Posts tagged with "RAAD Studio":

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Lowline co-founder's children and ex missing in Bahamas plane crash

This week New York news is filled with reports on a small plane carrying four locals that has disappeared near the Bahamas. That plane, the Daily News revealed yesterday, was ferrying the children of a New York designer who's gained recognition for his work on the world's first subterranean park on the Lower East Side. The park, called the Lowline, was conceived by James Ramsey, founding principal of Raad Studio, a New York firm that Ramsey founded in 2004. Still in its concept phase, the Lowline—which may be installed underneath the Delancy Street/Essex Street subway station—received preliminary approval from the city last year. “I lost what I loved more than anything,” Ramsey told the Daily News. “I keep hoping it’s not real and I’ll wake up. Wouldn’t wish this pain on the worst person in the world.” Ramsey's ex-partner, Jennifer Blumin, was flying in the aircraft with her boyfriend, Nathan Ulrich, along with her and Ramsey's two young sons. Ulrich, the pilot, was guiding the group to Florida from Puerto Rico when the plane he was flying disappeared from the radar almost 40 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas. Blumin, an events space planner, is the CEO of Skylight Studios, a Tribeca business that turns distinctive spaces into venues for concerts, runway shows, and design fairs. After finding debris that may match the aircraft, the Coast Guard is continuing its search; so far, the agency has combed over 8,200 square miles.
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How James Ramsey of RAAD Studio, Carlos Arnaiz of CAZA, and BalletCollective turned design into dance

Troy Schumacher is a soloist with New York City Ballet, one of the most prestigious dance companies in the country. And while a job as a full-time athlete might be enough for some people, Schumacher is also the artistic director and choreographer for his own chamber-sized troupe, BalletCollective. All of its members are Schumacher’s fellow dancers at NYCB.

For the company’s latest performance at the New York University Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, Schumacher explored his observations of how human bodies respond to built space. He approached architects James Ramsey, founder of RAAD Studio, and Carlos Arnaiz, founder and principal of CAZA, to collaborate on a project that would turn design into dance. “Last season, I was already sold on the idea of working with architects because I thought our processes would be very similar,” said Schumacher. “Whether you’re creating performance or buildings, you’re thinking about something that has a larger scope but shows details. You’re thinking on two scales.”

Schumacher and his team took care to thoroughly investigate how the two disciplines could come together for a final project. “We discussed how our respective disciplines are organized, how we record our work, how we make changes to our work as we go, and how our respective practices overlap,” said Arnaiz.

It’s not unusual for architecture and dance to go hand in hand. Just last year, Steven Holl created set pieces for Jessica Lang Dance, while the Guggenheim Museum frequently holds performances in its iconic rotunda. But these dances coexist with built architectural elements—not so for BalletCollective. Instead, Schumacher chose to feature the dancers in a stripped-down environment. The stage at the Skirball center was entirely bare, with curtains lifted to reveal the dancers waiting on the sides, and their costumes were casual rehearsal wear. Until they started moving, there was no indication of the evening’s architectural component.

One of Schumacher’s strengths as a choreographer is his unusual way of using formations. He often asks one dancer to move against the group or pairs a tall woman with a short man. Trios and duets are widely spaced around the stage, playing out contrary to the traditional ballet structure of a principal couple and a shifting background of corps dancers. In Until the Walls Cave In, Ballet Collective dancers moved through lines, boxes or huddles that washed across the stage. Ramsey’s work, in comparison, also carves out space where heretofore there was none. “James’s work is about restoring or facilitating life in a place where it wouldn’t normally exist,” said Schumacher. “We were really driven by light, concrete spaces and the growth happening within them.”

For his part, Ramsey entered the collaboration unsure of what to expect. “I had little to no idea about the creative process for dance,” Ramsey said, “and I was completely blown away by how naturally our processes were able to mesh. Our conversations had to do with the life and death of human spaces, renewal, and the idea of tension as a dramatic architectural design tool.” Here, though, Schumacher might have picked something up from his collaborator. The start-stop energy of his choreography makes it nearly impossible to establish dramatic tension.

Arnaiz’s contribution involved one specific drawing, resulting in The Answer, a duet for Anthony Huxley and Rachel Hutsell. “Choreographers are always looking for new pathways,” said Schumacher. “Carlos emailed us a sketch on top of a photo of Allen Iverson. I was floored by the energy and idea behind it, and we just went with it.” Arnaiz wrote about Iverson in his recent monograph, reflecting on how static geometric forms are brought to life by the creative process of architecture. As a result, The Answer plays off friendly competition.

Huxley is an elegant dancer who, while still able to have fun, is quite serious onstage. Hutsell, who is just beginning her professional career, might be expected to be timid, especially dancing with Huxley (he is several ranks higher than her at NYCB). Instead, she’s remarkably grounded for a woman dancing in pointe shoes, which can complicate quick direction changes and off-balance steps. She eats up space with infectious energy. The dancers’ darting limbs seem to leave trails of lines and spirals across the stage, reminiscent of Arnaiz’s drawing.

