Beauty in the Built Environment: Sto Color

Since 1965, when Sto introduced a revolutionary color system, the company has been providing art and inspiration in architecture, working with design and building professionals to facilitate design and color decision-making.

#2 in a three-part series on Sto Studio

The study of color by artists, philosophers and scientists has spanned centuries, dating back to 1672 when Sir Isaac Newton defined the components of visible light as color. Segmenting the spectrum into easily identifiable color families, he led others to develop their own versions of the color wheel and established “color theory”, which in today’s parlance means “guidance on mixing colors”.

While Sto Corp. doesn’t date back as far as Newton, it has been a pioneer in color theory, specifically as it relates to architecture. Product and color formulations are based on theories, old and new. In 1965, Sto introduced a revolutionary color system and has been building upon that first offering since then. The StoColor 800 — a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception — was released in 2002, and remains a favorite resource for the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

Humans are able to distinguish “primary colors” (e.g. yellow, red, and blue), “secondary colors” (e.g. orange, violet, and green), which are created by mixing two primary colors (yellow + blue= green), and a host of tertiary colors for use in buildings’ interiors and exteriors. It is the human perception of color that is the foundation of the StoColor System.

Sto’s color wheel is made up of 24 parent colors which are combined with white, black and grays to create a range of sophisticated colors applicable to our built environment. Extrapolating specific colors from the master palette, Sto has created subsets for varied markets: The Sto Sto Classic Color Collection,  The Sto Designer Color Collection, Sto for the Southwest, The Architectural Color Collection and so on.

The Power of Color

Color is integral to our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made, architectural environment. It has played a role in human evolution. Colors influence us. They affect our psychology, they communicate, inform and influence judgement. Clearly, color in architectural spaces is more than decoration.

Form, function, design and color coexist within our architectural environment. Just as color plays a huge role in branding, colors define the nature and aesthetic of a building; colors help develop the culture and identity of a city as well. Architecture influences our lives more than we are usually aware and the use of color in architecture makes a built form even more impactful.

Utilizing color in buildings has evolved over the years. Grey, dull and restrained monochromatic facades — especially in older cities — have given way to bolder colors on building exteriors and interiors.  Whites and greys have long been favored by architects and designers, but many feel these colors are too “grave and isolating” and are incorporating more color into their designs. Dark saturated colors are trending right now, as are so-called “celebration colors”. How uninspired is beige on beige on beige, and by contrast how delightful is it to turn a corner and see a sudden burst of color?

Empirical observations and scientific studies have proven that our reactions to architectural environments are highly influenced by our sensory perception of color. Architectural psychology, color psychology, neuropsychology, visual ergonomics, psychosomatics prove that color influences us psychologically and physiologically.

The psychological effects of color are the basis of what’s called visual/color ergonomics: “a multidisciplinary science concerned with understanding human visual processes and the interactions between humans and other elements of a system”. As an example of visual ergonomics: a medical facility would benefit from a different color scheme than an industrial complex or a school.

Color is a sensory perception and, as with any sensory perception, it has effects that are symbolic, associative and emotional. In simpler, more graphic terms: yellow feels sunny, friendly, and inviting; red is provocative, arousing, perhaps aggressive. Green is balanced, calm and simple

Celebrate Color

As a means to help the market understand the power and potential of color Sto established Sto Studio, offering custom color solutions to clients world-wide. By illustrating the potential aesthetics for a project with full-color renderings, Sto Studio enables design and building professionals to see the future and choose from a variety of design scenarios.

The team of color professionals at Sto Studio who are inspired by color and art in architecture, know the science of color mixology, but also the gestalt and psychology of color. Sto Studio designers are experts on color but also understand its value as part of new coatings and finishes, its sustainability and efficacy in meeting the goals of the design and building community, or in the restoration of protected buildings.

Whether providing industry leading delivery of quality color formulas and samples, or a professional grade rendering, Sto Studio facilitates design and color decision making. The Sto Color System offers a harmonic, finely nuanced selection of colors for facade and interior use and the most advanced, visually ergonomic media presentations for all phases of color design.

