333 14TH ST

Client: Mr. David Levine
New York City, NY |

As I spied through the construction fence of the site for the first time, a neglected hole in the ground that had existed for over four years, a woman passed by and stated, for my ears I supposed, ‘Ain't never going to happen’ she quietly chuckled as she shook her head. I instinctively replied ‘Not if I have anything to do with it’ said with equal parts determinism and hubris., Whenever our office is given the opportunity to bring into existence a new building from out of the muck and dirt, we embrace the opportunity with both hands. In this case we had a wonderful context to work within. Strong architectonic typologies existed in a string of brownstones facing our site. An Art deco-ish Verizon building adjacent to us as well as a small rather non descript commercial building and low rise single family residences on the other. With this grist we produced a contextual gem. We never look to create ersatz historicism, but we were more than pleased to offer brick to be used in a contemporary and modernist manner, not as a load bearing element, but as a contextual wallpaper and infill to the streetscape. Thus, it references brick patterning found across the street but does so in a manner that floats above the ground floor, emphasizing its decorative purpose only. The first floor being of a darker hue with horizontal bands to emphasize its connection to the sidewalk as well as creating a sense that the remainder of the building was floating above it. The upper facades’ non directional grid patterning references a building willing to be part of the greater urban dialogue and not have to shout to be heard. Yet, in a subtle manner, the bulkhead is ringed by a coursing of textured brick, a crown as it were but not visible in the immediate context of street or block but marking its place in the neighborhood when seen from afar. Its use of steel as design elements to emphasize certain visual moments of importance. [Entry and balcony, division between first and upper building] is a dual attempt to provide an internal subtle hierarchy as well as the very real concern regarding conserving existing resources. [The steel was previously used for shoring of the empty pit.] The power in this project lay in its subtlety. For this is not a project borne of This Architects ego, but rather an earnest attempt to create a building that plays well with its neighbors yet has a sense of self esteem based not only on spatial configurations [an accepted baseline for us] but a joy to use materials in a time honored tradition yet with an eye to the future.