The opportunity to imagine a new building facing Central Park, a few blocks from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim museum is as rare as it gets. So when asked to design an addition to an existing mid-19th century low rise, we knew the challenge lied in what the design could convey about such an iconic site but also about New York and its history at large.
It soon became clear that what we were most interested to offer was a celebration of both a rich urban fabric and the importance of urban renewal. Drawing from past research we looked at the work of Fernand Leger and Le Corbusier and the emphasis they had put on Form Contrasts as a means to bring about harmonies relevant to the post-classicist, machine age they lived in. Building over an existing Georgian brick townhouse, surrounded by imposing all-brick 5th avenue - Florentine inspired palazzo architecture, posed a similar design strategy challenge.
We drew inspiration from Manhattan’s master plan, from Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates and selected a material that could best express how building technologies had evolved in the past century. Glass in this specific instance had little competition as this was about creating residences overlooking one of the most spectacular views in New York City.
Opposing large curved glass panes to flat brick surfaces, floor to ceiling openings to 19th century double hung window openings speaks not only about technical evolution, changing life styles but first and foremost about urban vitality. Our approach to such a historically sensitive site was to make sure that both the old and new would celebrate each other and specifically for the new not to mimic the old.
Curving the glass serves a very functional purpose in allowing Southern and Northern views but also create surface reflections that lighten up the darker brick sameness of the street. It also helps related the building addition to the lower part by breaking up the scale which a flat glass curtain wall would not have achieved in the same fashion.
Ultimately the addition helps reveal the existing Georgian structure which sits at a much lower elevation than the majority of 5th avenue buildings and makes sure its original proportions are kept unchanged. The stratification of cities, the need for higher densities in centers, have in all times created a rich urban fabric throughout the world. However modest in size, this project has a similar ambition.
New York City
United States of America
Studio Razavi Architecture
Alireza Razavi, Andoni Briones
Our work rests on the mediation between engineering & architectural culture. It is our belief that successful designs can only materialize by fully synthesizing building technology and architectural sensitivity. Our approach to space is determined by a rigorous understanding of existing relationships between technique and culture, free of stylistic limitations, open to context.
Our designs cover a wide spectrum or architectural services from interiors to master planning for clients in both the public and private sectors. Operating as one firm our portfolio includes residential, corporate, hospitality, civic, transportation, and mixed-use projects.
Our reputation is built on our ability to translate a client’s physical needs, aspiration and budget constraints into memorable designs and spaces. We strive to bring innovation and construction techniques together as well as branding, marketing and post-occupancy issues, as we believe that long lasting experience is measure of excellency.