Facade Tectonics SKINS

SKINS: Issue #138: Mar 2024

Exploring Heritage: Building on the Past

Wait! Don't dismiss this issue if you are outside the preservation community. Without a solid historical foundation we are truly doomed to endlessly repeat those mistakes of the past that have yielded the existential threat we know as the climate crisis. A crisis that our industry, the building industry, has played a leading role in producing and now is called upon to lead the way to resolution. Accomplishing this necessitates deep insight into just how we got here, and much can be found in the historical context that is the purview of the building preservation community.

The heritage perspective is brought to us in this long anticipated issue of SKINS courtesy of guest editors from the Association of Preservation Technology’s (APT) Technical Committee on Modern Heritage (TC-MH) in collaboration with their Technical Committee on Sustainable Preservation (TC-SP). These folks took the time to curate and author the articles featured here. APT and FTI have been nurturing a collaborative relationship that began in 2015 and continues to mature, as described by David Fixler in the first feature below.

The substance, collective experience and expertise of the preservation community has profound relevance for the entire building industry and particularly for the design of new buildings and their facade systems, as well as the facade interventions that are a critical component of existing building renovations. Let me tell you why I believe this to be so important.

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Introduction to APT

One of the most consequential innovations in building technology since 1945 was the development of curtain wall construction. Maintaining these systems while minimizing their carbon footprint is a challenge to heritage conservation and to industry – and a collaborative opportunity for APT and FTI.

3 min read

Fig. 5 | LBPB Ottawa, overall view from Tower A, looking north over (left to right) Towers D, B, C. Main entry canopy center bottom; Sussex Drive and Ottawa River left background.

Building Rehab/Reuse, Decarbonization and Modern-Era Precast Facades

Almost all Modern-era buildings have inherent quality and value, which demands reuse and retrofit to help meet our climate targets over the next 25 years. Rehabilitation of these buildings will soon become a major portion of work for building professionals.

8 min read

Building Rehab/Reuse

Stop Relying on Myths – Energy Efficient and Durable Heritage Building Enclosures

A primer on a material analysis methodology that provides a scientific assessment of freeze-thaw risk for materials commonly used in historic and heritage buildings, including a case study of a modernist precast clad heritage building.

6 min read

Fig. 1. Three of the seven Toronto Dominion Centre towers are visible in this 2014 view (left to right, 222 Bay Street, TD Bank Tower, TD North Tower), with the one-story banking pavilion in the foreground. The curtain wall rehabilitation is complete on North Tower while repairs to the curtain wall of TD Bank Tower are underway.

Repainting the Existing Curtain Wall at Toronto Dominion Centre

When the curtain wall of a modernist building is at the point of cyclical maintenance, it is typically stripped off and discarded. Heritage designation asks that character-defining elements and the original design expression be preserved.

7 min read

lake shore drive chicago skyline

The Energy Performance of Mid-Century Metal-and-Glass Curtain Walls

Case studies reveal that overall energy performance of an existing building renovation may benefit from retention of the existing facade when embodied energy is taken into account, further strengthening the case for renovation over demolition of existing buildings.

8 min read

Typical jamb details at existing steel-frame mullion, proposed thermally improved frame and mullion by WASA/Studio A, and draft of proposed thermally improved mullion by Manufacturer #3.

A Break From The Past: How the Guggenheim Renovation Made Thermally Broken Steel Windows a New Normal

Accepting the constraints of balancing optimal performance with preservation appropriateness in the renovation of existing facades can yield unprecedented innovation, advancing higher-performing fenestration products as well as their adoption.

7 min read


Guidelines for the Treatment of Aging Composite Materials and Assemblies

Leading experts share experiences addressing the challenges of aging composite materials and assemblies as a point of departure to develop practice guidelines promoting consistent and effective treatment of deficient modern building facades.

9 min read

Oscar Logo

Appropriate Repair and Retrofit for Carbon Reductions: OSCAR

Climate-specific, low-carbon strategies may be found in the embodied wisdom, or “Inherently Sustainable Features,” of the design of our built environment for thermal comfort, durability, and resilience. Material selections for repairs and retrofits affect upfront carbon emissions.

3 min read

Leveraging Avoided Emissions Through Retrofit and Reuse: the CARE Tool

Leveraging Avoided Emissions Through Retrofit and Reuse: the CARE Tool

The greenest building is the one that already exists and has been renewed - new methods of carbon estimating, such as the CARE Tool, can support building reuse as climate action through quantitative evaluation of whole life carbon emissions.

2 min read

Lever House and Seagram building side-by-side


Deep green skins: Façade assembly design for adaptive capacity, durability, and disassembly

It is clear that our facade design and delivery practices here are deeply flawed and the processes, along with the building industry itself, must undergo disruptive transformation if we are to realize a truly resilient and sustainable built environment.

18 minute read



Design & Preservation Resource Roundup!

The authors of the articles included here along with others in their respective organizations have devleoped this shortlist of useful resources for those wanting to explore more.

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Industry Calendar

March 28

FTI LA-Hub Event: The Architect's Perspective and the Great International Facade System Smackdown!

Hawthorne, United States

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September 5-6

Performance-Based Façade Design

Venice, Italy

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October 8-10

Facade Tectonics 2024 World Congress

Salt Lake City

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Previously Featured

Biofacades: Integrating Biological Systems with Building Enclosures

Biofacades integrate biological systems into building enclosures. This article introduces performance benefits, challenges, and taxonomies for different forms of building-nature integration. Beyond green walls, other forms of living matter such as algae and myceli

Learn more

Facade Futures: Building Resilience is Skin Deep

Ted Kesik explores the conflict between reducing carbon footprints and enhancing building resilience against climate change, questioning how to achieve both sustainability and resilience in construction and design practices.

Read here!

Connecting Composites to Sustainability: Probabilistic LCA, Industrialized Construction, and Digital Twinning

Material flows of the fossil fuel industry, from exploration and extraction to distribution and combustion, are massive on a global scale. In 2019, the world produced approximately 80 million barrels of crude oil per day, with most being used as a feedstock for combustible fuels.

Read on

Facades Week: SLC! and FTI's World Congress '24

Have you booked your travel plans for Facades Week: SLC! and FTI's World Congress '24?


We are lining up a full week of events starting Monday October 7, and anchored by the WC October 8-10. Enjoy tours, receptions, lectures, symposia, paper presentations, and more. Enjoy Facades Week events and the beauty of Salt Lake City during the week, then head out for one (or more) of Utah's spectacular parks. Check here for more information, or send questions to events@facadetectonics.org.

Organizational Members of the Facade Tectonics Institute


Kuraray, Permasteelisa Group, seele, TriPyramid Structures


Finishing Contractors Association, HOK, Lerch Bates, Technoform North America, Valmont Structures, Vitro Architectural Glass, WRNS Studio, W&W Glass


Antamex Industries, FreMarq Innovations Inc, Heintges, MdeAS Architects, Morrison Hershfield now Stantec, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Roschmann Steel & Glass Constructions, Schüco USA, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, SOCOTEC, Inc., The Architect's Newspaper, The Façade Studio

Academics / Nonprofits

Aarhus University, Denmark, IIBEC, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, National Fenestration Rating Council, Rainscreen Association in North America, Universidad de Concepción, University of Utah, Western Wall & Ceiling Contractors Association