Search results for "bohlin cywinski jackson"

Illini

University of Illinois breaks ground on collaborative design center by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
This past Wednesday, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) broke ground on its Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed (BCJ) Siebel Center for Design, a collaborative maker space for students in all majors. The 59,000-square-foot building is designed for flexibility, and UIUC students will have access to laser and water-jet cutters, a prototyping studio, 3-D printers, and CNC tools spread across five collaboration studios, with room for 400 students. Rooms have also been carved out for video and virtual reality spaces, as well as digital audio recording. Students at UIUC will be given the option to pursue their interests beyond the core curriculum via workshops and extracurricular activities that will be offered at the center once it’s open. "We wanted to create a building that focuses on human-centered design, one that encourages students to think more broadly,” said BCJ founding principal Peter Bohlin in a press release. "Everything will have multiple uses — we imagine people utilizing the spaces in ways neither you nor I can predict." It appears the BCJ has taken a characteristically glassy approach to the Siebel Center (named after tech executive Tom Siebel, who donated $25 million for the project). The low-slung building will be wrapped in windows broken up with vertical metal mullions, which should allow the collaboration spaces, common areas, and galleries to be naturally lit throughout. From the renderings, it seems the interiors will be spacious and flexible so that students can repurpose the more open areas for exhibitions. Outside, BCJ has included numerous cantilevering overhangs for students to gather under. Former executive director of the international design and consulting firm IDEO, Rachel Switzky, has been named as the center’s inaugural director. BCJ is no stranger to the University of Illinois, or Tom Siebel for that matter; the firm completed the $50 million Siebel Center for Computer Science in 2004. Construction in the Siebel Center for Design should be completed in early 2020.

Seattle

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s SOMA Towers
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In a unique collaborative partnership with Bellevue, Washington-based Su Development—who participated as client, developer, and contractor—Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) has completed its second and final phase of development for the SOMA Towers project in Seattle. The team’s shared interest in pairing high design with efficiencies in construction sequencing has resulted in a unique mixed-use development involving two residential towers, a multilayered podium of tiered public plazas, and below-grade parking.
  • Facade Manufacturer Su Development; Northglass Industrial (glazing)
  • Architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Facade Installer 288 Soma LLC
  • Facade Consultants Morrison Hershfield (facade); KPFF + DCI (facade structure)
  • Location Bellevue, WA
  • Date of Completion Phase 1 (2014); Phase 2 (2017)
  • System Window Wall Modules
  • Products Slab Closure/Louver Extrusions: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (design); Su Development (procurement)
The facades of the towers are carefully composed of five-foot window wall modules that utilize a range of clear and frosted glazing. The outcome is a compositional strategy of varied mullion subdivision spacing within each stacked module, visually disrupting a repetitive modular system achieving what Robert Miller, principal at BCJ, called “a real trickery of the eye." The facade is shaped by post-tensioned concrete slab floor plates, whose curvature is a response to structural optimization of cantilevered distances. The architects worked with structural engineers and analysis software to evaluate stresses on the cantilevered slabs early in the design process. The project team would extend cantilever distances on under stressed areas of the slab and shorten distance or add back spans to areas of the slab that were over-stressed. This game of pushing and pulling yielded floor plates with a unique curvature optimized to a material and structural efficiency. Floor plates were further refined through repetition to allow formwork to be reused over many floor levels. Perimeter curvature was rationalized into a faceted geometry corresponding to the roughly five-foot-wide window wall units, which were designed to be installed from the interior side. This allowed for a safer and more cost-effective installation process. One of the challenges of the facade design was in the composition of the elevation, which sought a varied and dynamic grid at odds with the modularity of the construction assembly. The project was designed to prescriptive energy codes, which only allowed for a maximum open area of 40-percent at the time of Phase 1, and 30-percent by the time the second tower was under construction. In order to make the facade feel like it contained more glass, the architects created a matte black spandrel to simulate the aesthetic of glass. The change in energy code standards from Phase 1 and Phase 2 introduced another level of compositional rigor to the project, which sought aesthetic compatibility between the two towers. A horizontal wainscot band located 30-inches above the floor plate also helped to cut down op open glazing percentage. To avoid an unwanted horizontal aesthetic, the architects integrated full height spandrels to the window wall composition to break up the grid. The corners received full height glazing at a slightly wider width than the modular window wall units to accommodate tolerance in the floor slab perimeter geometry. One of the unique details of this project was Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s treatment of the slab edge. The detailing of the slab edge is a custom extrusion - a channel assembly with an infill panel on the face that performs as a louver composed of 90-degree angles to appear visually crisp. This detail allows a consistent aesthetic that integrates otherwise random vent openings into the compositional logic of the facade. Kirk Hostetter, Senior Associate at BCJ said the detail "articulates the top and bottom of the slab edge, and introduces a crispness to the edge that you don't typically see." Elsewhere, at the main entrance to the podium, a 70-foot circulation “cone” and 80-foot-long suspended leaf-shaped canopy of glass, aluminum, and steel, were also designed with the same approach to construction efficiency. These custom entry components were fabricated and pre-assembled in Taiwan, then disassembled and shipped to the site where they were reassembled. On the unique design process that marries development, client, contractor, and architectural thinking from day one, Miller said "Our buildings conceptually are strong enough that they can take a looser approach to the details. If some details get modified along the way, we can usually work together to make something that works for John Su's business plan and our design ambitions." He concluded, "Su Development has a keen interest in design. The fact that they value design allows us to do our job well. Shared admiration for skill sets and willingness to collaborate is what made this project possible."

