Architecture is... site-inspired solutions

29 Mar 2011

ikon.5 represent their practice with two key projects: Campus Commons and Kirkwood Public Library

According to ikon.5 architects, architecture is story-telling in built form. External site conditions influence their work and anchor it to a particular place. History, and its conditioning by the cultural forces of our time, influences the practice's work so that it is relevant to the people it serves.

The Campus Commons project at The State University of New York is a steel and glass ‘winter garden' addition to an existing student union building. Inspired by the regional landscape, the form and shape of the Commons is abstracted from the Shawangunk mountain ridge, a rock climbing palisade that can be seen from the site.

The site-inspired solution generates a unique and strong identity for the university at its entrance. In order to span over an existing courtyard with a column-free enclosure for future flexibility, ikon.5 designed a structural tube stress skin system that created the angular forms of the pavilion that metaphorically references the ridge. Structural steel tubes fabricated in large planar sections were erected on site like a giant origami assembly, transforming the courtyard into a vibrant interior university living room.

The Kirkwood Public Library, set along a quintessential American highway, is conceived as a billboard advertising the functions of this civic institution set in an uncivil location. Shopping malls and fast food restaurants flank both sides of the highway where this project is sited.

The abstract staggered box façade is a metaphor for stacked books, announcing a library along the commercial highway. Inexpensive cement fiber board siding is utilized to create a series of boxes that represent the edges of books piled up on their side. This billboard approach to signing the building illustrates the sensitivity to the ‘American highway' condition and the desire for civic identity within a very modest budget.


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