The proposal introduces a deep-red painted porch to the existing elevated Soap Factory structure at +3 ft level, to create the Center for Human Rights and the Arts in the town of Red Hook. The wrap-around porch provides all access points from the streets, the parking, and the sculpture garden. It is accessed through gentle ramps and stairs and connects all the center spaces from the exterior, including a new small structure housing the artist's studio. The porch introduces new active social spaces along the perimeter of the building facade. These include performance bleachers, a front deck acting as an extension of the main gallery, a back deck connecting the classrooms wing to the administrative wing, and down to the studio spaces through new generous bleachers with large windows that bring light and provide an ADA platform lift into the basement. Additionally, a gazebo classroom structure is located in the garden. These external spaces encourage multiple outdoor teaching scenarios, exposing the center's educational and artistic function to the public during the moderate weather of the year. New large windows turn the opaque street facade into a transparent street front. The roof holds solar panels for independent power supply, and it is channeled to harvest rainwater and store it in a central reservoir for landscape irrigation and bathroom use. On the interior, the main gallery is a rectangular space that is 58’ long X 33’ wide, and its new tall vaulted ceiling (average 14’) exposes the existing roof joists. New skylights are introduced on this roof to facilitate natural ventilation and bring southern lights. The gallery is surrounded by auxiliary spaces comprising the reception desk, a Soap Factory (oral) history gallery, a lounge gallery that doubles as a lounge space, storage spaces, and a kitchen. The main gallery (including the kitchen) is designed to be sectioned from the educational wings, allowing potential Red Hook civic partners to use it on weekends and outside the academic calendar. These might include the Red Hook library, public schools, Red Hook Farmers Market, etc., all within a 10 min (1/2 mile) walking distance. The design preserves and transforms the historical Soap Factory structure to house variety of spaces that fulfills Bard's educational and artistic's community needs while presenting itself as an essential building welcoming and serving the larger Red Hook communities.
L.E.FT is a New York / Beirut based architectural office, established by architects Makram el Kadi and Ziad Jamaleddine.
L.E.FT’s recent work included the development of several cultural and religious buildings located in diverse and sometimes contested contexts. These include the celebrated Beirut Exhibition Center (2011), located in war-torn downtown Beirut, and the award-winning Amir Shakib Arslan mosque (2017), located in the religiously rich Lebanon’s Shouf Mountain. Currently, the office is completing the renovation of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practice at Vassar College, NY. serving 12 religious and non-religious spiritual students’ groups and faculty.
Recent research inquiries include: ‘Pray-Grounds,’ showcased at the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale; ‘Tawaf, the Genealogy of a Tree’ at the 2018 Triennale di Milano, Lebanese pavilion; and ‘Right to Shade' in Sharjah Architecture Trienniale, 2019.