There are few design elements more visually imposing and spatially awe-inspiring than a properly implemented atrium. They provide large volumes of vertical space that are used by hotels, office buildings, and museums to not only open-up the floor plan, but address concerns of fire protection, systems integration, and indoor air quality. Atriums institute a rigor in design aesthetic and circulation that make them an entirely unique programmatic element.
Here are 7 gorgeous atrium buildings that not only suspend visual disbelief, they go beyond the standards of providing proper fire and life-safety protection.
1. Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam. Designed by Piero Lissoni.
It’s rare to see atriums be implemented in adaptive reuse projects, as the existing structures and space don’t typically lend themselves to large open areas. However, in this case, an atrium acts as a towering glass shell that encloses a portion of a historic hotel and provides light, visually appealing gathering and circulation spaces. The atrium does well to champion the added space, but not detract from the traditional architecture it adheres to. It’s a great example of how an atrium can add visual interest and functional interior space.
2. Facebook Office in Mountain View. Fire Protection by Smoke Guard
Facebook and the other tech giants in silicon valley are known for having unique, healthy, enjoyable places to work. This atrium design opens up a collaborative work environment in a way that promotes productivity, reduces noise, and gives employees a good reason to be enthusiastic about what they are doing. And, to promote life safety, this atrium uses atrium smoke baffle separation by Smoke Guard, allowing the space to meet required fire code while maintaining its inherent aesthetic quality.
3. Pacific House in Reading, Berkshire. Designed by Lusted Green.
This atrium conversion of an existing office space was meant to breathe new life into an outdated and underutilized common area. The renovated space features a circular reception desk and several isolated ‘pods’ that are meant to hold open-air meetings. The atrium is open four stories to the sky, where an arched glass ceiling lets in an abundance of light and air. Flanking steel columns are painted white in order to highlight structural elements that hold the atrium together, and culminate in a majestic focal point for the entire office to circulate around.
4. Shepherd's Bush Pavilion Hotel in London. Design by Flanagan Lawrence.
This conversion of a historic 1920’s era cinema into a 320 room luxury hotel is nothing short of showstopping. The project features an eight story central atrium open to a class ceiling, with towering rows of curvilinear walkways wrapping the entire space. The atrium is the definitive focal point of the conversion, and its design points attention back towards the importance of the existing cinema, while at the same time celebrating the building being thrust into the next century of its lifespan. It promotes health, movement, and the physical manifestation of historic preservation.
5. Lowe Campbell Ewald’s Office in Detroit. Designed by Neumann/Smith Architecture
The atrium design for this creative ad agency in Detroit, Michigan is truly remarkable. The new office is built within a 100 year old, crumbing industrial building that would have likely been sent six feet under if this remarkable revitalization project never happened. Specifically, the atrium offers a unique look at the existing concrete post and beam structure, while also creating a bright, visually interesting central gathering space that all other private offices revolve around. The atrium space is punctuated by a visually imposing staircase that wraps an entire corner of the volume.
6. Allen Institute in Seattle. Designed by Perkins + Will Architects.
The atrium in this office structure features several floating cubes clad in wood and glass that protrude from the sides of the atrium walls. A spindly glass ceiling looms above the cubes, which hover above a collaborative gathering space below that offers a central hub for students and employees. The floor plan consists of three primary rectangular volumes that wrap around the central atrium. It becomes the hub that connects all activity from the three separate wings, and is treated as such with such a distinct knack for visual flair. The atrium can be vented through the ceiling, which promotes the natural flow of air and light deep into the more isolated areas of the building.
7. The Atrium in Victoria, BC. Designed by D’Ambrosio Architecture.
An atrium so great they decided to name the building after it. This high-density office building aimed to bring new and inventive energy to an urban area of Victoria that was in desperate need of a face-lift. This towering atrium features sweeping curved walkways that sit atop closed-off offices and conference rooms. The structure also contains a mixture of restaurants and shops, making this mixed-use project a cultural focal point for an entirely new generation of Canadians. The central atrium stands tall as the building’s most impressive feature, and effectively brings life, light, and air to an underappreciated area of town.