A Student Project of St. Mark’s

By Claire Webb

William Hood, a third-year student at Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, visited the ESKW/A offices as part of a research project for his studio class.  His assignment was to explore architectural layers of St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery, a property which this office has been involved with for over 40 years. ESKW/A is currently working on restoring a decorative stone arch that marks an entrance to the west yard. (Look for more about this in an upcoming post).

Built in 1795, a restoration program of the Church was virtually complete in July 1978 when the building and steeple were gutted by fire.  Almost nothing remained except the stone walls and the stained glass windows of the lower floor. Randy Wood located the drawings that Harold Edelman, a co-founder of the firm, had meticulously drafted in the early 1970s that detailed that reconstruction.

Hood and his group of four other students used the drawings “to help with our own analytical drawings and models of the church’s space, program, and structure as part of the architectural analysis.” His group produced drawings of the Church from different viewpoints, an aerial view of the graveyards, and a section of the steeple.

Drawing on paper of the steeple and plan of the Church; cross-section of the steeple.

The group dissected the Church’s structure to analyze the tectonics of the building, creating models of each component. Hood continues, “We fragmented the church’s site into its diverse programmatic and historical components. From chapel to church, from burial ground to lived space, the building was the perfect home for avant-garde politics, dance, theater, and poetry.”  The group modeled the massing, the wooden roof structure, and the graveyards using wood and plaster.

Various modeling details.

Hood continues, “We used shop drawings prepared for the reconstruction of the church’s roof to complete the second assignment: to analyze, draw, and build an integral architectural detail from the Church.”  For their  building technology class, Hood and his group studied the high detailed wood truss structure.

Built at ½” = 1’-0” scale, the large detail in wood, steel, and stone shows the connection between the church’s wood truss roof structure and stone walls.

After their in-depth study of the Church, Hood concludes, “In all, the site produces a sense of staccato urbanism, which is experienced in the procession from the civic signal of the Church’s tower; through the entry sequence of fence, portico, and vestibule; and, ultimately, through the dispersal of spaces for ritual, memory, and art.”

You can see more photos the office’s work at St. Mark’s Church on our website here.

Credits: William and the members of his group, Arianna and Derrick, are all in their third year in Cooper Union’s Design III class with Professor David Turnbull and Building Technology with Professor Samuel Anderson. Jonathon Ngo, a fourth-year student at Parsons, also helped with the Building Technology detail.


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