The US Embassy in London was recently featured on the art and design website Artsy. Listed alongside such striking works as the Ghana National Museum of Slavery and Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Image and Sound, the embassy was named cited as one of the buildings that will “define architecture in 2017.” Writer Anna Kats praises the embassy's unique and transparent polymer-clad cube exterior that “rejects the fortress-like designs of so many other American embassies,” noting that this design results in a building that “interacts with and is semipermeable to the densely populated surrounding neighborhood while maintaining the necessary standards of high security.”
This past December, a new documentary examining the work of late architectural legend Eero Saarinen aired in the American Masters series on PBS. KieranTimberlake was proud to sponsor the production of this exciting film. Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future examines some of Saarinen's most iconic work, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the TWA Terminal in New York City, and the David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven. Having completed the renovation and expansion of Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges which were among Saarinen's last works, KieranTimberlake is doubly inspired by this film.
A story about KieranTimberlake's design for a new multi-use building for New York University recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal's real estate section. In the piece, “NYU Expansion Aims to Make School More Inclusive,” reporter Josh Barbanel describes the design for 181 Mercer, a new 735,000-square-foot building that was unveiled to the University community on December 8, 2016. He outlines the history of the site and how the building meets NYU's mission, highlighting the ways in which the building ties itself to the surrounding community. In addition to a glass facade that visually links the building and neighborhood, 181 Mercer's footprint was shifted in order to create a landscaped pedestrian walkway through the block, bringing connectivity and life to a previously dark and gloomy landscape.
Pound Ridge House, a private residence located north of New York City in Westchester County, New York, was recently featured in the Spring 2016 edition of Dwell magazine. The article, written by Aileen Kwun, draws attention to the care KieranTimberlake took in ensuring that the residence's signature reflective exterior would not pose a threat to local birds.
During the design process, the team sought to create a home with an exterior that blended in with the wooded site and an interior that brought the beauty of the natural landscape indoors. Designers knew they could create this desired effect with a glass facade, but also understood that the home's reflective surface could pose a threat to birds that frequent the wooded site. The question then became how to harness the beauty and function of a glass exterior without impacting birds and wildlife.
In earlier studies completed in partnership with the manager of the American Bird Conservancy's Bird Collisions Campaign, KieranTimberlake learned that bird strikes happen most frequently with large, continuous reflective surfaces. By using smaller panels with different levels of reflectivity, bird strikes could be reduced significantly. Using this information, designers created a facade composed of multiple rectangular tiles made of glass, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, and tin zinc-coated copper. The different sizes and reflectivity of these panels not only greatly reduce bird strikes. As Kwun writes, "the benefits are also aesthetic: With its unique facade, the home is both attuned to the landscape and private, filled with 'curated views.'"
Pointelist™, KieranTimberlake's wireless sensor network, was recently featured in Architect magazine. The article, written by Wanda Lau, is part of a series following up on past winners of the magazine's R+D Awards, which recognize research, materials, and technologies that have advanced the field of architecture.
Partner Stephen Kieran was a guest earlier this month on the Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC, New York City's NPR station. Focusing on his work with fellow partner James Timberlake on the Dhaka Design-Research Laboratory, Kieran discussed the challenges facing the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, as well as the book inspired by their research, Alluvium: Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the Crossroads of Water.
Home to a population three times as dense as Manhattan and built on a constantly changing floodplain, Dhaka is one of the most extreme cities on earth. Kieran and Timberlake have been working with the University of Pennsylvania School of Design for nearly a decade in a research design studio that studies the relationship between the people of Dhaka and the various waterways that connect the city. Their research has culminated in their book Alluvium.
When asked about the book's title, Kieran stated that "we in the U.S. really think of land and water as very separate things. [Bangladeshis] as people don't have a sense of the otherness or separateness between land and water. They think of the two as one in the same. Hence the term "alluvium," which is land suspended in water."
Metropolis magazine selected KieranTimberlake as one of architecture and design's "Game Changers" for 2016. In the January issue, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Inga Saffron describes the firm's commitment not only to environmentally-friendly construction, but also to research-driven approaches to design that take into account how sustainable buildings will be used. At the cornerstone of this approach is the firm's use of its own office space as a kind of living laboratory.
As an example, Saffron cites the firm's radical decision to forgo air conditioning in its office and engage its staff in an experiment to achieve comfort through strategies like natural ventilation. Within the studio, technologies such as a Wireless Sensor Network and a night air flushing system are developed, tested, and refined to provide feedback for the experiment and keep the building comfortable during the muggy Philadelphia summers. By acting as a guinea pig, the firm hopes to reduce its own energy use and develop innovative approaches to someday bring to clients.
Ultimately, KieranTimberlake wants to see a culture of building in which architects are invested as much in the long-term performance of a structure as its initial design and construction. In the words of Kieran, "a doctor doesn't just operate on a patient and say, 'Good luck.' Our bodies get checkups. So should our buildings."
