Habitat Manhattan

Sarah Blahut (website)
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
Design Studio
Brief: Dormus Metabolis: Student Housing for the Cooper Union, NYC
Faculty: Ramiro Diaz-Granados (website)


Public housing is an architectural problem with a long lineage of successes and failures. This studio set out to produce housing for students at the Cooper Union in New York City that would accommodate approximately 1,000 units, sited in the Lower East Side over three city blocks.

My project explored tessellation in both 2D and 3D as in the form of facade studies. In addition to this, the site’s characteristics, fronting busy Delancey St. and two opposite neighborhood atmospheres were ways to explore the overall building’s juxtaposition and formal behavior. The building parti took the form of a broken bar tower that acts as a buffer between the intensity of traffic and activity on Delancey while on the opposite side it attempts to re-negotiate the isolated conditions of the low income housing projects opposing the popular LES neighborhood. The diagrammatic pathways were a means to explore a new way of dealing with the island like conditions of the surrounding housing projects. They begin to suggest a different kind of circulation and public space. The opposite facades react differently based on the different environments they front. One is like a punctured crenellated shield and the other flattened, muted and eroded. The facades try to engage both the converging paths and the activity of the city’s energy pushing and pulling on the exterior.


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