June 27, 2013

BPA Puts Masonry + Moisture to the Test

Rainstorms can send a shiver up an architect’s spine - especially as a designer of brick buildings. Masonry is naturally porous. It can absorb a large amount of water, compromising the bond strength between the mortar and the masonry unit. Not only that, but it can easily discolor the building’s facade. Recently Bialosky + Partners Architects had a visit from Professional Products of Kansas, offering an interesting potential solution. Professional Water Sealant & Anti-Graffitiant is a “dual-purpose” silicone water repellent which provides an invisible protection from graffiti and moisture damage. The spray-applied repellent is recommended for brick, concrete, granite (and most horizontal surfaces) and will add years of weatherproofing protection to new or existing structures. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leKRODMRABs[/youtube] This silicone repellent can be applied as a single coat to protect the building from moisture, and an additional coat will protect the building from graffiti. The key with graffiti protectant is it can be non-sacrificial or sacrificial. A non-sacrificial protectant does not dissolve once graffiti is washed away, meaning there is no need to reapply. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1ITRh8I37A[/youtube]   Now, for the test on our own office building: After learning about this water sealant, BPA tested our very own brick office building, here in Shaker Square. Our waterproofing consultants helped set- the RILEM II.4 test, which simulates wind-driven rain up to 98 mph.

Bialosky + Partners Architects Cleveland Office - in the heart of Shaker Square.

RILEM II.4 test on our office building begins!

First, we fixed the RILEM tube to the testing-wall with a pinch of soft putty rolled to form a snake-like piece around the flat brim of the tube opening. It must be water-tight between the tube and the brick. We then filled the RILEM tube to the top mark of 0.0 mL and recorded the time.

Tracking the water during the test.

We checked intermittently at 1 minute intervals, but overall tested the wall for 20 minutes. (If the brick face or mortar joint absorbs 5 mL in 5 minutes, which is considered a failure of the test). We then measured the amount of water absorbed by the brick face, where we only absorbed 0.5 mL in those 20 minutes! So the brick face passed the test, but the building grout joints, which are the most common point of failure in a masonry system, failed this test.

While the building's masonry stood up to the test, the mortar joints absorbed quite a bit of water.

This product has been applied to several historic buildings in the area and would be a great product for our aging brick building.  BPA is excited to evaluate this product to improve our building’s water tightness and if applied, would be periodically tested and observed. BPA is looking forward to protecting and preserving many of our client's buildings too!

March 19, 2013

Architecture in the “Walkman Phase”

Last week the online design magazine, Dezeen, published an interview with Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio on his plans to launch the world's first open-source architecture studio. Once launched, this network will hold great significance as it will begin to take the often secretive and exclusive mentality of knowledge sharing between architecture firms and reverse that thinking. As a "knowledge-based organizational" website, van Berkel describes a system "where knowledge can be shared, contributed and collected."

 Diagram illustrating how UNStudio’s Knowledge Platforms reach out to external partners for collaboration - via deezen.com Bialosky + Partners Architects Cleveland Design Blog

Diagram illustrating how UNStudio’s Knowledge Platforms reach out to external partners for collaboration - via deezen.com

This unprecedented system gives the profession of architecture a needed technological and collaborative leap forward. But to do so, designers must be willing to part with the exclusivity of their acquired building & design knowledge and adopt a more open-source mentality. Any creative knows the benefit of working in close proximity with other creatives, as opposed to working independently in a vacuum. Yet on a larger scale, the practice of architecture operates more independently than anything else. Understandably, business-mindedness and competition have led firms to rarely have a sort of academic, open dialog with other firms. Yet it is this same mentality that has kept practice architecture "in the Walkman phase", as van Berkel coins it.

So what does this mean for us? Spurred on by political obstacles in the Netherlands, van Berkel has realized he and his fellow dutch architects must band together to come up with creative solutions to the obstacles before them - so too must American architects, and perhaps more specifically architects in the nation's hard-hit Rustbelt of the Midwest. In times when sustainability and building performance are often leading factors in the design, construction and lasting performance of buildings, architects must be constantly advancing their own knowledge base. It is a task that is simply too great to be done internally. Instead firms must be willing to offer open seminars, write white papers, maintain blogs documenting design and construction processes. While this may seem as a monumental task, efforts are already underway to begin this knowledge sharing. Firms are establishing blogs that are beginning to informally do just what van Berkel aspires to do. Organizations such as the Building Envelope Council are gaining recognition and prominence as a resource to acquire building knowledge. Architects need to fully participate in such dialogues - not simply listen. To gain the credibility and respect of clients and critics worldwide, we must turn to each other to learn from our collective experiences.