True Colors Bronx – Update

Project Architect & Associate Kimberly Murphy shared this photo update of the rear yard landscaping of the new True Colors apartment building, which is currently under construction in the Bronx.  The outdoor area is shaping up very nicely – we can already envision its future use as a great space in which the True Colors residents can hang out and relax.True Colors_ESKW Backyard 1

True Colors_ESKW Backyard render

Landscape design for True Colors Bronx is by Billie Cohen, LTD.

Schools & Community; a Presentation at the AIA

Kimberly Murphy at AIA

The presenters

On December 10th, the AIANY Architecture for Education Committee sponsored an event moderated by Mark Thaler, Educational Practice Leader of Gensler.  The evening showcased two school projects in the NYC area that represent successful symbioses with their communities, “Community Schools: Process, Program, and Promise.”

ESKW/A was proud to take part in the presentation: our own Kimberly Murphy, along with Dattner Architects‘ Jeffrey Dugan and New Settlement Apartments‘ Jack Doyle, discussed the collaborative creative process and subsequent success of the New Settlement Community Campus.

Vincent Lee, Associate Partner of Rogers Partners, presented The Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School, for which he collaborated closely with Annette C. Anderson, Assistant Dean for Community Schools at Johns Hopkins University.  Their inspiring project, a school in Baltimore that faced the unique design challenge of building within a historic area that was rapidly being rebuilt, made for an interesting comparison with NSCC.  Rogers Partners and the community’s successful solutions for the unusual school program and challenging site provided us with much food for thought.

Quote Jeff Dugan

The event delivered a rich discussion on a topic we value highly; the importance of architect + community collaboration.

Jeffrey Dugan and Kimberly Murphy answered questions about the unusual creative process, in which the teams swapped schemes midway through the design scheme phase:

Jeff:
“We think the building came out unlike one that we would have designed alone, so in some sense when you think about community, collaboration really is part of a community action.”

Kimberly:
“I can be honest with you, as an architect I was nervous to do that — give it away, and let someone else break it? That was really difficult. But it made us realize that (the design) was a group process, and it definitely came out better in the end than it would have been if just one person had worked on it. I think it was a real growth moment.”

Jack Doyle quoteThough located in areas of their respective cities that can be subject to vandalism, both projects have remained unmarred.  Vincent and Jack attributed that fact to an appreciation for the buildings and their role in the community.

Jack:

“I think if you were to go around the neighborhood by the school you’d see a lot of graffiti, but in the 2.5 years the building has been built, there has been no graffiti. We also have a lot of glass, and one thing that’s not uncommon nowadays in NYC is to use etching acid to graffiti glass … and there have been no incidents of that. I think that people in the community recognize that this building acknowledges and respects their children for what they are and what they should have. It’s a gift, it’s what every child should have.”

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A Visit to True Colors

Recently a few members of our office took advantage of an opportunity to visit one of our projects currently under construction, True Colors Housing in the Bronx.  Project Architect Kimberly Murphy took us through the building’s shell and answered the group’s questions on everything from fireproofing at bathtubs to the tricks of maintaining continuous insulation.  We then capped off the visit by heading to the rooftop to admire the 360 view.

Judith Edelman (1923-2014)

Judy had such an indelible spirit that her passing has come as a shock for us at ESKW/A.  Deeply committed, wonderfully irascible, and extraordinarily talented, she created and maintained a strong identity for this firm that continued throughout her retirement and will continue into the future, well after her passing.

ESKW/A offers a few images below that illustrate the Judy that we knew.  In the coming months, we will provide information and updates about the organization of memorial services that will be open to the public.  We also encourage you to read the interview she gave on this blog 2 years ago, as well as these outstanding pieces in the NYTimes and in Contract Magazine.

Pool Party: Renovating the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club

ESKWA Madison Pool 1

Not long ago, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club reached out for a redesign of their indoor community pool at the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse, in Flatbush, Brooklyn.  The existing natatorium is original to the 1920’s building and is in need of an update – including re-shaping and re-finishing the pool, renovation of the girls’ locker rooms, and providing a lobby for spectators.

ESKW/A render and plan

ESKW/A render and plan

Inspired by both the historic nature of the building and the work of the Club, we aimed to blend traditional and modern design influences, and most of all to showcase the heart of the Club – the kids themselves.  Our design includes a monochromatic glass tile mosaic commencing in the Pool Lobby and extending 90’ along the length of the pool room which would depict underwater swimming children. To that end, the Club along with Owner’s Representative LOM Properties organized a photoshoot with New York photographer Hatim, using 2 swim teams of about 30 children altogether. The images of the children will be used in the mosaic truly capturing the motion of the club kids for posterity in the pool room.

Annie Kountz, Project Architect, describes the experience:

The Boys & Girls Club is such an inspiring place. It provides both a haven and a fun place for kids. The skills and confidence that they gain by learning to swim or play basketball enhances their lives, and sets up good healthy life skills for the future, too.

I think what is so special about Madison is that it believes in the inherent goodness in everyone. It believes that ALL kids, no matter what their race, religion, or creed, deserve the opportunities to reach their full potential. The Club provides classes in art, fitness, recreation, health, leadership, parenting, and life skills.  Madison gives thousands of kids a place to go after school. It provides a safe place to learn and grow.  It gives positive adult role models, and most of all I think it gives hope and opportunity.

The project has been meaningful to me personally because I was a Boys & Girls Club kid.  I loved it! I played in Boys & Girls Clubs basketball leagues for years. It wasn’t just an alternative to daycare to keep me busy while my dad worked multiple jobs—it taught me about perseverance and hard work and it gave me lifelong friends.

The Boys & Girls Club in general is such an amazing organization, but what I think makes the pool renovation particularly special is the giant mosaic. The kids were so, so excited about it!  It must mean so much to them that THEY are on the WALL! The kiddos will be edified on a GIANT 10’x100’ wall.  We went through loads of iterations for the tile and wall designs.  For a while we considered a giant Olympic swimmer, but doing a big mosaic of the members themselves is in perfect keeping with the mission of the Club. It tells the kids that they are special and heroic.  They all felt like super heroes! And that was the energy and level of excitement at the photoshoot. The kids had a great time and the photos turned out great.          

Below, we invite you to enjoy the results of what turned out to be a very energetic, fun, and successful day. And please stay tuned to watch these images be transformed into the final mosaic design and then ultimately get built at the Club early next year.

Meet Mike, Melissa, Marcella, and Amanda

ESKW is pleased to announce the addition of four new team members this month!  Below, we invite you to get to know them through some brief ‘welcome to the team’ interviews.


ESKW_MikeOng

Mike Ong

Mike

ESKW: So where are you from?

Mike: Born here, in Chinatown, raised in Queens.

ESKW: What was the first album you owned?

Mike: Oh god.  It was rap.  Notorious BIG.  Ready to Die was the album.

ESKW: What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Mike: It’s funny, if you think like kid, kid?  Before a kid that knows what a profession is?  It was actually a knight.  I thought they were the coolest thing.  You know, what they stood for.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Mike: Waterfront areas — I gravitate to those spaces more.  And especially there because you get to see Manhattan skyline.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Mike:  Oh that’s easy, basketball.  Otherwise I’m doing some martial arts training.  Kung Fu.  Specifically Shao Lin.

ESKW: Would you be interested in leading the office in some martial arts mini-training classes?

ESKW Mike Ong

Mike: Haha sure! That sounds like it could be fun.  I’m a believer that the more you are engaged physically the better your mind functions.  One important note: my experience and training has been more about physical conditioning and less about self-defense.  For me it’s a physical form of meditation.  So a mini-training class would have that approach and not really “how do I break out of a choke hold” scenarios.

ESKW: We promise to be meditative and respectful, as long as you respect our right to wear neon spandex and blast ‘the eye of the tiger’ throughout.

Mike: [Laughing]  Yes all colors are welcome!  And I’m a big Rocky fan too.

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Mike: It’s actually a studio project that I did.  And it ties back to my martial arts training, so for my final project there was this abandoned church that we had to renovate, and a sort of quarry not too far away.  For me it became this martial arts retreat center, where you’re in the quarry or up in this temple and there’s all these training spaces—it became an obstacle course kind of thing.


ESKW_MelissaRouse

Melissa Rouse

Melissa

ESKW: So where are you from?

Melissa: Outside of Atlanta, I guess I would say.  That’s where my parents are.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Melissa: I spend a lot of time with my friends on weekends.  Right now I try to be outside a lot, rooftopping.

ESKW: What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Melissa:  I remember when I was super little I said I wanted to be an exercise instructor.

ESKW: [Laughing] Well that can be your retirement plan.

Melissa:  [Laughing] Yeah.

ESKW: When the going gets tough, what’s blasting in your headphones?

