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Brian Vargo MDesS, Real Estate and the Built Environment Research + Academia


2012 -

pre- is an opportunity for play, research, and exploration that focuses on the systemic overlap between architecture and infrastructure. preis a determined precursor to more serious endeavours, aiming to create a field of research topics for further development without being limited to traditional discussions. We use this platform to explore the systemic context of architecture and suggest operative principles for further study. While we incorporate other young designers to widen our perspective per project, pre- is the initiative of: Brian Vargo Bachelor of Architecture ‘11, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Brandon Hall Master of Architecture Candidate ‘14, Yale


PLAT 3.0 with Brandon Hall

PLAT 3.0, Rice School of Architecture, To be Published Spring 2013 The issue will focus on architectural concepts that are “free from the constraints of the established doctrine, [practicing in] new frontiers where experimentation is not only allowed, but demanded.” Our focus was on the intersection of space and infrastructure on the grandest scale - the airport. How can architects redefine the airport to affect an infrastructure and industry maligned by systemic flaws? Our research centers on the evolution of the airport as a typology and the possibility of alternative spacial systems that could affect infrastructural change.

Towards a Better Infrastructure: Is the Airport all there is? (abstract) Brian Vargo and Brandon Hall, 2012 Air travel is ingrained into our society as a necessary evil - both the backbone of the global economy and a maligned industry struggling to fight off bankruptcy. The past ten years have seen half of major airlines within the country cease operations. The industry has posted a cumulative $63 billion deficit within that time. The blame for this dire financial picture cannot be cast solely onto the economics of bad business or rising fuel costs. Rather, the failure of the entire industry reveals a systemic flaw in the design in the infrastructure of air travel. The industry’employs three fundamental concepts – the airplane, the route, and the airport. A governing body of rules, standards, and physical boundaries shapes these three concepts into tangible institutions. Airlines must manage these concepts while controlling the three factors which affect their institution: planes, fuel, and labor. Their aim is to provide air travel that is accessible, market-driven, and infinitely adaptable for over 600,000 annual passengers within the US. But does today’s infrastructure accurately reflect its original objectives and criteria? We hypothesize that the institutions created and enforced by the industry have betrayed the concept of air travel, ultimately preventing airlines from functioning profitably. Our focus inevitably centers on the spatial manifestation of air travel – the airport. The airport is essentially the node that defines the system’s otherwise adaptive structure. It is simultaneously the least flexible aspect of the industry, and yet the most valuable connection. The airport confines an infinite number of routes and carriers to a defined set of conditions.

The modern airport’s evolution runs parallel to industries in the last half century. Following the same spirit as big box retailers and automotive giants, the airport has grown from the culture of scale – that ‘bigger’ means ‘more productive’. This assumption, that scale alone will ensure the system’s longevity, is fundamentally short-sighted. It cannot accommodate holistic changes in attitude, concept, or technology that reflect systemic changes. Rather, the industry’s size has revealed its increasingly congested, expensive, and inefficient facets. While routes can be shifted or reworked, the number of planes reduced or increased, airports remain stagnant. Why is the airport taken as an irrefutable typology? The evolution of the airport has followed a continuous course towards its initial ideology. Can understanding its origins shed light onto the context of its current situation? Despite the glaring deficiencies of air travel, an architect’s typical response to the airport lacks substance. The ‘airport typology’ is taken as given, and ‘innovative airports’ rather focus on grand spaces, energy solutions, and structural details. Thus the typical response to the problem of the airport is the ‘megastructure,’ imbedding the logic that the only way to accommodate additional passengers is to increase terminal size. But to what extent does this only reinforce the backwards inefficiencies of air travel? And what relationship does the typology of the airport have with the quandaries faced by the airline industry today? Ultimately infrastructural investment must confront the economics and systemic flaws of the industry in order to form a more sound strategy for future expansion. Limited by its own systemic bounds, the industry must pursue more creative alternatives. This is a pressing challenge; a 2007 FAA study concluded that if no improvements are made to existing infrastructure, by 2025 27 airports in 15 metro areas will face critical capacity issues. Perhaps issues of land scarcity, air rights, and investment costs, can actually invite alternative solutions that improve the entire system. MITRE Corporation. "Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System: 2007-2025." Federal Aviation Administration, May, 2007. Moodie, Martin. “Red-letter day for Barcelona El Prat Airport as new Terminal 1 opens; retail to the fore.” The Moodie Report, June 16, 2009 Mutzabaugh, Ben. “Today in the Sky: Decade sent costs, fewer flights soaring.” USA Today, October 12, 2012


Airnode Bracket 3: At Extremes with Brandon Hall

Bracket 3: At Extremes, To be Published Spring 2013 Bracket 3 invites critical ideas investigating how the extreme potential of design can extend into reality. This provides the ideal venue for our own proposal to the ailments of the airline industry. Airnode is a mobile terminal that combines all aspects of the airport into an individualized unit.

Airnode: Mobile Infrastructure (abstract) Brian Vargo and Brandon Hall Air travel has evolved into the most complex infrastructure in modern culture. The industry supports approximately 800 million passengers annually within the US, negotiating changes in regulations and technology with unprecedented precision. Yet despite the massive scale and importance of this infrastructure, the industry has posted a $63 billion deficit within the past ten years. The increasing inefficiency of an aging system has driven operating costs up 162% since 2000. Despite a persistently growing demand for air travel, airlines sell only 82% of their available seats because large scale airports are either no longer strategically located or outside of areas experiencing high population growth. The infrastructure has become increasingly congested, expensive, and inefficient. Perhaps the cost of maintaining the current system actually limits its potential to grow. We propose a renewed airport typology to supplement these issues by addressing a systemic flaw. Why do airports limit the indefinite medium of aviation to only finite points? What if air travel can further propagate its mobility by finding a more adaptive system to truly become the most flexible of infrastructures? We propose to repurpose the 4 million miles of existing highway in the US to create temporary runways. By rescaling the ‘airport’ into a mobile AIRNODE, a new infrastructural typology can provide unprecedented opportunity. The highway system provides a malleable substrate – already wide enough in most locations and well within structural limits to land commercial jets, it can easily facilitate the basic requirements of an average commercial runway. AIRNODES divide the same functional, security, and mechanical requirements of a conventional airport into individual mobile gates that supplement the highway network. These gates are designed to the dimensions of a flat bed truck, and are thus easily moved to where they are most needed. AIRNODE ‘hotspots’ will emerge and disappear over time, and routes can dynamically adjust to customer demand, models of efficiency, and the flows of existing ground traffic.

The potential of this typology is far-reaching. In Los Angeles, for example, 12,000,000 residents spread over 5,000 square miles, but share only three major airports. AIRNODES can take advantage of the expansive highway system to create temporary runways during periods of low traffic, facilitating a hyper-efficient transportation network for one of the world’s most congested cities. AIRNODES can also be easily gathered into areas of very high demand, for example massive sporting or entertainment events adjacent to existing large-scale parking lots. The flexibility of an adaptive system provides a synergy of transportation for all scales, more users, and in a wider range of contexts. A new typology can push the boundaries of mobility by connecting the potential of two infrastructures into an infinitely more adaptive system. In this way, AIRNODE can affect change of the entire infrastructure.

1.Smallen, Dave. “Summary 2008 Traffic Data for U.S and Foreign Airlines,” U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, April 23, 2009. Accessed February 9, 2012. http://www.bts.gov/press_releases/2009/bts019_09/html/bts019_09. html 2.“Toward Global Competitiveness, Economic Empowerment and Sustained Profitability,” Airlines for America, Feburary 19th, 2012, Accessed Feburary 19, 2012. http://www.airlines.org/Documents/A4AIndustryReview.pdf 3.“Los Angeles,” Last Modified Feburary 20, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles


E-Link International Competition for Electric Car Terminal 1st Prize, STCenters Competition, Winter 2012 with Brandon Hall, Annie Peyton

A typology to popularize the electric Car The electric car is purported to remedy worldwide pollution, particularly within the confines of dense urban environments. But two decades after their first introduction, 100% electric cars have yet to emerge as the mainstream option for most consumers. The 2012 STCenters Competition for an electric car operations center hopes to facilitate more widespread use of the electric car in Rio De Janeiro, one of the world’s fastest growing cities. We propose a new terminal typology that redefines the electric car as an instrument to create public interactions, focusing the operation’s center on its role as a public space. We propose to forego the suggested building envelop of the competition, which is out of scale and context to its neighboring buildings, and rather build a simple canopy over the adjacent street connecting a major park and the beach front. Above this new, high-volume pedestrian street, we propose an interactive ‘terminal board’ that lets users request car shares with neighbors using a web based application. This digital/ spatial terminal system uses a simple combination of light and color to highlight similar users and create meeting points for either car rental or car sharing. The program of the operations center is buried within the street below, allowing for a distinct space that functions more than anything as an exciting public venue. The street becomes an electric promenade that engenders a ‘spectacle’ surrounding the electric car. Our proposal articulates the competition’s goals into an architectural space and an infrastructural system which overlap to create a new social platform. E-Link was unanimously awarded the 1st prize by defining a solution that ‘with just a single gestures resolves the volume and the program ...in a clear and concise manner.’ The project is publicized in WA Magazine & Vitruvius and exhibited at the Iaac Barcelona


Urban Section Museum, 5000m2 AC-CA Competition, June 2012 with Brandon Hall, Chris Zhongtian Yuan

Urban Section The competition for a New Museum for Contemporary Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina investigates how the museum can be an iconic new model for the experience of contepmorary art. Our proposal extends the domain of the museum into a more urban venue, blending public space below with museum gallerys above through an undulating section that frames activities to be shared by both. The typical museum establishes a spatial hierarchy, protecting ‘fine art’ from the outside world. But how does this rigid model relate to the informal and interactive nature of contemporary art and the urban activity of its context? We propose to design a series of urban spaces that cohabitate between outdoor urban functions and interior galleries. By lifting the building’s program above an entirely open ground floor, we can enrich the existing urban plaza with distinct activities. These public activities find their match within the interior program, establishing a variety of activities that redefine the boundary between museum spaces and urban life. Our proposal articulates the public level into 5 zones - A sports court, an event area, an art garden, a transit terminal, and an open plaza. These functions become different urban living rooms shared by public life and the interior museum spaces. The spaces created by the urban functions intersect with the museum’s interior, fostering new dialogues and perspectives about how people perceive, understand, and connect with art in the real life of a city. The architecture blurs the division between public activity and gallery space using only a modest, contextual palette.


3D city Visionary Urbanism CityVision Competition, June 2012 with Brandon Hall

The Vertical Public Domain: A New Utopia The 2012 CityVision Competition asks participants to question future urbanism in New York. The city’s existing manifesto has profound simplicity: to build with massive scale, guided only by a horizontal grid. But New York’s urban principles have been increasingly challenged by the reality of its size, density, and congestion. The utopia sought by previous generations has eroded as the city’s massive scale prevents its further growth. We propose to create a vertical zoning system to compliment the horizontal plan of New York. By supplementing the horizontal plane with a vertical infrastructure, we can create an entirely new axis for public life, filled with prototypes for a new urban vision. Perhaps the most fundamental element of the city’s urban fabric is actually its least visible – the elevator. The city essentially relies on the elevator as a vertical infrastructure. We propose to further this principle by appropriating the elevator as a completely public element of the city. In doing so, we redefine the elevator as a vertical street and create vertical mobility for public life. This creates the means for an immersive, 3-dimensional public realm, where the cityscape can evolve with rich programmatic density. We supplement the vertical plan with a catalog of public amenities to sustain the future urban habitat. The truly vertical city unveils the programmatic potential of the urban environment, able to respond to the various environmental, social, and economic conditions in a 3D spectrum. In this sense, we aim to create an urban identity that will result not in any one vision, but rather in an accumulation of activities, spaces, and urban life.


Danish Institute for Study Abroad Fall 2009 - Spring 2010 I participated in a 9 month international study program based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program focused on the study of architecture and urbanism in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. This included substantial academic and personal travel throughout Europe and an international design studio environment for two semesters in Copenhagen.


Showcase Space 1,000m2 Furniture Gallery Copenhagen, Denmark Studio Marc Jay

Urban Infill

Active Facade

A new small Danish furniture gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark will occupy one of the very few open lots in the inner city. How can the new building create a positive urban influence without detracting from its historic quarters? Moreover, how can architectural space reflect the casual humanity of Danish Design to engender the same quality on a different scale?

The facade is defined by a simple sun shading system that takes the scale and color of the neighboring buildings’ elements and stretches them over the new infill. Only 55 concrete fibre boards in 10 colors propagate over a conventional glass curtain wall to create a presence that is both progressive and highly conscious of its context.

My solution focuses on exploring the existing quality of the vertical void in the city, and drawing the rhythm, scale, and color palette of the neighborhood over as a flexible skin. Five identical floor plates rotate around one another vertically in a helix pattern, framing space that is both defined and dynamic. This spatial quality provides excellent light, an intriguing circulation sequence, and easy natural ventilation. A central core provides the elevator and mechanical support for all levels, culminating in a scenic roof terrace.

Each element has a simple mechanical assemblage that allows a dynamic pattern to emerge. A hinge and mechanical brace rotate each element to respond dynamically to change interior lighting conditions. A subtle play in geometry lets the nuance of shade, diffused reflections and direct light create vast, qualitative changes in the interior atmospheres. This further defines the various spaces within, while maintaining the technical qualities of a minimal system.

Each floor has a unique space, promoting the identity of the furniture thereon. By segmenting the generic program into more specific ‘living rooms,’ a playful variety emerges within one standard system. As visitors walk through the building, they are always met with a comfortable scale and a series of personable spaces.

The adaptive definition of the facade creates a dynamic relationship with the adjacent street. Momentary views into the interior can change daily, giving the building a unique presence in an otherwise historic neighborhood without formally competing with its ornate architecture. This helps shape a unique urban identity for the future gallery as a space that melds the existing qualities of the city into an integral composition.


Parametric Housing 5,000m2 Housing System Copenhagen, Denmark Studio Bo Christensen

Organic Development

Prefabulous

Situated outside of Copenhagen, Holmensparken is currently filled with overgrown birch trees. The landscape has become a local park actively used by its neighbors, and its identity should be preserved for the future development of the site. By running the parking underneath a continuous strip of housing above, the quality of the existing park can lend its value to the new housing.

Only one basic modular element (3m x 3m x 8m) is used to achieve such a composition. This elements’ repetitive dimensions allow it to be easily prefabricated. Customization of each unit is achieved by mirroring the segment in plan. The structural flexibility to solve such a system requires only an exposed tension brace. In areas were this is unnecessary, the brace can easily be removed, leaving a 2mx2m window to the exterior trees. The simplicity of the system concentrates the architecture on its beautiful context, rather than substituting it with an artificial formal basis.

The required program suggests over 5,000m2 of row housing that must rely on a repetitive system to maintain a cost effective implementation. Rather than create only one typology to be copied 30 times, I designed a simple system that could be implemented in infinite ways by breaking the row house into its programmatic elements. A common core runs through the entirety of the site, providing bathrooms and the kitchen at the center of each row house where it is most logical. The number of rooms and their orientation, however, varies by adding on in either direction from this core. This principle allows customization within each unit while maintaining a manageable palette. The scheme is a marketable solution that can adjust to predetermined buyers, or easily be adapted over time within the same vocabulary.


Academic Travel Through both academic study groups and my own initiative, I traveled throughout Europe during my year at DIS. The academic ambitions of DIS balanced a competitive studio environment with exposure to international architecture and shaped an invaluable learning experience. Academic tours led by Danish faculty studied the application of urbanism, architecture, and policy-making in Scandinavia and beyond. These included:

My travel was congruent with a competitive design studio in Copenhagen. Students came from both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and studied architecture, interior design, urban design, and unrelated majors. Learning from a diverse mix of people from a variety of backgrounds played a critical role to the culture of the institute. Paired with the opportunity to travel, DIS was an eyeopening experience into architectural qualities beyond borders.

Sweden and Finland Tour: 7 day study tour focusing on the urban planning of Helsinki and historic work by Scandinavian architects.

My time spent at the institute and its generous travel opportunities came as the mindful beneficiary of four scholarships:

Germany and Netherlands Tour: 8 day study tour focused on contemporary urban planning in Northern Europe

Danish Institute for Study Abroad Student Scholarship

Richard Lee Fisher Memorial Scholarship

Berlin Tour: 4 day study tour exploring the impact of the city’s political history on its architecture and urban environment.

Don Floyd Memorial Scholarship

Russia, Past and Present: 7 day study tour investigating the contemporary politics of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and beyond.

Peter Tax and Adam Jarman Scholarship

Western Denmark: 4 day study tour through traditional, modern, and contemporary Danish architecture. Independent Travel: 30+ days spread across Ireland, the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, and Turkey.


Bachelor of Architecture, Conferred June 2011 The following project is the culmination of my study at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The 5 year BArch program offers the opportunity to pursue a 9-month thesis as a capstone project for graduation. This includes both an academic argument and an architectural proposal. My thesis study focused on the cultural value of design and how architecture can become more engaging within its professional context. Advisor: Doug Jackson


HyperFlex 30,000m2 Tower Finalist, 2011 Council for Tall Buildings in the Urban Habitat Student Competition Advisor: Doug Jackson

Research Based Thesis HyperFlex is a 9 month, research-based thesis exploring how architecture can turn the market effect of vacancy into productive urbanism. My study began with a thorough investigation of how basic real estate values - vacancy, occupancy, and the conditions of tenancy - relate to architectural practice. Despite the importance of these factors in shaping urban environments, their implications are separate from the typical design of urban architecture - the extruded generic floor plan. HyperFlex reformats the conditions set forth by an existing building into a hyperlogical alternative that bends the dogmatic conditions of real estate into qualitative spaces.

