TRA studio Architecture

TRA studio Architecture

New York, NY


171 MacDougal Street

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, 19th Annual Village Award, June 09 The Romanesque large-scale loft building, designed by Renwick-Aspenwall and Russell Architects in 1890, was converted by Victor Janer Christ in 1966 into a Church.In order to reuse the building for worship, the building was stripped of all its architectural detail and a new façade and interior was constructed. The three top floors were closed off, seemingly in perpetuity.The building has been now renovated into nine apartments, with the Church occupying the first floor and cellar. The proposed façade interpretative design, embraces each use and its identity while honoring the found conditions and the original design of the façade. The only surviving architectural elements were the brick pilasters and arched openings. The lower two floors, which have been mostly dismantled since the brick arch had to be removed to make way for the tall openings of the Church entrance, have being carefully restored.The “upper building” takes full advantage of the surviving pilasters and arches. The new windows are re-interpreted from the original design. The metal and glass infill, which recalls the triangular profile, shifts in the horizontal and vertical planes between the front and backside of the brick pilasters, between the exterior habitable balconies and interior bay windows, between the park, the public street and living spaces.The angled windows tie the different neighborhoods together, they provide South views to Washington Square Park, north views to the Village and direct views to MacDougal Historical alley, they look both backward to the past and forward to the future.The façade wall movement opens an active dialogue with the past and the present, the sparseness of the new infill enhancing the richness of the ornate brickwork.The glass window wall lining, at once historic and modern, is fully revealed at the top of the building where it extends to memorialize the Romanesque cornice that was removed.The new cornice is re-interpreted as a clear-storey recalling the grand scale of the original one. The new cornice offered the opening where the design could be pushed, since it re-interprets, without mimicry, the scale of the original one without the large overhang, no longer permitted by the codes. The new cornice also becomes the recognizable element of the project and increases the light for the upper floor, which happens to have high and narrow windows.

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Status: Built
Location: New York, NY, US