Posts tagged with "high-performance facades":

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AN’s 2016 Facades+ conference series kicks off in Los Angeles

“We don’t need walls anymore.  We need living, breathing systems that provide so much more to the urban realm than keeping in conditioned air and keeping out noise and pollutants.” - Will Wright, AIA|LA

Los Angeles’ 2016 Facades+ Conference, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper, is the 18th event in an ongoing series of conferences and forums that have unfolded in cities across the nation, including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, D.C., and Chicago. Held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, the conference incorporated architects, engineers, fabricators, and innovative material manufacturers into a multidisciplinary two-day event covering the state of building envelope design thinking today. The daylong symposium kicked off with spirited remarks by Will Wright, Director of Government & Public Affairs at AIA L.A., where he set forth a plea for stronger emphasis on localism and craftsmanship. Co-chaired by Kevin Kavanagh and Alex Korter of CO Architects, the event included AIA LA, four local architecture schools – UCLA, USC, Woodbury, and Cal Poly Pomona – and a robust collection of Los Angeles-based architecture firms. Four panel discussions throughout the day covered the influence of building envelopes on business, education, structural design, and data analysis. The conversations engaged audience participation through an interactive, web-based tool called Sli.do. In a morning panel discussion titled “Money Well Spent? An Owner’s Perspective on the Value of Facades,” moderator Kevin Kavanagh spoke with representatives from Kaiser Permanente, Kitchell, and The Ratkovich Company on finding the right balance between aesthetics, energy performance, fiscal responsibility, and efficient project scheduling. During breaks, conference attendees attended a “Methods+Materials” gallery that highlighted innovative building envelope materials such as electrochromic glass, metal mesh fabric with integrated media display, and ultra-compact surfacing products. The symposium was highlighted by keynote addresses from Enrique Norten and Eric Owen Moss.
  • Presented by The Architect's Newspaper
  • 2016 Conference Chair YKK AP America
  • Gold Sponsors GKD Metal Fabrics View Dynamic Glass
  • Methods+Materials Gallery 3M, Agnora, Akzo Nobel, Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Cambridge Architectural, CE|Strong, Consolidated Glass Holdings, Cosentino, CRL-U.S. Aluminum, Elward, Giroux Glass, Glasswerks, Guardian, Kawneer, Nichiha, Ollin Stone, POHL Group, Porcelanosa, PPG IdeaScapes, Prodema, Rigidized Metals, Roxul, Sapa, Schüco, Sedak, Sika, STI, Terracore, Tremco, UL, UltraGlas, Vitrocsa, and Walter P Moore
Norten’s opening keynote set forth an argument for a socially responsible architecture integrated into the city via infrastructural, landscape, and public space projects. He cited works of his firm, TEN Arquitectos, which incorporate topographical manipulations of the landscape to establish social spaces of public engagement. His work intentionally camouflages the building envelope into a contextual landscape—be it an adjacent park or cityscape—to dissolve the separation between public and private. Eric Owen Moss spoke in the afternoon, questioning at what point the conceptual content of a project becomes lost amidst constructional realities. Through recent work of his firm, Eric Owen Moss Architects, he focused on building envelope details that strayed from original design intent, transforming in concept and tectonics as engineers, fabricators, and contractors participated in the process. In a panel discussion titled “Bytes, Dollars, EUI: Data Streams and Envelopes,” Moderator William Menking, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, spoke with Atelier 10, Gehry Technologies, and CPG regarding tools and processes facilitating facade analysis and optimization. Sameer Kashyap (Gehry Technologies) shared perhaps the most bewildering stat of the day—that GT was able to script processes which allowed two people to produce over 1200 shop drawings per day for 33 weeks in the coordination of a highly complex facade system. Paul Zajfen of CO Architects rounded out the day with a presentation titled “Facades: A Manifestation of Client, Culture, Climate,” where he argued for contextually specific design producing a facade that “would not be possible at any other time—and in no other place.” The symposium was followed on day two with a series of “dialog” and “lab” workshops covering net-zero facade systems, digital fabrication processes, curtain wall design, and advanced facade analysis. A full roster of organizers and sponsors can be found on the conference website. The Los Angeles event was the first in 2016 of a seven-city lineup, and will be followed by a Facades+AM morning forum in Washington, D.C., on March 10th. The next two-day conference will take place in New York City April 21st and 22nd.
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SOM’s gravity-defying floating glass cube in DTLA

The building's pleated glass envelope contains 1,672 energy efficient panels that uniquely responds to its location.

