Since 1975, the Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture has produced some of the world's most provocative buildings. Led by Rem Koolhaas and his nine partners, the firm's most notable built projects include seminal works such as the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, the Seattle Central Library, and Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. Known as one of the world's leading creators of boundary-pushing design, OMA's influence on the global architectural landscape is undeniable.
Among the firm's several hundred realized projects, however, many lesser known proposals were drafted but never constructed. Arguably a fundamental component of the OMA's practice, the unbuilt projects contain some of the firm's most outlandish and important ideas with incredible potential to influence architectural design worldwide. As a tribute to Koolhaas and OMA's continued pursuit of the unconventional, we've rounded up fifteen of OMA's most unusual unbuilt skyscrapers. Read on to find out which ones made the list.Hyperbuilding. Image © Hans Werlemann
Perhaps OMA's most eccentric unbuilt tower, Hyperbuilding was proposed in 1996 as a fusion of buildings into a series of wild interconnected extrusions on the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, Thailand. Designed to house approximately 120,000 people, Hyperbuilding was envisioned as a self-contained city with its own comprehensive internal transportation system. According to the project brief from OMA, the building would have included a series of cable cars, gondolas, train elevators, high and low speed elevators and a walkable twelve kilometer promenade. The ambitious program for the one-kilometre tall Hyperbuilding included housing, office, education, public space and more.
The project was a commissioned study, never advancing beyond concept development. According to BD Online, the project was revived ten years later in Louisville, Kentucky, but would remain unbuilt despite a scaled-down design.IDEA Vertical Campus. Image Courtesy of OMA
Set in Tokyo's rapidly expanding Shinjuku ward, Idea Vertical Campus was designed to disrupt the monotonous landscape of towers that have come to define the architecture of the city. Recently becoming known for his vehement critiques of the contemporary architecture of cities, Koolhaas deems linear glass towers devoid of personality - so it should come as no surprise that Koolhaas envisioned a pixelated design for the Idea Vertical Campus, visualizing the tower as a fluid entity allowing distinct identities for the three schools inside. Conceived as visual reorganization of the typical skyscraper, Idea Vertical Campus questioned the standardization of urban landscapes and the influence of skyscraper geometry on spatial programming.
Idea Vertical Campus was designed for a competition in 2004 that had one mandate for architects: no rectangular towers would be permitted. Japanese architect Kenzo Tange was selected as the competition winner with Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, an ellipse-shaped "cocoon" inspired structure.MoMA Charette. Image Courtesy of OMA
In 1997, The Museum of Modern Art held a competition for a new building with a particularly challenging but typically New York-sized plot: the museum was sandwiched between a series of towers, allowing for little room to build. Koolhaas proposed a simultaneous upward-downward expansion that incorporated a pyramid-like tower above ground connected to a catacomb of gallery spaces below. Koolhaas felt that the notion of the museum was "at the brink of a quantum leap," requiring an entirely new typology for its design. Based on a self-imposed desire for "newness," OMA produced a collage of spaces optimized for a technology-rich, yet unpredictable future.
Koolhaas' proposed museum-tower-hybrid was ultimately bested by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi who proposed a series of rectilinear gallery spaces to fill the programmatic void. MoMA's Taniguchi-designed Manhattan location opened in 2004.Koningin Julianaplein. Image Courtesy of OMA
The city of The Hague in The Netherlands has long been a focus of OMA's practice. The firm has a storied history with The Hague that begins with one of the firm's earliest projects, a proposal in 1978 for an extension to the Dutch Parliament. Located between the firm's native Rotterdam and Amsterdam, The Hague has been in a development boom for decades led by an influx of international business and political ventures.
In 2002, a series of plots along Koningin Julianaplein and adjacent to The Hague Central Station were identified by civic government as a potential area for development. In 2002, OMA won a competition for a residential development tower spanning several plots, extending above motorways and green space. Designed as a bridge to connect the city's business hub with nearby residential areas, the eccentric proposal included 179 apartments staggered across a series of linked towers.
In 2010, The Hague government voted in favour of proceeding with the project despite eight years of debate. Now thirteen years after the winning proposal was chosen, the project remains in limbo.Dubai Renaissance. Image Courtesy of OMA
Rising from the sandy shores of the Emirate of Dubai, a monolith of unbelievable proportions sits staunchly in front of all the other towers, equivalent to the height of the Eiffel Tower. Add a rotating foundation, throw in housing, offices, hotels, public space, parking and retail, and you have Rem Koolhaas' perfect recipe for a self-contained city. Meet Dubai Renaissance, the all-encompassing tower designed to preside over the city's central harbour from every angle. Inspired by a desire to challenge the notion of iconic architecture, Koolhaas sought to construct a single volume that "wastes no energy on useless invention."
The "anti-iconic" tower was proposed in a 2006 contest for a new tower in the heart of Dubai, ultimately won by Zaha Hadid's futuristic "Signature Towers." Despite the loss OMA was rumoured to have continued work on the project in a new location on the Emirate, albeit without its rotating foundation.UN City. Image Courtesy of OMA
Self-contained cities have pervaded OMA's proposals for skyscrapers, led by Koolhaas' vision for a deeply integrated urban environment built on principles of coexistence. UN City, proposed for New York in 2001, was designed as a collection of interconnected slender towers that diverged from the typical rectangular Manhattan skyscraper in favour of jagged edges and asymmetry. Linked by a series of suspended pedestrian ramps, UN City incorporated urban agriculture, housing and commercial space, among other functions. Each tower different from the next, OMA imagined a sprawling village of vertical cohabitation in America's most densely populated city. "We imagine a new kind of towers and eschew the programmatic stagnation that has rigidly shaped New York," says the project brief, "They are towers for 21st century living."
UN City was proposed for a masterplan competition in 2001 on property adjacent to the project's namesake, the United Nations.Torre Bicentenario. Image Courtesy of OMA
Created to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mexico's War of Independence, Torre Bicentenario was envisioned as a monument to post-war success in a rapidly developing country. The soaring tower would have been the tallest in Latin America with a design that featured a 22-story open air atrium punctured halfway up the building, at the design's widest point. Comprising two enormous pyramids connected by a garden, the angular structure was designed to form a stark contrast against Mexico City's endless landscape of three-story structures. Another in OMA's series of mixed-use towers, Torre Bicentenario was programmed to include a host of government services, office space, retail and an auditorium.
Originally slated to open in September 2010, the project was mired in controversy and backlash from the beginning over zoning regulations that forbade skyscrapers, further enhanced by local residents vehemently opposed to its construction. Funding from the government of Mexico City became unsteady as the project lost public support, consequently leading to its cancellation in 2007.La Defense Projet Phare. Image Courtesy of OMA
Proposed for Paris' expanding business district La Defense, Projet Phare would shatter preconceived notions of skyscraper design. Known in the city as a booming district of commerce defined by its modern glass skyline, the towers of La Defense rise in contrast to classical Parisian architecture. La Defense is home to an estimated 37.7 million square feet of office space across 18 skyscrapers. OMA crafted a tower that would celebrate the modernity of La Defense while disrupting its monotonous skyscraper landscape. The tower is defined by four rectangular volumes that jut abruptly outwards from the tower's mesh façade, containing a series of restaurants with some of the best views Paris has to offer.C3 Maastowers. Image Courtesy of OMA
Before the construction of UN Studio's renowned Erasmus Bridge that now links formerly disparate communities along the Maas river, Rotterdam struggled with solutions to connect the north and south of the city. C3 Maastowers was envisioned as the solution: rather than building another bridge, Koolhaas proposed the construction of a series of towers unified by a central volume to create a self-contained city. Located in a formerly industrial quarter, the towers were designed to convince residents of the viability of living on Rotterdam's uninhabited south bank. The towers were slated to include a cinema, an athletic center, shops, housing and offices.
