Posts tagged with "Office Buildings":

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Hacker Architects reveals the U.S.'s next largest mass timber office building, in San Francisco

San Francisco is readying itself to house the largest mass timber office building in the United States as part of a 28-acre development on its historic Pier 70. Spearheaded by Brookfield Properties, the six-story, 310,000-square-foot structure will be among the first new buildings, completed over a 10- to- 15-year timeline, to anchor the city's newest waterfront destination.  Designed by Hacker Architects, the 85-foot-tall office building will feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor slabs, glulam columns and beams, steel lateral seismic framing, and metal cladding. The Portland-based studio, with its extensive experience in designing wood-heavy projects, is helping Brookfield bring Pier 70 into the 21st century of eco-friendly architecture.  “The Pier 70 office building will make a statement about how mass timber technologies are pushing design and construction towards environmentally sustainable design solutions that better connect the workplace to the natural environment,” said Hacker principal Corey Martin in a statement.  Located along the city’s southern waterfront in the neighborhood of Potrero Point, Pier 70 was once bustling with industrial innovation, serving as home to several steel and ironworks companies, a shipbuilding group, and a small boat builder over its 100-year history. The area was slated for redevelopment over five years ago, and the core historic structures that have long sat on the pier were recently rehabilitated. Last year, Brookfield started work to clean up the site and prep for new construction, hiring Hacker first to envision the timber office space. One of the integral parts of its design, according to Hacker, will be the structure’s airy interior. By mixing up the ceiling heights, adding windows ranging from 14- to 28-feet high, and using 27-inch exposed wood beams, tenants will have access to ample sunlight and feel the warmth of the all-wood construction throughout the day.  The exterior of the project is meant to be much darker in tone than what’s found on the inside and will feature metal paneling that mimics raw weathering steel in reference to Pier 70’s shipbuilding past. Hacker will chamfer the panels and arrange them in alternating directions on each floor, allowing light to reflect off of them in various ways and create a sense of movement across the facade. Above the lobby level, the architecture will cantilever slightly at the corners, adding further motion to the space while living green walls will add to the sense of connection with nature. So far, the office structure is the only project on the Pier 70 site that’s been publicly projected to include mass timber. Little is known about the other upcoming buildings, except that Hacker and Brookfield will again partner to build it out and that sustainable construction is a top priority. Our decision to use mass timber is inspired by the neighborhood’s culture of creativity, sustainability, and strong opinions,” said Cutter MacLeod, the senior manager of development at Brookfield Properties. “By applying emerging technologies and innovative designs to the structures we’re building here, we are reinforcing that Pier 70 will be a thriving place for creative industries in San Francisco.” Over 2,000 residential units (including affordable housing) and 1.75-million-square-feet of commercial space will be built out in the $3.5 billion megaproject, along with nine acres of parks, playgrounds, and public space. Up to 90,000 square feet is slated to house arts-related nonprofits, while 60,000 square feet of the site will be used for local production and small-scale manufacturing.  San Francisco as a whole seems to be headed toward integrating more all-wood buildings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 1 De Haro, by Perkins + Will and Pfau Long Architecture and set to open in 2020, will be the city’s first mass timber project. At the nearby California College of the Arts, Studio Gang is designing a trio of CLT pavilions as well. Design approvals for the Pier 70 timber office building are currently underway. Construction is expected to start this spring and phase 1 of the entire site is expected to open in 2022. 
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Paul Andersen’s new Colorado campus rethinks the industrial business park

