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GPD Finland 2011: Structural Response of Multi-Story Double-Skin Facades with Jeffrey Vaglio

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Specialty structures. We’re all familiar with today’s round of buzzwords: cable nets, point-supported systems and double-skins. Jeffrey Vaglio, Design Engineer, began his career engineering many of these transparency driven structural systems. Today, Vaglio and his counterparts at the Advanced Technology Studio of Enclos continue to push the boundaries of facade design and engineering, and it’s here that he’s most at home.

“I aim to occupy the gap between architects and engineers,” Vaglio says, “and there’s no better place to do that than at the facade.”

Vaglio’s project experience includes a slew of specialty facade structures. From cable nets (Gates Foundation Headquarters) to point-supported systems (L.A. Live Tower & Residences), skylights (300 New Jersey Avenue) to double-skins (Loyola University Chicago: Information Commons), Vaglio’s contributions at Enclos help define each of these technology types. At GPD Finland 2011, Vaglio — also a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Southern California School of Architecture — will publish and speak about the double-skin facade research and analysis he’s applying to his work at Enclos.

How’d you get started as an engineer?

Jeffrey Vaglio: Growing up, music was a major part of my life.  I played piano, drums and percussion, and developed a passion for creating while also honing a skill. In high school the idea of being an architect evolved from this interest in creating, while the engineering angle must have been rooted in my mathematical strengths and quest for rationale or logic.

Why focus exclusively on building skins?

The building skin is the meeting point of aesthetics and performance.  It is a boundary, yet a connector between interior and exterior environments. It integrates a wide range of structural solutions, and relies heavily on problem solving and collaboration between both architects and engineers.

What are you currently working on?

When working with the Advanced Technology Studio team, my responsibilities include supporting pre-sale efforts on specialty facade programs. This may include three-dimensional modeling, structural analysis, visualization and communicating complex facade solutions to a potential client.

In terms of projects, I’m currently supporting the Fulton Street Transit Center team by integrating parametric and automated processes into a three-dimensional model, structural analysis and fabrication drawing generation on a double curved cable-net structure.  The structure is a two-way cable-net with 952 unique metal panels cladding a 8524 square foot surface area defined by 1056 nodal coordinates in a 3D workspace.  Using a custom workflow exchange between Excel, Grasshopper (a parametric tool for Rhinoceros), Rhinoceros and SpaceGass, we are able to handle the complex geometry efficiently, allowing updates to the geometry to easily be reflected in each step of the analysis and generation process.

Why is a gathering such as GPD so significant?

The conference represents a rare collection of the highest caliber architects, engineers, glaziers and researchers with a focus on the many aspects of glass. I submitted my paper to gain critical feedback on my double-skin facade research from these industry-leading facade practitioners.

Below is an excerpt from Vaglio’s "Structural Response of Multi-Story Double-Skin Facades" paper selected by the conference.

"In recent history double-skin facades (DSF) have been implemented to harness benefits of increased energy efficiency, acoustic isolation and access to natural ventilation. The continued innovation and application of these systems presents a need for revised structural standards that account for the fluid-structure interactions of wind with the multiple layers of the wall. Standards for the structural design of double-skin facades systems to resist wind load do not account for the geometric orientation of ventilation orifices with respect to the prevailing wind. This research focuses on the structural response of multi-story double-skin facades by evaluating the wind pressure distribution across the exterior and interior layers for prototypical configurations derived from recent case studies within the United States.  The results will be compared against one another, as well as against a base case sealed facade. Multiphysics software is used to model the fluid-structure interaction, which combines the effects of structural deformation with fluid flow across select test samples."

Vaglio will lecture on " Structural Response of Multi-Story Double-Skin Facades" as part of the Structural Engineering Case Studies program on Monday, June 20. We hope you’ll join us in Finland.