According to OMA, "our proposal was complex, would have been expensive and had to compete with other projects in the center," ultimately leading to its demise in 1994. OMA's proposal inspired the City of Rotterdam to begin development in the area, subsequently launching a search for ideas by the city's architects. Slightly over a decade later, OMA unveiled De Rotterdam, a mixed-use tower on the same plot. Arguably similar to C3 Maastowers, De Rotterdam is the largest building in The Netherlands.425 Park Avenue. Image Courtesy of OMA
In 2012, OMA began its most recent proposal for a Manhattan skyscraper. Challenged by a client who sought the ideas of eleven of the world's most prolific firms including Zaha Hadid Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Foster + Partners, OMA produced a tower unlike any other in the New York skyline. 425 Park Avenue soars from the streets of Manhattan and shatters the linear tendencies of its modernist neighbors, opting for a contemporary asymmetrical volume clad entirely in glass.
425 Park Avenue was designed by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu and included the preservation of 25% of the existing building. The competition was ultimately won by Foster + Partners whose linear design is said to emulate that of the nearby Seagram Building and Lever House.23 East 22nd Street. Image © Luxigon
Travel two dozen blocks south of 425 Park Avenue and you'll arrive at the site of another proposed and yet-unbuilt OMA skyscraper, 23 East 22nd Street. Positioned on a plot measuring just 33 feet (10.5 meters) wide, the tower's footprint extends far beyond its ground-level width, cantilevering 30 feet over the neighboring building. The 24-story tower belongs to the final phase of a major redevelopment of One Madison Square Park by Slazer Enterprises, a project anchored by a 50-story tower inhabited by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Gisele Bündchen. The provocative tower was said to include a screening room for the Creative Artists Agency along with 18 luxury private residences.
Since its announcement in 2007 at the beginning of the American recession, the tower has been caught in financial and governmental red tape. Although the project remains officially in design development, permits issued by the city allowed only for a six-storey tower, negating OMA's design. Slazer Enterprises has since completed construction on the six-story building at 23 East 22nd Street, serving as the entrance to the adjacent tower at One Madison Square.India Tower. Image Courtesy of OMA
"Mumbai lacks an architectural symbol that projects its cosmopolitan identity," writes OMA. "The imminent arrival of towers emulating the Dubai formula appears equally dubious as a means for Mumbai to express itself." Proposed in 2008 as Mumbai's first iconic skyscraper, Koolhaas envisioned India Tower as an emblem for the future of architecture in the developing nation. Poised to redefine the city's largely six-story skyline, OMA's design created the illusion of a cylindrical tapered tower topped by an identical inverted volume, connected only by a narrow mirrored cylinder at the center. The Park Hyatt Tower, as it was officially known, would have housed the Mumbai flagship location of the international hotelier along with a series of private residences, a theater, retail, and a prominent viewing platform situated between the inverted volumes.
Plans for the tower were abandoned almost immediately after the 2008 competition announcement due to the financial crisis. In 2010, developer Dynamic Balwas Group announced plans for an 85-story supertall tower at the same location designed by Foster + Partners. Construction on the tower was halted by a stop-work order issued by the City of Mumbai in 2011 and has yet to resume.Scotts Tower. Image Courtesy of OMA
Located adjacent to the luxurious Orchard Road shopping district, Scotts Tower was envisioned to become Singapore's newest luxury address. Composed of four autonomous towers connected through a central volume, the building was set to include 68 high-end residences ranging from single and two-story apartments to a penthouse with a rooftop terrace. Designed in true OMA fashion, the residential volumes were staggered along the central axis to juxtapose the staid architecture of nearby towers.
The project was led by then-OMA partner Ole Scheeren, undergoing concept and design development throughout 2006 and 2007. In December 2011, Amsterdam-based UN Studio announced their design for Scotts Tower initiated by developer Far East Organization, the originators of OMA's commission for the same location. The 31-storey tower will be home to 231 upscale apartments with a smaller footprint than OMA's original design. The tower is currently under construction with opening slated for 2020.The Twins. Image © Frans Parthesius
The city of Tunis, Tunisia lies at Africa's northernmost point, just south of the Italian city of Palermo. First settled during the 6th Century BC, the ancient city is home to a plethora of monuments celebrating the region's storied history. Now home to 2.7 million residents, Tunis is in the midst of an urban revolution as glass towers gradually appear on a skyline. In 2008, a competition was held by UAE-based Sama Dubai for the development of a major waterfront property just south of the Lake of Tunis. Serving as the anchor of the development, OMA proposed "The Twins": two identical towers slated to include residential accommodation, a hotel, office space and retail.
Led by partners Rem Koolhaas and Reinier de Graaf, the project remains OMA's only foray into Tunisia. With masterplan costs estimated at $25 billion USD in 2007, the project was projected to be one of the biggest in Tunisia's history with "The Twins" serving as the anchor to the development. The project became embroiled in scandal after facing severe scrutiny for its size and cost and has consequently been placed on hold indefinitely by the developer.111 First Street. Image Courtesy of OMA
Located across from Lower Manhattan on the Hudson River, 111 First Street was designed to activate Jersey City's fast developing skyline. Although designed to harmonize with the city's landscape, OMA's 52-story tower departs from adjacent tower typologies through the creation of four distinct rectangular volumes. According to OMA, "The stacking maintains the independence of each block, optimizes views from the site and creates a dynamic relationship between the building and its surroundings: spectacle from convention." Each of the tower's four autonomous blocks contains a different program: residential, hotel, artist studios and residences, and gallery space, punctuated by outdoor terraces at each junction. Similar to De Rotterdam, programmatic delineations became the guiding design strategy for the tower, asserting its individuality in a city defined by a monotony of towers.
Perhaps the likeliest to be realized of all of OMA's unbuilt projects, 111 First Street was approved prior to the recession with no apparent roadblocks to its construction. Similar to OMA's projects from the same period, 111 First Street was delayed during the recession and has yet to break ground on its lucrative waterfront site. Nine years since inception, the project remains in financial limbo despite having cleared all governmental hurdles.
Did your favourite unbuilt OMA tower make the list? Let us know in the comments below.
