Archive for September 4th, 2010

September 4, 2010

More Than Skin Deep

An integrated facade strategy helps designers create more comfortable and better-performing glass buildings.

By Joann Gonchar, AIA

At least since Modernism emerged in the early 20th century, and perhaps as early as the mid-19th century, when Joseph Paxton built the Crystal Palace in London, architects have been fascinated with glass. They’ve exploited the material’s properties to make buildings that almost disappear, to create a glowing effect at night, and to enhance connectivity with the outdoors. And of course, many have chosen to clad their structures in glass because of its associations with openness and honesty. But a mostly transparent building can be at odds with sustainability. Depending on how it is designed and built, an all-glass-clad structure is prone to heat gains and losses, resulting in interiors that are too hot or too cold and creating the need for bigger mechanical systems.

One response to the competing demands of energy efficiency and transparency is a double-skin facade — a cladding assembly made up of two surfaces or walls of glass separated by an air cavity ventilated either by mechanical or natural means. This intervening air space, which acts like a climatic buffer, often encloses shading devices and can be as narrow as a few inches, but is typically 3 or more feet deep to allow access for maintenance. In cold seasons, the air within the cavity can be distributed to the building to help fulfill heating needs, and in warm weather it can be vented to lessen cooling loads.

The approach does have drawbacks, including the loss of usable floor space and the cost of an extra skin and its supporting structure. A double wall also adds a level of complexity requiring a whole building approach that closely coordinates several disciplines, including mechanical and structural engineering, thermal analysis, and lighting design.

The just-completed 400,000-square-foot, $85 million expansion of the Frankfurt, Germany, headquarters of KfW Bankengruppe is one project that is the product of this kind of tight integration. Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton won the commission in 2004 with a proposal for a 184-foot-tall glass-clad building that includes a 10-floor office tower, shaped like an airfoil in plan, on top of a curvy four-story podium.

The new KfW building in Frankfurt, Germany has a double-wall facade with a sawtooth-shaped outer skin.

Photo © Jan Bitter

The skin includes colorful automated flaps that open, depending on conditions, to allow outdoor air to enter the facade cavity.Photo: © Jan Bitter

The form was the outcome of an effort to preserve views and daylight for the occupants of the bank’s cluster of existing buildings. At the same time, the designers hoped to reinforce the street edge and draw an adjacent botanical garden into the rear of the site.

This configuration, especially the tower’s winglike shape, was also ideal for an unusual type of double-skin facade that takes advantage of the prevailing wind direction and should allow offices in the new KfW tower to rely on natural ventilation for several months of the year. “The urban concept and the ventilation strategy fit well together,” says Tom Geister, Sauerbruch Hutton project architect.

The facade, along with several other coordinated features, including radiant slabs and geothermal heating and cooling, is expected to help the building meet an ambitious operating target of consuming no more than 27 kBtu per square foot of primary energy per year, if calculated in accordance with the U.S. standard ASHRAE 90.1 — about half the needs of a standard German office building. The goal was important to the client, since much of its lending activity supports energy-efficient housing and the development of sustainable technologies.

The KfW envelope system, which designers have dubbed a “pressure ring,” consists of an encircling sawtooth-shaped cavity, 28 inches wide at its deepest point, that encloses automated blinds to block solar gain and control glare. The space is defined on the exterior by a skin made up of fixed, tempered-glass panels and colorful ventilation flaps, and on the interior by alternating operable and fixed argon-filled insulated glazing units (IGU) incorporating a low-E coating.

This double-wall assembly will extend the number of days each year that natural ventilation is practical, maximizing air quality, but not at the expense of energy conservation, according to Stuttgart-based Thomas Auer, managing director of Transsolar KlimaEngineering, the project’s energy consultant. In high-rise buildings with operable windows, pressure differences on the windward and leeward faces can produce too much cross ventilation, causing unwanted heat loss, he explains. But at KfW, the pressure ring should keep the cross ventilation and associated heating loss in check.

The building has a roof-mounted weather station that monitors wind direction and speed, among other factors, and controls the ventilation flaps in the facade’s outer shell.

Above: The inner face of the KfW building’s double-wall facade includes occupant-controlled windows.

Right: The tower’s airfoil shape and encircling cavity make the most of prevailing winds for natural ventilation. The cavity also provides protection from solar gain.

Below: Fresh air supplied to the offices is vented through the corridors and then to the building core.Photos: © JanBitter

Depending on conditions, the building management system (BMS) opens or closes flaps to introduce fresh air and create a zone of consistent pressure surrounding the curtain wall’s inner skin while simultaneously producing a slight pressure differential between the cavity and the building’s interior. This air is then drawn into offices through floor vents near the perimeter, or through the occupant-controlled windows. It is subsequently exhausted naturally to the negatively pressurized corridor, and ultimately through the building core.

Auer expects that the building will operate in this mode — with the mechanical systems for heating and cooling the offices off — during much of the spring and fall. During the winter and summer, the offices will be supplied with fresh outdoor air through a duct buried underneath a below-grade parking garage. It will carry the air from an intake louver located at the site’s edge near the botanical garden and temper it with the constant temperature of the earth before delivering it to the work areas from a plenum below their raised floors. In winter, the air will be further warmed by a recovery system that captures heat from exhaust air and from the data center. And during the summer, radiant ceilings will absorb heat.

