Casino-Holl designs lobby for Supercomputer in NY

Steven Holl Architects, the succesful designers of the new Casino Knokke, have completed a new floor for D. E. Shaw Research in New York. The 3000 square feet redesign for the 32nd floor includes a porous staircase and a glass enclosure which will accommodate a supercomputer designed to execute high-speed simulations of proteins and other biological macromolecules. As a concept for this project Steven Holl Architects studied soap bubbles and the way they mysteriously nest in clusters that always take the same angle of hexagonal geometry at 120 degrees. These hexagon patterns allow for the most effective connection of bubbles while minimizing the coverage area of the bubble cluster. The 32nd floor lobby-space joins two floors adjacent to the elevators and will give a glimpse of the supercomputer through faceted glass enclosure around it. The two sides of the faceted glass enclosure neutralize orientation and create a dynamic plane between the inside of the supercomputer space and the representational area surrounding it. Incorporated within this glass enclosure are monitors that will allow visitors to observe the motion of simulated proteins, drugs, and other molecules in real time. A staircase in the center of the space is shaped as a warped hexagon in plan. Utilizing digitally coordinated fabrication techniques, the folded and perforated planes of steel of the staircase are laser cut directly from the architect’s drawings, exploring limits of fine grain porosity. The patterns of the staircase are inspired by the geometries and mathematics used by the supercomputer to tackle large-scale computational problems. An aggregate of oblong slots that occasionally overlap and connect to form “L”-shapes show how shapes can intertwine to form new patterns of legible compositions. Steven Holl Architects has realized cultural, civic, academic and residential projects both in the United States and internationally. Steven Holl is a tenured Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. In 1976 he founded Steven Holl Architects, which has now offices in New York and Beijing with a staff of 63. Currently under construction is the Linked Hybrid mixed-use complex (Beijing, China) which made it to the third project in TIME magazine’s list of upcoming Architectural Marvels of 2007, the Nanjing Museum of Art and Architecture (Nanjing, China), the Vanke Center (Shenzhen, China), Beirut Marina (Beirut, Lebanon), and the Herning Center of the Arts (Herning, Denmark). In September 2007 Steven Holl Architects opened the renovation of the Interiors for the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science at New York University (NYU). Recently the office has won a number of international design competitions including Herning Center of the Arts (Herning, Denmark), Cité du Surf et de l’Océan (Biarritz, France), Sail Hybrid (Knokke-Heist, Belgium), Meander (Helsinki, Finland) and Vanke Center (Shenzhen, China). D. E. Shaw Research ("DESRES") is an independent research laboratory that conducts basic scientific research in the field of computational biochemistry under the direct scientific leadership of Dr. David Shaw. DESRES is currently focusing primarily on molecular simulations involving proteins and other biological macromolecules of potential interest from both a scientific and a pharmaceutical perspective. The group includes computational chemists and biologists, computer scientists and applied mathematicians, and computer architects and engineers, all working collaboratively within a tightly coupled interdisciplinary research environment. Current activities range from the design of specialized, massively parallel supercomputers and numerical algorithms for ultra-high-speed molecular dynamics simulations to the use of such simulations to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of cancer and other diseases.