Unusual Architecture + [residence]

New York, Stati Uniti: [ARTIST RESIDENCE AND STUDIO BY CALIPER]
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Set in historic Greenwich Village, the residence is composed of two low buildings, originally one was a metal shop and the other a garage.

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Roy Lichtenstein

In the late 1980s artist Roy Lichtenstein moved into a two-story warehouse that was converted to a residence and studio by 1100 Architect. Lichtenstein died in 1997, and the building, located across the street from Westbeth Artists Housing, is now occupied by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation,

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Dorothy Lichtenstein

The mission of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is to research, document, protect and share Roy Lichtenstein’s art and creative legacy. The Foundation has been actively involved in 20 Lichtenstein solo exhibitions, via loans, documentation and assistance with institutions throughout the United States and in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Moscow, Japan and Puerto Rico.

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In 2007 the Foundation hired Caliper Studio for restoration and renovation work.

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The buildings had between them eight roof surfaces totaling 6,000 square feet of aging roof. The two larger surfaces were transformed into a quiet landscape of wall to wall sedum plants within which are set two of Roy Lichtenstein’s sculptures—Brushstrokes and Endless Drip.

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This newly formed urban sculpture garden is framed by the tall rugged neighboring buildings of Manhattan’s west side. The kitchen and penthouse were rebuilt with dark reflective brick, connecting them is a black locust wood deck curving and stepping above the landscape.

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This warm wood surface forms a path, a viewing platform and a resting area to enjoy the new garden. The sedum planting continues onto two new concrete shell skylights whose curved form gently diffuses light into the studio below.

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Preservation of the artist’s studio was a primary design objective of the project. Careful technical detailing of the building’s envelope along with new climate controls help ensure the longevity of the studio.

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The quality of the space and its character have been maintained through original artifacts including the artist’s built-in wall easel system and paint splattered floor.

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The most overt outcome of the process happens on the 6,000-sf (557-sm) roof, where "a quiet landscape of wall to wall sedum plants" now exists. The L-shaped roof is crowded in by buildings on three sides, but it does reach toward Washington Street on the west, in the direction of Westbeth (photo at right).

People walking up and down the street can glance atop the one-story garage to get a glimpse of one of two large-scale Lichtenstein sculptures installed on the roof, in this case "Endless Drip."

"Brushstrokes" sits at a remove from the street, between a rebuilt penthouse office and new concrete shell skylights. A locust-wood deck snakes its way from the office to a rebuilt kitchen; the gray bricks of each volume stand out from the original building, marking these as new constructions.

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Further, Caliper Studio -- which is comprised of Caliper Architecture and Caliper Fabrication -- is responsible for much of the fabrication: skylights, canopy, trellis, planter, window frames and grates, railings. Their construction documentation is worth a look, particularly for the forming of the skylights.

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Below the roof level, much of the work carried out was in keeping with the original conditions of Lichtenstein's studio and residence. According to the architects, "The quality of the space and its character have been maintained through original artifacts including the artist’s built-in wall easel system and paint splattered floor".

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This leaves the roof as the canvas, if you will, for the architects, who chose sedum as their primary medium, even as they crafted other pieces in wood, metal, and concrete. The roof landscape softens the space between the various buildings and gives Lichtenstsein's sculptures a contrasting background, something akin to a sculpture garden in the middle of the city.

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General Contractor: Riverside Builders Structural Engineering: GMS Landscape and Planting Design: VertNY INFO: www.lichtensteinfoundation.org www.caliperstudio.com www.archidose.org