by Linda G. Miller
Casa Cipriani by Marvel and the Office of Thierry W. Despont to Open at Battery Maritime Building
After being vacant for many years, the Battery Maritime Building, located at the southeastern tip of Lower Manhattan, will open as Casa Cipriani on August 20, 2021. The Beaux-Arts structure, originally designed by Walker & Morris and completed in 1909, became a designated New York City Landmark in 1967 and was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The structure’s redesign by Marvel, with interiors by the Office of Thierry W. Despont, has given new life to the former ferry terminal into a full-service hospitality venue. Found in severe disrepair, the 9,000-square-foot Great Hall, which used to serve as a waiting room for ferry passengers, has been completely restored. The design team used surviving millwork and plaster fragments as templates for new profiles, stitching the room back together. Marvel also restored a 130-foot-long by 16-foot-wide glass skylight that diffuses natural light into the core of the building, which had been virtually destroyed, with only its gridded steel frame remaining. The designers straightened the steel and recreated the decorative laylight pattern from photographs. Marvel also created a new second-floor mezzanine with a café and wellness center, while the third and fourth floors were transformed into a forty-seven-room boutique hotel. A contemporary fifth-floor glass addition houses a membership club with a jazz lounge, bars, and a restaurant. On the building’s north façade, the existing building fabric, including the second-level loggia topped by a barrel vault lined with Guastavino tiles, was retained and repaired, as were the decorative structural rivets and trusses that were painted and illuminated. The restoration and redevelopment came to fruition through a public/private partnership between the NYC Economic Development Corporation, developers Midtown Equities and Centaur Properties, and Cipriani.
LTL Designs Expansion and Renovation of BPL Brownsville Branch
LTL Architects is currently in design development for a complete renovation and expansion of the 15,180-square-foot Brownsville Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, located in the heart of NYCHA’s Howard Houses. The project is meant to upgrade the library to allow it to serve as beacon and anchor for its community, one that has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for its elaborate brickwork, limestone trim, and columned portico, the branch was originally designed by Lord & Hewlett and built in 1908 as one of the original Brooklyn Carnegie Libraries. The scope of the project includes a renovation of the existing building, plus adding over 4,500 square feet of new space, nearly doubling the amount of usable space for the library and community. The exterior entrance of the historic building will be reconstructed, reestablishing a welcoming connection to the community. The historic double-height reading room will also be restored, with a new teen-focused mezzanine space and lower-level media-centered zone. The building will also receive a completely new mechanical and ventilation system, new electrical infrastructure, new plumbing, and a new elevator. On the roof of the original building, a 1,000-square-foot addition will provide a new multi-purpose community space with panoramic views to the neighborhood across a green roof. Another ground floor addition is clad in terra cotta panels and glass, reflecting the materials of the original building. Meanwhile, the landscape around the library will serve as an inviting and safe space for gathering and reading, complete with a children’s outdoor reading terrace. The NYC Department of Design and Construction is managing the project for the Brooklyn Public Library. The design team includes Silman, ME Engineers, Architectural Preservation Studio, and Local Office Landscape + Urban Design. The project is the recipient of a 2021 Awards for Excellence in Design from the NYC Public Design Commission.
SOM Unveils Designs for NYC Public Health Laboratory
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) unveiled designs for the Public Health Laboratory for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Located next to the Harlem Hospital complex on 137th Street, the ten-story, 230,000-square-foot building will replace the existing Kips Bay laboratory. The new building will offer testing and monitoring services for a wide range of clinical and environmental health concerns, from microbiology and virology to immunology and biosafety. Organized in two parts, the building features an urban-scale cubic glass laboratory volume rising from a three-story pedestrian-scale masonry podium housing essential support functions as well as the facility’s community-facing program. Directly atop the podium is a floor containing administrative functions and a partial green roof. Above this rise five floors of laboratories equipped to support a wide range of testing needs. The design of the laboratory tower is characterized by its structural diagrid and corresponding diagonal glass and metal cladding. On the south side, the volume steps outward to accommodate various laboratory sizes, with the resulting massing providing passive solar shading. Designed with staff wellness in mind, the laboratory complies with the City’s new resiliency and sustainability regulations. In order to broaden the laboratory’s public health mission and role in the neighborhood, the building also includes a testing facility, training lab, and auditorium. Established in 1892 to address New York’s diphtheria outbreak, the New York City Public Health Laboratory was the first municipal bacteriological laboratory in the world. Last year, during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, it was the first laboratory in the city to perform COVID-19 testing. The project was one of the fourteen winners of the Public Design Commission’s 2021 Awards for Excellence in Design.
Ennead’s Shanghai Astronomy Museum Opens to the Public
The Shanghai Astronomy Museum, the largest museum solely dedicated to the study of astronomy in the world, recently opened to the public. Designed by Ennead Architects, winners of the 2014 international design competition, the 420,000-square-foot museum, which is a branch of the Shanghai Technology Museum, creates an immersive experience that places visitors in direct engagement with real astronomical phenomena. Drawing inspiration from astronomical principles, the design invokes the experience of orbital motion. Each of the building’s three principal forms—the Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere—act as functioning astronomical instruments, tracking the sun, moon, and stars and reminding visitors that our conception of time originates in distant astronomical objects. The Oculus, suspended above the main entry to the museum, demonstrates the passage of time by tracking a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entry plaza and reflecting pool. At noon during the summer solstice, a full circle aligns with a circular platform within the museum’s entry plaza. The Sphere houses the planetarium theater, which is half submerged in the building, while the Inverted Dome is a large, inverted glass tension structure that sits on top of the central atrium at the roof line so visitors can occupy its center with an unimpeded view of the sky. The 720-degree spiraling ramp underneath the Inverted Dome traces the orbital flow of the visitor sequence throughout the museum exhibits and launches the eye upward to its apex. The local design institute for the project is the Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design and Research.
