An hour southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, in Stephenville, lies the main campus of Tarleton State University (TSU)—a member of the Texas A&M University System. TSU was founded as John Tarleton Agricultural College in 1899, and later transformed into a four-year degree institution, gained status as a university, and eventually launched doctoral programs.

The growing academic institution has since attracted more students, which exceeded 10,000 for the first time in 2012. Today, TSU has more than 13,000 enrolled graduate and postgraduate students.

To accommodate this rising number, Tarleton State needed to add more living spaces. These came in the form of two new, modern on-campus residential buildings, Traditions Halls North and South, designed to be both a “living and learning” home for more than 500 students. Two of the halls’ social spaces are positioned at their perimeters, acting as “lantern-like elements” along the bisecting pedestrian route.

High-Performance Solar Shading

Floor-to-ceiling glass adds prominence to these spaces at night, but ultimately raised questions about solar performance during the day, according to Eric Van Hyfte, principal at BOKA Powell Architects. The project team needed a material that fit with the existing design blueprint and fulfilled their solar shading requirements.

Coiled wire fabric was the perfect solution. The budget-friendly material is lightweight with transparency that lets a degree of sunlight pass through and maintains views of the surrounding campus for students gathering to study or socialize.

“We explored several options for vertical sunshades, and ultimately selected Fabricoil due to its durability, functionality, and aesthetic qualities,” says Van Hyfte.

Flexible and Customizable

Coiled wire fabric is manufactured by interlocking metal wire in a corkscrew fashion, producing an extremely durable and flexible material. The wire is offered in a variety of metals and gauges, each combining high-strength with low maintenance. Cascade Architectural offers an assortment of colors and finishes, allowing designers to define their aesthetic and express their creativity.

Designed for Gradual Transformation

The Traditions Halls feature approximately 2,300 square feet of copper clad steel wire fabric, which was intentionally left bare and untreated to allow it to age. The original copper clad steel fabric has visually morphed—initially into a brownish hue, and ultimately the bronze patina that exists today.

“The gradated translucency of the overlapping panels, and the shadows they cast, create a beautiful effect that animates both the interior public spaces and the pedestrian mall,” Van Hyfte says.

For this project, Fabricoil is secured in Cascade’s Express with Suspension Cables attachment—featuring vertical cables that give the panels a floating appearance. The sunshades add a textural element to the exterior of the residence halls and provide relief from the intense Texas sun for the people inside.

Fabricoil’s solar shading capabilities include increased visual comfort against glare without diminishing views or illumination. Compared to rigid metal solar shading alternatives, coiled wire fabric requires less framing and attachment components, and can be spliced together to span much longer distances. For both commercial and residential building exteriors, coiled wire fabric sunshades and an array of fin elements also fulfill energy saving and decorative functions.