Posts tagged with "Archtober":

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Archtober Building of the Day #14> Wieden & Kennedy offices by WORKac

Archtober Building of the Day #14 Wieden & Kennedy 150 Varick Street, 6th Floor WORKac Sam Dufaux, associate principal of WORKac, led a full boatload of Archtober enthusiasts through the New York offices of renowned Portland, Oregon–based ad agency Wieden + Kennedy. The firm got famous with its “Just do it” campaign for Nike, and the office atmosphere retains an air of athleticism with its ESPN TV feed, sneaker shod youths with untucked shirts, full-on gym, and Heineken on tap. The center of the reception experience is the drop-down “Coin” stair, richly sculpted in wood, serving as an amphitheater for the lounge seating at its base. There was plenty of lounge seating, empty, juxtaposed to dense clusters of the aforementioned staffers huddled in their 5-foot-by-2.5-foot sections of desk. The result of analysis of work habits and meeting room needs, the space has a range of options beyond the sliver of space for the individual. Social centers abound—pantries, vending areas, conference rooms with names like “Winners Circle,” were glassy and well stocked with bright and cheerful furniture. Long, stand-up tables provide dividers between the pods and the West Elm–style groupings of sofas and upholstered chairs set off on platforms The one private office I spied was called the Ninja Den. There were a lot of ideas here, and I was pleasantly surprised to note that, while many were colorful, none seemed goofy in that silly Google way. An abundance of white paint, dominating columns, and a relatively contiguous polished-concrete floor gave the interior a sense of architectonic continuity. Episodes, like the corkscrew stair, were well spaced with enough context to knit the space together into a spirited unity. Let’s see what today's tour brings with the Red Bull Studios.
Author_DSC00117Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, 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. ckracauer@aiany.org 
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Archtober Building of the Day #13> The Museum at Eldridge Street

Archtober Building of the Day #13 The Museum at Eldridge Street 12 Eldridge Street Archimuse The Columbus Day holiday and parade did not deter the Archtober faithful from attending a very special family event at the Museum at Eldridge Street. Archtober first visited the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue on on October 28, 2012 in the shadow of the looming Superstorm Sandy, to enjoy the fruits of a 20-year restoration project that culminated in the 2010 installation of the Kiki Smith rose window. Now, adding to the manifold riches to be found within is a fully realized Museum at Eldridge Street, the result of a collaboration of curators, historians, architects Archimuse, and graphic designers. Amy Stein Milford, the deputy director of the Museum at Eldridge Street, supplemented tour guides Reuben Jackson, Archimuse, and Los Angeles–based Kracauer in a recounting of the challenges of maintaining a tiny Orthodox congregation, who worship in the museum, and the imperatives of the interpretation of the Jewish immigrant experience. The Eldridge Street Synagogue, one of only two landmark synagogues in New York (the other is Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue at 55th Street), was the first purpose-built synagogue in the city. Now surrounded by Chinatown, this city, state, and national landmark represents the epicenter of historic Jewish life on the Lower East Side, and hosts 40,000 visitors of all faiths annually, said Milford. Archimuse was challenged by five separate entrances to the structure that had to be rationalized on the street. Creating a coherent museum experience required that a maze of tiny spaces be opened up, exposing the original structure, and harmonizing the needs of a very contemporary exhibition with the needs of a small but dedicated congregation. The exhibition narrative starts with the map of the Great Jewish Migration, in the orientation experience. This map uses the traditional Jewish names from Eastern Europe to locate the sources of the two million Jews who left to freely practice their religion in the United States in the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The Journey is followed by “A New Home in a New Land,” a watercolor rendering of the facade of the synagogue executed in the early 20th century. The original deeds to the property and an original Star of David finial are on display. “Such a City!” has Yiddish and Hebrew signs from the synagogue and local businesses, including one for Singer sewing machines. “Becoming American Jews” is split between “Order and Orthodoxy” and “Women and Children.” “To the Brink and Back” recounts the further journeys of the community beyond the Lower East Side, and the subsequent rescue and restoration of the historic synagogue.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, 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. ckracauer@aiany.org 
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Archtober Building of the Day #12> The Pavilion at Brookfield Place

