Meanwhile, in France, OMA has won first place in a competition to design anew École Centrale engineering school. The proposed school is dominated by the overlapping grids that enclose different portions of the program. The grid is interrupted by a diagonal circulation corridor that leads from a future metro station to a dramatic and complicated series of ramps and stairs. These ramps and stairs climb through exercise facilities, classrooms and administrative offices, creating a focal point that breaks the low and horizontal massing of the project.
OMA calls their approach to the design of this building “the glass enclosed superblock” opting to make a network of interior streets and intersections rather than an endless maze of double-loaded corridors. As useful as the grid has been to organize this building, the architects have also focused on interrupting the grid at key moments in the program. It’s part of their strategy to “generate a new typology for learning, cultivating collaboration while maintaining the stable conditions of the engineering school’s primary pedagogical function.”