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
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.
Materials make Reference to the world. Buildings (and landscapes) have meaning by how they are detailed with materials.
Materiality is important in hMa's projects, and is also important when we teach. Tactility refers to how we read space with our hands. The haptic sense is a way to understand space.
Glass is different from stone. Above, we show human hands, in reference to both materials. On the left - a hand touches glass; on the right, we show hand imprints on a stone cave wall in Patagonia.
Musicians and people who deal in sound understand materiality as timbre. Timbre is a term that describes the materiality of sound.
Timbre is affected, for example, by the materiality of a Musical Instrument. A metallic instrument wired for electricity sounds very different from the same instrument as an analog.
In architecture - timbre is registered through footsteps, or the voice. These can be ‘live’ and echo; or muted and soft. Both reactions are ‘soundings’ that give very different spatial readings. This reading relates partially at least, to the materiality of the space.
Large stone halls like Cathedrals sound different from small, informal residential spaces, where sound is muted by fabrics, and materials that absorb sound, and prevent reverberation.
Each space and each object in the hMa Diagram, above, has a ‘Timbre’: WaterFall Table has stainless steel beads that reference water; DWi-P is a glass façade that represents WaTER; the LightScore is a series of light waves, 'played’ onto concrete surfaces, at the Kitchen in NYC.
hMa uses stone, glass, steel and wood in projects, as a conscious way of referencing materials and Timbre in space. Trees are living organisms - cut using calibration to impose mathematic scaling onto an organic system. Digital Water i-Pavilion's (DWi-P) façade is a sound wall scored into equal divisions. At hMa's Holley House in upstate New York, parallel stone walls make a house.
Program is – whatever you - as the designer - make it. Program is like a movie script - it’s a fantasy. The program does not exist until the designer envisions it.
I will show four hMa Programs. The first program, shown above, is: Flatness of Space, or Infrathin, demonstrated by hMa's DWi-P and hMa's design for the Queens Museum of Art. Both of these are projects with complex programs, compressed within thin, compact sections, or Infrathin// or the 'Flatness of Space'.
hMa's program of 'Repetition' is demonstrated, above, by the Won Buddhist project, where repeating channels of wood as screens - and punched windows - create a clear sense of repetition in the buildings. To the right, benches and light lines at hMa's Infinity Chapel located in downtown Manhattan, create repetition. Above, the frit pattern of the Schumacher score on the facade of DWi-P, along with the repetition of steel mullions, creates a pattern of repetition at hMa's DWi-P, at Battery Park City in NYC.
hMa also creates programs based on 'Embedded Objects'. At the left, above, is hMa's Infinity Chapel, where a series of embedded spheres create a room with curved surfaces that filter light. At the right, Pratt Pavilion sits as an embedded object between two existing 19th century industrial brick loft buildings, at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, NY.
Above, we show an hMa project to demonstrate 'buildings with sound as their program'. Shown above is hMa's Ojai Pavilion also referred to as : - ‘Sound Vortex’.
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Victoria Meyers architect, hanrahan Meyers architects, presents shade, shadow and form, related to the firm's works at Won Buddhist Retreat, DWi-P, and the works of Iannis Xenakis.
Above: Porch at Won Buddhist Retreat, hMa, 2014: Cedar Screen design based on variable spacing - to reflect the wooded condition of the site: Infinite Bleed of Edge
Above: La Tourette Windows : Window Patterning based on Iannis Xenakis sound composition, and geometric ideas formulated in the Modulor, with Le Corbusier. These forms were later transcribed into sound by Xenakis in his composition, Metastasis.
DWi-P by hMa, hanrahan Meyers architects. A frameless glass facade, where a frit pattern is generated by a sound score by New York composer Michael J. Schumacher: WaTER. To hear WaTER, visit the hMa website: www.hanrahanMeyers.com.
Above: Water, by Karen Gunderson.
Meyers explores themes linking Water, lines, form, shadow, and light in her new book, Shape of Sound available here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=victoria%20meyers%20shape%20of%20sound
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Victoria Meyers and Thomas Hanrahan are featured on the White's Hill Road website. For the link, go to : http://www.whiteshillroad.com/architects.html.
hMa are one of seven architectural firms selected to design homes in the new residential enclave, which is Master Planned by architect Steven Haas. The White Hill Site is in the Berkshire Mountains, and is a 115-acre property, planned to have a total of seven sites. The limited site development ensures that the site will retain its undeveloped, unspoiled natural beauty.
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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
Process: Duchamp: Framed Glass. This refers to architects hMa's process (Victoria Meyers architect) in designing DWi-P : Digital Water i-Pavilion. The building was designed around ideas about how glass can have a presence that exceeds its physical thickness. The thickness can be determined through its intellectual ideas, which can greatly exceed the physicality of the glass thicnkess. In the case of Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, that thickness was processed and presented as a physical rendering of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, cut into the glass surface. In the case of hMa's WaTER wall, that thickness could be seen as an exposition about the thickness of current ideas about physicality, as related to digital technologies; and the presentation of a social critique about the increasing scarcity of clean water, even as the world's water levels rise, due to melting ice caps.
In both cases: hMa's glass wall, as well as the Duchamp glass, the result was Physics, but also a social critique, written in (on) glass. These critiques and their 'thicknesses', increase the intellectual thickness of the glass.
hMa's ideas about sound and space, are applied to buildings, as well as to urban spaces. As master plan architects for Battery Park City's North Neighborhood, hMa overviewed the development of over one-million square feet of LEED certified green construction. We also overviewed the development of a park system that was linked together by a concept hMa describes as : woven space, as well as by sound, in the installation (not yet achieved) by Ann Hamilton in Teardrop Park, in the Water Wall at Teardrop Park, and in hMa's digitally interactive wall, at DWi-P.
Above: Teardrop Park. This project was conceived as a collaboration between hMa, Michael van Valkenburgh, and the artist, Ann Hamilton.
Above: Woven Fabric: hMa conceived the site plan of BPC's North Neighborhood as a 'woven fabric'. This fabric consisted of a series of parks and buildings that weave together as a single physical fabric, both in terms of their Green Construction, but also by offering several occupiable Green Roofs for public use, including the Irish Hunger Memorial by artist Brian Tolle (below) as well as hMa's Green Roof over their building, DWi-P, publicly accessible from North End Avenue.
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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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