This incomplete building being constructed on Hunters Point in Long Island City’sskyline is problematical in these pages, for the simple reason that we’re dealing with curtain walling. Previous to this example we’ve mostly spoken out against sealed glazed environments, but it’s time to change our minds: it seems appropriate to sanction them for some public buildings, namely cultural ones, because their technique is formidable and they seem to be a norm in contemporary culture.1 However, rather than catering to the type fully, we will propose to deal with them, from time to time, critically.
in the building means going to young people’s, teen’s, and adult’s sections.
There are the proper precautions for acoustic conditions on the interior
and there is access to the roof
and on ground level there is a reading garden with ginko trees, overlooking the East River.
instead of this blog’s dual purpose,
aims of experiencing air and light through opening windows,
we are judging solely the judicious framing of light and surrounding view.
This forced-air functioning library with its massive organically perforated shell,
is situated in the midst of surrounding repetitive, reticulated glazed housing towers–serving as their foil.
Besides the external imaging,
within it there are striking views of Roosevelt Island and Manhattan.
The library’s exterior skin is aluminum-painted concrete
cut with enormous amorphous shapes for screened views beyond the curtain wall.
The irregularity of the window shapes helps to mediate the repetitive row of vertically-lined neighboring towers.
One view published in
Inside the library, seen above and at the stairwells,
are the massed upper regions of ceilings with an awesome cubic play of blocks that is so effective
and fulfill the architect,
The reference to cubism in these projecting, overlapping, and recessing massive volumes
gives the library an ambiguous air:
the incoming light on the staircases provides a mysterious note countering the rational effect of the surrounding buildings.
The aluminum painted concrete is being used instead of structural aluminum because of cost constraints; the library was trying to meet the price just shy of $40 million and painting it was economically necessary. Interestingly enough, Holl is a master water color painter and has had some of his architectonic masses and volumes painted in metallic hues in other designs, although that has been solely for internal use.
In another fairly recent building by Holl
(showing his continuous inclination towards operable windows when appropriate),
acoustic attention is paid by Holl,
just as in his previous extension to the Amerika Gedenkbibliotek in Berlin
Steven Holl’s Sarphatistraat Offices in Amsterdam
The Menger Sponge is an example of how fractal objects, starting out as abstract topological constructs to help mathematicians formulate fundamental ideas in the modernization of their subject, have broadened their appeal, over more than a century, to catch the visual imagination of the general public, and influence the creativity of artists, engineers, and architects. The Menger Sponge is a 3-D generalization of the Sierpinski Carpet fractal, which in turn is a 2-D generalization of the Cantor Set fractal. The images below show these fractals to be perfectly symmetrical since they were formed by removing a consistent measured part from their exact centers. But, by introducing slight perturbations, or randomness, in the size and placement of the parts removed or added, more natural forms, much closer to the organic shapes of nature, are realized (a prime example is the groundbreaking 2 minute video from 1980 by Loren Carpenter, Vol Libre). In both Simmons Hall and the Sarphatistraat Offices, Steven Holl has placed the larger openings asymmetrically, giving a lighter, more natural, less formal appearance.
For over a century, the theoretical and practical work of fractals remained hidden from view as a unified field of inquiry in its own right. In 2008, Benoit Mandelbrot said:
But I was so alone that the direction I was following was not described by any existing word. In 1975, my work forced me to coin one: fractal. The Latin adjective, fractus, can denote anything that is like a broken-up stone—irregular and fragmented. The sudden realization that “fractal” deserved to be put in a book’s titleBy creating this term, Benoit Mandelbrot has made it possible to grasp the continuity of development in the field of fractals, from its early, isolated theoretical results to today’s broad and practical work in the arts and sciences.
(Mandelbrot, 1975)changed nothing in the substance but brought considerable change in the perception of my work. The word is now found in many dictionaries. (Mandelbrot, Jersey, 2005)
Collision with glass is the single biggest known killer of birds in the United States, claiming hundreds of millions or more lives each year. Unlike some sources of mortality that predominantly kill weaker individuals, there is no distinction among victims of glass. Because glass is equally dangerous for strong, healthy, breeding adults, it can have a particularly serious impact on populations.The Conservancy mentions as a solution to this problem that:
(Sheppard, 2011, 5)
Deeply recessed windows, such as these on Stephen [sic] Holl’s Simmons Hall at MIT, can block viewing of glass from most angles.
(Sheppard, 2011, 20)