Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
New York, New York, USA
We were working on four projects for Prada at once – Le Cure, Levanella, Tokyo, and New York. The Head Office in New York was the last project entrusted to us and the first to be finished. It’s a kind of striptease of the former piano factory: all architectural elements were removed so only the naked concrete structure would remain.
This raw exposure revealed the proportions and generous space of the previously industrial building. The offices were occupied before all work on the building was completed. Some architectural ideas and concepts still remain unfinished at present: a penthouse extension on the large roof terrace with spectacular views, and an exhibition space for the Fondazione Prada on the ground floor.
The most radical concept was the proposal to convert the square in front of the building on 609 West 52nd Street into a rock garden. When we learned that the granite bedrock rises up quite high in that area of Manhattan, we scratched open the surface of the front garden and uncovered the original geological layer not even half a meter below grade.
We liked its powerful and archaic rawness. A rock garden, not designed but found. Its nakedness was not dissimilar to the architectural strategy already used for the concrete structures of the building. These works were never finished. The granite bedrock has since been covered by asphalt for more practical uses and easy dispatch of goods.”
Herzog & de Meuron 2002
In the park behind the factory, the organic rock of Manhattan will be uncovered to make a natural stone garden. The former piano factory is situated in Manhattan, near the Hudson River piers.
Galleries for the Fondazione Prada in the courtyard: variations above and below ground level with distorted ceilings forming an artificial rockscape; two proposals for a penthouse.
Seen here, 1:1 detailed mock-ups with glass elements for the rooftop Prada logo.
Expressive forms for the private penthouse and public gallery, ground floor layout, sections.
Building and courtyard stripped down to the rock; facade clarified by window elements.
The concrete building with its mushroom pillars is restored, exposing pipes and cable shafts; offices, meeting rooms and showrooms are partitioned with sound-insulating glass walls.
Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001. The Complete Works. Volume 4.” Edited by: Gerhard Mack. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2008. Vol. No. 4.
Nobuyuki Yoshida (Ed.): “Architecture and Urbanism. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006.” Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co., Ltd., 08.2006.
Herzog & de Meuron: “Prada Aoyama Tokyo. Herzog & de Meuron.” Edited by: Germano Celant. 2nd ed. Milan, Progetto Prada Arte srl, 2003.
“Herzog & de Meuron. Natural History.” Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. “Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind.” Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. 2nd ed. Baden, Lars Müller, 2005.