AIA Honor Awards 2009
Industrial Museum in Mexico
At Horno3 — the "Furnace #3 Steel Museum" — the former Cast Hall is one of two primary spaces that now house exhibits about the industrial history of Monterrey. Inside, the hollow shell of the blast furnace itself forms a central circulatory space, allowing visitors to enter the heart of the former foundry. The architects, with associate firm Oficina de Arquitectura, also added a new wing of gallery space.
"What is masterful is the weaving of old with new," praised the AIA architecture jury.
The hall's structural skeleton was fully reclad and enveloped in a skin of incrementally tilted louvers, providing a contemporary performative solution evocative of the original corrugated iron cladding. Screens and louvers reduce solar gain and diffuse natural light into the interior.
New structural elements demonstrate the modern limits of steel fabrication. For example, the columns and roof shell of the Steel Gallery are constructed entirely from steel plate, its structurally rigid form made possible by computer-aided technology.
The restoration also retrofitted the steeply inclined iron-ore elevator with a pair of customized funicular cabs, allowing visitors to soar 43 meters (140 feet) into the air to walk on the exterior catwalks.
The museum surpasses International Energy Code requirements (ASHRAE 90.1), using such systems as displacement ventilation in the main spaces and production of ice overnight for use in cooling the building during the day.
House in Hudson Valley
In New York's Hudson Valley, the Salt Point House by Thomas Phifer and Partners takes advantage of its bucolic setting. Located in a meadow overlooking a small lake near Salt Point, the 2,200-square-foot (200-square-meter) house opens to the landscape to the east and west, with a double-height porch at the west end. In the long, relatively solid north and south facades, continuous slot windows frame views of the landscape.
The structure is a compact, rectangular box, optimizing the economy of construction. Inside, the walls, floors, and ceilings are all clad in economical and durable maple plywood, with custom furniture pieces and interior cabinetry made of the same plywood.
The house was sited to take advantage of the prevailing summer breezes; strategically placed operable windows and ventilating skylights help make air conditioning unnecessary. Exterior stainless-steel screen panels on the north and south facades are held a few inches off the main structure to protect the house from summer sun and winter winds.
"This house meshes with the environment in a way that is completely unexpected," remarked the AIA architecture jury. "The scale is modest and shows how people can live lightly on the land."
Ballet Studio in New York
Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed an expansion project for the School of American Ballet, located in the Lincoln Center facilities of the official training academy for the New York City Ballet. The 8,200-square-foot (760-square-meter) project added two new dance studios within the volumes of two existing ones.
A deep mechanical plenum was removed from above the ceiling of the existing 16-foot- (five-meter-) high studios, and the ducting was reorganized into a compressed space at the periphery. The stacked studios each measure ten feet (three meters) from floor to ceiling. Three steel beams bridge the loads into existing building structure.
The new studios appear to hover within the space. Their floor-to-ceiling glass allows them to share daylight and views with the existing studios. Between the two sets of stacking studios is a mezzanine lounge made of liquid crystal walls that can switch the translucent glass to transparent with the application of an electric current, allowing visual connection or privacy at the discretion of teachers.
"The quality of light is wonderful," lauded the AIA interiors jury. "This project floats like the dancers who use it."
Student Center in Beirut
On the dense, urban campus of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, VJAA created a new multipurpose facility. Located on the public Corniche, a waterfront promenade along the Mediterranean, the Charles Hostler Student Center combines social gathering spaces for students and faculty with sports facilities, an auditorium and amphitheater, a cafe, and underground parking.
With associate firm Samir Khairallah & Partners, VJAA divided the 204,000-square-foot (19,000-square-meter) project into multiple building volumes connected by gardens. The site plan is organized around a series of radial "streets" oriented toward the sea, woven together by a series of courtyards, circulation paths, and spectator areas.
Exterior walls are sandstone-clad masonry cavity wall construction, emphasizing regional stone and masonry techniques. Locally fabricated metal and precast concrete louvers in the glazing systems provide shade, which, along with natural cooling and ventilation, aids in energy efficiency.
"This project uses elements in a thoughtful way to create a rich urban place," praised the AIA architecture jury. "This could have been a monolithic program, but instead the architects created an enlivened urban quarter connecting the campus to the water."
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