The Olympic Towers were designed with the goal of producing an elegant landmark for the city of Jinan which would to serve as the iconic image of the larger Olympic Plaza development. The design approach was primarily concerned with energy efficiency and environmental controls; in turn, these systems were developed as devices for ornamentation and pattern on the building elevations as well. The design developed with louvered glass screens which wrap the southern facades of each tower as well as a perforated metal screen that encloses and unifies the podium. Furthermore, the project's identity will be realized through subtle tectonic articulations and a layering of the building envelope rather than larger formal gestures. This allows for the towers to coexist with the surrounding context while still standing out as special elements within the overall development.
Our approach to both towers was similar. Large structural frames subdivide each high-rise into smaller modules and visually tie the towers to the podium. These frames modules enclose three floors each and capture sections of the articulated glass curtain wall, giving the facade a texture which is most prominent on the north face of each building. On the southern elevations, the frames and curtain wall are veiled by a system of horizontal glass louvers which are set off from the face of each tower. This provides solar protection as well as an ephemeral quality to the project. The envelope is thickened through the layering of louver, frame, mullion, and glazing, thus allowing for uninterrupted views from the spaces within while reducing the amount of solar heat gain.
The podium, while serving a variety of programmatic requirements, reads visually as a cohesive whole. The perforated metal screen wraps and unifies the base. At a few select locations, the screen is interrupted by large projections which frame unique and special spaces within the podium. These are accented with a golden color matching treatment of surfaces behind the screen and at the entrances to the project. The effect produced is subtle and transitory. As a pedestrian's orientation to the base shifts, the visual impression of the podium shifts from solid surfaces to shimmering perforations producing a dynamic experience for the observer. This screen is also capable of carrying embedded signage for the variety of spaces within. Furthermore, while serving as a shading device during the day, at night, like the glass louvers on the towers above, the podium screen will capture and filter light emanating from within, producing a soft glow which will light the plaza and surrounding spaces.