Poetry Foundation - Screen Wall Winner

Divine Detail Award, Citation of Merit

The Poetry Foundation is a private arts foundation offering public programs, and its design features a public garden through which visitors reach the building entrance. Tectonically, the building is conceived of as a series of material layers (zinc, glass, and wood) that visitors move through and between to experience the building. The building’s outer layer of oxidized zinc becomes perforated where it borders the garden, allowing a glimpse of the garden from the street to engage the curiosity of the public and invite investigation.

The screen wall is supported by a custom-designed and fabricated aluminum structure that rises discreetly from a sandblasted concrete garden slab to support the screen wall’s metal cladding and provide lateral stiffness to the wall; the open, truss-like quality of this structure is designed to lend the wall a visual “lightness.”

When viewed obliquely, the screen wall appears opaque and the building monolithic; when viewed frontally, the screen wall becomes more transparent. At night the wall dissolves to allow the garden to become visually dominant. The custom-formed and bent oxidized zinc cladding lends a quality of mystery to the building, and its black color speaks of authority and seriousness, befitting the arts foundation that it serves.

John Ronan Architects
Poetry Foundation
  • Arup
  • U.S. Equities Realty
General contractor
Norcon, Inc.
Chicago, IL