The V&A at Dundee's vision calls for an icon to anchor Dundee's new Central Waterfront Masterplan while still meeting sophisticated demands: it must embody best sustainable practices, adhere to a limited budget, and most importantly, exhibit and incubate design. Sorting the V&A at Dundee's program into clusters of similar uses creates a four-level Layer Cake with each layer dedicated to, and equipped for, specific duties. These layers include the V&A's exhibition space, an incubator for Scottish design, an interior urban realm for the City of Dundee, and a ground-level marshaling area. Finishes, height, structure, circulation, and degree of flexibility vary, allowing each layer to be used and changed independently. Seemingly, the most compact volume for the Layer Cake—a cube—would be the most energy- and cost-efficient organization. However, a cube cannot accommodate all the V&A at Dundee's galleries on a single floor, does not respect the high cost of building in the River Tay, and does not optimize building geometry for sustainability.Stretching the cube's top to fit all galleries within the Exhibition Layer maximizes exhibition flexibility and continuity of patron experience. Skylights provide natural light to every gallery, reducing the V&A at Dundee's highest energy demand: gallery lighting. Due to the high expense of constructing marine foundations, the smallest building footprint is desirable. By contracting the Marshalling Layer to contain only those elements required at grade, the footprint is minimized and more of the budget can be spent generating credible public space in the form of an exterior plaza extending Union Street’s axis far into the River Tay. The resulting shape is a combination of maximized horizontal surface area for solar and rainwater collection, optimized sun response, and as mentioned previously, maximized daylight penetration into the galleries. In summer, the tapered shape is self-shading yet provides reflected light deep into the building. In winter, low sun angles allow sunlight to penetrate directly into the V&A at Dundee. The inverted pyramid is shrink-wrapped around the galleries to economize area and to create a secondary structural layer of efficient, diagonal perimeter columns. Clad in mirror glass, the V&A at Dundee reflects the River Tay, the sky, and the RRS Discovery, while further reducing thermal loads and interior glare.During the day, the mirrored facade shifts with the dynamic swings in weather, creating a jewel-like object at the end of the Union Street Axis. By night, the facade dematerializes like a jellyfish, revealing the Layer Cake organization within and contributing to an active evening scene on the new Dundee Waterfront. The conclusion is an unexpected and iconographic building that, far from being a symbol of excess, is the very embodiment of high-performance and economy.