Handel Architects is a multinational company producing an eclectic mix of architecture with a colossal team of over 200 dedicated architects and urban designers striving to create positive livable urban environments. Led by the founding partner Gary Handel and partners Blake Middleton, Glenn Rescalvo, Frank Fusaro, and Michael Arad, today, the firm has a flourishing practice based in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Hong Kong.
With sustainable design forming the core of their practice, they are industry stalwarts for Passive House Design which is seen in projects like ‘The House’ for Cornell Tech’s new campus in New York.
Let us take a closer look at some of their projects from various disciplines:
1. The House at Cornell Tech
The House at Cornell Tech is a 2.1 million-square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Marking its iconicity not just by the flashing color-changing glass on the façade and being the tallest building on campus, The House is the most energy-efficient building in the world as per Passive House Standards functioning at a fraction of the resident’s usual energy costs.
The one of its kind collaborative models fosters healthy informal as well as academic interactions between the student and faculty living on the campus thus enabling synergy. The project has won various awards for setting a new benchmark in sustainable technologies and innovation such as the LEED -Project of the Year Award.
2. Enclave at the Cathedral
The Enclave is a multi-unit residential development located on the property of Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The form of the building is staggered to open the views of the Cathedral’s North Tower and the overall volume is divided into 2 buildings that offer the views of the Cathedral’s transept. A grand stair provides an entrance to the Cathedral’s nave. Thus the enclave is designed by completely sensitizing with the presence of the Cathedral.
The façade of the building conforms with the Cathedral’s buttresses by its cast-in-place concrete ribs which make its structure and the depth of which is articulated as per the sunlight. This expression of the Cathedral on the façade is a differential expression of the Gothic style of Church architecture on a residential building.
3. Filene’s Department Store
Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s building in Boston, a cutting-edge structure for its time in 1912, was used as the Filene’s Department store. However, exactly one century later, having gone out of business, Handel Architects was commissioned to restore the facades, design a new North façade and convert the upper floors into office.
Extensive research was carried out to maintain and emulate Burnham’s style. The ground floor is made entirely new and the office lobby re-integrates the heavy terra cotta system that was used on new areas of the exterior wall. The structural system was redesigned integrating the existing reinforced cement concrete structure.
4. National September 11 Memorial – Reflecting Absence
Architecture can heal. Such is this memorial set in a dense urban setting of Lower Manhattan standing on the scars of the former World Trade Centre Twin Towers. This winning competition entry by MicIt is a profound site melded within the Museum complex forming a threshold for contemplation and quietude for everyday residents in their transit to work.
The water cascades become sound absorbents drowning the noise of the city into the endless pit of the two pools which forms a resilient public space. The names of the victims are incised on dark bronze panels surrounding the pools which appear as dark shadows in the day and are illuminated with a soft glow at night.
5. The Essex at Essex Crossing
The Essex is a part of a mixed-use development in the heart of New York City’s Lower East Side based on the concept of integrating live work play and shop. In this 25 story residential and commercial tower, Handel Architects have strived to draw inspiration from the tenement buildings around with their multi-layered facades and window openings and have reinterpreted them using modern materials and fabrication techniques.
The bronze panels forming the facade where each panel is asymmetrically folded reflect sunlight at different angles during different times of the day, thus creating a playful glow around the building.
6. Rosewood Abu Dhabi
The Rosewood is a high-end luxury mixed-use hotel and residential project located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island, a new financial district. The iconic and gently curving form clad with reflecting glass is inspired by the glimmering Arabian Gulf bestowing upon the building its slenderness and shine.
The dynamically occurring form of the Rosewood is further pronounced in the skyline owing to the adjacent orthogonal buildings.
7. Shangri-La at the Fort
The Shangri-La at the Fort, a LEED Gold-rated building is a 61-story mixed-use tower featuring hotel rooms, hotel residences, meeting and banquet facilities, ballroom, business center, and teleconferencing room. In addition to such a vibrant hospitality and retail space, it also has amenities like swimming pools, indoor sports hall, tennis and basketball courts, and a landscaped terrace. It also offers private Horizon Homes with a swimming pool, a children’s play area, and a gymnasium.
