This is the twelfth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! This afternoon, Andrea Steele, principal of TEN Arquitectos, led the thirteenth Archtober Building of the Day tour, an informative visit to the New York Public 53rd Street Library branch. Designed by her firm and completed in June, the new facility opposite the Museum of Modern Art occupies the site of the former Donnell Library Center, which it shares with the new 50-story Baccarat Hotel & Residences designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. While the location is excellent, the space presented many challenges. The library occupies three levels, one at street level and two below grade, with only fifty feet of street frontage. The majority of the library lies below the new tower and, as a result, it had to be planned around a massive sheer wall and a large elevator core. In certain locations the floor slabs are sloped, penetrated and pulled back, thereby creating multi-story spaces and openings to introduce natural light to the lower levels and diminish the perception of being subterranean. Architect and client sought to make the library as open and inviting to the public as possible and to encourage dialogue with the city. Public engagement was one of the main objectives of the design and remains an important goal of the library’s programming, which has already included after-hours concerts, opera performances, and presidential debate screenings. To draw people in, the building’s facade is extremely open and transparent, offering views to the stepped Main Hall, a multi-use space that connects the street level with the Central level below. Responsible for interior design as well as architecture, TEN Arquitectos have created a lively and engaging space. Materials such as exposed architectural concrete, corrugated perforated metal, wood floors, felt, and ceilings of metal grating were selected to express, in Steele’s words, “the tectonics of the city.” Sleek contemporary furnishings recall designs of Prouve and Aalto. Bold environmental graphics were provided by 2x4, who also created a playful mural in the children’s area referencing New York landmarks. About the author: John Shreve Arbuckle, Assoc. AIA guides the AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture boat tours, and organizes and guides tours through Arbuckle Architecture Tours, LLC. He is the President of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State, a local chapter of an international organization devoted to documenting and preserving Modern architecture.
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This is the eleventh in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Horizon Media 75 Varick Street New York, NY This afternoon, we set our sights on Horizon Media, the fastest growing, privately owned media company in the United States. In 2010, it began construction on what is now a stunning, progressive workspace that unites over 1,000 employees in a single office building in downtown Manhattan. A+I’s Phil Ward and Kate Thatcher took us into the 250,000-square-foot- space, leading us through what felt like the most sunlit, well-connected office maze I’ve ever seen. The company covers three floors at 75 Varick Street. A+I is currently collaborating with them on the fifth phase of the project that will expand the office across the 11th and 12th floors. Though the office is inside a landmarked art deco structure, Horizon’s space looks anything but its real age. From the visitor’s entrance on the 16th floor, a giant LED screen guides visitors into an open space full of natural light. To the left, an internal open staircase is cut out diagonally, connecting three floors of the office. Visitors will immediately see that giant windows line each floor, providing sweeping views of the Hudson, Tribeca, and Soho. It’s clear that access to daylight, along with an emphasis on wood paneling, polished concrete, live plantings, and orange accents, are incorporated into every detail of the office's design. Designer Phil Ward described the building as a dream subject for renovation. Once a pre-war printing press, its sturdy concrete skeleton was able to hold the weight of their creative construction. At one point during the tour, Kate Thatcher asked the group: “What does a modern office space need in a building built 100 years ago?” The answer is technological mobility and connectivity. Horizon operates on transparency and accessibility in a 21st-century media world and their office space reflects that. A+I used the industrial feel of the space to their advantage by creating a clean, seamless office that utilizes glass encasings, white cubicles, and techy conference rooms to suggest openness and creative collaboration amongst employees. While there are individual desks, people can also make calls in phone booths, bring their laptops to small couches, meet in groups on the outdoor terrace, or in even in “the dunes,” a multi-purpose space on the bottom floor with extra seating and a pantry area. Horizon also boasts a game room, a company gym, a theater and a giant fish tank (a special request by CEO Bill Koenigsberg). The new office design has inspired major change in the company culture, according to leadership. Not only are employees encouraged to get up and move throughout the work day—I don’t recall a single elevator outside of the visitor’s entrance—but Horizon also strongly promotes the democratization of office amenities and a flexible workspace. While all the employees are not literally seated on the same floor, the company as a whole aims to be on the same level. About the author: Sydney Franklin is a content producer at the NYC Department of Design and Construction. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in architectural journalism.