SOM has floated a glass cube above a large stepped civic plaza negotiating a sloped site in downtown Los Angeles for their United States Courthouse project, scheduled to open July, 2016 with an anticipated LEED Platinum rating. The 633,000 square foot, 220 foot tall facility includes 24 daylight-filled courtrooms and 32 judges’ chambers. José Luis Palacios, Design Director at SOM Los Angeles, says this structural configuration was integral to the success of the project: “Our challenge was how to make a transparent building, both metaphorically and structurally.” The project is being labeled as one of the nation’s safest buildings in regards to bomb threats and earthquakes due to an innovative structural engineering concept which allows a large volume of building to “float” over a stone base protected with hardened-concrete shear walls. The outer 33 feet of cantilevered building is suspended from a three-dimensional steel “hat truss” system, freeing the need for columns at the perimeter and ground level. The trusses are efficiently designed through an optimization process which resulted in a material savings of over 13 percent when compared to conventional trusses.
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Industries, LLC
  • Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Facade Installer Benson Industries, LLC
  • Facade Consultants Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Clack Construction Group (client/construction manager)
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion July 2016 (projected)
  • System High-performance unitized glass panels
  • Products Viracon Glass
The facade is comprised of a unitized 6’ wide by 20’ tall panel, organized into a ‘pleated’ zigzagged surface. By reconciling the downtown Los Angeles street grid, which runs 38 degrees east of true north, with optimum solar angles, the facade managed to reduce solar heat gain, harvest natural daylight, and maximize views into and out of the building. The pleating of the facade allows for a reduction in the radiant heat load of the building by 47 percent compared to a flat surface. Signage to the building is applied as a ceramic frit pattern to the glass of the pleated facade. The two-dimensional graphic, the ‘Great Seal of the United States,’ is projected onto the three dimensional facade, reinforcing the civic plaza and a frontal approach to the main entrance. As a result of the pleating, facade panels were broken down into two types: a “hot panel” and a “cold panel” side. Additional variation was introduced through internal program requirements, such as the Broadway and Hill Street facades where courtrooms consists of three internal layers of shades help to manage daylight from both sides of the courtroom. The modular, shop built assembly of panels is something Palacios says SOM is incorporating into an increasing amount of their projects today: “This gives us long-term durability, and seismic responsiveness: a great flexibility and resiliency.”
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James Carpenter on Light and the Building Envelope

In architecture—and especially in warm, sunny locales like Southern California—light is a double-edged sword. Successful daylighting reduces dependence on artificial lighting and enhances occupants' connection to the outdoors. But the solar gain associated with unregulated natural light can easily negate the energy savings effected by replacing electric lights with sunshine. As leaders in the field of high-performance building envelope design, James Carpenter and Joseph Welker, of James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), are no strangers to the benefit-cost balance of designing for light. Carpenter and Welker will draw on their firm's extensive portfolio of both civic and commercial projects for "Light in the Public Realm," the morning keynote address at next month's Facades+ LA conference. "We'll talk about the approach we have to light—how you use light for the occupant, and for the public realm," said Carpenter. "It obviously has technical components, like cable walls and curtain walls. But the thread might be less about a purely performative agenda and more on performance and aesthetics together." JCDA's notable facades include two joint projects with SOM, 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center atrium, both in New York. For 7 World Trade Center, the firm was tasked with integrating the glass tower and concrete podium. By floating vision glass in front of a stainless steel spandrel panel, the architects encouraged the play of light on the tower facade, creating an ever-shifting dynamic that blurs the line between building and sky. In the case of Time Warner Center, JCDA designed the largest cable-net wall ever constructed, and achieved the remarkable feat of hanging two cable-net walls from a single truss. To hear more from James Carpenter and Joseph Welker on JCDA's approach to light and the building envelope, register today for Facades+ LA. More information, including a complete schedule of speakers and workshops, is available online.
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Coming Soon to Seattle: Facades+ AM

