by Katharine Logan
A crisp, subtly articulated new form has risen among the towers of New York. The Helena, a 580-unit apartment building designed by FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS, formerly Fox & Fowle Architects, brings elegant design and sustainable technologies to a building type often underserved in both these regards.
As the first voluntarily sustainable highrise residential building in New York City, the Helena has won the AIA 2005 Green Affordable Housing Award from the American Institute of Architects. "It is a source of pride that the AIA has recognized the Helena as a new model of what a New York sustainable apartment building can and should be," says Dan Kaplan, AIA, senior principal of FXFOWLE.
The Helena's envelope of floor-to-ceiling glass, wrap-around windows, and metal panels weaves a shimmering pattern of opacity and reflection. With floor bands seeming from below to stretch on a bias across the building's facets, the building looks taut and smart. Its understated formal composition, accented with a twist of the balcony and a tilt of the photovoltaics, balances verve with restraint: a welcome achievement in a building type that, as a supporting actor on the urban stage, often tries either too hard or not hard enough.
Inside, a change of ceiling height defines unit entries, bringing sectional interest to a typology notoriously devoid of it. An open wall between kitchen and dining rooms, which kitchen cabinets span rather than block, brings a feel of space and flow to an efficient configuration. >>>
Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...
The Helena, New York City, is a 580-unit apartment building designed by FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS.
Image: FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS
Operable windows and efficient lighting help make Helena apartments comfortable.
Photo: FXFOWLE ARCHITECTS
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.