The Curtain Wall Industry: History, Current State, and Challenges of Façade Design

By Akio

The Evolution of Façade Design

The first building introduced with a curtain wall was the Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851.

The Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. Appearance of Crystal Palace (right), Interior (left).

The Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. Appearance of Crystal Palace (right), Interior (left).

The Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition, London, 1851, pioneered façade design. For the exhibition hall for most exhibits, a greenhouse-like frame glass structure was adopted, which not only rendered the Crystal Palace the most glorious of all exhibits, but also pioneered façade design engineering.

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After nearly a century of development, façade fabrication, in terms of type, has developed from a simple exposed-frame glass one to a semi-exposed-frame or hidden-frame, full-glass one, as well as using various metal, stone, or artificial panels; in terms of structure, the façade fabrication has developed from a simple frame one to a unitized, point-supported, double-skinned, and membrane-structured one; in addition, more energy-efficient, ecological façade panels, photoelectric façade, and intelligent façade are gathering momentum.

Obviously, façade design technology is advancing rapidly. It helps architects free their minds and enables façade design to develop from being simple and monotonous to diversified, complex, and modern.

Architectural envelopes market is mainly driven by the development of the global economy and building industry. Global economic growth promotes investment in fixed assets, and the construction demands of all kinds of public facilities, commercial buildings, and high-end residential buildings provide a foundation for the growth of global architectural envelopes markets.

From the distribution of global architectural envelopes markets, it can be seen that the U.S. and Europe are still the dominant players, combined market share accounting for about 50% in 2009.

In the meanwhile, the emerging countries represented by China and India are enjoying rapid growth of their architectural envelopes industry.

Distribution of Global Architectural Envelopes Markets in 2009

Distribution of Global Architectural Envelopes Markets in 2009

According to related statistics, China is the country with the most super high-rise buildings being constructed and planned in the world. The number of buildings in the country above 200 meters accounts for 48.5% of the total number of the buildings in the world. A large number of projects to be started in the future will demand much from the architectural envelopes industry.

It can be predicted that in the future, the U.S. and Europe will still take the lead in the design and application of architectural envelope products, and the developing countries of Asia (especially China), the Middle East, and other regions will be the main battlefield and driver of new products and application demands of the architectural envelopes globally.

Industry Challenges

The traditional building industry suffers serious productivity waste because of poor utilization of building materials, engineering rework, idling of labor, etc. According to related statistics, the value of the resources wasted in construction for a project accounts for as much as 25% of the total investment, largely wasted in façade design, fabrication, and installation.

For sustainable and healthy development of the architectural envelopes industry, it is required to analyze the reasons for the waste from the perspective of the full lifecycle of a façade fabrication, examine the challenges arising in the development of the architectural envelope industry, and grasp the opportunities of industry development.

Challenge of project management mode

Façade design (especially for complex curtain walls) is a highly professional engineering task requiring a distinguished appearance, technical functionality, and significant investment in installation planning. So, like structural design, plumbing design, and electrical design, a façade design requires special expertise.

Typically architects designing façades try to avoid a single manufacturer’s product so that the contractor can bid alternatives. This means that the architectural drawings are not coordinated with shop drawings from a manufacturer until construction has started and by that time much expert knowledge has been missed with several consequences:

  1. the final design deliverables fail to embody the progress of façade technology and new products; and
  2. the design scheme cannot meet the building energy performance requirements in an economical way.

For a close coordination between façade design and main building design, an independent third party as façade design consultants are important.

At the building schematic phase, the architects ask the façade design consultants for advice on their schematic design, so as to make possible the best building appearance; at the design development phase, the façade design consultants determines the system to-be-adopted, reserved room, etc. for the architectural envelope to provide more refined façade design drawings for façade contractors bidding.

The façade consultants should be able to produce a 3D model that incorporates the architect’s construction drawings and fabrication drawings.

Data breaking from design to manufacturing

Compared with the traditional building industry, façade design engineering is mostly based on custom manufacturing in plants. It is an industry formed from the close combination of building and industrial manufacturing. It is hoped that the accurate 3D model and 2D CAD drawings of a complex façade models can be completely sent to the numerical control cutting machines in plants.

However, due to lack of relevant cross-industry standard criteria, the data chain from façade design to manufacturing breaks, resulting in poor collaboration in problem solving, which seriously affects the industrialization of the architectural envelope industry.

Furthermore, because of the limited accuracy of many BIM software programs in parametric modeling of the components, 3D models cannot be directly applied to industrial fabrication. When an architect changes 3D models, the façade designer has to redevelop the detailed façade design and generate new fabrication drawings independently, thus causing a huge waste due to delay and rework.

Production and installation requirements of a complex curtain wall

Compared with traditional manufacturing, a façade panel has a higher degree of customization, which is reflected by not only different designs for different projects, but also different façade panels even in a project, so fast and flexible production is required as needed.

With the emergence of new materials and new technologies, and people’s constant pursuit of different building appearances, façade fabrication becomes bigger and bigger in size and increasingly complex in shape, accompanied by increasing of difficulties in field installation. In this case, if the delivery sequence and installation process are not well managed, the installation positions of façade panels may be confused, thus causing project delay and the waste of resources.

It is a pity that seamless connection of data for detailed façade design drawing, detailed joint fabrication technology, and field installation positioning (as well as realization of drawing-less and model-driven fabrication design which is a concept advocated in the machinery industry) is now beyond the capability for most BIM tools.

What we need is an accurate data integration environment incorporating building design, detailed joint design, and field installation together covering a series of management activities, including façade fabrication production, positioning, detection, cost estimation, and risk control.


