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Thread: Family Court House Building -- Manhattan

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Family Court House Building -- Manhattan

    The renovation / re-cladding of the Manhattan Family Court House Building at 60 Lafayette St. is nearly complete:

    Architect: Mitchell & Giurgola Architects LLP. **
    Partner: W&W Glass, LLC.
    Aynopsis: Approx. 100,000 sq ft pre-glazed Thermo 3 System, unitized granite curtain wall system with operable vents and custom vertical glass fins
    **AWARD: Manhattan Family Court Renovation -- Twentieth Annual Art Commission Award for Excellence in Design, Art Commission of the City of New York, 2002

    Construction Pics: http://www.sotawall.com/proj_popup/USA_MFC.html




    The original building:



    Manhattan Family Courthouse
    60 Lafayette Street
    New York, NY 10013

    Date Built: 1975
    Architect: Haines Lundberg Waehler

    The Manhattan Family Courthouse is located on the west side of Lafayette Street between Franklin and Leonard Streets. The building houses the Family Court, Department of Probation, Human Resources Administration, and Legal Aid.

    The courthouse is a modern black granite building designed by the architectural firm of Haines Lundberg Waehler, which later designed the office buildings at the World Financial Center. A fashionable new form, it was intended to look as if it is an incised cube that was carved away from a polished black granite monolith.
    The Family Court House in the original incarnation was infamous for its imposing brutalism:

    Family Court is supposed to be "friendlier" to navigate than State Supreme Court, but not when it comes to the actual court buildings. The New York County Family Court at 60 Lafayette Street is infamous in architecture circles as an example of form giving not a damn about function. There is little to equate "family" with the building beyond dysfunction. Built in 1975, this polished, black cubist hulk is about as welcoming as the Death Star. Inside, it's a cross between a 1970s sci-fi movie (Logan's run fans rejoice) and the Port Authority before its 1990's facelift. Lots of orange plastic chairs, sharp, wedge cut walls and plenty of poured concrete. The Manson Family is about the only family that could feel warm and secure here.


  2. #2
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    What do you guys think? I actually prefer it before, in all its shiny black deathstar glory.
    It looks like it lost its soul.

  3. #3

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    Ugly then, ugly now.

    Bad bones.




    Grim as divorce itself. (That's no excuse.)

  4. #4

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    I can't make up my mind which is "better."

    Maybe it's just the thought of kids being dragged into a black rock.

  5. #5

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    Marginally less sulky but basically putting lipstick on a corpse.

    Tear that sucker down!

    I prefer NY's Probate Court - what a great building ! (anyone have a pic handy?)

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default

    The pics don't show the new street level -- which is much more open and welcoming: It is light, transparent and connects to the street and the world outside.

    The prior structure was a dark soul -- unfriendly, imposing, labyrinthine -- and hardly served the prime function which was to be a place of JUSTICE for youth, for victims of domestic violence and for others in need of legal remedy.

    The other main problem was that the building as originally constructed was defective -- the black granite panels were famous for coming loose -- spalling and leaks were everywhere.

    The new facade makes for a far better composition with the 60's era Civil Court / 30s era Criminal Court buildings situated around the Collect Pond Park -- a park which currently is one of the major disgraces of NYC ...

    The Collect Pond has become Collect Pond Park, a threadbare greenspace in the midst of the cityís government offices, and a parking lot. Itís a good place for a date if youíre waiting for test results from the city health clinic across the street.
    But fortunately it is slated for renovation:

    LMDC APPROVES $20 MILLION MORE FOR PARKS & OPEN SPACES

    February 9, 2006

    Over $120 Million now allocated to Create or Revitalize more than 135 Acres in Lower Manhattan

    ... Parks targeted for improvement under this round of LMDC funding include: James Madison, Canal Varick Laight, Sara D. Roosevelt, Pike/Allen St. Malls, Collect Pond Park and Washington Market. Improvements include new fencing, plantings, water features, play equipment, benches and sitting areas, lighting, pavement and curbing, drainage and infrastructure.

  7. #7
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    I see a little of the NY Times building in it.

  8. #8

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    i like it. its unusual.

    it was nice before the reclad actually, i dont see the need for it..

    yes i too see a bit of the ny times building in it, i think its the horizontal colouring along the windows...

  9. #9

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    I know I'm probably in the minority, but I really liked the original facade. Love the way the surrounding buildings are reflected on the shiny black granite giving them a menacing feeling.

    It was interesting before in its devilment. Now it looks like it has been institutionalized.

  10. #10
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    I guess that's what I was trying to get at. For this shape, I definitely prefer the black shiny color, (the new color is horrible). The small square windows were better when they punctured the black surface, they were more potent without the dishonest banding.
    You've still got all of the problems of the structure's form itself, but now the aspects that gave it an unmistakable visual essence have been removed.
    Now I can say it definitely deserves the wrecking ball, before I may have dithered.

  11. #11
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    The original looked better. The redo is a waste of taxpayer money.

  12. #12
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    But the facade of the original was badly engineered and was FALLING OFF ...

    Perhaps they could have re-clad it entirely in shiny black, but that would have been very-retro 70s. Plus the new facade / windows have incorporated energy-saving technology.

  13. #13

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    Should have repaired the granite cladding - fixed the defects. It's a 70's building. What's the problem with a 70's building looking "very retro 70's"?

  14. #14

    Default retro rocks

    Agreed- I also prefer the earlier facade. The color now seems totally different . Also the facade now has a distinct horizontality from the new winows. Brutalism is a historical style why change it? Would you say the same about a classical or (goddy) art deco building?.. If we change everything, where will the history go? Agreed though that insides of those buildings are often stuffy and in need of renovations.. Definitely a great effort by the architects.

  15. #15

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    Awful looking building, looks communist.

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