Classically based architecture tends to be non site specific. The repetition of solids and voids are primarily generated by a preoccupation with formalistic considerations rather than what impact the individual windows may have on the experience of residents within a building. For example, the windows along the northern and western façade of 90 Morton are the same even though their impact on the viewer are substantially different. Asaf Gottesman and Gottesman Szmlecman Architecture's approach to architecture, on the other hand, is always program driven and site specific. Our aim is to maximize the inherent attributes of a building or site and to find ways of adding additional layers of value and experience.
In the case of 90 Morton the different attributes of the base building and the upper floors was our way of addressing the differing architectural methodologies. While we felt that all that was truly needed in the base building was thoughtful internal division and refinement of its inherent qualities, it was obvious that the four upper “penthouse” floors needed to be totally redesigned. It was there that a disproportional portion of the value could be generated. In the base building we chose to underline the solidity and thickness of its walls by designing generous internal windowsills where one could sit or place objects. We highlight the windows within the brick facade by introducing a floating frame so as to enhance the sensation of the framed view. We replaced the existing crude wooden sash windows with a more refined dark bronze aluminium grid system. Apart from the obvious benefits of proper insulation and ease of use, the custom designed windows redefined the relationship between solid and void, the interior and exterior.
For the upper floors, we felt that greater specificity and responsiveness to location was needed. As if to underline the shift that was taking place between the base building and the upper floors, we chose to partially break the symmetrical repetition that defines the building up to the 8th floor. We created extended terraces along the corners of the building that linked the interiors to the panoramic views beyond. The open corners helped us to initiate a discourse between the classical base building and the specific expressiveness that we wished to create for the upper floors.
Each city has its particular idiosyncrasies and New York is no different. In most cities there are guidelines as to how a building must recede from the street facade as it rises. In most cities the guidelines are determined by a chosen radius that aims to ensure that sunlight reaches the street level. In the case of New York, the guidelines are different in so much that the recess is immediate while what varies is the percentage of the facade that is required to recede. It is this rule that has generated the typical "wedding cake" look of many of the residential buildings. In considering this rule, we opted to shift the plates in order to both create larger terraces that are cantilevered and greater privacy under the covered areas.
The reinterpretation of New York's "Dormer Guidelines" has introduced a new typology to the city. One that liberates the floor plates and enables the architect to place the terraces where they are most effective. The result is a more generous and dynamic building, where the relationship between the interior and exterior are far more site specific. They ensure the maximization of both terraces and views while enabling us to offer the penthouses both greater privacy and both open and covered teraces.
New York, USA
Gottesman Szmelcman Architecture
Interior Arch: LLS Architects
Arch of Records: Isaac Stern Associates
Render Credit: Binyan
Interior Architects: LLS Architects