Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.” Gill titled his keynote talk “Skin Deep” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what facade design ought not to be. “A lot of times facades are treated that way, as just a wrapper to make the building look good, when in fact we find their roles to be much deeper,” said Gill. “The role of the facade is really an amazing opportunity to change perceptions of space, to change thermal compositions of space, to change experiences of space on either side of that fence.” Gill has plenty of experience designing high-performance facades for challenging climates, from the heat of Dubai to the cold of Kazakhstan, where, he said, the air was so frigid and dry that he saw ice on the floor of the car that picked him up from the airport. “It’s amazing the environments that we have decided to occupy, and in doing so then we turn to these envelopes to protect us, everything from our coat to our building,” he observed. Gill embraces technology as a means to the end of high performance. “I’m a big fan of trying to get the most out of everything, and the technology plays a pretty big role in that for me,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a whole host of factors, including massive wind loads, movements of buildings, safety and protection in something that’s one kilometer tall, you’ve stretched the boundaries of conventionalism, you’ve gone beyond the normal expectations of materials. So now it becomes this combination of things you have to do to solve the problems.” Balancing performance and sensitivity in a facade, said Gill, is “like conflict resolution at the threshold of the built environment”—and technology can be an important mediator. “I would just put out a little call to arms for everyone who’s out there in this business, because we do have a responsibility to improve the environments that we design and work in,” concluded Gill. “I think beauty [has] a pivotal role and [is] a quality we all want to pursue, however, it shouldn’t be at the cost of intelligence, performance, and all the other things that make our environments valuable to us. I look forward to seeing more of that in the architecture that’s being produced—from us, too.”
Posts tagged with "Dubai":
In 2007, Zaha Hadid received commission from Omniyat Properties to design the 312-feet-tall Opus Office Building in Dubai. Now, she has been given opportunity to continue this structure’s development beyond solely its architectural exterior. Spain-based Meliá Hotels International announced Hadid as designer for their second hotel in the United Arab Emirates (their first is in Bar Dubai). The internationally renowned architect will be given full creative design of the interior and exterior of the ME by Meliá Dubai Hotel, to be located in her Opus Building. Set to open in 2016, the project will be Hadid’s first hotel designed in entirety. The Opus Building is a unique mixed-use complex. Two edifices make up the plan yet are conceived as a single cube, interconnected with a hollow free-form shape in the middle. During the daytime, a reflective facade creates the illusion of solidity. It is only at night that light from the interior causes the space to appear to outside viewers. Hadid will design the interior of the ME by Meliá Dubai hotel as she completes its rendered exterior. The hotel will occupy 250,000 square feet within the Opus Building, consisting of 100 rooms, restaurants, and top food and beverage brands. The highest floors are planned as exclusive, privately owned apartments and penthouses that will also receive the service of hotel staff. Meliá Hotels International assures that the ME by Meliá Dubai “will stand out as one of the most striking landmarks on the Dubai skyline.” When completed, it will be set in stark competition to other dynamic Dubai structures, like SOM’s Mashreq Bank Tower, in the increasingly luxurious development of the city’s Burj Khalifa district. Renderings Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels. The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
Scrap your afternoon plans and take an amazing aerial tour of Dubai, instead. Photographer Gerald Donovan has created an interactive panorama of the city as seen from the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa for the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. The view was taken from the top of the tower, some 2,722 feet above the street, reached by climbing nearly 660 feet through the Burj Khalifa's enormous spire. Users can pan around and zoom in to observe the surrounding cityscape with amazing detail. To achieve the stunning effect, Donovan stitched 70 photographs together, each a whopping 80 megapixels, to create a single 2.5 gigapixel panorama. [Via The Telegraph.]
Early Saturday morning, a 34-story residential tower in Dubai burst into flames running its entire height. The 160-unit Tamweel Tower, located in a complex of towers known as the Jumeirah Lakes Towers, caught fire at 2:30a.m. local time, sending hundreds of residents into the streets to seek refuge in a nearby park. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but The National reported that some believe the fire may have started near the roof and propelled down the tower by the building's flammable cladding material, a similar phenomenon as what happened to Rem Koolhaas' CCTV tower in China a few years ago when fireworks sparked a major blaze on the under-construction tower and the nearby 40-story Al Tayer Tower that caught fire earlier this year. Metal panels comprising the Tamweel Tower's facade are thought to have included a flammable thermoplastic core, making the entire building a towering inferno waiting to happen. "The cladding acted as a fuel and this resulted in the damage we have seen," Sandy Dweik, a building consultant, told The National. You can see pieces of the cladding material on fire flying off the tower in the videos above, setting smaller fires on neighboring balconies. An investigation has begun to determine the official cause of the fire. Fortunately, police said there are no reported casualties and some of the displaced residents have been allowed back in to retrieve personal belongings.
We could't help noticing that LA's new Sixth Street Viaduct, which is being designed by a team led by HNTB, bears a striking resemblance to Dubai's Meydan Bridge, the royal VIP entrance to the Meydan racetrack where the prestigious Dubai World Cup is held annually. The bridge was featured in the recent film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but sits empty for most of the year. Of course there are differences between the two: Meydan's arches are made of steel, not concrete, it's not cable-stayed, and its upper arches don't touch the ground, but they're still very close in all their wavy glory. Judge for yourself below. HNTB's Sixth Street Viaduct in Los Angeles: VS The Meydan Bridge in Dubai.
Solar-Powered Fun. New York City’s first solar merry-go-round just opened at the South Street Seaport, offering free rides to kids through September 7th. GE's Carousolar is powered by 100 solar panels made of ultra thin semiconductors able to withstand extreme humidity and UV ray exposure. The green fun isn't just for kids—GE also provided solar-powered cell phone charging stations for adults around the carousel, reported Inhabitat. Sun-Filled Fasting. According to Dubai’s top cleric Mohammed al-Qubaisi, residents of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest skyscraper, will have to wait a few extra minutes to break their fast during Ramadan. Muslims living above the tower's 80th floor should fast two additional minutes after dusk while those above the 150th floor wait an additional three minutes, The Guardian reported. Al-Qubaisi explained that just like early Muslims living in the mountains, the residents of the highest floors must adjust their fast due to the extended visibility of sunlight. #ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation. Public Transportation is trending on Twitter and the end result is a humorous user guide to transit etiquette. Transportation Nation rounded up some of their family-friendly favorites. LEGO Gate. While not yet officially announced, European blogs have been abuzz that the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will be the next in LEGO's Architecture line of miniature real buildings. Unbeige revealed the series’ designer Adam Reed Tucker developed the Brandenburg model, representing the 2nd building outside of the US (the first was SOM’s Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai).
The Burj Dubai Khalifa opened on Monday, breaking a slew of records, but this video showcases one we never expected: a record-breaking base jump. Leaping from a window-washing crane on the 160th floor, two local experts plummeted 2,205 feet to earth, a feat few, if any, will ever replicate, though no doubt they'll keep trying, as what's even crazier is a British man attempted the same jump before the building was even completed, though he was caught in the act and promptly incarcerated, as the video after the, uh, jump shows. If that's not enough, the Daily Mail's got some good photos.
Today marks the official inauguration of the world's tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. While the opening comes at a rocky time for the emirate and for the global real estate market, it was greeted with great fanfare, including, cannily, renaming the building the Burj Khalifa, after the president of neighboring Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The move signaled both Dubai's gratitude for Abu Dhabi's recent bailout and the unity of the emirates through the financial crisis. Designed by SOM Chicago along with former partner Adrian Smith, the Burj Khalifa was also officially declared 2,717 feet high, far surpassing its nearest rivals. The 160-story tower has 54 elevators that will carry an estimated 12,000 people to the building's offices, hotel rooms, apartments, nightclubs, and mosques. According to the New York Times, many of the building's apartments have sold, but the prospects for finding office tenants are poor, as the office market is particularly soft in Dubai. The Burj is just another example of how Chicago offices are continuing to lead in the field of tall building design. Given the climate, Burj Khalifa may be the world's tallest for some time to come.
Construction projects are dropping like flies everywhere you look, falling in the water deader than Air France Flight 447. It's gotten to the point that when a major milestone is met on a significant piece of architecture there is cause not only for rejoicing, but commentary by the architectural press. And lo, our latest great happiness comes (yet again) from the Arabian Desert: In the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, work has completed on the structural frame of O-14, an office building somewhat redolent of a block of swiss cheese. Designed by the New York City firm Reiser + Umemoto, the structure makes a significant departure from the otherwise glass-curtain walled edifices of this arid city by the sea. It's exterior is composed of a perforated concrete bearing wall, which does double duty as a shading device, protecting the building from the blazing middle-eastern sun. For a full low down on O-14's uncommon framing system, as well as more construction photos, see our 2008 feature on concrete.
Unlike Thursday night, when inclement weather forced us inside, the party raged--or, well, spoke, Tweeted, and blogged--on the roof of the Standard on Friday night, which is as it should be at the start of the weekend, even if the party was almost over. When I arrived on the roof, the sun had just about set and Matthew Coolidge, the director of the super cool LA-based Center for Land Use Interpretation, was giving a presentation on his group's work, which includes tours and exhibitions of the crazier places in the built environment. He touched briefly on a recent project about parking and another about LA waste treatment before launching into the real show, and CLUI's current work, on the "oilscape," particularly in and around Houston. "There's nothing like it anywhere," Coolidge, who's seen his fair share of the planet, said. At the behest of the University of Houston, CLUI was asked to put together an exhibition on this unique infrastructure that has both built up and slowly destroyed Houston and the nation at large. Coolidge presented pictures of such alien terrains as the massive Strategic Petroleum reserve, the polluted and ignored Houston bayou, and long-abandoned oil fields. (My colleague Aaron Seward wrote about the exhibit a few months back.) The capper was a 15-minute video the group shot of the Houston Ship Channel, a 50-mile stretch of waterway that is nothing but oil refineries and related facilities, a place with the greatest refining capacity in the world. Shot from an altitude of 1,000 feet by a helicopter traveling 70 miles per hour and equipped with an HD camera, the surreal landscape put forward--it nearly outstrips the rest of the world in refining capacity combined--is almost hard to describe, from carbon black pits to plots of storage bins as far as the eye can see. (Oh, were it only on YouTube to share with you all.) Seen from this angle, CLUI's approach becomes clear. As Coolidge puts it, "Our sort of institutional method is we look at the ground and say, 'Oh, what's that?'" If only we truly knew the answer. Appropriately enough, the next speaker explored what happens when the oil stops flowing, so to speak. LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne had recently returned from Dubai, and he had a startling report to provide, describing what recently transpired in the small emirate as "Ponzi scheme urbanism, or Bernie Madoff planning." As is well known, Dubai sprang up after its oil ran out and the state tried to diversify into finance and media fields. Hawthorne, however, counters that all the place really did was "serve as a vessel for liquidity." What's left, now, is a bunch of half-built vessels--hundreds of them, really, almost all abandoned despite the extant cranes, creating an eerily silent landscape stuck between construction and collapse. Hawthorne showed dozens of projects, including the ubiquitous (it looms in back of almost every shot) Burj Dubai, the "cruise ship-modern" Burj Al-Arab, and, his favorite, the Mall of the Emirates, which came to renown for its indoor skiing. "It's a full-on black diamond experience, but I find the outside far more interesting than the inside," he said. Hawthorne posited this as a perfect example of Dubai's penchant for copying wholesale: "What really struck me was this is a city that really learned from Las Vegas and themed environments. But unlike where no one would go to Las Vegas and believe they were in Paris--with its 2/3s buildings and replicas--in Dubai, they blow everything up to full scale, like, say, the Eiffel Tower, but then they blow it up again, and build the entire neighborhood, so you really begin to think you're there." If Dubai has been struggling of late, Fallen Fruit was only looking up. Begun nearly a decade ago by three artists, two of whom were on hand to present the group's work, it started as a one-off project to map fruit bearing trees in various LA neighborhoods--an attempt to help feed the hungry--that also attempted to redefine cartography and the landscape. But the more involved they got in mapping, the more new dimensions the project began to take on. It moved online, where people were encouraged to create and submit their own food maps. It moved to the streets, where foraging trips were set up, one of which was posted on YouTube without Fallen Fruit's knowledge. When the videos were flooded with hateful comments, it actually became another piece of art, where the video was shown with the offensive comments overlaid on the video. Examples: "Dipshit liberals./Always looking for a handout./That fruit will sustain more rats/than you left-wing nut jobs." "Are black people allowed at these events?" "Are straight people allowed at these events." "It's clear the people seeing this didn't want to be seeing it," Austin Young said of Fallen Fruit's work, which is why they have soldiered on, despite numerous court challenges. The group emphasizes only picking fruit on public property or overhanging it, and some of their latest efforts include encouraging people to plant on their property line, which has been a major success. Legally speaking, the practice is neither illegal nor legal--there are no laws governing at all, Young said. As for his partner, Matias Viengener, "When we started this all those years ago, I never imagined I'd still be picking fruit." Their latest project is Neighborhood Infusion, which take the particular fruit of a given neighborhood and infuse it with vodka so as to better understand the area's native character. They have tastings scheduled around LA for the coming weeks. Like Fallen Fruit, Ken Ehrlich is an artist and writer trying to connect LA's nascent arts community with the wider city. One major project was a competition for a proposed park near City Hall. After reading an article in the Times about a land swap with Caltrans--the state exchanged the then-HQ for a city-owned parking lot across the street, upon which a Morphosis-designed building would later rise--that would make way for a new city park, Ehrilich and some friends held a competition for the park, setting no parameters and getting proposals to match. The team presented the designs to the City Council with some success, only to later be both shocked and chagrined to hear that the new Police headquarters was being built on the plot instead of a park. "For whatever reason, we actually never saw this coming," Ehrlich joked. Another more successful project was based around the informal trash economies of Curitiba, Brazil. Ehrlich and friends built their own recycling cart from scavenged materials, which was then used to scavenge more materials that would later comprise an exhibition on the culture the objects represent, though not necessarily in their intended form. Two down, one to go.