Designed for Performance: A Collaborative Research Studio Rethinks Glass Curtain Wall Systems

Apr 06, 2015

This paper presents the research of a year-long architectural studio engaging a team of practitioners and outside consultants along with a major manufacturer of window systems. Student research teams were charged to rethink the modern curtain wall from the ground up, questioning its material, environmental integration, and manufacturing implications. The research of the studio hypothesizes that new structural, material, and fabrication approaches can improve the environmental performance and architectural integration of curtain wall systems. Three experimental systems developed during the studio are presented in the paper, along with preliminary performance data showing their relative successes and shortcomings versus a contemporary high-performing curtain wall system. Prototyping, analysis, and simulation methods are also detailed. While the current body of research presented focuses on curtain wall systems, links are drawn between the research studio and practice with regard to how performance is evaluated and integrated as part of the design process of high performance buildings.

keywords: Envelopes, Performance, Simulation, Testing, Prototyping

Michael D. Gibson (Kansas State University)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2015 Conference – The FUTURE of Architectural Research (Chicago, IL)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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