SNIPPETS

Design award for Embassy building

The new United States Embassy in China’s capital city of Beijing recently received the Best Public Project for 2010 ‘Good Design Is Good Business’ China Award - the second recognition for the building. It had also won the American Institute of Architects (AIA) San Francisco Chapter’s Excellence in Architecture Citation Award in 2009. The ‘Good Design Is Good Business’ award, unlike most design awards, honours both the client and the architect who work together to create projects that demonstrate the power of design in the advancement of business and civic objectives. The biannual award, sponsored by Architectural Record and its parent, McGraw-Hill Construction, is given in six categories, including public projects.

The San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the designers of the embassy building, and the U S State Departments Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations received the award at a ceremony in Shanghai on March 12.

The U S Embassy building, which was dedicated on August 8, the morning of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, seeks to represent the best of 21st century American architecture. SOM responded to the diplomatic role of the building by creating a space that is welcoming, secure and symbolic while combining Eastern and Western traditions. The landscape design borrowed heavily from Chinese planning principles to create a place that represents American values of openness and cultural diversity. Construction of the eight-storey Embassy building on a 10-acre site started in 2004, and the work was completed in mid-2008.

GREAT DESIGNS Siller Stairs products include a wide range of materials such as wood, stainless steel, stone and glass. Siller’s stair designs
A leading specialist in glass stairs and outstanding new stair designs is planning to extend its agent network. The Italy-based company, Siller Stairs, is looking to work with independent agents in other countries. The main targeted countries are France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, but it will also welcome agents from other countries like India, China, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey and Russia.

Suitable collaboration partners include carpenters who have experience of installing stairs and can provide their own staff, companies already working with high-end clientele and wishing to increase their range of products, and architects. The Siller Stairs products incorporate a wide range of materials such as wood, stainless steel, stone and glass.
Cutting-edge technology helps the family-owned company to produce custom-made modern stair designs. The company’s installation team travels around the world or cooperates very closely with local firms, whose staff are trained in advance before they set out to install exclusive stair projects.

Stairs connect ‘living’ spaces - in a traditional wooden house just as much as in a prestigious villa. And as an important design element of architecture and interior decoration, it reflects the lifestyle and the individuality of the inhabitants. Wood, stone, steel or glass set creative courses and transform a living space.
Siller designs modern stairs that one can not only see but also sense and feel, says the company. From the very first step, one can intuitively feel if a stair is user-friendly, if the tread crunches gently underfoot, or the hand rail is comfortable to the touch. Website: www.sillertreppen.com

Geetha Balachandran

The MIT campus.New building on MIT campus
The official opening, in early March, of the Media Lab Complex by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA marks a new era of innovation for the world-renowned Media Lab and for a range of art, design and technology-related programmes in the School of Architecture & Planning, of which the laboratory is a part.

Located in the heart of the MIT campus in Cambridge (near Boston), the six-storey, 163,000 sq. ft. building - designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Fumihiko Maki & Associates, is carefully integrated into the existing home of the Media Lab, known as the Wiesner Building. Together, the two landmark buildings, connected on several floors, will create an exceptional environment for research, creativity and discovery.

“This magnificent new facility unites researchers from across our campus in advancing technologies that amplify the human experience,” said MIT President Susan Hockfield.
The new six-storey complex features an open, flexible, atelier-style layout designed to support the unique cross-disciplinary research style of the Media Lab and other academic units that will occupy the building. Laboratories and workspaces are arranged around light-filled central atria, with spectacular views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline to the south. Lecture halls and other public gathering spaces occupy the upper floors and serve to draw visitors up through the building.

The building’s several double-height, glass-enclosed research laboratories are vertically offset from one another. This makes possible long and often surprising vistas through the building - horizontally, vertically and diagonally - that will serve to make the research work highly visible. The aluminium and glass curtain walls that surround the steel-framed building extend the feeling of openness and transparency to the exterior and make the building appear like a luminous jewel at night.

“Fumihiko Maki is one of the world’s most elegant designers,” says Adele Naude Santos, Dean of the MIT School of Architecture & Planning. “The precision of his vision and his exacting attention to detail lend his work a rare clarity and serenity. This exquisite building is one of his best, and we are privileged to have it on our campus.”
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the MIT Media Lab has long been at the vanguard of new technology.

Many of the lab's inventions - such as electronic ink, wearable computers, and early platforms for social networking - helped ignite the digital revolution. More recently, the lab has expanded its focus into “human adaptability”, with research projects involving 6-D imaging and the future of the automobile.

The Media Lab Complex builds on an MIT tradition of architectural excellence, from the neoclassical design of its original architect, William Welles Bosworth, to the mid-20th century modernism of Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen.

An ambitious new building programme, begun a decade ago, added nearly one million sq. feet to the Cambridge campus and utilised some of the world's finest architects and planners, including Charles Correa, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl and Kevin Roche. Other buildings currently under construction include the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and a new building for the Sloan School of Management.

Achal Narayanan

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