From the architect. Our clients have owned this property for a number of years. They know it well and love its varied features. They were looking for a sustainable and site-sensitive project that would preserve its topography, vegetation, and natural appearance.© Adrien Williams
Volumes and Placement
The lakefront site is entirely wooded. It is crossed by a stream on its south side and has a steep incline on the north. These characteristics and the need to build at a distance from the stream suggested a lengthwise placement, with the house slipped in between the stream and the slope.© Adrien Williams
We chose to create a low-profile, primarily single-storey building. Its meandering shape is determined by the opportunities offered by the surrounding landscape. The structure bends, opens, and narrows like a river carving its own path.© Adrien Williams
The form is clad in a single material, with vertical cedar slats of varying width and thickness placed in an open-work manner. The building’s weatherproofing is assured beneath the spaced slats, which conceal the flashing, drip edges, and trim usually visible on the exterior of traditional wood structures. The surface reads instead like a palisade that follows the shape of the building and into which openings have been cut.© Adrien Williams
From the path leading up to the entrance, the building appears as a mostly opaque volume that follows the contours of the site. The garage is concealed from view. To the right, an opening in the palisade invites visitors to come inside. Along the south facade, the volume of the house bends and opens up to let in the light and make the most of the forest view. Further along, the volume bends again, turning toward an opening in the woods that offers a view of the stream flowing into the lake. On the north side, smaller openings frame perspectives of the surrounding landscape and allow the building’s occupants to enjoy the gentle murmur of the stream, which still runs over the property. Atop the roof, a small tree-house-like room looks out onto the surrounding greenery.Floor Plan
With time, as the cedar slats fade and the trees and ground cover grow back in around the building, architecture and nature will intermingle. Nature will also be invited to cover the building itself, thanks to its green roof. Seen from the rooftop study or the hill, the structure will blend into its natural environment.© Adrien Williams
Inside, visitors are greeted by a large hickory wall unit, shaped to offer seating and a place to hang away coats. It also directs one toward the living space, a large, generously-lit area that culminates in a cantilevered, screened room with a view of the mouth of the stream and the lake. On the south side, the exterior wall makes way for a large glazed surface that opens onto the forest. During summer, the trees, like the green roof, create a natural screen to shield the house from heat. In winter when the leaves have fallen, sunlight filters through the forest and floods the space with warmth and light.© Adrien Williams
The materials used for the surfaces are simple and refined. The white walls and polished cement floors contrast with the rugged natural surroundings, allowing the scenery outside to take centre stage.Section
The large open area is occupied by three wooden masses. They are placed along an axis that draws one through the sequence of spaces that make up the living area. Made of hickory, these built-in units include the storage and bench unit in the entrance, the kitchen island, and a television and sound system cabinet. Their functions are barely legible, allowing them to remain as abstract as possible in order to emphasize only their form, material, and relationship to one another. The kitchen island is in the center of the space, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.© Adrien Williams
The large built-in unit in the entrance also screens off the more private areas of the home. Tucked in behind the ample wooden structure is the access [H1] to the bedrooms, as well as the staircase that leads to the reading room atop the green roof. Upstairs, the wood-panelled space offers a quiet retreat from the rest of the house.
Using an innovative method of casting concrete in lightweight fabric molds, the architects of Orkidstudio -- along with StructureMode -- teamed up with a group of Khmer women in Sihanoukville, Cambodia to rebuild a community centre in the city’s urban heart.
The construction technique was developed and tested by engineers from StructureMode using a combination of physical testing and computer analysis software, Oasys GSA Suite, to predict the stretch of a particular fabric when concrete is poured inside. Through three-dimensional sketches the seamstresses and building team could understand the construction sequence of the form, completing the entire project in just eight weeks.
The Bomnong L'Or project is located in the chaotic center of the port city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, behind its busy market. For over 10 years, the center has worked to deliver further education to local children and adults, as well as functioning as a community meeting and work space.Courtesy of Orkidstudio
With so many users, the original structure was awkward and uninviting; its central position reduced the space for children to play and offered poorly ventilated and dimly lit rooms.
The new building contains all areas of learning and teaching on a higher floor, leaving a series of outdoor spaces for play and interaction. This typology mimics the traditional local houses on stilts, but replaces wood with fabric cast reinforced concrete. Timber cannot be sustainably sourced locally due to uncontrolled deforestation.© Lindsay Perth
Now, the center includes four large teaching spaces, a computer room, administrative and service spaces, and a colourful soap-production room. In order to encourage local families to send their children to the center, rather than force them to work, the facility provides women with the opportunity to learn a new skill and generate income.© Lindsay Perth
The building is oriented to harness the seasonal winds that rush inland off the Gulf of Thailand, in addition to having large eaves designed to avoid excessive sunlight.© Lindsay Perth
Adopting a completely passive climate strategy, the building seeks to present an example of affordable design and quality, combining traditional and modern techniques and seeking to establish a new type of Cambodian construction.Ground Floor Plan First Floor Plan Section Detail / Cantilever Build Sequence
Architects/ Lead Designer: Orkidstudio
Location: Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Client: The Goodwill (Bomnong L’or) Centre
Project Directors: James Mitchell, Tom Woodward, Gaynor Duthie, David Fleck, Grace Mark
Site Team: Local community & volunteer team
Structural Engineers: StructureMode
Construction Period: 8 weeks, August / September 2015
Floor Area: 240 m2
Total cost: £48,000
Main contractor: Orkidstudio
Project Sponsors: Drum Property Group, Morris & Spottiswood, Jestico + Whiles
Photographs: Lindsay Perth
From the architect. Silver Tower Center building is located on the Pilsudski’s Street, on an unusual plot resulting from the parcellation of the former Jewish cemetery. Typical urban quarter was divided diagonally to commemorate trace of the former greenery, which was a cemetery facilities in the past.Courtesy of IBIS Styles Wroclaw Centrum Floor Plan Courtesy of IBIS Styles Wroclaw Centrum
According to planning decisions, the building consists of a 6-storey base, designated the average height of the surrounding buildings and a dominant, for which the plans do not provide any restrictions. During the tests on spatial models, it was decided with a height of approx. 55 m, as a value sufficient for the spatial accent. Produced dominant stresses the opening of the Pilsudski street on foreground of railway station and signals its presence. The shape of the tower is divided into modules slightly rotated arround the vertical axis in order to obtain a dynamic enhancering impression of slenderness. The treatment improved insolation of neighboring buildings as well. On the resulting integrated "cubes" facade divisions were introduced, allowing the development of open office space into modules. Vertical, 30 cm deep profiles, allowed to strengthen vertical silhouette, improving the proportions of the building. Thanks to them it was achieved the desired play of light on the facade, giving it a strong artistic expression. "Razor blades" are also part of the facade shading solution providing comfort without resorting to complex and costly systems while leaving the breathtaking views.
