This 3rd Year studio emphasized the fundamentals of design thinking and design process through an exploration of precedent studies and typological thinking as well-springs for creativity and parti generation. The “branch library” served as the typology in question, as the studio aligned with the 2017 Lyceum Competition program by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, which called for submissions of a small public library set on the historic Audubon Terrace In Manhattan. With a focus on the human scale and human space, students were challenged to diagram spatial and experiential ideas in three dimensions through an iterative series of bas relief tiles. In reading the spaces between, these tiles were transformed into inhabitable poché, from the scale of the reading nook to the entire building and its site, which offers a series of social and contextual challenges.
Audubon Terrace was originally conceived as a cultural center, showcasing the location of the Hispanic Society in North Manhattan. As the terrace fully developed toward its current state, it began to close off any visual and accessible relationship to 156th street. Rather than integrating into the Washington Heights community and serving as a civic amenity, Audubon Terrace’s fortress-like relationship to the street has resulted in a disjunction between the terrace and the neighborhood.
“The library is a building type in which the architect must design the furniture along with the structure and the architecture. Without the books, the bookstacks, and their digital equivalent, there is no building, and even if the disciplines of architecture and furniture design are separate endeavors, this is a building type in which they cannot be disconnected.”
Ed Ford, Five Houses, Ten Details
TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
This proposal calls for the relocation of the Hispanic Society’s Archive Library, restoring the visual relationship between the site’s original building and 156th street. By opening Audubon Terrace to 156th street, a grand public space is offered to accompany the new branch library, acting as public entrance to both Audubon Terrace and the branch Library. “De-fortifying” Audubon Terrace brings eyes back to the street and the community. As the presence of a new branch library and park attracts activity, 156th Street becomes animated.
Through a process of bas relief studies, an aesthetic was developed that reinforces this idea of transparency as a source of collective security. The transparency of the bas relief studies consistently furthers the integration of the public space and community throughout the proposal. A porous poché, a semi-transparent mass, was developed from the bas relief studies to serve multiple functions associated with the library. It diffuses light, serves as book stacks, partitions space, contains structure, acts as a layered facade design, provides nooks for more intimate reading spaces, and provides for vertical and horizontal circulation.
The main promenade stair animates both the interior poché wall and the facade. The animated poché wall becomes a functional animated facade for the interior atrium space as well as the newly expanded Audubon Terrace. The reading room opens up through the porous facade to views of Audubon Terrace and 156th street, serving as an active neighbor to the Washington Heights community.