Monday, November 29, 2010

Burj Khalifa ~ Dubai

By Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The completion of the world’s tallest skyscraper raises intriguing questions about the significance of this gleaming, spiraling form.
Burj Khalifa is surrounded by a 27-acre park.The complex overlooks the Dubai Lake & Fountain & the Old Town Island
Iconic skyscrapers, especially those that strive for the fleeting title of “world’s tallest building,” are rarely the progeny of cold logic. Their backers invariably are motivated by ambition and ego. The architect does not control whether or where such behemoths are built. He or she can only ensure that they are proud and soaring things, not Frankenstein-esque, XXL-size monstrosities. Such is the considerable achievement of Adrian Smith, FAIA, and his former colleagues at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in the gargantuan yet persuasive Burj Khalifa, which rises half a mile above the desert in the once-unstoppable, now-humbled Persian Gulf playground of Dubai.

Stainless-steel spandrel panels and vertical fins articulate the gleaming glass-and-aluminum curtain wall of the tower.      
At the staggering height of 2,717 feet (easily more than two Empire State Buildings), this shimmering, spiraling mixed-use tower inevitably raises the question: When is big too big? To some, this giant of giants — its spire alone is more than 700 feet tall — clearly overshoots the mark. Shortly after its spectacular January 4 opening ceremonies, critics pegged it the Hummer of skyscrapers. “Purely a vanity project,” said the German urban planner Albert Speer, Jr., in Spiegel. “Completely unsustainable,” jibed Britain’s Guardian. Pundits also ridiculed the tower’s abrupt name change — from Burj Dubai (Arabic for “Dubai Tower”) to Burj Khalifa in honor of Sheik Khalifa-bin-Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, who bailed Dubai out of its 2009 debt crisis. In the Great Recession, when sustainability supposedly has supplanted spectacle as architecture’s guiding principle, the bling of the Burj Khalifa offers a convenient target for those eager to consign the pre-Crash Age of Excess to the ash heap of history.
The swirling park designed by SWA Group at the base of the Burj Khalifa echoes the tower’s curves and supplies water features and planting for the hot, humid climate. The mix of plants (irrigated by graywater) includes date palms, olive trees, and the Hymenocallis (spider lily) that inspired the Burj’s design.
But it would be shortsighted to conflate the messy circumstances surrounding the Burj Khalifa’s completion with the tower’s exhilarating and surprisingly refined architecture. And such a dismissal would ignore previous supertall sagas. When the now-beloved Empire State Building opened in 1931, so few of its floors were rented out that it was labeled “the Empty State Building.” Building booms and busts come and go, as do the temporary wearers of the world’s-tallest-building crown. What matters, in the long haul, is the artistry that separates skyscrapers that are merely yardstick-tall from those that make of their tallness a smashing aesthetic virtue. And the Burj Khalifa easily meets — and exceeds — and exceeds — that standard, soaring in both height and design quality above Dubai’s often-ludicrous collection of architectural cartoons.
The residential entry pavilion contains a large sculpture by Jaume Plense, titled World Voices, comprising 196 cymbals and representing the number of countries in the world. The structure of bronze-and-brass alloy, plated with gold, rises from a pond that echoes the leaf-shaped form of the pavilion.
The $1.5 billion skyscraper marks the first time since Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza that the world’s tallest building has been found in the Middle East. It also represents a great leap forward in height, rising higher than the previous record-holder, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, by more than 1,000 feet. Yet the tower is more than a mere feat of engineering, the product of mad scientists striving to achieve a listing at The secret to its success is its integration of architecture and engineering, long a staple of the SOM Chicago office, responsible for five of the world’s current 10 tallest buildings.
The upper level of the entrance pavilion for the corporate suites has a sculptural ceiling of English sycamore to give it an organic lift.
To be sure, the tower is no paragon of sustainability. But a little perspective is in order. When the tower’s developer, the state-backed Emaar Properties, rounded up the usual supertall suspects — including SOM, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Pelli Clarke Pelli — for an invited competition in 2002, green was not on its agenda; “Big” was. At that time, architects and the culture at large had yet to embrace sustainability as they have today. It is perhaps unfair to judge a building birthed in one era by the standards of another, just as it is unrealistic to insist on passive solar cooling in a climate where summer temperatures hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit and even the bus shelters are air-conditioned. The Burj beats the heat with double-paned glass walls that combine a low-E outer layer with a reflective inner layer. Besides, by promoting urban density, the skyscraper has attributes of conceptual green rather than literal green.
