Michael Awalt & Deok Kyu Chung, Rice University School of Architecture

From the Jury:

The project is interesting in that it redefines the tower, not just as a loose element in a city, but as a group of elements that try to create a city in themselves, both horizontally and vertically. Normally, you group towers together in a plan, or you stack functions in sections, and this mixes these two ideas in a new constellation.

In its current state, the mixed-use tower is a distinct trifle of pedestal, middle, and top, none of which are perceived in the same location at once. Accentuating this condition, the differing programs within are stacked atop one another, with little or no interaction between them. Rather than have the offices, hotel, and residential units stack atop one another, the Four Hudson Boulevard project has the three programs sit above and beside each other. By arranging the programmatic functions this way, new relationships, both spatial and programmatic, arise.

To enhance these new relationships, an aggressive formal strategy was used. The hotel and residential units reside in independent volumes that hug the edges of the primary office volume. Their angular geometry allows for a variety of viewpoints within the volumes, as well as dramatic, yet breathable, exterior spaces among them. Although geometrically independent, these volumes are interconnected structurally. This relationship causes a unique tension between the reading of three individual units, and of one compositional whole.

Enveloping the project is a double-skin facade, taking advantage of the wind tunnels created by the project’s form to maximize the amount of fresh-air ventilation. The mullion grid of each volume’s second skin differs in angle to accentuate the three-versus-one volumetric relationship.

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