More photos of the curtain wall: http://ixtayul.blogs.com/metroplus/2...reet_and_.html
September 6, 2001
The Bronx Criminal Court Complex
The new Bronx Criminal Court Complex designed by joint venture team Rafael Vinoly Architects / DMJM Architects and Engineers broke ground on August 14th.
The Bronx Criminal Court Complex, through its form and transparency, will redefine the relationship of the courthouse with the surrounding community. Glass is used to convey a sense of openness that stands in sharp contrast to traditional courthouse design. The linear layout of the building wraps around a large central open public space, which contributes to the urban landscape of the neighborhood. In the middle of the complex, a freestanding low volume will serve as the Jury Assembly Hall, the symbolic and spatial center for the complex. Inside the court complex, public functions are located adjacent to the central open space, which provides a visual reference point to orient visitors. A series of glass and steel stairs animates the plaza side of the complex with visible pedestrian activity.
The principal façade on 161st Street will be a glass and aluminum curtain wall composed of varying degrees of translucency. The folded three-dimensional configuration of the curtain wall and the use of high-performance ceramic-fritted glass maximize natural daylight while maintaining environmental comfort and visual privacy for users. On the interior of the block, the use of transparent glass maximizes the connection between the building interior and the central open space. Throughout the complex, the design brings natural indirect daylight into interior spaces including the courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms, justice chambers, and the public and private circulation spaces. Together, the innovative exterior wall system, state of the art lighting and mechanical systems contribute to a high-performance energy efficient building.
Rendering Exterior Night
The program for the New Bronx Criminal Court Complex consists of 72 courtrooms for the Supreme and Criminal Court, space for the Department of Corrections, the New York Police Department, the Department of Probation, the Bronx District Attorney, contract agencies and parking facilities for four hundred cars. It also incorporates retail space and a children’s day care facility that will serve the immediate neighboring community.
The new court complex is located on a three-block site on East 161st Street near Grand Concourse Boulevard. The new court facilities will work with the existing supreme, criminal, and family courts located near the site to create a Municipal Center as envisioned by Department of City Planning. The project’s goal is to integrate the 111.500 square meter court complex within the immediate context of low- and mid-rise residential buildings to the north, elementary and high school structures to the east, and retail and commercial activity along 161st Street. This is achieved by massing the building along the perimeter of the site – primarily on 161st Street – and creating an open civic space behind it to act as a transition between the Criminal Court and its residential neighbors.
The civic plaza covers an underground parking structure and contains the Jury Assembly Hall, which will be available for use by community groups during the court’s off hours. The court’s public circulation is distributed along the inside perimeter of the L-shaped plan overlooking the plaza. It is augmented by a series of stairs, platforms and ramps that connect the various levels of the complex to create a functional multi-level public concourse and reduce demand on the elevator cores. The restricted access circulation for the judges’ chambers and court staff is located in corridors along the 161st Street façade.
The facility’s main entrance is located on 161st Street between Sherman and Grant Avenues. It is flanked by retail components on the ground floor and frames a view of the landscaped civic plaza, which it connects to 161st Street. Delivery of prisoners, access to the New York Police Department central booking police station and freight access are concentrated along Sherman Avenue, where the similar functions of another court building across the avenue are also located. This consolidation helps to mitigate the impact of these functions on the adjacent residential neighborhood.
The environmental concerns of the building have been addressed through a building-wide “green” approach. Energy conservation is realized with extensive daylighting, energy efficient supplemental lighting, and the advanced design of heating and air conditioning systems. Every floor of the folded glass exterior wall that encloses the L-shaped plan is composed of three horizontal courses of glass that are differentiated by their transparency: lowest on the bottom and highest on the top. The wall is designed to maximize light penetration into the building through the use of reflecting and shading devices within the angles of the folded façade and a system of reflective surfaces on the ceilings of each level, so that light is bounced progressively deeper into the plan.
