American inventors gave us airplanes, elevators, light bulbs, cellular phones, and countless other modern devices we take for granted. This July 4th, we’re celebrating that spirit of ingenuity with six architectural and urban projects that are pushing the envelope, whether that’s through cutting-edge technology or unprecedented design strategies.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) gave the new Los Angeles U.S. District Courthouse a simple yet powerful design: A cube of folded glass that seems to float above a recessed base. About 1,600 chevron-shaped units of high-performance, blast-resistant glass were craned into place, and nearly all of them have an inner baffle on the side that receives direct sunlight. That cuts solar gain by half, and a rooftop array of photovoltaic panels further reduces energy consumption. A soaring atrium with south-facing baffles channels light down to all 10 levels, including the 24 courtrooms on floors five through ten. “The whole building is about light,” said José Luis Palacios, design director at SOM with Paul Danna.