Michael Hansmeyer

Reade Street - Column Capitals (2016)
with WORKac

The renovation of the Reade Street buidling in Tribeca offers the opportunity to re-interpret and re-store the column capitals of its cast-iron facade. Much of the information regard-ing the original column capitals has gone lost. Detailed drawings are not known to exist.

Generative design algorithms allow us to use the remaining information about the form of the capitals - their proportions and key features – as a point of depar-ture for a new capital design. Topographical properties of the remaining forms can be transformed into instructions that describe how to sculpt the surfaces of the form. By iteratively applying this process, the simple form can evolve into an elaborate system of ornament that is at once surprising and novel, yet very much rooted in the past.

The cast-iron facades of the 19th century were an expression of technical skills and knowledge. In restoring the column capitals, the use of generative algorithms thus gives us the opportunity to extend this tradition of engaging technology, while retaining the historical context and ideals.

The molds for the column capitals were 3D printed. Column capitals were then cast in GFRC and iron.

Link to NYTimes article.
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