Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture recently announced the groundbreaking of the solar-powered Federation of Korean Industries Tower in Seoul, which will incorporate an advanced photovoltaic wall system that reduces energy usage while generating power. The 800 foot-tall tower will feature one of the most efficient solar electric facades in the world, and the overall added cost to the client is nearly zero.

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Brilliant in its simplicity, the accordion-style exterior wall will contain building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) facing skyward, while glazing is angled toward the ground. This setup exploits the potential of the panels by giving them a preferred orientation, and the glass will be able to reflect a dramatically larger percentage of summer sun, thus reducing cooling loads. By taking advantage of a generous renewable tax credit, the tower will be paid seven times more for its electricity than what it pays. Coupled with an optimized angle, the solar panels’ efficiency will be unheard of for a vertical face mount.

Several floors will have full glazing in the upper portion to break the monotony of the building’s face, and also to allow deeper light penetration into the building. The overall cost of engineering the façade was not significantly more than a normal system, but the efficiency gains will provide a quick payback to the building owner. An adjacent conference center is a shaped like a giant glass oval, creating a counterpoint to the tall, rectangular tower.

+ Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture