Niche 905 N. Orleans

When passersby stroll through Chicago’s Near North neighborhood, they might take pause at Niche 905, an 18-story residential tower. Chicago is not in short supply of high rises, but this one is grabbing attention for its functional garage ventilation screen that also acts as art. Dri-Design’s Tapered Series Panels were perforated and installed to add sculptural art to the building with dimension and playful shadows.

Niche 905 includes a 167-space parking garage on a podium level that is above the first-floor lobby. Screening was required for proper garage ventilation and airflow. James Broughton, principal and project design director with FitzGerald Associates, the Chicago-based architect, says the design team was trying to avoid creating a garage screen eyesore that is habitually created. The solution for Niche 905 was Dri-Design perforated metal panels.

“When the garage is illuminated, the perforation pattern makes it appear more like an intentional illuminated feature and less like the viewer is seeing into the parking garage, making it harder to identify what you are seeing through the screen,” Broughton explains.

Tuschall Engineering, Burr Ridge, Ill., installed 3,176 square feet of 0.80-inch aluminum Tapered Series Panels in a Silversmith color. For the installation, a backup structure was made to bridge from the crash wall to the concrete floor above. This was based on Dri-Design’s recommendations for material size and attachment method. Tuschall Engineering supplied the backup structure for the project.

Jim Tuschall, president of Tuschall Engineering, says, “The Dri-Design panel installation was the easiest part of the job because of the way the panels are manufactured to assemble together, and everything fit perfectly.”

FitzGerald Associates worked with Dri-Design to create a staggered perforation pattern for the Tapered Series Panels. The varying perforation size makes it harder to see what is behind the screen while adding more visual interest. Tapered Series Panels can be angled in any direction with varying depths and degree of slope. This freedom to design each specific panel gives an unlimited capacity to create a dynamic, one-of-a-kind surface.

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