The Office Building Of The Future

Nykredit floating office buildingEvery new office building constructed these days seems to be made at least partly of glass. If glass walls are a metaphor for transparency, reflection, and clarity, then the offices of mortgage bank Nykredit in Copenhagen are a metaphor for taking a lot of Percocet and going ice skating with God.

The 10-story cube of glass, "The Crystal," perched right on the waterfront, is like the flagship Apple Store on steroids. It's one of the city's most towering office buildings, with two wings divided by a light-flooded atrium, and three meeting rooms that appear to be suspended in the air.

The structure was the work of architects from schmidt hammer lassen, consultants from Grontmij, and contractors from Promecon. Soon after construction, the team was awarded a 2011 European Steel Design Award.

Grontmij's steel-construction expert, Gunnar H. Isleifsson, said the day when they removed the provisional columns -- to see if the whole thing would actually stand up -- was "an exciting one."

"This is a question of remarkable geometry featuring a steel construction with six glass facades set at different angles and thus giving full rein to the play of light from the skies above," said Lars Bork Hansen, the department director at Grontmij.

Glass is wonderful, the modernists were right about that. You might feel a little bit like a moth in a jar, as folks walk by during your Q1 wrap-up meeting. But the natural light! You can almost hear the angels sing!

But there is one problem with glass: The light that escapes can take a lot of energy with it. "The Crystal," however, is in Low Energy Class 2, which in Denmark means that its energy performance is 25 percent better than the minimum requirement for new buildings.

The architects also toyed with how sound bounced around the structure. Nykredit's group chief executive, Bente Overgaard, called the building a "sound work climate," which optimized "light, air and acoustics."

An employer could probably expect a boost in productivity, what with their employees toiling in a 25th century cathedral. The real question is, do we want the mortgage providers of the world to feel like they're soaring above the rest of us mere mortals?

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