Marking its first project on U.K. shores, KieranTimberlake Architects’ U.S. Embassy in South London is finally complete. The Philadelphia firm was the winner of a competition launched by the American Embassy in London in 2008. Now the Embassy’s new location in Nine Elms, just off the banks of the River Thames, will open a decade later this January. An official opening date is still pending, as the status of President Donald Trump’s inaugural state visit hangs in the balance due to a concern about widespread protests. Indeed, worries about security dominate the current U.S. Embassy in London, particularly after spate of attacks on other American consulates. Nestled in a Georgian enclave in Mayfair, the current Embassy, Eero Saarinen’s Grade II Listed structure from the 1950s, is unceremoniously fenced off. Despite a crowning aluminum bald eagle, the wealth of bollards that precede the fencing means the embassy's current locale is decidedly lacking in freedom. After surveying 40 possible locations, the U.S Embassy is moving to an even safer compound, one it can truly control. The architects didn’t have a say in curtailing this aspect; a prescribed 100-foot “seclusion zone” meant the embassy’s relationship to the site was never going to be an open one. However, some efforts have been made to make the notion of security less explicit. A bioswale in the form of a semi-circular pond (essentially half a moat), fortified hedges, and a gabion wall have all been sunk below ground level to make the embassy seem less stand-offish from afar. From this distance, KieranTimberlake’s work stands out as a crystalline cube from its brick-clad neighbors. On three sides of the 213-foot-tall structure are ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) sails which act as a shading device. James Timberlake, a partner at the architecture firm, stressed the need to “filter all that enters,” listing “people, air, and even materials.” Birds too are kept out through star-spangled fritting found on the northern-facing façade, the only side free from the ETFE sails. But if the outside dazzles, which it almost does at night, the embassy's interiors are severely lacking. For those who can’t get or see in, you’re not missing out. Although Ambassador Woody Johnson pushed the idea that his embassy’s architecture was “outward-looking,” evidence of this is hard to come by. Inside, it becomes apparent that the sails block fantastic views out onto the river from the east and west sides of the building. As if a brief which stipulated such high levels of security wasn’t enough to strangle the life out of the building, striving for LEED Platinum status through the enormous shading sails has shot the architects in the foot. Perhaps because it is now on Brexit-bound soil, there is further evidence of insularity at a granular scale as well. The embassy, to the annoyance of at least one employee, is filled only with U.S. plug sockets "bar a few Brit outlets.” Besides a serene visa waiting hall and the ground floor lobbies, one of which features work from British artist Rachel Whiteread, the other Gensler-designed interior levels shown to journalists are remarkably boring. Interior gardens and garden balconies offer a sorry attempt at adding American charm. Their inclusion results in the embassy feeling more like a high-security Holiday Inn. This anodyne, ultra-safe approach seems to have leaked into the building's surroundings as well. A nauseatingly large amount of generic apartment blocks surrounds the embassy. They fall under the umbrella of “New London Vernacular,” a term that arose during Boris Johnson's mayoralty to encourage historically sensitive design. Though most of the area is still under construction, what's built so far already hints at the non-place that the $20-billion Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area (VNEB), of which the embassy is a part, is set to become. In this bland context, the consulate’s isolationism as expressed in its distinctive facade may, in fact, be its best quality. One thing the embassy wasn’t fearful of though, was spending big. At $1 billion, it is the most expensive embassy in the world. You have to wonder, where did all that money go?
