Art & Architecture

Since we completed their interior fit-out in 2012, we’ve jumped at every opportunity to visit the Bronx Community Charter School and see the kids and teachers in action in their new space. Kimberly and Marcella stopped by BxC today and as always, they were blown away.

The 6th grade class recently finished a project studying the human body and site-specific art. They scoped out sites in their school and created sculptures out of clear packing tape. They studied the position of the body, the way limbs fall, and then one person in each 3-person team became the model. The resulting sculptures are hanging out on a bench, the ductwork, and flying under the central skylight.

We love their artwork (which reminds us of this series of floating and glowing human figures by Cédric Le Borgne installed internationally between 2006 and 2011).

Check out the kids’ talent!

 

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Say Cheese, BxC

ESKW/A recently enjoyed the opportunity to team up with architectural photographer Peter Kubilus to capture an exciting – a.k.a. typical – day at Bronx Community Charter School.  The school staff and the kids themselves were incredibly helpful and photogenic, making for a fun and energetic day.

ESKW/A is immensely proud of this project and delighted to see it in action — we invite you to check out Peter’s professional shots on our website, as well as our own snapshots from the day and some more of Peter’s below.

Colorful Classrooms are still Going Strong

By Kimberly Murphy

On June 9, 2014, NY Times writer Jan Hoffman authored an article calling into question the highly decorated, colorful classrooms that we all probably grew up with and where our kids/nieces/nephews are probably currently attending. Here at ESKW/A, we embrace, celebrate, promote, and adore colors so we were especially curious to read Ms. Hoffman’s article. A study performed by Carnegie Mellon looked at the test results of classrooms richly adorned with decoration and ones with stark walls. It’s nice to think that the physical environment was the critical factor in the test results, because as architects we truly believe in the value of the well built environment; however a little thing called teachers might have had an impact as well. We have a hard time believing that scalloped borders on displays are “visually damaging” children. We do applaud a strong stance either way and agree with the notion that the images on the walls should be created by the students in the room.

The study is admittedly narrow, but since it does place importance on the physical classroom environment we would like to ask for ceiling heights, natural light, and artificial lighting variables to be measured. We bet money that the results will point to improved performance in an improved space. We also think that better space makes for happier teachers and we all want that. Spaces that are well crafted and maintained are places of pride which all schools strive to be.

 

We’ve been in many, many classrooms and designed a fair number of them as well. Yes, some classrooms can look like a circus of colors and distractions, but don’t run out for the gray paint just yet! Organized compositions of color and a structure of displays and delineation of various spatial functions can go a long way to improve the modern classroom. Call us, we can help.

BxC in the New York Times

The changing model of how kids can best learn in New York City has brought charter schools to the forefront of the discussion. This New York Times article uses the Bronx Community Charter School as a flashpoint for looking at the challenges faced by schools operating outside the mold and functioning under non-traditional funding structures.

Update: BxC’s Grand Opening

Last Friday, the students of the Bronx Community Charter school welcomed visitors into their new space for the first time. The grand opening was a way for the students to share the findings of their six-week hands-on study of the space. As part of learning about the building, the students interviewed professionals involved in the design and construction of BxC. They then created museums in the classrooms and throughout the school, sharing their investigations through a variety of exhibits and activities.

In the boiler room, students showed the mechanisms that circulate water; they built a working model of an elevator; they made models of their unique “break out” spaces in the school that are meant to foster small groups of learning; the students even depicted the façade of the building that implements a glass curtain wall.

As the architects, it’s satisfying to see the students so involved with the design of their new school. We are proud to partner with such a forward-thinking organization, and happy that the students are interacting with the building we had a hand in creating.

The fifth graders were responsible for researching the design of the building, and so they visited ESKW/A last week. They learned how BxC was built, what architects do on a daily basis, and our design process. They aggregated their findings and presented them:

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A highlight of the grand opening was the students performing a dance routine that mixed elements of hip-hop and yoga. The spacious lobby was design to be a flexible space, and so we’re delighted that the students can use it in this way.

 

 

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ESKW/A was glad to see a former colleague; although she’s since moved to Boston, Janine Sutton was key to the design of this project.

