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SUPERSTRUCTURES
Engineers + Architects

32 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
(212) 505 1133

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SuperScript is a quarterly newsletter from SUPERSTRUCTURES. Founded in 1981, we are a firm of architects, structural engineers, and conservators dedicated to the art and science of exterior restoration.

The Curtain Wall Consultant: As Indispensable as the Project Manager

100 years before the Beatles, Liverpool England was the site of two early examples of curtain walls.  But in the mid-1860s, the curtain wall was in its infancy.

Today, the curtain wall system is a staple of architecture, appearing everywhere from Los Angeles, CA to New York, NY.

Completed in 2014, One World Trade Center has elevated the form to great heights – quite literally.  At a deeply symbolic 1,776 feet (with spire), the building is blast resistant, boasting custom staging and maintenance.

The structure’s curtain wall designer was called on to create a “monolithic glass structure reflecting the sky” conforming to the project architect’s vision; a vision which incorporated 8 isosceles triangles into the structural design of the 104-story building, which is clearly viewed from the windows of SUPERSTRUCTURES’ office.

Aesthetics and building science against water penetration

Now that glass curtain walls have risen to inhabit the pinnacle of architectural aesthetics, curtain wall consulting has become an important job type in connection with large scale commercial buildings.

Reflecting the exterior environment, wall design and consulting have embraced the curtain wall as a key element of the modern building envelope.  Inviting natural light inside, curtain walls allow commercial facilities to optimize floor space.

But the aesthetics of curtain walls have serious building science behind them, answering the need for protection from water penetration, as well as fire protection.

Curtain walls and the elements

If your building project includes a curtain wall, you’ll be grateful for the indispensable support of a curtain wall consultant.  That window wall you’re planning is as complex and challenging as it is visually striking.

It’s there to do more than look good.  Glass and glazing which form curtain walls must satisfy more than aesthetic considerations, meeting challenges like budgetary and maintenance considerations and technical requirements.

A glass curtain wall demands a team lead intimately familiar with glass curtain walls and how they perform as building enclosures against the elements.  In dialogue with other senior consultants on the project (project manager and design consulting professionals), your curtain wall professional works to ensure that roofing and waterproofing are equal to the challenges presented by curtain walls.

Waterproofing consulting is pivotal to the project of analyzing existing conditions.  Working with your curtain wall consultant and the senior consulting team, a thorough forensic investigation, including testing and analysis to reveal deficiencies and address them from project inception, ensures a sound result, leaving little room for errors which result in change orders.

Building enclosures – let consultants be your umbrella

Waterproofing is what completes your roof and walls, creating the building enclosure.  Building enclosure consultants also form a kind of umbrella, encompassing the skills of curtain wall consultants, design consultants and waterproofing consultants, working in concert to realize the vision of the architectural lead and project manager.  At the same time, these professionals ensure a finished project which meets the power of natural elements fearlessly.

The creation of a building which shelters its inhabitants, protecting them from heat, cold and water, nurturing them in a safe environment is an intricate undertaking involving many components.  Bringing all these disparate pieces of the puzzle together is of paramount importance moving forward, as the integrity of your building means reduced operating expenses and long-term building enclosure performance.

Creativity meets engineering

One World Trade Center represents the evolution of the curtain wall.  Due to the complex nature of the design, these buildings stand as an ideal example of how designers, engineers and consultants specializing in curtain walls, building enclosures and envelopes, waterproofing and roofing act rather like cells in an organism.  They’re each playing their parts to create something truly spectacular while being sound, secure and impervious to water incursion.

Using a system of monorail modular beams, installers were given ready access to all areas requiring curtain wall panel installation.  This unique solution provided multiple rigging points and easy access for crews.

Controllable via remote, workers had access to the system from all over the building during the construction phase.  High speed and wireless, maximum productivity was achieved, allowing the building to be completed on budget.  An incredible feat for such a boldly innovative design.

When creativity meets engineering, the curtain wall consultant is in his element.  This is the nature of the role – providing insight and support that gets the impossible done by setting the stage and standing with all parties through realization.

The unitized curtain walls cladding the now iconic One World Trade Center building are a stunning example of collaborative creativity in the service of visionary design and progressively-oriented engineering.

SUPERSTRUCTURES Engineers + Architects has combined the skills and talents of a team of conservators, scientists, architects, engineers, cost estimators and technology professionals.  We marry science to art with superior results, delivering on time and on budget.

Contact us to discuss curtain wall consulting for your iconic structure.