INHABITAT: What were the challenges of this particular project?
John Wong: There were a number of challenges to address:
- Designing for a pedestrian friendly public space to a world-class destination;
- Complicated structure with highly programmed uses to accommodate;
- Time in that the design was developed while the structure was under construction; it went from Schematic Design to Construction Documents, all in 6 months;
- A fixed, already-set project budget to meet;
- Long list of coordination items with long list of consultants and contractors/subcontractors;
- Fixed design conditions – parking structures under construction while the surface is being designed; structure has limitation on load carrying on soil depth and weight of trees and proposed surface ground structure; fixed exiting stairways, intake and exhaust vents; fixed structural beams and girders to design around;
- Over 50% of the site design work is built on top of the building base structure – essentially the Tower Park is a garden park on top of the building roof; much of the area has limited soil depth; complicated coordination of surface drainage with the roof structure and with existing drainage and utilities;
- Wind and pockets of unusual turbulence at the ground to overcome and mitigate;
- Local and regional climate that has high scorching heat and extreme temperature(105 to 115 F degree/40 to 46 C), sun, muggy conditions and sand in the air; outside air exceeds human comfort much of the time; high glare from sun and reflection;
- Connectivity to the high-traffic of adjacent use and from the urban center;
- Environmental sustainability – water is scarce and precious; designing a state of the art irrigation system; select indigenous and low water/drought tolerant plant materials; using the recycling water from the tower’s cooling equipment for the irrigation of the landscape; reduce the heat island effects on the ground for natural air cooling with the extensive ground coverage of softscape and planting of an extensive tree canopy to create shade and mitigate glare.
- Limitation and available materials for the hardscape – local vs outsource, cost and fabrication; lack of craftsman and knowledgable builders of complicated design; using mock-up and full time field representative as a way to control quality of construction; design details to enable local craftsmen to undertake it.