For this week's "Three Buildings" column I turned to Jeff Sherman of the New York architecture firm Delson or Sherman. We're featuring his painstakingly hand-renovated home (a formerly decrepit illegal kennel!) in our September issue ("New Prospects," online here) as well as in an online behind-the-scenes video here.
"If I had to choose just three favorite buildings, I’d say Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, and the Mill Owners' Association Building in Ahmedabad—they all make my heart jump," says Sherman. "These buildings have a couple big things in common: in all three, form transcends program, and all are subversively occupiable. By that, I mean that the shapes of the buildings dramatically exceed their humble practical requirements, and they all offer access to spaces that feel off-limits. These buildings showed me what architecture could be."
"Grand Central gives grandeur and dignity to the everyday acts of coming and going. You’re a better person in Grand Central. You stand taller. Your lungs fill. It’s stunning to think of such a soaring palace built for regular, old us. And it’s a shame no one remembers the architects.
There is only one reason the concourse’s ceiling is 125 feet high—majesty! And the 60-foot arched windows at either end are actually passageways. They’re built of two walls of glass with tiers of glass floors sandwiched between them. You can walk right through them."
"Anyone who calls the School of Architecture Yale’s ugliest building (and lots of people do) just hasn’t lingered long enough. It’s an acquired taste: pound for pound the most powerful architecture in the world, a wolverine of a building, nothing but bone and muscle, with a hide so rough it will literally bleed you if you don’t show respect.
The Yale School of Architecture is filled with crazy spaces: a sex aerie Rudolf built for himself on the roof, oddly lavish landings hidden in fire stairs just made for sneaking cigarettes, and a secret guest apartment on the 6 ½ floor."
"The Mill Owners' Association Building is a spatial playground. It’s hard to keep from running from one room to the next because you keep getting glimpses of some new thrilling place to be. The façade isn’t a surface; it’s a wind scoop pierced by an entry ramp. The auditorium is like a Richard Serra sculpture. The roofscape is an opera set. People who don’t get Le Corbusier should be required to visit this building.
Can you imagine a blander assignment? But Corb took it and created a place double the size of the program; most of the structure is just to delight you. You never know whether you’re indoors or out. And you can occupy every part of it: perch on a high window ledge like a pigeon, climb over the roof like a mountain goat, dangle from the ceiling like a bat."