Newbuild on the campus of the University of Michigan, USA

The architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC chose natural red terracotta panel elements, some installed upright, in a rain screen for the facades of the Ross School of Business. While some of the façades are closed, others are designed with open column structures, interspersed with imposing glass cubes. The elementary contrast between the red clay elements and transparent glass surfaces is the signature of this new university building. From the apparently solid ground floor clad with sandstone slabs, cubic shapes cut in and tower up with increasing transparency as the building rises up.The clay façades are arranged ornamentally in projecting and recessed sections, with a lively relief thanks to different surface finishes, smooth or structured. This dissolve as they rise into slender, support like columns that hold glass surfaces framed in matt aluminium. The changing play of light over the course of the day modulates the three dimensionality of the clay façade, lending it impressive vibrancy: smooth panels alternating with lamella structures slanted alternately towards the left or right make the red brick appear in different shades. Filigree vertically arranged brick “baguette” shapes shade the windows in their deep bays.

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