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CurtainWallEngineering

CE426:FinalReport JackGreenberg May6,2011

JackGreenberg

5/6/2011

CurtainWallEngineering
Thecurtainwallisanimportantdevelopmentofthe20thcenturythatallowedfortaller, economicalandefficientconstructionofbuildings.Concisely,acurtainwallisanexteriornon loadbearingwallsupportedbythestructuralformworkofabuilding. 1 Acurtainwall,which connectstothestructureofthebuilding,isconstructedmerelytosupportitsowndeadweight, transferringverticalgravityandhorizontalwindloadstothebuildingstructure.Curtainwalls havebecomethenormforbuildingerection,findingapplicationinmostbuildingsthatare constructedtoday.However,curtainwallconstructionisnotactuallyanewinvention;rather,it hadexistedunnamedforcenturies.TheGreeksandRomanshaddevelopedarudimentary versionofmoderncurtainwallsusingnonbearingfillssuchasbrick,stoneorconcreteinside postandlintelconstructedframes.Likewise,medievalcathedralsemployedsimilar construction,withcolumnssupportingarchesthatcontainedcurtainwallsofstainedglass. 2 Onawidespreadlevel,curtainwallsystemsreplacedtheconventionalbuilding technologyofbearingwalls.Asopposedtocurtainwalls,bearingwallsarestructuralelements ofbuildings,supportingtheactualweightofthebuilding.Theinventionofsteelandconcrete framingallowedforthedevelopmentofcurtainwalltechnologybecausebuildingmaterials becamestrongenoughtocarrytheentireloadofthebuilding,nolongerneedingexterior bearingwallsforsupport.Theoldmasonrybearingwallsusedtoconstructolderbuildings

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Donaldson,Barry.ExteriorWallSystems:GlassandConcreteTechnology,Design,andConstruction. Hunt,WilliamDudley.TheContemporaryCurtainWall.

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neededtobeenormoustosupporttheloadsofthefloorsabove,especiallyfortallbuildings wheresomewallscouldbeaswideassixfeetormore.Therefore,curtainwallshaveprovided animportantalternativetobearingwallconstructionbecauseitenabledthereductionofthe sizeoftheexteriorwalltoamerethreeinches,savingtime,spaceandmoneyfordevelopers andallowingtheconstructionofhighrisebuildings. Thisrelativelynewwallsystemlendsitselfverywelltomodernpracticesof prefabricationandmassproductionallowingforeconomyandflexibilityinthedesign.Themain drawbackofconstructingacurtainwallisthedifficultyinconnectingthewalltothestructural elementsofthebuildingwhichiseasilyachievedinbearingwalldesignsincethewallisactually partofthestructure.Nevertheless,thecurtainwallsadvantagesalsoincludeareducedweight, customizableappearance,andfaster,moreefficienterectionmakingitthemostviableoption forbuildings. Thecurtainwallfunctionsasafilterfortheelements,fire,people,animals,sounds odors,andanythingelsethatmightpassintooroutofabuilding.Thedifficultyindesigninga curtainwallisintegratingthesometimesconflictingindividualfunctionsthewallmustprovide forthebuilding.Forexample,controllingthecondensationthatappearsupontheglazing usuallycomplicatestheprotectionagainstprecipitation.Therefore,throughouttheentire processofdesign,carefulthoughtandconsiderationgoesintotheformationofeachelementin thecurtainwall. Curtainwallsaregenerallycomposedofseveralbasicelements,notlimitedtobut includingthefillorpanel,joints,vaporbarrier,backingandinsulation.However,somecurtain
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wallsdontcontainalloftheseelementssuchasaluminumframedcurtainwallsthatdont containaconcretemasonryunitbacking.Additionally,curtainwallelementsarecomposedof differentmaterials,varyinginshapeandsize. Probablythemostdifficultelementsofthecurtainwalltodesignarethejointsthat connectthecurtainwall.Oneofthethingsthatacurtainwallismostsusceptibletoiswater leakage.Porousmaterialssuchasstoneandmasonry,allowwatertobesiphonedthroughtheir surfacestotheinside. 3 Nevertheless,thecriticallocationofwaterentrythoughcurtainwallsis atthejointsofthefaade.Thedesignofthejointiscomplicatedforcurtainwallssincethejoint invariablybecomestheflexiblelinkinthewall.Itmustbeweathertight,yetfreetovaryits dimensionswithchangesintemperature.Itmustprotectagainstrainwhileallowing condensationtobleedoff.Therearevastnumbersofjointsinthefaademakingitaneven greaterdesignchallengeforengineers. Besidesforprecipitationprotection,controlagainstcondensationisimportantfor maintainingclearwindowsandformaintainingtheintegrityoftheinsulationofthewall.A vaporbarrierisconstructedtoallowthelittlewaterthatinevitablyentersthebuildingtoreturn theatmosphere.Inmanycurtainwalldesigns,thisprovisionconsistsofopeningorweepsholes inthebaseoftheunit.Weepholesaredifficulttodesignbecausetheycanactuallyhave negativeeffectsonthebuildingifitisnotdesignedproperly.Iftheweepholesarenotlarge enoughtheycanbecomeineffectivesincegrimeanddirtcouldpotentiallyclogthem. Additionally,iftheweepholesaretoolargeorareplacedtofrequentlythroughoutthefaade, watercanenterthebuildingmoreeasily,defeatingthepurposeoftheholes.Similarly,the

Hunt,WilliamDudley.