The entry to the building is from an elevated drop-off point which forms a theatrical space around a central fountain approaching magnificently inviting similar to the grand theatrical stairs that grace the Makati Shangri-La. This plaza forms the throbbing heart of the entire complex.
8. The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park
Handel Architects was appointed to completely Reawaken the landmark in NYC by rebranding and remodeling the Ritz Carlton hotel building. This involved converting the upper 12 floors into eleven colossal condominiums. The original building was a pure hotel designed by Emery Roth Architects in the 1920s.
Ornamentations were repaired; floors were extended to accommodate the condominium requirements and the deteriorated structure on the first 27 floors was reinforced and replaced. A new terra cotta turret was added which formed the spire. The hotel building fits auspiciously into the New York City sophisticated style.
9. Pier 57
Pier 57 is a project under construction that is designed to transform the pier into a new mixed-use destination including office spaces for business giants like Google and a new park. Pier 57 was originally designed by Emil Praeger and is the largest dock built by New York City.
After the decline in the marine industry, in 2011, Handel Architects was granted the project of renovating and restoring the pier into a bustling mixed-use construction.
10. Boston Midtown Cultural District Master Plan
Apart from having its set up in the city, Handel Architects have contributed widely to the city of Boston through various projects. One such project is revitalizing the Boston Midtown Cultural district which has flouted various efforts of renewal before.
The project aims at creating a new downtown community of houses, businesses, cultural and recreational facilities. This plan has had a significant impact on the investment in the area and on the rebirth of this blighted district.
11. Millennium Tower Boston
The Millennium Tower Boston is a 60-story tower glistening the skyline in the heart of the city next to the Filene’s Department store. The crystalline tower is defined further by faceting the broad faces of the tower breaking the monotony of the plane geometry. The vividly staged shear at the penthouse and the slight chamfer on the top define its verticality while the crystal façade reflects the different colors of the city onto itself.
All of this together offers an agile and sensuous counterpoint to the robust masonry buildings of the skyline. The Tower is “joined at the hip”, connecting the first three floors of the Burnham Building with retail uses, but is perceived as independent on the civic scale.
12. Dream Downtown Hotel
Handel Architects have been the head and the hands behind converting the Albert Ledner-designed office building into one of New York City’s most remarkable hotels. The Dream Downtown hotel is a boutique hotel in the Chelsea neighborhood. The earlier blank façade of the building was given a new life by offering it a perforated stainless steel tiled skin lined with small and big porthole windows.
This exterior look emulates the building’s 1960’s role as the National Maritime Union headquarters. The façade reflects the sky with its different shades at different times of the day and when the skin is perfectly lit up, it makes the windows look like floating bubbles.
13. Ipswich Studios, Boston Observatory
In collaboration with Utile, Handel Architects have designed a state-of-the-art studio building for the Boston Conservatory which houses a large orchestra rehearsal space, studios, multi-purpose rooms, and practice rooms for various performing arts ensembles.
The historical significance of the neighborhood is pronounced by the brick and glass curtain wall gently curving along the turning of the road. The three-story atrium stairwell creates a void in the otherwise robust volume balancing its mass. To cut the ambient noise, it was required to minimize the windows which give the form its vigor.
14. Asbury Ocean Club, Surfside Resort and Residences
This mixed-use project located in Asbury Park contains a boutique hotel and a residential complex right along the beachside offering panoramic views of the Atlantic from each of its 17 stories. The layout is planned such that the building provides its residents and guests an indoor-outdoor experience which includes a terrace that overlooks the ocean, a pool bar and grill, and a landscaped garden.
Each unit is designed such that it enjoys a wraparound terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows. Handel Architects have strived to model the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel after an open, light, and airy beach house.
15. Pacific Heights Home
The Handel interiors renovated and replanned the French-style mansion which was designed by architects Albert Farr and Joseph Francis Ward. The interiors were redesigned for a modern lifestyle while sensitizing with the original details.
The interior style of the kitchen is characterized by incredibly light and chic whitewashed spaces accented with walnut and brass. The Master Suite on the second floor is a stunning retreat with commanding views across the Presidio to the Headlands.