Posts tagged with "Archtober":

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Archtober’s Building of the Day: The Lowline Lab

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.
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Archtober’s Building of the Day: Samsung 837 by Gensler and Morris Adjmi Architects

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.
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Center for Architecture announces “Building of the Day” tours for Archtober

The Center for Architecture in New York City is organizing Building of the Day tours throughout the month of October as part of their yearly Archtober programming. Also known as Architecture and Design Month, the sixth annual edition of Archtober will feature a range of exhibitions, conferences, films, lectures, and more. The Building of the Day is a daily architect-led tour of a New York City building, starting with the Samsung 837 event space in the Meatpacking district. Tickets are now available at the Archtober website. Here is a complete schedule of tours: Oct. 1 Samsung 837 Morris Adjmi Architects; Interiors by Gensler 887 Washington Street, New York, NY 100142 Oct. 2 The Lowline Raad Studio 140 Essex Street, New York 100023 Oct. 3 Ocean Breeze Track and Fieldhouse Sage and Coombe Architects 625 Father Capodanno Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 103054 Oct. 4 David Zwirner Gallery Selldorf Architects 537 West 20th Street, New York, NY 100115 Oct. 5 Turnstyle Architecture Outfit Columbus Circle subway station, New York, NY, 100236 Oct. 6 New York State Pavilion Philip Johnson (1964) Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Flushing, NY 113557 Oct. 7 Metro Pictures Gallery 1100 Architect 519 West 24th Street, New York, NY 100118 Oct. 8 Weeksville Heritage Center Caples Jefferson Architects 158 Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 112139 Oct. 9 Bronx Historic Post Office Studio V Architecture 558 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 1045110 Oct. 10 Schermerhorn Row Original Architect Unknown 12 Fulton Street, New York, NY 100381 Oct. 11 Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed Dattner Architects with WXY architecture + urban design 500 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014
Oct. 12 Horizon Media A+I 75 Varick Street, New York, NY 1001313 Oct. 13 New York Public Library – 53rd Street Branch TEN Arquitectos 20 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 1001914 Oct. 14 St. Ann’s Warehouse Marvel Architects 45 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 112011
Oct. 14 - 16 Open House New York Weekend Oct. 17 Pivot Architecture Workshop 201 West 16th Street, New York, 1001118 Oct. 18 Edible School Yard at PS 7, East Harlem WORKac 160 East 120th Street, New York, NY 1003519 Oct. 19 St. Patrick’s Cathedral James Renwick, Jr. (1910); Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects 625 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 1002220 Oct. 20 CRS Studio Clouds Architecture Office 123 4th Avenue, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 1000321 Oct. 21 Museum of the City of New York Joseph H. Freedlander (1932); Ennead Architects (2015) 1220 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 1002922 Oct. 22 Industry City William Higginson (1906) 220 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY 1123223 Oct. 23 Lever House Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 390 Park Avenue, New York, NY 1002224 Oct. 24 520 West 28th Street Zaha Hadid 520 West 28th Street, New York, NY 1000125 Oct. 25 Met Bueuer Marcel Breuer (1966); Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners (2016) 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 1002126 Oct. 26 Gould Memorial Library, Bronx Community College Stanford White 2155 University Avenue, Bronx, NY 1045327 Oct. 27 Knowledge Center, Columbia University Mitchell | Giurgola Architects 701 West 168th Street, New York, NY 1003228 Oct. 28 Hudson Yards Various architects Oct. 29 Japan Society Gruzen & Partners 333 West 47th Street, New York, NY 1001730 Oct. 30 The Battery Quennell Rothschild & Partners Battery Park, New York, NY 10004 Oct. 31 Pacific Park: 461 Dean Street SHoP Architects 461 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217  
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Archtober Building of the Day 31> SculptureCenter Renovation and Expansion

