Fortress-chic: SOM Tries to Lighten Up a Bunkerific 911 Call Center

SOM Fortress

Hear those wails of aesthetic frustration? Oh, they’re only New York architects pulling their hair over the threat of another Verizon building (below, right)–the most loathed edifice in New York City (for the uninitiated, it looks like a tombstone or something out of Krull). Well, rest easy, nerds: SOM is on the case.

New York’s Department of Design and Construction just broke ground on a 550,000-square-foot 911 call center in the Bronx, and SOM is doing everything they can to make sure it doesn’t become just another faceless concrete monolith. Building the country’s technological infrastructure has led to a sort of new, new brutalism in architecture–call centers, subway exhaust shafts, Internet data access points. Sometimes they find a beauty all their own, like Tom Eliot Fisch’s pumping stations in Mission Bay, San Francisco, but usually…well…they don’t.

Which is why SOM’s call center is kind of exciting. The firm is trying to make the building, dare I say, human, giving it a funky, serrated aluminum facade that changes color (Okay, changes from silver to gray) depending on from what angle you look at it. Plus, the interior lobby is surrounded by living green walls. It’s a refreshing solution to a tricky problem. Can you hear me now, Verizon?

[Via Architect’s Newspaper]