Screen-Shot-2014-12-23-at-1.55.20-PM-225x300Excerpted from Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

To read more, download the full whitepaper

Learn about the Dassault Systémes Industry Solution Experience Façade Design for Fabrication

Making Global Medical Device Product Innovation A Reality – Watch the Webinar Replay

By Helene

Technically and geographically diverse product development teams must work together more closely than ever to develop medical devices which will focus on the needs of patients and doctors globally. In order for medical device companies to compete, traditional voice of customer (VOC) approaches need to keep pace with healthcare consumers increasingly sophisticated product needs. Medical device product innovation can result from improved ideation which facilitates collaboration between all global stakeholders.

Medical device product development is a complex process involving research and development teams, designers, and the marketing and regulatory teams that gather requirements from customers and governing agencies. A 2012 report from Axendia titled “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Risks and Rewards of Med-Tech Globalization” highlights the opportunities and challenges posed by increasing globalization. Medical device product opportunities lie in growing global patient markets and working with outsourced partners in a more collaborative role. Challenges include increasing data visibility and analysis as well as keeping track of regulations for each region.

Smart Watch Design for the Life Sciences Industry

Smart Watch Design for the Life Sciences Industry

Dan Matlis, president of Axendia, was one of three speakers at Dassault Systèmes (3DS) sponsored webinar during the December 3rd (now available on replay) discussing results from this report as well as ways medical device companies can address them. The webinar titled “Learn How Leading Medical Device Organizations are Driving Innovation in a Global Marketplace”  also included Cathi Crist, Partner and leader of the Life Sciences practice at Kalypso where she educated viewers on how product lifecycle management (PLM) facilitates innovation. Rounding out the webinar was Stuart Karten of Karten Design, where he shared his firsthand insights on how leading medical device organizations are leveraging design and innovation to improve and create new products. Click here to watch the webinar replay.

Today’s global consumers develop strong and sometimes very personal reactions about the healthcare products they experience, and are quick to discuss their likes and dislikes via social media. These tweets, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts in turn create more discussion and opinions among their network and beyond. These data create a rich product development resource for medical device companies. Focus groups and surveys have always been used by companies to gauge needs of their customers, but they can be time intensive and expensive. Innovative medical device companies realize that listening to customers first, in real time, rather than being reactionary when complaints arise, will be the winning strategy. Indeed, putting patients and doctors first, and even involving them in the product development process, will result in more customer satisfaction and sales.

The Dassault Systèmes Ideation and Concept Design for Medical Device Industry Solution Experience redefines medical technology workflow via social collaboration. Powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, it is the first cloud-based, all in one innovation management system. This solution was highlighted during the webinar, and in keeping with social collaboration, we hope you can join the discussion, and leave any comments or questions below.

How to Foster Open Innovation: The 5 Things You Need to Know

By Estelle

 

Open Innovation by Dassault Systèmes

It was a little more than a decade ago that Berkeley professor Henry Chesbrough started developing the concept of Open Innovation at the Center for Open Innovation, where he was also a director.  Back then, Chesbrough’s idea of Open Innovation relates to pooling platforms or tools to help foster innovation and share ideas.  And because businesses experience more collaboration today, Open Innovation is much more relevant in the current business climate.

It is no secret that business environments have become increasingly complex.  You do not only have to work with scarce resources and tight budgets, but you also need to keep up with changes in technology – with new ones emerging every day.  You also have to foster sharing of knowledge and intelligence while also facilitating collaboration when you are co-innovating or co-creating.  And collaboration and co-creation are no longer limited to employees, but now includes other parties such as customers, SMEs, suppliers, associations, startups and other entities in the business ecosystem.

 

How do you promote Open Innovation in your organization?

 

  1. Bring together your internal and external projects. You can use just one platform that will enable you to get ideas from outside your organization while also letting outsiders test out the ideas of your employees.  Not only will you be able to share ideas and intelligence easily, but you also get to test ideas more quickly, as well as get new ideas from everyone.

 

  1. Use both offline and online methods when you are co-creating. Efficiently getting new concepts for your products will need the use of both offline and online methods.  For example, you can get employees, experts, customers, developers and/or designers to help you design your product. As such, you would need to ensure that your offline and online campaigns complement one another.

 

  1. Run better and less risky contests. Run contests to help you generate ideas as well as getting around challenges.  Moreover, contests are also a good opportunity to develop Open Innovation for your company.  To lessen the amount of work, the risks as well as to make it more successful, it is best to work with a non-competing company or a group of companies.  You would be able to spread the work while also establishing a collaborative mindset, while also learning to protect your intellectual property and remaining agile.

 

  1. Manage your ideas effectively. It is very important to manage your ideas every step of the way.  When you allow everyone to contribute ideas, it will be very easy for some people to monopolize the entire process.  Early on, you should be able to pinpoint the key people who are qualified to contribute ideas at different stages of the project.

 

  1. Collaborate with others from different industries with different specializations. The thing with Open Innovation is that it naturally lends itself to disruptive innovations.  To be more competitive in today’s business environments, your innovations should not only come from or pertain to your core business.  You should be able to manage complex collaborations with people and companies from different industries.  For example, Smart City needs to bring together different players that belong to different industries, such as architecture, transportation, telecommunications and other urban infrastructure companies.

These are the 5 most important ways to foster Open Innovation in your organization. Follow these key tasks and your enterprise will be on its way to simpler business processes.

 

Visit  Ideation & Concept Design for High Tech Web Page   or download the article about Open Innovation in the new edition of Compass Mag.



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