Archive for January, 2012

January 23, 2012

The New Canadian Embassy in Bucharest | WESTFOURTH Architecture

Bucharest, Romania
Construction 2003- 2005

The embassy is located in a part of Bucharest known for elegant urban villas surrounded by gardens. The zoning regulations determine the limits of the building envelope above ground. As the resulting volume was insufficient to accommodate the building program, a considerable part of this program expands into an underground level covering the entire expanse of the site.

Clear separation of the public from the private functions was a key concern. In this project, the task was handled by placing the public and rather large immigration department below grade with a separate entrance from the street. The private, administrative and diplomatic functions are distributed above ground on three floors and a penthouse that is used for receptions and protocol.

Below grade access to the immigration department occursis via a double-glass corridor that protects the ceremonial entrance from the noise and agitation of Kiseleff Boulevard. Access to the main lobby is in the middle of the ceremonial plaza that is created between the glass link to the underground and the main volume of the building. The plaza allows direct vehicular access to the front door of the lobby for special events. The embassy’s cubic volume is flanked, at the north and south, by sunken gardens that allow natural light to the level below ground.

The building takes its cue from modernist Bucharest and expresses its function in simple form without a dominant façade. Different functions are marked on the elevation and throughout the interior with intentional gestures that articulate the program. The double-height hall on the west side is crossed by a glass catwalk leading to the library above. In turn, the library space is marked by a horizontal glass that is slit into the self-weathering copper of the façade. The distinct ceremonial role of the penthouse is marked by large windows and a terrace topped off by a slim overhanging roof. The south façade is clad with glass louvers that relieve the opacity of the copper enclosures on the rest of the building.

January 23, 2012

Ericus And Spiegel Buildings | Henning Larsen Architects

Architects: Henning Larsen Architects
Location: Brooktorkai, HafenCity, 
Client: Robert Vogel GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft og ABG Baubetreuungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
Gross floor area: 50,000 sqm
Completion: 2011
Photographs: Cordelia Ewerth and Andreas Gehrke

With its clearly readable figure each building has a reserved yet characteristic expression that provides a special significance in relation to creating identity for all the surrounding public spaces.

The Ericus building will be essential for the completion of the large park space. Spiegel will become the gateway to Hafencity seen from the main station and Brooktorkai.

The two buildings are designed as large U-forms that embrace the urban space they are directed towards. The Spiegel building embraces an internal space with a more urban character because of its direction towards the city. The Ericus building embraces an open, green outdoor space as it directed towards the large open Lohsepark.

The two buildings form two plazas: an arrival plaza for pedestrians, cy-clists and drivers towards Brooktorkai and an open public plaza, which has a direct connection to the waterfront promenade.

January 23, 2012

Celtic Museum | kadawittfeldarchitektur

Architects: kadawittfeldarchitektur
Project Managers: Oliver Venghaus (architecture), Ben Beckers (exhibition design)
Client: Federal State of Hessen represented by HMWK and HBM
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 2,190 sqm (GFA)
Photographs: Werner Huthmacher

This project is a museum for Celtic art, and is in direct proximity to a historic burial mound. Similar to an excavated archaeological find, the metal body of the museum juts out from the landscape and forms a counterpart to the burial mound. More of a mysterious object itself rather than architecture, the museum should be stumbled upon by its visitors as a marker of landscape discovery.

The Celtic Museum is a clearly contoured and distinct volume, blending in with the surrounding landscape. Partly inserted into the slope, it projects itself towards the burial mound. Its vital function as an element of the landscape, the museum building amplifies the burial mound’s leading role. Underneath the main volume, one finds the foyer and the café and adjoining rooms as well. Here begins and ends the exploration of the museum’s archaeological trail.

A staircase-ramp guides the visitor into the exhibition. In the end, one finds a panoramic window, offering an impressive view of the burial mound, incorporating it into the exhibition itself. The roof acts also as an observation deck onto the scenic landscape and the skies above – so that the surroundings can be “discovered.”

January 23, 2012

Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, Toronto | Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts was designed with the overriding principles of creating an exceptional auditory and theatrical experience for patrons as well as a democratic, open and engaging space within the city. The opera house is designed to make accessible an art form that has long been considered elitist.  By revealing the procession and activity associated with attending a performance, a new audience is cultivated and a new relationship formed between the patron and the city.

