Bragging

This weekend, I want to talk about two recently-completed projects, as they nice illustrate our practice. (There are a lot of ways to split a whole into halves, these two show one possible division.)

The first is the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park. The bandshell is one of the most heavily used and visited structures in the park that wasn’t part of the original design. It’s located near the north end of the Mall, which is the most formal landscape element in the park, running in a wide straight line up to Bethesda Terrace and the Lake. The original design had a music pavilion – a delicate-looking roof on cast iron columns – centered here. It was too small and laid out improperly for anything other than fairly small and motionless musical performers. Its replacement in 1923 by the bandshell allowed for any kind of performance that could use a stage, including orchestras and dancers. The picture above, for example, was taken during a 1968 anti-draft demonstration. The bandshell as placed off to the east side of the mall, as its stage is intended for view from one side only.

The bandshell is physically quite complex: it’s got a double shell of concrete at the lower drum level, giving way to a concrete half-dome above. The concrete is entirely covered by stone except for the inside of the dome, where its covered by precast concrete panels imitating stone. In other words, it appears to be a classical masonry structure but it’s actually classical cladding over twentieth-century structure.

Our work here was to enable an architectural restoration – one focussed on waterproofing and stone veneer stabilization – without changing anything visible. This is the restoration half of our practice, where our success is measured by the final invisibility of our work.

As is always true with projects like this, there were many firms and many people who deserve credit. I’m going to single out Jennifer Schork and Karen Stone of ICR, everyone at Graciano, Denise Keaveney of the Central Park Conservancy (who was both our client and the lead architect), and Mona Abdelfatah of OSE. Everyone I haven’t mentioned did a great job, too.

The other half of our projects, and more congratulations, tomorrow.

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