Fiber-reinforced Polymer Shades Increase a San Francisco Building’s Usable Daylight while Integrating the Building into a Changing Neighborhood

2nd Place, Whole Building

633 Folsom is a building reuse story focused on embodied and operational carbon reductions, a novel façade system designed to increase usable daylight throughout the workplace, and the client’s re-investment and commitment to the next generation of the downtown San Francisco working community. When approaching a once-in-a-generation full-building vacancy, the client strategically planned for a renovation meeting the demands of a new workforce and changing neighborhood.

In collaboration with Gensler, the client established occupant wellbeing and access to daylight as critical to future occupancy. The original black glass was foreboding from the sidewalk and interior experience. A new solution required the integration of building performance and an aesthetic offering to the increasingly pedestrian qualities of the neighborhood.

The preservation and upgrade of the existing concrete super structure allowed for the new design to embody 28.8 percent less CO2 than the complete demolition and rebuild of the same building. Various high-efficiency mechanical approaches were modeled and tested to inform a final system selection that achieves an EUI of 24.7 when paired with the bespoke enclosure design. On this retained chassis, the project deploys façade shading, which dramatically reduces peak loads and increases working hours with the blinds open. Computational tools resolved the shade form and established ideal control of daylight penetration.

The façade was conceived to respond specifically to the built and natural environment. The final sunshade geometry and orientation established an interior workplace with significantly increased usable daylight. Occupants may collaborate with the blinds open for hundreds of additional hours because of the shading capacity of the fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) sunshades. The FRP shades were fabricated locally in the Bay Area.

The existing plan rotation from solar north means that all four façades are engaged in a meaningful relationship to sun exposure, and the orientation of the shading devices responds accordingly. Shade depth is maximized at the exposed upper reaches while reducing gently toward the lower levels where ambient light is welcome in the urban canyon. Gensler employed FRP for many advantages: inherent flexibility in form, as well as low weight and local fabrication, resulting in less embodied carbon. The effectiveness of the shading allows glass with exceptional light transmission for a building of such energy performance. That performance is delivered with a 100 percent dedicated outdoor air system, which was made more economical by peak-load reduction afforded by the shading devices.

Resolution of the client’s goals of wellbeing and access to daylighting resulted in a San Francisco-based tech company leasing the entirety of the building as its headquarters. The access to daylight, computational approach and unique identity of the façade resonated with the tenant’s values as an organization.

“Truly elevated from the original condition; definitely a metamorphosis! Great precedent for the argument supporting building reuse and modernization. I particularly appreciated the simplicity/rigor behind using a singular, obviously well-thought-out design element in a way that is visually impactful but also serves a sustainable function.

Katie Hunt, architect, LRK, Metamorphosis Awards Judge

Retrofit Team

METAMORPHOSIS AWARDS WINNER and ARCHITECT AND
INTERIOR DESIGNER:
Gensler

DEVELOPER: Swig Co. LLC

MEP ENGINEER: Meyers+ Engineers

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Tipping Structural Engineers

ENVELOPE CONSULTANT: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Plant Construction

LIGHTING CONSULTANT: Niteo

ACOUSTICAL CONSULTANT: Salter Associates

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Mantle Landscape Architecture

SUSTAINABILITY: Atelier Ten

Materials

CUSTOM FIBER-REINFORCED POLYMER SUNSHADES: Kreysler & Associates

LOW-IRON GLASS INSULATING UNITS: Interpane

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