The Four Seasons Centre is a building in harmony with its context and innovative in design.  It has excelled in providing audience interest and comfort, has created operational efficiencies and achieved an acoustic and theatrical experience among the very best in the world.

and from Halcrow website:

The floating glass staircase

Believed to be the longest span for a glass stair in the world

Architects: Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Role: Full structural engineering services, building envelope consulting services

The $102 million Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the new home for the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and a new performance venue for the National Ballet of Canada.

Halcrow Yolles provided full structural engineering and building envelope consulting services for the fast-tracked construction of this 15,000m² world-class opera house.

Standing in the opera’s entrance lobby known as the City Room, theatre goers are surrounded by a transparent, five storey glass wall façade. The Grand Staircase, a feature in the City Room, rises three storeys from the Orchestra to the Grand Ring level and is a focal point upon entering the Four Seasons Centre. Innovatively designed and engineered, the floating glass staircase is believed to be the longest span for a glass stair in the world. The box office, retail space, Henry N.R. Jackman Lounge and the glass-walled Aerial Amphitheatre – a small rehearsal hall – are located on this main lobby level.

From the outset of the project the design team was focused on creating an intimate space within the hall, providing excellent acoustics and isolating the performance spaces from external sources of noise and vibration. The hall plan was based on the horseshoe shape, modeled after the great opera houses of Europe.

Known as the R. Fraser Elliott Hall, the 2,000 seat horseshoe-shaped auditorium is ringed by four tiers of balconies. The 28.5m wide auditorium is comprised of five levels: the orchestra, box level, and first and second balconies. The horseshoe configuration is a fundamental design component of the room, as it maximises sightlines and achieves the best possible acoustics for all theatre goers at all levels. In the Four Seasons Centre, 73 per cent of all seats are within a 30.5m cylinder of centre stage, with the farthest seat only 40m from the stage.

The deep, 6.1m wide orchestra pit can accommodate up to 100 musicians. The main stage is served by a 33m fly tower, stage rigging and lighting equipment. A full side stage and rear stage allow for three productions in repertory. The back-of-house areas include administration space, dressing rooms and the rehearsal room, located adjacent to the stage.

The auditorium, stage and rehearsal hall are designed as an entirely separate and isolated structure from the rest of the building. This separation of the outer building eliminates outside noises and achieves the goal of an N-1 sound isolation rating.

The facility also includes below-grade parking for 200 cars and a direct connection to the subway.

January 23, 2012

930 Poydras Residential Tower | Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

Eskew+Dumez+Ripple’s residential tower represents a break from the norm in New Orleans


Completed March 2010, this mixed-use residential project is designed to re-imagine the typically horizontal nature of New Orleans’ dense French Quarter blocks as a vertical condition. The program includes 250 residential apartments above a 500 car garage, and is organised to create a communal amenity level at the ninth floor – reinterpreting the courtyard housing typology for urban, high-rise living. At this raised ‘courtyard’ level, shuttle elevators transfer from garage to tower in order to promote opportunities for residents to cross paths with one another in a shared, communal space as opposed to the typically introverted collection of experiences found in most high-rise residential developments.

As a means to recreate the social interaction found in the courtyards of the city’s historic quarter, the design consolidates all tenant amenities at the ninth floor level in order to condense their programmatic force. Anchoring this level is the ‘sky lobby’, a dramatic glass box that cantilevers out from the façade and offers spectacular views of the downtown skyline. This double-height lounge serves as an extension of the tenant’s living spaces, with coffee bar and movie screening lounge set among informal groupings of furniture. The project was described by the jury for the 2011 AIA Housing Awards as: “A new paradigm for urban living.”

Outside the sky lobby is an expansive pool deck, with tiered bleacher seating rising from the pool to a sunning platform. Tucked beneath these bleachers is the facility’s fitness center. A series of townhomes along the south side create an architectural edge and produce the effect of a ground level courtyard on the garage rooftop. Departing from the oppressive monotony of the commercial office towers surrounding it, the design of the exterior envelope incorporates a highly articulated metal panel and glass patterned façade. This approach affords a higher percentage of glazing at upper residential floors with minimal glazing provided at the garage to maintain a seamless – while animated – composition.

