Noted Artist Creates Mural for Sto Corp at AIA Expo

Spear's 2017 mural featured a cheese block, two mice and a cat, and was entitled "Who Is More Foolish, The Fool or the Fool Who Follows".

The 2018 AIA Conference & Exposition on Architecture kicks off at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York tomorrow (June 21-22) and one of the highlights will be a work of art in-progress at the Sto Corp booth — #1768.

Andrew Spear, a NYC-based, “live mural artist”, will be creating a mural on the walls of the Sto Corp booth during the show. This socially provocative scene designer is back by popular demand after creating a comparable mural at the 2017 AIA show.

Using the versatile Sto Acryl coatings – and no other medium – he will be transforming the walls of the Sto booth into a work of art entitled “Funky 4 + 1”. Spear, who describes himself as a community activist, cultural instigator and music enthusiast, is consistently testing the boundaries of his artistic imagination. And the AIA project is yet another demonstration of how Sto’s state-of-the-art building materials can also test boundaries and enable creativity.

If you’re at the show, swing by. Don’t miss the master muralist at work, and sign-up for a free print of Andrew’s work. The final work of art/mural will be posted here when it’s completed on Friday.


New Business Model Suggested for Architecture Profession

A prominent architecture professor at Yale suggests that the profession could benefit from a new business model based on results versus selling time.

A recent article in Architectural Record penned by Phil Bernstein suggests that the architectural profession could benefit from a new business model. Bernstein, who is an Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture, challenges the current methods of value creation and proposes a new business model for architects that shifts the value proposition of practice from selling time to creating results for clients.

According to AIA, architects are responsible for designing approximately $600 billion worth of buildings each year for which they are paid about $29 billion in fees, or 4.8% of construction value. Bernstein notes that these fees are largely paid as a commodity, and that real value is rarely reflected when compensation is a commodity; it hurts the overall economics of the profession. Fees are typically negotiated down, and architects are too often selling time versus measurable results.

If architectural compensation models were based on delivering outcomes of the building process, including the performance of the finished building, he believes these result-based fees, or outcome-based design practices, would redefine and benefit the architectural services business model. With digital tools and technology today, architects can truly impact building performance objectives such as energy usage, carbon emissions and maintenance-cost optimization.

Imagine a world with an outcome-based delivery system in which architects are helping clients realize goals to create offices that boost the effectiveness of workers, schools that educate students better, hospitals that promote faster healing. Bernstein is encouraged by the architectural students he sees today who are eschewing the more traditional architectural firms and are looking for more entrepreneurial, multi-faceted practices that include builders, researchers, and developers as well as architects. He is hoping this next generation of architects will be more responsive to innovative business models and demand new ways of practice.


StoPanel Technology Project in Downtown Denver Wins Award

The Le Meridien AC Hotel complex in downtown Denver is an award-winning study in Sto Panel Technology.

 

The Le Meridien and AC Hotel complex in downtown Denver is one of the first dual-branded luxury lifestyle hotel developments in the U.S. The 272-room Meridien, and the 223-room AC offer two iconic brands under one roof, just a block from the Denver convention center. The pair of European-inspired properties mark an industry milestone as the first collaborative project from hospitality giants Marriott and Starwood since their merger.

The 20-story project which opened in September 2017, is also noteworthy for its use of award-winning StoPanel Technology. Built quickly and efficiently, the project won top honors for Excellence in Construction Quality from the Association of the Walls and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) in its EIFS category.

According to Tyron Garrison, Senior Product Manager for Swinerton Builders, a contracting firm on the Meridien/AC hotel project, “Sto is our go-to resource for panel systems; no one else has a panelized system like theirs. With StoPanel Technology,” he adds, “we can confidently say we are constructing a completely dry, energy-efficient building.”

StoPanel Classic ci was the cladding selected for the new structure – using a prefabricated insulated exterior wall panel system that weighs almost 90 percent less than a precast panel of the same size. The light weight prefabricated panels are both energy efficient and durable, incorporating an insulation layer and StoGuardÒ air and moisture barrier.