Schumacher wasn’t worried about disappointing audiences who might have expected structures or set pieces designed by Ramsey and Arnaiz. “All the artists who contribute to BalletCollective are a source,” he said. “But invariably, the starting and ending point aren’t the same place. Asking for architectural input is about giving us a place to start.”

Arnaiz and Ramsey were both surprised at what that starting place was able to yield. “I’ve worked with musicians, but never with dancers,” said Arnaiz. “It was fascinating to see how something transformed from concept to physical performance.” Ramsey agreed: “Troy brought a level of clarity and rationalism to the projects that was startling, and even led me to understand my own work more succinctly.”

What Comes Next BalletCollective The NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Fall 2017 season to be announced late April.

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Archtober's Building of the Day: The Lowline Lab

This is the second in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Most tried-and-true New Yorkers, and perhaps even our more perceptive visitors, are captivated by the city’s pervasive promise of secret: The sense that behind any door or down any street, you just might discover the next big thing—a tiny piece of the city as of yet unconquered. For James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, that fantasy is increasingly becoming a reality thanks to the Lowline Lab, an experimental space on New York’s Lower East Side that offers a taste of the duo’s larger plan to transform an underground trolley terminal used in the 1930’s into a community garden and gathering place. So far, two ambitious, record-setting Kickstarter campaigns have led to the creation of the 1,100-square-foot lab located at 140 Essex Street, inside an aboveground former warehouse less than two blocks from the proposed site of the future Lowline. At the start of the Archtober tour, Ramsey, co-founder and creator of the Lowline and principal of Raad Studio, explained his initial attraction to the “feeling of a raw, archaeological site” which, since the Lab’s opening in October 2015, has sustained more than 50 unique plant varieties and over 3,000 individual plants including tomatoes, mushrooms, and strawberries. Ramsey first began imagining how solar technology could be used to grow plants to fill unlit spaces in 2008, when he learned about the trolley terminal and was awed by what he calls “60,000 square feet of unused space, hiding in plain sight for decades.” Ramsey led the group through a row of subway turnstiles placed at the lab’s entrance into a welcome area that explains the history of the site and the lab’s solar technology. Fundamentally, a system of tracking mirrors on the building’s roof are programmed to rotate in order to capture natural sunlight through the course of the day, explained Ramsey. The light gets reflected into smaller parabolic reflectors that concentrate the sunlight to nearly 30 times its natural intensity, while more mirrors and tubes direct the light onto a parabolic solar canopy constructed in aluminum that moderates and tempers the light at the various ratios needed to sustain living plants. “In a sense,” says Ramsey, “the garden is a mathematical graph of light, expressed via species.”
Of course, it takes a few more components to keep the garden flourishing, including a misting system, hoses, hand watering, and grow lights engineered to control the size, shape, color, texture and nutrition of the plants. The landscape design is a collaboration with Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, while John Mini Distinctive Landscapes built the infrastructure and sourced the plants, which they still maintain. Monitoring is a key aspect of the project, as Ramsey and team are working to measure the impact of the spectrum, intensity, and distribution of the light. This data will then help them select the best plants for the ultimate Lowline.
Before sending the tour group up a flight of stairs and short ladder to see the roof’s solar technology first hand, Ramsey addressed questions and hinted at his team’s next steps, which include securing additional necessary funding from donors and grants and waiting for the city to finish constructing a wall inside the subway that would help open up the Lowline’s future site to the public. If all goes according to plan, Ramsey anticipates construction to begin before 2020. Until then, if you missed our Archtober tour of the Lowline Lab, the site is currently open to the public on weekends through March 2017! About the author: Meghan Edwards is the Director of Digital Content and Strategy for AIANY and the Center for Architecture. Previously, she was the site editor for Interior Design magazine, where she was an editor for over 9 years following stints at Metropolis magazine and Christie's auction house. Meghan graduated from Brown University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in the History of Art and Architecture.
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Lowline Advocates Tout Economic Benefits of Proposed Subterranean Park

Lowline boosters James Ramsey and Dan Barasch spoke with the Wall Street Journal this week, shedding light on a few economic details surrounding what could become New York City's first subterranean park, built in an abandoned trolley terminal owned by the MTA underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. Project co-founders Ramsey, an architect and principal at RAAD Studio, and Barasch have most recently been working on creating a full-scale mock-up of their fiber-optic skylight that will bring natural daylight to the cavernous underground space after raising $155,000 on Kickstarter. The team is now promoting the park armed with a new economic impact summary, claiming that it will add value to the adjacent Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). Specifically, Ramsey and Barasch argue that building the park would boost SPURA land values by $10 to $20 million and generate up to $10 million in taxes over the next 30 years. The Lowline also revealed its estimated budget, clocking in somewhere between $44 and $72 million to be paid for by a combination of fundraising, donations, and tax credits. If all goes according to plan, the Lowline could be financially self-sufficient, with a $2 to $4 million operating budget paid for by special events and commercial space. Uncertainty still looms over project, however, as the MTA hasn't agreed that the space will be allowed to be converted into a park.
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The Lowline's Underground Light Canopy