This is the tenth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! For today’s Building of the Day tour, we visited the 2016 AIANY Design Award Winner, Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed. The Garage and Salt Shed are two separate buildings with specific purposes for the Department of Sanitation. The 425,000 square-foot LEED Gold Certified garage opened in 2015 and houses sanitation trucks from three Manhattan sanitation districts, serving 300,000 residents. Dattner Architects and WXY architecture + urban design worked very closely with the Department of Sanitation, the Public Design Commission, the Department of City Planning, and the Department of Design and Construction to design a building that was functional yet would fit in well with the cityscape. The facade of the building is double skinned, with the interior facade made of glass to allow natural light into the building while the outer façade is composed of 2,600 “fins” made of perforated aluminum. These fins move throughout the day, following the sun to reduce glare inside and keep the temperature pleasant. They also serve the purpose of blocking the headlights and view of the trucks in the garage, which was very important to the neighbors of the garage. Self-sufficiency was a major theme of the construction of the building according to Gia Mainiero, AIA of Dattner Architects. To that effect, the garage has a green roof, the largest in New York City, which helps with energy conservation in the entire building. The plants that comprise the green roof are desert succulents, which require little care and no additional watering. The roof also plays a role in the water conservation of the building. Rainwater from the roof and water created from the Con Ed steam system is collected in a 20,000 gallon tank used to both wash the trucks and supply the building’s sewer system. While the placement of the building was at first controversial, residents are reportedly very pleased with the design of the structure and happy with the fact that it helps keep garbage trucks off the crowded streets. Across the street from the garage is the Salt Shed, which holds 5,000 tons of salt used to keep New York’s streets clear in the winter. It is one of 36 facilities throughout New York City meant to hold de-icing salt. The building is designed to resemble a lump of crystallized salt, with a 32-degree angle on the roof—salt’s natural angle of repose. Salt in the Salt Shed reaches a height of roughly 45 feet and is refilled by trucks as needed in the winter. The structure is currently a grayish-white color, but slag mixed into the concrete means that it will change colors as the building ages. At night, architectural lighting lights the building in a magnificent way and it has become akin to a sculpture of the neighborhood. In fact, as we were on the tour, there was a photoshoot in front—not the first according to our guides. Quite a creative use for a building filled with tons and tons of salt. Tomorrow, we head to Horizon Media. About the author: Julia Christie is the Office Manager at AIANY / Center for Architecture.
This is the ninth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Schermerhorn Row is a complex of buildings that many of us have walked by or perhaps been inside on a shopping expedition to the South Street Seaport. One may recognize the silhouette of the building and sailing ship in the South Street Seaport Museum’s iconic logo, designed by Chermayeff and Geismar. According to William Roka, historian for the Seaport Museum, the buildings built between 1810 to 1812 comprised of a row of speculative counting houses built by Peter Schermerhorn, a descendant of an important Dutch family instrumental in founding New Amsterdam. Roka provided an interesting and thorough historical context to what he describes as one of New York’s most important building. How is it that this significant landmark, hidden in plain sight, is not more familiar to New Yorkers and their guests alike? Schermerhorn Row has been described as New York’s first world trade center. Peter Schermerhorn was at the right place at the right time to develop a water lot by extending landfill into the East River. He built a warehouse of sorts adjacent to the burgeoning maritime trade just prior to the establishment of a market and ferry named after Robert Fulton. Considered a large building in its day, it served merchants who would handle cargo and account for the taxes and tariffs ascribed to goods moving in and out of the port. The merchant class of New York City nurtured their wealth here and moved to places like Washington Square to live a peaceful life at the edge of a bustling port town. The tour brought us to the upper floors of one of the counting houses where a display of hundred of tools spoke immediately to the human hand in every aspect of labor—on ships and in buildings like Schermerhorn Row. Brute force and rudimentary use of mechanical advantage lessened the burden of lifting, pulling, hauling. In an adjoining