Building For Birds: Avian-friendly Skyscrapers

NPR: Every year millions of birds fly headlong into sleek glass and steel skyscrapers all over the country. Can a better glass save these co-urbanites?

Every year millions of birds fly headlong into sleek glass and steel skyscrapers all over the country. Today, NPR reports that Ennead Architect Guy Maxwell is on a quest to pursue more bird-friendly designs for glass-clad skyscrapers. For now Maxwell is focused on resolving what amounts to an architectural cross-species conundrum: Humans like the aesthetics of a nice, smooth reflective facade; birds don’t (well, they don’t even see it, and that’s the problem). More from NPR:

So Maxwell is looking for glass that birds can see, but that also looks good to people. He’s got a drawer-full of candidates. In the firm’s library, he opens drawers and pulls out one small pane after another. “Ultimately,” he says, “what we are after here is breaking up the reflection.”

That can be stripes, dots, patterns. Or color. “I have a big question about color,” Maxwell says. “How do birds see color? Is there one color they see more than others? Could I put, you know, a couple of spots of red on a building and it’s like a big stop sign? Who knows?”

Though a decidedly superficial solution we think this is a noble effort. Species conflicts, at least architecturally, tend to appear at the edge of the lot, the limit of the facade, the boundary of the building — and solving a reflective problem, the work Maxwell is currently engaged in, is certainly one way to address the reality of other lives in our built environment.

Certainly on AnimalArchitecture we have seen many other scenarios that address the human/animal facade conflict. Projects that are blurry, spiky, hairy, mobile, soft or even facade-less, but the fact that Ennead (what used to be Polshek partnership) is dedicating cost and time to the consideration of avian well-being is encouraging.

To find out more on NPR check here:


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