Manhattan’s MetLife building celebrated its 53rd birthday on Monday. The tower has become engrained into Manhattan‘s urban fabric, but it has also become an incredibly inefficient in how it uses energy, and a recent competition tasked designers with fixing the problem by applying a new building facade.
Metals in Construction magazine has unveiled six winners of its “Reimagine a New York City Icon” competition after its jury couldn’t select just one winner. Tasked with developing an “innovative and energy-efficient redesign of the façade of 200 Park Avenue,” the winning teams split the $15,000 prize.
The brief stipulated that designers come up with a “highly efficient envelope with the lightness and transparency sought by today’s office workforce—while preserving and enhancing the aesthetic of the building’s heritage.”
Prizes were given at a conference at the Times Center in New York City, preceded by talks on sustainability and retrofit facades which included panel discussion. The winning submissions are:
According to competition organizers: “Adapting the tapered form of the tower as a geometric module/motif creates a non-directional pattern across the surface of the tower – in keeping with early models and renderings which emphasized the form over the surface. Applied in a larger scale to the tower allows for maximum daylighting while the denser, smaller scale at the podium creates a more monolithic reading much closer to pedestrian level.”
Performance-Based Preservation (PDF)
According to competition organizers: “By preserving and overcladding – instead of demolishing and recladding – our proposal reduces the building’s environmental impact by 42% over the next 50 years… On the north and south, we add a new unitized curtainwall outboard of the concrete that uses emerging materials to generate energy while dynamically controlling solar heat gain and glare. On the east and west, we bring the new envelope inboard of the concrete to highlight the materiality and plasticity of the existing skin.”
Thermalswitch Facade (PDF)
According to competition organizers: “The Thermalswitch facade looks at hybridizing the overcladding and double skin techniques to create a unitized frame which mounts directly over the existing precast panels. The Metlife facade is constructed of a primary precast panel with integrated fins on both sides that alternates every other bay. Between these primary panels, secondary infills are set at the spandrel conditions.”
Harnessing Urban Energies (PDF)
According to competition organizers: “In our submission for the Metals in Architecture competition, we have lowered the present annual energy consumption of the building by 80 percent, and by 74 percent as compared to the median New York City office building.”
According to competition organizers: “Macro geometry of the curtain wall unit creates a self shading effect to reduce undesirable direct light and heat gain. The angle of the glazing is tuned to reflect solar insolation, optimize views from the building and reflect the image of the city back to the streetscape. Pre-assembled unitized aluminum curtain wall frame and assembly, stainless steel mullions, caps and grills.”
Farm Follows Function (PDF)
Submitted as a graphic novel, “Farm Follows Function” sees Walter Gropius say “This will surely be my Finest work: A masterpiece – my crowning achievement! A multifunctional complex set in the middle of america’s metropolis…”
His work is then dramatically transformed into a living tower-block farm. One passer by is shown to be saying “This elevated park is a real oasis of calm in the hubbub of midtown! with a market and even outdoor seating! awesome!”