215 Park Avenue South, 1805
New York, NY 10003
212 962 6307

What we do.

Cultural and Institutional Projects
Public Sector and Infrastructure Projects
Prototypes Regarding Technology and the City
Urban Master Planning
Radical Mixed Use
Transit-Oriented Office, Housing, Retail and Hotel
Public Space Design
Social Impact Projects
Strategic Advice and Advocacy
Establishing Overarching Project Narratives


What we don’t do.

Single-Family Suburban Homes
Suburban Subdivisions, Malls and Office Parks
Work for Autocratic/Dictatorial Nations
Work for Nations with Unacceptable Labor Practices
Work for Clients with Unacceptable Environmental Practices
Correctional Facilities
Casinos / Facilities for Slot-Machine Gambling
Facilities that Manufacture Arms


The Domino Sugar Refinery, Reimagined

Brooklyn, NY

Program

Office Building with Public and Retail Ground Floor Uses

Client

Two Trees Management

Size

400,000 GSF

Status

In design

Like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Industry City, the Domino Sugar Refinery will soon return to life as the nerve center of a new working waterfront, the heart of a 6.6-acre park that will anchor a brilliant new mixed-use neighborhood being built by our extraordinary client, Two Trees Management. An industrial urban landmark constructed by Henry Havemeyer, whose family later gave us Metropolis Magazine and Metropolis Books, the building long dominated both Brooklyn’s skyline and economy. The structure was built to consolidate three functions – the filtering, panning and finishing of sugar – that required the use of enormous equipment housed in cavernous multi-story spaces made purposefully illegible by the repetitive punched arch windows in the masonry. Although these windows were misaligned across the four façades, they together were intended to give the entire structure a singular, monumental appearance, crowned by the muscular smokestack on the west elevation built out of radial brick.

Domino Sugar moved its operations to Yonkers in 2004, leaving open the potential for the structure to have a different use in a new economy, a 400,000sf tech office building of the future, with thriving ground floor uses at its base. Far more than a building, this landmark allows the site’s new structures to be grounded by history, granting a sense of identity and place often missing in large-scale new development of this magnitude.

PAU’s proposed design entails four principals:

1) To inhabit the landmark as an armature, allowing light and air to pass between the new office building and the existing brick structure;

2) To “complete” the structure, as suggested by the work of Gottfried Semper, Kenneth Frampton, and James Sterling, with a crystalline barrel-vaulted structure that resonates with the American Round Arch Style in which the original building is rendered;

3) To maintain the patina of the building with historical integrity, including the palimpsest of masonry hues, the apertures along the southern face, the Domino sign, and the overall industrial character that, like wrinkles on the elderly, demand respect and revelry.

4) To celebrate the Refinery as the “jewel in the crown” of the site plan by creating a porous ground plane with a public enfilade ringing the building’s western perimeter; enabling an east-west public axis from Kent Street, through an open air courtyard, under the smokestack and onto a new waterfront plaza; addressing Domino Square to the south with apertures that engage public space; and infusing the ground floor program with halls, shops, eateries, and services like restrooms that engage the public, particularly during periods of inclement weather.

We continue to work with the local community, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, and involved civic organizations to re-imagine this vital landmark in a manner that will allow us to build the new while honoring the old, to collectively look forward as we look back.

Program

Office Building with Public and Retail Ground Floor Uses

Client

Two Trees Management

Size

400,000 GSF

Status

In design


Street and Sky:
A Newark Renaissance

Newark, NJ

Program

Residential with Market Hall

Client

Lotus Equity Group

Size

Building: 625,000 GSF
Master Plan: 8 acres

Status

In design

There are certain astonishing American cities that defy the conventional wisdom of urban history. Newark, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore…places that stereotypically conjure fear and despair yet refuse to be defined by their sorrows. To the contrary, each city has their own indefatigable spirit defined more by the histories, cultures, and communities they created. To be sure, they have struggled through riots and recessions, racism and recidivism, and some of those struggles undeniably persist. But with wealthy cities on the rise both nationally and globally, our unsung urban strivers have a precious new role in society today, an opportunity that remains elusive for the New Yorks and Londons, San Franciscos and Tokyos. Such megacities are of course booming, but they are by some measures victims of their own success, overwhelmed by gentrification, chain stores, and a quietly insidious homogenization of global culture that should give all good urbanists pause. By contrast, cities like Newark have the gift of diversity, the authenticity of history, the texture of work ennobled by the likes of Philip Roth, the street cred that means when Nina Simone returned from Paris in 1998 to give a rare concert, she gave it in Newark.

But of these rising sister cities, Newark is arguably the forgotten middle child, still waiting to reclaim her place in the sun. Huge strides forward have been taken with the blossoming of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the renewal of the Newark Museum, the reconstruction of the riverfront, the rise of Rutgers and NJIT, and grass roots initiatives such as Newark Murals.

Yet the city still hums with the faint echo of a place that once buzzed, of a place longing for a turning point.

Our 8-acre master plan and architectural design of a 625,000 gsf building for Lotus Equity Group in downtown Newark represents such a turning point, one of many rays of light that together represent Newark’s chance to once again shine. Positioned minutes from Broad Street Station and therefore Midtown Manhattan, the site sits at the nexus between the Passaic River and Branch Brook Park; between the commercial activities of the central business district such as Audible’s and Prudential’s headquarters and diverse residential neighborhoods like the Ironbound; between a past that defined Newark’s decay and a future that is shaping Newark’s renaissance.

The pedestrian is the main focus of our master plan for the site, with the goal of creating a sequence of public spaces that weave the edges of our site together with its heart, a 1.5-acre piazza that shares its triangular geometry with Military Park and Washington Park in central Newark. Beyond the project site, our proposed network of public spaces aspires to ignite a new pedestrian ethos in Newark’s burgeoning downtown community.

Beyond these crucial points of urbanism, however, we are committed to bring beautiful architecture back to Newark as we embark on the design for the site’s first phase northern building, a structure that will house almost 700 rental apartments and a large food hall at its base. Evocative towers by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, contemporaries of his stunning Lafayette Park project in Detroit, hover near the site and our hearts. Our client’s deep interest in European courtyard housing typologies, including an extensive research trip to Copenhagen’s new food-truck market halls and Berlin’s “hofs” (sequenced courtyards) deeply influenced our design. And of course, the history of Newark as “Brick City”, as a place that is intensely “street,” grounded our minds and sketchbooks.

Our resulting proposal, entitled “Street and Sky,” attempts to collage these influences into a whole, with a masonry human scale base that houses a large informal ground floor food hall, a series of courtyard residential entries, and the potential for live/work housing. Above a sinuous horizontal form reflects and reinterprets the larger urban forces around the site, capturing desired views, waving hello to the ghost of Mies, and greeting weary commuters and wary visitors as they arrive at Broad Street Station. Systems of balconies unite the two forms, bringing the building to life throughout its plan and section.

While the affordability that an economical building will deliver is at the forefront of our minds, we must simultaneously declare that intentional design is not the mere province of the wealth of the world, but rather is the stuff of daily life, the secret sauce that will make this site as delicious as it is nutritious.

Program

Residential with Market Hall

Client

Lotus Equity Group

Size

Building: 625,000 GSF
Master Plan: 8 acres

Status

In design


Public Space for Free Expression

A Letter to Mayor De Blasio

Program

Safe Spaces for Demonstration

Size

New York City-Wide

In partnership with twelve other local architecture, urban planning and public space advocacy organizations, PAU helped draft a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio recommending seven actions the city can take to support and encourage demonstrations, political speech, and other expressions of civic engagement in the city’s public spaces.  The letter emphasized the importance of both policy initiatives as well as the physical characteristics of public space in fostering an environment of free expression in the public realm.  In addition to helping with the letter itself, PAU produced a series of maps analyzing the demographics around the nodes in new proposed network of protest sites in the five boroughs. The maps demonstrate accessibility of the network to a broad cross-section of New Yorkers, rather than relying solely on traditional, centrally-located sites like Union Square.