HyperFlex (abstract) A tall building’s worth is defined by the profound statement of permanence it implies. Yet despite the tremendous investment of financial capital, material resource, and architectural ideology of building tall, critical architecture abandons the wider range of conditions that inform a tall building’s creation. But in a world governed by an increasingly uncertain economic climate, can critical architecture remain isolated from a tall building’s sphere of influence? Or rather can architecture suspend ideology and instead study their condition with renewed transparency? The office tower is the quintessential epitome of this condition - it is simultaneously the grandest scale of building, the most generic provision of space and home to the densest corners of the cityscape. The office tower inevitably accepts a generic cycle of occupancy and vacancy over time, a complexity with which formal concepts seldom confront. What is the effect of the divorce of occupancy and concept? Can design provide a more flexible medium that readily accepts a heterogeneous range of use, not as a matter of distinct moralism, but instead as an invitation to the inevitable variety of uses that office towers encounter? Can the inevitable cycle of vacancy and occupancy be discussed with plausible architectural remedy? Can architecture reconcile its indeterminate use? Such a discussion shifts building design from a fixed spatial/technical vocabulary to a wider range of flexible conditions that spans over a larger scope of practice. Rather than mask this formative substrate, HyperFlex is defined by it. HyperFlex strives to turn the indeterminate use of its lifespan into a database of potential activities, economies, and interactions that frame an urban condition. In so doing, the building itself becomes a set of flexible conditions that run parallel with its marketability, remedying its natural vacancy with productive urbanism.

Urban Vacancy The context for such a proposal warrants a careful study of a the relationship between vacancy and its urban influences. Vacancy explained by urban quality is negligible, but buildings that are empty despite a positive context imply a more systemic flaw with an architectural typology. These conditions define urban vacancy - a situation in which the cityscape is physically dense but programmatically unoccupied. San Francisco is one of the most dramatic centers of urban vacancy in the US. Despite its highly affluent population and remarkable investment in sustainable planning, the city suffers from a chronic negative growth rate. The ebb and flow of free market forces eventually deprives the opportunity for an architect to build, and the consequences have created a systemic imbalance between built space and the realities of a marketdriven economy. 13,000,000 SQFT

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Despite a decrease in market demands over the past decade, leasable space in San Francisco has slowly grown to create the 7th largest market in the US. Meanwhile, the current vacancy rate is a staggering 18.3%, and the average for that of the last ten years hovers near 20%. This stark difference between architectural practice and the systemic growth of vacancy make evident a systemic flaw: The concept of building tall is divorced from its actual lineage. What good is even the best architectural concept if its inherently likely to be empty for most of its lifespan? Can further study of the vacant conditions that these statistics uncover warrant a new typology of architectural space?


Published Vacancy Rate

Listed Vacant Spaces vs Blighted Properties

The city’s published vacancy rates in gray scale (darker = more vacant). The average vacancy rate increases in areas with more office space.

A careful distinction between a vacant space and a blighted property informs the data. A ‘blight’ is unserviced and abandoned by its owner, often falling victim to negative urban conditions. A ‘vacancy’ is a property maintained and in marketable condition, regardless of its urban condition. Shown are all publicly listed properties to lease over 5000 SQFT spanning a 6 month period extruded to proportional heights. The creates a bank of 166 examples for further study. Included are all listed ‘blighted properties’ within that time frame, shown as an X.

Available Office Space The available office space extruded to proportional heights for the city’s 6 districts with mostly commercial zoning. Not surprisingly, office space increases exponentially towards the inner city.

Compounded Vacancy The density of these properties and their scale combine to create vast areas of urban disuse. Each listing’s vacancy is compounded by its own scale and its close adjacency to other vacancies, described as follows: SVS =NH/ND2

VS=The shade value of the listed vacancy (dark = vacant) ND= The distance to all neighboring vacancies NH= The height of that neighboring vacancy

The heart of downtown is disproportionately vacant where more is built, less is occupied per square foot

3 case studies San Francisco, California

Three instances of this data set exemplify the qualities of the whole. Further studies of their architecture quality, urban context, and formative principles will metabolize the

Population: 812,000

data into qualitative discussion...

