10/24/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #23: NYU School of Professional Studies

Archtober Building of the Day #23
NYU School of Professional Studies
7 East 12th Street
Mitchell | Giurgola Architects, LLP

 
© Melody Fernandez

A rainy day did not deter Archtober, and the hardy were amply rewarded with an up-to-the-minute view of an urban university hard at work. I want to change the name to “multi-versity” to capture the many different functions, schools, demographics, studies, and programs that the ever expanding universe of NYU now comprises. A recent addition is the newly re-named School of Professional Studies on 12th Street. Carol Loewenson, FAIA, and Stephen Dietz, AIA, of Mitchell-Giurgola Architects, led the tour of the renovated Fairchild Printing Building. Projects like these, complex renovations where some operations must be maintained in place, require the steady, strong leadership of architects who find the puzzle of programmatic problem solving the bread and butter of successful practice.


© Melody Fernandez

© Melody Fernandez

The entire façade was replaced, and a bit of fun was had in the slightly random placing of vertical aluminum shading fins with an occasional dichroic glass accent fin. Dietz said that the randomness reflected the variety of career paths that this particular branch of NYU caters to. A part of the whole university by day, by night, the building is filled with continuing education students – career changers, retoolers, and reinventers. The variety of programmatic areas accommodate both.

 
© Melody Fernandez

Never think that spatial pragmatism leads only to dullness. A three-story stair in the lobby is enfronted by a shiny, mango-colored Venetian plaster core wall, and the terrazzo floor has bright cobalt speckles that jazz up the sturdy color scheme of indestructible surfaces. Every level has small puddles of space suitable for scattered gathering. Snippets of wood trim decorate the window sills, and much is made of the wood doors and frames. But where are the comfy old green leather sofas? My only quibble was one of character – all these open work areas and glass-walled conference rooms will seamlessly segue into the urban professional world of the work place, but will they leave an indelible impression on the searching mind?


© Melody Fernandez

© Melody Fernandez
 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.

10/22/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #22: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

Archtober Building of the Day #22
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th Street
FXFOWLE Epstein

 
© Center for Architecture

© Center for Architecture

Designed by Pei Cobb in the early 1980s, the Jacob K. Javits Center had fallen into a considerable slump in the years following its debut.  Plagued with structural problems, today’s Archtober tour leader and head of the building’s extensive overhaul, Bruce Fowle, began in the Center’s Crystal Palace by showing photos of the space before his firm’s massive undertaking. He highlighted two of the worst features of the original structure – the dirty, impossible to clean glass, and extensive water damage. Almost immediately after opening, large canvas “diapers” were constructed to catch the ever leaking roof, costing the Center nearly one million dollars a year to alleviate the constant influx of water.

 
© Center for Architecture

Bruce Fowle further explained that the original Javits glass was too highly reflective, creating either a problematic glare or a dark, “Darth Vader” appearance. Later, the Audubon Society identified the structure as the #1 bird killing stucture in New York City. To mitigate both the aesthetic and environmental problems with the existing glass, FXFOWLE Epstein reviewed many glass mockups before deciding to apply a “frit” or dot pattern to the panes, reducing the avian death rate by 90% and giving the space a significant solar energy reduction.  Another problem with the old structure was the fact that the original building plan did not include a viable way to clean much of the glass.  As a result, some of the panes went without cleaning for more than twenty-five years. FXFOWLE Epstein solved this problem by installing catwalks throughout most of the Crystal Palace, both inside and outside of the building, so that repairs and cleaning could take place on a regular basis.

As the tour proceeded to the North Concourse, Bruce Fowle pointed out the renovation to the concrete exposures. Cracked and yellowed after years of layering convention signage, FXFOWLE Epstein brought in experts to create a repair formula.  The result was a ceramic material that brightened the concrete but allowed it to retain its original look.


© Center for Architecture

The tour concluded with a behind the scenes look at the new green roof.  As the second largest green roof in the United States, tour participants happily traded a few very windy and drizzly moments for stunning view of the city and its surroundings.  Looking toward the future, FXFOWLE Epstein has partnered with Drexel University to install a climate monitor that measures the roof’s water and soil content, and examines the impact of the roof on the building’s energy load.  Future testing will determine how much FXFOWLE Epstein’s reimagining of the Javits will impact the ambient temperature in the entire neighborhood and possibly serve as a catalyst for green retrofitting for New York City’s future.


© Center for Architecture

Hit the books tomorrow with a visit to New York University’s School of Professional Studies!

Rochelle Thomas received an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and is the Membership Assistant at the AIA New York Chapter.

10/21/2014

Archtober Building of the Day #21: Runner & Stone

Archtober Building of the Day #21
Runner & Stone
285 Third Avenue
Latent Productions


© Katie Mullen

Karla Rothstein, Int’l Assoc. AIA, and her partner Sal Perry are Latent Productions.  They, along with Baker Peter Endris served up a very nice helping of both delicious snacks and spiffy new architecture.  With a full tour of enthusiasts and architects, Karla and Sal described their self- initiated process of design, development, and construction management.  They first prototyped, then fabricated the puffy custom concrete blocks that evoke the stacks of flour waiting to become bread.  1000 units were made twenty at a time in the basement with workers (some students….) following the instruction graphic they prepared.  It all had something of the air of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with an almost mystical unity of material (steel and concrete and bread) and the romance of fabrication.  Ah how utopian!


© Katie Mullen

© Katie Mullen

The project includes a bakery, restaurant and bar replete with locavore cred.  Even the name is authentic…. Runner & Stone refers to the existence of a mill in the seventeenth century that was near the site.  In milling, the moving stone is called the runner.  So the flour and the sand, each granulated for admixture, are equalized and each a metaphor for the other.


© Katie Mullen

© Katie Mullen

There was also a lot of steel, another building material receiving special attention and distribution throughout the project.  The floor is hot rolled plate, with a foam interlayer, set on plywood, then waxed for residential use in the upper two apartment units.  A radiant heating mat keeps it warm.  The façade is oxidizing to a nice autumnal orange.  Custom furniture blends more raw steel with reclaimed lumber from Brooklyn water tanks.

Much was made of the happy relationship of all the parties involved, leading me to conclude that the success is no longer lying dormant: a 2014 AIANY Design Award attests.

Along for the tour was budding food critic, and AIANY Exhibition Coordinator Katie Mullen:

“As the team from Latent Productions described the building, head baker Peter Endriss and staff passed small plates including pickled vegetables with chopped egg, whitefish salad with sliced baguette, heirloom tomato soup, and sliced sausage with sauerkraut. Endriss, previously head baker at Thomas Keller’s Per Se, reserved one surprise for tour attendees returning from 285 3rd Avenue’s upper floors: his signature rye flour and toasted caraway brownies.”


© Katie Mullen

We will reconvene at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for tomorrow’s Building of the Day tour!

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