Archtober Building of the Day 1> Collaborative Research Center, Rockefeller University

Architecture City Terrain East

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(Courtesy Julia Cohen)

Archtober Building of the Day #01
Collaborative Research Center, Rockefeller University
1230 York Avenue, Manhattan
Mitchell | Giurgola Architects

We’re off! Our first Building of the Day in our fifth year is a showplace for understanding the architect as problem solver and the collaborative nature of the profession. The tour was led by Paul Broches, partner at Mitchell | Giurgola, and Jillian Sheedy, senior associate. Carol Loewenson, AIANY 2016 President-elect, joined in as well. Broches told our group of enthusiasts that each of the scientists was individually interviewed to determine the specific requirements for their laboratories. What a challenge to find general solutions to their complex problems—very nicely done—and it received a citation from AIA New York State in 2013.

Rockefeller University is an intellectual oasis, home to some 21 Nobel Laureates, in what the AIA Guide to New York calls the “Hospitalia” neighborhood of the far East Side. These scientists work on basic science and translational science, precursors to medicine, according to Zach Veilleux, from the University Office of Public Affairs. The laboratory complex combines a massive renovation of two early 20th century laboratory buildings by Shepley Bulfinch Richardson (the successor firm to H. H. Richardson) and Abbot, one in 1917 and the other in 1930. The historic buildings are handsome brick structures with modest and restrained classical detailing on cornices and brackets. The two buildings were gutted and conjoined by a glass and metal elliptical cone – the bridge.

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(Courtesy Julia Cohen)

The linking building provides space for vertical circulation and a paradigm shift for the scientist occupants. No longer cosseted away in private worlds, they have a swirling centrifuge of space on six levels in which to serendipitously meet, eat, and relax. It works: each level sports unique groupings of casual seating, benches, and café tables most occupied during our lunch-time tour: science rock-stars in a new comfort zone of social interaction. Science for the benefit of humanity wrapped in a wood slat “scroll” that lines the complex elliptical volume.

Tomorrow: more science at the New York Hall of Science in Queens

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