The Invisible Building

A building that merges with its environment? That's nothing! It continues until the end of the article and you will see the past and the future.

Cira Centre, Philadelphia
Cira Centre, Philadelphia
Cira Centre, Philadelphia. Click to learn more about solar control

Hi, the invisibility has always been an obsession in the humanity, it is a feature that has a lot to do with two issues of the psyche of the individual: his desire to go unnoticed and their interest in doing the impossible. You can imagine that I, Rodolfo, illustrious son of an ancient dynasty, do not understand of invisibility, and, in fact, I do not like (sincerity above all) so I am sceptic with this article (mine), clear that my reasons I have, and if not, time to time.

In my life as close that I had of the term was when I read «The Invisible Man» from Herbert George Wells, (H.G. Wells for the history), and I must say that I liked the book, clear that nothing to do with another of his famous hits: «The machine of the time»… brilliant! Now, we can understand (not without effort) that anyone who wants to stop being referred to, but why make a building which you cannot enjoy visually? (I warned you: I am sceptical).

Cira Centre, Philadelphia
Cira Centre, Philadelphia. Click to learn more about crystals

The Cira Centre is strategically located in the Philadelphia’s 30th Street station, and was a commercial success, because it was the first skyscraper of offices that was built in the city in more than one decade, because before being used already had hired 90 per cent of its surface with large companies and, no less important , because it adds two elements vital to this type of buildings: an excellent communication (you know, just above a station) and a visual impact of first (does not go unnoticed). The project manager could not be other than the venerable César Pelli, which has been reference of the architecture for several decades (see the Petronas towers).

The building counted with the collaboration of other architecture firm: Bower Lewis Thrower Architecs, which, in addition, projected the parking, the pedestrian bridge and the mezzanine of the SEPTA (Pennsylvania Southeast transport authority). But sure that you rubyour hands waiting for the numbers, here are: the building reaches 133 meters in height that are distributed in 29 plants with 68,000 square meters of surface. Its cost was 116 million dollars (107 million euros), has 14 elevators of high speed, two forklifts and the possibility of obtaining a 360 degree view (fantastic). The particularity that makes different to this construction of others of similar fracture is, of course, which is designed to evaporate with the external environment. So it is covered with a silvery glass curtain wall.

Cira Center, Philadelphia
Cira Centre, Philadelphia. Click for the latest solutions for glass

The work is chiselled with different angles so that you’ll never see two same facades. The optical effect will not let indifferent, this is achieved due to the use of (obvious) reflective glass, the use of supports of steel with only 7.5 inches of width and an illumination strategy. This strategy was coordinated with the Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design company using a system of 1,800 Leds (always leds) to illuminate the facade, hidden in shadow boxes, as a wallpaper behind the wall, where it are not visible from the outside and can create infinite compositions of colour and movement.

It also has an annex parking of nine floors below of ground with access to the dressing room of the building. The construction company told (Turner Construction) having a system of air gap of 100%, which is a very good news, the buildings with an envelope without openings require a foreign supply of clean and healthy air. The curtain wall is lined by high performance glass, which guarantees the solar protection, which reduces the need for cooling (a necessary savings).

Infinity Tower
Infinity Tower. Click to learn solar control solutions

Future of “the invisible building”
Here the narrative of the building «hard to see», now I’m going to talk briefly about the future, what is to come. And is that in South Korea have already begun to build a «new invisible building», using the more advanced techniques such as adding cameras displayed the environment in time real to distribute it in the reflective facade of the building. The designer is the team of the international GDS Architecture, with based in Pasadena.The building will have a whopping 450 meters of height (more or less) and will have the title of the sixth tower tallest in the world. Of course it will have the fully glazed surface, will be called «Tower Infinity» and will be the nightmare of the more specialized glass cleaner. The project also contemplates the realization of several buildings (surrounding the first) completely glazed, from the sky you will see a group of polyhedral crystals pulled in Korea (without words).

But the light does not come from the glass, or the sky, the light comes from Cambridge. On July 28, 2014 was published in the journal «Nature Communications» a scientific advancement of the Cambridge-Scientifics. Achieving the invisibility by creating Metamaterials with nanotechnology (of course). Using the light of the laser as a catalyst, they are implemented linked nanoparticles so they can refract light or (better) to disguise an object as if it were another. Personally this last possibility seems exciting: would you like your building to change of aspect to your own liking? Yes! As you can see, I don’t like the invisibility but I refuse not to the future. Bye bye.

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