DWi-P supports the pedestrian life of Lower Manhattan through sound and movement. DWi-P offers the sound of WaTER, supported by stairs, walkways, and ramps through a transparent community building that welcomes Lower Manhattan visitors to Battery Park City. Sound and a green roof permeated by stairs, ramps and walkways, link the Battery Park City Ballfields to North End Avenue through DWi-P’s WaTER façade: a unique digital artwork, activated through cellphone technologies.
DWi-P’s façade makes an edge to the Murray-Warren Passage, a new parkway link between Murray and Warren Streets. Visitors to DWi-P can walk along the Passage, adjacent to the inscribed score, or move up through the building, using exterior stairs and ramps built into the facade. hMa Principal Meyers catalogs DWi-P and hMa’s collaboration with composer M.J. Schumacher in her recently published book, Shape of Sound (May 2014, Artifice Books London).
DWi-P’s internal program continues the theme of water: the pool room and swim program are the principal program areas in the building. DWi-P is operated by Asphalt Green, an organization that specializes in teaching swimming. Graduates of the program have participated with U.S. Olympic Swim Teams. The program includes visits by previous Olympic team members.
Won Buddhist Retreat is another hMa project with Sound and Movement as part of an overall architectural program. The Won Buddhist Retreat emphasizes sound through a program where sound is programmed. The meditation hall is programmed for silence; other areas are designated for conversation.
At Won Buddhist Retreat, programmed movement is determined through walking paths, courtyards, and shaped roofs. Walking paths include predetermined paths through residential and public courtyards, for silent meditation; and nature paths through meadows, from the residential areas to the public domain of meditation hall and visitor’s center.
Won Buddhist Meditation Retreat’s porches suggest where public walking paths begin. Walking paths suggest mathematically deterministic movements within an open, natural environment. Won Buddhist Retreat presents ‘nature framed’ : an open-ended, natural environment, where subtle distinctions differentiate a series of shaped pathways.
hMa approaches the design of the Queens Library through the idea of the garden. This page shows three different configurations of the garden.
The Hortus Conclusus (Latin: enclosed garden) is an essential aspect of the history of modern western garden design. Hortus Conclusus in the Medieval era referred to an enclosed, private garden.
In Queens, there is a contemporary history of enclosed ‘community gardens’, which are also enclosed gardens. In the Queens gardens, small plots are divided between the community, and each becomes a landscape portrait of its owners.
In 2011 landscape architect Piet Oudolf collaborated on a contemplative walled garden for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion: a contemporary reinstatement of the original Hortus Conclusus: a walled garden for contemplation.
hMa is designing the Queens Library as a Walled Garden where visitors enjoy peaceful contemplation of ideas, within a garden.
Queens Library : a Hortus Conclusus for study and contemplation
Piet Oudolf designs rivers of grasses. In the Library, we see Rivers of Grasses as Books, with narratives made from letters. Hollis Library begins a conversation between gardens - human cultivations of Nature - and books - human cultivations of Ideas - with walls, floors, and ceilings that reference the walled garden of the Hortus Conclusus. The Garden is referenced
through materials, textures, and colors on the floors, ceilings, and walls.
Queens Library : a repository for books/ an escape from the urban realm
Hortus Conclusus includes pathways for walking, moving and thinking. hMa’s DWi-P opened to the public in 2014: a building that delaminates into gardens with paths that make the building envelop feel invisible on its site. DWi-P gives the sense of walking in nature both inside and outside the building.
At hMa's Queens Library, paths use natural colors to lead visitors from entry, to circulation desk, adult reading room, teens area, children’s library, and to the community room. hMa’s palette is based on an idea of movement through nature, from they entry, and through the library. Visitors are led from entry to the circulation desk by a moss-covered, wood wall that passes from the entry door, through the vestibule, to the circulation desk. The desk is designed to reference colors of flowers and grasses. The Library floors reference nature’s grasses, flowers, tree bark, and earth. Areas in the adult and children’s libraries are anchored as lawns, using ivy (adult’s), and grass (child’s) in the sitting and work areas. In the teen area, seating and work areas are more active, with stripes of flower references.
Walking, Moving, Thinking : transition to : Sitting, Reading, Thinking
a Hortus Conclusus for study and contemplation
Sverre Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion is one of hMa’s typology references for the Queens Library. Nordic Pavilion, designed in 1962, is still used today for gallery exhibits representing Sweden, Finland, and Norway. The Pavilion focuses on nature, with an open grid-roof of criss-crossing, thin, concrete beams, designed to simulate the effects of dappled sunlight passing through tree branches. The neutral whiteness of the concrete pavilion encircles, and emphasizes trees that grow through the roof.
At Queens Library, hMa also applied principles of movement through nature, based on ideas developed in their Master Plan for Battery Park City’s North Neighborhood. At BPC hMa used the the intertwining of nature, through the development of strategically located parks and green roofs, to develop a language of design based on nature and walking paths. hMa called the new grid developed at Battery Park City Woven Fabric. Woven Fabric defines cultivated green areas that weave the North Neighborhood together.
At Queens Library, hMa applies ideas about a woven fabric of nature-based materials through the library as a Hortus Conclusus: enclosed garden. The Hortus Conclusus includes the installation of mirrors above bookcases in the Child, Adult, and Teen reading rooms to create an illusion of a detached roof: the library as an exterior, walled garden.
Sitting Reading Thinking: the Space of Contemplation
Queens Library : a Hortus Conclusus for study and contemplation
hMa’s goal is to create the sense of a walled garden with edges defined by bookcases, and an interior filled with color and light. The Queens Library will be a garden for thinking and contemplation. The library’s walls are a barrier to the busy-ness of the urban street - an envelop that offers the peace and contemplation of the Hortus Conclusus.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines praxis as ‘that through which theory or philosophy is transformed into (a) practical… activity.’ In architecture, praxis refers to the practice of making buildings in critique with theory and the history of ideas. Praxis in architecture refers to a practice that builds with the integrity of theory behind every detail.
If you are an architect and practice, your work encompasses ideas, philosophies of making, and research. I separate the notion of a studio or atelier, from that of an ‘office’. An office references an architectural practice that intersects with commercial interests. Studio or atelier references a more elevated idea of practice as a philosophical and theoretical critique of building, or praxis.
Ring Collar: Investigation by Meyers. Signature is a mirror - homage to Leonardo da Vinci
As an architect who builds, teaches, writes, and produces art, I see architecture as a finely calibrated mirror. Architecture as praxis is akin to building the opposite side of our selves. By opposite, I refer to architecture as a critical operation: a mold or mask that allows us to see ourselves - as a reflection – similar to the ‘oppositional writing’ of Leonardo da Vinci. Architecture, by this definition, is similar to the butterfly’s cocoon or the Halloween reveler’s mask - a formal registration of our selves, at any given moment in time. By ‘selves’, I refer to the common identity of a larger group of citizens of a broader culture, and not to the singular person.
As a practitioner, I have an architectural practice, hMa, that is a reflection of my own mind, calibrated by a partner - Thomas Hanrahan – Dean of Pratt’s School of Architecture. I teach and am actively involved in architectural education. Until 2005 I was the core-coordinator at Columbia’s GSAPP; more recently I was the David Niland Chair at the University of Cincinnati; previously, I was a professor at Cornell’s School of Architecture.
Professional schools cannot operate successfully without architectural practitioners, both as part-time and tenured faculty – due to the necessary requirements of praxis. Without practicing architecture – it is impossible to understand how or what should be emphasized in the instruction of students of architecture. Praxis involves practice, teaching, and research.
Architects build things. Beyond studying the history of architecture, and doing an apprenticeship with a licensed architect, architects learn their craft by going into the field and making things. Architecture is critiqued in the public realm. Until a graduate of architecture has that experience, she or he cannot understand the process of praxis.
Architecture involves a series of mathematical equations that make space. At hMa (hanrahan Meyers architects), I have built projects, including Infinity Chapel, that reflect areas of human knowledge. Infinity Chapel presents a series of ideas about light, shadow, mathematics, and reflection. Mathematics and the properties of light include E = mc2, an equation that establishes equivalencies between mass, light, and energy.
At hMa’s Infinity Chapel, light-wells frame the walk from an entry at MacDougal Street, through a reading room, through a chapel, to an outdoor garden. Infinity Chapel’s light-wells are holes cut through the concrete floor, manifest as rectangular wood objects of varying heights and shapes at the ground-floor level of the building. The light-wells frame tubes of light that mark the path from street to garden. In the Sunday school below, light-wells appear as illuminated squares and lines in the ceiling. These reflect as formal figures of light on the floor.
hMa’s DWi-P, Digital Water i-Pavilion, is a community center in New York City, opposite the World Trade Center Memorial site. DWi-P is dedicated mostly to swimming, while offering a variety of other community activities. DWi-P’s largest public space is its pool room facing the exterior glass wall. The pools are also visible from a glass wall in the entry to DWi-P, one floor above. DWi-P’s main façade is a 550-foot long, transparent glass wall embedded with a frit pattern, representing a sound-score by New York composer Michael J. Schumacher: WaTER.
DWi-P is a building that unfolds and unravels into the landscape of Battery Park City through a series of ramps, stairs, and glass panels. The building’s roof is a public park with walkways and ramps that lead down to the Ballfields Park, east of the building. DWi-P’s east façade also faces the World Trade Center Memorial site, visible through its glass panels, etched with the Schumacher score.
Part of what defines us as humans is how we move our bodies through space. Contemporary marathons attest to the human capacity to out-run prey in the distant past, not by being faster, but by sustaining a slow, steady run, for days. There are connections for all of us, between walking, thinking, and speaking. As a species, we need to move through space to develop and maintain our brains. DWi-P and InfinityChapel facilitate walking, moving and thinking, through a sound-score at DWi-P, and through light at Infinity Chapel.
By understanding the human walk and limitations of movement, students learn how to detail and create space. The human walk has a certain length, width, and depth. These dimensions determine the basic aspects of building design, including the proper sizing of stairs, openings, and landings. It comes down to the scale of the human body. It sounds mundane; in reality, this is the basis of ephemeral creations, and praxis.
In addition to studies of human movement, light, and sound, hMa pursues the concept of ‘writing’ on/in buildings. Text on buildings captures ideas for future generations. The concept of ‘writing on the building’ partly determined the details of hMa’s glass wall at DWi-P, and the use of light at Infinity Chapel. hMa’s most recent application of writing on built form is a sculpture titled On-In Landscape: a collaboration with noted New York artist, Bruce Pearson. On-In Landscape is literally a constructed text by Pearson: Contains Real Hard Won Insight. hMa’s application of a sound-score to the façade at DWi-P, the use of light at InfinityChapel, and literal text in ‘On-In Landscape’, are examples of praxis.
hMa’s pursuit of praxis includes homage to the ideas of Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. hMa’s linkage between architecture and praxis includes musings on physics, time, and space, cataloged in my book, Designing with Light (DWL). DWL includes discussions with Harvard physicist Dr. Lene Hau whose ideas about light inspired Infinity Chapel. DWL pays homage to the oeuvre and writings of John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and contemporary composers and artists, including Arvo Part.
Shape of Sound, published in 2014, chronicles hMa collaborations and discussions with sound artists and colleagues, including Stephen Vitiello, Eric Howeler, and Joao Onofre. Sound compositions, like architecture, reflect changing cultural memes. hMa uses sound, light, and text as secondary ‘mirrors’ - or filters - for the architectural process, and we see this also as part of our application of praxis to architecture.
The curriculum in schools of architecture lays the foundation for future architects. Praxis is an inherent aspect of the discussion within any architecture school. A depth of thinking and intellectual discourse acts as a scaffold for architectural education. Remove the practitioners or the theoreticians, and there is no praxis.
