It’s a super efficient scheme because we executed the structure at the same time as the facade.” According to Heeney’s estimation, the Mead Center’s large-scale commercial timber-backed glass facade was the first of its kind in the US and has performed beyond the designer’s expectations. When a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the D.C. area in 2011, the glass curtain wall swung with the earth’s motion and then settled back into place. “Even though it’s not seismically designed, I think the West Coast designers’ inclinations made it inheritantly stable,” Heeney mused.
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