Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago
Trends in façade shape and style have changed significantly over the last few years because of significant evolution in architectural techniques. Fifty years ago, shape was solely linked to structural design. The real challenge was constructing high-rise buildings using only one skin to form building shapes that ranged from rectangular and aerodynamic to even pyramidal. This presentation describes the changes that have occurred in this sector up until the present, reviewing how structural challenges have evolved due to the free-form shapes, lack of flat surfaces, the introduction of double-skin façades, and the inclusion of protruding technologies such as sunshades.
Façade technology is another field where the evolution and innovation of the new materials and systems for supporting building skins has been rigorously advanced due to the need for quick and light construction methods. Glass has probably undergone the most changes and improvements in the last fifty years, beginning with single-pane glass, and ending with the latest technology: electrochromic glass. Insulation has also greatly improved over the last half-century, and new materials have been developed to respond to increased fire protection requirements that are more effective than before.
Overall façade systems, including the composition of materials and blind panels have been optimized for standard façade construction.0 The materials have changed from aluminum extrusion to composite pultrusion. Lighting design and technology has also improved, enhancing the image and marketing potential of buildings in cities.