Search results for "morphosis"

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Eavesdrop> Kate Mantilini, Part II: Is Morphosis ready to revamp Beverly Hills?
In a previous Eavesdrop, we reported that the famous Morphosis-designed restaurant Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills was chafing at city plans to landmark the premises. Well it appears the problem may have been resolved. Eavesdrop heard over cocktails that Morphosis itself has been tagged to do the restaurant’s renovation. No official word yet, but this seems like a natural fit, doesn’t it?
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Morphosis Computes a Facade for Cornell

The facade's stainless steel panels form a wave pattern, cutting down on glare and heat loads while representing the contribution computing has made to design.

The recently completed Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, combines the schools’ Computing Science and Information Science departments under one roof. Designed by Morphosis, the facility encourages spontaneous interactions between these two disciplines with common spaces for comingling and transparent partitions that allow views, and daylight, to pass from space to space. The building envelope, a unitized glass curtain wall system, is wrapped in a band of perforated stainless steel panels that forms a dynamic, angular wave pattern across the surface. In addition to creating a sense of movement across the exterior, it serves as a fitting symbol of the contribution that computing has had on the arts and sciences: The architects used advanced digital modeling tools to design the geometry, pattern, and details of this additive layer, and made it to function both as an aesthetic gesture as well as a performance enhancing element of the architecture. “The goal was to establish a consistent level of daylighting throughout the interior,” said Cory Brugger, director of design technology at Morphosis. “We maximized the exterior glazing to get the light coming through. The design of the screen reduces the amount of glare and heat gain and starts to help with the performance of the facade system itself.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Zahner (perforated stainless steel panels), YKK AP (unitized curtain wall), W&W Glass (exterior cladding systems), Erie AP (curtain wall engineering and fabrication), Viracon (glazing), Wasco Products Inc. (skylights)
  • Architect Morphosis
  • Facade Installer W&W Glass
  • Location Ithaca, NY
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System Unitized double-glazed and spandrel curtain wall with exterior perforated stainless steel panels
  • Products YKK YUW 750XT 4 sided SSG Unitized Curtain Wall system, perforated stainless steel panels from Zahner, Viracon VNE 24-63
Located between Cornell’s historic Barton Hall and Hoy Field, Gates Hall fits 100,000 square feet of program in fives stories on a site roughly 150 feet long by 80 feet wide. “It’s a fairly squat building with a large foot print,” said Brugger. “So what we wanted to do was find a way to give some break on the facade.” The metal screen forms a band that covers the second through fourth floors. The first and fifth floors are fully glazed. At the main entrance on the building’s west side there is a large cantilever covering an entry court with some indigenous plantings and sculptural precast concrete “rocks.” Here, the facade becomes an integral part the overall massing of building, breaking down proportions of footprint and creating a sense of motion, giving the sense that structure is coiled to pounce across the road. Morphosis specified a YKK YUW 750XT 4 sided SSG unitized curtain wall system outfitted with a Viracon VNE 24-63 double glazed insulated glass unit. Ithaca does have a heavy winter, and heating days predominate over cooling days for the facility. To optimize the daylight/insulation ratio, the architects intermixed fully glazed panels with insulated spandrel panels. “There’s an alternation between full glazing and spandrel panels that helped us balance the environment and meet our efficiency target,” said Brugger. “It’s not fully glazed everywhere.” The curtain wall’s aluminum mullions are reinforced with steel, giving them the necessary stiffness to support the screen system. Morphosis designed the screen system in its own proprietary software program and used Rhino with Grasshopper to do the visualization. To coordinate fabrication of the panels with Zahner in Kansas City, the architects worked with CATIA and Digital Project. Zahner fabricated the screen panels out of 316 stainless steel. There are 457 panels total, in 13 different types, that bolt back to the vertical mullions at one of three elevations. The perforated panels have an angel hair finish. “It’s a non-directional finish takes away most of the gloss of stainless steel and gives it a little more depth in reflectivity, kind of a clean, matte finish,” said Brugger. “It still has a certain luster and gloss, but it cuts down on glare.” W&W Glass installed the facade, first putting up the YKK curtain wall and then erecting the screen system in a second pass. “We couldn’t unitize the two systems because they’re quite large and differently sized,” said Brugger. “Each stainless panel takes up two curtain wall modules.” The curtain wall modules are 5 feet 9 inches wide, whereas the stainless panels are 10 to 12 feet wide. The panels are set at different angles across the facade depending on solar orientation, with those on the south face at the most obtuse angle to create the deepest ledge for shading. This variation around the building envelope creates visual interest and expresses the computational nature of the design.
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Eavesdrop> Mantilini Mess: Morphosis landmarking stirs debate in Beverly Hills
    One of Morphosis’ earliest projects, the Beverly Hills restaurant Kate Mantilini (1986), is now up for landmarking by the city of Beverly Hills. We hear that Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse is obsessed with getting this done, but ironically the restaurant’s owners are not so happy about it. The rumor mill says they’re afraid of being locked into a design forever. Especially one from the 80s. Imagine if someone told you that you had to keep your 80s hair for the rest of your life?