An abbreviated list of studios I have taught over the years cover topics investigated in hMa’s work: Line; Library of the Spoken Word; Time/ PassageWay; S o U n d. My design studio programs present a chronicle of ideas, tested in the academic environment, and applied in hMa’s design studio. For any architectural work to be a serious discourse, it must be pursued as praxis: built work, grounded in the history of ideas, theory, and philosophy.
I would like to end with a quote from a favorite poet, as we reflect on the notion of praxis, and how it relates to education and architectural practice:
‘Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper, or your self-confidence.’ (Robert Frost).
I would also like to end by giving a special ‘thank you’ to Professor Mara Marcu, whose serious and astute study and production in architecture provides an excellent example of praxis.
and there is no praxis., The curriculum in schools of architecture lays the foundation for future architects. Praxis is an inherent aspect of the discussion within any architecture school. A depth of thinking and intellectual discourse acts as a scaffold for architectural education. Remove the practitioners or the theoreticians
Sound artist Max Neuhaus studied things that most of us take for granted. Above: Neuhaus' study, suggesting that elevators be fitted with color and sound to give people inside the elevator the ability to understand their movement through vertical space. Different colors and sounds depict different floors of the building. Each color creates different wavelengths of light. Different wavelengths of light also determine sounds that mark the elevator's position, from floor to floor.
Shown above: Neuhaus' pencil sketch for 'Time PIece Beacon', developed and installed, in 2005 at Dia Beacon in Beacon, New York. Time Piece Beacon is based on sound from a contemporary town bell, timed to the Atomic Clock through the Internet. The sound is a drone, and ramps up slowly over 7 minutes, and ends, abruptly, on the hour. This was to be a timed sound piece that could shift the sense of space for the people who walked 'through' and experienced the piece. Most Visitors to Dia Beacon do not even notice the sound piece, until it stops.
Above: Max Neuhaus's notes from his 'Time Piece Beacon'. 'Sound emerging from nowhere'; ' increasing in volume and color'; 'Imperctibly reaching its peak'; 'suddenly disappearing'; ' leaving in its wake'; 'a rural after-image'; 'getting a sense of stillness'.
Time PIece Graz (above): A communal Sound piece that starts at 8:50 a.m., and finishes at 9:50 p.m. daily.
Time Piece Stommeln: 2007. A piece designed by Max for the Stommein Synagogue. A sound piece for the City of Pulheim, with soundings of the Halachic Hours.
Above: A young Max Neuhaus setting up to play a performance with John Cage and Edgar Varese in September, 1963. In 1964 Neuhaus performed solo at Carnegie Hall. At the age of 28, Neuhaus stopped performing.
Above: Research: Woven Fabric: the operation of taking a photograph of a face, and fracturing it into fragments. The lines that crack the image of the face apart, make a weave, and the weave takes on an equal interest to the original image. It was this approach, of finding a way to 'weave' fragments of parks through the Battery Park City North Neighborhood, that guided hMa's approach and our research into how to design a large urban neighborhood in New York City.
Above: Location maps of the area of Battery Park City where hMa created the master plan for the North Neighborhood.
Above: Diagrams of hMa's approach to their urban design approach at the North Neighborhood - where we start with a complete figure that is being tested by a set of woven forces, and then the resulting condition we came to, where hMa creates a woven fabric for the neighborhood.
To walk you through hMa's project, we will begin at the North Neighborhood dog park, located at the center of North End Avenue, and proceed south, to the Irish Hunger Memorial - a built intervention that is at once a memorial to the Irish famine (by Brooklyn artist Brian Tolle), and also - a park, and also - a building (the hunger library by 1100 Architect).
Above: a view of Nelson Rockefeller Park. This is a park that functions much like the face where we started : as a series of woven green zones that runs the full length of the North Neighborhood, from North to South.
Above: a typical image from Teardrop Park, a park located very near the center of the North Neighborhood. This is a park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, in collaboration with hMa. The decision was to move huge boulders from upstate New York in order to recreate the sensibility of the original Manhattan landscape, prior to the European settlement, and development, of the Island.
