Embossed Structural Skin for Tall Buildings

  • Song, Jin Young (Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York) ;
  • Lee, Donghun (Leslie E. Robertson Associates) ;
  • Erikson, James (Arizona State University) ;
  • Hao, Jianming (Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York) ;
  • Wu, Teng (Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York) ;
  • Kim, Bonghwan (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP)
  • Published : 2018.03.01


This paper explores the function of a structural skin with an embossed surface applicable to use for tall building structures. The major diagrid system with a secondary embossed surface structure provides an enhanced perimeter structural system by increasing tube section areas and reduces aerodynamic loads by disorienting major organized structure of winds. A parametric study used to investigate an optimized configuration of the embossed structure revealed that the embossed structure has a structural advantage in stiffening the structure, reducing lateral drift to 90% compared to a non-embossed diagrid baseline model, and results of wind load analysis using computational fluid dynamics, demonstrated the proposed embossed system can reduce. The resulting undulating embossed skin geometry presents both opportunities for incorporating versatile interior environments as well as unique challenges for daylighting and thermal control of the envelope. Solar and thermal control requires multiple daylighting solutions to address each local façade surface condition in order to reduce energy loads and meet occupant comfort standards. These findings illustrate that although more complex in geometry, architects and engineers can produce tall buildings that have less impact on our environment by utilizing structural forms that reduce structural steel needed for stiffening, thus reducing embodied $CO^2$, while positively affecting indoor quality and energy performance, all possible while creating a unique urban iconography derived from the performance of building skin.



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