Andrew Berman Architect
Since he founded his namesake firm in 1995, Andrew Berman hasn’t had a lot of time for reflection. He’s undertaken dozens of projects, moving upward through a trajectory of lofts, apartments, houses, galleries, and small commercial spaces, on to larger civic work, including a library expansion and a series of small renovations and interventions at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens.
“The act of building, of making architecture, is a social act,” Berman said. “We’re not didactic. The considerations that go into our work are very grounded.” Berman often works with existing buildings, and his designs, while not meek or severely minimalist, are never flashy. One of his most formally striking works, a recently completed private study and writing studio, is programmatically, not stylistically, driven. The copper-clad studio houses a small potting shed on the ground level. The client enters through the door, the only element of the public facade, up a narrow staircase to enter the studio, which is illuminated from above with a thin, slotted skylight. The writing table faces a large picture window inserted into the surrounding trees (see photograph on page 1). “We wanted to create a space that was vibrant, but not distracting,” Berman said.
As the designer of the Center for Architecture, Berman’s work is well known to most New York architects. “I always say that the Center for Architecture got me no clients,” he said dryly. “But what it did do was give us credibility to go after other public and cultural projects.” He is currently finishing a firehouse renovation for the city’s Department of Design and Construction, and about to break ground on an addition to a Carrere and Hastings–designed library on Staten Island. At P.S.1, Berman is adding a new ticketing booth to the exterior of the courtyard wall, bringing all of the admissions functions outside the old school building. He has been asked back to discreetly renovate some of the galleries as well. “Thinking about the Emerging Voices lecture and looking back, it’s nice to know that our work has been used and appreciated,” he said. “We know that, because our clients return with new projects.”
Alan G. Brake