Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX, led by Marcus Prize winner Joshua Prince-Ramus, has announced plans for a new 450,000 square foot “premium” office complex for real estate company Tishman Speyer.
The building—which AN first reported on last year—will be located on 2050 M Street in Washington D.C. and aims to “set the new standard of trophy office buildings” in the district’s “golden triangle,” a renowned business hub.
The project will feel light given its surrounding buildings—which range from Beaux Arts, Neoclassicism to Art Deco and Brutalism—feature heavy masonry exteriors. 2050 M Street’s distinction will be further accentuated by its lack of ornamentation.
Varying styles have been applied to the office typology in the area (Courtesy REX)
“Because building heights and massing are constrained by DC’s strict zoning codes, the two typologies match in scale, but are aesthetically unreconciled,” say REX (Courtesy SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images via REX)
In this respect, REX’s office building could be considered a contemporary take on Mies van der Rohe’s high modernist style. While 2050 M Street avoids Mies’s trademark use of steel structure, the principles of openness, proportionality, and legibility (in renderings, at least, the floors remain clearly visible) remain. As REX described in a press release, the project employs “hyper-transparent, floor-to-ceiling glass” that hide the view of “impending mullions.”
Exploded sectional axonometric (Courtesy Front via REX)
To achieve this, the glass will use “subtly-reflective pyrolytic” coating on the exterior. A relatively new advancement in glass technology, the process involves applying the coating while the glass is in a semi-molten state, allowing the chemical composition to form a bond and become part of the glass surface. The coating provides enhanced durability against scratches and other forms of degradation.
In addition, a low-e coating will be applied within the glass’s insulating cavity to improve thermal performance by reducing solar heat gains. Both coatings will be applied to the curving panels that repeat 900 times along the building’s facade to create a shimmering, kaleidoscopic effect, thus hiding the mullions.
“The façade’s approximately nine hundred identical, insulated-glass panels—3.2m tall by 1.5 m wide (11’-6” tall by 5’-0” wide)—are subtly curved to a 2.9 m (9’-6”) radius through a heat roller tempering process.” (Courtesy REX)
The panels’ curvature also has a structural purpose: the “curve’s inherent rigidity in compression” means “only the top and bottom edges of the panels are supported from the floor slabs.” Meanwhile, the “‘mullion-less’ vertical edges are flush-glazed for a minimalist aesthetic that improves sight lines, while gaining useable floor area.”
“To emphasize the ethereal lightness of the skin, all perimeter columns are pulled 3.8m (12’-6”) in from the façade, and the ceiling is tapered to the depth of the structural slab as it approaches the exterior.” (Courtesy REX)
The lobby will also house site-specific art that has not yet been commissioned. The project has not broke ground but REX, in press release, stated that completion is due for 2019.