Aaron Schalon’s design vision was nearly complete. The refined agrarian aesthetic he and his team at Opsis Architecture, an award-winning Portland, Ore.-based regional architecture firm, had crafted for the $23 million, 62,000-square-foot addition to the gateway building of Portland Community College – Rock Creek Campus, was a winning solution.

Now what the project architect needed was an “elegant, durable, and visually transparent” way to reduce solar gain and mitigate glare to the building’s glazed west face and prime viewing corridor. What Schalon, AIA LEED AP BD+C, specified for the campus’s premier facility, known simply as Building 5, stuck the landing on all three requirements.

First, a bit of context: The 256-acre Rock Creek Campus is surrounded by some of Oregon’s most productive farmland. The Opsis team had moderated pre-planning listening sessions that revealed the area’s farming spirit thrived with students, faculty, and staff. Building 5 had to reflect that ethic in a memorable, sustainable way.

Schalon’s aesthetic achieves this with a boldly red-hued, cantilevered second floor. “The inspiration for the building is the local farming economy. That’s why the building’s main visual focus, what we call ‘the box,’ is red. The red plays to the traditional red barn,” he explains. Building 5 also echoes that theme throughout the interior. “We used a lot of reclaimed wood as part of the interior design. Railroad oak was used as a wall cladding as well as some Douglas fir,” he says.

And the sunshade solution?

“Coiled wire fabric was the right choice,” according to Schalon.

Schalon specified an array of seven stainless steel fabric panel assemblies, each 148 inches high by 25 inches wide, kept taut with 180 pounds of tension provided by a tube attachment system embedded into the building envelope. The vertical array proved to be an effective, stylish, and enduring way to manage solar gain and glare without sacrificing daylighting and energy conservation.

Schalon selected a Fabricoil coiled wire fabric system from Cascade Architectural, a division of Cascade Coil Drapery Inc., the manufacturer of the flexible material used for façades, solar shading, partitions, parking structures, safety barriers, and security gate applications. Cascade’s Fabricoil systems offer architects and designers a wide variety of materials, weave sizes, gauges, finishes, and engineered attachment systems to select from.

“Not only did Cascade Architectural supply the coiled wire fabric, they also worked with the fabricator to create the armature that holds the material,” Schalon says. “Instead of us having to design and detail all those parts, we gave them the design intent. Cascade Architectural came up with the total sunshade package, which worked out perfect.”

“They actually brought out a mock-up showing the tensioning and support system. That was nice because then we were able to look at that and then fine-tune it to our needs as far as aesthetics.”

Building 5 delivered this January, in time for the new semester, and Schalon says the building is an immediate hit. “Building 5 is the front-door of the campus,” he says.

“An architectural effect like coiled wire fabric sunshades signals this building is special. Fabricoil sunshades look great and offer outstanding performance. Everyone is really happy with Building 5.”