Archive for ‘Murphy/Jahn’

May 7, 2012

Post Tower | Murphy/Jahn

Architects: Murphy/Jahn
Location: Bonn, 
Height: 162.40
Area: 73,501 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Murphy/Jahn

The split, shifted oval is oriented to the Rhine, Siebengebierge and the city, facilitates views from the city, and minimizes negative wind effects through its aerodynamic shape. The building rethinks the type of high-rise office tower in relation to function, technology and user comfort.

In plan the split oval halves are separated by a 7,20 m wide space. The connecting glass floors at 9-story intervals form skygardens, which serve as communication floors and elevator crossovers. The glass elevators of the low and high zones run in the center of the skygarden, providing views and orientation.The building has a twin-shell façade. The outer shell is completely out of glass, enabling natural ventilation, especially in the spring and fall. The outer shell protects from rain, wind and noise and allows for placement of the sunshades. Glass from floor to ceiling optimizes daylight. Cost comparisons show that the total cost of climate concept and twin-shell façade is equal to a conventional system. Operating costs are reduced by 60%.Daylight, natural ventilation, solar energy and the idea that the skin of a building modulates its own climate have not yet been integrated as essential components in commercial design. The inclusion of these methodologies is the goal here. Through this, we can rediscover and fulfill our natural instincts and intuitive actions. The result: A building with high technology and low energy.

October 9, 2011

Sony Center Berlin | Murphy Jahn


Architect: Murphy Jahn
Location: , Germany
Project Team: Helmut Jahn, Sam Scaccia, Philip Castillo, Dieter Zabel, Susan Pratt, Scott Pratt, Peter Hayes, Yorgo Lykourgiotis, Tony Pelipada, Andre Piraro, Carl D’Silva, Steffen Duemler, Andreas Hell, Oliver Henninger, Matthias Lassen, Sabine Robel, Bärbel Rudloff, Steven Nilles, Vincent Marani
Landscape Architect: Peter Walker & Partners
Project Area: 1,670,000 sqf
Project Year: 2000
Photographs: Rainer Viertlbock

In the reconstruction of Berlin, Sony Center stands for a new technical vision and order. It is not a building, but a part of the city. External is the “real” city; internal is the “virtual” city. The Passages and Gates reinforce this transition from the real to the virtual world. Surrounding Sony Center are the traditional urban streets and spaces. Inside is a new type of covered, urban Forum for a changing cultural and social interaction of our time. The spatial dynamics and variety is contrasted by a minimal and technological attitude. Light, both natural and artificial, is the essence of the design. Sony Center is luminous, not illuminated. Façades and roof act as a fabric, which moderates the natural and artificial light. They become a screen. With its characteristics of transparency, permeability to light, reflection and refraction, there is a constant change of images and effects during day and night, effecting not only the appearance but also maximizing the comfort and minimizing the use of resources.

Text provided by Murphy Jahn.

Owner: BE-ST Bellevuestrasse Development GmbH & Co., First Real Estate KG
Development Manager: TishmanSpeyer Properties
Structural Engineers: BGS Ingenieursozietät; Ove Arup & Partners
Special Structures: Werner Sobek Ingenieure GmbH
Mechanical Engineers: Jaros Baum & Bolles; Ingenieurgesellschaft Höpfner mbH
General Contrator: Hochtief AG. Berlin
Façade Contractor: Josef Gartner & Co. Fa. Götz

June 18, 2011

Glass Dome | Murphy/Jahn

Mansueto at dusk

Inside Mansueto dome with view of ceramic frit

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library’s elliptical glass dome preserves the open space environment of the west lawn of the Joseph Regenstein Library. The lower portion of the dome is transparent to provide unobstructed visibility between inside and outside. The axis of the dome is slightly angled as a gesture toward the nearby landmark Henry Moore monument.

High performance Low E fritted glass provides shading from solar heat gain.  At the upper area of the dome, the glass incorporates 57% shading with a ceramic frit dot pattern applied to the interior of the external surface of the insulated glass. The high performance glass reject 73% of the solar heat while admitting 50% of the visible light and 98% of the UV light. As a result, the Grand Reading Room is flooded with daylight that is appropriately shaded to create a comfortable work environment.

The glass dome is supported by a light steel grid shell made up of 6-inch diameter high strength structural steel tubes parallel to the ellipse axis and spaced at approximately 6 feet in each direction. The steel grid is anchored to the concrete ring beam. The dome glass will be supported above the steel tube grid at each intersection.

The dome was constructed in six phases.

  1. Dome pieces, including steel, aluminum, and glass components, were manufactured by Seele in Germany; the structural steel frame was assembled into sections in Germany for testing purposes and then disassembled.  Components were shipped gradually to Chicago.
  2. Scaffolding was built over the ground floor to facilitate construction. It wsa elliptical in shape and rose in tiers, like a wedding cake.
  3. Structural steel frame was installed.
  4. Aluminum frame to support the glass was installed.
  5. Glass was installed.
  6. Sealant and dome completion
 Photos by Jason Smith
June 18, 2011


Murphy/Jahn designs glass-domed library for the University of Chicago.