Directly across from Teardrop Park, is the building and Park designed by hMa: DWi-P. Above: hMa's DWi-P facade, an elevation that edges a a walkway devised by hMa, linking Murray and Warren Streets, the Murray-Warren Passage.
Above: Materiality of the park at DWi-P: a steel handrail edges hMa's ramp, which leads to the roof of DWi-P, which is also a park, where parents can watch their kids playing ball at the BPC Ballfields. A wood trellis marks the top edge of the DWi-P roof.
DWi-P: a park that is dedicated to moving, walking, thinking. The glass facade has an embedded sound piece by New York composer Michael J. Schumacher: WaTER.
Battery Park City, Digital Water i-Pavilion, DWi-P, hanrahan Meyers architects, Internet, Invisibility, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Liberty House, Manhattan, New York City, Victoria Meyers architect
Above: section - perspective through the facade of DWi-P: Digital Water i-Pavilion, by hMa. DWi-P takes on overtones of movement, thought, and time, and contemporary cell phone technologies.
Above: The facade of DWi-P. DWi-P: invisible buildings disappear as landscape; disappear as sound. DWi-P is Platinum LEED certified and located in Battery Park City's North Neighborhood. hMa are the designers for DWi-P and the North Neighborhood Master Plan.
Above: Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, possibly the most famous work of art in the 20th Century. This piece by Duchamp suggests ideas about time, movement, space, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity, as well as a possible parable about male and female sexuality. Duchamp's painting presents thin metal forms captured between two panes of glass, within an ordinary, off-the-shelf, metal frame window.
Above: View from inside hMa's DWi-P. The Frit pattern on the wall is also a sound piece by New York composer, Michael J. Schumacher.
Above: DWi-P: a building, or a landscape behind glass. Is it simply sound? Is it water?
Above: DWi-P captures a human figure on the Murray Street ramp. At DWi-P, figures move through space with the secondary overlay of the Schumacher score. The score can be heard, through a cell-phone App.
Above: The delamination of DWi-P, at the southern end of the building, including the Passage that passes in front of the building. Layers of movement are captured within and through DWi-P's glass wall.
Above: hMa's study for the massing of the North Neighborhood. This study also depicts the 'sound field' reach of the DWi-P App. The area where visitors can hear the Schumacher score: WaTER.
This is not unlike the Duchamp Roto-Relief project: an exercise in understanding sound as form.
Above: the Entry Level plan for DWi-P. The Entry to the building is the only room that rises above the level of the roof. The roof is a Battery Park City park.
Above: 'Playing' the facade at DWi-P; to the right: a screen shot of the DWi-P App.
Above: two more screen shots of the DWi-P App.
Above: View of Entry to DWi-P's Ballfield Terrace Park.
Above: View of the olympic-size pool from the entry : the main program for the Center is swimming, or Water.
Above: View of the pool and the Entry.
Above: the main level plan - reached by 'descending' - a staircase.
Above: comparison of two main stairs at DWi-P, designed to capture the act of 'Descending' from one space to another.
above: hMa : movement of the body through space.
Above: Main stair, inside DWi-P.
Above: Main Corridor along the glass wall, inside DWi-P.
Above: Olympic size pool : human movement through water.
Above: one of three ramps at DWi-P, from the Dance Studio: human movement.
Above: children play along the exterior ramp in front of DWi-P.
Above: Invisibility: the transparency of DWi-P's glass facade.
Above: Cevdet Erek - There. From the show 'Tactics of Invisibility' ; co-curated by Daniela Zyman and Emre Baykal. The show is co-produced by the Vehbi Koc Foundation, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Erek's installation touches on the idea of invisibility.
Above: DWi-P at night: human movement inside and outside in the Passage.
Above: DWi-P : view to the World Trade Memorial Site, across West Street. Left: view of one of the fountains at the Memorial Site: both projects feature water.
