Pushing the envelope: A new methodology for facade attachment
One of the most fundamental aspects of architecture is the act of enclosure. In the built environment, the walls, roofs, and floors of a building become thresholds between physical realms, separating space and function, interior and exterior, and become part of a whole building enclosure. The essence of a building enclosure is the enveloping layers of materials that serve to control the environmental conditions of interior spaces. These control layers mitigate air, heat, and water vapor flows into and out of a building and is where the most care must be taken by architects and contractors to ensure interior comfort, energy performance, and durability. Ever evolving and adapting to many diverse climates and geographic regions, humans have continuously sought to improve their building envelopes. Despite continuous advancements in architecture and construction practices, there remain opportunities for improvement in areas of energy performance, durability, and labor costs associated with the construction of building envelopes, particularly with the methods of attachment that are used to attach various control layers and cladding systems. In 2019, the cost of materials and labor dominate the budget of most projects and new products, materials, and labor techniques are constantly being sought to help reduce the overall project cost. While important, the financial costs of building pale in comparison to the ecological costs of irresponsible design and building practices. Human impact on the natural environment is greater than ever and immediate steps must be taken to ensure future generations have the ability to meet their own needs. The need for high performance buildings that can serve as figurative organisms in a greater ecosystem cannot be overstated. Through technical analysis, case studies, and discussions with construction technologists, this paper asks the following: why does current construction methodology need improvement and what do these potential improvements mean for the building industry, owners, and architects. In response to the discoveries made during the course of these investigations, a new construction method for exterior envelopes is presented that has the potential to change many paradigms in how buildings are envisioned, built, and maintained.