Part 2. Interview with Mark Newberry – International Director of TAL Engineering

This week we continue our conversation with Mark Newberry, our International Projects Director.

TAL Engineering: Can it be said that façades follow trends?

Mark Newberry: To some extent, yes. Many projects undertaken around the world have taken inspiration from some of the greatest Architects of the 20th Century, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Zaha Hadid to name a few. We can see this in one particular project in Sofia, B73. A beautiful design by Svetoslav Stanislavov of STARH, aligning with the trend of Zaha Hadid. For me B73 is the greatest example of excellence in low rise façade design and engineering in Sofia.

TE: Design vs Functionality

MN: Architects continue to push the bounds of design, thus coercing the façade contractor to look at more ingenious and complex engineering solutions. In many aspects functionality is sometimes overlooked for the sake of the buildings final visual appearance. Many would argue functionality is only how the façade performs in respect to weather, acoustics or thermal operations over the duration of the buildings life time, many forget the complexity of maintenance, repair and replacement over the same period to maintain the latter.

TE: Can the simplest looking façade sometimes be the most challenging to realise?

MN: Of course, yes. Having had the opportunity to work with some of the largest and most famous Architectural Practices around the globe, I would say with the greatest of respect, “Architects have a very specific vision and are extremely driven to have exactly what they want to see in the detail of the façade”. This creates the challenges in realizing the end result that is anticipated. Society never gets to see the inner workings, only the end result. What may look simple on the outside is not necessarily true of the inside.

TE: What would you say is a façade crime?

MN: For me, its glass distortion incorporated by sub-standard glass processing procedures and installation. You can design, engineer, manufacture and install a masterpiece within the sub-construction. Then you ruin the whole building by installing glass, that either has excessive roller-wave which distorts the reflection, coating problems due to lack of QA/QC procedures and the most common, over tightening of the pressure plate screws, thus deforming the flatness of the glass.

TE: Which project are you most proud of? What were the challenges you have overcome during your work on it?

MN: The Glass Box Front Entrance to Burj Daman Building in DIFC, Dubai. The whole process from start to finish was the most stressful experience in my 38 years in the façade industry, but definitely the greatest achievement of my career.


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