Cabin Fever

Fallingwater gets new neighbors with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s High Meadow dwellings
Even architects enjoy going to camp, particularly when it involves sleeping in thoughtfully-designed cabins. Such is the case for students of the Fallingwater Institute summer residency programs at High Meadow, the historic farm neighboring Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania–based firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson recently completed four new residences at High Meadow, adding to an existing 1960s cabin on the site and doubling the capacity of the summer programs. The Fallingwater Institute summer residency programs allow students and educators of architecture, art, and design to study Frank Lloyd Wright at one of his most recognized works, learning about the relationship between architecture and nature in the process. The new dwellings differ greatly from the design originally proposed by competition-winners Patkau Architects in 2010; that scheme would've burrowed the residences into the hillside. Instead, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson chose to expand the footprint of the existing cabin and perch the new dwellings on steel columns atop the hillside. The Norway Spruce used for the horizontal screen running along the complex’s exterior hallways was also harvested and milled on site. "The building's main entry welcomes visitors into a central screened porch, which joins the new architecture to an existing cabin and serves as the outdoor gathering and dining space," said Bill James, project architect from the firm's Pittsburgh office, in a press release. On the interior, the finishes of the residences are durable but minimal to add “a sparse elegance to the space,” the firm stated. Each dwelling features a desk and two twin beds with a full bathroom and closet storage. The project has been recognized by the AIA Pennsylvania chapter, receiving its highest honor, the 2016 AIA Pennsylvania Silver Medal. The jury stated that the building’s contrast to its surroundings made it a “graceful addition to the existing structure.” Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was also responsible for the adaptive reuse of the Barn at Fallingwater in 2006, a project that turned the 1870s barn into educational and event space for the Fallingwater property. For more information about the Fallingwater Institute and their residency programs, visit their website here.

Top-of-the-Line Apline

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson reinterprets the chalet for Lake Tahoe

San Francisco–based architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) have completed work on the Mountainside Stellar Residences and Townhomes, a ski-in, ski-out complex of residences and townhomes located on the slopes of Northstar, an upscale community located beside Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border.

The project, designed in partnership with developers West Partners and Mountainside Partners, consists of six detached residences and 11 clustered townhomes, each designed to maximize views of the surrounding landscape and to operate on a year-round basis. The homes represent an attempt by the firm to reinterpret the upscale ski chalet for a contemporary area and are designed with sustainability and technology at their forefront and are built to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Located amid a grove of Jeffrey pine and Douglas fir trees, the detached residences are themselves clustered on a compact site overlooking ski slopes and a mountainside lift, with the homes visually grouped together by their mirrored floor plan configurations. Each 3,400-square-foot structure is entered from above and features a double-height, upper-level great room living area topped by a large, wood-clad roof overhang. The overhang shields an outdoor loggia that extends from the indoor living areas and is supported by a simply articulated post-and-beam assembly. A black-stained cedar wood shingled wall separates the living wing of each home from the bedroom areas, one of which is a master suite. That suite is cantilevered slightly over the ski slope and is wrapped on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. All of this rests above a blonde cedar wood siding-wrapped base containing two smaller bedrooms, a guest master suite, and a media and entertainment room.

