Archive for ‘KieranTimberlake’

November 27, 2011

Brockman Hall for Physics | KieranTimberlake

Architects: KieranTimberlake / James Timberlake, Stephen Kieran, Jason Smith, Steven Johns, George Ristow, Casey Boss
Location: Houston, , USA
Client: Rice University
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 10,219 sqm
Photographs: Peter Aaron (OTTO), Michael Moran (OTTO), Hester + HardawayRed Wing Aerials

External Project Manager: Linbeck
Structural Consultant: Haynes Whaley Associates
Mep Consultant: Ccrd Partners
Lab Consultant: Innovate Lab Systems Design
Landscape Architect: The Office Of James Burnett
Acoustical Consultant: Je Acoustics
Civil Engineer: Walter P Moore
Contractors: Gilbane Building Company

The Brockman Hall for Physics gathers together a faculty of experimental physicists formerly scattered in as many as five separate buildings across the Rice University campus. It is now home to dozens of experimental, theoretical and applied physicists from Rice’s departments of Physics and Astronomy and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and will support research in atomic, molecular and optical physics; biophysics; condensed matter physics; nanoengineering and photonics. A recipient of $11.1 million in federal stimulus funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, it was completed in a compressed design and construction schedule of just 33 months, an extremely short timeline for a facility of its kind.

he site, a rectangular landscape roughly the size of a soccer field and contained by existing buildings, was chosen out of ten potential sites on the campus for its low level of intrinsic vibration, and its proximity to other science buildings. This location posed a set of unique challenges that had to be synthesized in the design while meeting the difficult technical requirements of a laboratory building. Among the questions at play were: How can a building containing large labs fit within the distinct warp and weft of the Rice campus? How can the architecture help reduce the energy demand for the lab? How can the building retain the landscape that is so important to this campus?

To successfully fit 110,000 sqf of program into the constrained site, the building is split into two parallel bars connected by glass-enclosed bridges with an open passage that admits natural light and outdoor breezes. The most sensitive laboratories are located below grade, stabilized by an extremely robust structure. One of the bars is elevated to preserve a significant portion of the existing Quad, and a series of gathering spaces beneath it extends the building program outdoors. The raised bar has an asymmetrically vaulted ceiling, to float it above the ground plane, suspended by board-formed concrete columns. A pathway between the two bars is placed intently to enhance circulation between buildings on the Quad, extending the landscape-to-building-to-landscape connections. The green roof provides insulation and water management for the building above the lower level laboratories.

The two bars are uniquely arranged to knit the building into the landscape, resulting in eight transparent facades. Each facade is tuned to its solar conditions and adjacency to other buildings, minimizing the building’s volume and allowing abundant natural light to enter the building. The north facade is a glass curtain wall with a Penrose frit pattern to hint at the activities going on inside. The south facade is a horizontal terra-cotta screen over aluminum composite panels that protect the labs from solar exposure while regulating natural light and privacy. The first story of the south bar is wrapped in glass bricks for transparency and an ambient glow when lit. Clay brick banding between the glass brick relates to the historic banded brick facades elsewhere on campus.

On the ground floor, immediately off the main entrance, a central stair connects the upper and lower levels of the new facility. Dichroic glass panels create colored reflective surfaces on the lobby walls announcing the public spaces and creating the entry to the main stair. A flexible classroom and 150-seat lecture hall form the public spaces at the ground floor. Within the lecture hall, a gently shaped wood screen and double vaulted plaster ceiling between concrete beams expand the space and help to moderate light and acoustics within the room.

Brockman Hall is a product of the careful analysis of context, culture, elements, form, iconography, materiality, and purpose in Rice’s architecture. We sought to internalize the material palette of Rice, extend the legacy of craft, and translate historic themes into contemporary detailing. The massing capitalizes on the thinness of buildings on campus, while meeting the programmatic needs for a laboratory building; providing an edited and refined 21st century expression of Rice architecture and pedagogy.

