New York Designs 2007:
Starts and Finishes


The New York Designs lecture series spotlights new work by six New York City firms. The series provides a forum for the presentation of innovative and accomplished built work in New York City. “Starts and Finishes,” this year’s program theme, focuses on the evolution of a project from conception through construction. The selection committee, comprised of Abby Bussel, Andrew Goetz, Gordon Kipping, Bill Ryall, and Claire Weisz, asked entrants to submit one project, highlighting the generative idea—a sketch, model, inspiration—and the built structure. There were no limitations in terms of project type, program, size, or budget.

By comparing generative ideas to completed buildings and by highlighting the beginning and end points of the design process, the series attempts to illuminate the linkages between the conceptual and built realms.

To view podcasts of the New York Designs 2007 presentations, click here.

This program was part of the 2006-07 program calendar. Click here for information about our current season.

Thursday, June 7

“The Twist” West Village Townhouse
Presented by Markus Dochantschi

Juliana Curran Terian Pratt Pavilion
hanrahan Meyers
Presented by Tom Hanrahan and Victoria Meyers

Diane Von Furstenberg Headquarters
WORK Architecture Company
Presented by Dan Wood and Amale Andraos

Thursday, June 14

The Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art
Studio SUMO
Presented by Sunil Bald and Yolande Daniels

Tank – Quandt Heyer Roof Project
Lynn Gaffney Architect
Presented by Lynn Gaffney

Matter Architecture Practice
Presented by Sandra Wheeler and Alfred Zollinger

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Thursday, June 7

The first night of New York Designs features three larger-scale projects: “The Twist” West Village Townhouse by studioMDA, the Juliana Curran Terian Pratt Pavilion by hanrahan Meyers, and the Diane Von Furstenberg Headquarters by WORK Architecture Company. Each project reimagined or renovated an existing building by shepherding through the design process a strong generative concept.

MDA3studioMDA, founded by Markus Dochantschi in 2002, recently completed the project “The Twist.” The goal was to turn a landmarked West Village townhouse into a modern, flexible home. On the entry level, dark wood floors and white walls preserve the traditional character of the building. On the upper levels, the floor and walls invert, forming a “twist” that creates a continuous ribbon of dark wood throughout the townhouse. This ribbon terminates in the enclosure for the top floor bathroom’s low pressure shower. “The Twist” simultaneously unifies the townhouse into a modern home and acknowledges the building’s historical container and context.


hMa06-057-22CThomas Hanrahan and Victoria Meyers founded hanrahan Meyers in 1987. The firm’s recently completed Juliana Curran Terian Pratt Pavilion for Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute connects two existing buildings, Steuben Hall and Pratt Studios, into a unified Design Center for the campus. The initial design idea was a floating box above an entry ramp. As completed, the pavilion maintains this concept of a volume suspended in air. Clad in brushed stainless steel panels with a glass façade, the pavilion rests in the narrow gap between the buildings, serving as a new focal point and entry to the complex. The pavilion’s high level of craft and attention to materials serve as an analogue to Pratt’s design legacy and its interior provides an exhibition space for work from the design program.


WORK3Dan Wood and Amale Andraos founded WORK Architecture Company in 2002. The soon to be completed Diane von Furstenberg Headquarters began with a conceptual sketch of a building penetrated by a shaft of light. This concept evolved into the “stairdelier” (stair + chandelier), a stairway that cuts through the center of the block, connecting the building’s floors and unifying its diverse program. Heliostat mirrors and railings of glass crystals reflect and carry light throughout the building. The building’s brick façade, which is landmarked, is maintained, while the stairdelier pierces through and opens up the interior, culminating in a diamond-like faceted glass pavilion, serving as a penthouse and creating a new profile for the building.


Thursday, June 14

Lynn Gaffney Architect, Matter Architecture Practice, and Studio SUMO will present their work on the second night of New York Designs. Each of these smaller scale projects was inspired by a form or motif that informed material selection and generated spatial organization.

Gaffney-View-Towards-Empire-State-BuildingLynn Gaffney is the principal of Lynn Gaffney Architect, founded in 1997. New York’s iconic roof water tanks provide the inspiration for the Tank – Quandt Heyer Roof Project, a residential roof deck. The firm imagined the unraveling of water tank planks to create a model for the decking and trellis work. To achieve varying degrees of privacy, sound attenuation, and light filtration, the distance between the Ipe wood planks surrounding the deck was modulated, allowing for moments of enclosure, while keeping the space connected to the city through the maintenance of view corridors. The project’s iconic urban starting point further connects the space to the landscape of the city.


Matter---AV-screenThe project Ecotopiaries by Matter Architecture Practice, the firm co-founded by Sandra Wheeler and Alfred Zollinger in 2002, is an installation created to house Ecotopia: the Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video. Matter Architecture Practice first developed the exhibition’s media installations, light screens, and seating by sketching organic “growths” from the walls, floor, and ceiling. Once it had established the parameters for these “growths,” the firm sought a material solution that would respond to the conceptual challenges of the exhibition and the pragmatic needs of construction. The search lead to non-biodegradable but recyclable petroleum-based polyethylene foam tubing, a product often used in domestic plumbing. Cut into rings, the interlocked tubing achieved the appearance of biological growth, while at the same time providing a material counterpoint to the exhibition’s examination of the natural world under environmental stress.


SUMO_2Sunil Bald and Yolande Daniels founded Studio SUMO 1996. Their project for the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art consists of gallery, reception, store, and office space in the BAM cultural district. The museum asked Studio Sumo to include a map at the museum’s entrance, showing the extent of the African Diaspora. Taking the concept of a world map marked with cities and routes linked to African migration, the firm built an installation comprised of overlapping slats of ash wood. Demarcated into the twenty-four time zones, the ash map becomes sculptural, taking form variously as a display wall, desk, and screen. The installation serves the didactic purpose of mapping the African Diaspora, giving the museum its identity, while also organizing the entry space.


Architectural League programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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