Archive for November 15th, 2010

November 15, 2010

H2Office, Winnipeg, Canada_Building on the unbuildable

Cibinel’s H2Office breaks the predefined lot line

By challenging the standard planning principles of the business park subdivision, H2Office is a building that blurs architecture, landscape, water management and sustainability. Early on, development guidelines were pushed with the desire to locate the building closer to the site’s retention pond. In breaking the predefined lot lines, the idea of a ‘building as a bridge’ emerged, positioning the structure directly above water, and building on a site that is otherwise unbuildable.

The narrow volume, supported on thin columns, draws a prairie datum line across the retention pond, offering abundant natural daylight and expansive views of the landscape. Through clear detailing, the exterior butt-jointed mirror-glazing allows the building to embed itself in its surroundings and reflect the modulating landscape. The metal cladding, with custom formulated dark metallic finish, responds to the exterior light quality, from shimmering in full daylight to a having a subtle, delicate quality at dusk.

Smartpark’s vision is to build ‘a community of innovators’ and the building’s architecture serves to strengthen this vision by pushing the boundaries of the expected and by positioning Smartpark and its tenants as innovative collaborators within a global community. The open office environment encourages mobility and communication. Informal meeting and gathering spaces provide opportunities for social interaction by allowing staff to collaborate effectively in a variety of settings.

With its distinctive architecture – open and flexible interior office space, natural daylight, an exposed steel structure with complimentary warm natural finishes, energy efficient under-floor air distribution and direct / indirect lighting – H2Office creates a premium office environment for its clients and employees and a clear landmark in the Smartpark Research and Technology Park.

November 15, 2010

One New Change, London, United Kingdom_All change…

Sidell Gibson & Jean Nouvel complete striking new office London

The term iconic is over-used but is totally appropriate for a building such as One New Change, with its utterly original and striking appearance and the radical change it brings to the City of London – now reinvented as a major retail destination, and in the technical innovations it embodies. The building concept design is by Jean Nouvel and detail design and delivery by Sidell Gibson Architects for the developer Land Securities. The practical completion for the project was achieved on 11/10/2010 and the retail centre opened to the public on 28/10/2010.

The development responds to changing social, technological and economic conditions by providing both office space and retail spaces that can meet the accommodation requirements of a wide variety of tenants and are flexible enough to adapt to changing markets and circumstances; for example office floor-plates can be sub-divided in many different ways to provide widely varying amounts of accommodation and the retail floors are capable of being divided into units of widely varying sizes, on more than one floor if that is what the market requires. The retail spaces not only work in themselves but reconnect previously isolated areas of the City and open up dramatic vistas of St Paul’s, allowing unrestricted public access to an amazing new public roof terrace which is very literally the crowing glory of the scheme.

The cathedral’s proximity had a direct influence on the massing, shape and height of the building. The proposal was the direct result of a contextual response to the site location and planning constraints. As an object in the streetscape, the building is like nothing else in the City or indeed in London. Although made entirely of glass it will not have high reflectivity on account of the fritting of the surface. While the form and materials of the building are highly original, they also respond to the local surroundings, for example in the use of colour to respond to the colour of surrounding buildings.

The façade consists of a very complex glazing treatment subtly changing from opaque and matt to transparent, which has been created using coloured frit patterns. In the specialist area of fritted pattern glass, One New Change is regarded as a pioneer. It is the first building to screen-print a white etch frit pattern onto the exterior face of glass. The frit used on the envelope was the most complex aspect of the cladding, involving nearly 289 different patterns for most of the 6,500 individual pieces of glass, and 21 different colours and minimum repetition.

November 15, 2010

Cliff_hanger Hotel, Grand Canyon, United States_Over the edge and off the grid

HKS present their nail-biting design for a new hotel at the Grand Canyon

Responding to a call by the John Hardy Group and the Hospitality Design Group, for Radical Innovation in Hospitality, Cliff_hanger Hotel is the ultimate hotel experience based on the concept of suspension in space and immersion in environment. With its modular design, the experience can be recreated in many locations across the world. Such locations could include the Golden Gate Bridge, California’s redwood forests and an ice fissure in the Andes.

