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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If Dallas is not already on your list of top United States architectural destinations, it is past time to make a correction. The city boasts the largest concentration of Pritzker Prize–winning architects' work anywhere, including Philip Johnson's Thanks-Giving Square, I.M. Pei's Dallas City Hall, Fountain Place, and Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Renzo Piano's Nasher Sculpture Center, Foster+ Partners' Winspear Opera House, and Morphosis' Perot Museum of Science. The thriving Dallas Arts District is bursting with performance venues and architectural gems like Edward Larabee Barnes' Dallas Museum of Art, SOM's Trammell Crow Center, and REX/OMA's Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. And more projects are in the works: Cesar Pelli is designing an office complex for Uptown, and a second Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge is planned to span the Trinity River. Attendees at this month's Facades+ Dallas conference will have a chance to experience the Big D's outstanding architecture scene in person. The conference's dialog workshops, in particular, were designed with Dallas' built environment in mind. All three afternoon dialog workshops incorporate a field trip to either the Perot Museum, the University of Texas at Arlington (where participants will tour the fabrication lab), or the Nasher Sculpture Center. To learn more about Facades+ Dallas or register for a dialog workshop field trip, visit the conference website.
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.
Thirty-four months have gone by since the Scott Johnson–designed Museum Tower hove into view and the Nasher Sculpture Center is still, er, gnashing its teeth. Every afternoon at around three o’clock glaring sunlight reflects off of the condo’s mirror like glass curtain wall, invading the Renzo Piano–designed skylit galleries, burning holes in the lawn, defoliating the trees, and no doubt increasing the air conditioning bill. Thirty-four months and nothing has been done to make it right, until June. After a three-hour closed-door meeting, board members of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, which was a prime investor in Museum Tower, voted to oust top staffer Richard Tettamant, who is widely associated with the Fund’s reluctance to clean up its mess. Furthermore, according to Jill Magnuson, the Nasher’s director of external affairs, the Fund has convened a committee to explore a solution to the reflection problem.
Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center was designed with natural sunlight in mind. A roof covered by pierced aluminum screens allows dappled light to enter its art galleries in subtle warmth. The outdoor sculpture garden is open to the elements and a specifically-planted landscape by Peter Walker reaps the benefits of the Texan sun. Since its construction in 2005, the museum has become an icon of the Dallas Arts District. In 2011, a 42-story condominium building went up across the street, banking on the popularity of Piano’s art haven. While the glazed curved glass facade of “Museum Tower” offers million dollar views of the museum below, it burns the artworks and plants with a directed glare. Now, a pair of New York–based architects might have a solution. A bitter debate between the buildings has ensued; but New York–based design studios REX and Front Studio Architects have been commissioned to propose a solution. Situated over the dividing street, Surya, a 400 foot tall light-responsive sunshade sculpture, will balance the Nasher’s need for shade and the Tower’s client promise of a clear view of Piano’s architecture. Tracking the movement of the sun on Museum Tower, the firms have determined when the glare on the art center is at its peak intensity. The Surya sculpture is a free-form thin aluminum ring, its shape determined by ability to block the most reflected light while being the least intrusive on views from the built environment. Spokes to the sculpture’s center support sun-reactive panels, which expand under harsh glare and retract in normal conditions. The sculpture will prevent continued sunlight damage to the works and gardens of the Nasher Sculpture Center, and is hoped to end museum-goers’ constant need for sunglasses. In the debate over which party should take action—the museum or the owners of the neighboring tower—it seems that Museum Tower has made a concrete step for resolve. The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund, the Tower’s developer, appointed REX and Front to invent the Surya design and to construct it in the physical middle ground between the two structures.