Posts tagged with "Machado Silvetti":

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Architects aren’t happy with plans to remodel this Manhattan park

Despite new developments reshaping the city from ground to sky, the Statue of Liberty endures as one of New York's most iconic sights. Without getting on a boat, one of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue. Now, in response to the specter of Hurricane Sandy and the threat of rising seas, the agency that oversees the area is planning a total park overhaul. The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is set to replace the existing landscape that architects and residents love with a park it says will align better with new resiliency measures that are reshaping the Manhattan waterfront. Though Wagner Park comprises just ten percent of Battery Park City's green space, its design punches above its weight. According to Machado Silvetti, the park has three defining features, all in service of stellar water views. The main building—really two pavilions whose rooftops are joined by a wooden bridge—is reached by facing allées that funnel pedestrians from Battery Park and Battery Place. From there, the view beckons park-goers onto a grassy expanse, framed by benches and stone paths. At its opening in 1996, architecture critic Paul Goldberger declared Wagner Park's three-and-a-half acres "one of the finest public spaces New York has seen in at least a generation." That was written in a pre-Sandy time, when climate change was a glimmer only in scientists’ eyes. Now, the BPCA, the state agency in charge of Battery Park City, says Wagner Park needs a totally new design to protect itself, as well as inland areas. Though it didn't flood during Sandy, hurricane-related inundation along nearby West Street and the area's "excessive vulnerabilities" made the agency consider a storm barrier to align with the city's Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project, said Gwen Dawson, vice president of real property at BPCA. Right now, LMCR protections terminate right before Wagner Park’s southern boundary and the city’s Battery Park City resiliency initiatives end at the park's north side, near the Museum of Jewish Heritage. At the water's edge, preliminary plans call for extending an existing esplanade to connect with nearby Pier A. To flood-proof inland areas, a deployable barrier set between thick columns would roughly contour the existing building's footprint and the southern allée, while a larger lawn and ornamental gardens would replace the current configuration of wood benches and stonework. BPCA has commissioned Stan Eckstut of New York’s Perkins Eastman, the same architect behind the original Battery Park City master plan, to design the new building and park (in collaboration with W Architecture and Landscape Architecture). Besides the landscape's vulnerability, Machado Silvetti’s building, BPCA says, is too deteriorated and set too deep into the 100-year floodplain to withstand future Sandys. At 12 feet, the structure's first-floor elevation is four-and-a-half feet shy of new minimum first-floor flood zone elevations. Perkins Eastman's design would keep the same footprint as the old building, but, at 42 feet tall, it would more than double the amount of retail space and add room for maintenance operations. The restrooms, which are bigger than those in Bryant Park, would be halved in size to deter tour buses from stopping at the park. Not everyone, though, thinks the BPCA’s approach—or design vision—fits the site. "Design is an important component of resiliency work,” landscape architect Laura Starr said. “The design community is able to translate engineering concepts in a way that’s legible—and attractive—to lay people, so everyone can understand all the options. We all need to be on the same page.” Starr—whose firm worked on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a major initiative to build resiliency along the Manhattan side of the East River—contends that solutions to flooding should focus on Pier A’s plaza, where in 2012 seawater inundated main roads, the World Trade Center site, and the ballfields along West Street. She questioned whether the deployable barriers, which even at rest are very visible and do not go up automatically, would be the best solution. Instead, she believes built-in-place barriers that double as promenades, parks, bikeways, green space, and (in some cases) elevated roads are more effective from a holistic resiliency standpoint than deployable barriers that rely on an operations team to be effective and don’t contribute to the urban design.

