You’d be forgiven for thinking that something named “1200 Intrepid” is a ship (or at least a boat), especially when it’s located at the Navy Yard Corporate Center. In fact, that is the name of Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) first building in Philly and first-ever office building. Spanning 92,000 square feet, 1200 Intrepid takes on ship-like qualities through more than just its name: its warped facade emulates the hull of warships docked nearby.

The four-story building will occupy land between James Corner Field Operations’ Central Green Park and the Navy Yard’s basin. It’s hull-esque facade also curves in sync with the circular layout of the adjacent park. Fenestration on this side is arranged with alternating pre-cast concrete panels that express the building’s height and visually exaggerate the angle of inclination. These gradually loom over the tree-lined path that traces the edge and provides shelter of sorts for the walkway. The building’s other facades offer more traditional, orthogonal elevations while maintaining the paneling facade system.

Inside the central atrium. (Courtesy Rasmus Hjortshoj)

Inside the central atrium. (Courtesy Rasmus Hjortshoj)

“The ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water, invading the footprint of the building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance,” said Ingels in a press release. “The resultant double-curved facade echoes the complex yet rational geometries of maritime architecture. Inside, the elevator lobby forms an actual periscope, allowing people to admire the mothballed ships at the adjacent docks.”

Inside 1200 Intrepid, generous ceiling heights mean office spaces are bathed in sufficient amounts of daylight. A central atrium creates a dialogue between the floors: though rectangular, its twist incrementally references the building’s signature facade.

“In many cases, architects design big, boxy buildings that could be placed anywhere and don’t connect directly to the site,” said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner at BIG. “You would really be hard-pressed to place 1200 Intrepid anywhere else, due to how it connects with its surroundings. Our commission involved creating a speculative office building, for which no tenants were committed. The key challenge here was to create a reason for tenants to be here with the constraint of a stringent budget.”

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