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K-State Today

June 8, 2015



Michael Gibson receives Treanor Architects Faculty Award

By Kari Lindeen

The College of Architecture, Planning & Design's new Treanor Architects Faculty Award has been presented to Michael Gibson, assistant professor of architecture. This award recognizes one faculty member who best exemplifies the tie between practice and academy and who, in the last year, leveraged the relationship with his or her professional organizations and/or practices to advance students' knowledge, opportunities and research.

In the last school year, Gibson and his fifth-year architectural design studio, also named the "Curtain Wall Studio: Innovation in Curtain Wall Assembly Systems," worked closely with the profession, teaming up with Manko Window Systems in Manhattan and BNIM Architects in Kansas City.

Gibson was awarded $25,000 from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, which was granted specifically for his studio research recognizing the integration of the profession and research. This grant helped to fund the project. Gibson's studio developed and tested new curtain wall variants with these two offices and built one-to-one scale mockups of experimental systems. The students tested these models in outdoor enclosures. The students also participated in a hands-on demonstration of how glazed curtain walls are installed in the field, which was done by an experienced Manko installer.

Inspired in part by the way industry develops and vets new products, the students relied on computer simulation and computer modeling in the initial phases of research. Teams worked with Therm and Window, two advanced simulation suites used by Manko and other fenestration manufacturers in the rating of products. The students built small prototypes of their systems to better understand the implications and challenges of materials and assembly methods in their experimental systems.

During the development phase, students were able to discuss their work with Kevin Dix from Manko and a team of professional architects and consultants. Brian McKinney of BNIM was the lead collaborator, and Nadav Bittan of BNIM and Rick Schladweiler of PGAV Architects also were regularly involved. Others who have supported the students have been David Herron, a Kansas City-area envelope consultant; Ryan Evans, an engineer from Henderson Engineers in Kansas City; and Hadley Stolte, Clark Enerson.

One phase of the work involved the construction of one-to-one scale mockups that the students tested in an enclosure in the Seaton Hall alley. The enclosure was designed to allow accurate testing of multiple modes of heat transfer through each mockup under real-world conditions, and the enclosure itself is reusable and can be flat packed so it can be reused in future studios and courses involving prototype testing. Manko generously provided glazing units and stock curtain wall frames, hardware and gaskets to the studio for the student-built prototypes, and provided a standard curtain wall unit to be tested along with the students' prototypes. Students have developed a variety of approaches to improving the contemporary curtain wall.

In the spring, with Manko and the architectural collaborators assisting as consultants, the students integrated their experimental systems into a comprehensive architectural design. Students actively worked with the Des Moines Public Library to program and develop a proposal for a new library branch that addresses the evolving needs of community libraries while demonstrating a high standard for environmental quality and energy efficiency. Many of the performance-based tools used in the fall were used by the students in this effort, and they had a chance to demonstrate and improve their experimental systems in detail within the project.