Oculus - Fall 2016 - 29

©Studio V Architecture (opposite page, top) Rooftop restaurant and roof garden. (opposite page, second and third) The former loading dock will be the entrance and lobby for the Class A office space. (left) View to the new food market through the landmarked lobby with restored Ben and Bernarda Shahn frescos. cuisine. (The area is currently considered a food desert, despite its magnet institutions.) Valgora's team had good raw material: with large arched windows, glazed silver brick cladding, prominent balustrades, and a grand staircase on the west façade, the GPO shows the dignity associated with Works Progress Administration projects. It has a "wonderful classicism, but also a modernity," Valgora says, with "fine details that almost look machined... an extremely clean aesthetic." For many decades, however, much of this space was inaccessible. "Even though the landmarked lobby is very important to the community," he continues, "the vast majority of the building was secure for mail processing and untouchable - no one was ever allowed in. And the building itself sits on a plinth raised up and removed from the street, perhaps befitting the grand nature of a federal building." As northern New York City's chief sorting facility, the GPO kept much of its interior private; working spaces were structured for nearly Orwellian surveillance, with catwalks overhead, clandestine observation slits in certain walls, and "strange metal tubes with little slots in them, almost like telescopes inside of periscopes." Valgora's strategic interventions preserve distinctive features while opening up areas for new uses. Where a courtyard was filled in to create a lunchroom, Studio V has retained non-bearing masonry to create modular offices. The former loading dock on Anthony J. Griffin Place is becoming a separate ground-floor entrance to serve neighborhoods east of the Concourse. He added stairs leading up Authenticity + Innovation: Architecture Repurposed to the plinth, which wraps three façades (150th, Grand Concourse, and 149th) and will become public. "By letting people occupy that terrace," he says, "they can look back to their school, have something to eat, and participate in the life of the street without compromising the landmark character of the building." New Deal details, New Deal values The Shahns "wanted to bring the life of the rural poor into New York City," Valgora says, but their murals have decayed despite postal officials' efforts. "It looked like they put varnish over them to try to preserve them," he reports. "They're very dark and yellow, so they had to be meticulously restored." Marble door surrounds, a terra-cotta staircase, and terrazzo flooring are also being retained, along with the elegant lobby and vestibules, light fixtures, an antique safe, and decorative metal screens that had been replaced by drywall. Valgora is adding a landscaped rooftop restaurant, using polycarbonate, glass, and zinc and other metal finishes to retain the theme of industrial materials. The restaurant is set back to preserve symmetries and sightlines. The restaurateur, not identified at this writing, will be local, reflecting the development team's commitment to strengthening community ties. Valgora speaks enthusiastically about how Bronx Post Place fits into wider rejuvenation across the South Bronx and northern Manhattan. From the 2001 designation of the Grand Concourse Historic District to the new Yankee Stadium to pedestrian bridges and green space, the South Bronx is revealing new and long- overlooked treasures, including a chain of parks that could rival Frederick Law Olmsted's Boston "emerald necklace." "All our work has to do with reconciling contemporary architecture and the city," he continues. "Architecture tried to assassinate the city, and now it's trying to save the city." He views "the gaps of cities, the interstices, the edges, the leftover places" as ideal sites to bring abandoned infrastructure back to life. He also sees the landmarking process as a spur to creativity. "We have to cherish the results of that law, but also we have to ask ourselves, 'What have we learned?' I think we've learned how to balance the respect for those buildings and reusing them in creative ways that serve their communities, and also fulfilling our obligation to create great design." The Bronx is turning. < BILL MILL ARD is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Oculus, Architect, Icon, Content, The Architect's Newspaper, LEAF Review, Architectural Record, and other publications. Owner/Client: YoungWoo and Associates Architect: Studio V Architecture Design Team: Jay Valgora, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, Sohee Moon, Matt Horvath, Yashar Ghasemkhani Preservation Consultant: Higgins Quasebarth & Partners Structural Engineer: Robert Silman and Associates MEP Engineer: Buro Happold Engineering Civil Engineer: Langan Owner's Representative/ General Contractor: Hollister Construction Fall 2016 Oculus 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2016

First Words Letter from the President
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
A Study in Contrasts
WeLive on Wall Street
A Preservation Paradox
Industrial Strength
Innovation Rooted in History
In Print
97-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover1
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover2
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 4
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 5
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Oculus - Fall 2016 - 10
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 11
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 12
Oculus - Fall 2016 - First Words Letter from the President
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 14
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Letter from the Editor
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 16
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 17
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Center for Architecture
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 19
Oculus - Fall 2016 - One Block Over
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 21
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Oculus - Fall 2016 - 24
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Opener: Authenticity and Innovation
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Brooklyn
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 27
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Civic Purpose Repurposed: Bronx
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 29
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Study in Contrasts
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 31
Oculus - Fall 2016 - WeLive on Wall Street
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 33
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 34
Oculus - Fall 2016 - A Preservation Paradox
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 36
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 37
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Industrial Strength
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 39
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 40
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 41
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Innovation Rooted in History
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 43
Oculus - Fall 2016 - In Print
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 97-Year Watch
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 46
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Last Words
Oculus - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 49
Oculus - Fall 2016 - 50
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover3
Oculus - Fall 2016 - cover4