The escalator leads to a lower-level entrance for the offices that connects to parking for cars. Glass is held in a suspended cable-net structure.
Located a few miles inland from the azure waters of the Persian Gulf, the tower is the undisputed centerpiece of a 500-acre, master-planned city-within-a-city that has improbably risen on what was desert just six years ago. Its nearly occupied 160 floors house a chic Armani hotel, floor upon floor of sold-out but mostly unoccupied condominiums, an already-popular observatory, and still-under-construction boutique offices. Huddled around the tower, like Lilliputians to its Gulliver, are various residential and hotel towers, the sprawling Dubai Mall, and a new “old town” of traditional, Islamic-themed town houses and hotels. While the juxtaposition of heights may seem bizarre, Emaar shrewdly calculated that the presence of the world’s tallest building would give the area cachet and allow the company to charge higher prices for units with prized “Burj views.” Such a strategy paid off — at least until Dubai’s real estate market collapsed in 2009.
In the upper floors for the corporate suites, walls are lined with dark Wenge wood.
Taking note of the Burj’s superskinny, supertall silhouette, many critics have wrongly averred that the tower was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Mile-High Illinois scheme of 1956. In fact, as Smith and SOM have made clear, the actual forerunners were the suavely curved, three-pronged Lake Point Tower in Chicago of 1968, designed by Schipporeit & Heinrich, which has shallow floor plates to keep residents close to prized views; and another three-lobed, residential high-rise, SOM’s Tower Palace III in Seoul, South Korea, completed in 2004. Such was the formal genesis of the Y-shaped Burj, whose organic forms subtly echo in plan the onion domes and pointed arches prevalent in Islamic architecture. In tandem, SOM’s chief structural engineer, William Baker, designed a wind-resistant “buttressed core” of concrete that, at the 156th floor, gives way to an internal steel structure that carries the mostly unoccupied spire to the summit.
This innovative structural solution allows the Burj to be remarkably tall and remarkably thin, with one-third less square footage than the steel-framed Willis (originally Sears) Tower even though it almost doubles Willis’s height. As at Willis, floor plates simply drop off as the tower sets back, letting columns run continuously and avoiding costly structural transfers. Yet in lieu of Willis’s boxy Miesian geometry, the setbacks whir upward in a dynamic, counterclockwise spiral. By sheathing the faceted, sculptural mass in a luminous, light-catching skin, accentuated with fin-shaped stainless-steel mullions, Smith creates a dazzling skyline object that mounts rhythmically to a thrilling climax. This skyscraper looks like a skyscraper, its elegant, exultant verticality providing Dubai’s random clumps of high-rises with an unmistakable center of the tent.
The tower’s extraordinary height, Smith insists, was not his — or his client’s — aim, but an outgrowth of his desire to prevent the tower from appearing stubby, as it did in earlier, shorter schemes. “I just wanted the proportions to be right,” said Smith, who left SOM in 2006 to start his own firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. “That was the singular motivation for reaching to that height — not a number.”
The tower is equally persuasive at ground level, achieving Smith’s aim that it approximate the effect of a vertical stalagmite that grows naturally out of the earth. Footlike extensions of its Y-shaped floors step down nimbly to the surrounding plaza. Lacking an immediate context, Smith built one in the form of wedge-shaped low-rise annexes (an office building and a health club) that belly up to the Burj and shape relatively intimate spaces around it. Pedestrians approaching the tower encounter lozenge-shaped entrance pavilions outfitted with precisely detailed, cable-supported double walls. The pavilions have the added benefit of deflecting downdrafts that could knock visitors off their feet.
Upstairs, the benefits of the tower’s structural parti are readily apparent. By dispensing with closely spaced perimeter columns and deep floor plates, the buttressed core opens the interior to million-dollar views of the Gulf, Dubai’s skyline, and the surrounding desert. While the “At the Top” observatory on the 124th floor is not truly at the tower’s top, as its name implies, it is still a splendid lookout point. From bottom to top, SOM’s interiors team wisely employed soothing, understated finishes, creating oases of calm that sharply contrast with Dubai’s visual cacophony.