counting house, an array of architectural artifacts and archaeological remains suggest a story of simple materials use practically, underscoring the hand-crafted (early nails and bricks were made by hand and used in the building of Schermerhorn Row) nature of architecture in the early days of the nineteenth century. There are few examples of this mercantile typology and hand-wrought technology left in New York City. The highlight of the tour was learning about New York’s early venture into adaptive reuse: Walking the halls of a counting house-turned-hotel where one witnesses airless and lightless rooms that seem cruel and unusual to our modern standards of space and cleanliness. Roca walked us through the rise and fall of the port and Schermerhorn Row. Thankfully, the New Jersey portion of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey nixed the idea of developing the new World Trade Center on a gigantic parcel of land from Wall Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. Grassroots movements and the newly established Landmarks Preservation Commission helped declare 12 blocks surrounding Schermerhorn Row as the South Street Seaport Historic District in 1977. Stay tuned for upcoming tours of Schermerhorn Row as the Seaport Museum brings more of its collection into public view. About the author: Tim Hayduk is the Lead Design Educator at the Center for Architecture. He began teaching about the built environment at South Street Seaport nearly 15 years ago. Tim has a strong affection for the Seaport District and the history that is told through its bricks, mortar, streetscapes, vessels, and people.
This is the eighth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Today’s very wet Building of the Day tour brought us up to the Bronx where Jay Valgora, AIA, of Studio V Architecture, described the ongoing construction and design of the Bronx Post Office. The post office was originally constructed in 1937 on the Grand Concourse, a thoroughfare that helped to develop the Bronx into the dense urban area it is today. The post office is, as Valgora told us, classical, yet also modern in its style. The structure occupies an entire city block, its symmetrical entrances are framed with white marble that features very fine, precise edges. Despite its enormous size, only the front lobby was accessible to the public, as the rest of the post office was used for postal functions. When the post office was sold in 2014 and Studio V brought in to give the building new life, Valgora found himself facing numerous challenges from various fronts. Firstly, the building and the interior of the lobby are both New York City landmarks and on the National Register of Historic Places. This meant that he had to work closely with the Landmarks Commission to have every change approved. Additionally, local leaders wanted to ensure that the new building served the needs of the community, which meant keeping a portion of the building as a working post office. Studio V has totally restored the landmarked lobby, with the goal of making it completely accessible to the public once again. Murals painted by Ben Shahn during the Works Progress Administration-era are being restored to their original 1930s brilliance. Studio V plans to build a supermarket in the basement and turn the ground floor into a marketplace for different foodstuffs. Valgora explained that this was important for the area as the post office is in one of New York City’s “food deserts” and the addition of a grocery store will greatly help the local population. The second floor will be classroom spaces for Hostos Community College, located right down the street. The third floor will be turned into small, leasable commercial spaces for small businesses. The local community board and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. hope that this space will help in the ongoing resurgence of the Bronx. Studio V plans to add another space on the roof of the post office, which will serve as a restaurant space and open garden. The firm decided to use polycarbonate for this new floor because Valgora did not want the new space to completely imitate the original brick and marble. To that extent, Valgora believes the polycarbonate will serve to complement the original building materials. The restaurant will have glass walls, giving patrons a full view of the Bronx’s skyline. Behind the building, the post office’s original loading dock will serve as the new main entrance to the marketplace on the ground floor. This area is very industrial in character and Studio V decided to use a mesh ceiling in this area as a complement to the original look of this part of the structure. Overall, the Bronx Post Office will integrate itself seamlessly into the area while offering new services crucial for a 21st-century neighborhood. Tomorrow, we venture to the original World Trade Center of New York City: Schermerhorn Row at the South Street Seaport! 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 (Carcassonne!) and brewing his own beer.