Building Silver Tower Center contains a set of commercial services: 3-star hotel, conference center, offices, commerce and underground, 2-storey car park. Shops and services were provided entry from adjacent streets, taking care of their vitality, and on the resulting square was organized space for outdoor gardens. The building brings a revival of this part of Przedmie?cie O?awskie, with a bad reputation so far, and represents another step towards the revitalization of this area.© Maciej Lulko
From the architect. Before its conversion, the farmhouse was untouched for over five decades and needed a complete renovation to be adapted for contemporary needs. There were two construction sites: the main house and a stable. The main house was in a very bad condition, overgrown with vegetation, and numerous repairs had to be made to make it livable. The stone and timber structure of the stable was significantly deteriorated and most of the walls had to be replaced.© Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal Floor Plan © Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal
The position and materiality of the architecture was maintained although given the farm's crumbling state, the new facade of the the main house was reconstructed with white concrete and local stone.© Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal
In the main house, an insulating lining forms the new load-bearing structure, reinforcing the old stone walls and providing thermal insulation. The parts of the façade formerly of stone and brick weatherboarding were replaced by a monolithic wall of insulating concrete with formwork which reproduces the former texture of the timber. Windows sit within deep recesses and can be screened behind large wooden shutters that reference the style of stable doors.© Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal
Located on a steep south facing mountain slope overlooking the valley, the main house clings to a site with a 2 meter difference in level between the north and the south facade. In harmony with the slope of the terrain, the staggered arrangement of the ground floor levels provides a sequence of connected spaces avoiding conventional interior partitions. In the interior, supporting walls were replaced by light metal pillars, opening up a large triple-height living room along the entire length of the building, which allows daylight to enter. A generous metal staircase gives access to the different rooms of the house.Section
A mix of white concrete and iron beams coexist with well-worn stone, weather-beaten wood and local stone. The interior space is organized around four diamond-shaped elements which run vertically through the house: the four muses, main characters in this family holiday home that refer to the client´s four daughters. On the first floor, two bedrooms are connected through a double-height space with views over the valley, leading to the main bedroom corner terrace.© Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal
In the stable, the haylofts on the upper floor were converted into bedrooms freeing the space on the ground floor for a large central lounge that serves different purposes.© Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal Model © Miguel de Guzman / Imagen Subliminal
From the architect. The place affirms its liberty and appears free from the barely solemn city, only defined by a nick of water and trees who crystalize History on this very site. Nothing stands up to this geographical feature. There, a very vivid and live passage, a bridge, and the beyond — the inner city border, the one of links and connections.© Philippe Ruault
Located East, in the Ferté Bernard, Sartre area, the Jean d’Ormesson media library is set in a dense urban area, at the heart of the city. The 1800m² lot is situated on the edge of the old town and the river that surrounds it.Ground Floor Plan
Opposite of the old town, the outdoor activities center and the main traffic lane gather to galvanize the nearby cycle of ongoing movement. They both break the connection with the large body of water. The Media library is a delicate object, dramatized within a subtle mist coming from the ground and transforming the forecourt into a large mirror reminding of the surrounding water.© Philippe Ruault
The program emanates from the coming together of two facilities: a games library and the Médiathèque itself. The approach we offer regarding the project’s interaction with its environment is to consider its manifest off-site location on the edge of the old town, and to acknowledge its cultural energy as a means of openness and modernity outwards.© Philippe Ruault
The accumulation of volumes allows to connect the game library and the Médiathèque as parallel universes. The building’s wrapping is rooted in its own purpose, arrayed with textures, texts and signs, back against reflections and light shades.© Philippe Ruault
Functionalities result in a simple flowing volume, directly connecting the program and compulsory procedures of usage. This approach allows for a coherent integration and homogenous landscaping of the surroundings. The upper floor’s momentum creates a signal, and sheltered point through which one can access to the inside. The relation to pedestrian alleys is strongly emphasized, as their role of of connecting points of passage between neighborhoods is essential.Axonometric
From the inside, poles are developed into a core design from which users can move in a flexible and smooth movement. Moving around is possible and facilitated, as it can be developed over an outlying design of in a concentring way. Movements are interspersed with reception desks regularly spread to stimulate dialogue over the cultural series offered by the Media library’s team.© Philippe Ruault
The building is a reflection of its environment. It is a direct reaction to the site’s energy flows. The facade builds reflections to vanish behind the frontage. It is spread with signal signs that work as bookmarks. Entirely covered with PMMA plaques and scarcely touched with stainless steal, the frontage plays as a blurred mirror through which we can perceive the depths of stratums.© Philippe Ruault
It stages the direct surroundings as a lively opening toward the game library and the Médiathèque, and protects the inside against heat and glare. Transparent pads of plastic and lean open frames allow for broad direct and numerous views. The Médiathèque’s pull is conveyed by see-through inserts.Cross Section
Its reflections and direct connection to the city and to the various landscapes nearby link the Mediathèque to its surroundings. Moreover, the reminder of a simile or an incomplete reflection is present throughout the project and acts as a thread that strengthen its cohesion. Little wavy pads contribute to the movement induced by the material, and blur the limit between the design and its own reflection.© Philippe Ruault
From the architect. Xixi, a national wetland park located on the outskirts of Hangzhou, is a built landscape and an area of nature, which has been shaped by man for over a thousand years. The omnipresent relationship between landscape, architecture, and water?is key to the atmosphere in Xixi. This atmosphere has been integrated into a new development of apartment buildings.© Simon Menges Master Plan © Simon Menges
The apartment buildings are surrounded by a water garden, which, as a reference to the wetland park, is a mostly wild landscape. In contrast to these green surroundings, the buildings appear as dark stone volumes embedded in the water garden. They are, as is typical for villages in Xixi, placed on a stone plinth that sits in the water.© Simon Menges Floor Plan © Simon Menges
This plinth forms the base of a village group with various levels, walls, and balustrades creating a sequence of exterior spaces, which enable access to the buildings. The interiors are characterised by floating spaces. Room height windows allow for natural light and views over the water garden.© Simon Menges
From the architect. Site: Sindhorn Building built in 1980, a more than 80,000 sq.m. Office building located on one of the most beautiful road in Bangkok called Wireless road, has been extended several times. Until now the owner has an intension to reimage the building by having a spectacular building in front of it to create new image and programs to support the building.© W workspace First Floor Plan © W workspace
Program: The main programs of the new building which is called “Glass house at Sindhorn building” are 4 fine dining restaurants with mezzanine floor and one small cigar bar. As well as, the site has a big tree that needs to preserve.© W workspace
Separated: All fine dining restaurants are separated to connect indoor and outdoor space and create better dining atmosphere. Moreover, they are combined together with outdoor dining plaza.© W workspace
View & Ventilation: By splitting all restaurants apart, Each restaurant and Sindhorn building can easily access from public road. the new and existing buildings also get better view and ventilation too.Section Perspective
Icon:The new glasshouse, a brand-new icon of Sindhorn building, represents new image of the project, so it is shaped as crystal and this crystalized form is clad with glass to match its own concept.© W workspace
Shade: Moreover, the glasshouse location is on Wireless road where there are a lot of big trees as the road symbolic. The roof is designed specially to reflect the feeling of dining under tree shading.© W workspace
Structure: The special structure takes double spans, each span length is 25 meter and at both ends are cantilevered as long as 20 meter, so that makes a 90 meter long roof. Moreover, this main structure is designed as the X shape to preserve the big tree in the site.Exploded Axonometric
Branch: Additionally, to make the roof more appealing the roof is designed to have another layer of 31 horizontal steel fins that have irregularly shape as tree branches to create under tree shading mood and movement feeling underneath.© W workspace
I. Natural and cultural contexts
The terrain of Shenkeng is long and narrow, surrounded by mountains with the Jingmei River flowing into the south side of the base. It has beautiful surroundings and an open view.© Highlite Images
The site is located at the eastern entrance of the famous Shenkeng old street. The old tree and the temple courtyard are located at the western entrance. The meandering street full of people on weekends and holidays is just like a river of history with strong cultural atmosphere.© Highlite Images
II. Social participation
Local views were integrated during the process of creating the space, which is in line with the global trend over the past decade of including people’s ideas about building their own communities.© Highlite Images
III. Space Fun
To respond to the mountainous surroundings and natural scenery, as well as to provide exercise space for the elderly, the project reserved a big green area and made the architecture a part of the landscape from the ground up, and hidden under a slope.
