Optichroic® Glass from Bendheim
In the United States it is impossible to realize a new building at a university without donations from private companies and individuals. Often this results in the building's naming rights going to the biggest donor, as well as names given to wings, rooms, and even the furniture within. A common feature is also the donor wall, which includes all or most of the individuals and companies helping to fund the construction. An especially nice donor wall can be found at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Visual communications firm Poulin + Morris is responsible for the wall's design within a building designed by KPF.
Against a wall of gray panels, Poulin + Morris placed an asymmetric checkerboard of over 100 rectangular glass pieces with donor names. The rainbow-like effect comes from using laminated dichroic glass, specifically Bendheim's* Optichroic glass. As the manufacturer describes it, "light reflecting off the glass surface changes in color as the angle of vision changes." Therefore the red-to-blue, left-to-right appearance visible in the top photo actually changes as one moves past the wall. Originally developed for aerospace applications, and subsequently used in science and industry, the use of dichroic glass in architecture is more recent, but designs like the Ross donor wall clearly show its potential.
*Happy Birthday to Bendheim, celebrating 85 years in the industry.