This is the seventh in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Today’s Building of the Day brought us to the Weeksville Heritage Center for our first Brooklyn building. There, Anita Warren, the director of operations and administration at Weeksville, led us on a tour of the site. From the beginning, Warren made it clear that the design process for Weeksville was a balancing act between old and new, between past and present. James Weeks, a former slave, founded Weeksville in 1831 as a refuge for recently freed slaves living in New York City. The self-sustaining community flourished and eventually grew to 525 families occupying a roughly 30-block area in today’s Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods. The modern structure is LEED Gold certified and was designed by Caples Jefferson Architects to complement the three intact houses that were once a part of Weeksville. To that effect, the building is L-shaped and the inside wall is glass, which allows visitors to see the houses without actually leaving the building. The structure is designed such that the entrance of the building acts as a continuation of Hunterfly Road, the original main street of Weeksville. The height of the building is also quite low so as to not overwhelm the original houses. Caples Jefferson’s design of the modern structure includes many West African design elements, including the fritting pattern on the glass and the cut wood panels in the performance space. The bamboo floors in the performance space are designed to accommodate any events the Center may have, from dance performances to lectures. Warren explained that natural light was very important in the design process, which is why the building is so open and airy. That made designing the main art gallery space a little tricky, but Caples Jefferson accommodated that by installing movable panels in the ceiling that can allow more natural light in or block it, depending on the needs of the exhibition on view. Outside, the landscape, designed by Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, also compliments the houses and the original purpose of Weeksville. The meadow harkens back to Weeksville’s past—it is neither flowery nor perfectly manicured. Instead, it looks how it might have looked in the 19th century. A bridge connects the modern building to the houses and serves, as Warren mentioned, as a metaphorical and literal bridge between past and present. The houses themselves are curated to show different time periods of Weeksville. In Warren’s own words, they depict “average people doing average things.” Walking through the modern building, the grounds, and the houses, one can’t help but think about the people who originally inhabited Weeksville and how they really truly made it their own. Join us tomorrow as we venture up to the Bronx to visit the Bronx Post Office! 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 (Five Tribes!) and brewing his own beer.
This is the sixth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! As it stands today, the New York State Pavilion looks like it belongs in outer space—a little out of place but powerful in its presence. Anyone new to town who is driving on the Long Island Expressway or riding the train to Citi Field probably doesn’t give much thought to the oddly shaped structure, its historic significance, or the fact that it sits in the largest park in the borough. But as a huge fan of old buildings, when I first saw it just over a year ago, I was curious to know what this carnivalesque piece of architecture was doing in the middle of—what felt like, at the time—nowhere. By now I’ve educated myself on Queens history and have finally taken a tour of the famous fairgrounds with a crowd of Archtober enthusiasts. My initial observations about it were close: The New York State Pavilion is reminiscent of a big top circus; it was built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Originally designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, the Pavilion is one of the city’s most iconic midcentury relics and a defining feature of the Queens skyline. It can be seen from the window of a plane on its way to LaGuardia Airport or from the numerous highways that encircle Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The Pavilion is a concrete and steel structure made up of three distinct parts: a theater, a 226-foot tower with three observation decks, and a 100-foot high, spiky, bright yellow, open-air elliptical ring. These constructions were once known as the Theaterama, the Astro-View Towers, and the Tent of Tomorrow. Today’s tour was led by five passionate members of the New York State Pavilion Project: Jim Brown, John Piro, Gary Miller, Mitch Silverstein, and Stephanie Bohn. Their grassroots effort is dedicated to restoring and repainting the structures, as well as bringing awareness towards the Pavilion’s future—an idea that’s received a lot of attention lately thanks to the support of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. While these gatekeepers regularly host open houses at the Pavilion, today’s sneak peek inside the stately structure felt more intimate. As we stood inside the ring, clearly deteriorating due to weather overexposure, I felt a sense of energy inside the place. Though now empty, I could imagine over 50 million people flooding the fairground in the early 1960s. Some fellow tour-goers had actually been to the Fair themselves and could recall personal memories inside the Tent of Tomorrow, like walking over the giant Texaco map of New York State or staring up at the stained glass ceiling. The Pavilion even game me serious New York State pride, and I’m from Kentucky. According to our guides, Philip Johnson once said that he loved the Pavilion more as a stand-alone, derelict structure than when it was at the height of its heyday. And much like it was in 1964, the building is the main attraction. Based on today’s tour, the people who are dedicated to preserving this national treasure seem to feel the same. About the author: Sydney Franklin is a content producer at the NYC Department of Design and Construction. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in architectural journalism.
