Featured Project: Rooftop Additions at the High Line by @MurdockSolon Architects

Featured Project: Rooftop Additions at the High Line by @MurdockSolon Architects

Rendering of the planned Rooftop Additions at 513-531 West 26th Street by Murdock Solon Architects

Recently, Murdock Solon (formerly Murdock Young) Architects (@MurdockSolon) published a blog post featuring their glass rooftop addition project at 513 West 26th Street. I have the pleasure of collaborating with Shea Murdock and project architect Kara Koirtyohann on this project as part of the construction mangement team at Integrity Contracting and could not pass up the opportunity to feature the project here on RenovatingNYC.com. Integrity Contracting has also collaborated with Murdock Solon/Murdock Young on the renovation of the same buildings in 2004 as well as individual gallery build outs for George Adams, Barry Friedman, and Claire Oliver.

Last year, I put together a short video which includes a brief history of the High Line and an overview of the rooftop addition project using animated Sketch Up models to show the process of the work.

The High Line and West 26th Street Rooftop Additions from RJ Diaz on Vimeo.

Our biggest challenge on this project was the installation of structural steel at the existing roof level of a 3 story building with gallery occupants below. With a little luck in the weather, tight coordination of all the trades, and the installation of a temporary heavyweight tarp over heavy gauge metal stud as joists, we were successful in keeping rain and snow from causing any damage during the steel installation and existing roof removal phase of the project.  The project is currently scheduled for completion in May 2012.

Murdock Solon Architect’s blog post featuring the Rooftop Addition follows here, with a separate post featuring an interview with the project architect below.

Enter Murdock Solon Architect:



Local NYC Architect Takes on Chelsea Rooftops

Take the newly finished High Line to 26th street and look up. Here you’ll find one of Murdock Solon Architect’s latest projects – three glass rooftop additions on 513-521 West 26th Street.

This view from the High Line has been top of mind from the onset of the project. With the High Line’s elevated experience, users see New York City from a new angle, making sections of buildings that were once not as important now very important, namely the party wall.  This is addressed in this project by engaging this secondary facade, currently an afterthought, as the new primary facade of the buildings. This is achieved through creating a composition of three glass boxes.

Wrapped in a glass curtain wall with a unique honeycomb pattern, the new office and gallery spaces will mimic the High Line experience, uniting the neighborhood’s industrial past, current contemporary art influences, and nature.

Our goal has been to design an addition that would mimic these experiences while complementing the buildings’ original designs. The three connected, but tiered buildings share similar features with rhythmically placed windows and brick facades. The earliest building was built in 1911, and all three were home to factories, two serving as daylight factories.

The new rooftop additions play on this idea of daylight with the glass curtain wall with anodized aluminum frames. The one-way vision laminate layer featuring the honeycomb pattern is only visible from the exterior and is completely invisible from the interior, drawing the neighborhood in through reflection, light, and transparency. The honeycomb pattern gradually increases in scale as the additions move further away from the High Line. The finalization of the pattern required extensive coordination with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

MSA NYC Architects - High Line Rooftop Addition Night View

Other materials include a gray weathered zinc panel, concrete terrace pavers, and concrete parapet. Each penthouse also includes an interior linear light fixture that runs the perimeter of the space, which also serves to unify the structures and make them “beacons.”

Building of penthouse 513 is underway with a completion scheduled for the spring of 2012.

Follow our project here as we add more details throughout the construction process.

MSA NYC Architects - High Line Rooftop Addition Construction

MSA NYC Architects - High Line Rooftop Addition

For our additional work as a NYC architect in the Chelsea art district, please see the following projects:

Barry Friedman Gallery
Claire Oliver
Pace Prints
eorge Adams Gallery

NYC Architect, High Line Construction

NYC Architect, High Line Construction

NYC Architect, High Line Construction 1

NYC Architect, High Line Construction




Kara Koirtyohann R.A., NYC Architects
Current Position at Murdock Solon Architects: Project Architect
When did you join Murdock Solon Architects?
I started working for Kelly Solon in February of 2009. I took over the Rooftop Additions project in the spring of 2010.
What is your current role in the Rooftop Additions project at the High Line?
Project Architect. I am currently responsible for all aspects of the project’s progress. I attend construction meetings, review construction progress, and help resolve issues when they come up.
What has been the best part of the project?
Like any project, it is always great to see your ideas realized in the construction phase. As an architect, you dedicate so much time to planning and designing a project. This project is a good example; we have been working on the design of the rooftop additions for at least 4 years, initially submitting drawings to Landmarks and the DoB in 2008. It’s always a fantastic moment when the project transitions from paper to built form.
In particular, this project is interesting in that the job site is directly across the street from our office. All I have to do is peek out the window and I know what’s happening on site. It’s been fun to watch the project being built day by day.
Additionally, this project’s site presents some unique opportunities. As the High Line has become a major attraction and venue for public recreation, the project will become a recognized contribution to the urban fabric and skyline of New York City. It’s exciting to be a part of shaping the City and contributing to its constant evolution.
What has been the most challenging part of the project and why? 
As I mentioned, the project has had an extended time frame and worked through a significant approval process. It can be challenging to maintain patience while moving through the lengthy pre-construction process.
Also, as a renovation and addition to an existing structure, the project requires sensitivity to the existing conditions. We have to work around not only existing structure, but also existing tenants. Occasionally, we might open a wall and discover unexpected conditions, which requires pause and readjustment to the design, but this keeps the days interesting!

As you are nearing the end of the first building’s completion this spring, what do you hope the feedback will be from those on the skyline and then in the NYC architecture community? 

The High Line has created an entirely new type of street front where elevated apartments now take on a presence at the pedestrian level. Second and third floor fire escapes have effectively become sidewalk stoops. Our project will contribute to this new type of street front architecture and enhance the connection of the High Line to the adjacent buildings, making a visual connection from the walkway to the office and gallery activity inside the additions.
What do you think makes being an architect in NYC different than anywhere else in the country?
The sheer number of architects and designers who live and work here means that there is a constant exploration of new ideas. It is exciting to be a participant and a spectator at this active node.
Additionally, the history of New York City and its urban fabric – it’s organic growth based on commerce, the high value of the individual lot created by Manhattan’s existence as an island, the history for bold design strategies (Central Park, the Grid, the High Line) – seems to be unique among cities. I believe New York has a commitment to built space that is not found in many U.S. cities.
What’s the best thing about being one of the NYC architects at Murdock Solon Architects? 
We have a great diversity of projects, and each person brings unique ideas to the office. We work hard and have a lot of fun.
What other projects do you have going on right now?
I am working on a number of other improvements to this same set of buildings: the design of a new facade, a gallery renovation, and some additional exterior improvement work. I’m also working on a house under construction in New Jersey and contributing to the design of MSA’s new office space!
What has been your favorite residential or commercial architecture project at Murdock Solon Architects? 
Barry Friedman. It maintains the tough industrial nature of the original space, but still creates warm and inviting areas.
– Learn more about the High Line rooftop addition on our blog and on our portfolio page.
– See more of our NYC commercial architecture projects here.