Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis Kahn, Exeter, New Hampshire

In 1965 Louis I. Kahn was commissioned by the Phillips Exeter Academy to design a library for the school. The Academy had been planning the new library for fifteen years but were consistently disappointed with the designs that the hired architects and committee were proposing.

The beauty in the architecture of the first floor, however, is what gave the Exeter Library its fame. This main floor reaches 70 feet in height and soaks in natural light from a clerestory at the top of this space and from large expanses of glass on the north and west sides. From this 50 foot square space visitors can spot metal bookstacks and readers seven levels above through large holes punctured perfectly into the walls, almost touching at the corners where the walls square off.

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PKSB's Design Proposal for The Gateways of Chinatown

Gateways to Chinatown is a design competition organized by the NYC Department of Transportation, Chinatown Partnership and Van Alen Institute.

PKSB’s proposal explores the idea of a “gateway” as a threshold between two spaces. The design explores the form of a single wall and utilizes its double-sided nature to create a multifaceted lens through which the city can be viewed.

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The form is abstracted from traditional Chinese garden walls which include various openings called “leak windows.” Leak windows are intended to frame a specific view and are each unique in size, shape and patterning. In both the garden setting and in an urban setting, the objects beyond the window are constantly changing. In this sense, the openings become “living pictures” – ever-changing glimpses into the world beyond.

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The wall’s composition locates openings strategically to frame views to the natural and built environment. Carefully carved slots allow vegetation to grow through, over, and around the wall. In this sense, the wall, like the urban fabric, is constantly changing. Smaller openings in the wall can house digital screens that would be interactive and provide information and history on the immediate neighborhood.

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The major urban design move is the creation of an open plaza at the western end of the triangle where the current pavilion sits. The 5 gingko trees are relocated to the southern edge of the site within a planting strip directly opposite the storefronts on Walker Street. At the widest portion of the plaza, the existing pavilion is removed and replaced with a true pedestrian gathering space. In this location, we propose an interpretive map of the Chinatown/Little Italy area that would be cast into the concrete paving with selective lighting opportunities. The walking surface becomes interactive while maintaining an openness sufficient to accommodate larger groups of people. The key map will highlight the other “gateways” within the area and will provide wayfinding to each.

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The gateway wall is a folded steel plate structure which can be largely fabricated in smaller sections off-site. The metal plates would be finished in a high endurance coating with vibrant colors that reference the brightness and vitality found in the surrounding shop fronts.


Painted in contrasting colors on either side, the wall transforms depending on the visitor’s viewpoint. Each side provides a unique experience and perspective. Each opening in the wall provides a unique window into the past and present life of the site. The design reminds us that when varying ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds converge, the result can be beautiful and inspirin.

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ViviTela Mesh Brings the Rich Look of Woven Metal to Glass by Forms+Surfaces

Woven materials have wide appeal but can be difficult to clean and maintain. Forms+Surfaces has a solution with ViviTela Mesh, in which precise patterns laminated between lites of glass result in a beautiful, enduring product.

Five patterns can each be specified in six colours – Stainless Steel, Bronze, Graphite, Nickel Bronze, Nickel Silver and White Gold

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The Mansfield Hotel, New York, NY



On West 44th Street, in the midst of New York City’s most prestigious clubs and fabled hotels, PKSB transformed turn-of-the-century residential bachelor apartments into a modern hotel. The building’s innovative revival belies the cost constraints of commercial building and the site restrictions pertaining to a mid-block renovation.



The firm updated antique design elements to give the historic hotel a contemporary feel. Simple gestures and unexpected materials provided the key to the design. Existing details such as mahogany balconies, marble floors, a cast-iron staircase, coffered ceilings, and decorative plasterwork in the lobby were uncovered and restored. Custom-designed furniture and fixtures provided a refined yet romantic appeal. New bookcases transform a lounge alcove into a library and gallery for etchings. In the morning, breakfast is served as a buffet in the lounge adjoining the entry lobby and, in the evening, the same room is converted into a space for piano and harp recitals.


The guest suites feature custom-designed furniture including sleigh beds fabricated from iron and wire mesh. Individually-designed, etched glass panels separate sitting rooms from the bedrooms. Polished, ebonized wood floors add elegance and a sense of spaciousness to the intimate suites.



2018 Young Architects Program Exhibition Opens at MoMA PS1 in New York

This year’s Winner of the MoMa and MoMa PS1’s annual Young Architects Program goes to Hide & Seek by Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream The Combine, in collaboration with Clayton Brinkley of Arup, will be on view in MoMa PS1’s courtyard from June 28 - September 3, 2018.

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Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City, NYC.

The second phase of Hunter’s Point South Park opened to the public this past week, creating 11 acres of continuous riverside parkland in Long Island City. Architects SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI teamed up to design the new addition after working together in Phase I of the park back in 2013.

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Escher: The Exhibition & Experience in Brooklyn, NYC

Escher: The Exhibition & Experience, an exhibition of over 200 works by the iconic Dutch artist M.C. Esher, is showing at Brooklyn’s Industry City (34-34th Street, Building 6, Brooklyn) from June 8th, 2018 to February 3rd, 2019. The most important and largest exhibitions of M.C. Esher ever presented in the US.

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Good Design in Affordable Housing

The New York City Public Design Commission has released a report urging good design in affordable housing. To read more on this story visit:

 Arbor House, 770 East 166th Street, Bronx, New York, 10456

Arbor House, 770 East 166th Street, Bronx, New York, 10456

 Navy Green, 130 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205

Navy Green, 130 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205

 Creston Avenue Residence, 2388 Creston Avenue, Bronx, NY 10468

Creston Avenue Residence, 2388 Creston Avenue, Bronx, NY 10468

 Frost Street Apartments, 59 Frost Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11211

Frost Street Apartments, 59 Frost Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11211

 The Schermerhorn, 160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

The Schermerhorn, 160 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201