Koniee Irias April 5, 2018 Honors Thesis Woven Organicity During my Fall Semester Design 7 2017, I was tasked with a challenge of designing an entire city block in Manhattan, New York, in partnership with a clas smate. My partner and I collaborated in developing a unified vision that tackled the various issues in creating a suitable intervention encompassing 60% residential area, 15% public space and 25% commercial space. Scale, boundaries, location, surroundings, and density, were major components to consider throughout the design process. The mantra of form follows function could show how developing an intervention with a program interwoven in the city's fabric, is a response that is re injected in the integratio n of the proposal. To better understand the site, we emerged ourselves in it. During our experience in New York, we could see that New York was an elaborate city that never slept, while manifesting ourselves into the city's scape, I thought of referencing back to theory and the readings, like in Micheal De Certeau's novel, where he argued that "Walking, which alternately follows a path and has followers, creates a mobile organicity" (99). He depicted this as a form of communication that showed a trade with the city and its people. I couldn't deny how important it was to be immersed on the sidewalk and how that experience shaped each occupant's experience differently. The city's architecture and its people had an important role in how the city grew or was tr ansformed over the years especially in New York. With that in mind, we
started to read between the cracks on every building, each envelope was admired in its own role. New York City in great regards was indescribable but whether filled with excitement or v ibrant experiences, even overwhelming at times, New York and it's people were constantly active and uplifting. Now how could we address this back to our project? That was the question that started it all. We commenced by understanding our site in lower Che lsea, the block between 28th and 29th street and 9th and 10th avenue, once much research and time went into the dissection of the city, an attempt to study its unique parts. We acknowledged the city's different systems in the site, understanding Madison Sq uare Gardens with Chelsea park along with the Highline was a step in achieving our proposal. After this, we could begin to form the conception of the block. After much consideration, we realized we wanted to integrate what was hidden in plain sight, which was to mimic New York City's grid and scale within the block. Understanding where we stood was as important as what will stand, remembering a scripture from Calvino's novel read in our Theory class, "the city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the bags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations,"(10,11) in e ssence, by observing and acknowledging the precedent and its history before we could begin to expand, this becomes essential. The block not only needed to be part of Manhattan's block but become New York City itself. The city's elaborate fabric needed to b e infused within the project, in a way that respected New York City while essentially enhancing the human experience through our intervention.
To achieve this, we needed to start by pursuing different scenarios of experience throughout, wherein. Each int erplaying volume, unique to its own program and ability, established its relationship with one another. The environment of the city had undefinable individual moments which became distinct to each occupant, we needed the program to target each occupant dif ferently, whether it was a resident, a customer, or a common pedestrian walking along the street. The question then became how to sophisticatedly play with public or private and concealed or exposed spaces, and while tying it with form follows function. Ou r response needed a programmatic development that gestures, extruding form, and geometries within the architectural development would be inferred by a response to an existing need. Furthermore, our project would relate to the section of the city, taking al l this into consideration and restraining from breaking away from the New Yorker experience. Our intervention for creating the block became an intersection of segments that connected visually with each other, causing an exclusive experience to New York's h abitants. By constructing a sequence of residential towers that conjoins with the public building, mimicking the surrounding buildings heights while highlighting hierarchy with the towers. Experiencing the city within the block became the driving force for this intervention. Designing four main structural elements and the receiving connector that held the project together, portraying to have a dialogue that ejected from the city's context. Our proposal aimed to reintegrate certain architectural values like scale and density, this was intended to further stimulate life in this region like the complex urban fabric of Manhattan. While also understanding that a proper intervention of these factors is what defines the city, the project divides into two principal feeling; one emerged in the connecting program for the consuming
public becoming an inviting vessel, another departing from the city and easing to calmness for everyday life regarding the future residents. By designing a moment that detaches from the city ground, reaching above great Manhattan scales, that connected to the essence of its surroundings. We constructed a main communal green space that becomes a suggests an extension of Chelsea Park, a welcoming area for residents, that views the wonders of New York City. The residential space dealt with elegant layering, offsetting, and providing elements that created systemically experiential architectural spaces. Each piece becomes an essential part of defining the entirety of the urban fabric. By adapting o ne moment or imposing an intervention, the quality of the urban fabric changes. Throughout this whole process, we were encouraged to think in fragments, having a woven dialogue in a relationship with each other, which aimed to have an architectural impact in a larger scale project in the city structure. This same idea explored the importance of how the construction controlled our experience of perception by transforming the experience through the whole we created.
(All Drawings were i n collaboration with Juan Velasquez )
Works Cited Calvino, Italo, et al. Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941 1985. Princeton University Press, 2013. Calvino, 10, 11 Certeau, Michel De. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, Calif. : Univ. of California Press, 2008. 99