Posts tagged with "McKim Mead & White":

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Preservation group launches ad campaign to rebuild the old Penn Station

Only a few days before New York City’s Penn Station fills to capacity with Thanksgiving commuters, preservation group Rebuild Penn Station has begun an ad campaign that they hope will build popular support for their plan to reconstruct the original McKim, Mead & White station demolished in 1964. While their proposal is already ambitious in scope, it butts up directly against the $1.6 billion, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed redevelopment that Governor Cuomo unveiled in July. Rebuild Penn Station, a project of the National Civic Art Society, has plastered posters on trains arriving to Penn Station from New Jersey, and has been handing out fliers to Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road commuters there since Monday. Filled with renderings of a “new old” Penn Station, the leaflets offer glimpses of “civilized arrivals” and “the station we deserve”. The group’s $3 to $3.5 billion plan would relocate Madison Square Garden, an action deemed prohibitively expensive by the governor’s office, and faithfully re-create the original Penn Station using modern construction techniques. “[…] Modern panelization technology will allow the station to be built with just one-fifth of the original stone,” according to the frequently asked questions section on Rebuild Penn Station’s website. A complicating factor in this grand vision is that work on SOM’s renovation broke ground earlier this August. Instead of moving Madison Square Garden, the James A. Farley Building on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue also designed by McKim, Mead & White, will be converted from a former post office into a transit hub and extension of Penn Station. The Farley Building’s new Moynihan Train Hall will add retail, restaurants, and nine platforms with 17 tracks. A 92-foot-high skylight will also be built over the Farley Building’s exposed steel trusses, echoing the cavernous glass ceiling of the original Penn Station. Still, Rebuild Penn Station feels that these changes aren’t going far enough. “Today Penn Station is an ugly, cramped, and ineffective transit facility that is an embarrassment to the city and indeed all Americans,” said Sam Turvey, chair of the Rebuild Penn Station Steering Committee. “We propose rebuilding the station to bring back an architectural masterpiece, while simultaneously improving and updating the station’s functionality.” This isn’t the first time an alternative proposal for a new Penn Station has been floated. Last year, the New York Times commissioned Vishaan Chakrabarti to further detail his plan to reclad Madison Square Garden in double-paned glass, creating a multi-level atrium over the station. However, this still remains a proposal. The new Moynihan Hall is on track for completion in 2020.
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Deborah Berke Partners renovates McKim, Mead & White building into hotel

Lexington, Kentucky’s oldest skyscraper, the 1913 15-story McKim, Mead & White-designed Fayette National Bank Building, has been remodeled into the fifth iteration of the 21c Museum Hotels. 21c’s founders, two Louisville art collectors, spent $43 million converting the former bank into an 88-room boutique hotel. The Louisville-based chain is notable for including contemporary art spaces in its hotels. 21c Lexington includes 7,000 square feet of exhibition area with original art throughout the guest rooms and public spaces.

New York–based Deborah Berke Partners were the design architects for the project, while Pittsburgh-based Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel acted as executive architects. The hotel’s restaurant, Lockbox—a nod to the building’s heritage—includes a 12-person private dining room in the original vault with a functional locking door. 21c’s exhibition space is free and open to the public, with tours offered on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

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Archtober Building of the Day 12> LTL Architects’ Brown Institute for Media Innovation

The David & Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation is a busy hub of technology housed within a building from McKim, Mead & White’s late 19th-century campus plan for Columbia University. In subsequent years, the space, which occupies part of the eastern wing of the Pulitzer Building, was broken up into small offices. Marc Tsurumaki and his team at LTL Architects were hired to revamp the space for the Columbia branch of the institute, which is a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford Universities. Despite all of its high-tech screens, the institute’s facility really respects its history. Eleven double-height windows that had been partially blocked now bathe the room in natural light, although a scrim that covers the walls also serves as a shade to deflect daylight and prevent glare, a necessary consideration in a room that is always filled with people tapping away on laptops. Given the collaborative nature of the institute, the primary space was designed with flexibility in mind. It can host concerts, performances, workshops, seminars, and symposia, in addition to the more typical set-up that we saw today. Large walnut-topped tables are moveable but not easily moved – the architects allowed for flexibility, but only with intention. Although acoustical fabrics are used throughout (including hidden behind the scrim), additional nooks were carved out for greater intimacy. Small rooms dubbed “the garage” are nestled under the mezzanine level, which was located above the entrance to the institute to create an extended threshold opening up into the larger space. Niches along the northern wall of the room take advantage of its thick masonry construction. Waist-height walnut wainscoting gives the room a more human scale and links the niches to the larger space. The thick end-grain recycled walnut floor connects visually to the tables and wainscoting, and provides durability in an active setting. The scrim, which is suspended on a steel armature and hides HVAC and electrical systems, announces the institute’s purpose. Mark Hansen, director of Columbia’s branch of the institute told us that Mark Wigley, former dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and currently a GSAPP professor, talks about the space as both a laboratory that facilitates the cross-pollination of ideas among fellows, as well as a physical center that refers to and reflects the institute’s mission. This agenda is reinforced at the entrance to the institute, where a solid plate aluminum installation incorporates mirrored glass to reflect the surroundings back into the display. This subtle mirroring plays with the relationship of new media to the historic building. Join us tomorrow for a tour of another historic building: the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
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Facade Alterations by Bruner/Cott Turn Steam Plant Inside Out

Renovation transforms decommissioned McKim Mead & White building into campus event space.

When Amherst College decided to convert a former steam plant into a student event space, the choice likely struck some observers as odd. Designed in 1925 by McKim, Mead & White, the coal-burning plant was decommissioned in the 1960s; since the 1980s, it had been used as a makeshift garage for ground equipment.  The facade of the neglected building needed to be opened up to reveal its potential while respecting its good bones. "It wasn't in great shape, but it wasn't in terrible shape," said Bruner/Cott's Dana Kelly. "Impressively enough, the school recognized that it had qualities that could be harnessed for a new student space." The brick building's industrial aesthetic was a particular draw, said Kelly, whose firm has spearheaded renovations at the nearby MASS MoCA (itself a former industrial complex) since the museum opened in 1999. For Amherst College, Bruner/Cott took a similar approach, balancing preservation and alteration to support the new program without disrupting the historic building's essential character. By the time Bruner/Cott began work on the Powerhouse, the original brick envelope had already seen a lot of change. Earlier renovators had filled windows with glass block, rebuilt a blind arch in mismatching brick, and cut a large garage door into the south facade. "Since the building had been altered so much, we chose to continue the dialogue by restoring or reconstructing some exterior elements, and sensitively altering others to match the new use and open the building up to campus," said Bruner/Cott's Jason Forney and Aoife Morris. On the side of the building facing the campus road, the architects inserted a new steel and glass entrance into a blind brick arch. On the south facade, to connect the interior to the new outdoor terrace, they inserted historic replica windows and french doors in place of the glass block, and swapped out the roll-up garage door for a bi-fold glass door. On the north side, which faces the parking lot, Bruner/Cott retained the existing glass block. "The observer still reads the McKim, Mead & White design, but with the changes the building has evolved to be an extroverted part of campus instead of being an introverted coal-burning steam plant," said Forney and Morris.
  • Facade Manufacturer Universal Window & Door (glazing), OldCastle (entrances), Vermont Structural Slate (roofing)
  • Architects Bruner/Cott
  • Facade Installer Waterman Excavating, Inc.
  • Location Amherst, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System renovated brick shell with new glazing, doors, and slate roof, board-formed concrete addition
  • Products Universal glazing, OldCastle entrances, Vermont Structural Slate roofing, Wilson Doors overhead bi-fold door, Stiles and Hart waterstruck brick, custom sign from Roll Barresi & Associates
Environmental performance was a priority for the architects, who will monitor the building's energy consumption during occupancy. They talked Amherst College into opting for operable windows over mechanical cooling. For heat, they chose a hydronic radiant floor and an overhead infrared heater that runs on gas. "These systems work to heat the bodies of occupants, instead of heating the large volume of air in the space," explained Forney and Morris. An insulated chamber designed by Bruner/Cott captures waste heat from the new steam plant below the building and releases it into the event space during the winter. The architects chose not to insulate the interior walls "since their character was an important design element for the event space," said Forney and Morris. To compensate, they installed a new slate roof, heavily insulated with spray-on cellulose. The new roof, noted Forney and Morris, mixes two colors of stone "to achieve the mottled effect of the existing roof, which was beautiful but had outlived its lifespan." To avoid interrupting the Powerhouse's open plan, Bruner/Cott situated the restrooms in an understated addition constructed from board-formed concrete. "We find that additions like this are often necessary to support existing buildings without undermining their spatial qualities," observed Forney and Morris. To foreground the steam plant itself, "we chose to make the addition appear like a garden wall—a 'non-building,'" they said. "It is simply two offset concrete walls that conceal the door to the terrace." The contractor built the formwork from rough-hewn lumber to achieve a patinated look, and tinted the concrete to match the existing water table banding. The addition's gutters are designed to pour water down the face of the wall and hasten the appearance of age. Like Bruner/Cott's sensitive renovation, the steam plant's new moniker—the Powerhouse—effectively gestures at both the history of the building and its new incarnation as a campus activities hub. "Amherst College chose the name both to remind students of the building's industrial past, and to recognize its place in 21st-century student life," said Forney and Morris. Once responsible for producing heat, today the structure generates something less material, but equally important: student engagement.
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Comment> The Met Plaza redesign undermines the institution’s civic grandeur