This is the fifth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Today’s Building of the Day brought us underground at Columbus Circle to tour Architecture Outfit (AO)’s Turnstyle. Our guides, Marta Sanders, AIA, and Eva Lynch from AO, led us through this unprecedented project. Turnstyle is the first fully privately funded public space in New York City. The MTA decided to turn the long-derelict and unused space in the Columbus Circle subway station into retail roughly ten years ago, but at the time, they were wholly unprepared to design an attractive space in the corridor. Architecture Outfit took over three years ago and set out to design a space that looked and felt like a public sidewalk. Evoking Jane Jacobs, Sanders and the AO team decided to break up the long space into many smaller retail spaces with low rent obligations, helping bring an interesting and fresh mix of stores into the space. From the beginning, the project was fraught with design difficulties. As the first project of its kind, AO had to work closely with the MTA to ensure everything was up to their code. This process, however, helped forge a path for future developments of this kind. Being underground, the site lacks fresh air and natural light. To combat this, AO used warm LEDs and brought in fresh air from sidewalk vents above the retail spaces. The floor, a mix of porcelain tiles, had to be sufficiently slip-resistant and durable enough to endure the “mini-earthquake” of arriving trains every few minutes. AO’s design harkens back to older subway designs. To that effect, the floor resembles Guastavino tile work one would find in Grand Central or the now-abandoned City Hall station. AO hid pipes, conduits, speakers, and other building systems found in the ceiling by installing a screen fabricated in a Red Hook metal shop. This design, too, was inspired by old subway styles. Also hidden behind mirrors in the ceiling are various HVAC units that keep the space comfortable all year long. The mirrors help amplify kiosks and activity on the ground. The kiosks in the middle of the corridor animate the entire space while breaking up the retail options. Tables and chairs throughout Turnstyle offer both commuters and those visiting the stores an opportunity to relax, sit down with food, or chat with friends. AO allowed individual retailers the liberty to design their own space, a move that added color to the site and went a long way to make it livelier. According to Sanders, MTA leadership is excited about the possibilities a project like this brings, both as a way to attract those who might try and avoid the subway and make the station more enjoyable for subway users as a whole. It’s easy to see how this space could make a morning commute a little more enjoyable for everyone. Join us tomorrow as we venture out to Queens to tour Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair. 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 (Pandemic!) and brewing his own beer.
This is the fourth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! David Zwirner Gallery 537 West 20th Street New York, NY Selldorf Architects Lisa Green, art world veteran and partner at Selldorf Architects, guided our fourth Building of the Day Tour, the 2016 AIANY Design Award-winning David Zwirner 20th Street Gallery. The concrete façade of the 30,000-square-foot, ground-up art gallery elegantly distinguishes the space from the many brick converted warehouses and garages that make up Chelsea’s gallery district. Poured in place in five stages over the course of six weeks, the 8-inch pine formboard concrete façade was an ambitious undertaking guided by a concrete consultant and expert who has worked closely with I.M. Pei. Informed by a long relationship between Zwirner and Selldorf, the public exhibition spaces were built to accommodate Zwirner’s collection of minimalist estate artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Fred Sandback (currently on view), as well as borrowed works from museums for special exhibitions. On the ground floor is a 5,000-square-foot, columnless gallery that can be readily adapted with temporary walls to fit the needs of each exhibition. The cool and expansive space, with double-height ceilings, northern-facing sawtooth skylights, and a poured concrete floor, contrasts with the smaller and more intimate gallery following upstairs, with 14-foot ceilings, white oak floors, warm, southern light exposure, and contractible roman shades. The third, fourth, and fifth floors hold a mixture of office and private viewing spaces, each illuminated by natural light. The five green roof spaces, including a beautiful rooftop deck, were designed by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, whose designs are on view next door on the High Line. Despite the temperature and moisture control systems required in art spaces, Zwirner was committed to green building standards, making the David Zwirner 20th Street Gallery the first commercial art gallery to achieve LEED Gold status. Join us tomorrow for the underground retail experience, Turnstyle! About the author: Julia Christie is the Office Manager at AIANY / Center for Architecture.
