Oculus - Spring 2016 Institutional Shifts - (Page 28)

feature ©Mitchell|Giurgola Architects The double-height arcade and lobby of NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress at 370 Jay Street, Brooklyn, will animate the streetscape. 1,087 Windows (and a Unique Focus) on the City A repurposed 1950s icon in Downtown Brooklyn is an ideal base for NYU's scientific study of urban processes B Y J O N AT H A N L E R N ER N ew York University is growing. Some people will rejoice that the new 500,000-square-foot facility is not in Greenwich Village. Better cause for celebration: it repurposes a significant mid-century building that for decades sat empty atop the busy Jay Street-MetroTech station in Downtown Brooklyn. Originally designed by William E. Haugaard and Andrew J. Thomas and opened in 1951, 370 Jay Street expressed a progressive postwar urbanism, as it centralized administration of the NYC Board of Transportation (now the Metropolitan Transit Authority). The principal new occupant will be NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). "CUSP's program is about using the tools of data science to understand the city," says Executive Director Michael Holland, Ph.D. Originally, subway riders punched buttons on a "Directomat" in the lobby to get route guidance. Now we use apps on smartphones. But upstairs, people will again be thinking about circulation, connection, and other vital processes of the metropolis. 28 Oculus Spring 2016 The building's design was progressive for the time. The main block was 14 stories, roughly 350 by 80 feet, with a smaller sixstory perpendicular wing. A third piece, in the corner of the two, consolidated core functions, leaving remarkably unobstructed floorplates. At street level, arcades at either end sheltered stairs down to the subway, and there were also a bank and restaurant. The building was clad in limestone pierced regularly on all sides by nearly 1,100 large, identical, flush-mounted operable windows. In a 1953 New Yorker column about the modernization of chaotic Downtown Brooklyn, Lewis Mumford praised 370 Jay's "spacious monumentality," natural light and ventilation, and contribution of "composure and order" to the urban realm. "Nothing in either the mass or the detail," he wrote, "will look antiquated or comic fifty years from now." True, but maybe he couldn't imagine that 370 might come to feel boring; we've had lots of austere, repetitive, slablike structures in the 65 years since. (A fascinating historical exhibition, "The Secret Life of 370 Jay Street," is on view at the New York Transit Museum through May.) Window treatments The renovation, led by Mitchell|Giurgola Architects, will alter the exterior, though subtly. The limestone, in good shape, is five inches thick. Based on analysis by Constantine Kontokosta, a CUSP professor whose specialty is urban informatics, five versions of a replacement window were designed to be sensitive to solar orientation. On the long Jay Street façade, high up and toward the south, windows will be inset and have protruding sunshades. Toward the north, in diagonal bands determined by the decreasing intensity of sunlight hitting the wall, windows will be progressively less deep, with correspondingly shallower sunshades, until at the low northernmost corner they "fade to flush," says Mitchell|Giurgola Partner Carol Loewenson, FAIA, LEED AP. Visually, the variation should soften the building's rigid formalism. And with its thickness revealed, "you'll get the reading of the stone as a real material," she says. Flexible, creative spaces More striking from outside, however, will be the building's reactivation and reinvigorated connection with its surroundings. When fully operational, CUSP alone will house as many as 50 full-time senior researchers and more than 500 masInstitutional Shifts

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2016 Institutional Shifts

Letter from the President
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: The Intersection of Technology and Walkability
The Challenges of Expansion
A Win-Win at Rockefeller University
Course Requirements
1,087 Windows (and a Unique Focus) on the City
Tech Time
Playing a New Tune
A More Perfect Union
Social Innovation by Design
In Print
117-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Spring 2016 Institutional Shifts