Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects is a US-based architectural practice spread across six offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. They are well-regarded for their diverse portfolio encompassing notable projects of various scales, ranging from large civic, commercial, cultural, and academic buildings to small private residences. 

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet1
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Philadelphia office_©Top photos by Melissa Romero

The current practice was formed in 1979 by a merger of Peter Bohlin and Richard Powell’s firm – Bohlin Powell – founded in 1965 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with that of John F. Larkin and Bernard Cywinski’s Philadelphia-based firm, Larkin Cywinski. 

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet2
Apple Store at New York’s Fifth Avenue_©bcj.com

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson are famous for designing the Apple retail experience with more than 70 stores for the company worldwide – a role that has been since passed on to Foster + Partners. They describe themselves as ‘generalists that will take on any design problem,’ yet ‘specialists in what’s most important: designing places that feel humane and transcendent.’ Some of their well-known structures are Apple Fifth Avenue in New York City, Seattle City Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, and the Discovery and Visitor Center at Grand Teton National Park.

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet3
Discovery and Visitor Center at Grand Teton National Park_© renfrodesign.com

The practice has won over 750 regional, national, and international accolades since its founding in 1965. Among them are the AIA Architecture Firm Award, the highest award the American Institute of Architects (AIA) can bestow upon an architectural firm, and 10 National Honor Awards, following their early advocacy of sustainable design. Founding partner Peter Bohlin received the 2010 AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor an individual can receive from the AIA. 

Design Philosophy and Approach

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson applies a holistic approach to design problems, aiming to produce ‘equitable, sustainable, and innovative’ answers. Each design is informed by an awareness of people, site, and materials, embracing the latest cutting-edge technologies while acting as a catalyst for change. Initially, they would undergo a research phase, ranging from case studies to best practices, after which they put the lessons learned into practice, hone their process, and present their findings.


Design Process

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet4
Peter Bohlin, one of the founding partners, collaborating with younger colleagues_©bcj.com

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is known for generating a solid relationship between buildings and their surroundings. Understanding the inhabitants’ daily lives is the first step in the design process, followed by prudent resource management and energy consumption. The company uses passive design strategies to choose the best building orientation and configuration to benefit from natural forces, including passive solar heat, natural ventilation, and daylighting, while reducing the effects of glare and solar heat gain. Furthermore, they investigate the ideal building size and enhance the outer envelope to produce a high-performance structure with minimal energy consumption. Ongoing energy simulation modeling and life-cycle analysis are used to test this approach in order to comprehend and validate the environmental, social, and economic effects of the design choices. Reducing reliance on mechanical systems helps make the buildings resilient. Using an integrated design approach, the design team collaborates with the engineers to construct building system solutions that are highly efficient and maintainable. To further lessen society’s reliance on fossil fuels, they collaborate with clients to develop renewable energy alternatives whenever possible. The firm frequently designs projects that are prepared to accommodate advanced technologies in the future if incorporating renewable energy is not feasible at first. When used as a part of an integrated, holistic design approach, many sustainable design solutions are found to contribute little or no cost to construction.

Core Values

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet5
Shelly Ridge Girl Scouts Center_©beckerfrondorf.com

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is motivated by equity, social justice, wellness, sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and economic empowerment. Since the beginning, energy efficiency, sustainability, and environmental awareness have been fundamental to the company’s design culture. With projects like the 1972 Shelly Ridge Girl Scouts Center, which featured a Trombe wall for passive solar heating, and the 1997 Intelligent Workplace at Carnegie Mellon University, a living laboratory for building performance and diagnostics, the firm continues to innovate at the forefront of healthy, resilient design. They work with community stakeholders to develop concepts attentive to the cultural fabric of the people and places they serve, incorporating Universal Design and accessibility into their projects.

