NYC CASINO/CONVENTION CENTER COMPETITION
Third Place — $300
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
KyuYoung HUH & jj YEO:
The Yards ///
Manhattan’s West Side has a character all its own. In examining the Western edge condition, affinities with building typologies of particular scale and program began to emerge, where the city’s anomalies and irregularities convene. This is where the streets protrude as piers into the water, where several strip clubs have opened, where sports are played in multi-purpose parking lots, where the hulking mass of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is permanently docked.
The site, located on the West Side of the city, no longer retains traces of the New York city grid. It has become an impasse within Manhattan, an obstruction between the city’s inhabitants and the Hudson River. Its vast expanse – due to the roughly 12 amalgamated city blocks required by the Javits Center and the Rail Yards – is out of scale with the city around it. We propose breaking up these large chunks of the city into smaller blocks which are more at the pedestrian scale of Manhattan’s best neighborhoods.
Here, the predictable pairing of casino and convention center has led to a possible conundrum: the deliberate pairing of a convention center’s primary hyper-flexibility and hyper-functionality, with the inefficiency and labyrinthine spatiality of the casino hall.
Backyard Politics ///
Thus begins the re-occupation of the central void space in the typical New York City block. The once private, even domestic backyard space central to the block gives way to neighborhood gambling. What was once a central void of undeveloped real estate has now been filled; almost as pre-existing infrastructure; with the figural mass of a casino. Encrusted by a layer of exhibition space, each casino gains secret propriety of its block. From the street, it is only recognizable from its figural interruptions in the regimented rhythm of convention row houses. From the vantage point of a Manhattan skyscraper, what seem to be ordinary city blocks now appear slightly unusual…
Block Parti /// Transitioning from the typical convention stall layout to a chunk of New York City blocks is as easy as a scalar shift. The grid-iron density of Manhattan’s city blocks provides the perfect conditions for a convention center on a grand scale. What could be better than maximum accessibility and connectivity? New York as skin.
Where before the traditional, centralized exposition model gave birth to Paxton’s Crystal Palace in 1851, a more dispersed, fragmented circuit is introduced on New York’s West Side; more Arsenale than Giardini. Here, the linear path of a convention patron is unrolled into a linear sequence of exhibition and event spaces which line the street. Each street within the newly established grid is programmed as required to fully support a single convention. Organization of program and exhibition stalls is clear and flexible within the linear progression of each street, allowing (the possibility of ) curatorial control of the convention experience. Storefront as exhibition.
Coupled with other streets and North-South avenues programmed in similar fashion, the grid-organization allows each show to cross paths with others, producing a refreshingly rich convention experience. Given the 264 by 900 foot dimensions of a typical New York city block, these shows are at once linear experiences while allowing a degree of openness to intertwine with other ongoing events whenever streets and avenues intersect. City as exhibition venue.
A large majority of gambling halls have little relationship with the casinos’ glitzy exteriors. Once past the neon lights and advertisements, one enters the homogeneous world of gambling. Very quickly, Luxor’s pyramid and Caesar’s ruins are forgotten,leaving only the (thrilling) prospect of winning at any one of the many craps tables and slot machines, cards and roulette. The furniture layout establishes a field of gaming islands aimed at luring the casino patron into just one more game. The only thing left is to find a way out. The casino container, with its interior parts, is the only apparatus needed to set gambling in motion. A casino, stripped to its bones, is an ornamented room filled with gaming tables and machines, with points of entry and exit.
You look familiar, have we met? ///
The casino in New York City is the casino of everywhere else – presenting itself not as a unified whole, but as a fragmented assemblage. The exterior forms of casinos from around the world are borrowed for their distinctive identities, but undergo formal surgeries – resulting in gaming halls of attenuated familiarity. Here, the dis-figuration of their significant appearances precedes their deployment as ornament. It looks familiar; but then again, it doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before.
(No) Face /// Here, the facade of casino is negated, with only its interior space articulated as if it were the exterior surface of a palace; while the space between casino and sidewalk is pure convention space – a deliberately vacant, dematerialized zone that awaits its seasonal occupation. The real facade then is the wall between the two programs of casino and convention center. It is the only boundary left. In effect, the facade has been freed, subsumed within the mass of the block, no longer trapped between inside and out.
sP: What or who influenced this project?:
kH & jY: Sylvia Lavin’s “Architecture in Extremis,” Sir John Soane’s house, FAT::Architecture, Dogma, Venturi & Scott Brown, Peter Eisenman.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
kH & jY: Medeski Martin & Wood, Steely Dan, Bowerbirds, Haim, Maps & Atlases, Mumford & Sons.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
kH & jY: Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Abruzzo-Bodziak Architects, Caruso St. John, David Chipperfield, Pezo Von Ellrichshausen.
mike SZIVOS: This entry questions the typical convention center or casino needs as a building which is whole. The Javits Center already exists so it is easy to imagine breaking it up and atomizing it into the surrounding fabric. This approach would be interesting if the Javits Center didn’t exist. Would you have to design two projects? One that is whole and sacrificial and the second an exploded version of the first? And in this case wouldn’t you be just designing the city in the same way it is already done?