Game Changers 2016: KieranTimberlake by Inga Saffron
It's a late November day in Philadelphia, with temperatures in the high 40s, and I'm sitting with architects Stephen Kieran and Billie Faircloth at a conference table in KieranTimberlake's soaring new offices in a former bottling plant. Faircloth wears a black trench coat pulled tight, her collar raised like a funnel to the edge of her short red bob. She's freezing. Kieran wears a light pullover. He's comfortable. I have on a loosely crocheted wool sweater. I'm a bit warm, but it's probably because I just biked over to see them.
It seems appropriate to start with the temperature and our various states of personal comfort, because the architects at KieranTimberlake are obsessed with the weather and the way it affects our design choices. On the roof of their building, a Weather Underground-registered weather station keeps a running tab on external conditions, while, on the floors below, some 400 sensors embedded amid the rows of desks collect data on the office microclimates. The details are routed to Faircloth's research group, which churns out charts, graphs, and other visualizations. Every Friday, the firm sends e-mail blasts to its 100 employees, advising them on clothing options for the next week. As summer set in last year, the staff was polled three times a day: Are you comfortable? Where are you seated? What are you wearing?
In an op-ed published in Fast Company magazine's Co.Design blog, titled “Should We Save Mid-Century Modern Icons That Hurt The Environment?” partner James Timberlake outlines an ethical approach to the energy efficiency problems that plague mid-century modern architecture.
Nearly thirty million commercial buildings were constructed after World War II in the period often referred to as the golden era of building, long before our modern understanding of carbon emissions and the human impact on global warming. Buildings are responsible for at least 30% of greenhouse gases. What happens when some of those structures are beloved architectural icons, designed by architects like Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, and I.M. Pei?
Timberlake says that creative and unconventional thinking is needed to preserve important works of mid-century architecture while bringing them to energy code compliance or better. A few solutions include rethinking curtain walls, using life-cycle inventory data sets to analyze the environmental impact of building materials, and reusing existing facades while finding additional ways to improve efficiency. "The current tools at our disposal allow us a better way forward," Timberlake writes, concluding that "the impact of historical architecture infrastructure on the energy crisis is an ethical problem that we can no longer afford to ignore."
Last week at the climate talks in Paris, world leaders committed a full day to discussing public policies and financial solutions to reduce carbon emissions within the building sector. It's widely documented that buildings are the culprit for at least 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile in the building sector, there's an ongoing discussion about what to do with inefficient buildings from past eras. Debate around historic value versus economics inevitably leads to the big question: Are these buildings worth retrofitting, or do we tear them down and start over?
Architect magazine, the official journal of the AIA, described KieranTimberlake's pioneering practices in a recent article entitled "The Life Cycle of Practice". The article, written by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, highlighted firms that continue to push the boundaries of the role of the architect in the modern building and design process.
Past eras have seen architects slowly phased out of much of the building process as specialized work contracted out to third parties has become the norm. In recent years, however, select firms have been bucking this trend as they seek to be more involved in everything from site input to material selection to the types of technologies integrated into a project. Dickinson praised KieranTimberlake's role in this movement by highlighting the firm's emphasis on inquisitiveness and research. At the firm, the article states, "the scope of the architect is elastic and expansive, [beginning] with questioning and researching the very way buildings are conceived, designed, constructed, and delivered, and [continuing] through to material and product development and the ongoing study of management of buildings and places."
One of the ways in which Dickinson sees KieranTimberlake's commitment to questioning manifest itself is in the development of new technologies. Calling invention "the most compelling area of expansion for architects", she references Tally®, KieranTImberlake's custom Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool for designers, as well as the firm's wireless sensor network. Both of these technologies grew from the architects' frustration with the limits of existing products, and have become a part of the firm's affiliate business, KT Innovations, which focuses on architecture-specific software and product development. "Inventions such as these open new and appealing business possibilities for firms," Dickinson says. "As a whole, those expanding the life cycle of architecture are exploring every aspect of the profession for possibility, while expanding into new realms."
KieranTimberlake's design for the soon-to-be-renovated LOVE Park was recently featured on Uwishunu, a popular website that creates buzz about Philadelphia's cultural attractions.
LOVE Park's new design, conceived in partnership with Hargreaves Associates, strikes a balance between preserving the beloved features of the park, such as the famous LOVE Statue by Robert Indiana, and improving on the park's current amenities by adding more green space, a new fountain, and a reorganized layout. The current Welcome Center, referred to affectionately as "The Flying Saucer" by local residents, is also slated for renovation. The mid-century modern building, originally constructed in the 1950s, will keep its iconic shape while receiving some energy-efficient upgrades in the form of frameless glass windows, a green roof, and new lighting technology.
The LOVE Park renovation comes on the heels of the completion of KieranTimberlake's Dilworth Park project, and the design has been heralded by Uwishunu for its use of greenery in the space, as well as its commitment to preserving the well-known aspects of the park. "While we'll miss the park while it's closed for renovation," the blog stated, "we're pretty sure the wait will be worth it."