Amenta Emma Architects

Symmetry Partners

Glastonbury, USA - 2016
27. March 2017

Symmetry Partners

2016
Glastonbury, Connecticut

Client
Symmetry Partners, LLC

Architect
Amenta Emma Architects
Hartford, CT

Design Principal
Michael B. Tyre, AIA

Project Architect
Ryan Schicker, AIA

Project Manager
Michael B. Tyre, AIA

Project Team
Samantha Amoroso, Whitney Allison, Rebekah Reid, Mallory Hudak

Structural Engineer
Edward Stanley Engineers

Contractor
Carlin Construction

Expanded Metal Mesh
Amico Global

Cor-Ten Steel Cladding
MetalTech USA

Engineered Flooring
Somerset Hardwood Flooring

Acoustic Foam Wedges
Soundproof Cow

High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
Nevamar

Photographs
Robert Benson Photography

Drawings
Amenta Emma Architects
An expanded metal screen outside and nested wood boxes inside: these are the most visible architectural elements in Amenta Emma Architects' transformation of a data center into an office space. Beyond those material applications, it's the new windows and sawtooth skylights that make the most dramatic effects, turning the previously windowless building into what looks like a pleasant work environment. The architects answered a few questions about the project.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
Our client saw our work in town – a dramatic reinvention of an old, dilapidated structure into a vibrant contemporary building – and reached out to us directly about helping them renovate their building. After developing a concept study showing what might be possible in transforming their building, we were hired over several other architects for the job.
Please provide an overview of the project.
The building was a windowless data center, commonly referred to as “the bunker,” which sat vacant in Glastonbury, Connecticut, for several years. In this contemporary adaptive reuse, we were challenged to bring daylight deep into the 40,000 square-foot building and to stretch the budget with the creative use of raw, industrial materials. To bring light to the interior, new perimeter glazing and large, central skylights were incorporated as critical elements of the renovation.
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The interior of the project is designed to provide highly collaborative and flexible spaces for staff and visitors. Space is organized around the central skylights and a group of nested “boxes” that contain shared resources such as conference rooms, phone rooms and team spaces. Bench workstations and enclosed offices are arranged around the nested boxes and interstitial lounge spaces for informal meetings. Where data servers formerly sat atop a raised flooring platform, now exists the original sunken floor slab being used to delineate the communal spaces of the new office.
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
Because this project is ultimately about bringing daylight into a building, our design responded to the sun’s daily path and the given positioning of the existing structure. The two sawtooth skylights are oriented north to provide diffuse ambient light deep into the middle of the building, where the communal spaces of the office are located. New window glazing was added to the south and west facades allow for views, natural light and a connection to the outside. To negate the glare and heat gain these new windows would add, a sun screen – made from expanded metal, commonly used for grating – is folded across these two facades.
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?
The initial concept study called for a renovation of the entire 40,000-square-foot building – a portion of which was on the second floor. It was ultimately decided that, to allow room for future growth, only the ground floor would be renovated. The planned alterations to the building shell remained however and a roof deck that was part of the concept study was planned for a future expansion. The sun screen wrapping the building’s façade was designed to serve as a guardrail for the future roof deck.
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
This was a design-build project in which the construction partner was a part of the design team throughout much of the project. This allowed our team to provide our client with a fixed budget for construction that the design would work within. The immediate feedback on cost and constructability was essential to an iterative design process and to the confidence of our client.
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?
The clever use of materials not commonly deployed in architectural design is another aspect of this transformation. The client wanted very much for the building and office environment to be “unexpected” and edgy. To achieve this, materials were selected both for their performative characteristics but also for their visual impression. The façade screen is made from industrial expanded metal, an inexpensive material that provides a distinct pattern to the outside of the building. Inside, engineered wood flooring was used for wall and ceiling cladding and foam sound wedges – often found in recording studios – were used for their acoustical and textural properties.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Site Plan
Section Perspective
Exploded Axonometric

Symmetry Partners

2016
Glastonbury, Connecticut

Client
Symmetry Partners, LLC

Architect
Amenta Emma Architects
Hartford, CT

Design Principal
Michael B. Tyre, AIA

Project Architect
Ryan Schicker, AIA

Project Manager
Michael B. Tyre, AIA

Project Team
Samantha Amoroso, Whitney Allison, Rebekah Reid, Mallory Hudak

Structural Engineer
Edward Stanley Engineers

Contractor
Carlin Construction

Expanded Metal Mesh
Amico Global

Cor-Ten Steel Cladding
MetalTech USA

Engineered Flooring
Somerset Hardwood Flooring

Acoustic Foam Wedges
Soundproof Cow

High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
Nevamar

Photographs
Robert Benson Photography

Drawings
Amenta Emma Architects

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