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Global Design

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s ambitious glass sphere pavilion
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With a theme of “Future Energy,” Kazakhstan’s Expo 2017 is expected to draw more than two million tourists to Astana, the capital city. At the center of it all is the Kazakhstan Pavilion—by Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture—which is capped with a glass dome 262 feet in diameter and and houses the “Museum of Future Energy.”

  • Facade Manufacturer Sunglass (glass); Ertex (PV); Metal Yapi (steel); Aden Metal (curtain wall)
  • Architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Facade Installer Sembol (contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Werner Sobek (structural engineer)
  • Location Kazakhstan
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System double-curved insulated glass
  • Products Sunglass (glass); Ertex (PV); Metal Yapi (steel); Aden Metal (curtain wall)
The form was inspired by expos of the past, like the Montreal Biodome from Expo ’67, as well as Kazakhstan’s president himself, who specifically told the firm he wanted a sphere, said Founding Partner Gordon Gill. But earlier examples failed to complete the circle—Gill’s team wanted to go further. 

“We said, ‘If we’re going to do that, let’s do a true sphere,’” Gill recounted. “Instead of segmented glass, we decided to do double-curved, insulated, fritted glass.” While the form posed engineering challenges due to the undefined transition of heat across its surface—which the team solved by using convection to move air throughout the space—fabricating the glass panels proved an engineering feat of its own.

“We thought it was going to be pretty straightforward,” Gill said. “After all, doesn’t every car have double-curved glass on the windshield? But we only found three manufacturers on the planet that could deliver double-curved insulated glass.” Eventually choosing Italy’s Sunglass for the job, together they considered a number of designs, ultimately choosing to utilize a rhombus shape with horizontal members that could be rationalized with the floor line in installation. 

The building envelope is essentially a glazed unitized curtain wall system. Aluminum mullions, which are supported off a primary and secondary steel frame system that forms an elegant diagrid shell, provide support and thermally isolated connections to the pavilion's doubly-curved insulated glazing units. A perforated enclosure housing a radiant heating system is supported off horizontal mullions. To the exterior, ceramic frit glazing is specified on the outboard laminated lite of the curtain wall, while ultra clear low-iron glass with a low-E coating was included throughout the project. The envelope also features integrated LED illumination and shading systems within the exterior curtain wall mullions.

To maximize views from the inside and reduce the number of glass panels, they opted for a three-meter-sized lite for a total of about 2,900 double-curved spherical panels with an additional 315 double-curved panels to make up the side walls of the wind turbine inlet at the top of the sphere, as well as 388 flat panels with integrated photovoltaics from Ertex.

“There’s a lot of science behind this simplicity,” Gill said. “It seems so straightforward and almost like a one-liner, but it unfolds in front of you as you go through it to reveal a whole litany of sophistication.”

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Work'n on the Railroad

Bauer Latoza Studio and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill tapped for Pullman National Monument Visitor Center
While the uncanny South Side Chicago neighborhood of Pullman may not look too different since it was named a National Monument in 2015, that is all about to change. The former “utopian” workers town will soon be home to the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center, and the designers for the project have just been announced. The National Park Service (NPS), the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), announced this week that Chicago-based firms Bauer Latoza Studio and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) will act as the lead designers of the project. The new visitor center will be located within the long-vacant Clock Tower Building, which was once part of the Pullman train car factory on 111th street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Once the center of the 203-acre community and factory, the Clock Tower has been nearly destroyed multiple times by fire and neglect over the last few decades. Bauer Latoza Studio is recognized for historic restoration and will be leading the design of the Visitor Center. AS+GG will handle the site design for the project. Other consultants on the project include Site Design, SPACECO, Inc., DAI Environmental, and sustainability consultants CKL Engineers, LLC. “The NPS and the National Park Foundation, the project funder, are thrilled to be moving forward with plans for the adaptive reuse of the historic Clock Tower Building,” said Kathleen Schneider, the superintendent of Pullman National Monument, in a press release. “The Visitor Center, to be located in the first floor of the Clock Tower, will become the heartbeat of the community and primary entry point for many of our Pullman visitors. Once we have introduced the visitors to the nationally significant Pullman stories, we will encourage them to explore the community and visit the other important visitor destinations in the Monument, including the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and the Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center.” The Pullman neighborhood was founded in 1880 by George Pullman for the workers and families of his luxury sleeping train car company. The entire complex, which was once an independent town, was designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett, two twenty-something designers. The company shut down in the 1960s and the neighborhood saw major drops in population and rise in crime. In recent years, the area has seen something of a resurgence with new retail and living-wage jobs. Whole Foods is in the process of building a large distribution center in the neighborhood, and a community center and live/work art space are also on their way. Nearly from the beginning, Pullman was also the center of worker’s rights conversations, as pointed out in President Barack Obama’s proclamation naming the site a national monument. “By 1937, the Pullman Company had been the Nation’s largest employer of African Americans for over 20 years and Pullman porters comprised 44 percent of the Pullman Company workforce. The 1937 Contract was the first major labor agreement between a union led by African Americans and a corporation and is considered one of the most important markers of the Reconstruction toward African American independence from racist paternalism.”
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Re-Plant