Archtober Building of the Day #12 The Pavilion at Brookfield Place 100 West Street Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects It is impossible not to notice The Pavilion at Brookfield Place from almost any viewpoint near it’s location on 100 West Street. A glass curtain wall seems barely to contain the steel trees that emerge from its floor. While our Archtober tour was conducted under the noonday sun, one can easily imagine the building’s brilliance after nightfall. Our tour leader was Craig Copeland, an Associate Partner in the New York studio of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and the Design Team Leader of the Pavilion at Brookfield Place. He explained that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center and World Financial Center (now the Pavilion at Brookfield Place) were left disconnected. The Pavilion now reconnects Battery Park City’s Winter Garden, the newly completed World Trade Center Concourse, and both MTA and PATH transportation hubs. And, as the complex’s front door, the Pavilion will create a welcoming pedestrian space out of a former vehicular-only zone. But, let’s get back to those incredible steel trees. In order to create them, the firm looked to “nature and trees in particular,” and as a result, created two 54-foot-tall basket-like woven steel beams which take up very little space on the ground but slowly spread as they reach for, and eventually encompass, most of the ceiling. These beautiful and unique columns solve both an aesthetic and structural solution. Precariously positioned at the edge of the Hudson River, an initial building design of four columns was deemed structurally unsound. The team was forced to envision ways in which the building’s support could be focused upon two points. While two ordinary columns would have left them with a heavy roof, the Pavilion’s “trees spiral inside and outside creating enough tension to hold the basket together” and allow for an “expressive and light” look that hides their true strength. “From there,” Copeland pointed to the ceiling, “a glass curtain wall hangs from the roof- no weight falls to the ground.” A feat that he said, “could not have been accomplished without the efforts of engineering firm, Thornton Tomasetti.” As for the whole concept of the building, Craig explained that “instead of taking the stone from around the base of the building, we took cues from the Winter Garden’s Hudson River facing view.” The result is a building that “demonstrates resiliency as a culture and promotes a feeling of transparency instead of creating another stone fortress.” Rochelle Thomas received an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and is the Membership Assistant at the AIA New York Chapter.
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Archtober Building of the Day #11> Queens’ Glen Oaks Branch Library

Archtober Building of the Day #11 Glen Oaks Branch Library 256-04 Union Turnpike, Queens Marble Fairbanks The goal of libraries is to provide communities with access to resources, said Karen Fairbanks, founding partner of Marble Fairbanks. Before Fairbanks and a large team of fellow architects, landscape architects, and engineers designed the new Glen Oaks Branch Library, community members were yearning for a facility that could provide more resources that better serve their needs. Throughout the design process, the design team continued to return to the word “search”—it is projected across the facade of the building, changing its appearance based on time of day and season. Even in the age of digital resources, libraries remain hubs for people of all ages to search for answers and information. In their design, libraries today must achieve the proper balance of flexible space for programming and digital research as well as storage for printed materials. The brick library that previously stood on the site was small, uninviting, and lacked sufficient natural light. Overall, the building was not civic, said Fairbanks. The design team set out to design a new structure that appeals to library goers, and adequately represents the area’s diverse community of 30,000 people speaking 30 different languages. The intricate design on the building’s glass exterior skin, developed by a complex algorithm, spells out the word “search” in 30 different languages to signify the community’s diverse demographic makeup. Each translation is accompanied by a series of lines representing the population size of each language represented. From a distance, it looks like rows of books. Each of the building’s three levels serves a distinct group—adults, teenagers, and children. Teens primarily use the main floor and the rear garden, or outdoor reading room. After school, this area is flooded with students. They can choose from a range of furniture types and feel comfortable doing homework or socializing. An open stairway with transparent glass railings leads to the basement level where adults, the largest group of library patrons, congregate. The stairwell creates an atrium allowing light to enter the lower level. Skylights embedded in the landscaping outside, over which visitors must walk to enter the library, also bring light in to the grand basement space. The perimeter of the basement reading room is wrapped in books for easy accessibility, with intimate reading areas arranged throughout. One of two community rooms is tucked in the back of this level. The top floor, reserved for children, is the quietest floor. Fairbanks noted that the carpeting and perforated ceiling absorb sound. Smaller chairs and tables and shorter bookshelves clearly indicate the target audience. Children can access materials and librarians can monitor the whole room. An LED art piece by Janet Zweig, commissioned by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as part of the Percent for Art program, hangs from the ceiling. On it, unanswerable philosophical questions scroll overhead. The stimulating installation is meant to inspire children and engage their sense of wonder and desire to “search.” The Glen Oaks Branch Library opened to the public in September 2013. Five days a week, visitors flow naturally from the bus stop on Union Turnpike, to the sitting area outside the entrance made possible by the building’s setback on the site, and into the library. Emma Pattiz is Policy Coordinator for the AIA New York Chapter.
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Archtober Building of the Day #10> The Barbarian Group’s winding Superdesk

Building of the Day #10 The Barbarian Group 112 West 20th Street Clive Wilkinson Architects It seems like something out of an interiors sci-fi novel: a barbaric desk comes to life, invading a helpless office floor. Nothing can stop it. It grows around structural columns. Monsters represent our cultural fears, and this could be a story expressing our anxieties about Corporate America, if it wasn’t for the fact that Clive Wilkinson Architects’ superdesk for The Barbarian Group is so functional and so cool. A 1,100-foot-long uninterrupted white surface snakes about the office, arching to create nooks for informal meetings and casual encounters. During today’s tour, Clive Wilkinson and Barbarian’s Genevieve Robles and Nick Bonadies took us back to the origins of the superdesk. While The Barbarian Group was still working in cubicles, it challenged Wilkinson andhis team to design the most creative, collaborative environment possible. His solution was surprisingly simple: sit everyone, from the founders to the interns, around one enormous desk. All of the pieces were fabricated in LA by repurposed automotive robots driven by floppy disks, and then trucked across country. After weathering winter snowstorms, the pieces finally arrived in New York, all small enough to fit in the office building’s modestly-sized elevator. The desk was assembled on-site, and after a 30-hour eco-resin pour just a few days before staff moved in, the desk became the seamless surface that has graced many an architecture publication. Despite the epic creation story, Wilkinson said that the superdesk is around 40 percent less expensive than designing a traditional office space. The surface’s undulating form creates subtle divisions, allowing employees to gather by departments. However, desk spaces aren’t fixed, and staffers can easily roll their under-desk cabinets to another location if a project requires them to do so. “We can restack the deck whenever we need to,” said Robles. Wilkinson chose to expose the nuts and bolts, but the sparkling, seamless surface still looks astonishingly malleable. At one point it dips down, forming what Robles referred to as a “waterless hot tub.” Elsewhere, the surface softly rises to standing height for employees who prefer to work on their feet. And comfortable furniture grows almost organically inside the arches, which are padded with sound insulation to create intimate meeting environments. Wilkinson’s expressive surface can make imaginations run wild. And this is exactly what The Barbarian Group was looking for. Don't forget your library card for tomorrow's tour at the Glen Oaks Branch Library!
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 #9> Kickstarter’s Greenpoint Headquarters

Archtober Building of the Day #9 Kickstarter 58 Kent Street, Brooklyn Ole Sondresen Architect “Nothing is better than doing nothing.” While this may be the maxim that many of us live by on lazy Sunday afternoons, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn it applies to the design philosophy of Norwegian carpenter-turned-architect Ole Sondresen. During today’s tour of the Kickstarter headquarters, Sondresen demonstrated how this sustainable principle guided his design process. Sondresen approached the task of adaptively reusing a landmarked former pencil factory in an unorthodox fashion, at least by preservation standards. Rather than bringing the building back in time to its glory days, the architect froze the building in place, treating it as a post-industrial ruin. His design team left the brick exterior virtually untreated, even refusing to scrub away the graffiti accumulated over time. Since the building had been gutted by a former owner, Sondresen had the liberty of reinventing many of the interior spaces. Instead of opting for traditional floor plates to offer lateral support, he created a structural core that also holds many of the building’s mechanical systems, minimizing piping elsewhere. This also allowed the creation of a glass-framed courtyard held up by repurposed steel trusses from the roof. The atrium floods most office spaces with natural light, and allows for green spaces on all three floors. All of the plants in the three-tier garden are local and were chosen to provide food and shelter to migratory songbirds. Sondresen’s “do less” approach is also evident in Kickstarter’s interiors. As a former craftsman, wood plays a major role in making the untreated concrete structure appear warm and welcoming. All of it is reclaimed from dilapidated country barns or city demolitions, and a lot of it is left raw and untreated. Most of the furniture used in the variety of meeting spaces are either made of reclaimed materials in collaboration with local artisans or were bought second hand. With more than $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund 135,000 projects, Kickstarter is responsible for the birth of many of our generation’s young makers and creators. With its focus on local, low-impact, and artisan-made materials, Ole Sondresen Architect’s design perfectly captures the global crowdfunding platform’s ethos. See another contemporary work space today at The Barbarian Group by Clive Wilkinson Architects.
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 #8> National September 11 Memorial Museum

