The Commerzbank Building in Frankfurt, Germany was a huge inspiration in the design of my final project for Architecture 3010. As I learned of the program for the project, which was to be a Rehabilitation Center for Wounded Veterans, I struggled with trying to figure out how to incorporate a garden (which was mandatory) into a high rise building in the middle of New York City and make it actually use full and be utilized to the fullest potential. The Commerzbank building features “sky gardens” which happen on nine floors throughout the building that serves multiple functions. First, it allows views into the surrounding landscape. Second, it allows views within the building and allows interconnections to occur. Finally, it allows the most important and hardest item to filter into a building in an urban complex, light. I took the ideas that Norman Foster and his team created and tried to adjust and rework them to fit my scale and program.
Rehabilitation requires a few things. It requires patience, personal space, interaction, reflection, and rehab. The therapy garden would be a space of rehab that would flank the highline to the east. It would almost seem as if an extension of the highline into the building. This would create interaction between the residents of the building and those walking along the highline. It would be a more public space that could be used for motivation. Maybe people passing by would say encouraging things to the veterans, thanking them for all they have done in the line of duty, encouraging them to keep pushing. But I felt like there needed to be more to it.
Not all parts of the rehabilitation should be seen. There are times where one needs to be alone to contemplate the situation and reflect. The public therapy garden couldn’t be a place where one could feel as if they were outside of the city, with no one watching their every move. There has to be a space that is private for just the veterans themselves. An indoor garden would allow for privacy and be able to be used throughout the year no matter the weather. This could be that space of contemplation.
By placing a garden lower in my building plan, it allowed light to reach lower places. It allowed the patients see other patients and their rooms creating a visual connection. By placing an indoor garden higher in the building, it allowed for a space that seemed to be not in the midst of the city, hovering over it. It created a space that would allow for humility and reflection.