East Harlem Residential Building Uses ‘Artwall’ to Hide Mechanical Equipment

'Park Avenue Artwall' at 1951 Park Avenue. Photo: GDSNY'Park Avenue Artwall' at 1951 Park Avenue. Photo: GDSNY

New York City is a land of skyscrapers, but we don’t often find ourselves looking up. But there is something neat to check out if you find yourself up in East Harlem.

Harlem River Point, located at 1951 Park Avenue and 200 East 131st Street, is a multi-building, 173-unit mixed-use development completed in 2015. While the buildings are the product of the architecture firm GF55 Partners, artist Michael Kirchmann of Global Design Strategies (GDSNY) is responsible for an interesting work of art on the Park Avenue façade of 1951.

A Metro-North Railroad train passing the 'Park Avenue Artwall.' Photo: GDSNY

A Metro-North Railroad train passing the ‘Park Avenue Artwall.’ Photo: GDSNY

About four stories up, there is what they call an “artwall.” The 80-foot-long installation functions as an enclosure for mechanical equipment, but also serves as a visual enhancement for the block.

'Park Avenue Artwall.' Photo: GDSNY

‘Park Avenue Artwall.’ Photo: GDSNY

'Park Avenue Artwall.' Photo: GDSNY

‘Park Avenue Artwall.’ Photo: GDSNY

“Using a material palette of glass and aluminum fins, the artwork employs a dynamic surface geometry that changes depending on the viewer’s vantage point,” GDSNY told YIMBY. “The changing physicality of the surface uses light, reflections and shadow to create depth and movement along the building’s façade, which is further emphasized when viewed from a moving train car on the adjacent raised Metro-North tracks.”

'Park Avenue Artwall.' Photo: GDSNY

‘Park Avenue Artwall.’ Photo: GDSNY

“The moiré-type effect also adjusts depending on whether you are traveling north or south on Metro-North, or traveling at the street level. GDSNY used algorithmic modeling to produce the design drawings and export the component metrics for fabrication.”

'Park Avenue Artwall.' Photos: GDSNY

‘Park Avenue Artwall.’ Photos: GDSNY

As for the residential development, it is 100 percent affordable. There is over 300,000 square feet in the project. For residences, 158,801 square feet of it is at 1951 Park Avenue, working out to an average of about 918 square feet for each of its 173 units, and 123,328 square feet of it is at 200 East 131st Street, working out to an average of about 881 square feet for each of its 140 units. There is also 10,300 square feet of community facility space and 1,684 square feet of commercial space.