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Morphosis Selected To Design New U.S. Embassy in Beirut
Three years after an unsuccessful bid for a chance to design the U.S. Embassy in London, Morphosis Architects has won a different Department of State project: a new Embassy for Beirut, Lebanon. The firm was selected from a shortlist that also included Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM. The new Embassy will be located near the current facilities in Awkar, roughly seven miles from Beirut. The Embassy moved away from the capital in 1983, following a suicide bomb attack that killed 49 Embassy staff. A second bombing in 1984 killed 11. Restrictions on American travel to Lebanon were not lifted until 1997, seven years after the official end of the Lebanese civil war. U.S. Department of State spokesperson Christine Foushee said that while the history of the Embassy in Beirut is unique, the security requirements of the new building will not differ significantly from other Embassy projects. Every major project built by the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO) must meet certain security standards in order to qualify for funding from Congress, she explained. The OBO put out a public call for submissions as part of its Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative. “All of the designers that were short-listed, we feel, are very capable of incorporating [security] requirements,” Foushee said. “The real challenge, and the place where we were looking for innovation and creativity, was ensuring that the security requirements were met, but were integrated seamlessly into the design.” After seeing Morphosis’s proposal, the selection committee was confident that the firm would design a secure Embassy that “doesn’t look like a fortress,” she explained. The firm’s commitment to sustainability also impressed the OBO committee. According to Foushee, sustainable design, including planning for storm water and waste water management, is especially important in a project, like the new Embassy, that includes a housing component. Morphosis furthermore demonstrated an understanding of the OBO’s need for flexible interiors. “We have a need for sometimes accommodating a quick surge in staff,” Foushee said. An adaptable design will allow the Embassy to provide housing and office space for extra employees without additional construction. Finally, the design selection committee appreciated Morphosis’ experience working with technologies including 3D modeling. Integrating technology into the design process “is important for controlling costs, but also ensuring the quality of the project,” Foushee said. The design contract for the Beirut Embassy will be awarded during FY 2014, either before the new year or at the start of the 2014 calendar year, Foushee said. The construction contract will be awarded during FY 2016.
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Cory Brugger of Morphosis Redefines Performance at Facades+ Chicago
Anticipation is growing for AN and Enclos’ eagerly awaited Facades + PERFORMANCE conference, touching down in Chicago from October 24th to 25th. Leading innovators from the architecture, engineering, and construction industries will share their insights on the latest in cutting-edge facade technologies that are redefining what performance means for 21st Century architecture. Don’t miss your chance to join Cory Brugger, Director of Technology for Morphosis Architects, as he is joined by a group of industry specialists to lead an in-depth dialog workshop on expanding the idea of performance in the design, engineering, and fabrication of innovative building systems. "Traditionally, performance has been defined in singular terms," Brugger told AN, "but when it comes to delivering architecture, it can encompass everything from energy usage to fabrication technique. For us, performance is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. We have found that technology provides a platform for incorporating a variety of performance criteria in our design process, allowing us to create innovative architecture, like the Cornell NYC Tech project on Roosevelt Island." Set to open its doors in 2017, Morphosis’ winning design for the highly publicized Cornell Tech campus will be breaking ground on Roosevelt Island in the coming year. As part of this ambitious, 2.1 million square foot development, Brugger and his colleagues at Morphosis hope to earn LEED-Platinum certification by with their 150,000 square foot academic building by utilizing cutting-edge modeling techniques and an array of sustainable technologies. "In general, we are designing for extremely high EUI (energy use intensity) goals, which are being accomplished through the use of comprehensive models that integrate mechanical systems, day-lighting analysis, and architectural assemblies," said Brugger. "This effort is being supported by a 140,000+ square foot PV array that is integral to both the performance and aesthetics of the design. Other technologies include high performance facade systems, smart building technology, and geo-thermal wells." In conjunction with master-planners SOM and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, Morphosis are working to create a new model for high-tech education in the information age by extending the definition of performance beyond traditional notions to incorporate far-sighted social and technological considerations. Reserve your space at Facades+ PERFORMANCE now to take part in an intimate discussion. Brugger will be joined my Paul Martin (Zahner), Tyler Goss (CASE), Matt Herman (Burro Happold), and Marty Doscher (Dassault Systèmes ) on Friday, October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus in Chicago. Don’t forget to check out our other exciting key-notes, symposia, and workshops on the complete Facades+ PERFORMANCE schedule.
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Morphosis’ Model Museum
Iwan Baan

