Symphony House

The developer of Symphony House, a breathtaking 32-story, $125 million condominium in Philadelphia, promised residents "a provocative design that takes from the grandeur and romance of the 1920s and gives it 21st century transformation." Coincidentally, the same could be said about the building's exterior, a majority of which features next-generation CarbonCast carbon fiber reinforced architectural wall panels.

CarbonCast Architectural Cladding panels use carbon fiber grid as secondary reinforcement in the panel face, replacing conventional steel mesh. A carbon fiber shear truss provides a low thermal transfer connection between a steel reinforced v-rib and the panel face. EPS foam is embedded in the panels for insulation to improve energy efficiency and reduce weight. Each inch of insulated panel cost only about half of what a solid-concrete panel would cost, creating immediate savings.

Three key requirements were aesthetics, color depth and consistency, and water-tightness. The water-tight requirement meant extensive testing to ensure there would be no microcracking or water absorption. The panels tested water-tight in category five hurricane conditions. The framing also includes fireproofing protection and insulation to keep the interior thermally stable.

The Symphony House panels were 7" thick and deeply articulated. But they weighed 66% less than conventional precast so they could be slab-attached, which in turn meant fewer columns and better designed interior spaces. The 5,000 psi panels were made with recycled and local materials.

Symphony House was located on poor soil, but CarbonCast cladding allowed better seismic performance with fewer columns and reduced superstructure and foundation requirements so ultimately there will be less mass and a smaller CO2 footprint.

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