Living glass façade

January 01, 2002 |

As part of a renovation effort to convert the 200,000-sq.-meter Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium, into the future headquarters for the European Commissioners, the structure’s façade is being completely replaced with a “living” glass curtain wall. The project is slated for completion by the end of this year.

The new façade will feature operable windows protected by a solar screen with mobile glass louvers that will be controlled via a computer. The system is designed to keep light influx at a maximum while letting in only about 12 percent of the solar heat, according to Steven Beckers, project architect with Art & Build Architects of Brussels.

During the day, the louvers will be lifted 90 degrees to provide unfettered daylight while reflecting the sun’s heat off the glass from above. When the sun is lower, or at night, the louvers will close to better reflect heat and provide greater visual barrier while not blocking views.

Scheuten Glasgroep BV Construction of the Netherlands, along with Phoenix-based Cesar Color Inc., is the supplier of the glass for the exterior.


Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), St. Louis, has been selected to design the new Churchill Museum, which will be constructed beneath the Treasury building in Whitehall, London. Key elements of the project include the renovation of the Churchill family’s private quarters and construction of the 900-sq.-meter Churchill Museum as well as education and conference facilities.

One challenge to the project, according to Neil Cooke, director of conservation with HOK, is designing the new space into the existing structure, which includes a 5-ft.-thick concrete and steel slab to protect the building from bombs.

Iceland Air Hotels broke ground on an addition and renovation to the 170-room Hotel Esja in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Designed by Somerville, Mass.-based architect Arrowstreet Inc., the addition includes the construction of an eight-story tower on top of an existing one-story wing that will add 120 rooms and a business conference center to the hotel. A louver system will cover all guestroom windows to screen the sun’s rays, which, because of the country’s extreme northern latitude, strike at an acute angle.

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