Custom Blade Architectural Sunshade Package

Engineering Expertise and Partnerships Deliver a Cost-Effective Design That Balances Artistry and Functionality

The University of Michigan built a large, 78,000-square-foot facility to house its School of Nursing. Overlooking the Huron River Valley, the building’s large windows needed to both open the facility up to the surrounding landscape and shade learning and instructional spaces. American Warming and Ventilating (AWV) brought extensive engineering expertise to the project, which helped deliver a custom, aesthetically striking sunshade solution that helped foster a comfortable and collaborative environment for students and faculty.

The curved façade on the building’s south side, primarily made of glass, is both open to light and shaded from glare and solar heat gain in the summer because of the sunshades.
The Challenge

Aesthetically, the customer wanted the building to have continuous, bold horizontal lines—an effect that would be highlighted by the sunshades. However, designs with lengthy, horizontal, curving sunshade expanses often get downgraded because of budgetary restrictions. Architects will opt to use segmented sunshade panels to cut down on costs even though they don’t allow for curves. The project’s timeline was also extremely tight.

The custom radiused fascia and radiused sunshade blades create a beautiful uncompromising appearance.
Meticulous Manufacturing, Quick Planning and Trusted Partnerships.

Delivering custom sunshades that are both meticulously manufactured and architecturally stunning takes comprehensive engineering expertise. While every one of AWV’s projects requires precise products, few require them to be this custom and aesthetically bold. And fewer also require these products to be delivered under such demanding deadlines. As soon as AWV understood the challenges, the company laid out a detailed logistical plan, the first major hurdle of which was determining how the sunshades should be attached to the building. Using a series of detailed field measurements and existing AutoCAD files, AWV was able to find the most seamless way to affix the sunshades to the structure—and produce a design that achieved the aesthetic the customer was looking for.

The top-level panels span longer distances because they have fewer outriggers (i.e., large horizontal supports). This creates a nice contrast compared to the much-shorter bottom panels. The top panels also extend much further from the building, allowing for more protection from the late-afternoon sun.

Every step of the way, AWV made sure the customer received a chance to provide feedback—on anything from material selection, design elements or architectural engineering. In the end, AWV created a design that both met customer requirements and adhered to best-in-class design principles. During fabrication, AWV relied upon one of its trusted suppliers to create a rolled material at a low cost. Strong partnerships like these—as well as the combined expertise of many subject matter experts at AWV— produced a one-of-a-kind sunshade solution that performed its intended function perfectly.

Why AWV’s Solution Was Different

In the end, the AWV sunshades helped make the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing a more comfortable and collaborative place for students and faculty. Inside, learning spaces were filled with natural light—but not sun glare. The sunshades were curved to add to the structure’s continuous lines, maintaining its already-beautiful aesthetic.