For Thomas Phifer, director of New York-based Thomas Phifer and Partners, there is no one best way to design a high performance building envelope. Phifer, whose recent work includes the Corning Museum of Glass expansion, will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next month's Facades+NYC conference. "Each facade has to do with the particular spirit and ethos of the building," said Phifer. "They each have a particular climate that they have to respond to; they each have a particular way of dealing with the context." As a result, he explained, the firm employs a wide array of materials, from large concrete blocks to reclaimed brick or window walls with exterior sunshades. "Our work doesn't focus on one particular material or one attitude toward dealing with the environment," explained Phifer. "We just take each particularity and put them together to try to make an enclosure." As an example, Phifer cited the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City. "We wanted the building to be all about light, since light can foster that sense of enlightenment," he said. The architects aimed to flood the building's interior with natural daylight, moreover, "so that all of the occupants had a sense of the changing atmosphere of the day." They designed a calibrated louver system for each facade to reduce the radiant heat entering the building while enhancing the building's aesthetics. The shades were "developed in such a way that the louvers hold light," said Phifer. "It's not about reflection or absorption; [the facade] embodies light through the design of the micro-louver. It glows during the day with what turned out to be a kind of metaphor for enlightenment." To hear more about Phifer's recently-completed and pending projects, and to catch up with other leaders in facade design and fabrication, register today for Facades+NYC.
Posts tagged with "Thomas Phifer and Partners":
The 10-story courthouse includes ten courtrooms for the District Court of Utah, fourteen judges’ chamber suites, administrative Clerk of the Court offices, the United States Marshal Service, United States Probation, and other federal agencies.Thomas Phifer and Partners recently completed a United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City for the General Services Administration (GSA). The 400,000 sq. ft. project consists of a blast resistant shell clad with a custom designed anodized aluminum sun screen. The screen is arranged in four configurations dependent on solar orientation, performing as a direct heat gain blocker on the south facades, while subtly changing to a louvered fin configuration on the east and west facades. The architects won the project in a national competition in the late nineties, however it was just recently completed. Thomas Phifer, Director of Thomas Phifer and Partners, says that during the duration of the project various site changes occurred, and the building design naturally evolved into a particular focus: “We began to think about a building that embodied light as a metaphor for the enlightenment of the courts. It began to fill these spaces inside the courtrooms, the judges chambers. The design came from a sense of light.” Phifer said a precedent for the project is Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum (1982-1986). In Judd’s project, each of the boxes he crafted have the same outer dimensions, with a unique interior offering up a variety of tectonic conditions. Some of the boxes are transected, while others have recesses and partitions. Phifer says the project inspired an interest in detailing of the aluminum sun screen: “What’s interesting about his [Judd’s] boxes is their extreme simplicity: it’s important how the plates come together…the beautiful screws. You see the thickness of the aluminum, and the construction honors the material,” says Phifer. “The boxes begin to honor the light surrounding it.” The architects worked with the curtain wall contractor to develop a custom designed louver system from extruded and milled aluminum components to manage daylight. Everything had to be designed with calculations and technical documentation, including plenty of mock-ups. Phifer says this level of detailing is at the heart of their office’s production: “the facade system developed here was completely new.” This system is punctured in selective places on the facade with a polished stainless steel portal celebrating very specific spaces within the interior such as the judge’s chambers. “It has the character of receiving light and being a real part of the environment,” says Phifer on the outcomes of the decade-long project. The project could be considered a super-scaled descendant of one of Judd’s well-crafted boxes, but also should be a sophisticated addition to Thomas Phifer and Partners’ repertoire of working with light (a portfolio that includes a 2011 AIA Honor Award for the North Carolina Museum of Art). The results are a robust box, with a beautifully simple, passive performative agenda.