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Lowline Canopy

A 600-panel tessellation spreads sunlight underground

By now you know about the Lowline, the ambitious project to turn the 1.5 acre abandoned trolley terminal under Delancey Street in New York City into a public park. In just two weeks the project's founders, Dan Barasch and architect James Ramsey, will unveil a preview of the remote skylight system designed to transmit sunlight into the Delancey Underground in a life-size, fully functional installation currently being built into the Essex Street Market. Ramsey designed the remote skylights with a network of fiber optic cables that channel light gathered by a solar collection dish down below ground where it's dispersed. To make the most of the available sunlight, Ramsey enlisted the help of industrial designer Edward Jacobs, the former head of design at Confederate Motors, the high-end motorcycle company, who Ramsey describes as "a visionary and pretty much the most talented guy I've ever met." To disperse the sunlight as far as possible, Jacobs developed a tessellated canopy system made up of 600 ⅛ inch-thick hexagonal and triangular panels laser cut from clear anodized aluminum and bent in a hydraulic press. In an effort to maximize the sunlight's reach, the tessellated curvature is so specialized that no two panels are exactly alike. To get the shape and size of each panel just right, Jacobs worked with the engineering group Arup on materials testing and light readings, noting that 3D rendering only goes so far because "the ideas of light perception amount and reflectance can be quite counter intuitive." The panels, which are fabricated by Milgo Bufkin in Brooklyn, are labeled according to their position in the overall structure and screwed together with fold-over tabs on each side. The canopy is then attached to a four-cable truss system Jacobs developed so the entire 1,350-pound unit can be easily raised and lowered for maintenance. A few cables will also be attached to the outer edges of the canopy to eliminate any possibility of sag between the structural rib span, completing a system that Jacobs describes as "a combination of cable slings, clevises, electrical winches and safety hooks." Lowline Canopy Though Jacobs had just two months to design, fabricate and install the canopy, he doesn't cite time limitations as the project's biggest challenge, but tolerance. "The tolerances held by laser cutting and bending are vastly different than CNC work. You must design in leeway for movement and inconsistency from part to part. The accuracy of the processes can be up to 30 to 60 times different so one's approach and design must reflect this need for flexibility." Lowline Canopy Once he had the tolerance of the structure worked out, Jacobs had to make the Essex Street Market feel like a dark, abandoned trolley terminal. To simulate the light quality of the Delancey Underground in a bright and airy space, all the skylights were blacked out with cladding and heavy gauge opaque plastics. Then the remote skylights were installed in conjunction with six Sunbeams, circular light transmitting components manufactured by the Canadian solar technology company, SunCentral. Each of the Sunbeams has an internal GPS calibrated to follow the direction of the sun, ensuring that they transmit as much sunlight as possible during the day. For the days when New York is less than sunny there's a back up system of "sensor-based energy efficient electrical options that will be programmed to balance light levels constantly." The canopy will first be put to use on September 13th, the night of the unveiling, during which guests will shade their eyes from the simulated sunlight and revel at the prospect of strolling underground in sun dappled light in the dead of winter.
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Exhibition Explores the Inner Workings of Proposed Low Line Park

Let There Be Light: Low Line Exhibit Mark Miller Gallery 92 Orchard Street Through April 29th, 12-6pm The team of innovators continues to push forward with a proposal for the Delancey Underground, transforming an underground trolley terminal into a public park for Manhattan’s Lower East Side. An exhibit detailing the proposal for the so-called “Low Line” will be running throughout April at the Mark Miller Gallery. The show entitled Let There Be Light was organized by Delancey Underground co-founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch in an effort to engage the public directly with the ideas and innovations underpinning the project. The design seeks to reclaim the abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal beneath Delancey Street, transforming the derelict space with the use of innovative solar reflectors and fiber optic cables into a sunlit subterranean park teeming with plant life. The show offers an opportunity to examine in close detail this elegant solar technology as well as early design prototypes, sketches and 3-D renderings of the proposal. Visitors are also encouraged to provide comments and suggestions for the scheme which will be reviewed by the designers as the project progresses. The month long display is part of a larger effort to move the design forward, the next key stage of which will be a full-scale installation of a segment of the park at the Essex Street Market to be completed in September. This will allow the community to inhabit and experience the park as it may some day feel. The proposition is an admirable and earnest reuse of the city’s urban infrastructure and an unexampled way of considering public space. Initiatives such as this may help maintain enthusiasm and momentum for the project among supporters and continue the public dialogue. Editor’s note: A Kickstarter campaign to build a demonstration segment of the Low Line has entered the final stretch with only a few hours left to contribute to the project, which has already substantially exceeded its goal of $100,000.