Archtober Building of the Day #8 National September 11 Memorial Museum Liberty Street, Manhattan Davis Brody Bond The space is cavernous. Visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are confronted, upon arrival, with their own memories, and the collective recall of a day unlike any other. Crisp fall air, a blue sky, 9/11 in 2001, like today, started with that harvest season sense of expectation and plenitude. For those on the Archtober Building of the Day on Wednesday, the trip was, in part, time travel. Suddenly back in what had been the parking garage of the original World Trade Center, the only vehicles now in sight were those of first responders. Damaged but recognizable, the fire trucks and ambulances of that day paralleled the heat-tortured steel, filling the space with relics that, together, have come to define New York's sense of resilience and fortitude. The underground museum space has been shaped by Davis Brody Bond. What the design and curatorial team have achieved starts with a meandering ribbon descending to bedrock, plunging into an architectural heart of darkness, and building out the museum’s mission to "bear solemn witness to the terrorist attacks." Davis Brody Bond Partner Carl F. Krebs said, “We started this project with a 16-acre hole in the ground, and thousands of people looking in,” referencing the crowds that gathered to view Ground Zero. To Associate Partner Mark Wager, the emotional impact of the site has made the architecture a secondary component, helping to direct the way visitors and future generations experience the void. Those on the Archtober tour included some who were intimately connected to the place and its history, and others who were far away that day. The power of the museum and its iconic content had equal impact on all. Rick Bell was on the volunteer committee organized by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation that wrote the program statement for the 9/11 Memorial.
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Archtober Building of the Day #6> Central Park’s Tavern on the Green

Archtober Building of the Day #6 Tavern on the Green Central Park West & 67th Street Swanke Hayden Connell Architects The Swanke Hayden Connell Architects team was well represented on today's Archtober tour with Elizabeth Moss, How Zan, and landscape architect Robin Key, principal of Robin Key Landscape Architecture. Our tour focused on the technical aspects of the restoration of the Tavern on the Green. With a detailed look at the removal of excrescences layered on from the 1930s conversion of the Jacob Wray Mould Sheepfold to the Robert Moses Tavern on the Green. Plenty of other architects, in earlier times, have had their hands on this subtle folksy Victorian decorated with polychromed brick, slate, stone, and Minton tiles. Aymar Embury executed the original ’30s conversion from a barn to a restaurant. Even Skidmore, Owings & Merrill had a turn in the 1940s with the Elm Room (mercifully gone!). Thank goodness the original roof trusses are still intact. It is a beautiful restoration, masterfully executed, bringing new life to a site that has struggled in recent years to find its footing. Warner LeRoy went bankrupt in 2009 forcing the restaurant to close until its revival in May, 2014. The jury is still out on the success of its food service component (yes, it’s still a restaurant—and under siege from the foodies), but the architecture is splendid, and you can’t beat the location. The Tavern is definitely an icon of New York, not only because of its totally satisfying Central Park architecture and fantastic location, but also because of the social goings-on it has seen and been host to over the years. John Lennon was a habitué, celebrating first his October birthday, then with his son Sean, who shared the same birthday (October 9, 1940 and 1975). Parties at the Tavern have been the stuff of legends, and we are looking forward to having a chance to make some of our own. Pull up to the grab-and-go for a coffee off the Bridle Path. Dine under the trees with visions of the 200 Southdown sheep that used to blissfully graze in Sheep Meadow. Enjoy! Tomorrow’s tour is of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Airport.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, 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. ckracauer@aiany.org Her daughter, Emily, is getting married at Tavern on the Green on Saturday, October 11th.
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Archtober Building of the Day #5> Sportime/John McEnroe Tennis Academy

