This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today’s Building of the Day tour gave participants an exclusive look at 56 Leonard Street, designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the building's interiors. The tour was led by Mehmet Noyan, Associate at Herzog & de Meuron and Project Manager of 56 Leonard, which was developed by Alexico Group. Participants viewed a four-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom penthouse and the amenity floors for the building. The tour began outside the building, with a discussion of its unusual structure. 56 Leonard Street was designed “from the inside out,” according to the designers. Each unit is meant to be personal and individualized, unlike most high-rise apartment structures. The structure is intended more as a “vertical neighborhood” than an apartment complex. The balconies, which jut out at staggered intervals, were intentionally designed to not block sunlight for those below. This design also adds increased privacy for residents, since direct views to other units are limited. The top units of the building take this aesthetic to the extreme, with large terraces that cantilever out at greater distances. It is these cantilevered upper units that give the building its Jenga-like appearance. The penthouse apartment that Archtober participants toured has been recently purchased for an undisclosed amount. The apartment is currently empty, which only served to emphasize the design features and, most importantly, the amazing views. The unit spans the entire floor, with views in every direction, but the wrap-around terrace outside the kitchen and living room was by far the most stunning. The views span the entire eastern side, with views into Brooklyn as well as up into midtown and down to the financial district. The unit featured 14-foot, ceiling-to-floor windows, solid white oak floors, a black kitchen island, and white and neutral colors in the bathrooms. Noticeably, the surfaces in the apartment, including those in the bathroom and kitchen, were all done in a matte finish, which worked well–the amount of light in the apartment would have made reflective surfaces an unattractive option. The two amenities floors contain a gym, pool, lounge, sundeck, spa, theater, and children’s room; both floors also have terraces. Perhaps most impressive on these floors was the giant spiral staircase of poured concrete connecting the two levels. The stairwell matched the concrete core of the building, but because of the windows and carpeting, the amount of poured material does not overwhelm the space. Join us tomorrow at the Staten Island Courthouse, St. George. Author: Mary Lib Schmidt
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This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. In today’s Building of the Day tour, Archtober viewed the new offices of iHeart Media in Midtown. Designed by Architecture + Information (A+I) in association with creative consultants Beneville Studios, the space houses the corporate headquarters of iHeart Media over three floors. From A+I, Todd Stodolski, Senior Associate; Tony Moon, Architect; and Jara Mira, Project Manager, joined Michael Beneville, Founder and Principal, and Kyle Hoy, Design Manager at Beneville Studios, to lead the tour. First, Beneville and the A+I team gave an overview of iHeart Media’s history and the context for the new office. iHeart Media is the largest radio station owner in the United States. iHeart’s predecessor, Clear Channel Communications, was founded in San Antonio in 1972 and expanded over the next 30 years to include not only radio stations but other forms of mass media assets, notably billboards and live concerts. Beneville described CEO Bob Pittman’s deep faith in radio as a medium, and his belief that, were radio invented today, it would be seen as a groundbreaking technology. It was this belief that led Pittman to rebrand Clear Channel as iHeartMedia in 2014. A+I and Beneville Studios were tasked with creating a flexible, open office space that would convey the excitement of working for and with iHeartMedia. Moreover, the design themes used in the headquarters would be copied at iHeart corporate and broadcasting offices throughout the country, meaning elements had to feel as natural in Peoria or Phoenix as in New York. And the most important directive for the 75,000-square-foot space came from Pittman: “I want visitors to walk through the door and say, ‘Who the #*%! are these people?’ and I want them to get it within five seconds.'” The main entrance, on the middle floor of three, amply fulfills his vision. In the corridor leading from the elevator to the offices, motion sensors trigger lights in iHeart’s colors of red and white, and speakers play randomly chosen live content from iHeart’s stations across the country. An average office entrance it is not. The barrage of audio-visual information continues inside. The heart of the space is a cut connecting all three levels around a massive screen which plays footage from iHeart events and seating steps. This space is used to present office-wide policies to all New York employees, but has also host mini-concerts from the likes of Alicia Keys. Behind this light, airy space is the dark, intense Promotional Porthole, a conference room with screens and other fixtures that play video and sound as well as emit fragrances. The three floors of the office all house different parts of the iHeart staff. The top floor is for employees of the audio-visual groups, the middle floor is for Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, one of the country’s largest owners of billboards and hoardings, and the bottom floor contains boardrooms and executive offices. The offices are bright and airy, primarily white with flashes of red and blue. The previous offices were very traditional, and there was some concern about the transition to a new space. The main feedback the designers have received is that they could have gone even further in replacing individual glassed-in and cubicle offices with open plan meeting spaces and “phone booth” meeting pods. Many initiatives at iHeartMedia involve multiple teams, and having a common space to meet is essential. Additionally, market managers from across the country meet with executives in New York once a month, so there is a strong ebb and flow in the office population, requiring spaces that can grow or shrink as needed. Within this complex context, A+I and Beneville Studios have conveyed in spatial terms the excitement iHeartMedia generates across its many media platforms. Join us tomorrow at 56 Leonard Street.