Proposals: Of Possible Architectures
Translating an Architecture of Relational Tectonics. View large image.
The New Van Alen Institute. View large image.
The Van Alen Table. View large image.
The Van Alen Office. View large image.
The Van Alen Table configured as event seating. View large image.
Vincent Appel, Jaime Magaliff, Franklin Romero Jr., Paul Miller, Heather Murtagh Miller, Emily Ruopp.
On Google Hangout: Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Jay Atherton.
Of Possible Architectures is honored to offer this proposal for the next iteration of the Van Alen Institute. The VAI has developed a legacy of architectural projects through competitions and commissions. The Van Alen Stairs, inspired by the TKTS Steps, capture this legacy most succinctly. The Stairs achieve an architecture of relational tectonics. We have identified relational tectonics as the dimension of architecture which intentionally provokes relationships between people, their behavior, and their environment.
The effect of seeing an audience on the Van Alen Stair during an event or a person sitting alone on them reading a book creates an impressionable moment. As an active viewer in the space or as a passerby on 22nd Street, this experience of seeing behaviors unfold on the stairs builds a distinct and personal relationship outside the normal perception of daily life and the city.
For the next iteration of the Van Alen Institute, we propose a translation of the Van Alen Stair into the Van Alen Table.
The dimensions of the Table are precisely calibrated to the VAI's space. The Table allows for the full gradient of programs to easily expand and contract along, around, and in between its 70' length. This table presents those using it — whether reading, lounging, working, etc. — in a way that is both comfortable, natural, and uncanny. The experience is just off-center from typical expectations.
With movable bookshelves and curtains, discrete spaces of varying visual privacy, acoustic isolation, and light control can easily be created along, around, and in between the table. As programs expand and contract along the Table a strong spatial relationship is established between the many evolving components of the VAI.
There are 28 tables 2'6" x 5' in plan. Their legs and frame are made from 2" white powder coated aluminum square stock. Their tops are made from reclaimed ash lumber. Each table can be easily coupled to create a 2'6" x 10' table uninterrupted by center legs along its length. In section, the Table's legs are easily adjustable in 6-7/8" increments creating ideal table and seat heights for various behaviors.
One 2'6" x 5' table configured as a 30" tall workstation height weighs less than 50 lbs. Integrated hardware makes assembling different configurations quick and simple. The finished height including a concealed caster can be 9-3/8", 16-1/4", 23-1/8", 30", or taller. It can even be coupled into raked seating for use on and off site.
Surrounding the Table, the Van Alen's space is renovated to maximize spatial relationships through both the front and rear facade increasing light, airflow, and program opportunities. An operable facade can open up partially or completely retract to create a shallow or deep front porch. This increases connectivity with the street while dramatically framing both the interior and the exterior. Measured from the outside edge of the street seat to the rear property line, the nearly 120' long space is landscaped in three zones. The landscaping interrupts, excites, and inspires both passerby and VAI staff marking a significantly alternative experience to every other storefront in the city.
Vincent Appel, Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Jaime Magaliff, Paul Miller, Heather Murtagh, Franklin Romero Jr., Emily Ruopp
In collaboration with: Jay Atherton
Of Possible Architectures (OPA) is a creative practice working across spheres of architecture, social sculpture, large scale public art, and urbanism. OPA is committed to architecture as an act of cultural production and focuses on radically innovative, often self-initiated, cultural projects. What we do is based on optimistic speculations for how people and the built environment affect one another.
Our name, Of Possible Architectures, derives from our belief that the most exciting moments in the history of art and architecture are the creation of new forms and uses of space. We regard design as a form of research and research as a form of design — a metacognitive approach. Our process pursues an architecture that affects relationships between its constituents, their environments, and their unique identities.
OPA's current work includes a multiform gallery space for Staten Island Arts, a coastal housing prototype in New England, a mixed-use building in Florida, and a single family residence in upstate New York. Completed projects include design commissions for master planning of a 2 million square foot factory campus, 120,000 square foot low-rise tower, public park, restaurant, gallery, and more. OPA's built work includes projects for residential, cultural, and institutional clients ranging from a 2,500 square foot penthouse apartment to a 25,000 square foot temporary museum.
Vincent Appel, Principal
Vincent Appel has been leading the creative practice, Of Possible Architectures, in Manhattan for the past five years. Founded on the belief that architecture is an act of cultural production and formal literacy, Vincent maintains active roles in academic design, discourse, research, and professional practice. He was recently the recipient of the 2013 Practitioner / Scholar Michael Kalil Grant for Smart Design. His work and the work on behalf of his clients, has received support and been awarded by the Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, and Institute for Urban Design. His research and work has been included in panel discussions and lectures at TEDx Dumbo: "Art Bar," Storefront for Art and Architecture: "Spaces that Learn / Spaces that Teach," The BMW Guggenhiem Lab: "Urban by Nature," and the Syracuse University School of Architecture panel: "News from Somewhere, on the Production of Culture."