May 2017

Zurich North America Headquarters Schaumburg, Ill.

A Pillar of Stability and Strength

Typically, the only time you deal with an insurance company is when facing a loss or tragedy. That’s why global insurance provider, Zurich, commissioned their new North American headquarters to be a pillar of “stability and strength” for all who view it, in Schaumburg, Ill.—where they’ve been had a local presence for a century. The 783,800-sq.-ft. complex is composed of three primary buildings or “bars,” each 95-ft. wide × 395-ft., 425-ft. and 485-ft. long, respectively. The lower two bars are angled to optimize solar orientation and minimize sound from the neighboring interstate, while the top bar—soaring 11 stories—is cantilevered

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Seat Walls Breathe Life into Campus

The University of Michigan’s Gerstacker Grove, located on the north side of campus, features seat walls that breathe new life into a previously underutilized area. A series of sleek, artistic seat walls at the University of Michigan—designed by Stoss to create a luxurious and lively quad that can accommodate performances, events and everyday activities— stand as an example of the endless possibilities with custom precast concrete. The stunning Gerstacker Grove, located on the university’s north campus, breathes new life into an underutilized area—where previously the most notable features were well-worn footpaths in the grass. After months of construction, the $6.9 million project has been r

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Bionic Baldachin: Robotics and Architecture

The Elytra Filament pavilion was inspired by the fibrous structures on the forewings of flying beetles (elytra). The pavilion’s design and manufacture was automated with structural modeling computations and an industrial robot manufacturing the architectural components. Elytra’s canopies weigh only 9kg/m2 and each of its 40 hexagonal components takes Kuka—the industrial robot—about three hours to fabricate. Kuka was programmed to fabricate the cellular canopies and seven columns, according to the structural simulation testing determined by the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design. Kuka’s winding technology winds composite materials developed at the Univ. of Stuttgart to har

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Letting Off [Green] Steam

Born of a novel research project in 2014, the NEST in Schwabish Hall, Switzerland, a region known for its engineering ingenuity—especially when it comes to water—is a lab that bridges the gap between cutting-edge construction technology in theory and practice. Its most recent module is Klafs saunas and spas showroom and wellness spa, entirely powered by renewable energy. In this case, the company recognized that spending time in fitness clubs, equipped with mechanical machines, saunas and spas may grant health and well being to an individual, but not necessarily the environment. To mitigate the effects of resource-intensive well-being, NEST has re-engineered its fitness spa with respect to e

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Tree Pose

Burkina Faso-born Francis Kéré was selected to design the Serpentine Pavilion, a temporary installation at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Garden, London. His Berlin-based practice has designed everything from schools to retail environments. Kéré’s installation addresses how people move through the gardens while they interact with one another. “I was interested in how my contribution to this Royal Park could not only enhance the visitors’ experience of nature, but also provoke a new way for people to connect with each other,” says Kéré. Kéré’s pavilion speaks to the ecological and social value of trees. “It is a micro cosmos that fuses cultural references from my home country of Burkina F

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Located in Brooklyn, the custom-fabricated storefront and weathered steel façade have an industrial aesthetic that stays true to the Williamsburg neighborhood’s metalworking past.

Yoga Studio Poses as Mixed-Use

Yoga studios are becoming community hubs where yoga is just the beginning. DXA Studio’s design for Modo Yoga in New York City caters to the health and well-being of its mind-body conscious clientele. The design concept embraces the core principles of Modo Yoga: calm mind, fit body, inspired life by providing amenities beyond the typical yoga studio. Similar to a health club where members might linger before or after a fitness session, the design includes locker rooms, social spaces and a retail component. Many elements of the design embrace the yogic principle of serene, non-harming surroundings. Modo Yoga’s seven pillars: Be Healthy, Be Accessible, Live Green, Community Support, Reach Out,

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Roof Enhances Shopping Center’s Image

Destin Commons, known as the premier open-air lifestyle center on Florida’s Emerald Coast, chose three colors of metal roofing were to enhance the high-end shopping center’s image as part of its overall expansion. The major expansion of the Destin Commons shopping center in Destin, Fla., further establishes its reputation as the premier open air lifestyle center offering the best in shopping, dining and entertainment on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The Phase II expansion adds 100,000 sq. ft. to the 500,000-sq.-ft. family-oriented shopping environment. Destin Commons also includes 70,000 sq. ft. of Class A office suites. And the expansion included metal roofing; there were multiple buildings invo

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Historic Wine Cellar Gets Lit

London’s Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, was looking to improve the lighting in its historic building. Lighting consultants, Sutton Vane Assocs., needed reliable, dimmable LED lamps that could fit into the tension wire system. As Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd, London, have traded from the same shop since 1698. The company has a fascinating history that includes providing the wines on board the RMS Titanic, supplying wines to British royalty, spirits to smugglers running alcohol into Prohibition-era America, and even sheltering Napoleon III in the cellars beneath the shop. Improving the lighting of a historic building pres

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Monument Showcases High Heritage

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on D.C.’s National Mall relied on a bronze wash which was a monumental component of the design, and its longevity. Built on the last available spot on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) included many partners that worked collaboratively during the design and construction phases. Three American architecture firms, The Freelon Group, architect of record and design team leader—and now part of global design firm Perkins+Will; Davis Brody Bond, with extensive experience in museum projects; and the local D.C.- based firm SmithGroup, joined forc

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