Starr serves on Manhattan Community Board 1 (CB1), which met earlier this month to discuss the proposal, the latest in a series of public meetings that commenced in April 2016. (According to a BPCA spokesperson, her firm, Starr Whitehouse bid unsuccessfully on the Wagner Park redesign.)*

CB1, for its part, wants more information. Although it affirmed its pledge to work with BPCA on the plans, CB 1’s Battery Park City Committee believed the expansive character of Wagner Park should be preserved. It expressed concern over the expanded commercial space, especially given the abundant retail options on Pier A. Its resolution states that "it has not been made clear to members of the Committee why the existing structure, which was built in 1994, must be replaced by a new building or why the new building is necessary." The original architect, too, is less than thrilled with the proposal. “The design premise is an insult to the Statue of Liberty,” said Rodolfo Machado, founding principal of Machado Silvetti. “This project seems totally non-site-specific; the symbolic content of the park is completely lost. It’s very banal.” He had not heard about the BPCA proposal until AN reached out for comment last week. Perkins Eastman principal Stan Eckstut maintained that Machado Silvetti’s design is sound, but added that the pavilion was not constructed for the restaurant that today occupies its ground floor. Water, though, has seeped through the bricks and built up inside the walls, causing deterioration. There’s also not enough space for maintenance operations, so the BPCA wants to add 1,800 square feet of space for maintenance, bringing the total to 4,300 square feet. The project's budget has yet to be finalized, but it's estimated it will cost tens of millions of dollars. The next step, BPCA officials said, is engineering and design, which includes the development of an RFP for a more detailed program that is set to come out within the next 90 days. Though this plan affects only a sliver of New York’s 520 miles of coastline, the rebuild-and-replace approach raises larger questions about the future of climate change design in New York City. At Machado’s suggestion, AN reached out to architects for comment on the proposed changes to Wagner Park and the future of resilient landscapes in New York. We’ll update readers as more comments come online. Nader Tehrani, founding principal of NADAAA and dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union:
[It’s] unfortunate that there is a move to demolish these pavilions and replace them with structures that do not acknowledge the colossal scale at which pavilions would need to operate in relation to the NYC skyline, nor acknowledge the critical urbanistic connections to the Statue of Liberty…or the other more nuanced connections within Battery Park City. It might be that these pavilions, like many other structures and landscapes on the edge of Manhattan, would need to be revisited in terms of resilience, and their ability to absorb the cyclical fluctuations of a piece of infrastructure. But to deny them of the critical urbanistic function they offer is to deny NYC some of its paradigmatic qualities. At the end, rising tides will become a consistent challenge in the coming years. If at every turn, the alibi of impending doom is adopted as the basis for the demolition of critical values that make up the discipline of urbanism, then we will end up with a series of barriers (both physical and cultural) that deny us of engaging the very reasons we build urban cultures.
Toshiko Mori, founding principal, Toshiko Mori Architect:
I think the park has become a type of fixture in our downtown life. The design is a bit idiosyncratic but it is very well-detailed and there is something very endearing about the structure which takes into account multiple scales of elements occurring on the site from high rises downtown to the view of the harbor to the experience of park at human scale. In particular, the front esplanade is an excellent design, it makes for a beautiful transition from the building to the lawn. Its gentle arc and steps and stone details help negotiate this important edge in a very graceful manner. Isn't it possible to leave it as is and let it flood like they do in Venice? Or take care of flooding issue in a less obtrusive manner?
Zack McKown, founding principal of Tsao & McKown:
I would like to know more, especially regarding alternative ways of dealing with sea level rise that could preserve the Wagner Park structure by Machado Silvetti. Their design enhances an urban place that offers uniquely strong visual connections to the Statue of Liberty. They employed a powerful and erudite architectural vocabulary that elevates one's appreciation for an appropriately monumental civic celebration and at the same time delightfully challenges one to ponder its mysterious formal origins.
The project that is being proposed has no comparable ennobling or engaging qualities that I can see from these drawings.
*Starr Whitehouse is currently working with Perkins Eastman on another project and the partners worked with the BPCA at a previous firm
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Machado Silvetti’s camouflaged desert fort addition

