Irregularity shapes the Berlin Stock Exchange

An irregular site, in addition to considerations such as green building requirements, right-to-light requirements and the owner’s desire for low operating costs, led the architect, Nicholas Grimshaw, to maximize the Berlin Stock Exchange building’s volume.

This was accomplished by creating a series of elliptical arches which conform to the site’s footprint as opposed to being axial in arrangement, then suspending upper floors of the 39,000 sq m office building from the frame. Public areas line an interior ‘street’ and office space is organized around two roughly triangular atria.

Find more photos of the Berlin Stock Exchange here...

Challenging notions with the Gate of Europe.

Historically, architectural principles included the need to make a building look stable, safe and secure. While modern materials have progressively challenged this notion, nowhere has it been more flouted than in the Gate of Europe towers in Madrid, Spain. To overcome practical difficulties (the footprint of these buildings needed to clear the subway interchange at street level), the designers created twin towers that lean in at an angle of nearly 15 degrees.

In order to provide pedestrians and occupants with the required sense of safety, structural steel members are clearly expressed on the building exterior: most notably, each tower has an uninterrupted vertical beam on its north and south elevations. Concrete cores and underground counterweights further stabilize the structures.

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Pisa's Tower does more than lean.

The “Leaning Tower of Pisa” is one of the world’s most recognizable buildings. Due to settling of its foundation, it leans approximately 5 degrees from vertical. But beyond the iconic leaning of the bell tower, the church complex is most notable for its copious use of arcades as a decorative feature.

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Blind arcades on the lower levels of the buildings give way to delicately scaled galleries and tracery above. Seen from a distance, the buildings have a perforated, openwork quality.

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Find more photos of Pisa's Piazza del Duomo here...

The Marina City Towers are efficient and economic.

Known popularly as the ‘corn cob’ buildings, the semi-circular balconies that define these towers’ exteriors are the outgrowth of space-efficient, wedge-shaped apartments within. The theme of semi-circles is carried out in the lower story parking decks as negative space, defined by curved support structures. During design and planning, architect Bertrand Goldberg was striving for unprecedented levels of efficiency and economy, which led to the use of reinforced concrete. The resulting expanse of unadorned concrete was not only groundbreaking at the time, but still differentiates the building today.

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Filtering Light at the Arab World Institute

This building is a physical embodiment of the Institute’s mission: to promote cross-cultural understanding and information exchange. Stylistically, it unites themes of western and Arab design. The building’s entry is accessed through a long, narrow corridor, creating a focus on interiors that characteristically Arab.

Overlaying grids of aluminum panels...

Overlaying grids of aluminum panels...

...geometric patterns.

...geometric patterns.

On façade walls, the use of overlaying grids and their function of filtering light also allude to Arab design. Along the southern wall, and visible across a large courtyard, is the building’s most dramatic feature: an array of 113 aluminum panels, pierced with geometric patterns that have photo-electrically operated diaphragms which continually constrict and expand to regulate the admittance of daylight.

Find more photos of Paris's Arab World Institute here...

Darwin Center's glass and cocoons

London’s Museum of Natural History has been housed in Alfred Waterhouse’s ornate Romanesque structure since 1881, and has become inextricably associated with the historic building. A two-phase extension, known as the Darwin Center, was completed in 2009. A transparent metal and glass ‘box’ designed by HOK provides a geometric regularity which complements the original structure. This addition sits alongside the Waterhouse building in sedate companionability despite its large scale.

Companionability...

Companionability...

...glass boxes...

...glass boxes...

But inside is an eight story, biomorphic concrete “cocoon” designed by C. F. Møller. No windows admit views into the interior of the cocoon; rather, its enormous and complex sculptural form is the object of focus within HOK’s glass showcase.

...and a biomorphic concrete “cocoon."

...and a biomorphic concrete “cocoon."

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Notable Designers of the Milwaukee Art Museum

This site contains the work of some of the last half-century’s most notable designers. Since 1957, architect Eero Saarinen’s elevated, outward looking modernist boxes – which serve as a war memorial -- have commanded a prominent hillside location. David Kahler contributed a podium-like addition to the memorial in 1975.

Saarinen and Kahler's modernist boxes with Calatrava's expressionist spine.

Saarinen and Kahler's modernist boxes with Calatrava's expressionist spine.

In 2001, Santiago Calatrava attached a long, spinal gallery to the Kahler building. This spine terminates in a sweeping, ribbed pavilion that overlooks Lake Michigan. A pedestrian bridge balances the overall composition.

Calatrava's sweeping ribbed pavilion.

Calatrava's sweeping ribbed pavilion.

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Bibliotheque Nationale is about the Books.

The scheme of this building is simple, yet elegant: four glass corner towers bracket an esplanade which in turn frames an immense interior courtyard. Public spaces and reading rooms are organized below the esplanade, affording views into the natural, meditative space of the courtyard garden.

Windows to the library's book collection...

Windows to the library's book collection...

...didn't work well with sunlight.

...didn't work well with sunlight.

Visitors are typically not admitted into the towers, which are mostly dedicated to storing books. The architect’s original vision was that this would provide a striking portrayal of the library’s growing collection; however, sunlight protection requires the books to be hidden from view.

Corner towers framing the interior courtyard

Corner towers framing the interior courtyard

Find more photos of Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale here...

Frank Gehry's Vontz Center signature.

Serving as a gateway to the University of Cincinnati’s medical campus, this building has the curved massing that is the signature of its architect, Frank Gehry.

The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati

The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati

Gehry’s typical reflective metal cladding was exchanged for a more budget-conscious brick, yet the traditional scale of brick creates an interesting counterpoint to the building’s exaggerated volumes. Windows stand apart from the rest of the building envelope, occupying their own planes and articulated with aluminum grids. The gridded glass even extends beyond the edges of exposed window frames, adding a delicate emphasis to the windows as standalone objects.

Curving brick masses.

Curving brick masses.

Extending gridded glass edges.

Extending gridded glass edges.

Find more photos of the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies here...

Making connections at Bracken House

It's all about the connection.

Contrary to the usual ‘airy’ feel of modern glass and metal facades, Hopkins Architects’ addition to this historic building is heavy and dramatic. Oriel windows seem to be constructed for the purpose of showcasing their bronze support systems and infill, and mechanical workings within the building are exposed.

Heavy and dramatic...

Heavy and dramatic...

....and mechanical workings.

....and mechanical workings.

This central addition needed to preserve the connection between the building’s two original wings, which were designed by Albert Richardson in the mid-1950s and were overtly industrial in character. While the addition does subordinate itself to the industrial vocabulary of the pre-existing structure, in form it expands outward and asserts its presence along the street.

It's about the connections...

It's about the connections...

Find more photos of Bracken House Addition here...