The wildly unique design of the new office building known as the “Pterodactyl” in Culver City, CA is truly stunning. Designed by Eric Owen Moss Architects, the 16,663 sq. ft. building represents culmination of a project that has spanned 17 years. Completed in Spring, 2015, the Pterodactyl is perched atop a four-level parking garage that was built in 1998. The structure was designed to anticipate a future building, with steel columns extended above the top floor plate.
The Pterodactyl is formed by the intersection of nine rectangular boxes that are lifted one level above the garage roof and stacked either on top of or adjacent to each other. The nine boxes organize essential program elements connected by an interior, second floor bridge. The underside of the boxes is cut out to accommodate an open plan on the main office floor below.
Highlighting the facade is more than 19,000 sq. ft. of RHEINZINK prePATINA blue-grey Flat Lock Tiles. In addition, approximately 3,600 sq. ft. of RHEINZINK Flat Lock Tiles were used in a low-slope roof application.
“We like to use a relatively small palette of materials,” said Raul Garcia, project architect and a member of the project team. “That really helps create the dramatic space because you are concentrating on the form and the spatial aspects that the form creates.”
In addition to RHEINZINK, the other materials are cement plaster and glass. “We had used RHEINZINK on an earlier project known as The Beehive and were really happy with it—both initially and over time as the patina gave the building a life of its own. We were excited to use RHEINZINK on this project as well. We like the color and the grain of the architectural zinc and the fact that it patinas and changes over time,” according to Garcia.
The detailing and installation of the Flat Lock Panels was as complex and unique as the overall design itself. “One of the great attributes of RHEINZINK is its workability,” Garcia said. “The material allowed the installers to customize it on-site to fit those complicated areas around beams and in tight corners.”
Another interesting aspect of the installation—done by Architectural Metal Cladding, Inc. (AMC), West Hollywood, CA—was the architect’s insistence on wrapping the Flat Lock panels around the edges and corners. “This was out of the norm for most Flat Lock Tile jobs,” according to Gary McKee, RHEINZINK’s West Coast regional sales manager. “Most installers would end the panel at a corner rather than turning it—but that’s not what the design team wanted. Turning the Flat Lock panel is doable but it’s not easy and it requires a well-qualified installer.”
Design for the interior of the Pterodactyl also specified a considerable amount of the Flat Lock Tiles to be used as strategic accents in areas that visually link the interior to the exterior façade.
Fabrication of the Flat Lock Tiles was done by CSI Architectural Metal, Inc., Carson, CA.
According to architect Raul Garcia, the project utilized Digital Project/Catia to provide advanced building information modeling (BIM), account for every detail of the building, and design complex structural and mechanical systems with a high level of control and precision.
“This was a challenging job for many of our contractors,” Garcia said. “The software modeling program allowed us to have many of the components laid out before the contractors stepped onto the site. That really helped to make the project a success.”
The Pterodactyl is the final phase of the Wedgewood Holly campus: office buildings that were originally part of a grouping of contiguous warehouses in Culver City that had been added to incrementally since the 1940s. The design premise required a strategic removal of portions of the original buildings in order to establish discrete new building identities, allow sufficient space for landscaping, and accommodate both pedestrian and automobile circulation on the site. The complex consists of five buildings, all designed by Eric Owen Moss Architects: Stealth, Umbrella, Slash, Backslash and now, Pterodactyl.