James Carpenter, the world-renowned architect who has left his mark on projects like New York City's Millennium Tower, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and others, recently revealed his latest work, Light Veil, at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Cotton Bowl Public Art Project, a $25.5 million endeavor aimed at revamping the stadium, included a contest that Carpenter won out for equipping the stadium with a new facade. Carpenter’s design relies on the sole use of hanging mesh ribbons whose delicate strength elicits an ethereal effect. The facade is constructed out of uniformly spaced thin mesh ribbons, 2 feet wide and 50 feet long, that weigh in at a slight 80 pounds. Up close, the strong parallel lines impress with their connotations of durability, reliability, and uprising power—positive associate qualities for any sports stadium. From a distance, however, the impact is wholly different yet just as impressive. The ribbon’s interact with natural sunlight to create a shimmering front, hence the aptly named Light Veil. Some writers have dubbed Carpenter’s treatment as “gift-wrapped.” The phrase keys into the fact that the design’s simple elegance delivers a surprise no matter which way you turn. Carpenter’s work delights in the interplay between light and glass, and could be considered a signature trait of his work. “The brighter a material gets, the more solid it feels,” Carpenter has said, thereby highlighting the underlying paradox of the Cotton Bowl’s new face: how basic structural elements solidify the intangible in a very real way. The Cotton Bowl Project included adding more club seats, concession stands, and general clean up. The veil, which cost $8 million to complete and comes third or fourth in a trend of mesh facades, allows the audience to more fully experience the interplay between the sporting event, the stadium’s interior, and the city beyond.
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LEED Gold-certified building protects old documents with a modern mesh designThe new Taylor Family Digital Library houses some of the University of Calgary’s prized documents—more than 800,000 architectural drawings, one million maps and aerial photographs, and thousands of print monographs are among the nine million items in the collection. The university built the library as part of its mission to become one of Canada’s top five research libraries by 2016, the year of its 50th anniversary. But the library also serves the practical goal of protecting the special documents and art collections that were relocated there from other facilities. To that end, architect Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning envisioned the 265,000-square-foot building enshrouded in a veil of mesh that would provide solar protection while creating a semi-transparent facade and day-lit interiors to be enjoyed by students and community members. “Kasian selected the stainless steel mesh used as a screening device on the exterior of the building for three primary reasons,” said Bill Chomik, the project’s principal design architect. “First, the mesh reduced the amount of solar gain into the Information Commons—a glass box intended to be the centerpiece of the library. Second, the mesh diminished glare, and third, the screen leant an interesting and beautiful dimension to the architectural and aesthetic quality of the building.” Kasian worked with architectural mesh design, engineering, and fabrication company Cambridge Architectural to realize the screening system, which partially wraps the building atop a low-profile frame. The project team included general contractor CANA Construction and facade installer Flynn Canada, who consulted on the specification of the facade mesh. The screening system uses 5,630 square feet of a flexible-weave stainless steel mesh that Cambridge calls Mid-Balance for its 52 percent open area. Self-tensioning attachment hardware creates a tailored appearance, concealing the mesh ends within custom-cut apertures in tubing that is then integrated into a steel bracket and structural support system. The tubing creates a slender visual reveal between panels, adding another visual element to the facade's floating geometry. Designed in conjunction with the library building, the Taylor Quadrangle will add new landscaped community space to the Calgary campus; the university’s new High Density Library, located off the main campus, will house 60 percent of the school’s books and journals, along with archives. With a total budget of more than $200 million, the three projects were funded by philanthropists Don and Ruth Taylor and the Canadian government.