Curtain Wall Tool Enables Dynamic Design

Posted by Guest Author on 1/30/15 10:33 AM  |  4 min read time

Ilianna H. Kwaske, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect

Since our last update, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has continued to discover and make tremendous use of Vectorworks 2015. One tool that excites us right now is the Curtain Wall tool, which treats the curtain wall as a wall-type.

Before this tool's existence, we created curtain walls by extruding rectangles in place. If the design direction changed or there was a problem, our work was wasted because we had to rebuild the curtain wall in the model. The design process was never really dynamic, and much of the design was worked out two-dimensionally either in Vectorworks or by hand-sketching over printed perspectives.

Now, the Curtain Wall tool allows for dynamic design. We have absolute design control without blocking the creative process. To create a curtain wall, we simply select the wall type and specify parameters (i.e., height, frame, and pane size, spacing, etc.). It's as easy as making a wall in that you draw from one point to another, and there it is. If you would like a door, you simply add the door into the curtain wall, and it is recognized as a door. Or, you can select the Curtain Wall Door option on the object info palette, which fixes the door inside the panel. From there, studying the curtain wall is easy and making changes near instantaneous, which is critical in our world.

Currently, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has two projects in which glass is a significant feature: a commercial seven-story building and a small custom home. Rather than just do another box with glass on it, we are trying to look at these structures differently to do something extraordinary.

The commercial project consists of a ground-up seven story building on a busy Chicago street. The curtain wall is one of the building’s most visually significant features. Because the Curtain Wall tool gave us absolute control over things like frame location, spacing, and size, we began to visualize the glass as a tapestry that interacts with the other materials of the building, along with the environment. A lone tree and a lamppost in front of the building are important environmental objects when you consider how the building will be viewed as part of the streetscape. We constantly rendered the model in open GL with the Heliodon tool to look at how the mullions could be spaced to enhance its aesthetic via the shadows. This gave us a more realistic view of what could be happening, and we began to look at the movement of a frame in relationship to the movement of pixels in our design world. Again, if changes need to be made to the model, they can be made quickly and easily.

Our other project is a small custom home in which the client sought a significant glass component. We had to use both glass and frames sparingly to accommodate the budget. Considerations were made for how the glass and building materials interact with the natural environment. Frame spacing proved to be absolutely critical. The lot, being extremely dense and wooded, will create an interesting randomness in the foreground during the winter months. Contrasting a rational, proportionately spaced frame against the chaos of nature’s tree limbs proved more art than architecture. Furthermore, because the entire façade is not glass, we paid great attention to the locations of frames and intersections of storefront frames to walls.

Office Ron Kwaske, Architect finds the Curtain Wall tool to be user-friendly, fast, and capable of helping us better study the 3D models of our projects. We can adapt our designs easily and quickly. It is just one more feature, characteristic of Vectorworks software, that enhances our ability to do a great job for our clients.

For more information about the Curtain Wall tool, check out the Vectorworks Getting Started Guides.




Topics: Project Highlight, BIM (Architecture), News

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