January 23, 2012

Lexington Park Condominiums, Chicago | VOA Associates

VOA Associates completes mixed-use high rise condominium development in Chicago’s South Loop


Lexington Park is a mixed-use high rise condominium and retail development in the South Loop area of Chicago. The building stands 387 feet tall, with 35 storeys, located across from McCormick Place to the southeast and Michigan Avenue to the west. The site connects multiple neighbourhoods, commercial South Michigan Boulevard, South Loop residential, McCormick Place Convention Complex and the Burnham Park system east of Lake Michigan. 320 condominiums, 400 car parking and ground floor retail make up the building, with unit types from loft style to larger bedroom units with lake views.

The residential building blends with the neighbourhood, relating to the McCormick Place complex and adding vitality to existing pedestrian-heavy neighbourhoods. The building transitions between city and neighbourhood scale through a small loft building next to a tall tower with lake views. The parking structure along south Michigan Avenue is concealed, enhancing the pedestrian experience. The complex ‘floats’ above the retail, and creates a cohesive visual identification with the neighbourhood.

Between the loft and tower, a roof terrace creates open space for the residents and brings a park into the middle of the complex. Common rooms for socialising and fitness open onto the terrace. Lexington Park greets the visitor entering the city from the Stevenson Expressway to the south. It identifies a boundary from a distance and connects neighbourhoods creating a better urban experience for the city of Chicago.

January 23, 2012

horizontal skyscraper- vanke center | steven holl

the building under construction
image courtesy of iwan baan

steven holl architects with partner li hu recently completed construction on their horizontal skyscraper –
vanke center located in shenzhen, china. situated over a tropical garden, the horizontal skyscraper
spans as long as the empire state building is long.

the building looks as if it were once floating on a higher sea which has now subsided.
the large structure floats under its 35-meter height limit propped up on eight legs. being suspended
on eight-cores, as far as 50 meters apart, the its structure is a combination of cable-stay bridge
technology merged with high-strength concrete frame – a first for a structure of its type,
with tension cables carrying a record load of 3280 tons.

the decision to develop one large hovering structure instead of several smaller floating ones,
was to create views over the lower developments of surrounding sites to the south china sea
and to generate the largest green space possibly, open to the public on the ground level.
the underside of the skyscraper becomes the main elevation from which sunken glass cubes or
‘shenzhen windows’ offer 360-degree views over a lush tropical landscape. the hybrid building
includes apartments, a hotel and offices for the headquarters for vanke real estate co. ltd.
a conference center, spa and parking lot are located under large green, tropical landscape,
characterized by mounds which contain restaurants and a 500-seat auditorium. there is also a
public path which covers the entire length of the building, connecting the hotel, apartment zones
to the office quarters together.

as a tropical strategy, the building and landscape integrate several new sustainable aspects including a
microclimate created by cooling ponds fed by a grey water system. a green roof with solar panels
has been incorporated into the design and uses local materials such as bamboo. a glass façade
protects against sun and wind via perforated lovers. the building is tsunami proof hovering piece
of architecture that creates a porous micro-climate of public open landscape. it is the first
LEED platinum rated building in southern china.

image courtesy of iwan baan

image courtesy of iwan baan

a microclimate is created through cooling ponds fed by grey water
image courtesy of steven holl architects

stairways up from the ground level into the skyscraper
image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

perforated aluminum louvers
image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

image courtesy of steven holl architects

aerial view – model
image courtesy of steven holl architects

structural breakdown
image courtesy of steven holl architects

horizontal skyscraper is as long as the empire state building is high
image courtesy of steven holl architects

a diagram indicating the views from the ‘shenzhen windows’
image courtesy of steven holl architects

‘horizontal skyscraper – vanke center’ by steven holl architects, shenzhen, china
image © designboom

designboom recently visited the ‘horizontal skyscraper – vanke center’ by new york and beijing-based firm steven holl architects,
while in shenzhen, china. lifted and oriented to direct views towards the nearby mountains, ocean and lake, the structure hovers
above maturing gardens and groves of native bamboo trees. the undulating terrain is now blanketed with greenery, as it was conceived
in early renderings by the architect.

pathways crossing through textured patches of long grasses weave through the site under the branching extensions of the building
leading to the outdoor sunken amphitheater and a central subterranean lobby. steel staircases create opportunities for visitors
to enter the elevated interior of the offices, hotel and apartments.

see designboom’s original coverage of this project here.

