Perforated steel and translucent glass balance privacy and pop.For their Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) in Monterrey, Mexico, Metalsa, a global manufacturing firm that specializes in automobile and truck chassis, did not want just another factory. Rather, the laboratory and testing facility, located in a state-sponsored research park adjacent to the Monterrey airport, was to be a "showpiece," explained Brooks + Scarpa Architects principal Lawrence Scarpa, "not just for their clients but from a work environment point of view, and a sustainability point of view." Despite the many challenges inherent to building across the United States-Mexico border, the Los Angeles architects succeeded in delivering a LEED Platinum design wrapped in a striking double skin of translucent glass and perforated steel panels. The facility's uneven sawtooth profile is the product of both historical and contextual references. "They are an industrial company, and I always loved the old warehouses with the north-facing clerestories, designed back when there was no electric lighting," recalled Scarpa. "That was what I was thinking about before I even went to the site." His first visit to Monterrey confirmed his instinct. "The mountains there are really sharp and jagged like that—it was an immediate concept for the building," said Scarpa. Like their 19th-century antecedents, moreover, the clerestories provide daylight and allow hot air to accumulate high above the inhabited spaces, thus reducing reliance on artificial lighting and cooling. The resulting form had one major drawback, however. "The issue we were faced with was that the primary way you enter the building is from the west, so we would have a broad face in the worst possible thermal position," said Scarpa. To solve the problem of solar gain without sacrificing the sawtooth roofline, Brooks + Scarpa implemented a double skin with an outer layer composed of perforated steel panels. With a wraparound sunscreen in place, explained Scarpa, "we could have a translucent skin behind it, but could modulate light and heat gain." Several factors influenced the perforation pattern on the outer skin. It began as an abstraction of Metalsa's corporate identity, said Scarpa, but evolved to respond to programmatic requirements. Perforations of different sizes and densities reflect the need for more or less privacy. Areas related to proprietary research and development are more opaque, while the office spaces cantilevered over the transparent northwest entrance benefit from the additional daylighting allowed by broader perforations. CMI's translucent inner skin of fluted glass refracts light, preventing glare from interfering with computer-based work. To prevent the occupants from feeling trapped in a windowless box, the architects carefully modulated the distance between the envelope's two layers. "When you're on the interior, it doesn't just look like a blank wall," said Scarpa. "When you're on the inside, you can't see through it, but you can see shadows move on the translucent surface." Designing for an out-of-country client is bound to produce hiccups, and the Metalsa project was no exception. For instance, Brooks + Scarpa had initially imagined that the auto giants would fabricate the perforated metal skin in-house, but turned to another supplier when disrupting the company's manufacturing flow proved cost-prohibitive. The architects nevertheless made the best of the situation, streamlining their vision to fit the situation at hand. "The technology that was available to us in Mexico is not overly sophisticated, so from the get-go we decided to take a more simplistic approach, utilizing a multi-layered skin," said Scarpa. "It was easy to construct, and it's not difficult to understand."
Posts tagged with "Sunscreens":
Richlite-clad museum expansion inspired by industrial context and Old West art collection.Commissioned to craft an extension to the Antoine Predock–designed Tacoma Art Museum, Olson Kundig Architects sought inspiration in both the history of the site and the art collection itself. Located in the city's Union Depot/Warehouse historic district, the museum is surrounded by brick buildings formerly dedicated to industry and transportation. "The new addition needed to respond to both the neighborhood context as well as the existing building," explained design principal Tom Kundig. "It has clean lines that recall the existing structure but recalls more directly the natural, earthy materials found in the neighborhood." In contrast to the stainless steel-clad original wing, which houses the museum's modern art collection, the new wing—dedicated to the art of the American West—is wrapped in layers of Richlite sunscreens. "The addition's use of exterior shutters references symbols of the American West—fences, filtered barn light, and railroad box cars," said Kundig. "It's fitting that the Haub Family's Western American Art collection now sits at the westernmost terminus of the rail line established by President Lincoln." A new 30-foot-high canopy serves as the junction of the museum's old and new wings, and creates an exterior gathering space for museumgoers. "The intersection between the existing building's modern collection and the new structure's western art collection became the focal point of a new museum experience," explained Kundig. Built from a combination of aluminum grating and stainless steel panels reused from demolished portions of the original structure, the canopy's material palette mediates the gap between the architectural languages of the two spaces. It also suggests a seamless integration into the Predock-designed building, despite the fact that it is structurally isolated for seismic safety. For the exterior of the new galleries, Olson Kundig chose Richlite, an earth-toned composite product made from waste paper and resin, both because it is locally manufactured, and as a reference to Tacoma's lumber industry. The architects used Richlite in two forms: as panels for straightforward cladding; and as dimensional lumber to build overlapping sets of shutters. Comprising both fixed and operable screens, the shading system controls the amount of sunlight that enters the galleries and allows museum staff to adjust visibility into and out of the building. The moveable screen panels, each 16 feet 4 inches wide by 16 feet 6 inches tall, are controlled by a hand crank located in the lobby. The Tacoma Art Museum expansion project held special meaning for Kundig, whose firm is located in Seattle. "Tacoma is an important part of our local community, so it was deeply important for me to create something significant in this place with so much history," he said. "That the project is a Western art collection adjacent to a modern art collection, is incredibly exciting. It's an opportunity to explore the similarities and differences in American art, to examine our history and contemplate our future."