For all the design skill, the question looms: Is the skyscraper nothing more than beautiful folly? Undeterred by the Burj’s empty spaces, Emaar reports that the tower’s Armani Hotel is recording “strong occupancy levels,” that the observatory is on target to attract 1.2 million visitors in its first 12 months of operation, that owners are starting to occupy the condos, and that the transfer of offices to owners will begin this summer. Nonetheless, due to Dubai’s sharp decline in real estate prices, some Burj condo owners are renting out apartments rather than flipping them.

For his part, Smith argues that the Burj is not the last blast of the age of spectacle, but a harbinger of the future, as developing countries follow its prototype of the mega-scale, master-planned community anchored by an iconic tower. With Saudi Arabia contemplating a kilometer-high skyscraper, and other developing countries getting set to join the supertall race, time may well prove him right — just as it did the backers of the Depression-era giant that eventually became synonymous with the exuberance of New York City and the resilience of America.

Project Specifications

Exterior cladding: Far East Group, Al Abbar Aluminum & Glass (metal/glass curtainwall); Waagner Biro AG (cable wall pavilions); UNIMIX Concrete Supplies (concrete)

Glazing: Guardian Industries (glass); Dow Corning (silicone)

Doors: Al Abbar (entrances); Task Industrial, UAE (metal doors); Fino International FTZ, Depa Dubai, Hee Hoon Design Group (wood doors); Marshfield Door, USA; Eggers Doors, USA (fire-control doors)

Hardware: Dorma (locksets, hinges); Dorma, Samuel Heath (closers); Dorma (exit devices); CHMI (pulls); Ogro, Olivari, Manital (levers)

Interior finishes: Hunter Douglas, Decoustics, Armstrong, Armani Hotel (acoustical ceilings); STO (suspension grid); Dorma (demountable partitions); Imperial Woodworking, Fino International, Depa Dubai, Hee Hon Design Group (cabinetwork and custom woodwork); Jotun Paint, Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Dupont (paints and stains); Wolf Gordon, Knoll Textiles, Carnegie, Maharam, Valley Forge (wallcoverings); TABU Spa / Berti Pavimentui Legno (paneling); Abet Laminati (plastic laminate); Formica (solid surfacing); Italian Automotive Texture Paints (special surfacing)

Floor and wall tile: Royal Mosa, Dal Tile, Sicis, Glacier, Fino International, London Grey, Kerman Grey, ERAMOSA; Mannington Commercial (resilient flooring); Hokanson, Tai Ping, Interface, Shaw Floors (carpet); Campolonghi Group, Tre Emme (natural stone); Lopark, Margaritelli (wood flooring); Fritz Kohl, Tabu (veneer); Figla (glass floors); Excelsior, Eden Design (metal flooring)

Furnishings: Halcon, Knoll, Haworth, Interna Contract, Moroso, Cassina, Poltrona Frau, Zographos, Interior Crafts, Arper, Cherner Chair, Holly Hunt, Armani Casa; Calvin Fabrics, J Robert Scott, Larsen, Gretchen, Bellinger (fabrics); Edelman Leather, Cortina, Pollaro Custom Furniture, Richard Schultz, Mechoshade

Lighting: Zonca; Lucent Lighting, Erco, DAL, Oldham Lighting, B-K Lighting, Dynalite, Tectronics, Philips, Holly Hunt, Armani Casa

Conveyance: Otis

Plumbing: Dornbracht, Durvait, Hansgrohe

Armani Hotel:
Interior Designer: Giorgio Armani; Wilson Associates

Design Architect:
SOM – George Efstathiou, FAIA,
Partner-in-Charge; Bill Baker,
Structural Engineer; Adrian Smith, FAIA,
Consulting Design Partner; Ray J. Clark; Eric Tomich; Stan Korista; Edward Thompson AIA; Peter Weismantle, AIA; Gregory L. Smith AIA; Heather K. Poell AIA; Lawrence Novak; James Pawlikowski; Luke Leung; Gil Di Lorio; Joseph Jamal; Nancy Abshire, AIA; Kenneth Turner, AIA; Peter Freiberg, AIA; Gabriel Wong, AIA B. Eunjung Cho; Bradley Young; Miguel Gonzalez; Michael Filar; Scott Kadlec; Bridgett Baker Thomas; Ishac Koussa; Katey Knott; Mohamed Sheriff; Scott Cherney; Dennis Milam; Kenneth Maruyama; David Scott; Nada Andric, Associate Director for Interiors; Daniel Bell, Associate, Site Team

