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 | Handel Architects

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.

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The House at Cornell Tech ©www.hudsoninc.com/projects/house-cornelltech/
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The House at Cornell Tech ground floor ©engineeringcenter.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/green-campus-design/4/
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The House at Cornell Techtypical floor plan ©engineeringcenter.bnpmedia.com/courses/multi-aia/green-campus-design/4/

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.

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Enclave at the Cathedral ©www.6sqft.com/apply-today-for-an-827month-apartment-at-the-controversial-tower-next-to-st-john-the-divine/
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Enclave at the Cathedral east exterior elevation © handelarchitects.com
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Enclave at the Cathedral west exterior elevation © handelarchitects.com

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.

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Filene’s department store adaptive reuse ©handelarchitects.com
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Filene’s department store adaptive reuse ©handelarchitects.com

4. 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.

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5. National September 11 Memorial – Reflecting Absence | Handel Architects

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.

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National September 11 Memorial water cascade ©handelarchitects.com
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National September 11 Memorial water cascade night time ©handelarchitects.com
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National September 11 Memorial water cascade night time ©handelarchitects.com

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. 

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Rosewood Abu Dhabi ©handelarchitects.com

7. 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.

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Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park ©handelarchitects.com
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Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park adaptive reuse ©handelarchitects.com

8. The Essex at Essex Crossing | Handel Architects

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.

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Essex at essex crossing location ©handelarchitects.com

9. 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.

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Shangri-La at the Fort aerial view ©handelarchitects.com
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Shangri-La at the Fort aerial view ©handelarchitects.com

10. Pier 57 | Handel Architects

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.

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Author

Having completed her B.Arch from Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, she is currently a teaching assistant on her way to leave an impact by training young minds. Being a strong believer of the exchange of ideas and constructive dialogues, you could talk to her about anything under the sun. While navigating through architecture, fitness and spirituality she strongly believes that you're unstoppable with purposeful passion and a plan of action.