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Brandon Sampson’s Fifth Year Thesis at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo won the “Best of Show” Award this month. It addresses the┬ácontemporary urban condition of downtown Los Angeles and introduces a way to take advantage of its voided urban fabric. The Void Tower is a visionary and iconic project for downtown Los Angeles that brings together multiple different types of complex program to create a living, working and social place.

At the confluence of the financial and entertainment districts, this project absorbs and develops one the largest parking lots along Francisco Street and the 110 Freeway. In the most vertically dense part of downtown, this project proposes an idea for horizontal and vertical development that can be adapted to other static, urban voids in the city.

The design interests explored with this project were: contextual and formal development of a large complex program, the transition of a horizontal plinth to vertical high-rise program, and a subtractive design process to create dynamic spatial sequences and form. The landscape building forms that encompass the sloping urban park respond to urban, contextual, programmatic, and spatial conditions. The voids in the subtractive design process are emphasized at specific points where different programmatic elements meet and dynamic, transitional circulation occurs.

The idea of layered and voided programmatic strata influenced the design for the building envelope. The use of diagrid, secondary, and tertiary structural systems allows for a layered effect that changes the image of the building throughout the day. The double skin fa├žade was designed through specific environmental studies to determine the shifting pattern, density, light transmittance of the panels, and the glass treatment behind the system.

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