“We don’t need walls anymore. We need living, breathing systems that provide so much more to the urban realm than keeping in conditioned air and keeping out noise and pollutants.” – Will Wright, AIA|LA
Los Angeles’ 2016 Facades+ Conference, presented by The Architect’s Newspaper, is the 18th event in an ongoing series of conferences and forums that have unfolded in cities across the nation, including New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, D.C., and Chicago. Held at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, the conference incorporated architects, engineers, fabricators, and innovative material manufacturers into a multidisciplinary two-day event covering the state of building envelope design thinking today.
The daylong symposium kicked off with spirited remarks by Will Wright, Director of Government & Public Affairs at AIA L.A., where he set forth a plea for stronger emphasis on localism and craftsmanship.
Co-chaired by Kevin Kavanagh and Alex Korter of CO Architects, the event included AIA LA, four local architecture schools – UCLA, USC, Woodbury, and Cal Poly Pomona – and a robust collection of Los Angeles-based architecture firms. Four panel discussions throughout the day covered the influence of building envelopes on business, education, structural design, and data analysis. The conversations engaged audience participation through an interactive, web-based tool called Sli.do.
In a morning panel discussion titled “Money Well Spent? An Owner’s Perspective on the Value of Facades,” moderator Kevin Kavanagh spoke with representatives from Kaiser Permanente, Kitchell, and The Ratkovich Company on finding the right balance between aesthetics, energy performance, fiscal responsibility, and efficient project scheduling.
During breaks, conference attendees attended a “Methods+Materials” gallery that highlighted innovative building envelope materials such as electrochromic glass, metal mesh fabric with integrated media display, and ultra-compact surfacing products.
The symposium was highlighted by keynote addresses from Enrique Norten and Eric Owen Moss.
Norten’s opening keynote set forth an argument for a socially responsible architecture integrated into the city via infrastructural, landscape, and public space projects. He cited works of his firm, TEN Arquitectos, which incorporate topographical manipulations of the landscape to establish social spaces of public engagement. His work intentionally camouflages the building envelope into a contextual landscape—be it an adjacent park or cityscape—to dissolve the separation between public and private.
Eric Owen Moss spoke in the afternoon, questioning at what point the conceptual content of a project becomes lost amidst constructional realities. Through recent work of his firm, Eric Owen Moss Architects, he focused on building envelope details that strayed from original design intent, transforming in concept and tectonics as engineers, fabricators, and contractors participated in the process.
In a panel discussion titled “Bytes, Dollars, EUI: Data Streams and Envelopes,” Moderator William Menking, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, spoke with Atelier 10, Gehry Technologies, and CPG regarding tools and processes facilitating facade analysis and optimization. Sameer Kashyap (Gehry Technologies) shared perhaps the most bewildering stat of the day—that GT was able to script processes which allowed two people to produce over 1200 shop drawings per day for 33 weeks in the coordination of a highly complex facade system.
Paul Zajfen of CO Architects rounded out the day with a presentation titled “Facades: A Manifestation of Client, Culture, Climate,” where he argued for contextually specific design producing a facade that “would not be possible at any other time—and in no other place.”
The symposium was followed on day two with a series of “dialog” and “lab” workshops covering net-zero facade systems, digital fabrication processes, curtain wall design, and advanced facade analysis.
A full roster of organizers and sponsors can be found on the conference website. The Los Angeles event was the first in 2016 of a seven-city lineup, and will be followed by a Facades+AM morning forum in Washington, D.C., on March 10th. The next two-day conference will take place in New York City April 21st and 22nd.