This is the third in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Ocean Breeze Track and Fieldhouse 625 Father Capodanno Boulevard Staten Island, NY Sage and Coombe Architects Joshua Keay, AIA, LEED AP, associate at Sage and Coombe and project architect for the Ocean Breeze Athletic Facility, led us through an in-depth tour of the massive competitive indoor track and community recreation facility in South Beach, Staten Island. A project under Mayor Bloomberg’s Design Excellence initiative, the athletic complex was designed as part of the PlaNYC 110-acre Ocean Breeze regional park. As Sage and Coombe’s first track facility, they engaged sports consultants and a local organization of runners to help determine certain features of the space, including the radius of the track. The competitive track is supported by more than 600 raised piles, allowing for a split program: A publically accessible gym on the ground floor is separated from the elevated track on the second floor. The two spaces are connected by a large secondary warm up space, which is equipped with arrow-shaped lowlights to designate the running direction. Green stairs lead athletes up to the starting line and, once they have completed their race, they exit the track through red stairs and enter the warm up space again. Ocean Breeze is the most state-of-the-art indoor track and field facility in the tri-state area, equipped with a variable banking hydraulic track that can be raised or lowered depending on the sporting event. The 250-foot-long elevated platform of the pre-engineered space was used to assemble the ceiling trusses, which were then lifted into the air using the free-standing columns. While the city required the project to achieve LEED Silver Certification, Keay noted that, upon completion, it will most likely be LEED Gold certified. A stormwater collection system on the roof runs water along the second-floor terrace and into ponds that recharge natural wetlands to the north of the site. Bi-fold doors on the north, east, and south sides of the building and exhaust fans provide natural ventilation. A multi-tiered lighting system with skylights, track lighting, and point fixtures respond to the amount of daylight to determine the level of artificial light required to keep the competitive track at TV-quality. A photo-finish system, which can capture frames at one-one thousandth of a second was installed at the end of the finish line. After jumping through a few hurdles, particularly after a six-month Superstorm Sandy delay, the project opened in the fall of 2015. The season will begin next month, but community users are already avidly using the public spaces. Tomorrow we visit Selldorf Architect’s AIA New York Design Awards winning David Zwirner Gallery! About the author: Camila Schaulsohn is the Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of the AIA New York Newsletter.
This is the second in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Most tried-and-true New Yorkers, and perhaps even our more perceptive visitors, are captivated by the city’s pervasive promise of secret: The sense that behind any door or down any street, you just might discover the next big thing—a tiny piece of the city as of yet unconquered. For James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, that fantasy is increasingly becoming a reality thanks to the Lowline Lab, an experimental space on New York’s Lower East Side that offers a taste of the duo’s larger plan to transform an underground trolley terminal used in the 1930’s into a community garden and gathering place. So far, two ambitious, record-setting Kickstarter campaigns have led to the creation of the 1,100-square-foot lab located at 140 Essex Street, inside an aboveground former warehouse less than two blocks from the proposed site of the future Lowline. At the start of the Archtober tour, Ramsey, co-founder and creator of the Lowline and principal of Raad Studio, explained his initial attraction to the “feeling of a raw, archaeological site” which, since the Lab’s opening in October 2015, has sustained more than 50 unique plant varieties and over 3,000 individual plants including tomatoes, mushrooms, and strawberries. Ramsey first began imagining how solar technology could be used to grow plants to fill unlit spaces in 2008, when he learned about the trolley terminal and was awed by what he calls “60,000 square feet of unused space, hiding in plain sight for decades.” Ramsey led the group through a row of subway turnstiles placed at the lab’s entrance into a welcome area that explains the history of the site and the lab’s solar technology. Fundamentally, a system of tracking mirrors on the building’s roof are programmed to rotate in order to capture natural sunlight through the course of the day, explained Ramsey. The light gets reflected into smaller parabolic reflectors that concentrate the sunlight to nearly 30 times its natural intensity, while more mirrors and tubes direct the light onto a parabolic solar canopy constructed in aluminum that moderates and tempers the light at the various ratios needed to sustain living plants. “In a sense,” says Ramsey, “the garden is a mathematical graph of light, expressed via species.”
