Oyler Wu Collaborative’s research into Eero Saarinen’s oeuvre leads them to focus on three key concepts: Euclidean geometries, solid/void relationships, and tectonics. Their design fabricates a new space within the site by completing the geometries implied by three canopies, legacies of the Irwin Conference Center’s history as a drive-up bank. The rectilinear space, defined by the existing canopies and completed by new walls of welded steel — some solid, some sketched in lines or carved away into voids — is enlivened by sophisticated tectonic interplay with embedded objects derived from Oyler Wu’s particular idiom. The resulting complex of canopies, walls, and benches produce new areas of containment and new points of destination.
Miller Prize Winner
Oyler Wu Collaborative is an architectural design firm in Los Angeles led by Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu that approaches architecture and design with a critical and rigorous intent that challenges the typical vision of the built environment. Recent projects include a 3D printing showroom and office space for 3DS Culinary in Hollywood, CA; the Stormcloud pavilion for SCI-Arc’s 40th anniversary event; the winning pavilion entry for the Beijing Biennale; and a 16 story residential tower in Taipei, Taiwan. The office has won numerous awards, including the Design Vanguard Award from Architectural Record, the Emerging Talent Award from AIA California Council, the Presidential Honor Award for Emerging Practice from AIA LA, Taiwan’s ADA Award for Emerging Architect, and the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League in New York.
Miller Prize Site
Irwin Conference Center, 1954
Eero Saarinen and Associates
500 Washington Street
Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center (formerly the Irwin Union Bank and Trust) anchors the busy corner of Fifth and Washington Streets. Built in 1954, Saarinen’s design would influence the architecture of financial institutions for decades to come. Material and textural flourishes inside and out transformed the modernist “glass box” into a welcoming and convivial space. With an open plan and spacious counters without the typical teller’s cages separating the bank from its customers, Saarinen’s Irwin Trust Bank was a complete reimagining of what a bank was architecturally, as well as of its place in the community.
Material and Fabrication
The construction of The Exchange was a marriage of craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. Using 3D scans of existing drive-up banking canopies and the surrounding site provided by Ayoroa|Simmons, a building information modeling firm based in Lexington, Kentucky, the Oyler Wu team was able to design and fabricate their complex installation off-site with an incredible degree of accuracy. Metal for the solid forms of the installation was cut by Noblitt Fabricating in Columbus and sent to the Oyler Wu Collaborative studio in Los Angeles. Oyler Wu’s team welded by hand each piece of the steel structure, an intricate puzzle of solid forms and CNC-bent tube shapes, over a five month period. They digitally modeled how the components would be shipped and assembled in Columbus to streamline the complex installation process.