barkow leibinger turns high-tech machines into showpieces at the ‘smart factory’, chicago

barkow leibinger
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american/german architectural practice barkow leibinger has completed the ‘smart factory’ near chicago.

american/german architectural practice barkow leibinger has completed the ‘smart factory’ near chicago. the presentation and sales, center for the german machine tool and laser manufacturer TRUMPF, turns high-tech machines and production processes into exhibition-like showpieces. while the concepts of factory and exhibition space are ordinarily separated, the architects combine these for the new smart factory as both design and efficiency are equally important.

located on interstate 90, near chicago’s airport, the factory is easily accessible internationally and regionally. located in a key industrial zone of the ‘rust belt’, the factory creates a new industrial typology. barkow leibinger created a campus-like factory which embraces the surrounding grasslands and reservoir with cycling and footpaths surround the grounds.

the building is comprised of two volumes — the showroom to the south, and the office and auditorium space to the north. the volumes are connected at their corners to create two rectangular exterior zone. on the southeast, a spacious driveway with parking approaches the main entrance. towards the northwest, the large, curved terrace of the cafe overlooks the adjacent retention pond.

the building’s pitched roof rises like a wedge towards the highway, where the factory’s showroom presents a glass front. eleven steel vierendeel trusses span the showroom, showcasing TRUMP’s manufacturing machinery and its know-how.

visitors to the factory are also given a special overview of the facilities via an open ‘skywalk’, a bridge that runs through the trusses of the ceiling structure. the open plan configuration allows for a collaborative working environment. rooms are arranged around a central courtyard planted with maple and gingko trees and are flexibly designed to adapt to changing requirements.

the building’s exterior is clad in a deep rust-colored corrugated corten steel sheeting. the elegant, floor-to-ceiling glazing emphasizes both its industrial context and its representative function. the glass facades are built from black anodized aluminum and vertically divided by slim, recessed corten steel columns.

from the architects: at this new center for computer-controlled high-tech production, functionality meets representation, and pragmatism meets refinement. in the process, the building focuses on maintaining a high degree of quality down to the last detail of construction.

barkow leibinger turns high-tech machines into showpieces at the ‘smart factory’, chicago