May 1, 2007
by: Daniel Fox

Event: Powerhouse: New Housing New York — Panel Discussion with Finalist Teams
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.16.07
Speakers: Richard Cook, AIA — Cook+Fox; Sam Marks — WHEDCO; Colin Cathcart, AIA — Kiss+Cathcart; Robert Rogers, AIA — Rogers Marvel; Alexander Taylor — BRP Development
Moderators: Holly Leicht & Lance Jay Brown, FAIA
Organizers: AIANY; New Housing New York Steering Committee; NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; additional support: AIANY Housing Committee
Sponsors: National Endowment for the Arts; Enterprise Community Partners; AIANY Housing Committee

New Housing New York Finalist Entries

New Housing New York finalist teams (l-r): BRP Bluestone Rogers Marvel; The Legacy Collaborative; WHEDCo Durst Cook+Fox.

Courtesy AIANY

The New Housing New York (NHNY) Legacy competition asked architects and developers to push the limits of their design and practice modes. To what extent could interdisciplinary teams collaborate in greater depth, spend less, build greener, inspire the community, and set a replicable precedent at this 60,000-square-foot site in the Bronx? The fruits of the competition lie not only in the winning design by Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw, but in the plurality of sustainable, urban, affordable proposals generated by the five finalist teams.

Richard Cook, AIA, of Cook+Fox, discussed the undulating “oxbow” design his team devised in order to endow the long, narrow site with a sense of public/private circulation. He identified an inherent tension between an adaptable urban housing template and a response to the specific site conditions. The result draws upon his firm’s increasing use of sustainable design strategies to maximize natural light and ventilation while minimizing solar gain.

The 13-story slab proposed by Kiss + Cathcart with Magnusson Architecture and Planning expressed the concept of a “green building” with live vegetation growing on a planted façade. Articulated bands of “townhouses in the sky” would afford residents a clear view of the passing seasons, while a single-loaded corridor scheme would allow cross-ventilation and a more open feeling. Ground-level retail space would cluster near the northern side of the site, while health and recreation facilities would be grouped at the southern side.

Robert Rogers, AIA, of Rogers Marvel Architects, outlined the “thematic condition of health” that permeates his team’s proposal, from cultural enrichment to physical health and financial security. Together with Alexander Taylor of BRP Development, he articulated the desire to “land on the street with consequential community facilities” such as dance and exercise studios and a food co-op. Concave slabs clad in modular brick and masonry panels would create a complementary pattern of open and enclosed space. A co-generation plant, meandering gardens, and a carefully planned ventilation system would conserve resources and boost the quality of life.

Noting that the city possesses few remaining land parcels to offer for future new housing developments, Sam Marks, a director at the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCO, which teamed with Cook+Fox), wondered whether a future competition could focus on retrofitting existing buildings. Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, defined the replicability of the NHNY exercise as a question of continued collaboration: “Can you replicate the act of will that it takes to bring this kind of event about?”

Powerhouse: New Housing New York is on view at the Center for Architecture through 06.16.07. See On View: At the Center for Architecture for more information.

Gideon Fink Shapiro is a writer and researcher at Gabellini Sheppard Associates, and contributes to several design publications.


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