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dubone

What are the best and worst facade materials for urban buildings in Charlotte?

Facade materials   15 members have voted

  1. 1. What are the WORST facade for urban buildings here

    • Exposed or painted concrete (2 Wachovia, Duke Energy)
      2
    • EIFS/Fake Stucco (Epicentre, Royal Court, Hampton Inn)
      15
    • Brick (Ashton, Hall House, Garrison, TWC Arena)
      0
    • Hardcoat/Real Stucco (230 S Tryon, Catalyst)
      3
    • Alucabond (Southborough, part of Arena)
      1
    • Glass (BofA Plaza, Ritz, Wells Fargo CC, Avenue)
      0
    • Stone/Granite (BofA CC, One Wells Fargo, Odell)
      0
    • Glazed Tile or Terra Cotta (Bechtler, 402 West Trade)
      0
  2. 2. What are the BEST facade for urban buildings here

    • Exposed or painted concrete (2 Wachovia, Duke Energy)
      2
    • EIFS/Fake Stucco (Epicentre, Royal Court, Hampton Inn)
      0
    • Brick (Ashton, Hall House, Garrison, TWC Arena)
      9
    • Hardcoat/Real Stucco (230 S Tryon, Catalyst)
      1
    • Alucabond (Southborough, part of Arena)
      5
    • Glass (BofA Plaza, Ritz, Wells Fargo CC, Avenue)
      12
    • Stone/Granite (BofA CC, One Wells Fargo, Odell)
      10
    • Glazed Tile or Terra Cotta (Bechtler, 402 West Trade)
      4

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10 posts in this topic

Vitamin N's question and just the general thoughts on Ashton, Garrison, Royal Court facades have had me thinking about this lately.

You may vote for multiple on each side. Of course some buildings are a mixture of facade materials, but you can explain or add caveats by posting about it.

I'll post mine as a follow up.

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Aesthetically, I am way over fake AND real stucco and exposed or painted concrete as facade materials here. I am okay with hardcoat stucco and concrete as materials, but overall, that look I think the look is just lazy for some reason. When they used as minority facade materials, they are better, like the hardcoat stucco on Catalyst (mostly glass) and the concrete on Avenue (mostly glass and brick). However, if you think if 2 Wachovia and Duke Energy, the materials add somehow to their dated and fortress-like looks.

While I know some think bricks are backward looking and pretentious, to me bricks and stone/granite are timeless materials of a human scale that when put up on large urban buildings really add a level of depth to them. On BofA CC, the individual granite pieces really give it a richness and complexity I think that would be lacking if it were just one smeared on or sprayed on material. On Hall House or Ashton, the bricks set the building up to look instantly like it has been there for a while and seem to look better with age.

Furthermore, while there is some environmental grey area with them because of the effort to mine, bake, and transport the materials. There is something to be said for mud and mineral taken from the ground and in nearly inexhaustible supply.

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You left out an option for best that I would have voted for. Glazed Tile. It's been used on urban buildings for centuries and I think you get the best looking human scaled facades on places that use it. It's expensive, labor consuming, and because of that, a lot of thought goes into its use. When, instead, a very low cost easy to mass install substance like EFIS is used, you end up with the gaudy looking places that we see all over Charlotte. Places that will look bad in just a few years and will never develop the long lasting charm of a tiled building.

Brick, and fake stone have all been over used too.

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You left out an option for best that I would have voted for. Glazed Tile. It's been used on urban buildings for centuries and I think you get the best looking human scaled facades on places that use it. It's expensive, labor consuming, and because of that, a lot of thought goes into its use. When, instead, a very low cost easy to mass install substance like EFIS is used, you end up with the gaudy looking places that we see all over Charlotte. Places that will look bad in just a few years and will never develop the long lasting charm of a tiled building.

Brick, and fake stone have all been over used too.

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I added the option for you monsoon. I totally agree! I think I'm most partial to any material like that that is is small pieces that you put up like tile, brick and stone. Tile is a great option because of its historicity and lack of overuse. For me, I don't mind seeing all materials used throughout the city, but we really need to return to traditional and long lasting materials rather than some of this stuff that looks awful after a couple of years. It is one thing with single family homes as they are more often and more easily torn down. But when you consider larger scale buildings like we often talk about here, it horrifies me to think that they'll be there for generations detracting from the city's overall appearance.

As I wrote in the Royal Court thread, I think the city should ban these types of materials with deteriorate over a shorter period of time as they have a strong stake in the avoidance of urban blight. Developers care about avoiding costs, but there are some costs that they just should not be allowed to make.

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Just wanted to point out that your Duke pick for exposed concrete is a pretty ghastly building in general. Both Catalyst and Imaginion are, I think, much nicer examples of what can be done with concrete.

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Just an FYI, 525 N Tryon (Odell) is precast aggregate on the lower floors and precast concrete on the tower portion. First Methodist next door, by comparison, is sandstone.

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Since you didn't specify aesthetics as the defining factor, here are some environmental considerations for some of the materials mentioned (I have many more, but that's another thread). Some typical embodied energy numbers for some of those materials (measured in MJ/kg):

Stone (local) - 0.79

Concrete blocks - 1.5

Poured in place concrete - 1.9

Kiln dried sawn hardwood - 2

Concrete precast - 2

Brick - 2.5

Cement - 5.6

Local dimension granite - 5.9

Aluminum (recycled) - 8.1

Steel (recycled) - 8.9

Imported dimension granite - 13.9

Glass - 15.9

Steel - 24

Hardboard - 24.2

Galvanized Steel - 38

Paint - 93.3

Aluminum - 227

I don't have numbers specific to glazed tile and terra cotta, but the latter is fairly similar to brick in manufacturing. However, it requires less structure than brick to hold up (much lighter). I also don't have anything useful on EIFS, but I believe it lies somewhere between brick and glass.

Caveats: Transportation is obviously a major factor, especially for your heavier materials like stone and brick. Stay local. End of life is the other major factor: is it recyclable or reusable when the building is demolished? Concrete is a difficult one, but it can be done. EIFS and Paint are the only items on the list that really have no reusable potential and will end up in a landfill. Finally, please take note that this is per kilogram. A kilogram of concrete is beans. A kilogram of paint it a lot of paint. You can be sure that in a concrete building the overall energy use of the concrete will FAR outpace paint in the same building.

And for the love of god, recycle your aluminum.

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Thanks toz for that info. Environmental factors are big with me but I didn't know much about the embodied energy of each of those.

Catalyst is hardcoat stucco, which was pointed out a bit ago by mugen.

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Although I like steel and glass, at heart I'm more of a traditionalist (e.g. stone and brick). Check out this new 16-story office building in Forth Worth with a stone/brick exterior (photos courtesy of forumer Fort Worthology):

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