How Stella Tower Got Its Glory Back

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JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group's renovation of Ralph Walker-designed Stella Tower included restoring the Art Deco crown. (Courtesy JDS Development Group)

JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s renovation of Ralph Walker-designed Stella Tower included restoring the Art Deco crown. (Courtesy JDS Development Group)

Developers use cutting-edge technology to restore Ralph Walker crown.

When JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group purchased the 1927 Ralph Walker high-rise in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in order to transform it into the Stella Tower condominiums, they realized that something was not quite right about the roofline. “The building had a very odd, plain parapet of mismatched brick,” recalled JDS founder Michael Stern. “We were curious about why it had this funny detail that didn’t belong to the building.” The developers tracked down old photographs of the property and were pleasantly surprised by what they saw: an intricate Art Deco thin dome crown. “We were very intrigued by putting the glory back on top of the building,” said Stern. They proceeded to do just that, deploying a combination of archival research and modern-day technology to recreate a remarkable early-twentieth-century ornament.

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Cambridge Architectural Weaves a Flexible Steel Curtain

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Installed in the lobby of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, the moveable mesh curtain serves as a room divider and security screen. (Courtesy Cambridge Architectural)

Installed in the lobby of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, the moveable mesh curtain serves as a room divider and security screen. (Courtesy Cambridge Architectural)

Strength and softness meet in a metal mesh room divider.

Interior dividers can be functional to a fault. If a partition is all you need, then even drywall would do the trick. A custom-built metal curtain in the University of Baltimore’s new law building, however, brings an architectural sensibility to the problem of dividing one space into two. The curtain bisects the lobby with stainless steel, woven into mesh for a unique and uncharacteristically soft texture. Read More

Kammetal Tops Off SOM’s 1 World Trade Center

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Friday, November 15, 2013
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Kammetal fabricated 48 triangular panels for the beacon of 1 World Trade Center in Manahattan. (courtesy DCM Erectors)

Kammetal fabricated 48 triangular panels for the beacon of 1 World Trade Center. (courtesy DCM Erectors)

Seven tons of glass and steel clad a structural stainless frame on the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building.

Brooklyn-based metal fabrication company Kammetal and DCM Erectors of New Jersey were selected to fabricate and install the crowning beacon atop the spire on 1 World Trade Center. The fabrication team executed SOM’s design for a dynamic and complex adornment to one of the country’s most anticipated buildings, along with the help of engineers at Buro Happold to ensure safety at 1,776 feet.

To craft a 15-ton, 50-foot beacon that accounted for thermal expansion and movement, Kammetal modeled and drew their designs in SolidWorks. The company’s team laser cut 48 triangular 316 stainless steel panels with ¼-inch thickness in a nondirectional finish to clad DCM’s square tubular steel frame. “Before we started the project, we had the structural frame 3D scanned to generate a point cloud,” explained Sam Kusack, president at Kammetal. “Because the structure was so dynamic—it contains zero right angles or reference points—we had to verify the conditions.” Read More

W Seattle Hotel’s Parametric Pilings

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Friday, October 4, 2013
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Each column measures approximately 36 inches in diameter. (Boone Speed/Skylab Architecture)

One dozen columns are wrapped in a CNC milled wood solution that recalls Seattle’s cultural and maritime history. (Boone Speed/Skylab Architecture)

LIT Workshop fabricated sleek lodge poles to complement the city’s heritage.

When Starwood Properties began to reimagine a new living room concept for the W Seattle, the existing first floor space featured a disconnected bar, restaurant, and lounge area, much like the traditional layout of a formal home. Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm Skylab Architecture was charged with knocking down the visual barriers for an open floor plan that resembled a more modern, casual living space.

Several preexisting columns could not be removed for structural reasons, so a truly open plan had to be amended. “In some ways you could see them as a negative, or they could be seen as a positive,” Skylab principal Brent Grubb told AN. “We try to turn those perceived negatives into a design element and make it unique.” Researching the city’s cultural and maritime history inspired the architecture team to combine the water-worn patina of shore-front pilings with the physical mass of wooden totem poles. The solution was a parametrically streamlined form that was fabricated in modular sections for swift installation. Read More

Ceilings Plus Soars in Texas

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Friday, August 23, 2013
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280 custom-fabricated ceilings panels are installed across 18 planes at the University of Houston's Quiet Hall. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

At the University of Houston’s Quiet Hall, 280 custom-fabricated ceiling panels are installed across 18 planes. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

Gensler’s design at the University of Houston is realized in a cloud-inspired, sound-absorptive ceiling solution.

Gensler and Ceilings Plus have brought a touch of the Big Apple to the University of Houston’s recently completed Quiet Hall in the Classroom and Business Building. Gensler drew its design inspiration for a ceiling in the new building from the New York Central Library’s Rose Reading Room. The firm hired the California-based Ceilings Plus to translate its interpretation of this classical interior, which includes perforations and geometric folds, into an affordable, buildable, and installable ceiling solution.

Ceilings Plus used digital software to marry the design architect’s vision with a workable model that offered minimal joint tolerances and maintained compatibility with HVAC systems. “Since the architect was interested in doing something completely new, it was important to realize that process together,” said Michael Chusid, who works in marketing and business development for Ceilings Plus. Gensler produced three conceptual renderings in Revit, then turned them over to project engineer Robert Wochner, who developed sound-absorptive perforations and a suspension system that could support the various angles of the Quiet Hall’s multi-planar ceiling. Read More

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