Active Facade

The story of a storefront in Brooklyn’s Bushwick section, proudly inspired by Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, is in the current issue of Metropolis. The short piece made me want to know more about the security gate with its unusually memorable appearance.  So I asked architect Andre Kikoski to talk about how the system works, as well as how the neighborhood is responding to it. Our art intern, Hannah Elliott, animated the stills, so you can see the façade in action. 


Photos: Francis Dzikowski/courtesy Esto

Susan S. Szenasy: Are all the businesses in the building warehouses? Or are some retail?

Andre Kikoski: The building is in a pair of former warehouses. There are three commercial tenants – a wine shop, an organic food market, and a live music performance venue.

SSS: I’m really interested in local craftsmen who work with architects. Where did you find the fabricators? What is their expertise?

AK: We found Service Metal Fabricating Inc. from an article in The Architect’s Newspaper on best metal workers – and they were so collaborative! They are specialists in steel fabrication and laser-cutting.

SSS: How easy are the facades to open/close? They could be very heavy, with their several layers of steel, that’s why I’m asking.

AK: The scissor panels are opened and closed with a key-activated motor. There is a hinged panel at the base of each pier that contains the key locking mechanism.

SSS: Is there anything about the mechanism you’d like to share?

AK: The scissor doors are remarkably adaptable and transformable – interestingly Shigeru Ban is also using them at the Metal Shutter House in a very different application. We can’t wait to bring them into a future project with different materiality and lighting to achieve a different design statement and effect.

SSS: What has been the response to them from the street, the neighbors?

AK: People love this building, and always slow down or stop to look at it – even if they are driving by in a car. It’s wonderful and deeply satisfying to see such a strong appreciation for design from such a diverse and different audience.

Categories: Uncategorized