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.
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
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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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.
hMa also refers to this project as: Geometry and No Space in the Landscape’. This is a project where hMa Designed the site master plan, in addition to five buildings on the site: a Meditation Hall that is a place of stasis, and four Residential Buildings that are dynamic in form, with fractal roofs.
Shown above: the site master plan model. The site was an abandoned rock quarry. The Satellite of the site (below) shows how hMa kept the existing drive into the site. hMa then sited the five buildings for the Retreat where the quarry had been. This is a Brownfield Mitigation project.
Above: the Retreat Meditation Hall, next to the Dining Hall / Administration Building. These two buildings create an entry courtyard, the first Retreat space visitors encounter.
Above: a wood bridge that connects the Dining Hall to the Meditation Hall Porch. When you go to the Won Dharma Retreat, visitors are allowed to speak in all areas, except the Meditation Temple
The Bridge was requested by the Clients as a transition space to bridge the gap between everyday life, speaking, and meditation, spiritual practice, and silence.
Above: Won Buddhist Meditation Hall this past August, with a silent yoga retreat. You can see the Meditation Hall with practitioners in yoga poses as part of the retreat. Half of the focus in the photo is on the wood column. In addition to energy, this project is very much about the materiality of wood.
hMa also designed the master plan for the 700-Acre site. The Buddhists requested that we use the residential buildings as places to initiat walking meditation. They requested that we layout a series of paths between buildings to guide where people walk. The diagonal shape of the paths mimicthe diagonal relationships between the four courtyard buildings by hMa.
Above, the Dining Hall: part of the Buddhist spiritual practice is centered around natural foods, and a plant based diet.
The Dining Hall is an important space in the Buddhist’s Ritual Beliefs. Whereas Meditation is a collective space where people gather for shared practice in silence, the Dining Hall is a collective space where people gather to eat and speak.
Meditation Hall and Dining Hall sit - side by side - as a contrast of elements.
Shown above: the magazine cover, featuring the entry area, into hMa's Won Buddhist Retreat in Claverack, NY.
Victoria Meyers architect, of hanrahan Meyers architects, is featured in Konsept Projeler (translates to Concepts Projects), Turkey's premier design magazine, in their December issue. Meyers was in Turkey, as the International Juror for the 2013 Turkish Archiprix. After judging the Archiprix, Meyers gave a public lecture, describing her firm, hMa, and how she and her partner, Hanrahan, have developed new typologies, studying ideas for Hacker-Maker spaces. Meyers is currently studying Hacker Maker in her design studio at the University of Cincinnati's School of Architecture, where she is teaching a design studio, with the concept of a Hacker-Maker. Meyers is the David Niland Chair at the University of Cincinnati School of Architecture
Meyers also discussed her upcoming book, Shape of Sound, during her interview with Concepts interviewer, Baran Danis, and the effect that the study of sound as a formal issue, has also affected the development of hMa's designs.
The article is reproduced below. I hope they had nice things to say! They gave hMa a beautiful spread, including extensive views of Won Buddhist Retreat, Holley House, DWi-P, and Infinity Chapel. You can find out more about the magazine, here: www.konseptprojeler.com.
Shown above, hMa's DWi-P, a new public building by hMa, featuring a first, Digitally Interactive Facade. The building had a soft opening in November 2013. The building is planned to have a formal opening, in 2014, after the DWi-P App is published, and the facade comes 'online' as an interactive public space.
Above: More images of hMa's DWi-P (Digital Water i-Pavilion). During her talk at the conclusion of the Turkish Archiprix, Meyers discussed the work of hMa, and how the firm's investigations into contemporary space include Bio-Morphism, and self-replicating systems. DWi-P is a building that shows this research, as it is a self-replicating system, repeating details that hMa developed in earlier projects, mostly at Infinity Chapel.
Above: hMa's Infinity Chapel. Infinity Chapel investigates Sound, through the firm's concept of Snd.BX-2 sound boxes. Infinity Chapel includes five Snd.BX-2 sound boxes, which act as sound and light transmitters, connecting a lower level Sunday school to the upper level Chapel and Reading Room.
Above: hMa" Snd.Bx-2 Diagram, showing how sound and light form the sequence from MacDougal Street to a rear, outdoor Garden Chapel.
Another detail shot of the entry sequence into the meditation hall at Won Buddhist Retreat. Again, hMa applied ideas that the firm has developed around sound as a formal design element. The Meditation Hall is designed as a space of 'silence'. The Hall features state of the art sound dampening details. If the Buddhists close the doors to the hall, the main hall is completely sound isolated from the surroundings.
Above: hMa's Holley House. Holley House is two Pavilions that float in a landscape, separated by a walled structure. The walled structure acts as a primary support wall for both pavilions, but also creates a separate zone of entry to the two pavilions.
Holley House: two pavilions floated in a landscape; a Stone Wall (inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy) creates a zone of Entry and Circulation between the two pavilions.
Above: more images of Won Buddhist Retreat. hMa won an AIA Honor Award for this project. The project included a 550-acre site, where hMa designed the Master Plan, as well as the design of five buildings. hMa designed the site (which was a Brownfield site), and the five new buildings, to have zero-carbon-footprint.
Above: Won Buddhist Retreat: All woods in the project are FSC woods. The image, directly above, shows the Buddhists in morning meditation practice, at sunrise.
The mirror analogy above, is from Meyers' lecture, discussing how hMa uses the concept of 'mirror' on hMa projects. By replicating details and ideas from earlier designs, hMa projects form an eco-system, based on principals similar to concepts of design in the work of Skylar Tibbits. hMa's work is a 'self-replicating system'.
