A New Kind of Ribbon Cutting Radius Track Completes Work On Architectural
“Garland” At Edmonton International Airport
and passengers landing at Canada’s Edmonton International Airport will be
treated to an architectural achievement not normally granted to utilitarian
buildings. Set to open in the start of 2013, EMI’s new air traffic tower
will be decked out in metal ribbon. Challenged to create a building that
would add dramatic flare to the EIA arrival and departure experience,
architects designed a structure that is whimsical and eye-catching, and also
cleverly integrates sustainable design. The tower’s sculptured form recalls
the windswept pastoral region around the Capital Region.
DIALOG® (formerly Cohos Evamy) a Canadian-based architectural firm was
assigned to the project in 2008. As a response to the EIA’s growing
operational needs, the new tower is an initiative to present Edmonton as a
city that values the arts and the power of using great design to spur on a
slow economy. The new tower is part of the EIA’s Expansion 2012 program.
The power of DIALOG’s design is in its metal casing, which is covered with
shingled undulating zinc and is carefully integrated with the windows to
maximize daylight and offer shading when needed.
The control tower is situated at the outer edge of a 10,000 square meter
office building, called the COT (Combined Office Tower). The wrap begins 13
m (43 ft) above the ground and twists upward to its overall height of 45 m
(148 ft). Each metal ribbon contains either three or two facets that vary in
height, width, thickness, and angle as they trace around the building,
depending on the aesthetic and shading requirements.
Radius Track Corporation, the curved framing solutions provider, worked with
Thermal Systems KWC Ltd, the building envelope contractor, and Gehry
Technologies (GT), parametric modeling experts, to design and build the
asymmetrical metal ribbon. Construction proceeded “air side,” or parallel to
active gates at the airport.
Systems was hired by the general contractor, EllisDon, to develop a
construction system to meet the design intent of the irregularly shaped
metal ribbons. Since each twist and turn of the metal wrap is completely
unique, there were no “tried and true” construction industry guidelines to
follow. The solution had to be a “first.” Thermal Systems began evaluating
potential solutions, and concluded that using sophisticated BIM technology
would be the best way to create the curves virtually, and then build the
structure based on computer models. Thermal Systems turned to GT, the most
advanced BIM expert in the country for modeling. In turn, GT recommended
Radius Track for 3D modeling and fabrication. Radius Track has a long
history of collaboration with both Gehry Technologies and Gehry Partners.
Together, the team launched into a process that delivered three significant
results: the creation of a new product, an integrated delivery system, and a
3D model of the metal wrap in a virtual computer
based environment where both hat channel and truss locations were set in
digital space. The trio of results cut costs and accelerated the project
Gehry Technologies joined the project team, they decided to use site surveys
instead of the original construction documents to define the exact location
of each truss that would support the metal ribbon. Working with Radius
Track, GT developed a simple solution – a method for curving hat channel –
that provided a smooth attachment surface for the finishing materials.
With these types of intricate projects, there are subtle differences in
form, so geometry makes all the difference. GT’s role was to find a way to
improve the constructability of the project. Coming in mid-project, they
worked with the team to find a system that would work with the existing
steel and glazing systems that were already in play.
GT is known for their work in parametric modeling, which allows data to be
entered into a building information model (BIM) to be altered, and the
effects of that change to be understood immediately. ‘Known’ data (or rules)
are coded into the BIM model, and the rules are propagated to study the
effects of the known rules, and what happens when those rules are modified,
even very slightly. The system accurately predicts the design of the
building and highlights where potential problems or clashes exist. GT
supplied Radius Track with highly detailed data that enabled them to
fabricate the curved hat channel precisely.
Prior to fabrication, Radius Track generated a 3D model of the metal wrap.
In the virtual computer based environment, hat channel and truss locations
were set in digital space. During fabrication, Radius Track used this
information to mark the centerline of each truss attachment location on the
hat channel. The accuracy was so high that installation crews used the hat
channels to place the location of the trusses. Tyler Weisgerber, Commercial
Division Manager at Thermal System commented that, “the materials used were
significantly more efficient and allowed for a faster and less-complicated
installation with a higher quality result.”
At the jobsite, the hat channel was attached to the trusses and served as
the surface to attach the decking and zinc finish. Since the channel could
be fabricated to a highly exacting curvature, it arrived on the jobsite
perfectly aligned to the trusses. This help control costs, as installation
was simple and materials arrived on the job site well organized and on time.
Glazing punctuates the ribbons to provide panoramic views of the surrounding
prairie and airport landscapes. Designed to meet LEED® Silver designation,
the building is situated to maximize natural solar advantages. An optimal
east/west solar site orientation minimizes solar gain from the western
exposure. The carefully designed profiles of the ribbons control solar heat
gain and harvest natural light. Many of the artistic twists and turns of the
metal double as shading where needed and let natural light flow in other
areas of the tower. These detailed shading requirements also played into the
final curved framing solution created by the team.
When the new tower opens at the beginning of 2013, it will stand as a
monument to travel - the first and last significant building seen by
travelers visiting the Edmonton International Airport. As part of Canada’s
fastest growing airport, the Edmonton tower adds an impressionable design
statement that will be appreciated by the six million people who travel
through its gates each year. “Radius Track is proud to have been a part of
such a distinctive design project,” stated Chuck Mears, FAIA, and Chief
Design Officer of Radius Track.
About Radius Track Corporation: Radius Track Corporation is the premier
expert and provider of curved cold-formed steel framing solutions. The
company designs and engineers cost-saving solutions and fabricates the
cold-formed steel framing for domes, curved ceilings and acoustical panels,
curved façades and any other type of curved surface. From simple to complex,
structural or non-structural they have a solution. Their areas of expertise
include: BIM Design/3D Modeling; Curved-Right™ Custom Framing, Ready Track®,
Ready Arch® and Ready Angle® hand-bendable framing products and Radius Track
Bender® and Radius Trim Bender® Tools for use in the field. RADIUS TRACK,
founded in 1996, is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. For additional
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