The facade of Barclays Center (image, below) is a latticework of 12,000 dissimilar steel panels.

SHoP Architects' Jonathan L. Mallie is described as one of a crop of new-age design professionals facilitating a transition to technology, while introducing better, more-sustainable architecture aligned with the realities of today's economics.


"Jonathan is an architect first, but what separates him from most design professionals is a deep understanding of building components and his use of technology to push the limits," says Robert P. Sanna, director of construction and design development for Forest City Ratner Cos.

In 2009, developer FCRC hired SHoP to put a better face on its critically panned Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. The design was pretty much set, so SHoP had to jump on a moving train and interface with an existing design-build team.

The constraints did not stop SHoP from rendering a facade that was more acceptable to the design community. In doing so, SHoP executed its most ambitious job ever: an undulating latticework "wrapper" made of 12,000 unique prefabricated, pre-weathered steel panels.

To help ensure quality, the 16-year-old SHoP hired its own virtual design and construction (VDC) arm, SHoP Construction Services, formed in late 2007. "We leverage technology to execute our designs," says Mallie, a SHoP principal since 2007 and managing director of SHoP Construction. "Digital control reduces risk," he adds.

SHoP Architects used advanced 3D parametic modeling software to develop the surface geometry. SHoP Construction helped to streamline the process by creating a building information model for constructibility reviews, quantity takeoffs and model integration with the other members of the design-build team.

Then, SHoP Construction was hired by the curtain-wall fabricator to detail the panels, using SHoP's BIM. This enabled the fabricator to produce the panels using computer-numerically controlled equipment. And it eliminated shop drawings.

The $825-million arena, the first element of the controversial $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village, opened on Sept. 28. FCRC was so pleased with SHoP that it hired the 100-person firm for its next Atlantic Yards project—a 32-story high-rise—on deck to be the world's tallest modular residential tower.

For the job, SHoP Construction is using the same VDC tools it developed for Barclays but at a higher level of model architecture. "We are using factory assembly procedures to facilitate efficient material procurement and component fabrication and assembly," says Mallie.

"On Barclays, we learned that size doesn't matter," he adds. What counts, he says, is sticking to one's principles, digital process control and collaboration.