I’m Torn

by Don Friedman on November 23, 2015

The view out our office windows last Friday (click on the picture to expand):

IMG_1167 copy

In the foreground is a new residential tower got up at the corner of Thames and Greenwich, with its back lot-line facade facing us. That facade is solid concrete, a structural shear wall. (We don’t officially know anything about the building, but we’ve been watching its construction closely.)

The dark yellow is paint of some kind that was applied to the raw concrete surface a few weeks ago. The white is styrofoam insulation glued on top of the paint, and the dark gray is stucco being applied (with light yellow fabric reinforcing) over the insulation. In short, this is going to be an EIFS facade.

In general, I hate this stuff. It’s been badly misused, particularly over flexible back-up that allows it to crack under ordinary wind load, and it’s been used on old buildings to obliterate any decoration under a smooth stucco skin. On the other hand, it’s being used here over a blank concrete wall, so there’s no aesthetic loss and the back-up is obviously quite sturdy.

Twenty or thirty years ago, the concrete would probably have been painted or even left exposed. The EIFS is being used, most likely, because current energy code calculations take into account heat gain and loss through the entire building perimeter, including blank walls. So it’s the “I” in “EIFS” – insulation – that is the key to this application. That’s good. We’re in favor of energy conservation, and insulating this wall is a no-brainer.

So…I don’t like EIFS, but this is a good application; it won’t look very nice, but maybe better than it would have looked otherwise. Good and bad, rather than good or bad.

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