The Joe & Rika Mansueto Library










For the most part these days, when universities with major collections of research materials run out of room at their library facilities they move the books, and maps, and folios, and other materials to off-campus storage warehouses. Scholars can still use the material, of course, it just takes a bit of time between request and retrieval. When the University of Chicago found its Regenstein Library bursting at the seams, however, it recoiled at the thought of resorting to such a measure. Why not, the institution pondered, build a research library right in the heart of campus? One not only designed to house precious artifacts, but also dedicated to the art of preserving and archiving them? Why not build more than just a warehouse but a building of real architectural value—a space to ennoble the scholarly craft and serve as a laboratory for printed mater in the digital age? That’s just what the University decided to do with the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, a 58,700-square-foot facility capable of storing 3.5 million volumes via an automated storage retrieval system (ASRS).

Sited adjacent to Regenstein, on the corner of 57th Street and South Ellis Avenue in the University’s North Campus, Mansueto replaces a once empty lot and tennis court. The location also sits next to Henry Moore’s “Nuclear Energy” sculpture, an homage to the first-ever nuclear chain reaction, which was executed by Enrico Fermi at the school. Chicago-based architecture firm Murphy/Jahn’s design for the facility seeks to preserve the site’s open quality as well as views and access to the Moore piece. To do this, the architects proposed burying the storage function underground since it did not call for daylight and in fact is better without it. The reading room, circulation desk, and preservation department, on the other hand, they housed on a single floor at ground level covered by an ovular glass-clad grid shell dome.

ASRS is a computerized robotic system of high-density storage. It has been used for years by the automobile industry to store and retrieve new cars, though more recently the technology has been adapted for modern research libraries. Librarians assign each item a bar code, scan it into the system, and then place it in a bin, which a robot crane then carries to an assigned place on a shelving unit. Mansueto’s system is composed of five aisles of 50-foot-high shelves. Items are stored by size, rather than call number, and can be requested from any computer with an Internet connection and retrieved in a matter of minutes by the robots.

It all sounds rather complex, and the building’s glassy swell has a futuristic appearance, but in design and construction Mansueto is actually quite simple. The cavernous underground storage room was prepared with slurry walls, a process of building a foundation wall in which a trench is dug in the earth, then filled with slurry—a viscous liquid made from water and bentonite—which keeps the ground from caving in. Into this watery hole a rebar cage is inserted and then concrete is pumped in, displacing the slurry and creating, after a period of drying, the wall. These slurry walls were done in contiguous sections until the oval of the storage room was complete. After that the earth in the center of the ring was excavated, the walls secured with post-tensioned anchors, and, voila, the storage room was born.

There are benefits and pitfalls to storing archival materials underground. It is cool and dark down there (both good), but it is also damp (bad). And one of the quirks of slurry walls is that, unlike other methods of concrete foundation wall construction, they cannot be sealed against water intrusion. To keep moisture levels in the storage room within acceptable levels, the architects added another wall within the slurry wall, leaving a gap between the two that forms a sort of rain screen system. Any water that seeps through the concrete is captured in a trough and allowed either to evaporate or is sucked out with sump pumps. Meanwhile, the space within the inner wall is kept at ideal temperature and moisture levels by the mechanical system.

The grid shell structure was designed in collaboration with Werner Sobek, a German architect and engineer who has made something of a specialty of the system and who works regularly with Murphy/Jahn. It is made up of 6-inch-diameter steel pipe laid out in a 6-foot-by-6-foot grid and anchored to a concrete ring foundation. Posts extending up from the intersections of the pipe support anchors that accept the glass panels—high-performance low-e coated insulated glass units. With the exception of a ring of clear glass at the base of the dome that allows unobstructed views out to the campus, the cladding is treated with a 57 percent pattern of ceramic frit. The fritting will help the enclosure reject 73 percent of solar heat gain while admitting 50 percent of visible light. It is also applied in two colors: black facing up, which makes it less visible from the outside, and light grey facing in, which serves as a reflective surface for uplighting incorporated into the air circulation towers that sprinkle the interior.

and watch the video here:

need to see more:

South View Drawing

Architect Helmut Jahn’s rendering of the view of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library from the south (57th Street)

North View Drawing

Architect Helmut Jahn’s rendering of the view of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library from the north (Ellis Avenue)

Floorplan of Route from Regenstein

Architect Helmut Jahn’s floor plan, showing the route from the Joseph Regenstein Library to the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library in yellow

Mansueto floor plan

Floor plan detail

Cross-section Drawing

Architect Helmut Jahn’s rendering of a cross-section of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, showing the automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) underground and the glass dome above ground

Inside Reading Room Drawing

Architect Helmut Jahn’s rendering of a view from inside the Grand Reading Room

Arial View Drawing

Architect Helmut Jahn’s rendering of the view of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library from above

April 20, 2011

Veer Towers | Murphy/Jahn

“The use of color, the relative lean of the buildings and the exquisitely detailed façade give these towers a powerful dynamism.” – Antony Wood, CTBUH 2010 Awards Juror, CTBUH

Las Vegas, USA
137 m (449 ft)
Primary Use


MGM Mirage Design Group
Associate Architect
Adamson Associates
Structural Engineer

Halcrow Yolles
MEP Engineer 
WSP Flack + Kurtz
Perini Corporation
Tishman Construction

Veer Towers takes on the challenge of building a sustainable, all glass tower in the desert environment of Las Vegas through its exquisitely detailed facades. The highly practical solution of protecting the facades with a series of horizontal louvers is executed in such a way that it adds vibrancy and interest to the buildings and, when combined with the use of colored glass and the countering leaning of each tower, creates a playful and dynamic addition to the city.

