Friday, March 6, 2009

Bayview Ave Bronx,NYC. The 1st.Residential Design Project

This is photographic journey through the construction and the design of my first residential project approx 1990-92. This is a 2 family with basement. It is satisfying to have these photos out of my files and onto this rough display.
I recall a Pratt professor, Felix M. saying that you shouldn't fall in the love with your design,or was it the process, or did he say it may be a bad idea to obsess over the design. Over time I think a good architect never gets cured of this. I think we learn to manage the illness and we die happy. Case in point I was working at Creedmoor as a resident engineer a few years out of college. We were retubing a huge boiler and doing refractory brick work. One day I volunteered to drive an 80 year old engineer home. He was basically fulfilling the professional status of the contractor at this point in his life. I walked him to his apartment. He lived alone he explained his wife had passed. In the extra bedroom of his apartment he had numerous projects laid out from a box numerous photos of manufacturing plants and assorted buildings. He smiled with pride as he showed me his life work. He had the illness too it seemed.

Back to this residentail project. It had a confined budget but the original owner was a contractor who encouraged me to push at each stage for something as exciting as possible.It was going to be his first house for his young family. This first owner didn't exactly finish the project although he finished it far enough to have the future buyer who was a contractor as well fall in love with it. The second owner honored me buy actually paying me to continue to work on parts of the design that he wanted to further develope.

The site was narrow and had a significant 1 story slope so that the rear basement garage exits at grade. If you go to you will find that components of this design came into play with that house in Lyndhurst which also was a narrow site with a similar continuous slope. Each client was amused and curious as to why you would put a large hole in the roof. Its a dynamic of endless theatrical effects that you actually have to experience yourself.

one inch scale model of the front stair and balcony. A magnificant tall transome and door with a deconstructivist geometry was designed and an initial prototype was actually built by a steel fabricator. Some parts of the design were not followed and the owner also decided he wanted it in stainless steel. The fabricator enthusiastically agreed and I never saw " Yogi " the steel fabricator character again. End of the perfect door that could have been. I'll post the design in the long run.

existing 2 family

model of the proposed design

Kitchen inlayed wood concept on the main totems which separated the kitchen from the dining & living room ( see plan )

that is the garage door below the balcony at the rear of the property

I like this B & W shot it shows the intent

The upper residence front half of the design with the exterior stair

this shows a wood figure incorporated into the column
the design intended to have a man and woman at both sides of the stairway
they both had outstretched arms to form an archway where they held their child in tribute

this is the back of the upper residence the spiral brought you to a loft study area over the master bed room

this is the loft

the main structure of the kitchen was 3 totums of 2(2x10's) in a "V" configuration
there is a detail drwg of it in the inserts below

Kitchen concept sketches- there was alot of them- it was important to the design that the kitchen which stood free form in the center area would have an exciting sculptural effect that would face the more formal areas of the dining room and living room

Structural framing is often more beautiful exposed than covered with sheet rock

The builders brother and partner Dino complained to me , "can't you guys simply put regular moulding up." I explained, " Don't blame me I said I know the budget is tight." It 's your brother Anthony he is insisting we can't simply put ordinary moulding in a house like this." I had designed a series of simple moulding schemes that had a sculptural consistant theme that tied entrances together in a theme complimenting the headers etc.,I did the same for the windows see sketch below. Regardless of my efforts and his encouragement regular clam shell pine moulding took over the show.

fireplace on the 45

The owner 's main business was masonry- he lived bricks- he begged me to come up with something special for this wall. We obessed over the choice of bricks. We developed a insert brick pattern that fluctuated in size and color in wythes of brick heights that gradually diminshed. We also developed a continuous step that ran from the ground and continued to its end. Another exercize in masonry for the sake of making an artistic expression out of an otherwise simply expansive wall.
We enlayed the a,b,c's into the stair treads of the monumental stairs by inserting wood letters.
The owners young children had some fun with this skipping down the stairs reciting their ABC's. Longer words were not in the budget.

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There are those 2 x 10 totems by John Romanovich a carpenter a good friend of mine.
He assembled structural lumber like a cabinet maker. He humored me in my sculptural work. Where would any architect be without the craftsman and their integrity.

these composite shots are the most current approx 2005


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this is only view of the stair layout that leads to the basement

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I have a foundness for building models you can also see the impression of the front door direction ( a ray of stained glass splits the sacred archetypal arch as if to say that heaven holds the geometric arch with forces from the "great mysteries" I liked that term from the american indians the first time I heard it.

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A photograph shot from the loft towards the kitchen

a photograph from the living room aimed at the main entrance.
"Why do I feel when I look at these pictures like I left a piece of my soul in that framing."

Joe Petricolla of Petricolla Iron Works- "A wonderful Human being of a steel guy you could ever find"
Vilas Ambiwadikar, P.E. Structural Engineer

It was nice to have a fire going in the fireplace during construction

A major pc of steel allowed the balcony to cantilever over the garage entry

People love to watch the construction go up in the neighborhood
We got a few thumbs up from old ladies in the neighborhood , that was memorable.

Here is the brick colors I mentioned though the colors as they appear in the photo
are not truly representing the actual brick color

better sculpture without sheetrock
translucent glass bedroom walls perhaps even sliding would have done the trick

A few years after the bldg was completed I recall having a dream about this canopy walking down the street. Walking is OK. Flying is dangerous.

The End.
Now the experience can live on as long as virtual blogs live.