Maria Giulia Zunino
Brooklyn Museum is New York’s second most important art museum after MoMA in terms of the quality of its exhibits, its physical size and the number of visitors. Originally designed in 1893 by McKim, Mead & White, the prolific architectural firm that also designed the American Academy in Rome, the museum was extended several times over the years and now stands at the heart of Brooklyn’s cultural and natural history district together with Prospect Park, the botanic garden and the public library.
Just 100 metres away stands a 7,000 square metre condominium consisting of 37 residences of different sizes on 9 floors, an elegant corner building with a curious history.
“The condo is the result of a correction to a project originally created by the young New York-based practice DJLU for Happy Living Development,” explains architect Aldo Andreoli. “The developer asked them to design a building that would have a greater value than the others, but the result was a disappointingly anonymous condominium building with the largest possible cubage.”
It was at that point that the client turned to him for help. The Turinese architect, who arrived in Manhattan in 1981 “with the dream of joining an international commune… [attracted by] the multicultural society and the open-mindedness”, as he said in a recent interview with Laura Wagner, has in-depth knowledge of the world of real estate. He is known, among other things, for his ground-breaking projects in the TriBeCa neighbourhood (such as 11 N Moore and 290 West) and had recently completed 250 Bowery, home of the new ICP Museum.
“Together with my colleague Claudio Delmonte, we reviewed the entire project from the plans through to the structure, but without changing the reinforced concrete design because it had already been calculated and approved by the authorities,” continues Andreoli. “Our aim was to create a building with a clearly recognisable identity.” It was no easy task, but the project was a success and the name Museum House chosen by the developer testifies to their satisfaction.
In the lower section, the metal half-columns located between the windows allude to the large Corinthian columns on the Brooklyn Museum’s façade. On the first six floors, the regular grid gives the façades a classical look. And in the upper section, the use of a single material and a single colour creates a volume that interrupts the regularity of the structure on which it rests, creating a dynamic upward movement.
The use of porcelain stoneware for the façade cladding is not a common choice in New York, but it proved a success due to its resistance to the elements, its eco-sustainability and the wide range of available sizes, thicknesses, colours and decorations. “We used Florim products to emphasise the classicism of the grid with the marble finish of the Ardoise collection and the solidity of the volume with the Burnished colour metallic accents from the Flowtech collection. The large size of the slabs allowed us to create a regular pattern among the panels of the ventilated façade. The engineers’ skill in adapting the panels to structures that are not always built with precision proved crucial. Installation was facilitated by the Florim S7 anchoring system designed for high buildings.”
Floor Gres, Flowtech/
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): average value 0,08%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): average value 140 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): average value 52 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9 NATURALE, R10 R+PTV
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme