When it comes to glamorized building types, cultural institutions (museums, concert halls, and their kin) get all the glory. But the workhorse architecture of the world—like data centers, recycling facilities, and parking garages, don't often get their due.
Enter Portland, Oregon-based architecture firm ZGF, which recently finished work on a new energy building in Palo Alto, California, on the Stanford University campus. Clocking in at a whopping 125,600 square feet, the building encompasses a soaring entry, offices, educational areas, and, centrally, an energy plant that produces heating and cooling for the university.
To lessen the visual impact of the sprawling building, which sits on nearly three acres, according to Dezeen, and was built as part of a university-wide initiative to clamp down on fossil fuel dependency, ZGF hid the elements of the structure behind a series of metal screens with varied levels of visual permeability: Some screens feature horizontal metal slats, other vertical panels spaced generously to provide glimpses in and views out.
There was also the issue of blending in with the historic character of the campus, the grounds of which were designed by landscape legend Frederick Law Olmsted (famed for his work on New York City's Central Park).
Inside, spaces for both work and gathering are light-filled and pleasant, far from what one may expect from an office building crossed with a power plant. It helps that natural light pours in—from the louvered roof over the entry pavilion, through glass windows, and between those metal screens in all their forms.