In February of the year 2012, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art first announced the redesign of the City-owned Fifth Avenue-fronted plaza along its grand McKim, Mead & White Beaux-Arts facade, there was little opposition from preservationists. A $65 million underwriting pledge from museum trustee, David H. Koch, catalyzed the selected competitive plan from Philadelphia-based OLIN. It proceeded through the approval process with relative dispatch. Curiously when first unveiling the OLIN proposal, the Museum stated explicitly that despite Mr. Koch’s enlivening donation, the resulting plaza renovation would in fact not bear his name. Anonymity on top of benevolence spells charitable grace at its peak. Pretty much the sole impediment to this civic embellishment—so welcome against existing conditions of cracked sidewalks, failing hydraulics, deformed and dying trees, a long-neglected fountain, and meager old-fashioned exterior lighting—were the cries of what seemed at the time just another hopeless band of Luddites reflexively resistant to change of any sort. They included tree huggers acting as they did as if the jejune water-choked grove then there consisted of old growth sequoias instead of pooped out sycamores. More recent opposition came from those protesting the donor himself as they heatedly dissed his many such civic good works in the realms of culture, medicine and education as little more than candy-coated camouflage of his role as Citizen’s United election-stealing kingpin. In this way, focus shifted away from plaza’s design and impact on form and function to the symbolism of support, especially when in the end the David H. Koch name was indeed carved with gilded precision on the new fountain basins heralding all those approaching whether from north or south. More considered objection first came, however, from the testimony of the New York/Tri-State Chapter of DOCOMOMO given before the aesthetic overseers at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. They argued for the integrity of the plaza solution that was part of the original overall 1970 Kevin Roche Met master plan, which even forty years later is still generally in guiding force:
Roche’s declared design intention was to create an open urban plaza that defers to and displays the monumental Beaux-Arts façade of the museum. He wanted to distinguish the urban face …on Fifth Avenue from the park portions of the other three sides... (The Chapter) is hopeful that any modifications to the present plaza, to the extent that they are necessary, conform to the underlying principles of the Kevin Roche design-preserving an open urban plaza with unimpeded access to (his ingeniously three –sided) entrance stairway and unobstructed visibility of the stairs, adjacent facades and ground level entrances.
And with the results now plain, how right they were. With the exception of a masterwork of exterior nighttime illumination by Hervé Descottes and his L’Observatoire International that subtly responds to the architecture’s classical hierarchies and the replenishment of the subsoil, it is only now that the relative dignity of this earlier renovation is fully evident. Restoration of the restoration was a worthy option after all. Apologies are due them. Despite some working drawings from McKim, Mead, & White in which the option of flower and shrub beds appeared alongside the façade elevation, their final intent was clear with the dignified built encounter of limestone and pavers accentuated further by the pedestrian-scaled Roman grills that inform urban places of majesty and safe-keeping. OLIN’s decision to place such beds there seems a pallid suburbanization vying to extend the park setting instead of contrasting it. Imagine flowers alongside the Pantheon or its Renaissance-descended Palazzo Farnese? Meanwhile, the new fountains, while retaining a classical symmetry, end up compromising the pomp and circumstance of the Roche-thrusting and much expanded grand stairs with a tight perplexing proximity. The visitor today cannot help but wonder if it is some disguised stab at crowd control. And while their new placement was meant in part to make more legible the secondary street-grade entrance at 81st Street, the trade-off is untested and dubious; who can resist mounting those stairs? This is a classical threshold at its iconic best. The waterworks vary in height and rhythm in a mannered echo of WET Design’s signature creations yet at low height the sprouts seem more than a tinkle. The previous fountains recalled the classical rigor that informed so much of high Modernism. This was never meant as a playful place. Instead it was always meant for unencumbered dignity; all who enter should arrive as big shots knowing that they each held a key to this great repository of beauty and truth. Likewise the addition of dozens of trees even as now young and leafless obscures the architecture. What about in 20 years? It is hard to object to more trees in this warned up day and age but here is one place where the sum is less than the design parts. Finally and through no fault of either client or landscape architect there is a the all too frequent New York curse of visual pollution as arises in public places, where governing statures collide and, in turn, destroy the clarity of the guiding design blueprint. Here at the Met plaza, it is the curbside licensed food vendors. Ironically the spot-on instinct on the Museum’s part to include in its initial plan outdoor kiosks for such inevitable trade was denied by the oversight Landmarks and Public Design Commissions in convenient disregard for the ultimate reality of the streets. With the present redesign, Mr. Koch might well wish that for now at least his name not be its site label after all. He seems shortchanged as much as those he generously aims to benefit.
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Boston Public Library’s Philip Johnson Branch To Be Renovated