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Aqua - Chicago, Illinois

By Studio Gang
Studio Gang sets new heights for the Chicago skyscraper.
Chicago’s skyscrapers may be famous for their technical achievements and functional expression, but they are often short on pizzazz. Now, Studio Gang has designed Aqua—a Niemeyeresque apartment and hotel tower whose architectonic facade of sensuously swerving, white concrete balconies jumps out from among its stolid brethren. Enabled by client Jim Loewenberg of the Magellan Development Group, Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang, conceived the 82-story tower on a podium as part Loewenberg’s Lakeshore East, a 28-acre mixed-used development on the former Illinois Central Railroad yards edging Lake Michigan.
In addition to the water views on the east, this soigné antidote to Chicago’s straitlaced Modernism looks south to Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago and north to the Chicago River, with the Hancock Center in the distance. Along the river, Aqua’s curvilinear architectural precursor—the cylindrical twin towers of Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City (1964)—can be glimpsed from many balconies. While Goldberg’s scheme integrates the plan with the envelope, wedge-shaped rooms came with the price of admission. Since not all prospective occupants enjoy fitting furniture into irregularly shaped spaces, Gang’s decision to wrap a rippling carapace around a rectilinear poured-in-place concrete frame at Aqua makes sense in terms of construction and marketing. For her part, Gang contends that the building’s orthogonal core reflects Chicago’s grid.
Naturally, the question arises about how a female architect with a 37-person firm, known for smaller-scale community centers and houses, got to design a 1.9- million-square-foot tower, which cost $300 million in construction. Loewenberg, an MIT-trained architect as well as developer, met Gang at a dinner in Chicago following a lecture by Frank Gehry. Since Loewenberg had already enlisted the usual ranking Chicago architects to design portions of his development, including Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as master planners, he claims he was ready for a “young architect who had not done a high-rise before.” Gang, trained at the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich, offered the proper pragmatic sensibility. Loewenberg wasn’t worried about Gang’s high-rise experience: He would be the executive architect as well as the client.
The 180,000-square-foot site on the western edge of Lakeshore East generated a tower-on-a-podium solution that would negotiate the 50-foot drop in grade between Upper Columbus Drive on the west and Harbor Park at the center of the complex on the east. The podium itself contains lobbies for both the hotel (a hotelier is to be designated this month) and the apartments, along with retail stores, a ballroom, an indoor pool, and other public spaces. Beneath all that is a parking garage. Above, the tower is divided into the hotel, on floors 4 to 18; 474 rental apartments, on floors 19 to 52; and 264 condos on the floors above. Atop the tower are penthouses, on the 80th and 81st floors, where ceilings go as high as 14 feet.
In designing the balconies that extend outward from 2 to 12 feet, Gang thought of them as a concrete topography that would remind Chicagoans of limestone outcroppings along the Great Lakes—only in this case, the rises and falls would extend vertically from the top to the bottom of the shaft. Here, too, the ledges—9-inch-thick concrete balconies—thin out toward the edge of the cantilever to help drainage. In working out the balcony contours, Gang conducted view studies of unimpeded sight lines for places of interest. The different ripples also allow oblique views up and down the facade from the various balconies. Moving between physical models and digital ones—switching from hand to computer—Gang’s team arrived at separate calculations for each floor plate.

Magellan found a way to be efficient about creating curves for the concrete balconies: An edge-form steel plate guided the pour and, when finished, snapped back into a straight plane to be reused and bent into another curve. While this method saved on construction, the team did not include thermal breaks between the outdoor and indoor slabs, owing to the complexity of the cantilevers. The absence has received criticism for the loss of heat during the winter due to the radiator effect. (For more on this debate, see GreenSource, Letters, March–April 2010, page 14, and Editors’ Letter, page 13). In response, Gang says that while thermal breaks would have been preferred, other considerations have saved energy, such as using Chicago’s District Energy System, along with the apartments’ natural ventilation, sun shading during the summer, and the use of high-performance glass to cut solar loads.

