Shade and Spectacle

Second Skins and Their Uses



Photo of Warren Techentin, FAIA, NCARB, LEED

Warren Techentin, FAIA, NCARB, LEED

Adjunct Associate Professor

USC School of Architecture



This paper will look at the different facades of the Elysian Fields apartment building designed by Warren Techentin Architecture [WTARCH] and completed in 2019. In particular the paper will look at the most visible, west-facing facade of the building located on historic Sunset Boulevard and fabricated by Arktura. This solar screen is a large, gently curved, and perforated aluminum plate skin which forms a coherent urban edge to a street which has lost definition over the years. This skin is an obvious sign of the building’s sustainability, serving as a second skin providing solar shading for the walls and openings. The surface of the screen is punctuated by large eyelids which open to reveal openings and the units behind. The eyelids articulate and frame views of Los Angeles beyond and shimmer in the busy-ness of Sunset Blvd at its feet.


Early Rendering of the Elysian Fields Apartments

In a city known for single family homes nested in endless urban sprawl, multifamily living in Los Angeles is increasingly becoming the norm. One

Members Only

A description of each facade…

The north facing façade, painted black, is articulated with pink cruciform geometries and a seemingly scattered array of windows that mirror the uniquely stacked units and double high spaces just

Members Only

The tectonics of the solar screen

Given that we were committed to a metal sheet material, when considering the final specification, thickness had an enormous role in the decision. The collective interest toward lightness in the

Members Only


The Elysian Fields apartments demonstrates the efficacy of an elevational strategy which contributes to the building’s sustainability while also producing something aesthetically integrative to its immediate neighborhood. While the most

Members Only


The Screen was made possible through all of the hard work of people at Warren Techentin Architecture [WTARCH] including Brent Nishimoto, Molly Bell, and Todd Spangler. Engineering for the screen was done by Nous Engineering. Arktura custom fabricated the screen. All photos by Harrison Steinbuch U.O.N.

Rights and Permissions

Figure 1-6: Images of the various facades of the building. Photos courtesy of Harrison Steinbuch.