Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rafael Viñoly's School of Architecture Opens at CCNY

How about some afternoon starchitecture, you say? At your service, say we. Here we have the latest from Rafael Viñoly, specifically, the new School of Architecture at CCNY, which opens its doors today. Crucially, this isn't new construction; rather, it's a totally overhauled version of a glass-block building that was built as a library in the late 1950's. Viñoly's firm gut-renovated it, preserving just the structural elements. Then from there, things really got trippy.

The fully redone 118,000 square foot building will serve as classroom and office space, but there are plenty of other interesting touches, like, oh, a rooftop amphitheater. More, from the press materials:

The new structure is highlighted by its central atrium, which allows daylight to illuminate the building from the roof down to the ground floor. The atrium features an intersecting series of steel staircases and pedestrian bridges, facilitating circulation throughout the building and establishing connectivity and sightlines between floors. The striking walkway system promotes interactivity and spontaneous encounters among students and faculty. Additionally, partial mezzanine levels are inserted above the studio floors to provide space for faculty offices. These offices look over the open-plan design studios through interior glazing to a space along the building’s perimeter that maximizes daylight in the studio areas. The corridors on the studio levels are wide, double-height areas that accommodate lounges for informal discussion, while narrower balconies overlook these lounges and provide circulation on the office levels. In what has become a trademark of Rafael Viñoly Architects' institutional and educational projects, this layout promotes interaction and fluidity of movement through innovative design solutions.

The building’s exterior is clad in pre-cast concrete, with deep shelf-like openings that on installation will feature aluminum sun-shading louvers. Oriented vertically on the east and west facades, and horizontally on the south façade, the louvers are designed to balance outward views with maximum shading to reduce heat gain to the interiors. On the roof, an open-air amphitheater overhangs the atrium, with a full-height clerestory around three sides that admits natural light into the building. The amphitheater provides additional teaching and program space, with wide, unobstructed views to the south over Central Park and the skyline of Midtown Manhattan. This south-facing orientation also reduces direct sun exposure and thermal heat gain on the clerestory glass, even as the auditorium’s contoured underside creates a funnel to scoop natural light down into the atrium. On the building’s periphery, Landscape Architect Lee Weintraub’s design accentuates the main entrance, creating another accessible congregation point for students.


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