The townhomes, each roughly 2,200 square feet in size, cascade down a gentle slope, except here, instead of having shifts in facade geometry indicate different aspects of program within a single home, the townhomes shift in geometry as ownership changes from one unit to the next. The clusters of paired townhomes—with the odd, eleventh townhome existing as a freestanding structure— are each topped by one of two halves of a thickened, sloping gabled roof plane. These roofs extend beyond the exterior walls of each unit and are wrapped in the same blonde cedar wood as the single-family homes. The roof planes turn down along the shared party wall between the units, giving each side a more individualized expression and massing. Like the detached homes, the townhouse units also feature groundfloor outdoor spaces that connect to an interior great-room configuration, except that here, bedrooms are located on the floor above. Each structure is clad in the same mix of blonde, gray, and black cedar planks.

Step Up

2016 Best of Design Award for Interior > Workplace: Square, Inc. HQ by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
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. 2016 Best of Design Award for Interior > Workplace: Square, Inc. Headquarters Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Location: San Francisco, CA

To tackle the challenge of making four floors of a windowless 1970s data center reflect the contemporary culture of Square, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson organized the company’s headquarters around a central collaborative space punctuated by a library, a coffee bar, and a gallery—anchored by a monumental amphitheater staircase that itself functions as a flexible venue for a variety of activities. Custom white tables further enhance the stair’s visual appeal while encouraging dynamic use. The concept’s clean lines and predominantly white interiors reflect Square’s brand at both aesthetic and functional levels, successfully transforming the space while highlighting the company’s core values to create a refined, seamless experience.

Contractor BCCI Builders

Structural Engineer Tipping Structural Engineers Millworker San Francisco Millwork Lighting Manufacturer Vodes Custom Furniture Manufacturer Ohio Design

Honorable Mention, Interior > Workplace: Pinterest Headquarters

Architect: IwamotoScott Architecture with Brereton Architects Location: San Francisco, CA

Inspired by the clean, simple, and intuitive ethos of Pinterest’s recent web platform redesign, IwamotoScott Architecture and Brereton Architects envisioned a concept of porous concentric layers wrapping a repurposed warehouse atrium.

Honorable Mention, Interior > Workplace: Squarespace Global Headquarters

Architect: Architecture Plus Information (A+I) Location: New York, NY

To honor its client’s aesthetic commitment to minimalism, A+I sought to bring depth, texture, and warmth to the Squarespace headquarters in New York’s historic Maltz Building through a purposeful variety of spaces and the use of natural materials: polished concrete, wood, and leather.

Stairway to Heaven

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson transforms data center into open, flexible office for Square

Whether or not we’ve realized it, most of us have bought products through Square, a company that supplies small businesses with the now-ubiquitous square-shaped hardware and software that remotely processes credit card payments. Square’s new offices in San Francisco are meant to be as minimal, clear, and usable as its products.

Located in what was once a miserable, almost completely windowless Bank of America data center, the new 300,000-square-foot, fourth-floor office is just the opposite: an open, light-filled workspace organized by a central “boulevard,” lined with gathering spaces (including a library, gallery, and cafe), and a wide variety of working spaces, including bench-style work desks, tables, and semi-private, acoustically lined “work cabanas.”

To manage the space’s ridiculously big floor plates (100,000 square feet, four times the typical size), according to Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) principal Gregory Mottola, the firm studied urban precedents as varied as Dubrovnik and Milan, looking at everything from urban plazas to enclosed arcades. Unifying the office floors is a massive amphitheater stair that cuts through floors six, seven, and eight, and provides zones for individual work, group meetings, and large presentations. The stair is fitted with movable, lightweight powder-coated tables that snake their way down its length to create unique working and relaxing environments. Another office anchor is the eighth and ninth floor “Square Stair,” a floating switchback connecting the office floor to the main dining level.

“You’re giving up rentable floor area, but the payoff is you have these incredible group amenities,” said Mottola. “The key was this idea of creating a really collaborative, transparent company. You don’t want to have one place feel disconnected from the rest.”

