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Project Brief This 8 week studio project focused on finding the sublime in architecture. The concept of “Bad Weather� was used as a starting point on the basis that weather is the only uncontrollable element to exist in our current innocuous society. This booklet is not a comprehensive review of the concepts explored and the resultant architectural interventions, but rather an assimilation of the information presented in a brief 8 minute final presentation.

Bad Weather Professors: Florian Idenburg ( and Jing Liu ( This studio is about the weather - a fairly conceptual and open ended studio - in which we use one of the last “unpredictable and instable systems” as a frame of reference to explore architecture’s potential. The studio will use the typology of the skyscraper as the enabler of the contemporary sublime. Through the cinema of Werner Herzog we will explore the struggle of mankind with forces beyond its power and reason. As function, symbol and form have lost their validity as drivers of the architectural project, we examine a recent reemerging interest in more phenomenological and ephemeral qualities of our physical world. Words like cloud, atmosphere, environment and realm are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in a post-icon era. This meteorological terminology tries to describe projects which are less formal and less defined. A fascination with weather not only informs architecture, also contemporary design, for instance in the work Tokuin Yoshioka, and artists such as Olafur Elliason take the weather as a point of departure. Other than in the past, where architects as Coop Himmelblau and Diller Scofidio explored weather in relation to mechanical systems, current explorations within architecture typically have as goal to re-examines the relationship between climate and architecture in order to create a “truly sustainable architecture and design, founded on the creation of new conceptual patterns, which recognize the primary role of physical and meteorological phenomena in architecture, economy, design, the media and every aspect of our society” This studio tries to steer clear from the noble and calculable connotations that reside within the meteorological metaphor - the weather forecasters so to say – but rather is interested in the more unpredictable, the unstable and the extreme conditions weather can create. Daily we are confronted with the sheer force of the weather and its effects on our lives. We find these forces frightening yet fascinating. This fascination stems from the notion of the sublime, a category of aesthetics. If good weather architecture would be about control, about comfort and about sustainability, what would bad weather architecture be? Can we achieve an architecture that is as powerful and effective as the worst storm? Can architecture achieve a new subliminal state? These questions will be addressed - through the lens of the sublime - by designing a tall building, a skyscraper, in New York City. The studio not only challenges the students to take a clear position through their architectural proposal but also seeks to develop or strengthen an ability to represent this position in a spirited fashion. During the second part of the studio we will use the work of film maker Werner Herzog, as a source of inspiration. His films are, to his annoyance, often described in terms of the sublime. They feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who find themselves in conflict with nature. Sites will be the World Trade Center Site, The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square

New York Times This company is the reason Times Square has its name. The use of newspapers as a way to receive information made Times Square an important public agora. Since new technologies have enabled us to receive relevant information from anywhere, is our physical place still important?

In today’s society is virtual space more important than physical space? Are the most important places in our society the places that create and store our virtual world?

The Evolution of a Network What are the implications of our growing systems of networks? How do these networks evolve from the physical world to the virtual realm? What are the results of our increasingly networked culture?

Proposed Site Can our virtual environment have a symbiotic relationship with a densely public physical space? Does our physical interaction with virtual spaces have to terminate at a screen? Is there any physical depth to this immaterial place?

Movie A short film was utilized to explain the atmospheric qualities of this sublime structure. The film depicts the first person experience of an employee’s first day at work in this new building. Because the building connects to the New York City subway system, you do not get to experience the space until you exit the elevator. See complete video at:

Office Units The program of the building is comprised of 100 suspended office pods ranging from 15’ x 30’ to 30’ x 60’ in size. Each unit acts as a supercomputer by containing a series of servers within its shell. These server display and collect information on the interior. This information is then sent out through the optical fiber tentacles to other office units and into the larger global network. The movement of information is organic in nature; similar to the synapses of the human nervous system. Each unit has a glass wall towards the exterior and a roof terrace.

Columns The predominant structure of the tower is a series of 7 columns of varying height, location, and angle. Each column contains structure, systems and vertical circulation. The placement of each column was determined by a series of rules regarding maximum spacing and tilt requirements as well as orientation to the existing city grid.


100 Suspended Units

Skin The skin of the building performs several tasks. The metallic structure of the skin operates as a large scale Faraday Cage, shielding the inside of the building from electromagnetic interference and undesired radio waves. The openings within the metal mesh are filled with a transparent ETFE-pillow system. This system not only acts as weatherproofing, but also has the ability to be illuminated in the form of “super-pixels,� allowing the facade to become a large scale screen.

Fiber Optic Networks


Building Section

Site Plan

Plaza Level Section and Plan The building has a direct connection to the railway, which is important because railroad right of ways are often utilized to lay cross-country information network cables. The Plaza level also contains building services and a space of leisure for the public.

Plan @ +300’

Plan @ +600’

Plaza as viewed from Broadway The pedestrian plaza is a place of leisure given back to the city. Pedestrians have the opportunity to interact with the fiber optics or simply lay at the base of the building and gaze up through its inner sanctum.

Aerial Perspective at Night

Model Photographs: Day and Night

The Network Skyscraper  

Final presentation for the GSAPP "Bad Weather" studio with Florian Idenburg + Jing Liu, partners of SO-IL. View project video @ http://vime...