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.
Posts tagged with "Thomas Phifer":
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 California AIA's biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq. But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these "stress traditional design assumptions." Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look "like marshmallows." Next a Pecha Kucha–type session on Technology Serving Design where German Aparicio, CCA and UCLA professor and AECOM architect, presented his "informedCITIES" digital data research on urbanism and how it can be applied to design. Aparicio has done fascinating urban metrics research on pre- and post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. It's great to be at an architecture conference that does not just discuss local or regional issues but brings in the world's most important designers to present work of high quality and offers a 6:00a.m. "restorative wake-up Yoga" session sponsored by Academy for Emerging Professionals.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced its 2013 architecture awards recipients. The winners were chosen from a group of 32 individuals and practices nominated by Academy members. An exhibition of their work will be on display at the Audubon Terrace in New York City from May 16 to June 9, 2013. The Academy’s architecture awards program was established in conjunction with the 1955 inauguration of the annual Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, which is presented to a leading architect from any country who has made a noteworthy contribution to architecture as an art. Alberto Campo Baeza from Madrid, Spain won the $5000 prize this year. He has practiced and taught architecture for over 35 years at prominent universities in the U.S. and abroad. He turns architecture into art through utilizing timeless forms. Campo Baeza received the 2013 Heinrich Tessenow Gold Metal. Two Arts and Letters Awards of $7500 recognizing American architects whose work holds a strong personal bearing were presented to Teddy Cruz of San Diego, California and Thomas Phifer of New York. Teddy Cruz is an architect, academic, and activist who investigates the politics and economics that compel urban conflict. Thomas Phifer, who has led his own New York City practice since 1996, blends the beauty and simplicity of Modernism with awareness of the natural environment. Barry Bergdoll and Sanford Kwinter of New York each won an Arts and Letters Award of $7500 given to Americans exploring ideas in architecture using any method of expression. Barry Bergdoll, a 19th- and 20th-century architectural history scholar, is the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. Sanford Kwinter is a witer, editor, and Professor of Architectural Theory and Criticism at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he co-directs the Master in Design Studies program.
BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO) Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Later, as the tour wound down, and journalists were milling about in the lobby, Eavesdrop overheard two gentlemen relaxing on a bench and discussing the building’s aesthetics. The one with deep architectural insight commented to his older companion: “White. All the walls are white. Everything is white! I wondered what that was about, and then I remembered that Phifer worked for Richard Meier for years. That’s where he got his refrigerator-door palette!” Eavesdrop almost collapsed. CHANNELING WARHOL Attention, iPhoneys. “Is This Art?” is a new iPhone app “designed for people who have questions about the artistic integrity of their surroundings.” Using the iPhone’s camera, the app’s Pittsburgh-based developers claim they will instantly provide users with an “authoritative declaration of artistic importance.” This could work for architecture, thought Eavesdrop, which found three architecture-related submissions in its reservoir. The bloated, rainbow-colored “Hell, Yes!” barnacle on the New Museum in New York was panned with “I do not understand it; therefore, THIS NOT ART.” The merit of W.R. Dalzell’s apparently out-of-print book Architecture: The Indispensable Art was confirmed with “This work’s materiality is immaterial; therefore, THIS IS ART.” What is art, the cover or its contents? The same approval rating was bestowed on a bland window wall of a building that looks like a stillborn Dwell house. First one to submit a picture of Danny Libeskind’s Dresden Military History Museum wins. FAREWELL FEUD Raimund Abraham, who died in a car accident on March 4 in Los Angeles, had been a faculty member at Cooper Union since 1971, along with other long-timers such as Lebbeus Woods, Diane Lewis, and Kevin Bone. And while a memorial for Abraham in Vienna at the MAK Museum is planned for June 11 (including Peter Eisenman, Michael Rotondi, Wolf Prix, and Woods as speakers) in spite of his renouncing Austrian citizenship in 2002, factions at Cooper Union have proved so fractious that no date or program for a memorial in New York has yet been set. Send vintage Kelvinators and Frigidaires to firstname.lastname@example.org