The outer facade consists of 774 panels, each with 21 sandblasted glass discs, 3/8 inch thick. The panels sit in a steel frame separated by about 3 feet from the building’s inner facade—a more conventional double-glazed, argon-filled curtain wall. In each seven-disc column of the outer skin’s panels, the top three discs are fixed. The bottom four, which are in the occupants’ line of sight, are operable.
The west, east, and north facades, exposed to the harsh Australian sun, contain the movable components. They pivot in waves based on the time of day and year. Over the course of an hour, the discs open as little as 5 degrees up to a maximum angle of 80 degrees. However, their movement, which is controlled by actuators, is so gradual it is hardly noticeable to passersby. The university has the option of one day installing electricity-generating photovoltaics on the discs as part of a technology-development and -testing program.