PROGRESS REPORT No. 37 - Form and Function

The mechanical systems of the new Administration Building, such as air conditioning and utilities, will be a part of its very structure. From and function will be fused, and simplicity will dominate diversity. A complex blend of architectural and engineering skills makes this possible. But the process depends largely on the great versatility of concrete, an old building material that is being used with fresh imagination in today's architectural forms.

Araldo Cossutta of I. M. Pei and Partners, the partner in charge of the Church Center project, feels that architecture has been overwhelmed by the "vast mechanical realm" of pipes, ducts, cables, and so on. To find his way out of this modern dilemma, Mr. Cossutta took a long hard look at the jungle of additions that other architects largely ignore and hide behind false ceilings.

Instead of hanging air ducts from the frame of the new Administration Building, for example, Mr. Cossutta decided to sandwich a six-inch plenum (space) between a double-floor system. "Curbs" will then divide this space into channels through which low velocity air will be fed to each floor. Fans in the mechanical space on top of the structure will move the air through vertical shafts at both ends of the building.

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