Collaborators: Brandt Knapp, Ian Lotto
Text description provided by the architects. The state-of-the-art commercial office building in the Leblon neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro houses the new international headquarters of VINCI Partners, one of Brazil’s leading alternative investment and asset management firms. The structure consists primarily of private interior courtyards, open office spaces and a series of terraces that create a direct connection with the urban artery of Bartolomeu Mitre Avenue.
Bernhard Karpf, design partner-in-charge, comments: “There is always a certain excitement and hesitation as to what the cultural differences mean for the design and construction process. We were excited to embark on a project within a city and country that has such a rich architectural legacy; for us it was important to try and understand how architecture’s role was shaped by both the climate and the people who were using it. The most interesting part of the process was discovering how our architectural ideas and strategies needed to respect and create the dialogue with its context.”
The building consists of seven floors above ground for a total height of 25 meters with a leasable floor area of 6,500 m2. A spacious lobby anchors the building to the streetscape, and three subterranean floors provide additional leasable space and private parking.
The office tower’s design, with its refined, formal vocabulary, reflects the distinct orientation of the site while addressing issues of sustainability, maximum efficiency, and flexibility. The entire building is recessed from the urban frontage and shielded by a carefully composed set of louvers along the western elevation designed for both maximum sun shading and privacy.
“The design of the Leblon project does not contextualize itself with its material palette, but rather through its articulation and layering of the primary façade with a screen. This enables the building to recede from the city while maintaining a street front. It offers its inhabitants the desired privacy and protection from the sun while maintaining a visual connection to the street and the sense of transparency,” states Mr. Karpf
The eastern section of the building is spaced apart from its neighbors to create internal courtyards and provide natural lighting on two exposures for all office spaces. Generous vertical gardens tie these open-air atriums into the exposed concrete core of the building. The entire project straddles between the refined precision of a white aluminum-and-glass free-plan office, and the roughness of concrete and the vegetation within the courtyards.
Guilherme Goldberg, Real Estate Officer at VINCI Partners, comments: “Working with Richard Meier & Partners through all the phases of the project was a very inspiring and learning process that resulted in a very unique office building. Starting from the early conceptual phases through the construction drawings, Associate Partner Bernhard Karpf and his team in New York City were very supportive to our ideas, and have now achieved a very efficient and innovative design that has exceeded our expectations.
“As a cohesive team, we successfully climbed a very steep learning curve. Richard Meier & Partners was able to recognize the local construction and development process in Brazil, and the local consultants were challenged by all the creative solutions proposed by the Firm. We believe the end result is magnificent, creating not only an exciting work environment, but also a landmark for the local neighborhood”.
Richard Meier comments: “The completion of the Leblon Offices is very special for our Firm as it represents our first completed building in South America and in Latin America. Brazil's architecture is very distinct from Latin America as a whole and diverse in itself, and we are extremely honored to complete a project within a country that has such a rich architectural heritage.
“Looking at the context has always been something that is very important in our work. We look at how that project not only fulfills the functional requirements of what it is, but how it responds to where it is and how it enlivens the community. Brazil’s architecture celebrates natural light, openness and nature’s intimate relationship with the built environment, and these are elements that we have integrated in the design of the new Leblon Offices. The building reflects our firm’s commitment to accessible, open and sustainable architecture, and we are extremely thankful to our clients at VINCI Partners for all their support and dedication in the design and construction of the new Leblon Offices.”
The firm’s design role was to bring to life a vision for a successful, high-end office space with a project that aspires to become a significant architectural contribution to Rio de Janeiro, respecting Brazil’s rich architectural heritage while simultaneously challenging preconceived notions of indoor and outdoor spaces, and the relationship between the building and the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Richard Meier & Partners has designed seven buildings in Latin America, including the Reforma Towers in Mexico City, Mexico and the Vitrvm development in Bogota, Colombia both currently under construction.