Posts tagged with "Kieran Timberlake":
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2015 recipients of its Institute Honor Awards, which it describes as “the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design.” This year’s 23 recipients were selected from out of about 500 submissions and will be honored at the AIA’s upcoming National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. That event will be keynoted by former President Bill Clinton. Now onto the winners in the architecture category. 28th Street Apartments; Los Angeles Koning Eizenberg Architecture
From the AIA: The historic YMCA (1926) had been a focus of African-American life in the era of segregation but had fallen into severe disrepair. The design re-establishes the building’s role as a community focus, restores principal spaces for youth training programs, brings existing living quarters in compliance with contemporary standards and adds new housing units. Inventive integration of new building systems released the existing rooftop for outdoor social space that connects and anchors old and new. The new addition is thin and cross-ventilated. It is shaded to the south by a vertical photovoltaic panel array and wrapped to the north with lightweight perforated metal screens that contrast with the heft of the original masonry building.Brockman Hall for Physics, Rice University; Houston KieranTimberlake
From the AIA:The campus of Rice University is a continuously studied and managed “canvas” that represents an intensive ongoing collaboration between architects, planners, and administrators. Its park-like environment—with live oaks, lawns, walkways, arcades, courtyards, and buildings—comprises a clear and timeless vision. The Brockman Hall for Physics needed to fit within this distinctive setting, to gather together a faculty of physicists and engineers working in as many as five separate buildings, and to house highly sophisticated research facilities carefully isolated from the noise, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations that could destroy experiments.California Memorial Stadium & Simpson Training Center; Berkeley, California HNTB Architecture; Associate Architect: STUDIOS Architecture
From the AIA: The historic stadium is one of the most beloved and iconic structures on the UC Berkeley campus. The key goals for this project were to restore the stadium’s historic and civic prominence, integrate modern training and amenity spaces, and address severe seismic concerns. By setting the new athlete training facility into the landscape, a new grand 2-acre public plaza for the stadium was created on the roof. A new press box/club crowns the historic wall; its truss-like design acts as a counterpoint to the historic facade.Cambridge Public Library; Cambridge, Massachusetts William Rawn Associates; Associate Architect: Ann Beha Architects
From the AIA: The Cambridge Public Library has become the civic “Town Common” for a city that celebrates and welcomes its highly diverse community (with over 50 languages spoken in its schools). With its all-glass double-skin curtain wall front facade, the library opens seamlessly out to a major public park. This double-skin curtain wall uses fixed and adjustable technologies to ensure that daylight is infused throughout the interiors and to maximize thermal comfort for the most active patron spaces looking out to the park.Danish Maritime Museum; Elsinore, Denmark Bjarke Ingels Group
From the AIA: The design solution to the site’s inherent dilemmas was to wrap a subterranean museum around a dry dock like a doughnut, where the hole was the dry dock itself and the centerpiece of the museum’s collection. Three two-level bridges span the dry dock, serving as shortcuts to various sections of the museum. All floors slope gently, so that a visitor continually descends further below the water’s edge to learn about Danish maritime lore. The civil engineering and construction work for the museum were among the most complicated ever undertaken in Denmark.John Jay College of Criminal Justice; New York City Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
From the AIA: Located in Manhattan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s new building provides all the functions of a traditional college campus within the confines of a single city block. SOM’s 625,000-square-foot addition doubles the size of the college’s existing facilities by adding classrooms, laboratories, auditoriums, faculty offices, and social spaces. These functions are arranged within a new 14-story tower and four-story podium topped with an expansive landscaped terrace that serves as an elevated campus commons. A 500-foot-long cascade runs the length of the podium and functions as the social spine of the campus. SOM’s design places a premium on communal and interactive space so that students may enjoy the experiences of a traditional college setting.Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia WEISS/MANFREDI
From the AIA: Challenging the established model of laboratory buildings, the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology is organized around an ascending spiral that hybridizes the tradition of the campus quadrangle with the public promenade. The Center for Nanotechnology twists its laboratories around a central campus green, opening the sciences to the University of Pennsylvania’s landscape while providing a suite of public spaces within the building for cross-disciplinary collaboration amongst scientists. Here, multiple types—courtyard, laboratory loft, ascending gallery—each with their own distinct histories, are grafted together to create a new, but recognizable hybrid.LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park; Brooklyn, New York Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
From the AIA: This project restored 26 acres of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 19th century and added a new 75,000-square-foot, year-round skating and recreational facility. In the winter, the facility’s two rinks are open for ice skating, and in the summer one rink converts to roller skating and the other to a large water-play fountain. Clad in rough-hewn gray granite, the new LeFrak Center appears to be large stone retaining walls set in the landscape. Much of the structure is tucked into the land. The L-shaped plan consists of the east and north block, both one-story structures with roof terraces connected by a bridge.Sant Lespwa, Center of Hope; Outside of Hinche, Haiti Rothschild Doyno Collaborative
From the AIA: The Center of Hope, commissioned by World Vision, is located in a rural region in Haiti and provides support, education, and skill building opportunities. The design process involved the entire community from children to elders. Construction included on-the-job skills training for over 100 residents. The courtyard scheme and breezeway capture prevailing winds while opening expansive views to the mountains beyond. Careful planning for natural ventilation, daylighting, water collection, sewage treatment, and electricity generation resulted in a completely self-sufficient building. The participatory and empathetic process created an uplifting environment that inspires hope.United States Courthouse, Salt Lake City, Utah Thomas Phifer and Partners; Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects
From the AIA: The design of the new United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City emanates from a search for a strong, iconic, transparent, and metaphorically egalitarian form to symbolize the American judiciary system. The primary nature of the courthouse’s cubic mass projects grounded dignity, immovable order, and an equal face to all sides. The 400,000-square-foot, 10-story courthouse resides on a landscaped terrace that spans an entire city block, uniting the new and existing federal courthouses as a public-access amenity while fulfilling a required federal security setback from the street.Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center; Lawrenceburg, Kentucky De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
From the AIA: Located on a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River, the visitor center is the newest component of recent additions and expansions to the Wild Turkey Distillery Complex, one of seven original member distilleries of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The 9,140-square-foot facility houses interactive exhibits, a gift shop, event venues, a tasting room, and ancillary support spaces. Utilizing a simple barn silhouette (an interpretation of Kentucky tobacco barns common to the area), the building, clad in a custom chevron pattern of stained wood siding, presents a clear and recognizable marker in the landscape.
