Andrew Blum, Office Upgrades
Examining the last century of the American ofﬁce, [Joseph] Filippelli identiﬁed a key moment when the workplace had taken a wrong turn: the postwar arrival of inoperable windows and complete HVAC systems, which standardized the atmosphere. It’s not typically put quite this way, but Filippelli’s notion was that when we standardized temperature, all the other elements of our environment followed. Ofﬁce workers were no longer masters of their own domains, but beholden to a set of optimized—and therefore standardized—conditions. It wasn’t about good or bad design, but merely the same design across a single space. “Nobody was really satisﬁed, because it was hitting that middle ground,” Filippelli says. “It’s hard to generalize for two people, let alone a group of people.”
The comfort-based approach he imagined cracks open the section of an ofﬁce building, with leasable modules that stretch between ﬂoors and ﬁt together, Jenga-like, forming “a ﬂuctuating gradient of vertically distributed atmospheres.” Of all the variables typically considered in new ofﬁce designs—break-out spaces and workbenches, elaborate kitchens and a library-like cocooning room—somehow the basic idea of temperature control has rarely entered the discussion, ostensibly imagined to be too expensive or difﬁcult to control. But by rearranging the space vertically, Filippelli convincingly shows that natural temperature gradients created by light and height can drive different kinds of programs: a “communal garden stair,” an “active-work table,” or a “single-occupancy modular ofﬁce pod.” There are allusions to touch-screen surfaces and “thermally active” materials, but for the most part, this workplace of the year 2020 could be built today. “I’m not pushing the envelope of anything we don’t have available,” Filippelli acknowledges. “I’m not using crazy technology where people are zipping around in little hovercrafts.” Yet it seems oddly ﬁtting that in a climate-obsessed future, our most pressing wish (and a workplace’s greatest perk) will be simple temperature control.
Craig Ellwood was a construction company created by Jon Nelson Burke and three partners in the 1940′s in Los Angeles. The name was chosen after a liquor store located in front of the firm offices and it lately became widely associated with many modernists buildings spread all over California. This success lead the firm’s “front-man” Burke to actually change his own name into “Craig Ellwood”, somehow literally embodying this fictious character.
The last architectural work attributed to Burke/Ellwood, before he retired in Italy starting a career in painting, is a 263,52 m x 43,92 m neutral plan spanning over a scenic landscape, a metallic structure reminding a stretched Miesian building.
The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is an inhabited infrastructure, a two level continuous floor filling the request for large and uninterrupted work spaces. The exposed steel structure becomes an actual bridge when it crosses a creek and a roadway, and you can actually “drive” under it in google maps