Archive for September 2nd, 2010

September 2, 2010

KPF’s One Jackson Square in New York’s Greenwich Village

Behind the Curtain Wall

Three residential buildings with highly innovative facades rise in New York City.

September 2010 | By Josephine Minutillo

At the intersection of Greenwich and Eighth Avenues in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, an oddly shaped lot sat empty for nearly a century. The last occupant of the site was a string of row houses that was torn down in the 1920s to make room for a subway tunnel beneath it. For years, building over the tunnel proved too expensive to be worthwhile. But with the escalation of the New York real estate market in the last decade, the investment in construction there finally seemed justified


KPF’s One Jackson Square in New York’s Greenwich Village features an undulating wall of glass and metal.

Photo: © Michael Moran

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) was hired by Hines, the developer, to design a completely as-of-right building while maximizing the zoning volume. The corner portion of the site could rise as high as 11 stories, while the rest was limited to seven. “We treated the zoning volume like a rock in a stream,” says William Pedersen, FAIA, design partner at KPF. “We allowed the surface to pour over the volume to modify its character and create something more acceptable architecturally.” The designers envisioned a wall of glass since that was the best material they could imagine to unify the strange form in a consistent manner, but they wanted to deal with glass in a way that was unprecedented.

“We didn’t want it to look like an office building,” says KPF’s Trent Tesch, AIA. “The more individuality we could give to each floor, the better.” KPF created a series of striations that flowed horizontally through the building. Each striation is different from the one above it and below it in terms of the way it curves and the arrangement of windows it contains.

“The detail that allowed this resolution between the various layers is the key detail of the whole building,” says Pedersen. “These constantly reversed positions pulling back and forth create the ability to separate the overlapping layers.” Within each of these undulating ribbons, a series of 18-, 36-, and 48-inch-wide custom, floor-to-ceiling fixed and operable windows — all of which are completely flat — animate the facade.

“Because of all its facets, the glass wall becomes a kaleidoscopic playback of everything that surrounds it,” says Pedersen. “An ordinary glass wall just reflects its context pretty much as you see it. This wall transforms it.”

Apartment interiors have floor-to-ceiling fixed and operable window units.

Photo: © Michael Moran

Convincing the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, as well as the building’s neighbors, that a glass wall was the way to go in the historic district presented challenges, but once approved, the real challenge came in building the structure.

Since construction of the building was scheduled to proceed during the height of New York’s building boom, it was nearly impossible to get a large curtain-wall company to take interest in such a relatively small project. Curtain-wall consultant Gilsanz Murray Steficek came up with a concept that would allow the unique wall to be built as a stick system, which meant that much of its assembly would take place on-site. The job of putting it together went to contractors whose experience lay mainly in fabricating storefronts, not luxury apartment buildings.

The metal contractors anchored 18-foot-long horizontal sections, bent according to information provided by 3D computer models, to the floor slabs. As with Beekman Tower, it was critical that the concrete slab edges were formed precisely so that the mullion joints would align and the system would be plumb both vertically and horizontally. In a couple of the units containing double-height spaces, a large beam replaces the slab edge.

Another thing One Jackson Square had in common with Beekman Tower was the constantly changing unit mix. (The finished building contains 32 units, with retail expected on the ground floor). The undulating wall proved perfect for providing the needed flexibility. KPF developed a scheme that had four panel types and one variant. Wherever a partition ended up, a vertical mullion could be added at that point in space. The contractors installed the vertical mullions within the horizontal sections on-site. The framed windows, containing low-iron, reflective glass, were then added.

Window dimensions vary, as do the curving ribbons of each floor.

Photo: © Michael Moran

One Jackson Square’s glass exterior becomes a constantly changing image of what is surrounding the building.

Photo: © Raimund Koch

1 curtain-wall anchor

2 horizontal mullion
3 split spandrel structure
4 split spandrel with bronze finish

5 vertical mullion
6 low-iron, low-e insulated glass unit
7 oak flooring
8 extruded aluminum trim

September 2, 2010

The curtain wall of 100 11th captures daylight differently over the course of the day and the year. A surface that seems to brighten and go dark as if by computer program is, in fact,made dynamic by the movement of the Earth. These daily and seasonal changes will heighten your senses and foster a connection to nature.