Melissa:  I have different music for daytime and nighttime.   I really like The Format, which no longer exists — it’s the guy from Fun.  And the Decemberists, too.

ESKW: So what inspired you to be an architect?

Melissa_ESKWMelissa: Well we traveled a lot when I was growing up.  We lived in Germany for three years and we did a lot of traveling during that time, so just looking at all the different styles I guess peaked my interest in design.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Melissa: There’s a SHOP building in Meatpacking that I really like.  It’s the one where they did an addition on top of it – the Porter House.  And I spend a lot of time on the waterfront, on the west side.  I really like that, the outdoor space there.


ESKW_MarcellaYee

Marcella Yee

Marcella

ESKW: Where did you grow up?

Marcella: I grew up in California in the Bay Area.  I think I grew up with a big sense of place.  I really liked going to parks with my cousins or going and seeing new places and my parents would always bring me to museums and we traveled a lot.  It was important to my parents to go around and see a lot of culture and I think noticing that helped influence me and noticing how that shaped the community.  And that’s really important to architecture too.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

Marcella: More the spaces.  New York has really great parks.  One of my favorite places to go is Governor’s Island.

ESKW: When you researched this firm before applying, what was your impression of ESKW/A?

Marcella: Just from the website and the statement of purpose that the firm stands for, I thought ‘Oh man, this firm is really dedicated to the New York community.’  And then I found the blog and you get a better sense of how the office culture is and you can just tell that they are probably the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever meet!

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

MarcellaMarcella: This was a first year project, so I didn’t know what I was doing yet and I was a lot more free with it …  the things that I could just do.  Our project was in these hills on a site near our school, and the school is placed in this really scenic coastal city in California.  I did this all glass building and I put a waterfall that flowed from the second story to the first story.  Yeah, I would live in that building.


ESKW_AmandaRoyaleSengstacken

Amanda Royale Sengstacken

Amanda

ESKW: Where are you from?

Amanda: New York State – Rockland County.  In the city we call it ‘upstate’ but honestly it’s about as far ‘downstate’ as you can go before you’re in Manhattan so that always irks me.  So I’m from ‘downstate NY’.

ESKW: What might you be found doing on weekends?

Amanda: I go indoor rock climbing most weekends.  I’m also trying to take advantage of the weather and work on biking in the city.  I just learned how to ride a couple years ago so I have a long way to go.  But I maintain hope that I’ll manage to bike to work at least a few times this year.

ESKW: What spaces or buildings in NYC inspire you?

AmandaAmanda: I will never stop having a sense of joy and wonderment when I ride over a bridge at night and look back at the city.  And its reflection on the water.  It’s lucky we have the smog; if there were stars too I couldn’t handle it.  I feel that sense of ownership that all New Yorkers do, and maybe more because I grew up nearby – NY was always just The City.

ESKW: If you had to pick a project that you’ve worked on, academically or professionally, to live in for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Amanda: I did this museum for my 5th semester studio, in Italy on a steep hill, and the studio was all about interpreting the way fabric can be manipulated to create structure.  I came up with this translucent, vaulted, pleated museum twisting down the hill, totally impossible of course, but I wish I could walk through it.  Assuming we wouldn’t all be fried like ants under a magnifying glass inside.

Welcome to Oz


Oz Public Interest Design 2014

If you read the Kansas State University College of Architecture and Design’s annual periodical, then you may have noticed that the most recent publication focused on public interest design, and contained a piece from ESWK/A’s own Kimberly Murphy and Claire Webb.

We were honored to contribute, but more importantly we were excited to read what our fellow contributors had to say.  As John Cary (founding executive director of the Autodesk Impact Design Foundation and founding editor of PublicInterestDesign.org) pointed out in his prologue to the publication, “We need to think much bigger, dig much deeper, and build cross-sector partnerships much more aggressively to even start to address the extraordinary needs of our time.”

Call it competition or call it inspiration, it’s undeniable that architects’ creativity feeds off of one another.  No man—and especially no architect—is an island.  This is especially true in such cases as ours, in which we are a part of an arguable fledgling field of design (the public interest realm), where reflection on one another’s work is crucial.

The periodical featured the following design firms, nonprofits, and public design oriented companies, and we encourage anyone with an interest in this field to check them out:

MASS Design Group, Tulane City Center, SHED Studio, Rebuild Sudan, Architecture for Humanity, Design Corps, and JSa Arquitectura.

While the publication is not available to be viewed online, it can be purchased here.

Our own contribution is visually summarized for your enjoyment below.