A poetic vision

Monday 09 Jul 2012

Poetry Foundation Headquarters is a creative and innovative use of space

The Poetry Foundation's mission of promoting poetry to a more visible and influential position in American culture is realized in their new headquarters building - a tranquil space amid downtown Chicago. Led by noted designer, John Ronan, the iconic structure features a distinctive perforated screen wall that provides a feeling of sanctuary, while maintaining a connection to the urban environment. Arup conducted advanced structural analyses on several options (including tensioned cable) to optimize the design of the 35ft-tall freestanding screen wall with its large opening. The final design relies on a simple but elegant post and beam frame to brace the perforated zinc panel walls - a unique and economical solution. Between the screen wall and building lies a landscaped garden symbolizing the change between the "hustle and bustle" of the street and the tranquility within the Foundation's headquarters.

Collaboration between Arup, the architect and building services engineers resulted in a finely tuned structural steel design that meets the architect's ambitious vision for a large, column-free open space within the building. For example, suspended floors are cantilevered in two directions to form the boundary of the lobby and lightwell areas.

The original design employed an elaborate jigsaw pattern on the ground-floor concrete slab. Structural analysis revealed that the concept carried a high risk of concrete cracking. By making small alterations to the jointing layout and the order in which the concrete strips were poured, Arup helped achieve the desired look in a more efficient and cost-effective and better-performing manner, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with concrete.

Using 3D virtual modeling throughout the design process allowed the architect and the design team to envision the new building in real time, resulting in creative and innovative use of spaces within the building enclosure.

Key Facts:

Civic Buildings
United States

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