The child care center is located between a grassy hill and large lawn. Its vertical wooden surfacesimply verticaltree-linedsegmentation, adding a fun element to nature.
The wooden path on the grass provides young parents and children a place to rest and enjoy the good feeling of being surrounded by mountains and to feel relaxed and happy. You can also see the Shenkeng elementary school chapel to the east.
Ramp, central children's playground, large lawn and the Shenkeng elementary schoolare the main element in the area. The elements respond to each other, with high and low elements balancing each other out, with all activities contained within the space.
From the architect. The house is designed to maximise flexibility for a grown family with great access to sunlight and a myriad of spaces for gathering or private reflection.© Scott Burrows
Nestled amongst the natural beauty of Bardon and offering city views from the front, this distinctive home has been designed to accommodate the lay of the land.© Scott Burrows
The structure terraces down the steep sloping site, minimising the visual impact on the neighbours and streetscape.Longitudinal Section
The nature of the site and the need for sunlight dictated essentially two houses linked though a western hallway, separated by an east facing courtyard and the program for the house adapted to this separation with the “front” house containing adult kids and home offices, with the “rear” house dedicated to the main living areas, parents’ bedroom and the lap pool and recreation areas.© Scott Burrows
This separation allows for orientation to both city and bush views with a central protected courtyard for living. The house is designed to maximise flexibility for a grown family with great access to sunlight and a myriad of spaces for gathering or private reflection.© Scott Burrows
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has selected the architectural programs at Mississippi State University, Philadelphia University and the University of Florida as the recipients of the 2015 NCARB Award for the Integration of Practice and Education. The Award helps the selected universities develop "innovative curricula that merge practice and education." This year over $99,000 was awarded to the three programs to develop their proposed initiatives.
“What makes the NCARB Award different from other awards is that it is focused on fostering collaboration between the academy and practice,” said NCARB President Dennis S. Ward, AIA, NCARB in a press release. “This year’s proposals all go further to give students, practitioners, and others within the profession meaningful interactions that will raise awareness for the architect’s role and address issues that are central to practice.”
Learn more about three proposals after the break.
Program: Mississippi State University; College of Architecture, Art, and Design; Mississippi State,
MS Proposal: “Expanding the Agency of Architects”
Total Award: $30,048.44
Through workshops, inquiry, and immersion, students will be exposed to different practice management approaches by partnering with a local community design center, Carl Small Town Center. Students will explore social impact design to improve their communication skills, increase their knowledge of sustainability, be introduced to practice management methodologies, and apply their knowledge to a project in the Mississippi Delta. The class will allow students to explore different types of practice and think about their own career goals.
The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal for its collaboration with the local community and design center, and for exposing students to different types of practice. The proposal also recognizes the architect’s role in designing projects that are resilient to social, economic, and environmental challenges. The class will be open to students from multiple years and areas of discipline to work together to learn and apply their knowledge.
Program: Philadelphia University; College of Architecture and the Built Environment; Philadelphia, PA
Proposal: “Interdisciplinary Design and the Experimental Architecture Studio (IDEAS) on Textile Material Strategies”
Total Award: $34,208
This proposal brings students into an interdisciplinary design and experimental architecture studio to explore architectural textile composites for building envelopes. Students and practitioners from architecture, engineering, and textiles disciplines will study emerging technologies, new materials, and environmental issues both in school and in practice. The project looks to demonstrate how architects can drive the creation of innovative material systems and technologies. It will also assess the impact of student-practitioner partnerships and how undergraduate research can benefit students’ understanding of constructability, sustainability, technology, and other issues central to practice.
The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal’s interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous assessment of its outcomes. Students and practitioners will be testing their outcomes together, and the results will be developed into disseminated resources and exhibits.
Program: University of Florida; School of Architecture; Gainesville, FL
Proposal: “Expanding Fields: Materiality + Making to Inform Design Education and Practice”
Total Award: $35,000
Turning the studio into a materials laboratory, students will explore innovative ways to assemble materials and be exposed to issues regarding structural soundness, construction tolerances, and the effects of constructability on design ideas. Students will work directly with practitioners and manufacturers to understand how the materials they select will impact the structural soundness and safety of their designs. They will have the opportunity to use the real materials to build a scaled construction of their design.
The NCARB Award Jury recognized the proposal for its collaboration with manufacturers and challenging students to change the way they think about what they do. Students will be exposed to the materials at the beginning of the design process so they can inform their designs. They will also have the opportunity to work directly with manufacturers and learn about new technologies, sustainability, and constructability.
Main image via Shutterstock.com
From the architect. Fashion House seeks to recapture the eclectic and creative energy of the historic Fashion District. The project is a unique interface of developer, architect, community and interior and fashion designers. Fashion House is a juxtaposition of business drivers with raw creativity within a community setting.Courtesy of CORE Architects Inc.
The client wished to maximize the density on the site, and provide a significant outdoor amenity space that had sun all day and downtown views. Community space and public venues are important to this development. Trying to avoid the cloistering effect of urban high-rises, the street level features public spaces. Attentive to pedestrian connectivity, public thoroughfares pass through these buildings at street level, connecting Morrison Street to the heritage building and King Street. Given the heritage building designation, CORE worked with the city of Toronto through the site plan approval and permit process to insure that the original design and programmatic needs of the client were realized.Section
The zoning constraints would ensure that the bulk and mass of the building would be setback from the Heritage Building and not penetrate a 45-degree angular plane, which was drawn from the opposite side of the fronting street (King Street West). The massing of Fashion House, a series of offset and stacking volumes, was largely determined by the existing zoning permission that was granted on the site for the area behind and beside the Silver-plate Heritage Building (currently the Keg Restaurant). The building massing developed from that into two long bar-shaped elements set at 90-degrees to each other. The podium element was meant to be a flush, glazed glass box to act in counterpoint to the heritage brick building; the condo entry is between these two volumes. CORE accomplished this by placing building massing where it would have the least impact on the neighbourhood, heritage building and still comply with the zoning by-laws, the result was a stacking of “building blocks” that created a large roof terrace on the south-east corner of the site at the 11th floor, ideal for an exterior pool.Courtesy of CORE Architects Inc.
