Dror Benshetrit who leads the eponymous firm Dror, has unveiled conceptual designs for three residential buildings in New York that explore new ways to improve the living experience of urban dwellers through experiments in structure. Two of the projects, 100 Varick and 350 Bowery, have been commissioned by developers. The third and more adventuresome of the three, 281 5th Avenue, comes from the imagination with no plans at present to realise.
Those familiar with Norman Foster’s Hearst building will certainly note a kinship between it and Dror’s proposal for 100 Varick. Dror’s design, which like Foster’s is based on the diagrid, was created for developer Michael Shvo. It explores the issue of weight distribution using a QuaDror exoskeleton, where glass volumes are inserted into apertures formed by the frame. The result is column free interior space and 25 floors that are effectively five, five-storey independent units, disseminating weight in smaller, lighter increments throughout the structure.
350 Bowery, commissioned by developer Sonny Bazbaz, is created for an empty lot in downtown Manhattan. Dror’s response is a building with two residential volumes stacked on top of a retail component at the ground level that corresponds to the existing shops. The roofs of the residential volumes line up with those of the surrounding buildings, a result achieved by lifting the building on a series of columns. The intention is to create something new that would enhance and respect its surroundings.
Last, but not least in the adventuresome category is Dror’s proposal for 281 5th Avenue.
Informed by a pinwheel shaped frame, that perhaps draws inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower, the building has four arms, each of which supports a residence. This approach results in an efficiency that allows for the centralization of the apartment’s wet walls and its support systems on a single side while allowing for sweeping views. One of true novelties of the design is that the wet wall doubles as a media wall capable of projecting realtime imagery of the environment directly behind the wall, thus connecting with existing views to provide an increased perspective.
Dror says the tower commissions have allowed his studio to continue exploring pioneering ways to rethink the architectural fabric in New York City and beyond.
Article by Sharon McHugh