Volume 50, Issue 10 - October 2015

Contract Glazing

Behind the Façade: How a New Building Resource Could Change the Game

Much of the current building stock will still be around by the middle of this century, and those structures will likely represent a much larger percentage of the 2050 stock than newer buildings from now until then.

With that in mind, Enclos’ Mic Patterson says that while it’s important to continue to improve energy performance in new construction, “the quickest and most efficient way to improve the performance of the building sector is through energy-related upgrades to the existing building stock.”

That’s where façaderetrofit.org—an ongoing project database of buildings that underwent retrofitted façades—comes in. Facaderetrofit.org is a collaborative research and development project between the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture, the Facade Tectonics Institute at USC and the Advanced Technology Studio of Enclos.

As Ph.D. candidates at the USC School of Architecture in recent years, Patterson and colleague Andrea Martinez have been doing research on the rehabilitation of the façade systems of the older existing building stock. The research, according to Patterson, included the identification and examination of prior façade renovations as case studies, and they were using a spreadsheet program to store the data. The spreadsheet, however, became increasingly difficult to manage as the amount of data increased, so they opted for a database program.

Patterson and Martinez teamed with a web developer at Enclos for the initial development phase of a façade-retrofit database that could be accessed via the Internet. “It quickly became clear that this could be a resource of some potential value,” says Patterson. “My particular focus is on the early curtainwall buildings, the steel and glass towers that emerged in the mid-20th century. … these buildings are now 40-50 years old and still have their original façades, many of which are in need of retrofit, both as a means to elevate the energy performance of the building and modernize the appearance.”

The first phase of façaderetrofit.org was built as a demonstration project. Martinez submitted it for the 2014 Seed funding grant, an annual competition hosted by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and sponsored in 2014 by the East China Architectural Design & Research Institute.

“Ours was a joint proposal between USC and Enclos, with the involvement of professors Doug Noble and Karen Kensek at the School of Architecture,” says Patterson. “We were selected from among some 30 proposals to receive the $20,000 grant—not a large sum but enough to fund the next phase of development and resulting in the recent launch of the website, with the database now publicly available [within the database at facaderetrofit.org].”

Anyone accessing the database can enter a project that has not been previously included, or use multiple search criteria to study the hundreds of building entries.

“The database was populated during this recent development phase facilitated by two surveys that Andrea and I conducted that collected project data from a targeted audience of façade professionals,” says Patterson, who expects the resource to be used by architects, façade consultants and builders, as well as researchers and students.

Patterson says the concept of major renovation of the building façade “is a relatively new phenomenon” with few prior examples to help guide design and delivery teams.

“Upgrades to lighting, mechanical and HVAC systems are straightforward and simple when compared to the retrofit of an aging curtainwall façade,” he says. “Cost becomes a significant barrier, and one that often brings up the consideration of building demolition and reconstruction as an option. There is also most often the need to keep the building operational through the retrofit process, resulting in a host of logistical issues and complications.”

Feedback on the resource so far has been positive.

“I’m optimistic that there is going to be widespread interest and engagement with the website, and that the profession, industry, and academia will combine to contribute to its development as an unparalleled resource for the façade rehabilitation of existing buildings,” says Patterson.

UL Begins Curtainwall Mock-Up Testing

The building envelope is the latest focus area for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), as the company is now offering curtainwall mock-up testing and field testing.

Performance testing is available to determine the rate of air infiltration, water penetration, structural, impact and cyclical performance for doors, windows and curtainwalls. Testing can be conducted in the laboratory, in the field and in curtainwall mock-ups.

Giroux Relocates in Fresno; Ranked a Top 100 in L.A.

Giroux Glass has a new, larger office location in Fresno, Calif. The move gives the company office a shop area almost four times larger than its previous location.

“The larger shop area will be used for fabrication, staging and storage, all in increased demand right now, and our new office space will allow for client meetings, as we work on current projects that include the new Bullard High School and Community Regional Medical Center,” says John Smith, Fresno operations manager.

Additionally, two new partners have joined Giroux’s Fresno team. Kim Sok, a graduate of California State University, Fresno, was hired in January as project coordinator, and Gary Levi, relocating from Iowa, took on a new project-manager role.

“We had outgrown the old space —this bigger, new shop allows us to better serve our customers, and to plan for our future expansion,” says Bob Linford, director of commercial contracts. “It’s great to know that we’ve got talented new members on our Fresno team.”

In addition, Giroux Glass, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, was named one of the “Best Places to Work in Los Angeles” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and Best Companies Group. Giroux previously earned the honor in 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

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