From left to right: Duncan Hazard, partner, Ennead Architects; Agustin Enriquez V, associate principal, GBD Architects; Daniel Kelley, partner, MGA Partners, and Michael Binette, vice president, The Architectural Team. Illustrations by Peter Arkle

Custom stainless steel mesh, Den Mar Corp.
© Jeff Goldberg / Esto Custom stainless steel mesh, Den Mar Corp.

When renovating New York City Center, a former Shriners hall built in 1923, Ennead Architects wanted to preserve its Moorish Revival architecture while adding a wall of video screens to promote events in a manner congruent with the building’s elaborate polychrome tile finish and murals. With A/V consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Ennead created a bank of six plasma screens covered with a stainless steel veil etched in a Moorish pattern. Manufactured by Den Mar Corp., the veil is less than 1/8-inch thick, “which is why we went to steel,” says Ennead partner Duncan Hazard, AIA. “It’s strong enough to span, almost like a spider web. It’s very lacey, but you look right through it.”

Landmark Series 8300 windows, Custom Window Co.
Josh Partee Landmark Series 8300 windows, Custom Window Co.

Maintaining the look of multipane windows comes with challenges. “That’s the conversation: Where do you source things that meet today’s energy standards but have that authentic look?” says Agustin Enriquez V, AIA, associate principal at Portland’s GBD Architects. When renovating the circa-1920 Culver Building in downtown Portland, GBD sought to restore the structure’s original character, which a 1970s remodel compromised with aluminum storefront windows. The team chose Custom Window Co.’s Landmark Series 8300 multipane insulated glass windows, which have a U-value of 0.28. As a result, Enriquez says, “you’ve got true divided light, but with today’s energy standards.”

Finalé wood-fiber panel system, Tectum
Halkin Photography Finalé wood-fiber panel system, Tectum
GreenFiber All Borate Stabilized Wall Spray Insulation, was used at Loft Five50 in Mass.
Andy Ryan GreenFiber All Borate Stabilized Wall Spray Insulation, was used at Loft Five50 in Mass.

To adapt a historic student theater at Indiana University into the cinema department, MGA Partners inserted two new floors into the existing proscenium-style fly loft. They salvaged the loft’s structural-steel rigging grid to make walls for the new spaces. “We basically made a sandwich,” says MGA partner Daniel Kelley, FAIA. The steel channels were fused with drywall and Tectum’s Finalé wood-fiber wall panel system. Finalé has been around for decades but Kelley believes it was largely dismissed as an economical acoustical ceiling material. “It’s natural, it’s sustainable, it’s durable, and it has a good acoustic value,” he says, citing Finalé’s noise reduction coefficient of 0.75.

Boston-area firm The Architectural Team (TAT) wanted to preserve the brick walls at Loft Five50, a multifamily housing project converted from the former Malden Mills factories in Lawrence, Mass. To qualify for federal historic-preservation tax incentives, the wall insulation had to be less than 4 inches thick. Spray foam insulation would tightly seal the building envelope, says TAT vice president Mike Binette, AIA, “but then the brick can’t breathe. Moisture in the winter would get inside and freeze.” The solution was a hybrid system coupling spray foam with GreenFiber All Borate Stabilized Wall Spray Insulation, which helps absorb moisture and contributes to the wall’s R-24 rating.

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