Momentum - Volume 2 Issue 3

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momentum VOLUME 2 Issue 3

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momentum

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VOLUME 2 Issue 3

A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

Dear Friends, Partners, and Colleagues, As we head into the dog days of summer, what better time to think about the evolving connection of buildings to their landscapes. For over 15 years EwingCole's focus on environmentalism and design has truly helped this relationship grow. This issue of Momentum showcases projects that embrace their sites – from a residence hall inhabiting a steep topography, to a hospital that establishes a strong visual link between the inside and outside, and an integrated campus designed in response to the natural processes of the site. Please enjoy and share this issue of Momentum. Sincerely,

Robert A. McConnell, AIA President

CONTENTS

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CONTEMPORARY It’s Only Natural

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CONTINUING Don’t Stop Believin’

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uhlenberg College turned to EwingCole for its extensive experience in campus design, and challenged the firm with shaping architecturally distinct buildings that offered new, up-to-date dorm rooms and common spaces that would make the school more competitive. Most importantly, adds Tom Appelquist, the firm’s former director of design and design architect for the project, the client sought a plan that “would take advantage of the dramatic views while tying together the revealed landscape and the existing campus.” Appelquist credits architect Midori Ainoura — a newly-minted Penn graduate who had recently joined the firm after meeting Tom in Japan — with developing the innovative design scheme that accomplished this. “She immediately recognized the site’s possibilities,” he says, “and saw that it offered to link the existing campus with the larger landscape.” Dipping down from the relatively flat aspect of the main campus — where original buildings are arranged around

“THE CLIENT SOUGHT A PLAN THAT WOULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DRAMATIC VIEWS WHILE TYING TOGETHER THE REVEALED LANDSCAPE AND THE EXISTING CAMPUS.” - Tom Appelquist, EwingCole’s Former Director of Design

a rectangular green with a centerpiece clock tower modeled on Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower at Oxford University — the recently acquired land overlooked a municipal park and, beyond that, the lush woodlands of the Lehigh Valley. According to Appelquist, the design team immediately recognized that its situation offered a “way to visually connect the old and the new by having the new buildings open into a plaza that framed views of the landscape ahead and the tower behind.” The scheme involved two new residence buildings, offering a combined 71,000 square feet and housing a total of 140 students. Each four-story building was divided into two separate college houses featuring

double-loaded corridors lined with four-person suites with private bedrooms and shared sitting, kitchen, and bath areas. The two wings splay out into doubleheight indoor atriums that act as social areas to encourage student interaction between the floors and the buildings. Those resulting common spaces, Appelquist observes, “turned out to be a very popular choice for the students — this was where you wanted to be.” Since the existing campus buildings were primarily masonry, the designers chose brick for the facades of the buildings but opted for gray colorations so they were “related but different from


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the older structures,” says Appelquist. Inside, a minimalist material palette prevailed, with floating staircases, builtin wood seating, concrete flooring, and polished concrete block walls. The project’s inherent challenges, including a compressed timeline and a sloping site that necessitated the inclusion of ramp systems to accommodate differently-abled members of the college community, ultimately worked out for the best, Appelquist recalls. “Having to take care of everything so quickly gave the project momentum,” he says, “while the ramps allowed us to really spotlight the site’s inclines.” In the end, the design mandate for additional housing was certainly fulfilled — but so was something subtler. Fifteen years ago, the firm took

“HAVING TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING SO QUICKLY GAVE THE PROJECT MOMENTUM, WHILE THE RAMPS ALLOWED US TO REALLY SPOTLIGHT THE SITE’S INCLINES.” - Tom Appelquist, EwingCole’s Former Director of Design

advantage of this spectacular site to reconsider and deepen its approach to the integration of building and landscape. And although Applequist is now retired and painting in Santa Fe, the visioning involved in the Muhlenberg project would prove to be the beginning of a movement on the firm’s part that extended way beyond the “towers in the park” style that Le Corbusier had so popularized and modernist architects so readily adapted. 


