December 1, 2008
A window system for obsessive minimalists offers sliding exterior walls without the unsightly floor track.
Even for architects who aren’t staunch devotees of Miesian minimalism, the details can make all the difference. At least, that’s what Ebrahim Nana, the president and cofounder of NanaWall Systems, learned in his conversations with potential clients. Architects repeatedly asked him to get rid of one annoying detail: the floor track on the company’s sliding glass walls, which marred the designers’ vision of a totally seamless transition from inside to outside.
NanaWall did have trackless systems for interiors, but nothing that would survive the expansion and contraction of a wall facing the elements. “Some architects would buy our systems and lie to us that this was an interior application, just so they could get us to sell them something,” Nana says. Finally, an engineer affiliated with the company developed an ingeniously simple floor socket, which can be easily adjusted to compensate for temperature-induced changes in size. The panels themselves are entirely supported from the top, and each has a small handle to engage locking hardware concealed at the top and bottom. The window wall is then secure enough to resist heavy winds and attempts at forced entry—though it’s not recommended for areas where water seepage might be an issue.
One of the best examples of the new system can be seen at the La Jolla, California, home (pictured) that the Mexican architect Sebastian Mariscal recently designed for his family. With all three walls open, the downstairs kitchen, living room, and dining room seem to extend out onto the patio and into the yard, with nothing but a handful of one-and-a-half-inch metal sockets marking the boundary. Mies would be impressed.
The trackless system is ideal for residential projects in mild climates.
Temperature resistant and Energy Star
Glass panels in a thermally broken aluminum frame with weather stripping