Cre­ative di­rec­tor Gra­ham Hill ex­plains the de­vel­op­ment of Unisphere’s cen­tre­piece, a 24-hour En­ergy Dial pro­ject­ing 40-foot beams of light

To­ward the end of the con­cept phase, we’d honed in on the cir­cu­lar mo­tif — it con­nected in so many ways to ideas we were play­ing with such as the Earth, com­pres­sion and ex­pan­sion, the Sun, breath­ing, life cy­cles, etc. It just felt right. We knew we needed our main ex­pres­sion to be big and we wanted some­thing mir­rored since that was a ma­te­rial that also felt right — some­thing that cre­ated a bold state­ment, but para­dox­i­cally re­flected what sur­rounded it. We knew we wanted to cre­ate some­thing that pulsed, felt alive and re­lated to what United Ther­a­peu­tics does as a com­pany.

With th­ese pa­ram­e­ters, our ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pert David Lehman started ex­plor­ing the form it­self. While we landed pretty quickly on the re­peat­ing blade pat­tern, we grad­u­ally sim­pli­fied the func­tion­al­ity un­til it was ab­so­lutely clear. The lights at each point of the dial an­i­mate and il­lu­mi­nate out­wards when the build­ing is cre­at­ing sur­plus en­ergy, and in­wards when it is con­sum­ing en­ergy. And there is a spe­cial cus­tom dis­play to in­di­cate when it’s so­lar noon. It’s as sim­ple as that. A beau­ti­ful, peace­ful, ev­er­p­re­sent re­minder to ev­ery oc­cu­pant that they are all part of the same sys­tem work­ing to­gether to achieve a goal of net zero.

Be­cause we were in­volved early on in the project, noth­ing had been built and we were able to de­fine the scale and form of el­e­ments like the En­ergy Dash­board. While the touch screen was needed to al­low vis­i­tors to move through lev­els of in­for­ma­tion, we also needed to cre­ate a sin­gle, bold ges­ture that moved down the hall­way. It had to draw peo­ple in, and com­mu­ni­cate in­for­ma­tion about en­ergy gen­er­a­tion and us­age at a glance. We ex­plored the idea of us­ing ar­chi­tec­tural glass as a way to cre­ate a dig­i­tal sur­face that felt like it was or­ganic. By po­si­tion­ing low-res LED pan­els be­hind the tex­tured glass we were able to cre­ate what is es­sen­tially a dy­namic, re­spon­sive bar graph that stretches over al­most the en­tire length of the hall­way.

Through­out the project, we re­ceived con­stant feed­back from both our clients and the en­gi­neers who de­vel­oped the build­ing to make sure we were true to its func­tion and its mes­sage. Af­ter build­ing up a solid amount of mu­tual trust and re­spect, we be­came quite transparent and open in our cre­ative process and in re­turn were af­forded quite a bit of aes­thetic and tech­ni­cal free­dom.

THE VERDICT Thomas Kauf­man, United Ther­a­peu­tics

I think we achieved our goal of cre­at­ing a medium for Unisphere to com­mu­ni­cate its tech­ni­cally com­plex, sus­tain­able mis­sion in a man­ner that is in­spir­ing, ed­u­ca­tional and beau­ti­ful.

It was an in­cred­i­ble hon­our and a lot of fun to lead such a di­verse team of ex­perts to de­liver a very tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing, cre­ative and beau­ti­ful fi­nal prod­uct. We had to fig­ure out how to in­te­grate over 11,000 de­vices in a sin­gle build­ing au­to­ma­tion sys­tem, how to se­curely and re­li­ably ex­tract use­ful data from this sys­tem, how to use that data to cre­ate im­pact­ful vi­su­al­i­sa­tions within an al­ready com­plete ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign, and fi­nally how to con­struct th­ese unique, cus­tom in­stal­la­tions.

We de­sign and con­struct th­ese in­cred­i­ble fa­cil­i­ties be­cause we see our build­ings as phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of our val­ues and as strate­gic as­sets in the ef­fort to recruit and re­tain the best and bright­est. Largely be­cause of HUSH’s in­cred­i­ble work, there is no bet­ter ex­am­ple of a build­ing rep­re­sent­ing our val­ues than Unisphere.

“From the be­gin­ning, we ap­proached this project from a con­tent-first per­spec­tive”

04-05 A hu­man heart and lungs ren­dered us­ing light ef­fects com­bine with sig­nage for the tox­i­co­log­i­cal tri­als de­part­ment. Both were de­signed by HUSH to form part of a wall mu­ral.06 The main hall­way fea­tures an ar­chi­tec­tural glass in­stal­la­tion that dou­bles as an in­fo­graphic. Peo­ple in the build­ing can choose which an­a­lyt­i­cal data about the build­ing’s en­ergy sta­tus is dis­played.07 An ebb and flow di­a­gram was acted as ref­er­ence dur­ing the de­vel­op­ment of 04 the main En­ergy Dial in­stal­la­tion.08-10 Di­a­grams and ty­pog­ra­phy helped con­vey the build­ing’s net zero ethos ef­fec­tively. 11 The build­ing’s ex­te­rior is in­spir­ing in it­self, with so­lar pan­els to gen­er­ate en­ergy and per­fo­rated shades that al­low light in. This mech­a­nism also helps con­trol heat and re­duce the need for air con­di­tion­ing dur­ing sum­mer.


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