Archtober Building of the Day #31 SculptureCenter Renovation and Expansion 44-19 Purves Street Queens Andrew Berman, Architect An enthusiastic group of Archtoberites came out today to bid adieu to this year’s Building of the Day series. Cloistered away on a dead-end street in Long Island City, SculptureCenter offers underrepresented and emerging artists an opportunity to develop site-specific works in this former trolley repair shop. This is, of course, a neighborhood that has gone through a tremendous amount of change in recent years. When the project began, the surrounding block held a chop shop and not much else. Now, brand new apartment buildings line the street. In this renovation of the SculptureCenter, Andrew Berman, FAIA, strove to honor the character of the original building and neighborhood without competing with it. The addition is “sympathetic to the original, not vying for attention,” he explained. The project was born from an RFP for a new stairwell, but Berman decided to take it a step further, with Executive Director Mary Ceruti’s go-ahead. His goal was to make a space that was flexible, not in the sense of moving parts, but one that would create exhibition spaces with just the right feel for all of the artists who would come to inhabit the building. Between exhibitions, the solid door to the forecourt swings shut, presenting a wall of weathered steel to passersby. According to Ben Whine, associate director of the ScultpureCenter, it is always quite a show when the building reopens. It is during the weeks of installation that the institution returns to its roots as a studio space for artists who create site-specific pieces to show in the industrial space. Downstairs, we entered what appeared to be a functional hallway. A low, whirring sound could be heard in the background as Berman and Whine spoke, but it wasn’t until an “exit sign” had wended its way halfway down the hall that I realized it was part of a show. Gabriel Sierra, an artist interested in architecture, design, institutional critique, and structural interventions, had installed this simulacrum of an exit sign that was slowly making its way across the space. Because of the nature of Sierra’s work, I found myself constantly searching for additional interventions, to the point that I no longer trusted my ability to discern the functional elements of the building from the installation within. Berman seemed most proud of the masonry wall that had been cut with a circular saw to reveal its cross-section, marking the transition between the original building and the addition. This cut is “all but invisible, but here to be discovered,” he explained. Also true of the SculptureCenter, a gem of an organization tucked away on a narrow street, but just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Manhattan.
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Archtober Building of the Day 30> Chilewich Store by De-Spec

Chilewich Store 23 East 20th Street, Manhattan De-Spec This is the project that every architect dreams of (or should, at least). With designers as clients, visually striking product, and close involvement from the start, Tom Shea and Farnaz Mansuri of De-Spec were able to develop a concept for Chilewich from the ground up. The close collaboration between Chilewich and De-Spec began with the De-Spec–designed artisanal chocolate shop XOCOLATTI, a previous Building of the Day and 2012 AIANY Design Award winner. The shop caught Sandy Chilewich’s eye as she walked past its Soho storefront a couple of years ago. She and her husband/business partner Tom Sultan got in touch with the firm, asking it to develop a concept for what would become their first brick-and-mortar store – and a 2015 AIANY Design Award winner. A matrix of movable pegs displays the merchandise as a network of points and lines. Brightly-colored tablecloths, runners, and rugs pop against a matte-black MDF surface. The simultaneously soft and fractured surface of a long wall running behind the register contrasts with the adjacent grids, and keeps the store from appearing cluttered. Any display space that is lost is more than made up for by a similarly well-organized basement. De-Spec also designed the store’s furniture, which is rearranged every few months to show off new products. A pair of pentagonal tables visible from the street offers an intentionally awkward canvas for place settings, and lends a touch of quirkiness to the display. Although the peg system is not changed all that often, it’s nice to know that it can be tinkered with. Because the designers came up with the concept before the site was selected, they know that its bones can be replicated in new spaces if the company decides to expand its collection of retail stores. Fun fact: The Ramones’ first performance, with tickets at $2, took place here. Something to think about the next time you’re shopping for table linens. Join us tomorrow for this year’s final Building of the Day: SculptureCenter in Long Island City. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
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Archtober Building of the Day 29> The Musket Room by Shadow Architects

The Musket Room 265 Elizabeth Street, Manhattan Shadow Architects If we visit Michelin star restaurants next Archtober, we’ve got to make a deal for the meal. The meal’s the thing here. The Musket Room moved into Manhattan's old Rialto space, a long-gone hangout for architects working in the nearby Puck Building. It's got a gun over the bar. Larry Cohn of architect-of-record Shadow Architects, prepared the filing documents that wended their way through the post-Sandy building department. The warm woods and teal leather banquettes specified by London-based Alexander Waterworth Interiors, have replaced the bright red plastic ones that lined the brick side walls of the not-forgotten Rialto. A nice chap, Larry, took us through the restaurant, and showed us the spanking clean basement kitchen with its array of chemical lab experiments called food. Frank Hanes, the sous chef, explained the polyethylene-encased meats that were being cooked sous-vide: venison leg fillets, a specialty of the house on the menu as “New Zealand red deer/flavors of gin,” which includes licorice and fennel – and maybe a juniper berry or two. You can tell I’m not a foodie. It was nice to see nasturtiums growing in the raised beds in the back that serve as an herb garden for the chef, New Zealander Mack Lambert, who conjures a nasturtium vinaigrette that might appear somewhere in the early courses of our future meal. We could top it off with Pig’s blood/berries/rhubarb/herbs for dessert. Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater.
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Archtober Building of the Day 27> National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion

National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion 180 Greenwich Street, Manhattan Snøhetta The Survivor Tree lived on the site of the original World Trade Center. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the burnt and ailing pear tree was removed from its home and nursed back to health. It has since returned and continued to flourish, and has become a symbol for recovery and resiliency. From a spot beside the tree, the glowing National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion appears to grow straight out of the ground, itself representing the past and promise of the future. On the 27th Archtober tour, Aaron Dorf from Snøhetta explained that the firm had initially worked on a different project for the site that didn’t go forward, but the team was asked to return and design a welcome center that could address the museum’s security issues. The entrance to the museum presented an entirely new set of security challenges, and Snøhetta was tasked with finding a creative solution. The pavilion’s program expanded to include not only the security-screening lobby, but also a private room for victims’ family members, an auditorium, a café, and myriad back-of-house mechanical services for all of the buildings on the site. In addition to being a transitional space for visitors between the memorial plaza and the below-ground museum, the building is also a vent, allowing air to move through the slatted wood ceiling and perforated metals. Visible through the transparent facade, original steel columns from the World Trade Center  anchor the building. After being removed from the rubble at Ground Zero, these imposing columns were rebuilt and re-engineered. Although they do not serve any structural purpose, the building was designed around them. Referred to as “tridents” because they branch out into three prongs that formed the small but distinct windows of the World Trade Center towers, the dark structures, standing amid the building’s muted tones, set the tone. A prefabricated web of steel beams provide the necessary structural support without distracting from the tridents. Their asymmetrical pattern, however, adds texture and movement next to the glass walls. From inside, they do not diminish views of the site and the surrounding buildings. The mix of raw and highly refined materials, rough concrete and polished wood side by side, creates an intimate space that gently leads visitors into the museum below, and also helps them readjust when they leave. The relatively small building rises like an urban bridge between the vertical towers around it. It is a bridge between the museum below and everything above, between natural and artificial light – and between the past and the future. Emma Pattiz is the Policy Coordinator at the Center for Architecture and the AIA New York Chapter.
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Archtober Building of the Day 26> El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 by HHL Architects

El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 215 East 99th Street, Manhattan HHL Architects Jazz musician Ellen O’Brien still gets teary-eyed when she recounts the tale of how she ended up in a spacious one-bedroom apartment at El Barrio’s Arstpace PS109. Like many artists in New York City, life has been a struggle. When an already precarious financial situation coincided with her apartment burning down, she lost everything except the clothes on her back. Luckily, Ellen was one of 89 applicants selected from a pool of 53,000 to reside in Artspace’s community-driven live/work artists’ housing project. It is quite fitting that El Barrio’s Artspace was once a school, given the spirit of creative development it espouses. Designed in 1898 by Charles B.J. Snyder as a Neo-Gothic public palace of learning, the building was eventually abandoned, sitting fallow during the 1990s. “The place was just a war zone,” said Archtober tour guide and HHL Architects Partner Matthew W. Meier. Steel roof members were rusted through, wooden floors had rotted, and squatters had made the site their home. HHL Architects was challenged to preserve the original characteristics of the dilapidated school while configuring the classroom spaces into functional live/work apartments. They salvaged as many materials as possible, from decorative terracotta to crown moldings, and made a clear distinction between historical and modern conditions. Even the smallest units, at 450 square feet, feel spacious due to the original structure’s soaring ceilings. The artists’ live/work spaces are accompanied by 3,000 feet of resident gallery space in the lobby and 10,000 square feet of space for local arts nonprofits in what used to be the boiler room and storage rooms. The creative energy at PS109 is palpable; the building’s Caribbean-hued corridors and lobbies double as exhibition spaces for resident artists. Ellen has made good use of her creative neighbors, who helped her set up her new website, photographed her latest album’s cover, and even do her hair and makeup. More importantly, she says she hasn’t been so prolific in years. Living around artists has provoked her to create. Camila Schaulsohn is Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of e-Oculus. She was born and raised in Santiago, Chile.
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Archtober Building of the Day 25> Van Alen Institute

