by Linda G. Miller
In this issue:
– On the Corner of Black Cultural Collections: Schomburg Center reopens after Marble Fairbanks-led renovation
– “Shocking. Positively Shocking:” Adjaye Associates reveal design for SPYSCAPE
– Encouraging Curiosity and Interaction: SHA-designed Lewis Arts Complex opens in Princeton University
– Art Deco Redux: Alliad Works Architecture completes Eleven Madison Park renovation
– Gems and Geodes: Ralph Appelbaum Associates to redesign AMNH Hall of Gems and Minerals
– Wearing Winter White: Madison Square Park conservancy commissions Erwin Redl to design outdoor exhibition
On the Corner of Black Cultural Collections
The New York Public Library’s renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem celebrated the reopening of several new spaces after a nearly two-year renovation led by Marble Fairbanks Architects. The research library, located at 515 Malcolm X Blvd between West 135th and 136th Streets in Harlem, has for 90 years collected, preserved and provided access to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of materials documenting African-American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The library consists of three connected buildings: the Schomburg Building, the Langston Hughes Building, and McKim, Mead & White’s 112-year-old Landmark Building, which was named a National Historic Landmark earlier this year. Work undertaken consisted of exterior and interior renovations throughout, including historic preservation and renovation work of the Landmark Building, which now contains a new research space, gallery space, staff space, and conditioned storage for collections. A new two-story annex to the Schomburg Building was built to accommodate a larger gift shop on the ground floor and a conference room on the second floor. The renovation also enhances the way the Schomburg Center interfaces with the public and surrounding Harlem community by displaying portions of its vast collection and current events to the street. The display screens located on the Schomburg Building consist of LED tiles that create a 20-foot-by-eight-foot display. The new audio-visual system also features LCD screens in the gift shop, on the facade facing Malcolm X Blvd, and at key points throughout the building. There are also interactive LCD screens in the lobby and in the media gallery in the Landmark Building. The project was designed through the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s Excellence Program.
“Shocking. Positively shocking.”
Adjaye Associates revealed its design for SPYSCAPE, a new spy museum and interactive experience located on Eighth Avenue near 55th Street. The design for the 60,000-square-foot space draws from the architectural language of the most significant spy organizations and inverts the traditional relationship between building and town, essentially establishing a small town within a building. Varied strategies create spaces that continually shift the visitor’s vantage point and prioritize the experiences of discovery and observation, using lighting, screens, and transparencies between floors. SPYSCAPE features a range of exhibition spaces housed within pavilions, each focused on one of seven macro-themes of spying. Visitors enter the exhibition level via a flexible events space that unfolds beneath a dramatic, vaulted, light canopy. The exhibition arrangement plays with perception, with partially obscured interstitial circulation spaces that open into immersive, fully-interactive multimedia environments. Each pavilion, including a weathered steel drum with curved paneling, features a distinctive design and material palette crafted around its special content. The museum was developed in collaboration with expert advisors, including former members of renowned hacking collectives and former station chiefs and directors of intelligence agencies. Set to open in December, the museum will also house a café, temporary exhibition and private event spaces, and a spy bookshop with over 1,000 rare and first-edition spy books.
Encouraging Curiosity and Interaction
The new Steven Holl Architects-designed Lewis Arts Complex in Princeton University significantly expands the school’s performance, rehearsal, and teaching spaces. The complex comprises the Wallace Dance Building and Theater; the Arts Tower, which includes the Hurley Gallery, administrative offices and additional studios; and the New Music Building. The 145,000-square-foot arts complex brings together the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Programs in dance, theater, music theater; the Princeton Atelier; and the Department of Music’s instructional and research facilities. The three buildings are integrated below ground in a forum, an 8,000-square-foot indoor gathering space that serves the various arts venues. Above the forum is an outdoor plaza with a reflecting pool. Skylights in the pool filter natural light into the spaces below. Encouraging curiosity and interaction, the new arts plaza has overlook views into the dance and theater practice spaces and the orchestral rehearsal space. This gateway space aims to connect the local community to the University. The Wallace Dance Building and Theater is developed according to the idea of a “thing within a thing.” The black-box theatre is composed of steel, while the dance theaters are foamed aluminum, white washed wood, and board-formed concrete. A “dancing stair” connects all levels. The Arts Tower’s stone tower relates to the proportions of Princeton’s historic Blair Arch. The New Music Building is developed according to an idea of “suspension.” Above the large orchestral rehearsal room, individual practice rooms are suspended on steel rods. Acoustically separate, these individual wooden chambers have a resonant quality. The project was designed in partnership with BNIM Architects, who serves architect-of- record. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates serves as landscape architect.
