with HDR and Page Ayres Cowley Architects
CLIENT: Metropolitan Transportation Authority – New York City Transit
AWARDS WON: RIBA Award for International Excellence
The Fulton Centre explores the potential of architecture to resolve an ageing and decaying infrastructure system. The project involves the reworking of a host of found objects and voids found in the ground and the sky.
All of these were originally built by different owners with differing ambitions and are thus all at very different levels and pursue unrelated geometries and trajectories. One of Manhattan's original skyscrapers, the Corbin Building, a magnificent and thin slice of real estate propelled twelve storeys into the sky by load bearing masonry walls is restored and underpinned. A host of handsome railway tunnels, interlaced in close proximity but disconnected, are restored, their platforms widened and then connected. Building on this idea of connectivity and C21st transport hub row major underpasses are constructed and connect to nearby stations including Calatrava's new World Trade Centre shopping centre.
The project as perceived by the hundreds of thousands of mass transit commuters who remain underground as they scurry from platform to platform and station to station is however very simply a new simple layered space bathed in light from a new oculus that re-connects them to changing sky above that they might not have seen since they began their commute. To those who choose to enter or exit onto Broadway and Fulton Street the project is a three sided cubic glass pavilion bolted onto and connected into the Corbin Building inhabited at high level by a ring of office accommodation that floats within. Its basement walls are then lined with support facilities, WCs and bars and diners. At the junction of skyscraper and pavilion the old and new, as indeed throughout this project, have a symbiotic relationship with lifts and stairs from each serving and connecting to each other.
The project's defining moment is an oculus which is very much a collaborative work of artist, architect, engineer and maker. In that sense it reflects the overall project's key idea of mutual benefit and constraint as generator of design invention. This monumental hyperboloid lining reflects sky deep into the bowels of the building and actually heightens the sense of changing light and the importance of sky in a city of canyons. It rewards the client's commitment to the importance of the role of art in turning infrastructure into efficient transport hub, regenerator and a new civic place - and that, to its great credit is what the Fulton Center has become.
As with every airport in the world, retail here is managed by Westfield as both an important revenue stream as well as recognising the needs of commuter as consumer. This is always a challenge but it is as well managed in design here as any of the best examples elsewhere. Civic and transport signage predominates, retail signage is managed and electronic signage cleverly moves from conveying artistic projects to commercial products.
This is a highly complex project defined by a single all encompassing idea that has delighted both its commissioning clients and the millions of commuting clients who pass through.
Contractor: Plaza Schiavone Joint Venture
Cost Consultant: VJ Associates
Sky Reflector-Net artwork: James Carpenter Design Associates
Construction Manager: PB-Bovis Lend Lease
INTERNAL AREA: 34,000 SQM
Date Of Occupation: 11/2014
PHOTOGRAPHERS: David Sundberg, Halley Tsai,