While studying for my last licensing exam, I found some simple and elegant diagrams of different steel frame systems (something like this or this). While the concentrically braced frame has been a hallmark of certain strains of Miesian modernism (Craig Ellwood, anyone? or here), I couldn’t think of an instance where the eccentrically braced frame had made its feature debut. So I drew one. I’ll admit that I had recently had octagon houses on the brain, so that same geometry surfaced here, where the eccentric braces on the four principal facades curve back in on each other to form an interior octagonal form, obscured by the square glazed exterior.
Taking cues from the Craig Ellwood project I featured a few weeks ago, this generic office building places a large glass box off the ground, ringed at grade with reflecting pools. The drama is in the circular courtyard hidden inside, which is conical in section, flaring open to the sky above. Corner staircases echo the circular motif.
From last Friday’s foray into Craig Ellwood’s Scientific Data Systems building, I offer a revised take, with a large standing seam copper hip roof, and a skylit rotunda in place of the cubic atrium, and rounded out the panelled masonry walls along the east and west axes. Placing a large hip roof on a square form may be a subtle nod to Thomas Beeby’s Baker Institute at Rice University. The detail at right shows a new cornice with dentils and beads rendered in brick. Maybe something fun could be done with those columns. . .
Driving through El Segundo the other week, I ran across a nice Miesian office block. A quick internet search for the name ‘Xerox’ which was left stained on a concrete wall and I stumbled across an all too familiar name – Craig Ellwood (Originally built for Scientific Data Systems, which was later bought out by Xerox). A floor plan confirmed my suspicions – a perfect square on 64 columns, raised one floor off the ground with a directional access given by two long walls on the east and west facades, and storefront gazing on the north and south, all centered on a cubic central atrium. The details are almost perfect derivatives of Mies’, but the vertical window mullions stop at the spandrel panels rather than continue full height as MVDR would have done (see Murphy’s Daley Center compared with Mies’ IBM tower). The whole project is undergoing a less than inspiring renovation by SOM, with absolutely no heed for the building module and planted ‘green’ walls. Too bad.