Warsaw has risen. New York–based practice Thomas Phifer + Partners has released its plans for a new 160,000-square-foot museum, a 100,000-square-foot theater, and an outdoor forum in Warsaw, Poland. "The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth and serve only as a transport station for the Wehrmacht. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation." Those were the chilling words of SS chief Heinrich Himmler in October, 1944 as Nazi forces in Germany organized the "Planned Destruction of Warsaw." Specialist engineers were deployed to demolish house after house—paying particular attention to historical monuments. An estimated 10,455 buildings, of which 923 were historical buildings were destroyed amounting to nearly 90 percent of Warsaw's architecture. Since the dark days of the second world war, the Polish capital has been on a long road to recovery, both socially and culturally. To save their city, residents after the war embarked on a five year project which UNESCO says saw a "near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century." Thomas Phifer+Partners' project is special. Warsaw has, of course, been developing, and rapidly so. but the majority of these projects are not architecturally unique to the city. Instead they have been the product of financial inflows and corporate demand, which does little to aid Warsaw's architectural diversity. Connecting the buildings to Defilad Square and Świętokrzyskie Park, the new Museum of Modern Art and TR Warsaw Theater by Phifer's practice are radically different from the context of their surroundings. A marked shift in typology and style, the designs look to both culturally and architecturally enliven the square in the city center, engaging the public with the art and performances inside. This is achieved via the use of an open auditorium and educational spaces of which can be accessed by visitors on all sides. The museum makes use of tactile materiality the firm described as "simple and honest." This is said to be inspired by abstract works of art. Wrapped in white scrim, the facade is intended to capture the light and shadows of the passing day. Meanwhile the theater emphasizes its permanence with a cast-metal facade. Such a contextual change in materiality offers a distinct abstraction in color tone and texture and perhaps indicates that Warsaw has entered a new era of development, design, and architectural identity.
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.
On the evening of Thursday, November 13, temperatures in Austin, Texas, dropped below freezing. In spite of the fact that most locals are unaccustomed to this degree of frigidity, more than 1,000 people turned out for Creek Show: Light Night 2014. The event, which ran from five in the evening until midnight, celebrated the unveiling of a series of light installations along Waller Creek between 5th and 9th streets. Organized by non-profit group Waller Creek Conservancy, Creek Show is a prelude of sorts to the ongoing plan to transform the flash-flood prone waterway into a chain of public parks designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Thomas Phifer and Partners with lighting design by Linnaea Tillett. It features five "illuminating works of art" by local architects and landscape architects, including Baldridge Architects, Design Workshop, Jason Sowell, Legge Lewis Legge, and Thoughtbarn, which turned in High Water Mark (pictured at top). Located under the 7th Street Bridge, High Water Mark is composed of 100-foot-long undulating, electroluminescent wires suspended 20 feet above the waterline. Hidden Measures is by University of Texas landscape architecture professor Jason Sowell. Sowell stenciled messages in photo luminescent paint along the creek that describe the waterway's physical dimensions and hydrologic infrastructure. Baldridge Architects set up a colonnade of sorts of LED tubes called Tracing the Line. The succession of vertical lights rise out of the creek, indicating its path through this segment of downtown Austin. Legge Lewis Legge's Light Bridge is made up of a rope and hanging electroluminescent wire that arc over the water, suggesting a bridge. Flow by Design Workshop (below) is a series of tarps strung across the creek that are illuminated by color changing lights. The tapestries roll and flutter in the wind, emulating the coursing of the water below.
Approximately six years after Thomas Phifer and Partners, the Office for Visual Interaction, and Werner Sobek won the CityLights competition for a new standard streetlight, some of the first examples are popping up in Lower Manhattan. The design for LED streetlights was cutting edge at the time, and the technology was very expensive. Prices for energy efficient LED's have fallen considerably since then, allowing the ultra slim fixtures to find their way onto city streets. The Bloomberg administration has changed New York's scrappy streetscapes in numerous ways, including adding new pedestrian plazas and hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and commissioning new street furniture and newsstands. These fixtures, developed by the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation, are the latest of these efforts to make gritty city a bit greener and more civilized.