Paul Andersen’s new space for makers, entrepreneurs, and retailers is now complete in Frederick, Colorado, and provides a new take on what it means to design industrial office space. Responding to the changing landscape of retail, work, and the city, Emerald Workshops was designed to establish a new typology of workspaces focused on engaging the community as much as it engages the economy.  The development consists of eight buildings with a total of 56 customizable units. With 26-foot-high ceilings that can accommodate large equipment or even a mezzanine level, the space is suitable for a variety of purposes and tenants throughout. So far an architecture firm, mobility retailer, cross-fit gym, and textile artisans have quickly taken up residence on the campus.  The spaces themselves feature large windows and operable glass garage doors to reflect the values of transparency and social interaction. The parking lot, a large, planar design element often bogged down by a single use, has been filled with planters, seating, and lighting to encourage outdoor work as well.  Located twenty minutes from Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, one goal of the complex was to “bridge the gap between urban main street and spacious rural landscape,” according to a press release. “The buildings are a new take on Colorado’s historic architecture. They combine the false front commercial architecture of the Old West with industrial construction that has been common since the 1960s,” explained Andersen. The exterior features a graphic, contemporary shingling that brings to mind Playskool toy homes almost as much as the Old West vernacular, especially when contrasted with the grey brick "outlining" present across each building and undulating roof lines. “We selected materials for their timelessness, durability, and clean details—in the buildings and the surrounding landscape,” Andersen explained, “The effect of our design approach is to strike a balance between familiar and new architecture, to make a place that is deeply connected to our region and, in its own subtle way, unlike any other commercial project.”  Phase one of the campus is now complete, and all of the units have been leased. Phase two is currently under construction with the expected completion of the entire project scheduled for May 2020.
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Apple breaks ground on its new 133-acre campus in Austin, Texas

On November 20, multinational technology company Apple announced that it had broken ground on its new 133-acre office park in Austin, Texas, that will cost an estimated $1 billion to construct, and released a first look at the project. The campus, which will contain over three million square feet of usable interior space across 10 buildings once complete, will initially house 5,000 employees, with plans to eventually make room for over 15,000. Apple currently employs around 7,000 people throughout Austin, more than twice as many as it had just five years ago, and the company shows little signs of slowing down growth in the area. A production facility near the city has recently taken on the important task of building the latest fleet of Mac Pros and shipping them out to customers in December. “With the construction of our new campus in Austin now underway,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release, “Apple is deepening our close bond with the city and the talented and diverse workforce that calls it home. Responsible for 2.4 million American jobs and counting, Apple is eager to write our next chapter here and to keep contributing to America’s innovation story.” The company has partnered with Bartlett Tree Experts, an Austin-based tree and shrub care company, to ensure that the diversity of native trees on the property are responsibly preserved while increasing their numbers to stock the 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve planned for the site. In addition, the new campus will run entirely on renewable energy from locally-sourced solar power. The construction of the new campus reflects the company’s commitment to contributing $350 billion to the US economy between 2018 and 2023, during which time it also plans to create 20,000 jobs. Like other buildings in Apple's portfolio, the new campus will be awash in crisp white surfaces contrasted against floor-to-ceiling glass to reflect the company’s minimalist identity. The new Apple campus is expected to be completed by 2022. While Apple's UFO-like headquarters building in Cupertino, California, was designed by Foster + Partners, the company has not as of yet released information on who designed their Austin offshoot.
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Last building on Playa Vista's Water’s Edge campus will be complete next year

The third and final building defining Water’s Edge, a 6.5-acre office campus in Playa Vista, California, is nearly complete. Designed by Los Angeles-based firm SPF:architects, the four-story structure, named WE3, will provide a striking new building with over 183,000 square feet of creative workspace and two floors of underground parking to an area gradually being referred to as “Silicon Beach,” given its recent influx of top-level tech companies, including Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, BuzzFeed, Facebook, and AOL. Multinational corporation Nike has already agreed to rent two floors of the building. According to SPF, the main challenge of developing the design language for WE3 was creating “a plan fully integrated with existing conditions that both maximized the lot’s buildable area and maintained a compelling architectural standard.” To achieve this, the design team went beyond the client brief by creating a new public courtyard, planning for highly flexible office space, and relocating the preexisting soccer pitch, which will now be more central to the office campus to visually connect the site’s main amenities. To meet their goal of LEED Gold certification, the architects incorporated locally sourced and recycled concrete and metal in the construction process, while the large, insulated windows defining the exterior are designed to reduce energy use. The “floating” perforated aluminum skin wrapping the facade is not only the project’s most distinguishing feature, but it also functions as a solar shading device in conjunction with the building’s many deep-set balconies. And, because the building’s top floor was not legally allowed to exceed 20,000 square feet due to zoning restrictions, a “sky garden” was added to the middle of the building featuring drought-tolerant landscaping within a wind-shielded terrace. WE3 broke ground in April 2018, topped out this month, and is scheduled to be completed by May 2020.
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SOM unveils design for Disney's new Manhattan headquarters