Each hotel will follow the same principles of suspension and immersion, with emphasis on minimising the ecological footprint on the site. The idea is threefold; get in quickly and efficiently, enjoy the location, then remove all traces of the hotel and human impact as one leaves. As the prototype to a growing list of potential locations, Cliff_hanger establishes qualitative goals rather than seeking to influence individual project program or methodology.

Guests of Cliff_hanger Grand Canyon West Rim arrive by car or helicopter atop the cliff. Entering the organic pathway offering a framed window to the Grand Canyon, guests will be directed to a state-of-the-art elevator that will transport them down to a dramatic 4-storey glass lobby–the pinnacle of the hanging structure–overlooking the Grand Canyon below. Cliff_hanger includes 27 guestrooms with colourful local accents and materials furnishing the rooms.

To provide electricity without tapping the electrical grid, cliffhanger unfurls a solar-tracking photovoltaic array that rests on the canyon rim, collecting energy from the tremendous natural resource of the sun, while welcoming guests and visitors with a visual clue to the ecological sensitivity of the hotel. Sized to accommodate the electricity needs of the hotel, this array shares the same minimal site impact as the hotel itself, using modular components for scalability to particular locations.

With analysis and consideration of the ecological character of a location as well as the natural resources inherent in the site, Cliff_hanger seeks to challenge existing hotel norms and inform a new way of thinking about travel, leisure and enjoying the vast richness of the wonders of our natural world. As the prototype to a growing list of potential locations, Cliff_hanger establishes qualitative goals rather than seeking to influence individual project program or methodology.

November 15, 2010

Cinépolis Headquarters, Morelia, Mexico_Roll out the red carpet

KMD’s new Cinépolis Headquarters premieres in Mexico

KMD was selected as the winner of an International Design Competition for their design of the new Cinépolis Headquarters, the fourth largest ‘multiplex’ chain in the world.

Cinépolis was designed to be a workplace that embraces creativity and the vision of the company for which it was designed. This campus includes a sculptural centerpiece, a four-storey structure in which the third and fourth stories are cantilevered over the lower two. At 41 metres long, it’s one of the world’s largest inhabited cantilevered spans, perched atop a hill on the outskirts of Morelia. KMD’s ideal is to create buildings that significantly elevate design standards while firmly looking into the future. Their collaboration with Cinépolis offered an extraordinary opportunity to do this, with outstanding results.

In keeping with the basic ideas of the architectural language in Mexico’s Colonial Architecture – where cities are planned around a central plaza and courtyards offer a cool reprieve from indoor spaces – KMD’s design extends from the direction towards the hilltop with an open plaza at the foot of the central tower. The third floor dramatically overhangs the plaza, offering 180-degree views and offices with courtyards of open space.

The design features spectacular views throughout the city of Morelia as well as natural surroundings, promoting a sense of wellbeing. Green roofs promote informal meetings and contact with nature.

Occupying just 10 percent of the hillside, the four campus low-rise buildings maximise the site respecting the surroundings, creating plazas, terraces and gardens. The sustainable design features natural lighting, a living green roof, sun shading and opening windows for natural ventilation, reducing the need of heating and cooling. The building regulates air conditioning, light and water with an automatic system.

“The new headquarters is the physical embodiment of the Cinépolis spirit of creativity,” said Alejandro Ramirez Magana, Project Manager of Cinépolis. “It is a remarkable workplace that inspires.”


November 15, 2010

800 – 17th Street PNC Place, Washington DC, United States

Rasing the bar

Dramatic water wall in Eco-Lobby highlights innovation for LEED Platinum project

Located at the confluence of 17th and H Streets in Washington DC, PNC Place resides on a prominent corner a block away from the White House. With axial views to the Monument, the building is oriented toward this remarkable southern exposure. In a city of monuments, the team set out to design a building that is of its context, is timeless in its style and is precise in its detailing. The building also aspires to establish a new benchmark in the city by achieving LEED Platinum status.

