Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on April 9, 2008
Those of you who salivate at LOT-EK’s amazing shipping container structures may be wondering whatever happened to the proposed Lafayette Street Tower near New York City’s Chinatown. The building, which received much press last year, was commissioned by Mr. Woo of Young Woo & Associates, who (like me) was intrigued by the design firm’s use of recycled containers in both residential and commercial buildings.
Partially inspired by the industrial feel of the neighborhood, the 19-story tower was slated to be erected at 87 Lafayette Street, adjacent to the city’s former Engine 31 firehouse. The innovative shape was to slant to the north as it grew upward and would utilize shipping containers that protruded from the front in varying degrees. A City Realty posting last year said the base of the building was to be “clad in gunmetal glazed terracotta while the setback tower” was to employ brush stainless steel that would showcase “organic curves while reflecting the area’s industrial past.”
According to LOT-EK, the tower was “a hybrid construction combining a simple concrete slab construction clad in glazing” and “a second skin constructed from a metal mesh” that would provide privacy from the outside while filtering the sun’s rays. “The interstitial spaces between the mesh and glazing, created by a scaffolding-like steel skeleton,” were to “function as semi-private balconies” – which, from the looks of them, would have provided incredible visual access to the bustling city below.
A 3-D effect would be added by the shipping containers, which would feature bathrooms, kitchens and leisure spaces, while an array of solar panels would line the building’s roof.
So, what happened to this amazing structure? A representative from LOT-EK (pronounced “low-tech”), who was kind enough to respond to my query, said it “has been stuck in the city’s building approval process” and at this time is not scheduled to move forward – a regrettably backwards ending to a forward thinking design that could have created new architectural ground and provided a stand-out aesthetic to a visually diverse historic neighborhood.
Here’s to hoping things change for the Lafayette Tower. Just not the design…
(many thanks to LOT-EK)