Despite the fact that most state licensing boards require registered architects to pursue continuing education, not all AEC professionals take full advantage of the educational opportunities available. That’s a shame, says Mic Patterson, VP of Strategic Development for Enclos, given the value of the many workshops, seminar programs, and conferences aimed at practicing architects. The Facades+ conference series, co-sponsored by Enclos and AN, is one such offering. “The intent was to start a dialog involving the building skin that bridged the various fragmented sectors of the building industry,” said Patterson. “We’ve been very successful in doing that. Now I’m interested in taking this dialog to other locations.” Accordingly, Facades+ will launch a new initiative next month: Facades+ AM, a half-day forum debuting in Seattle on November 11. “Skin in the Game: Seattle 9-for-19” distills the best of the Facades+ 2-day conference into a four-hour event including nine 19-minute TED-talk-style presentations by the movers and shakers of building envelope design and construction. The speakers, who include Kjell Anderson, Architect and Sustainability Coordinator for LMN Architects, Perkins+Will’s Carsten Stein, Miller Hull principal Brian Court, and Brad Liljequist, Technical Director for the Living Building Challenge, are grouped into three themed sessions. “Biting the Bullitt: Facade Futures and Living Buildings” will take Seattle’s own Bullitt Center as its focus, while “Facades Futures: Drivers, Innovations, Integrations, and Renovations” will examine dominant trends in facade technology. The third session, “Bright Lights Big City: Daylight and Glare in the Urban Environment,” will explore the challenge of balancing competing concerns in designing energy-efficient skins. In addition to participating in the Q&A period following each panel, Facades+ AM attendees will have the opportunity to network with speakers and fellow audience members at a continental breakfast and mid-morning networking break. To learn more, or to register for Facades+ AM’s Seattle premiere, visit the event website.
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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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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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October 30–31: Facades+ Makes its Dallas Debut

Home to Morphosis' Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Santiago Calatrava–designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and a starchitecture-studded cultural district, Dallas is increasingly an architectural destination in its own right. This fall, AEC industry professionals have one more reason to visit: the inaugural Facades+ Dallas conference, taking place October 30–31 at CityPlace Events. The Facades+ conference's Dallas debut is a homecoming of sorts for the native Texans on the planning team, who include AN founder and publisher Diana Darling, AN managing editor Aaron Seward, and Mode Lab founding partner Ronnie Parsons. The not-to-be-missed event begins with a symposium featuring the movers and shakers of high-performance envelope design, like keynote presenters Antoine Predock and Marlon Blackwell, plus special appearances by Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, and City of Dallas Assistant Director of Public Works Zaida Basora. The symposium is followed by a day of dialog and tech workshops—intimate opportunities for hands-on exposure to real-world examples and cutting-edge design tools. All three afternoon dialog workshops incorporate field trips to either the University of Texas at Arlington or the Renzo Piano–designed Nasher Sculpture Center. Facades+ Dallas attendees will have the opportunity to earn up to 16 AIA CEUs over the course of the two-day conference, as well as to meet and mingle with the leading lights of facade design and construction. To learn more and to register, visit the Facades+ Dallas website.
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Antoine Predock on Strata, Motorcycles, and the Building Skin

