W.L. Gore Capabilities Center

Merit Award

The Gore story is enormously complex and rich with information. The developer and manufacturer of high-performance fluorocarbon polymers (including GORE-TEX®) assembled a multidisciplinary team of designers, architects, and fabricators to help translate the science behind its innovative products into a visible and understandable brand expression.

Carbone Smolan led the design and development of Gore’s new 6,000-sq.-ft.

marketplace known as the Gore Capabilities Center. A two-year collaboration with the project architects facilitated the integration of the exhibit space with the architectural space. The goal was to communicate and celebrate the technical breadth and range of capabilities of PTFE, Gore’s signature product. Not just a product showcase, the center needed to make complex, largely abstract scientific information accessible to a wide range of visitors, from existing and potential Gore clients to associates, the media, and potential employees.

Once inside the Gore headquarters, visitors are welcomed to an elevated lobby space that brings the origins of PTFE to life. Three large glass vitrines atop dramatic plinths draw visitors into the space. The vitrines encase a large, glowing green crystal of fluorspar ore, a conical mound of PTFE fine powder, and a flowing membrane of expanded PTFE. Embracing the area on two sides is a 33- by 40-ft. display that looks like a dramatic piece of abstract art, but is actually an etched, carved, and edgelit glass depiction of the micro-fiber structure of GORE-TEX.

Inside the Capabilities Center, the Gore story is told in six parts; the number six and the hexagonal form are core elements in the space. From the center of the room, six exhibit modules radiate, each containing six panels that introduce an area of science that Gore is involved in and provide examples of relevant Gore products. Long fin walls feature macroscopic views of the various forms of PTFE. Overhead, a centerpiece sculpture made of GORE Tenara® fabric suggests the complex geometry of the basic PTFE molecule.

Carbone Smolan used a palette of powdercoated steel and aluminum, Lexan, and glass to create a laboratory feel appropriate for the high-tech client. The exhibit also uses Gore’s corporate colors of white, black, and silver accented with small amounts of red.

Jury Comments: 

“We appreciate how the multidisciplinary design team integrated the macro and micro aspects of innovative science while communicating the core brand values and design language. We especially appreciate the restraint and integration of the structures with the use of natural light and internal illumination, specifically the blending of the artistic and informational glowing PTFE wall. We want that wall… it’s fantastic.”

Design Firm: 

Carbone Smolan Agency

Client: 

W.L. Gore & Associates

Location City: 

Newark, DE

Project Area: 

N/A

Open Date: 

N/A

Project Budget: 

N/A

Photo Credits: 

John Prettyman, Panaro & Prettyman

Design Team: 

Ken Carbone (principal in charge); Shannon Koy (project coordinator); Timea Dancs, Erin Hall, Melissa Menard, Lynn Paik (designers)

Client Team: Gene Castellano, Learis Donovan, Curtis King, Jon Kirk, Betty Snyder, Bruce Troutman

Consultants: 

Homsey Architects (facility renovation architect), IDEO (facility renovation)

Fabricators: 

Showman Fabricators (lead fabricator and installation); GlassArt Design (glass carving and etching); ALU (modular fixtures); Eric Crossan, Floyd Dean, Jon Kirk (environmental photographers); Panaro & Prettyman Photography (exhibit photographer); Miller Studio (illustrator for product panels); Bizzy Productions (illustrator for glass wall)

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