Posts tagged with "Dan Wood":

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Dan Wood and Amale Andraos of WORKac renovate their own New York apartment

In 2004, Dan Wood and Amale Andraos bought a floor-through one-bedroom apartment in a recently completed building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The couple are partners in work as well as life. They are the founders of Work Architecture Company (WORKac), an award-winning New York firm whose credits include a master plan for the New Holland Island Cultural Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wieden+Kennedy’s New York offices, the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, and the Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 216 in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Andraos is also dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.

At first the apartment suited them perfectly; for one thing, it was a short walk to their office on Rivington Street. And in 2010, when their daughter Ayah was born, they were able to make room for baby. But in 2012, when Wood and Andraos found out that a second child was on the way, they knew they would have to move, especially since the apartment had only one bathroom. Happily fate intervened: Just after their son Kamil was born, the duplex apartment on the floor above became available.

The architects bought the unit on the spot and immediately set to work conjuring ways to connect the apartments. The options felt overwhelming: Where would they put the front door? Where should they install the connecting staircase? The questions piled up. “It was one of the trickiest things we’ve ever worked on,” said Wood, explaining that they don’t do much residential work. They consulted with everyone from structural engineers to real estate agents, making sure that the new combined space would be saleable if they ever wanted to move.

The final design suits the family’s needs perfectly. The entrance, their original front door, opens into what they call the “extra room”—a space that has become a playground for the children. They were even able to add a small gym by taking out a closet. To compensate for the lost storage, they added a space under the new stairs, which are installed at the back of the first floor. The newly expanded kitchen—the cabinets are pushed back two feet—opens into the dining and living area. The couple dropped the kitchen ceiling six inches to make room for wiring and conduits. The result provides a strong visual contrast with the airy dining and living room.

The second floor presented a tougher problem. It was built with pretext plank flooring, which they removed to install a new floor—a tricky feat considering that part of the planks extended into the other apartment on the floor. Because of plumbing lines, the master bath had to be sited where the old apartment’s kitchen used to be. A spacious master suite takes up the rest of the second floor. The third level contains two children’s bedrooms and a bath.

The couple made several structural improvements. “The building was put up fast and cheap,” said Wood, “it was really slapdash.” They decided to replace all the windows, something they had to get permission from the condominium’s board to do.

The renovation took nine months, and the family lived there through the entire project, something architects routinely advise clients against. “When they took the floor out upstairs, we all lived in the old living room,” Wood explained. That meant that bedtime was 7:30 p.m.—for everyone. Forget watching television. When that ordeal was over, they decamped and moved upstairs, but had no kitchen. Wood and Andraos did dishes in the shower.

Wood admits that they were neither the best architects nor the best clients. “We did things that I’d never allow a client to do,” he said. For example, to save money the duo had opted for a ten-foot stair stringer as opposed to an eight-foot one. “But,” said Wood, “When I saw it, it looked so ugly that I had it ripped out. I would have never allowed a client to do that.”

Now that the renovation is a distant memory, the couple is reveling in their three-bedroom, three-bath apartment. “We put so much love into the project,” he said. “It’s a godsend.”

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Shovel Oh So Ready

Architect and friend of AN Jeremiah Joseph writes in with this report of the March 27 WORKac lecture, "Shovel Ready," at Parsons. Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, of the 2008 PS1 Warm-Up pavilion fame, tag team presented their work to a standing room only crowd. With a range of projects, from buildings to urban proposals, the duo showed the office's penchant for both intelligence and wit. Like many young offices most of WORKac's work is still in the realm of unbuilt projects, but with five competitions already completed in 2009 this office has no intention of waiting around casually for the work to knock on their door. Of the work presented, two New York buildings showed off the office's intelligent concepts executed through reduced forms. They push the ideas, but are careful to not allow overly exuberant design blur the intent of their work. The Headquarters' for Diane von Furstenberg in the Meatpacking district showed their aptitude for laying out simple concepts that are translated, quite directly, into built reality. The project uses the stair, one of the most commonplace and yet ceaselessly studied elements in architecture, to turn what could be a mundane office building into an object of both clarity and poetry. Starting at the ground floor entry the stair slips up through the old warehouse building to reveal in single moment the sky above. A relatively simple move, but deftly handled, it flips the reading of the building's dark brick exterior by lighting the interior and yet at the same moment pulls visitors sense of the space up, through, and out the roof. In their proposal for the Kew Gardens Library in Queens (a project soon to start construction) WORK ac inverts the interior methods of the Diane von Furstenberg HQ by wrapping an existing building with a new facade and roof. Expanding the building's footprint towards the street they apply a new double-bent gull wing roof covered with flora. The new form, boosting the height of the building and allowing clerestory lighting into the interior, is clad at the upper portion of the facade with pre-cast concrete panels and new, open curtain wall down to the street. It is important to credit New York City's Design and Construction Excellence program for allowing WORK ac produce a project like this. It may be a bit self-serving to suggest this project gives hope to the architecture community that it will be able to continue producing good/smart/important work during a time of economic turbulence. But with the likely (and potentially healthy) collapse of the opulent condo market, the program sends a positive message to the community-at-large that quality design benefits everyone, not just the wealthy few. Of the work shown it was interesting to see that to date WORK ac is strongest in their urban proposals. The Green Belt City competition for Las Vegas started off with clear-minded analysis of the site issues. By the middle of the presentation they revealed their OMA pedigree, a tendency to tackle problems as the witty prankster who actually does know best. Yet at the end they zoom past overly reduced forms and slight of hand design moves to produce something both smart and beautiful. With their final project, a preview of a competition yet to be made public, they showed an amusing foray into the world of paper architecture. The project, a tower in lower Manhattan, was commissioned as a real world study of an urban condition, but the architects believe they, the client, and the architecture community are best served by going for broke. With an appropriate suspension of disbelief they stack and pin-wheel a series of slabs composed of archetypal sections of the city's urban fabric onto a hyper-eco-energy-friendly core. Although little of this piece itself is feasible, WORK ac likeably reveals untapped potentials in tower design and brings to light the potential for subtler, real-world solutions that would be just as relevant and powerful. With the amount of work produced so far it is a good bet WORKac will continue to generate engaging architecture. A risk the office faces is becoming typecast as new eco-architects. Although this may help bring attention, and put work on their boards, it would be too narrow of a category for their talent. An exhibition on WORKac is on view at Parsons The New School for Design, 25 East 13 Street, Second Floor, through April 18. A second exhibition, called 49 Cities, will be on view at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare Street, starting on April 14.