Icon Architecture, Architectural Discussion, Article, Building, Projects, Design

Icon Building : Architectural Discussion

Architecture Discussion by Clare Smith

16 Nov 2010

Architecture Discussion


An icon is the snapshot of the Eiffel tower that pops in your head when someone mentions Paris. Or is the graphic on your desktop that is instantly recognizable and needs no words. It is what symbolizes ideas and beliefs. An icon is not designated by a single person but rather is recognized by the masses.

Clare Smith:
Icon Building Clare Smith

Suters Architects were asked by the Latrobe City Council to create an icon for the Churchill Community Hub in terms of a sustainable design.

Churchill Community Hub
picture : Emma Cross

Their design uses technology to harvest rainwater and solar energy. The design also aims to be a social icon in the variety of programs housed in the facility. Social services for adults and groups for children are mixed with a community library, community kitchen and offices.

This project brings to the forefront the fact that the role of the library within a community is currently in flux. As the library witnesses the increasing digital age, there is the realization that the community still needs a place to congregate – a place to be.

The library is not a quiet place for dusty books but rather is the potential center, or hub, of the community. Suters’ Community Hub is bold and bright. The placement and interaction of the various programmatic elements encourages the mix and cross-fertilization of activities, people and ideas.

Hyundai was looking for a structure to house a showroom and offices – on a tight three month construction schedule – Hyundai Pavilion São Paulo.

Hyundai Pavilion São Paulo Brasil
photograph : Leonardo Finotti

Spadoni & Associates Arquitetura created a design which is essentially two volumes overlaid with the Hyundai logo floating in front. The efficiency of the structure allows it to melt away. The end result is the unmistakable logo and the focus on the slick and shinny automobiles in the showroom. In this instance, the architecture itself is not the icon, but rather is a vehicle for it.

Foster + Partners’s Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is an expansion to an icon. The challenge of adding an extension to a cultural institution, such as the MFA, can be controversial. Should the new wing echo the existing or contrast it? Debates ensue.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston
image : Nigel Young_Foster + Partners

The existing Museum of Fine Arts, designed by Guy Lowell 1870’s is based on a Beaus-Arts plan with a central axis. In subsequent renovations the main entrance was closed and circulation redirected. Foster + Partner’s reopened the main entrance this month and reinstated the central progression, an iconic sense of order in a Beaus-Art plan. Nods to the existing building are evident in the choice of cladding material. However, modifications to the existing building, such as enclosing the courtyard, reinvent the existing space and reconfigure its inhabitation.

The Battersea Power Station project in West London, was given the go ahead by the Wandsworth Council last week.

Battersea Power Station atrium
image from the architect

The master plan, designed by Rafael Viñoly, is the revitalization of this recognizable landmark. This site is iconic not only for the physical building but also for the concept of redeveloping structures we know must be preserved. The mixed-use plan includes shops, offices, leisure activates, and two new tub stops. The plant itself will also make energy, once again. Instead of billowing puffs of smoke, however, the two front chimneys will exhaust water vapor.

Clare Smith

Clare Smith holds a Master of Architecture from the University at Buffalo and a Bachelor of Art from New York University.

Clare has worked in the offices of Steven Holl in New York and David Morley in London.
Currently working in New York for David Smotrich & Partners on renovation and institutional projects in NYC.

At the University at Buffalo Clare was a Fred Wallace Brunkow Fellow 2006-2008.

Architectural Designs

Related Discussions on e-architect about Icon Buildings

Architecture Debate : article by e-architect editor Adrian Welch

Icon Architecture : article by Charles Blanc

Icon Buildings : article by Colin Gordon

Architecture Context : article by Trevor Tucker. 21 Sep 2010

Design Narrative : article by Lee Miles – 7 Sep 2010

Sustainable Buildings – Building Issues : article by Adrian Welch

Comments / photos for the Icon Building Architectural Discussion Article page welcome