• Field Notes 14.11.2013

    Some time ago, I did a blog about buildings that are unique and worth looking into for what they brought to the glazing world. So, nothing like pulling out the same slate again, but with a twist:  one’s a golden oldie, one’s recently completed, and one’s about to be built.  They each hold their own in what they contributed or will contribute to the industry.

    First, the eye-catching building that’s about to be built: Apple’s new headquarters: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_24290808/apple-offers-sneak-peek-at-its-new-headquarters

    A reporter referred to it as a “spaceship – designed” structure.  The scale is huge:  a mile circumference (1/3 mile diameter) and four stories tall.  That works out to about 250,000 sq.ft. of curtainwall, at least on the exterior, and probably two-thirds of that on the interior side.

    The claim the building will be as innovative as any other Apple product can only be proved over time. It will be interesting to see how it’s received in the architectural press after it’s built, and whether it lives up to all the things the designers want it to do, like reducing air conditioning needs for 70 percent of the year and using 30 percent less energy that a typical Silicon Valley corporate building.  Two thoughts come to mind:  1) I’d like to get the glazing contract, and 2) if I worked there, I don’t think I’d enjoy walking to a meeting on the other side of the building.

    Now, let’s look at a classic all-glass building: Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.  The former pastor there, Dr. Robert Schuller, started his ministry conducting services in a drive-in movie theater, and the building has what I describe as a hangar door that opened to allow those who still came to church in their cars to remain in them.

    This building is a towering symbol of 1970s architecture, with eight walls and the roof glazed over a steel space frame that limits interior structure, thereby enclosing a large, uninterrupted interior space.  Glazed with reflective glass (the product of choice in the halcyon days of yore and before low-E), the space is open, almost like being outside. At the time, it was one of the largest single structural silicone glazing jobs on the books.  The space frame and glazing were designed for an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.  I believe LOF was the glass manufacturer.

    This building was under construction just as I came out of school. You can see some good interior and exterior shots of it here.

    More recently, SOM completed the Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, Calif.:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNKlR_jkEo4.  Talk about the use of natural lighting!  The silhouette of Christ above the alter is actually metal panels with a dot pattern with a variety of different hole sizes and spacing that’s backlit by the exterior wall behind it.  Even the interior spaces are designed to appear as if they are naturally lit, even though the lights are clearly visible.  It’s easy to see why this building is getting so many accolades in the construction and architecture circles.

    One thing that jumps out with all of these projects, especially the last two is this: think about the radical change to these buildings if ASHRAE had its way and limited the glazing to 30 percent (knowing that the 40 percent vs. 30 percent limit probably isn’t applicable to these types of building).  It’s nice to see architects take on such unique challenges that open up their facades to let the sun shine in.  Hopefully, the glass biz will continue to help them along the way.

    Posted by Blogger @ 8:33 am

  • 2 Responses

    • You Guy’s really need to get out more, out side of America that is. Have you not heard about the ‘greenest’ building in the World ? The CIS building at One Angel Square in Manchester, England. Take a look and weep !!

    • Barry:
      Thanks for your comment; glad to see we have an international following. These three buildings have been in the news here in the States, and for a US-based glass magazine, thought that a majority of our readers would relate to that. In a past blog post(http://www.usglassmag.com/fieldnotes/?m=201101) I commented on buildings across a wider geography, and what they meant to glazing and the reasons they interested me. Always on the lookout for interesting buildings around the world. I’ll take a look at the CIS building; thanks for the suggestion.

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