Posts tagged with "Ford Foundation":

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Roche Dinkeloo’s Ford Foundation Building reopens for the 21st century

Upon stepping inside the new, light-filled Ford Foundation for Social Justice, you’d never know the crisp and clean, 415,000-square-foot building felt darker and smaller just four years ago. The landmark headquarters of the formerly-named Ford Foundation was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1967 and has long been considered one of New York’s greatest architectural treasures. Its 12-story, corten steel structure featuring textured granite walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows were emblematic of groundbreaking mid-century modern design, but in recent years the prized building has fallen behind the times. This month, Gensler’s New York office completed an extensive renovation effort to redesign and rebrand the organization’s Midtown East facility as a sustainable hub for social justice–oriented groups to commune and collaborate. The 51-year-old building was reconstructed in compliance with updated city safety codes with an increased attention to energy efficiency and accessibility. Where rays of daylight used to only trickle into the structure’s iconic, glass-clad atrium, they now sweep through the office areas and out the other side of the building. It’s arguably one of the sunniest spaces in the neighborhood and now boasts near-complete transparency. “People used to walk by here and have no idea what was going on inside,” said Darren Walker, the Foundation’s current president. “It sat here like a mammoth, making a statement of discretion and tranquility. But now, while you can see so much of the original vocabulary of the building in things like its 6-foot planning grid and innovative use of brass, it’s much more transparent and energetic.” Central to Gensler’s revamp was expanding the amount of public and meeting spaces for outside organizations from 53,600 square feet to a whopping 81,000 square feet. With more room to host global groups committed to human equity and achievement, the Foundation aims to bolster its outreach efforts while also promoting its own themes of transparency, fairness, and dignity through an inviting design. Gensler also added extra lifts, subtle wheelchair ramps, gender-inclusive signage, and updated workplace furniture to meet ADA standards—all in order to encourage diversity within the Foundation’s four walls. This idea of displaying human value through design also translates to the new open office plan that nurtures collaboration and gives employees access to coveted daylight and ample views of the lush Dan Kiley­–designed garden atrium. Jungles Studio, in collaboration with SiteWorks, rehabilitated the space to align with Kiley’s simple original vision. To combat years of overgrowth and erosion, they deepened the tree holes, improved irrigation, and restored the garden’s reflecting pool as well as the brick pavers throughout. This indoor greenhouse is visible from the workspace above now that the closed-door private offices that once lined the atrium walls have been opened up as laneways on each floor. Ed Wood, design director and principal at Gensler, said the overall design intent for the project was to create a feeling of the “new, but familiar.” Perhaps the most impressive part of the Foundation’s renovation signifies just that. During the project, over 1,500 pieces of furniture were meticulously restored while over half of the original Warren Platnerdesigned wood pieces were refinished to match their original stain. Each legacy lighting fixture, bronze accent, leather-laid item, piece of millwork, as well as the carpet and wood flooring was either refurbished or reimagined using extremely similar materials or pieces salvaged from the Foundation’s storage. The updated interior successfully transports visitors back to a time when Mad Men era-design dominated New York’s office towers without making it look cheesy and out of date. It’s actually refreshing. When the Ford Foundation first opened, it was a design marvel and a nod to the Foundation’s claim to be the wealthiest organization of its kind in the world. With this update, Gensler brought the building back to life and advanced its architectural status by not only making it a prime example of a 21st-century renovation project but by intelligently piecing back together all the iconic elements that made the interior so irresistible decades ago. The public spaces inside the Ford Foundation for Social Justice will officially open to the public in January. Its grantees and affiliate organizations will be welcomed into the new convening spaces starting then as well. The project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification. In addition to the staff, the building permanently houses Philanthropy New York, the United Nations Foundation, and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.
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Upgrades to Ford Foundation Building are approved

On April 19, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the $190 million renovation to the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. The building, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates with its iconic atrium by designer Dan Kiley, has been largely untouched since it was completed in 1967. In 1997, the LPC designated the exterior, atrium glass walls, and garden of the foundation headquarters as official landmarks. The new upgrades are mostly focused on bringing the building up to code and will be conducted by Gensler with Bill Higgins of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners as consultants, while Raymond Jungles Studio will handle the plantings.

This undertaking will include doubling conference space and dedicating two floors to other nonprofit organizations, creating a new visitors center, art gallery, and public event spaces, and reducing Ford’s own office area by one-third.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said, “This means more accessibility for people with disabilities; [and a place that is] more open to visitors and the public, including a visitors center and art gallery; more open to our colleagues and sister institutions through expanded meeting facilities; and a more open working environment for our own staff to encourage collaboration and reduce hierarchy.”

However, at the presentation in April, commissioners and Historic District Council (HDC) director of advocacy and community outreach Kelly Carroll had reservations. Carroll pointed out that many of the buildings the HDC reviews have little evidence of their former glory, while the Ford Foundation still retains its original brass doors, planters, modernist tile pavers, and signature indoor-outdoor flow—a rare gift. “An approval [to remove features] today can easily be a regret a generation from now,” she said. In particular, she voiced concerns over removing planters—which are currently ADA compliant—and suggested that the team look into automating the bronze doors rather than tossing them.

Others, such as Tara Kelly of the Municipal Art Society, expressed similar concerns and suggested more greenery on the facade and entrance on 42nd Street. In the end, commissioners voted to approve changes. The renovation is expected to be complete by 2019.

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Ford Foundation announces renovation of its Kevin Roche–designed headquarters in New York

The Ford Foundation announced today that Gensler will lead a $190 million renovation of its Manhattan headquarters in East Midtown. The renovation will bring the building up to code while preserving the 1967 modernist design by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo. The renovation will double the square footage available for nonprofits (in part by reducing Ford’s own office footprint) with two floors dedicated to nonprofit organizations, create a new visitor center, art gallery, and event spaces, and open up the existing layout. The foundation is aiming for Gold LEED certification and will be investing in sustainable LED lighting, mechanical and ductwork, and HVAC systems. The building will also be equipped to harvest stormwater and natural daylight. A near-perfect square, the building is distinguished by its 174-foot-high atrium full of fern pines, weeping figs, bougainvillea, and camellia—plantings that will all be replaced with a new design by landscape architect Raymond Jungles. However, the nearly 5,000 pieces of furniture by Warren Platner and Charles and Ray Eames will be reused “as much as possible.” The renovation is expected to be complete summer 2018. Kevin Roche’s original 12-story concrete-and-steel, International Style building was widely praised when it was first built. In The New York Times, Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that the Ford Foundation headquarters is “that rarity, a building aware of its world.” She also quoted Roche on the design, who reportedly said “It will be possible in this building to look across the court and see your fellow man or sit on a bench and discuss the problems of Southeast Asia. There will be a total awareness of the foundation’s activities.” In 1995, the building won the AIA Twenty-Five Year award and in 1997 New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the exterior, atrium glass walls, and garden of the foundation headquarters as an official landmark. This morning, The New York Times reported that the current president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, takes his responsibility of the building very seriously. “We’re not only grant-makers but stewards of a building that Henry Ford II commissioned and was deeply involved with. This building is part of our legacy and was a gift to the city,” Walker said.