JackGreenberg

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vaporbarrierneedstobewideenoughtoallowroomforthedeflectionofthepanelsspanning acrossthewallwithoutcommandeeringtoomuchofthespaceofthebuilding. 4 Thepanelsandglazingthatspanacrossthebuildingareelementsthatcoveramajority ofthebuildingenvelope.Thecriticaldesignchallengeintheseelementsisthelargesurface areatheypossess.Probablymostimportantly,thematerialchosenforthepanelandglazing greatlyinfluencesthethermalpropertiesofthecurtainwall.Amongthebiggestconcernsin curtainwalldesignisadequatetemperaturecontrol.Thevarioustypesofpanelsandglazing canhavelargeimplicationsinthemoneyspentoncoolingandheatinginthebuilding. Additionally,fireprotectioniscontrolledbytheeffectivenessofthepanelsandglazing.Thewall mustnotallowfirestospreadfromonebuildingtoanotherorallowfirestospreadtodifferent floorsofthebuilding.Masonrymaterialsslowdowntherateofheattransferbyusingalarge amountofheattoevaporatethewatercontainedintheirphysicalorchemicalcomposition, offeringanexcellentsourceoffireprotection.Largeamountsofheatcanbestoredinthemass ofmasonry,enablingittowithstandexposuretofireforalongerperiodoftimebeforethe oppositewallfacetemperaturerisesappreciably. 5 Panelsandglazingmustalsowithstandstressescausedbythebuildingmovement resultingfromexpansionorcontraction,orlateralloadingfromearthquakesandhurricanes. Thisismuchgreaterthanthedeadloadofthepanelswhichisusuallymuchsmallerin comparison.Nevertheless,structurally,thedesignofacurtainwallhingesontheeffectiveness ofthesealantandtheconnectiontothestructuralframing.

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Hunt,WilliamDudley. Hunt,WilliamDudley.

JackGreenberg

5/6/2011

Theadhesiveusedtofixtheglassofcurtainwallsinplaceisasiliconeelastomeric sealant.Siliconesealantsusedinstructuralglazingvaryastotypeandusage,howeverthemain propertiesaregenerallythattheyarelittleaffectedbyultravioletlight,canbondreliablyto glassandaluminumandhaveasufficientelasticitytoaccommodatethermalexpansionand structuralmovements.Thestructuraladhesivejointdesignrequiresengineeringanalysis, consideringthestrengthofthesealantintensileadhesion,shearadhesion,cohesionand movementcapability,thegeometryofthesealantincontactwidthandthicknessandthe imposedloadsonthesealant.Thesiliconeadhesivemustbesizedtocarryallforcesand accommodateallmovementswithoutoverstressingit.Additionally,thesystemmustdrain waterfromthesealsandshouldbecapableofbeingretrofittedwithnewglazingforwhenthe glassbreaks.Atthestartoflargescalecurtainwallglazingconstruction,theuseofsealantwas anuncertainformanyengineerssinceallofsiliconesmaterialpropertieshadnotbeenfully researched.Safetyfactorsofgreaterthansixwerenotuncommonamongdesigns.However,as thematerialscienceandresearchdeveloped,creativeandlessoverdesignedtechniqueswere usedintheconstructionusingthesealant.Thus,developmentssuchasstructuralglazing spacersmitigatedthestructuralprogressivecollapsefailureofthecurtainwall. 6 Allstructureswhethersteelorconcretewilltransfermovementtothebuildingfaade duetothermalexpansionandcontractionofthematerialssupportingabuilding.Steel structuresaremoregenerallymoreflexiblethanconcreteandwillapplyforcestothefaadein itsmovement.However,concretestructuresalsoimpartmovementtotheexteriorwalldueto

Donaldson,Barry.