The building envelope is an arrangement of planar manipulations composed around solar orientation and axial views. Being that the precious Monument vistas toward the south imply a high degree of visual transparency, solar exposure would suggest otherwise. A protective second skin on this façade creates a unique signature opportunity and recognisable feature for the building. The massing and curtain wall detailing reinforce this gesture toward the primary views.

The base and lobby of the building are designed to be of a scale familiar to the immediate context and to make a large urban room that connects the lobby to the prominent street corner. The tall double-height glass walls create an inviting environment connecting the exterior and interior spaces.

The concept of the Eco-Lobby centers around the notion that the entry lobby is a transitional space and human comfort is derived from radiant cooled and heated surfaces. Central to this concept is the signature Water Wall that runs the length of the lobby providing a cooling surface of chilled water falling down stretched metal mesh panels.

November 15, 2010

Three PNC Plaza, Pittsburgh, United States_Buzzing around the clock

New mixed-use tower revitalises downtown Pittsburgh

Setting the stage for Pittsburgh to become a model of smart, sustainable urban growth, Three PNC Plaza is a 750,000 sq ft, 23-storey mixed-use development comprised of a Fairmont Hotel, offices, residential condominiums, and ground floor retail. As Pittsburgh’s first major building in over 25 years, the LEED Gold project is a catalyst for growth and a means for revitalising the downtown core with around-the-clock activity.

To support a vibrant streetscape, the Hotel, Office and Condo lobbies are interconnected as a single space. Visitors, tenants and residents move seamlessly through these spaces mimicking the dynamic urban experience outside. The Office Lobby is a centrepiece to the rejuvenation of the Fifth Avenue corridor. Retail spaces give definition to the lobbies and also activate the streets they face onto. The programmatic elements are expressed as disparate planes tied together by a series of overlapped grids and horizontal fins at the curtain wall and separated by a horizontal and vertical notch.

The Fairmont Pittsburgh anchors the first impression for the building with a dramatic lobby orientated towards the Triangle Park and bustling Liberty Avenue. The restaurant is clad with a wood-slatted box that hovers over the main reception area creating a memorable view through the transparent exterior facade. An interconnecting staircase moves parallel to the street to highlight the activity and energy within.

The design team sought to create a locally authentic experience with the theme of ‘art and industry’ throughout the building, taking cues from the surrounding urban influences of Pittsburgh. Local artists were commissioned to create artwork and custom lighting. Artifacts from the 1800’s that were discovered during the building excavation are incorporated into the design and displayed throughout the hotel.

November 15, 2010

On the ground – V&A Dundee

Sergio Burns

An exciting shortlist of six architect’s designs for the new waterfront V&A Museum of Art in Dundee, has sparked interest and ignited debate at home and abroad. The short list – Vienna-based Delugan Meissl; Japanese architect Kengo Kuma; Americans REX and Stephen Holl; the Oslo-New York City headquartered Snohetta; Sutherland Hussey from Leith, Edinburgh – will be put before a panel of judges and a decision, hopefully, made early November (date to be confirmed).

But, with such an excellent standard of design, selecting one winning design from six will not be easy. “It has to be a difficult decision” Clive Gillman, director of Dundee Contemporary Arts and one of the judging panel agreed. “Because all the proposals are high quality submissions put together by expert teams.”

Office Map

The Dundee project has certainly caught the public’s imagination. A wall at the University of Abertay, Dundee’s library – where a three-dimensional exhibition of the designs will run between 29th September and 4th November – has disappeared beneath a carpet of post-it notes.

“Are there any good architects?” An anonymous scribbler mused on a yellow, square thought bubble. Another ‘cynic’ questions the whereabouts of ‘Frank Gehry’. One person suggested that the £47m price tag for the build could swiftly become £147m, and then £247m before the completion of the project in 2015.

Office Map

On the streets of Dundee people were equally enthusiastic to have their opinion heard. Nine year-old Judith Hughes enthusiastically promoted the merits of Sutherland Hussey, while Philip Pickavance, ‘from Ayrshire’ with a

Manchester accent, described the Leith architect’s design as looking like a ‘Portakabin’. ‘Portakabin’ was less than charitable I thought, because the Scottish design did have its merits. The interior, for example, appears spacious and traditionally museum-like, but I have to be honest and say it was my own six from six.