Clean lines and lots of white (on steel panels, stretch-fabric ceiling panels, and drywalls) reflect the brand’s identity and lightens the mood, while salvaged wood elements, like the eucalyptus amphitheater stair, Plyboo cabanas, and end-grain woodblock flooring in the lobby, provide warmth and visual interest. Splashes of color demarcate important spaces, provide needed accents, and reflect the locale: Bright orange, for instance, recalls the Golden Gate Bridge, while blue shades evoke the nearby San Francisco Bay. The company installed new windows along the perimeters of the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, drawing in natural light where there once had been none. Another big aspect of the design within a limited budget was lighting. BCJ employed a variety of techniques, from spear-shaped “light saber” LEDs above the boulevard to indirect lighting in the workstations and sculptural accent pendants in the lounge spaces.

“We tried to make the most of those dramatic moments when we could,” said Mottola, who noted that Square was drawn to BCJ’s clean work for Apple’s stores, but not its purely monochrome palette. As the company grows at an exponential rate, the airy, collaborative, and flexible spaces will no doubt come in handy. “We want them to be able to grow and shift over time,” he added.

Fluid Dynamics

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s water-inspired facade
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The School of Freshwater Sciences is the first of its kind in the country, supporting a regional initiative to establish Milwaukee as a global hub for water-related research and technology. Located in the city's Harbor District, the project is an anchor for the re-utilization of industrial brownfield sites. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Milwaukee-based architecture firm Continuum, the project is a long, linear addition to an existing building that was once used as a ceramics factory. The facility accommodates a dock for research vessels that have direct access to Lake Michigan. Natalie Gentile, ‎associate principal at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, said the design concept was about discovering a facade solution inspired by the visual qualities of water. She said flying into Milwaukee over Lake Michigan gives a unique vantage point of the water, and provided a departure point for the school's facade concept: “We loved the way the water responds to different daylight conditions, and we were hoping to capture some of that in the building elevation." The building integrates custom TAKTL panels with a Kawneer curtain wall into a thoughtful composition of horizontal and vertical regulating lines. The majority of the exterior shell is flat, but the project team was able to produce depth and curvilinearity through subtle two-dimensionally profiled shapes. Curves were rarely—but impactfully—incorporated into the facade. Custom-profiled louvers cast undulating shadow lines over the building, while a parapet wall camouflages the reading of the facade as a flat surface.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL (UHPC); Kawneer (curtain wall); Goldray Industries (glazing)
  • Architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (Design Architect); Continuum Architects + Planners, S.C. (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Installer JP Cullen
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Milwaukee, WI
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System rainscreen, curtain wall
  • Products TAKTL panels in Kalahari finish; Centria panels; Kawneer 451T curtain wall
The primary section of the facade is flanked by a set of gently curved bays and an elliptical stairwell inspired by boat hull geometry. The curtain wall incorporates extended mullion cap extrusions of varying length, evoking verticality of dripping rain, and cantilevered panels that give the facade a sense of movement akin to the flow of water. The curtain wall system picks up the geometry established by ribbon windows on the central portion of the facade. The compositional logic of the resulting grid is a response to a state of Wisconsin requirement that limits view glass percentage on facades dependent on solar orientation—in this case, the south-facing building was allowed to be composed of 30 percent openings along its primary facade. A set of ribbon windows set to this target established a grid with spandrel glass and rainscreen panels infilling opaque areas. The project team conducted numerous color studies looking at how to add dimension to the flat facade. The team arrived at a solution that incorporated five colors into a specific patterning that utilizes a proportioning system of one-thirds of a standard panel size to limit material waste. Gentile said the panels played a significant role in producing the water-inspired visual effects she sought: "I'm really pleased with how the TAKTL panels are performing in terms of meeting our architectural goals for replicating the way water reflects light under different lighting conditions.” She said photography taken in the morning versus the evening shows how the building—clad in blue panels—can range anywhere from golden to violet hues. “We were very concerned about the sheen of the panels. We knew this modest sheen was important to getting us that changing coloration and reflectivity." Bob Barr, principal of Continuum, said the project successfully worked with the state's regulations on view glass percentage to producing an impactful facade: “To have something very visible after the limitation of the glazing is why we played so much with the patterning of the spandrel glass."

