Notícias

SOM delivers a bold but fitting addition to the United States Air Force Academy

By JUSTIN FOWLER • October 10, 2016

To approach an institution and campus like the United States Air Force Academy is to be awash in metaphors made concrete. The original campus by Walter Netsch of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) was conceived as a theater of discipline in the rocky mesas above Colorado Springs. There, using a seven-foot grid module inspired by tatami mats, Netsch produced a thickened, rectilinear landscape punctuated by the virtuosic 1963 Cadet Chapel. Sited across the honor court, and just offset from the view corridor Netsch sought to maintain between the chapel and Creation Rock to the north, is the 105-foot glass and steel skylight of Polaris Hall, the new home of the Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) designed by SOM.

Aligned toward the star for which the building is named, the protruding skylight works as a metaphorical moral compass, bridging that distant point with an oculus that pierces the ceiling of a maple-lined conference space that serves as the honor boardroom at the core of the building. Inside, seated beneath the room’s sole source of natural light, a cadet accused of violating the Academy’s honor code has the opportunity to present his or her case before peers and an administrative panel. It’s anintimidating spot to be sure, and the architecture effectively choreographs the personal and professional reckoning involved in the attainment of a rarefied quality such as character. The honor code’s unequivocal directive to not lie, steal, cheat, nor tolerate anyone among the ranks who does, is a revered source of solidarity that binds each successive wing of cadets to those of years past. Yet, after a number of ugly scandals shook the Academy and pitted the honor code against its de facto code of silence, officials decided that the moral compass of its institutional culture was in need of recalibration.

(Courtesy Magda Biernat)

(Courtesy Magda Biernat)

While the CCLD dates back to 1993, plans for its first permanent home were not initiated until 2007 when a competition was held among three SOM offices. Roger Duffy and his team from New York came out on top. They, along with campus architect Duane Boyle, were hesitant to touch the landmarked site; however, the architects needed to make an unambiguous statement. What emerged is an artful study in conflict avoidance, restraint, and strategic power projection. In shaping what is arguably the most controversial component of the center, the architects carefully surveyed the proposed skylight’s relation to the chapel from many key vantage points—so as not to usurp the chapel’s prominence. Further, the designers eschewed the structural muscularity of the chapel in favor of a finely-finished, tapering, triangular truss system of architecturally exposed structural steel confined within a crisp glass enclosure that is fritted across much of its base to keep temperatures down in the forum below.

magdabiernat_0006

The interplay of continuity and break unfolds throughout the building’s details. For example, custom handrails are molded into the wood panels in the forum, while blue Murano tile walls are assembled with almost archaeological precision to match those of the original academic buildings. The building itself plugs into the existing campus grid both in plan and section with an array of entrance points from two datums, as well as a hierarchical arrangement of spaces centered on a peninsula in a sunken courtyard that houses the forum and honor boardroom. Modeled in part after the atrium of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, the forum is a space both for formal presentations and informal meetings. Flanking it are two banks of glazed breakout rooms loaded with networking technology to facilitate collaborative work on case studies and problem-solving exercises in “applied ethics,” at times under the real-time digital supervision of observers in a media hub. Such networking capacity would not be out of place in a lab setting or business school, but to see it here in service of a humanist program suggests a growing convergence of disciplines under the aegis of performance—an ethos, however, not always compatible with character.

(Courtesy Magda Biernat)

(Courtesy Magda Biernat)

While Netsch’s chapel compels belief through sheer thrust—not unlike the F-4D Phantom that now sits at one corner of the Spirit Hill lawn—the objective for the CCLD is at once more modest, but also more difficult: Character and leadership are qualities both achieved and tested against increasingly novel and intricate situations in combat,
cyber security, and disaster relief, where faith alone is not actionable
. Its overture of transparency is a clear gesture, but far from a hollow one in an ongoing process that aims to compensate for long-standing blind spots.

With Polaris Hall, the Academy has gained a building that shares more with the coolly refined performance of the F-22 that may one day grace the Terrazzo or even with the remote reach of a Predator drone than with the blunt instrumentality of the Phantom. One can argue that such sophistication represents only an updated veneer rather than a shift in substance, yet the building suggests that qualities of surface and depth cannot be decoupled without posing serious risks. The mission may evolve, but it also stays the same. Here, SOM delivered an appropriate vehicle for a center tasked, in the ideal, with equipping cadets with the judgement to know how best to wield a level of power that few have ever possessed, and to recognize when to stand down.

