Posts tagged with "Archtober":

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Sweden comes to New York for a series on democratic architecture

From October 24 to 28, the Center for Architecture and Van Alen Institute will host Swedish Design Moves New York, a program exploring Swedish innovation in architecture and design. In addition to a series of public panels, an exhibition of Swedish architecture projects called Aiming for Democratic Architecture will be on view at the Van Alen Institute from October 26 to 28, curated by Architects Sweden and the Swedish Institute. This program is part of the Center for Architecture's Archtober 2017. The program, curated by an international nonprofit called STHLMNYC, will focus on the concept of democratic architecture using Sweden as a progressive touchpoint. According to the series' press release, "Sweden's egalitarian society and intimate relation to nature have generated great examples of balanced architectural solutions that accommodate both community and environmental needs." Through multidisciplinary panels that bring together architects, planners, and designers from the U.S. and Sweden, Swedish Design Moves will look at the application of these principles worldwide. Previous iterations have been hosted in Stockholm, Milan, London, and Paris. The four-day program will open with The Process of Democratic Architecture, a panel that will include Christer Larsson from the Department of City Planning in Malmö, Sweden, Alexandra Hagen from White Arkitekter, Per Franson from the KTH School of Architecture, David Burney from Pratt Institute, Claudia Herasme from the New York Department of City Planning, and Chris Sharples from SHoP Architects. The series will also include a conversation on nature and well-being with panelists from Wingårdhs, Urbio, Marge, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and RAAD STUDIO, a conversation on culture and people with panelists from GoDown Arts Centre, White Arkitekter, Mandaworks, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and a conversation on innovative solutions with panelists from CFMoller, Färgfabriken, Stockholm City, ORE Design, and HPD Architecture. Along with the panels, several workshops will also offer an in-depth look at questions of a "new urban agenda" and the potential of self-built housing. Equity in design will be a central topic at each panel. "One of the largest challenges we face when it comes to the built environment is affordability," said Chris Sharples, Principal at SHoP Architects. "Our role as architects and planners is to come up with new material systems and design/building processes that allow us to address the cost constraints." Swedish Design Moves New York was organized through a partnership between Visit Sweden, STHLMNYC, Architects Sweden, The Swedish Institute, and the Consulate General of Sweden in New York. The full program for Swedish Design Moves New York (October 24 - 28) at the Center for Architecture and Van Alen Institute is available here.
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Archtober Building of the Day #17: Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

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. On an unseasonably warm Saturday, Archtober got a tour of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown, revealing the design thinking behind the museum and how it operates today. The adaptive reuse of the ground floor and basement, the two floors rented by the museum in what is otherwise an office building, was carried out by Maya Lin Studio and Bialosky + Partners Architects. Our tour guide was Alina Shen, Museum Educator at MOCA. Our tour began outside, as Shen pointed out the 1915 building’s original façade and discussed the ground floor renovation. The 14,000-square-foot building used to be the Grand Machinery Exchange, one of 40 used-machine dealers on the block, which in the early 20th century attracted buyers from across the country. At the ground floor, the architects transformed the industrial façade with large spans of glass. Closely attuned to the neighborhood and the museum’s mission as a repository of Chinese-American history, Lin’s design incorporated text as a way of harkening back to text-laden signs of Chinese-American-owned businesses nearby.   When the tour moved inside, Shen described the museum’s history and mission. In the 1980s, cofounders Jack Tchen and Charlie Lai noticed that many objects, such as cabinets and photographs, were being left on the curb throughout Chinatown. They began collecting and archiving the objects, and after some research realized that many stores in Chinatown were approaching the end of their 99-year leases. Tchen and Lai created the Chinatown History Project as a way of preserving the memory of these spaces and the older generation of Chinese-American residents. The project eventually grew into MOCA. Formerly located at PS 23, the museum moved into its new digs in 2009, increasing its space six-fold. The lobby, filled with natural light from the glass façade, uses many recycled materials, including much wood, which mixes well with the exposed brick walls of the building. Moving back from the lobby, Shen showed us the “courtyard,” which despite its name is more of an atrium with a large skylight overhead. The space starts in the basement – down recycled-wood stairs from the ground level – and spans three floors. The courtyard also brings in crucial natural light and some interior views to the galleries, which are all housed on the ground floor. MOCA’s basement level houses restrooms and administrative and education spaces.   Our tour continued through the exhibition spaces, laid out in a vague U-shape around the atrium. The first five galleries contain the permanent collection, which tells the story of Chinese in America with a special focus on Manhattan’s Chinatown, and ends with a fascinating meditation on the urban patterns of the 21st century, from traditional Chinatowns to more suburban settings in New York and Los Angeles. Parts of the display tell the stories of prominent Chinese Americans, while others focus on ordinary people to delve into the social makeup of Chinese American communities at various points in time. A timeline runs along the base of many of the display walls, and drawers invite the visitor to interact with the space, continuing the Museum’s goal of being dialogic rather than monologist. The innermost space in the museum faces Lafayette Street, straddling the border between Chinatown and Nolita, thus speaking to the issues of gentrification and transition of many urban ethnic communities. This room, which has an elegant tin ceiling and an end-grain wood block floor, also includes cabinetry saved from stores in Chinatown that were closing, complete with dried herbs and spices. This liminal space emphasizes the fact that the museum, like Chinatown, is an evolving rather than fixed entity, a concept echoed throughout the design.
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Archtober Building of the Day #16: Carroll House

