Alto El Golf
18. May 2015
The glass box is the default form for office buildings in the 21st century, meaning that detailing and articulation – glass surfaces, spandrels, and mullions – are the most important means of expression. But what if a glass box is malleable? Handel Architects' design for an 18-story office building in Santiago, Chile, takes a glass box and shifts sections of it to create terraces that give employees outdoor space they wouldn't otherwise have. The architects answered a few questions about the project.
View east across Avenida Vitacura
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
We received this commission based on our relationship with the owner of the site, for whom we have completed previous projects in Santiago.
View north along Avenida Vitacura
Please provide an overview of the project.
This 118,000 sq. ft. (11,000 m²) office building is located in the El Golf section of Santiago. The 18-story structure includes two levels of retail at the base and seven levels of below grade parking.
View south along Avenida Vitacura
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The site is surrounded by streets on three sides, generating an isle condition with ideal sun and visual exposures. The tower is subdivided into six, staggered rectilinear volumes, individually offset to respond to local climate and mitigate solar heat gain. In this way, a traditionally static office program was morphed into a dynamic sequence of indoor/outdoor, exposed/recessed and semi-public/private spaces on multiple floors.
View southwest from Calle Luz
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The city of Santiago has grown significantly over the past 20 years and the need for contemporary office structures has follow suit. With the increase of corporations establishing headquarters in the city, the need for Class-A office space has been in high demand. Alto El Golf is a project that meets this need through several key elements:
• The smaller floor plates allow natural light to infiltrate the majority of the spaces throughout each floor.
• The open floor plan offers a 360-degree view of the city of Santiago and Andes Mountains from the entire floor.
• Terraces on the offset floors allow for creative interior space planning by offering conference rooms or employee lounge areas that spill into outdoor space.
• The top floor space includes a terrace that wraps the entire floor, a unique and desirable amenity for a corporate headquarters.
Walking along Avenida Vitacura to Main Entrance
How did you approach designing for Santiago/Chile and how would you describe the process of working on the project there?
Santiago has a mild climate and the Chileans embrace nature and the outdoors. This led us to rethink the standard office typology. A series of irregularly scaled, shifted volumes replaces the static hierarchies of the hermetic box, creating a variety of outdoor terraces that allow for greenery and social interaction. The building also represents our thinking on the changing nature of the workplace environment, where utilizing these types of spaces is an integral part of daily life.
Detail of Entrance from Avenida Vitacura
Similar to our past experiences we found the process of working in Santiago to be very rewarding. The guidelines and restrictions are clearly defined allowing us to be thoughtful and clear within our design intent. We found planners to be amenable to creative solutions and willing to make necessary adjustments to better the project. Similar to how we design in the U.S., we start by showing various schemes and studies in order to demonstrate that we have taken into consideration the site variables and urban condition. The process, one of clear communication and thoughtfulness, has allowed us to reach our objectives and final design aspirations with great success.
View of Lobby
How would you describe the architecture of Santiago/Chile and how does the building relate to it?
Santiago is an incredibly vibrant metropolitan city with a great appreciation for culture, arts and nature. Surrounded by the mountains of the Andes, the city has slowly grown its commercial and residential projects vertically, taking advantage of the unprecedented views. Most of this growth has occurred over the past 20 years and the architecture has been contemporary in style. Alto El Golf is in an area that has realized this growth and the project is very much in keeping with the modern style and scale that the area is known for. The exterior skin of the project is constructed as a floor-to-ceiling curtainwall system which allows for maximizing the infiltration of natural light and capturing as many unobstructed views as possible. The fenestration on the glass wall is delineated in a very contemporary expression of vertical fins on two varying rhythmic patterns, creating visual interest across the pattern.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Avenida Vitacura Elevation
Ground Floor Plan
Typical Tower Plan
Penthouse Floor plan
Alto El Golf2014
New York, NY, USA
Santolaya Ingenieros Consultores S.A.
Gormaz y Zenteno Ltda.
Empresa Constructora SIGRO S.A.