Everything is bigger in Texas: Facades+ returns to Austin
Facades+ returns to Austin for its fifth event of the year. After successful events in Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York, the austin conference will highlight some of the most exciting new projects in Texas. Co-chaired by Ashley Heeren of Lake|Flato, the program will include three morning panels and an afternoon of workshops.
The morning symposium will open with the panel “Transforming Texas Design: Austin’s Dynamic Facades,” which will feature the Austin Proper Hotel and the work of W&W Glass. Josh Ishihara of Handel Architects will be joined by David Green and Andrea Hellerman of WJE to discuss Austin Proper, with a focus on bringing pre-engineered building elements to Austin. Meanwhile, Jeff Haber, Managing Partner of W&W Glass, will present innovations in engineered structural glass, covering the engineering, logistics and installation of W&W’s large-scale projects.
The Ion and Menil Drawing Institute in Houston will bring the program to the second panel, where projects overlap on daylighting needs in two distinct contexts. Joseph Welker of James Carpenter Design Associates will be joined by Rachel Callafell of Walter P Moore to present Ion, a complex adaptive reuse of a former Sears building. Their presentation will highlight the design process behind transforming the building into a home for innovation and bringing natural light inside. Nicholas Hofstede, managing director of Johnston Marklee, will present his firm’s work on the Menil Drawing Institute, detailing the specific climatic conditions that influenced the design of the building.
The morning will end with two projects that illustrate the possibilities of Texas’ favorite material: concrete. Ashley Heeren and Bungane Mehlomakulu will present House Zero, a 3D printed house that pushes the boundaries of concrete fabrication. Michael Hargens and Burton Baldridge will present their work on the ARRIVE Hotel, showing the high quality of workmanship that can be achieved with traditional building methods.
Participants can stay the afternoon to earn 3 additional AIA HSW CEUs, with three workshop track options led by STI Firestop, HKS and The Beck Group.
With its mid-century retro aesthetic, the Zero House by Lake|Flato Architects doesn’t appear that radically different from the habitat of yesteryear. The clerestory windows, widespread use of natural wood, and integration into the surrounding landscape give the single-storey home a sense of comfortable timelessness – it’s a classic backpacker redux. Yet the 2,000-square-foot East Austin home’s untraditional construction is also evident throughout, especially in its curvaceous 3D-printed wall system made possible by ICON’s gantry-style robotic printer (dubbed Vulcana la Mr. Spock) and the use of Lavacrete, a proprietary building material comprised of Portland cement, fillers, additional cementitious materials, and what the company calls “advanced additives” that help its 3D-printed structures to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Lavacrete provides thermal mass that slows heat transfer through the home, an important consideration for often sweltering central Texas. The combination of thermal mass, increased insulation and an airtight wall increases the energy efficiency of the structure while reducing life cycle costs. True to its moniker, the house was designed as a net-zero energy building.
While many old Main Street department stores have encountered the destructive force of the wrecking ball, others, thanks to forward-thinking developers and the skillful plans of architects and engineers, have been repurposed and reimagined to contemporary uses. One such project is Houston’s Ion, a former Sears department store, which was modernized and expanded by James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), SHoP Architects and Gensler, and structural engineer Walter P Moore.
The near-surgical sculpting of the formidable concrete mass of the façade and interior core provided the design team with the leeway needed to update building systems and incorporate a contemporary envelope system. Inside, the existing concrete structure is left exposed, as are the department store’s worn terrazzo floors. An atrium cut through the middle of the floor plates lets in a controlled but constant amount of daylight, which streams in from a south-leaning skylight fitted with fixed louvers.
The bottom tier is where startup entrepreneurs get started, engage in workshops, and hone their pitches. On the first level, in addition to the reception areas, there is an investor suite and a large manufacturing space equipped with 3D printers and the like. The second level hosts a co-working office. On the third are smaller rented spaces for businesses past the initial incubation phase. The fourth and fifth levels are reserved for large tenants. Throughout the stack, the ground surface around the atrium is meant to remain accessible to the public, the aim being to create a lively top-to-bottom buzz at the heart of The Ion.
Menil Drawing Institute
The Menil Drawing Institute’s low-rise, 30,000-square-foot building may seem simple—a one-story collection of rectangular volumes and three square open-air courtyards—but highly specific technical details abound. Johnston Marklee deployed an extremely thin metal roof, precisely angled ceilings and fully custom furniture, among other details, to further the institute’s goal of studying, preserving and exhibiting contemporary and modern designs. .
Although it opened in 2018, the Menil Drawing Institute was one of 11 projects to win the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award this year. Architecture Prize, an annual program that “celebrates the best contemporary architecture and highlights the many ways buildings and spaces can enhance lives”.