Frankfurt has a mild climate, with long, benign shoulder seasons, making it well suited for such an approach. But a double-skin can also be incorporated into a coordinated strategy for energy conservation and occupant comfort in buildings in more extreme environments, as illustrated by the $271 million headquarters for public utility Manitoba Hydro. The 700,000-square-foot building opened in September in downtown Winnipeg, Canada — a city with short and humid summers and long and brutal winters. It has the dubious distinction of being the coldest city on the planet with a population of 600,000 or more.

Even though Winnipeg has a harsh climate, its new Manitoba Hydro building is clad completely in glass.

Photo: © Eduard Hueber/Archphoto

The cladding systems include double-skin curtain walls with automated windows that open to vent excess heat.

Photo: Gerry Kopelow

South-facing winter gardens precondition outdoor air before it is distributed to the rest of the building.

Photo: © Eduard Hueber/Archphoto

A.Fresh air enters south-facing winter gardens.

B.Air is humidified or dehumidified by the water features, depending on the season.

C.Air is distributed via underfloor displacement ventilation.

D.Radiant ceilings add or remove heat as needed.

E. A chiller fed by 280 geothermal wells transfers heat to or from pipes running through the radiant ceilings.

F. Air drawn through office spaces is vented through two-story atria at the north end of the building.

G. The air flows to the solar chimney and is exhausted upward in the summer.

H.In winter, the exhaust air travels through a heat exchanger and then warms the parking garage.

I.Sand-filled pipes absorb the sun’s heat to help maintain the stack effect on cool summer nights.

Illustration: Bryan Christie Design

1 Solar Chimney
2 North Atrium
3 Offices
4 Double-skin Facade
5 Winter Garden
6 Green roof

Manitoba Hydro’s massing, the product of in-depth site analysis, includes two 18-story office blocks separated by a service core on top of a three-story podium. The blocks are set at angles to one another, forming the long legs of a triangle, with dominant exposures to the west and east-northeast. To the north, at the triangle’s apex, is a finlike solar chimney that extends several stories beyond the roof. And at the opposite end, forming the triangle’s base, are three stacked atrium spaces, or winter gardens, each six stories tall.

This configuration, and especially the south-facing atria, allow the building to make the most of Winnipeg’s unique atmospheric conditions: Although frigid in winter, the city’s skies are among the clearest in Canada. “Even when it is cold, it is almost always sunny,” points out Transsolar’s Auer, whose firm also served as this project’s environmental consultant.

The winter gardens were conceived to take advantage of this free solar energy. The 90-foot-long and 30-foot-wide space acts almost like an expanded double skin, providing a chamber for preconditioning outdoor air before it is distributed to the office areas through an underfloor displacement ventilation system.

Fresh air enters each atrium through the louvers in the south-facing insulated glazing. During the winter, it is warmed by the sun and humidified by 80-foot-tall fountains made of tensioned mylar ribbons that carry water along their length. In the summer, chilled water runs along the ribbons, helping remove humidity from the air. The winter gardens are the building’s “lungs,” says Bruce Kuwabara, KPMB principal.

Once the air is introduced into the offices, heat is added or absorbed, depending on the season, by radiant ceilings. During the summer, the stack effect draws the air upward through the solar chimney and out of the building. But in the winter, the heat in the air is recovered and used to warm a below-grade parking garage.

The long, exposed faces of the office blocks are clad with a more typically dimensioned double skin. The system includes a 49-inch-deep cavity enclosed by an IGU on the exterior and a single lite on the interior. Both inner and outer skins are of low-iron glass, incorporating low-E coatings, but of differing performance levels: Somewhat counterintuitively, the outer skin’s coating allows much of the sun’s radiant energy to pass through the glass into the cavity. However, the inner skin includes a higher-performing pyrolytic, or baked-on, coating. It reflects a large portion of the solar radiation back into the cavity while helping maintain comfortable temperatures for office areas immediately adjacent to the curtain wall. “The goal was to collect as much heat [in the cavity] as possible,” explains John Peterson, KPMB project architect.

The combination of coatings is so effective that excess heat often builds between the inner and outer curtain-wall layers whenever outdoor temperatures rise above 41 degrees. But at those times, the BMS opens operable windows in the outer skin to vent the cavity. The system also controls automated blinds to further block unwanted solar heat gain and control glare. Occupants can open windows, as well, on the curtain wall’s interior skin to introduce more fresh air if they desire.

Luminous library

Given all the variables and components, optimizing the performance of a double-skin facade is not as straightforward as that for a standard curtain-wall assembly. Energy modeling of a double-skin curtain wall involves not only thermal analysis of the complete assembly, but also analysis of the contribution of dynamic components, such as blinds and vents, explains Andrew Hall, a director in the London office of Arup. A double-skin facade “is not a static system,” he says. Hall’s firm served as facade consultant for the new central branch of the Cambridge Public Library, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Cambridge Public Library’s double-skin facade has horizontal louvers and laminated-glass visors to mitigate direct solar penetration.Photo: © Chuck Choi

The architects opted for an all-glass facade to make the building inviting at all times of day.Photo: Robert Benson

A 15-foot-wide strip of the interior immediately next to the curtain wall is column-free to enhance the connection with the surrounding park.Photo: Robert Benson

Despite the inherent complexities, the library’s designers saw a double-skin as the perfect solution for the building’s main facade. They desired a transparent expression, but a typical single-wall curtain wall was impractical because of the southwest exposure and the associated heat gain and potential for glare. “We wanted the building to be welcoming from the outside, luminous at night, and not intimidating,” says Clifford Gayley, a principal at Boston-based William Rawn Associates, the project’s lead architect. In addition, the architects sought to establish a relationship between the library’s interior and the 4-acre city park that surrounds it. And they hoped to avoid dwarfing the much smaller original library — a late-19th-century masonry building by Van Brunt & Howe restored as part of the $70 million project. The new, 76,700-square-foot structure is connected to the 27,200-square-foot historic building, quadrupling the size of the library.