The architects wanted to make sure apartments could receive sufficient direct light and so created “ponds” of glass that interrupt the balconies in certain portions of the facade. To reduce the solar loads, they specified six types of glazing, including tinted, reflective, and fritted, along with low-E glass. The fritted glass also doubles as a safety factor in keeping birds from crashing into the tower—a strategy that won Aqua an award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
One of the most compelling features—besides the balconies—is the landscaped roof, 80,000 square feet in size, atop the 3-story podium. Working with Wolff Landscape Architecture, Studio Gang created a swirling garden with paths reminiscent of Roberto Burle-Marxe and planted with colorful flora in light soil. A sustainable by-product of the garden is the mitigation of the summer heat-island effect so typical of asphalt roofs. In addition, it provides occupants with other amenities—such as a running track, outdoor pool, and outdoor fireplace.
Although the rectangular podium itself is stark and blocky in comparison with the garden and tower, Gang softened the effect with two large concrete staircases that link the upper street level with the lower Harbor Park: One is a switchback stair, the other a spiral. On the east face of the podium, Gang inserted nine town houses, for which she designed interior finishes. She also executed finishes as well as furnishings for a model town house nearing completion.
Rectilinear floor plans and a squared podium are pro forma. What advances architecture at Aqua is the inventiveness of its swerving tiers of concrete, which not only heighten the tower’s livability for the occupants, but add to the appearance of the cityscape for Chicagoans. Yet the optical play is not without drawbacks: The visual appeal of Aqua’s curves works best close-up or at mid-distance, and on a bright, sunny day when the gleaming glass adds luster to the sinuous balconies. However, from a distance, and on a gray day, the curves flatten into straight lines, the white concrete darkens, and the ponds of glass turn into irregular swaths of patchwork. As an optical experiment—as a machine for viewing (looking at the city from the tower, and at the tower from the city)—Aqua is enchanting, but needs further research.

Profect Specification

Structural system:
Cast-in-place concrete with recycled content supplied by Prairie Concrete

Post-tensioned structure minimized concrete use

Exterior cladding
Brick, manufactured by Endicott Clay Products (Dark Ironspot) at Parkhomes

Brick block
by Interstate Brick at Podium Garage

Metal/glass curtainwall:
Tower: EFCO 5600, Installed by EFCO; Podium: Tubelite 400, installed by Schaaf

Glass; Park-homes Jeld-Wen, installed by Stock Supply Windows

Panels on exterior of hotel composed of recycled paper content and phoenolic resin (Trespa) installed by Sobotec
 Aerated Autoclave Concrete was used in parking garages.

installed by Kole Construction, supplied by Luczak Brothers

Precast planters:
by Precast Concrete Specialties

Metal Railings:
By Greco Railings

Windows, Glazing
High performance low-e glass was used (Viracon) at Tower and podium and PPG Glass with Jeld-Wen coatings at Park Homes

by Dow Corning

by Tubelite at podium; by EFCO at Tower; by Jeld-Wen at Park homes

Garage doors
by Raynor (Thermatite)

Low-slope roofing:
Running track on roof garden is made of 100% recycled content (SofDesign, produced by Soft Surfaces Inc), top-layer contains 10% recycled content

Recycled plastic lumber was used for decks (Trex)

Custom Roof Garden System: with Hydrodrain 300 Filter Fabric; Hydroflex 30 Synthetic fiber reinforcement and root Barrier (Root Stop HD)

Concrete Waterproofing Products: Modac, and Vulkem 350 by Tremco

Interior finishes
Paints and stains: Installer:
Ascher Brothers

Special surfacing:
Countertops made of recycled content, protects indoor air quality (Hanston- Greenguard Certified)

Floor and wall tile:
Wood flooring, bamboo and engineered

Energy Star rated kitchen appliances (Kitchen Aid refrigerators, dishwashers, appliances)

By Otis

Downward focused, low-energy exterior overhead lighting and foot lights were used

-Use of fixtures with light pollution control below 10% up-light. (US Architectural BSA6) at sidewalks/walkways and bollards in front of ballroom

-Use of EISA compliant fixtures (Invue SQS) at public stairs steps and parkhomes patios

-Use of fall cut-out performance Metal Halide fixtures (Gardco GSO1) at Amenity level and (Portfolio MD6S) at soffits

-Use of LED downlight (BK Lighting SE63) for ornamental trees

Motion sensors

off-site, beneficial for energy-reduction

Low-flow shower heads reduce gallons per minute (HansGrohe, Grohe, Moen, Delta, Toto)

Window washing equipment by Tractel

Two non-for profit I-GO Car Stations in tower’s garage (I-GO)

