10/31/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #31: Starlight at the Museum of the City of New York

Archtober Building of the Day #31
Starlight at the Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Cooper Joseph Studio


© Berit Hoff

“Starlight”, the aptly named chandelier in the neo-Georgian rotunda of the Museum of the City of New York, was a marvelous termination to our fourth Archtober.  Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA described the light fixture with meticulousness equal to the design itself.


© Berit Hoff

15 feet in diameter, the display is a three dimensional grid of paired LED lenses fixed within three wires and suspended from the ceiling.  The visual effects are stunning, ranging from infinite reflected vistas of tiny lights, to starbursts, and pixelated moire patterns.  Executive Director Susan Henshaw Jones joined the tour and called the piece “the most successful thing ever!” and “everybody’s favorite thing!”


© Berit Hoff

Demonstrating the extraordinary craft of Studio 1 Thousand and RUSHdesign,  “Starlight” provides a dynamic experience enhancing the trip up the swell old marble stair.  It received a 2014 AIA New York Chapter Design Award in the catch-all “Projects” category.


© Berit Hoff

So Archtober 4 comes to a close, and the ghosts and ghouls are beginning to muster down here in Greenwich Village for the annual Halloween parade.   See you next year!

Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. ckracauer@aiany.org 

10/30/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #30: Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility

Archtober Building of the Day #30
Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility
472 2nd Avenue, 29th Street Pier, Brooklyn
Selldorf Architects

 
© Julia Cohen

Eadaoin Quinn, the education and administrative coordinator at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Facility presented a classroom full of Archtober enthusiasts with a detailed and informative presentation of the automated process of material sorting and recovery that is recycling. Quinn told us about the machinery of sorting, starting with the “liberator shredder,” which opens the large garbage bags that recyclables arrive in by truck or barge.


© Julia Cohen

Each step of the almost entirely automated process has a purpose-built system of conveyor belts and sorting machines that transform bags of trash into re-sellable bales of like material. The sorting processes themselves are interesting: the Ballistic Separator is comprised of rotating planes that push flat plastic bags up an inclined plane while, at the same time, glass is broken and sent downward to another conveyor. The Eddy Current separator can distinguish between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Optical sorters can “see” what kind of plastic is passing by on the belt, and signal a puffer to blow the lighter material out of the line onto another conveyor.


© Julia Cohen

Today was cleaning day, so we did not get to see all of these machines in action. But we did see 400 tons of trash waiting to make its way into the process.


© Julia Cohen

Selldorf Architects received an AIANY 2014 Merit Award in Architecture for the structure that houses the piles of trash and the machines that sort and bale them. The Design Awards jury stated: “Extraordinary project. Not many people are capable of recognizing how construction to cover garbage can be nice.” Alas, none of the building’s architects attended the tour. Too bad, because it was a spectacular day out there on the Gowanus waterfront. There was a good sized crowd, and a couple of really smart kids asking intelligent questions.


© Julia Cohen

Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. ckracauer@aiany.org 

10/29/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #29: Greenwood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium

Archtober Building of the Day #29
Greenwood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium
500 25th Street, Brooklyn
PBDW Architects

The trend in burial at Green-Wood Cemetery is decidedly toward cremation. Built in 1838, and the final resting place of 570,000 people, it is “literally running out of space,” according to Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan. He estimates they’ll run out of space for in-ground burials in the next five years. “We could pack them in tighter, but that would ruin it,” he said.


© Center for Architecture

The new Tranquility Gardens and Chapel/Crematorium, by PBDW Architects, focuses on the tradition of cremation, and specifically targets the growing Chinese population of nearby Sunset Park, Brooklyn. For some reason Asians are the dominant cremators and niche buyers. The architects have even included what look like elegant stone grills to accommodate traditional ceremonies where money and other materials are burnt.


© Center for Architecture

Anne Holford-Smith, AIA, LEED AP, said her firm consulted a feng shui expert when designing the gardens and columbarium. “To make sure we don’t commit too many sins,” explained Moylan.


© Center for Architecture

 

The “qi” flows well through the garden, which is dominated by a shallow pond, complete with koi fish. A footbridge over the pond supports a striking glass obelisk whose interior offers a place for contemplation. The path leads to the columbarium, Latin for dovecote, a building filled with niches to house urns of cremated remains.


© Center for Architecture

 

“We really fell in love with the glass,” said Holford-Smith, explaining the dominant motif of the horseshoe-shaped columbarium that circles one end of the pond. PBDW wanted to bring “the outside inside, and the inside outside,” she said. Although they are somber and richly textured, the rooms have an airy openness, with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the rolling hills of the old-fashioned cemetery beyond.


© Center for Architecture

 

Intimate spaces have curved walls of niches and discrete seating areas with upholstered furniture and soft carpeting. Orchids sit on coffee tables. The only sound is the rushing of air.


© Center for Architecture

 

PBDW worked in several different materials, which Green-Wood offers at different price-points for its “niche” customers. Transparent glass is the most popular, followed by opaque granite. Frosted glass is not a big seller, and no one seems to want the wooden niches with folding doors and little locking compartments.


© Center for Architecture

 

Apparently the columbarium’s customers want their jade urns, complete with small pictures of their deceased loved ones, visible to all passersby. Moylan explained that niches at eye- or heart-level are the most expensive. “It’s all location, location, location,” he said.

Tyler J. Kelley is a freelance journalist living in New York City. His documentary film Following Seas will be out this spring. See a trailer and more of his work at the-jetty.com