News 12 featured the event here.

A few of the architects of BxC (from left): Kimberly Murphy, Jun Kumazawa, and Janine Sutton.

BxC Fifth Graders come to ESKW/A!

We were thrilled to welcome Bronx Community Charter School’s fifth grade classes to our office! As part of a school-wide study of their new building, the students from BxC spoke first-hand to the architects responsible for the design of their school, opened in September. While kindergartners have been studying plumbing and how water moves through the building, the fifth graders have been exploring “blue prints” and the design process.

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Kimberly explained how the design team selected the materials of the building, from roof play tiles, to Icestone, to the purple and orange paint that match the logo of BxC. The kids passed around design boards, VCT, paint samples, and wood. They asked insightful, probing questions. To, “What was the biggest design challenge?” we answered that we had to make sure the stairs were large enough to accommodate access to the school, which is on the third floor. A discussion about what a structural engineer does, and how steel can reinforce concrete, was triggered by the question, “How did you deal with the sloping site?” Our favorite question was, “What makes our school special?” At BxC, we got to work closely with the school leaders to make a space truly suited to their programmatic needs; the corridor in particular is designed with BxC’s vision in mind.

Next, the class took advantage of the architectural riches of TriBeCa to learn firsthand about the components of a building. The class found a column, identified each part, and discussed whether it was for “aesthetic purposes” or “structural purposes.” Standing on White St., the class found glass curtain, brick, and a cast-iron façades. They discussed how the invention of the elevator was transformative for architecture because it meant buildings could be more than a few stories tall.

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Then it was time for a well-deserved lunch!

Thank you, BxC, for your interest in your new home and for coming to explore our neighborhood.

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Reflecting on 2012

Happy New Year from all of us at Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects!

As we wrap up 2012, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the year that was. We have many things to be proud of: we launched this blog, completed some amazing projects, commenced construction on some exciting projects, and on a more personal note celebrated Whitney’s retirement, Janine’s move to Boston, and Tatjana’s departure to be with her new baby. All in all, we feel 2012 was a banner year and can’t wait to top it in 2013. Here are some highlights:

JANUARY: ESKW/A launches our Blog

Last year we announced our re-launched website and the ESKW/A blog – a new adventure that has proved to be a solid showcase for details of our projects as well as a way to connect with our architectural community in New York City. Claire’s popular post An Afternoon with Judith Edelman explored the rich history of our firm. We have enjoyed highlighting our work in the office, and recently featured Grace and Daughtry’s efforts at St. Lucy’s Housing. Kimberly continued to act as managing editor even as she welcomed her second child, Luke, into the world. We invite you to follow the ESKW/A blog by clicking the “follow” button at the top of the page.

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FEBRUARY: Whitney Retires

If you’ve called the office in the past year, you’ve noticed a change: Whitney Merritt, our office manager for the past 40 years, has retired. She is no longer here to greet you with her trademark, “EDELMAN SULTAN”. We miss her dearly, thank her for her many years of dedication to the office, and wish her an amazing retirement in South Carolina with her grandsons. Meanwhile, we were pleased to welcome Lauretta da Cruz – the sister of our wonderful comptroller Lucille – as our new office manager.

MARCH: Team works on Prospect Plaza III RFP

PP-tileAndrew, Francisco, Grace, and Claire worked deep in collaboration with Settlement Housing Fund and Briarwood on the Prospect Plaza III RFP for the New York City Housing Authority. The office came together in numerous charrettes, seeking a design solution for this site undergoing revitalization in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

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APRIL: 4380 Bronx Boulevard commences construction + Tatjana leaves

Andrew and Philip are working on an exciting building for Project Renewal. 4380 Bronx Boulevard was formerly used as a manufacturing facility, but is now being converted into a men’s homeless shelter with 108 beds. The design features five torqued skylights which fill the upper floor dormitory space with light and air. The shelter is on track to open this May.

In April, we also said goodbye to Tatjana as she welcomed her second child Kalin into the world and took a break from being full-time architect to be full-time mom. Her work on projects such as 4380 Bronx Boulevard and True Colors Residences is greatly appreciated by the office, and we wish her much happiness and joy with her wonderful little boys.