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In probability theory, a stochastic system is one that is indeterminate. A stochastic system is a system whose behavior is non-deterministic. When Xenakis came to Le Corbusier's office, he was a trained engineer. Xenakis brought training in several mathematical forms that LC felt encouraged to apply to his architectural works. This includes Stochastic systems, which Xenakis first applied to the windows of LC's housing project in Reze, 1950 - 54.
Stochastic window pattern at the Housing Project in Reze, Le Corbusier, with Xenakis. Stochastic systems are also applied to sound, and to urban planning and design.
Ronchamp by Le Corbusier: Stochastic window patterns.
Stochastic window patterns by Sanaa // K. Sejima. Stochastic window pattern, borrowed from Le Corbusier / Xenakis.
Neumes: shown above: Neumes is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation. From the Greek word for breath : pneuma. Neume, shown above: a Gregorian chant.
In the 9th century Neumes became shorthand mnemonic aids for the proper melodic recitation of chant. Neumatic recitation was first developed in the Eastern Roman Empire (today's sountern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Isreal). Above: Gregorian Neumes. Le Corbusier and Xenakis considered the windows at Ronchamp to have been placed as a 'Neume' - or Neumatic notation of a Chant.
Sound Urbanism // Sound Ecology. Victoria Meyers architect
Victoria Meyers architect, hMa, is pleased to share this recently published feature on the Won Dharma Center in GreenSource magazine. The article focuses on the project's use of green design and natural materials. Below is an excerpt:
Whether President Obama has had an impact on carbon emissions isn't
in doubt among the Won Buddhists of North America, part of a sect
founded in Korea in the 1920s to promote interfaith understanding. The
group's meditation center, in Claverack, New York (in the Hudson River
Valley, two hours north of Manhattan), was already under construction
when one of its leaders, Reverend Chung Ohun Lee, attended the United
Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. She was so
inspired by Obama's speech—in which he vowed to cut emissions by 80
percent over 40 years—that she asked the center's architects to switch
from the conventional building systems they had already ordered to such
energy savers as geothermal heating and solar hot water. The late
changes increased the construction budget by about 8 percent, to
approximately $6.5 million, according to architect Thomas Hanrahan, who
designed the 22,000-square-foot complex with Victoria Meyers, his
partner in New York's Hanrahan Meyers Architects."
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view of Meditation Hall from Administration porch : Won Dharma Center. Victoria Meyers architect
Victoria Meyers architect, hMa, is pleased to announce that the Won
Dharma Center has won an Honor Award from the AIA NY Chapter. Won Dharma Center is a 28,000 square-foot spiritual and recreational retreat
in Claverack, New York for the Won Buddhists, a Korean
organization that emphasizes balance in one's daily life and relationship to
nature. The center is located on a 500-acre site on a gently sloping hill
with views west to the Catskill Mountains.
The buildings for the Center, including permanent and guest residences, an
administration building and a meditation hall, are sited as far as possible
from the local rural access road, and oriented west and south to maximize views
and light. The symbol of the Won organization is an open circle, suggesting
both a void without absence and infinite return. The buildings are
organized around the dual concepts of void and spiral.
view of Meditation Hall and Administration from west : Won Dharma Center. Victoria Meyers architect
square-foot Meditation Hall is conceived as a simple rectangular void and a
lightweight frame to the natural surroundings. Its wooden structure is
exposed on three sides to form entrance and viewing porches, while the interior
offers expansive views of the mountains.
four residential buildings include the dining hall/ administrative building,
and three residential dormitories for guests and permanent residents. The
design of the residential buildings draws on the formal organization of grass-roofed
Korean farm-houses, loosely clustered and organized internally around a single
central void. The roof shapes of the 4,000 square-foot residence
buildings transform in section around a spiral organization, from a simple
slope in section to a complex triangulated geometry where the roof transforms
into an open-air entrance porch. The internal organization of the residence
buildings allows silent walking meditation from courtyard to courtyard.
The courtyards act as passive cooling systems, and when the sliding doors
facing the courtyards open, cross ventilation through the public areas and guest
rooms provides passive cooling. All of the residential buildings are wood
construction, like the Meditation Hall, and deeply shaded to the west and south
to allow natural daylighting without excessive heat gain.
view of guest residences 1 and 2 : Won Dharma Center. Victoria Meyers architect
Of Spirals and Voids .... The main meditation space was designed with special acoustical properties, to allow the sounds of the Buddhists bells to reverberate within the room. To read more about architecture and sound, look for Victoria Meyers architect's next book, 'shape of sound', to be published April 2014.
In upstate New York resides a very zen-like, very un-New York-like retreat. ... (to read more, visit elemente magazine's site, above).
Every building at the retreat (all five buildings) includes a large, commodius outdoor wood porch, as an ancillary, extra room.
Porch connecting the Dining Hall / Administration Building to the Meditation Hall.
Won Buddhist is a 30,000 square foot Buddhist Retreat in Claverack, New York. The Retreat has five buildings: four residence halls, and one meditation building. The four residence halls all have a spiral shape (which is why the article is titled: 'of spirals and voids). The meditation hall is rectangular (the inspiration for the meditation hall was the sculpture 'untitled' by David von Schlegell at Storm King Art Center, in upstate New York).
Won Buddhism is a Korean sect, and the Retreat is sponsored by Won Buddhism of North America. The Retreat includes permanent housing for retired monks from the Won Buddhist sect.
To read more about the Won Buddhist Retreat, follow the link to the article in elemente magazine, or visit the hMa website: www.hanrahanMeyers.com.
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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