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Metal Shutter Houses

524 West 19th Street

Rendering

Rendering showing shutters at various openings

By Carter B. Horsley

The Metal Shutter Houses is an 11-story building with 9 duplex residential condominium apartments at 524 West 19th Street that has been designed by Shigeru Ban, an architect born in Tokyo and noted for his work with paper products. It was scheduled for completion in 2009.

Rendering of penthouse with shutter open

Rendering of penthouse with shutter open and Frank O. Gehry's IAC Building at right

The building is called Metal Shutter Houses because much of its street fašade will consist of "perforated" metal shutters that can be opened by the residents. Apartments will range in size from about 1,950 to a 3,180-square-foot penthouse with three terraces.

Rendering of base of building with shutters closed

Rendering of base of building with shutters closed

The building has one of the most prized locations in the city architecturally as it is just to the east of the IAC building designed by Frank O. Gehry that is directly across 19th Street from 100 Eleventh Avenue, a residential building under construction that has been designed by Jean Nouvel and is distinguished by its curved corner with more than 1,500 window panels canted at various angles.

Rendering with shutters open and half open

Rendering of shutters open and half-open

The Metal Shutter Houses building is being developed by HEEA Associates of which Jeff Spiritos is a member, and occupancy is expected late next year.

Rendering showing window folding up to ceiling

Rendering showing window behind shutter opening and folding up to the ceiling

Shigeru Ban is best known in New York for his installation at Pier 54 in 2005 for the "Nomadic Museum" that created exhibition spaces for animal photographs by Gregory Colbert out of stacked large metal shipping containers. A "paper log" house designed by the architect was included in the "Safe Design Takes on Risk" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art here from October 16, 2005 to January 2, 2006. 

Completed building

Completed building in 2011, with Gehry building on right and Selldorf building on left

The architect started experimenting with cardboard tubes as building material in 1989 and his first Paper Log Houses were erected in 1995 to provide easily assembled emergency shelter for the victims of the earthquake in Kobe, Japan. The Paper Log House has a pitched roof covered by a plastic construction sheet, cardboard tube walls, and a foundation built with plastic beer-bottle crates.

He studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and later he studied under John Hedjuk at the Cooper Union School of Architecture.

The finished building is true to its renderings but the overall effect is rather bland, especially when juxtaposed as it is to Frank O. Gehry's IAC Building to the west and Annette Selldorf's apartment building to the east.  The double-height of the units, of course, is impressive as is their setback from the facade and random nature of who pulls up their screen adds an element of surprise.  If only the large windows behind were huge show windows that change their look every few weeks....

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