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. As participants in today's Archtober Building of the Day tour discovered, the siting of New Lab in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard couldn't be more harmonious with the mission of the space. Considering the history of the Navy Yard as a hub of innovation—the place where the USS Arizona was built, where Squibb invented anesthesia, and where opera singer Eugenia Farrar sang the first song broadcast over wireless radio—we couldn't think of a more appropriate backdrop for New Lab, a space that uniquely supports entrepreneurs working in advanced technology. Designed by the Marvel Architects alongside his project management firm DBI, New Lab is located inside of the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard Building 128—a century-old former shipbuilding machine shop. It was the primary machine shop for every major ship launched during World Wars I and II, but by 2011, the site was a deserted iron skeleton. That’s when the 51,000-square-foot shop was repurposed into an 84,000-square-foot multidisciplinary design, prototyping, and advanced manufacturing hub. In addition to plentiful meeting, office, and exhibition space, New Lab’s amenities include a woodshop, a metal shop, and two 3-D printing labs for members. Details such as these underscore New Lab’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in cutting-edge technological fields including robotics, urban agriculture, AI, and nanotechnology. Members also have access to an arguably more valuable resource: each other, as well as a network of city agencies, venture capitalists, domain experts, and corporate partners. Only 15% of applicants are ultimately accepted to New Lab, and leases are set at one year to ensure longer-term use of the space. The tour uncovered how deeply the designers considered ways of configuring the building to align with preservation standards. Central to the interior design was the desire to preserve the massive “central corridor” and to establish a clear path down the center of the space. “We were committed to the notion of being able to experience the trusswork continuously from end to end,” explained Scott Demel, AIA, of Marvel Architects. Co-working spaces are currently all the rage, but unlike many of these, the driving force in New Lab’s design was respect for the original building, rather than a desire to squeeze every last square foot out into rentable workspace. The result is an airy, voluminous space supporting not just work, but exhibitions and large gatherings as well. The interior feels ethereally light despite the massive original iron and steel beams preserved within. The space is punctuated by bursts of colorful lounge spaces for meetings and impromptu conversations. As opposed to many buildings with technical programs, where the interior design is either driven by playful, gaming-centered design or the streamlined minimalism of an Apple store, here the designers went for postmodern furniture in strong, saturated colors. Clearly, much consideration was also given to user experience—and not just for the workspaces inhabited by entrepreneurial tech companies. The visitor experience was also key in developing the interior layout; the designers wanted the casual visitor to be able to experience the space on their own terms without disturbing work happening within. The repetitive series of bridges, walkways, and mezzanines offers unique vantage points and opportunities to traverse the space, and the compartmentalized one-story offices provide tidy compartments of space along the perimeter. New Lab is an inspiring, thoughtful space dedicated to the history and the future of innovation, tucked away in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Archtober takes a break from the Building of the Day series over Open House New York Weekend. Join us on Monday at the offices of iHeart Media! Author: Mary Fichtner
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. For today’s Building of the Day, Archtober took us on a guided architectural tour of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, now home to the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Our knowledgeable guide, Jeff Harrington, Museum Ambassador of NMAI, described the building’s history, focusing on the magnificent architecture by Cass Gilbert. We started our tour in the rotunda, the massive central space that anchors the building. Here, Harrington gave us a run-down of the site's history. The lower tip of Manhattan Island, acquired by Dutch settlers in the early-17th Century, was the site of the New Amsterdam settlement. The central point of New Amsterdam was Fort Amsterdam, which stood where the Customs House is now. In 1665, New Amsterdam surrendered to the British, who renamed it New York. In 1790, the federal government demolished Fort Amsterdam (then known as Fort George) to build the Government House, which was intended to be the presidential residence but was never actually occupied by George Washington. Government House later became the Governor’s mansion, and from 1799 to 1815 was New York’s second custom house. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, customs taxes were the largest source of national income, since income tax and other federal taxes were vastly lower than they are today. Imports to New York Harbor were rapidly mounting, and the Custom House needed a larger home. In 1899, Cass Gilbert won the competition to design the new Custom House. The process was marked by some controversy; his former architectural partner, John Knox Taylor, was the Supervising Architect for the Department of the Treasury and hence on the selection committee. Work began in 1900 and was completed in 1907. As a measure of the Custom House’s importance, the entire land acquisition, design, and construction budget of $9 million was paid for in the first month with Custom income. Gilbert designed an immense, imposing seven-story edifice with 450,000 square feet of floor space. Unlike almost every other custom house, the entrance faced away from the sea – which at that time, before landfill, was immediately adjacent to the site – and up Broadway. Gilbert wanted the first glimpse of the United States to be not the inside of a government building, however magnificent, but the sweep of Broadway. The myriad offices needed to house 1,000 employees were grouped along corridors leading off from the central rotunda. To the left of the entrance was the cashier’s office, where ships’ officers and importers paid the tariffs that had been set by officials in other parts of the building. To the right was the wood-paneled Collector’s Office, where the Collector of Customs conducted official business. Gilbert’s attention to detail was legendary; he was involved in the design down to the smallest decoration. He also relied on numerous extraordinary collaborators. Exterior statues of figures personifying America, Asia, Europe, and Africa are by Daniel Chester French. The ceiling of the central rotunda was designed by famed master craftsman Rafael Guastavino, whose other credits in New York include the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal, Grant’s Tomb, and Carnegie Hall. Guastavino was also involved in the construction of the Custom House’s stairs. Much of the paneling in the Collectors Room was done by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s woodworking studio, which he had not yet sold to focus on glass. Gilbert designed the decoration with two central themes: the sea and the U.S. Government. Marine animals and American eagles therefore dominate the ceiling decorations. In 1937, Reginald Marsh carried out a WPA commission to decorate the central rotunda with scenes of New York Harbor, adding to the nautical theme. As the Port of New York declined after World War II, so did the importance of the Custom House. The post of Collector was abolished in 1966, and in 1971 the Custom House, much reduced in size, moved its offices to 6 World Trade Center. The Hamilton Custom House was slated for demolition, but efforts led by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan saved it from the wrecking ball. In 1976, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark, but it remained unoccupied and deteriorated. In the early 1990s, renamed in Hamilton’s honor, it was restored and adapted to house the NMAI, which now occupies the building along with various other governmental agencies such as a divorce court and, once again, a small customs office. Our Archtober group couldn’t have been happier that this magnificent building escaped demolition and can be experienced in its full glory. Join us tomorrow at the New Lab in Brooklyn Navy Yard!
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Archtober isn’t just a program for buildings, it’s also for landscapes. The Naval Cemetery Landscape is one of several landscape architecture projects featured this year. The site was designed as a natural area populated exclusively by native plant species to provide a respite from the nearby Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), warehouses, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was created by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects with Marvel Architects. Nestled on a site that lies between communities and roadways, the Naval Cemetery Landscape is something that is more readily stumbled on then sought out. Built for access from a bike artery, the Brooklyn Greenway, the site provides a natural stopping point for cyclists, bees, and birds. It is also a processing place for stormwater. A delicate touch was needed for every element of this project because it sits on hallowed ground: over 2,000 patients from the adjacent Navy Yard Hospital were buried there between the 1830s and 1920s. In 1926, the known remains on the site were exhumed and reinterred in the Cypress Hills National Cemetery. In the postwar era the original site was reborn as a ballfield, but after a human bone was found during practice, the land was sealed in the 1970s and became overgrown with invasive mulberry and mugwort in the intervening years. The site was redeveloped as part of the Brooklyn Greenway’s plan to develop a series of calming oases-like nodes along the path that extends from Greenpoint to Red Hook. The land is still owned by the Navy Yard, and the Cemetery Landscape is one of the few publicly-accessible sites within the vast complex. Because of the site’s sensitivity, no digging could be done. A natural meadow was planted on the surface of the land with help from Larry Weaner Landscape Associates (specialists in