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.

With its cross-cut profile and tiny vertical slivers for windows, the Carroll House might appear to be an up-and-coming studio space in Williamsburg. Neighbors walk by, staring, and some pause to take photos. Inside, however, is an industrial-chic home for a family of four.

We were joined on our Archtober Building of the Day tour today by Virginie Stolz, project manager at LOT-EK–the firm behind the building's design–alongside the home's owners Joe and Kim Carroll. Built on a 25-by-100-foot site, this standard Brooklyn residential lot is almost tailor-made for shipping container construction, with three eight-foot-wide containers making up the short side of the structure. Comprised of 15 shipping containers in total, this 5,000-square-foot home took four years and many conversations with the NYC Department of Buildings to complete.

According to Joe Carroll, LOT-EK originally planned to strip the shipping containers and let them rust naturally. However, due to code requirements, the design team and homeowners landed on the building’s ruddy brown color, which balances edgy design with the rest of the neighborhood. The details of the long shipping containers were kept intact. The bright yellow twist locks that connect containers on maritime voyages are welded in place.

The 15 containers went up in three days. Originally, LOT-EK wanted to build the house out of pre-fabricated pieces, but due to city code requirements the architects had to rethink the construction process. HVAC and electrical systems were threaded throughout the structure after the containers went up. Surprisingly, the floor of all shipping containers, industry-wide, are made of wood. For this project, LOT-EK chose to keep the original floors. A steep interior stair spans the middle container, maximizing the floor space on each level. An exterior stair snakes up the entire terrace structure at the back.

While the house appears dark and solid from the outside, the interior is quite bright. The containers are sliced at an angle, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, opening the back of the house to direct sunlight. Solar panels will be installed between the upper terraces, taking advantage of the direct sunlight.

The Carroll family moved into their home in November 2016, and since then, they say passersby and the occasional film scout regularly ring their doorbell to a get glimpse inside the unusual home.

Author: Kelly Felsberg
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Archtober Building of the Day #14: 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. 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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Archtober Building of the Day #13: iHeartMedia

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.
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Archtober Building of the Day #12: New Lab, 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. 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
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Archtober Building of the Day #12: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

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!
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Archtober Building of the Day #10: Naval Cemetery at the 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 
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Archtober Building of the Day #7: Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning

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.
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Archtober Building of the Day #6: The Modulightor Building

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.
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Archtober Building of the Day: The Noguchi Museum

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!
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Archtober Building of the Day: Brooklyn Grange Farm

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.