Color 101 – a Quick Primer

  • Hue identifies the color family (blue, green, red, etc.)
  • Chroma is the purity or intensity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
  • Value refers to how light or dark a color is (the lighter the color, the higher the value). Dark colors absorb light energy and have a lower LRV (light reflective value). Light colors reflect light and have higher LRVs.
  • LRV – Light Reflective Value: indicates how much light or energy is bouncing off a surface. A color with 87% LRV is reflecting 13% of the light energy broadcast on its surface; a dark brown with 8% LRV absorbs 92% of the light energy.
  • Achromatic: essentially, lacking chroma (grays, neutrals, black and white).
  • Saturation refers to how strong or weak a color is (a highly saturated color would be considered very strong). Regard it as “Pure vs. Pale”.
  • Tones are created by adding gray to a color, making it duller or softer-looking than the original, pure hue. Tones are sometimes easier to use in designs.
  • Shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original. The word is often incorrectly used to describe tint or tone, but technically shade only applies to hues made darker by the addition of black.
  • Tints are created by adding white to a color, making it lighter than the original. Very light tints are sometimes called pastels, but any pure hue with white added to it is technically a tint, even if the color is still quite bright.

Next week, look for Sto Studio case studies.


Architecture as Art – Sto Studio and the Built Environment

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review fully illustrated aesthetic options for a project long before construction begins.

#1 of a three-part series on Sto Studio

Creating the aesthetic character of a building is no simple task; nor is determining the engineering and science for a structure.  If you can bring these building elements together, the results are remarkable. And if you can see what it’s all going to look like before you break ground or start a restoration — not just one possible solution, but many choices — it’s magic. More importantly, it expedites informed decision-making.

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review proposed options, which illustrate the potential aesthetics for a project long before construction begins. Full-color renderings offer clients the opportunity to envision the future – to really understand their structure and its appearance in a variety of design scenarios. Sto Studio is, in essence, a service that facilitates design and color decisions.

Sto Studio has been providing these integrated design services for customers across the Americas, Europe and Asia for over three decades. Innovative claddings and other advanced technologies are essential for both new construction and renovations today (to ensure energy efficiency and sustain the buildings’ value),  but architectural treatments and color can be just as important.  A commercial real estate study revealed that architectural color can increase a property value from 25-40%.

By collaborating closely with clients, Sto Studio offers a unique, value-added service, providing tailor-made color and material concepts for facades and interiors. Architectural color concepts and solutions evolve based on a project’s underlying conditions, requirements and objectives, resulting in a series of color renderings to help determine the most appealing aesthetic option. From renderings and visualizations, to color presentations and color charts, local marketing assistance, reference tools, and technical advice, Sto Studio is an essential resource for design and building professionals.

The combination of technical expertise and design support often results in a holistic solution for any and all construction challenges. For instance, a bright red may be an ideal branding color for a building, but may not perform well due to it’s saturation level. It could create stress on the wall system and cause surface degradation. Therefore, art and science need to work hand-in-hand to ensure the ultimate realization of a building’s durability and curb appeal.

Next Week – Color 101 – a primer on color theory and an insightful, in-depth look at the StoColor System that is an integral part of Sto Studio’s design expertise.


Top 50 Architectural Firms of 2017 Announced by Architect Magazine

The Stealth Building -- a renovation of a cast-iron building in Tribeca-- by WORKac, the architectural firm ranked #1 in America for Design by Architect Magazine.

Architect Magazine has published their list of the 50 best architecture firms in the United States, and the 2017 top honors went to a combination of established heavyweights as well as young upstarts.

The rankings are based on scores from three categories: business, design and sustainability. This year there were more entrants than ever before (149 firms submitted entries) with several first-time entrants making waves, including New-York based WORKac who ranked #1 in the design category. Topping the overall list was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who also ranked in the top 10 for design and sustainability. SOM became the first firm to secure the overall Number One position twice.