Car charging station that will accommodate up to 24 vehicles (Coulomb Technologies ChargePoint Network)

Centre Pompidou-Metz, France

By Shigeru Ban Architects
Under the Big Top: With a swoopy roof supported by a novel timber structure, the world-famous Centre Pompidou’s home for its first satellite challenges convention. Will it succeed?
Shigeru Ban is an appealing architect. His emergency shelters of cardboard and paper, devised in response to disasters such as the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, present him as someone turning his skills to public benefit rather than personal gratification. He also designed a series of houses in which walls disappear or take the form of giant curtains. His choice of renewable materials gives him a warm, ecological glow. He seems to stand for the adaptive and responsive, with work that provides an antidote to the grandiose and the formal.
The Centre Pompidou in Paris has an astounding collection of Modern art and a history of imaginative exhibitions, installations, events, and structures. Its 1977 building, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a landmark of 20th-century architecture.
Ban and the museum have come together to create an $62 million outpost of the Pompidou in Metz, in eastern France. In theory, it could have been a wonderfully productive union. In practice, it is conspicuously, tragically less than the sum of its parts.
The main mission of Pompidou-Metz is to display works from the parent institution, in an admirable attempt to share its collection more widely. The obvious precedent is the expanding franchise of New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, most famously with Frank Gehry’s building in Bilbao, Spain. As in Bilbao,
the aim is to raise the profile of a neglected city. Metz, whose contested ownership with Germany contributed to two world wars, now has a forgotten air, despite its fine stone streets and medieval cathedral. The new, 122,000-square-foot building is on the periphery, on the site of a former freight-railway depot, near the remnants of a Roman amphitheater, and separated by train tracks from the rest of the city. Close by is the town’s passenger-rail station, to which the TGV travels the 200 or so miles from Paris in a brisk hour and 23 minutes.
Tokyo-based Ban, together with French architect Jean de Gastines and Londoner Philip Gumuchdjian, won the design competition for the Pompidou-Metz in 2003. Gumuchdjian’s close involvement with the project subsequently ended, with Ban and de Gastines taking it to completion. Their concept was for an enveloping, undulating roof, compared by Ban to a bamboo hat, supported by a lattice of laminated and curved timber members. The seemingly woven structure, with spans of up to 170 feet, changes into funnel-like elements where the roof meets the ground.

The whole is covered in an 80,000-square-foot membrane of translucent fiberglass and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The idea is that “the roof is on top of the landscape,” says Ban. “We wanted the landscape to flow into the museum,” he explains.

Beneath the roof is a loose assemblage of volumes. At ground level is the Grande Nef. Although intended primarily for large-scale work, the 60-foot-tall space has been divided into 17 relatively conventional rooms for the duration of the opening exhibition. Above is a stack of three galleries in shoe-box-shaped reinforced-concrete tubes, oriented to frame views of the surroundings through glazed ends. The tubes pivot around a steel elevator tower that pierces the roof and transforms into a 250-foot-high spire. Other volumes sheltered under the tentlike covering contain an auditorium, a restaurant, a café, a studio, and offices.

Rising the height of the interior is a big atrium, called the Forum, providing an open-ended area for events. It is semi-external, with transparent walls of polycarbonate and retractable glass doors that allow the space to open almost completely to a landscaped plaza.

As a concept, the project is convincing and seductive: a big, beautiful roof with free-form volumes underneath. It also reprises, in a very different location, the original Pompidou’s goal of urban revitalization. Yet the simplicity and lightness of the idea get lost in execution. You can’t really read the stack of tubes on the inside, which instead feels inchoate. Internal circulation is disjointed. The roof, conflated with the cuboid volumes beneath, becomes ponderous.

In addition, materials and systems—wood, plastic, metal, glass, competing grids and modules—collide in ways that seem underconsidered. De Gastines once worked for Gehry, but these are not the joyous collisions you find in Gehry’s work. If you ascend the tower, you find yourself on a balcony looking down on the atrium, which is potentially the culmination of the internal sequence. But the view is of mechanical equipment and the dust-gathering tops of the tubes enclosing galleries below.

The gallery interiors feel careless. In the inaugural exhibition, A-list works by Picasso, Brancusi, Miró, Duchamp, Dalí, Pollock, et al were washed with a dirty light, a drab metallic grid overhead. The spaces don’t show the attention that architects such as Piano or David Chipperfield would bring to materials, proportion, or detail. The idea was more for a studied casualness, but it doesn’t come off.

