Facade Expansion Joint Systems

Integrating expansion joint cover systems into facade design



Photo of Kevin W. Smith, PE, CWI

Kevin W. Smith, PE, CWI

Engineering Manager

Construction Specialties



As awareness around the seismic performance of buildings grows, it is becoming increasingly necessary to integrate seismic expansion joint cover systems into high performance facade systems to increase the resilience of building envelopes. Including expansion joint cover systems that accommodate seismic movement, prevent air and water infiltration, provide thermal performance and integrate seamlessly for the desired aesthetic can be challenging.

By exploring two case studies, we will highlight seismic performance considerations, design methodologies and best practices for facade integrated expansion joint cover systems. Each case study includes the key points in every phase of the design and construction process moving from conceptualization to specification, to testing and performance, as well as installation and compatibility issues. Overall, this paper provides a road map with real world examples of how to execute effective designs for expansion joint systems and integration into high performance facade systems.


In nearly every structure it is necessary to integrate expansion joint cover systems into the building envelope. As seismic design and awareness move past code compliance into performance-based design for

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Parkland Hospital, Dallas, TX

Figure 1: Parkland Hospital, Dallas TX – Photograph highlighting the hospital façade and the integration of the expansion joint cover system . (Photo courtesy of Construction Specialties, Inc.)Figure 1: Parkland

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Wilshire Grand, Los Angeles, CA

Figure 4: Wilshire Grand, Los Angeles, CA – Street entrance at the interface of the tower and podium structures, highlighting the “waterfall” skylight. (Photo by the author)

The Wilshire Grand project

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Collaboration and integration are the cornerstones of a successful integration of expansion joint cover systems into a building envelope. Careful consideration and clear communication of project priorities and desires, including

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