31 in 31: #10

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

View Larger Map

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is tucked into the western end of a campus at 155th and Broadway shared with the Hispanic Society of America and the Church of the Intercession. A previous tenant in one of the McKim, Mead & White-designed buildings was the American Numismatic Society, whose move elsewhere allowed the Academy to expand within the bounds of the campus; they now occupy three buildings. A new link by James Vincent Czajka and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners connects their two McKim, Mead & White buildings (the other building is by Cass Gilbert) at the third floor.

American Academy of Arts and Letters

The architect's statement does a thorough job in explaining the design and assembly of the all-glass passageway, comprised of only seven pieces of 1-inch units. The Wonder Woman-esque design features a pitched roof shedding water towards the buildings with new steel frames and integral gutters. This recalls the roofs of the old buildings, and the golden ratio proportions of the two glass walls relates to the Classicism found in the architecture espoused by McKim, Mead & White. Seen from 155th Street below (the link roughly coincides with the terrace level within) the piece is easy to miss. It's an odd intervention in the space between the Classical stone buildings, yet it seems to be the only appropriate solution for preserving the void as a void.

#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box