The competition’s challenge
“Submit your vision for transforming 63 Madison Avenue’s facade to increase penetration of sunlight into the interior and enclose the building using a curtain wall system that balances transparency, views, and energy performance.” (Quote from

What a great opportunity to work on such an important topic. We really enjoyed the competition and conference!

Congratulations to all the other finalists and winner of the award – we were in great company!

Discuss the inspiration, vision, and concept influencing your proposal
Regarding the geometry of the building, its surrounding and the plan layout the building seems to reach its potential in terms of space usage. Hence these particular criteria limit the potential in any changes or improvements of the building. Considering the building structure not yet reached its end-of-life an extensive refurbishment that cannot achieve its maximum potential appears inappropriate. Following Frank Duffy’s Shearing Layers of Change the question arose: if the building structure and the façade remain, how could the building performance be still improved and what are the consequences?

The focus of this concept is to improve the energy performance of the building by reducing heating and cooling loads and provide sufficient daylight but all this while minimizing the effort and input resources for such an action.

Remaining the existing façade, the refurbishment could be executed at lower cost, shorter construction period, less demand of material and energy for construction while producing less waste. Additionally, the building could still be in use in areas where the refurbishment is not on-going.

While 63 Madison Avenue is currently 58 years old, partial refurbishment that focuses on the energy performance would be the suitable choice in economical and sustainable aspects. Hypothetically in 20+ years, the service life of the all-over building structure and façade will have ended. At this point it would be more suitable to fully refurbish or reconstruct the building with latest state of the art technology also utilizing the saved efforts beforehand.

How does your design demonstrate unique solutions for the stated goals of increasing light into the interior and affording tenants greater visual access to the outdoors while significantly reducing carbon emissions in accordance with New York City’s Green New Deal targets?

RThe main goal of this concept is to improve energy performance and user comfort of the building with little efforts. Basis for this is the operating principle of an exhaust air façade where used room air is sucked through a cavity in between to glass layers of the façade to extract heat from solar radiation and creating a buffer zone. To enable a simple and cost-effective solution for 63 Madison Avenue and other office buildings the inner glass layer is replaced by a specially designed and operated three-part venetian blind.

The lamellas of the blind are perforated to enable ventilation for exhaustion and view from the office space while at the same time securing sufficient glare control and temperature buffering within the cavity. Additionally the lamellas are coated differently on both sides: silver for high reflection of sun-light and for redirecting natural light at the top part of the blind and black for better view through the blind from inside and in winter for better heat absorption preventing major heat loss.

The adaptability of the venetian blind allows different façade performance / functions which handle different situations – summer, winter, sunny, cloudy, different in temperature and present of users.

Thus the concept actively and adaptively improves the façade and building performance while causing minimal impact in the building structure and usage.

How and why was the particular curtain wall design solution selected?

The system does not require a specific type of curtain wall to be integrated, because it was designed as a separated add-on component, which could fit in to any type of curtain wall and be adjusted to different façade and building layouts, as long as the cavity between glass and venetian blind can be created and exhaust air systems connected to it. This cavity is used as a buffering zone for temperature regulation and protection throughout the year. For this the basis of the project is the individual operation and layout of the venetian blind in combination with the HVAC system.

The biggest advantage of the system is that it can be easily applied to other buildings, as well as 63 Madison Ave, thanks to the fact that only small modification are needed.

Its simplicity and low technological demand makes the system easy, inexpensive, and quick in construction. The refurbishment can be done partially, which does not interfere with other area that is still under use. Moreover the construction only requires access from interior, which reduces complication in the construction especially for a high-rise building.

Thus the concept Active and Adaptive demonstrates a way to enable not only one extensive refurbishment but a broad application for low performing but still far from end-of-life office buildings improving the all-over energy efficiency of New York City building stock.

Congratulations to our R&D-Team on being a top 6 finalist at “Metals in Construction 2020 Design Challenge: Transform a Façade” in New York! Lars Anders and Simon Philip joined the event.

Special congrats to Paul-Rouven Denz and Puttakhun Vongsingha – so proud of your accomplishments with “Active and Adaptive”.