2016 BCO Awards Name the Best Office Buildings in the UK

2016 BCO Awards Name the Best Office Buildings in the UK

The British Council for Offices (BCO) has announced the winners of the 2016 National Awards. The BCOAwards program was established to recognize “ top quality office design and functionality and sets the standard for excellence across the office sector in the UK,” providing a benchmark for excellence in design and functionality. This year’s ‘Best of the Best’ winner was The Enterprise Center at the University of East Anglia by Architype.

“This year we have once again seen a fantastic range of diverse and innovative workplaces, highlighting Britain’s position at the forefront of the global office sector. The Enterprise Centre stands tall as both a dynamic and collaborative work and event space, and as a benchmark in sustainable design,” said Emma Crawford, Managing Director of Central London Leasing at CBRE and BCO National Awards Chair.

‘Best of the Best’ & Corporate Workplace: The Enterprise Center, University of East Anglia, Norwich / Architype

 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices

The University of East Anglia’s The Enterprise Centre was praised by judges for showcasing low carbon and sustainable design at its best. Judges commented that the workplace offered a wide range of highly flexible accommodation with incubation and collaborative spaces for new and developing businesses in a building equipped to deliver for the 21st century.

 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices
 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices

Commercial Workplace: The Leadenhall Building, London / Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices

The Leadenhall Building holds its own in the London’s ‘City Cluster’ with its striking form the result of the elegant resolution of a myriad of issues.

 Courtesy of British Land and Oxford Properties
Courtesy of British Land and Oxford Properties
 Courtesy of British Land and Oxford Properties
Courtesy of British Land and Oxford Properties

Refurbished/Recycled Workplace: Alphabeta, London / Studio RHE

 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices

The restoring and reformatting of a series of historic buildings to create Alphabeta has created an active and vibrant communal “village.”

 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices
 Courtesy of British Council for Offices
Courtesy of British Council for Offices

Fit Out of Workplace: Berghaus HQ, Sunderland / Rock Townsend

Sunderland’s Berghaus HQ was praised for strongly reflecting the brand’s ethos of ‘live for adventure’ through impressive solutions such as the sky rail and climbing rope staircase

Project up to 2,000m2: Bunker, Littlewoods Complex, Liverpool / Shedkm Architects

The flexibility of space offered by The Bunker in Liverpool impressed the judges, with the open plan floor plate giving the space the potential to be split into two, three or four units on each floor.

Test of Time: BBC North, Salford / Wilkinson Eyre Architects + Chapman Taylor + ID:SR

BBC North was selected by the judges for its quality of design and in-built flexibility, enabling quality content to be consistently produced as occupier numbers steadily increased.

Innovation: LandRover BAR Team HQ, Portsmouth / HGP Architects

Portsmouth’s LandRover BAR Team HQ was awarded for innovation due to its highly sustainable and energy efficient design coupled with an incorporation of impressive facilities such as F1 style meeting rooms and a state-of-the art gym.

The BCO also awards regional winners in each category, which become the shortlist for the national award. More information on the award, along with the regional lists, can be found at the BCO website, here.

Entries for the 2017 awards open on Wednesday 5th October 2016.

News via BCO.ish Council for Offices

British Airways i360 Marks Barfield Architects

Brighton, United Kingdom

British Airways i360. Glass viewing pod. © Marks Barfield Architects

By Jason Dibbs

The world’s most slender tall tower, British Airways i360 is a ‘vertical pier,’ that is set to redefine the shoreline of the city of Brighton and Hove. Designed by the team responsible for the enormously successful London Eye, Marks Bradfield Architects, British Airways i360 seeks to reinvent the Victorian ‘pleasure pier’ for the 21st century.

Located at the entry to the historic West Pier at Brighton, British Airways i360 is described by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield as “a modern day vertical pier, which invites visitors to ‘walk on air’ and gain a new perspective on the city, just as the West Pier invited Victorian society to ‘walk on water.'”

