Skin Stuff: Expanding the facade materials palette

So, what is Santa bringing you this year? I want a thin, lightweight bio-organic material with the durability of glass, a programmable variable opacity from transparent to opaque, the strength of steel, the ductility of aluminum, with the thermal and acoustical properties of a 12-inch wall, and that requires very little energy in its processing and none in its recycling to virgin quality material. Oh yeah, and its cost is less than plywood on a unit basis. Did I forget anything? Probably. Santa’s packing his sleigh, so make a wish!

While we’re at it, what’s your favorite Christmas carol? I’ve got an Apple (or Spotify) music playlist with all these great jazz and blues holiday tunes, with some Beach Boys and golden oldies thrown in for good measure, but I think my favorite is Frosty the Snowman. It’s got it all: there’s magic, dancing and a fun romp through town and country, and a live-for-the-moment philosophy that resists repression, recognizes the ephemeral nature of life and even hints at reincarnation. At least, that’s what I hear when I listen. But then I grew up in the Midwest constructing snowmen each winter, bringing them to life, snow-deep in the act of creation.

Okay, enough holiday cheer. I’m very excited to announce new team members at SKINS, young facade geeks from our Special Advisory Council intent on mixing it up a bit; you can expect some changes in upcoming issues, I suspect. Brienna Rust with SGH, Chris Payne with Gensler and Marty Trainor with Ventana have joined Katie, Val and me on the SKINS team and they are welcomed with great enthusiasm!

Perhaps this month of mass consumption has inspired our focus for this edition: materials and processes. Materials are something of great interest to many of us, something we can never know too much about, and are a recurring theme of SKINS. So, in this issue we revisit ETFE, Chris shares his Solid Surface paper from the August World Congress, we take a new look at FRP in the building skin on LA’s Lucas Museum (shoutout to Bill Kreysler!), and Ted Kesik and I co-host a great panel on modular prefab and offsite construction, so check that out. But that’s not all; we travel to the South Asia for their take on Façade Futures, review the development of mass timber, and take a look at a research project involving a novel process for the realization of concrete shell structures. We wrap up with a look at a human-centered competition winner we think you’ll like. We are increasingly intent on exploring the social dimension of the facade system (Brienna will show us the way with this).

There is another great piece in the mix from our fearless president, Helen Sanders, that will change your thinking on EPDs, and some Institute news regarding new additions to our board, executive committee and the Special Advisory Council to take a look at, all good stuff. There’s also a bit in there about an award to yours truly, and I want you to know I had nothing to do with including it! My Midwest upbringing disparages this kind of thing as blowing your own horn. But I do want to personally thank Deb Levy, Ellen Rogers and my other friends at US Glass for their awesome encouragement and steadfast support over these past many years, and for all they do for our shared industry.

Next month we start a new year, one with some promise over 2020. We intend to get serious right off, focusing on new developments in the pursuit of resilience and sustainability in buildings and urban habitat. We are going to change the world, make it a better place (better buildings through better skins).

Look for it!

We joyfully extend our most outstanding holiday wishes to you and yours from all of us at SKINS and FTI; peace and love to all facade geeks!

The SKINS Team

Mic Patterson
Executive Editor

Katie Gould
Creative Director

Val Block
Associate Editor

Brienna Rust
Christopher Payne
Marty Trainor
Content Editors

This is the personal opinion of Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+ and does not reflect the views of Facade Tectonics Institute.


Photo of Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+

Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+

Executive Editor, SKINS

Facade Tectonics Institute

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