Chicago AIA Awards 2009
Science in Wisconsin
Two of the buildings honored by AIA Chicago are interdisciplinary academic science buildings. Both are organized around central communal space, and both have achieved high LEED certifications.
One of these buildings, Beloit College's Center for the Sciences in Beloit, Wisconsin, was designed by Holabird & Root for a site straddling a former street that had recently been converted to green space. The 117,000-square-foot (10,900-square-meter) science facility is organized around a four-story atrium. Single-run open stairs are stacked above each other, and bridges and seating areas link the floors at each end.
The Center for the Sciences recently received a LEED Platinum certification. Sustainable features include native landscaping, a rain garden, a vegetated roof, and rainwater collection for use on site.
The jury praised the interior's "very strong core and powerful geometry," along with the sense of connection to the nearby river and the rest of campus that the atrium provides.
Science in Arizona
Perkins + Will designed another such science building for Arizona State University in Tempe, with Dick & Fritsche Design Group as associate architect. ASU's LEED Gold-certified Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 1 consists of an office wing and a lab wing defining a courtyard planted with native desert vegetation. The labs were designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate future changes in research programs.
The office wing is raised on columns to create a shaded gathering space leading to the entrance and two-story glazed lobby. Different facades for each side of the building help minimize solar gain while allowing daylighting.
The jury commented on the grounded heaviness of the building, adding, "The screens give it a beautiful texture caught between those horizontal bones."
Another desert project is Relic Rock, a prefabricated modular home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Designed by David Hovey, Jr., AIA, as a prototype for an adaptable, sustainable building system, the house is built with recycled Cor-Ten steel for structural and architectural components, coupled with butt-glazed high-performance glass.
The house treads lightly on its site through an elevated floor and, figuratively, through the use of solar panels. One apparent anomaly for a building so well-attuned both functionally and aesthetically to its desert context is an open water reflecting pool.
The awards jury praised the choice of raw Cor-Ten, as well as the ceiling detail, grand stairs, and middle courtyard. One juror commented, "with that kind of detailing, this house really rises above prototypes."
Glazed German Tower
Farther afield, in the German city of Singen near the Swiss border, stands Hegau Tower, a two-building office project designed by Murphy/ Jahn (architects of the South Campus Chiller Plant in Chicago), with associate architects Riede Architekten and Fischer und Partner Architekten.
The buildings are designed to allow flexible office layouts. The tower consists of a concrete frame with a stiffening core and perimeter columns, enclosed by a glazed facade with a 2.7-meter (8.9-foot) module to create a sense of openness. The facade extends beyond the building with screen walls to create a continuous glass sheet between the tower and the lower office block.
Two different shade devices reduce solar gain: automatic, operable exterior sunshades on the southwest facade and automatic perforated interior louvers on the other three facades. The buildings also include hopper windows to facilitate natural ventilation.
The jury called the extended glass screen facade "this building's singular gesture, and it has an elegance and restraint."
Ross Barney Architects designed a new building for the Champaign Public Library in Champaign, Illinois, in conjunction with associate architect Gorski Reifsteck. The $22.8 million, 121-square-foot (11,200-square-meter) library is organized across three levels: two patron floors and a third-floor mezzanine for administrative offices.
An atrium spine leads from the entry lobby through the various collection spaces along the central stair. The 115-foot- (35-meter-) high skylight helps ensure daylight permeates the building, aided by a 16-foot- (five-meter-) high ceiling in the main reading room, many windows, and Solatube daylighting devices. A photosensor-controlled dimming system limits the use of electric lighting.
Limestone is complemented by bamboo for flooring, walls, and ceiling finishes, with colorful end panels and furnishings in the children's and teens' areas. "The interiors are treated with care and the materials have been selected and detailed with unusual concert for a total composition," remarked one member of the awards jury.
Tower with Ramp
On a tight, quarter-block site in downtown Chicago rises 111 South Wacker, a 53-story, 1.5 million-square-foot (140,000-square-meter) office tower. Parking was added to the program in the later design stages. Architect Goettsch Partners met the challenge of incorporating this requirement, and did so with a flourish: the spiraling ramp that leads up to the public parking levels sweeps right through the lobby. AIA Chicago honored the ramp as a "divine detail."
Ascending the lobby's full height of 44 feet (13.4 meters), the ramp spirals around the building core, suspended from the third-floor framing — a solution the design team devised to keep the lobby space open. The ramp structure is clad in linen-finish stainless-steel panels, and its underside — the lobby ceiling — is stepped, accented by cove lighting. Visible from the street through an ultra-transparent glass curtain wall, the ramp form becomes the building's design signature.
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