Disney is coming to Lower Manhattan’s west side. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has unveiled its vision for the media company’s new 1.2-million-square-foot headquarters in the burgeoning Hudson Square. Slated for the former City Winery site, the Silverstein Properties project will be located three blocks above the busy thoroughfare of Canal Street. 4 Hudson Square will take cues from the surrounding industrial-scale brick structures that populate the area. It will be comprised of three tower buildings—the largest standing 320-feet-tall—that will all emerge from a 10-story podium. Taking up an entire city block, it will be a massive project with a large floor plate featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and an exterior grid of green terra cotta tile and anodized aluminum panels. The project will mimic the punched windows and facade materials of the other local buildings nearby. A series of setbacks will also define the upper floors of each structure, creating various terraces over a total of 19 stories.  Hudson Square, once the printing press capital of New York City, boasts tons of textured and aged buildings that each exude a strong presence—something the team at The Walt Disney Company wanted to embody in its contemporary office space. Set to hold up to 5,000 employees, 4 Hudson Square will be a major addition to the neighborhood when completed. Disney officials estimate its construction will wrap up in four years after the current building is demolished. The ground floor of the project will be outfitted with retail and restaurants and will serve not just Disney staff, but the public as well.  Amenity-rich office buildings with ample communal public space are increasingly being pitched as attractive lures for the Manhattan neighborhood, which is undergoing a major corporate-led redevelopment. Many tech and media companies, including Squarespace, Horizon Media, and several design firms have claimed space in the neighborhood. Disney’s move to Hudson Square from their Upper West Side location seemingly cements the area's future as a corporate campus. The headquarters will be one of the first large-scale, ground-up projects in the neighborhood and will be built on track to receive LEED and WELL Standard certifications.  Gensler is set to design the interiors for Disney while SCAPE will take on the exterior landscape.
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ZGF and Arup integrate form and structure with steel knuckles in The Mark

