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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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....