For the new Bronx Courthouse, Rafael Vinoly Architects has proposed floor-to-ceiling exterior glass walls – 100% laminated for security – that look like a stretched-out accordion from the outside and have inherent 3D qualities.
One purely modern answer is the proposed Bronx Criminal Courthouse on East 161st Street, New York, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects. Rafael Vinoly has said that his primary design goal is to communicate a sense of permeability while including floor-to-ceiling, exterior glass walls. "We wanted a transparent building," said Jay Bargmann, vice president of the Vinoly firm, "but it had to have some sense of solidity and monumentality."
The architects had to find a glass façade that met the client's requirements in terms of energy-efficiency, security and heat gain and loss. The corrugated metal they are considering laminating into the glass will mean that people inside the building are reassured by seeing the metal but can, at the same time, feel the natural daylight behind.
Rafael Vinoly Architects has taken an innovative approach by having a large, two-story courtroom surrounded by lower-volume buildings, such as judges' chambers, which are one story lower so there is actually a lot of natural daylight flooding into the courtroom. "It won't feel as if you're going into the dungeons of the criminal justice system," said Luis M. Tormenta, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction in the Bronx.
Not as nice as depicted in the renderings, they never do though.
A New Architecture of Justice Rises in the Bronx
BY JAMES GARDNER - Special to the Sun
January 2, 2007
The aim of juridical architecture, the architecture of courts, prisons, and anything else that aspires to correct the crooked timber of humanity, has traditionally been to overawe all who enter, both evil-doers and decent citizens alike.
But awe in general has ceased to be one of the options available to our culture, and neither modernism nor what followed it has shown much interest in revisiting the stern and majestic authority of earlier correctional facilities. If anything, an attempt has been made to mitigate the severity of such structures by admitting more light, airing out the interior spaces, and arraying the walls in pastel colors that have been known to have a pacifying effect on human beings.
Like most of its modernist forebears, the new Bronx Hall of Justice, designed by Raphael Viñoly, seeks to humanize our interaction with the forces of law. Something in the very materiality of the glass and steel that make up most of this building at 265 E. 161st St. seems to militate against the Gothic severity of masonry and brick. At the same time, though, the boxy massiveness of the structure and its apparently unapologetic embrace of bigness succeed in intimidating this viewer scarcely less than the Tower of London, the Palais de Justice in Brussels, or even Alcatraz itself. Containing 1.1 million square feet, the Bronx Hall of Justice, when fully operational in early 2007, will house some 62 courts and a garage that can accommodate more than 300 cars.
The dominant idiom of its greenish-glass structure is modernist, once again unapologetically so, in keeping with the revival of this idiom in recent years. In that regard it stands in marked contrast to César Pelli's Brooklyn Federal Courthouse, which opened last year to vaguely art deco designs concocted in the early 1990s. Whereas Mr. Pelli's building had masonry cladding and rose as a slab upon a base, Mr. Viñoly's 10-story Hall of Justice stretches across its entire block (from Sherman to Grant Avenues, two blocks west of Grand Concourse and three blocks west of Yankee Stadium) in an endlessly repetitive and modular horizontal mass.
Nevertheless, it is hardly a monotonous building, thanks to various formal devices that vary the visual texture of the façade. For example, much of its surface is corrugated with an angled sequence of windows that achieve especial emphasis at the corners of the building. Toward the center of the structure, at the entrance, this riddled pattern suddenly resolves itself into elements of a curtain wall. This wall surmounts the long, cantilevered marquee of the entrance way, which bears the name of the building in elegant art moderne lettering. At this point, I can confidently assert that such lettering is part of the architectural vocabulary of the Bronx, since, in the past year alone, it has shown up on Richard Dattner's new Bronx Library at 310 East Kingsbridge Road and Arquitectonica's Bronx Museum of the Arts, at 1040 Grand Concourse.