Real Inventory The effect between market-based vacancies and their urban conditions requires careful study. This compelled a massive compilation of raw data, including both large scale studies already compiled by real estate companies and in depth analysis of all public listings spanning 6 months. By analyzing comparative values such as each building’s total area, its vacant area and its adjacency to neighboring vacancies, systemic qualities emerge. The data invites a comprehensive conclusion - that vacancies are actually most prone to occur in the most dense urban areas. Moreover, the massive scale of these environments created disproportionately larger vacancies, exacerbating the problem. The urban condition that they affected was nonexistent, just as the high quality of urban space they were situated in failed to invite further function for the tower beyond office space.


Real Estate vs. Architecture My analysis of vacancy at the scale of the city paralleled an in-depth analysis of 3 case studies that best exemplified the data set. Research at this scale uncovers a systemic flaw of the ‘extruded floor plate’ office tower typology. Despite being well maintained, structurally sound, and mechanically efficient, the endless cycle of vacancies and occupancies of individual tenants had significantly lowered the spatial efficiency of the building’s leasable area. The addition and subtraction of parti walls between tenants creates increasingly limited constraints for further work. Moreover, thousands of empty square feet went unused because they were only able to be used for office space. With poor lighting, limited access and meager spatial qualities, the generic office tower can never escape its narrow definition. My intervention is simple. By creating a continuous ramped surface at 1:45 (less than the legal definition of a sloped surface and well within ADA bounds) each floor connects to its next floor, creating a continuous domain of rentable area throughout the entire building. Moreover, the simplified spatial structure is far more efficient, allowing for significantly improved spatial qualities while maintaining the same amount of floor area, and ultimately inviting a heterogeneous use within its expansive bounds.


Business Model = Spatial Model The focus of this new generic tower is the facilitation of its business model at a comprehensive spatial level. No longer limited to 1700sqft floor plate, larger spaces can be more easily found within a vast tract of flexible space. Individual tenants can more easily expand within a modular system. Services follow the same generic principles as before, supplying circulation, fire escapes, and mechanical utilities to tenants without snaking through a maze of separate systems. Most importantly, retired spaces can be more easily reclaimed for further use, presenting a wholistic aspiration to the building’s lifespan that escapes the conventional model. The conventional extruded floor plan typology is limited in program because the small scale of its individual spaces and their lack of spatial qualities. The efficiency of HyperFlex alleviates both of these issues through vast tracts of floor area and a far more qualitative spatial environment that maintains an equal number of square meters. Imagine a tower no longer limited to offices, inviting more public functions that explore its spatial qualities. Theatres, temporary galleries, open-air community gardens, etc... can emerge over time as a new precedent takes hold, either staving off vacancy or adjusting to larger scaled spaces provided by the natural cycle of the market. Just as individual office spaces can be rented out, so too are areas of a flexible facade. To accommodate a wider variety of tenants, the facade’s sunlight system follows simple tracks to change the spacing between its elements. This creates both a highly efficient system to control glare, daily sunlight, seasonal heat gain, and the quality of views depending on the individual requirements of tenants, but also a changing expression of the buildings exterior. Rather than presenting a stoic face to the city, the tower is an interactive anomaly, changing to express its life over time.


A New Generic HyperFlex follows the same structural logic as the extruded floor plan typology. The ‘floors’ of the repetitive system stack without reinventing its predecessor’s structural vocabulary. Circulation and mechanical cores ascend to regular intervals, just as in the typical office tower. This limited vocabulary maximizes the potential of its further articulation, inviting tenants to make their own space within a new generic domain. The new tower is broken into three zones to create a basic hierarchy and interaction with the neighboring city. The top and bottom ramped zones are anchored by three double-height floors in a middle block. Through this simple gesture, the tower creates a distinct urban icon purely through its own juxtaposition. Activity spills out in the midst of the dense city center, suspended at the center of a 3D world. HyperFlex is not focused on a more specific typology to simply improve office space, but rather a new generic model for leasable occupancies within the city - a flexible domain fertilized for a heterogeneous range of uses and unlimited by the spatial constraints of its predecessor. If real estate is the comprehensive mechanism that shapes the built environment, than its place in architecture is severely undervalued. Building tall, the most profound of architectural scales, should thus be indebted to its life cycle of vacancy and occupancy. HyperFlex is a more fluid operative domain for the natural cycles of expansion and contraction in the market place, and expands the role of design beyond architecture to its systemic context. This broad aspiration placed as a finalist in the 2011 Council for Tall Buildings in the Urban Habitat Student Competition among over 200 entries.


Vargo research and academia