Kind of Like An Inverted but Sophisticated Lite-Brite

stained glass perpendicular to the window

layered translucent color panels

While we’re on the topic of color (see yesterday’s post) there’s this lovely research center up in Canada that uses translucent layers of colors as part of the project’s exterior. The colors make the building look happy rather than institutional. Designed by MCM Partnership, the Child and Family Research Institute carries out translational research about a whole host of disorder and diseases that are no fun at all: obesity, diabetes, and childhood infectious/inflammatory diseases.  No thanks.

While most of the project’s materiality is naturally or neutrally-colored concrete, stone, wood or metal, there are repeated moments where brighter colors literally shine into the project. In the top photo, you can see the stained-glass fins that sit perpendicular to the windows. I’m not sure if you would still call them shadows, but the resulting colored parallelograms of light move across the building’s surface throughout the day; when the shadows are long, they overlap and make other colors. In the lower picture, there’s a slightly more complex wall construction where clear glass windows are set into a translucent polycarbonate wall with a random distribution of colored polycarbonate panels. It’s an effect precedented at the Laban Dance Centre by Herzog and de Meuron. For the CFRI, the use of color is pretty smart if you ask me: it invigorates an otherwise fairly neutral project and continually changes throughout the day, briefly making a spectacle of the southern face before sunset.

And while diseases are not fun, this building is seeking an antidote inside and out.


January 26, 2011