Earning its latest accolade as the Best Overall Winner in MCA’s 2023 Design Awards competition, the dynamic and shimmering metal louvered façade at Thirty75 Tech in Santa Clara, Calif., is a sight to behold.
Custom aluminum extrusions form Brise Soleil, louvers that wrap the curtain wall. In addition to presenting an animated façade, the carefully calibrated louvers expertly shield the building from the California sun.
“The project explored the dialectic relationship between performance and expression: a dynamic façade that, while static in construction, changes based on the viewer’s position and daylight angle,” explains Verse Design Principal Paul Tang. “The complexity of the louvers is not random and is based on performative needs to mitigate heat gain and glare in what otherwise is an all-glass structure.”
Without it, the building would not have been able to shade the required 70 percent of the floor-to-ceiling glass to meet stringent Title 24 energy standards.
In order to achieving this performance target, the design team tested different louver shapes and sizes with the parametric modeling program Grasshopper. The louver length, width and rotation were tested and adjusted in relation to the shading values and evaluated within the context of the façade’s environmental impact on the office space, a landscaped entry plaza and the street.
Ultimately, an airfoil elliptical shape emerged as the best option for meeting all these goals.
While terracotta was originally selected for the louvers, upon further exploration, the team discovered that terracotta would have been too heavy and costly to implement. As a result, metal was chosen based upon its visual experience and ability to add a finish coating for enhanced durability.
“A champagne-colored metallic paint on all louvers captures and reflects the changing daylight colors, providing visual variation not possible with terracotta,” notes Tang.
The architect’s vision and desired effect is a 3-dimensional interpretation of the “digital rain” concept from Matrix films.
The louvers are custom extrusions of Alloy 6005-T5 from Architectural Glass & Aluminum with a PPG Duranar Finish.
To optimize shading, the design incorporates 28 unitized panel variations with each panel containing seven vertical louver units with some exceptions at corners. The louvers are offset by 5 degrees, rotating every 15 degrees, in six different angles, up to 90 degrees. Designed in depths of three, six and nine inches, each unitized panel is held together by a 4 in. x 6 in. x 3/8-in. aluminum angle frame attached to a catwalk.
Through the process of fabrication and installation, Verse Design worked very closely with AGA, Architectural Grilles & Sunshades, the fabricator and contractor as quite a number of modifications had to be made to make the Brise Soleil system installable.
“The process was not linear, and the team had to keep an open mind to overcome challenges. These challenges included changes to components of the system, methods of attachments and sequence of construction. A mockup was instrumental in identifying these challenges and experimenting with different solutions,” reports Tang.
In addition to creating a first-class façade design worthy of Class A office building, Verse Design also added an additional 33,000 leasable square feet to the original 200,000 square feet program on the two-acre site. This yielded $200,000 more in monthly rent than originally projected.
Originally designed to house multiple tenants, Amazon ended up leasing the entire building which also incorporates a parking structure, EV charging, café, gym, basketball courts and putting green.
Photo Credit: Tim Griffith