This modern building of stone and glass houses Kansas University’s Center for Design Research. Giving a place for meeting, lectures, and experiments in design for the University students, this building itself has non-standard roots. The exterior stonework are byproducts of stone manufacturing:
The exterior stonework was created from cottonwood limestone tailings—the waste product from manufacturing stone. Between March and May, several students cut each of the tailings down into smaller blocks. “I don’t know if they had done something bad,” Thomas jokes of the labor-intensive task. But the material and process are a good example of Studio 804’s strength—the ability to transform an otherwise useless scrap into an aesthetically pleasing material through a combination of inventiveness and cheap labor. “We imbue it with design and the sense of the hand,” Rockhill says.
The glass is from Sage Glass, a manufacturer of electrochromic glass. This means that electricity is used to control the darkness of a layer of tint sandwiched between glass. Altering the amount of electrical current allows the material to change in darkness. This allows the darkness to be changed on a dynamic basis to optimize for heat loss depending on weather and time of year every minute of a day. Or by whim, with a control knob depending on the desired darkness.
Unfortunately, the cost of sage glass and related electric current tinting glass is quite prohibitive, limiting the installations to mainly universities, corporations, and upscale hotels. Saint Gobain, owner of SolarGard and Bekaert brands, has a similar product called “Quantum Glass“. I would like to see these product manufacturing challenges to be solved and available for the residential market. Imagine tint that you can change depending on your mood and desire for privacy!