Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over
CS1.3 Details and Systems
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: BNCC- 101AH
What do curtain walls, antiquated floor systems, thin-stone veneers and vernacular wattle and daub jettied buildings all have in common? Each is a building system whose building technology is obsolete, despite its age. Obsolete building technology is a common challenge for aging buildings, especially when the preservation of those technologies and life safety requirements are seemingly at odds.
With curtain walls, American International style glass buildings face tremendous obstacles to their perpetuity, especially considering their poor thermal performance. The non-thermally broken frames and single-pane glass conduct higher rates of heat intensity across the envelope’s section, which leads to inadequate thermal comfort, higher building operational costs, and accelerates decay through excessive expansion, contraction, and condensation. Holistically, the subsequent deterioration precipitates safety issues, higher maintenance costs, and higher building energy usage – all of which places pressure on building owners to remove and replace the old curtain wall with new systems.
The preservation of antiquated floor systems can face many challenges at the onset of a project. The decision to retain, modify, or demolish existing floors is often made early in design, when understanding of the existing systems and proposed programming are limited. The pressure to tear down and start over with a system that has known costs and risks can be strong; however, this pressure can be offset by educating stakeholders about how the system’s re-use can be validated.
Historic facades are increasingly under scrutiny as potential sources of serious overhead hazards, and fatality incidents due to failures – even in those areas with façade inspection legislation in place, continue to occur. Even today, the building envelope is the most experimental building system, continually tweaking assemblies to push buildings taller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. Thin-stone veneer, a façade system of stone panels typically less than 2-inches thick, were introduced in the late 1940s; this system reduced weight and cost while playing into the mid-century aesthetic of sleek surfaces and planar architecture.
In long-standing, time–tested vernacular building forms, particularly those in harsh climates, the practical consideration of creating shelter that used the readily available local materials, and that performed in the given climate was paramount.
By better understanding how the details of all of these systems actually work, attendees will not only better understand how to maintain and preserve them, but they will also sharpen their eye toward better understanding and deciphering the hidden logic of building details not presented that they may encounter in their own work.
This course qualifies for HSW credit with AIA and RCEP.
- Identify typical decay mechanisms caused and influenced by high rates of thermal conductance through glass envelopes and define the typical problems faced by historic curtain walls.
- Explain the conceptual technical detailing approach for enhancement modifications in a solar control dominated climate and a passive solar heating climate.
- Investigate the analysis methods for common antiquated floor slab systems.
- Recognize failure modes and distress conditions related to material performance and installation issues for stone panel facades
High-performance retrofits of Mid-Century Curtain Wall: A case study analysis of opportunities to enhance thermal performance using low-impact, reversible solutions.
The Importance of and Methodology for Understanding Antiquated Floor Systems and How to Preserve and Adapt them to Modern Uses – Lessons Learned from a Variety of Floor Systems in Washington, DC
Thin-Stone Veneers: When Performance, Preservation, and Public Safety Are at Odds
Unlocking the Technical Mysteries of the Vernacular; Understanding high-performing traditional vernacular building systems and details