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BSA News

Aug 24, 2023

Building Enclosures That Last: The Wagdy Anis Symposium on Building Science 2023

Wagdywall EDITED

Graphic from BSA Archives

Join us on October 26 for discussion of long-lasting, sustainable building enclosures.

The 2023 Wagdy Anis Symposium on Building Science will be the fourth in a series of symposia that honors the legacy of renowned building enclosure expert Wagdy Anis FAIA, focusing on aspects of effective building enclosures.

An Inspired Theme

After reading the AIA National Report Buildings That Last, Greta Eckhardt AIA Emeritus, chair of the Symposium, knew that she had identified the theme for this year’s symposium: Building Enclosures That Last.

The report, she says, made an impression on her because it really gets at the heart of sustainability: “It has you thinking not just about energy performance, which is crucial, but also asks the following: Are you designing buildings so they are flexible and can be used for generations to come, or are you making something that’s going to have to be demolished or require major renovations?” She goes on to say the report addresses a wide range of topics we need to think about to produce a truly sustainable building, identifying “not only all that can be renewed or reused but also how easily buildings can be maintained and how durable they are.” This year’s symposium asks the same questions of building enclosures specifically.

What’s on Tap?

Falling under the main theme are four subthemes—Continuing the Life of Lasting Buildings; Life Cycle Considerations of Façades; Quantifying Durability; and New Materials, Assemblies, and Processes—and a variety of topics to be addressed, including:

  • “Resolving Preservation and Modernization Challenges at Gordon Bunshaft’s Hirshhorn Museum,” presented by Niklas Vigener, senior principal and chief technology officer at Simpson Gumptertz & Heger (SGH) and architect Kirill Pivovarov AIA at Page Southerland Page
  • “Thinking Through Façade Choices as Carbon Investment,” presented by Jessica Zofchak, an associate at Atelier Ten
  • “A Case Study in Panelized Offsite Construction Performance Validation,” presented by Evan Molony, research engineer II, and Lucas Hamilton, manager, Applied Building Science, at CertainTeed
  • “Life Cycle of a Building Façade Assembly, from Digital to Realized,” presented by William Paquette, senior associate, senior design technologist and Brian Vieira AIA, project architect, at CBT Architects

Keynote Speaker

Rounding out a robust agenda is Matthew Bronski, senior principal and preservation technology practice leader at Simpson Gumptertz & Heger, who will serve as this year’s keynote speaker. Known for his work with historic buildings, “he has developed this expertise in maintaining the fabric of buildings, and he also has this wonderful historic perspective,” says Eckhardt.

A Lasting Legacy

The symposium marks a fitting tribute to Anis and to a legacy that simply can’t be understated. When asked to describe his legacy, Eckhardt starts by explaining it this way: “He’s best known for his promotion of controlling air leakage in buildings through the use of a continuous barrier.” Essentially, if moisture-laden air can leak through an exterior wall, it may reach the dew point and condense, causing corrosion and mold. Anis did a lot of research, learning from the building science community and becoming a building scientist himself. This research led to what has become known as the Wagdy Wall, a wall section Anis created that “controls air infiltration, water vapor diffusion, and liquid water by incorporating a continuous, airtight, waterproof membrane . . . on the exterior face of sheathing or concrete masonry unit backup wall.”

When Anis came on the scene, most professionals in the building science community were consultants or scientists. As an architect, he was in a position to share his knowledge more directly with the architecture community and help effect change by working closely with building code officials. After a long career at Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, he worked for the consulting firm Wiss Janney Elstner and later founded his own practice, Anis Building Enclosure Consulting. He traveled across the country establishing Building Enclosure Councils (BECs) in all the major US cities, working with the AIA and National Institute of Building Sciences. The intent was to set up these BECs as forums that would invite manufacturers’ representatives, building contractors, building owners, consultants, architects, and engineers to build a community for sharing ideas with a focus on communication and collaboration—“that was the spirit Anis sought to instill,” Eckhardt says.

Following his death in 2018, the Boston Building Enclosure Council organized a symposium in his honor; the first one was so successful that others have followed. Hosted by the BSA Building Enclosure Council, this year’s Wagdy Anis Symposium on Building Science will be held on October 26, 2023, at BSA Space. Registration is now open—please visit the Wagdy Anis Symposium web page.