CORE challenged the notion that a building should use typical floor plates in a regular pattern, and opened up to the possibilities of using multiple floor plates that cantilever, offset, shift and overlay each other to achieve a more dynamic form that also complies with the site-specific bylaws. The red curtains (white on the interior) are a metaphorical reference to the garment district of Toronto in which this project is located. Young Toronto fashion designers were given the task of creating a signature art piece, in the elevator lobby area for each floor in the condo.Courtesy of CORE Architects Inc.
There are 334 units at Fashion House, ranging in size from 464 to 1,566 square feet. Some of the stylish features and finishes include 9’ and 10’ ceilings, European designed contemporary kitchens with stainless steel appliances, exposed concrete ceilings and columns, stone counter-tops, pre-finished engineered hardwood flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows and a rooftop infinity pool. Fashion House is located in King West, which was once Toronto’s garment district.Floor Plan
The neighbourhood has steadily become gentrified by young urban professionals, both singles and couples seeking a lifestyle that is close to their downtown offices and leisure entertainment. As one of Toronto’s fastest growing neighbourhoods, King West has been compared to New York’s SoHo. The warehouses have now been converted into offices and stylish boutique condos, while high-end restaurants with names like Crush, Blowfish and Buca populate the neighbourhood. A block south Wellington Street is dominated by many of the city’s top advertising and media companies and loft-style condos, with several in the million-dollar range. Fashion House is effective because it has become an iconic landmark at the centre of the fashion district of Toronto. It appeals to the younger demographic of condo buyers, who are very interested in modernist design principles, and how both fashion and architecture can come together and be more than just “packaging”.Courtesy of CORE Architects Inc.
Fashion designers from each floor (designed murals) include:
2nd Floor – Beckermans
3rd Floor – Dean Davidson
4th Floor – Jeremy Laing
5th Floor – Adrian Wu
6th Floor – Jenny Bird
7th Floor – Ashtiani
8th Floor – Peach Berserk
9th Floor – Smythe
10th Floor – Jay Godfrey
11th Floor – Bustle
Penthouse – Greta Constantine
Inspired by the recent trend for super-skinny, super-tall skyscrapers currently dominating the Manhattan luxury residential market, ODA New York has developed a design for 303 East 44th Street which they describe as "a new urban reality" for the city. By taking a prototypical, modestly-sized tower building and stretching it skyward, the firm has inserted sculptural skygardens in the voids opened up between the floors to create a tower that combines the advantages of urban living with the spatial benefits of the suburban home.© ODA New York
"True luxury evolves from the ability to have the best of multiple worlds without compromise," explains the firm's press release, "and in this tower, the best of urban living melds with the dream of a suburban backyard resulting in the ultimate urban fantasy."© ODA New York
"There is a huge disconnect between how we live in our cities and what we need, as human beings, for quality of life. I don’t think that we should be forced to choose between enduring in the city, or escaping to suburban areas," adds ODA's founder and executive director Eran Chen. "So, with all of our projects we look for ways to amplify natural light and provide access to green spaces, and this is the ultimate example."© ODA New York
Designed for developer Triangle Assets, the proposal offers residents in 11 of the building's 44 apartments access to their own private outdoor space, with the 16-foot (5 meter) ceiling height for the gardens ensuring that sunlight can penetrate throughout the garden. In addition, the form of the core and supporting structure on these open floors is designed to reduce the wind load on the building without sacrificing the expansive views.© ODA New York
According to Triangle Assets' director of leasing and property management Benjamin Stavrach, construction on the building is likely to begin in April or May of 2016.© ODA New York
Correction update: Since its initial publication, this article has been updated to add information about the developer and expected construction date.
From the architect. The Srygley Pool House is located within a suburban neighborhood that offers little variation from the typical single-family house model. The simple form of the building strikes a bold pose within this landscape. The pool house is wrapped in subdued cedar siding, allowing the seemingly foreign form to coexist with the surrounding brick and cedar residences. The lower level opens up onto the pool terrace, establishing a transparent base that allows visitors to flow freely from outside to inside. This transparency and the volume of the living room that extends up to the second level allows the building to feel larger than itself.© Timothy Hursley Floor Plan © Timothy Hursley
Along the pool-side of the second level, stacked bunk alcoves provide space for six guest, extending the use of the modest structure from pool house to bunk house. The bunks are illuminated by a horizontal band of light. Cubbies and closets are carefully integrated into the bunks recalling the interior of a ship’s cabin with a continuous wall of storage and sleeping quarters.© Timothy Hursley
The subdued gesture of the building form is juxtaposed with a landscape of plants, bushes, and trees that is inhabited by ceramic alligators, carved stone birds, and an imposing 3000 lb. dinosaur. However, rather than contrasting, the relatively wild backyard seems the perfect setting for the Pool House. They work as opposites often do: the building calms the wild landscape and together they provide a place of refuge and retreat.© Timothy Hursley
Architectural charity Article 25 has revealed a selection of the images to be included for auction in their annual 10x10 fundraising auction. One of the highlights of Article 25's calendar, each year the 10x10 event divides an area of the city of London into 100 sections, challenging the participants to produce a drawing or other artwork inspired by the location assigned to them. This year, Article 25 abandoned the usual grid in favor of 100 areas along the Thames, taking in the many landmarks along the river's winding route. Article 25's list of participants includes architects such as Rafael Vinoly, David Adjaye, Sir Terry Farrell, Will Alsop and Chris Wilkinson, alongside artists including Antony Gormley and Wolfgang Buttress.
Last year's 10x10 event raised over £120,000 for Article 25's healthcare projects in the developing world. This year, the 100 drawings will once again be briefly exhibited at the RIBA headquarters in London on December 1st before the work is auctioned, an addition to an online auction which will begin on November 24th at 10x10london.com.
