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Krueck + Sexton's FBI building includes a sculptural glass facade and internal courtyards

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Contemporary H-shaped office building in restored Florida wetlands features a glass, multi-faceted facade

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The new Federal Office Building tenanted by the FBI has a modest footprint, but thanks to its arresting form achieves a giant-sized presence. Developed with the General Services Administration (GSA) Design Excellence programme, the building had to at once reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigour, and stability of the US Government. Krueck + Sexton Architects delivered, literally from the ground up.

A major part of this project was indeed the ground – the original wetlands on the eight hectare site had been gravelled over. Restoring these to their original state provided both a beautiful setting and an eloquent way of showing the importance the Government places on our natural heritage, says Mark Sexton, lead design principal on the project.

"The H-shaped building is an ever-changing picture of hundreds of unitised glass sections that reflect the passing skies. Each unit is designed to resist anything from the rigour of Florida hurricanes to bomb blasts and can be individually replaced.

The glass units work hard in other ways, too. Various glass coatings in combination with exterior perforated sun screens are fine-tuned to maximise interior illumination while controlling excessive perimeter glare and greatly reducing solar gain.

In terms of aesthetics, the glass facade has been painstakingly shaped by Krueck + Sexton Architects over months on the drawing board. The result is the look of a smooth, faceted gem cracked open to reveal the building's two internal courtyards with folded and refolded inner walls. And the elaborate skin not only offers variety of form to the onlooker, it also creates myriad vistas for the six- and seven-storey buildings' 1000 staff when looking out.


In terms of sustainability and staff comfort, the building is equally progressive on the interior. The two relatively narrow 20m-wide arms of the H ensured light penetration right into the heart of the offices. And while there are private meeting spaces – after all this is the FBI HQ – most dividing walls are kept low and services are pushed to the centre, factors that optimise natural light on the interior.

In regard to interior use, the perimeters are reserved for circulation, while offices and meeting spaces are spread through the building. Some of the conference rooms are located in the connecting bridge, or bar of the H, which looks out to the two semi-enclosed courtyards. Located at the four tips of the H, the fire stairs act as thermal breaks without affecting worker comfort if the temperature rises a degree or two.

"We were really pleased to have Gensler involved as a great partner and as the architect of record on this project," says Sexton. "They worked with us to support our design intent with many quite tricky features," says Sexton.

As part of a GSA Art-in-Architecture programme, a seven metre tall cedar sculpture by German-born, Brooklyn-based Ursula von Rydingsvard is situated in the entry lobby atrium. Ascending the lobby staircase, staff and visitors get up close and personal with the artwork.

While the building's dramatic skin mitigates heat gain and glare the design has other green features.

Photovoltaic rooftop systems provide for nearly 20% of the facility's energy use and the office building is set to achieve LEED Platinum Core and Shell certification. This adds to a wider campus initiative to achieve a net-zero energy goal by 2030.

"In conclusion, we could have easily designed this building in a different footprint – long and narrow, or as a box-like structure," says Sexton. "However, that would have meant current and succeeding occupants looking at a monotonous form for a hundred years. Feeling good about your work environment is integral to staff heath and productivity, and this shapely, soft-curving shell with dynamic inner facades will always be a welcoming workplace."

First published date: 10 May 2016

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Credit List

Bridging design architect Krueck + Sexton Architects, lead design principal – Ron Krueck FAIA; project principal – Mark Sexton FAIA; design principal – Tom Jacobs AIA; project team Yugene Cha, Don Semple AIA, Jennifer Stanovich, Tim Tracey, Laura Fehlberg Mechanical engineer WSP Flack + Kurtz Structural engineer/building envelope consultant Thornton Tomasetti Electrical engineer WSP Flack + Kurtz Landscape architect Curtis + Rogers Design Studio Lighting Designer George Sexton Associates Environment /High Performance Consultant Atelier Ten Fire proof engineers WSP Flack + Kurtz Protective design Hinman Consulting Engineers Fire protection and life safety Rolf Jensen & Associates Security systems SAKO & Associates Acoustical, A/V and IT Dugger & Associates Vertical transportation Jenkins & Huntington Cost Consultant Toscano Clements Taylor Architect of record Gensler General contractor Hensel Phelps, Derek Hoffine Design build architect
Gensler principal and technical director – Donald Ghent AIA; principal in charge – James Wallace AIA, principal, design director – Peter Stubb, AIA; principal, design director workplace – Chris Banks, AIA; senior project manager – Joseph Jansen Interior Designer Gensler Mechanical engineer Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. Structural engineer Walter P. Moore Electrical Engineer Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. Civil Engineer Atkins Geotechnical engineer Professional Service Industries (PSI) Construction Manager Jacobs Landscape architect Atkins Lighting designer Syska Hennessy Group Blast analysis Hinman Consulting Engineers
Roofing GAF EverGuard TPO
Glass curtain wall Viracon
Sun shades Element; Enclos
Structural steel Steel, LLC
Operable walls Operable partitions by Hufcor Carpet Carpet tiles by Milliken, Tandus Flooring, Shaw Contract Group, and Bentley
Ceilings Armstrong
Elevator Cab by Otis, interior by Cab Co Elevator
Frameless glass office partitions GGD Industries
Flooring Resilient tile by Mannington; sheet vinyl by Armstrong; resilient base by Johnsonite; anti-static flooring by Roppe; Access Flooring by Haworth; rubber flooring by Eco Surfaces; terrazzo by Terroxy
Paints and finishes Sherwin Williams; Tnemec