The delicate, suspended cable structure describes a spherical form intersecting a horizontal plane, as if a bubble of air were resting gently on a surface of water.

Images

VIEW OF THE LENS CEILING SUSPENDED WITHIN THE CYLINDRICAL COURTROOM

ABOVE THE VIEWING GALLERY THERE IS A PERIMETER OF HORIZONTAL CLEAR GLASS

INSTALLATION OF THE LENS CEILING

EARLY RENDERING OF THE SUSPENSION SYSTEM

ARCHITECTURAL MODEL

Description

Commissioned to design the ceiling for the Special Proceedings Courtroom of the new Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix, JCDA proposed the Lens Ceiling as not only a public artwork, but also a part of the architecture. Designed by Richard Meier and Partners, the courthouse is almost entirely built of glass. The piece sought to enhance the theatrical nature of the space while acting as a multi-functional building component: an acoustic barrier; a daylight and artificial lighting system; and a functional support for the fire and life safety system.

The spherical area of glass is diffused, creating a luminous sculptural element that captures the sky and the shifting shadows of the building’s structure without distracting attention from the proceedings in the courtroom. The various laminated glass panels, provides a thermal, acoustic, and dust barrier for the courtroom space.

The central lens area acts as a precise diffuser for the artificial lighting mounted at the top of the drum, while the clear horizontal perimeter ring of glass visually frames the lens and allows views of the sky from the public viewing gallery. JCDA also designed an innovative solution for the mandated sprinkler system, fabricating the sprinklers out of stainless steel and integrating them as working members of the cable-net tension structure. The structure was engineered by the New York office of Ove Arup & Partners. Seismic events were considered and a complete three-dimensional finite element model of the structure was built to assist in analysis. Movements within the structure due to changes in temperature are accommodated at each glass panel, and even after an accidental panel breakage, nothing can fall because the laminated glass is mechanically attached to the structure through a very thick interlayer normally used in hurricane prone areas.

Client: General Services Administration
Architect: Richard Meier & Partners
Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners