New York, USA
This six-storey, Beaux-Arts townhouse is nestled tightly between two much larger blocks on Fifth Avenue. It faces the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the east and backs onto a courtyard to the west. Completed in 1906, the building was originally a family residence for the former U.S. ambassador to Germany and has been owned by the Federal Republic of Germany since the 1950s. The project is to transform the historic building into a home for the 1014 organisation. It will accommodate improved facilities for a residency programme, public and private events, exhibitions and meetings, to foster cross-disciplinary connections between Germany and the USA, contributing to the energy of this cultural quarter.
The townhouse will be sensitively extended, renovated and reconfigured to incorporate both a public and residential component while retaining and reinforcing its domestic qualities in both the original fabric and new-build components. The historic Fifth Avenue façade will be maintained and restored while new infill elements will create a new image for the institution facing east. The contrast of new and old facing west and east respectively symbolises the building’s history and future as well as its programme of transatlantic dialogue and debate, connecting east and west.
The three lower levels will house an inclusive public programme with spaces for a variety of events; exhibitions, performances, film screenings, discussions and talks. The residential component will occupy the upper three levels and will provide rooms for scholars to stay, as well as the administrative areas for 1014. At the centre of the house, on the third floor, the public and private spaces will overlap in a new doubleheight common room with a wintergarden and a balcony overlooking the courtyard which will be reconfigured as a garden, accessible to visitors.
Consistent with ideas of reuse and continuity, the new elements are respectful and coherent with the building’s existing fabric, maintaining a domestic atmosphere while providing improved performance. To the east, the stacking of the different public and residents’ programmes creates a dynamic new façade of different window types suggestive of the variety activities found within.