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339 Lafayette New York : Manhattan Design Contest

The Peace Pentagon New York competition winning designs

Jan 26, 2010

Manhattan Design Contest proposal:
The Peace Pentagon, 339 Lafayette Manhattan design

339 Lafayette

The three storey corner building at 339 Lafayete was built in 1922 as offices for the Lafayette Realty Company, Inc..

Since 1929 it has been repeatedly used as a base by activist organisations such as the Palestine Homestead Corporation or the Palestine Information Bureau. In 1969 the building was purchased by the War Resisters League.

The Peace Pentagon, 339 Lafayette New York City

In the 1970’s, the A.J. Muste Institute (AJMMI) was created (mainly by members of the War Resisters League) to administer the building as a permanent centre for the peace movement in New York. For 40 years the building has been home base to countless peace initiatives and organization, and acquired its affectionate “Peace Pentagon” nickname through this work.

In 2008, 339 Lafayette was incorporated into the Noho Historic District Extension and presented with a Place Matters award. NYC Landmark District Protections only pertain to the exterior appearance of a building. Although the bricks and stones are “protected”, generally, there is no concern to keep a building functioning as a peace center or any other use. The protection is mainly intended to preserve the atmosphere of the neighborhood. In contrast, the 2008 Place Matters award referred to its specific use as a peace center for 40 years. Place Matters Awards were developed to honor and acknowledge the use of buildings, but they do not confer any legal protections. Currently, the survival of the Peace Pentagon is still threatened.

Peace Pentagon Peace Pentagon

The Friends of 339 sponsored a competition to re-imagine the Peace Pentagon (339 Lafayette) in response to a crisis: the building requires significant repairs or rebuilding and if the needed funds cannot be raised, it will be sold. If the building is sold, this community for peace and justice organizing is likely to be split up.

Peace Pentagon Competition, New York

PEACE PENTAGON COMPETITION: A CALL TO ACTION received a tremendous response. 128 entries were submitted from all over the world. These proposals include many different approaches to the challenges of the site and program. Friends of 339, the competition’s sponsoring organization, has been impressed by both the quality and creative energy of the submissions and views this output to be an integral part of the ongoing fight to re-build this building for future generations of peace and social justice activists.

The Brief: The Peace Pentagon (339 Lafayette St, Manhattan) has played an important role in the peace and justice movement for 40 years. The competition sought proposals to translate non-violent action into a building. The brief asked: how can the building engage the Noho/Bowery neighborhood and also support the 339 activist community? Because the building’s current condition requires extensive repairs, competitors were given a choice to add program elements within the framework of these repairs or to propose a new building. Participants were encouraged to consider the financial implications of strategies for a new or renovated building.

Jury Day: The jury met in New York on the 14th of December and spent a great deal of time identifying and discussing the various approaches formed in response to a rather complex set of programmatic goals. The jury divided the first prize among three entries and the third prize among two winners.

Attending Jurors: Markus Schulte, Deborah Gans, DeeDee Haleck, Martha Rosler, Michael Sorkin, Karla Rothstein, Nato Thompson and William Menking.

Peace Pentagon Competition Prizes

ATP Sphere GmbH, Innsbuck, Austria
First Prize,(1 of 3), US$2,333.00
Peace Pentagon

This proposal to add a lightweight tent structure to the existing building was selected because it responds to the program requirements with a relatively low impact, but highly visible form, that could be used for public functions.

Maureen Connor/ Institute for Wishful Thinking, New York, USA
First Prize (1 of 3), US$ 2,333.00
Peace Pentagon entry

The jury responded to the enigmatic and ironic character of this proposal, as a fitting symbol for the complex nature of resistance.

Benoit Streicher, Michel Sikorski, Strasbourg, France
First Prize (1 of 3), US$ 2,333.00
Peace Pentagon entry
This proposal creates a memorable, and layered form using the “stable” remnant of the existing building. The jury commended the integration of exterior expression with useful interior spaces.

Sergey Pospelov, Vladimir Belskiy, Ildar Valishin & Elena Fedorova, Moscow, Russia,
Third Prize (1 of 2), US$ 500.00
Peace Pentagon entry

The jury liked the idea expressed by the banner reading, “back by popular demand”, raising the original building with its long history of activism to a position of visual prominence in the neighborhood.

Graham Thompson, Dublin, Ireland
Third Prize (1 of 2), US$ 500.00
Peace Pentagon entry
The jury appreciated the beauty of this proposal.

Peace Pentagon Honorable mentions

JSPY Architecture, Jersey City, USA.
Ashton Porter Architects, London, UK.
New World Architects, New York, USA.Architectenaanhetij, J.A. Schepman & A.C. de Buck, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Tony Bourgaran & Kevin Bian, Rennes, France
Jason Allen, Nash Hurley & Gerald Del Priore, Brooklyn, USA.
Steffen Neumann, Johannes Wegner & Lamin Cham, Hannover, Germany.
Heejoo Shi & Kyung Jae Kim, New York, USA.
Ines Catarino Cabrita & Miguel Fevereiro, Estoril, Portugal.Paolo Galantini, Pisa, Italy.

Sponsor: Friends of 339
Funding for awards: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Competition Organizers: Maureen Shea, Nandini Bagchee

More images of ATP Sphere’s proposal for this Manhattan Design Contest:

Peace Pentagon Peace Pentagon Peace Pentagon

Peace Pentagon Peace Pentagon Peace Pentagon

Peace Pentagon New York competition design images / information from ATP

Location: 339 Lafayete, New York City, USA

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