Metal Architecture Home

Reciprocal Repetition

Angular metal sunshades complement arched windows

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Aug18 111
Photo: Ryan Gobuty, courtesy of Gensler

Like a set of xylophone bars, a series of aluminum extrusions skirt the base of Phoenix's Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Aesthetically, the L-shaped metal bars echo the repetition of the building’s distinct eyebrow windows. The sharp-angled sunshades also complement the circular window shapes, and the smooth metal surfaces contrast with the precast concrete façade’s stone texture. Functionally, the architectural feature provides sunshading at ground level and forms a screenwall for parking decks at the floors above.

Jay Silverberg, AIA, design principal at Gensler in Phoenix, says the existing building had a very strong, recognizable pattern and texture. Developing a design that coordinated with it was challenging. “The existing tower is reminiscent of a scalloped, eggshell pattern,” he says. “It’s very iconic in its look and has a consistent repetition to it. So we thought that engaging the pedestrian realm at the podium of the building was important to have that same kind of repetition, a complementary texture and pattern. The solution became a contemporary, modern approach to sun screening and creating shade for the pedestrian that would be as tactile as the tower.”

Photo: Ryan Gobuty, courtesy of Gensler

Victor Irizarry, NCRB, AIA Associate, senior lead designer at Gensler, says, “The design is about that experience when you look up, you’re going to see a juxtaposition of the angular canopy against the scallops and curves up top.”

The color palette lightened the mid-century modern exterior, which was a reddish color. The tower was painted white and new 1/4-inch steel plate entry portals coated to match the aluminum sunshades were installed. Behind the extrusions, gray metal composite material panels, supplied by ALPOLIC by Mitsubishi Chemical Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va., clad the walls.

“By painting the tower white, we brought a freshness to it,” Irizarry says. “We thought that the base would be more of a mid-century modern, southwestern desert, clean design that would complement the tower. When you look at it altogether, it reads as one cohesive, holistic design.”

Photo: Ryan Gobuty, courtesy of Gensler

The metal sunshades/screenwalls are constructed with two aluminum window extrusions. For the vertical pieces that create the screenwalls, Chandler, Ariz.-based KT Fabrication Inc. fabricated and installed 2-inch by 8-inch rectangular aluminum extrusions with a Kynar finish. The horizontal sun- shades are T-shaped extrusions with a Kynar finish.

The return tabs on the horizontal extrusions dovetail with the vertical extrusions, making the connections seamless. The tabs allowed for horizontal movement so all the extrusions could be precisely aligned.

“The success of the project lies in its use of very simple, off-the-shelf components, finely detailed and put together in a really creative way to create a beautiful aesthetic, responding to our unique desert environment,” Silverberg says.

Photo: Ryan Gobuty, courtesy of Gensler