Despite his reputation for designing buildings with aesthetically and technically interesting envelopes, Antoine Predock, who will deliver the opening keynote address at next month's Facades+ Dallas conference, does not spend a lot of time thinking about the facade as a separate entity. "I never use the term facade, because I work spatially," he said. "I work from an inner process; then all of a sudden, whoops, there's a facade." Rather than designing from the outside in, Predock digs deep. "I talk about strata—like geologic strata," he explained. "Every project has layers of meanings and understandings that finally culminate in this physical thing, but there's all these strata below that." "I want to go as far back as I can to remember that this building has a responsibility to a far deeper time, than even before human habitation," he continued. The point, said Predock, is to avoid superficial formal gestures. "I start with the underpinnings, with the investigation of the cultural layers that occur on the site rather than buying into some stupid style. It's too easy to do that—so I make things really complicated for myself because I think there's more meaning when you do that." In accordance with Predock's distinction between style and substance, the facades designed by his eponymous firm do more than protect the interiors from the environment. "The goal is to keep away from the facade as a mechanical thing," said Predock. "Instead, the facade is a poetic thing; you want to keep more of that edge." Predock, an avid motorcyclist, uses the example of two famous bike brands to illustrate his thoughts on the function of a building's skin. "Harley Davidsons have decent engines. They're these iconic elements that, for me, embody the idea of a Souljah," he said. "Then there's a bike like a Ducati, with really out there technical intentions, because they're proven on the racetrack." The skin on a motorcycle, continued Predock, may have had its origins in aerodynamics, but also serves aesthetic ends—he cites the Ducati 916, "which was just a total breakthrough of what a motorcycle could look like," because its skin covered the engine. "My point is, if you're going to make a skin on something, whether it's a bike or a building, then what is its content? What is it besides a high-performance assemblage?" Facades with power beyond their tectonic responsibilities, said Predock, appear as apparations, mystifying the observer. "Some people look at my building and think it's a UFO base," he said. "The exciting notion of a building having an ambiguity in its appearance and not being completely understood is a good thing, a plus." In the best cases, the experience can be transporting. Take Predock's Venice House, which features a vertical slot window set into a concrete recess in the beach-facing wall. "When you put your eyeball up to it," said Predock, "it's sort of a threshold to another realm." For more information on Facades+ Dallas or to register, visit the conference website.
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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as "a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces," the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. "This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything," said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere. Lake|Flato and orcutt | winslow responded with a building envelope that provides a strong visual connection to the Palm Walk while reducing solar gain to the absolute minimum. The architects wrapped the south and west sides of the addition, where the clinics are located, in a tight brick over rigid fiberglass insulation. "The brick picks up on some surrounding historic buildings, and is also a traditional material for the campus," said Herdeg. The designers articulated the east side of the building with a series of bays and adjacent pocket gardens. The bays are oriented to the south and southeast, rather than due east, with the glazing on their south facets. "Instead of thinking about engaging the campus in a frontal way, we always thought of approaching this building on the diagonal," explained Herdeg. "Thinking about how the pedestrian perceives it helped us strategize about solar assets and thermal loads."
  • Facade Manufacturer Kovach (metal panels), Arcadia (curtain walls), Trex (lattices)
  • Architects Lake|Flato Architects, orcutt | winslow (associate architect)
  • Facade Installer Kovach
  • Location Tempe, AZ
  • Date of Completion May 2012
  • System brick and metal panels over rigid insulation, low-e insulated glazing, corrugated metal overhangs, recycled wood pulp and plastic lattices
  • Products brick from Phoenix Brick Yard, rigid fiberglass insulation, Kovach metal panels, low-e insulated glass, corrugated metal, Trex lattices
The unglazed portions of the bays are clad in a metal skin, behind which an inch and a half of rigid insulation serves to eliminate thermal bridging. The articulated facade is designed to self-shade as the sun rises. "We worked on a series of pretty rudimentary daylighting studies that allowed us to look at the spacing of the bays," said Herdeg. "We did this balancing act between creating little pocket gardens, and using the adjacent bays to self-shade the glazing on the bays next to them." The design team installed corrugated metal overhangs over the bay windows to provide additional protection from direct sunlight. A series of recycled wood pulp and plastic screens from Trex, installed over the bay windows and over some of the glazing on the south and west sides of the building, constitute a final layer of defense against the Phoenix sun. "The Trex louver system allowed the solar thermal to be picked up on the lattice rather than the building skin; it was another barrier to the thermal load," said Herdeg. "The lattice also supports vines that are going to grow up, so these pocket gardens get surrounded by lush vine-covered walls." Likewise, on the new building’s two other facades, "the thought was that each of the little patient rooms would not be looking out at parking, but at a green screen," he explained. Lake|Flato and orcutt | winslow’s LEED Platinum intervention, which included replacing all the single-pane windows in the 1950s building with low-E insulated glass, will surely save ASU substantial sums on its energy bills. More importantly—thanks to the designers’ decision to demolish the inefficient one-story wing—it weaves the Health Services Building back into the campus fabric. "Now the building really addresses the campus," said Herdeg. "Before it had this very disjointed identity. Now we’ve created a cohesive identity with a single entrance. It’s a much better solution."
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Sustainability Expert Juan Betancur Talks Integrated Facades

