Launch Slideshow

Everything is Illuminated

Everything is Illuminated

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    New York architect Thomas Phifer blends his buildings with the nature around them and has a profound sensitivity to light.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    For the City Lights competition, Phifer's team devised a sleek, cast-aluminum arm fixed atop an extruded aluminum pole, marrying function and aesthetics.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    As opposed to a single lamp located at the end of the arm, a linear array of LED lamps will provide greater light coverage on the street.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    A photovoltaic option for the streetlight would minimize energy consumption as the technology improves.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The proposed system maximizes the efficiency of the limited surface area of the photovoltaic cells by using two light scoops.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The fixture's cast-aluminum luminaire housing functions as a heat sink, protecting the acrylic optical lens from extreme temperatures.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The luminaire base slips snugly into the top of the extruded aluminum pole and is secured with stainless steel setscrews.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The base of the streetlight has an asymmetrical design to allow for ergonomic, efficient installation and wiring. Durability is another goal: All parts are high-pressure case aluminum with a painted finish. Bolts and wiring are enclosed by an access door with a sloping top surface for water runoff.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The museum's matrix of skylights, expressed on the roof as an undulating surface, brings an awareness of nature into the galleries through highly engineered, glass-enclosed oculi.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    New galleries will be contained in a single, 26-foot-tall story, wrapped in a warmtoned, satin-finish stainless steel that softly reflects the landscape.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    This bird's-eye view of the entire museum campus shows the simplicity of the form and how the landscape penetrates the building with fingerlike projections.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    Working in Rhino software, the design team studied dozens of forms to refine the roof panels (below right, top row), coffers (middle row), and end panels (bottom row).

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    Studies of the glass façade during daylight hours.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    Studies of the glass façade during dusk helped predict the variations in light reflectivity caused by the building form, its cladding, and the interior shading system.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    The house will be anchored in the hillside like a faceted crystal, with sliding steel-rod screens inside to control privacy and views.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    Living spaces are on the third floor, where the open plan and low-profile kitchen cabinets will allow sweeping views.

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    Thomas Phifer and Partners

    Glass panels will obscure the spandrels, giving the appearance of a thin roof. In fact, the roof will accommodate 6 inches of soil planted with drought-resistant sedum.

Project: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, N.C.

Design Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners, New York—Thomas Phifer (principal); Greg Reaves (project partner); Gabriel Smith, (project architect); Christoph Timm, Adam Ruffin, Katie Bennett, Kerim Demirkan, Len Lopate, Jon Benner, Joseph Sevene, Daniel Taft, Rebecca Garnett (design team)

Executive Architect: Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, Raleigh—Jeffrey Lee, Clymer Cease (principals); David Francis (project architect); Matt Konar, Juliette Dolle, Henry Newell, David Lehman (design team)

Landscape Architect: Peter Walker and Partners, Berkeley, Calif.— Peter Walker (principal); Sarah Kuehl (project partner); Daphne Edwards, Michael Oser, Paul Sieron, Michael Dellis (design team)

Executive Landscape Architect: Lappas + Havener, Durham, N.C.— Walter R. Havener (principal); Jesse Turner (landscape designer)

Structural Engineers: Lasater Hopkins Chang, Raleigh—Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Chicago

Mechanical Engineers: Stanford White and Associates, Raleigh—Altieri Sebor Weiber, Norwalk, Conn.

Civil Engineers: Kimley-Horn Associates, Raleigh—ArtifexED, Denver

Daylight Engineers: Arup, London, UK/New York

Electric Lighting: Fisher Marantz Stone, New York

Acoustics: Creative Acoustics, Westport, Conn.

Security: Risk Management Associates, Raleigh—James J. Davis and Associates, Fort Washington, Md.

Food Service: William Caruso & Associates, Englewood, Colo.

Construction Management: Barnhill/Centex, Raleigh

Boulder House, Boulder, Colo.

This house overlooking Boulder rests just below the “blue line,” the highest allowable elevation for construction on the slopes above the city. Set among large rock outcroppings, the house is conceived as a shimmering, faceted crystal emerging from the landscape. Says Phifer: “We saw how glass has a wonderful quality to reflect nature, and we also saw this irregular shape as something that responded in an abstract way to the natural surroundings.”

The 3,800-square-foot, three-level residence is wedged into the slope, with an entry hall, a large study, and an exercise room on the lowest floor and a master bedroom suite and library on the second level. The upper floor, which affords panoramic views in all directions, is a fully open plan containing the kitchen, dining, and living spaces. Boulder's stringent zoning code limits the amount of shadow cast by the house, which placed tight constraints on the overall volume.

The house's exterior is a simple, flush-glazed window wall that combines 6-foot-wide, full-height viewing panels with operable ventilation panels in between. Natural light is a key determinant in the design. An interior system of layered rolling shades will not only control privacy and views, it will transform the house's appearance inside and out. Each shade is a 2-foot-wide panel made of tightly spaced, ¼-inch-diameter stainless steel rods. The panels will have densities that vary according to their orientation to the sun. For example, the densest panels will be on the south-facing façade to block heat and light; panels along the north, east, and west walls will be more open to allow for direct views.

Seen from outside, the shading system will appear as a shimmering scrim with an ever-changing pattern altered by the owner's activity and whim. “When you move those shades, the character of the architecture will constantly change depending on the light, the shading, the time of year, and the amount of privacy the owners want,” Phifer explains. With construction now under way, the house is scheduled for completion in spring 2008.

Project: Boulder House, Boulder, Colo.

Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners, New York—Thomas Phifer (principal); Greg Reaves (project partner); Thierry Landis (project architect); Joseph Sevene, Amanda Dickson, Ina Ko, Ryan Indovina, Daniel Taft, Jon Benner, Joe Chase, Patrick Delahoy (design team)

Structural Engineer: Gebau Engineering, Boulder—John Arndt (principal)

Contractor: Harrington Homes, Boulder—Tim Harrington (owner)