Posts tagged with "REX":
Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX, led by Marcus Prize winner Joshua Prince-Ramus, has announced plans for a new 450,000 square foot "premium" office complex for real estate company Tishman Speyer.
The building—which AN first reported on last year—will be located on 2050 M Street in Washington D.C. and aims to "set the new standard of trophy office buildings" in the district's "golden triangle," a renowned business hub.
The project will feel light given its surrounding buildings—which range from Beaux Arts, Neoclassicism to Art Deco and Brutalism—feature heavy masonry exteriors. 2050 M Street's distinction will be further accentuated by its lack of ornamentation.
In this respect, REX's office building could be considered a contemporary take on Mies van der Rohe's high modernist style. While 2050 M Street avoids Mies's trademark use of steel structure, the principles of openness, proportionality, and legibility (in renderings, at least, the floors remain clearly visible) remain. As REX described in a press release, the project employs "hyper-transparent, floor-to-ceiling glass" that hide the view of "impending mullions."To achieve this, the glass will use "subtly-reflective pyrolytic" coating on the exterior. A relatively new advancement in glass technology, the process involves applying the coating while the glass is in a semi-molten state, allowing the chemical composition to form a bond and become part of the glass surface. The coating provides enhanced durability against scratches and other forms of degradation. In addition, a low-e coating will be applied within the glass’s insulating cavity to improve thermal performance by reducing solar heat gains. Both coatings will be applied to the curving panels that repeat 900 times along the building's facade to create a shimmering, kaleidoscopic effect, thus hiding the mullions. The panels' curvature also has a structural purpose: the "curve’s inherent rigidity in compression" means "only the top and bottom edges of the panels are supported from the floor slabs." Meanwhile, the "‘mullion-less’ vertical edges are flush-glazed for a minimalist aesthetic that improves sight lines, while gaining useable floor area." The lobby will also house site-specific art that has not yet been commissioned. The project has not broke ground but REX, in press release, stated that completion is due for 2019.
Original Architect: Davis Brody Architect: REX Steel manufacturer and installer: Permasteelisa Date of Completion: 1970 Date of retrofit completion: expected 2016
Before BIG built its pyramid on New York’s west side, there was the concrete ziggurat at 450 West 33rd Street, designed by Davis Brody (now Davis Brody Bond) and completed in 1970. The 16-story office building lost whatever Brutalist charm it possessed when, in the 1980s, its precast concrete facade was painted beige and covered with brown metal panels and it gained the dubious honor of being one of the ugliest structures in New York. Now known as Five Manhattan West, the building is undergoing another makeover, spearheaded by REX, to update its facade with the latest in form-fitting fenestration.
The client, Brookfield Office Properties, was committed to transforming its ugly duckling into a swan. “If anything, our initial design sketches weren’t ambitious enough,” said REX founding principal Joshua Prince-Ramus. “We were trying to do something innovative and exciting thinking that we were pushing the envelope, and then they said ‘it’s a bigger envelope.’” REX ultimately devised a “pleated” glass facade that ripples down the building to flood the large, open interiors with light. These pleats are composed of panels angling out toward each other from the floor and ceiling, a design driven by the need to mitigate the structure’s slope, which limited the leasable space along the interior perimeter. But the unique form is more than just window dressing. According to Prince-Ramus, “What’s interesting about the geometry is that the sun doesn’t hit the lower piece of glass, so we can have a building that is transparent and simultaneously energy efficient.”
Every adaptive reuse project presents unique and unexpected challenges. To compensate for weakness or irregularity in the nearly 50-year-old concrete slabs, REX devised an unobtrusive steel substructure to support their new facade. Beyond re-cladding the building, the architects dramatically reconfigured its lobby and improved its core and mechanical systems. Impressively, this was all done while tenants continued to occupy the building.
The glistening glass pyramid will anchor Brookfield’s adjacent Manhattan West development and its investment and ambition seem to be paying off. The massive floor slabs and floor-to-ceiling windows are attracting tech companies and other businesses looking for nontraditional office space. The anything-but-retro retrofit will be completed by the end of this year but the transformation is already profound. At street level, Five Manhattan West feels brighter and less imposing. Though its edges may have softened, the once-Brutalist building still cuts a distinct figure among the increasingly anonymous glass towers of Manhattan.
Founder of REX and a founding partner of OMA New York, Joshua Prince-Ramus was awarded the $100,000 Marcus Prize last September by the Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation Foundation. According to the jury, the prize was awarded for REX’s “exuberant yet carefully considered designs, [which] possess a broader cultural significance.”
Celebrating this achievement, Prince-Ramus’s work and notorious hyper-rationalist methodology will be on display at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning until May 6, 2016. Here, visitors can find examples of notable works such as the Seattle Central Library, Vakko Fashion Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and 5 Manhattan West.
Alongside these works will be details of REX’s process-oriented approach to design. This will include how a schematic rationale plays a key role in every project REX undertakes, hence forming purely functional-based buildings—something that is reflected in its aesthetic in unexpected ways.