The team developed a double-wall assembly, 180 feet long and 42 feet tall, with an outer skin of 1⁄2-inch tempered low-iron glass and an inner, thermally broken skin of 1-inch IGUs. The two layers define a 3-foot-wide, two-story cavity that serves as a thermal flue: Depending on the season, louvers at the top and bottom of the wall can be opened or closed, to vent or to warm the air within.

Because the connection between indoors and out was such an important part of the concept, the project team worked hard to limit the visual obstructions between the library interior and the park. Their first move was to cantilever the strip of floor slab immediately behind the double skin from a row of columns 15 feet away, creating a zone free of large vertical elements at the building’s edge.

To support the curtain wall, the team devised a framing system that was as minimal as possible but still able to withstand the necessary loads. The structure includes 33 vertically oriented Vierendeel trusses spaced 5 feet 6 inches apart and connected by catwalk grilles and steel angles. Because the vertical trusses contain no diagonals and because the horizontal members are placed above or below occupants’ sight lines, views through the facade, even at oblique angles, are relatively unimpeded, explains Hall.

Sunshades within the cavity for controlling direct sunlight penetration are always extended and are set to one of two possible angles, depending on the season or time of day. But in keeping with the design mandate for unobstructed views, the shades shield only the upper portion of the two floors behind the curtain wall. The first 8 feet of these floors are instead protected by laminated-glass visors that project from the building face and have a slight gray tint. “It was important that they cut the transmission of light but still be read as glass,” explains Gayley.

The product of all of these carefully considered design decisions is a crisply detailed crystalline facade optimized for its orientation. “A double skin is not the only way of achieving a green facade,” says Arup’s Hall. But, he adds, it makes sense where daylighting, protected shading, and transparency are desired.During the winter, closed vents at the top and bottom of the cavity allow the air within to heat up, creating a thermal barrier between exterior and interior. During the summer, the vents are opened to allow cool air to enter at the base and exit at the top as it warms, via the stack effect.

September 4, 2010

Computerized Facade Allows Skyscraper to Inhale and Exhale

German architects Sauerbruch Hutton design the world’s first “pressure ring” skin.

It’s hard being green in a high rise, and if you want operable windows, forget it. You might as well turn the place into a coal plant. But German architects Sauerbruch Hutton have figured out a way to let in fresh air without tossing their eco cred. The secret: a high-tech skin.

As Peter Fairley at IEEE Spectrum reports, the firm’s KfW Bankengruppe office building, in Frankfurt, has the world’s first “pressure ring” facade. That’s a fancy way of saying that it balances pressure throughout the building, allowing occupants to crack windows without turning their offices into a set from Twister. (Typically in a high rise building with operable windows, you get pressure differentials that generate huge cross breezes.)

In the KfW tower, sensor-controlled ventilators on the outer skin (see detail below) open and close throughout the day in response to temperature, wind direction and speed, among other factors, throwing a ring of positive pressure around the building. That air is drawn into offices through floor vents and windows along an inner facade workers control; then, it’s exhausted into the building core. So what you get is a system of natural ventilation that eliminates the need for AC and heat in the fall and spring. And in extreme weather, when you need an artificial bump, the pressure balance won’t throw your heating and cooling systems out of whack.

The facade’s expected to help the building consume just a third as much energy as a typical American office building.

Plus, it’s great-looking. The serrated skin makes the building pop — literally — and all those splashy colors do wonders for Frankfurt’s perennially gray sky.[Via IEEE Spectrum and Architectural Record; images courtesy ofSauerbruch Hutton]

September 4, 2010

Hearst Tower New York : Architecture Information

Hearst Tower wins the 2008 International Highrise Award

Hearst Tower in New York was honoured with the prestigious International Highrise Award today at a ceremony attended by Norman Foster in the Frankfurt Paulskirche. The jury praised the project for defying the “traditional stacking or the repeated extension of the same floor plate”, citing Hearst Tower as a “prototype for future high-rise developments.”
Completed in 2006, the 46-storey Hearst headquarters floats above an existing six-storey Art Deco building and has a progressive environmental strategy – the tower was the first occupied commercial building in New York City to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating.
Lord Foster said:
“I am thrilled that Hearst Tower has been honoured with this prestigious award. It is a mark of an enlightened client and a great city that the tower literally sparkles on the New York skyline today. It represents the realisation of William Randolph Hearst’s original plan for a tower in Manhattan and it has been a privilege to revive this dream with a sustainable new home for the Hearst Corporation.”
Hearst Tower New York architects – Foster + Partners
The International Highrise Award, established in 2003, is bestowed every two years. It is administered by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) in Frankfurt and financed by DekaBank. Previous winners are Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar in Barcelona and ‘De Hoftoren’ by Kohn Pedersen Fox.
The international jury for this year’s award was chaired by Alejandro Zaera Polo of Foreign Office Architects, London and included: author, Layla Dawson; Suzanne Stephens, Deputy Director of the Architectural Record; Felix Semmelroth, Cultural Mayor of the City of Frankfurt; and Peter Cachola Schmal, Director of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum.
Sir Norman Foster’s first New York building, completing early 2006
The Hearst Building sits on a building base from 1927-28 by Joseph Urban

September 4, 2010

Why Foster’s Hearst Tower is no gherkin

By Robert Campbell, FAIA

Now that it has been there for a year and I’ve had my chance to learn to love it, maybe it’s a good time to say why I dislike the Hearst Tower in Manhattan so much.

