New Beijing Poly Plaza
China Poly, a major state-owned company with influence in many market sectors, wanted to create a new landmark headquarters complex that, through its quality and mix of public and commercial uses, would establish a civic presence reminiscent of Rockefeller Center in New York. The new 100,000-square-meter headquarters sits opposite the existing headquarters building, on a prominent intersection along Beijing’s Second Ring Road, northeast of the Forbidden City. With its program of office space, retail, restaurants, and the Poly Museum, which houses one of the most important collections of bronze antiquities in the country, the new headquarters reflects the project’s public mission. The building’s simple, monolithic triangular form is based on an L-shaped office plan enclosed by an expansive, glass cable-net wall. The bars of office space align with the surrounding development while the large atrium looks outward to the intersection and the existing China Poly building beyond. The design moderates Beijing’s often-extreme climate in two ways. The northeast-facing atrium encloses and protects the offices on the interior of the “L," while admitting ample natural light. On the exterior, the fin-wall, brise-soleil shades the floor-to-ceiling windows, tempering the direct south and west sun without compromising views. Smaller atriums cut into the bars of office space provide views through the building and allow more natural light in. The integration of architecture and engineering is expressed most strongly in the dramatic cable-net wall enclosing the main atrium, which, at roughly four times the size of the cable-net wall at New York’s Time Warner Center, is one of the largest such enclosures in the world. Conventional thinking would have sought to support the glass wall as a single plane using bulky trusses that would have disrupted the sense of transparency. Instead, a cable-net wall that offers a heighten sense of connection between the atrium and the City, is folded and stabilized by a formidable V-cable, which is counterweighted by the suspended lantern-like museum. The V-cable is attached to the lantern using a specially designed pulley mechanism that allows the main cable to compensate for movement during a seismic event, giving more or less slack to accommodate displacement. Folding the cable-net wall over the V-cable reduces the deflection caused by high winds"and therefore the heft of the supporting cable"while adding a faceted dimension to the enclosure. The suspended lantern’s delicate and luminous qualities call attention to the Poly Museum. The lantern’s pleated glass exterior reflects and refracts light, while within, bronze-clad walls enclose the exhibition spaces. Public circulation areas and custom designed lighting occupy the space between the bronze and glass walls, adding to the play of light and shadow.


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