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How can you create an architecture that hides in plain sight? This was the task of architects at Boston-based Machado Silvetti who recently completed an adaptive reuse and addition to a historic fort and grounds within the city of Al Ain, about 100 miles south of Dubai on the border between United Arab Emirates and Oman. The project provides an exhibition facility that will help to preserve, and provide access to, collections relating to Gulf history.
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Architects Machado Silvetti
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Facade Consultants Adams Kara Taylor Facade (facade consultant); Simpson Gumpertz and Heger; Atelier Ten (MEP)
  • Location Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Date of Completion phase 1: 2011; phase 2: ongoing
  • System Structurally glazed double wall
  • Products Somfy Systems (vertical blinds); Luxar (glazing)
The architects said the addition is clad entirely in glass, with a floor plate that hovers slightly above the desert sands to offer unobstructed views of the landscape while lightly bearing on the land. “When you are inside the fort, what you get is a square cut out of the sky,” said Jorge Silvetti, principal at Machado Silvetti in an interview published on the firm’s website. “It has this emptiness which is so moving and beautiful. The idea was that whatever we put there [within the fort] should interfere in the least possible way with this emptiness even as we knew we had to locate a building in some of this open space.” This realization led to a design concept of “camouflaging” new program—through the use of minimal form, materiality, and detailing—to minimize the physical and visual impact. To achieve this effect, Silvetti said careful attention was paid to the detailing of elements like a ramping entry sequence. A thin slab pierced with lighting and bracketed by handrail posts set outboard of the walking surface establishes a visual effect of “floating” over the site. This was also a response, in part, to a requirement that the addition should respect the archaeology of the historic site. “We could not dig beyond about twenty centimeters into the earth, so really, there are almost no foundations!” Glass construction in a harsh desert climate, where temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, led to numerous technical challenges for the design team. The architects sited the building along the Fort’s south wall which provided shade for most of the day, with the exception of some morning sun. Working with Atelier Ten, Machado Silvetti studied the building’s responsiveness to the environment through digital modeling and analysis, identifying areas of the facade exposed to a significant amount of solar radiation. These areas were managed with a combination of double-glazing, low-e coatings, and sensored interstitial blinds within the cavity, to filter UV light and infrared radiation. The double-glazed facade is mechanically ventilated through a clever detail that introduces air underneath the floor. The air is passively cooled under the slab prior to circulating throughout the cavity of the double skin wall. Automated blinds, installed within the cavity, provide an additional layer of solar protection. In addition to the double glazed facade, glass is employed nearly everywhere that can be seen—in the guardrails, floors, and ceilings. “Even if it's not physically true, glass gives you the feeling of coolness, of cold; glass is a cold material. It is the opposite of a warm material... the opposite of wood, certainly the opposite of mud,” said Silvetti. “And for once, the coldness of a space was something that could be understood as good—psychologically.”
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2016 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt > On the Boards: The Menokin Project

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it’s grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you. 2016 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt > On the Boards: The Menokin Project Architect: Machado Silvetti Location: Warsaw, VA

Central to a comprehensive master plan for a 500-acre historic Virginian tobacco plantation, the Menokin Project seeks to offer a new way to present and celebrate the complex history of the region through its designs to preserve the 1769 house.  Built by a signer of the Declaration of Independence and designated a National Historic Landmark, the ruins of the house are stabilized and preserved using glass to highlight the history’s wear and tear. By delicately marrying old with new, the project seeks to reinterpret the house, while allowing researchers, archaeologists, and visitors to gain a unique understanding of the irreplaceable portions of the site, its ancillary buildings, and the landscape.

Glass Engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan

Preservation Technologist John Fidler Preservation Technology Historical Architect Encore Sustainable Design Roof IGU Manufacturer Okalux 

Wood Floor Manufacture Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Honorable Mention, Unbuilt > On the Boards: Cincinnati Country Day: Early Childhood

Architect: michael mcinturf ARCHITECTS Location: Cincinnati, OH

Nestled within the landscape, the design seeks to reinforce the connection to nature that has been a core value of the distinctive program, weaving the classrooms together with a ribbon wall to create a playful interaction between interior and exterior.

Honorable Mention, Unbuilt > On the Boards: Canyon Drive

Architect: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects Location: Los Angeles, CA

These five-unit homes examine the Los Angeles small-lot subdivision typology by making the most of its efficient footprint while creating unique homes filled with light and air.