View of 100 11th Avenue in context along Manhattan’s far West Side. In 1987, maverick French architect Jean Nouvel burst onto the international scene with a new headquarters for the Arab World Institute in Paris, one of President François Mitterrand’s Grands Projets. With mechanized oculi and veils of glass and steel, the building was hailed as an unconventional masterpiece that encouraged people to not only accept modern architecture in a historic setting, but to be thrilled by it. Over ensuing years Nouvel has woven art, history, cultural references and new building technologies into provocative architectural contrasts between inside and outside, intimacy and the urban network, and has become renowned as one of the most original designers of his generation. In conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Arab World Institute, construction has begun in New York City on Nouvel’s latest glass and steel landmark, a direct material and conceptual descendant of his Paris tour de force: 100 11th will be a 23-story tower described by its architect as “a vision machine” at the intersection of 19th Street and the West Side Highway, along the Hudson River in Manhattan.

Nouvel describes 100 11th as “a vision machine,” with every angle and structural detail designed to create visual excitement. Approximately 1,650 different windowpanes comprise the most highly engineered and complex curtain wall ever constructed in New York City.

The building’s gently curving curtain wall of different sized panes of colorless glass – each set in a unique angle and torque – will sheath one of the most meticulously customized, high performance residential addresses in the nation. This dazzling window pattern will frame splendid views from within the tower while producing an exterior texture that serves as a poetic analog for the vibrancy, density and changeability of New York City.

Every apartment will feature floor-to-ceiling window walls including operable windows oriented to the south and west. Along these window walls, floors will be finished with an extra layer of nearly imperceptible transparent gloss, to boost incoming sunlight into rooms.Jean Nouvel’s ‘total design’ approach is exemplified by his use of highly engineered bath fixtures conceived by the architect for Jado. The sleek touch-sensitive fixtures include computerized water flow and temperature sensors, and are complemented by glass, mirror, and Corian surfaces, minimalist Kohler tubs and water closets, and ingenious storage solutions.Kitchens flow spatially into open living room areas, and thus feature custom fixtures conceived by Jean Nouvel to achieve the highest level of discretion and design excellence to complement art and furniture. These generously proportioned environments are composed of materials such as stainless steel, etched and clear glass, terrazzo, and custom lighting.Every apartment within 100 11th will boast a unique pattern of powder-coated steel window mullions – its unique “fingerprint.” These mullions function as frames for specific views. Open, curved or rectilinear spaces have been allocated to allow for a broad variety of furniture configurations that take full advantage of the light and views.The lobby is a dramatic transitional zone between the public life of the street outside and the privacy of individual homes in the tower above. Soft controlled lighting and dark monochromatic walls will create a theatrical but peaceful atmosphere that contrasts with the reflection and animation of the building’s exterior. Enormous punched windows provide views of the building’s tree-filled garden.By raising the restaurant and other public functions of the ground floor to 4′ above grade and sculpting a concrete base, Nouvel has created a perfect balance between pedestrian activity and the lively atmosphere of interiors. Views from the sidewalk of the restaurant animate the street and further catalyze the neighborhood’s ongoing transformation.The building’s pool is designed so that residents may swim comfortably indoors or outdoors, depending upon the weather. A portion of the pool is sheltered within the building’s structure, while the balance of its length extends into a landscaped outdoor space. A glass partition has been customized to enclose the indoor portion of the pool during winter months or inclement weather, so that the indoor portion remains fully operative and warm at all times.Nouvel brings design themes and conceits used throughout the building – amplified direct and reflected light, carefully framed views of the outside world, layering of complex but subtle monochrome materials, sightlines rendered in as many directions as possible within adjacent spaces – into his concept proposal for a street-level restaurant at 100 11th. A plan illustrates how the restaurant may figure into the front of the building at street level, becoming the literal and figurative connection between public (sidewalk) and private (garden) life.View up and into Loggia level. Within a framework of glass, steel, and concrete, a six-story vertical garden blooms. From planting boxes built into the structure, trees soar upward and plants cascade down the walls, lending their scent to the atmosphere.