In a high-performance building, argues Juan Betancur, director at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the envelope must never be an afterthought. Rather, it should be a material expression of the overall environmental strategy. “The key to what we’re doing with energy and sustainability is: how do the systems become the facades themselves?” he said. “If we make it part of the building, it’s an integrated systems solution.” Betancur will outline his firm’s approach to sustainable facade design in a dialog workshop at next week’s facades+ Chicago conference. “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive,” led by Betancur with panelists Anthony Viola (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture) and Craig Burton (PositivEnergy Practice), will focus on two very different examples of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s recent work: the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) office high-rise in Seoul, South Korea (2013), and the 174 hectare campus for EXPO-2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan (2017). In the workshop, Betancur will walk participants through the design process, beginning with site analysis. “The first thing we do is understand the weather data, and get an understanding of what we can do on that particular site,” he explained. “We have our basic toolkit of ideas and systems that can be used both in facades and in buildings overall. Then we begin to take a specific building and see how it works. We see how the building has to be manipulated to take advantage of these conditions.” Technology plays a critical role in enacting the designers’ sustainability strategy. “We work back and forth with the manufacturers,” said Betancur, exploring, for instance, the application of photovoltaics to a spherical structure. “We look for new technologies, and ask how we can alter them to fit what we’re trying to do, and balance that with economic conditions.” In some cases, as at the Wuhan Greenland Center (2016) the scale tips toward passive rather than active systems. “We’re balancing first costs and life-cycle costs,” said Betancur. In addition to providing a more elegant design solution, integrated facades are easier for clients to digest, said Betancur. In some cases, as in Seoul, local officials require energy offsets. FKI’s owners signed on to an energy-generating design, he explained, “not because they wanted to, but because the government forced them to.” Other clients prefer solutions that privilege first-cost over life-cycle savings. “The way we approach the basic principle of sustainability is to try not to talk about it as a separate item,” said Betancur. “If we start talking about it as an additive process” clients are likely to balk, he said. Instead, “we say: ‘Here’s an entire building.’ They never think of it as a separate thing, if we can make it work financially.” To sign up for a dialog workshop or to learn more about facades+ Chicago, visit the conference website.
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Packard Foundation Goes Green With EHDD

Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.