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he recently-completed $80 million Ambulatory Care Center represents significant progress in a design approach that EwingCole began developing more than a decade ago. “There’s still a building in a setting but it offers more,” Jabbawy elaborates. “It’s something that rises out of the ground and takes advantage of a considerable change of grade.” Expansive windows allow natural light to stream in all day and afford lots of opportunity to look out onto a landscape of established native species from above. Outside, respite areas and courtyards provide cozy bench seating alongside soothing water features. Best of all, both this park-like environment and a new internal garden between the existing tower and the new building, go a long way toward achieving the goals set forward by the client. “One of my chief concerns was that the facility not feel like a hospital,” says Lisa A. Dutterer, Chief Administrative Officer, Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital. “We wanted the experience to be welcoming and reassuring, we wanted to send a message through design that you’re

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coming here for us to help you along the journey towards getting well.” For the project — the first phase of a major transformation of the hospital’s entire campus —the firm was tasked with creating a five-story entry lobby atrium that would act as the new face of, and focal point for the hospital. Programmed to include reception and check-in, it also contains a new

⇒ a 100,000SF medical office building to support outpatient services, and a 700car parking pavilion. “Overall, we were challenged with improving both the site and circulation throughout the various buildings,” says designer Joseph Wood. “The goal was to give the hospital an improved aesthetic identity while incorporating modern healthcare and hospitality

“ONE OF MY CHIEF CONCERNS WAS THAT THE FACILITY NOT FEEL LIKE A HOSPITAL” - Lisa A. Dutterer, Chief Administrative Officer, Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital

cafe and gift shop, a reflection room, varied seating nooks and waiting areas, and conference and education spaces for use by the neighboring community. The building exterior — mainly glass with elegant touches of travertine stone and wood—takes on a concave form that allows room for a generous porte-cochere. As part of this phase, EwingCole also completed

amenities.” To consolidate some of the sprawling effect created by a series of one-story buildings, the team demolished the old drop-off and medical office buildings. It situated the new open atrium lobby on a portion of the former parking lot, building right in front of the existing 1960s-era tower and incorporating its faceted glass façade as an interior backdrop.



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The result is a hub that not only serves as an entrance for the entire facility, but provides connecting links to the old tower, the new medical office building, and a future inpatient tower. Warm wood tones, organic curvilinear forms, bright furnishings, and garden vistas not only blur the lines between healthcare and modern hospitality design but have earned the project several accolades for its interior design. When considering a design solution that integrates the various spaces and uses, Jabbawy envisioned the cascading tiers of an Italian hill town.

reason.” By sculpting the space into smaller areas, and adding paths that lead in and out of them, the designers present a variety of discovered moments that break up what otherwise might read as an intimidating, cavernous space. “As a place for healing, visual connectivity to the outside was another very important driver,” Wood adds. “That comes across in the design, where we were influenced by natural elements. But it also is evident in the building’s form, which is anchored by a sequence of curved stone site walls

“AS A PLACE FOR HEALING, VISUAL CONNECTIVITY TO THE OUTSIDE WAS ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT DRIVER” - Joseph Wood, Designer

The central “piazza” of the lobby flows down to a community conference center below grade and opens into the lower garden, while a series of more intimate spaces branch off “streets,” allowing visitors and patients room for reflection or small gatherings. “The team quickly grasped the concept of providing open space that still retained its functionality,” says Dutterer. “The five-story atrium lives and breathes, it’s not just an open area built for no real

cascading along the landscape, and as an interior environment where the play of light and shadow and the movement of air are crucial elements.” One key challenge in crafting the desired hotel-like interior was finding a substitute for the typical hospital reception desk. After much debate, the team decided to build several sculptural “tree” podiums at the entrance where greeters stand and

welcome guests. “At the beginning, it was an iterative process of modeling contorted forms inspired by the natural shape of tree trunks,” recalls Wood. “Converting these to reality, we collaborated with a fabrication studio in Toronto where we hand selected slices of tree, 3D scanned them and modeled the Corian forms to match the very irregular perimeter of the wood.” After figuring out the aspects of fabrication, the team also considered the podiums’ functionally in terms of adjusting their height for wheelchair accessibility and tapering them inwards to allow someone to comfortably stand against the desk. Calling the podiums an “ingenious” solution, Dutterer says they’re a perfect example of the “time and thought” put into the whole project. “What we created lends itself to the goal of being much different from a standard healthcare facility,” she concludes. “The lobby, the natural light, the private areas, the outdoor gardens, all work incredibly well in meeting our needs and intentions.” In the end, the project proved to be a “successful example of how components of hospitality and public spaces that steer away from hard surfaces and encourage landscaping are starting to inform the way in which hospitals are rebranding themselves,” observes Wood. 


