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Cambridge Solucent woven metal fabric shines in Silicon Valley
May '09
A metal fabric shading system from Cambridge Architectural delivers a smart and fresh design for 116 University Avenue, matching the building's place and purpose in the heart of high-tech Palo Alto, CA.

Serving as the focal point of Silicon Valley, the city of Palo Alto is home to numerous technology companies and firms, the most prominent being the Internet giant Facebook. 116 University Avenue is one of ten buildings that make up Facebook's “campus”. Situated between Stanford University and downtown Palo Alto, it houses the Facebook Cafe – the company's upscale employee cafeteria.

The 10,000 square foot structure is also home to the architectural firm that designed it. Joseph Bellomo Architects was looking for a modern edge and a transparent building shell that would shade the sun and control the amount of light entering their offices. They were so impressed with Cambridge's architectural mesh panels, that they specified them for their own use. The panels were able to perform all of the necessary functions while meeting the architect's forwardthinking design needs.

A Cambridge Solucent woven metal fabric shading system inventively adorns the expansive windows and concrete exterior of 116 University Avenue, angled to reduce the southern to western setting sun exposure. The result is a breathtaking architectural element which reduces solar heat gain, optimizes daylighting and makes the building exterior stand out – especially through its interplay with the setting California sun.

“116 University Avenue is a building that sticks in your memory,” says Heather Collins, Director of Marketing for Cambridge Architectural. “Our mesh was chosen not only because it created such a unique design, but because underneath it all, the building interior benefits from lower cooling costs and improved occupant performance.”

The project team was immediately drawn to architectural mesh for 116 University Avenue because of its flexibility in both design and function. The texture and overall physical nature of the material served both of these purposes.

“Cambridge's mesh veils and highlights the structure,” says Joseph Bellomo, Principal of Joseph Bellomo Architects, the architect of the project. “It also reduces solar heat gain and blocks about 50% of the sunlight and glare coming through the windows, without blocking the views out of those windows.”

In regards to pure aesthetics, 116 University Avenue is truly a one-of-a-kind structure that immediately makes an impression on passersby. Its contemporary, clean lines and almost spaceage style merge seamlessly with its technologically-innovative atmosphere.

“Design-wise, the materiality of mesh really softens the building exterior and makes it quite elegant,” says Bellomo. “I love the way the building unfolds, like a fine fabric.”

Solucent architectural mesh shading systems also do an impressive job of lessening the effects of harsh sunlight without blocking outside views. Metal fabric allows this to happen, simply because its patterns are closed enough to shade and open enough to remain transparent. In the 116 University Avenue building, this was a necessity.

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