The Hearst, which of course was designed by Foster + Partners, looks like a misplaced missile silo. It’s as if the Pentagon, with its usual deftness of touch, had confused its maps and located this chunk of military hardware in Manhattan instead of Florida.

Hearst Tower

Photo © Chuck Choi .The new Hearst Tower sits on top of a six-story base built in the 1920s.

t’s an office building, folks. People work there. But nothing about the Hearst, as seen from outdoors, suggests the possibility of human habitation. It appears to be a cage for a single massive object.

I don’t apologize for the image. One of the problems with Modernism, as a stylistic method, is that it tends to ignore the fact that buildings look like other things. And that’s how most people understand them. People say the abstract boxlike shapes of Modernist office towers look like the cartons the real towers came in. The world we live in is a world of resemblances.

That’s why the Brits call Foster’s London tower the “the Gherkin.” But there’s a difference. “Gherkin,” which of course means “pickle,” is an affectionate name that humanizes the building. I haven’t yet heard an affectionate nickname for the Hearst.

Parenthesis: I toured the Gherkin with a Foster partner a few days before it opened. I was charmed by it, despite the fact that much of its architecture is the product of clever solutions to problems that didn’t have to occur in the first place, since they were all the result of the building’s odd shape. Just to name one: How do you handle the window washing for a pickle-shaped tower? The boom that circles the Gherkin at waist height, and which lifts and lowers the cleaning crews like Gulliver hoisting Lilliputians, is as technically skilled as it is silly and unnecessary. The boom makes the Gherkin into an amusement park ride—resemblances, again.

More than it needs

Okay, back to Hearst. First of all, the massive exterior truss looks too big and strong to be structuring a tower that’s only 40 stories tall. It looks wasteful. I’m not a structural engineer, but I suspect some of the bold trusswork is, in fact, ornamental.

Second, the Hearst is, of course, a new tower planted on top of a six-story Art Deco building from the 1920s. I have never seen an addition to an older building that so completely refused to engage in any kind of conversation with its predecessor. Works of architecture, whatever they do, should not express contempt for the other buildings they must live among. But the Hearst, like a delinquent teen and a grandfather, thumbs its nose at its older companion.

I attended a symposium and dinner at the Hearst a few weeks ago, after having toured it 18 months earlier, while it was still under construction. I imagined that now that it was finished, at least it would be exciting to be in. Not so. You enter and immediately are confronted with an enormous waterfall with an escalator beside it, the kind of cliché you’d expect to find at a Hyatt convention hotel. The three-story shell of the old Deco building surrounds you on all sides, but nothing is done to dramatize the experience of yourself as new wine in this old bottle. You’re barely aware of the older building.

Unless you have business up in the tower, you don’t even get to go up the escalator. A guard stands at its foot and shoos you away. So the one experience that ought to matter—that of rising on the escalator from the old building into the new tower—is denied to the public.

Hearst Tower

Photo © Chuck Choi. Invitation required: Access to the space carved out of the Deco building is restricted to Hearst employees and guests.

We dined on the uppermost of the 40 floors. Here, where the program changes from office use to eating space, you’d think there’d be an opportunity to articulate that difference in the architecture. But no. We’re still in the trusslike cage. In fact, when you look at the tower from outdoors, it appears to be arbitrarily lopped off at this point, as if the owner had run out of money during construction. The truss walls clearly want to be taller. They want a heavier wind load.

Still magical, of course, are the nighttime views from the dining room to Manhattan and its astonishing, seemingly infinite field of light. But that view was my only positive experience.

Trying to figure out my nasty reaction to the Hearst, I remember that, a few years ago, I visited a major exhibition of the work of the Foster office in the British Museum in London. This is the building where Foster created a skylit atrium court around the old circular reading room where Marx researched and wrote Das Kapital. (I’m not a fan of the atrium, either, with its deathlike pallor and emptiness, but that’s another subject.) The exhibition was impressive. Like him or not, Foster, with his partners and engineers, produces an amazing volume of work—work that is always inventive, carefully detailed, and fully thought through.

I was struck by a wall display of Norman Foster’s sketchbooks. The number seems improbable to me now, but my recollection is that the caption informed us that Foster had filled 800 such sketchbooks since he began as an architect. At any rate, there were an awful lot of them. Some were open. The sketches were not usually of places of any kind. Instead, most were technical. You could see Foster working out a joint detail, for example, or imagining the configuration of a section.

I have no real idea how Foster works. But combining my memory of the sketchbooks with my dislike of the Hearst, it occurs to me that perhaps what Foster does is create prototype buildings—buildings that, when he first imagines them, lack both a program and a site. His entry in the competition for the World Trade Center in New York certainly stuck me that way: a newly invented type of high-rise (two towers kissing near the top) that could be built anywhere, whether New York or Singapore, and could contain anything, a hotel or offices or condos or interplanetary rockets.

