A 1960s-era sunken courtyard at the former McGraw-Hill Building is set to rise following a “sweeping transformation,” according to the New York Post. While the current plaza is half-buried and disconnected from the sidewalk, the Rockefeller Group and Italy-based Citterio-Viel & Partners architects have announced plans to raise the public clearing to ground level and knit the streetscape back together. Opened in 1969 as part of the Rockefeller Center complex expansion, the space sits between West 48th and West 49th streets and pays homage to the popular recessed design of the original Rockefeller Plaza. Designed by Wallace Harrison, the plaza currently cuts off retail access from the street. The redevelopment, estimated to cost in the “mid-to-high eight digits,” the Post reports, will fill in the below-ground public space with 2 levels of retail across 35,000 square feet, while turning the topside into a pedestrian-friendly plaza. The architects have chosen to reference the original design by including a large aperture in the center of the space, flanked by a set of descending staircases on each side that looks down on the businesses below. Citterio-Viel & Partners have also proposed updating the pavement to “reflect” the vertical facade of 1221 6th Avenue by extending lighter stone stripes from the base of the building. What’s unclear at this time is what will happen to the public art pieces currently on display. The 50 foot tall stainless steel “Sun Triangle,” designed by futurist Athelstan Spilhaus, has been in the courtyard since the building’s opening but is nowhere to be found in this new rendering. The abstract sculpture references the Earth’s position relative to the sun, with each leg pointed to the sun’s position during solar noon at the summer and winter solstice. One of the few elements of the plaza viewable from the street, the triangle cuts a sharp contrast against the McGraw-Hill Building behind it. Rockefeller Group Senior Vice President Bill Edwards has stated that construction will only begin after an anchor tenant for the retail space has been locked down, with construction estimated to finish in 2019.
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Design professionals are being sought for a consulting role to provide a conditions assessment of the historic First Presbyterian Church complex in Stamford, Connecticut. As part of a multi-year campaign to repair, conserve, restore, and upgrade the complex, the selected team will be expected to complete an architectural analysis of the current conditions of the building and provide recommendations for its rehabilitation and restoration as part of Phase I. Phase II will see the implementation of these concepts by the same selected team. The complex in question includes the magnificent Wallace K. Harrison-designed sanctuary, completed in 1958, the 56-bell carillon tower, a community/education wing, and the surrounding 10-acre grounds. Over 20,000 pieces of faceted glass dapple the hushed sanctuary with its vaulted roof in sun-drenched color. The church itself is often likened to a fish, a symbol of early Christianity, and it, along with its sweeping complex, occupies an eminent spot on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places. The conditions assessment in Phase I will help anticipate capital needs and outside grant funding needs in 2016 from the State Historic Preservation Office of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as private foundations. Specifically, the chosen architect should earmark and document comprehensive repair needs for the envelopes, structure and MEP systems, and the interior finishes, and then also provide recommendations and a phasing framework for the restoration. The facade itself is notoriously water-permeable and lacks weatherproofing, made from béton glass secured to side wall concrete panels with caulking. As such, high on the checklist for the chosen architect is to examine the extent of moisture infiltration of the sanctuary Dalle de verre and improve climate control in the sanctuary to facilitate summer use. The architect should also observe the structural movement of the Carillon Tower, with the end objective of establishing a preliminary project scope and expected cost of repairs in compliance with SOIS, budget, and schedule. The Highland Green Foundation and Fish Church Conservancy will oversee the entire multi-year restoration campaign, and will provide the architect with digital files of the original construction drawings of the complex. Leaders of the proposed teams must attend a mandatory walk-through at the church on July 9, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. RFQs must be received at the church office (1101 Bedford St) by 3:00 p.m. on July 24, 2015. For more information about entry requirements and the judging panel, click here.