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill will transform former Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana into tech hub
The former Studebaker car plant in South Bend, Indiana, is undergoing a complete transformation. At nearly a century old, the complex will be reborn as a major technology hub for the entire Midwest. Working on the design is Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). Dubbed the Renaissance District, the project broke ground nearly two years ago, with the first phase expected to be completed by this summer. The project is so large that companies have already moved into portions of the former plant. When completed the complex will include a 150,000-square-foot data center, a 230,000-square-foot workspace platform with commercial, incubator, and educational space, a 58,000-square-foot education center with classrooms, learning center, and auditorium, a 88,000-square-foot commerce platform with a fitness center, daycare, retail, and food services, and 100,000 square feet of housing. The large north section of the complex was designed by Detroit-based Albert Kahn in 1923. The six-story reinforced concrete structure was state of the art at the time, designed to host an automobile assembly line. While the process of building cars was generally linear, the AS+GG’s design will enable to the multi-directional, multi-discipline approach of today’s technology industry. The housing in the project will take the form of a long-term hotel and serviced apartments that groups or organizations can rent for weeks, months, or years, depending on their needs. Both the housing portion and commercial portions of the project will include landscaped green roofs and terraces. A large courtyard will also provide outdoor gathering space on the east end of the project. This landscaped courtyard will act as the center of the project for workers and visitors. A 200-seat auditorium will “float” above the east courtyard. The hope is that the project will act as an example for a post-industrial city looking to address economic and development issues on complex sites.
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Higher Ground

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture design 72,000-square-foot Church in Glenview, Illinois

Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture may be best known for its supertalls, but even though one of the office’s current constructions, Willow Creek North Shore Church, is quite the opposite, it will still have its congregation looking up.

The 72,000-square-foot project in Glenview, Illinois, just north of Chicago, is one of eight Willow Creek ministries located throughout the greater Chicago area. Currently under construction, completion is scheduled for fall 2016.

“Although we are specialists in the design and technology of super tall towers and complex sustainable master planning, we enjoy designing at all scales and typologies,” Adrian Smith, design partner and founder of AS+GG, told The Architect's Newspaper. “Many of our buildings have smaller components to them, and most of our work is mixed-use, so designing a church, a school, a performing arts venue or a congress hall is all part of what we do.”

The mustard seed, a recurring reference in the Bible, inspired the overall shape. It symbolizes strong faith and fellowship of the congregation. It was also used as a guiding principle in connecting the project to its surroundings. “The goal of the space was to have nature as the backdrop for every room,” Willow Creek North Shore Lead Pastor Steve Gillen said in a press release.

Though the project is well above the ground now, and the final form of the building is becoming clear, the first months of construction were focused on site work. The entire building site was lifted five to eight feet, providing a gentle plateau to support the building. A large retention pond was also created and mimics the shape of the church. A 700-car parking lot was built to accommodate the large congregation.

When completed, the church will include a 1,200-seat auditorium, adult ministry spaces, classrooms, a cafe, and administration offices. Two large oval-shaped courtyards flank the central sanctuary. These plazas flow seamlessly into the interior spaces to provide additional areas for funerals, weddings, and informal events with direct access to the cafe. There are several gathering spaces, including a large sky-lit preassembly area, designed into the project. “The gentle curve of the circulation paths allows occupants to flow through the space, while enjoying views of the outside,” Smith explained.

Many areas of the project are designed specifically to allow for flexible programming. The administrative offices will function as workplaces throughout the week, while providing extra ministry spaces and classrooms on the weekend. The cafe can be used as a more casual meeting and gathering space on weekends as well.

More than simply a place of worship, the Willow Creek North Shore is a project built around a community, for a community. Its generous spaces and ability to transform fill a need for the ever-growing congregation and church administration. And though it does not reach the tall heights of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s other buildings, the firm’s signature form and style are undeniable.

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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Bronze The Waldorf Astoria Beijing

Bronze facade is inspired by Chinese historic architecture.