Library officials and developers hope to give Boston Public Library’s Philip Johnson-designed branch a facelift, but as the Boston Herald reported, local residents question who these proposed changes will really benefit. Standing besides Charles Follen McKim’s 1895 Beaux Arts masterwork on Copley Square, and across the street from the site of the recent marathon bombings, the mid-century monolith, which was completed in 1971, has been likened by many to a bunker or mausoleum and derided for its “greyness” and “bleakness.” With nearly half of Boston’s library users regularly visiting this branch, some think it’s about time for an upgrade. Officials have set their sights on three areas of improvement for the library: enriching services, improving first impressions of the building, and creating “positive financial impact” on the library. Boston based firm William Rawn Associates have been brought in to find ways to better the building's relationship with its users, like opening it up to the surrounding streets and doing away with the heavy plinths of the building's facade. However, it is the third area of improvement that has the local community questioning the motives of library officials and associated developers, as some have suggested installing a bookstore and café where the children’s reading room now stands. “It means library space will be taken away from library users to support commercial enterprise,” said David Viera, president of Boston’s Friends of the Library to the Herald. Meanwhile, others worry that planned development will take away the best-lit nooks from readers and hand them over to commercial enterprises. Still others are thinking on a different scale. “Is it too late to tear it down?” one man asked. But with so much invested in the sheer material girth of the 10-storie building, and the preservationists surely ready to step in as soon as the project gets underway, that option is out—for now. Until then, and if the local Landmarks Commission gives them the go-ahead, the library is requesting $14 million from the city to get started with the first phases of design and construction.
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Tennis Architecture from Newport to the Bronx

Teddy Roosevelt once remarked on the commercialization of sports: "When money comes in at the gate, the game goes out the window." With Wimbledon in high gear and tennis at the Olympics looming, tennis is getting more than its share of commercial attention lately. Just last month the United States Tennis Association announced it would spend a half billion dollars to upgrade the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Queens, where the U.S. Open is played. The project is linked to the $3 billion Willets Point project. The unabashedly commercial enterprise is somewhat countered by a decidedly democratic project well underway at Crotona Park in the Bronx. There, the nonprofit New York Junior Tennis League, founded by the late Arthur Ashe, and the Parks Department are midway through completing a $22 million international tennis center designed by Peter Gluck and Partners. The Bronx and Queens projects are graphic examples of how a historically exclusive sport has become populist. Nevertheless, McKim, Mead and White's lawn tennis clubs, like the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia, still court old-school patrons with club rooms for bridge and a menu featuring turtle soup. And Dattner Architects' designs for Cordish Family Pavilion at Princeton University brings its own brand of up-to-date elegance back to the game. Regardless of the project, whether its big business in Queens, public/private in the Bronx, private in Princeton, or very private in Philadelphia, tennis architecture seems to have always found a way to allow money in at the gate.
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The Morgan Opens the Vault (and the Director&#39s Office)

