Landworks Studio employs digital fabrication techniques for Washington DC residential project

Added on by Steve Watt.



Landworks Studio has recently completed work on Square 673, a fourteen-story, one thousand unit apartment building—also known as First & M Condominiums because of its location at the crossroads of First Street and M Street in Washington DC. The project relies upon the idea of absolute connectivity to unite outdoor and indoor spaces throughout the ground floor of the complex, whose landscape spaces include an interior courtyard, program-rich roof gardens, an entrance court, and streetscape for three sides of the new buildings. To further supplement the idea of connectivity, the client requested a landscape of a baroque character with rich materiality and an undulating formal language that could easily transfer into an interior topography.

Working closely with Studios Architecture and Archstone, Landworks Studio devised an integrated series of indoor-outdoor spaces that utilize a carefully calibrated sculptural weave as the mechanism for providing multimedia program and varied experiential qualities. As an organizing device, this weave takes the form of interlocking, continuous spline curves that, appearing and disappearing, deform to become seating, water features, planting beds, retaining walls, and media screens. The resulting spaces have been precisely scaled to facilitate uses such as media screen viewing, inward facing seating for group conversation, and outward-facing seating for people watching. In contrast, when these unique spaces are viewed from a distance—such as from the upper story residential units—they visually compress to provide an iconic identity for the project.

The sinuous lines of the Square 673 courtyard act as an armature that guides visitors through sequential outdoor lounge areas, or ‘living rooms’ at different scales. Rather than sequencing these spaces in a linear manner, the circuitous organization of the armature ensures that visitors experience views and activities that are constantly changing as they move through the space.

Materially, the armature takes the form of heat-formed white acrylic benches—fabricated by CAPCO—that glow from within to provide ambient lighting to the courtyard. These benches double as retaining walls that structure an undulating topography comprised of richly vegetated mounds punctuated by Hophornbeams and American Hornbeams. To serve as counterpoint to the curves of the benches and landforms, a wide linear watercourse flows from the front lobby, weaving through the first courtyard in an interplay with the pixelated groundplane paving. This watercourse introduces dynamic sensory phenomena: the white noise—and cooling effect—of falling water, as well as the spectacular effects of sunlight reflecting off the water’s surface.

In an example of the connectivity that guides the project, the bench armatures penetrate the building walls to define interior gathering and program spaces in the indoor public spaces just as they do in the exterior courtyard. This is the result of an excellent working relationship between Landworks Studio, Studios Architecture, and the client, who worked to seamlessly blend disciplines—this has yielded some unexpected ideas and helped attain a complex blurring of interior and exterior spaces along the ground floor. In another example of disciplinary integration, the courtyard creatively interprets the expression of massive vents to the three-level underground parking garage that lies below. By cladding them with dynamic materials such as wild vegetation, lights inspired by the artist Dan Flavin, and an interactive stainless steel “mediamesh” that projects images and colors across its surface, the eighteen-foot tall vents become artistic installations rather than dreary mechanical structures.

CAPTIONS (Top to Bottom)
Nighttime aerial view of completed courtyard (Credit: Jim Sullivan/CAPCO)
Rendered view of acrylic benches (Credit: CAPCO)
Panoramic view of concrete walls
Detail section of bench construction
Rendered view of courtyard (Credit: Josh Katz)
View of bench assembly on site


Client: Archstone
Collaborators: STUDIOS Architecture, Davis Carter Scott, Paradigm Construction
Consultants: CAPCO – Capital Plastics Company (Bench Fabricator/Rendering), WESCO Fountains Inc. (Fountain Consultant), Art Display Company (Bench Lighting Consultant), Josh Katz (Digital Rendering)
Josh Katz Renderings
Project Location: Washington, DC
Project Size: 9,000 SF
Status: Completed 2012


200 Fifth Avenue Wins Honor Awards

Added on by Steve Watt.

LAM Cover September 2012

Landworks Studio is proud to announce that it has been selected as a 2012 Honor Award recipient by both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects for its work at 200 Fifth Avenue. Landworks Studio and Studios Architecture joined together to sensitively remodel the historic building at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York. The building once functioned as a grand hotel, and, starting in 1950, it served for decades as a hub for toy manufacturers as the International Toy Center. One of many buildings that forged the architectural heritage of New York’s Flatiron District, its U-shaped configuration was considered highly innovative when it was built in 1909, due to its ability to bring natural light into the building’s interior and its creation of a courtyard for the building’s tenants.

In 2007, the new owner, L&L Holding Company, hired the Landworks Studio and Studios Architecture team to re-conceptualize and reinvigorate the fifteen-story commercial building by improving the quality of the workplace environment while preserving its historic architectural quality. Energy efficiency, water reduction, daylighting, green building materials, and improved indoor air quality were a just few of the renovations planned to improve the building’s environmental performance, not only to save on energy costs over time, but also to create better working conditions. In addition to removing harmful toxins, circulating fresh air, and flooding spaces with natural light, the project also incorporated access to outdoor spaces such as the remodeled courtyard. Beyond providing fresh air in a verdant setting—a rare privilege for many Manhattan residents—the courtyard responds to the changing dynamics of contemporary office culture by encouraging chance encounters and offering respite from workplace stress.

The team’s proposal creates a four-tiered series of office spaces located mainly within the footprint of the existing building.  The terraces that result gave Landworks Studio the opportunity to create an elegant and functional landscape to serve everyday users, as well as large groups during special events.

Three main landscape elements insert new program into the historic armature: a vegetated ground plane, folding tray, and light cloud. First, the ground plane is constructed of a stainless steel framework planted with a dense carpet of moss.  Hovering six inches above, a pre-cast concrete tray contorts to form a continuous walking surface, planters, and benches. Stainless steel planters containing ferns slide into benches along the edges of the tray, and in-grade light strips and trench drains slide through the joints of the concrete tray. The light cloud extends out from the lobby in the lowest terrace and reemerges on the upper terrace to create a memorable landscape experience for evening events.

Through the insertion of a contemporary landscape into a significant but dated historic structure, the building at 200 Fifth Avenue is transformed to enable the complex and dynamic interactions that define contemporary working relationships. This accomplishment is the result of rigorous collaboration between client, architect, and landscape architect, whose unified vision for the renovation increased the property’s real estate demand, reduced its environmental footprint, and most importantly, made it a vibrant, enjoyable, and functional space for its users.

Architect:  Studios Architecture
Construction Manager:  Structure Tone Inc.
MEP Engineers:  FMC Engineering
Lighting Consultant:  Johnson Light Studio
Green Building Consultant:  CodeGreen
Precast Concrete Fabricator:  Concreteworks Studio
Landscaping Contractor:  Harder Tree and Landscape Services, Inc.
Architectural Metal Fabricator:  A-Val Architectural Metal Corp.
Bamboo Supplier:  New England Bamboo
Moss Supplier:  Moss Acres
Photograph: Andrea Varutti