Prague, Czech Republic
Photo: Leonora Prowell
The building, popularly known as the "Ginger & Fred" building because it gives the illusion of a perpetually dancing couple, is located along the Vltava River, within walking distance of the National Theater and of other prominent cultural facilities. The site for the Nationale-Nederlanden Building is one of only three in the historic district of central Prague on which new construction is being permitted. The site is located at the comer of two streets, adjacent to an unusually shaped public square. In response to the site, the design employs a twin tower scheme at the corner, creating a smooth transition from street to street, while at the same time creating a strong visual focal point. This massing strategy also establishes a sculptural dialogue appropriate to the context of the immediate urban environment.
On the ground level of the building, directly accessible from the river front and from the public square, there is a cafe and several retail spaces. Additional retail spaces occupy a lower level located below grade. Office spaces occupy the second through the seventh levels of the building, with several unique office spaces and conference rooms located within the twin towers. A restaurant occupies the top level of the building, taking full advantage of the spectacular view of the Prague skyline and the nearby castle.
The twin towers, one developed as a cylindrical solid volume, the other as a tapering glass tower, are supported by a number of sculptural columns, creating a small covered entrance plaza at the ground level of the building. The glass tower is comprised of a double-layer steel-supported glass curtain wall. The interior layer of the curtain wall is the actual wall of the building, with the sculptural outer layer acting as a screen for the office spaces underneath.
The main exterior facade, overlooking the river bank, responds to the rich textures and scale of the adjacent row houses. Its staggered windows and horizontal striations gradually break into a wave pattern that relates to the undulating cornice lines of the lively neighboring river front facades. It is constructed of pre-cast concrete panels with a plaster finish which is common to the local architecture.
On this project, three dimensional computer modeling played a key role in supplementing the traditional methods of documentation, bidding, and quality control. This approach was developed to link the design process more closely to fabrication and construction technologies, and to insure that costs for the construction of this very unique building were closely controlled.
|Area:||5,842 square meters|
|Schedule:||Begin Design - 1992
Begin Construction - 1993
Completion - 1996
Frank O. Gehry