ZGF Architects took first place in the sustainability category for the second year in a row with their ecodistrict Kashiwa-no-ha (outside Tokyo), and the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center cited as industry-leading sustainability projects.

In the business category, the east coast firm FXFowle (New York & Washington D.C.) garnered the top award with special kudos for their Statue of Liberty Museum.

Congratulations to all the firms for their remarkable achievements worldwide.


Getting Pre-Fab Products from Off-Site to On-Site Safely

Safe transport of pre-fab panels from an off-site location to the construction and installation site is as important as the time and money these modular wall systems can save.

Assembling certain components of a construction project at a location other than the job site can help solve several problems contractors face today and, as a result, offsite manufacturing of wall systems is increasingly becoming the solution of choice for new construction and renovation.

The process typically enables different phases of a project to run on a parallel track, shaving valuable time from the schedule and saving as much as 50% in labor costs. That benefit alone can be a huge advantage given the construction industry’s well-documented shortage of qualified workers.

Building offsite can also be a safer alternative to site-built construction. With most of the work being performed at ground level in a controlled factory setting, the chance of workers falling (one of the leading construction-site accidents) is greatly reduced. The fact that off-site construction usually takes place in an enclosed space also protects workers and products from inclement weather, which can interfere with building schedules .

In addition to speed, value, and safety, the best high tech pre-fab panels today are produced in a temperature-controlled factory environment, in full compliance with codes for design, testing, and energy efficiency so that there is enhanced quality assurance as well.

While pre-fab insulated wall solutions are clearly gaining in popularity due to the many benefits they offer, a critical step is how the product will be transported following assembly. How do offsite manufacturers move their products without damaging the product or causing any harm along the way?

When it comes to transporting modular units or any other large prefabricated component, the process can be more complicated than simply loading them on a truck and taking off for the job site. Best practices dictate that after panels are engineered and fabricated and await transport, they are waterproofed and wrapped individually. Based on the size of the panel, it may be shrink-wrapped with other assemblies. These are elevated and stored in a safe, secure area and are then shipped to installers as needed. Safe and secure delivery of pre-fab panels to the construction site, includes detailed planning for transport, well in advance of delivery time.

In California for instance, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has specific guidelines and requires permits for oversize or overweight vehicles. States could also require special routing to avoid traffic congestion or travel under overpasses without enough clearance, as well as pilot cars to escort the delivery truck.

After the travel logistics have been worked out, the load is usually turned over to professional trucking companies that have expertise in this type of transport. Once the product is on board, the driver is responsible for the tie-downs that will keep the load secure on the way to the site. The transportation company assumes liability for the safe transport of the product from the moment it is loaded onto the delivery vehicle to the time it is unloaded at the project site.

Once the product reaches the construction site, it then becomes the general contractor or end customer’s responsibility. Companies who install their own products would give up liability during transport and assume it once again upon delivery.

The key to getting any sizeable prefabricated component from Point A to B is planning. That means early collaboration between designers and the manufacturer.


High Performance Insulated Wall System a Game Changer for Architects

High performance insulated wall systems like the innovative StoTherm® ci XPS provide the air, weather and thermal tightness required for today’s most energy-efficient architecture, but are also cost-effective and provide designers with a wide range of aesthetic options.

Sto Corp. has joined forces with insulation specialists Owens Corning and Dow to produce one of the most technically advanced exterior wall systems available. The innovative StoTherm® ci XPS wall system is designed to provide the air, weather and thermal tightness required for today’s most energy-efficient architecture, but also makes for exterior walls that look good, and are cost-effective.

One of the first things architects will notice about the product is its design flexibility. The multi-layered system offers a wide range of finishes from the natural look of raw materials to boldly colored finishes, allowing for a variety of looks from traditional textured surfaces to limestone, concrete, metal and many more.

Hidden behind the beautiful outer skin, are important energy efficient properties; StoTherm® ci XPS meets rigorous sustainable design standards, including ASHRAE 90.1-2010, the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) requirements for continuous insulation.

