The US Embassy in London opened its doors to the media for the first time last month, nearly nine years after the Department of State's Overseas Building Operations first announced a design competition for the project. Having outgrown the current, Eero Saarinen-designed embassy in Grosvenor Square, the Department of State selected KieranTimberlake to build a new home for diplomacy that was open, transparent, and welcoming while still being secure and environmentally responsible. “In the form and expression of the new Embassy, we envisioned a holistic fusion of urbanism with site, of building and urban form with landscape,” said James Timberlake in his remarks to the press. “We wanted to create a new embassy that is both evocative and that performs, one that represents our democracy and our relationship with the United Kingdom beautifully but at the same time conserves and produces energy.”
This fall, our research on occupant behavior and building design made the news. In 2013, after conducting spatial survey research that explored the relationship between occupant behavior and urban park design, we began working with Dr. Bon Ku, the Assistant Dean for Health and Design and Director of JeffDESIGN at Thomas Jefferson University, to determine if this type of analysis could also be applied to the field of healthcare. In September, our resulting collaborative research was covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “People ask me: ‘Are you just trying to make the E.R. look prettier or polished, with the walls a more soothing color?'” Dr. Ku told the paper. “No. You can design spaces to change the behaviors of people.”
Together with a team of Dr. Ku's doctors, nurses, medical students, and hospital administrators, we used spatial analytics to investigate how workspace layout affects communication and team interaction amongst nurses and doctors in the ER department. The primary goal of our research was to uncover opportunities to introduce design thinking and innovation to emergency departments.
In designing a 10,000-square-foot addition for Pendleton West, Wellesley College's art and music facility, we wanted to highlight and reflect the building's idyllic woodland site by creating a facade that mimics the pattern and texture of tree bark. We selected board-formed concrete as the primary building material for the addition, a process that imprints the grain and texture of the wood casting forms onto the concrete. “With a lot of concrete, you can't tell how it's made,” said Tim Peters, the Associate in Charge of the project. “With board-formed concrete, the memory of the wood used in the casting remains in the finished product. That was important for this building, since we wanted it to feel more like a tree than a building, but we also wanted to reference some of the stone that's prevalent throughout Wellesley's campus.”
How will wood age over time? What might it look like in six months, a year, or even 80 years after construction? We confronted these questions while designing new residence halls for the University of Washington. During design, we developed a concept for a cedar rainscreen that complements the buildings' brick and concrete facades, pays homage to the Pacific Northwest, and remains beautiful in its unfinished state. But, before featuring this material on 215,000 square feet of building envelope, we wanted to be sure that untreated, lower-maintenance wood could weather artfully in Seattle's damp climate. “Wood ages very visibly,” researcher Efrie Escott noted. “It can turn silver and become even more beautiful over time, or it can blacken and warp.”
To better understand how the cedar rainscreen would change over time, KieranTimberlake developed a predictive modeling script that visualizes how wood ages in various locations. To do this, we gathered peer-reviewed research from laboratory weathering experiments and compiled the findings in a script that accounts for two principal factors influencing wood weathering: solar exposure and exposure to wind-driven rain. The first version of our Predictive Wood Weathering Tool included only those two variables because other factors, such as climate and airflow, were already accounted for. “There were some simplifications and assumptions that we were able to make because we knew the specific climate we were building in,” Escott said. “For example, we knew the rainscreen's exterior was likely to be saturated each day because we were building in a climate that reaches dew point every day.”
KieranTimberlake's work on Wellesley College's Pendleton West was recently featured in Architectural Record. Written by Beth Broome, the article heralds the renovation and 10,000-square-foot addition as a prominent and accessible new gateway to Wellesley's historic Academic Quad. Though surrounded by predominantly brick buildings, Broome calls out Pendleton's concrete facade as a way to “help the building assert itself as a portal through its distinctiveness while subtly nodding to the [neighboring Rudolph and Klauder-designed] buildings, with their recast and limestone copings and trims,” adding that the precast and cast-in-place concrete panels “give the exterior a rich tactility.”
This fall, the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored three KieranTimberlake projects with 2017 Design Awards.
Pendleton West at Wellesley College was named an AIA Philadelphia Honor Award winner and also awarded the AIA Pennsylvania's top prize, the Silver Medal. Comprised of a renovation and addition that consolidates Wellesley's arts program into one cohesive structure, Pendleton West helps establish the college's arts department as a prominent and unified fixture on campus. “There wasn't a moment where you didn't understand the building or the architects' intent,” said AIA Pennsylvania's Head Juror Reed Kroloff, AIA, adding that the building “communicates as a piece of architecture but communicates as an entry as well. Each time you return to it, you're going to get something new from it and it's going to continue to inform and enrich your life. That's the difference between buildings and architecture.”
Last week, Wellesley College celebrated the opening of the renovated Pendleton West building with a dedication ceremony and a series of performances. After two years of construction, the new interdisciplinary arts space reopens with an overhauled, open floor plan and a 10,000-square-foot addition that connects Pendleton West to the neighboring Jewett Art Center.
Designed as a cutting-edge contemporary arts space, both the addition and 48,000-square-foot renovation make room for Wellesley's evolving and interconnected arts curriculum, which include traditional arts, music, and digital media programs. The new Pendleton West houses a suite of flexible art making spaces including classrooms and studios alongside acoustically tuned rehearsal and performance spaces.
“The idea was to completely integrate a performative acoustical system into the architecture of the building so that you couldn't tell what was architecture and what was performance,” said Stephen Kieran.
Wellesley's week-long celebration, titled Transformations: Celebrating Pendleton West, featured a discussion with Stephen Kieran and Jesse Nicholson, landscape architect at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The celebration also included performances from the pioneering vertical dance group BANDALOOP, the Wellesley College Chamber Singers, and the Wellesley College Theatre.
KieranTimberlake Partner and Research Director Billie Faircloth has been honored with a 2017 Women in Architecture Award from Architectural Record. The award, presented to an architect for outstanding work in “innovative design, materials or building type,” celebrates Faircloth's work in spearheading an inventive transdisciplinary approach in KieranTimberlake's Research Group and across the firm.
CANopy, an installation and app developed by KieranTimberlake's Community Involvement group, was recently unveiled at The Beneficial Bank's headquarters at 1818 Market Street in Philadelphia, where it will be on view through November 2017. The structure is designed to be assembled in various locations, expanding the idea of a food drive into an engaging, educational, and mobile piece of artwork.
The Architects Newspaper recently hosted Facades+ Philadelphia, a multi-city conference series that brings together architects, industry experts, academics, and building owners to discuss “all things building skin.” The event was co-chaired by Partner Matthew Krissel and moderated by KieranTimberlake staff Efrie Freidlander, Fátima Olivieri, and Jon McCandlish.