New York DNA between Art, Architecture and Urban Green

Article and pictures by Architect Elica Sartogo.   

At the Bloomberg Center’s Cornell Tech building, by Pritzker Prize architect Thom Mayne, the New York DNA is part of the conceptual project. The outdoor texture has captured the skyline of Manhattan; the panorama is expressed through a green camouflage organic, steel skin. This shines and naturally changes during the day through the sun rays in the heart of Roosevelt Island’s campus. The aluminium panels register a continuous image which merges the river view scenery. Each pixel of the image is translated into the specific turn-and-tilt of a two-inch circular tab punched into the paneling. The depth and rotation of each of the tabs determines the amount of light reflected. This pixel map and its algorithm were fed into a repurposed welding robot, developed in collaboration with Cornell and MIT students.

In The Photo: Cornell Tech Building. Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo
In The Photo: Cornell Tech Building. Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo

The same process, but in a different approach, can be seen in the super fine Sumak unique kilim carpet, by architect Peter Eisenman. It is hand knotted on the thematic of the Golden Section, specially designed for ARTInD company; the long fringe and empty space in between make you breath in the layers of Hagia Sofia Mosquee in Istanbul. It is a ‘no material’ space, as specifies Peter Eisenman in his Studio in Mid Manhattan, where all brown cardboard models intercommunicate.

In The Photo: Sumak unique kilim carpet, by architect Peter EisenmanPhoto Credit: Elica Sartogo

“I took something from a building project as an idea and put it into a carpet. The grids come from a particular relationship of solid and void in the Hagia Sofia Mosquee in Istanbul. I think it is very important for architects to be doing projects that stretch architecture and an architect’s mind out into material, space and time. Similarly, this carpet is a purely abstract idea of space and time. The black grid goes over the white lines and under the yellow lines, it is moving up and down. This is like an abstract painting. The challenge is to perceive the capacity of having something spatial in a single depth with many layers: this is what I call Architecture Abstraction.”

Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo
 Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo

What about the wildness and wind moving plants found along the organic railway path of the very popular High Line, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro?

In Photo: High Line. Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo

And what about the Bio-receptive material at Storefront for Art and Architecture in Soho, where the heavy sand blasting wood frames support live microorganisms, such as microbes, and analyzes them in the internal laboratory to capture DNA from their inhabitants?

In The Photo: Storefront for Art and Architecture in Soho. Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo
Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo

There is no doubt that the wild forest and the local genetics are the case studies of our future urban developments.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Featured Photo: Cornell Tech Building. Photo Credit: Elica Sartogo.

Related Articles: “Where New York Creativity Meets For A Green Vision” by Elica Sartogo

Green Building Goes Platinum: Sustainable Architecture in San Francisco” by Dyanna Sandhu


About the Author /

Elica decided to carry on her family tradition in addition to her experiences in the art field, fashion industry, and agriculture. She has studied Industrial Design at ISIA in Roma, she graduated in Architecture Pathway, 'Art, Design & Environment' course, at the Central Saint Martins in London, and holds a Master degree in Building Restoration - with Prof. Doct. G. Carbonara - from La Sapienza University of Rome. In 2012, she joined the Supino International Architecture Summer School as Tutor Professor. She became associate of the studio Sartogo in 2013. She believes architecture should be a good sensation. “I believe architecture should make those who experience it happy through it’s beauty. My notion of architecture is that, it is the true expression of someone’s dream- that abstract moment when your head is in the air, you capture that feeling and 'build it up’."

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