Art Deco Redux
Eleven Madison Park reopened its door to a newly redesigned 3,900-square-foot home following a comprehensive renovation, from the interior architecture of the dining room to the creation of custom furniture, tableware, and textiles, by Allied Works Architecture. The renovation of the dining room and bar was developed in close collaboration with restauranteur Will Guidara and Chef Daniel Humm, the restaurant’s co-owners. The renovation honors and enhances the original Art Deco design of the room, once the lobby of the landmark Metropolitan Life building, by preserving defining features and amplifying original detail and colors. The room’s central promenade features two raised dining levels, defined by new, painted metal dividing screens. The terrazzo flooring has been re-envisioned with custom designs in warm palettes and textures, inspired by the original four leaves of neighboring Madison Square Park. In keeping with the restaurant’s focus on ease and comfort, banquettes line the restaurant walls in intimate suites for two or four people. The restaurant’s new additions include a completely reimagined bar in a space that is open to the dining room but defined by a distinct character and colors. The restaurant will also feature new commissions by leading contemporary artists.
Gems and Geodes
The American Museum of Natural History will undertake a complete redesign by Ralph Appelbaum Associates of the Halls of Gems and Minerals and transform the 11,000-square-foot space into a showcase for the museum’s world-renowned collection. The exhibitions will tell the stories of how minerals form, how scientists interpret them, and how they are used by humans for decoration and personal adornment, as well as for science and technology. The new design will feature a link, via a Crystalline Pass on the north side of the halls, to the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the new facility designed by Studio Gang Architects. Renamed the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, the space will feature new large-scale acquisitions, including a 12-foot and a nine-foot tall amethyst geode; visitor favorites such as the 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the world’s largest and most famous blue star sapphire, and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald; as well as treasures from the collection that have not been on view for decades. A case dedicated to the minerals of New York City includes the “subway garnet,” a nine-pound almandine garnet unearthed during a sewer dig on 35th Street in 1885. Construction on the new Mignone Halls of Gems of Minerals will begin with the closure of the current hall on 10.26.17. The space will reopen in 2019 as part of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Wearing Winter White
Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project by artist Erwin Redl, features a luminous white carpet of LED lights across Madison Square Park’s central Oval Lawn, on view from 11.16.17 through 04.15.18. The installation is comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The orbs will gently sway with the wind currents two feet above the ground plane. Redl will create a computer-generated undulating wave pattern across the work. Electronic engineer Leo Fernekes designed the custom electronics for the project and UAP serves as producer. Whiteout is the thirty-fifth outdoor exhibition organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy.
This Just In
The New Museum has tapped OMA to design its expansion at 231 Bowery. The new structure will be adjacent to the current building and will double its footprint to 100,000 square feet. The project marks the firm’s first public project in the New York City.
The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate The Salvation Army National and Territorial Headquarters, located at 120-130 West 14th Street, as a New York City Individual Landmark. Designed by Ralph Walkerand constructed in 1929-35, the Art Deco brick and cast-stone complex consists of three buildings. The office building and auditorium are the subject of the designation. The third building, a 17-story dormitory built originally for working women, is already part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and is not part of this individual designation. Today, the office building portion of the complex continues to house the offices of the Greater New York Division of The Salvation Army, as well as a social services center that offers alcohol and drug treatment, casework services, detoxification services, and transitional housing, while the four-story auditorium building is used for worship services, meetings, and concerts.
Selected by the City of London Corporation from a shortlist, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, working with London-based Sheppard Robson, has been selected to design a new concert venue on the current site of the Museum of London which will become the permanent home to the London Symphony Orchestra.
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has released the third in a series of reports on New York City’s Accidental Skyline. The reports focus on the need for new rules and regulations to protect public assets like light, air, and space from supertall towers and out-of-scale development.
SAMOO has been awarded first prize in the competition to design the National Museum of World Writing for the collection, conservation, research and exhibition of the writing systems of various nations across the globe in Songdo, South Korea. Hou de Sousa, in collaboration with DC-based Archotus, won second prize, and another New York-based firm, JUHYUNKIM Architecture, took third.
The 2018 World Monuments Watch calls attention to 25 sites facing daunting threats or compelling opportunities for conservation, including the Art Deco-style Buffalo Central Terminal opened in 1929. The brick and limestone building complex was designed by of Fellheimer and Wagner, specialists in railroad architecture, and has interior spaces with Art Deco decoration, from stylized floral details to crystalline light fixtures and geometrically patterned terrazzo floors.
The Internet Archive has over 2,000 books on architecture that can be electronically borrowed.