Whether it’s true or not, that’s the message the Hearst broadcasts to me: that it’s a prototype invented for no particular site or program which was, then, pulled out of its sketchbook and plopped down on this site. Its form not only communicates but insists that it ignores its solar orientation, its site, its Deco footrest, and its internal program of uses. “Put me anywhere, fill me with anything, I’m fine with that,” the tower seems to be telling us. It’s a throwback to Mies’s concept of universal space. And let’s remember that Mies’s concept, which worked well at Crown Hall in Chicago, created, in Berlin, an art museum that is as hopelessly impractical as it is handsome.

There are, of course, prominent architects and pundits today who believe we live in a single global culture. I’m of the opposite persuasion. I think one of the most important things architecture can do is, precisely, create difference, before the whole planet mixes and matches into the same gray soup everywhere. And the only way to do that is to be very sensitive and responsive to whatever is genuinely different in the site, the culture, the climate, the situation. As I’ve written in this column before, “Architecture is the art of making places.”

Contributing editor Robert Campbell, FAIA, is the Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic of The Boston Globe.

September 4, 2010

The Hearst Tower

New York City
Foster And Partners

For its Manhattan debut, Foster and Partners creates the new Hearst Tower with a glass-and-steel shaft hovering atop a vintage low-rise.

By Sarah Amelar

Photo © Chuck Choi

New York City’s Hearst building is a bit of a jack-in-the-box without the Jack. Springing from an ornate 1920s base, the structure’s stainless-steel-clad diagrid rises like a great scissor lift, but then, defying expectation, the shaft stops short, without a culminating form topping its 46 stories. A faceted glass-and-steel tower erupting from a six-story, cast-limestone base—adorned with grandiose allegorical sculptures and monumental urn-crowned columns—the building simultaneously defies, realizes, and (surely in its sustainable character) exceeds the aspirations behind the creation of its lowest floors 78 years ago.

In 1928, when those first six stories went up, media magnate William Randolph Hearst envisioned them as the base for a future tower and the beginning of a real estate empire he imagined dominating Columbus Circle, just to the north. Though the Great Depression thwarted this grand scheme, architect Joseph Urban’s six-story, 40,000-square-foot building served as the Hearst Corporation’s magazine headquarters for the next seven-and-half decades. Extending from 56th to 57th Streets along Eighth Avenue, the topless U-shaped base, theatrically eclectic in its Art Deco style, remained an oddly truncated monument in a city of skyscrapers.

By 2001, when the corporation commissioned Foster and Partners to realize a tower here, the original exterior was already landmark-protected, and there to stay. Since completion of the base, naturally, some of the company’s ambitions had shifted, while others remained virtually unchanged. A prime goal was still to bring Hearst’s New York–based magazines under a single roof, but the 12 titles of 1928 had grown to 16. While providing a 20,000-square-foot floor for each magazine (with a few larger or smaller exceptions), the new building would need to house test kitchens, a lab, a fitness center, and a full TV station, bringing the gross total area to 856,000 square feet.

And over the course of the project, the client would become interested in minimizing as well as maximizing its building’s impact on the city—creating an iconic yet environmentally responsive tower or, as touted on Hearst’s Web site, “not just a better skyline, but a better sky. The firm’s radical “way in” ultimately involved gutting the base and restoring its exterior, while opening up the interior via removal of the existing floor plates. The architects argued that the original floor-to-ceiling height of 11.5 feet would be inadequate by today’s state-of-the-art office standards—and a more straightforward rehab would relegate “celebratory” communal spaces to the tower, rather than connect them with the street. The team envisioned turning the hollowed-out volume into an interior “town square,” with the tower “hovering” above it.

the People

The Hearst Corporation

Foster And Partners
Riverside Three
22 Hester Road
London SW11 4AN
tel: +1 20 7943 6000
fax: +1 20 7738 1107/08

Norman Foster, Brandon Haw, Mike Jelliffe, Michael Wurzel, Peter Han, David Nelson, Gerard Evenden, Bob Atwal, John Ball, Nick Baker, Una Barac, Morgan Flemming, Michaela Koster, Chris Lepine, Martina Meluzzi, Julius Streifeneder, Gonzalo Surroca

Fit-out: Norman Foster, Brandon Haw, Mike Jelliffe, Chris West, John Small, Ingrid Solken, Michael Wurzel, Peter Han

Associate Architect
Adamson Associates

Development Manager:
Tishman Speyer

Cantor Seinuk

Flack & Kurtz

Vertical Transportation:

George Sexton

Food Service:
Ira Beer

Interior (Designer) Architect:
Foster And Partners

Associate Interior Architect:

Construction Managers:

Icefall (water feature):
James Carpenter, Foster and, Fluidity Design Consultants

Lighting Design Consultant:
Kugler Associates

Chuck Choi; Frederick Charles

CAD system, project management, or other software used

the Products

Structural system

Exterior cladding

Metal/glass curtain wall:
Avesta ( stainless steel cladding)

Guardian, Luxguard

Guardian, Luxguard

Metal doors:
Long Island Fire doors

Wood doors:
Hird Blaker

Special doors:


Exit devices:
Van Duprin

Cabinet hardware:

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:

Demountable partitions:

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Hird Blaker

Wall coverings:


Office furniture:


Vitra; Walter

Other furniture:

Interior ambient lighting:

