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Tessellate Press Release
published: December 20, 2010

A. Zahner Company and Adaptive Building Initiative To Unveil Tessellate™ at the 2010 Greenbuild Expo Chicago, IL, November 17, 2010 – At the 2010 Greenbuild Expo, A. Zahner Company (Zahner) and Adaptive Building Initiative (ABI) have partnered to unveil Tessellate™, the latest adaptive façade system of ABI’s Intelligent Surfaces™ platform.

Intelligent Surfaces™ are kinetic façade systems which physically adapt to changes in daylight, solar gain, airflow, and privacy by altering their configuration. The latest product, Tessellate™, is a self¬contained, framed screen whose perforated pattern can continually shift and evolve; creating a dynamic architectural element. It is designed for walls, windows, and dividers as a versatile, multi¬purpose façade.

Tessellate™ consists of stacked panels that can be constructed using various materials. Overlapping layers result in a kaleidoscopic visual display of patterns that align and then diverge into a fine, light¬diffusing mesh. Geometry can range from regular grids to free¬form patterns and panels can be constructed in any shape. Tessellate™ can be customized to fit the architectural vision of the client—the options are virtually endless.

ABI, a joint¬venture of Hoberman Associates and Buro Happold, is a worldwide industry leader in the design, engineering, physics, management and supervision of complex architectural structures and systems. Partnering with Zahner has solidified ABI’s full¬service delivery of complete solutions for the building envelope. Craig Schwitter, Buro Happold Partner and co¬founder of ABI, remarked: “We are very excited about this partnership. Zahner brings a world of knowledge of metallurgy, of manufacturing, and of cladding technology to ABI. Combined with ABI‘s deep understanding of building dynamics, integrated controls, and of kinetic cladding systems, we are well positioned to realize a new generation of adaptive façades.”

Committed to producing the architect’s vision, Zahner is responsible for many of the greatest architectural achievements of the late 20th century, including numerous buildings designed by architects Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, and others. "Architects and artists have changed the way we think at our company," says Zahner president Bill Zahner. "Our reputation is built upon delivering not just a product that works, but a product that looks stunning, a product that changes the way people think. This is what we're doing with Tessellate™."

Tessellate™ is controlled using location¬based sensory data to respond to light and weather conditions and fully integrates into the building management system. For instance, when high levels of direct light are detected, the metal panels diverge, and their patterns completely overlap, blocking the suns harsh rays. The sensors are programmed in a variety of ways to maximize energy efficiency and savings.

Solar shading, the primary function of the Tessellate™ System, is an important consideration when designing an energy¬efficient building envelope. It is often difficult to reduce a building’s energy consumption while maintaining daylight levels that preserve views and promote a healthy internal environment. Tesselate’s™ ability to shade adaptively addresses these concerns and improves a building’s energy performance by dynamically adjusting to environmental conditions and internal user preferences. More specifically, Tessellate™ provides the following energy savings:

  • Tessellate™ reduces a building’s annual cooling load by 14% over fixed shading. This reduces the annual cooling energy required to provide a comfortable internal environment.
  • Due to its automated adaptive response to internal and external daylight levels, Tessellate™ provides 12¬14% more hours per year when daylighting systems can be used over artificial lights, as compared to fixed shading or traditional blinds
  • When applied to a glass façade Tessellate™ allows glass with higher daylight transmission and improved color rendering capabilities to be specified while meeting or exceeding ASHRAE 90.1 2010 SHGC values.
  • Tessellate is a force¬balanced mechanism, which allows it to operate an entire duty cycle without drawing more power than a standard, 60 Watt light bulb.

In addition to its functional benefits, Tessellate™ strongly enhances the architectural design. Tessellate’s™ patterns are created from a collaborative process of design and engineering, balancing the relationship between pattern, movement, geometry, and scale. ABI President Chuck Hoberman explains that when designing Tessellate™, integration with the building, and design flexibility are as carefully considered as its technical merits: “Shading, day¬lighting and solar gain management are critical to a building’s energy performance. The systems that address these needs should be as carefully designed as the building itself. They must be at once beautiful and functional.”

The first building to utilize Tessellate™ is the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The installation – completed on November 2nd, 2010 – serves both as the building's artistic centerpiece and as a functional piece of shading seamlessly integrated within its south¬facing glass façade. To achieve the requirements of the building program, ABI and Zahner applied Tessellate™ in a variety of geometric patterns mirroring the research focus of the building’s resident scientists and mathematicians. As these patterns align and diverge, the visual effect is of sparse geometric patterns —hexagons, circles, squares, and triangles—that blossom into an opaque mesh. Captivating viewers, Tessellate™ covers 400 square feet and imbues the building with the functional capacity to dynamically change its opacity.

About Adaptive Building Initiative:

Adaptive Building Initiative (ABI) is a joint venture between Buro Happold and Hoberman Associates dedicated to developing and delivering adaptive façade systems, at all scales, to the building industry. ABI’s multidisciplinary team works with architects and building owners to find solutions that complement any architectural vernacular or building geometry.

ABI’s adaptive façade systems provide new performance benefits, reduce energy consumption and improve occupant comfort by optimizing their configuration in real time in response to environmental changes.

About A. Zahner Company:

For well over 100 years, A. Zahner Company has pioneered advances in the architectural metal industry. Zahner’s work is now found in and around structures in Europe, Asia and North and South America. Zahner provides solutions for its clients through an integrated organization combining design services, engineering, fabrication and manufacturing, and construction.

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