Text provided by Kieran Timberlake


November 27, 2011

Landscape Design for Brockman Hall for Physics at Rice University | The Office of James Burnett

Landscape Architect: The Office of James Burnett (OJB)
Location: Houston, , USA
Architect: KieranTimberlake
Photographs: Hester + Hardaway

Project Statement: The Brockman Hall for Physics is a 111,000 SF facility housing classrooms, laboratory space, lecture halls and administrative offices for the Physics Department as well as physicists from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Driven by Rice University’s belief that some of the most important moments on campus are moments of informal discussion and debate outside of the classroom, the design of the building and landscape seeks to provide a multitude of spaces for lively and inspiring conversation. Sheltered from the sun by the building overhead, a ground-floor courtyard features reflecting pool, raised Ipe terrace and enhanced plaza with movable furniture. As the design developed, the Office of James Burnett was also asked to redesign the “Courtyard of Science”, an interstitial space between the wings of Brown Hall to the south. A grove of Honey Mesquites organizes the space and intimate decomposed granite courtyards with movable furniture create a number of social spaces.

Project Narrative: The Brockman Hall for Physics is a new 111,000 square foot facility at Rice University. Gathering faculty and researchers that were formerly located in several building across campus, Brockman Hall is the new home for physics research at Rice. The building and landscape aid this research by providing both a home for the laboratories, classrooms, and offices; and by supplying informal gathering spaces to foster conversation, debate, and cross pollination of ideas.

The tightly bound site lies between six existing buildings. The former open space was at the heart of the precinct of campus known as the Courtyard of Science. In an effort to minimize the impact of the building on the existing campus fabric, the building was split into two “bars” that were then allowed to separate and shift apart from one another. The southern bar sits firmly on the ground and mimics the long thin rectangular floor plates of the first science buildings on campus. The northern bar pulls away from the southern bar and lifts itself up off the ground plane, connecting to the southern bar with bridges at the second and third levels. This separation creates space for a landscape that flows continuously from existing courtyards to the east and west under the building. A sallyport to the south connects this landscape to a courtyard formed by the u-shaped plan of the neighboring George R. Brown building. Much of this new landscape sits atop a 31,000 square foot basement full of shielded laboratories.

The site itself is on a major cross axis of campus. The sallyport at the south bar aligns with this axis and allows it to continue to its former termination, Hamman Hall, built in 1958. The forecourt plaza at Hamman Hall was removed to allow for the construction of Brockman Hall. Hamman Hall now sits on a plinth of granite stairs that descend into grass to the east and west, and a decomposed granite court along the axis. The lifting of the north bar allows Hamman Hall room to breathe. The strongly symmetrical façade of Hamman continues to terminate the campus cross-axis and provides the Brockman landscape with a backdrop and sense of enclosure. While reinforcing the strong axial organization of campus in the north south direction, the landscape creates a counter flow to the east and west. By extending a walk that runs parallel to the long dimensions of the buildings in the campus precinct, three formerly separate courts are strongly linked.

The space below the north bar of Brockman Hall becomes the centerpiece of this composition. Special pavers in the sallyport flow out to the north and then along the major east west linking path. The decomposed granite court provides a central gathering space. A fountain is introduced asymmetrically to the east to provide both a cooling effect and a reflecting surface to allow natural light to play off of the underside of the north bar. Linked to the fountain is an Ipe deck. The deck is raised up one foot to provide a quiet space just off the path for more private gathering. The ground plane below the north bar is planted with a field of Ophiopogon japonicus’Nana’ (Dwarf Mondo Grass). The planting becomes an abstract plain that reflects the elevated structure above and hints at the laboratories underneath. Beyond the building site, the landscape responds to the existing campus fabric and brings these materials into the composition allowing for a seamless flow between old and new.

Brockman Hall, located north of George R. Brown Hall, is remarkable in a number of ways: It was designed, constructed and occupied in just 33 months; it brings together faculty and students who formerly worked in five separate buildings scattered broadly across the campus; it is both a carefully refined 21st-century research facility and one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings at Rice; and it maintains much of the outdoor space that previously existed on Rice’s Science Quadrangle.

The building is composed of two parallel, rectilinear, spatial “bars” that are oriented east to west and connected by glass-enclosed bridges across an open passage that admits natural light and outdoor breezes. The larger south bar houses laboratories, faculty and research offices, a 150-seat lecture hall and a rooftop astronomical observatory. The elevated two-story north bar houses faculty, student and departmental offices and meeting spaces.