The Santa Monica firm Morphosis has completed its first museum, and it’s a model of its typology. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science fuses the programs of three institutions that abandoned their old quarters, merged their operations, and commissioned a shared building. According to Morphosis principal Thom Mayne, “The first scheme was much more aggressive and architectural, but [museum officials] couldn’t deal with that, and we developed a cube raised on pilotis as an alternative.”

Though the firm may have reined in its invention, the final design is a brilliant match for the site and the program. It’s located on the far side of an elevated freeway, away from the glittering towers of downtown and the axis of the Dallas Arts District. It anchors a barren expanse in the Victoria Park development, and its form and facades aptly express the museum’s function.

The massive concrete cube is cut away at the southeast corner and glazed to pull natural light into the five-story atrium. A glass-enclosed escalator projects from the south facade, beckoning visitors to enter and explore. A low podium extends from the base of the cube, and both are faced with precast concrete relief panels that simulate rock strata (and were themselves inspired by a nearby rock quarry). As project architect Arne Emerson explained, “Fabricators prefer repetition, but we devised a system that combines a few variants to achieve random patterns.” The depth of the relief diminishes from the base to the top, dematerializing the mass, and creating a constantly changing chiaroscuro, as the sun moves around the building.


School buses drive up to the entrance of the podium that contains the children’s museum and educational wing on the east side. To the west, families park their cars and proceed up a curved and canopied ramp to the entry plaza. The roof of the children’s museum is a boldly landscaped terrace that opens out of the lobby and can be viewed from above. Shale and native plantings recreate a typical Texas landscape while concealing a tank for the collection of rainwater—a precious commodity in this drought-prone city.

A flexible black box for displays on the second through the fourth levels morphs into transparent public areas at the entry level and around the atrium. Offices are located on the fifth floor. Many science museums pack everything into a windowless container, or go to the opposite extreme of building a glass house, like Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Science in San Francisco. Here in Dallas, there’s a sharp divide between dark and light. It gives the curators what they need, and visitors can enjoy the alternation of immersion and release.


Open staircases, escalators, and glass elevators provide easy access to the upper floors, and many visitors head straight to the lofty fourth level for its spectacular displays of dinosaur skeletons, a vivid history of the universe, and a bird display in the mezzanine gallery. The second and third levels house displays of minerals, robots, and biology; a platform simulating earthquakes of different strengths; and (this being Texas) an exhibit on oil prospecting.

At the entry level, a café and shop flank a 300-seat theater with state-of-the-art projection and well-honed acoustics. Wavy recessed lighting slots punctuate the fabric-covered sidewalls and ceiling, in an echo of the rippling concrete cladding. In the lower-level Sports Hall, you can try to outrun an animated cougar or T. Rex, roaring down a parallel track, or else match skills shooting hoops with a pro. As business director Jennifer Scripps, observes, “You can learn a lot at home on a computer, so a museum needs to offer a visceral and social experience.”


Dallas was a latecomer in acquiring good venues for the arts, and now the sciences, but when the city finally caught up, it did things right. Symphony Hall is one of I.M. Pei’s best buildings. Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center is a jewel. OMA and REX designed an adventurous theater. And there’s a flamboyant but functional opera house by Foster and Partners.

The new museum, largely funded by the Ross Perot family, is a triumph of bold architecture and enlightened philanthropy. Both elements are lacking in a city like Los Angeles, for example, where the County Museum of Natural History has done a good job of restoring its Beaux Arts legacy, but has failed to realize the bold addition it commissioned from Steven Holl.

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Morphosis Offices
A view into the conference room, which opens completely to the courtyard.
Iwan Baan

While Morphosis is known for their jagged steel surfaces and off-center forms, the firm has always been interested in sustainability. The ultimate representation of this thinking is its own new office in Culver City, which is the largest net-zero energy building in Los Angeles, and one of the greenest offices in the country.