Read on to see a selection of the artworks to be auctioned.Chris Wilkinson. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Paul Cox. Image Courtesy of Article 25 David Adjaye. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Wolfgang Buttress. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Rafael Viñoly. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Antony Gormley. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Rebecca Campbell. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Jenny Harborne. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Mike Stiff. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Laurie Chetwood. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Ian Ritchie. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Celia Scott. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Frank Green. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Tim Gledstone. Image Courtesy of Article 25 Annette Taylor Anderson. Image Courtesy of Article 25
From the architect. The project for the community center of San Bernabé offers a building-street, which tries and transmits civic values ??inherent to the urban structure of the neighborhood. Thus, the specific uses of the functional program will be located in dispersed volumes, arranged along a guideline, thus configuring a street that will function as such and that is really the heart of the project.© Jorge Taboada
This building-Street is conceived as a framework for the relationship and the expression of individuals and the community, so that it will be getting stronger as the citizens start to discover it and living freely in it too. In addition, it attempts to bind with the web of existing neighborhood streets, prolonging therefore their most common routes and giving priority to pedestrians over the traffic. This street built within, acts like the backbone of the built bodies that house the functional program of the community center and responds to an urban vision as a whole, in this sense its journey is punctuated by three spaces of quite a length which may be called squares, each one of them linked to an adjacent activity.Floor Plan
On the other hand, the whole project was conceived as a bioclimatic infrastructure which tries to obtain its levels of comfort by combining the local natural resources, both climatic and material ones, leaving the contribution of conventional machinery as a complementary provision to meet only extreme heat spikes throughout the year.© Jorge Taboada
The project includes an allocation for renewable energy production, integrated into the architecture from the system of "solar beams" that make up the shade structure of the squares.Detail
Beyond the scope of the community center itself, the project aims to reflect in an open way about its limits in time and space, as befits for an urban structure.© Jorge Taboada
Finally, note that the architecture of San Bernabé Community Center explores a look that will be able to transmit the dignity of civic compromise than the building itself represents as well as its presence in the middle of the city should contribute to the dissemination of the values ??that drive it.© Jorge Taboada
Starting out on the path of architectural education can be daunting. With so much to learn and so many different ways to approach design, often the most basic principles are left for the student to learn the hard way. Predicated upon the idea that "every year new architecture students make the same mistakes," Iain Jackson's new book "The Architecture School Survival Guide" offers tips, tricks and advice to help make the transition from novice to capable student just that little bit less painful. Covering everything from how to properly approach contextual design to how often to back up your work, the book is full of ideas that new students will find enlightening, and older students - and even professionals - are likely to find useful as reference points. Read on for an excerpt of the book's fifth chapter, "Process."Courtesy of Laurence King
ContextCourtesy of Laurence King
Responding to context should not result in mediocrity and deference to what has been built previously. Remember that your design proposal is for a specific place and always include the wider context on your elevational drawings. Some students just include a couple of metres or feet of buildings, or space, on either side of their proposal, but try to stretch this to at least the city block or street. The more context you add to your drawings the better they will look.
Ghastly Good TasteCourtesy of Laurence King
Why do you like the things, styles and appearances that you do? What has informed those decisions? Trust your ability to judge what is good and bad taste – but also hone your taste through a sound knowledge of history, technology and current trends. Be prepared to design what others think of as ghastly. Don’t automatically reject the popular, pastiche or commonplace. Modernism and minimalism do not always equal good.
Ceremony, Myths and RitualsCourtesy of Laurence King
So much of architecture is connected to a notion of procession: most great buildings incorporate a sense of ritual or journey that the visitor experiences as he or she moves through a series of choreographed and curated spaces. Think about the spatial experience and the emotions you wish to stir in the visitor as he or she journeys through your design. We have become overly concerned with form. An exciting form is not as architectural as an exciting space that is experienced. The three journeys opposite all lead towards an artefact, but achieve the same result in three different ways.
Don't Reduce Architecture to Just Space, Form and Light
Sometimes we compartmentalize architecture: we think of materials, structure and services as somehow distinct from it, rather than being fully integral to it. Equally, we should not think of things as ‘mere’ detail or town-planning – it is all architecture. Read the list below out loud – meditate on these truths.
Front-Back/Public-PrivateCourtesy of Laurence King
Try to distinguish between what is front and public, and what is back and private. This will help you to organize your plan and your elevational treatments. We should be able to recognize the front and the entrance of a building without signage. Entrances should be integral to the façade design, but they are often enhanced if they are raised, protrude or are recessed.
FocusCourtesy of Laurence King
Eye-catchers, landmarks and axes (imaginary, fixed straight lines) are useful in drawing attention from afar and serving as a beacon to draw people in or to distract their attention, or to provide visual delight. An axis is ceremonial and linear and, with a clear beginning, the destination always remains in view. The eye-catcher is less formal and is more about exploration and discovery. It plays "hide and seek," offering glimpses to the viewer but then disappearing behind a wall or landscape – it can be thought of as an architectural burlesque.
The Spaces BetweenCourtesy of Laurence King
The spaces created between forms need to be designed. Create spaces for exchange, meeting and people-watching. These spaces need to be protected from the wind, provided with rain/sun shelter and to be overlooked so that they feel safe. They should be in places that people want to move through, rather than tucked away and not part of a main thoroughfare. Steps can also become seats, planters can double as tables and subtle changes in materials can demarcate boundaries. Design internal spaces for chance encounters – encourage gossip spots and impromptu meeting-places.
The Chronological DrawingCourtesy of Laurence King
The purpose of a chronological drawing is to represent how a building, space, street or city has developed over time. You could, of course, use a map to show how buildings and streets have come and gone – but that cannot convey the same narratives as a chronological drawing. The drawing of Chandigarh below, by recording the gradual shift in styles, attempts to show the evolution (or narrative) of a district.
The Serial ViewCourtesy of Laurence King
The serial view shows movement through a space. Think of each drawing as being a key frame in a film. The aim is to show the views we experience and encounter whilst we progress along a journey through a building. Three sketches are shown here, but a drawing for a serial view can be made every 5 meters (16 feet).
The ThresholdCourtesy of Laurence King
The threshold is the point at which one space ends and another one begins. Be aware of and attempt to set boundaries within your scheme. A doorway is the most obvious example of a threshold, but other, more permeable and less tangible thresholds can be created through changes in level, material and volume. Use the threshold to organize space and to create distinct zones of activity. How do we determine territories, boundaries and spatial ownership?
"Through" Spaces and "To" SpacesCourtesy of Laurence King
Certain spaces we pass through, others are destinations. "To" spaces feel more secure and restful. They tend to have only one entrance and/or exit. A "through" space is more dynamic, offers opportunity for exchange and encounter, and usually serves as a hub from which other activities stem. Living rooms and bedrooms tend to be "to" spaces as they feel more secure. "Through" spaces are more difficult to plan as a portion of the space is always lost to circulation.
The PedestalCourtesy of Laurence King
The pedestal is a way of highlighting the significance and prestige of a particular object or element.
Form, Technology and ProgramCourtesy of Laurence King
A successful design needs to address form (the shape), program (the functional demands) and technology (the problems of making). If one of these factors is neglected the entire concept is in danger of collapse. These three components also exist within a certain place, time and society, which also need to be carefully considered and acknowledged.
Cost, Time and Quality
These are the three factors that control most architectural commissions. Your client can only have two out of the three:
From the architect. The Cineroleum was a self-initiated project that transformed a petrol station on Clerkenwell Road into a cinema. The project was an experiment in the the potential for the wider re-use of the UK’s 4,000 empty petrol stations.Courtesy of Assemble Isometric Courtesy of Assemble
The Cineroleum was an improvisation on the rich iconography and decadent interiors of the golden age picture palace. Classic elements were re-created for the roadside setting using cheap industrial, reclaimed or donated materials. Flip-up seats were made from scaffolding boards, the foyer was furnished with formica-clad school chairs and tables , and the auditorium was enclosed by a curtain, created by hand-sewing about three kilometres of seam in roofing membrane.Courtesy of Assemble
The Cineroleum was visibly handmade, built on site by a team of over a hundred volunteers, learning and experimenting together, aided by instruction manuals written during the prototyping process.Floor Plan
Unlike the out-of-town multiplex, The Cineroleum celebrated the social experience of filmgoing, from the popcorn machine and bar in the old station shop through to the programme of approachable classics.Courtesy of Assemble
Separated from the busiest single-lane road in Europe by a curtain, it allowed for both collective escapism and created a public spectacle on the street for passers-by. At the end of the film the curtain rose, pushing the audience from the imaginative world of the film to the everyday theatre of the street.Courtesy of Assemble
Chicago has long been known for distinctive architecture, and this year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial has only furthered that reputation. Although it is nearly impossible to narrow down the countless iconic structures, in celebration of the Biennial, we have compiled five Chicago buildings that highlight the many phases of the city’s architectural history.
