School of Architecture, FIU
Florida International University is located in Miami, a city that combines glamor with commerce and is situated at the epicenter of a zone of influence that extends into the Carribean and South America. For the new School of Architecture at FIU, Bernard Tschumi Architects focused on the design of communal space as a way to activate the student body and promote discussions and interactions that extend beyond the classrooms and studios. The scheme consists of two sober wings made of a simple structural pre-cast concrete arranged around a central courtyard filled with colorful “generators.” These consist of a court of palm trees and two discrete structures that are connected to the rest of the school by walkways at different levels. The structures, covered in bright variegated tiles and twisted slightly to contrast with the rectilinear forms of each wing, contain the public programs of the building: a reading room, gallery, lecture hall, and a multi-use terrace. more
The courtyard becomes a central forum for planned and unplanned activities and adds cost-efficient usable space to the plan arrangement. Above this, walkways connect the wings with the generators in a way that helps shade the courtyard during the morning and late afternoon, responding to the hot local climate with a practical and ecologically sensible solution. The constant movement of students on the shaded steps lends the court a sense of liveliness and dynamism.
The major challenge of this project was the need to balance the extremely low budget of $130 per square foot against the architectural ambitions set by the university. Most ductwork, conduits, sprinklers, and even acoustical baffles had to remain exposed for reasons of cost. Although the main expense was the building’s enclosure, by combining structure and envelope in a single material—pre-cast concrete—the firm was not only able to meet the cost parameters, but succeeded in taking advantage of precast technology in an original way. back
Competition 1st prize, 1999
102,000 sq. feet
Florida International University
Lead Designer: Bernard Tschumi. Key Personnel: Anne Save de Beaurecueil, Johanne Riegels Oestergaard, Valentin Bontjes van Beek, Joel Rutten, Robert Holton, William Feuerman, Roderick Villafranca, Kim Starr, Peter Cornell, Kevin Collins, Tom Kowalski, Andrea Day.
Associate Architects: BEA International: Bruno Elias-Ramos, Gustavo Berenblum back