A new 34,000-square-foot residential building in New York’s Noho neighborhood resonates with a landmarked district of highly crafted facades by echoing their predominantly low-rise scales, regular structural bay rhythms, and large windows. The 11-unit building is located on Bond Street—a two-block street that has become notable for its wave of contemporary architecture (Herzog & de Meuron’s first residential project in the United States, as well as buildings by Deborah Berke Partners, and BKSK Architects, among others). Among these recent projects, 10 Bond Street, designed by New York-based Selldorf Architects, further adds to a context where historic and contemporary architecture coexist in complementary fashion.
Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects, said that the project team was inspired by the deep russet colored brick of existing buildings adjacent to the project site on Lafayette Street. “Working on the proportions and the scale of the building was important to us. We wanted to find something very grounded in the neighborhood, but also present a contemporary face for this new building.”
Selldorf Architects worked with Boston Valley Terra Cotta to design a rainscreen cladding of profiled panels in a custom glaze. The panels are trimmed with weathered steel, which rises beyond the facade to frame a rooftop terrace. On grade, the entry is marked with a mahogany ship-lapped siding.
According to Lopergolo, the terra-cotta manufacturing process is akin to an “advanced Play-Doh machine,” allowing the production of highly specific custom shapes and colors. “We’ve been working with terra-cotta for a very long time and like to think of this as our material even though others are using it. What is so lovely about it is that its color is customizable, and that you can shape it anyway you like. The glaze creates a certain depth and character that you can’t get out of other materials. The way the light catches it is very nice.”
Bill Pottle, Boston Valley’s international sales manager, said that the two companies have collaborated on a handful of projects. “Around 2000, the first terra-cotta rainscreen job came to the United States. Since then, the material has become very popular—it has grown from something rarely used by architects to a material that has made it into an everyday palette. 10 Bond Street is part of a second wave of terra-cotta jobs we are seeing that incorporate larger, more three-dimensional shaped pieces, not just flat rainscreen panels.” In the case of 10 Bond, the panels were manufactured around 36-inches long and weighed in at around 150 pounds each. The larger, more complex panels require more thought be put into the detailing of attachment clips. According to Boston Valley, often this results in modification of standard clip details, or in some cases the development of a one-off custom attachment detail.
According to Pottle, most terra-cotta panels have a shrinkage rate of around seven percent, which is accommodated by digital software when producing dye geometry. “We use the same clay body mixtures and the same formulas so we can determine the shrinkage rate well before production.” To help manage shrinkage throughout the process, the panels are constructed with a hollow core that incorporates webs to support a scalloped profile. The backs of the panels are flat to allow for the pieces to lay on a flat surface throughout the curing and glazing process.
Full-size mock-ups allowed the architects to confirm a specific coloration and helped the project team to finalize custom attachment clip detailing. Lopergolo said one of the challenges with the weight of the panels was ensuring open joints between panels were dimensionally uniform. Pottle said the mock-up process is also an essential opportunity for the manufacturer to confirm quality control. Mock-ups allowed Boston Valley to see how the custom dyes were performing and helped ensure the extrusion process ran properly prior to the upcoming production phase. They will examine the extrusion process for quality control and confirm the rate of shrinkage of the pieces is accurate.
A skewed street grid presented the design team with what Lopergolo called a “fun and challenging” floor plan layout exercise. A living room location at the southwest corner receives a wrap around corner window unit, and benefits from an automated exterior shading system, which is integrated into the buildings two primary facades—a southeastern and southwestern exposure. Occupants can override sensors that drive exterior shade motors.
Selldorf Architects, who work on a range of project types—galleries, museums, housing—said its work with New York Landmarks Preservation Commission is especially significant. “We enjoy working with Landmarks—what they contribute is important for the city. With these condominium buildings, of course, the goal is to make nice apartments for our clients, but we also see this as an opportunity to give back to the city. We’re very proud of this project—we’ll still receive random emails from strangers saying they passed by the building and loved it—it is very sweet that people take the time to do that.”