High on a hill in the West Bronx, the view from the top of COOKFOX's latest building plays tricks on the Manhattan skyline: One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and 432 Park Avenue seem to stand next to each other. Next year, thanks to a nonprofit developer, hundreds of lucky residents will get to take in the view. On Tuesday, the Bronx's latest affordable housing development for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families topped off. The homeless services organization Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) partnered with New York City–based COOKFOX to design Park House and Webster Residence, twin structures that provide supportive housing with on-site social services and community space that complement the residences. Citywide, Breaking Ground operates two transitional houses (390 units) and 2,899 units of permanent supportive housing. The new Bronx apartments offer "a sense of permanence, a sense of belonging to the streetscape," explained Rick Cook, founding principal. Both buildings in this latest development, set between wide Park and Webster avenues, incorporate biophilic design, one of COOKFOX's guiding practices. The approximately 102,000- (Webster) and 247,000-square-foot (Park) structures are arranged around a residents-only courtyard; common areas are oriented towards green space. The warm brick and stone facade references the neighborhood's grand turn-of-the-century apartment homes. Recessed brickwork adds visual interest to the streetwall; up top, residents can access a green roof on the Webster Residence. The building, Cook noted, qualifies for Zone Green benefits, which allows additional floor area to be used for affordable housing. All interior treatments are low- or non-VOC, while large windows take allow for ample natural light. The housing, Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground, responds to community needs for two and three bedroom apartments. The most frequent questions she fields about the project are "How do I apply, and when?"
Posts tagged with "Common Ground":
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum started awarding a yearly Design Award in 2000. The award is a jury-selected process that includes among its ten categories honors for Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Design, and for Lifetime Achievement that has been won by architects. This year's awards were elegantly introduced by the Museum’s Director Caroline Baumann and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. They honored MOS Architects' Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith, landscape designer Shane Coen at Coen + Partners, and Commune, the Los Angeles interior design firm. In addition, Common Ground founder Rosanne Haggerty was given a Design Mind award, Jack Lenor Larson was awarded the Director's Award, and, fittingly, the late Michael Graves (whose partners claim he told them before he died that he would win the award this year) was given the annual Lifetime Achievement award.
An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade." The Brook’s communal areas, which are clustered at the corner of the 92,000-square-foot, six-story building, are marked on the exterior by ES Tolga Dry Seal System aluminum panels from Allied Metal. In addition to articulating the change in program, the metal facade “represents coming together, creating a landmark for the neighborhood as well,” said Gorlin, who noted that Common Ground “liked from the beginning marking the corner as a special symbolic place.” The metal-clad corner also functions “urbanistically, to break the building into three parts, break down its scale,” he explained. A series of inset terraces interrupt the grey aluminum walls with splashes of red. “At one level it’s a bright color to be cheerful and optimistic,” said Gorlin. “In China, red is a symbol of good luck. It also symbolizes the heart of the program and the community.” The Brook’s 190 studio apartments are distributed to either side of the community facilities, along wings punctuated with square and rectangular windows. “We decided to vary the window placement so it would create a more lively asymmetrical pattern. It’s not just a simple grid,” said Gorlin. The designers clad the housing areas in locally sourced dark grey brick. “Brick is a very noble, ancient material,” observed Gorlin. As a good insulator, it also contributes to the building’s LEED Silver status. Other sustainability strategies include a green roof, a special boiler system, building management technology that turns off the lights when a room is not in use, and the use of recycled and non-offgassing materials. The Brook was erected on a vacant lot in a neighborhood once known for pervasive blight. Early in the design process, said Gorlin, the architects and developers discussed installing bars over the lower windows. “It was determined very consciously not to do it, even though there’s glass on the corner,” he explained. “We decided not to put bars up or make it look in any way prison-like. In fact, by not doing so it’s been maintained in perfect shape. People in the neighborhood think it’s a high-end condo.” Gorlin calls Common Ground “a miraculous kind of client in terms of what they do and the manner in which they deal with the community.” The Brook, he said, represents a new approach not just to affordable housing, but to homelessness. “To actually build permanent housing for homeless people” is a unique opportunity, he said. “It’s not just a shelter, but a place to start over in life.”
"Venice Architecture Biennale 'cannot get any worse' says Wolf D. Prix," read the headline on Dezeen's August 30 wire post. In a press release titled “The Banal,” Prix declared that that architects participating in the biennale are “playing” while the profession is “sinking into powerlessness and irrelevance” at the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and investors. The broadside caused a stir in Venice during he opening and in the blogosphere but now it appears that Prix was never in Venice for the biennale in the first place and thus had not seen the exhibition he denounced. His office claims that Prix has been misunderstood and "the critique addressed the theme of the exhibition, not the show or its execution," according to a spokesperson for the firm. Mr. Prix has a right to critique David Chipperfield’s chose theme, “Common Ground.” He makes some valid points comparing the biennale to a Venetian Carnival where "one can imagine all the architects in Pierrot costumes surrounded by masked critics and dancing the Dance Banale." The bi-annual fair does have its "hollow, arduous, exhausting, bleak and boring moments," as Prix argued but also displays of pure elation, beauty, critique, and poetry. It’s a trade show like no other and one really does have to attend to feel its "hollow" and beautiful moments and insights. In the 2008 biennale Mr. Prix displayed his iconic 1969 "Feedback Space" plastic bubble that one had to see and enter to really understand. Perhaps Mr. Prix should remember that his recreated plastic bubble argued for and required "physicalness." It comes off like sour grapes that Mr. Prix, who was not exhibiting at this biennale, lambasted it without seeing it himself. I wonder if he would be pleased if journalists critiqued his BMW “Welt” building without actually visiting it in Munich?
In the cafe of the wonderfully elegant Palazzo Cà Giustinian on Venice's Grand Canal I had a chance to catch up with former AN associate editor Jaffer Kolb. Kolb has gone on to bigger and better projects and is currently the man on the ground in Venice for David Chipperfield as they prepare for the 13th Biennale of Architecture. Jaffer reports that through the usual difficulties (and expense) of working in Venice the event is on schedule. Common Ground will include a good many American architects from various regions. From Ann Arbor: a group called 13178 Moran Street includes Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, Meredith Miller, Thom Moran, Catie Newell, Rosalyne Shieh, and Troy Schaum. New York will send three groups: Peter Eisenman, Toshiko Mori, and Tod Williams/Billie Tsien. The Chicago entry includes: Jeanne Gang, Stanley Tigerman, David Brown, Sarah Dunn, Martin Felsen, Margaret McCurry, and Alexander Eisenschmidt. Finally, Ken Frampton is bringing along a geographically diverse group of Steven Holl, Rick Joy, Stanley Saitowitz, and Canadians John Patkau and Brigitte Shim. Kolb is also excited by an student installation called 40,000 Hours (a working title) which displays an international array of university projects using simple white card board models all displayed anonymously in a single room. The Common Ground theme, Kolb explained, emphasizes shared ideas over individual authorship, and asks architects to initiate dialogues in their projects rather than simply proposing a selection of projects. Whether the participants really take this shared theme to heart will only be apparent in Venice and The Architects Newspaper will be there to report on it. We’ll be publishing a daily newspaper with our partners Allemandi for the first three days of the Biennale, August 27th, 28th, and 29th. If you can't make it to Venice watch for our online reports from La Serenissima.