May 13, 2008
by: Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

(continued from above)

Connectivity also drove Skirkanich Hall at the University of Pennsylvania as designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Housing a bioengineering lab, this infill building is part of the school’s effort to connect engineering disciplines and use the building to link downtown Philadelphia to the heart of campus, according to senior associate Philip Ryan. By creating connections to adjacent buildings, the entry stair becomes a place for gathering. Most of building’s interior is black granite, but the cherry wood highlights and fields of green tiles are intended to encourage students to stop and think. The double-glazed, textured brick façade departs from the campus’s red brick standard, adding a sense of mystery, said Ryan, yet it relates to the color of the nearby Ginkgo trees and echoes the seasons.

For Bruder, it was an image showing the Louis Kahn-designed window detail next to the Polshek Partnerhsip Architects’ upgraded window detail that won the Yale University Art Gallery its Merit Award. And this challenge — to replace the window wall with modern technology and materials yet replicate the look exactly — is why the project took six years to complete, explained partner Duncan Hazard, AIA. Kahn’s glazing and metalwork were failing because the original design did not account for accumulative expansion and compression stresses. The museum climate created sweating on the inside of the glass, and the building did not meet modern wind-load requirements. Ultimately, the new wall is slightly thicker in some places, but otherwise appears as Kahn intended. In addition to the window wall, interior concrete work was repaired, and all of the building’s systems needed to be replaced (a challenge in itself because the ducts had to be reused as they were installed before the space-frame ceiling was constructed, making them impossible to remove).


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