Built in an historic and fragile neighborhood with so much sensitivity and care that there’s no sense of it being a new or large building, 150 Charles is a remarkable site overlooking an expanse of the Hudson River waterfront that lies between the activity in the riverside park and the history of the West Village.
Photographer credit: Frank Oudeman
Integral to the experience of the building, 150 Charles has over 30,000 square feet of landscaped space distributed throughout lush green rooftops, planted terraces, and courtyards. The building combines the best of the West Village townhouse garden view and the waterfront high-rise river view with cascading terraces designed as a “fifth façade.” The extraordinary number of terraces and landscaping are a result of COOKFOX and landscape architect and restorative-garden expert, David Kamp, working with city planning to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the area.
The building incorporates the abandoned Whitehall warehouse, a massive utilitarian structure of concrete, brick and glass. The warehouse streetwall is maintained in the new building with defining varied articulation of separate townhomes on Charles and West 10th Streets. These individual residential entries create new connections at the street level, activating the sidewalk with foot traffic. Retaining the streetwall as both a connection to the pedestrian scale and the neighborhood’s past, 150 Charles creates a vibrant streetscape and the highest-quality living environment for its residents.
A vision of weaving new development into the natural and historic environment of the West Village shaped this project from the outset. Modern logic and zoning would typically balance a residential tower on a low base within a park, yet 150 Charles asserts that new growth can thoroughly integrate nature into the building form. The resulting building is a careful composition of stacked volumes that gradually setback, preserving the neighborhood’s scale and romantic character.
Incorporating ideas of biophilia—our inherent connection to the environment—access to nature throughout the building is related to themes of prospect (wide, open views) and refuge (safe and protected interior spaces).
Part of the zoning text amendment requiring varied and specific planting, the terraces truly define the amendment’s “superior landscaping,” and incorporate more composed green space than Abingdon Square Park, Christopher Square Park and the Jefferson Market Garden combined.
COOKFOX Architects, DPC is an architectural and interior design studio of 98 architects, interior designers, graphics and visualization artists, communications and support staff. Founded in 2003 by Rick Cook and Bob Fox, the firm is now led by six partners and founding partner Rick Cook.
They have built a studio focused on high-performance, environmentally responsive design and are most well-known for innovative design at the highest standard of environmental performance, including One Bryant Park, the first LEED Platinum commercial skyscraper; their current studio which has achieved LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certification; and a highperformance biophilic design for 150 Charles, a residential condominium building which achieved LEED Gold.
Their work is focused on biophilic design to create architecture that supports physical health and mental wellness. The studio’s portfolio of diverse residential, workplace, and education projects has been driven by their belief that healthy environments are connected to nature with physical, visual and psychological connections that stimulate their innate positive biological responses to nature and natural processes.
Beyond high-performance design, COOKFOX is known for their rigor in research of the natural and cultural history and context that informs the work. They are also known for their ability to lead large and diverse project teams, client groups and public stakeholders to accomplish complex public approvals through city and state agencies and navigate complex regulatory processes.
COOKFOX is deeply committed to social equality in their work and operations. Through their designs, they are passionate advocates of architecture that promotes equality. They have worked to diversify their portfolio to include supportive housing, affordable housing and educational facilities. Among their current projects are affordable housing in Brooklyn, supportive housing in the Bronx for formerly homeless individuals and a school building for atrisk children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.