New Rochelle, New York / 2013

Waterfront Gateway Housing is an ensemble of three discrete yet interacting buildings that contain 210 units. The design approach is to move beyond both collage, which is disjunctive, and smoothness, which results in unified lumps, towards a fresh third territory. The project moves towards a logic of difference in kind, assuming that entities in the world are fundamentally different and durable, and cannot be reduced to any set of relations or contexts. Difference in kind, unlike collage, allows for things in the world to resonate with and signal to one another. This is in stark contrast to the logic of difference in degree, which gives primacy to continuous variability and relational networks, in a now exhausted attempt to degrade architecture into fields, topologies, or information.

Tight-Fit, Loose-Fit, and Shearing
Each building in the trio is an agglomerated set of blocky, stepped bars and crystal figures, tightly shrink-wrapped in an outer container. When some of the crystals are removed, loose-fit conditions are produced between the container and the bars within; these interstitial spaces are used for balconies or common spaces for the housing units. Some crystals and bars breach the container then are sheared off to create hybrid apertures on the facades. Occasionally, this shearing produces a familiar scale of aperture associated with human scale; other times, it produces strange figures that reveal deep internal voids and scuttle the reading of the project as “housing.”

Seams and Patchiness
Metaseams and patchy materiality characterize the building envelopes. At times, metaseams emphasize building apertures or mass silhouettes, yet they also leap from building to building and establish visual coherence between the three buildings. While metaseams act as joint between zones of opaque and perforated material, they also freely move across surfaces. They are not tied to a hierarchical system-to-subsystem logic, but rather exist equally and sometimes at odds with other elements in the design.

Instead of a landscape as a passive receiver of the three buildings, this project’s ground is a set of discrete courtyards that are themselves discernible figures. Rather than figure-ground, a figure-figure-figure-figure-figure condition is achieved. The result is a new ground that refuses sentimental ideas of Nature and alternatively treats ground, or courtyard, as delimited and not fused with the earth.

Client: Municipal Government of New Rochelle
Type: Residential
Floor Area: 220,000 SF