Archtober Building of the Day #5 Sportime/John McEnroe Tennis Academy One Randall's Island RZAPS - Ricardo Zurita Architecture & Planning, P.C. Archtober enthusiasts ventured to Randall’s Island—many of us for the very first time—to visit Sportime/John McEnroe Tennis Academy, a tennis facility, designed by Ricardo Zurita Architecture and Planning, that includes 20 courts, a clubhouse, and a stadium on less than four acres. As the architect of the master plan for Randall’s Island, Ricardo Zurita offered a quick history lesson at the start of the tour. Once a center for social service facilities, the island remains home to two psychiatric hospitals, a fire academy, and a water treatment plant, in addition to more than 400 acres of parkland. Zurita admitted to calling it Rikers Island once early in his career, perhaps to quell our embarrassment at leaving it off of the first three Archtober maps. The fieldhouse is composed of six pre-engineered units by Butler Manufacturing that were cleverly altered to suit the space’s needs. An offset of a mere six degrees between the clubhouse unit and the five interior courts breaks up the structure and creates a viewing plane within the space. What might have been a dark and narrow corridor linking the public clubhouse area to administrative offices becomes an airy mezzanine space perfect for observing the action on the courts below. Although the structure is made up of six nearly identical units, the clubhouse space is visually set off from the courts by its slight angle, as well as the zippy green of its exterior.  The section of the building that houses playing courts is painted in light blue, with seemingly random pale green stripes that, in fact, map the motion of a tennis ball as it bounces. The other three groups of five courts each are available for outdoor play part of the year. Starting in October, they are enclosed by giant inflated bubbles connected to the angular building. Zurita commented, “I always like that juxtaposition of the white soft fabric against the bright green geometric structure.” A flexible setup for the exhibition court provides stadium seating and terraces for viewing. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
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Archtober Building of the Day #4> Stapleton Library by Andrew Berman Architect

Archtober Building of the Day #4 Stapleton Library 132 Canal Street, Staten Island Andrew Berman Architects Libraries, according to architect Andrew Berman, principal of Andrew Berman Architect, do not age gracefully. As technological innovations and transforming communities change the role of these public institutions, fixed programmatic layouts become obsolete. During a tour of Stapleton Library in Staten Island, Berman explained that flexibility and openness became two key components that guided its renovation and expansion. Originally designed by Carrère and Hastings, fathers of the main New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, the Stapleton Library was suited to its small community. High ceilings and lofty proportions imbued the small structure with dignity, while varnished oak molding gave it a decidedly more rustic feel than its Manhattan relative. However, as Stapleton’s population increased and diversified, the Staten Island neighborhood outgrew its library, which became cluttered and poorly lit. Berman’s firm has carefully renovated the original 1907 building that now serves as a playful children’s area. The size of this space, he believes, is ideal for kids: large enough to create discrete areas for different programmatic needs. The new expansion has also doubled the space available to adult and young adult users. Afraid of compromising the building’s integrity through mimicry, Berman opted to handle the expansion as a separate structure, but one that remained in dialogue with the old. From the outside, the original masonry construction contrasts with the sleek transparency of the new space. However, Berman’s careful use of proportion allows the two structures to harmonize. Meanwhile, the library’s interior is unified through the use of wooden structural beams, which reference the moldings and shelving in the original space. Books line the walls, freeing up corridors for study tables and computers. In addition, the central mechanical core is clad in translucent polycarbonate, adding to the sense of openness. A community room is used for group study sessions, and also houses programs from arts and crafts to aerobics classes. Today, Stapleton Library is, quite literally, a beacon for its community. Berman’s expansion glows like a lantern at night, welcoming neighbors who often hang around outside even after closing hours to use the library’s Wi-Fi network. The architect hopes that the warmth, openness, and accessibility of the building will make it an inviting community space. 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 #2> Morris Adjmi’s 250 Bowery

