TRA studio Architecture

TRA studio Architecture

New York, NY


6 Cortlandt Alley/ 372 Broadway

The Loft Building

The loft building, one of the oldest in the area, was constructed between 1852 and 1854 for Samuel Wyman, before the issuing of building permits, hence the name of the architect is not known. It is presently in a rather advanced state of abandonment. The building is at the center of the lower Broadway south of Canal Street in Manhattan, that is currently lower Broadway south of Canal Street in Manhattan, where currently there is a “sudden burst of residential activity”, as stated in a recent New York Times article, and will have a catalyst effect for the commercial development of these blocks and the restoration of the remaining storefronts to be upgraded.

Design Philosophy

Preservation is as much about change as it is about restoration, rarely about duplicating.

The project has been developed with the goal of preserving all surviving original aspects of the building, differentiating the new constructed elements with contemporary construction systems and languages. The juxtaposition of modern and traditional forms highlights the dialogue between the old structure and the new,

Zoning: the Sliver Law

The lot is very unique, because it spans the entire block, being 150' long, and because it is adjacent to a 26 storey mediocre apartment tower. The zoning imposed the separation of the lot in two, with all of the bulk of the addition to be located on the Broadway lot, with the window wall contiguous to the tower, which is fortunately pulled back 10’ from the street line).

The proposed project uses only a fraction of the large buildable square footage.

The Lightwell Atrium

The other issue that was critical was the need to inject light and air into each unit, each apartment has its own private, dramatic interior atrium, Across the atrium, you can only see the other wing of your own unit, similarly to the courtyard buildings in Barcelona, the atrium is the center of the apartment, one of the most desirable features providing unexpected views.

The Broadway Façade

The marble façade will be carefully restored, as illustrated in the condition report.

The Broadway Storefront

The architectural elements and infill of the first floor have been previously completely removed, the 372 Broadway proposed storefront shows the reintroduction of the missing columns, interrupted by the retail display window. This recalls the projecting storefront seen often in the area and on the only historic image of the building, it also refers to Gio Ponti's furnished windows, where the inserted display elements, interrupt the structure extending the pattern of the design of the fourth wall.

The original cast iron and glass bullet vault skylight is fully reconstructed, as seen in the designation pictures.

The Cortlandt Alley Façade and Storefront

The restoration proposes the removal of the non-original fire-escape and the reintroduction of the steel window shutters which had been for the most part removed to allow for the installation of the fire-escape.

The new addition is never visible in conjunction with the rear façade.

The Cortlandt Storefront

The residential entrance takes advantage of another unique condition: the sloping of the site of 6' from Broadway to Cortlandt Alley. The Cortlandt Alley storefront will be carefully restored allowing for access to the lobby tucked under the full floor retail space.

Roofscape Volumes: the Upper Building

Responding to the restrictions imposed by zoning, the strategy for the design of the proposed rooftop addition, refers to a particular condition seen only on lower Broadway, where the top two floors, topped by their own cornice, often sit above a first cornice, sort of a building on top of a building. The proposed upper “building” maintains a balance similar to the volumes that animate the roof-scapes of the nearby buildings, as seen in the Broadway photographic survey.

The design is based on interpreting the historic multiple cornice feature and articulating the graphite colored zinc cornice with a simple gesture, to create ambiguity in the penthouse reading and between the penthouse and the surrounding context. The chamfered sky-lit roof, (the only modification of the window wall acceptable at the DOB) and the articulation of the cornice reveal and morph the “upper building” into a large skylight structured by silver colored zinc frames, offering a gentler transition to the old building when it comes in contact with the historic loft structure on the South.

The rear of the addition, not visible from the public way, has been carefully designed to create a backdrop for the roof-scape and cleverly conceal the mechanical volumes.

The North Facade

The proposal recognizes the fact that this building has in fact three facades, addressing the importance of the treatment of the two North demising wall slivers, bared by the demolition of the pre-existing loft building. These walls are in fact, fully visible from the public way and can contribute to the streetscape and greet first the resident when approaching the building. Public minimalist artwork has a long tradition of appropriating the exposed walls of loft buildings in Manhattan, similarly the abstract treatment of the exposed portions of the North demising wall, where the minimal interventions are announced by exposing the original brick and by new brick elements. The sliver windows, which take advantage of the fact that the adjacent tower is pulled back from the street line, act as buffer between the original building and the tower, offering also unique views up North on Broadway and Cortland Alley.

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Status: Built
Location: New York, NY, US