Behnisch Architekten Greens UB’s School of Law

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The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is on track to achieve LEED Platinum status. (David Matthiessen)

The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is on track to achieve LEED Platinum status. (David Matthiessen)

A high-performance facade weaves a diverse program into a single volume.

The School of Law at the University of Baltimore was founded nearly nine decades ago, but for most of that time its classrooms, offices, library, and clinics were scattered among several downtown buildings. That changed last year, with the opening of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center. Designed by Behnisch Architekten with Ayers Saint Gross, the Angelos Law Center unites a diverse program within a single 12-story structure. Its checkerboard envelope, which won Best Facade in AN’s 2014 Best of Design Awards, weaves the building’s three principal components—a classroom and office wing, the library, and a central atrium—into a single volume. In addition, the facade positions the university on the cutting edge of sustainable design. Its integrated approach to energy efficiency has helped the Angelos Law Center win several green-building prizes, and set it on track to achieve LEED platinum status. Read More

Designing Tomorrow’s Facades Today

One of six Dialog Workshops will focus on the use of glass fiber reinforced concrete in facade design, as in the Broad Museum. (Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

One of six Dialog Workshops will focus on the use of glass fiber reinforced concrete in facade design, as in the Broad Museum. (Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

Innovations in building envelope design typically take one of two forms. The first concerns the materials themselves, and the application of developments in the science of glass, metal, concrete, wood, and plastics to architecture. The second has to do with how the facade mediates between the building interior and the environment.

In a world of extreme weather events and rapid sociological change, architects must invent new ways to marry flexibility, resilience, and sustainability in facade design.

Continue reading after the jump.

House in Cambridge by Armando and di Robilant

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Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

A translucent polycarbonate skin transforms an early-19th century Massachusetts home.

On a well-traveled street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about halfway between Harvard University and MIT, sits a house not like its neighbors. Its simple massing and pitched roof indicate old bones. But its skin is all 21st century. The house, recently renovated by Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that reveal the structural and insulating layers beneath. For the architects, the project was an experiment in applying a cladding system designed for large-scale projects to a single-family home. “We thought this could be a possible test-bed for something more standard, something that could at least be thought of as a standard way of renovating and improving a typical American detached house,” said di Robilant. “This house is very small, but we’re now trying to fit it toward possible standardization of this approach.” Read More

Canstruction LA: The City’s Most Architectural Food Drive Has a Record Year

Art, Design, Newsletter, West
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
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"FOOD FIGHT!" by PCL Construction Services, Inc., KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison won Jurors' Favorite at Canstruction LA 2014. (Benjamin Ariff Photography)

“FOOD FIGHT!” by PCL Construction Services, Inc., KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison won Jurors’ Favorite at Canstruction LA 2014. (Benjamin Ariff Photography)

Every year at about this time, Los Angeles’ design community comes together for a good cause—and a chance to show off their ingenuity working with an unusual building material. We’re talking Canstruction LA, which just wrapped its eighth outing. Like other Canstruction events nationwide, Canstruction LA invites teams of architects, engineers, builders, and designers to design and build sculptures entirely out of canned food. The 2014 competition produced an array of impressive designs and—most importantly—donated 28,551 cans of food to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

More after the jump.

Skyscraper Expert Gordon Gill Talks High-Performance Facades

Facade detail of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture's Wuhan Greenland Center in Wuhan, China. (Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)

Facade detail of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s Wuhan Greenland Center in Wuhan, China. (Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)

Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.”

More after the jump.

Sonoran Desert Vernacular by CO Architects

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CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

Red-rock mountains and the saguaro cactus inspired the Health Sciences Education Building’s rippling copper facade.

Downtown Phoenix, observed CO Architects’ Arnold Swanborn, looks a lot like downtown Minneapolis. That feels wrong, given the two cities’ contrasting environments. So when it came to designing the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) at Phoenix Biomedical Campus (which won honorable mention for facades in AN’s Best of Design Awards), CO Architects went back to nature—to the Sonoran Desert in particular. “We’re building in a desert. We really, in the outset, wanted to understand what it’s like to build in a desert environment, to really go back and investigate the people who first moved there, or even some of the [American] Indians who lived [there],” said Swanborn. “The skin is really a response to some of the lessons we learned from going out to the desert, being out there and seeing how plants and animals adapted to that environment.” Read More