As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, “resilience” has replaced “sustainability” or “green building” as the goal of environmentally-sensitive design. The concept of resilience is particularly pertinent to the building envelope—the protective barrier between a structure’s occupants and the environment. But what, exactly, does resilience mean in the context of designing and engineering facades? This question is at the heart of the facades+ Chicago conference taking place July 24–25 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Over two days, leading facades specialists will explore the role of the building envelope in designing for resilience through a series of presentations and workshops. Thursday’s symposium features a roster of speakers including James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlake) and Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (JAHN), who will deliver the morning and afternoon keynotes, respectively. Mic Patterson (Enclos), Juan Moreno (JGMA), Jeff Holmes (Woods Bagot), Steve Nilles (Goettsch Partners), and Chris Stutzki (Stutzki Engineering) will also present on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to building for resilience with glass. In an afternoon panel, Matt Jezyk (Autodesk), Zach Krohn (Autodesk), Nate Miller (CASE-Inc.), and Andrew Heumann (NBBJ) will discuss the integration of design, simulation, documentation, and production. On Friday, participants choose from a series of dialog and tech workshops for in-depth exposure to special topics and technologies. Dialog workshops include “Evolution of Breathable Building Facades,” “ReVisioning of Existing Facades,” “Supple Skins: Emerging Practices in Facade Adaptation and Resilience,” and “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive.” Tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari, advanced facade panelization and optimization, collaborative design with Grasshopper, and environmental analysis and facade optimization. Conference attendees will have plenty of time between symposium events and during workshop breaks to network with other participants and meet vendors. A complimentary networking lunch is scheduled for both days. Thursday evening there will be a cocktail reception at the Adler & Sullivan-designed Art Institute Stock Exchange Trading Room. For more information and to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
The State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) released new renderings by KieranTimberlake of the United States Embassy to be located near London's Vauxhall neighborhood. The project has acted as something of a petri dish for the development of OBO's Design Excellence program, which was modeled on a similar program at the much-beleaguered GSA. The London project has been watch closely by federally commissioned architects who must comply with design requirements that combine energy efficiency, sustainably, intense security, and high design. "They continue to use this project as a test case for sorting that stuff out and to continue to achieve really high levels of refinement and design excellence," concurred James Timberlake. In a forerunner of efficient practices espoused by the policy, OBO sold their Saarinen-designed building in swanky Grosvenor Square, which in turn paid for the new building on the up-and-coming south side of the Thames. An OLIN-designed landscape incorporates anti-ram deterrents that the OBO guidelines officiously dub "Embassy Perimeter Improvement Concepts" or EPIC. "I wouldn’t call them barriers," said Timberlake, who noted that despite offset and security setback requirements, 40 percent of the compound remains accessible to pedestrian traffic. If anything, he said, many of the major refinements are through the building's engagement with landscape, including water management in ponds that collect runoff for irrigational reuse, as well as for security. Certain technological advancements have insured that the highly efficient envelope incorporating photovoltaic technology will indeed go forward largely as planned. The rooftops of three entrance pavilions will also hold photovoltaic panels. But it is the envelope that has gone through the most rigorous analysis. An open outer structure acts as an ETFE shading element with a fritted layer that includes photovoltaic patches measuring 6 by 12 inches. Cast struts holds the cable stayed system apart from the glass box, bowing slightly at the midsection, giving the building a slight protrusion, like a proud, swollen chest.
Why can't every school be like the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)? First it's located on a lush, sun-soaked site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And then this: the school just named a team led by SOM and including Daly Genik, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Kieran Timberlake and WRNS Studios to design the San Joaquin Apartments, a new student housing complex. The project will include two apartment buildings housing a total of 1,000 students; a 600 car mixed-use parking structure; a new dining commons and a renovated 78,000 square foot neighborhood center. Other big names on the shortlist had included Brooks+Scarpa, Machado and Silvetti, AC Martin, Stanley Saitowitz, Lake Flato, Moore Ruble Yudell, Frederick Fisher and Partners, and several more. Stay tuned for info and images in the coming months.