British Airways i360. The world’s tallest moving observation tower. Photograph by Kevin Meredith © British Airways i360

The visually commanding 162-metre tall tower has a maximum diameter of just 3.9-metres at its widest point, earning it acknowledgement as not only the world’s tallest moving observation tower, but also Guinness World Records recognition as the world’s most slender tall tower, with a height to width ratio of more than 40:1. Encircling the tower is a moveable glass viewing-pod, with capacity for 200 visitors, reaching a viewing level of 138-metres at the apex of its ascent. This affords expansive views over the English Channel, the dramatic Sussex coastline and the rolling hills of the South Downs, with an overall potential viewing distance of up to 42 kilometres.

British Airways i360.  Pavilion on lower esplanade, Brighton Beach. © Marks Barfield Architects

British Airways i360. Pavilion on lower esplanade, Brighton Beach. © Marks Barfield Architects

The 18-metre diameter oblate-ellipsoid pod is driven by innovative cable-car technology developed by French company Poma, which generates energy during the pod’s descent phase. The tower’s steel cladding is latticed to diffuse wind loads and reduce heat expansion from the sun. The pedestal for the structure is formed by a lower esplanade pavilion, housing a 400-seat restaurant, retail areas and additionally, a heritage tea room is situated in a reconstruction of an 1866 West Pier toll booth on the beach’s upper esplanade.

David Marks and Julia Barfield have suggested that the British Airways i360 continues the rich tradition of Brighton’s history of ‘pleasure-architecture,’ reinventing the notion of the Victorian-period seaside entertainment pier for the 21st century. Locally however, the construction of the tower inevitably met with some resistance, not least because of the tower’s arguably phallic-dominance of the Brighton shoreline and skyline. However, Brighton is no stranger to extroverted architecture. The city’s best-known landmark to-date, the highly eccentric Royal Pavilion, was completed in 1823 as the seaside leisure residence of the Prince Regent and draws on a range of exotic influences. Designed by the architect John Nash, responsible for much of Buckingham Palace and for the town planning of Regency London, the Pavilion is world-renowned for its Picturesque Indo-Saracenic and Oriental aesthetic, that has come to both architecturally embody and define the alternative-ethos of the city.

British Airways i360, foregrounded by the remains of the West Pier. © Marks Barfield Architects

British Airways i360, foregrounded by the remains of the West Pier. © Marks Barfield Architects

Following the enormous success of the London Eye, Marks Bradfield Architects had been contacted by various cities wanting to replicate the economic stimulation instigated by the iconic Thames-side landmark. However, after a 13-year gestation period and 2-years of construction, British Airways i360 emerged as heir-apparent to the London Eye on the shores of Sussex. Brighton’s West Pier had stood in dereliction since its closure in 1975, and was irreparably fire-damaged in 2003. British Airways i360 will redefine not only the architectural character of the immediate vicinity of the West Pier, but should also further enhance the already accelerating economy of the broader city.

British Airways i360. Underside of pod. Photograph by Kevin Meredith © British Airways i360

British Airways i360 is projected to attract 700,000 visitors each year, with each ride taking 20 minutes to ascend during daylight hours, and a more leisurely 30 minutes in the evening, tying in with the transformation of the i360 at night into a Sky Bar. This transformation is coupled with a ‘breathing’ lighting display, described by the architects as “gently increasing and decreasing in intensity at the average rate of a human being breathing at rest.” The lights operate between sunset and midnight. The lighting design by Do-Architecture is mostly concentrated towards the tower’s apex, with four white lights illuminating vertical slots in the tower’s cladding. Additionally, a subtle glow permeates the tower, created by twenty four coloured LEDs, positioned between the steel structure and its cladding. Architect David Marks states, “The lighting is designed to be flexible so that the colours and effects can change to reflect events and moments that are important locally, nationally or globally. The lighting can be designed to sparkle, scintillate, shimmer, or glow. The range of possible effects is absolutely brilliant.”

 

British Airways i360. 'Breathing' lighting display. © British Airways i360

British Airways i360. ‘Breathing’ lighting display. © British Airways i360

 

British Airways i360. Underside of pod at night. © British Airways i360

British Airways i360. Underside of pod at night. © British Airways i360

British Airways i360. Underside of pod at night. © British Airways i360

British Airways i360. Underside of pod at night. © British Airways i360

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