Apartment Residents Live in Full Color with Gleaming Color-Shifting Cladding

Marketing materials for the Exo apartments (www.exoreston.com) – which feature a gleaming contemporary façade – encourage residents to “live in full color” in this 457-unit multi-family residential community that opened in July 2018. Located in Reston, Va., Exo residents live less than 25 miles from Washington, D.C.


Consisting of two identical 16-floor towers connected with a single-story reception-area link building, the 530,000-square foot Exo is clad in ALUCOBOND® PLUS (www.alucobondUSA.com)   aluminum composite material  in the Spectra Ocean color-shifting finish by 3A Composites USA, Inc. The ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra was selected as a complementary building material to the Exo’s color-changing smart glass technology that adjusts window tint to allow optimal natural light in.


R2L: Architects, PLLC (www.r2l-architects.com), of Washington, D.C., was tasked with designing Exo for Greystar (www.greystar.com) as the first multi-family residential community in the United States to feature View Dynamic Glass (www.view.com) by View, Inc., of Milpitas, Calif. 


“Our design was driven by smart glass technology,” said Sacha Rosen, AIA, principal, R2L: Architects. “This was to be a world demonstration project, serving as the first all-residential building using View Dynamic Glass. Incorporating smart glass technology required an extensive design process.”


The pre-glazed windows utilize electrochromic technology, which requires that wiring be directed to each window for electrical control. (The windows are powered by a photo array on the building’s roof.)  Apartment residents can control the windows in their apartment through an app that lets in natural light while reducing glare, lowering energy costs and eliminating the need for shades or curtains. Apartment managers also have access to an overall building control for the windows.


To aid in this intricate window design, Custom Walls & Windows, Inc. (www.cww-inc.com), of Jessup, Md., began work with general contractor John Moriarty & Associates of Virginia, LLC (www.jm-a.com), based in Arlington, Va., and R2L: Architects in early 2017.


“It was Custom Walls & Windows’ suggestion to clad the building with ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra panels,” said Rosen. “The thought was: If the glass changes colors, why not use metal panels that change colors?”


The project features 150,000 square feet of 4mm ALUCOBOND® PLUS in the Spectra Ocean color-shifting finishing system. ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra colors are transitional finishes which celebrate the natural color shifts that occur in the world around us. From naturally occurring elements to the glowing luster and sheen found in modern metals and luxury goods, colors add fascination to the world; ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra finishes add fascination, life, and movement to architectural design.


(As the original aluminum composite material, ALUCOBOND® PLUS has been developed exclusively to allow architects and designers to meet the fire performance requirements of today’s building standards. Consisting of two sheets of smooth 0.020” aluminum thermobonded to a solid, fire-retardant core in 4mm nominal thickness, ALUCOBOND® PLUS is one component of the wall assembly that meets the requirements of fire classifications while offering the proven product properties such as flatness, formability, durability and ease of fabrication. Available in standard widths of 50 inches and 62 inches, ALUCOBOND® PLUS is available in a wide range of high quality finishes and colors as well as custom colors.)


“The color of the overall design was generated by the smart glass, so the cladding color had to look good with the glass,” according to Rosen, who said the smart-glass technology offers residents’ four tints ranging from clear to darkening shades of blue. “Custom Walls & Windows suggested the ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra Ocean color. The color was perfect, so there was no need to pursue custom colors.”


The Exo’s twin 16-story towers rise above a landscaped parking plinth featuring 646 parking spaces and are connected by a link building designed completely in smart glass. The building facades, according to an architect’s statement, are “modularized, designed to leverage efficiencies in fabrication and construction, while scattered balconies punctuate the elevations.”


While the box-like design of the residential towers may be straightforward, the color-changing building materials make them stand out, according to Rosen.


“There are so many new developments on the market in the Washington, D.C., area, you have to differentiate your offering,” said Rosen. “The Exo is very contemporary and different from everything else out there. We used the building materials to make it striking.”


Custom Walls & Windows worked in conjunction with John Moriarty & Associates of Virginia to fabricate and install the ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra Ocean panels.


“They wanted something special for this project, so we suggested ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra,” said Alex Bennefield, vice president, Custom Walls & Windows. “We needed a panel color that would complement the color of the electrochromic glass, which darkens four shades. So, we suggested the Spectra Ocean because it wouldn’t be a dramatic change in color from the windows.”


Approximately 16,000 ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra Ocean panels were fabricated and installed with a male/female interlocking system by Custom Walls & Windows.


“The ALUCOBOND® PLUS Spectra fabricates easily just like standard ALUCOBOND® PLUS panels,” said Bennefield.


Custom Walls & Windows designed a three-piece panel system with the glass and ALUCOBOND® PLUS for easier installation, according to Bennefield, who said special rigs were required for installers to move in and out of the balconies scattered on the façade.


“We used a swing on every floor to support equipment for all of the trades,” according to Bennefield, who said installation was completed two months ahead of schedule.


“The owners are very happy with the Spectra panels,” said Bennefield. “We’ve heard more comments about these panels than anything else on this project. The color shift really follows you.”


“The Spectra looks fantastic,” said Rosen. “It’s even more intense than I had hoped.  It’s very striking and contemporary.  Often you have a vision for a design and then have to figure out how to make it a reality. It’s very rewarding as an architect to have access to a unique and special material like Spectra and to work with a contractor who knows how to use it.”  


The Exo is targeted to achieve LEED Gold status with the inclusion of sustainable building materials and techniques, including smart glass technology. Recyclable ALUCOBOND® PLUS – which is manufactured with both post-manufacturing and post-consumer content – contributes LEED credits to building projects. 


Introduced in 1969, ALUCOBOND® is the original and world’s best-known aluminum composite material. ALUCOBOND® PLUS is manufactured in the United States in the Benton, Ky., plant of 3A Composites USA, Inc. The 3A Composites USA, Inc. headquarters are based in Davidson, N.C. For more information about ALUCOBOND® PLUS ACM, call 1-800-626-3365, email info.usa@3AComposites.com or visit www.alucobondUSA.com.  View more pictures of the Exo on the ALUCOBOND® blog


PHOTO CREDIT: © Mark Kempf Photography courtesy of 3A Composites USA



Reston, VA



John Moriarty & Associates



3A Composites, USA Inc.


 ® ALUCOBOND is a registered trademark of 3A Composites USA.



July 2018

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