Program

Safe Spaces for Demonstration

Size

New York City-Wide


Penn Palimpsest

New York, NY

New York’s Pennsylvania Station is much more than a transit hub. It is the busiest transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere, it is at the heart of our city and region, and it is the lynchpin to reimagining its neglected surroundings. But beyond these significant concerns, Penn Station is also a symbol, from the extraordinary engineering feat it and its trans-Hudson tunnels represented in 1910, to the demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s beaux arts spectacle in the 1960s, to its future disposition in the coming years. Penn Station symbolizes, for good or bad, who we are as a society. Its future asks whether we still believe in the idea of the public, whether we believe in a shared civil society, whether we can still come together to imagine a future as collective as it is bright.

Our proposal imagines the station as a new public commons, a civic space both sober and soaring, an idea born out of architectural restraint during a time that asks us to do more with less. By proposing to recycle the superstructure and foundations of Madison Square Garden once the Garden has a beautiful new home 800′ away in the west end of the Farley building, our proposed station creates a grand commuter pavilion at minimal public cost and disruption. This new commuter pavilion reinforces other proposals for the area, including an Amtrak station in the east end of the Farley building, improved entrances and concourses to the north and west, and most importantly, the tracks and platforms proposed to be built to the south as part of the Gateway tunnel project. The definition of success is new capacity, a new station, and a new neighborhood.

Architecturally the proposal builds upon the palimpsest that is Penn, with layers of history revealed from McKim’s original balustrades, to the reuse of the original station’s mezzanine levels, to the reimagining of the Garden’s roof as a hovering mural of New York. Building upon the circular precedents of Philip Johnson’s New York State World’s Fair pavilion and Pan Am’s “Worldport” building at JFK, the structure of the Garden is reclad in a double-skin glass wall that transmits light but not heat. A sawtooth pattern in the glass picks up changes in light through the day, acting as a sundial for travelers as they ascend from the platforms. The station is passively heated and cooled, allowing for a 25′ high open entry threshold around the entire perimeter of the cylinder, which will enable far better emergency egress. Blast proof glass will protect the new station, and smoke can be purged quickly through the oculus in the ceiling in the event of a fire.

Beyond the specifics of the building however, this proposal provides the opportunity to reimagine the entire neighborhood as a destination rather than a repellent, with a new Madison Square Garden, new office, housing and hotels, new eateries, a small public park, all at the heart of our city. At the center of the new district will be a grand public space without a grand public price tag, a chance to reaffirm our belief in civic infrastructure and our shared public realm.

Collaborators: Thornton Tomasetti, Level Agency for Infrastructure, Dharam Consulting


What we believe

For us architecture and urbanism are inextricable – the structure of city blocks, the use of ground floors, the intensity of infrastructure, the connections of public space, the extensive network of space, materials and systems that comprise architecture – these factors help determine whether a city is indeed the platform for a shared, vibrant and diverse culture that our times demand.

PAU therefore designs architecture that builds the physical, cultural, and economic networks of our cities, with an emphasis on beauty, function, and user experience. We seek out projects that celebrate the capacity of cities to delight. At the forefront of our process is a constant focus on the lived experience of our work, with the goal of uplifting both the inhabitants of our projects and the city’s passersby. The joy of architecture lies in its response to human agency, which is why the lasting use of our buildings and the degree to which they age thoughtfully in their context is central to our definition of success.

PAU simultaneously advances strategic urbanism projects, typically with an embedded architectural component, in the form of master planning, tactical project advice, and advocacy. In this capacity, we help clients plan and advocate for density and infrastructure where they belong at an urban scale, while helping to define, intensify and enhance the culture of the city at the architectural scale. Our team has unrivaled experience in implementing innovative plans, not just writing them. We work with our clients and the communities they serve to guide change as it occurs. Towards this end, we deploy our deep expertise working with government to obtain entitlements for projects we believe in, projects that help our cities grow in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sound.

We pride ourselves on guiding design projects from conceptualization to implementation, with a proven history of making the improbable possible. With our architectural commissions, planning projects, or in combination, our work aspires to be a form of built thought leadership, in which we hope to create tangible prototypes of how cities can and should evolve in response to the challenges before them. For this reason, we are as careful about the nature of the commissions we respectfully decline as we are about those we enthusiastically accept.