The fairly rectangular structure, located just a few feet from the new light rail Expo Line’s elevated tracks in Culver City, gets most of its energy from photovoltaics—a 2,800-square-foot array sitting on top of a shaded parking canopy outside. But what makes it all work are the energy savings: It significantly reduces loads through several low-tech, high-tech, and even revolutionary techniques, most of which were developed with engineers at Buro Happold, whose LA offices are just down the street.

The entryway’s fabricated metallic screen.

On top of the two-story building’s angled roof are four windcatchers, a technology adapted from ancient desert environments. Their high-tech iteration, produced by a company called Monodraught, has never before been employed in the United States. Essentially they are louvered steel boxes containing interior cross blades that allow air into the building, and, through the pressure built up on the far side of each blade, pull hot air up the other side. A digital sensor system (powered by photovoltaics) decides when to open the louvers and set the system in motion. It also keeps the louvers open at night, so cool air can flush out the space before the next work day.

To limit solar heat gain the building’s east and south facades are solid. And further limiting the impact of the sun, even when it comes in at a low angle, a series of acrylic and galvanized steel shades cover the building’s sun-facing edges to create a pleasant outdoor gathering space for employees. The shades, which jut dramatically from the building’s core, also serve as testing zone for future projects, and are currently fitted with mock-ups of the panels from Morphosis’ Emerson College building in Hollywood, currently in development.

The two-story office’s ceiling is marked with several square skylights.

Thanks to the windcatchers, large openings in the building’s façade that let in breezes, and to the solar shielding, the firm never really turns on the ultra-efficient air conditioning system that’s also built in. They rarely turn on lights during the day either. Sitting on the roof near the windcatchers are 16 square skylights. To soften their light they’re lined with acrylic diffusers, which bounce the harsh light, creating an almost museum-quality gentleness inside. To supplement this each skylight is fitted along its edges with fluorescent lights. The firm hopes to eventually install custom shades to further control the quality of light that enters the space, but they don’t appear to be missed.

All in all for such a sophisticated result, it’s an incredibly simple design. And that’s exactly the point, said David Herd, principal at Buro Happold. “You can walk into this space and immediately understand what’s happening.”

See net zero isn’t that hard, is it?

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Morphosis’ Museum of Nature & Science Facade: Gate Precast
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A new cultural focal point takes shape in Dallas

