School of Visual Arts MFA Photography/Video, New York
Architect: Spacesmith, New York
Structural Engineer: Engineering Group Associates, New York, (212) 982-1410
Code Consultant/Expeditor: Burnham, New York
Survey: ECS Group, Lake Hopatcong, N.J.
Information Technology/Audiovisual: Backhaul Engineering LLC, Fairfield, N.J.
Mechanical Engineer: EP Engineering LLC, New York
General Contractor: DiGiacomo & Son, New York, (212) 704-0750
The following materials were used in the project:
Movable Wall and Clerestory Windows: Custom made by DiGiacomo & Son, (212) 704-0750
Tackable Surface and Acoustic Fabric-wrapped Panels: Maharam
Acoustic Panels: Robin Reigi Inc.
Perforated Metal: Alpro
Mineral Fiber Composite Ceiling: Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions
Acoustically Rated Doors: MegaMet Industries
Ceiling Hung Acoustical Baffle System: Kirei
School representatives engaged Spacesmith to renovate their popular MFA Photography program, which occupies the 6,000-square-foot ground floor of a former warehouse building. The project was divided into two phases: the first addressing all classroom, studio, faculty and common spaces; the second, a new multipurpose area connecting the façade to the interior.
The challenge was to marry high-traffic student areas with accessible, yet private faculty offices, focusing on air, light and sound control. Spacesmith reorganized the program by creating a circulation path that intuitively flows in and out of student hubs and faculty spaces.
At the department entrance off the building’s core, circulation splits. One pathway leads to the instruction and production areas, including two acoustically isolated editing rooms and a customized shooting studio. The other path leads to faculty offices separated from noise and activity. Both then meet at the front of the building and pour into the former loading dock located at street level 3-feet below. This unused area created a new programmatic element—a multipurpose meeting and gallery space now visible to the public after opening the façade, which had been sealed for decades. About 2,000 square feet were gained, allowing the program to expand its offerings.
The polished concrete floor of the interior level extends diagonally into the loading dock, creating storage underneath, and is flanked by a freestanding movable wall. With a tackable surface and large industrial hinge, this wall provides pin-up space and can unfold to divide the room in two. Spacesmith highlighted the building’s industrial heritage in this space through use of reclaimed wood and blackened steel materials, as well as preservation of the original herringbone brick floor. Reclaimed wood benches on rollers and a small stair connect the upper and lower levels, creating additional seating for events.
Three steel garage doors at the building’s façade were replaced with a glass storefront, creating a stronger street presence and allowing natural light into back-of-house spaces through corridors and clerestory windows of offices and classrooms.
Photos: Alexander Severin, courtesy Spacesmith