Innovation: Structural Glass
Location: Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, New York City
Architects: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Structural Glass Engineering: Eckersly O’Callahan
The iconic 90 paneled 32 foot structural glass cube of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store was created to enhance Apple’s retail brand and has since been patented by Steve Jobs. The cube is an entrance to the retail space below which visitors descend to on a circular all-glass stair or elevator. The store uses the strongest grade structural glass in the world that at the time could only be produced by Seele GmbH & Co. in Germany. During the design process, finite element analysis software was used to test the stresses and deformations present in the structure resulting from the vertical and horizontal loads. With the analysis focusing on its weakest points at the edges and corners, which are somewhat relived by the use of vertical fins. 
Structural glass is the result of laminating technologies that introduce flexibility and strength to the material along with shatter and UV resistance. Laminated glass has in internal thermoplastic material layers that hold the two surrounding layers together during high impacts. This is the same technique used in car windshields. The outer layers consist of annealed glass which strengthens the materials by allowing some internal stresses to be relieved .
The New York store was the first to include a cylindrical stair encompassing an elevator. The design had to consider seismic loads, foot-traffic, sound vibrations and fire-coatings. Here they used the titanium double grip system from the original San Francisco stair case, but this time they had to account for the 60 degree sloping stair on curved panels as opposed to horizontal treads .
As a result of this technology, structural beams, columns and other members can be made out of glass.`
Innovation: Passive Shading – Ceramic Sunscreen Curtain Wall
Location: 620 Eighth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York
By: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop & FXFOWLE Architects
Exterior Wall Consultant: Heitmann & Associates, Inc.
Size: 52 stories/1.5 million-square-feet
The New York Times selected Piano’s design for its energy conservancy and representation of the companies transparent philosophy. In his design, Piano proposed the first ceramic sunscreen to be built in the United States. The exterior framework consisted of 185,000 strategically placed ceramic tubes for optimal standing and seated views that welcomed the penetration of natural light. The aluminum silicate rods hang 18 inches out from the building creating a second skin to absorb heat which reduces the heat load by 30% and energy costs by 13%. Furthermore, the skin reduces the harshness of the buildings edges, so it fades into the skyline. 
In addition, a complementary lighting system , SolarTrac, is used that adjusts according to solar exposure using programmed window shades. This active system reduces the lighting load by 30% and creates an organic experience that adjusts with the elements . The SolarTrac system was developed by MechoSystems and the Lawrence Lab at Berkley, and opens up possibilities for future buildings to implement this technology with typical shading curtain walls such as aluminum, wire-mesh, wood or terra-cotta .
Building Website. Window Shading System
More Images by Annie Leibovitz chronicling the building construction
Videos: Interview, Ceramic Rods, Energy Reduction
Innovation: Active Shading
Location: Paris, France
By: Jean Nouvel
Architects: Jean Nouvel, Gilbert Leze, Pierre Soria & Architecture-Studio
Engineering: SETEC Bâtiment
In an agreement between eighteen Arab countries and the French government, the Arab World Institute was created as an exhibition of the Arab world’s cultural and spiritual values and to provide a space for further research . The building itself is a sharing of culture with the north façade reflecting the Parisian blocks across the Siene River, and the south façade covered in the motorized hexagonal lenses. Their pattern and light properties are a reference to mashrabiya, a lattice-work motif found in Arabian architecture that provides shaded light and privacy with a view .
Consisting of 30,000 diaphragms on 1600 elements resting on a stainless-steel, aluminum and glass framework, the geometric array is a compilation of high-tech photosensitive mechanical devices. Using photo-voltaic cells, the light levels and transparency can be adjusted in a fashion similar to a camera lens by a central computer system to allow 10-30% of light in . Although designed in an exploration of light, reflections, contours and shadows, this concept can be applied to solar shading in efforts to reduce cooling loads.