With Archtober fading away with the fall leaves and buckets of Halloween candy, here’s one last look at the last three Archtober Buildings of the Day from Halloween weekend!
Building of the Day #29: NYC Information Center
810 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY
Neither snow, nor rain… your intrepid Archtober team made it through the snowy October nor’easter to visit the Official NYC Information Center at the Times Square Alliance, designed by WXY architecture + urban design and Local Projects and run by NYC & Company. Alas, our architect tour guide didn’t.
Rather than add a few hundred more words to the tens of thousands already devoted to praise the Diller Scofidio + Renfro / FXFOWLE renovation of the Julliard School and Alice Tully Hall, I think today that I will remember the original architect, Pietro Belluschi (1899-1994). As a young faculty member at the University of Virginia, I got to know his work a bit. He designed the UVA School of Architecture. The building was muscular, had clear structure, and well expressed the late 1960s/early ‘70s last gasps of Brutalism.
Even though Hurricane Irene blew through on August 27th without flooding the subways, which were rendered prophylactically still and silent for a day, a pesky summer storm in 2007 dumped so much water onto the M and R lines that they were forced out of service. Governor Spitzer took immediate action to mitigate the problem, and boldly mobilized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation to do something about it. Solving a range of engineering problems while at the same time providing a streetscape element with some wit and whimsy, Rogers Marvel Architects created banks of raised stainless steel grates that rise up into an undulating wave of slats and hammered speckled side walls.
Building of the Day #20: 41 Cooper Square
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
New York, NY
Often “stats” and awards are known well before the public appreciates a new building’s urban role. Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Square, designed by Thom Mayne, FAIA, of Morphosis Architects with Gruzen Samton as Associate Architect, is more than a volume for a multi-disciplinary academic building with a co-generation plant, cooling and heating ceiling panels, low V.O.C. materials, green terraces, and “Fit-City”-worthy vertical circulation. While these stats did help the client claim the first LEED Platinum-certified academic laboratory building, Cooper has also revived a former traffic triangle and extended its identity southwards along the new Bowery. At a time when both NYU and Columbia’s building goals face sharp scrutiny, it pays to have a tough skin. Make that a gritty double skin!
A rainy day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the fourth graders that we met playing hoops in the brightly lit gym of the East Harlem School. It looks to me that there are two geniuses behind this wonderful building: Peter Gluck, the acerbic and seasoned architect/builder and Ivan M. Hageman, co-founder and Head of School.
Gluck led the tour, but Ivan was ever-present—in the cafeteria leading an appreciation of the chef and servers, and in the reception area meeting with parents. He welcomed us into his office, which is perched at the east end of the building with a clear glass open view up 103rd Street to the Public School embedded in the nearby housing project. Jane Jacobs eyes on the street.
Building of the Day #18: 200 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
Beautiful weather continues to make Archtober the best month ever to enjoy great architecture. Madison Square, where 200 Fifth Avenue is located, is a palimpsest of the northward expansion of commerce and civilization in Manhattan. A public space since 1686, it first became a park in 1847. With the construction of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, (Griffith Thomas with William Washburn Architects, 1859) on the site of the current 200 Fifth, the area became the social, cultural, and political hub of elite New York in the years after the Civil War—think Edith Wharton. And it has the monuments to prove it.
The Metropolitan Tower is the wedge-shaped, Darth Vader-like all black glass monolith next to Carnegie Hall. Rising a tidy 716 feet in 77 stories of offices in the low-rise portion and residences in the high rise, the AIA Guide to New York City tells us that its developer Harry Macklowe claimed to have designed it himself. Not true! Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron (now SLCE Architects) get the credit for the 1987 tower.
We are up in the Bronx again today, this time further north in the Morris Heights neighborhood. The Francis Martin Library, named after the first district attorney from the Bronx, was built in 1956, and sits atop a hill on a prominent corner of University Avenue. The University is Bronx Community College, now housed in what was originally the McKim Mead and White Heights Campus for New York University. Be sure to check out the original Hall of Fame there. 1100 Architect has made its own Hall of Fame for the kids’ library. Stanley Kubrick, Chaim Potok, Herman Wouk, Colin Powell even Fiorello LaGuardia himself are part of a graphic game on the warm white walls that undulate around the core of the children’s library renovation on the second floor.
When is a Center really a center? Well first of all it’s got to have a center, don’t you think? The Betances Community Center has a splendid gym holding strong in the middle of the plan, full of warm, white light modulated by the south-facing glass block wall and monitor side walls of Kalwall. Originally intended to house a boxing ring and bright orange bleacher seating, the space is now multi-purpose with the bleachers accordioned to the walls; the famous boxing program moved elsewhere. Even without the ring, the architecture packs a wallop of clarity, modesty, attention to detail, and programmatic resolution.
550 West 18th Street
New York, NY
The IAC Headquarters is Frank Gehry’s first building in New York. Neither a symphony hall nor an art gallery clad in riveting titanium that creates its own economic system, it is rather a diminutive swell of faceted glass with a graded white frit. Compared to most big-name office buildings, the IAC is built at a much more personal scale. Built as-of-right and opened to little in the way of the usual starchitect fanfare, some might notice it’s hard to find the front door. What you may not know, however, is how bird friendly the building is.
959 8th Avenue
New York, NY
As written in the AIANY Design Awards issue of Oculus, Summer 2007:
With its efficient use of resources, abundant natural daylight and fresh air, and modern technologies, this 856,000-square-foot building designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2006 is the first in New York City to receive a LEED Gold rating for its core, shell, and interiors. Most notably, it was constructed using more than 80% recycled steel. The diagrid framing uses 20% less steel than conventionally framed towers, and it was designed to consume 25% less energy than most Manhattan towers.
Who knows what Henry Kissinger, Lou Gehrig, Maria Callas, Ralph Ellison, Marianne Moore, and Jacob Javits have in common?
They were all kids who checked books out of their neighborhood library, the Fort Washington Branch of the New York Public Library. It is one of the original 67 New York City Carnegie Libraries. Designed by Cook & Welch Architects, it opened in April 1914. Walter Cook, along with George Babb and Daniel Willard, designed the Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street – today’s Cooper-Hewitt museum.