The open space beneath the north bar is framed by a “loggia” of tapered concrete columns that form an outdoor room, with shaded areas for class meetings, casual gathering and circulation. Beneath this serene outdoor oasis lies a sensitive and sophisticated complex of laboratories. Designed for vibration-sensitive atomic, molecular and optical physics and condensed-matter research, the hermetically controlled basement laboratories are stabilized on a two-foot-deep concrete slab and isolated from all the building’s mechanical systems.

Text provided by The Office of James Burnett.


February 27, 2011

US Embassy in London | KieranTimberlake Architects

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake View from Consular Plaza

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake view from Embassy park

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake Main Lobby

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake View from east

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake View to exterior from cafeteria

US Embassy in London / Kieran Timberlake View from Nine Elms Lane

KieranTimberlake has been announced as the winner of the design competition for the new US in .

According to a statement by the US Embassador in the UK, KieranTimberlake´s design “meets the goal of creating a modern, welcoming, timeless, safe and energy efficient  for the 21st century.”

Regarding the “safety” issues, KT’s design shows an interesting solution away from embassies from the early 90s surrounded by large walls with no urban considerations, using a park with a pond instead. The  is no only an icon, but an urban piece “honoring the English tradition of urban parks and gardens as the context for many civic buildings”, connecting the Thames embankment to the new pedestrian way to the south.

“Viewed from the north at the proposed plaza, the  grounds will provide the prospect of an open park, a landscape of grasses rising gracefully to the new  colonnade, with the required secure boundaries incised into the hillside and out of view. Instead of a perimeter-walled precinct, the site to the north and south is a welcoming urban amenity, a park for the city that fuses the new  to the city of . Alternatives to perimeter walls and fences are achieved through landscape design.”

The pure geometry of the cube is fragmented by a highly specialized ETFE (ethylene-tetrafluroethylene, used in several recent buildings) facade optimized to shade interiors from east, west and south sun while admitting daylight and framing large open view portals to the outside. If you take a closer look to the renderings from the inside you will notice that the ETFE foils include thin photovoltaic film that intercepts unwanted solar gain in certain angles. The scrim also renders the largely transparent façades visible to migratory birds to discourage bird-strikes.

More information and renderings about the  after the break. I also recommend to readour interview with Stephan Kieran.


Urban Park

• The design places the  building at the center of the Nine Elms site and develops the surrounding area into an urban park. The new  meets all the required security standards while honoring the English tradition of urban parks and gardens as the context for many civic buildings. The new , with its gardens, will establish a strong framework for the urbanization of the Nine Elms redevelopment zone.

• There are two major east-west pedestrian and vehicular paths, one existing and one to be improved, and the other proposed as part of the enabling infrastructure for the Nine Elms development. The existing infrastructure is along the south Thames embankment and is composed of a river walk paralleled by Nine Elms Lane. The proposed new infrastructure to the south of the site is a pedestrian greenway that will connect the  site to Vauxhall Station, the nearest tube stop to the east, and on to the proposed new Battersea developments to the west. Poised strategically midway between these parallel paths, the  becomes part of an urban park that connects the Thames embankment to the new pedestrian way to the south.

• The paving about and within the  site utilizes the familiar limestone used in many walks and parks.  Plane trees provide shade and form at the perimeter and along Nine Elms Lane as well as the proposed new walk to the south that connects the site to Vauxhall Station.

• Seen from the north along the Thames embankment and Nine Elms Lane, the new  Park contains a pond with walks, places to sit and landscape along its edges, all open to the citizens of.

• Trees near the pond are to be North American species, such as the Weeping Willow and the Bald Cypress. Others, while native to North America, were long ago brought to England and are now common to the English landscape.

• Viewed from the north at the proposed plaza, the  grounds will provide the prospect of an open park, a landscape of grasses rising gracefully to the new  colonnade, with the required secure boundaries incised into the hillside and out of view. Instead of a perimeter-walled precinct, the site to the north and south is a welcoming urban amenity, a park for the city that fuses the new  to the city of . Alternatives to perimeter walls and fences are achieved through landscape design.

• The spiraling form of the landscape is expressed through grading, walks and plantings in a way that simultaneously opens out to the city beyond and spirals inward as it envelops and then moves up into and through the  building. As a choice of form, the spiraling garden is meaningful as it represents connections of site to landscape to building.

