Manhattan's MetLife building celebrated its 53rd birthday on Monday. The tower has become engrained into Manhattan's urban fabric, but it has also become an incredibly inefficient in how it uses energy, and a recent competition tasked designers with fixing the problem by applying a new building facade. Metals in Construction magazine has unveiled six winners of its “Reimagine a New York City Icon” competition after its jury couldn't select just one winner. Tasked with developing an "innovative and energy-efficient redesign of the façade of 200 Park Avenue," the winning teams split the $15,000 prize. The brief stipulated that designers come up with a "highly efficient envelope with the lightness and transparency sought by today’s office workforce—while preserving and enhancing the aesthetic of the building’s heritage." Prizes were given at a conference at the Times Center in New York City, preceded by talks on sustainability and retrofit facades which included panel discussion. The winning submissions are: Panam Under Glass (PDF) According to competition organizers: "Adapting the tapered form of the tower as a geometric module/motif creates a non-directional pattern across the surface of the tower – in keeping with early models and renderings which emphasized the form over the surface. Applied in a larger scale to the tower allows for maximum daylighting while the denser, smaller scale at the podium creates a more monolithic reading much closer to pedestrian level." Performance-Based Preservation (PDF) According to competition organizers: "By preserving and overcladding - instead of demolishing and recladding - our proposal reduces the building’s environmental impact by 42% over the next 50 years... On the north and south, we add a new unitized curtainwall outboard of the concrete that uses emerging materials to generate energy while dynamically controlling solar heat gain and glare. On the east and west, we bring the new envelope inboard of the concrete to highlight the materiality and plasticity of the existing skin." Thermalswitch Facade (PDF) According to competition organizers: "The Thermalswitch facade looks at hybridizing the overcladding and double skin techniques to create a unitized frame which mounts directly over the existing precast panels. The Metlife facade is constructed of a primary precast panel with integrated fins on both sides that alternates every other bay. Between these primary panels, secondary infills are set at the spandrel conditions." Harnessing Urban Energies (PDF) According to competition organizers: "In our submission for the Metals in Architecture competition, we have lowered the present annual energy consumption of the building by 80 percent, and by 74 percent as compared to the median New York City office building." Vertimeme (PDF) According to competition organizers: "Macro geometry of the curtain wall unit creates a self shading effect to reduce undesirable direct light and heat gain. The angle of the glazing is tuned to reflect solar insolation, optimize views from the building and reflect the image of the city back to the streetscape. Pre-assembled unitized aluminum curtain wall frame and assembly, stainless steel mullions, caps and grills." Farm Follows Function (PDF) Submitted as a graphic novel, "Farm Follows Function" sees Walter Gropius say "This will surely be my Finest work: A masterpiece - my crowning achievement! A multifunctional complex set in the middle of america’s metropolis..." His work is then dramatically transformed into a living tower-block farm. One passer by is shown to be saying "This elevated park is a real oasis of calm in the hubbub of midtown! with a market and even outdoor seating! awesome!"
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With Great Height Comes Greater Challenges: Questions Linger as Construction Begins on Massive Kingdom Tower
A kilometer is less than a mile but still more than a Burj Khalifa. This truism means that Kingdom Tower is still set to be the worlds tallest building now that construction has begun in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Though the initial projected height of a mile has since been whittled down to a mere kilometer, problems continue to beset the oft-delayed $1.2 billion project. Investors have pinpointed April 27th as a suitable commencement date. UK companies EC Harris and Mace will be overseeing the realization of a design by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, no strangers to the obscenely tall tower scene. Having recently completed work on The Shard, Mace would have to stack Renzo Piano's design upon itself three times in order to approach the projected height of the Kingdom Tower. Shockingly, building things this tall comes with its fair share of hardships. A company called Advanced Construction Technology Services has been brought aboard in order to develop a method of pumping concrete that would meet the demands of the project. Elevators should prove problematic as well. The weight of a typical elevator cable cannot be supported beyond 2,000 feet. Once this first of its kind elevator is created, its not clear how human passengers will respond to the unprecedented lengths of its journeys. In a recent story in Bloomberg, Gill conceded that it remains unclear how the inner ear would respond to the rapid changes in height it would undergo while traversing the Tower by lift. Potential stumbling blocks do not reside exclusively in the sky, but can be found beneath the ground as well. The structure's foundation will extend deep enough into the ground that it will meet the salty waters of the nearby Red Sea, meaning materials capable of surviving the encounter must be found. Economically the project rests squarely upon the shoulders of $20–30 billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal, nephew to the country's King Abdulah and chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company.