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The Mark is a 750,000 SF, 48-story commercial office and hotel tower that's reshaping the Seattle skyline, and designed to preserve the historic Jacobean-style Rainier Club and the nation’s oldest Byzantine-style church next door. Utilizing a compact footprint at ground level, the tower subtly slopes over the site’s existing structures before tapering back through a precise system of steel “knuckles” and triangulated building planes.
  • Facade Manufacturers Supreme Steel Pohl Pilkington Viracon
  • Architect ZGF Architects
  • Facade Installer The Erection Company Harmon
  • Historical Preservation Architect Ron Wright & Associates
  • Fabricators Supreme Steel
  • Structural Engineer Arup USA (Tower), Coughlin Porter Lundeen (Sanctuary)
  • Location Seattle, Washington
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • Products Harmon UCW8000 Curtainwall Viracon VRE1-54 glazing Pohl Custom Panels & Steel
Preserving and incorporating the First United Methodist Church into the new development, the tower rises from the city block with a faceted form. At the tower’s base, a transparent entrance lobby and lower level facade integrates with The Sanctuary and The Rainier Club to provide an enclosed court between buildings. With 15,000 square feet available on The Mark's first floor, the floorplates needed to expand on subsequent levels to maximize leasing potential. Through a joint development agreement with The Rainier Club, ‘over-under’ property rights are utilized. It is Seattle's first tower with column-free floors and floor-to-ceiling windows—more per square foot than in any other building in the city. At the heart of the tower is a diagonal steel mega-brace system. The exposed braces zigzag up the tower’s facade and are embedded 11 inches into its reflective glazing. The intersections of the braces are called “the knuckles,” where brace members were initially bolted and finished with penetration welds. The knuckles are a result of the desire to stitch the building together along its corners, even though the design also mandated that the same corners be column-free. Every knuckle had to occur at a floor level, so that forces from braces on two orthogonal faces could be resolved into the floor structure. The structural system shifts the load away from the core and to the exterior walls, allowing for a smaller core and creating more rentable floor space. ZGF and Arup worked with steel fabricator Supreme Steel to create the knuckles with a Halfen anchoring system for the building’s unitized panels. Supreme Steel developed a detailed three-dimensional model showing all of the welds and plates. The mega-brace structural technology enveloping The Mark is a first for towers in high-seismic regions. The design optimizes building height, configuration and floor plate efficiency while responding to the owner’s vision for an iconic addition to downtown Seattle’s skyline. Allyn Stellmacher, a partner at ZGF Architects, talked about what it meant to rethink tall buildings in the city. “Our client, Kevin Daniels, envisioned a project that could reset expectations for high-rises in Seattle. Alongside our project partners, it was gratifying to help make our mark on the skyline.” ZGF associate Henry Zimmerman and Arup associate Bryce Tanner will be presenting The Mark on the panel"Thinking Outside the Box: Detailing and Fabrication Considerations for Advanced Building Geometries," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Seattle conference on December 6.
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Renzo Piano completes offices for Kum & Go in Des Moines, Iowa

Renzo Piano Building Workshop has officially completed the much-anticipated Krause Gateway Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. As the new headquarters for Midwestern convenience store chain Kum & Go, the six-story building features an open and transparent design that resembles a glass pagoda.  RPBW designed the 160,000-square-foot structure in collaboration with Iowa-based firm OPN Architects. Construction wrapped up late last year on the project site, situated on the north end of the city’s famous Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass facade, the Krause Gateway Center provides 360-degree views of the city and the art garden below, while housing offices for 800 Kum & Go and Krause Group employees. It also includes a two-story underground parking garage, a fitness center, large meeting rooms, and a dedicated art space. The focal point of the modern design is its sun-soaked interior lobby, created with a warm and welcoming atmosphere for visitors and workers alike. Sustainability, accessibility, and engagement with art are key elements of the Krause Gateway Center's overall design. The curtain wall exterior allows ample daylight into the office space while the elongated overhangs that divide the floors shade the interior and control temperature. An outdoor terrace and a green roof populated with sculptures offer breathing spaces for employees to access during the day. In addition to the unique, people-centric design, the building takes up just 25 percent of the project site, where over 100 trees and various landscape furniture dot the landscape for further public use. In the near future, RPBW will build out a café for the building’s Grand Avenue lobby entrance along with exterior seating.
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Roche Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation Building reopens for the 21st century

