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Essex Street Garage is Getting a High Design Makeover

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Courtesy of Michielli + Wyetzner Architects.

A new look for the Delancey and Essex Municipal Parking Garage. The NYC Department of Transportation plans a $4 million renovation of the five-story structure.  The revamp of the 40-year old facility will feature a dramatic new facade, incorporating thick fiberglass/stainless steel cables to create a 3D effect. The project is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Design + Construction Excellence Program. The redesigned garage will include spaces for 22 bicycles, the addition of a new protective coating on the concrete floors and a new elevator.

More on the innovative design from Arch Daily:

The front layer folds in and out from the flat-planed one behind, creating large-scale moiré patterns that move across the building as the viewer walks or drives up the street. The cable façade replaces a grill-like concrete covering that had begun to deteriorate. “Unlike most building enclosures, parking garages are often naturally ventilated and open to the elements and that allowed for a wide range of possibilities for the facade” says Frank Michielli, AIA, a firm principal. “We combined that need for openness with the Lower East Side’s history as the roots of the garment industry and a common road barrier material to develop a visually dynamic solution .” In addition to creating patterns, the two diagonal layers of vertical cables angled in slightly different directions also suggests the threads on a loom. The folds extend as much as two feet in front of the building to add to the richness of the patterns and a three dimensional quality that relates to the historic neighboring structures. The cable used for the façade will be thicker than that used by the DOT, lighter in weight and of a different composition, with a composite fiberglass core and a woven stainless steel jacket covering it. Each cable will be fastened to stainless steel end-fittings with integral turnbuckles for adjustability. The outer folds will be held in place by o-rings at the ends of galvanized steel “combs,” attached to the floor slab at each level. The comb’s horizontal rods extend outwards to fix the outer layer of cables at the correct distance from the façade. Michielli and his firm partner Michael Wyetzner, AIA, conducted numerous studies to assure that the moiré pattern would be continually dynamic and the shifting patterns can appear two or three dimensional with just a small change in the viewer’s position. The changing patterns suggest the aerodynamic flow of moving cars.

The facade will cover both the Essex and Ludlow sides of the building with Essex Street entrance being adorned with:

…a 17-foot-tall DOT super graphic using rubberized paint to create a sleeve on the cables. The first floor, which is currently occupied by the NYC Traffic Police, will be covered in black ceramic glass panels while building spandrels will be painted in dark gray. A continuous edge of decorative lighting will run between the second and roof levels at the southern end of the façade. The lighting will graze the cable screen and accentuate the geometry of the façade.

Construction firms will bid on the project in September. Work is expected to begin early next year and continue through most of 2012. Incidentally, the Essex Street garage is officially part of the Seward Park redevelopment site (SPURA). The city and Community Board 3 are currently working on a master plan for the 7-acre site.  Several months ago, however, city officials made it clear the DOT was very unlikely to give up the garage for some other use (housing, retail, open space, etc.)  No one objected, in part because the neighborhood clearly has a need for more parking; no one seemed to think it was a good idea to lose 35o parking spaces (which is about the number of cars the garage accommodates).

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  1. Who the hell cares how it looks? I just want to get monthly parking in there but apparently it’s harder than finding diversity in an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.

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