Joseph Eichler’s Mid-Century Homes Reborn in Palm Springs

Realtor Monique Lombardelli purchased the rights to 65 original Joseph Eichler plans. (Thomas Sylvia of Modern Homes Realty)

Realtor Monique Lombardelli purchased the rights to 65 original Joseph Eichler plans. (Thomas Sylvia of Modern Homes Realty)

A few years ago, Realtor Monique Lombardelli fell in love with the work of Joseph Eichler, the developer whose architect-designed tract homes proliferated throughout Northern and Southern California in the decades following World War II. “[The Eichler homes] provide such a great environment, more of a relaxing, open feel,” she said. Lombardelli’s passion led her to produce a documentary on Eichler’s legacy, which in turn piqued her clients’ interest. “I started getting a lot of clients who wanted one, and there wasn’t anything to show them,” said Lombardelli. “Then I sold one that was a remodel, and everyone said, ‘I want an Eichler.’”

Read More

UT Student Installation Takes SXSW

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Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB's annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB’s annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin’s famous music festival.

When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Read More

A Transparent Cathedral Addition by architectsAlliance

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The architects designed a transparent addition to the St. James Cathedral's 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

The architects designed a glass addition to the St. James Cathedral’s 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

A renovation and addition bring an historic church complex into the 21st century.

The Diocese of Toronto approached architectsAlliance (aA) about renovating the St. James Cathedral Centre with two objectives in mind. On a practical level, they wanted more space for the cathedral’s outreach program and the Diocesan archives, as well as quarters for the Dean of the Cathedral and visitors. At the same time, the Anglican leadership wanted to make a statement about the Church’s relevance to contemporary Canadian society. “The idea of the addition was to convey an image of the Church itself as a kind of more open institution, much more transparent and contemporary,” said aA’s Rob Cadeau. “[It was] really driven by the dean, who wanted to refresh the image of the Church.” Read More

5-OH Rising Out of Park Fifth’s Ashes in Los Angeles

Newsletter, West
Monday, March 17, 2014
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5-OH IS THE NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT SLATED FOR THE FORMER SITE OF PARK FIFTH (HARLEY ELLIS DEVEREAUX)

5-OH IS THE NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT SLATED FOR THE FORMER SITE OF PARK FIFTH (HARLEY ELLIS DEVEREAUX)

At long last, the recession-doomed site of the high-rise condo complex known as Park Fifth is seeing some action. This particular patch of ground, across the street from Pershing Square near downtown Los Angeles, has been the subject of a tug-of-war between would-be investors and market forces for at least seven years. Park Fifth, a pair of 76- and 41-story towers designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, went down with the real estate bubble in 2008. Even the current project, dubbed 5-OH, has seen a lot of uncertainty during its relatively short life. “We went through a lot of studies and a lot of different client groups,” said Harley Ellis Devereaux’s Daniel Gehman. “[There were] a lot of shifting sands.” Read More

An Impossible Stair by NEXT Architects

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The steel staircase is based on a Möbius strip. (Sander Meisner)

A folly in a Rotterdam suburb draws on residents’ complex relationship with the city.

The residents of Carnisselande, a garden suburb in Barendrecht, the Netherlands, have a curious relationship with Rotterdam. Many of them work in the city, or are otherwise mentally and emotionally connected to it, yet they go home at night to a place that is physically and visually separate. When NEXT architects was tapped to build a folly on a hill in the new town, they seized on this apparent contradiction. “This suburb is completely hidden behind sound barriers, highways, totally disconnected from Rotterdam,” said NEXT director Marijn Schenk. “We discovered when you’re on top of the hill and jump, you can see Rotterdam. We said, ‘Can we make the jump into an art piece?’” Read More

Two Opportunities to Learn Dynamo at facades+PERFORMANCE

East, Newsletter, Technology
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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Two facades+PERFORMANCE tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari.

Two facades+PERFORMANCE tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari.

BIM continues to transform the process of design and building. Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari is a leading open source visual programming environment that extends the parametric capabilities of Revit and Vasari.  April’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York includes two conference tech workshops focusing on Dynamo.

Gil Akos of Mode Lab will lead Enhanced Parametric Design with Dynamo (4 AIA CES LU credits). Participants will learn the fundamentals of parametric design within Dynamo, with attention to how the application can be used during every stage of the design process. The workshop will also feature a preview of work-in-progress versions of the open-source software. Read More

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