When architects talk about the “skin” of a building, I realize they’re going techie on me, but I also appreciate the sense of lightness and fluidity that the word conveys. (Did they talk about “la peau d’un bâtiment” in those Ecole des Beaux-Arts days?)
A delightful “skin” has shown up recently on an office building in Palo Alto, the Peninsula town next to Stanford University. After a fire took down a big Walgreens on the main drag, WRNS Studio (the San Francisco architects who will never realize their design for CAMP in the Presidio), along with Allied Architecture and Design, came up with a building where the facade is partly covered in porcelain tile, with a subtly irregular pattern. Tile companies have been incredibly innovative in recent years–mimicking everything from leather to silk–and it’s nice to see architects taking advantage of the new stuff.
Below is a close-up of the tile on 310 University Ave. It’s from Caesar Ceramiche, an Italian company (surprise!).