In designing the facade of the new Waldorf Astoria Beijing, Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) set out to create a contemporary expression that maintained a relationship to the city’s historic context. The project, after all, is within walking distance of the Forbidden City and many of the Chinese capitol’s famous Hutongs. “How do we make the experience of going to a hotel special and what about it would be Chinese?” enquired founding partner Gordon Gill. “From an experience standpoint, what about the wall could change your experience in your room?” The answer was a bronze facade with a bay window system that protrudes out from the face of the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer Yuanda Exterior Wall Manufacturer
  • Architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Facade Installer Yuanda Exterior Wall Manufacturer
  • Facade Consultant Lerch Bates
  • Location Beijing, China
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System bronze panels with modular bay windows and solar shading
  • Products bronze, low-iron glass
The bay windows are not uniform, however, but tuned to differing angles and orientations to frame particular views. This makes the whole building “like a compound eye,” according to Gill. Working in co-ordination with Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg, the interior architects, the team developed a modular system based on the size of the rooms and the dimensions of the structural bays. It led to a cleaner design that was easier to construct. While the texture created by the bay window system is ornamental and connected to the context, it also provides solar shading. Shade provided by horizontal glass fins above the recessed vertical windows allowed the architects to use very clear low-iron glass to give the best views possible. “It is not tainted by a tint or a color in any way. There is a low-e coating on the glass, but it’s a low-level so it’s not reflective on the inside,” said Gill. The architects developed the bronze details, and the client initially liked it. The designers were excited, but nervous about it actually happening. Gill explained, “We went back to the chairman a few weeks later for the presentation, and he came back and said ‘Well I want you to know that I had lunch with the mayor and I told him that this building was going to be bronze, and he loved it, so now we have to do it.’ So it was just a matter of detailing out.” Metal panels can present technical challenges, especially catalytic failure between the z-clips and the metal panels, including rusting, corrosion, or telegraphing through the panel. The design team mitigated these problems, so the main challenge was to get the color right. Bronze is not a typical material, so they had to rely on their own blend of copper, nickel, and brass to achieve a warm, golden color that was not too yellow, red, or brown, but somewhere in between. There is variation from panel to panel—an unpredictability that adds to the texture and richness of the facade. The unusual material was inspired by two large bronze pots at a nearby historic hospital building, which the client had referenced. This decision exemplifies the ethos of the building, which was to capture the elegance and quality of Waldorf Astoria’s brand in contemporary yet contextually sensitive building. It has come to serve as an example to luxury hoteliers around the world.    
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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill selected for high-tech overhaul in South Bend, Indiana
Union Station Technology Center (USTC) in South Bend, Indiana began its life as a train station. Now it's a data center and the state's second largest carrier hotel. As a piece of internet infrastructure, it's high tech. With the help of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the building owners are aiming for a design to suit. The building is in South Bend's Studebaker Corridor, so named for the wagon company turned automobile titan. Before it closed in 1963, Studebaker was the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the nation, employing as many as 23,000 people in South Bend. Union Station Technology Center is among the tech-oriented rehabs that local businesspeople like Nick Easley, director of strategic initiatives for USTC, and developer Kevin Smith are using to rebrand the area as South Bend’s Renaissance District. AS+GG was selected as the emerging district's master planner in 2012. On Sunday it was announced that the Chicago-based firm—known for energy-efficient, eye-grabbing projects around the world—would lead the redesign of USTC, as well as “a mixed-use campus consisting of more than one million square feet of Class A office, education, technology, research grade manufacturing, data center, and live-work spaces.” A press release promises to turn USTC into “a large scale, sustainably designed tech hub that promises to spur a second economic boom for South Bend and the surrounding region.” South Bend's boosters hope the cold climate—which cuts server cooling costs—and local knowledge base at University of Notre Dame will help it stand out among cities from coast to coast currently chasing tech jobs to replace manufacturing work.
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In just a few years, this tower by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill will be the tallest residential building on Planet Earth
The tallest of Manhattan's rising supertall towers has been revealed—and believe it or not, the building that will make New York's current crop of skyscrapers look like walkups is very, very glassy. Real estate blog New York YIMBY obtained the first official renderings for 217 West 57th Street—the under-construction building that has been dubbed the "Nordstrom Tower" for the department store that will occupy its base. Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill designed the tower and Extell is developing the project. The roof of the hotel and condo tower will reach 1,479 feet, but the building doesn't stop there—no, it just keeps climbing. When all is said and done, Nordstrom Tower's spire will stand at 1,775 feet tall—just one foot below One World Trade Center's very historically-minded height of 1,776 feet (spire included). But since One World Trade has a significantly taller spire, the 57th Street supertall is actually the bigger building. And since Midtown's elevation above sea level is about 70 feet higher than Lower Manhattan, YIMBY noted that the new building will actually reach 1,850 feet above sea level—making it the tallest residential building on planet earth. Since the building won't be completed until 2018, it's probably best for people to get their Central Park sunshine now, as the new crop of 57th Street towers will be throwing some literal shade on New York's backyard.
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Shanghai Talks> Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Chicago's Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. In Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower, we talked about responsive design and environmental technology—everything from greenery and air quality to geothermal energy and the possibilities of net-zero skyscrapers. “It's not going to suddenly happen, it's going to happen incrementally,” he said of net-zero tall buildings. “I absolutely believe it's possible.” His comments on disaster and climate resilience were also revealing. In addition to buildings being resilient, Drew said communities need to be able to react to changing weather patterns—perhaps by relocating or changing local land-use and zoning patterns. Ultimately the sustainability director for the firm behind Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower and 215 West 57th Street in New York City was hopeful. “We do have a whole opportunity to build our way out of this, but we can't do it just on our own,” he said. “It has to be through collaboration with the supply chain … we also have to work with the legislators.” Watch more videos on CTBUH's website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to the monthly video series here.
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First Glimpse of New York’s Latest Super-Tall Skyscraper by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
A new condo tower designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill was announced late last year, but details of the super-tall tower have been scant. The 88-story tower at 215 West 57th Street will be one of New York City's tallest buildings, reaching up to 1,550 feet. That means it will top the Empire State Building's measly 1,454 feet and come in second only to the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center. (If you're paying attention to the spire / antenna semantics game ongoing at One World Trade, AS+GG's new tower would beat its midtown rival by a little over 200 feet.) Adrian Smith is no stranger to designing soaring skyscrapers—he designed Dubai's Burj Khalifa while working at SOM, still the tallest tower in the world. The architects declined to comment further about the tower.    
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Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill’s First Manhattan Skyscraper Among the City’s Tallest
Extell Development made waves as when they announced their 1,004-foot-tall skyscraper One57 by Christian de Portzamparc on Midtown Manhattan's 57th Street (which made headlines most recently for crane troubles during Hurricane Sandy), but their next project a few blocks down the street looks to climb even higher. Developers announced in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture will design an 88-story, 1,550-foot-tall tower on West 57th Street just east of Broadway, an area quickly becoming known for skinny skyscraper proposals. Adrian Smith, a former design principal at SOM's Chicago office, and Gordon Gill, a former design associate at SOM, are two of the leading authorities on supertall buildings, while at SOM and at their own practice. While at SOM, Smith was the designer of the world's current tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. In more recent years, AS+GG has retrofitted Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), designed the Quintai International Tower in China, the Dancing Dragons towers for Seoul, Korea's Yongsan Business District and the Federation of Korean Industries Tower, and taken on what could be the world's next tallest tower, the kilometer-high Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia. AS+GG's new tower for Extell, their first in Manhattan, will stand 300 feet above the Empire State Building and taller than the World Trade Center excluding its antenna. It will house the city's first Nordstrom department store with a hotel and residences above. The architects were selected from a pool of top name architects including SHoP and Herzog & De Meuron, who both are already working on towers in New York City. Extell president Gary Barnett told the Journal that Seattle-based Nordstroms actually recommended AS+GG for the job. No groundbreaking has been set and financing must first be secured, but the tower could be complete as soon as 2018.