Ground Breaks on 555 Greenwich by COOKFOX Architects
Ground has been broken for 555 Greenwich, a 270,000-square-foot, sixteen-story office tower in Hudson Square. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, the glass and metal structure emerges from a masonry podium. The building will connect seamlessly to COOKFOX’s adjacent 345 Hudson Street on nearly every floor, providing large floor plates for tenants. Upon completion in late 2022, the building will achieve a LEED Platinum rating for sustainability and exceed NYC’s 2030 climate targets for office buildings by over forty-five percent, while meeting New York State’s 2050 carbon neutral targets. The project employs sustainable mechanical, engineering, and plumbing systems, including geothermal piles, and is the first new office building to utilize its concrete superstructure for thermal energy storage. All of this will create a forty-six percent overall carbon reduction and a twenty-nine percent reduction in electrical consumption. 555 Greenwich represents the first office building to utilize a thermally activated slab with a radiant activated system, reducing carbon emissions by fifty percent while eliminating any fossil fuels utilized for heating and cooling. It will also employ a DOAS system to maximize the quantity and quality of fresh air, which will be supplemented by geothermal wells and more than 10,000 square feet of outdoor space. Jaros, Baum and Bolles is providing MEP services and AECOM Tishman will provide construction services.
SOFTlab’s “Infinity Field” Installation Opens at ICONSIAM
“Infinity Field,” a new permanent interactive installation designed by SOFTlab, has opened on the seventh-floor terrace of ICONSIAM, a mixed-use development on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. The diamond-shaped mirrored chambers evoke trees in a forest while following the tile pattern of the terrace plaza. Fifty vertical chambers, each six feel tall, two feet wide, and one foot deep, are clad in one-way mirrored glass embedded with sound responsive LED lights. The chambers are arranged so visitors can weave through and around them. Depending on location, the reflections bounce between the field of mirrored chambers; as visitors approach the inside of the mirrored landscape, they become part of an image within an image, also know known in art as the “Droste Effect,” as the mirrors produce an ever-changing and infinite reflection. During the day, the glass also acts as a mirror, reflecting the Bangkok skyline. At night, the mirrored chambers are lit from within by LEDs that respond to music piped in onto the terrace or the voices and footsteps of visitors. When the LEDs are activated, the one-way mirrored columns transform into infinity boxes that reflect their light patterns countless times, deep into the core of each chamber.
In Case You Missed It…
Thomas Phifer and Partners will collaborate with the artist Richard Serra on a 4,000-square-foot new building opening in spring/summer 2022 at the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD, which will house a major large-scale sculpture by Serra.
A team led by Selldorf Architects has been selected to work on a suite of capital projects for the National Gallery in London to mark its bicentenary, with an initial phase to be completed in 2024.
Construction has begun on Allied Works Architecture’s new 71,000-square-foot Palmer Museum of Art on the campus of Penn State University, which will replace the existing Charles Moore-designed museum.
The University of California San Francisco has selected Snøhetta to lead the overall conceptual design for the new Parnassus Research and Academic Building and its surrounding public realm. The firm will collaborate with executive architect HGA, who will lead programming, planning, and project management, as well as the design of research lab and technical program spaces.
Snøhetta has also broken ground on the Joslyn Art Museum Expansion and Site Design in Omaha, Nebraska. The design for the new 42,000-square-foot pavilion was developed in partnership with local architects Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture.
WIP Collaborative’s, “Restorative Ground” has been installed at King Street between Hudson and Greenwich. The installation highlights the importance of providing a range of spatial qualities—high and low stimulation, tactile materials and textures, and distinct experiential zones. The project is part of The Urban Design Forum’s “Reimagining the Public Realm through Care for Hudson Square.”
Hastings Hall for graduate housing on the Union Theological Seminary campus in Morningside Heights has opened after a complete renovation by Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB). The renovation is one of the first projects undertaken following BBB’s comprehensive Campus Renewal Plan, which addresses institutional and programmatic needs while preserving the campus’s twelve historic buildings. A new mixed-use building, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects with SLCE Architects, is expected to be completed in late 2022.
From a shortlist of 25 firms, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings and Operations selected 12 architectural and engineering firms for the Worldwide Architectural and Engineering Support Services Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity, including Buro Happold, Davis Brody Bond, Gensler, ODA, and WXY Architecture + Urban Design.
The NYC Public Design Commission selected 14 winners for their annual Excellence in Design Awards, including the reconstruction of Grant Park by Stantec; the reconstruction of soccer fields at the Red Hook Recreation Area and Bushwick Inlet Park by Abel Bainnson Butz; the reconstruction of the pool and rink at the Harlem Meer by Susan T. Rodriguez | Architecture & Design and Mitchell Giurgola; the reconstruction of Gorman Playground and Dongan Playground by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation in-house team; the reconstruction of Ericsson Playground by James Corner Field Operations; Modular Comfort Station Prototype for Citywide Parks by 1100 Architect; the Brownsville Library renovation and expansion by LTL Architects, Architectural Preservation Studio, and Local Office Landscape + Urban Design, Paradise Parados by Teresita Fernández; the Public Health Laboratory at the Harlem Hospital Center by SOM; and the Waterfowl Management Program Building by Hazen and Sawyer and Goshow Architects.
The New York Times Style Magazine asked three architects—Toshiko Mori, Annabelle Selldorf, and Vincent Van Duysen—three journalists, and two designers to make a list of the most influential buildings that have been erected or cleverly updated since World War II.