Friday, January 13, 2017

SoNo Eighties

Taking a look back at South Norwalk in the 80’s and the revitalization that launched
Beinfield Architecture’s ongoing involvement in SoNo  - and some bits of history

The Corset Factory 1910 and 2004

Washington Prime - corner of Washington and Water
Ann Street  - Corset Factory - 1980's

The view down Ann Street from our archives shows how derelict the area had become. The scaffolded building to the right of the razed lot is the historic R & G corset factory built around 1900. In 1994 Beinfield Architecture refurbished the red-bricked shell into 80 residential units. Historically, the R & G Corset Factory was one of the largest producers of ladies corsets and in 1901 employed about a thousand workers, almost all of them women. This was one of the earliest projects to promote the redevelopment of downtown South Norwalk.

Washington and Water Street - 1980's. The mural on Donovan's facade painted in 1978 by legendary Brechin Morgan,
depicts one of the last working schooners on Long Island Sound

Across from what is now Washington Prime, Donovan’s Pub, formerly Jeremiah Donovan's saloon, has stood at the corner of Washington and Water streets since the late 19th century. Jeremiah Donovan a former Norwalk mayor and U.S. Congressman, owned the bar, which at some point had been a small grocery store as well. The tavern stopped selling liquor during the prohibition but allegedly maintained a speakeasy in the back.

The "Welcome to Historic South Norwalk" mural on the wall of the eastern side of Donovan’s facing the bridge was painted by Brechin Morgan in 1978. Brec had a sign painting business in Norwalk for 23 years and is an accomplished nautical artist. He became legend and hero in 2003 following a 4 1/2 year solo circumnavigation of the world, sailing 32,000 miles to 32 countries in his 27-foot sloop,Otter.
"...Then a fair sail to Suakin in Sudan. Not to be missed. The ruins of the old slave port in the moonlight. Un touched by tourism. All the men in white robes and turbans with long sharp bright swords across their backs and daggers at the belts...fierce..rdng camels through the dusty streets....bblcal.. .. and camels everywhere" Journal entry
“(Brec's) accounts range from the mundane (diet and weather), to the mysterious (giant phosphorescent blobs that flash then fade around the boat; a huge, unidentified sea creature that follows Otter) and mystical....". Hartford Courant 2003

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Modern and Minimal

On the art and design path : Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is on view at the Jewish Museum through March 26. The exhibit showcases rare furniture, lighting fixtures, and interiors, as well as designs for the Maison de Verre along with interactive virtual views.
Info and 360 views here
The exhibition components inspired a closer look at the classic 1932 Maison de Verre. It is marvelous to see how the early modern style is still contemporary and how the challenges of that collaboration lead to highly imaginative innovations - the house was an unlikely confluence of residence meets Dr’s office meets cultural affairs salon, all evolving together without disturbing the top floor tenant’s dwelling.
The design was an on-site choreography between designer, architect and craftsmen* from whom evolved an intricate system of spacial division utilizing sliding, folding or rotating screens in glass, sheet and perforated metal.

Creative guests may have included Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard, André Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dalí, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, René Crevel & Man Ray, 1933
The salon was regularly frequented by Marxist intellectuals like Walter Benjamin as well as by Surrealist poets and artists such as Louis Aragon, Paul Éluard, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Jacques Lipchitz, Jean Cocteau, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró and Max Jacob.

*Pierre Chareau (furniture and interiors designer), Bernard Bijvoet (Dutch architect working in Paris since 1927) and Louis Dalbet (craftsman metalworker).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

On Blitzen

This year we hopped on the party bus and headed to Brooklyn for the annual Beinfield Architecture holiday celebration. The champagne flowed freely in every direction as the bus defied gravity at every curve, delivering us to the the recently restored Wythe Hotel where we kicked off the party on the 6th floor bar overlooking the city. The hotel space was formerly a cask and textile factory built in 1901, a beautiful fusion of reclaimed vintage ironwork, timber and brick. Then across the street, to Brooklyn Bowl for food, drinks and spirited competition. 
 Looking forward to bringing in the New Year - 
best wishes for a positive and productive 2017!

Fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline from the Wythe Hotel rooftop bar
Brooklyn Bowl was originally an ironworks(!) foundry, constructed using recycled materials, glass reclaimed
from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and custody-controlled wooden floor boards reclaimed from the original building 

Thursday, December 22, 2016


At Beinfield Architecture we are reminded how inspired design has the power to be an agent
change and renewal.
We are, after all, designing for comfort and joy!

Wishing our friends, clients and colleagues
good cheer and well-being in 2017!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Design Within Reach

In tribute to Jens Risom,  Mark Goodwin AIA shared this gem of a house, built for under 25K in 1967 -

Jens Risom (1916-2016) at his summer home on Block Island

Read Dwell article here

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

BA Bringing it to New Haven / Audubon St.

Beinfield Architecture plans are underway for a new apartment complex in New Haven, helping the city grow and providing 270 residential units where vacancy is trending as low as 2%. Parking, which will be hidden within a wrap of housing, will provide space for nearby Frontier employees as well as residents.

It could also be a draw for people looking for an attractive and affordable alternative to maxed-out cosmopolitan cities.

Work is expected to start Spring 2017 and take about a year and a half.

Read more NEWS8

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Downsized Big

Beinfield Architecture is stepping in with a scaled down proposal for 272-280 Main Avenue, to replace the previously discarded big-box development plan.

Design is underway for “The Village,” Beinfield’s solution, which would incorporate smaller retail storefronts and restaurants with outdoor dining which would incorporate the neighborhood, blending the existing historic architecture and encouraging a walkable component.    The HOUR article here
Plans include pedestrian accessible smaller retail, restaurants with outdoor seating,
solar panels and Green Building
272 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT