Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has finished work on their first elementary school for coworking giant WeWork, continuing the company’s journey into education (and eventually neighborhood planning). WeGrow, what BIG describes as a “10,000-square-foot learning universe," resides inside of WeWork’s Manhattan headquarters in Chelsea and serves three- to nine-year-old children. What started out with a test class of only seven students has expanded into a full-fledged school, and WeGrow is already taking applications for the 2019 academic year. From the newly-released final images of the space, it appears that BIG pulled back from the more industrial look proposed in the renderings revealed last November. The completed WeGrow space is full of soft, biomorphic forms with rounded edges, and clad in soft materials, usually felt. Instead of miming traditional classrooms, BIG has broken the school’s programming up into what it’s termed a “learning landscape.” That includes four open classrooms, workshop and community spaces, an art studio, music room, and several play areas across a mostly-open floor plate. “Children realize they have agency when design is less prescriptive and more intuitive,” wrote Bjarke Ingels in a statement. “We don't have to tell kids how to use the space and every interpretation of how they use the space is good.” To that end, much of the space has been designed to accommodate the whims and needs of young children. Most of the partitions are made from three tiers of shelving, each adjusted to the arm height of the three age groups of students. Those low-lying shelves have the added benefit of letting in natural light and allowing teachers to keep track of all of their students across the floor. Various activity spaces across the school encourage students to explore and play in different environments that evoke the outdoors. Felt clouds mounted on the ceiling are lit by special bulbs from Ketra that change color and intensity based on the time of day and the blob-like plywood enclosures provide students with elevated vantage points and private nooks. Each of the school’s “learning stations” features furniture scaled to fit both adults and children, and a teacher-parent-student lobby incorporates seating meant to accommodate all ages. That includes an enormous felt “brain puzzle” seating system that can be taken apart and rearranged as needed, or just for fun. According to WeWork’s CEO Adam Neumann, the ultimate goal is to have a WeGrow integrated in every WeWork. That would certainly tie into the company’s ambitious goal of offering services at every stage of a customer’s life.
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This fall, architecture schools across the southern half of the U.S. will host architects, landscape designers, curators, and architectural photographers as part of their semester-long lecture series. These types of events often see hundreds of students scrambling to get a front row seat to hear from the greatest minds in design. But the public is invited too, meaning architecture enthusiasts, veteran designers, and aspiring city planners alike can learn from these influential talks. While several universities have yet to publish their fall schedules, we’ve gathered some highlights from a few top-notch schools in the list below. Mark your calendars before September sneaks up on us this weekend! Rice University School of Architecture Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Yugoslav Architecture at the Crossroads of International Exchange in the Cold War” Thursday, September 27 Ellen van Loon, Partner at OMA "Was it Just a Dream? Architecture and Social Inclusion" Monday, October 15 Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design Marlon Blackwell, founder of Marlon Blackwell Architects Wednesday, September 26 Christian Bailey, founding principal at ODA Thursday, October 25 University of Miami School of Architecture Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell APP and co-founder of Howeler + Yoon Technoglass Lecture Wednesday, September 19 Livia Tani, architect and project manager at Atelier Jean Nouvel Technoglass Lecture Wednesday, October 3 Georgia Tech School of Architecture Michael Murphy, cofounder and director of MASS Design Group “Architecture That’s Built to Heal” in collaboration with Museum of Design Atlanta Thursday, October 18 Nader Tehrani, Principal at NADAAA “The Tectonic Grain” Wednesday, October 24 NC State University College of Design Neil Denari, principal of Neil M. Denari Architects Monday, September 10 Hagy Belzberg, FAIA, founding principal of Belzberg Architects Monday, September 24 Louisiana State University College of Art + Design Robb Williamson, photographer Wednesday, September 26 Kate Orff, founder & principal of SCAPE Wednesday, October 24
Adding to an impressive portfolio of projects on Cincinnati Country Day School’s campus, Michael McInturf Architects (MMA) has completed designs for the private school's latest addition: a 4-classroom house-like structure for 18-month to 3-year olds. The campus, 15 miles from downtown Cincinnati, includes a high school structure designed in collaboration with Greg Lynn circa 2001. Since then, the firm has engaged in multiple rounds of masterplanning studies yielding a new elementary school, a sports pavilion, and a maintenance facility. MMA is also currently planning a major renovation to the campus athletic center and anticipates a completion date of late 2016 for this Early Childhood Center project. The facility will include a sculptural playscape—an outdoor landscape that formally connects the school to its neighboring elementary school—and a nature trail for programmed outdoor activities. The architects say this new “home” for Early Childhood education at Cincinnati Country Day will provide a "welcoming, fun and inspiring environment to house such a critical aspect of the campus experience." While facilitating improved learning and safety for the newest members of the campus, the design seeks to reinforce a core value of the distinctive educational program: a connection to nature. The design is informed by spatial equity, light, views, and play. A continuous “Ribbon Wall” weaves the spaces together to create a playful interaction between interior and exterior. The wall, formed from custom bent plywood, will be clad in a dark stained hardwood rainscreen. Roof monitors register four classroom spaces equally distributed radially around a central gathering space. The building is organized along a solar axis that maximizes natural daylight for each of the classroom spaces with respect to their most active use periods. Construction is anticipated to be complete later this year.