Virginia Tech students demonstrate a light touch with glass and steel pavilion.The undergraduate architecture students enrolled in Virginia Tech's design/buildLAB begin each academic year with an ambitious goal: to bring a community service project from concept through completion by the end of the spring semester. In addition to the usual budget and time constraints, the 15 students taking part in the course during the 2013-2014 school year faced an additional challenge. Their project, a public pavilion for Clifton Forge Little League in the tiny hamlet of Sharon, Virginia, was entirely lacking in contextual cues. "It was interesting because our previous design-build projects have been downtown, with lots of context," said Keith Zawistowski, who co-founded and co-directs design/buildLAB with his wife, Marie. "Instead, we had a pristine, grassy field with a view of the mountains. We joke that this is our first group of minimalists." The students' understated solution—three geometric volumes unified by the consistent use of a vertical sunscreen—turns the focus back to the pavilion's surroundings with a restrained material palette of concrete, glass, and steel. Design/buildLAB assigned a separate structure to each element of the Sharon Fieldhouse program, nestling the open-air public pavilion between glass boxes containing the restrooms and concessions kitchen. Different roof heights distinguish the spaces, yet a common material vocabulary and their arrangement along a single horizontal axis allows them to be read as a single object. "The students describe the field house as a linear incision through the site," said Zawistowski. "Basically it's just light cut through the green landscape." Because Sharon Fieldhouse is intended for seasonal use, the students focused on maximizing environmental performance for the warmer months of the year. "Everything's about cooling and ventilation," said Zawistowski. A no-energy ceiling fan cools the kitchen, and tempered laminated white glass helps cut solar gain inside the enclosed areas. "The glass has a translucent quality, so that the spaces are bathed in even light, eliminating the need for electrical lights during the day," explained Zawistowski. The external sunshade, comprising vertical steel plate elements painted white, serves both conceptual and practical ends. "The shade screen is about intimacy and privacy—not just under the open-air pavilion but in the enclosed spaces," said Zawistowski. "The elements vary in density. They're tighter together toward the more private parts of the building." At the same time, larger gaps between the screen's members on the east side of the pavilion welcome in the morning sun, while to the west the steel bars draw together to provide afternoon shade. The screen simultaneously functions as skin and structure. "In most cases, the sunshade is tacked on. In this case it's part and parcel of the architecture," observed Zawistowski. Wider steel bars take the weight of the building's roof, and help conceal downspouts. "Everything is hidden there in the screen," said Zawistowski. "We brought a new group of students to the field house and asked them if they could figure out how rainwater could get off the roof. They didn't know." The students prefabricated portions of the pavilion at Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus, panelizing the screen members and roofing. "One thing that bothers us in design-build education is that multiple generations tend to work on one project," said Zawistowski. "It's important for us that the same group sees the implications of what they design, so we rely really heavily on prefabrication." On campus, he added, students are able to take full advantage of the university's resources. Once on site in Sharon, the students completed assembly in just a couple of weeks. Given the fact that his students conceived of, fundraised for, programmed, planned, designed, and built Sharon Fieldhouse in less than ten months, it's no surprise that Zawistowski refers to the supernatural when he talks about the project. But when he brings up hocus-pocus, it is as much about the pavilion's aesthetic impression as it is about the speed with which it was brought into being. "We say that it's put together with magic," he mused. "All the connections are hidden—everything's just light and shadow."
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." 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."
