Dichroic Curtain Wall
Project Team: Brittany Drapac
Columbia University GSAPP: Advanced Curtain Walls / Robert Heintges
Date: Jan. 2011- May 2011
Site: Neighborhood branch of the New York Public Library
Program: Custom curtain wall design for the west-facing facade
Size: 900 square feet of wall surface
Inspired by Bridget Riley’s Op-Art of the 1960s, this south-facing curtain wall layers dichroic, moveable louvers within double skin glazing. Riley intended her work to create a disorienting effect that coupled movement with structure while retaining a vision of the whole as texture. Her idea of color and form as identities part of a dynamic event led me to design a facade system that could shift angles and colors within a linear grid.
The curtain wall rises three stories above a recessed storefront to enclose a neighborhood library. Reading and browsing spaces along the facade are shaded by a sunscreen of 36” dichroic glass louvers at various angles, which are motorized to turn 30 degrees in either direction around 1” steel tubes. The louvers are enclosed by exterior and interior glazing with a circulation space between that releases heat in the summer and captures it in the winter. These four components are all part of a unitized system bound by 4” wide by 6” deep aluminum mullions. The units lock together on site, each 8’-0” wide, 4’-5” deep and 6’-0” high. The number 3 surface of the insulated glass incorporates a lined ceramic frit. The pattering together with the angled louvers create interior spaces of dappled, shifting light matched by a street presence that changes as one walks by.