JackGreenberg

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longtermshrinkage.Therefore,wind,earthquakeandotherlateralloadsimposedonbuildings makeitcriticalforengineerstocarefullydesignexteriorwallstohandlethesedynamicforces. Thereareseveraltypesofcurtainwallsystemsthatarecurrentlyemployedinthe constructionofbuildings.Themostcommonincludeconventionalmasonry,panelizedwall systemsandaluminumframedcurtainwalls.However,therearemanymoreanddifferent typesofexteriorwallsystemsthatareusedinbuildingsbecausecurtainwallsbydefinition includeanytypeofnonbearingwall.Thedifferenttechniquesusedtocladabuildingare usuallyarchitecturallydriven,eachgivingadifferentlookandfeeltothebuilding.Nevertheless, astheeconomy,energyandfunctionalityofbuildingsbecomesadominatingroleindesign, exteriorsystemsaremoreengineeringdriven,witheachtypeoffaadehavinguniquequalities thatisadvantageousfordifferentdesigncriteria. Conventionalmasonryexteriorwallsystemsconsistofabrickorstonefaade, supportedbyconcretemasonryunitbacking.Thesetypesofwallsystemsaretypicallywell suitedforbuildingsthatrequirevariousnonuniformwallopeningsthroughoutthefacade. Thereforeitsapplicationismostresonantwithresidentialdesignmethodssinceresidential buildingsaretypicallynotrepetitivehorizontally.Theusageofthefloorspaceinresidential buildingsvariesmuchmorethanfloorspaceinofficebuildingsrequiringvariedwindow openingsinthefaade.Masonryisidealforthistypeofbuildingbecauseitssmallelemental sizecanadapteasily,enablingtheseopeningsbetterthanaluminumorglasssystems.

JackGreenberg

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Panelizedexteriorwallsystemsconsistofprefabricatedorfactorymanufacturedpanels thatformastructuralenvelope. 7 Thebuildingpanelsarebestandeconomicallymanufactured uniformly;therefore,unliketheconventionalmasonryfaade,theyareunsuitableforsmall variedopeningsinthefaade.However,panelizedwallsystemsaretypicallywellsuitedfor largebuildingswitharepetitivefaadedesignbecausetheycanbesystematicallyinstalledfor quickconstructionofabuilding. Similartopanelizedsystems,thealuminumframedcurtainwallisasystemwhich containspanels.Inthisscheme,themullionsareinstalledfirst,andthenthepanels,usually madeofglass,areinsertedintothemullionframinginthefield. 8 Thisexteriorcladdingiswell suitedforlargeuniformbuildingsbecauseittooisprefabricatedandcanbesystematically installedintobuildings.However,itiseconomicallymoreflexiblethanpanelizedsystemsandis evensuitableforsmallerconstructionprojectsaswell. Inadditiontothefunctionofthebuilding,otherqualitiesofabuildingthatare importantindetermininganappropriatefaadeincludethestructuralframingofthebuilding. Sincethefaadeofacurtainwallisnotabearingmember,itmustbeattachedtotheframing ofthebuildingforsupport.Theconnectionbetweenthefaadeandthestructurecanvary basedonthetypeoffaadeandstructuralsystemused.Concretestructuralsystemsgenerally lendthemselvestosimpleconnectionsbetweenalltypesofcurtainwallsbecauseofits customizableshapesandsizes;whereas,steelframingslesscustomizableformcanattimes makeitdifficulttojoinwiththeexteriorcurtainwall.Thisisthemostimportantimplicationof

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NAHBResearchCenter."Design,Fabrication,andInstallationofEngineeredPanelizedWalls:TwoCaseStudies." Stuart,Matthew,P.E.,S.E.,F.ASCE."CurtainwallPrimerforDesignProfessionalsAnOnlineCourseforEngineers andArchitects."

JackGreenberg

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choosinganappropriatecurtainwallbecausethedetailingoftheconnectionusuallydictatesan enormousportionofthecostofthecurtainwall. 9 Thegeneralpropertiesofstructuralsystemintegrationwiththeexteriorwallare apparentintheconstructionofconventionalmasonry.Concretestructuralsystemstypically integrateverywellwithconventionalmasonryfacades.Theattachmentofthemasonrywallto theconcretestructureiseasybecausehorizontalmasonrytiescanbefittedeasilyintodovetail slotsthatareembeddedinconcreteandcanalsoeasilybecastintoconcretebeamsor columns.Additionally,concretesintrinsicabilitytobeformedintoavarietyofprofilesmakesit anidealmaterialforinteractionwithmasonrycladding.Steelframing,ontheotherhand,isnot idealforconventionalmasonrycladdingbecausetheconnectiontothemasonrywallisvery difficult. However,panelizedsystemsandaluminumframedcurtainwallsgenerallyworkwell witheithersystem.Panelizedsystemsascomparedwithconventionalmasonryhaveavastly differentinfluenceontheperimeterofthebuildingstructure.Generallyspanningfromcolumn tocolumn,thepointsofattachmenttothebuildingstructurearelimitedwithfewconnections necessarytothestructure.Thisquality,thoughlimitingthelocationofwheretheattachments mustbemade,actuallymakesthenumberofconnectionsmuchmoremanageableandeasily attachabletobothconcreteandsteelframingalike.Similarly,aluminumframedcurtainwalls areeasilyattachabletobothconcreteandsteelsystemssincethealuminumshapethatholds

Donaldson,Barry.

