“This complex climbs up and down a beautiful ridge in the green hills of North Carolina and is architecturally an extension of its site. An “A frame” allows the greatest volume to be housed on the lower floors and yet connected to the smaller mechanical system at the apex of the building. The diagonal movement of interior space opens up magnificent opportunities. Anticipation of growth and change is implicit in the concept.”
Paul Rudolph in Moholy-Nagy, Sibyl. The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. New York: Praeger, 1970. p. 233.
“This building was commissioned to Rudolph in two installments. In 1969 the Burroughs Wellcome Company asked the architect to design its corporate headquarters and main research facility. Then in 1982, Burroughs Wellcome invited Rudolph back to design an annex of additional office space and a staff dining room for the 525 employees that worked at the facility.
The original three-hundred-thousand-square-foot building, completed in 1972, was conceived as a man-made extension of the ridge on which it was built. Rudolph used a steel A-frame structure and terraced floors to give the building its hill-like appearance. Using concrete panels to enclose the space, Rudolph devised an elongated hexagonal module that gives the building a strong horizontal reading on the long elevations. The module reveals its hexagonal geometry on the short elevations, pulling out of the building in different ways to express its ability to expand. In plan, the building wraps around two courts that face in opposite directions in a sort of S configuration. The smaller is the entry court, endowed with an inviting front porch. The larger is the service court, defined by the office and laboratory wings.
The interior spaces are a direct by-product of the diagonal structural geometry and are simply stunning. The entrance lobby is a thing of the future. The space soars, exposing three levels of balconies, which maintain the diagonal lines of the A-frame. The lab spaces are unusual in their high ceilings and natural illumination[by skylights]. It is not surprising that the futuristic interiors of the building were the setting for the movie ‘Brainstorm.’
The 120,00-square-foot annex, completed in 1986, contains the company’s dining room on the ground level and additional offices above. The new wing is linear in plan and runs north of the original building, forming an L with the back of the entry and administration wing. Rudolph envisioned a future expansion that would close the L into a U-shaped court. The new wing adopts some of the themes of the original building, transforming them in interesting ways. The hexagonal module reappears on the long elevation, reinforcing the linearity of the wing. The A-frame of the original turns into a V that is exposed and repeated in parallel along the length of the wing.”
De Alba, Roberto. Paul Rudolph: The Late Work. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003. P. 168.