Modular Construction Meets Design That's Just Right
We have been fortunate to have had the recent opportunity to work on a number of modular residential projects. These have ranged from small condominium buildings on infill sites in Manhattan to a recent proposal for a 160 unit affordable housing project on an open site in East New York, Brooklyn. We’ve come away from these projects impressed with the possibilities this type of construction offers in terms of quality and speed of construction and we have also learned a number of lessons that will help us improve the process of designing modular projects going forward. It appears that modular construction is on the cusp of much wider acceptance with a larger group of dependable manufacturers serving the New York City market.
Please take a look at a recent article from the New York Post about think! and modular construction. Just click on the image below.
think! Wins Brownsville RFP
think! is excited to announce its Glenmore Manor Apartments as the chosen competition winner as part of New York City’s HPD Brownsville Plan. Along with the African American Planning Commission, Inc., Brisa Builders, and Lemle & Wolf; think! designed a compelling building including 230 affordable homes for low income households, ground floor commercial space, and supportive spaces for young business developers and entrepreneurs.
Joseph Auld joins think! as Director of Client Development
Joseph Auld has joined think! as our director of Client Development. In that role Joe will work with the firm principals to develop new client opportunities and to actively maintain ongoing client relationships. Joe trained as an architect and has spent the majority of his professional career working as a project manager for private and institutional clients. He brings his wide background in development, construction and management to his role at the firm.
Waterfront Development Wins SARA Design Award
We are proud to announce that we won the Society of American Registered Architects National Design Award for our waterfront complex plan in Newburgh, New York, in the urban planning category. This multi-building residential complex, with its landscape components and new ferry terminal, is meant to help economically revive this old Hudson river city.
think! wins Mott Haven RFP
After months of deliberation, the NYC Housing Authority has selected the team of think!, Lemle & Wolff, Alembic Community Development and The Bridge for their Betances VI site in Mott Haven, the Bronx. This 15 story, 101 unit building will consist of affordable family units, housing for formerly homeless veterans, support space for The Bridge and a significant retail component on Willis Avenue.
Oosten Wins Brooklyn Builds Award
We have been honored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who gave our 215 unit condominium in Williamsburg, Brooklyn their 2017 Brooklyn Builds Design Award, residential category. This full-block, 500,000 square foot, high-end residence comprises multiple unit types wrapped around a large central courtyard. The street facades are each designed to integrate into the low-rise neighborhood, while mitigating the enormity of this building's scale.
267 Rogers Ave is Completed
Our 165 unit rental building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn has recently been completed and is occupied. Designed to be a simple but elegant and cost-effective solution, our client, Heights Advisors, self-built the project.
Long Island City Hotel Tops Out
Our new 133 key, extended stay hotel for Marriott has recently topped out at ten stories. The hotel is located in an industrial area in Long Island City that is quickly transforming into a hospitality district. Our overall design approach on this project, as an unexpectedly contemporary design, has expanded the Marriott brand to appeal to a sophisticated demographic. Completion is expected in December 2018.
Pratt Film & Video Wins AIA Design Award
We are pleased to report that our design for Pratt Institutes's new Department of Film & Video has won a design award from the New York State chapter of the American Institute of Architects. think! principal Jack Esterson, class of '75, attended the awards ceremony in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Queens Passive House Project Tops Out
Our affordable senior residence, designed for the not-for-profit Hanac Inc., has topped out in Corona, Queens. This 68 unit project has been designed as a Passive House building, and includes intergenerational and active design principles, as well as a high degree of sustainability, to create a new model for this building type.
Odyssey House's George Rosenthal Center for Recovery Opens
On May 11, Odyssey House Executive Director Peter Provet presided over the opening ceremony of their newest and largest residential treatment center on Wards Island, NY, designed by think!. Converted from an abandoned hospital, the new facility houses 240 men, women and teens in substance abuse recovery in what Dr. Provet describes as a national model for what therapeutic recovery centers can be.
A Behemouth on 125th Street
I guess it’s a real no-no to criticize a colleague’s work, but sometimes a project is just so bad [and so emblematic of a prevalent developer attitude] that one really has no choice. This project, whose ground breaking was just announced in the NYC real estate cyber world, is a mixed use development at the site of the long languishing Victoria Theater on 125th Street in Harlem — on the same block as the Apollo. Its design, if it can actually be called that, seems to epitomize the “something is better than nothing” attitude that has done so much damage to the street over the years rendering it an anonymous “anywhere” rather than the bustling “somewhere” it once was and, one can only hope, could still possibly be.
There are so many architects in New York who would have done an interesting building on this site that could have contributed to the renaissance of 125th Street as an important urban thoroughfare rather than the proposed extravaganza of pseudo-architecture that will do nothing but degrade what little is left of the street's architectural vibrancy. The building is a compendium of so-called architectural devices intended to give it character and to breakdown its ponderous scale. Ironically, they do just the opposite, creating a scaleless behemoth covered with gratuitous surface manipulations signifying nothing.
Clearly no building can be judged only on its own merits without considering its effects on the street, its neighbors and the city as a whole. Not only is this building an architectural monstrosity in and of itself, it is also a brutal insult to a once great street and a noble precinct of the city.
Are buildings and architecture synonymous?
It has always been an interesting question for me as to whether a distinction can be made between buildings and architecture. That is to say between structures that improve the world and those that only provide a function and just take up space. This is more than just a distinction between good architecture and bad, is no architecture better than bad architecture or pseudo architecture? Is Stuyvesant Town better than the awful buildings lining 4th Avenue in Brooklyn? Are there, in fact, buildings totally without architecture or does the very fact of building, particularly building something big, require a level of intention, decision making and choice that inevitably makes the built thing architectural?
Then I saw this photograph of a large group of buildings, perhaps an entire neighborhood in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the question was answered. This entire section of the city has been intensely developed, with tall buildings, and yet is totally devoid of architecture – this much is immediately clear, is it so different than the public housing projects of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago or any number of other cities? More difficult to understand, perhaps, is what it is that’s missing, the presence of which would make these structures more than just buildings.
If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to believe that the Pyongyang buildings are really some kind of ominous rendering of the set for some sort of apocalyptic sifi movie or a primitive Sim City-esque computer game run amuck – buildings sprouting and growing as the result of some mutant, metastasizing algorithm rather than a place for real people and real families to live. Nothing differentiates one building from another or one use from another or one part of a building from another. And, as horrifying as the skyline of these buildings might be, I can only imagine that the street level is even worse with endless blocks of undifferentiated streets.