Northeastern meadow habitats), and the undulating boardwalk that loops around the park sits on diamond-shaped footings that are pinned, not dug, into the ground. Two caretakers help keep invasive species out of the meadow and interpret the site for visitors. They work out of a small structure that leads visitors into the boardwalk, and frames the landscape behind it when the site is closed. It is open on Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The project was funded in large part by the TKF Foundation, whose mission is to bring nature into urban areas. The Foundation also provided funds for a social scientist to study the process. As groups from Brooklyn’s Green School have been watching the park takes shape, a researcher has accompanied them on their trips. TKF also placed a bench along the boardwalk, with a visitors' booklet stored inside. Numerous entries in Yiddish and English are a testament to the Cemetery Landscape’s evolving use and to the diversity of its surrounding communities. Join us tomorrow at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Author: Sam Holleran
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober got a tour of the Cary Leeds Tennis Center in the Bronx led by GLUCK+ principal Marc Gee. Gee elaborated the complex process of getting such a major public project built, and explained how the design/build capabilities of GLUCK+ allowed the project to be completed on time and under budget. The Tennis Center is a joint venture between New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. NYJTL, which runs tennis clinics and tutoring and academic programs, approached GLUCK+ with the idea for the Center, which would serve as a home base for all of NYJTL’s programs. The Center was to be named after Cary Leeds, a professional tennis player who tragically passed away, and whose parents wanted to commemorate him in a way that would help bring the sport he loved to more people. Over a number of years, GLUCK+ worked on five schemes for five different parks in three boroughs before finally being able to realize the design in Crotona Park. There are 12 new hard courts at the Center, ten of them bubbled for winter play. This number adds to the ten public courts that the Department of Parks and Recreation renovated. NYJTL uses revenue from renting court time during the winter to pay for its on- and off-court programming. In addition to the courts, GLUCK+ was responsible for the design of the airy clubhouse. The clubhouse had two design objectives: minimizing sightlines from the park and opening the interior space to the courts as much as possible. When the original design was rejected because at two stories it would have been visible from multiple points in the park, GLUCK+ decided to sink the lower floor below grade. From the park side of the tennis courts, all one sees is the fence of the tennis court – the Center itself is invisible. But once you enter the space from the front door on Crotona Avenue, it is clear that GLUCK+ have designed an extraordinary space. The top entrance-level floor houses a check-in desk, offices for NYJTL and, to the right, a restrained, adult-focused lounge. Locker rooms and a pro shop are located against the entrance wall, away from the courts. The far wall is all glass, opening to a terrace and giving a picture-perfect view of the two stadium courts below. In the middle of the room is the precast-concrete staircase, which, due to a manufacturing error, had to be recast and then moved in after windows had already been fitted, creating a logistical nightmare. At the bottom of the stairs is the kids’ lounge, accented by multicolored chairs and a tennis ball pit. Further on are a classroom and a broadcasting room – the Tennis Channel donated equipment so that children can interview the major players who stop by the Center. Other back-of-house functions like the kitchen are also downstairs. Glass doors lead outside, where a patio separates the building from the courts, providing, on the day we toured, space for a barbeque and other festivities. GLUCK+’s dual role as architect and contractor made the project possible, allowing decisions that would usually have taken weeks going back and forth from construction site to office to be answered immediately. When a construction issue forced the design to be adjusted, it could be done almost immediately. The project came in $1800 under the $26 million budget and exactly on time. And since, as Gee pointed out, “the only person with a deep stake in the design is the architect,” supervising construction allowed GLUCK+ to make sure that the design was executed just as they wanted.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Archtober marks a wonderful time of the year when New Yorkers and visitors alike explore some of NYC’s “hidden gems” and “best kept secrets,” the conditions of which are more difficult to maintain with access to virtually anything at our fingertips. Perhaps one of late modernism’s finest residences occupies a narrow lot on West 58th Street. A white-painted, steel-and-glass facade designed by the late architect Paul Rudolph is an intricate composition that gives clues to an extraordinary interior. The ground floor houses the Modulightor showroom, a joint venture between Rudolph and the company’s founder, Ernst Wagner. Above are a series of duplexes, one of which is home to Mr. Wagner himself, as well as many of Rudolph’s possessions, including artwork, artifacts, books, and the architect’s grand piano. Ernst has vowed to keep the spirit of Rudolph and his incredible work alive by giving the public access to this unique home. The group of Archtober enthusiasts who joined us for a visit to the Modulightor Building had the opportunity to explore the duplex in a