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High-Rise Project Features a First for U.S.: Double Wall Technology

Friday, April 8, 2011

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The A. J. Celebrezze Federal Building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio will be the first American high rise to be recladded using double wall technology, the Chicago-based architecture firm, Interactive Design Inc. (IDEA), announced.

The quintessential skyscraper stands 32 stories and showcases a structural steel framework and glass curtain wall. 

Rising energy costs combined with the natural aging of the nearly 50-year-old building’s original façade materials have created the need for a complete building façade replacement, IDEA said.

IDEA was the chosen architect for the $121 million project, led by partner Charles Young. The façade replacement is scheduled to begin this spring and to be completed in 2015.

The design plans upgrade the perimeter structure in order to save operating costs associated with the building and minimize temperature variances throughout using advanced cladding systems.

According to the federal building’s website, a roof replacement is also planned.

The Building’s Namesake

The building was constructed in 1966 and named after Anthony Joseph Celebrezze Sr., who was the 49th mayor of Cleveland, a cabinet member in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and a U.S. Appeals Court judge.

 Anthony J. Celebrezze


The federal building was named after Anthony Joseph Celebrezze Sr., who was elected mayor of Cleveland in 1953 and served an unprecedented five terms.

Façades Design

“In the planning phase, it became obvious to us that the design needed to utilize solar orientation to drive the architectural concept, as seven months out of the year Cleveland experiences relatively cool to cold temperatures,” Young said. “We determined that the Celebrezze building was an ideal candidate for double wall technology, a sustainable green and advanced technology system which utilizes double glass panes to insulate the building and maintain visual purity.”

The double wall technology has been used in Europe for more than 30 years and is beginning to gain popularity in the U.S. due to heightened energy awareness.

 A.J. Celebrezze Federal Building


A new external curtain wall, which features materials within that form an air barrier, will be placed approximately 2 ½ feet beyond the face of the original A.J. Celebrezze Federal Building façade.

A new external curtain wall, which features materials within that form an air barrier, will be placed approximately 2 ½ feet beyond the face of the original building skin, IDEA said.

Fluropolymer finishes were used on the metal elements of the curtain wall, Young noted.

With this design, the existing façades can be retained and used as the internal portion of the double wall, resulting in a thermal blanket, which IDEA said is akin to the concept of a thermos bottle.

“This approach is highly sustainable because of its reuse of materials, as the existing façade is sealed and retained to create the inner portion of the double-wall. It also ensures minimal disruption to the existing tenants in the building by utilizing the existing façade to serve as a protective barrier between the façade construction process and building employees,” the firm said.

Additionally, the building’s response to sunlight was taken into consideration.  

The building receives sun exposure on all four facades throughout the year, which prompted design plans to address the facades differently. 

The east and north façades receive mostly oblique angled light in early morning and late afternoon. Therefore, the planned façades for these two sides are “transparent with perpendicular interior fritted glass fins—an enamel pattern baked onto the surface of the glass—that filter and modulate this oblique light,” the firm noted.

In addition, glass edges are detailed to float over the existing building to highlight the new high performance skin and the original façade structural frame, the company said.

The façades on the south and western sides receive direct mid-day sunlight and have been developed with a double wall construction to provide an insulating envelope in winter months and to reduce heat within a barrier zone in summer months. 

Horizontal light shades are utilized within the cavity to reduce direct sunlight on the interior. In addition, the glass is treated with a graduated frit pattern from almost opaque to clear from top to bottom to further reduce direct glare and heat loads on the building systems and improve tenant comfort.

Young said, “We are excited by the design challenges presented by the façade recladding of the Celebrezze building. The deterioration of this building is endemic to that of many facades built during this era in the United States. Our design concept addresses the use of a sustainable technology to both repair an aging exterior skin and upgrade a thermal enclosure to significantly reduce an older building’s energy consumption—while at the same time permitting the construction process in a fully occupied building. We believe that double curtain wall technology will become more common as the building and construction codes require more sustainable green technology systems to combat rising energy costs. Not only do the new glass façades enhance the building’s energy performance, but they manifest visually as a graceful and elegant overlay respecting the original design and allowing the original composition to show through.”

Funding the Project

The project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which emphasized achieving a higher level of energy efficiency in the design of the new skin, the company said.

More information: www.idea8.com.


Tagged categories: Building envelope; Cladding; Curtain wall extrusions and cladding; Renovation

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