Archtober Building of the Day #25 Van Alen Institute 30 West 22nd Street, New York Collective-LOK Three friends from architecture school, Jon Lott (PARA-Project), William O’Brien Jr. (WOJR), and Michael Kubo (pinkcomma gallery), joined forces to form Collective-LOK in 2013. Together, they entered the Van Alen Institute’s Ground/Work competition to redesign the organization’s office and programming space on West 22nd Street. Their proposal, Screen Play, linked the institute’s headquarters with the surrounding urban realm using screens to bracket the front and back facades: one just beyond the sliding glass door in the back wall, and the other, ultimately unrealized, that would have expanded into the street as part of a Department of Transportation initiative to transform and activate parking spaces. Those who recall the Van Alen Institute’s brief foray into the world of book selling might be disappointed to see this domain relegated to a single bookshelf at the entrance and a mini-library in the smaller of two conference rooms. This was an intentional decision, however, because the retail activity was distracting from the organization’s programmatic mission. Now, books on display at the front are carefully curated, and a book club continues to engage design-oriented bibliophiles. Screens of all types in the interior provide flexible pockets of space within a small footprint. The “bulge,” an enclosed area that houses fixed programs, including bathrooms, a kitchen, and conference rooms, faces a content wall that, when in use, draws passersby into the multipurpose space. This wall, which was given a subtle dado of glossy paint to protect it from the constant activity, will display a continuous projection along its upper matte section. Wiring for this projection is already in place in yet another screen, in this case a ceiling composed of oblique metal coffers that shield, but do not completely mask, the lighting and audio-visual systems. The acoustical insulation above was left in its original, textured state, and will eventually be touched up to blend more seamlessly into its surroundings. Lott mentioned that some items on the punch list are still being resolved. As one visitor remarked, “This is the most beautiful popcorn ceiling I’ve ever seen.” We can’t wait to come back and see the space transformed during the Van Alen’s fall events, when the office desks and chairs will be relegated to the basement to make way for screenings, cocktail hours, and performances. Tomorrow, we’ll visit El Barrio’s Artspace PS109.
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Archtober Building of the Day 24> Mariners Harbor Branch Library

Archtober Building of the Day #24 Mariners Harbor Branch Library 206 South Avenue, Staten Island A'PT Architecture In Mariner’s Harbor in Staten Island, Ana Torriani, AIA, and Lorenzo Pagnamenta, AIA, of A*PT Architecture (formerly Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani) have harvested an oyster intended to produce many pearls of wisdom. Mariner’s Harbor Branch Library, with its luminous, asymmetric zinc roof “cracked open” by a glass spine, resembles an open bivalve, referring back to the neighborhood’s history as an oyster farming community while inviting its current residents inside. Except for support spaces and a conference room, the entire library is a single, open volume. With its glass facades to the east and west and a series of skylights above, the interior glows with natural light, even on a grey fall day – an atmospheric mother of pearl. It looks effortless, but A*PT’s detail-oriented partners carried out countless studies to get everything just right. Part library, part community center, Mariner’s Harbor is certainly not your traditional stuffy library with dusty books and shushing librarians. Local organizations use the conference room to hold board meetings; a white board by the entrance announces the day’s varied activities. Today’s events included a morning yoga class and belly dancing. A sundeck leads to a yard where children learn to garden during the summer. A project of Department of Design + Construction’s Design Excellence program, the library provides much-needed resources (including shiny, new Apple computers) to an underserved community, serving as a sincere example of how good design can be used to fight inequality. And, while working for a public agency can be challenging, for Torriani and Pagnamenta, seeing the space brought to life by its patrons (who have doubled in number just one year) makes it all worthwhile. Tomorrow, we'll visit the Van Alen Institute.  
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Archtober Building of the Day 23> St. Mark’s Bookshop by Clouds Architecture Office

