The newest building on Toronto’s Ryerson University campus, the Snøhetta-designed Student Learning Centre, is a new expression of a very old idea: the ancient Greek gathering spaces of Stoas and Agoras. These inherently social learning spaces provided inspiration for the building’s eight storey design, which features unique spaces to meet, study, and exchange ideas. Snøhetta’s digital age design was conceived as a “library without books,” with the intention of encouraging students to not only interact with their physical environment, but to also make the space their own. Each floor offers a different kind of space with a distinct personality, influenced by themes found in nature and featuring names such as “The Beach,” “The Garden,” “The Sun,” and “The Sky.” The Student Centre features design elements that can be found in other Snøhetta-designed learning environments such as the Far Rockaway Library and Calgary’s New Central Library: triangular motifs, fritted color glass, and a combination of transparency and translucency. Having also redesigned Times Square’s public plazas, the international firm is well known for their ability to promote social interaction; the Student Centre’s entrance is featured on a south-facing raised platform that opens the street corner for a broad range of pedestrian activity, from larger gatherings to smaller individual seating areas. Described by the firm as “part plaza, part porch,” it is situated on one of Canada’s best-known commercial avenues, and serves as a new gateway to the Ryerson campus. A large canopy clad in iridescent, hand-folded metal panels stretches from the facade to the library, connecting the exterior and interior. Inside the lobby, a large atrium comprises informal seating areas, a cafe, and the University welcome desk. It was also designed to serve as a multi-purpose forum with “integrated seating and performance technology for events ranging from pep rallies to fashion shows and music performances." The exterior facade, composed of a varying pattern of digitally-printed fritted glass, wraps around an exposed concrete structure while controlling heat gain into the building, and framing views of the city grid from the interior, “acting as a traditional framed window without actual frame constructions.” In a press release, Snøhetta describes the frit as modulating the light quality to “range from ‘overcast’ to ‘partly cloudy’ to ‘sunny’ to further diversify the interior conditions and allow students to have a different experience every time they visit the building.” The building is LEED Silver compliant, with at least 50 percent of the roof being a dedicated green roof.
Posts tagged with "LEED Certified":
Nearly two years after preliminary discussions and planning, the Chinese studio MAD has set their project “Urban Forest” into motion, breaking ground in late April. Led by renowned architect Ma Yansong, MAD architects intends to transform the city of Beijing, China by erecting eco-friendly buildings—called Chaoyang Park Plaza—in the shape of natural landscapes commonly found in Southeast Asia. All renderings courtesy MAD. According to the architects, "Like the tall mountain cliffs and river landscapes of China, a pair of asymmetrical towers creates a dramatic skyline in front of the park. Ridges and valleys define the shape of the exterior glass facade, as if the natural forces of erosion wore down the tower into a few thin lines." The Chaoyang Park Plaza, in Beijing's central business district, hopes to re-imagine the urban landscape of Beijing by bringing the striking forms of the towers together with lush landscapes pulled in from the adjacent Chaoyang Park. The development is expecting to received a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council when the project is completed in 2016.
Last week we checked out the opening of the new Lafayette Park Recreation Center, right outside of Downtown LA. Designed by Kanner Architects, the 15,000 square foot, $9.8 million complex represents a complete about-face from what was once a decrepit senior center with a drug and weed infested park. It includes the airy renovation of 60's architect Graham Latta's whimsically modern 1962 senior center (with its barrel arched concrete canopies), a light-infused new gym (thanks to a large double-layered glass curtain wall—why don't most gyms have those?), and new fields and picnic tables. While the cash-strapped city funded some of the project, a big chunk came from the Everychild Foundation, which chooses one project a year for which to donate $1 million. The building, which is the first for the firm since principal Stephen Kanner's death, is the first LEED certified building completed by the LA Department of Recreation and Parks. According to another project sponsor, HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles), Kanner was the key force in keeping the project's conflicting parties on the same page. "He was a peacemaker," said HOLA's founder Mitchell Moore."He was able to see the bigger picture, and I always knew from his attitude that he got what we were looking for." Incidentally, this was not Kanner's first gymnasium. His Pacific Palisades gym (2000, below) has become a bit of a sports fanatic's destination, thanks also to its airy feel and large, unique elliptical windows. And after that Kanner completed the Ross Snyder Recreation Center in South Los Angeles, where he experimented with many of the formal techniques (floating planes, layering of spaces) that he used in his residential work.