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ITAC faculty and students partner with 3form


Advances in material and digital technology are changing the building industry in terms both of process and product. Increasingly, architects are positioned as key facilitators of a newly integrated method for delivering building design and construction. No longer can they rely solely on traditional service models of delivery in which their value is defined by generating innovative design ideas and meeting client needs. Similarly, constructors — including manufacturers and fabricators — can no longer rely solely on non-service models in which their value is defined by maximizing production output relative to input. Industry changes demand that they work together in new and better ways.

In response to these changes, during the 2010-2011 academic year, faculty and students from CA+P’s Integrated Technology in Architecture Center (ITAC) partnered with market leader 3form, a company on the edge of innovative service and product thinking. The objective of the partnership was to conduct market research and develop preliminary exterior designs that test and challenge conventional solar uses in architecture using 3form material.

Initially, the project focused on DIPV (Design Integrated PhotoVoltaics) and the recent attraction of thin film technologies. Based on research and marketing studies as well as focus groups, however, the team transitioned away from DIPV to a more feasible solar-shading concept. After much iteration, this led to the development of the CRATE system, a unique latticed façade system that utilizes 3form’s Koda XT translucent panels in vertical and horizontal applications to create differing profiles for solar shading performance.

The ITAC and 3form teams presented their findings, including digital and physical models, at the May 2011 AIA Convention and Expo in New Orleans.

3form AIA Booth

The ITAC research team included Ryan Smith, Associate Professor and ITAC Director, and architecture students Steffan Lofgren, Trent Smith, and Mike Wilcox. The partnership was generously funded by 3form.

View the project and download the preliminary concept proposal at the ACSA ARCHIVE.


About ITAC

ITAC‘s mission is to to promote integration in the building industry, flattening the process and producing innovative technology. It maintains a wide range of industry partners and institutional affiliates and undertakes research projects that focus on product and processes that can improve environmental performance and increase construction value while reducing waste.


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