manner that one would not define as a tour. Instead, guests were invited into the Modulighter showroom and were directed to have a look around the third floor via a small elevator. With multiple levels, shelving, surfaces, and armatures that Ernst and Paul’s collections animate, one walks through a richly layered space that is both theatrical and functional. Rudolph masterfully transformed a traditional twenty-foot-wide row house lot into a light-filled, indeterminate space that is at once intimate and infinite. Rudolph loved off-the-shelf materials and he used white melamine, acrylic, sheetrock and his Wrightian imagination and rigor to create a mysterious and most pleasing home. The interior winter garden flows visually into the outdoor patio and the lighting designed and manufactured in the building’s basement is almost invisible except for its ability to wash over walls and surfaces. On my one hundredth visit, I will still be discovering something new. It is difficult to piece together what one just experienced but you are sure to walk away wowed, pleased, and wanting to revisit it, like any great artwork. What is architecture without the people who inhabit it? After guests filtered through the duplex and patio, they gravitated toward where Ernst was sitting. You can still detect his strong Austrian accent as he shared many stories about living in the house, the painstaking attention to detail that Paul put into every detail, and the plans to finish the upper duplex in time to celebrate Paul’s 100th birthday, complete with an exhibition of the architect’s work. Be sure to visit this hidden gem and meet its jovial and proud owner. Your visit will support the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s mission to bring awareness to Paul’s vision and secure this Building of the Day as an important architectural and cultural landmark.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober’s Building of the Day series stopped at the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, Queens for a tour led by Peter Coombe and Jennifer Sage, principals of Sage and Coombe Architects, who recently completed a far-reaching renovation. Sage and Coombe were joined by George Juergens, facilities manager at The Noguchi Museum and former assistant to Isamu Noguchi. They treated the Archtober group to a fascinating look at the Museum’s transformation from Isamu Noguchi’s small personal project to a fully sustainable and viable enterprise of its own. Sage and Coombe explained that their central challenge was how to continue Noguchi’s vision while inserting such sorely needed elements as heating and cooling. The building complex consists of a 1920s engraving plant and a small adjacent building Noguchi built with his friend and collaborator, the architect Shoji Sadao, in the 1980s. Noguchi planned the museum to exhibit his work to the public and to continue his legacy after his death. Before the renovation, the museum was a dark, cramped space with no climate control of any kind, which prevented it from being open in the winter and from hosting traveling exhibitions. In the early 2000s, the Museum hired Sage and Coombe to bring the facility up to ADA code. The board then expanded the brief to add climate control and convert the basement into an educational conference space. As Sage and Coombe dug deeper, they discovered that the Museum, which is built on landfill, was supported by untreated wood pilings that were slowly sinking toward the East River. Extensive structural work was clearly necessary. In order to reinforce the complex, Sage and Coombe put in over 900 helical pilings. One element that remains is the unobtrusive side-street entrance, no more than a slender cut in a massive stone wall. Inside is the small lobby, with a window providing a glimpse of the walled garden to the right. Entering the museum from the lobby, the visitor is in the former garage, which is now a roofed exhibition space open on one side to the peaceful garden. The main volume of the museum is to the left, with the temporary collection on the ground floor and rotating exhibitions on the second level. The ground floor, an elegant, concrete-floored industrial space filled with light, was left largely as it was. One exception was the creation of the café and bookshop in a small space off the main gallery. Preserving the room’s steel ceiling panels, which Noguchi loved, was a priority. Since the space had to be gutted, Juergens and his team photographed, numbered, removed and then reinstalled each steel panel. The second floor is the most extensively renovated. Along with installing heating and cooling for comfort throughout, Sage and Coombe completely rebuilt the second floor of the 1980s building to provide a fully climate-controlled space in which the museum could display temporary exhibitions without fear of damaging the artworks. Up a slight ramp, this new space flows seamlessly into the existing gallery. Sage and Coombe also put in an elevator, which allowed the museum to both meet ADA requirements and transport art without using a trapdoor. Our tour ended in the serene garden, a key part of Noguchi’s original vision for the Museum. Sage and Coombe collaborated on the garden with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. Sage and Coombe had to “skin” the garden façade of the museum, stripping every brick from it since it was in such poor condition. The garden’s rear wall also had to be rebuilt. It turned out that three kinds of ivy grew on this wall; all of them were documented and replaced. It is this attention to detail that ensures Noguchi’s legacy lives on in a museum that is fully suited to the demands of the contemporary art world. Join us tomorrow as we tour the SeaGlass Carousel!