From 161st Street, which is how most people will approach and enter the site, the broad, squat Hall of Justice reads like a monolith. But the punch line, evident as you walk around the building to its northern side, is that it is not the perfect rectangle it appears to be, but rather a carved-out shell, roughly L-shaped. To the north and east it opens up as a huge public space that, even when seen in winter and in a state of partial completion, promises to be one of the more eminent landscaping successes of the newly revived borough of the Bronx.
There is an almost brutalist aggression in the irregular massing of the corners of the building's northern front, as well as a deconstructivist zeal in exhibiting the glazed external stairways. In one corner of this vast space, connecting it to the building itself, is a sprawling, windowless, and cylindrical drum that makes odd visual sense. Its elegant limestone forms an arcane architectural jest, one that, I think, will have been lost upon the magistrates who had to approve it. For in form and spirit it recalls nothing so much as the exuberant rationalism of such late 18th-century Enlightenment architects as Boullée and Ledoux, who devoted themselves largely to public works, not least to prisons. Specifically, the grand drum puts one in mind of such carceral structures as the infamous panopticon, conceived by Jeremy Bentham and much discussed by Michel Foucault in his book "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison" (1977). Despite Bentham's rationalist ambitions, a whiff of the rack and the knout lingers about his project — at least among readers of Foucault — and that seems to be slyly alluded to by the architect, but in ways that may well be lost on the magistrates of the Bronx.
However that may be, this cylindrical structure turns out to be the main receiving room for potential jurors. Seen from the inside, it is bright and airy, with wood paneling and cushioned seats designed to make the prospect of jury duty as pleasant and anxiety-free as possible. If it fails in that respect, that says more about jury duty than about the architecture.
As you exit this jury room, you are confronted by a soaring atrium that makes up most of the public interior of the building. With two-tone terrazzo floors, this space is pleasant enough. But in the tangle of floors and stairways overhead, it seems to have slipped ever so slightly out of Mr. Viñoly's control, making for a less harmonious experience than the building affords in other respects. That said, the structure as a whole is indeed Architecture with a capital "A," and that fact in itself represents considerable progress over comparable projects in New York only a generation ago.
looks a little bit too trendy/corporate/airy/futuristic I fall into the camp of people who believe that public architecture (atleast criminal justice wise) should be built in classical styles so as to not trivialise the proceedings with distructing architecture that is pleasing to the eye but lacks substance or message.
Last edited by Kris; January 4th, 2007 at 04:57 AM.
Unfortunately, I really believe New Yorkers crave open space.
It's ironic really, because other American cities are moving away from that spread-out type of development in favor of more denser developments that are pedestrian-engaging.
This is a recent article about Miami.
As recent civil buildings go, this one's not bad. It reminds me of a building Morphosis did for San Francisco not too long ago: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8704
Second to last picture in Kris' post: Trump Tower (sans the trees).
Some of the glass panes have strange cracks in them and 4 of them are already broken. One crack is straight across and another appears two follow an ellipse. Is there a structural problem with this building.
Perhaps they should gut it and turn it into an urban folly. Remove the windows and strip it down to steel and stone. Declare it a relic of America's judicial past, a place of importance to our heritage but now a remembrance of where we once were -- when we believed that we actually were a nation of laws, not men. Find new uses for it that don't cost and arm and a leg (and not a shopping center). Or let it stand there as a monument to where we are now.
Germany has quite a collection of old industrial sites, deemed essential sites to German heritage, that are being adaptively re-used but allowed to remain as the empty hulks that they are, among them Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord:
The Mega Multi Maxi Park
There are similar ideas for the old Bethlehem Steel plant in PA:
Rebuilding Bethlehem with Bethlehem Steel
Actually I think the building is pretty nice to be in the large floor to ceiling windows allow an ample amount of daylight to enter the building all but obviating the need for artificial light. It much more enjoyable than the old Bronx Supreme Court building which is dark and uninviting.
The does appear to be an issue with windows directly facing the garage entrance. I'd take pics but cameras are not allowed in NYC courts.