665 West 187th Street
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665 West 187th Street
665 West 187th Street



New York, NY



Mixed Use Building - Commercial and Residential

74,300 gross SF

57,800 net SF

12,400 lot SF

50 units


665 West 187th Street is an eight story modular building designed for Upper Manhattan. It will be the second pre-fabricated, modular building to be constructed in the history of the island. Its construction is programmed to be assembled almost completely offsite in a factory and transported to the Washington Heights neighborhood location.

While the building’s foundations and cellar slab are traditionally cast in place concrete, the remaining above grade portion of the building is constructed of pre-assembled medium gauge metal construction, with modules spanning twelve feet wide, ten feet tall and up to forty feet long. Although modules are combined on site to create larger interior spaces, these initial dimensions allow for the units to meet strict Department of Transit guidelines, as modules are designed to be freight mounted and pass though bridges and tunnels in order to arrive in Manhattan. Designing within these constraints while maintaining spatial quality was very challenging, but we were able to innovate and improve upon the proprietary system’s engineering to ensure that spaces felt large, clean cut, column free, bright and well proportioned.

Once the components arrive to the site, each module is crane lifted into place and mechanically bolted together. The modules come water tight from the factory, with all elements in place, from the windows and terrace doors, kitchens and bathrooms, down to the hardware, flooring, fixtures, finishes and lighting. Once in place, only the interior public corridors are left to be finished on site. The unfinished corridors allow for speedy electrical and plumbing hookup to building and city utilities.

Although delivered water-tight on the exterior, these modules also arrive with unfinished exterior cladding to allow for settlement between modules. Therefore, given the opportunity, we treated the building’s skin as a unique contemporary urban mural. It’s motif, is a pixelated flower-bush, syringa vulgaris, lilac, which also happens to be New York State’s official emblem. By using advanced rain-screen technology that allows for a pressure ventilated facade with custom, yet modular panel sizes, we pixelated images of the New York lilac until we were left with an abstract composition of 5 colors, ranging from the lilac to silver metallic range. 

Interrupting the mural’s colored pattern, are oversized floor to ceiling punched open, operable windows in 5 different unique shapes that interlock with the orthogonal grid of the rain screen and modular construction. The effect creates a tetris like syntax that transmits a positive subliminal message. The goal of the urban mural-facade was to visually reinforce the modular nature of the building and express it’s uniquely assembled nature and give back a facade that evokes art and a positive message for the neighborhood and the community. 

Per New York City’s Zoning Code, setbacks were required after stacking five modules high. This creates larger 3BR units on the sixth, seventh and eight floors with private terraces that look South towards Lower Manhattan. Railings are designed to be clear glass to allow transparency and avoid visual clutter. All mechanical systems are concealed into a sculptural bulkhead surrounded by a public rooftop landscape.

Building amenities such as a day care center, parking, gym and community center are located below grade, but are day-lit by skylight penetrations and a unique triple height circulation volume that is flanked by glazing and flooded with natural light from both the North and South facades. These facades at ground level are glazed from floor to ceiling, allowing for a bright, cheerful lobby space and visual continuity from the amenities and landscape areas through to the entrance area and outwards towards the streetscape. The idea is to make the building as appealing as possible from the pedestrian’s point of view, but to also enrich the quality of the public areas of the building by allowing for light to easily find its way through.

As this is an economy building, we also worked hard to ensure economies of scales. For example, all kitchen units are all identical throughout the building. The idea of modularity and the economy of the repetitive unit is exercised to the maximum through the building. 

Hardware, appliances, flooring, wall coverings and material finishes are all personally designed by Karim Rashid and produced by his industrial design clients.

It was important to Karim that the result of his work manifest into something that would deeply connect with the end user and sustain relationships with the consumers of this space.



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