The Twisting Tour Total

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Friday, October 18, 2013
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Aesthetic dynamics for the 18-story tower were designed in Rhino. (Ina Reinecke)

Aesthetic dynamics for the 18-story tower were designed in Rhino. (Ina Reinecke)

Barkow Leibinger designs a precast folded facade that puts a gentle spin on surrounding traditional architecture.

On one of the last urban tracts of available land in Berlin, Germany, local architecture firm Barkow Leibinger recently completed an 18-story tower, Tour Total. Highly visible from a neighboring train station, and the first completed project in the site’s 40-acre master plan, the tower has a raster facade with precast concrete panels that were geometrically computed in Rhino to create twisting inflections, conveying a sense of movement around the building’s four sides.

As a load-bearing facade, 40 percent of the surface is closed, and 60 percent is triple-glazed, with every other window operable. In addition to integrated energy management strategies—the first building tenant is French energy company Total—partner Frank Barkow said the firm’s extensive background in digital fabrication and research allowed the efficient development of the dynamic facade. Drawing from the surrounding, traditionally quadrilinear brick facades of the 1920s and 30s, the tower’s lines are imbued with an engrained depth that twists optically to read differently in direct sun or cloudy weather, without actually moving. Read More

Taylor Family Digital Library Sunscreen

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Friday, April 13, 2012
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The self-tensioning system has 52 percent open area (Cambridge)

LEED Gold-certified building protects old documents with a modern mesh design

The new Taylor Family Digital Library houses some of the University of Calgary’s prized documents—more than 800,000 architectural drawings, one million maps and aerial photographs, and thousands of print monographs are among the nine million items in the collection. The university built the library as part of its mission to become one of Canada’s top five research libraries by 2016, the year of its 50th anniversary. But the library also serves the practical goal of protecting the special documents and art collections that were relocated there from other facilities. To that end, architect Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning envisioned the 265,000-square-foot building enshrouded in a veil of mesh that would provide solar protection while creating a semi-transparent facade and day-lit interiors to be enjoyed by students and community members.

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KPMB’s Ductal facade in Toronto

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Friday, March 9, 2012
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The Rotman School of Management under construction (KPMB/Tom Arban)

Rotman School makes the most of high-performance concrete and glass

The University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s nearly $100 million expansion project will more than double the size of the business school. A new 161,000-square-foot building designed by Toronto-based KPMB Architects mediates between its neighbors—a historic 19th century brick home on one side and the towering Brutalist Robarts Library on the other—while maintaining views to the medieval Oxbridge-style Massey College to the east. The architect’s solution to the architectural mixture is an elevated box made with floor-to-ceiling glazing punctuated by slivers of Ductal, a patented ultra-high performance concrete made by Lafarge.

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Zeilgalerie Media Facade: 3deluxe

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Friday, August 26, 2011
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The glass and aluminum facade is illuminated by 42,000 white LEDs (Emanuel Raab)

Frankfurt’s Zeil gets another facelift with an ever-changing media installation

The Zeil is Frankfurt’s main shopping district, a pedestrian-only street bordered by two large plazas. In 2009, Massimiliano Fuksas’ vortex-clad Mab Zeil mixed-use center brought a new face to the street. Not to be outdone by its neighbor, the Zeilgalerie shopping mall began its own facelift the same year. Designed by Wiesbaden, Germany-based interdisciplinary collective 3deluxe, its LED-illuminated black facade brings a new sense of unity to the street and was recently given the Red Dot 2011 design award in the category of Information Design/Public Space.

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