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Sunday, August 22, 2010

31 in 31: #22

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.

[Before and After | image source]

New York City may be home to numerous stalled projects in the residential realm, but universities seem to be booming. Columbia University is moving ahead with its Manhattanville expansion; The New School is planning its biggest building ever; and F.I.T. will squeeze a sliver of a building into its cramped quarters. Not to be outdone, NYU is moving ahead with NYU 2031, its plan for growth and sustainability in Greenwich Village and in expanded quarters elsewhere. They recently announced plans for a fourth Silver Tower and other new buildings. Under construction are the Center for Academic and Spiritual Life by Machado and Silvetti and Wilf Hall by Morris Adjmi Architects. The latter is discussed here, as I walked by the almost completed building yesterday.

Wilf Hall

Mr. Adjmi was the local architect for Aldo Rossi's buildings in the United States, including the Scholastic Building in SoHo, which Adjmi basically had to finish himself, since the car crash that killed Rossi happened before construction started. Adjmi's subsequent buildings reflect Rossi's Italian rationalism slash postmodern abstraction. Here the contextual response aligns the new six-story building with the Provincetown Playhouse (right in the photos above), yet the new brick wall is about as flat as can be, with only subtle articulation on the lower two floors. The projecting cornice is an abstraction bordering on the comical, but I think its simple stepping enables the split of the building into four parts to read stronger. From down the street this split appears to be merely a reveal in the brick wall, but it turns out to be slivers of curtain wall glazing. So the building is designed to look like four smaller buildings--residential in appearance--but these vertical strips subtly announce that something else is going on behind the brick and glass, something academic.

Wilf Hall

#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
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big BambĂș
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation

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