Why did we develop Portal-Walltm

Adaptive design can be witnessed when igloos are used in very cold climates, and white painted roofs in warmer climates. You adapt to what is a Given or risk not surviving.

In the construction of our built environment, Adaptive Design is the process when a workable solution has to be achieved post design development and when substantial aesthetic and structural changes cannot be made.

In 2014 we were invited to quote the supply and installation of a metal and glass window wall system for a new high-rise Manhattan hotel. The projects design documents included what was considered a state of art window wall. The window wall design detailed along with interior insulated wall assemblies would have been a respectable, perhaps, even forward thinking choice only several years prior to 2014 when thermal values and air exchange rates were far more lenient.

In specific we recognized that the combination of extensive use of aluminum framing, insulated interior wall assemblies and membranes to lower air exchange rates would increase the risk of interior condensation forming and then being trapped. This design was arrived at in order to bring the project into compliance as defined by ComCheck.

Based upon years of experience, and knowledge obtained by participating in countless projects, and often presenting the latest approaches from Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Edmonton Canada and as we did for projects such as airport hotels, museums, high end residential and projects such as the new HQ for the New York Times we presented a design approach that eliminated substantial use of metal framing, and reduced parts and assembly steps required, to better manage inherent design risks of present day systems.

Exceeding key performance goals such as low air exchange, water drainage, thermal management, acoustic isolation, seismic, and simplifying, remaining cost efficient and respecting the aesthetics became our effort to Adapt or become irrelevant on this project opportunity.

The construction manager apposed our participation from the start, and issued a letter insisting they remove from him responsibility to coordinate our work.

Our proprietary Adaptive Design exceeded the owners expectations and to add even more value we accomplished all that was required with a reduced system depth netting additional useable interior space.

Ownership awarded us the project, insisting my approach was a “game changer”.

To make the process post award even more exciting, compelling and possibly rewarding for us, delivering maximum performance levels may allow our proprietary system to deliver optimal Relative Humidity levels, a key component in achieving optimal indoor air quality.

The challenge to improve and simplify by reducing parts required, assembly costs and field installation steps, far beyond what this project required, proved too compelling for us to pass on.
This effort would lead us to design a new and improved façade system and possible product category, as only time will prove this out.

We named the product Portal-Walltm.

Finally, the preferred aesthetic dominating since the 1950’s governed our design approach.

Using just two projects as bookends exemplify from the mid 1950’s until 2016 we provide the following.

      • Two iconic structures typify the design advancement of the current and preferred state of art;
        • Seagram Building
        • 1 World Trade Center
      • Both facades main components were metal framing with glass and metal infills
      • Seagram Building located on Park Avenue was completed in 1958 and presented a FIRST ever aesthetic in New York City, with floor to ceiling vision areas. These Vision areas were comprised of a single darkened glass sheet. History documents, how this design required the NYC Department of Buildings to make an accommodation in code based upon a reasonable argument made by the design team. Prior to this project, floor to ceiling vision areas would not comply with strict life-saving Fire Codes and as such were never before seen
        • The ICONIC nature of this project made floor to ceiling vision areas, the preferred design approach, which was copied by many and would impact our built environment by being energy inefficient, like no other
      • 1 World Trade Center, completed in 2016, bowed, like so many other projects before it to the 1958 Seagram Building design with floor to ceiling vision areas. Vision areas have advanced, as they are comprised of 2 glass sheets, edge sealed with a 5/8” desiccated air space. Glass sheets are no longer just darkened to manage glare but can now manage heat gain by incorporating an improved metallic coating to reduce energy gains and loss. Metal framing design has also been updated to include modest thermal improvements.


      • Metal, being relatively easy to form and work.
      • Flexible aesthetics
      • Automated insulated glass machinery has made vision areas inexpensive to produce
      • With over 70 years of experience, we now have Solutions to Accommodate predictable Limitations.


      • Metal framing and glass have inherent heat loss and gain properties, regardless of the improvements
      • Vertical and Horizontal metal framing both have difficult to overcome thermal bridges
      • Insulated glass used as infills at opaque areas are supported by aluminum framing, and hidden. As such they create difficult to overcome thermal bridging and increase condensation risks
      • Struggles to meet;
        • 21st century brought with it updated and demanding energy code
        • Condensation resistance values, in hidden and opaque areas
        • Exterior to interior noise reduction levels
        • Noise traveling between floors
        • Optimal indoor air quality netting an increased user experience

Accommodations to manage Limitations
In order to Accommodate certain design Limitations,

      • Vast mechanical systems are required to offset heat loss and gains
      • Complicated façade system designs including additional components and assembly steps
      • Adding material mass to façades metal frames to sink and hold energy

To manage risks associated with interior condensation in hidden opaque areas, professionals have firstly favored vision areas over opaque and secondly often limited design risk, to non hidden opaque areas or those areas within the Mechanical Boundary

Mechanical Boundary
Areas that present Opaque from the exterior and are Hidden from the interior are the areas outside the mechanical boundary and are the battle grounds

Battle Grounds
Battle Grounds are where warm or cold conditioned air meets first to condense surfaces. These areas are hidden and or difficult to access, and as such are not within the Mechanical Boundary. To manage this area, design and performance risk have shifted to those specialized companies who are contracted to design, fabricate and installer exterior building facades.

Portal-Walltm, we took the time to RETHINK exterior facades
Adaptive Solutions Delivered by Portal-Walltm