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Castle Clinton

New York, NY UTSOA - Thomas Phifer Studio


Castle Clinton, in Battery Park, has a long and dynamic history. Constructed in 1811, it served originally as part of the system of battery defenses against a potential British attack. After its tour of duty was complete, it saw time as a promenade, beer garden/restaurant, exhibition hall, opera house, theater, the first immigration station, and the New York Aquarium. Today it is identified as a national monument and houses limited exhibition space and ticketing for the nearby Ellis Island ferry. Our studio program, which was one Thomas Phifer had been actually granted, was to design a conceptual outdoor amphitheater space within the castle walls. When not used as a theater, the project was to be used as a gateway to the Ellis Island ferries, containing ticketing, exhibition space, and a viewing promenade. Given the existing structure’s historical significance, it was important for the structure of the new development to sit lightly within the castle, careful to avoid the existing sandstone walls as well as some basement areas below grade. To that end, the project relied on a woven, diamond structure that brought loads down to finite points. This was applied to a spherical, double hull form that rises from within the castle walls. This is the primary form of the project in addition to a rectangular element at the front of the caste, framed and derived from the inner shape of the masonry walls, that houses ticketing, restrooms, and frames the stage above. The two walls of the lattice sphere create a circulatory ramp from the lower level to the promenade and amphitheater above. It is once the sphere rises above the castle walls that it is affected by several planes, the first of which being a structural glass deck that serves as the promenade and primary upper circulation plane. This extends over the castle walls, sheltering them from rain and providing an excellent viewing platform. The second plane is contained entirely within the inner sphere and is sloped for audience seating, directed towards the stage. The final plane alters the sphere itself, slicing it based on the angle and movement of the sun during the time most evening performances would take place, shielding the stage and its performers from natural direct light. Finally, the lattice structure of the sphere shells also provides and opportunity for additional shading through the inclusion of translucent blades infilling the diamond shaped spaces between structural members. These blades can be swiveled and rotated in order to provide more or less light, opened to increase ventilation of the audience or, conversely, closed in order to better shield the audience if necessary. Interior perspective at ramp

Portfolio 2016  

Cory Boden

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