Volume 36, Issue 7, July 2001
Winners of the 2001 Dupont Benedictus
Awards Devise New and Innovative Uses of Laminated Glass
by Tara Taffera
Whether it was designing an underground temple in Japan, a glass telephone booth in Rome or a private residence in New York, entrants in the 2001 Dupont Benedictus Awards® were challenged to put their creativity and problem-solving skills to the test.
Winners were announced during an awards luncheon at the recent American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Denver. The luncheon was moderated by USGlass magazine publisher Debra Levy. The contest, which is sponsored by Dupont, AIA and the International Union of Architects, is an annual, international competition for both professional architects and students. The goal of the competition is to recognize significant and innovative uses of laminated glass.
The challenge presented to Takahashi Yamaguchi and Masahiro Kato of Japan’s Takahashi Yamaguchi & Associates was not an easy one. The two were commissioned to design an addition to a 17th Century temple in Japan. The goal of the project was three-fold: to construct the building so it is in harmony with the Japanese tradition; to express the Zen spirit in the building; and to create a meditative space. But the pair proved they were up to the task when they took home first prize in the commercial category for their unique approach to the project.
In an effort to maintain the integrity of the temple they placed the entire building underground. The only section of the building that is above ground is a glass box that provides top light for the white underground space.
Japan’s Asahi Glass supplied the triple-glazed, laminated glass for the skylight. “ … Laminated glass provides the best safety solution for the extensive overhead glazing we wanted, preventing broken glass from falling into the temple beneath,” said Jun Murata, an architect with Takahashi Yamaguchi & Associates. “We aimed to achieve the color of deep water by tinting one of the lights blue and building up this effect by using two more layers of glass, only possible in a laminated construction.”
Additionally, the sash and steel frames were insulated to avoid condensation and double-glazing was used to enhance the insulating effects. A third layer was added to produce a tint, creating the effect of deep blue ocean water.
As evident from its first place finish, the judges were impressed with the project. “Yamaguchi’s work has the magic of pure architecture; it combines simplicity of form and management of light,” said judge Henry Cobb, one of the founding partners of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. “The project demonstrated that it is possible to build a link to a previous culture and still speak in your own voice.”
Exceptional merit in the commercial category was awarded to Massimo d ‘Alessandro and Associates of Rome. The architects created contemporary glass telephone booths in Rome using flat glass lites that were produced using laminated glass. The booths allow the surrounding historical buildings to be seen without visual impediment, while allowing full view of the booth’s
Two German firms were also awarded exceptional merit in the commercial category. Auer & Weber created a glass canopy at a bus station in Heilbronn, Germany, while Werner Sobek Ingenieure & Lamm, Weber, Donath created a glazed cable net structure linking buildings in Bad Neustadt, Germany.
Special recognition in the commercial category was bestowed upon Foster and Partners of London for its work on the British Library. The library was relocated in 1998, which presented an opportunity to recreate the courtyard of the British Museum. Foster and Partners seized this moment, and the two-acre space now serves as the museum’s hub and includes galleries, exhibition spaces, study rooms, shops and restaurants. Thinking ahead to situations of inclement weather, the architects covered the area with an undulating glazed roof. The roof has no detracting visual supports and the steel latticework supports 3, 312 triangular glass panels. Each of the panels is a different size and shape due to the roof’s complex geometric form.
Special recognition in the commercial category was also given to Petry & Wittfoht of Stuttgart, Germany, for creating a parking s tack in Frankfurt, Germany and Ten Architects of Mexico for their work in the Hotel Habita, Colonia Polanco in Mexico City. The latter was also awarded special recognition in the residential category for their work on a residence in Mexico.
Architects from the United States made their showing in the special recognition residential category. Vincent James Associates of Minneapolis and James Carpenter Design of New York City were recognized for their work on the Dayton House, a residence in the
Upper Midwest. The architects used glass to interweave the buildin g with the garden and large art collection. Four layers of 1/4-inch glass were laminated to form the double-layered insulating glass panels. Due to the glass thickness, “water clear” glass was used to maintain transparency and natural color transmission. Additionally, major portions of the window wall can be retracted horizontally to open the house to the adjacent garden.
Oklahoma Students Reign
In addition to the professional category, the Benedictus Awards also hosts a student competition. While U.S. firms weren’t prevalent in the professional categories, architectural students from the United States, along with their Asian counterparts, prevailed in this category. Actually, it was students from one U.S. school in particular, Oklahoma State University (OSU), that took home top honors. Entrants in this year’s competition were challenged to design a multipurpose entertainment retail facility on a given urban site or at a specific site of the student’s choosing.
Daniel Ralls, a fifth year architecture student at OSU won first prize, and $5,000, for his innovative use of laminated glass to design an underground complex. Ralls took his project 500-feet underground in an effort to conserve land. The use of laminated glass allows the space to be open and full of light while not allowing people to believe they are underground.
“Development is an answer to urban ground and air space—both valuable resources,” said one judge. “Th e exploration of possibilities of underground usage is tantalizingly interesting, coupled with the introduction of lighting underground spaces.”
Second prize, and $2,500 was awarded to students at Tianjin University in Tianjin, China. Third prize, and $1,500, was given to students at Tongji University in Shanghai. Of the three honorable mentions, two went to students at OSU while the third went to a student at the National University of Singapore.
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