Chuck Choi Architectural Photography

Foster + Partners: Porcelanosa NYC

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Foster + Partners' new flagship store for Spanish tile company Porcelanosa, opened in September. The project is a retrofit of a six story, 1919 neoclassical, 23' x 75' building at the apex of a triangle formed by the confluence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It's main facade overlooks and defines the space of Madison Square, is directly opposite and on point to the Flatiron Building, and is adjacent to Madison Square Park. I mention these details because they are meaningful to the architects, perhaps more keenly so because they are British; the historical and contextual significance of building in New York City has not been forgotten or made secondary.

What I admire about F+P is their disciplined focus on architectural fundamentals. Even for this small project, scale, site lines and reference to New York's larger fabric are essential. To that end, the plan of the building is a carry-through of the angular meeting of the Broadway and Fifth. The windows are purposefully opened up and scaled to offer widescreen views of Madison Square and the iconic Flatiron building beyond. Portions of the floorplates on the lower two and top two levels are cut away in order to create soaring interior spaces. The rest of the building is delivered with characteristically restrained unfussy modern details so as not to detract from the main concerns. The architects have maximized what this building could and should be.  See all images.