Design at Work: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Offices

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Paso Robles

2016 Best of Design Award in Landscape > Private: Modern Vineyard by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

Landscape > Private: Modern Vineyard by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Architect: Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture  Location: Paso Robles, CA

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture selected a subdued color palette accentuated with Mediterranean grasses and timeworn olive trees to define this 72-acre vineyard in the Paso Robles wine region. In order to create a poetic exchange among the landscape, architecture, and surrounding environment, the firm softened the structure’s modern aesthetic with grasses that mirror the native vegetation as it fluctuates through the seasons, creating a strong sense of connection with the region.

Landscape Contractor D’Alfonso’s Native Landscapes

Architect Ferguson-Ettinger Architects, Inc. Structural Engineer Craig Dobbs Isokern Fireplaces Earthcore Doors LaCantina Doors

Honorable Mention, Landscape > Private: Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative

Landscape Architecture: site design group, ltd. Location: Chicago, IL

Located on the South Side of Chicago, Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative is a unique development of 36 rehabilitated units that serve as mixed-income housing for artists, arts professionals, and those with a creative impulse, designed to foster community collaboration around the arts.

Honorable Mention, Landscape > Private: Gateway Plaza Landscape

Architect: Forum Studio Location: Richmond, VA

Positioned as a portal to downtown, this urban plaza weaves art, design elements, ample seating, and greenery through the site to catalyze a new urban vitality and serve as a model for sustainability.