• The connections to the surrounding urban context, both existing and proposed, begin in an open geometry well beyond the site at the Thames embankments and the proposed Vauxhall-to-Battersea pedestrian way.

The walks and landscape forms begin their inward spiral at the outer boundaries of the site. They sweep past the pond to the entry court that opens to the Main Lobby for staff and their guests. At the opposite side of the Main Lobby, the Gallery spirals down to the north culminating in the large Multi-Purpose Hall that merges with the grade of the spiraling Consular Walk above.

• At the main entry, the site spiral continues beyond to the great arc of the Consular Garden, carrying the visitor up the Consular Walk and into the Consular Lobby and promenade overlooking the pond and the Thames embankment to the north.

• The visitor continues this spiral within the , revolving about the core and up to the consular floor above, pausing along the way to overlook the Main Lobby, a significant moment where the necessarily separate worlds of the  – consular visitors and staff – visually intersect.

The Chancery

Internal gardens continue vertically within the new  as the spiral continues upward about the core toward an ever more focused, secure and enclosed center atop the structure. These gardens provide places to meet and additional vertical circulation. The plantings for each garden are chosen for their capacity to thrive in specific orientations, for their representation of the diversity of the American landscape and for the appropriateness of each type to its use.

• The chancery is a transparent, crystalline cubic form atop a colonnade. The crystalline form is simultaneously efficient and evocative.

• It represents the optimum ratio of maximum volume within minimum perimeter with resulting cost and energy management benefits. Its precise dimensions have been selected to afford the optimum distance for visitors and occupants to daylight and view.

• As a pure geometry, the cubic form is an ancient signifier of solidity, strength and permanence, all qualities of our democracy.

• Its surface is given form through the interface between a faceted external solar shading and collection system and the blast resistant glazing.

At each façade, an ETFE enclosed pressurized air pocket further insulates the glazing from thermal transfer.

• The top of the building is sheathed with a crystalline photovoltaic array on the entire roof, screening mechanical equipment from view. The total array of crystalline and thin-film photovoltaic on the building measures 8,300 square meters with a significant output of over 345,000 kWh of energy.

• A four-sided colonnade forms the base of the building. Through both custom and the openness and accessibility of its sheltering form, colonnades have long evoked the architecture of democracy.

The Diplomacy of Art

• Luminous ‘light art’ wraps the core wall in a prominent location behind the colonnade.

• At the Main and Consular Lobbies the art inside is visible through glazing from the main entry court and the pond. To the south and southwest are external art walls. As it unfolds about the central core, the art can be experienced both within the major public spaces and from the outside as part of the continuum of spiraling walks and landscape form.

• In the Main Lobby, the art wall stops at the center to inflect toward a stone wall in which the names of prior ambassadors to the Court of St. James are inscribed.


Rather than employing a plinth to accommodate the large programs located at the lowest levels of the building, the colonnade sits atop a gently rising earthen mound. Within this landscape form are parking garage ramps and basement service and mechanical areas to the south, and the lower level of the Gallery and Multi-Purpose Meeting Space to the north and west.

• Instead of fragmenting the  into a plinth and tower, this strategy transforms the large footprints of the lower levels along with the entrance pavilions into earthen landscape form to enhance the prominence of the  colonnade and transparent building.

• The visual presence of the whole is that of a beacon that is a respectful icon representing the strength of the U.S.-U.K. relationship.

• In the form and expression of the New , KieranTimberlake seeks a holistic fusion of urbanism with site, of building and landscape.

• KieranTimberlake seeks a new  that is both evocative and that performs, one that represents our democracy and our relationship with the United Kingdom and at the same time conserves and produces energy.

• All elements are purposeful in multiple ways: from image and expression to the environment and urbanism, to the productivity and comfort of the users. The architects at KieranTimberlake do not believe these objectives can be segregated. They must work together, holistically providing new synergies that make the form of the new  resonate deeply.


Architects: KieranTimberlake Architect
Landscape Architect: Olin
Sustainability, MEP/FP and Civil Engineering: ARUP
Structural and Blast Engineering: Weidlinger Associates
Workplace design: Gensler
Cost Consulting: Davis Langdon
Technical Security: Sako & Associates

Renderings: Studio amd