Upon stepping inside the new, light-filled Ford Foundation for Social Justice, you’d never know the crisp and clean, 415,000-square-foot building felt darker and smaller just four years ago. The landmark headquarters of the formerly-named Ford Foundation was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1967 and has long been considered one of New York’s greatest architectural treasures. Its 12-story, corten steel structure featuring textured granite walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows were emblematic of groundbreaking mid-century modern design, but in recent years the prized building has fallen behind the times. This month, Gensler’s New York office completed an extensive renovation effort to redesign and rebrand the organization’s Midtown East facility as a sustainable hub for social justice–oriented groups to commune and collaborate. The 51-year-old building was reconstructed in compliance with updated city safety codes with an increased attention to energy efficiency and accessibility. Where rays of daylight used to only trickle into the structure’s iconic, glass-clad atrium, they now sweep through the office areas and out the other side of the building. It’s arguably one of the sunniest spaces in the neighborhood and now boasts near-complete transparency. “People used to walk by here and have no idea what was going on inside,” said Darren Walker, the Foundation’s current president. “It sat here like a mammoth, making a statement of discretion and tranquility. But now, while you can see so much of the original vocabulary of the building in things like its 6-foot planning grid and innovative use of brass, it’s much more transparent and energetic.” Central to Gensler’s revamp was expanding the amount of public and meeting spaces for outside organizations from 53,600 square feet to a whopping 81,000 square feet. With more room to host global groups committed to human equity and achievement, the Foundation aims to bolster its outreach efforts while also promoting its own themes of transparency, fairness, and dignity through an inviting design. Gensler also added extra lifts, subtle wheelchair ramps, gender-inclusive signage, and updated workplace furniture to meet ADA standards—all in order to encourage diversity within the Foundation’s four walls. This idea of displaying human value through design also translates to the new open office plan that nurtures collaboration and gives employees access to coveted daylight and ample views of the lush Dan Kiley­–designed garden atrium. Jungles Studio, in collaboration with SiteWorks, rehabilitated the space to align with Kiley’s simple original vision. To combat years of overgrowth and erosion, they deepened the tree holes, improved irrigation, and restored the garden’s reflecting pool as well as the brick pavers throughout. This indoor greenhouse is visible from the workspace above now that the closed-door private offices that once lined the atrium walls have been opened up as laneways on each floor. Ed Wood, design director and principal at Gensler, said the overall design intent for the project was to create a feeling of the “new, but familiar.” Perhaps the most impressive part of the Foundation’s renovation signifies just that. During the project, over 1,500 pieces of furniture were meticulously restored while over half of the original Warren Platnerdesigned wood pieces were refinished to match their original stain. Each legacy lighting fixture, bronze accent, leather-laid item, piece of millwork, as well as the carpet and wood flooring was either refurbished or reimagined using extremely similar materials or pieces salvaged from the Foundation’s storage. The updated interior successfully transports visitors back to a time when Mad Men era-design dominated New York’s office towers without making it look cheesy and out of date. It’s actually refreshing. When the Ford Foundation first opened, it was a design marvel and a nod to the Foundation’s claim to be the wealthiest organization of its kind in the world. With this update, Gensler brought the building back to life and advanced its architectural status by not only making it a prime example of a 21st-century renovation project but by intelligently piecing back together all the iconic elements that made the interior so irresistible decades ago. The public spaces inside the Ford Foundation for Social Justice will officially open to the public in January. Its grantees and affiliate organizations will be welcomed into the new convening spaces starting then as well. The project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification. In addition to the staff, the building permanently houses Philanthropy New York, the United Nations Foundation, and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.
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New inventions hit the mute button in open offices

The hum of innovation and collaboration at work these days is reaching a fever pitch, and a lot of us are having a hard time concentrating. New incubation spaces are producing a myriad of novel solutions to world problems and for many the buzz of that activity is becoming a distraction. Our open-plan office spaces, the hallowed halls of design thinking, potentially threaten our most cherished commodity: privacy. Recently, innovative companies like Hushme, Panasonic design studio Future Life Factory, and others have developed novel solutions to the cubicle quietness conundrum. The invention of the “Hushme” ushers in a new era of voice privacy. The Bluetooth-connected headphone device is hailed as the first voice mask for mobile phones. The sophisticated microphone-enabled mask links with your smartphone and provides a firewall against eavesdropping coworkers. An added benefit is that it makes one think twice before opening one’s mouth. According to a recent article on techcrunch, “Open offices have driven Panasonic to make horse blinders for humans.” The product, known as “Wear Space” blocks out a worker’s peripheral vision while incorporating noise-cancelling technology. It also curbs risky impulses like making unnecessary eye contact with coworkers. Panasonic, however, is not the first to enter the work noise–reduction space. Cross collaboration has produced some exciting results from some unexpected places including the tattoo and the camping industries. Pause Pod developed a lightweight pop-up tent that fits easily in a good-looking shoulder bag. Whether you are reading, napping, meditating, or simply recharging, Pause Pod provides the ultimate privacy and relaxation while taking up minimal real estate at the office. The tattoo industry produced a more drastic and controversial proposal: the eyelid tattoo. The clever device provides cover from nosey co-workers and allows one to take quick in-office naps during a presumably exhausting day of collaboration.
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Google fills a historic timber hangar with its sleek new Los Angeles office