uppward view of a branch of the building
image © designboom

the undulating landscape converges with the structure
image © designboom

stairway leading into the building’s interior
image © designboom

steel staircases lead into the building from ground level
image © designboom

pathway passing below structure
image © designboom

facade and louver detail
image © designboom

sunken amphitheater
image © designboom

louver detail at the end of facade
image © designboom

mounded earth meets the underside of the horizontal building and then drops off to reveal a suspended office space
image © designboom

pathway passes through vegetated gardens
image © designboom

pathway crosses under the branching structure
image © designboom

bamboo grove at base of pier
image © designboom

clusters of inclined columns support the structure in locations where the landscape is level
image © designboom

(left) view through the branching horizontal appendages
(right) building reflecting within pool
image © designboom

January 22, 2012

endemico resguardo silvestre | gracia studio

‘endémico resguardo silvestre’ by gracia studio, valle de guadalupe, mexico
all images courtesy gracia studio

scattered along the sloping terrain of valle de guadalupe, mexico, ‘endémico resguardo silvestre’ is a cluster of twenty hotel rooms,
designed by san diego-based practice gracia studio. positioned within a landscape of vineyards, each ecoloft has panoramic vistas
overlooking the scenic valley below. placed upon steel stilts, the 20 square meter cubes hover above the rocky ground, minimally interfering
with the savannah continuing underneath. corten steel was selected to surface the small structures, aging with time to blend into
the rustic hues of the encompassing nature.

with each unit strategically oriented to unobstructed views directed towards the valley, guests may close their personal entry door
and feel isolated in nature. attached to each cabin, a personal patio and fireplace allow for comfortable lounging outside.
the 99 hectare complex is completed with a nearby winery and pool.

view from the sloping terrain below

overlooking the valley below

nestled into the rocky terrain

the facades of the cabins may be completely enclosed

personal patio adjacent to each structure

view from a cabin


(left) view from bedroom
(right) bathroom with predominantly black decor

(left) alternative interior
(right) interior with white decor

view of bedroom and bathroom

at dusk

seamlessly transition into the landscape

illuminated at night

warm fire overlooking wine country

pool area for the cluster of cabins

cabins illuminated within the landscape


January 22, 2012

Buildings A, B and D | Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee

Architects: Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee
Location: , North Carolina, USA
Client: Wake Technical Community College, Northern Wake Campus
Project Team: Jeffrey Lee, Douglas Brinkley, Marni Rushing, David Hill, Matt Bitterman
Size: 209,570 SF
Photographs: JWest ProductionsTom Arban

 designed the master plan for Wake Technical Community College’s Northern Wake Campus, the first All-LEED campus in North Carolina and one of the first in the nation. PBC+L developed a planning strategy that layers the site from the outside in so that cars remain isolated along the perimeter, while campus pedestrian pathways engage open space and the lush wetlands of the site’s inner core.

PBC+L designed and built the first three buildings on campus. Building A is a LEED certified classroom and lab building. Building B is also LEED certified and houses a library, classrooms, and administrative offices. Building D is a LEED Gold certified building that includes classrooms, computer labs, offices and a coffee shop.

January 22, 2012

The Avenue | Sheppard Robson

Architect: Sheppard Robson 
Location: , UK
Project Manager: Gardiner & Theobald
Structural Engineer: Capita Symonds
M&E Engineer: Grontmij
Quantity Surveyor: Mooney Kelly
Main Contractor: Lend Lease
Client: Allied London Properties
Project Area: 5,000 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Hufton+Crow

Marking the start of the pedestrian journey through the new Spinningfields quarter, the award- winning 1 The Avenue is pivotal in form and location, tying Manchester’s retail and business district with its civic core. The building was designed in response to its urban context and as a flagship mixed-use building. Armani occupies the ground and first floors, with a nightclub in the basement and boutique offices and a roof terrace above.

The scissor geometry of the building’s form responds to a duality of desire lines and is immediately apparent in the dramatic cantilever on to Deansgate. The angled upper storeys realign the east-west axis towards Hardman Square at the heart of Spinningfields, and the lower levels direct pedestrians towards the new entrance to the John Rylands Library. The trapezoidal form of the building’s plan is echoed in the vibrant glazing which animates the elevations and creates a unique experience inside the building. 1 The Avenue received a BREEAM Excellent rating and the building’s regulated energy consumption is just 78KWhr/m²/yr.