The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a 2012 recipient of Architecture Magazine's Annual Design Review awards. The publication awarded 21 projects designed by architecture firms located in the United States.
Architecture Magazine refers to the research and academic institution's 625,000 square foot expansion as "a distinctive building, but also one that responds to its context," citing its glass facade and painted aluminum fins. The new 15-story glass-clad tower is located adjacent to the existing Haaren Hall, an early 20th century redbrick structure previously used as the campus’ main building. In an effort to synchronize the two structures that originate from vastly different architectural eras, painted aluminum vertical fins were designed to wrap each side of the glass tower. When viewing the structures from the east, the glass tower’s exterior fins include a red dot silk-screen pattern to blend with the existing redbrick Haaren Hall. When approaching from the west, the tower’s fins are coated by silver-speckled mica-flake paint to accent its glass facade.
Enclos' scope included design/build services for 240,000 square feet of facade, which included curtainwall, skylight, louver and panel systems. Systems include localized blast design.
"High-Performance Facades" is an ongoing series leading up to the Facades+ Conference in New York City, April 11-12. The theme of the two day event is performance. Part Two of this series will appear in an upcoming edition of SkinTec shortly after the New Year.
by Mic Patterson & Jennie Matusova
A definition of high performance, whether used in the context of buildings or their subassemblies (facades), is elusive and nebulous, often incorporating trending key words like “sustainable” and “technologically advanced” to describe works that are often neither. A concise and consistent definition for what constitutes a high-performance facade is simply not found in literature or dialogue today. The difficulty lies in pinpointing the most significant contributors to the performance of a facade, with contenders ranging from metrics such as U-value to the physics of a double-skin facade cavity to the role of facade commissioning. There is no clear answer. However, several leading research initiatives have attempted to hone in on the increasingly exaggerated attributes of high performance facades in architecture and engineering literature.
In its 2006 report High Performance Commercial Building Facades for the California Energy Commission, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) team defined facade performance as a product of technological solutions “based on fundamental building concepts for daylighting, solar heat gain control, ventilation and space conditioning” (Lee et al, 2006, 11). The “high” part of the moniker signifies an intelligent combination of these strategies based on details unique to a project, such as siting, materials and building system integration. Although many effective facade strategies could include passive and relatively low-tech solutions (i.e. correct solar orientation, overhangs, etc.), the reality is often increasingly complex designs that involve advanced materials, automated dynamic components and integrated climate controls.
In America, the tendency towards a more high-tech approach to performative facades is often the result of both clients and architects wanting to create a distinctly “sustainable” image. A roundtable discussion of 24 industry professionals led by LBNL confirmed this mentality, with one architect stating:
"What it comes down to is whether that difference in payback [for an advanced facade] can be justified with the image of sustainability that the client can use as a type of advertising cost. It only works if people can see it. If you can’t look at the building and see that there is something about it and that is sort of a reflection of the sustainability, then there is not as much interest in it." (Lee et al, 2006, 42)
This mindset is a relatively recent phenomenon characteristic of the U.S. marketplace and less a factor in Europe, even though high-performance facades have been a part of European architecture for well over two decades. In Europe, the greater proliferation of advanced facade technologies has been “driven in part by higher energy prices, stricter building codes, and higher expectations regarding the quality of the working environment,” (Yudelson, 2009) as explained in High-Performance Facades: Design Strategies and Applications in North America and Northern Europe, another report for the California Energy Commission by the Center for the Built Environment (CBE). European markets have legislated standards for building envelope performance, whereas American construction has relied on the adoption of voluntary (occasionally incentivized) sustainability standards and green building and product rating systems (LEED, Green Globes, Cradle-to-Cradle).
Nevertheless, CBE’s report assembles a number of fundamental design strategies seen across a range of both European and American case study buildings. The seven key strategies identified are:
- Massing and Orientation
- Solar Control (glazing coatings, fixed and automated shadings, etc.)
- Natural Ventilation
- Double-Skin Facade
- Semi-Conditioned Atria
- Integrated Lighting and HVAC Controls
All of these have pronounced effects on minimizing building energy use while “simultaneously enhancing the comfort and well-being of the building’s occupants” (Zelenay, Perepelitza, and Lehrer, 2011, 1). The most effective and efficient buildings are designed holistically, integrating the facade strategy with other building systems and the overall design. When taken in broad strokes, one can start to see recurring combinations of strategies that have proven effective under certain climate conditions. For example, when combined correctly, integrated facade and HVAC systems in temperate areas such as coastal California can be particularly valuable because the mild climate “provides an opportunity to eliminate the need for cooling altogether” (2). Ultimately, though, the success of facade performance depends on so many other design factors unique to a project that each case must be considered as a distinct challenge without any prescribed solutions. Although more effective, this kind of custom, tailored approach to design makes any kind of quantitative comparison much more difficult.
All of this tends to leave us with more questions then answers:
- What is the relationship between performance and complexity?
- Are high-performance facades/buildings good for the environment (“green”)?
- What is the time scale for high-performance facades, and is it a short or long term solution?
- How do we measure performance, and what metrics define a high-performance facade?
Part 2 of this ongoing series will begin to address these questions and define metrics appropriate to a high-performance facade. Stay tuned.
About the Authors:
© enclos corp 2012
The Architect's Newspaper published yesterday a reclad feature including New York City's famed Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which is amidst a 459,000 square foot facade renovation and expansion. The article, entitled "Second Acts for Modern Buildings," focuses on the realization of architect James Ingo Freed's original 1982 transparent glass design.