The Spruce Goose, a derogatory nickname for the Hughes H-4 Hercules, only flew once, but the largest plane ever built (entirely out of wood, to boot) continues to live on in pop culture ephemera. The plane has found a permanent home in Oregon’s Evergreen Aviation Museum, but the Los Angeles hangar where the Spruce Goose was built is getting a second shot at life. Under the timber hangar’s four-story-tall roof, ZGF Architects has completed a voluminous open office for Google that celebrates the building’s aeronautical heritage. Inside the 450,000-square-foot Playa Vista space, ZGF has restored the building’s historic Douglas fir “spine,” a series of curved ribs that support the ceiling, using wood salvaged from the hangar. Any leftover wood was used for furniture throughout the office. The Spruce Goose hangar was the largest timber building in the world when it was completed, and ZGF and engineers Arup mostly kept true to that legacy by scattering wooden finishes throughout and leaving the ceiling exposed. An enormous ship-like structure at the office’s core anchors the circulation routes and staircases to each floor, and according to ZGF, creates a “unique building-within-a-building design.” The hangar had largely laid dormant until Google took it over as a tenant, though in the past it’s served as a soundstage for films like Titanic and Avatar. In renovating such a cavernous space, ZGF punched skylights throughout the 750-foot-long building’s roof to maximize the amount of incoming daylight. The office space also features plenty of aviation-themed conference rooms, a fitness center, cafes, a 250-person event space, and aerial boardwalks that connect the first, second, and third floors. A “perception sculpture” made up of 2,800 hanging steel balls has been installed in the central atrium, that, when viewed from a specific angle, reveals the airy shape of the Spruce Goose plane. The references to Howard Hughes’s and the site’s place in aviation history is also celebrated throughout with placards and stories about the building, the Spruce Goose, Google, and L.A. Although Google has approximately 1,000 employees in the city, it’s unclear how many will work out of the Spruce Goose office. ZGF is no stranger to designing for tech giants and is currently part of the team renovating Microsoft's Redmond campus. “Los Angeles is an ideal home for Google’s newest office,” said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was on hand for a tour of the building over the weekend. “Our city is a hub of innovation, creativity, and homegrown talent that shaped the aerospace industry in the past and that’s redefining the tech sector today. “Expanding Google’s presence in Playa Vista connects an historic building with our dynamic future, a site that will serve as a hotbed of scientific excellence and economic success for years to come.”
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viaARCHITECTURE brings joy to a small office in Lower Manhattan