Prefabricating the exterior with finished panels improved quality, safety onsite, and cut the onsite construction time.  In fact, the finished panels were installed in under 300 hours.

Despite limited access to the construction site and a location in the heart of busy downtown Denver, the streets were kept open to traffic during this massive construction project. Precast was done three days each week and panels were installed three days each week.  The panels were set in 40 days, employing a maximum crew of eight at any one time on the site.

The installation of the exterior walls for the entire project was done simultaneously, and by using the panels, saved about 75% of the conventional construction time, according to Travis, Vap, CEO of South Valley Prefab. “Panelization takes the guess work out of any project,” said Vap.  “The projects can be designed ahead of time, there’s a fast dry-in, and the interior can be completed concurrently. It’s an easier way to build.”


Restoration of Iconic Buildings Means Big Business and Big Energy Savings

The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco is one of many older, iconic buildings that are benefiting from retrofitting and restoration.

As reported by National Geographic this month, iconic buildings are often celebrated for their architecture that has withstood the test of time, but what lies beneath those favorite, enduring facades – the cladding and infrastructure — does not usually hold up so well. The majority of the world’s most famous structures were built long before sustainability, climate change, recycling and energy efficiency were key trends and mainstream buzz words.

Enter the age of retrofit and restoration, which has (thankfully!) become the prevailing practice in preserving vintage structures worldwide. Aging buildings of note are being updated with new windows and claddings, lighting, heating and cooling systems, all of which are preserving the historic nature of the buildings, saving owners and operators money while also conserving energy.

Some iconic structures that have set an example for others to follow include the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Reichstag in Berlin and the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.

  • The Depression-era Empire State Building completed a $13 million energy-efficient retrofit in 2013 that cut energy consumption by almost 40%, saving over $4 million annually. The upgrades are expected to eliminate105,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions over 15 years.
  • In keeping with its original raison d’etre as a symbol of engineering prowess, the Eiffel Tower undertook a 4-year, $37 million renovation, completed in 2015. It included everything from installing solar panels to LED lighting, and adding enhanced glazing on glass. In addition to saving energy, the structure now generates much of its own electricity with wind-powered turbines in the building.
  • The 853-foot Transamerica Pyramid, built in 1972, was the tallest building in San Francisco until it was eclipsed last year by the 1,070-foot Salesforce Tower. But it’s keeping up with the newer structure thanks to a sustainability retrofit and a gas-fueled cogeneration plant in its garage that generates 70% of the building’s electricity. In 2011, the Pyramid was certified LEED Platinum, the country’s highest rating for green buildings.

Revitalizing iconic buildings is only a small part of the huge commercial market for restoration and energy efficient retrofitting. New York, for instance, is also tackling the improvement of energy efficiency in less prominent landmarks, investing nearly $500 million to improve its million-plus buildings.

Buildings consume 73 percent of the electricity in the U.S., and indirectly create 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions—more than industry or transportation. Experts estimate that only 10% of the 5.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S. are now “high performance” thanks to upgrades. The remaining 90% represent a huge market opportunity.

Leaders in the building material and restoration industry such as Sto Corp. have been on the forefront of commercial restoration providing state of the art products and systems that can help preserve an historic structure as well as safeguard a property’s value by conserving energy, reducing operational costs, improving interior comfort, and enhancing curb appeal.


Sto Helps Transform Affordable Housing Complex

Sto was instrumental in helping to restore the Georgia King Village residential towers in Newark, New Jersey.

Built in 1976, Georgia King Village in Newark, New Jersey, was in need of a makeover.  L+M Development Partners who acquired the two 18-story, affordable housing towers in 2016, were taking on a distressed structure, but were confident they could restore the complex. One rehab priority was installing a new exterior to replace the uninsulated precast concrete façade; the envelope was so porous that Georgia King residents were consistently unable to maintain a comfortable temperature in their apartments.

Over the next few years, L+M Development added a fresh new design and structural improvements transforming the Georgia King Village into a more efficient, more comfortable, and more attractive complex, while preserving its affordability.

