83 Walker’s concrete facade appears to be imprinted with the image of a traditional cast-iron building. The design of the new apartment building derives from by its location in the Tribeca East Historic District, an area with a significant number of nineteenth century structures by pioneers of cast-iron architecture James Bogardus and Daniel D. Badger. Everything about the facade is traditional and instantly familiar, from the basic tripartite division to the composition of the arched windows, lintels, and understated pilasters — it’s all just been inverted. 83 Walker is, essentially, an enormous mold for creating a cast-iron building; an homage to the casting process that was initially inspired by the work of sculptor Rachel Whiteread.
Though relatively simple in design, the clarity and depth of its inverted elements create a dynamic play of light and shadow that subtly changes the appearance of the facade’s precast concrete panels. The building’s coloring is similar to the white-painted cast-iron and buff-colored stone found throughout the district, but 83 Walker does more than invoke the color and forms of buildings in the district — it inspires thoughts as to how these buildings were actually constructed.
Image Credits: Matthew Williams, Alex Tomlinson