Part of the CityCenter complex in Las Vegas, Veer Towers attempt to blur the boundaries between the public and private realm while maintaining a delicate balance between becoming an integral part of the city and also giving the buildings and space a unique and iconic character. Active and vibrant at all times, Veer Towers builds on the values of the traditional city combined with emblematic spaces and structures to create a new urban typology. In approaching the design of the towers, the context was viewed not as a historical background to build upon but rather the framework to establish a new order and create an icon.

The underlying design and planning strategy was to regenerate Las Vegas through a new symbol at its core, just like the Guggenheim did in Bilbao; the Pompidou did in Paris, or the SONY Center in Berlin.

Figure 1. Entry at night

The manifesto for the project was to exhibit urban responsibility, pay attention to the building’s performance in terms of function and systems, use advanced and available technology, accept the aesthetic of construction and elevate it to a level of art, be sensible towards energy and ecology through the use of natural resources like daylight and fresh air combined with minimal technical equipment and maximization of user comfort.

The Veer Towers lean at 5 degrees in opposite directions. The residential uses float above the Retail and the 80′ tall lobbies which allow the buildings to appear both robust and delicate. There is no reflective glass, Veer will be the First truly transparent building in Las Vegas; given the context, that alone represents a great technological and even cultural challenge.  Staggered panels of clear and fritted yellow glass animate the facades and give the complex a welcome shot of color while horizontal louvers give shade from the desert sun.

The load-bearing structure is a simple and repetitive system with a Z-shaped central core. The cores of both towers are strategically positioned on each building footprint in order to minimize gravity overturning effects, and they continue vertically up the entire building height. While all interior columns rise straight vertically, the tower columns on the north and south building elevations are inclined to follow the lean of the towers.

The south façade of the main building lobbies are expressed with slender 48” and 54” diameter concrete columns free standing for over 80’ in height and inclined to articulate the lean of the towers. Due to space constraints and the requirement to maximize usable lobby space by minimizing column dimensions, composite column construction was utilized.

The architectural design of the main lobby for the Veer Towers required a unique solution to the heating, cooling and ventilation due to the distinctive nature of these spaces. Each lobby is a multi-level space with a large expanse of glass on the south façade. The glass façade is almost 80ft in height and provides large quantities of natural light to the lobby and large solar heat gains and heat losses in winter. After studying the space loads and using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis it was determined that the best solution for conditioning the space efficiently was a radiant floor system using chilled and heating water with displacement ventilation providing the required outside air ventilation and supplemental cooling/heating. A radiant cooling surface allows the space temperature to be higher than traditional all-air design solutions reducing energy consumption while maintaining occupant comfort.

Figure 2. Sections. Each tower leans 5 degrees in opposite directions.

Heating and cooling of the apartments, meanwhile, is provided by vertical fan coil units. The use of natural air and light is maximized throughout the building. Horizontal sun screen blades provide shading on the east, south and west facades and reduce the energy consumption while minimizing the technical equipment requirements and maximizing occupant comfort.

The façade of Veer is perhaps the most visible sustainable element. The extensive use of High performance Low-E coating glazing maximizes the introduction of day lighting and views to the outside which, in conjunction with the use of exterior shades and a 57% ceramic frit in 50% of the building’s envelope, provide all the shading to control and reduce the solar loads. Although the fixed shading devices and high performance glass control the solar heat gain, they were not sufficient on their own to meet the project goal to exceed ASHRAE 90.1-1999 by 20%.

Figure 3. Facade detail

Other energy efficient strategies, such as  high efficiency central plant and cogeneration systems combined with high performance envelope were implemented within the Veer Towers and the wider City Center campus to achieve a building that exceeds ASHRAE 90.1-1999 by 37.6%.

The use of construction waste management techniques, materials locally or regionally produced and manufactured, recycled materials and wood certified products, result in a significant reduction in environmental impact. Storm water filtration systems controlled flow drainage and the use of storm water for irrigation and grey water systems contribute to water conservation, save utility charges and reduce impact on natural resources. In 2009, as a key component to City Center, Veer received LEED Gold certification by the USGBC.

Responsible uses of appropriate technologies provided an expressive means to realize this project in a sustainable way. The design solution strives for simplicity and dynamism, reinforcing the iconic character of the whole complex. City Center is in fact generating “tissue” to develop true city fabric. Veer Towers is urbanistically significant, formally simple and elegant, technologically advanced and environmentally responsible.

Figure 4. Tower base