St. Mark’s Bookshop 136 East 3rd Street, Manhattan Clouds Architecture Office Clouds Architecture Office is two wonderful architects of international origin and distinction: Ostap Rudakevych and Masayuki Sono. It’s easy to see why the intense and inward duo selected such a multi-valent word to identify their firm. Curiously enough though, their project for the St. Mark’s Bookshop did not in any way darken the nature of retail bookselling—quite substantially just the opposite. The bookstore won an honor award from the AIA New York Chapter Design awards program in 2015. Archtober-ites witnesses another great example of the resourcefulness of architects dealing with constrained money, space, plumbing, and time. The sinuous wrapping of the entire interior with multi-level shelving built on site was designed and completed in two months. Your best idea is frequently your first idea, and Clouds Architecture deftly wended the sectional idea of shelves canted for maximal visibility into a three-dimensional expression of the continuity of thinking that sets the books next to each other. Slots are cut through the wrapping shelf element to reveal glimpses of worlds beyond: a back yard, the street. And an office is tucked behind the projected diagonal element that creates two separate spaces, but encourages flow between them. St. Mark’s Bookshop has been in a number of locations since it was actually located on St. Mark’s Place. In the late seventies, it was the intellectual hub of the punk scene in alphabet city, a scene which is now being brought back to life in a number of books, many of which you can buy at the St. Mark’s Bookshop in its latest digs. It was great to meet Bob Contant, the long-time owner. (I don’t think he remembered me from the seventies when clad in an original Ramones t-shirt—my future husband and I  would browse his shelves for texts in the critical thinking that underpinned all that great music.) Contant started working as a librarian, and the selections reveal his determined thinking about what’s important. The continuity of the snaking wall establishes a visual loop, that reminded me of one of my favorite lines from T. S. Elliot: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” It was nice to be back in a new St. Mark’s Bookshop after 38 years! I took Bob’s recommendation and bought I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp the autobiography of Richard Hell, who we saw at CBGB’s with the Voidoids, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Go see this beautiful store, and buy books! Next stop: Mariners Harbor Branch Library on Staten Island. Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. 
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Archtober Building of the Day 22> The Educational Alliance by PBDW Architects

The Educational Alliance 197 East Broadway, Manhattan PBDW Architects As the population of Manhattan's Lower East Side (LES) has shifted over the past 126 years, the Educational Alliance’s programs have evolved to meet the needs of a changing community. Still close to its roots as a settlement house that helped Jewish immigrants acclimate to the United States (and with mezuzahs on the doors to show for the continued ties with Judaism), the alliance serves the entire community, across age, race, ethnicity, and income level. In the mid-2000s, the Educational Alliance came to PBDW Architects, asking them to install a second elevator into their LES headquarters—the solitary one by the entrance to the 1890 building wasn’t cutting it anymore. Instead, the firm developed a master plan that would unite the original building with its two annexes that had been added in the 1920s and ’50s. Leonard Leung began today’s Archtober tour with an overview of the master plan’s goals—to improve circulation in a suite of buildings serving many different programmatic functions, and to ensure that the architecture enforced the Educational Alliance’s mission of welcoming the entire community. A continuous ceiling plane extends along the entrance hallway to the exterior of the building, where it cantilevers over the front door to draw visitors inside. Small details, like a bamboo bench set into the wall, activate the entry area and give plenty of room for parents and caregivers to mingle during drop-off and pick-up. Head Start programs occupy most of the first three stories. Joe Tarver, operations director of the Manny Cantor Center (as the alliance’s flagship building is called), told us about frequent visits from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Buildings, and FDNY. Head Start has strict regulations for student-to-teacher ratios, as well as for the physical classrooms and support spaces for its programs. The LEED Silver building fulfills all of these requirements, although a set of cubbies recently had to be bumped out of a classroom and into a hallway to meet per student square footage allotments. The sounds of pounding feet in the 5th-floor gym are insulated from the senior center and executive offices below by a jack slab concrete floor system. Springs absorb vibrations so that they don’t carry down through the rest of the building. A top-floor multipurpose room with views of Lower Manhattan, which was added during the renovation, is rented out for private events. The space was busy at 11:30 this morning, as seniors streamed in for the daily $1.50 lunch, but we were assured that this was nothing compared to the crowds that come out for salmon day, when 100 or more senior foodies flock to the building for a favorite meal. As Tarver told us, “It’s not just bingo anymore” that draws this community to the Educational Alliance. Tomorrow, we’ll visit St. Mark’s Bookshop. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.