Working with Sto Corp. products and experts, L&M upgraded the towers’ building envelope, using StoTherm® ci Essence, a system that combines the quality of StoTherm® technology with a StoGuard® waterproof air barrier incorporating air, water, and vapor control layers and protection against moisture intrusion.

With a new cladding system that incorporates the StoGuard air and moisture barrier, the refurbished Georgia King Village towers are high, dry and handsome.

Sto TurboStick®, a relatively new product, was also used to improve the speed and efficiency of installation.  The product is a ready-to-use, single component polyurethane foam adhesive for securing Sto Insulation boards in StoTherm exterior wall claddings. It helps workers install the boards faster and easier than traditional adhesives.

“We wanted to bring high-end products like the StoTherm system to this project so we could make a positive difference for the people who live there by improving their comfort as well as enhancing the appearance of the towers,” said Elli Himelstein, Project Manager with L+M Development

With eight facades, multiple drops and a difficult design pattern to follow, it was a challenging, project. Nonetheless, Georgia King Village residents were able to remain in their apartments for the duration of all these improvements. Their lives were not disrupted to accomplish the upgrade.

In addition to the high-caliber products provided, Sto also worked with the property management team to mitigate any resident concerns. A technical representative from Sto Corp. was actually dispatched onsite to explain the re-cladding system and construction process. By walking residents through the installment timeline, which included a vision of the final result, they explained that ultimately the system would be more energy efficient, and their homes would be more comfortable and attractive.

The makeover marks the official re-emergence of the residential complex as a symbolic cornerstone in Newark’s West Ward. Today, the positive changes continue, and the adjacent community has a new vitality.  In fact, the McDonald’s restaurant adjacent to Georgia King Village recently renewed its façade and landscaping, and when choosing the exterior wall color, asked L+M for the shade they had used for their renewal project.  The multi-national restaurant chain liked it so much that they matched the Georgia King façade’s gray for their renovations.


What Films Teach Us About Architecture

Architectural documentary films provide invaluable insights into the architects and architecture of yesteryear and today.

Dozens of movies have been made in the past 100-or-so years about famous architects and architectural projects. Arch Daily recently published a piece on architectural documentaries to watch in 2018  and Arch 20, an online architecture & design magazine, recently looked at some of the most enduring and notable architectural documentaries from the archives that are as awe inspiring as they are educational, many of which are laced with human drama and politics.

Whether depicting the life and work of famous architects, past and present, a school of architecture, or a remarkable architectural feat, the new slate of films as well as the 30+ films highlighted by Arch20  have made a memorable impact and may even leave viewers as delighted and breathless as a Hollywood action film would.

From Cairo, the Capital of Egypt  (a 1914 documentary) to Frank Lloyd Wright (1998) a film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about the famous architect’s life — including his misdeeds — and the surpassing influence he had on American architecture, or Inside Piano (2013) about Renzo Piano’s three most symbolic buildings including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the films reviewed offer insights into architectural visionaries throughout time, as well as a grand international tour of architectural wonders.

Some of the other films reviewed include:

  • Schindlers Hauser (2007) — a “cinematic photo album” directed by Heinz Emigholz, showcasing 40 of the homes Schindler built in Los Angeles between 1921 and 1952. Emigholz also pays tribute to the pioneering work of Modernist Adolf Loos (1870-1933) in the film Loos Ornamental (2008).
  • Antonio Gaudi (1985) — an ethereal visual documentary with minimal narrative that showcases the innovative architect’s work, directed by Hiroshi Teshigarhara.
  • Bird’s Nest – Herzog & de Meuron in China (2008) elaborates on the cultural and political challenges the two architects faced building the new National Stadium for the Olympics in Beijing.
  • If you’re a Rem Koolhaas fan, there are at least three films to choose from: REM (2013) directed by his son; Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect (2008), and Koolhaas Houselife (2013).
  • Samsara (2011) — filmed over five years, in 25 countries on five continents, directed by Ron Fricke, generated $2.6 million in box office earnings and transports viewers to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes and natural wonders.
  • Unfinished Spaces (2011) — an inspiring story about the National Arts School in Cuba and the political turmoil there in the 1960s, and about how dreams are destroyed but can be revived. The film was a catalyst for restoring the structure.
  • One of the most widely viewed documentaries, Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005), directed by the famous Sydney Pollack, portrays Gehry’s career and creative process and his twin masterpieces: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Music Hall in Los Angeles.
  • And finally, while not a documentary, Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang, is a science fiction masterpiece that architectural scholars consider a “must see”. It depicts a futuristic dystopian city severely divided along lines of wealth and class.

