SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology is located in the heart of New York City’s Fashion District, yet many of the existing buildings, built in the Brutalist style, wall the College off from its surroundings. A goal of this project was to open FIT’s unique and tangible curriculum to the surrounding neighborhood, while simultaneously bringing the vibrant life of the city into the studio.
The Pomerantz Lobby Expansion and Art Galleries was an opportunity to provide such a valued space. The project reclaimed unused space on 7th Avenue at 27th Street in Manhattan, the most prominent corner of SUNY FIT’s campus. A new, structurally glazed curtain wall enclosed an underutilized portico to create a space with unlimited potential: building lobby, art gallery, exhibition hall, public assembly space, studio, student gathering space. The curtain wall was thoughtfully designed to mimic the rhythm and proportion of the existing building. The result is that the renovated lobby looks as though it has always been there.
The main space of the lobby provides a meeting space and display area for students, which is lacking elsewhere on campus. Off the lobby is a gallery for both in-house and external exhibits and events. Both the lobby and gallery are open to the public requiring that the design ensure FIT’s security is maintained. The solution was a careful layout of circulation as well as a security desk and turnstiles which are both functional and beautiful. A new 2nd floor studio is suspended in the double-height lobby. Enclosed in glass, this space allows students to collaborate and experiment in a private yet visible space open to the influences of their peers in the lobby below as well as the city beyond.
Due to the lobby being used for a myriad of programs, a complex lighting system was required for this project. The client requested that lighting schemes be able to change on a weekly basis for not only the house lighting, but for the flexible track lights as well. This resulted in designing a Lutron system with over 30 zones which allows endless possibilities for the client and is easily controlled by an iPad. Daylighting and occupancy sensors were also implemented into the design for energy conservation.