Friday, July 16, 2010

Design Review 2

My second version of the design proposal continues with the same idea of a penthouse in the sky and a vault-like space underground. The architectural shapes, however, begin to reference cabinets and vaults. Here, the rooms below ground (for the storage of coins and library books) are in glass boxes lit from above and the penthouse meeting space is of solid wood or metal, with moveable parts like coin cabinets and secret ballot boxes.

The New York Numismatic Club

The New York Numismatic Club is related to the ANS but it is a private club of many mysteries - a near secret society. Founded in 1908 at Keens Chop House on West 36th as an offshoot of the ANS, perhaps in a fall out over the location of the club (the NYNC wanted to meet in a downtown location while the ANS's headquarters at Audubon Terrace were uptown at West 155th), its members meet once a month for dinner and they haven't missed a meeting since.

125 copies of a book about this club has been published and was review in the E-Sylum blog.

I got a chance to look at the book in ANS's library. Some interesting tidbits:

Within the world of numismatics, there are many sub-groups, categories and areas of interest. So even though many people might think that the general notion of numismatics is of a highly specialized niche culture, once one learns more about it, they discover that it is not enough to state an interest in numismatics - you need to specify your interest within numismatics. There are of course coin collectors who do it for fun, but there are also investors, historians, archeologists and bibliophiles to name a few.

Design Review 1

My initial proposal for a clubhouse for numismatists is posted below. All of the ideas for the proposal were generated through the site and the program. The site our class was assigned was the space above the freeway leading to the mouth of the Brooklyn Tunnel - about 100 yards from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan and adjacent to the architecturally famous Downtown Athletic Club.

The first key premise is to design a penthouse club for the numismatics. If one looks at the old skyscrapers of Manhattan, at the very top most point, they will find the most exclusive space within the most exclusive city - the penthouses (top floor of a building). These are reserved for the most selective, wealthiest tenants. Because my club, which studies money, has an characteristic of exclusivity (see the following post on the New York Numismatic Club) - why not design them just a penthouse? They don't need the lower floors of the building. In a penthouse, they could be in a private, secure space with million dollar views over Battery Park and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The second premise of the design is that the clubhouse would be an island. This stems from numismatic nature, but also from the site. By placing the penthouse on a structural support (with an elevator inside) in the middle of a freeway, no one would know how to enter the building. Entry would occur underground, where a secure space for the currency vault and library books would be safely housed. So the project would utilize the space high above the ground and the space below the ground.

The third premise is sustainability. By building on and under a freeway, this project is taking space that has been left for dead and turning it into a new site - creating a site where none existed before. Could this be a model for other countless acres of land in desirable locations such as downtowns, that have been devastated by other mid-century freeway projects?

For the form of this first design, I looked at the intricate beauty to be found on coins and dollars - the organic craft. Could this influence the design of the building?

Visit to the Federal Reserve

On July 12th we took a trip to the Wall Street area to visit ANS's exhibition at the famous Federal Reserve Bank of New York. ANS itself owns one million forms of currency spanning 3 millennia of history and this exhibit showcases 800 examples of some of their most famous specimens. Because we were walking into one of the largest banks in the world, security was extremely tight. We showed ID, and handed in our cameras to the armed guards as we passed through metal detectors. Once inside we saw many beautiful historical coins, and videos on how money is made, stored and transported today.

The plaque on the exterior of the bank explains that 5 stories of vaults are below ground resting on Manhattan's solid bedrock. These vaults contain billions of dollars in gold.

The mysterious upper floors of a building adjacent to the bank.