Two clear winners revealed

21 Jul 2014

WAN Glass in Architecture winners demonstrate an evolution in building design

In an unexpected turn of events, the inaugural WAN Glass in Architecture Award has resulted in a tie. With three remote judges arguing their case from their international bases and two in-situ jurors locked in hearty discussion at One Alfred Place (London), there was no option but to afford two winning places.

We are therefore delighted to present both ROGERSPARTNERS Architects + Urban Designers and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson with the title of 2014 WAN Glass in Architecture Award winner for their Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York and Apple Store in Stanford, Palo Alto respectively.

Westchester Reform Temple comprises a 12,000 sq ft sanctuary and a 14,000 sq ft religious school and study centre. The design team integrated a mirrored glass louvre system into the sanctuary primarily to filter direct sunlight. This decision soon evolved to create a ‘view membrane’, enhancing daylighting throughout the space and refracting the view into a stunning display of seasonal colour as a contemporary stained glass window.

The Apple Store in Stanford is a continuation of the brand’s highly recognisable aesthetic, focusing on a glass-enclosed space which is easily accessible from the outside, both visually and physically. 180 lineal ft of storefront glass blurs the line between the external plaza and the store, with structural glass fins located along the perimeter of the transparent room supporting an unusually thin roof.

These joint winners demonstrate an ongoing evolution in the use of glass in architecture, both structurally and technologically. Joining us in person for the judging session were Brent Richards, Principal at Transpolis Global Urban Design & Architecture, and Paul Vick, Founder of Paul Vick Architects, who engaged in a healthy debate over the future of this popular material.

“Westchester Reform Temple is not yet a building,” argued Richards, “it’s just a glass wall. So when you start to do something like that with it [referring to the Apple Store], there are all sorts of issues that haven’t even been contemplated yet because the Temple doesn’t deal with the structural or environmental side. But I think this is the future, and it’s not all going to be rectilinear; it’s going to be curved.”

The remote panellists were also eager to praise the design team at ROGERSPARTNERS Architects + Urban Designers for their expression and experimental process, with James O’Callaghan of Eckersley O’Callaghan noting: “I particularly like the way this submission describes how the design team developed and evolved the idea through experiments, testing and failures. It shows a level of tenacity to get to the right solution.

“Their wall as a whole represents some evolution in challenging the typical approaches to glass walls and creating a visually complex and interesting effect, capitalising on the colour that can be refracted when playing with light through glass.”

One point that the entire jury panel could agree on was the precision with which Bohlin Cywinski Jackson represented their client’s brand. The design team is well-versed in generating successful stores for Apple, having designed outlets for the company in Barcelona, London, New York, Pudong, Sydney and Boston.

Senior Partner at FXOWLE Sudhir Jambhekar affirmed: “It is another Apple Store with clean aesthetics like their products. It is still fresh although it looks familiar at first glance.” Fentress Architects’ Thom Walsh agreed, stating: “This is an evolution of a familiar architectural brand and a very positive evolution.”

Our in-situ jurors were also in agreement but questioned the concept of ‘losing the architecture’ by relying too much on this transparent material. Richards mused: “The art of it is how much of the solidity can you take away before you lose [the architecture], and this project is extremely well executed. It’s trying to be spiritual - as much as commercial buildings can.”

The general consensus when push came to shove was that the Apple Store is an extraordinary example of what can be achieved with existing technology, whereas the Westchester Reform Church gives a glimpse into what may be possible in the future. Both are commendable examples in their field.

Richards and Vick were also keen to give a Special Mention to the Tombstone of Glass for the Composer György Ligeti in Vienna by Architekturstudio Bulant & Wailzer. The panel were impressed by the intention of the glass tombstone but felt that the concept needed further innovation to take it to the next level.

Congratulations to both winners and the team at Architekturstudio Bulant & Wailzer.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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