JackGreenberg

5/6/2011

thesysteminplacecanbemanufacturedintocomplexshapesthatfitintothesteeland concretestructure. 10 Anotherimportantconsiderationindeterminingthetypeofbuildingenvelopetouseis thestructuralimplicationsimposedonthebuilding.Conventionalmasonrywallswithconcrete masonrybackingusuallydistributeloadsevenlyoverthebeamsattheedgeofthebuilding; however,theyareusuallymuchheavierthanothertypesofcurtainwallsandcanhavealarge influenceinthesizesofthesebeammembers.However,gravityloadsofpanelsystemsare generallymuchsmallerthanconventionalsystemsandaregenerallyselfsupporting.In addition,thepanelsusuallyworkwellwithbuildingsthatcontaincolumnsattheedgeofthe building.Attachingtotheedgeeliminatestheneedforthespandrelbeamtoresistthevertical loadsofthewall.However,whenthepanelisrequiredtobetiedbacktothelowerflangeor webofthespandrelbeam,torsionalloadsmustbefactoredintothestructuraldesign. 11 Asopposedtotheplethoraoftypesofcurtainwalls,therearegenerallytwomethodsof curtainwallinstallation,stickandunitizedsystems.Today,thevastmajorityofcurtainwalls employtheuseofsticksysteminstallation.Framingmembers,thesticks,areeither prefabricatedorassembledonsiteandarefirstinstalledintothestructuralframingofthe building.Glazingorpanelsarethenattachedtothestickfaming,completingtheconstructionof thewall.Althoughnotaspopularasthesticksystem,unitizedsystemisaneffectivemethodof installationthatisusuallymosteffectiveforlargebuildingprojects.Thecurtainwallsare factoryfabricatedtoincludetheglazingandallelementsofthewall,installingonlythewallin

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Donaldson,Barry. Donaldson,Barry.

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onestepintothestructuralframingofthebuildings.Becauseofthecontrolexercisedin prefabricationasopposedtofieldconstruction,unitizedsystemsgenerallyprovideabetter qualitybuildingenvelope.Althoughthefabricationcostsarehigherthansticksystem installation,thismethodentailsalowerfieldinstallationcostandareusuallylessexpensivein locationswithhighlaborrates. Withthedesignandofconstructionofnewbuildingsinthepastcentury,curtainwall

engineeringhasextendedtobecomeitsownfieldofengineeringwithmanyengineersstarting specialtyfirmstoaddressthecomplexityofcurtainwalldesign.Nevertheless,curtainwall constructionisstillinitsinfancyascurtainwallsystemsarebeingdevelopedtomitigatethe effectsoftemperatureonheatingandcoolingcostsofthebuildings.Similarly,the improvementofconstructiontechniquesandmaterialinstallationwillchangethewaycurtain wallsaredesignanderectedinthefuture.

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Bibliography
Donaldson,Barry.ExteriorWallSystems:GlassandConcreteTechnology,Design,and Construction.Philadelphia,PA:ASTM,1991.Print. Hunt,WilliamDudley.TheContemporaryCurtainWall.NewYork:Dodge,1958.Print. Marshall,RichardD.,andH.C.S.Thom.ProceedingsofTechnicalMeetingConcerningWind LoadsonBuildingsandStructures:HeldatNationalBureauofStandards,Gaithersburg, Maryland,January2728,1969.Washington,D.C.:U.S.Dept.ofCommerce,National BureauofStandards,1970.Print. NAHBResearchCenter."Design,Fabrication,andInstallationofEngineeredPanelizedWalls: TwoCaseStudies."ToolBaseServicesbyNAHBResearchCenter|HomeBuilding TechnicalInformationResourcesBuildersConstructionRemodelingInnovations.U.S. DepartmentofHousingandUrbanDevelopmentOfficeofPolicyDevelopmentand ResearchWashington,DC,Jan.2002.Web.<http://www.toolbase.org/>. Stuart,Matthew,P.E.,S.E.,F.ASCE."CurtainwallPrimerforDesignProfessionalsAnOnline CourseforEngineersandArchitects."EngineeringContinuingEducationPDHCEUforPE LSAIALicenseRenewal.Web.<http://www.pdhonline.org/courses/s119/s119.htm>. Zhou,Y.S.AnIntroductiontotheDesignofCurtainWalls,AluminumWindows,GlassWalls, SkylightsandCanopies.HongKong:WilsonCurtainWallConsultant(HK),2002.Print.

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