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Re-appreciating infrastructure by Urbana Architects

How can something as dull as a parking structure be a dynamic peace of public art? Well, that was the challenge that was presented to  Urbana Architects by the Eskenazi Hospital, which they accepted. However, the thought of creating a kinetic moving facade was out of the picture due to the maintenance problems that would’ve been much harder to handle with the weather patterns of Indianapolis. So to solve the problem, Urbana decided to use these weather patterns to their favor…


 Courtesy of Serge Hoeltschi

According to Urbana Architects, this project began with an interest in challenging the typical notion of the parking structure as an unappreciated infrastructural typology by transforming the new Eskenazi Hospital parking structure into a binary, synthetic terrain. During the design process, an interest in camouflage evolved into an approach that would create a very large dynamic, interactive element for the City.  Rather than an actively kinetic approach, with all of the inevitable maintenance and longevity concerns that accompany those types of project, we were instead working towards an approach that capitalizes on the fact that most viewers would, themselves, be moving on bicycles or in automobiles.  Thus, the design ultimately became something that offers a degree a variability of color and form as one passes by the project.  The awareness of this, interestingly enough, occurs whether someone is directly watching or even just seeing it out of their periphery of vision.


 Courtesy of Serge Hoeltschi

The effect of a field of 7,000 angled metal panels in conjunction with an articulated east/west color strategy creates a dynamic façade system that offers observers a unique visual experience depending on their vantage point and the pace at which they are moving through the site. In this way, pedestrians and slow moving vehicles within close proximity to the hospital will experience a noticeable, dappled shift in color and transparency as they move across the hospital grounds, while motorists driving along W. Michigan Street will experience a faster, gradient color shift which changes depending on their direction of travel.


 Courtesy of Serge Hoeltschi


To facilitate the effect, a total of 18 different panels sizes/angles are used throughout. They range from 300mm tall x 600mm long to 300mm tall x 1m long. There approximately 7,000 of these panels. The color scheme is quite simple as the west side received a deep blue color, while the east side receives a golden yellow color. The angles, alone, create the illusion of different hues. (18.5m H x 75m W x 1.5m D)


 Courtesy of Urbana Architects


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