‘Structurally Iconic and Urbanistically Enriching’: Exchange House

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the recipient of its prestigious 25-Year Award for 2015, SOM’s Exchange House. Below are comments about the project from the jury.

“Exchange House at the Broadgate development in London, England is a structurally iconic and urbanistically enriching architectural resolution. It was a compelling response to the embedded urban dilemma caused by the dense concentration of railroad tracks feeding into busy Liverpool Street Station, disrupting the neighborhood’s delicate urban fabric, and creating a harsh utilitarian barrier that deterred future development.”

“To overcome those embedded urban liabilities, Exchange House was developed within the valuable airspace above the tracks. The project embraced the technical challenge of having the building actually bridge the broad expanse of tracks below by developing a unique and efficient tied arch structural system, which also suspended an open entry plaza and pubic courtyard at the building’s first floor, profoundly enhancing the urban condition.”

“The project’s bold and benevolent urban gesture has also served as the primary stimulus for the extensive neighborhood redevelopment that continues even to this day. The structural and urban concepts integrated within the project were expressed with an inevitable clarity and pragmatic elegance that even after twenty-five years, continues to highlight the entire urban setting that it helped generate.”