Throughout the day, year, and viewing perspective, the Ohio State University South Campus Central Chiller Plant’s facade changes dynamically; informed by the angle of the sun.
Conceived of as a “House for Energy,” the envelope showcases the masculine chiller equipment within and records the sun’s energy on the exterior. Glazed openings are specifically located to frame views while dichroic glass fins and boxes change in color with the movement of the sun and cast color-changing shadows onto modular precast concrete wall panels that have been polished to a high sheen.
The desired affect created a technical challenge. The design team worked closely with Goldray Industries of Canada to perfect and experiment with what had been a first time application of dichroic film laminations at this scale. Developed by NASA, dichroic film is created by adding micro thin layers of metal to a translucent material. The metallic layer alters the wave length and therefore the color of light passing through. The finished product can have as many as 30 to 50 layers of material, yet the thickness of the total coating is 30 to 35 millionths of an inch (about .000760 to .000890 mm). Since the metal is reflective, the film transmits a variety of colors.
There are a total of 177 fins and 8 glass boxes. The majority of the fins measure 3’-0” wide x 5’-0” high, easing the fabrication and installation process. A bracket system holds the glass in place and prevents rotation.
The result is a dynamic piece of infrastructure that changes as the fins cast shadows varying in size, color and intensity, providing and ever shifting, non-static façade.