There are good clients and then there are good clients with great projects. They don’t always go together, but when they do, the result can be inspiring architecture and design. viaARCHITECTURE, the New York City firm led by Frederick Biehle and Erika Hinrichs, found both when they were commissioned to design the New York offices for Creative Capital. The nonprofit began as a project to “reinvent cultural philanthropy and to support innovative artists pursuing adventurous projects in all disciplines.” It was founded in response to the National Endowment for the Arts' abandonment of support for individual artists, and the nonprofit is proud to claim “a fierce commitment to freedom of expression.” In the last few years, they have supported artists as diverse as Meredith Monk, Laura Poitras, and Rebecca Solnit, among many others. Biehle was excited to design the group's office space and produced a working environment that is a thrill for its 20 daily inhabitants and any additional visitors. The organization's office is in a typical cramped New York site on Maiden Lane near Wall Street on the 18th-floor. But the architects were able to open up the space and emphasize the view out through a number of tall windows. The 5,000-square-foot space is further enhanced by exposed concrete floors and ceilings with stripped-down beams and columns all focused on the view out to the street and sky. In addition, the office design, which emphasizes communal, co-working spaces instead of individual work rooms, have space-saving pocket doors and multiple openings to increase spatial adaptability and visual access. The space feels open and light-filled despite its less than desirable dimensions. Visitors to Creative Capital exit a small elevator and turn into a narrow hallway, where they are greeted by a colorful double-wide sliding metal door that pulls one into the space. It is hard to convey how the architects' color palette has created an entirely joyful work environment for its employees, something that is not always the case in narrow Lower Manhattan work spaces. It should be noted that the architects worked with their clients to produce not only a desirable work environment but also one that was affordable for the nonprofit. The construction fees for the office were integrated into the ten-year lease plan, and the architects produced efficient built-in furniture and the rest is discounted Herman Miller task furniture for the remainder of the space. This commission was a special one for the architects and produced a project that improved the daily work experience for its users. It’s a case study in what architects can do to improve everyone’s lives.
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An Estonian office block receives a splash of color with an aluminum mesh facade

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Estonia-based architectural practice molumba has enlivened a suburban office block with a unique concrete and aluminum screen assembly. The project was commissioned by AS Elering—the nation’s largest transmission systems operator for electricity and natural gas—as a dramatic, three-fold expansion of the preexisting structure in Mustamäe, a southwestern neighborhood in the nation’s capital of Tallinn.
  • Facade Manufacturer Metal-Disain Oü (metal sheets), Talot AS (concrete panels), JU-Metall Oü
  • Architects molumba, Eeoo Stuudio Oü (interior)
  • Facade Installer Oma Ehitaja
  • Facade Consultants Novarc
  • Location Tallinn, Estonia
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Steel frame with prefabricated concrete panels and metal sheets
  • Products Metal-Disain Oü PW keevisrest
Over 140 turquoise mesh piers ring and visually buttress each elevation, a play on historical castellation and Gothic design found throughout Tallinn’s Old Town. The piers are built of full-length aluminum strips measuring 12 to 41 feet, which are in turn welded to a series of connecting bars. Each pier possesses its own steel support structure consisting of two internal, vertical columns fastened to the welded connecting bars. The design of the complex references the spindly and bundled power line, a ubiquitous feature across urban landscapes. AS Elering operates a multi-acre electrical substation next door. According to design lead Karli Luik, molumba envisioned the project as “the brain of the electricity and gas transmission network, monitoring and administrating their vitally important circulation.” As a vitally important aspect of Estonia’s energy infrastructure, the entire 40,000 square-foot complex is ringed by a perimeter wall fashioned of the same turquoise aluminum screen. For molumba, the bigger question was how to give the mesh triangles a truly functional quality outside of their aesthetic elements. The two planes of the piers form an acute isosceles triangle: the two congruent sides measure just under four feet while the base is approximately three feet. This shorter edge is placed atop the building’s 20 by 10 foot black precast concrete panels and wedged between window openings. With a 41-degree circumcenter angle, the piers function as effective passive sun shades for office functions within. Additionally, the mesh frame serves as an industrially-produced lattice screen for future vegetative growth to coil up the facade. The interior, designed by Stuudio Oü, features a design that similarly echoes the building's utilitarian function. Spiraling stairwells, built of concrete and steel, vertically course through the east and west elevations of the headquarters, while exposed pipes, cables, and pendant lamps made of recycled insulators line the ceiling and walls. A central vegetated courtyard and a two-story, wood-paneled stairwell, with steps of varying size, are the office block's principal communal areas. At the core of it all lies the "Brain," where the nation's energy transmission network is surveilled through a hippodrome of monitors.