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PRATT INSTITUTE, HIGGINS HALL INSERTION
Brooklyn, NY, United States, 1997-September 2005

PROGRAM: wing for an architecture school containing: lobby, gallery, studios, auditorium, digital resource center, review room, gallery terrace, workshops
CLIENT: Pratt Institute
SIZE: 22,500 sf
STATUS: completed

The dissonance between the floor plates is opened at the center with panes of clear glass, allowing a view to the east court and marking an entry to the west. A two-throated skylight marks the top, striking dissonance and joining two types of light. South and north light are combined analogous to harmonious sounds in a dissonant chord. Brick from the burned section is recycled into a slumped brick and concrete base forming an entrance and viewing terrace. Rising from the burnt brick is a concrete frame supported on 6 columns spanned with concrete and sheathed with structural glass planks. An economical industrial material with translucent insulation, the planks span between floors, creating a translucent glow at night.
'It is one of those rare interventions that has ended up creating the institution as a new beginning. It has so revitalized the existing brick structures on either side that it now seems as if the Pratt School of Architecture has finally come into its own. Thus one is presented with an eminently functional but also discreetly symbolic building that is equal in terms of its significant distribution of space to any comparable school of architecture in the U.S. In the final analysis the trick has been turned by little more than a few masterly spatial gestures from the hand of a consummate architect'.
-Kenneth Frampton, Domus 896
'Through its direct expression of materials and details, the building enables the architecture school to play a didactic role for the students it houses. This quiet, spare insertion does not ape the old buildings but has its own distinct identity, creating an ensemble that provides welcome public and educational amenities and strengthens Pratt's presence in the city'.
-Annette Lecuyer, The Architectural Review, February, 2006
'At its best, Steven Holl's architecture is conceptually rich and aesthetically vibrant - both qualities that are much in evidence at Pratt. But it is the more than 100-year-old architecture embracing it that makes his building a successful "urban intervention." More and more Holl has been experimenting with slipping futuristic buildings into dense cities. ... The lines between Pratt's nineteenth-century architecture and Holl's twenty-first century contribution couldn't be clearer - the result being that neither undermines the other'.
-Fred Bernstein, Metropolis, February, 2006
'The spaces and the whole arrangement are very successful and are very good examples of a kind of new architecture that is sensible. It responds to needs, responds to site, and makes the most out of the means available'.
-Oculus: A Publication of the AIA, New York Chapter, June, 2007
'An ingenious piece of urban infill. It is one of those rare interventions that has ended up creating the institution as a new beginning. It has so revitalized the existing brick structures on either side that it now seems as if the Pratt School of Architecture has finally come into its own. Thus one is presented with an eminently functional but also discreetly symbolic building that is equal in terms of its significant distribution of space to any comparable school of architecture in the U.S. In the final analysis the trick has been turned by little more than a few masterly spatial gestures from the hand of a consummate architect'.
-Kenneth Frampton, Domus 896, October, 2006
AWARDS

Roger H. Corbetta Merit Award, Concrete Industry Board, USA, 2006
AIA NEW YORK CHAPTER ARCHITECTURE HONOR AWARD, USA, 2007
CREDITS

architect
– Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl (design architect)
Tim Bade (associate in charge)
Makram El-Kadi (project architect)
Martin Cox, Annette Goderbauer, Erik Fenstad Langdalen (project team)

local architect
– Rogers Marvel Architects

structural engineer
– Robert Silman Associates

mechanical engineer
– Ove Arup

curtain wall consultant
– R.A. Heintges & Associates

lighting consultant
– Arc Lighting Design

construction manager
– F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.
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