Frick'n Green

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson unveils Pittsburgh’s Frick Environmental Center
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Frick Environmental Center (FEC) in Pittsburgh will be publicly unveiled September 10th. The FEC is the first municipally owned, free and public Living Building Challenge targeted facility. The project is also built to LEED Platinum standards. The FEC will act as an environmental education center for an estimated 20,000 students from Pittsburgh public schools, along with thousands of other visitors. Located in the 644-acre Frick Park, the project will provide support spaces, fully equipped classrooms, and offices for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The FEC will be free and open to the public, and available for event rental by spring 2017. A public “living room” and gallery will welcome visitors to learn about the park’s history, its extensive trails, the building itself. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson collaborated with the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy on the project. The team also worked with more than 1,000 community stakeholders on the design. Along with the new building, other portions of the park will be restored, including historic gatehouses, an alleé, and fountain. To achieve the Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum standards, the project uses 35% less energy than baseline structures. With a goal of net zero energy and water, the building will also ground-source heat pumps, radiant floors, a photovoltaic array, and a reclaimed water system. All building materials were sourced within 1,200 miles of the site and subcontractors and tradespeople were hired from the region. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has also had a local office in Pittsburgh for the past 40-years. “The September 10 celebration will give a sampling of the beautiful building and grounds, environmental education programming, and community spirit that the Center will have to offer our city for generations to come,” explained Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy founder and CEO Meg Cheever.

Defiant Provincialism

Iwan Baan’s first look inside the Manetti Shrem Art Museum by SO-IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is set to open in Davis, California on November 13, as construction is wrapping up. The building is a collaboration of associated architects SO-IL of New York, and the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The museum has been in a smaller space, but this building will give it space to show off its collection, which grew from the "spirit of defiant provincialism" that took root in the Central Valley city in the 1960s to 1990s. A group of artists that is sometimes called "funk artists" included Wayne Thiebaud, who has donated 72 of his own works and 300 works by other artists to the permanent collection. In the new building, the iconic roof structure "channels the intense light of the region into constantly changing shadows and silhouettes that animate one of the museum's primary gathering spaces, the entrance plaza." The canopy evokes the surrounding hillsides and agricultural fields as it swoops from 34 feet on one side, and 12 on the other. Perforated metal infill beams—910 of them, totaling 15,200 feet—are calibrated at varying densities to provide shade, modulate light, frame spaces and passageways, and provide a new symbol for UC Davis. Just 40 small columns hold up the canopy. The museum is meant to gather students and other passersby in its transparent and open relationship to the site. Florian Idenburg, founding partner of SO-IL, called the Manetti, "neither isolated nor exclusive, but open and permeable; not a static shrine, but a constantly evolving public event." Karl Backus, design principal for Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, described a collaborative process where "teamwork has been essential and uniquely fruitful" in creating a "diverse spatial experience that encourages interaction and learning." The museum is set to open with Hoof & Foot, a performative video installation by Bay Area artist Chris Sollars, a participatory installation by Pia Camil called A Pot and a Latch, and an exhibition of SO-IL's process work called The Making of a Museum, which will include drawings, video, artifacts, and models that illustrate the entire design process from interpretation and inspiration to design and construction.

Getting Schooled

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designs lecture hall at UC Davis
In November 2015, the University of California Office of the President mandated that the state's ten universities increase its overall enrollment by 10,000 students over the next two years. With many of the system’s urban campuses hemmed in by development controls, certain rural campuses, like those in Santa Barbara, Davis, and San Diego, were designated as high-growth sites expected to absorb most of the increased enrollment.   As a part of that expansion, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) recently began construction on a 16,365-square-foot, 580-seat lecture hall designed to offer state-of-the-art facilities for the university’s growing student population and relief from the campus’s overcrowded classrooms. The $22-million hall features a clamshell design that allows for a larger interior lecture space. This digitally-savvy lecture space features three large retractable projection screens and is flanked by two generously-proportioned and interconnected interstitial lobby areas designed to accommodate study and social functions. In a press release concerning the hall’s design, Karl Backus, design principal from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's San Francisco office stated, "The new Lecture Hall is designed to provide much needed instructional space for the University's growing enrollment. We received valuable input from administration, faculty, and students to create a highly interactive learning environment with state-of-the-art technology and advanced sustainability." The classroom is one of many projects currently under development at the university, including new international student, veterinary medicine, and graduate student centers, as well as a new recital hall, refurbished student union, and the nearly completed Manetti Shrem Museum of Art designed by Brooklyn-based SO-IL, for which BCJ is also the associated architect. These projects, completed under the banner of the university’s so-called “2020 Initiative,” will help UC Davis expand total undergraduate enrollment from about 23,844 in the 2011-12 school year to 28,850 by 2020. BCJ’s lecture hall is due to be completed in late 2018.

