Rick Del Monte Talks to Architecture & Culture Korea Magazine

  • Jan 7, 2016

Rick Del Monte, Chief Design Officer, recently participated in an interview with Architecture & Culture Magazine Korea to discuss the NS HomeShopping mixed-use development. Perhaps the most anticipated development in Pangyo, South Korea, in recent years, the NS HomeShopping Development is located in the heart of a high-tech development area. Designed by Beck, the mixed-use facility is expected to heighten retail activity and boost the local economy.

Here’s an inside look at the discussion:

What were the owner’s special requirements for this project?

The owner wanted a six-story parking garage, with two levels of retail space, and a HomeShopping television studio on the top floor. He also wanted the design to be iconic and to stand out within this context. This is a new office district with many new buildings, but with very little parking and almost no retail or service spaces. As such, this is the most “public” of buildings and needed to be clearly visible within its context.

How did the owner’s personality play a part in the design?

The owner is one of the most dynamic entrepreneurs in Korea, having created a major corporation from scratch. He is also a person whose success is based on being very creative and open to new ideas. When we design projects for him we want the buildings to reflect the same level of creativity and uniqueness as his personality.

What kinds of challenges did you encounter in the design process and how did you resolve them?

The major challenge was to translate the owner’s ambitions and desires into three-dimensional form. An owner will typically describe what they want in words that are imprecise in defining a visual image. It takes a period of exploration, and the development of multiple options to understand the owner’s vision and arrive at a solution. This is not a passive process. In this case we worked hard to expand his ambitions for the building and to open his mind to new ideas.

We developed multiple conceptual ideas from several designers, that were then presented to the client. Many of these were not even buildings, but abstract ideas to help the owner expand his thinking. The owner was a key participant in the process and in many cases made significant contributions to the final design. As a group we selected the design direction and often referred back to the original conceptual idea during the development of the project.

What were the main characteristics of the site, and how did you reflect them in the design?

The building is located in a district of new office buildings. All of them have been built within the last ten years and all of them of a consistent height. These new buildings are also of a consistent high quality. An exposed concrete parking deck did not seem appropriate for this location. This building, as a public garage and retail center will serve most of the occupants in the district and needed to be easy to find, and easy to circulate through and use.

The project was tightly defined: a black box television studio of fixed dimensions, a six-story parking deck and two levels of retail space. Our solution was to wrap these elements with a fabric, a sort of skirt that would unify the building into a cohesive whole. To gain access to the retail spaces at the ground floor we would then lift this skirt at the corners, which would also give a dynamic quality to the composition. The fabric for this skirt is a custom woven stainless steel mesh. We varied the density of this mesh creating a rectangular pattern that works with the rectangular pattern of the parking garage structure behind it, resulting in a richer and more complex composition. The skirt not only lifts, but also pulls away from the building at the corners, exposing the illusion that it creates.

What kind of space do you want to create with this project? 

At the street level our goal was to create a very dynamic space that would integrate with the circulation patterns in the district and draw many people through the building. At the northeast corner of the building, the stainless steel skirt lifts to create a two-story space intended to draw people into both the ground level and lower level spaces. Additional diagonal paths increase the permeability of the ground level integrating the building into the circulation patterns of the district.

What were the major issues to proceed with the design?

The major issue was to take three tightly defined programmatic elements, weave them into a visually cohesive whole, and integrate them into the district.

What is main material of the building and why do you select it?

This building has a very honest use of materials: concrete, stainless steel and glass. The concrete is for the structure, the glass defines the enclosed elements, and the stainless steel fabric is a shimmering enclosure. These materials were selected for their visual qualities, their honesty and their durability. Other than occasional washing the building should require very little long-term maintenance.

How did you integrate these materials into the building?

The challenge of the project was to take a parking structure, typically something massive and inert, and turn it into something lighter and more dynamic. The stainless steel fabric provided us with a material that, through its reflectivity and transparency, creates a constantly changing surface. When reflecting the sun it can appear dense and opaque, but at night it seems to be completely transparent. This changing quality throughout the day gives the building its life and makes it a much more interesting participant in the life of the district.

The complete article (in Korean) along with photos of the project are available in this issue of Architecture & Culture Magazine.