Graduate Thesis

40th East St. New York

W. 2011- Sp. 2012


The Contemporary Art Forum is an open platform, laboratory, and forum for artists of all genres, designed to serve cultural agendas of the modern society and facilitate dialog between artists and the public. The CAF is a space for artists of varied interests to explore and develop new qualities in art. The CAF is a cultural, social, and political forum where creative solutions are found through close interaction between intellectual elite and popular culture.

This project is a reflection on the ideas of Wassily Kandinsky, concerning the fundamental affinity of visual and audial perceptions, transfigured to architectonic semantics. Thus, the geometric constructs – points, lines and planes, their assemblies as grids, angles, and complex lines are registered not only through visual apparatus but also through something very closely related to auditory sensations; where a composition of visual shapes obtain an auditory properties of voice, tonality and rhythm.

The CAF’s post-industrial site is perceptually disjoined from the urban fabric of Midtown Manhattan by highly busy streets, the FDR East River Drive, also lacking public domain. The project proposes an intervention that  combines the creation of a new public plaza and park coherently connected to St. Vartan’s Park and the U.N. gardens, and the extension to connect with the parks, esplanades, and bikeways along the East River.

Proposing a series of dramatic urban interventions into the NY grid, the same formal methodology was applied to the studies of the site forces. Connecting surrounding disjoint public areas into a unified whole, I wanted to formally energize and contrast the rigid stability of the grid with strong, tensed, vectored forms of a different kind of formal quality, corresponding to the language of the forum.

The overall horizontal composition of the building contrasts the vertical dynamic of the New York skyline. The main volume is an intersection of five short and three long gallery spaces with atriums between them forming a grid of building mass, which signify the urban fabric of New York City. The building’s spatial arrangement is dictated by the utilitarian flexibility and ease of orientation within the space. The stasis of the grid contrasts with the undulation of the roof surface.

Such juxtaposition creates complex cross-intersecting spaces and complex topology of the ceiling and the terrain of the rooftop plaza and sculpture garden. The surface of the roof undulates and slopes down to connect with the public plaza and provide an access to the public domain on the rooftop. The galleries are traversed by the volume of the forum that is connected with galleries via escalators. The forum’s structure injects into the floating volume containing auditorium, library, and the restaurant overlooking the East River and Brooklyn.

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