University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign
critic: Brennan BUCK.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Yihan LI: The design of a global atmospheric research center employs the sphere for both its iconic and volumetric qualities. . . .
A set of spheres are repeatedly scaled, each tangent to the last, and dissected by orthogonal cuts to create distinctive spaces with both soft and hard thresholds that suit the unique functions of each program. The complex contains: simulation laboratories; a research lab; control center; administrative offices; auditorium; and maintenance and public spaces.
Users enjoy a binary experience when inhabiting the convex and concave surface of the spheres as they circulate between them in a spiral manner. The contrast between orthogonal and spherical, in addition to material and atmospheric transformations, reflects and celebrates the nature of the building as a research institute studying the air of the future.
sP: What or who influenced this project?:
YL: My instructor Brennan Buck encouraged me to think out of certain constraints at the early stage of the project and provided valuable design solutions throughout the process. Another inspiration was a studio trip to Mexico City, where I visited numerous architectures that showcased a certain enthusiasm and free spirit through their distinctive spatial conditions.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
YL: I was drawn into Agustín Hernández Navarro’s Hernández House in Mexico City—the breakdown of circle as a figure and the reconstruction of circle in a field. I was also inspired by Robert Venturi’s book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
YL: FreelandBuck; Herzog & de Meuron; BIG; SANAA; and NAP Architects.