Edison Price Lighting

B-Light, WE-EF






Kitchen Appliances



September 4, 2010

Press coverage focusing on Smith’s Burj Khalifa design

“. . . [Burj Khalifa] represents a great leap forward in height and, especially for Dubai, in design quality. It is a luminous, light-catching skyscraper that looks like a skyscraper-ridiculously tall, but exquisitely sculpted, elegantly detailed and unapologetically exultant. In contrast to Dubai’s preposterous collection of architectural cartoons-here, a big-bellied tower that suggests an oversize perfume bottle; there, a paper-thin skyscraper that looks like someone sliced a giant hole in its top with a pair of scissors-the Burj Dubai offers God-is-in-the-details articulation along with its dazzling shape.”
— Blair Kamin
architecture critic
Chicago Tribune

“[Adrian] Smith is an unusually talented shaper of skyscraper form, as he proved at Shanghai’s 88-story Jin Mao Tower, which he designed before leaving SOM in 2006. The Burj Dubai’s profile, which Smith says is inspired by a range of local influences including sand dunes and minarets, grows more slender as it rises, like a plant whose upper stalks have been peeled away.”
— Christopher Hawthorne
architecture critic
Los Angeles Times

“[Burj Khalifa] strikes me as the most graceful skyscraper of the modern(ist) era. Most recent skyscrapers look like refugees from a Fisher-Price toy factory. Yet the skyscraper is the only type of building in which modernism may plausibly be said to challenge the superiority of classicism.”
— David Bussat
— Providence Journal

“[Burj Khalifa is] possibly the world’s most elegant, as well as tallest building—spare, using a minimum of mass, structurally tight, and architecturally evocative.”
— Robert Ivy, FAIA
Architectural Record

September 4, 2010

Burj Khalifa information from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects

Facts about Burj Khalifa:

The design of Burj Khalifa was commissioned by its developer, Emaar Properties, after SOM won a design competition in early 2003. Smith’s design of the form of the building is geometric in plan, starting with three branches and three pods. Setbacks occur at each program element, decreasing the tower’s mass as it rises toward the sky. At the tower’s top, the central core emerges and is sculpted to form a finishing spire. Views of the Arabian Gulf and city are maximized throughout the building through the use of a Y-shaped floor plan inspired in part by certain early designs of Mies van der Rohe as well as Chicago’s Lake Point Tower.
Emaar was interested in having Burj Dubai be the tallest building in the world, but that standard could have been met with a building much shorter than the one Smith and his team ended up designing. But Smith envisioned Burj as a very elegant, slender building, and to resolve the design in an appropriately proportional way required a great deal of height-quite a bit more than Emaar had originally expected. In the end, the height of the project was changed from 700 meters (2,296 feet) to “something taller” when Smith changed the massing at the tower’s top. (The world’s next-tallest building is Taiwan’s Taipei 101 at 1,670 feet.) Burj Dubai’s official height was announced last week at 828 meters, or 2,716.5 feet.
Burj Khalifa will continue to be the world’s tallest building for at least five years, since no announced projects of greater height have actually broken ground yet, and it will take at least five years of construction for another tower to exceed the height of the Burj.
Burj Khalifa includes luxury condominiums, the world’s first Armani hotel with ballroom and support amenities, meeting facilities, 50,000 sm of luxury office space, restaurants, health club, spa, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, the world’s highest public observatory, three floors for communications equipment, 6 mechanical floors and 3,000 parking spaces. The tower’s gross area is over 300,000 sm above grade, a total of 450,000 sm including below-grade levels.
Smith’s design focuses on several unique problemsposed by supertall buildings. Coordination of the results of wind tunnel testing and concerns with stack effect led to the development of special elements and mitigation strategies within the building and at the many building terraces. Window washing and the need to maintain the building’s exterior wall led to the design of a system that incorporates over a dozen specialized mechanized units at several levels of the tower. Other innovative use of materials and systems include high-efficiency lighting; reduction in urban heat island effect with large water features and extensive landscaping above the garage podium roofs; and use of a site-wide gray-water system for irrigation including recovered condensate.
Wind tunnel tests were conducted to ensure the tower would perform optimally in response to weather conditions. In response to the tests, Smith and his design team sculpted the tower’s shape, in particular by staggering the setback heights, to shed the negative forces of the wind moving around the building, which he calls “confusing the wind.” He and the team also took several steps to mitigate the stack effect, which in Burj means that, due to the height of the building and difference between the internal and external temperature, indoor air tries to travel downward and flow out of the bottom of the building.
Skyscrapers such as Burj Khalifa are inherently sustainable because they accommodate a large number of people on a small footprint, which helps save agricultural land from development and reduce carbon emission associated with commuting to and from suburbs. They also offer efficient vertical and horizontal transportation systems, encouraging the use of public transit and creating increasingly walkable cities. Supertall buildings can also be formed to further decrease their environmental effect and become “super-sustainable.” These structures can take advantage of the faster wind speeds at higher altitudes and drive wind toward building-integrated turbines to generate power. Because they are less likely to have shadows cast on them, high-rises also make efficient use of building-integrated photovoltaic systems to absorb solar power and generate energy. And deep foundations make them ideal for geothermal heating and radiant cooling systems.