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ut not all of them were the usual suspects.

“When we learned about the RFP, we realized that Camden had a unique position in terms of the investments we’re currently enjoying and the availability of land that could be quickly assembled,” says Joe Myers, chief operating officer of Coopers Ferry Partnership, a nonprofit economic development organization focused on improving the New Jersey city that faces Philadelphia from across the Delaware River. “We’re in the midst of a $2 billion renaissance,” Myers continues. “All of the prevailing winds are going in the same direction and the narrative is changing for the positive.” A move such as that promised by Amazon could give a final push out of a cycle of violence and poverty that’s long plagued the city of 75,000. To help prepare the bid, Coopers Ferry turned to EwingCole, which had worked on other projects with the organization. The client had already selected a network of sites that were intended to integrate Amazon into the larger fabric of the city from city hall to the river; the largest site was located along the Delaware River and offered the largest contiguous area for development.

“Among other things, Amazon placed a priority on access to an existing urban public transportation system,” says Ashton Amspacker, designer on the project. “This site has the PATCO line running right through it.”

a huge piece of overgrown land littered with weeds and debris,” Amspacker says. “We proposed going right to the water’s edge by adding a marina, a riverfront walk, and a performance space.”

WHEN WE FIRST TOURED THE SITE, IT INCLUDED A GIANT PARKING LOT AND A HUGE PIECE OF OVERGROWN LAND LITTERED WITH WEEDS AND DEBRIS, WE PROPOSED GOING RIGHT TO THE WATER’S EDGE BY ADDING A MARINA, A RIVERFRONT WALK, AND A PERFORMANCE SPACE.” - Ashton Amspacker, Designer

Positioned on either side of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the proposed campus unites two undeveloped parcels, allowing for the exploration of an urban edge with a commercial nature on one side while responding to the tidal and natural rhythm of the river on the other. “When we first toured the site, it included a giant parking lot and

What is truly exciting about this project is how it integrates entirely into its environment,” says Saul Jabbawy, director of design at EwingCole. “The influences of an active wetland edge, water drainage, tidal cycle, and orientation of the sun drove the form, down to the elliptical shape of the towers, and the


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circulation from the city’s edge to the water’s edge.” In the scheme, six towers, connected through a series of plinths that act as greenscapes, are situated to extend the city’s street grid out to the riverfront. Their designs are organic, adds Amspacker, with “curves that try to blend in with the natural topography and shoreline. Four of the smaller towers are elliptical — the

two biggest ones are rectilinear — so together they take on the staggered appearance of a skyline. We didn’t want to have a rigid, controlled look.” Each tower offers about 1.5 million SF and all six facades are glass, with a diagrid on the elliptical ones and more conventional glazing on the two taller towers. Sustainability drove the design and planning ideas and, together

with the program, informed every design element, according to Amspacker. “For one thing, having that amount of surface area works well regarding water collection,” he says. Additionally, the inclusion of new wetlands trails could have a “rehabilitative effect for the endangered species that are growing there,” he says since previously the area had been buffeted by the manufacturing and


shipping businesses located there. “The project consistently involved thinking about how the towers would respond to the water and how the landscape would grow into the towers, rather than the towers being placed statically onto a landscape,” Amspacker continues. Myers says that Coopers Ferry was “very interested in making this project a statement” that reflected

Camden’s strong mandate to move in the direction of sustainability and green building. “EwingCole heard what we said and took everything about ten steps further,” he says. “Everything’s in there, from how the buildings are placed to capture natural light to how heating and cooling issues are addressed. And it’s all blended while presenting a beautiful campus that doesn’t wall itself off from the city.”

Although Camden didn’t make Amazon’s final cut of twenty potential headquarters sites, the plan will “end up being a selling tool for envisioning the possibilities for Camden,” concludes Myers. “When we step back from the process, we see that this helped us clarify all of the city's wonderful assets. How they get used in the next couple of years will be something to keep an eye on.” 