MAY: The team designs Captain Post

For those who know the long history that many projects in the non-profit housing world have, you can appreciate our celebration of a project that has floated around the office for almost five years. Moses, Kimberly, and Randy picked up schematic design on Captain Post for Clinton Housing Development Company. The long-vacant historic factory building on 52nd Street will be fully renovated with a small addition and will provide twenty-two affordable housing units.

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JULY: BxC under construction

Kimberly and Jun welcomed the start of construction on the Bronx Community Charter School which is expanding into a 30,000 sq. feet within a new building on Webster Avenue. Working with LOM Properties and Joy Construction, the new school will host a variety of unconventional learning spaces including nooks for each grade level and “front porches” for each classroom. BxC is slated to open in 2013.

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AUGUST: St. Lucy’s Houses + True Colors Residence

Grace and Daughtry kicked off construction on the St. Lucy’s Houses in Harlem. Working with Phipps Houses and Notias Construction Inc., the construction commenced and has been moving along well towards completion in Fall 2013.

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True Colors Residence in West Harlem, provides permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless LGBT youth. We are proud to announce that the building won a housing design award from the Boston Society of Architects, as well as a design award from the Society of Registered Architects. We salute Randy, Tatjana, and Ari’s hard work on this groundbreaking project. We look forward to working with West End Residences on the next True Colors Residence in the Bronx in the new year.

2012DS29 New Settlement Community Campus, Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architets with Dattner Architects, Bronx NY

SEPTEMBER: NSCC opens

A collaboration with Dattner Architects, New Settlement Community Center in the Bronx is part school (housing a Primary School and an Intermediate / High School) and part Community Center. NSCC opened its doors just this past fall, and has already become deeply integrated into the community. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, various members from the Bronx and public officials, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, praised the school as a beacon for a revitalizing area. ESKW shouts out to all staff who contributed to the success of this project, past and present, including Alyssa, Amber, and Kelly who contributed tremendously to the project.

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OCTOBER: Hour Apartment House III + Janine’s Goodbye

All new construction projects rightly celebrate when they get out of the ground, but Randy, Fialka and Grace had true cause for celebration when foundations and block walls of Hour Apartment House III, rose above the ground plane. The project for Hour Children is a residence in Queens that will provide permanent affordable housing for formerly incarcerated women together with their children.

We were sad to bid farewell to Janine Sutton who had been at the firm for over seven years. Some highlights of her work include Eco-Restroom, 6 Columbus, Phelps House, LaMattina Wildlife Ambassador Center at the Bronx Zoo, and ECHO Apartments. She has moved to Boston and currently works at EYP Architects. We wish her great happiness, success, and many return visits to ESKW/A.

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NOVEMBER: Thanksgiving + the Mary Spink Residences

Per our tradition, we broke work a little early the day before the holiday early to celebrate together and give thanks. Everyone contributed to the amazing spread (Lauretta’s cheesecake was a hit), but Jun failed on his promise to cook a turkey with a blow torch. In these still-tough economic times, we are grateful that we can continue to do meaningful work in the public sector while still growing our business.

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Andrew and Kerry were excited to have construction kick off on the Mary Spink Residence for the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing, a supportive housing residence for mentally ill New Yorkers. The building will provide supportive housing and services for forty-six (46) residents.

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DECEMBER: Denton Green + the New York Aquarium

December saw the successful construction closing of Denton Green Houses, a facility for senior citizens in Nassau County, which is receiving a comprehensive renovation, new entrance drive, enlivened façade treatment, and new elevators. Daughtry led the ESKW/A team through the project and looks forward to starting the construction phase. Watch for updates.

Randy, Cary, Michael, and Jun are hard at work on preparing plans for the New York Aquarium Assessment. In the devastating aftermath of hurricane Sandy, one of the areas hardest hit was the coastline near Coney Island, and the team is preparing drawings for the Aquarium’s renovation. Of course, they are also working on new Sharks! Exhibit, opening in 2015.

That’s our brief look back at 2012. We wish you all the best this holiday season, and look forward to seeing you in 2013!