The American Architecture Awards are dedicated to the recognition of excellence in architecture and urbanism in the United States. This year’s program honors new (2014-2017) corporate, institutional, commercial, residential architecture, interiors, and urban planning, designed for both built and unbuilt projects alike.
Tucked between Spring and Canal in New York City’s recently rezoned Hudson Square, Renwick Street is a rare blip on the vast urban grid: a small, single-block residential enclave, whose self-generated hush recalls the era of a much more intimate Manhattan. That scale and setting—and the historical memory they evoke—were the contextual cues for ODA New York’s newest completed multifamily.
At 15 Renwick Street, ODA bucks the contemporary trend towards ultramodern—frequently hermetic—crystal towers. Instead, myriad bespoke details and ample outdoor space add up to this resolutely classic, quasi-suburban sanctuary from the surrounding bustle.
Renwick’s outdoor area, totaling 8,300 square feet, results from consummate expertise in zoning, which consistently allows ODA to flip the rulebook in its favor—to experience New York City’s labyrinthine zoning code not as an inhibitor, but as a launchpad for innovation.
Here, that innovation was delivered by way of the standard dormer rule, governing the amount of square footage that can encroach into a building’s setback line. By reinterpreting the rule, ODA was able to dissect and redistribute Renwick’s upper massing, opening large geometric pockets for private terraces. Meanwhile, the use of glass windows and doors to demarcate terracing creates seamless indoor-outdoor connectivity, and ideal sun exposure.
In these ways—freeing up outdoor space, opening opportunities for residents to engage with others and with the elements—ODA once again instantiates a coherent, and well-documented, mission: As increasingly crowded city-dwellers sacrifice these vital interactions for the convenience of location, the firm aims to incorporate what we’ve lost back into New York’s upward sprawl—to restore, and improve, our quality of living.
Indeed a concern for quality runs throughout 15 Renwick, even in its materials. On the exterior, an elegant grid of deep, charcoal-hued aluminum fins produce shadow lines to shield units from street view, amplifying privacy. And luxuriant details like wood-grained window inserts—for depth of color—and a series of ground-floor copper panels feel more like they belong to a private suburban home than any typical urban condominium.
Inside, residents are removed even further from the urban fray. A nod to James Renwick himself—the English-American scientist and engineer for whom Renwick Street was named—interior common spaces channel the warmth and intimacy of an early British social club. Rich wood panels (mimicking Renwick’s exterior fins), lush leather appointments, and Emperador marble details all feel sumptuously transportive.
Taken together with Renwick’s creatively wrought outdoor space, these elements combine to combat the cold modernism of so much contemporary construction—which tends to seal residents in nondescript boxes, up and away from each other. Towards that end, 15 Renwick is new kind of new build, rooted in ideals of the past—a fitting tribute to one of Manhattan’s last quiet corners. Source by ODA New York.