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The expansion of the Teresian School—an historic, late 19th-century Barcelona school designed by Antoni Gaudí—raised a formidable architectural challenge: how to create a modern academic space without undermining or distracting from original masterwork. To meet this challenge, PICH Architects designed an extension that reflects the massing of adjacent buildings while protecting views and access to the historic building. The siting of the new building allowed for an overall restructuring of programmatic space within the existing facility to provide for expanded academic and extracurricular schedules and performances. The new facade showcases an innovative architectural "textile" product that is composed of ceramic panels integrated into a flexible stainless steel mesh or grid. This emerging construction technology offers variable color and compositional options in a lightweight, flexible assembly. Felipe Pich-Aguilera, owner of PICH Architects, saw this product as capable of creating a dialogue between Gaudí's original structural brick and terra-cotta ornamentation, and contemporary construction techniques. "The building had to speak about its time without turning its back on the very texture of the existing building, so we’ve opted for a woven ceramic facade—which makes a large lattice—toward the street and light and bright elements for the interior of the school. This double skin, which shades the interior thermally, allows freedom and flexibility in the distribution of windows and functionally necessary opaque elements." The system consists of salmon-colored ceramic pieces, which are cooked with biogas (clean fuel whose use in ceramics production reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 16,700 tons per year) and combined in a lattice grid through a metal mesh. The assembly of the facade, which has an area of over 3,200-square-feet, was accomplished within five days, substantially reducing construction time versus traditional, piece-by-piece application, and resulting in significant savings in costs. The product celebrates a versatility in the construction of large surfaces, providing high accuracy since the metal mesh allows joints between the pieces to always remain aligned. The facade is "hung" by fastening stainless steel anchors, which counter the effects of wind, to adjacent metallic meshes. The system is designed to absorb lateral forces from wind and earthquakes and has been detailed to incorporate "anti-fall" backup measures to ensure loose tiles have multiple degrees of attachment to the steel lattice grid. The new ceramic textile was based on the principles of textile architecture. It is a flexible and adaptable material that combines two very different components: steel and ceramic. Serving as a successful example of corporate and academic collaboration, the material was originally created by Vicente Sarrablo, Doctor of Architecture and Director of the Ceramics Department at the International University of Catalonia, and was later developed by leading companies in the Spanish construction industry, Piera Ecocerámica and Cerámica Malpesa. After popularity in European markets, the product has recently made it's U.S. debut at the AIA Convention earlier this year, and is being manufactured by Shildan under the name "Fabrik."
"The copper woven mesh opens like a curtain over the city. It unfolds like a filter in front of a fully glazed facade. It shows off the facility while protecting it."ARC.AME Urban Architects have designed a new School of Art in the center of Calais, a northern port city in France. Recently the town has been notable for a growing refugee population which has attempted to migrate to England by means of the Eurotunnel transit tunnel beneath the English Channel and ferries. The architects say this project exists as a symbol of the revival of the city center: “the powerful and original architecture of the project had to respect the balance and the scales of the context into which it was embedded.” The school program was designed to be fully public, allowing for freely accessible galleries. A secondary residential program provides 25 apartments, placed like houses on the rooftop. The units are designed as duplexes, each with a south facing terrace. A central courtyard links these residences with the university program. The architects say one of the major challenges at stake in the revitalization of historic city centers, which have been abandoned for the suburbs, is the new lifestyle that a dense mixed-use environment creates. With adjacent buildings literally tied into an existing commercial mall building on the site, demolition was a challenging aspect to the project. The new structure is coordinated to the massing heights of the contextual buildings, however it strongly varies in materiality. A woven copper mesh product from GKD France screens a facade composed primarily of glazing, and formally opens up onto the city as a curtain. The mesh filters daylight, protecting art galleries and equipment from direct exposure. The coloration of the mesh incorporates a high gloss paint to protect the material from its coastal environment. The roof is detailed in a lacquered copper, subtly – nearly invisibly – transitioning to the metal mesh product which rolls over the facade walls. Several mesh configurations were tested to achieve desired lighting results for classroom and studio spaces. The radial section profile allows the product to be incorporated onto the facade as a single piece, without any splicing required. The architects say one of the greatest successes of the project is the qualities this solar shade provides: “We love many aspects of this project; the mesh, the concrete matrix, the central garden, the exhibition hall…but the thing that lived up most to our expectations is the quality of the light which diffuses all across the building and the visual transparencies between the several indoor spaces.”