The Garage—B+ Automobile Service Center by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office
By Alexandra A. Seno
1 September 2017
Photo courtesy of Pedro Pegenaute
Image: Neri&Hu turned a 1950s missile factory into an automotive center. An elevator, accessible on a tree-lined street, brings cars to the upper floors.
College of Environmental Design alumni Rossana Hu (B.A. Arch. '90) and Lyndon Neri (B.A. Arch. '87), founding partners of the Shanghai-based architecture and design firm Neri & Hu, were recognized by Architectural Record for their project “The Garage” as one of the most well-designed commercial interiors from around the world. Neri&Hu are one of six firms to receive this spotlight this year.
Neri&Hu transformed a 361-foot-long, three-story decommissioned missile factory built in the 1950s into The Garage-B+ Automobile Service Center in Beijing. The business houses offices, meeting rooms, an auto repair shop, a café and a rooftop parking lot. The architects preserved the original brick structure—the main hall still features tracks for soldering missiles—and added a system of “boxes” supported by steel girders to accommodate a car elevator, a mezzanine, and two top floors reinforced to support the weight of equipment and numerous vehicles.
“The best attribute of the space is the raw quality of the existing structure,” Neri explained. “Obviously, the brief made it more interesting by having a hybrid typology, combining programs that often do not go hand in hand, such as the café and garage.”
The central feature of the space is the elevator shaft, enclosed in black metal mesh, which carries vehicles to upper levels. This activity subtly transforms the quality of light in and the aura of both the offices and café on each side of this conveyance, serving as a reminder of the main purpose of the building and the ambition of the project.
“For us as a practice, it is important that the old and the new have a dialogue and that the tension be expressed through the details,” Neri said.
The owner of the business, Bu Tian, embarked on this project in the hopes of revolutionizing the automobile industry. The project is estimated to have cost $3 million.
You can read more about Neri&Hu’s winning design here.