Page D1.1 . 07 January 2004                     
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    Manhattan Inside Updates

    by Peter Gaito Jr.

    Like putting a new engine in a classic car or an updated graphics card in an old computer, a few New York architects are giving high-tech interiors to historic buildings. In each case — car, computer, building — the external appearance of the original can be maintained while its function is upgraded.

    For several recent projects in Manhattan, building owners and developers have reconsidered how to bring old buildings up to modern day architectural and economic viability. This has been in response to historical nostalgia and financial concerns as well as input from concerned citizens and preservation activists.

    The consensus is that just because a building is old, doesn't mean it has to be knocked down. On the other hand, just because an old building is worth keeping, doesn't mean it has to be restored to its original appearance and function.

    I like to call these old/new hybrids "cybernetic architecture": a style of building that integrates high-tech control systems with antiquated structures. The resulting building has improved operating efficiency, appearance, ergonomics, and environmental performance, without disturbing the original aesthetic, contextual, and structural qualities. Cybernetic architecture succeeds by celebrating the quality of the classic structure, with a little help from a symbiotic modernity.

    Several groundbreaking architects and their visionary clients have successfully breathed new life into old, but steadfast structures in the lower west side of Manhattan. The resulting architectural gems have introduced cybernetic architecture into the diverse New York City urban fabric.   >>>

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    Lux Studios's space is a former gas station and auto repair shop with all new interiors by FTF Design Studio.
    Photo: FTF Design Studio

    ArchWeek Image

    In addition to serving as a workplace, Lux Studios, with its high ceilings and koi pond, is also available for private parties.
    Photo: FTF Design Studio

     

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