Films may be accessed online (Netflix, Amazon, etc.); get the popcorn ready and turn down the lights!


The Cavity Wall Conundrum

Complex, modern building designs require balancing the need to keep the building dry, airtight, thermally efficient, and code compliant. Photo © Vladimir Sazonov Shutterstock.com

A new e-book called the “Evolution of Building Enclosures”, published by Construction Specifier, offers a four-part series, including an article on what the magazine calls “the cavity wall conundrum”. Authored by Todd Skopic, a building science manager, the article provides an in-depth, technical look at the use of open-joint rain screens coupled with unconventional wall orientations. While these configurations can be appealing, they also pose a potentially dangerous combination; abating water ingress is an important issue to address, but these systems must be compliant with building codes, including those that test for combustibility.

Balancing the need to keep the building dry, airtight, thermally efficient, and code compliant can create what Skopic calls a cavity wall conundrum. As more architectural firms push the limits of building design, ensuring a safe and efficient building envelope is becoming more complex. The growing practice of combining open-joint rain screens with unconventional wall orientations, such as a backward-sloping configuration, offers a prime example.

In such structures, design teams want to prevent water ingress, but they also need to follow the latest building codes. Staying compliant with certain ones, such as the energy code, complicates matters by introducing certain materials that increase potential safety risks.

Managing water with building enclosures involves the three Ds: deflection, drainage, and drying. Open-joint rain screen systems offer an increasingly popular means to achieve the three Ds and behind every open-joint rain screen, is an air and moisture barrier to defend against water ingress. All of these solutions are subject to and must comply with an abundance of codes and regulations.

The 2012 International Building Code (IBC) requires buildings in Climate Zones 4 to 7 to have a continuous air barrier, which in most cases also takes the form of a water-resistive barrier. The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), is also driving the use of continuous insulation (ci), which in some cases is combustible. It needs to comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 – a standard fire-test method for evaluating the fire propagation characteristics of exterior, non-loadbearing wall assemblies containing combustible components.

In other words, today’s design teams are trying to design building envelopes that are watertight, airtight, thermally efficient to meet code requirements, and to be NFPA 285-compliant. Solving this ‘cavity wall conundrum’ is possible, but it requires some familiarity with the competing design challenges and different industry standards.

This in-depth, technical article discusses rain screen design, and the standards for managing air and water, in context of the codes for continuous insulation (ci), air barriers, and water-resistive barriers, as well as life safety issues related to combustibility. For instance, how do cladding attachments impact a system? What is the the value of a continuous insulation system with adhesive-backed sheet membrane that isn’t penetrated? What are the differences between sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) and expanded polystyrene (EPS) when used as insulation in cavity wall assemblies, vis a vis thermoplastic extruded polystyrene (XPS) which is a thermoplastic foam rigid insulation board? And how do these compare with mineral wool or fire-enhanced polyisocyanurate (polyiso) mineral wool in performance and code compliance? And what are all the codes?

Solving the Conundrum

Building designers are increasingly aware of the competing requirements and standards involved in modern cavity wall design. They should know continuous air barriers and insulation systems, along with NFPA 285 code and other compliance issues, which must be balanced with the goal of keeping water out of a building. Achieving this balance will help designers create the safest, most effective building envelope possible and thus solve the cavity wall conundrum. And on the building materials front, manufacturers need to test all their products to ensure they meet the extensive industry standards and testing.

The other chapters in the new e-book cover the benefits of specifying complete masonry veneer wall systems, defining and testing construction tape and flashing durability, and moisture in new concrete roof decks.