September 4, 2010

Former student Adrian Smith ’66 designs world’s tallest building

When the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, officially opened Jan. 4 in Dubai amid a flurry of fanfare, former Texas A&M architecture student Adrian Smith ’66 was among the honored guests. It was he, after all, who designed the shimmering spire that soars more than a half mile above the desert in the United Arab Emirates, rising to an official height of 828 meters, or 2,716.5 feet.

“It was the culmination of many years of work and one of the most thrilling moments of my career,” said Smith, 65, who studied architecture at Texas A&M for four years spanning 1962-66 before being lured by a summer internship to Chicago where he eventually landed a job, finished his degree and went on to become the world’s most experienced designer of supertall buildings.

“The Burj Dubai, now Burj Khalifa, was designed not for ego gratification or to fulfill a list of superlatives. It was designed to lift the spirits of a nation and a culture, and to bring joy and inspiration to its citizens,” said Smith, who designed the structure while working in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the same firm that offered the aspiring young architect that job back in 1967. It was the job and its promise, he said, that ultimately kept him from returning to Texas A&M to finish his architectural studies.

Smith worked at SOM for almost 40 years, advancing through the ranks and eventually serving as chief executive officer from 1992 – 95, before leaving in 2006 to start his own Chicago-based firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

Currently he is the designer of three of the world’s top 10 tallest completed buildings: Burj Khalifa in Dubai (#1), Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago (#7, at 423 meters or 1387.7 feet) and Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai (#8, at 421 meters or 1381.2 feet), according to the official rankings of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

When Nanjing Greenland Financial Center finishes construction this year in Nanjing, China (it will enter the tall buildings list at #6), Smith will have designed four of the world’s top 10 tallest completed buildings. Additionally, the current sixth-tallest building in the world, Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), is in the early stages of a green retrofit under the direction of AS+GG.

School days
Though born in Chicago, Smith moved with his family at age five to San Clemente, Calif. He wound up at Texas A&M back in 1962, in part, because he had a brother in the Air Force stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

“I looked at schools in Texas, Arizona, California and Illinois where I had contacts and family and decided that A&M was least expensive and I liked the program,” he said. Though upon arriving in College Station, he was surprised to learn that, in those days, two years of service in the Corps of Cadets was compulsory.

“I actually didn’t know,” Smith mused. “I hadn’t realized that I’d be wearing uniforms all day long, living in dorms and going to bed with a curfew. I remember marching to breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.”

But ultimately, his stint in the Corps proved valuable. “It gave me a certain discipline,” he said.

Looking back over an incredibly distinguished career, he considers his time at Texas A&M as “formative,” especially his architectural studies and the guidance of a few professors, namely Cecil Steward, Edward Romieniec (now deceased) and John Greer, who have remained his friends throughout his career.

“It was a pretty straightforward program, offering a good background in fundamentals, architectural design, technology and mechanical and structural engineering, Smith said of what was then a five-year professional architecture program at Texas A&M.

“They had a room with a sun dome that allowed us to study ways in which the sun impacted buildings,” he recalled, referring to the “artificial sky” lab housed in the dome atop Langford Building B, which was used for daylighting simulations in the days before computer applications rendered it obsolete. “The consideration of how climate and sunlight affects the structure of a building definitely had some influence on my career.”

In 1966, Smith served as president of the Texas A&M Chapter of the American Association of Architecture Students. While president, he penned an essay, “The Architecture of Aggieland,” for a university publication.

Chicago beckons
In the summer after his fourth year at Texas A&M, Smith applied for internships at the Chicago offices of Perkins & Will and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to “get some real-life experience.” Though neither firm was hiring at the time, Cecil Steward, his fourth-year instructor who had previously worked at Perkins + Will, pulled some strings and landed the aspiring architect an internship.

Though he’d originally planned to return to Texas A&M in the fall to complete his degree, the excitement of working with a major-league, big-city firm proved too appealing and he stayed on to work the entire year.

“I was working on some very exciting projects and learning a great deal,” he said. Though he was still planning to return to Texas, a job opened up at SOM in March 1967 and he seized the opportunity.

“I worked there through the 1967 season,” he said, “then I had the opportunity to work part time while finishing up my courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago, so that is what I did.”

Smith said Romieniec, who would become the first dean of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M in 1969, visited him a few times in Chicago and that he still sees Greer, his first-year studio instructor, at American Institute of Architecture functions. However, he said, the professor that initially landed him that first internship in Chicago, Cecil Steward, who is now dean emeritus and emeritus professor of architecture and planning at the University of Nebraska, “has, with his extreme interest in sustainability, definitely influenced my direction in architecture.”

Steward, Smith said, played in integral role in helping SOM earn an American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award in 1996, and inversely, Smith played a role in Steward’s successful nomination for the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, an award presented by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

An architectural polymath
Upon returning to his native Chicago in 1966 as an architectural intern, Smith said the city skyline, which looked like “man-made mountains on the prairie,” inspired him, tweaking his interest in tall buildings. Early on at SOM, he learned the secrets of skyscraper design directly from Bruce Graham, architect of the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center.

By 1980 he was a partner with the firm and, influenced by Mexican architect Luis Barragán, he became a devotee of contextualism: the idea that new buildings ought to relate to geography, the culture, and especially the architecture immediately around them.

As a result, his buildings are usually based on the idea of an aesthetic continuum rather than a sharp break with precedent. Even the oversized Burj Khalifa draws inspiration from its environs, the contours of its floors evoking the pointed arches of Islamic architecture.

