A Cultural and Environmental Research Institute Along the Highline in New York City. The highline has given a resurgence of life to the westside of Manhattan. As one of the first examples of successful public space that occurs above street level, it’s capacity to reshape the experience of and connection to the city becomes increasingly important.
The Airlab, as a public institution, seeks to create a very public and fluid connection between the elevated highline and the existing streetscape. The process by which the connection is facilitated is a function of an initial response that the building must capitalize on the available wind and geothermal potential the context provides. As a consequence, the building is split into two main elements connected with three structural funnels, each of which provides a different function. The top half of the building becomes a trellis like structure that houses data collecting facilities such as air quality monitors and wind turbines while the lower half houses larger programs, including labs, classrooms, and other research facilities. The gap between the two serves as an expansive covered public ramp that mimics the way in which a wide river would function.