UNVEILED> Expedia comes to Seattle

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson reveals design for major commercial project on Puget Sound

Early this March, online travel giant Expedia released a first batch of renderings of its new campus. The company, founded in Redmond, Washington, in 1996, and now headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, has grand plans to move close to downtown Seattle on a site overlooking Puget Sound.

The company hired Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), of Seattle, to lead the design. BCJ is working on a new four-story, 600,000-square-foot building and has plans to renovate four existing buildings—once laboratories for the biopharmaceutical company Amgen—into open-style office spaces. Expedia bought the 40-acre Amgen property last spring for $229 million.

The images reveal lots of glass and green. Details are reminiscent of major West Coast tech campuses: There are hints of Apple’s curves and courtyard, along with Google’s openness. For Expedia, BCJ collaborated with PWP Landscape Architecture, campus landscape architects on projects for LinkedIn, Pixar, IBM, and Boeing. Expedia’s campus will connect to the Elliott Bay Trail—a biking, running, and walking path that links Ballard and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

If all goes as planned, construction on the first phase will start late this year, with a target move-in date of 2019. The new and renovated spaces from this phase will total 1.2 million square feet. There are two more phases under development, which could include a total of 730,000 square feet of office space, built over 15 years. The final cost of the project has not yet been set. 

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Tree Canopy
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Colombiere1

A tree grows in the Colombiere Center Chapel

It all started with a beech tree that has lived for the past hundred years on the Colombiere Jesuit Brother’s bucolic 14-acre site in Baltimore, MD.  The tree stands in plain view of the brothers’ new chapel, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ). Alfred Dragani, an associate with the firm and the lead on the project, said that “as our Jesuit clients expressed a greater desire for privacy, we began to study ways of designing a shroud behind the south and north facing glass walls of the chapel that would operate like light-modulating screens. Our hope was that we could simulate the effect of an actual tree canopy, resulting in a dappled and serene light.” Dragani and his team used digital modeling (Rhino and Grasshopper) to simulate daylight conditions in the chapel throughout the year and create an interior installation in the chapel made from perforated wood panels in an organic arrangement of overlapping planes within a repetitive steel framework. White Ash and ¾” thick Baltic birch plywood core panels of varying sizes and configurations were used for the “leaves.” Perforation with a ⅜” diameter spaced 1” on center were made using a CNC machine in order to give the wood panels a “diaphanous quality.” There are 95 panels in all, 48 on the south face and 47 on the north. They average 60 pounds apiece, though some are as heavy as 150 pounds. BCJ handed off their Rhino model to Amuneal, a metals manufacturer, who used it to develop a steel plate canopy armature that consisted of built-up sections of laser cut ¾” x 4” carbon steel plate bolted together to hold the 6,000+ pounds of wood. To install the wood and steel structure in the three-story high chapel ceiling (29’ 5” high), all the components were shipped and erected onsite. To make sure the installation would go smoothly, Dragani said that before “the final erection of the canopies, a full-scale mockup was built off site, reviewed by the project team and used to refine erection techniques and detailing.” The crucial part of this design is the delicate layering effect achieved with six tons of wood and steel. Dragani explained how assembling “the perforated panels at various angles generates a luminous field that approaches what one might experience when viewing light as it is passes through a natural tree canopy. Moments of direct light that permeate through larger apertures between panels are constantly changing and serve to animate the perforated wood shroud and the chapel floor and walls over the course of a day. The grain/direction of the perforations is always perpendicular to each panel’s longest edge, which helps to recall the metaphor of natural foliage.” Even though sound-proofing wasn’t one of their goals BCJ expected the perforated wood panels to have an acoustic impact on the space. A computer model showed that they didn’t improve the acoustic performance whatsoever. Still, the architectural canopy is not only structurally impressive, it also evokes the serene outdoor environment in an interior space. The brothers agree. While the non-traditional form of the chapel and even the tree canopy itself seems to have taken the Jesuit brothers by surprise, they appreciate how the presence of the canopy lends the chapel sanctuary a sense of sublime light and a state of repose appropriate to a place of worship. Colombiere2 Colombiere3 Colombiere4 Colombiere5