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today’s Archtober Building of the Day tour took us to Brooklyn Grange, located on top of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Building 3. Once we had assembled on the 11th floor, with its sweeping views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, Gwen Schantz, co-founder and CEO, took us around the intimate yet extraordinarily productive farm. Schantz, who heads the farm’s landscaping division, revealed not only the specific agricultural details of the farm but also how they have managed to turn urban agriculture into a viable business model. Brooklyn Grange’s roots date to 2009, when Ben Flanner, now president, quit his job in finance to open Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn. One year later, joined by Schantz and other partners, he opened the organization’s permanent foothold in Long Island City; they soon after added the location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The organization has since become a worldwide leader in urban agriculture efforts. Central to Brooklyn Grange’s mission is to do more than just grow food. Schantz went so far as to describe it primarily as an educational center, facilitated by City Growers, an educational nonprofit that Brooklyn Grange (which is for-profit) founded but has since spun off. Schantz emphasized that it would be extremely difficult to turn a profit solely by selling produce, but that Brooklyn Grange stays financially feasible by designing gardens and landscapes and hosting events. Rather than seeing these aspects as a necessary evil, Schantz described them as equal to the agriculture department. Brooklyn Grange’s goal, she said, was to show that urban agriculture can be a viable enterprise—a goal which has been amply met. As we walked around the farm, Schantz described the its physical makeup. The farm uses a soil mix of 50 percent is expanded shale, which is put in a kiln and broken up slightly to be porous, almost like coral. This allows small organisms to live in the soil, a central aspect of organic farming. The other 50 percent of the soil is a compost mix sourced from mushroom farms in Pennsylvania. Schantz said that Brooklyn Grange have found they can grow almost any crop in about a foot of soil—a surprisingly thin layer. That is not to say that they do grow any crop. Brooklyn Grange focuses on more profitable crops, primarily lettuce. However, since selling directly to the community is an important part of Brooklyn Grange’s mission, and since crop rotation is a key aspect of organic farming, they do plant other crops as well, such as tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. During the off-season, employees organize events and work on the other elements of the farm. According to Schantz, the roof of Building 3 is perfect for a farm, as it was used to support extensive Navy training installations and is therefore extremely strong. To create the farm, a large hose connected to a mixer truck sprayed the roof with the first layer of soil. To augment that original soil, Brooklyn Grange regularly brings additional soil up in the freight elevator, another useful original feature. Along with the mushroom farm compost, other compost mixes come from Brooklyn Navy Yard tenants such as chocolate makers Mast. Brooklyn Grange does far more than grow food. It keeps bees at hives around the city, too. It serves an essential function by absorbing rainfall, relieving the burden on the city’s overtaxed stormwater management system. It educates schoolchildren from around the city about food and farming. It designs other landscapes. It hosts events ranging from dinner parties to weddings. And, most importantly, it has shown that you can make a business out of urban agriculture.
This is the first in a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Archtober kicked off Sunday with an intimate tour of The Woolworth Tower Residences led by Joanna Stephens, Project Manager for CNY Group, and CNY Group President Kenneth Colao. Stephens and Colao described how the project, which converts the top 30 floors of Cass Gilbert’s historic Woolworth Building into luxury condominiums, has involved not only gut renovation of the relevant floors but also extensive structural reinforcement and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) replacement. The Office of Thierry W. Despont is doing the interior design for the project, while SLCE Architects serves as architect of record. The owner-developer is Alchemy Properties. The tour started on the ground floor, where the residences will receive a separate lobby from the commercial space that occupies the first 28 floors. Stephens and Colao outlined the Woolworth Building’s history, beginning with five-and-dime store magnate Frank Woolworth’s desire to build the world’s tallest building. Construction took only two years, from 1910 to 1912, and the building opened in 1913. It remained the tallest building in the world until 1930. The current renovation completes the work begun years ago on the building’s top floors, and creates some of Manhattan’s most desirable residences. After our introduction, Stephens and Colao took us downstairs to the basement. The mechanical heart of the building, the basement, will now house a gym and wine cellar for residents. A feature of this gym is the original pool, soon to be restored to its former glory. Frank Woolworth put the pool in for the use of his executives. It was later bought by a private health club, but the NYC Department of Health closed it many years ago. The pool was also used as a mechanical area for wiring; whenever a