DUKE University, USA

Instead of opting for total transparency, which would have maximised the contrast with the existing neo-gothic brick and stone massiveness, Grimshaw has opted to delicately trim it back, by framing the glass in steel and ceramics. The ceramic fins are a relatively small part the new building, yet they play a particularly crucial one in its overall effect.

From many perspectives, these terracotta fins seem to close the side elevations, which only completely open up when viewed straight on. Open yet visually closed, the architecture of the façades is an apt metaphor for how this transformation manages to balance old and new.




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