The Pavilion at Brookfield Place, NY (formerly the World Financial Center) through its expressive architectural and engineering form has become a new glowing landmark in Lower Manhattan. Measuring 110-feet wide, 68-feet deep, and 54-feet tall, the Pavilion is appropriately grand for the purpose it serves as the principal entrance to Brookfield Place, and through which 35,000 commuters and visitors travel daily. The new Pavilion moves the front door to the sidewalk and street level by replacing a bridge at the second level which linked to the former World Trade Center and was destroyed in 9/11. The Pavilion creates a new public sequence to the river and the esplanades through the great public space of the Winter Garden, one of New York’s great public rooms.
The iconic “basket” columns that support the roof and enclosure are the Pavilion’s most visually dynamic architecturally engineered features. Responding to the Winter Garden’s strongly arching trusses and palm trees within that soften the grand vaulted space with natural canopies, the columns are a sympathetic and contemporary interpretation in its form and materiality. Because the Pavilion sits on an incredibly restrictive site, directly over the exiting PATH train tunnel, as well as on the westernmost edge of the World Trade Center “bathtub,” there were only two possible locations for any structural column foundations. From these two points parabolic cones were designed to rise up into opposing arrays of structural pipes forming signature diagrid baskets that would allow the Pavilion to be as open as possible.
The columns work together with deep beams concealed within the roof to support the weight of the hanging curtainwall glass façade while also providing the entire lateral resistance for wind and seismic loads. In one direction, the deep beams tie the two sculptural columns together to act as a moment frame, while in the other direction the columns act as cantilevers to resist overturning. Unlike typical diagrid structures where members are in a common plane and intersect at joints, the pipes for the sculptural columns were arranged in two separate layers and passed uninterrupted at each joint location. The resulting forms are graceful and sinuous lines weaving ever-changing apertures of space and light.