Enclosure Innovations on the West Coast

Facades+, December 3-4, 2020

Tom Wiscombe will be speaking at a web conference for Facades+ regarding digital design and fabrication and complex facade components.

Facades+ is moving online to virtually connect some of the world’s most productive building professionals on the West Coast. From Southern California to the Puget Sound, the American West Coast is home to some of the nation’s leading architects, engineers, and designers. The impact of their work is not only felt across the country, but throughout the four corners of the world. This online conference, co-chaired by Olson Kundig, will highlight work in both the region and afar.

Advances in facade design, especially in the realm of digital design and advanced fabrication, are fundamentally changing how architects work. Notably, firms across the country are increasingly relying on in-house teams to develop custom software and play an integral role in the design-assist of facade components. This panel will feature two panelists presenting their methodologies and it's impact on recent case studies.


Carbon-positive Homes: Meet the Pioneers of Sustainable Building

The Times, October 22, 2020

On the other side of the Atlantic, one of the newest and most glamorous experiments in domestic power production is entering its final stages on the slopes of Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah.

The Dark Chalet — a holiday home for the solar entrepreneur Tom Buttgenbach, a co-founder and the president of Eight Minute Solar Energy, his partner, the interior designer Sean Leffers, and their two children — will be completed in January after a 21-month build.

The house is described by its architect, Tom Wiscombe, as “a black diamond nestled on the steep snowy mountain”. But this 5,500 sq ft gem isn’t merely decorative.

It is clad in sections of shimmering, commercial-grade black glass solar panels that are significantly more powerful than those available off the peg and will act as the engine room of the project.

Wiscombe calculates that the highly insulated house will produce 364 per cent more energy than it needs — enough to charge the couple’s electric cars and possibly power their neighbours’ homes too.

At this stage the performance of the house is an unknown, so a propane gas system has been installed as a failsafe. “Perhaps at peak times, if it is very cold and there is snow covering the solar panels, you never know [if you need to use it],” Wiscombe says.

But in principle the house will comfortably run itself and, while most of us are focused on how to minimise energy consumption, the question the architect and his clients are considering is what to do with their excess power. “We can certainly sell the energy back to the grid, but shooting energy all over the place means losing a lot,” Wiscombe says. “We are wondering if the house could lend energy to neighbouring houses. It makes sense to keep it local.”

The Times

Sunset Spectacular Breaks Ground

West Hollywood California, July 7, 2020

The Sunset Spectacular has broken ground!

The foundations for the superstructure are nearing completion as the first completed components are being prepared for shipment to the site.

The Dark Chalet, Dried In

Eden Utah, June 24, 2020

This week on the construction site of The Dark Chalet in Eden Utah, the project is now dried in and will soon be ready for cladding.

Sunset Spectacular Components in Fabrication at Northern Manufacturing

Oak Harbor Ohio, April 22, 2020

Fabrication for the Sunset Spectacular continues at Northern Manufacturing's plant in Oak Harbor, Ohio. 10 out of 14 tesseract components are now completed and are on the queue for final glass bead blasting. Sub-assemblies for the rest of the Tesseract components are also complete and will soon be assembled into their final form.

16 North petal components have also recently been started, these will be assembled as one piece laying down flat in the fabrication floor. The same strategy will be used for 21 West components and 18 East components occupying three full fabrication bays. When ready to leave the plant, the pedals will be disassembled in super-components to be shipped in oversize loads from Oak Harbor to West Hollywood, where the final piece will be erected in only a few mega-components.

The scene on the plant floor is reminiscent of Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks during the production of the SR 71 Blackbird.