Of course, it takes a few more components to keep the garden flourishing, including a misting system, hoses, hand watering, and grow lights engineered to control the size, shape, color, texture and nutrition of the plants. The landscape design is a collaboration with Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, while John Mini Distinctive Landscapes built the infrastructure and sourced the plants, which they still maintain. Monitoring is a key aspect of the project, as Ramsey and team are working to measure the impact of the spectrum, intensity, and distribution of the light. This data will then help them select the best plants for the ultimate Lowline.Before sending the tour group up a flight of stairs and short ladder to see the roof’s solar technology first hand, Ramsey addressed questions and hinted at his team’s next steps, which include securing additional necessary funding from donors and grants and waiting for the city to finish constructing a wall inside the subway that would help open up the Lowline’s future site to the public. If all goes according to plan, Ramsey anticipates construction to begin before 2020. Until then, if you missed our Archtober tour of the Lowline Lab, the site is currently open to the public on weekends through March 2017! About the author: Meghan Edwards is the Director of Digital Content and Strategy for AIANY and the Center for Architecture. Previously, she was the site editor for Interior Design magazine, where she was an editor for over 9 years following stints at Metropolis magazine and Christie's auction house. Meghan graduated from Brown University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in the History of Art and Architecture.
This is the first in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Samsung 837 837 Washington Street New York, NY Gensler (Interior); Morris Adjmi Architects (Exterior) And we’re off! Our first Building of the Day tour location was Samsung 837, the brand’s digital playground in the Meatpacking District. We started in the ground floor’s recording studio, where the company hosts local DJs and artists. There, Steve Bitterman, AIA, from Gensler told us about the design process his team employed in designing the interiors for Samsung 837. Everything in the building is completely custom-made—the floors, the chairs, the casework—in order to attract talent. To that effect, the space is designed to be very collaborative. The first and second floors comprise the experience and event spaces. Bitterman and the Samsung team led us into the Social Galaxy, which has over 300 Samsung screens displaying Instagram posts from different times and places. To add to the social media experience, Samsung also commissioned a three-story screen, the largest interactive social media display in the world, made up of 96 individual screens. Visitors are encouraged to take a selfie, which is then created on the megascreen by thousands of former selfies. Gensler had to carve out three stories of Morris Adjmi’s structure in order to accommodate this display. We then moved on to VR Tunnel and 4D seats. Through a virtual reality headset and moving seats, I was transported to a thrilling virtual roller coaster ride. From there, we moved to the second floor, more service focused than the experience focused first floor. A mock-up of a living room and kitchen enables visitors to see how different Samsung devices will fit into their homes. Bitterman then led us to the sixth floor, which houses offices for Samsung personnel. Everything on these upper floors is also custom-made, a creating a unique work experience. The design team wanted the space to evoke the industrial history of the Meatpacking District, evident in the metal beams and manual desk cranks. Moving down, we were shown additional floors that serve distinct purposes. The trapezoidal pyramid structure of the building means that the floor plates increase in area as you go down, making the third floor large enough to function as an event space. It’s easy to see why so many people would want to come here for everything from seeing a concert to having a meeting. Tomorrow, we go below ground to the Lowline Lab. 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 (Ticket to Ride!) and brewing his own beer.