A renovation and addition bring an historic church complex into the 21st century.The Diocese of Toronto approached architectsAlliance (aA) about renovating the St. James Cathedral Centre with two objectives in mind. On a practical level, they wanted more space for the cathedral’s outreach program and the Diocesan archives, as well as quarters for the Dean of the Cathedral and visitors. At the same time, the Anglican leadership wanted to make a statement about the Church’s relevance to contemporary Canadian society. “The idea of the addition was to convey an image of the Church itself as a kind of more open institution, much more transparent and contemporary,” said aA’s Rob Cadeau. “[It was] really driven by the dean, who wanted to refresh the image of the Church.”The architects designed the addition to the Parish Hall as a glass cube. “There’s a lot of use of glass, both as a contemporary material, but also to convey that idea of transparency, for the symbolism of the project,” said Cadeau. At the same time, the see-through extension “defers to the old building. It doesn’t take away from the presence of the old building as opposed to solid masonry construction.” The upper stories of the stick system curtain wall are wrapped in a floating sunscreen comprising repeating bands of laminated glass. “It was very important to the church that there be a sort of green aspect to the design in the way it’s conceived and constructed,” said Cadeau. “So the sunscreen was designed as a passive means of providing shading.” To maximize shading during the summer and solar gain during the winter, aA ran the sunscreen design through shadow analysis testing in ArchiCAD. They worked with Stouffville Glass to engineer both the sunscreen and the curtain wall. The sunscreen hangs on a vertical system of stainless steel brackets anchored to the HSS beams surrounding the slab edge of the second and third floors. The glass panels’ interlayer is printed with a linear pattern recalling the original building’s narrow button bars. “The idea of the lines within the sunscreen was to create a finer grain of detail on the glass,” explained Cadeau. The curtain wall itself is built of Solarban 60 glass. “It still provides the U value we wanted, but we didn’t want too much reflectivity because it’s a fairly small building,” said Cadeau. The firm also improved the thermal performance of the original Parish Hall building, which opened in 1910. With help from a building envelope consultant, they ran a thermal analysis of the structure to determine how much spray foam insulation to insert between the masonry wall and a new stud wall. The goal was to boost insulation while allowing some heat transfer. “That’s very important in heritage upgrades,” said Cadeau. “[T]he mistake you can make is over-insulating. Masonry walls rely in some sense of heat loss so that the water [trapped inside] never freezes. If the water absorbed in the brick freezes it will start to crack the brick.” The new St. James Cathedral Centre unites a previously disconnected cluster of buildings across an enclosed courtyard. In that way, aA suggests, the glass addition functions as a contemporary cloister. “In a larger, urban planning sense [the objective] was to complete the ensemble of buildings, create more of a connection between the buildings as a whole,” said Cadeau.
Capped by a protective steel mesh screen, tresARCA house is built for indoor/outdoor living.There are two ways to live with Las Vegas’ harsh climate. The first, epitomized by the hermetically-sealed tract houses ringing the Strip, rejects the reality of the desert in favor of air conditioning and architecture evoking far-off places. The second strategy embraces the environment for what it is, and looks to the natural world for cues about how to adapt. In their tresARCA house, assemblageSTUDIO took the latter approach. Glass and granite punctuated by a folded steel screen surrounding the second-floor bedrooms, tresARCA’s facade is a meditation on the resilience of the desert landscape. “The mesh screen idea came from looking at various shadow patterns in the desert and the idea of the cracked desert floor,” said principal Eric Strain. On a practical level, the screen catches heat before it reaches the bedrooms, allowing daylight to filter in without raising the interior temperature. Aesthetically, “the idea was that the home sits at the base of the Red Rock Mountains, the background scenery is the stratification and the layering of the Red Rock Mountains,” said Strain. “To not copy, but [to] suggest that layering is where the folding nature [of the screen] came from.” JD Stairs fabricated the screen using mesh from The Western Group. The company, which provided the home’s other non-structural steel components, including fencing and the vault-like front door, was tapped for the job partway through the design process. Having never built something of this scale, they staged several full-scale mockups, at one point renting a parking lot to lay out the entire structure. The screen floats an average of 1 foot 6 inches away from the bedroom walls. At each of the screen’s nodes—points where multiple panels intersect—adjacent panels are bolted in pairs around 3/8-inch plate steel fins, which in turn are connected to 3 ½-inch-diameter steel pipes extending from the wall. The result, in which triangular panels of mesh fit together to form diamond-pointed projections of varying sizes, resembles an abstracted rock outcropping, a geometric transition between earth and sky. The remainder of the facade is clad in granite, by Tuscany Collection, and glass, by Fleetwood Windows & Doors and Sawbuck Design. Fully retractable doors open all of tresARCA’s public spaces to the outdoors, where the house’s blocky massing creates protective crevices of shade and cool air. The language of layering and natural textures extends from the exterior to the interior walls, which feature blackened steel panels and Shou Sugi wood, among other materials. tresARCA’s challenge to the conventional division between indoors and out is particularly potent in the Nevada desert. Where others see a choice between sealing themselves inside or moving somewhere else, assemblageSTUDIO sought a third way, said Strain. “We tried to convince people that you can live outside in Las Vegas when it’s still 110.”