If approved, this terraced building will rise in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bringing the neighborhood new office space for tech and creative companies—and momentarily interrupting its unceasing march of bland and boxy new apartments. The “Williamsburg Generator,” as it has been dubbed, would be the neighborhood’s first ground-up speculative office building in four decades—but it is not a done deal just yet because the Gensler and HWKN–designed building sits within an area zoned for manufacturing.
Last week, AN took a walk along the High Line to check in on all the new development happening right alongside New York City’s popular park. One of the structures we saw steadily rising was 860 Washington Street, a 10-story glass office building by James Carpenter Design Associates.
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Minimalist catenary canopy lends warmth and lightness to office courtyard.
When Page design principal Larry Speck suggested a catenary sunshade for the courtyard of the new GSA building in Albuquerque, his colleagues set about identifying precedents. “There were some really great devices that we looked at, but a lot were done in the 1960s out of heavy, monumental materials,” said principal Talmadge Smith. “We wondered if there was a way to do it in a lighter, more delicate way that would also introduce some warmth to the space.” The architects elected to build the structure out of western red cedar, which performs particularly well in arid climates. Comprising 4-, 8-, and 12-foot boards suspended on steel cables, the sunshade appears as a wave of blonde wood floating in mid-air, casting slatted shadows on the glass walls of the courtyard.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]”
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels.
The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.