The theme of the building is the play of the monumental and the spontaneous, the permanent and the transient. However, instead of dancing together, these qualities entangle and trip. If it’s a tent, it’s a lugubrious one; if it’s a museum, it’s a shoddy one. The best things about the project are the works on display and the fact that they have come to Metz. There are some satisfying spatial moments, including the panoramic views from the galleries and the translucent roof lit up at night. Also successful was the studio that Ban created to deliver the project, a lightweight tube slung high up on the Piano and Rogers building in Paris. This temporary office perfectly responds to the original Pompidou’s spirit of appropriation and change. Disappointingly, this spirit seems to have been lost on the train ride east.

Project Specifications

Structural system: Galleries, Studio, Administration building:  Reinforced concrete

Forum and Grand nef gallery façades: metal structure

Hexagonal tower: metal structure

Roof: timber structure

Finishes Interior Floors
  • Forum: polished concrete
  • Studio, Café, Administration building: epoxy resin
  • Galleries and Grande Nef raised floor: Patrick Levieux, France
  • Auditorium: carpet
  • Galleries and Grand nef gallery: plaster board
  • Studio and auditorium: acoustic cladding
  • Galleries: Aluminium grille under the plaster board
  • Auditorium: Fire proofed paper tube
  • Roof: PTFE membrane, Titanium coating (Taiyo Europe, Germany)
  • Galleries, Studio, Auditorium, Administration: Painted concrete
  • Forum: Glass shutters (Butzbach, Germany), Corrugated polycarbonate sheet
  • Grand nef gallery: Metal folded sheet

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Serene Sustainable Clad House,Mount Washington, Los Angeles

August 24, 2010
Hidden House Serene Sustainable Clad House by Standard Architecture
Located on a serene 7 acre site in Mount Washington, Los Angeles, Hidden House by Standard Architecture is a great example of open to outdoors house. The contemporary building has two courtyards. The living courtyard space opens up to one of them, while the second one is facing towards the glittering city of Los Angeles. Occupying a wide area, the 3500 square feet home is made of sustainable materials such as reclaimed end-grain block wood, cork flooring in several rooms, and the redwood cladding.
This sustainable house design allows excellent ventilation and day lighting, reducing the need of air conditioning and heat as well as electrical lighting energy consumed by the house system. The house is also powered using solar energy where of course the appliances around it must also be highly efficient. If you love gardening the garden is planted with native landscape and vegetables, therefore you can live healthy at the Mount Washington serene hidden home.

Super Minimalist Home Design

August 9, 2010
Super Minimalist Home Design and Eco Friendly Living by Andrea Olivia
Master minded by Andrea Olivia from Cittaarchitettura, this Italian home architecture is what we call the simplest “modern minimalist”. The landscape is flat and the contemporary house design simple through and through with a nice simple rectangular shape. The home architecture has flat roofline and neutral white grey palette wall which makes it really stands out against the natural backdrop. Concrete and plaster front porch is the two main elements that define this countryside home design.
Windows are simply clean which is just perfect with the contemporary faced of the structure. Inside this home plan, the interiors are so bright and airy with a nice speckled staircase. Above all those exquisite things we’ve mention this house actually is an eco house design. The above flat roof is equipped with solar panels to accommodate the electricity need of the house as well as hot water

Blue House,Steigereiland,Amsterdam

August 9, 2010
Blue House The Minimalist Vertical Sustainable Eco House 
by Pieter Weijnen
Located at Steigereiland which is one of the seven artificial islands dredged from Amsterdam precisely at lJ Lake in IJburg, the Blue House is one of many home designs which captivated us designed by Dutch architect Pieter Weijnen of FARO Architecten. It’s very obvious that the name of blue water coming from the surrounding deep blue waters.
Instead of living wide, the house plan made by the architecture is going up vertical. So you can guess that this house is designed with minimalist interior and towards sustainable use of energy. Just hearing the word minimalist design I can conclude that most minimalist house will feature large simple windows to bring natural light and heat towards the house.
The home design uses cooling system inspired by the Arabian cooling towers. Because it’s sustainable and eco friendly the rain water will be re used for toilet and washing machine, where first the water used will automatically will be filtered so that it’s clean. Recycled material of wood is this green house option. Check out more at Pieter Weijnen of FARO Architecten.