Ag School Update by Urbahn Architects

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Farmingdale State College's new School of Business marks its shift in focus from agriculture to science and technology. (Courtesy Urbahn Architects)

Farmingdale State College’s new School of Business marks the college’s shift in focus from agriculture to science and technology. (Courtesy Urbahn Architects)

Concrete, glass, and brick facade balances the promises of the future with respect for the past.

When Farmingdale State College administrators commissioned Urbahn Architects to design a new building for the School of Business, they positioned it as a beacon for the school’s shift in focus from agriculture to science and technology. But the architects saw a second opportunity in the project: a chance to restore some of the coherence lost during successive campus expansions. Read More

Facade Alterations by Bruner/Cott Turn Steam Plant Inside Out

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Bruner/Cott renovated a 1925 McKim, Mead & White steam plant to create a new student event space for Amherst College. (David Lamb)

Bruner/Cott renovated a 1925 McKim, Mead & White steam plant to create a new student event space for Amherst College. (David Lamb)

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.

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Plan for a parametric townhouse of undulating brick “flames” is rekindled in Tribeca

Model of 187 Franklin. (Courtesy SYSTEMarchitects)

Model of 187 Franklin. (Courtesy SYSTEMarchitects)

Getting the blessing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be a tricky thing. Typically, your best bet is to go contextual: stick with historic materials and keep the modern ornamentation to a minimum. That is clearly not the approach that SYSTEMarchitects‘ Jeremy Edmiston took for a parametrically designed Tribeca townhouse in search of facelift.

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Riverfront Revival by Shalom Baranes

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Shalom Baranes' renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Shalom Baranes’ renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Brick and metal transform a tired office block into a residential building worthy of its site.

Located on a slice of land adjacent to the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the 1984 Sheet Metal Workers Union National Pension Fund building failed to live up to the site’s potential. “I’ve used this in a couple of lectures,” said Shalom Baranes Associates principal Patrick Burkhart. “I show ‘before’ photos and ask the audience, ‘What is this building?’ The answers include: ‘It looks like an urban jail.'” When the property came on the market, Maryland-based developer EYA seized the opportunity to transform the waterfront eyesore into a contemporary condominium complex. Clad in brick and metal paneling, with high performance glazing emphasizing views along the Potomac, the Oronoco balances a sleek urban aesthetic with sensitivity to Old Town’s historic fabric.

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Overland Unclogs Historic Plumbing Warehouse

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Through adaptive re-use, Overland found a new home in an abandoned warehouse near San Antonio's arts district. (Courtesy Overland)

Through adaptive re-use, Overland created a new home in an abandoned warehouse near San Antonio’s arts district. (Courtesy Overland)

San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.

Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city’s burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building “is simple,” said project architect Patrick Winn, “but it’s really elegant and beautiful when you’re able to look at it.” The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. “When we first viewed it, it was really far gone,” recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole.
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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

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Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as “a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces,” the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. “This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything,” said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere.
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Alexander Gorlin Wraps Supportive Housing in a Binary Skin

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Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.

The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade.” Read More

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