new mechanical element was introduced, the old one was simply left in place next to it, so the pool eventually housed dozens of cubic feet of pipes and wires, some live, some not. One of the challenges of the renovation was to figure out which ones were redundant without turning off the light or water in the commercial floors, which remained occupied during construction. Stephens and Colao also discussed other challenges of gut renovating a landmarked building without disrupting the remaining tenants. One problem was the impossibility of putting up an exterior hoist. Instead, CNY temporarily requisitioned two elevators to function as tiny hoists, but the difficulty in bringing materials up such a small space slowed the construction schedule. Additionally, due to other regulations, no crane could be set up on the roof, so builders had to take apart some elements upon delivery, such as a generator, and reassemble them once they reached the correct floor. Once a freight elevator had carried our tour group to the residential levels, the true scale of the renovation became clear. We saw numerous residential floors at various levels of completion. Each floor is slightly different, based on the diminishing floorplates of the tapering tower and on individual buyers’ wishes. The two apartments on the 30th floor will be the second-most expensive after the penthouse, due to their extensive terraces. Most other floors will house two units, but some buyers have bought both apartments to create full-floor residences. We got to explore the model unit on the 38th floor, which displays the extent of Thierry Despont’s vision for the tower’s residents, complete with all modern conveniences in a sleek ensemble. Finally, the penthouse, advertised as a “townhome in the sky,” will span the top five stories, connected both by a spiral staircase and by a private elevator. This opulent residence, still under heavy construction, will hit the market at $110 million. While much of this apartment is still scaffolded, the notion of living at the top of the Woolworth Building, looking out at the city over Cass Gilbert’s gargoyles, is extraordinary. Tomorrow, join Archtober for another extraordinary view of the skyline when we tour the rooftop Brooklyn Grange Farm!
Get ready New York City, the month of Archtober is almost upon us. While October heralds the return of chunky knits and PSLs, New York City's architecture and design community knows that the tenth month of the year is really Archtober, AIA New York's celebration of the built environment. In collaboration with the city's cultural institutions, Archtober (also known as Architecture and Design Month) fosters awareness of architecture's role in everyday life through exhibitions, conferences, films, lectures, and the Building of the Day tours – architect-led visits to the city's best-loved structures and landscapes. The first site this year is the Woolworth Tower Residences, apartments by SLCE Architects in Cass Gilbert's classic neo-Gothic skyscraper. In partnership with AIA New York, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) is pleased to be the one-and-only source for Building of the Day blogs. For all of October, we'll bring you on-the-ground stories and tour highlights, so you can ride on WXY's SeaGlass Carousel, step inside LOT-EK's shipping container Carroll House, or explore Paul Rudolph's Modulightor Building, all without leaving your office. But if you do decide to leave (and you should), tickets for all tours are now available at the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule:If your number-one-can't-miss tour is sold out, don't despair: There are more than enough events for everyone. Archtober has a new series called Workplace Wednesdays where firms like SHoP, Snøhetta, and others will open up their offices to ticketed members of the public for workshops, presentations, and talks. On October 29, AN Contributing Editor Sam Lubell will give a talk on Never Built New York, the exhibition he co-curated at the Queens Museum.
Oct. 1 The Woolworth Tower Residences Architect: Cass Gilbert (the Woolworth Building's original architect); SLCE Architects (Woolworth Tower Residences architect of record): SLCE Architects; The Office of Thierry W. Despont (interior design) Oct. 2 Empire Stores Architect: S9Architecture Oct. 3 Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm Architect: Bromley Caldari Architects Oct. 4 The Noguchi Museum Architect: Isamu Noguchi and Shoji Sadao (original architects); Sage and Coombe Architects (rneovation architect) Oct. 5 SeaGlass Carousel Architect: WXY architecture + urban design Oct. 6 Modulightor Building Architect: Paul Rudolph Oct. 7 Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning Architect: GLUCK+ Oct. 8 Project Farmhouse Architect: ORE Design Oct. 9 The Residences at PS186 & Boys and Girls Club of Harlem Architect: Dattner Architects Oct. 10 Naval Cemetery Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Oct. 11 Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine Architect: Heins & LaFarge/Cram & Ferguson (1899) Oct. 12 Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Architect: Cass Gilbert Oct. 13 New Lab, Brooklyn Navy Yard Architect: Marvel Architects Oct. 14 Open House New York Weekend Oct. 15 Open House New York Weekend Oct. 16 iHeartMedia Architect: A+I with Beneville Studios Oct. 17 56 Leonard Street Architect: Herzog & De Meuron Oct. 18 Staten Island Courthouse, St. George Architect: Ennead Architects Oct. 19 Carroll House Architect: LOT-EK Oct. 20 Columbia University – Lenfest Center for the Arts Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (design architect); Davis Brody Bond (executive architect); Body-Lawson Associates (associate architect) Oct. 21 Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Architect: Maya Lin Studio (Designer); Bialosky + Partners Architects Oct. 22 Freshkills Park Architect: NYC Parks/James Corner Field Operations Oct. 23 The George Washington Bridge Bus Station Architect: STV – Program Architect/Architect of Record/Design Architect for Retail Development; PANYNJ Architectural Unit – Design Architect for Bus Station Oct. 24 Governors Island – The Hills Architect: West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture Oct. 25 Bronx River House Architect: Kiss + Cathcart, Architects Oct. 26 ISSUE Project Room Architect: McKim, Mead & White (original architect); Conversion to ISSUE Project Room: WORKac in collaboration with ARUP (ongoing) Oct. 27 Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District Architect: TEN Arquitectos Oct. 28 Morris Jumel Mansion Architect: Original Architect Unknown Oct. 29 Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler Oct. 30 Cornell Tech Architect: Handel Architects; Morphosis; WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Oct. 31 The William Vale Hotel Architect: Albo Liberis
This is the twenty-seventh in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! On today’s Building of the Day tour, Beth Franz, RLA of Quennell Rothschild & Partners (QRP) walked us through the past, present, and future of The Battery. The Battery is built on the site of what was once Fort Amsterdam, later renamed Fort George once the British took over. One of the first things Franz pointed out to us is an original stone placed at what was the corner of the fort. During the redesign process—a collaboration between QRP, Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, and WXY architecture + urban design (WXY) with the Battery Conservancy and the Parks Department as clients—QRP decided to completely expose the stone, which made it vulnerable to damage, but it enabled visitors to the park to have a connection to the old fort. We then walked to Castle Clinton, passing by The Battery Oval. The two-acre site acts as a connection from the main entrance to the park at Battery Place and State Street to Castle Clinton. During the Robert Moses era, this portion of the park was a two-lane pathway, mostly devoid of greenery. The oval is mounded, which helps it to act as an amphitheater and inside the oval there are 300 blue plastic chairs that have proven to be very popular with visitors. So popular in fact that they are being mass produced for anyone to buy. Franz then led us to the waterfront promenade, where she explained to us the different design phases of The Battery. After the dire financial times of the 1970s and 1980s when New York’s parks were suffering from neglect, The Battery Conservancy was established to ensure the park was kept in good shape for all New Yorkers to use and enjoy. In 1982, Philip Winslow led the first major redesign of the park with the goal of putting the landscape first and getting rid of the broken landscapes designed during the Moses era. The park is outlined with enormous 7,000-pound granite blocks that serve as a demarcating line between the busy public streets and the quiet garden-like atmosphere of the park. Along the perimeter are various monuments to different people and events. QRP restored these monuments to their original design and placed them at the end of streets that terminate at The Battery. These are designed to help bring visitors into the park and capture their attention. Walking along the bike path, Franz told us how integral it was in the design process. With safety for bikers and pedestrians in mind, QRP added visual cues for pedestrians that they are entering the bike path. They also wanted cyclists to be aware of those who might be in the path: There is granite striping on the paths and rumble strips to alert cyclists as well. Additionally, the path gets quite narrow in portions, which forces cyclists to slow down and be aware of their surroundings. Along the bike path is The Battery woodland, which consists almost entirely of native grasses and plants. The vision is that this will resemble a meadow that Europeans might have found on Manhattan Island when they first arrived. This area does not need to be mowed and it does not use fertilizers or chemicals to maintain the trees and grasses. We ended our tour at the Tiffany Gardens. These gardens also consist of native plants and are mounded, much like the oval. The mounding serves two valuable purposes. Firstly, since the subway tunnels are just inches below the park, the mounds provide enough soil for the plants to take root. Secondly, Franz explained that they create something called “conceal and reveal.” If the landscape is totally flat, a viewer can see the entire park and not be as enticed to enter. If a mound is partially blocking their view, they become interested in what lies beyond and enter to explore the area. The new SeaGlass Carousel designed by WXY is located next to the Tiffany Gardens. Across from the carousel is the last unfinished part of the park, which will be a playground, meant to encourage imaginative play for children of all ages. Among the hustle and bustle of the Financial District, The Battery offers a wonderful respite and it truly is one of New York’s most beautiful parks. About the author: Jacob Fredi is the Public Programs and Exhibitions Coordinator at the Center for Architecture. When he’s not on Building of the Day tours, you can find him playing board games (Class Struggle!) and brewing his own beer.