Project Team Directory:

West Chelsea Development Partners, LLC

Cape Advisors, Inc. (an affiliate of Managing Partner), New York, NY

Gotham Greenwich Construction Company, LLC, New York, NY

Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris, France

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, LLP, New York, NY

M. Paul Friedberg and Partners, New York, NY

DeSimone Consulting Engineers, PLLC, New York, NY

Pandiscio Co., New York, NY

Andrea Schwan, New York, NY

Prudential Douglas Elliman, New York, NY

September 2, 2010

Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue

Behind the Curtain Wall

Three residential buildings with highly innovative facades rise in New York City.

September 2010 | By Josephine Minutillo

Just north of One Jackson Square in Chelsea, on a corner lot that sits opposite the billowing IAC Building, Frank Gehry’s first building in New York City, Jean Nouvel has created a kaleidoscopic facade with an entirely different character from that of the KPF building.

The De Stijl—like composition of the 250-foot-tall, curving curtain wall is a tour de force of glass and metal. According to Nouvel, “The architecture expresses the exceptional pleasure of being at this strategic point of Manhattan.”

The open site is on Manhattan’s extreme West Side. Many apartments within the building have unobstructed views of the Hudson River. While Nouvel wanted to capture those views as much as possible, along with the changing light, he was not interested in dematerializing the wall. “We wanted the mullions to look strong and create strong frames,” says François Leininger, Ateliers Jean Nouvel’s project manager. “You can feel the presence of metal.”

Facade consultants Front worked with Nouvel’s office to create a curtain wall that featured fixed and operable tilting windows of various sizes and shapes — in essence, a random series of folding planes. To give some regularity to the wall, the team — which included curtain-wall fabricators in China — created megapanels, some as large as 12 feet high by 37 feet wide and containing as many as 20 smaller, individual panels. The megapanel joints are the only areas on the facade that have a continuous vertical mullion. The curving section of the facade features a concentration of smaller panels. Several mock-ups were built both in China and the U.S. to evaluate the wall’s aesthetic appearance and performance.

“There is a huge amount of dimensional variety,” says Front’s Marc Simmons. “But it is not a mathematically generated facade. It really is hand composed from a very architectural idea. It is a game of fragmentation.”

Because of the fragmenting lines, the load path from slab to slab is not continuous. Steel forms the facade’s structure since the nonlinear load paths and massive panels would have conspired to make an aluminum structure too large to be attractive inside the apartments. All the 3-inch-wide steel elements sit in the same plane, but vary in depth. The steel frame, which is visible from the apartment interiors, is composed of laser-cut steel plates that were welded together, sandblasted, and painted silver. Interiors feature polished concrete ceilings and terrazzo floors.

“The wall was really designed from the inside out,” Simmons explains. “A typical floor features seven megapanels, and each megapanel corresponds to a room. In the largest rooms, you have a 37-foot-wide panorama that eradicates all evidence of traditional curtain-wall construction.”

Simmons describes this curtain wall as a hybrid, one that combines characteristics of a window wall where individual panels have no structural dependency on adjacent panels. “The fact is, hybrids are becoming much more common because they can achieve certain architectural intentions that could not be achieved by traditional aluminum unitized curtain walls,” he explains. “Those are optimized for fabrication efficiencies and ease of transport. The megapanels on this project are so large and heavy that they can’t overlap or have interlocking legs. They are independent of each other.”

The gridded facade of Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue contrasts with Gehry’s billowing IA C Building.

Photo: © Philippe Ruault

The exterior layer is silver anodized aluminum to match the silver-painted steel on the interior. While not structural, the aluminum holds the low-E glass panels, which are insulated and laminated. Three different glass coatings were selected to provide a variety of colors on the facade. The glass adheres to a strict STC rating required by noise ordinances for buildings along Manhattan’s West Side Highway.

A crane lifts one of the curtain wall’s megapanels into place during construction of the facade.

Photo: Front Inc.