The problem that cropped up time and again amongst the commentators was its uninspiring, power-station, ‘box’ shape. “Kengo Kuma is top for me,” Mr Pickavance added. “It’s like a boat and that’s incredibly appropriate for an historic harbour like Dundee.”

Office administrator Denise Findlay agreed, but had reservations about the amount of money the project would cost. “I liked the Kengo Kuma…and the Bluebell was okay (REX). The flat one (Snohetta) looks like a good idea for wandering round, but as a building I don’t think it was a statement. I suppose the money could be spent on something more sensible, but it is nice to have something to bring people to the city.”

Office Map

Kuma is my personal favourite – a ‘comic book’ metro-structure with a hint of deconstructionist off-kilter. Lattice-shaped, light and airy walls, bright, spacious interior, ship’s bow and stern profile, reverse ‘V’, and intriguing angles; it ticks all the boxes for museum, waterfront and imagination. This design – if it wins – would chime loudly with the aqua environment of the location, and provide Dundee with one of the most imaginative architectural creations of the 21st century.

Despite my enthusiasm for the Japanese, Frances Stevenson, studio textile designer and lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, had a warning. “I think it is amazing” she said of the exhibition. “In fact this is my second visit, all the entrants are very different, but absolutely fantastic. I quite liked Kengo Kuma, his design sat really well in the sea and it wasn’t over-emphasised, but I do worry it might end up as a seagull perch.”

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Not everyone chose the Kuma. Software designer Rahul Oza admitted to being a science-fiction fan, which might explain his attraction to Delugan Meissl. “My favourite one was…don’t know the name of the architect but the spaceship one (Delugan Meissl). I quite like the fact that the steps kind of tend to go down into the river…it’s kind

of like a part of the environment.”

Office Map

One author on the forum described REX’s design as a window cleaner’s delight, which, of course, would satisfy one of the aims of the project – to help the local economy.

The Snohetta design received the vote of Dundee College lecturer Barry Carmichael. “The simple, flat design, unlike the others, does not detract from the River Tay which is synonymous with the image of Dundee. Attaining the V&A is a coup for the city, and a welcome distraction from the huge job losses suffered recently.”

Surprisingly, few mentioned Stephen Holl’s intriguing design. Strikingly tall, and some distance out in the water, Holl’s minimalist elegance and reserve happened to be my second favourite. I actually preferred this design to Holl’s Nelson-Atkins Kansas City Museum of Art build, but where it really scores for me is in its interior.

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The stimulation of debate around the short list for the V&A reflects the quality of the entries, and will do no harm for the profile of Dundee, or Scotland for that matter.

Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop commented. “The level of international interest in this competition demonstrates the considerable impact the whole Dundee Waterfront development looks likely to have on the city’s reputation as a cultural and creative centre.”

In the thin air of contemporary architecture, genius is all about imagination and pushing the envelope of engineering possibility. Opinion is divided about the short list for the Dundee V&A, but no one can deny these designs are breathtaking representations of some of the best in contemporary architecture. Good enough to set the world talking.

Sergio Burns is a freelance arts and architectural journalist based in Scotland.


Editorial , London


November 15, 2010

Kengo Kuma wins V&A at Dundee

Unanimous jury vote sees Kengo Kuma design steal first prize for V&A at Dundee

An esteemed jury led by Chair of the V&A at Dundee project Lesley Knox has chosen Kengo Kuma as the winner of an international competition to design the new landmark at Craig Harbour. Six proposals were debated by the jury panel and an exhibition of the designs by Steven Holl, REX, Kengo Kuma, Snohetta with Gareth Hoskins Architects, Sutherland Hussey and Delugan Meissl will stay on display at the University of Abertay Dundee library until 13th November.

