Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

1/27/2010

Building the Future-The Porter House

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

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The Porter House

Written and Photographed by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Judith Torres
Additional images courtesy of:
The Porter House: Seong Kwon
Published: Bluprint December 2009

Just a block from the High Line rises an unmistakable black building cantilevered eight feet from the original yellow brick warehouse below it. It grabs attention not only because of its precarious position, but also due to its stark contrast in architectural style to the building below it.

On top, we have the sleek contemporary style building rendered in chic black zinc panels and laced with vertical lights that give off a cool glow in the evening hours. Below is a carefully restored 1905 Renaissance style warehouse that once stored everything from wine to hard wood furniture. This strange symbiosis of the two buildings is known as the Porter House, a $22 million 10-storey residential project on 9th Avenue and 15th Street.

The Porter House was named after a cut of meat, acknowledging its place within Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Incidentally, the porterhouse cut of meat was itself inspired by eateries called “porter houses”, that served steak and ale to passing stagecoaches in the 19th century.

Unlike most real estate endeavors, this condo building was not only designed but co-developed by its architectural firm, SHoP Architects, named after the last names of its five principals: Christopher R. Sharples, Coren D. Sharples, William W. Sharples, Kimberly J. Holden, and Gregg A. Pasquarelli.

In the past decade, SHoP Architects have been known for avant-garde design that makes financial sense. This constant search for new answers led them to investigations that have won them accolades such as the Emerging Voices Award by the Architectural League of New York, the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Museum of Modern Art’s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center Young Architects Award.

SHoP works with new materials, collaborating with material manufacturers and trade contractors at the early design phase to avoid costly mistakes or proposals. In designing the Porter House, this process resulted in the use of zinc, pre-weathered to suit practical needs while still evoking a sense of modernity. At night, lights installed at the variously sized windows turn on, mimicking the hum of activity around the neighborhood.

Famed for their use of technology, SHoP employed a computer program that allowed it to fabricate 4,000 pre-numbered panels of zinc for the Porter House, vastly simplifying construction. The tolerance provided per panel allowed the overall fa├žade to be installed to an accuracy of + or – a ¼” over the length of the building.

Without compromising the Porter House’s historical context, SHoP has successfully created a new landmark in Manhattan architecture. Rather than sweeping away the old or radically clinging to the past, SHoP has found a happy medium that allows architecture to innovate for the future while celebrating the past.

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The Porter House
366 West 15th Street/60 Ninth Avenue (the corner of Ninth Avenue and 15th Street)
porterhousecondo.com

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