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Energy and Curtain Walling Lessons from a recent past

Ignacio Fernรกndez Solla Facades + New York. April 25 2014


1880s to 1940s The pre-history of lightweight facades

Unknown building under construction, Chicago 1880s


Reliance Building, Chicago Daniel Burnham, 1890


Reliance Building, Chicago Daniel Burnham, 1889


What about New York?

Edgar Laing Stores, New York James Bogardus, 1849


1871 101 Spring St., New York Nicholas Whyte Store and office building


1912 14 Wall St., New York Bankers Trust Company Bldg Trowbridge & Livingston Office building


Woolworth Building, New York Cass Gilbert, 1913


Woolworth Building, New York Cass Gilbert, 1913


Empire Estate Building, New York Shreve, Lamb & Harmond, 1931


Starrett Lehigh Building, New York Cory, Cory & Matsui, 1931


1931 Starrett Lehigh Building, New York RG & WM Cory architects, Purdy & Henderson engineers Concrete slab edge, brick parapet and glass. Warehouse and office building


1830s to 1940s Thermal insulation: building scientists and manufacturers

JEAN CL. EUGENE PECLET 1793-1857 French physicist. In his book "Traité de la Chaleur et de ses Applications aux Arts et Aux Manufactures" (1829) described heat flow and coined the concept of U-factor for envelopes.

From “A study of the Heat Transmission of Building Materials”, Willard & Litchy 1917


1840s to 1940s Thermal insulation: building scientists and manufacturers


Lightweight (but thermally conscious) proposals from the 30s

From two articles by Kocher & Frey in The Architectural Record , April 1933 and January 1934


1940s Understanding thermal flows through walls‌


1940s ‌ and the cost implications of good vs. bad insulation


1940s and 1950s Metal curtain walls come to the fore


1940s and 1950s Metal curtain walls


1948 Equitable Building, Portland Pietro Belluschi


1948 Equitable Building, Portland Pietro Belluschi


1948 Equitable Building, Portland Pietro Belluschi


1949 100 Park Ave, New York Kahn & Jacobs White brick stripes , glass and aluminum window wall. Office building


1951 525 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh Harrison & Abramovitz


From storefronts to “show windows”…

Kawneer advert in The Architectural Record , May 1950. Herpolsheimer’s Department Store in Grand Rapids Michigan. Perry, Shaw and Hepburn architects. Described as a “giant four-story show window”


‌to curtain walls

Image of the UN Secretariat Building before construction. From a Barrett advert in The Architectural Record , May 1950


1952 Lever House, NYC Skidmore Owings and Merrill


1952 Lever House, NYC Skidmore Owings and Merrill


1952 Lever House, NYC Skidmore Owings and Merrill


The Reliance Building vs. the Lever House. A quantum leap?


Energy: too cheap to meter?

"Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter... It is not too much to expect that our children will (‌) travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age."

Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, 1954 speech to the National Association of Science Writers.


1954 99 Park Avenue, New York


Opportunities for curtain wall recladding – lessons to be learnt

Energy & Curtain Walling Presentantion  
Energy & Curtain Walling Presentantion  

Energy & Curtain Walling Presentation by Ignacio Fernandez Solla of Arup