Notable Projects

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet6
Georgia Institute of Technology, G. Wayne Clough Learning Commons_©Paul Warchol at bcj.com

Architect David Murray, who joined the company in 1998, notes the following projects for representing the company’s core values; the Clough Learning Commons for Georgia Tech, which he says “embodies some of their core design principles.” They developed a three-dimensional interior circulation system in parallel with the campus walkways at the building’s exterior in response to the constraints of the sloping site. Consequently, these shaped how the students interacted with the structure. For instance, a crucial component of the program has been the distribution of informal study spaces around the building at various scales and always in proximity to sunlight. Students experience the building as a network of links between several common areas, each characterized by daylight both horizontally and vertically. These elements, in turn, define the external form of the structure and the surrounding environment.

An Inside look at the Studios of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - SHeet7
Apple store in Ginza _©appleinsider.com

Another is the first Apple store outside of the US in Ginza, Japan, whereby an existing structure had been remodeled by reimagining its exterior. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson had collaborated with manufacturers of curtainwall and stainless steel panels, as well as structural and mechanical engineers, to develop a hybrid ventilated façade specifically tailored to the site’s constraints. As of late 2022, the 8-story building is undergoing demolition

Latest Work

The Big Idea Center_©pitt.edu

The firm most recently celebrated the launch of the brand-new Big Idea Center, part of the Innovation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. Established in 2018, it allows students from all disciplines and career aspirations to come together and develop their entrepreneurial capabilities.

The 7,000-square-foot property, formerly a bookshop, has been reimagined with a flexible floor design that includes a range of meeting and working locations, positioned next to a student-run café. The concept utilizes the existing window openings to flood the inside with natural light. Students can experience an authentic entrepreneurship incubator in the lower level’s private spaces. Gathering locations where individuals can develop their visions range from formal to informal and small to large.

According to David Murray, the firm’s early dedication to sustainable design has aided them in maintaining its position at the ‘forefront’ of the discipline. Today, they keep expanding their range of project scales and typologies, welcoming a wider network of clients.

Reference List

  1. Wikipedia (2022). Bohlin Cywinski Jackson [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohlin_Cywinski_Jackson  [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  2. Architect Magazine (2022). Bohlin Cywinski Jackson [online]. Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/firms/bohlin-cywinski-jackson [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  3. Viladas P. (2016). How Bohlin Cywinski Jackson created the Apple retail experience [online]. Available at: https://archive.curbed.com/2016/9/12/12854540/apple-stores-architecture-foster-partners-bohlin-cywinski-jackson  [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  4. BCJ (2022). Our Practice  [online]. Available at: https://www.bcj.com/about/our-practice/  [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  5. BCJ (2022). University of Pittsburgh, Big Idea Center Celebrates Grand Opening  [online]. Available at: https://www.bcj.com/news/university-of-pittsburgh-big-idea-center-celebrates-grand-opening/ [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  6. Wikipedia (2022). Peter Bohlin [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Bohlin  [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  7. Modelo Blog (2022). David Murray of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson [online]. Available at: https://modelo.io/blog/index.php/david-murray-of-bohlin-cywinski-jackson/ [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  8. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson on Medium (2022). Our High Performance Design Philosophy  [online]. Available at: https://bcj-architects.medium.com/our-high-performance-design-philosophy-306dca1b757e  [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  9. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson on Medium (2022). Equity, Diversity & Inclusion  [online]. Available at: https://bcj-architects.medium.com/equity-diversity-inclusion-e25bffb0919c [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  10. urbanNext (2022). Bohlin Cywinski Jackson [online]. Available at: https://urbannext.net/contributors/bcj/    [Accessed: 26 October 2022]
  11. Agarwal V.  (2022). Bohlin Cywinski Jackson – 15 Iconic Projects [online]. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/design-studio-portfolios/a3839-bohlin-cywinski-jackson-15-iconic-projects/ Accessed: 26 October 2022]
Author

A graduated BSc. in Architecture and soon-to-be master’s student, aspiring to specialize in sustainable and energy-efficient built environment. Having lived in both the Middle East and Europe has ignited travel as a passion, which she considers a valuable learning experience in the architectural profession, contributing to a spark to explore further through writing at RTF.

Write A Comment