Elegant Structure

Structure is central to architecture, but too often structure is relegated to a mere perfunctory role when it is entombed and no longer apparent. Construction sites remind us of the power of structural form and its timeless potential to provoke aesthetic engagement using nothing more than material and the awareness of weight.

This aesthetic power of structure often arises when atypical conditions are necessary, leading to nuanced structural configurations. In the case of the building illustrated below, on the Upper East Side, the resolution of the concrete frame where it cantilevers over the adjacent building generates a nuanced quality, with the width of the piers reducing at the levels where the diagonal piers shift the load from the cantilever to the primary mass of the structure. Thin structure below wider structure plays on our sense of weight. The thin piers delicately hover over the neighboring building, giving a visual accent to the adjacency. The change of structural thickness endows the form with these qualities. Without the change, the structure would remain in the realm of functional and utilitarian, without any stimulus to make an aesthetic observation. This is the tectonic potential of structural form.

Unusual Details

A concrete frame structure is going up on the East Side with an unusual detail: reinforcement bar projects from the concrete piers horizontally. This could be a unique method of anchoring the exterior skin to the building. Some of the rebar appears to be dangerously close to the pier surface, with inadequate cover. Moisture penetration and freeze thaw will cause serious problems if the skin is not sealed carefully. Will keep an eye on this site to see how the project develops.