For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” EHDD began by considering the building’s siting. Because the street grid in Los Altos is angled 40 degrees to the south, orienting to the street would result in a long southwest elevation. The architects asked daylighting consultants Loisos + Ubbelohde what penalty this would entail. “They said you have to keep all solar gain out of the southwest facade; if you do that, the energy penalty will be in the realm of less than five percent,” recalled Jacobson. “But you really have to do an excellent job on sunshading. That was our mission.” EHDD designed deep overhangs over much of the facade’s southwest face, and added balconies and shade trees for additional protection. Where the glazing remained exposed, they installed external movable blinds from Nysan that operate on an astronomic time clock. “The blinds worked really well,” said Jacobson. “We were surprised how easy they were to commission and get working, and how relatively robust they are.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Serious Materials (glazing; now Alpen HPP)
  • Architects EHDD
  • Facade Consultants Integral Group (energy), Atelier Ten (thermal modeling of wall), Loisos + Ubbelohde (daylighting)
  • Facade Installer AGA (glazing), DPR Construction (general contractor)
  • Location Los Altos, CA
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System advanced framing wood stud walls with mineral wallboard insulation, triple element windows, external blinds, FSC western red cedar cladding, Mt. Moriah stone, copper cladding
  • Products Nysan external movable blinds, Roxul insulation, Serious Materials triple-element Windows, FSC-certified red cedar, locally-sourced stone, architectural copper
Thermal bridging was another area of concern for the architects. EHDD worked with Atelier Ten on thermal modeling of the wall, and discovered that any metal stud wall would sacrifice performance. They opted instead for wood stud construction, and switched to 24 on center framing to reduce thermal bridging through the framing structure. For insulation, the architects added one-inch external mineral wallboard from Roxul. On advice from structural engineers Tipping Mar, they installed FRP plates to separate external elements like balconies from the main structure. Because of the building’s location, EHDD did not initially consider triple glazing for the Packard Foundation offices. “We wrote it off at first,” said Jacobson. “We thought, that can’t be cost effective in this climate.” But Integral Group’s energy analysis convinced the design team otherwise. The improvement in comfort allowed by triple element windows from Serious Materials (now Alpen HPP) was such that the architects were able to eliminate a planned perimeter heating system, resulting in an estimated savings of twice the cost of the glazing upgrade. “It’s a really good envelope,” said Jacobson. “We did heat sensor testing of the building, and you can really see that it’s working as it’s supposed to. You don’t see the studs, and the windows are not leaking a lot of heat, so that’s been a real success.” The architects clad the building in local and sustainable materials, including FSC-certified western red cedar, stone sourced from within a 500-mile radius, and architectural copper. “Architectural copper is a really interesting material,” observed Jacobson. “It’s actually about 80-90 percent recycled because it’s valued. It doesn’t need refinishing and it patinas nicely. For a building being built to last 100 years, it has a good shot at never needing to be refinished or replaced.” Jacobson summarizes his firm’s approach to the design of the Packard Foundation headquarters as “Passive House light.” “At the same time we were doing a Passive House for a climate science researcher we’d worked with in the past,” he said. “We were working on both and learning from each. It’s a different type of building, but a lot of the same principles apply: good air sealing, eliminating thermal bridging, and pushing the envelope further than you think makes sense.”
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Hands-On Exposure to Cutting-Edge Technology at facades+Chicago

Contemporary architectural practice, and in particular the design of high-performance facades, is as much about mastering technology as it is about grappling with aesthetics and function. Attendees at next month’s facades+ Chicago conference will have an opportunity to explore cutting-edge digital design tools during a series of hands-on technology workshops. The tech workshops, which take place on the second day of the conference, follow a day-long symposium featuring keynotes and roundtable discussions by AEC industry leaders. “If on day 1 you’re being exposed to advancements in building methods, on day 2 you can learn the technology and techniques that are behind those applications,” said Mode Lab’s Ronnie Parsons. “It’s taking the next step from someone who’s in the audience to being a participant. Not just a participant who’s watching and engaged, but one who is actively involved in shaping what happens tomorrow.”Tech workshop topics include “Enhanced Parametric Design with Dynamo for Vasari,” “Advanced Facade Panelization and Optimization Techniques,” “Collaborative Design and Analysis with Grasshopper,” and Environmental Analysis and Facade Optimization Strategies.” “The technology being presented is at the edge of the industry,” said Parsons. “The people who are teaching them are at the edge. They’re writing the software and creating add-ons to the software.” At the same time, Parsons said, he and co-curator Gil Akos select workshop instructors on the basis of teaching ability as well as expertise. “We look for instructors who are leaders, but who also have the ability to engage, and to take participants on a ride for the day.” Parsons emphasized the close relationship between the conference symposium and the workshops. “Someone can come to the symposium and have a full and engaging experience, then continue that experience on day 2,” he said. “It’s not that these are separate, unrelated events. They are completely imbricated, completely reciprocal. It’s a holistic experience: there are two days with two different formats, but they’re meant to be one package.” For more information and to register for tech workshops, visit the facades+ Chicago website.