Posts tagged with "SOM":
The new Los Angeles U.S. District Courthouse is located downtown midway between City Hall and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and it’s a worthy companion to those exemplary civic landmarks. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) won the competition four years ago with a simple yet powerful design: A cube of folded glass that seems to float above a recessed base. The nine upper floors are suspended from a multi-dimensional roof truss system supported on four structural cores—a strategy that halves the amount of steel a conventional building requires and makes it more resistant to a blast than one supported on columns. Architects and the Clark Construction Group collaborated on a design-build program that brought the building to completion in 40 months, and it expects to secure LEED Platinum rating.
Few buildings achieve so much, so quickly, and SOM has made a significant contribution to the renaissance of Downtown L.A., which is still a work in progress. A park designed by OMA and Mia Lehrer + Associates will occupy the long-vacant block fronting City Hall, and a Frank Gehry–designed mixed-use complex, repeatedly delayed, may soon begin construction to the west across from Disney Concert Hall.
As SOM design partner Craig Hartman explained, “We began with the concept of a courthouse that had the appropriate scale and massing and strengthened the civic axis of First Street. The facades had to achieve transparency and clarity of expression, qualities that express what Americans hope to get from the justice system.”
To exploit the drop of 25 feet from Hill Street to Broadway, the building was raised so that—as Hartman noted—the topography flows under it and it stands apart, accessed by steps on three sides and by ramps that slice up through gardens to either side of the entry. Steel bollards provide an unobtrusive security perimeter. The downtown grid is 38 degrees off from a true north-south orientation, which complicated the architects’ task of protecting the facades from solar gain. Rather than rotate the building, they folded the glass. About 1,600 chevron-shaped units of high-performance, blast-resistant glass were craned into place, and nearly all of them have an inner baffle on the side that receives direct sunlight. That cuts solar gain by half, and a rooftop array of photovoltaic panels further reduces energy consumption. The elegance of the detailing at the corners and along the upper and lower edges is the product of intensive research by SOM, which constructed full-scale mock-ups and worked closely with curtain wall manufacturer Benson Industries.
The upper stories are cantilevered 28 feet over an entry plaza, shading people who are waiting to pass through the security barrier inside the glass doors. From there, they emerge into a soaring atrium with south-facing baffles that channel light down to all 10 levels, including the 24 courtrooms on floors five through ten. “The whole building is about light,” said José Luis Palacios, design director at SOM with Paul Danna. The courtrooms are lit from clerestories facing in and out to achieve a harmonious balance. United States Marshals deputies share the third floor with the holding area for the accused. The 32 judicial chambers occupy the periphery with sweeping views of the city. Artworks, including a multi-level work by Catherine Opie, enhance the minimalist interior.
The public has free access to the upper floors and to a tree-shaded patio in back, which is flanked by low, meticulously detailed glass wings. Jurors gather in one and a cafe occupies the other. Many cases are settled by mediation, even on the day scheduled for a trial, and there are breakout areas with comfortable seating on three upper levels to accommodate these encounters. Only a small amount of artificial light is required and this is provided by energy-efficient LEDs.
The architects’ main client was the General Services Administration, whose Design Excellence Program has done much to enhance the quality of federal architecture country-wide. But SOM also worked with a committee of judges, headed by Justice Margaret M. Morrow, who enunciated 10 guiding principles for the design of the courtrooms. “Decorum, fairness and equality are the essentials and those haven’t changed very much over the years,” explained Hartman. “But judges have different opinions on how to express those qualities and it’s surprising how much latitude there is in the layout. Judge and jury need to see the face of a witness, but where are they all to sit?”
To refine its design and win approval from the judges, SOM did a full-scale mock-up of their courtroom, which groups all the parties closely together. Sidewalls clad in ribbed gypsum reinforced plaster assure good acoustics, for audibility is the highest priority of all. A tilted ceiling diffuses the natural light, and every position—including the raised dais of the judge—is wheelchair accessible.
“America’s civic buildings offer a permanent record of our democracy’s values, challenges, and aspirations,” declared Hartman at the opening. Though the SOM courthouse is a demonstration of these ideals, the reality is that ever fewer Americans can afford a day in court, given the dizzying rise of legal costs. That’s the next big case for judges and legal associations to ponder.
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2016 Best of Design Award in Building Renovation: The Strand American Conservatory Theater
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Francisco, CA
The Strand renovation provides a highly visible experimental performance space for the American Conservatory Theater within a formerly abandoned hundred-year-old movie theater on San Francisco’s Market Street. The space houses an intimate 285-seat proscenium theater, a public lobby and cafe, educational facilities, and a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.
Care was taken to sensitively retrofit the shell of the former 725-seat cinema: The facade and structural supports were restored and essential modern theater elements were layered over the raw backdrop of the original building. Playing off of the building’s cinematic roots, the centerpiece of the lobby is a suspended two-story, 504-square-foot translucent LED scrim—the first permanent indoor usage of this technology.
Development and Project Manager, Financing Consultant Equity Community BuildersGeneral Contractor Plant Construction Company LED Panel Winvision Concrete Specialist Bay Area Concrete Historical Architects Page & Turnbull
Honorable Mention, Building Renovation: PLICO at the Flatiron
Architect: Elliott + Associates Architects Location: Oklahoma City, OK
This project includes the renovation of a two-level 1924 flatiron building and the construction of a modern, yet complementary rooftop addition that relates in shape, scale, color, and detailing while differentiating itself through materials and setbacks.
Honorable Mention, Building Renovation: Temple Israel of HollywoodArchitect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture Location: Los Angeles, CA
The light-filled design for this progressive reform congregation was inspired by a fringed Tallit (prayer shawl), while the ark is placed within a sedimentary wall that includes rocks gathered from Israel by its congregants.
2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development by SOM
The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categories. As 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 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: Colorado Springs, CO
The Center for Character and Leadership Development is a 46,000-square-foot education center located at a critical meeting point between the campus’s cadet and public areas. As an architectural focal point for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s campus—itself originally designed by SOM in 1954—the building’s dramatic 105-foot skylight aligns precisely with the North Star, creating a meaningful architectural interpretation of the Academy’s aspirations and guiding values. The Center contains a flexible gathering space for academic and social interaction; a series of collaboration, conference, and seminar rooms; offices; a library; and the Honor Board Room, where inquiries related to the Cadet Honor Code take place.
Lighting Consultant Brandston Partnership, Inc.IT/Acoustics/AV Cerami & Associates Skylight glazing Interpane Storefront glazing Viracon
Honorable Mention: Building of the Year > Southwest: American Energy Partners Fitness CenterArchitect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Location: Oklahoma City, OK This arched steel structure spans an existing unused concrete basement in northern Oklahoma City, dynamically transforming it into a sports and leisure hub that provides a wide variety of facilities, including two racquetball courts, a climbing wall, a basketball court, fitness studios, changing rooms, a cafe, and a running track.