Archtober Building of the Day #2 250 Bowery 250 Bowery, New York, NY Morris Adjmi Architects and AA Studio Winner of a 2014 AIA New York Chapter Merit Award, 250 Bowery is the latest insertion into the parade of Pritzker Prize–winners on the Bowery. Morris Adjmi Architects Project Architect Mohammed Rajab led our group of enthusiasts and developers from Canada—yes, friends, you can use Archtober to suss out your competition—through a private duplex luxury condo currently on the market. New York City is the world capital of real estate, and here’s one of the reasons why. With a very sophisticated facade of nine square window grids, overlaid by a composite secondary system—a pattern of clad columns and spandrels in quadrants, adding up again to a larger scale nine square—the visible upper facade is both industrial in feeling and sophisticated in scale, texture, and geometry. It fits right in, while at the same time offering a scalar bump reflecting the new institutional geography of the Bowery. Dominating the views from within the units is SANAA’s New Museum and Foster + Partners’ Sperone Westwater Gallery. Great design sells. In preparation for today’s outing, I took a look at the special language of residential real estate. We have a “sleek, gleaming, sundrenched home beckoning with robust casement windows” (they are actually hopper windows),  and a “scintillating silhouette.”  I’m here to tell you that it’s a very handsome building, but it’s boxy—and I mean boxy, with its nuanced play of multiple grids on the facade. There is a complement of tenant outdoor space, with nice downtown views and a motorized opener on the trash door in the common hallway. “Look – no hands” recycling! The transformation of the Bowery continues. The International Center of Photography is moving down there, too. When CBGB’s can become a John Varvatos store, and the former flophouses of Skid Row can fetch upwards of $2,500 per square foot, you see change every day. The birth and rebirth of a constantly evolving city is hastened by the presence of such high quality design leading the way. authorPhoto Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, 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. ckracauer@aiany.org
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Archtober Building of the Day #1> The Public Theater at Astor Place

Archtober Building of the Day #1 The Public Theater at Astor Place 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY Ennead Architects Many "Building of the Day" tours demonstrate the vibrancy of New York City, as it manifests itself in public spaces, public buildings, and, today, in the Public Theater. Theater shows us who we are, and the Public Theater has presented a balanced mix of Shakespeare, classics, musicals, contemporary works, and experimental. The lobby is filled with words, and immediately my head is filled with quotes from the Bard: “What do you read, my lord,” and Hamlet replies: ”Words, words, words.” So we kick off with some good words about the public, the theater, and the splendid blend of history and aspiration that brings them all together. Ennead Associate Partner Stephen Cho, led the tour today, developing the history of this sturdy antebellum structure. Originally built in 1853 as the Astor Library, it grew until the 1895 consolidation with the Lenox and Tilden Libraries formed the New York Public Library. The original architect was Alexander Saeltzer, with additions by Thomas Stent. Abandoned by the NYPL in 1911, the structures were repurposed for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in 1920. The Astor Library became a residence, a half-way house, a kosher cafeteria, and an advocacy organization for the displaced Jews of the early 20th century. By 1965, the building had deteriorated considerably and faced certain demolition. One of the first successful “saves” of the newly-created Landmarks Preservation Commission, the city purchased the building, gave it landmark status and leased it to Joe Papp, who had already established his vision of promoting Shakespeare to the masses. Ada Louise Huxtable called it “the miracle on Lafayette Street.” Ennead began its involvement with the renovation of the lobby and public outdoor space. Taking cues from the historic building, a new stoop was added by gobbling up a lane of Lafayette Street. A glass canopy was also added. Paula Sher of Pentagram had a hand in some of the words, and artist Ben Rubin created The Shakespeare Machine as a site-specific light fixture with 37 LED screens that displays fragments of Shakespeare’s plays. This was a great project to kick off the month of architecture. It has everything – an august beginning as an institution for learning, a historic transformation reflecting the changing nature of the neighborhood, and its chapter as a hub of theaters exploring all those themes and more. Stay tuned for 30 more…tomorrow we tour 250 Bowery by Morris Adjmi Architects at high noon.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, 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. ckracauer@aiany.org