“I wanted real buildings that felt very much a continuation of the fabric of the city they were in,” Smith told Kevin Nance, architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, in an article reprinted in the book “The Architecture of Adrian Smith, 1980-2006, SOM.” “When I designed a building, I wanted it to look as if it could only exist in this location—it would be out of place anywhere else.”

Over the years, nearly every one of Smith’s projects has achieved international acclaim in one form or another. SOM projects under his guidance have earned more than 90 awards for design excellence, including seven national AIA awards. He has been presented the Urban Land Institute’s Award for Excellence in Large Scale Urban Development/Mixed Use, the prestigious FIABCI (International Real Estate Federation) Prix d’Excellence Award, and the Gold Prize of the Shanghai Classic Buildings.

Smith has designed buildings in China, England, Germany, Brazil, Kuwait, Canada, Korea, Guatemala, Bahrain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the United States.

“His expertise covers areas as broad as operations, marketing, finance, and professional services,” wrote James P. Cramer, chairman and CEO of The Greenway Group, in the foreword to the aforementioned book. “He is truly one of the few architectural polymaths, a person who has great diversity of skills and immense intellect.”

At AS+GG, Smith has assembled one of the most experienced design teams in the world, including several key figures on SOM’s design teams for Burj Khalifa and other supertall projects. In addition to AS+GG partners Gordon Gill and Robert Forest, both experts in the supertall field, these include Peter Weismantle, SOM’s senior technical architect on Burj Khalifa and now director of Supertall Building Technology at AS+GG; Roger Frechette, formerly a director in charge of sustainable engineering at SOM, and now president of AS+GG’s new environmental energy engineering company; and several other former SOM architects with experience in supertall projects.

Since its inception three years ago, AS+GG has been commissioned to design six new supertall towers over 500 meters in height, including two towers over 800 meters. These are now on hold due to the economic recession.

Smith and partner Gordon Gill have collaborated to design two of the world’s most sustainable buildings. These include Pearl River Tower, the world’s first planned net-zero-energy tower, currently under construction in Guangzhou, China, and Masdar Headquarters, the world’s first large-scale positive-energy building—meaning it will generate more power than it consumes—now under construction in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Pearl River was designed while Smith and Gill were at SOM; Masdar HQ is an AS+GG project. AS+GG has also recently augmented its design services with the addition of Peter Kindel, a former associate partner at SOM who is now AS+GG’s Director of Urban Design.

Sustainable design
Sustainability is central to Smith’s designs and his tall and supertall buildings, “though really built more for landmark recognition,” he said, “than for any other reason,” are no exception.

“The world is urbanizing at a rate of 100 million people per year,” Smith said. “There is limited land available in those urban environments, so one has to go up, build vertically.”

Skyscrapers such as Burj Khalifa are inherently sustainable because they accommodate a large number of people on a small footprint, which helps save agricultural land from development and reduce carbon emission associated with commuting to and from suburbs. They also offer efficient vertical and horizontal transportation systems, encouraging the use of public transit and creating increasingly walkable cities.

“If you build a John Hancock Center or Sears Tower or Burj Dubai, that actually saves 700 acres of suburban development,” said Smith. “Now you can take the 700 acres and put it into farmland or wind farms or agriculture or tree growth and forestation and it becomes very sustainable. Added to that,” he continued, “if you build several tall buildings adjacent to each other or near each other, you create a city within a city where people are walking to work and living in or near the places they are working in, so they are not commuting 10 to 20 miles.”

In addition to designing new sustainable buildings, AS+GG is committed to the greening of existing structures and helping the building design industry meet its goal of “zero net energy” buildings by the year 2030. To that end, Smith says his firm is starting a new company that will focus entirely on green retrofits of existing structures.

“40 to 50 percent of carbon emissions are caused by buildings, not transportation systems,” Smith said. “In order to come close to the 2030 Challenge, each of the existing buildings designed and built between 1950 and 2000 need to be worked on in terms of reducing their carbon footprint to the tune of almost 80%. So there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the retrofitting of existing buildings in order to reduce carbon. That’s the goal,” he continued, “whether or not it’s the cause of global warming, it is an important aspect of a cleaner environment. I believe that’s a point for consideration.”

– the end –

September 4, 2010

Font change could save money, planet

Well, here’s a rather original, money-saving, budget-cutting, planet-saving idea: The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is changing its e-mail font.

For years, the university has used Arial. But during spring break last week, it switched to Century Gothic, which uses roughly 30 percent less ink when printed on paper. Director of Computing and Information Technology Diane Blohowiak told Wisconsin Public Radiothat the new font uses even less ink than a widely touted “Eco Font.”

With printer ink costing around $10,000 a gallon, the university is hoping the font change will help departments save some money. Plus, the change fits with the university’s five-year plan to go green. So far, Blohowiak told WPR, she hasn’t received any complaints about the change.

University press shop workers were a little taken aback that news of its font change was categorized as weird or bizarre by national newspapers. On their blog they wrote:

We note also that in the Houston Chronicle, it was placed in its News Bizarre section. Is saving money and using less ink “bizarre?” We wouldn’t think so, but here’s that link.

And at the Miami Herald they think that this change is worthy of “Weird News.” Maybe it’s the oxymoron of printing out your e-mails, but c’mon, practically everybody does it at least on occasion. Or maybe they’re getting too much sun in Miami and Houston. Here’s a link.

By Jenna Johnson  |  March 26, 2010; 3:30 PM ET