How do we express Life Science on the exterior of a building? How is biology, chemistry, molecular research expressed in geometry the medium of architecture? Gensler embarked in collaboration with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the landlord, and Lilly, the tenant, on a search for the architectural expression of the entrance. Together we looked at hexagons for chemistry, abstracted murals of plants to scientists and graphic representations DNA and scientific research. The design challenge was to define the entrance in its original location to be visible from the approach and at the same time to announce the program inside.
The screen itself is 145 feet long and 45 feet tall with the bottom of the screen 26’ above the ground.
The entry pattern is based on the graphic genome representation of stripes of varying thickness. The variation of the stripe width is created in our case by the rotation of the 1900 fins. The degree of the rotation is based on the desired visual transparency from the social and meeting spaces behind it. The screen shields from the southwestern sun and directs the views to points of interest at the horizon away from the parking below. The pattern, like the genome pattern, appears random or complex but follows a straight forward, purposeful underlying logic.
How do you integrate the branding identity into the DNA of the screen? Silver is the screens main color and reinforces the powerful juxtaposition of the screen to the dark graphite color of the main building. Lilly’s brand color is red and the silver is an excellent background for the Lilly sign to be read. But can the corporate identity be an integral part of the screen, making it a Lilly veil not just a genome screen. The plan geometry and the rotation of the fins allow the backside of the screen to be read from the public side. Making the Lilly or interior facing side red creates just enough Lilly red to be understood but not overpowering on the outside.