Christian Thomas Mueller
Advanced Design Studio: Shim, The Intercontinental Hotel
This proposal retains the existing Intercontinental Vienna Hotel (Holabird & Root, 1962) and resolves the brief’s programmatic additions with a new, mid-block building that creates two new gassen (alleys), enhancing connectivity between the Ringstrasse to the north and the residential neighborhood to the south. Rather than treating the entire block as a unified development, this proposal sees value in the heterogeneity of multiple buildings from different periods, and the liveliness of the public realm created at their interstices. As such, the proposal hopes to restore a human scale to a site currently defined by infrastructural and automotive-scaled boundaries, extending the medieval-derived Viennese urban fabric.
The multiple programmatic zones of the building – retail, residences, ice skating, conference – are deliberately scrambled in section, forcing new social adjacencies and interactions. The resulting complex – in contrast to the hermetic, self-contained bubble of the current Intercontinental – is a public promenade of seeing and being seen, that builds on the long tradition of other Viennese civic institutions like the Staatsoper. Likewise, the presently-consolidated activities of the Eislaufverein will be dispersed across the site to further activate the interior and exterior public spaces.
The Development of Modern Classicism: Sir John Soane’s Bank of England and Edwin Lutyens’s House of the Viceroy
The relationship between classicism and the architecture of authority would take a curious twist in the English context: a strain of vernacular classicism, developed in a highly personal manner, would become the face of British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Both Sir John Soane and Sir Edwin Lutyens developed highly personal formal idioms, a creativity perhaps fostered by their lack of academic training; each was highly synthetic in their influences and methods, and evinced a comfort with nuanced departures from the classical canon.
The architectural climax of both Soane’s Bank of England and Lutyens’ Viceroy’s House is a domed hall derived from the Pantheon. The domed form itself carries an embedded meaning, but is adapted from its origins as a religious temple to a political expression. Both architects strip the typology down to its elemental geometry, then reconstruct it in their own idiosyncratic manner. Our triptych model compares these manipulations of archetypal form and variations in entrance sequence and program. The first panel demonstrates the elemental geometry to which both Soane and Lutyens refer. The second panel examines the sectional and programmatic variations in each architect’s interpretation of this type, while the third panel studies the resulting effects on massing and detail.
The Golden Center at Yale
The central courtyard, open to the street, is an odd typology for New Haven, but its introduction here is a pleasant addition to the Yale architectural lexicon. It conveys a sense of welcome and openness that contrasts favorably with the generally forbidding, closed-court model of Yale’s residential colleges. Though the small plaza remains underused due to traffic noise, in this case it is enough that it succeeds symbolically.
The material palette of the Golden Center is rich, and contributes immensely to the building’s architectural success, tempering its severity in elevation. Flemish bond brickwork is inherited from Orr’s chapel, with its overtones of Nordic Classicism; periodic vertical shadow lines punctuate the façade. The fenestration expresses a staccato rhythm that nicely undercuts the monolithic bulk of the adjacent walls, and the stained-wood window casing exudes an inviting warmth. Given this, the limestone trim seems somewhat de trop, especially in its jarring relation to the much cooler marble trim of the original chapel. A particularly delightful detail is the cobbled strip of hardscape between the wall face and sidewalk; here, an ordinarily dead, trash-catching space is animated by alternating pavers extruded in a checkerboard pattern.
The interior spaces are well-designed and functional, if unexceptional. An airy dining hall nods to Aalto with its slatted-wood ceiling, and a cylindrical auxiliary worship space seems to take its inspiration from Saarinen’s chapel at M.I.T., with elongated candelabra in place of the original's suspended sculpture. A second-story terrace with wood trellis picks up on the Mediterranean theme suggested by the courtyard and squat belltower, wishful thinking though these features may be in the New Haven climate.