We know there are many more! Tell us your favorite Chicago building in the comments below.
Monadnock Building – Burnham and Root, 1891Sketch of Monadnock Building by Burnham and Root, Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Chicago is often considered the birthplace of the skyscraper, and although the Monadnock Building was not the first, it marked an important turning point in the design and construction of talk buildings. Designed by Burnham and Root, and completed in 1891, the Monadnock Building was the last tall building to employ load-bearing masonry exterior walls. Although iron framing–used for the interior of the structure–had become commonplace, concerns about fireproofing, especially in Chicago, led to a preference for masonry exterior structures. But the thickness of masonry supports increases with the height of a structure, and at sixteen stories the Monadnock Building’s exterior walls required a thickness of six feet at the base.Section and Elevation of the Monandnock Building, by Historic American Buildings Survey, Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
The Monadnock Building is also notable for its relatively minimalist form at a time when neoclassical decorative elements were the norm. The client for the building explicitly requested that the architects not add any decorative elements. Although the form of the building was derived from the shape of a classical Egyptian column, all of the ornamentation was eliminated from the design, leaving a solid brick shell that flares out slightly at the base and the top. Thirteen story columns of bay windows animate the otherwise monotonous façade, while extending the interior space.The flared base of the Monadnock Building. Image © flickr user zolk, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Robie House – Frank Lloyd Wright, 1909Robie House. Image © flickr user aliarda, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
The Chicago area was the epicenter of Frank Lloyd Wright’s early signature Prairie Style work, and his Robie House, completed in 1909, is the pinnacle of the style. The horizontal emphasis and deep overhanging eaves of the Prairie Style reference the wide-open grasslands of the American Midwest, but at the Robie House Wright employs those same elements to create visual separation and privacy on a corner lot in a dense urban neighborhood. Parapet walls around balconies and patios create a separation from the street, and the deep roof eaves shade the windows, preventing views in (and limiting solar heat gain), while preserving views from the inside out. In fact, the main roof cantilevers so far beyond the vertical structure that it requires two steel beams running the length of the house for support. Even the long thin roman brick on the façade emphasizes the horizontality of the house.Robie House Plan, by Historic American Buildings Survey, Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
The interiors exemplify Wright’s focus on the hearth as the center of family life, with the living room and dining room arranged around a fireplace at the center of an open plan space. As with many of his other buildings, Wright also designed many of the interior details of the home, including art glass windows, light fixtures, and furniture.Robie House art glass and light fixtures. Image © flickr user chrisjfry, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
S. R. Crown Hall – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1956S.R. Crown Hall. Image © Wikipedia user Jenn22356, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
After emigrating from Germany, Mies van der Rohe served as the Dean of the School of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), where he also designed a master plan for the campus, as well as many of the campus buildings. Mies’s designs for the IIT campus utilized a limited material palette of black-painted steel, glass, and a pale yellow-brown locally produced brick, and were planned using a six foot by six foot grid, all in an effort to manage costs and ease construction. The only building that did not comply with six by six grid was S. R. Crown Hall for the architecture and industrial design departments, completed in 1956, which was designed on a five foot by five foot grid.S.R. Crown Hall Floor Plan
The exterior form of the building is defined by the exposed structural system. Four massive steel plate girders span the width of the building, supported at each end by steel columns. The roof structure is suspended from the steel girders, creating a 120 by 220 foot column-free space on the main floor below. The façade of the building is further subdivided using clear glass at the entryway to distinguish from the translucent glass on the lower panels of the main floor that provide visual privacy for the architecture studios. Although the design is emblematic of Mies van der Rohe’s modernist aesthetic, Kenneth Frampton suggests that the regimented rationality of the design was also heavily influenced by the work of Prussian neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and specifically the Altes Museum in Berlin.S.R. Crown Hall. Image © Wikipedia user Arturo Duarte Jr., licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
John Hancock Center – Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, 1969John Hancock Center. Image © Wikipedia user Antoine Taveneaux, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Another example of structural expression, this time in vertical form, is the John Hancock Center, completed in 1970. The design, by Colombian-American architect Bruce Graham and Bangladeshi-American engineer Fazlur Khan of the Chicago-based firm Skidmore, Owing and Merrill (SOM), employs a tapered form and large-scale x-bracing to combat wind loads. The expressive form of the John Hancock Center marked a departure from the delicate orthogonal formality of Mies’ ubiquitous Chicago towers, but where Mies had taken to using steel sections as decorative features, SOM’s exposed structure is functional. Nonetheless, historians Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman described the John Hancock Center as, “subverting what was left of the spirit of Mies.”
Office spaces occupy the lower 40 stories of the tower, while residential spaces fill the upper floors where the smaller floor plates maximize access to natural light, with ceiling heights throughout the building varying to meet the needs of different functions. The top floors house an observation deck and restaurant space, as well as building services.
Aqua – Studio Gang Architects, 2009Aqua Tower. Image © Wikipedia user George Showman, licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons
Though relatively new for a listing of “classic” buildings, Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower, completed in 2009, represents the latest entry in Chicago’s history of skyscraper innovation. Inspired by the striated limestone formations found in the Great Lakes region, the floor plates of the building’s eighty stories explode beyond the rectangular slab envelope to create balconies and overhangs. More than just a formal expression, the balconies serve to extend views beyond and between the surrounding towers, and the overhangs help shield the interiors from solar gains. Primarily comprised of residential and hotel spaces, the Aqua Tower also foreshadowed the current crop of supertall residential towers rising around the world.Aqua Tower / Studio Gang Architects
 Trachtenberg, Marvin and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002. 474.
 Trachtenberg and Hyman, 474.
 Gelernter, Mark. A History of American Architecture: Buildings in the Their Cultural and Technological Context. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999. 211.
 Thomas, Helen, ed. 20th Century World Architecture. London: Phaidon, 2012. 663.
 Thomas, 663.
 Frampton, Kenneth. Modern Architecture: A Critical History. London: Thames & Hudson, 1992. 236.
 Thomas, 666.
 Trachtenberg and Hyman, 518.
 Thomas, 666.
 Becker, Lynn. “The Third School.” Chicago Reader. Accessed 2 November 2015. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-third-school/Content?oid=921989
ArchDaily is looking for motivated architecture geeks to join our team of interns for Spring 2016! An ArchDaily internship is a great opportunity to learn about our site and get exposed to some of the latest and most interesting ideas shaping architecture today. Read on to find out what it takes to work for the world’s most visited architecture website!
Interested? Then check out the requirements below.
If you think you have what it takes, please fill out the following form by Friday, November 27 9:00 AM EST. We will contact potential candidates (and only potential candidates) for follow-ups during the first week of December. Late submissions will NOT be accepted!
ArchDaily internships are compensated.