Realigning the design of building envelopes within the measures of air, light and heat has rendered possible an inventive form of practice whose benefits are far in excess of the metrics of data and analysis. For many of its most advanced practitioners, the contemporary design of facades engages the true potential of “performance” when it deepens, broadens and complicates the theoretical dimension of this most liminal of surfaces. Of particular interest to this paper is a discussion of new theoretical paradigms associated with the design and operation of high performance envelopes of which four characteristics of this emergent sub-discipline are herein examined. To begin with, the way in which building envelopes are no longer separators, dividers and barriers between a building’s interior and exterior conditions, but rather, “spatially” defined environments that fully engage the totality of a building’s engineering systems, is discussed. Cantilevered Louvers, Double Skin Facades and Hybrid Conditioned Atria are representative of this new paradigm as is the use of Responsive Technologies to optimize their behaviors. Lastly, the paper examines the rise of the new integrated design building envelope professional called upon to deliver ever-better performing skins, whether in the guise of energy modeler, climate engineer or façade construction specialist. Hence, this paper develops a theoretical structure within which to describe, analyze and interpret the values made possible by this new and expanding field of performance based envelopes.