Saturday, June 28, 2008

40 Bond by Herzog & de Meuron

Using digital tools, Herzog & de Meuron turned street art into forward-looking luxury.
by Sara Hart & Fulcrum Magazine

When Ian Schrager’s luxury condo 40 Bond, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, was completed, the press went wild over its startling imagery. A 21st–century rethinking of the cast-iron construction so characteristic of its NoHo neighborhood, 40 Bond’s façade is a Cartesian grid of poured concrete columns, encased in polished stainless steel, and wrapped in bottle-green glass mullions. The Swiss architecture firm combined the glass and metal so that in certain lights and weather, the building would look as if it were dissolving. It surrounded the street front, which contains five townhouses, with a cast-aluminum fence of rhapsodic curlicues, reminiscent of the district’s ubiquitous graffiti tags. Visually, the building is indeed a wild ride, but the drama is in the details.

The contractors balked at the façade until they were persuaded that it was essentially a conventional windowwall system, clad in unconventional materials. The fabrication methods were equally unconventional. To achieve the desired effect of reflecting light off the façade’s stainless-steel ribs, the glass sections were slumped over a bell-shaped mold. The glass was laminated with a ceramic frit to control its translucency. The fritting grows denser as it curves toward the window wall to obscure the joints of its sections.

The architects created the fence by translating their tag design into a two-dimensional, non-repeating algorithm. Structural engineers studied the design and adjusted heights and thicknesses in order to make it self-supporting. They lost-foam cast it in 20-foot sections, and welded it together on site. The fence’s gates, which open onto the entries of the townhouses, were mounted on pivot hinges, creating a seamless-looking barrier. The fence’s wild form juxtaposed against the facade’s repetitive logic makes for a weirdly engaging dissonance, a vibe much like NoHo’s own.

Since the glass grid doesn’t begin until the building’s third story, a curtain wall of green-tinted stainless steel embossed with a pattern that echoes the fence defines the lower floors. An embossed stainless steel polished to a mirror finish curls around the building’s entry, and reappears on the ceiling inside the lobby. Much time and experimentation went into developing a “bumping technique”—similar to CNC-routing, but achieved with a hammerhead—to stamp the pattern into the steel. It was even more challenging to find a rolling machine that could
fabricate the curved panels without producing distortions in the design.

The entry’s walls transition into an Austrian smoked oak, CNC-routed with the same graffiti pattern, creating a wood box reception area.

Leading back to the elevator bank the pattern morphs into wavy walls of dazzling white Corian, and appears again upstairs in the Corian-clad master bathrooms. (For insight into the challenges of its CNC routing, see “Material Evidence: Corian”).

(text via: Sara Hart)
(via: Fulcrum)

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