Enclos is responsible for the facade retrofit program, which includes removal of the original 1982 facade and the engineering, fabrication and installation of 459,000 square feet of curtainwall and skylight systems. The convention space — largely in part from its new high performance glazing — is predicted to improve its energy efficiency by 26 percent.
You can read the article in its entirety here.
With the overall theme of performance backed by quantitative data, the University of Southern California School of Architecture’s bi-annual Facade Tectonics conference concluded on Friday with a diverse discussion of design considerations and academic research. Harris Hall sheltered the conference crowd on one of Los Angeles’ rare rainy days, where inside, the university’s winter summit featured presentations by many industry leaders focused on advancing building facade technology.
Nick Bagatelos, president of BISEM-USA, opened the event with a presentation on prefabricated building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) wall panels targeting net-zero performance. While Bagatelos’ research acknowledged that a vertically oriented photovoltaic system would yield only 72% of the energy obtained by an optimized rooftop array on a unit basis, vertical applications can provide a substantial increase in overall energy output because of the larger area of the facade as compared to the rooftop, especially in high-rise buildings. BISEM currently offers BIPV cassette systems that are prefabricated with electrical hardware included, providing a simple, plug-and-play product for glazing installers. Bagatelos claims his product performs to demanding European energy standards, but with the low price tag required by the American marketplace.
“Cost effective is key in America,” Bagatelos said. “During the one year mock-up of my BIPV wall system’s testing, price of the material alone dropped 8%.”
USC assistant professor of architecture Joon-Ho Choi followed with the first of many academic research studies presented at the conference. Choi’s ongoing project involves evidence-based sustainable design and the environmental impacts of buildings. His aim is simple: minimize the risks of high performance buildings to owners and developers. In this pursuit, Choi has created a database compiled from the U.S. Green Building Council and post-occupancy performance data. Users input a number of performance metrics to receive a predicted post-occupant performance, with particular focus given to climate considerations.
Rounding out the morning session were Jim Frawley, southeastern area manager at SIKA, with a presentation on the increasing strength of structural silicone; Amy Hackney, senior project manager at Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger, with a presentation on the do’s and don’ts for vegetative roof design; Reuben Freed, director of research at Greenscreen, with modular living wall considerations; and a collection of USC Viterbi School of Engineering graduate students with a life-cycle analysis of living wall systems.
Returning from the lunch break, umbrellas in hand, conference attendees reconvened for a presentation lead by Erik Johnson, associate professor of civil engineering at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Johnson presented a sampling of student research on how shading fins can double as tuned mass dampers in the event of a seismic event, commenting that “smart buildings must be a synergy of a number of systems.”
Kyle Konis, assistant professor of architecture at USC, talked about problems resulting from the use of obsolete daylighting simulation methods and metrics. Konis identified the three main issues — outdated legacy metrics, inaccurate sensors and controls, and crude “fake sky” simulations — as the context for his research on developing luminance metrics based on quality of light rather than quantity.
In a following presentation, Judson Taylor, senior principle at Simpson, Bumpertz, and Heger, claimed, “The most sustainable building is an existing building, particularly when we can extend its lifespan.” Using the term “green retrofitting,” Taylor explained in detail the energy savings associated with overcladding, backed by data showcasing anticipated payback time.
On a different note, Mark Perepelitza, sustainability resources group manager at SERA Architects, followed by discussing integrated facade design in high performance applications. Using several case studies from SERA and his research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he stressed the importance of accurate digital simulations to measure indoor environmental quality (IEQ). “Today’s advanced buildings are tomorrow’s baseline,” Perepelitza concluded, noting the rapid evolution of green standards and rating systmes.
Echoing the sentiment, YKK AP America brand manager David Warden wrapped up the conference with a discussion on ways to maximize the thermal properties of modern facades. From a performance and economical standpoint, Warden sees the most opportunity in the building envelope’s framing members. “Advanced framing is the most cost effective first step,” emphasized Warden, backing up the claim with research data showing that the most impactful addition to a framing system in modern curtainwall design is a thermal break; a thermal isolator between the facade system and the supporting building structure.
Throughout the one-day summit, question and answer sessions veered to one reoccurring theme: building codes. The Q&A following this final session was no exception, with Warden predicting, “Codes will have the greatest influence and role in pushing the capabilities of future high performance facades.” The consensus was that, while progress is being made through the adoption of voluntary standards and rating systems, green practices will ultimately need to be legislated as mandatory building code requirements in order to achieve sustainability goals in the built environment. The diverse conference attendees are obviously preparing for this eventuality.
Click on image to begin slideshow.
Construction of the New San Diego United States Courthouse is nearly complete. Tenants began occupying the 16-story tower located in downtown San Diego the week of November 5, with the initial court hearing scheduled for the first week of December. The 467,000 square foot structure is the soon to be home of six courtrooms and 12 chambers for district and magistrate judges, in addition to office space.
Enclos provided comprehensive design/build facade services for the project's nearly 300,000 square feet of facade. Design considerations included both oversized and blast-resistant wall systems. Enclos' strategy was to unitize as many wall systems as possible to ease field installation. Unitized systems were ultimately developed for the glass, terracotta, soffit and canopy wall types. Additional scope of work included a transparent glass clad lobby, point-fixed glass, skylights, curved glass, aluminum metal panels (flat & curved), perforated metal panels, sliding and swing doors.
Additional information on the New San Diego United States Courthouse is available here.