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2017 Best of Design Awards for Office & Retail
Albina Yard is the first building in the United States made from domestically fabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT). This new 16,000-square-foot speculative office building utilizes mass timber construction, with a glue-laminated timber frame and CLT panels manufactured and prefabricated in Riddle, Oregon. The project’s primary goal was to utilize domestic CLT in a market-rate office building that would pave the way for broader adoption of renewable mass timber construction technologies in Oregon and the United States. The design approach reflects a commitment to this sustainable technology by developing an architecture focused on economy and simplicity, material expression, and the careful resolution and integration of all building systems to foreground the beauty of the exposed Douglas fir structural frame.“As a structural strategy, mass timber is very similar to a cast-in-place concrete structure in terms of layout and function of its individual elements. The main difference is the character and humaneness of the remaining spaces. It is very well-suited for this type of use.” —Nathaniel Stanton, principal, Craft Engineer Studio (juror) General Contractor: Reworks Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers CLT Supplier: DR Johnson Lumber CNC Routing: Cut My Timber Honorable Mention Project: Cummins Indy Distribution Headquarters Architect: Deborah Berke Partners Location: Indianapolis, Indiana This new office building reinforces an active pedestrian experience that is connected to downtown Indianapolis and its parkland. The unusually slender floorplan and high ceilings provide abundant natural daylight for every space and minimize reliance on electricity. A high-performance “calibrated” facade and an integrated system of fins and shades limit heat gain and increase thermal comfort. Honorable Mention Project: Zurich North America Headquarters Architect: Goettsch Partners Location: Schaumburg, Illinois Located on a 40-acre expressway site in suburban Chicago, the North American headquarters of the Swiss Zurich Insurance Group reflects the company’s global reach and commitment to sustainability. Composed of three primary “bars” that are offset and stacked, the arrangement creates unique spaces for collaboration, opens views of the surrounding landscape, optimizes solar orientation for amenities, and provides programmatic flexibility.
The redevelopment of the Chicago Union Station has been a long time coming. The 1925 Beaux Arts station has seen minor repairs in the past few years, but a recently released master plan envisions a complete redevelopment of the historic building and the surrounding area.
Led by Riverside Investment & Development Co., the Goettsch Partners–designed master plan will take the form of 3.1 million square feet of new commercial, retail, and residential space. Divided into three phases, work will begin in the historic headhouse and continue to neighboring properties, owned by Amtrak, above the below-grade railroad tracks. When complete, five new towers will rise above and around the station.
“This building was envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1909 Plan for Chicago as the city’s primary rail station,” said Amtrak President and CEO Charles W. “Wick” Moorman IV to the press at the announcement of the master plan. “It is in that spirit, that we have big plans for both this headhouse building and nearby properties owned by Amtrak.”
The headhouse, originally designed by Burnham and completed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White after his death, is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece. With its 110-foot-tall skylit great hall, the headhouse has often been used as the backdrop of films, most notably in the climax of the 1987 movie The Untouchables. The new master plan calls for a dramatic addition to the headhouse: Initial designs call for two 12-story residential towers to be added to the top of the building. The existing top portion, which is currently office space, will also be redeveloped. While adding towers to the top of the historic structure may seem drastic, it should be noted that the original design called for a commercial skyscraper to sit atop the building. This technique of matching civic spaces with office high-rises was once popular in Chicago, most famously in the cases of the Auditorium Theatre and the Lyric Opera House.
The rest of the development will follow another once-common building practice associated with Union Station. Immediately to the south of the headhouse, three new towers will take advantage of air rights over a set of 14 tracks that run into the station. The Chicago Daily News building and the Chicago Main Post Office, two of Chicago’s most recognizable art deco icons, were built in the same way, straddling the tracks to the north and south of the station.
Along with the towers, the master plan calls for improvements to the passenger experience as well. Despite serving over 50,000 guests a day, the station, which is mostly underground, is outdated and generally unpleasant. Street-level retail, historic restoration, and a new food hall will all be addressed in the redevelopment. A hotel has been proposed for above the headhouse, and publicly accessible terraces and plazas are also included in the master plan.
Considering Chicago Union Station is the only major train station in Chicago, and the third busiest in the country, its surroundings have seen surprisingly little development over the years. The most recent addition to the area is a $40 million bus transit center designed by Chicago-based Muller+Muller. Ironically, that station will have to be demolished and rebuilt to be integrated into the proposed master plan. But, since no hard dates have been set to implement the new plan as it negotiates the financial side of the project, the transit station is safe for now.
While every major development in Chicago brings with it scores of critics and champions, this one has the potential to spark particularly lively discussions. If the architecture of the project at all resembles the renderings of the master plan, many Chicagoans will have something to say about putting two glass towers on top of their much-loved Beaux Arts landmark.
Dubbed the Global Hub, Northwestern University’s latest addition to its Evanston campus is a grand new home to the Kellogg School of Management. The recently opened five-story building sits immediately along the shore of Lake Michigan on land reclaimed by the university decades ago. Defined by four large wings, which produce a plan that resembles the letter K, the curving form of the building makes no small reference to the waves on the water it overlooks.
“The first inspiration was the action of the water and the waves, and how they round off materials and forms to make them smooth,” explained Bruce Kuwabara, partner at Toronto-based firm KPMB, which designed the new building. “It was beautiful, the power of Lake Michigan and nature.”
The project is composed of a series of vastly different-sized spaces, accumulating to a whopping 415,000 square feet. The building is the new home to full-time business students, faculty, and administration offices. Collaboration areas throughout can accommodate from two to twenty individuals, and larger gathering spaces can handle from 200 to 2,000.
The largest space in the complex is the massive multistory center atrium, where all four wings connect. The structure’s exterior curves continue into this space in the form of flowing balconies and staircases. Two of the large wooden staircases at the heart of the building double as seating for formal and informal events. Another atrium on the upper levels acts a second major space. Both allow for copious amounts of natural light.
The building’s high-tech envelope not only allows in all of that light, but also contributes to the project’s goal of achieving LEED Gold certification. Throughout, double and triple glazing provide daylight and energy efficiency, while automated shading controls glare and solar gain. A series of undulating fritted glass fins adds an additional layer of shading. On the interior, borrowed light is distributed through glassed office partitions. Perhaps even more than daylighting and energy efficiency, the glass facade provides something the building takes ample advantage of: unmatched views of the lake and the downtown, 15 miles to the south.
Called the “Global Hub,” it is part of the University’s larger building program that includes the 2015 Goettsch Partners–designed Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. Both new additions to the campus run counter to its existing catalogue of Brutalist and gothic-revival structures.
The stark contrast between old and new on Northwestern’s campus is the school’s physical manifestation of its vision for the future of education. And Northwestern is not alone—dark wood–lined halls and oak tree–filled quads are being replaced by brighter, more transparent and generous collaboration spaces at many traditional campuses. It is only a matter of time before the image of the elite campus is less about spires and more about sunlight.