Walker Design LLC | Leland Federal Courthouse

Leland Federal Courthouse

The exterior recladding and redefining of this Federal office building in Houston promotes a different attitude about energy and the way buildings are defined and constructed.  This new architecture declares a new paradigm in employing technology and sustainable strategies to reimage the building and Houston.

Houston is symbolic of the economic growth of the country spurred on by oil and natural gas. The attitude about abundant energy led to the rise of artificial cooling and buildings that ignored solar orientation and energy consumption. This project is thus an opportunity to transform not just the building itself but focus on a new and sustainable way to design and build. This is a new philosophy about how buildings operate – conserving and creating energy, not just consuming.

This design  re-purposes the traditional curtain wall envelope becoming a metaphor for a sustainable and responsible design movement. In this application the curtain wall and associated elements serve as a sculptural record of movement within the site and of the buildings transformation. The public edge of the building faces south to easily capture opportunities for energy production.  A sculptural exoskeleton composed of super-scaled folding plates is composed of perforated metal panel and photovoltaics that begin to dictate the optimal orientation and form of this element. The exoskeleton acts as a giant sunshade protecting both interior and exterior spaces.  The folding plates sculpt the spatial constructs defining the public procession into the building.

The new curtain wall system integrates high-performance glazing and security features such as blast-resistance. Perforated screens and silk-screened glazing diffuse direct sunlight into useable light for the interior. This articulation of the façade originates in the expression of the new entrance at ground level. A horizontal emphasis at grade transitions to vertical at higher levels; capturing the movement of the building’s occupants. Moving upward, a gradation of silk-screened glazing reduces heat load and transparency releasing the skin from its previous order. In combination with the articulation of the façade this new framework crystallizes the idea of movement within the site as a new visual icon emerges from the Houston skyline.

*This project was developed while employed by Heery Design.