This smart architectural product combines high quality, technologically advanced materials, including Dow and Owens Corning insulation with a closed cell structure which helps prevent liquid movement through the material and provides exceptional thermal performance with an R-value of 5.0 per 1”. The final result is a combination of layers that delivers exceptional air and moisture control, that also meets the latest building code requirements for energy efficient continuous insulation and fire testing. The highly durable system also provides significant impact resistance that exceeds IBC and IECC codes.

How can such a high-performance product, also be economical? The high R-value of Sto’s system (R5/inch) makes for a thinner wall, reducing the overall weight and cost-per-square foot for the building envelope. Add this to lifetime savings from superior energy-efficiency, and you have a product that offers both short- and long-term cost benefits to the client.

StoTherm® ci XPS is truly a system designed with the architect in mind –its versatile and seamless combination of energy-efficient qualities and aesthetically pleasing finishes provide a true “end-to-end” solution for architects.

 


The ROI on Mobile Construction Apps

Mobile construction apps are emerging as a valuable resource offering a significant return on investment in terms of benefits to overall productivity, risk mitigation, as well as savings from labor costs, downtime, and schedule acceleration.

We all know that technology is trending in every sector of the construction industry with companies deploying a wide range of cutting-edge technologies across a project lifecycle. Drones and building information modeling continue to be the rage, but mobile construction applications are the latest tech revolution in the industry.

Although technology and software are prevalent in construction, the industry continues to suffer from persistent challenges, such as skilled-labor shortage, fragmented teams, high competition, tight margins, and increased risk—all of which can be mitigated by increasing productivity. Traditional construction software has not solved the industry’s productivity problem however, whereas mobile technology software tackles some of this challenge including saving time on labor and rework issues.

A new ebook — “The Dollars and Sense of Mobile Construction Apps” — published by PlanGrid, provides insights into this fast-emerging digital transformation. It provides an overview of the bevy of mobile construction apps that can not only reduce risk, but help construction professionals maintain their bottom line while facilitating communication and document sharing with teams in the field and the office. There is a mobile app for just about everything now, from productivity to project management, reporting, and on the job safety.

The book is a valuable resource with strategies to encourage adoption of new mobile technology into your organization, as well as how to calculate the return on investment construction companies can expect from mobile technology. Like what could a team achieve with 5 extra hours a week? Or how much could you save by finishing a project early?

While mobile construction technology is an expense, the potential return is huge in terms of benefits to overall productivity, employee/client satisfaction, and risk mitigation, as well as a tangible return in savings from labor costs, downtime, and schedule acceleration.


Sto EIFS & Element Music Row Featured by EIMA

The new Element Music Row -- a luxury apartment high rise in Nashville -- used StoTherm ci Essence to ensure the building's energy efficiency.

One of Sto Corp’s signature exterior insulation finish projects is now being featured as a case study on the EIMA website.

Last year, working with Southern Wall Systems and Humphreys & Partners Architects, Sto helped incorporate a continuous exterior insulation system, and a continuous air and moisture barrier with high-performance finishes to protect the new Element Music Row highrise in midtown Nashville. The $100 million luxury apartment complex, is a 19-story, 431-unit building located in the heart of the country & western music capital of the world. The upscale new residence offers commanding views of downtown Nashville and easy access to all the shopping, dining and entertainment on Music Row.

StoTherm ci Essence – a decorative and protective exterior wall cladding that combines superior air and weather tightness with excellent thermal performance and durability – was the wall system of choice for the new structure, ensuring the building’s energy efficiency, aesthetics, and air-moisture control. Because of the inclusion of Sto products and other energy saving efforts, the developers are showcasing the building as a model “green living” environment that is, in fact, LEED certified.

The Element is located on Demonbreun (pronounced de-MUN-bree-un) Street in Nashville – an area that has become a symbol of urban revitalization for the music capital and a favorite venue for the city’s young, plugged-in professionals.  Private development is booming in the area, and developers like Element’s Childress Klein out of Charlotte, N.C. are looking to build upscale living spaces, Class A office buildings and tourist destinations.

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