In January, the big-name architects behind 1 World Trade Center rolled into the International Builders Conference with researchers from a small lab in Tennessee. They brought with them a most unusual building, a white tubelike structure that looked something like the convergence of an Airstream and a fish. It had ribs and gills and a slick black SUV like a Jeep. It looked like a Conestoga wagon from the future.
AMIE is the result of a collaboration between the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture and Design, and architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The goal, says Phil Enquist, a partner at SOM who oversees the firm’s urban planning group, was to explore “larger urban applications around energy.”