More than four years after opening its Renzo Piano-designed expansion, The Morgan Library & Museum has given its 1906 McKim, Mead & White building a loving restoration, expertly executed by Beyer Blinder Belle. In addition to cleaning the mosaics and marbles, the Museum has opened two new spaces to the public, Pierpont Morgan's vault and the serene North Room, formerly the director's office. The renovation allows more of the museum's permanent collection to be displayed, and allows curators to better display those objects, thanks in large part to the exacting lighting design by Renfro Design Group. The Rotunda (above) glows with new lighting and cleaned surfaces and five new display cases, lit with fiber optics, to show the institution's fascinating collection, including a "life mask" of George Washington, a cast of his face made while he was alive as a study for a sculpture (in the case on the right). The East Room has three tiers of rare books, illuminated with strip LEDs, accessible to staff by secret passageways (no kidding). The new display cases match the walnut of the existing bookshelves, but use a more contemporary design vocabulary. The carpet, though of the period, is also new to the room. The dramatic pendant lamp is original to the room, though it had been in storage for many years. The more intimately scaled North Room served as the office of the collection's first librarian and curator, and later became the directors office. Open to the public for the first time, the room will house rare books above the mezzanine, with a permanent installation of antiquities in new shallow display cases below. The vast West Room served as Morgan's library and displays some of the paintings and majolica he collected, largely in the last 15 years of his life. The vault, visible at left, often held objects Morgan was considering for purchase. The vault now offers more space for display, and gives visitors a glimpse into Morgan's life as a collector. The restored McKim, Mead & White building opens to the public on Saturday, October 30.
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Man of Metal

Last night Rafael Moneo, Madrid-based architect and Harvard Graduate School of Design professor, kicked off Columbia’s third annual conference on architecture, engineering, and materials with a keynote lecture on his Northwest Corner Building, a new interdisciplinary science facility between Chandler and Pupin halls. This year’s conference is titled Post Ductility: Metals in Architecture and Engineering, and though Moneo’s building isn’t scheduled to be completed until the fall of next year, there may not have been a better time to discuss its materials or its contribution to the campus. Unfinished, the building can be seen as the engineering marvel that it is, with 300 tons of structural trusses enabling it to float above the gym beneath it. (Here's a video we posted of them being installed.) Fitting neatly with the conference’s theme, Moneo’s discussion of interpreting what McKim, Mead, and White would have wanted for a New York campus in this century presented the building as less of a departure and more of an entrance. To critics who would say the building doesn’t meld with the university’s architecture, he cautioned, “Use of a material doesn’t guarantee the true continuity you are looking for.” The Post Ductility conference runs through Friday and will conclude with a discussion by GSAPP dean Mark Wigley, and Werner Sobek, Steven Holl, and Matthias Schuler. Next year's conference theme is slated to be Polymers: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering.
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White Love Lair in Foreclosure

Sure, there are lots of foreclosures sweeping the city, sadly to say, but none is quite like 22 West 24th Street. Beyond the property's current $82,987 in back taxes, an ownership fight between an infirm mother and her mentally challenged son, a 2003 fire and 2007 collapse, the property is also the location of renowned architect Stanford White's dalliances with a married 16-year-old girl over 100 years ago, according to an article in The Real Deal today.
In 1901, White, a famous playboy, began liaisons with actress and model Evelyn Nesbit, who was 16 at the time. White was a partner at the prestigious firm McKim, Meade [sic] and White, where he designed iconic New York City structures such as the Washington Square Arch and the New York Herald Building. White and Nesbit would rendezvous at the four-story building at 22 West 24th Street. They carried on the affair for years, fueling the rage of Nesbit's husband, millionaire Harry Thaw, who fatally shot White during a musical in the architect's own creation, Madison Square Garden, in 1906.
And to think all these years we'd assumed he was famous simply for being part of that incomprable Beaux Arts trio. And mustache. Funny how history has a way of coming around, though. We guess some buildings are just cursed. (via Curbed)