Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Balconies and Eaves, Laurel and Hardy in Chicago and Madrid

Our roving correspondent, architect Iker Gil of MAS Studio, brings to our attention this striking building in Madrid . . .
which, of course, puts us in mind of a slightly taller Chicago variant, Studio/Gang Architect's Aqua tower.
The Madrid building, Edificio en la M-30, is actually a retrofit, by the firm of Jerónimo Junquera-Liliana Obal, of an existing 1.2 million square foot, curtain-walled office tower for the headquarters of Gamesa, a company specializing in sustainable energy technologies and one of the world's largest wind turbine manufacturers.

The Spanish architects share a common vision with Aqua's Jeanne Gang in using the built environment as a reflection of the structures of nature. Gang drew inspiration from stone outcroppings in Michigan; Junquera and Obal see the mountains reflected in urban buildings and the rivers in the city's highways.

The balconies at Aqua and the eaves at M-30 were both designed to provide shading and reduce solar height gain, as well as to set their respective buildings, in Junquera's words, "vibrating with light" in variation day to day and season to season. At M-30, there's also atmospheric lighting at night.
In Madrid, the continuous eaves, made of pre-cast fiber-reinforced concrete, also buffer the offices from street noise - the site is along two major thoroughfares (the M-30 is one of them) which together bring 100,000 cars rushing past the building each day.
In Chicago, the poured-in-place concrete slab balconies, scraped away in places to create sculptural voids of curtain wall, provide views into the city's dense urban forest that would not be available from a rigidly rectangular perimeter.
Isn't it an enormous relief to have Aqua finally wash the sour taste of the once-dominant bunker of the Park Millennium out of the skyline?

7 comments:

Thomas Westgard said...

There seems to be a meme going around of undulating sides. In addition to the ones you show, Block 37 is being coated with panels that look a bit like the surface of a roiling stream, and there's a newish building over by the AON Center that has an undulating surface as well. I have to say, so far I like all the ones I've seen.

Thomas Westgard said...

Oh, and how could I forget the Spertus? It's angled, rather than smoothly curved, but to me it seems more similar to Aqua than to Mies.

WJCordier said...

Aqua got some spectacular night-time illumination during the IOC's visit - anyone know if plans are to return the illumination in the future?

GREGG said...

I guess it's been so long since a building had to pay a small fortune to repair winter-cold-induced spalling exposed slab edge concrete that someone just decided to do it again. Also, the "fin" effect of the exposed slab edges should do wonderful things for the energy efficiency of the building in winter, right? This building should never have made it past chipboard.

Lynn Becker said...

Gee, we would have be so much better off if we had never built Marina City either, right?

GREGG said...

Why not build some solid terra cotta facade buildings while we're at it? Yeah, they were nice, too.

Anonymous said...

Get a job hippies