1

The shadowy lobby (above), with its reflective ceiling and floor, feels like a cool, fret-worked arcade updated from the Alhambra. Windows lined in polished metal (left) diffuse light to reduce silhouetting.

The shadowy lobby (above), with its reflective ceiling and floor, feels like a cool, fret-worked arcade updated from the Alhambra. Windows lined in polished metal (left) diffuse light to reduce silhouetting.

uidity. The lobby previews the unique lighting effects inside with its long, high walls dotted with windows like a screen of flowing pixels. The visitor may be tempted to parse the contemporary cuneiform text they seem to form.

A modern-day bearing-wall tower

The concrete bearing wall, tapering from 19-inches thick at the base to just under a foot thick at the top, is a key element of a unique structural solution that maximizes clear-span space across the typical 10,800-square-foot floors. The concrete-framed stair and services core is offset rather than placed in the middle of the floor. Steel beams span from core to exterior wall to gain a column-free space that is both deep and broad. No one sits far from the window-wall, however, thanks to the oval plan. That is why the design can devote a chunk of the exterior to the main bank of elevators. Nouvel didn't let the window layout be dictated

Sources

Exterior cladding, curtain wall:

Fractal; Permasteelisa

Windows: Technal; St. Gobain (glass)

Skylights: Colt

Aluminum: Hydro

Entrances, doors: Dorma; Fichet

Hardware: Dorma

(with coffers toned a warm champagne) gently diffuse the sharp daylight, which is also limpidly filtered through the milky patterned glass of partitions (top and middle). A masonry stair down from the lobby evokes the dark moat into which the tower visually disappears (bottom).

by conventional concerns about carrying structural loads in a direct path downward. Instead, steel reinforcing braces embedded in the concrete carry the loads around windows as needed.

By American standards, the layout is both counterintuitive and inefficient. Rectangular floor plates with a central core offer a theoretically higher proportion of usable space. Central cores, though, require a surrounding racetrack of wasteful circulation. They impede the easy communication of a layout that groups everyone together, as Agbar's floors do.

Both the shading of the louvers and the thickness of the wall cut the blinding Mediterranean light. The wall offers fewer openings and more heavily fritted louvers on the surfaces that receive maximum solar exposure, and more openings and less fritting where sun entry would be rare. Each floor frames a clear view to the Sagrada Familia.

A mutually reinforcing unity of structure and envelope

Bouanha plays down any notion that the Agbar is a "green" tower. Nouvel, in a statement about the design, writes only of querying the materiality of architecture, of creating a "paradox of weight and fragility." Yet the shading devices, the attention to orientation, and the use of the thermal mass of concrete to absorb solar heat, are all energy-reduction tactics well-attuned to sunny, generally dry climates.

This apparently mutually reinforcing unity of program, structure, and envelope has been a long time coming. You can see the offset core, the external elevators, and the diaphanous envelope in Nouvel's Tour sans Fin project of 1990. This project for Paris, regrettably unbuilt, remains an insightful and innovative skyscraper design more than a decade and a half after it was proposed. Our era's more prolific tower innovator, Norman Foster, was able to incorporate shaftlike, multilevel light wells (an idea Nouvel showed in the Tour sans Fin) in London's 30 St. Mary Axe [record, June 2004, page 218], which resembles Agbar in its phallic shape. But the way the light wells chop up the floor plate of the London tower may prove too inflexible over time. And Foster's skin has an off-putting opacity very much in contrast to Agbar. (Agbar, it must be said, crashes into its plaza with considerably less delicacy than the inwardly tapering base Foster's team devised.)

When Nouvel describes this tower using such terms as "l'aventure de l'evanescence," you get the idea that the design focus is almost purely aesthetic—an odd choice if you consider skyscraper history as largely a march toward the most efficient means of placing more people on less property. The arbitrary aspects (like the window placement) suggest Nouvel is operating outside the usual cost-driven norms—as indeed he is by American standards. He realized that the look is part of the sell (in Barcelona's urban development terms), but the insightful integration of that Technicolor exterior with a brilliantly reimagined structure and plan may prove to be of lasting influence. ■

Sources

Exterior cladding, curtain wall:

Fractal; Permasteelisa

Windows: Technal; St. Gobain (glass)

Skylights: Colt

Aluminum: Hydro

Entrances, doors: Dorma; Fichet

Hardware: Dorma

Acoustical ceilings: Erco Tiles: Pavimentos Mata Paint: Tollins (interior concrete)

For more information on this project, go to Projects at www.archrecord.com.

Richard+Bauer ew

DESERT BROOM LIBRARY in Phoenix as a nurturing presence on an untamed site

By Ingrid Spencer

Whether the result of Will Bruder setting a new standard for library design with his 1995 flagship Phoenix Central Library, the city's 2001 move to make the Phoenix Public Library (PPL) a separate city department, or the rain-making by Toni Garvey, the city's dynamo of a head librarian, Phoenix continues to build libraries that break the mold and redefine the building type. With the completion of the 15,000-square-foot Desert Broom Library, in north Phoenix, Richard+Bauer takes the concept of redefinition to another level, creating a striking yet harmonious addition to the desert landscape, clad in weathered steel.

Phoenix, the nation's sixth-largest city, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, has given the PPL, with its 14 public libraries, the freedom and support it needs to create its identity with new services, new branches, and a new attitude about library design. "Cities can go in one direction or another with libraries," says Garvey. "They can go with a cookie-cutter, or they can create libraries that make a statement."

Richard+Bauer had worked on several libraries within Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale, including a renovation of a Bruder-designed branch. Its latest project, which includes a park, was a chance for the firm to create a destination that would qualify for LEED Silver status, sit gently on the virgin desert landscape of its 45-acre site, and stand out without imposing on the land. "Communities are erasing the desert," says principal Jim

Ingrid Spencer is a contributing editor and former managing editor of architectural record. She writes about design from her home base in Austin, Texas.

Richard, AIA. "We wanted to build responsibly. Also, in this kind of site, to little cornices don't mean anything. You need big gestures." TC

For Richard, building in the arid Sonoran Desert meant pre- E serving the authenticity of what was there. Desert Broom's site, with its O braided streams, arroyos, and abundance of wild brush and saguaros, PR offered a metaphor that gave the project direction. A young saguaro needs the shade and nutrients provided by an older, stronger tree or shrub, and the design of the library embraces the metaphor physically—the library's 25,000-square-foot roof extends 60 feet from the building, to shade visitors and provide comfortable outdoor spaces—and philosophically. "Libraries nurture intellectual growth," says Richard. "We took that concept a few steps further."

The brain nourishment begins before you even get to the front door of Desert Broom. The building and parking lot are nestled in desert wilderness, and visitors approach the entrance from the northwest, crossing over an arroyo on a perforated-metal bridge. Immediately, the right angles of the building are contradicted by a random pattern of slender, 4-inch-diameter steel columns that continue throughout the building and

Project: Desert Broom Library, Phoenix, Arizona Architect: Richard+Bauer—Jim Richard, AIA, principal; Steve Kennedy, AIA, Erik Koss, project architects Interior designers: Kelly Bauer;

Stacey Kranz

Engineer: KPFF (civil and structural)

Landscape consultant: E-Group General contractor: Linthicum Constructors

A perforated metal

Materials are honest and sustainable throughout, as in the information desk (left in photo, right) that is made of recycled soft-drink bottles. Also made of recycled materials are the removable carpet tiles throughout the space, which allow for flexible computer plug-in stations.

1. Reading terrace

2. Meeting

3. Stacks

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment