Keith Boswell with Skidmore Owings and Merrill presented on building facade concepts.

Every other year the glass industry descends upon Tampere, Finland, for Glass Performance Days (GPD). The conference offers a program of knowledge sharing and networking, with many sessions offering perspectives on the future of architectural glass. The event is taking place this week, with several speakers focusing on facade trends and developments.

Erika Saretta from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland presented on active building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) facades. She offered a look at trends and innovations, as well as future possibilities.

When you first think about photovoltaics, she said, most people think about roof panels, for example. However, there are also BIPV projects where it’s difficult to tell which parts of the facade are the modules as they are closely integrated into the design of the building.

She explained that the composition of BIPV includes a glass panel, the PV cells encapsulated into an interlayer material, and another piece of glass. Possible applications can include railings, facade glazing, skylights, etc.

She added that there are also some innovation trends focusing on areas such as aesthetics and efficiencies. Architects, she explained, are looking for new products that can help improve the façade’s aesthetic language, and organizations are developing optimization techniques that can help balance aesthetics and efficiency. One example could be the use of glass surface techniques. Sandblasting, for instance, can give a new look to the module. Silkscreening also can be used to customize the aesthetics of the facade, as well as techniques such as satin finishing and glass printing

She added that as ideas ultimately translate to becoming real products, it’s important to keep in mind that the BIPV must remain compliant with both technical and building standards.

Architect Keith Boswell with Skidmore Owings and Merrill also made a presentation about building facade concepts, taking a look at several of his firm’s recent glazing projects. He said in designing, they always look to create a balance between the performance and the visual aspects.

When speaking about bringing innovation and ideas to their designs, he said one of his mantras is, “you’re only as good as what you do today.” It’s important to always work toward advancing and improving on what you do, he said.

Boswell discussed the recently completed 350 Mission Street in San Francisco. He said that in the area they have beautiful daylight, which the designed to take advantage of.

He also talked about the innovative design of the Poly International Plaza in China, which features a unique, diagrid facade, as well as the expansion of the Moscone Center in San Francisco and the recent completion of the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse. All three of these projects were designed with innovation in mind, combining performance and aesthetics.

“Treat every project as if it’s the last one you’ll do and how you want to be remembered,” he said.

GPD 2017 continues through Friday, June 30. Stay tuned to™ for more news and updates from the conference.