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AN.ONYMOUS installs an irregularly patterned brick veneer on facade of Northstar Dermatology Clinic

Mixed-up Masonry

AN.ONYMOUS installs an irregularly patterned brick veneer on facade of Northstar Dermatology Clinic

The Northstar Dermatology Clinic is the first of three buildings on the site. (Leonid Furmansky)
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Architect: AN.ONYMOUS
Location:
North Richland Hills, Texas
Completion Date:
January 2022

In North Richland Hills, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, L.A.-based firm AN.ONYMOUS has been commissioned to design three new buildings across a three-acre medical campus. In January 2022, the firm completed work on the first of these buildings: the Northstar Dermatology Clinic.

The 9,000-square-foot office building was designed with the aid of digital simulation tools. Using models created in Pedestrian Dynamics and AnyLogic, AN.ONYMOUS augmented the project’s floor plan to maximize circulation efficiency. The result of this design schema is a floor plan consisting of two offset rectangular spaces which overlap one another.

The building’s two overlapping rectangular volumes are offset one another, maximizing circulation efficiency. (Courtesy AN.ONYMOUS)

Due to the irregularities imposed by the offset forms, the interior partitions and hallways—which divide examination rooms, offices, and reception areas—are organized in an octagonal fashion instead of a traditional square floor plan. The octagonal layout, which arranges offices and examination rooms around the nurse’s station in the center of both of the building’s rectangular wings, allows optimal circulation between the two respective areas.

For the facade of the clinic, AN.ONYMOUS was required to install a brick veneer due to the city of North Richland Hills’ municipal code which mandates that 80 percent of exterior walls on commercial buildings be constructed using masonry. Fortunately, brick veneer is lighter than solid brick, reducing the cost of transportation, handling, and installation. The brick pattern alternates between stacked and running bonds, oriented diagonally and horizontally in sections separated by control joints.

Brick bonds alternate between stacked and running bonds in segments delineated by control joints. (Leonid Furmansky)

Iman Ansari, founding principal of AN.ONYMOUS, told AN, “rather than concealing its identity as a faux brick, our goal was to celebrate the material artificiality and thinness of brick veneer and have it to do things that are not always possible with real solid brick. The brickwork then represents an oblique projection of the building volumes on the facade, that like an oblique drawing distort the geometric relations in the object. The 2.7-degree angle in the projections is a reflection of the site slope and grading, maintained in the back of the building, that also contrasts the leveled floor of the building interior.”

On the building’s exterior, cutouts reveal the Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). The EIFS cutouts are colored black, visually contrasting with the glazed white brick. The building’s windows, the EIFS cutouts, and the brick bonds are asymmetrically arranged in relation to one another, mimicking the project’s offset and irregular floor plan. Ansari added that conceptually, “the exterior facades function as two-dimensional surfaces that attempt to represent, but never fully correspond to, the logic of the interior.”

The building’s windows, the EIFS cutouts, and the brick bonds are asymmetrically arranged in relation to one another, mimicking the project’s offset and irregular floor plan. (Courtesy AN.ONYMOUS)

Referring to the EIFS cutouts, Ansari explained, “the “shadow” windows also appear in regular intervals but in places where no windows exist. These are instances where we had originally placed windows but removed them later for functional or programmatic reasons—some were removed in order to increase the building’s energy performance and reduce costs, especially in places like bathrooms or storage rooms where they were not needed.”

To manage energy efficiency, the firm utilized double-glazing and installed as few windows as possible. Likewise, EIFS, as a wall and insulation system, is higher performing than other available options.

The project’s contractor and brick supplier had never used thin brick in a diagonal orientation, requiring extensive testing before a warranty could be issued for the product. (Leonid Furmansky)

Given the project’s irregular layout, AN.ONYMOUS experienced difficulty communicating the intended design to the contractor and subcontractors. Because of the offset, the building’s elevations did not align with the intended design of the facade. This required that the firm provide contractors with individual renders of each surface containing heavy annotations and detailed instructions. Prior to brick installation, workers used colored tape to map out the control joints which delineate the different sections of the facade.

Ansari told AN, “what made the process more difficult is that the choice of the thin brick material as well as the size of the grouts and control joints changed multiple times during the design and documentation process.” These changes meant the drawings had to be reproduced several times, with the dimensions of the grout and control joint delineated on the drawings so they could be installed correctly during construction.

The project’s contractor and brick supplier had never used thin brick in a diagonal orientation, requiring extensive testing before a warranty could be issued for the product. Normally laid horizontally or vertically, the brick for the diagonal sections of the facade was positioned at 2.7 or 45 degree angles along the wall.

AN.ONYMOUS also worked closely with local firm Guide Architecture to implement the design.

The rest of the campus is slated to be complete by 2024. (Courtesy Anonymous).

The remainder of the medical campus, which will consist of two more buildings, is expected to be completed by 2024.

You can build your own model-sized version of the the Northstar Dermatology Clinic using this printout.


Project Specifications

An earlier version of the design was developed by AN.ONYMOUS in collaboration with Spinagu.

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