AGS Case Study: the Greenwich Street Project with CAD

Greenwich Street Project

Start with a six-story brick warehouse on the edge of New York’s Soho District. Wind up with an 11-story “smart loft” building, topped with a four-story glass and steel penthouse. That’s the tale of the 497GW Renovation (or Greenwich Street) Project, one of many case studies presented in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition .

Beginning with architect Winka Dubbeldam, everyone connected with this project, located at Manhattan’s lower west end, is justifiably proud. There are a ton of great photos of the Greenwich Street Project on the website of the client, TakeOne LLC, exploring all its aspects. Archi-Techtonics offers a lovely animation by Alex Pincus.

The main, and unarguably most spectacular, feature is a glass curtain wall reminiscent of a waterfall, which seems to float right off the structure. From inside, the blue-tinted glass cascade offers spectacular views of the Hudson River.

Digital analysis of the façade’s structure led to the decision to actually bend the glass panels to minimize forces and to create completely transparent seams. The result was that the glass was folded in Barcelona, Spain, the aluminum mullions custom-extruded in Hong Kong to match the façade’s angles, and all was assembled in Brooklyn. Installation was then a matter of suspending the glass panels off the steel structure on-site.

For the way it folds around and partially engulfs the old brick façade, the resulting exterior has been called a “parabuilding”. The rippling glass flood certainly seizes the eye and captures the attention, guaranteeing that the structure will not stop looking startlingly new for years to come.

The building’s interior was completely gutted, and then filled with 23 residential “smart lofts.” An army of electronic devices takes care of the residents when they are home, and automatically tends to everything when they’re not. Each loft is open-plan and has a full bathroom. The building also contains a fitness center and other amenities, while the ground floor and basement have been refitted to welcome an art gallery and other retail establishments. Every part was designed with attention not only to energy efficiency, but to good acoustics as well.

All the custom-designed innovations were made possible by the newest building information modeling technology.

The (electronic) communication was simply through digitally transmitted three-dimensional computer drawings between Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Brooklyn. The two-dimensional drawings were no longer made by the architect, but rather by the manufacturers, thus minimizing mistakes, and facilitating a fast manufacturing process. The installation was no longer based on verify in field (VIF), but rather on verify in computer (VIC). Site installation moved away from a site-oriented construction method to a construction method based on the digital data of abstract computer drawings.

It looks as if the human/machine partnership is here to stay. In fact, Wiley also offers a separate volume that covers the topic exhaustively: BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors.

The next question is, do these buildings turn out to be as livable as the software says they will?

SOURCE: Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition
Photo courtesy of Phil Ritz, used according to its Creative Commons License

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