Oculus - Winter 2015 - (Page 24)

The punched opening masonry proportions on the Spring Street façade dematerialize to reveal a curtain wall that evokes a cast-iron loft building on Broadway. ©BKSK Architects feature At the Corner of Past and Present Rethinking the past with today's tech tools helps architects design a 21st-century structure that alludes to and echoes its 19th-century past B Y s A rA h go o d Y eA r I t looked like a scene from a 1940s film noir: Huddling in a third-floor plumbing fixtures showroom in Lower Manhattan, a bunch of people scoped out the buildings across the street, using binoculars to examine every inch of the façades in preparation for a high-stakes job. But the people casing the SoHo streetscape weren't spies or crooks. They were a design team from the firm BKSK Architects, and they were looking for clues to the aesthetic and structural heritage of a series of historic Spring Street buildings. Their objective: to create a genuinely 21st-century structure worthy of the landmark cast-iron district. The result is a six-story retail building - currently going up with frontages on Broadway and Spring Street, at the pivotal northwest corner - that synthesizes a deep understanding of 19th-century architectural history with cutting-edge design processes. The 34,000-square-foot structure replaces a two-story building dating to the 1930s, itself a replacement for the Prescott House, a hotel that had been at the site since 1852. 24 Oculus Winter 2015 All that historical background played into the BKSK design. The firm's solution, however, was powered by a profoundly modern approach that made creative use of a whole suite of software, including Blender, a video-game and filmmaking tool. The result won approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission after just one session. Commissioner Fred Bland was unequivocal in his enthusiasm at the time, calling it "a brilliant piece of architecture." Most of the Prescott was demolished after the entertainment district moved uptown, leaving once-fashionable Lower Broadway in decline. "Virtually nothing was left," says Todd Poisson, AIA, BKSK's partner-in-charge of the project. "But the hotel became our inspiration to recreate a six-story building on this corner." What remained of the hotel at 99 Spring Street was an 1872 extension that followed the original 1852 design, with punchedmasonry windows crowned with elaborate decorative lintels. This remnant is adjacent to 101 Spring Street, home of the Judd Foundation - also built in 1872, but in a radically new style. In Reinventing Architecture: Design in a Digital World

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2015

First Words Letter from Two Presidents
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Practical Attitudes
ICE in the River: Cornell Tech’s Center of Connectivity
Restoring – At Least Virtually – One of England’s Greatest Lost Buildings
At the Corner of Past and Present
The Design-Fabrication Dynamic
How Big Data is Reshaping Architecture
Architecture at the Digital Edge
3D for the Defense
Thinking Beyond the Flat Page
In Print
51-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Winter 2015