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Denver Art Museum plans major expansion

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) has just received a major standalone financial gift in support of revitalizing the museum’s North Building. The iconic Gio Ponti-designed North Building will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021 with $150 million in expanded galleries, site upgrades, and expanded resources for youth programs. The $25 million gift came from Museum Board Chairman J. Landis Martin and his wife, Sharon Martin. When upgrades are complete the North Building will bear their name in honor of their gift. “The North Building is considered one of the most significant objects in the Museum’s collection, and our family is honored to support the much-needed rehabilitation required to bring it into the 21st century,” said Lanny Martin at a ceremony announcing the gift. “The Denver Art Museum is a beacon of creativity, representing the incredible depth of the cultural community in our region and it is critical that we continue to invest in it for the benefit of the entire community.” The North building is the only Gio Ponti building in North America and was designed in collaboration with Denver-based James Sudler Associates in 1971. The improvements to the building will include bringing the public to a seventh-story observation area, part of the original design that was never realized. A new welcome center will also unify the museum campus, which also includes a wing designed by Danial Libeskind. The project was master planned by Tryba Architects in 2015. Formal designs have been led by Denver-based Fentress Architects with Boston-based Machado Silvetti Architects. The plan is to complete the upgrades and additions to the museum by 2021.
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Machado Silvetti delivers a glazed ceramic facade for the Ringling Museum of Art

The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, is famed for its ornate Venetian-Gothic Cà d’Zan mansion. Translated, “Cà d’Zan” means “House of John,” referring to John Ringling, who shared the residence with his wife, Mable.

In 1924, construction started on the mansion that was designed by New York architect Dwight James Baum. His design embodied the palazzos that line the Venice canals, emulating the Italian decor that the Ringlings fell in love with on their many trips to the Mediterranean. The building also typified the Roaring Twenties. More than 90 years on, however, the Cà d’Zan remains the showpiece structure on the Ringling Museum site. Boston firm Machado Silvetti used it as a precedent for the building’s recently completed extension of the Asian Art Study Center.

This new project includes the conversion of approximately 18,000 square feet of preexisting gallery space from a temporary exhibition area to permanent galleries. Catering to the museum’s developing Asian collection, the scheme also includes a gut renovation of the west-wing galleries, located to the southwest.

The most visually striking aspect of the project, though, is the shimmering terra-cotta-tiled facade. Craig Mutter of Machado Silvetti said the facade is meant to act as a guide to visitors, highlighting the entrance to the building.

“People would often be lost and wander into the loading-bay area,” Mutter said. “There was no visual key to tell you where to go, and so the mission of the project was to provide this clear marker and definitive entrance.”

The client had asked for a “monumental” entrance, for “something that did not currently exist on the site.” What resulted were more than 3,000 jade-colored ceramic tiles cladding the elevated extension. Their color, Mutter said, is a nod to the natural surroundings and opposes the original pink Italian campus.

In terms of procuring the tiles, the firm sought the help of Boston Valley Terra Cotta, who also worked on the renovation of the Cà d’Zan in 1999. Such experience gave Mutter and his team confidence that they could work successfully to deliver the facade they wanted.

In fact, a ceramic skin was something that had intrigued Machado Silvetti for quite some time. “We had done a number of facade screens in the past where we had been interested in using ceramic but for one reason or another were not able to do so, usually because of the available technology at the time,” said Mutter.

Originally, they had planned for the tiles to be both larger and thicker. However, the dimensions were reduced by four inches on each side and two inches in thickness to allow Boston Valley to fire more panels inside their kiln.

The tiles also enabled the firm to deliver a high-performance envelope. Their large mass helped combat heat gain while also acting as a barrier between the envelope and the elements. “The program demanded a constantly monitored climate control; that meant we really wanted to ensure that there was a continuous insulated seal,” Mutter explained. “By using the panel system that we adopted, we essentially used a rain-screen system to allow the continuous insulation and air-vapor barrier to wrap the museum.”