- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Brandon Bagley
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
For 37 years, JAHN Architecture has been an architectural firm that has been involved in the sustainable design of buildings all over the world. Headquartered in Chicago, with offices in China and Germany, JAHN has been at the forefront of the industry shifting from a formal approach to a more conscious approach to the use of energy and the integration of technology.
JAHN was founded in 1979 by Helmut Jahn, a German-American architect. Born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1940, Jahn immigrated to the United States in 1966 to study architecture at the University of Illinois. Since founding JAHN, he has grown the firm into a global architectural practice that consistently ranks among the top 20 United States architectural firms in terms of gross annual billings.
The Sony Center
Francisco Gonzalez, president of JAHN, joined the company in 2000. While he was beginning his tenure with the firm JAHN had one project under contract. That project, known as the Sony Center, is a building complex located at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. It was opened in 2000 and houses Sony’s European headquarters. The 1.4 million-square-foot center was a part of a redevelopment effort when Potsdamer Platz became a focus of attention following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Sony Center became the one of the first projects that JAHN completed where it incorporated what it calls its “archi-neering” approach. By fusing the words “architecture” and “engineering,” archi-neering is a method of early collaboration on projects through dialogue with consultants on the latest trends in civil engineering in order to define what a building will become. “In the context of the Sony Center it was very important to create an aesthetic that remain linked to the city,” Gonzalez explains.
Included in the Sony Center is a mixture of shops, restaurants, a conference center, hotel rooms, luxurious rented suites and condominiums and a “Sony-style” store. Being responsible for the design of the numerous buildings of the Sony Center made the project an ambitious venture for JAHN. The Sony Center was considered a milestone for the company not only for the completion of the complex, but also because the Sony Center represented the emergence of mixed-use commercial and retail projects that are performance-based structures.
Starting with the Sony Center, JAHN has worked to develop what it calls the “aesthetic of construction.”
“We have consistently been involved in applying industrial material to buildings and looking for ways to make them perform the best,” says Gonzalez. “With that, we have focused on how to mix technology performance with low-energy consumption.”
Healthy spaces to live, work and play
With an innovative approach to design and sustainability, JAHN has completed many projects over the years including Post Tower, which is the headquarters of the logistic company Deutsche Post DHL. Completed in 2002, Post Tower has a climate-control concept that includes natural ventilation regulated by venetian blinds. The north-facing windows at the front are smooth while the south-facing windows are gently sloping to allow better airflow. Via a decentralized underground convector, the external air is sucked in from the space between the facades, conditioned and fed back into the offices. The air also reaches internal areas of the building through doors and corridors.
An upcoming project for JAHN involves the design of a 16,000-seat baseball park in Mexico City. With ambitious sustainability factors included, the stadium will be the country’s first facility to achieve triple zero sustainability, which means it will consume zero net energy, produce zero landfill waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Due to the traditionally high amount of energy consumed in a baseball stadium, JAHN is taking many steps to combat the consumption of water and electricity used. “It rains a lot in Mexico City so we are going to use 10 large canopies to collect the rainwater,” Gonzalez explains. “This water will be used to supply the lavatories and kitchens.”
Artificial turf will be used for the playing field at the park in an effort to cut down on maintenance as well as a landscape design that requires minimal irrigation. The ballpark is also being integrated into the community with interactive aspects such as batting cages that are open to the public. “We’re calling it a park because of all of the public components that are important for the urban life of the area,” says Gonzalez. “Typically, stadiums can be very isolating. They contain big walls that separate it from the rest of the community. It was very important to me to create the opposite effect. I wanted to create a building that is very open and connected.”
Open yet connected spaces are essential to JAHN’s signature design as the company continues to integrate sustainability goals in projects. By connecting people and utilizing energy saving tactics, JAHN Architecture will remain one of the top international firms for creating live-work-play space.
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