This new 6-story commercial building in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District replaces a two-story taxpayer building. The new steel framed structure, designed by BKSK Architects, features a terra cotta rain screen and glass curtain wall facade system that transitions along the building perimeter from punched windows representative of an earlier masonry era, to a more open open frame emblematic of SoHo’s later cast-iron era. The entire 52,000 square foot building is leased by Nike. According to the New York Times, “design fans should soon be recognizing it as one of the most exciting and intelligent structures to be built for decades, anywhere.”
BKSK decided to make the new structure into a visual essay on the varied flamboyance that had come to the street before it.
One end of the building’s wide facade is built around the kind of narrow window openings that had been required by the Prescott’s brick construction; they have elaborate terra-cotta surrounds that pay homage to the Prescott’s ornate lintels and sills.
The other end of the same frontage has the much wider piercings that were the goal of SoHo’s cast-iron architecture. And in the 16 rows of windows in between, BKSK lets us watch the facade’s openings as they transform from the ones used in 1852 to the ones from two decades later.
The surrounding decoration stretches and compresses to suit the ever-changing fenestration. Halfway down the building, that decoration even turns a somersault as a band of ornate terra cotta goes from sitting flat on the facade above the narrow embrasures to becoming a protruding cornice over the wider ones.