Long Island’s downtowns have more than 4,000 acres of surface area dedicated to parking lots. That’s roughly 6.5 square miles of prime real estate, a phenomenon quite common in most American cities. When necessary, these lots are often exchanged for a standard “set of concrete shelves” that share little to no connection with their surroundings. This leads to the question, why must parking garages be so monofunctional and, well, ugly?
To help solve this nationwide issue, the Long Island Index challenged four leading architectural firms to envision a more innovative way to free up surface lot space in four Long Island communities.
The new dormitory at Gallaudet University exudes raw energy. Rough wood planks, exposed steel, polished concrete, and gleaming bamboo unite to provide architectural muscle. But the real power comes from a barely detectable dynamic. That energy doesn’t come from how the structure looks on its historic Washington D.C. campus, but how the building functions for the people inside. “It’s about how buildings structure and frame human interaction,” says David J. Lewis of LTL Architects. “The basic conditions of architecture were brought to the fore.”
The glass entry door slides open with a soft whoosh. Students ignore it as they crowd through the gap in a jumbled dance of elbows, hands, arms, and animated faces. Gallaudet is the preeminent liberal arts institution for youth who are deaf or hard of hearing, and most of its 1,821 students communicate with the expansive gestures and expressions of American Sign Language (ASL). That the students can make their way into the building without using their hands to open the door—thus halting the flow of the conversation—is cause for celebration. Here, at least, architecture has gotten out of their way.
Location: 101 North Mills Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
Project Team: Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, David Lewis; John Morrison, Project Manager; Hye-Young Chung, Matthew Clarke, Perla Dís Kristinsdóttir; Michael Tyre, Aaron Forrest, Deric Mizokami, Kevin Hayes and Tina Hunderup
Architects: LTL Architects Location: Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China Project Team: Marc Tsurumaki, Paul Lewis, David J. Lewis, Kate Snider, Deric Mizokami, Laura Cheung Design year: 2008 Construction year: 2009-2010 Curator: Ai Weiwei, Beijing, China Client: Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd, Inner Mongolia, ChinaConstructed Area: 1,000 sqm aprox