Been thinking some more about what we discussed on Tuesday regarding briefly summarising the project… for the time being:

A loophole in a foreign aid scheme allows developers in New York to transfer investment from East Harlem to fund the construction of luxury skyscrapers on Billionaire’s Row.

These buildings represent the edifice of a political and economic condition that legitimises corrupt tactics and locates the value of architecture as a financial commodity to be traded on the free market.

The Project imagines an alternative proposal for one of these skyscrapers that is to be de-programmed through cross-fertilisation with the Harlem Tower; the uninhabited condo rendered uninhabitable.

Since then I’ve been working on drawing up a proposal for the scheme and looking in to some more skyscraper tech following discussions with Colin. Some of the early moves:

– the lower portion of the facade of the existing Helmsley Hotel is retained to a height of 60m. This will create the first threshold in the building and open on to a vaulted lobby space anterior to the escalating privacy of the tower. This is an architectural symptom of a planning law that favours preservationism through the allocation of floor area bonuses to the retaining of existing structures; the facade being the archetypal example of this cynicism.

– The volume of this lobby is equivalent to that of Taft House, the elevation of which is etched onto a pair of 1:1 scale bronze doors leading on to the lift lobby.

– Above, a 310m high addition, set back by a distance of 2.5m at the 12th, 14th, 16th and 17th floors to comply with zoning laws.

– The building core is shifted from the centre of the building and bifurcated to form a pair of cores bookending the East and West elevations to maximise the plan efficiency of the building.

– The cores house risers and lift shafts with sky lobbies every 14th floor to allow for transfer between local and express elevators serving the apartments.

– A burrito restaurant and raked earth garden will be located at the top of the building and served by a shuttle lift.

– An ornamented limestone facade to the north facade plays an environmental role in thermal control of the building.

Brace yourself:

Sketchbook 01

Sketchbook 02

Sketchbook 03

Sketchbook 04

Sketchbook 05

AutoCAD Screenshot 01

AutoCAD Screenshot 02

One thought on “Proposal

  1. The descriptive sentences about the project are clear until it comes to the last paragraph which relates to the proposal where it could be clearer – “the uninhabited condo rendered uninhabitable.” I think this needs to be more boldly and dramatically stated. Nowhere in that description do we hear a mention of the uncanny and how your project develops an architectural language for these uncanny intangible flows of capital and therefore power in the city. Something about the illegality or misappropriation of funds has rendered this tower uninhabitable because your aim in designing it will be to hybridise the typical luxury condo design with the architecture of where its funding originated – East Harlem.
    The text aside, it would be good to see the proposal fleshed out more clearly in drawings, scenarios and images since this will bring the most clarity to the project.
    As mentioned by Jessica in the cross-crit, all the zoning laws and preservation rules need to be drawn or diagrammed out so they are easily understandable and digestible upon a quick glance at your portfolio – it would be good to see this for Tuesday in addition to the collection of drawings of your proposed sites for intervention which we discussed this week – the threshold, the public space (library?), the view, the circulation, the rooftop restaurant. Not sure what the pencil sketches and screenshot entail other than thinking in progress – you need to increase the pace at which you are developing this project so it reaches its full potential. There is so much humour and wit you can bring to the drawings and images that you hint at in your design of the menu of the burrito restaurant but we need a design and these powerful scenarios to show us how the rich can no longer get away with stealing from the poor – or even a visceral architecture that is just more honest to show the forces at play in the construction of these opulent spaces. Take what you learnt from drawing up those precedents and really design your proposal for Tuesday.
    This essay about Le Corbusier and Gordon Matta-Clark: could be interesting since it talks about the contrasting forces of construction and destruction present in Matta-Clark’s work and his inspiration. This quote from Matta-Clark’s notecard reminded me of your project:
    – something about completion coming from removal, collapse or emptiness – the sense of design being cosmetic but uninhabited. These phrases could each be headings for some of your proposal drawings looking at how clashing East Harlem’s tall architecture with Central Park South’s creates a tower but at the same time doesn’t really create a building…

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