Gehry Partners designs curtain wall resembling icebergs for Warner Bros. headquarters


Gehry Partners designs curtain wall resembling icebergs for Warner Bros. headquarters

Gehry Partners’s office complex for Warner Bros Entertainment hugs California’s Ventura Highway. (Timothy Hursley)
Brought to you by:

Architect: Gehry Partners
Burbank, California
Completion Date:

To coincide with Warner Bros. Entertainment’s transition into its second century of operation, after its centennial in 2023, Gehry Partners has completed an 870,000-square-foot office complex in Burbank, California dubbed “The Second Century Project.” The office complex is roughly composed of two primary volumes designed to emulate icebergs through an angled curtain wall and ceramic frit. The buildings are sited along California’s Ventura Freeway in a lot adjoining Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank—the company’s primary production facility for film and television. This area, bounded by the intersection of Olive Avenue and Alameda Avenue, is known as the Burbank Media District and is home to several major studio headquarters, including Walt Disney.

Previously, the lot containing the office complex was home to NBC Studios, which relocated its Los Angeles outpost to Universal City in 2014.

The project consists of two distinct office buildings, completed in phases. (Timothy Hursley)

According to a project narrative from Gehry Partners, the project was designed with its appearance from the highway in mind. The elevations facing the freeway are completely glazed, and the appearance of the iceberg against the landscape is intended to emulate the elaborate painted backdrops used in studio lots during Hollywood’s golden age.

The glacial metaphor is extended through the overall massing of the complex, in which elevations are angled against one another to give the appearance of calved icebergs. Frosted white glazing across the volumes furthers the metaphor. The angled curtain wall effect was achieved through minimal interventions to the otherwise standard system. Each panel was tilted less than 10 degrees. Meaghan Lloyd and David Nam, partners at the firm, commented, “though the individual moves are relatively small, the effect is big because the facade is so long.”

The frosted appearance of the glazing was achieved through the use of a pigmented enamel frit. (Timothy Hursely)

Gehry Partners worked with New Hudson to coordinate the fabrication of the facade. Computer generated models of the building, and intensive cost analysis were used to optimize the design and specification of the curtain wall.

Landscaped areas surround the office building. (Timothy Hursley)

Along the elevations facing the studio, glass was interspersed with stainless steel facades, shaped by setbacks, slight cantilevers, and punched windows which allude to L.A.’s art deco design. Vertical elements are emphasized through the recession of horizontal spandrels, revealing the metal piers which climb the elevations through stark relief. However, in typical Gehry fashion, the stainless steel structures eschew basic symmetry. Component volumes appear cockeyed from one another and are offset to ensure that the facade lacks a coherent planar surface.

Terrace spaces atop the setbacks of the steel volumes provide an outdoor amenity for office workers. Likewise, a landscaped platform on the third floor connects the complex’s two primary masses, allowing for an open-air transition between the buildings.

The building is targeting LEED Gold certification. (Timothy Hursley)

Collaborative workspaces were located within the glazed volumes, while executive offices occupy the spaces enclosed by stainless steel. The architects specified low-VOC materials within interior spaces, and excluded chemical compounds classified under the Living Building Challenge Red List. A ceramic frit within the glazing provides glare protection and mitigates solar heat gain and bird strike potential. Photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of each building.

The office park is located on the southern end of the site, and Gehry Partners provided a master plan for the remainder of NBC’s former studio lot, which amounts to approximately one million square feet of existing studio space. Warner Bros plans to lease this space to multiple tenants.

Project Specifications