When the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science was created from the 2006 merger of three city museums—the Museum of Natural History, The Science Place, and the Dallas Children’s Museum—the new institution set its sites on expanding programming with a new facility in the city’s Victory Park neighborhood. Now, the 180,000-square-foot Morphosis-designed Perot Museum of Nature & Science is slated for completion in 2013. Located at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street, it marks the future crossroads of the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project and the city’s cultural districts. Floating atop an irregularly shaped plinth that will be the base for a one-acre rooftop ecosystem, the museum’s striated concrete facade offers a first glimpse at the dynamic transformation of the site.
  • Fabricator Gate Precast
  • Architect Morphosis
  • Location Dallas, Texas
  • Status Estimated 2013 completion
  • Materials Precast concrete
  • Process Revit, BIM, concrete casting
Early renderings show a smooth monolithic cube as the museum’s main volume, but the Morphosis team began working with the Hillsboro, Texas, branch of Gate Precast early in the project to develop a horizontally striped precast concrete panel design for the facade. “They wanted something different from everything else in Dallas,” said Gate sales and marketing manager Scott Robinson. “The architects wanted it to be true, raw, and modern.” To this end, Morphosis selected a plain gray concrete mix, without pigment or white cement, for the facade, knowing there would be natural mottling to each panel. “They didn’t want the building to look painted,” said Robinson. In total, the company will fabricate 655 precast pieces for the project. Gate created a series of mock-ups using random combinations of convex and concave shapes that would flow seamlessly from one panel to the next. After refining the design in Revit, Gate’s BIM operators modeled more than 100,000 square feet of precast cladding on the museum’s exterior for Morphosis’ 3-D models. Wood-framed concrete molds constructed in a range of set dimensions (the average size is 8 by 30 feet) helped keep facade costs lower. Within these, convex and concave rubber pieces based on the team’s digital models can be placed to achieve the desired striation. In the harsh Texas sun, the random shapes cast bold shadows across the building’s elevations, gradually giving way to smooth concrete surfaces on the higher levels. Because the pattern continues at the building’s corners, end panels required a two-step process: The short end was poured and set first, then rotated to allow the long section to be poured before the two pieces were attached with a cold joint. The curved precast panels for the museum’s base created another challenge—building formwork in multiple axes. Gate’s engineering department created a series of geometric points and calculations for its carpentry wing, and carpenters built the formwork by hand without any CNC equipment. “The hard part is that they get a picture of what the panel looks like, and they have to build the reverse of that,” said Robinson. The curved precast panels will require nearly 80 unique molds in all, comprising about 15 percent of the project’s precast concrete. For its final contribution to the project, Gate will cast several pieces that Morphosis is referring to as “sticks”—long precast beams that will decorate the site as sculpture or functional elements once the new museum’s rooftop ecosystem, with landscape architecture by Dallas-based Talley Associates, is in place.
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Crunch Time for Morphosis Offices
  We know Thom Mayne and Morphosis are moving. Now we know they're moving REALLY soon. Their new headquarters, located just next to the new Expo Line tracks in Culver City, started construction last summer and are wrapping up this month. They need to move in by July 1, said Mayne, because the lease to their rented warehouse space next door is up. That should get things moving, despite some delays because of this year's heavy rains. The double-height building will soon be clad with perforated metal panels, plywood, and a network of trellises containing vines and other plants, said Salvador Hildalgo, one of the project managers/architects/jack-of-all-trades. Inside it will contain not only offices but a large gallery to show off the firm's work, and Mayne's own artwork. It will also contain large shop areas and a zone to show off in-progress mockups. Several skylights will keep the firm from having to turn on the lights during the day.  The firm moved out of its old Santa Monica offices, where it had been for about 20 years, last August. Mayne calls the building, which he says will be grid-neutral thanks to its efficient envelope and PV panels, a "neutral armature," and "anti-formal." Below see the progress of the building since it began construction.
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Morphosis HQ Surprise
Our friends at Morphosis just moved into an interim location (as posted on their website) at 3440 Wesley Street in Culver City. The firm has been hesitant to give many details about their upcoming space, a former commercial building right next door that they say they are remodeling, merely stating that it will “be sustainable” and “bring back the integration of the shop with the studio space.” But when we checked out the location we were surprised to find the approximately 13,000 square foot building razed except for the north and east walls. No one mentioned that they were constructing a new building! Of course, it could still be a ‘remodel’ because they didn’t completely destroy the building. The site has been cleared and whatever interior restraints had existed are now gone.  So who knows what really is going to pop up here?  It’s a key location next to the new Exposition Rail Line (going from downtown to Culver City), putting it in the heart of the pedestrian and commuter traffic that will follow after the rail line’s completion.  Our contact at Morphosis stated they are hoping to be complete with the space by the end of the year or early in 2011.
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Morphosis Brings Big Box School to Hollywood
The LA Planning Commission approved a Morphosis designed building for Emerson College's entertainment program.
Courtesy Morphosis

Morphosis’ new Hollywood outpost for Boston-based Emerson College was approved on Thursday by the LA Planning Commission. The 125,000 square foot Emerson Center will be the permanent home for the college’s entertainment-centered internship program, currently located in Burbank.

The monumental project in many ways resembles Johann Otto von Spreckelsen's Grande Arche de La Défense in the Paris business district, albeit a more contemporary and sustainable version. It also has a distant sibling in the form of Gensler’s three-year-old headquarters for the Creative Artists Agency in Century City.

A terrace atop the building-within-a-building.

The new building will rise to 10 stories at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street. Its cube-shaped exterior, covered with a grid of aluminum sun shades, will surround a large void, inset with a deconstructed concrete, glass, and steel core, which will project toward Sunset. The building is seeking a minimum LEED Silver rating and will feature exterior landscaping as well as a vine-growing trellis along the Gordon Street side, creating a leafy entranceway as well as shading for a café.

The sides of the building will contain residence halls while the center will contain classrooms, administrative space, and two retail venues located along Sunset. The project will also include outdoor terraces, outdoor instructional spaces, and a large open stair ascending from the third to fifth floors.

The building is a mix of striking geometric and abstract shapes.

When the project was announced two years ago, firm founder Thom Mayne said it "makes a significant contribution to one of L.A.'s most dynamic urban contexts." Firm principal Kim Groves said that the quiet exterior is meant to defer to the incredible variety of its neighborhood, and that the core's visual movement would reflect "the intensity of what happens on the inside." The project is set to appear before LA City Council in mid-August.