Use the following learning
objectives to focus your study while reading this month’s
ARCHITECTURAL RECORD / AIA Continuing Education article.
After reading this article, you will be able to:
the benefits of unitized construction systems.
how unitized systems differ from stick building.
the collaboration of disciplines required of unitized
Facade engineering has always been science.
Now its art, too. As reported in this magazine last
August, a buildings skin is no longer a passive wrapper
articulated with spandrels, mullions, and low-e glazing. Because
of growing client demands and technological innovations, making
a curtain wall now requires a team of collaboratorsdesigners,
engineers, and fabricators. The linear path to creation has
been supplanted by integrated teamwork.
A staircase behind the
Burberry facade creates a zone that enlivens the
showrooms for several floors, blurring the line
between inside and out.
Chun Lai Photography
This developing paradigm of collaboration
is the logical consequence of a shift away from so-called
stick building to unitized systems, especially in those projects
that require small margins of error and demand a high level
of craftsmanship. Whereas in stick construction everything
is done in the field, as raw materials are processed and assembled
on-site, much of unitized construction takes place off-site.
The facade is engineered as a system of components, which
are fabricated in the controlled environment of a factory
or workshop. The components are shipped to the site, where
they are usually hoisted into place by cranes and connected
to each other.
Unitized construction is particularly
well suited to the demand for high thermal performance, weather
tightness, and increasingly, quality detailing. Although quite
different in program and execution, the success of all three
projects discussed here depended on a close collaboration
among all the disciplines.