The public were highly encouraged to air their responses to the competition entries via questionnaires and comments on an online forum, as the results were taken into account during the final decision-making process. Comments on forum post-winning announcement applaud the jury’s choice, with guests to the site remarking: “If budget is not an issue, this is the best choice and will have a massive impact on the perception of Dundee for years to come as well as a great place to visit. Congratulations to the panel for making a bold and brave decision” and “Excellent choice. I think most entries (with one exception) had good attributes. Thank you for choosing something iconic and of high quality. This whole process has really been enthusiastically embraced by the city….at last someone is interested”

Lesley Knox, Chair of the V&A at Dundee project and of the jury panel, stated: “Kengo Kuma’s proposal was the unanimous choice of the jury panel and is a worthy winner; a building that will delight visitors and encourage them to revisit it again and again. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the city, offers a new experience of the river, and will be as exciting internally as it will be externally.”

Work will now begin on further developments to the proposal and construction is expected to begin onsite in autumn 2012. To read a previous article on the competition entries click here.

Kengo Kuma’s team for the V&A at Dundee project includes the Scottish firms cre8architecture, Optimised Environments Ltd, and CBA, and the engineering firm Arup, which has offices across Scotland, including in Dundee.

Sian Disson
News Editor


November 15, 2010

Supreme Court of New Zealand, New Zealand

Warren & Mahony fuse elements of transparency and privacy for egg-shaped courtroom, New Zealand

The new Supreme Court building, on a site contiguous to the old, has some tough neighbours. In the legislature district, it’s near to the New Zealand Parliament, and a number of other public buildings of significant scale.

To ensure this much smaller building makes an impact, but sits well with its neighbours required sensitivity and skill, and of course a good deal of forethought. The plan to locate the new court in a building attached to – and on an axis with – the old showed both the forethought and the sensitivity. The skill came in providing the slightly contrary client desire of transparency and privacy required for the judge’s rooms.

Warren & Mahony have produced an elegant egg-shaped court room, whose curvilinear form somehow expresses that fairness and justice are what matters here, surrounded by an elegant and finely detailed glass-clad building, with an elegant bronze privacy screen at first floor level. This mix of transparency and privacy also provides a distinctive and locally-rooted exterior, the materials for the bronze screen were produced by recycling taps and bearings from the locality.

Ross Sturley

November 15, 2010

Spiegel Headquarters, Hamburg, Germany_A new icon for Hamburg

Henning Larsen Architects underway with new office complex in Germany

Henning Larsen Architects is constructing the new Spiegel Headquarters in
Hamburg, Germany. The 50,000 sq m media and journalism headquarters is located in HafenCity, an immense new inner‐city development project. The topping out ceremony for Spiegel HQ took place on 23 September; the inauguration of the headquarters is scheduled for summer 2011.

Spiegel HQ comprises two U‐shaped buildings. The Der Spiegel building encloses an internal space oriented toward the city centre of Hamburg. The Spiegel building signifies a gateway into HafenCity from Hamburg Central Station and Brooktorkai. The Ericus Contor building contains an exposed outdoor space connected to Hamburg’s Lohsepark. The Ericus building is a central component of HafenCity’s immense new park development.

Located at the gateway of HafenCity, Spiegel HQ visually connects and contrasts with Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie building to the west. The
Spiegel building and Ericus building sculpt two distinct plazas: one arrival plaza
for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles from Brooktorkai and one public leisure
plaza connected with the waterfront promenade.

Sustainability and energy efficiency have played a crucial role in the conception
of Spiegel HQ. The project has been preapproved for the Hamburg Gold Medal
of environmentally sustainable buildings. Spiegel HQ achieves numerous criteria for the Hamburg Gold Medal: optimised energy consumption, intelligent utilisation of public resources, selection of sustainable building materials, and
creation of a healthy and comfortable professional environment.

The energy consumption of Spiegel HQ will be approximately 80 Kwh per sq m every year. Key technology for the limitation of energy consumption in Spiegel HQ includes extensive application of solar and geothermal facilities and an effective heating/cooling system integrated within concrete floor slabs.

The assertive angular appearance of Spiegel HQ is inspired by aerodynamic
nautical sales; each structure defines and simultaneously embraces the spliced
urban surroundings. The Spiegel building and Ericus building embody robust
legible figures. As commercial icons, the two buildings solidly unify Hamburg’s
harbour and city centre.