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Invisible Buildings: architect Victoria Meyers and hMa collaborate to design buildings that 'disappear' - in plain sight. How do you make the 'slight of hand' work when the object you are trying to 'disappear' is a building?
hMa does this at Won Buddhists through details that mask their buildings, and blend the reading of the buildings into landscape. A series of screens act as camouflage, and make building edges that have the thickness and non-specificity of trees. Trees and plants have very complex edges. By studying the biological edges of plant matter, hMa developed a series of operations that screen their buildings from public view.
In addition to non-specific edges of buildings, hMa's roads are gravel, from the original gravel pits on the site. And the landscape plans for the site include the planting of tall meadow grasses and trees to mask the built areas of the site.
Meyers is in discussion with artist Mary Temple, about possibly painting one of Temple's shadow paintings, on one of the buildings to enhance the aspect of 'invisibility' - by creating false shadows, to further mask the built form on the site. Below: artist Mary Temple produces one of her famous shadow paintings, for Rice University.
Mary Temple, artist, installing 'invisible trees' - through shadows - at Rice University, above.
Won Buddhist Temple: wood column as a tree.
Won Buddhist Retreat: wood column as a tree.
Won Buddhist Retreat: wood buildings sit among trees.
Trees + buildings blend. That blending = invisibility. Invisibility = Infinite Bleed of Edge. Infinite Bleed of Edge increases the perception of the 'space' of the retreat - to an infinite horizon.
It is the 'infinite horizon' that hMa was seeking in their development of the Buddhist project.
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At Won Buddhist Retreat, hMa focused on an idea of invisibility and how invisibility is related to zero carbon footprint. But also literally - a series of wood buildings, placed on a wooded site, possibly the way to make them disappear is by installing wood screens in front, to blur the line between building and trees - using Asplund’s Woodland Cemetary as a precedent, for this procedure.
Let’s look at wood screens, and - what hMa refers to as: ‘Infinite Bleed of Edge’.
Above: A diagram of hMa's courtyards at the Won Dharma Retreat. hMa designed the courtyards to incorporate diagonal walking paths, building to building. The concept was that practitioners walk from void to void - in a z-shaped path.
Entry into the Permanent Residents' courtyard (above):
In the courtyard (above):
Porches and steps: everything is sustainably harvested wood:
Porches and steps: Won Buddhist Retreat is as much about the materiality of wood, as it is about the effort required to attain Zero Carbon Footprint. (the project is also a Brownfield Mitigation project).
back to where we started the journey: at the Won Buddhist Retreat Administration building courtyard.
Victoria Meyers: Designing With Light
New York Architects Victoria Meyers and Thomas Hanrahan believe that architecture is an environment, 'pure space', manifested in nature. The principals of hanrahanMeyers architects (hMa) have established themselves as unique visionaries, incorporating light and sound into their arresting designs of pure forms. Founded in 1987, the firm specializes in residences, art centers, and community spaces. They design spaces from a vision that connects visitors with the natural world.
Victoria Meyers: Shape of Sound Architect Victoria Meyers analyzes the shape of sound; architecture and sound; form; materiality; windows; the urban sound scape, its politics, aesthetics and social character; reflection; virtuality; sound art; and silence.
Shape of Sound on Amazon
Victoria Meyers: Shape of Sound Victoria Meyers architect (Los Angeles, Ca.), principal of hanrahan Meyers architects (hMa) explores sound as it effects architecture, urban spaces, and landscapes. Contributors include hanrahan Meyers architects (featured on the book cover), Stephen Vitiello, Michael J. Schumacher, David Mather, Neil Denari, Bruce Pearson, Howeler and Yoon architecture, and Joseph Ketner.
hMa : Green Initiatives / Sustainable Architecture
The Conservation Fund As part of our nature based vision for architecture, hMa gives a percentage of the firm’s annual revenues to nature initiatives. This year, hMa funded ‘Wildlife Corridors’, through the Conservation Fund. ‘Wildlife Corridors’ provide natural zones through cities and towns that link animals with adjacent nature preserves. This initiative is one of several cutting-edge planning initiatives that forward thinking architects will be adopting as we seek to harmonize human habitats with nature and create sustainable development.
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