Saturday, July 14, 2012

New York's first "Oasis"

Currently I am a Teacher Assistant for an Architecture program at Columbia University. I work with students from all over the world such as Italy, Costa Rica and Japan. Aside from the time in the studio, me and the head Professor  take the students around New York to expose them to vast structures that make up the most famous skyline in the world. Despite living in the city for the past 4 years there are many buildings I have not visited and last week I came across one of my new favorite structures in Manhattan: The Ford Foundation Building.
This building was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates in 1963 and completed in 1968. From the exterior it resembles many of the facades of the city, but what separates this structure from the rest is the unique interior tree-filled atrium that rises from the ground level to the top of the building. It was the first garden of its kind in New York which paved the way for indoor public spaces in the city. The garden consists of trees, flowers and a variety of vegetation, along with a "Wish" pool where visitors throw in coins to support hungry children.
 Various staircases create different levels within the garden, allowing visitors to admire the design of the whole project. I really enjoy the weathering steel which gives a rusty look to the frame. Along with the steel, the brown-pink granite used to wrap the walls gives the building a more natural look which ties well with the garden. I am a big fan of the exposed section views made possible by the visible steel frame. Rain water collected by a unique system on the roof keeps the garden flowing and green year round.
A product of the International Style, this modern architecture design pushed the envelope for new materials and plan (the Ford Foundation Building has an L-shaped office block) compared that to the glass-box of the Seagram Building (also located in NY). What makes this design also unique and personally awesome is the fact employees are visible to each other. It ties into the mission statement of the Foundation of supporting each other and being aware of the activities of the company; creating a tight knit environment and family. Discovering this building supports my claim that NYC is an architects "Disneyland" with fun, fascinating and inspiring projects around every corner.

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