NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center

Auburn, NY

Architect
nARCHITECTS
General Contractor
Fahs Construction Group
Mason
DiPeso Contractors
Distributor
Bock Brick

nARCHITECTS used brick at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center to help gain acceptance for the project. The site for the 7,500-square foot center came with a history, both good and bad. It is surrounded on three sides by buildings that are important to the city of Auburn: the Seward House Museum to the south, Memorial City Hall to the east, and Westminster Presbyterian Church to the west. On its north side, a concrete 1980s-era parking garage is a less-beloved building. And as the most recent project that the city of Auburn had commissioned, it was not a good precedent for the center.

The designers looked at local conditions in an effort to win over Auburn’s residents. They documented the many brick Federal-style buildings in the area. “I even snooped around and picked up brick chips, put them in my pocket, and brought them home,” says Eric Bunge, FAIA, Co-Founding Partner of nARCHITECTS. From this research nARCHITECTS found a brick well suited to the project—“a pink brick that is very close to some of the brick colors we found in Auburn, but also a little bit different,” says Bunge. “I think our clients were very excited about that—that brick would address some of the concerns of the residents about having a new building in a very important spot.”

The brick is set both in standard courses and with some unique detailing. On the north and south façades of the building’s central volume, nARCHITECTS laid the brick at a ten-degree angle. These projecting bricks produce a pattern with deep shadows. Thin brick setbacks frame the sides of some of the large windows. “We were thinking of a loose interpretation of the shutter,” says Bunge, “the way that the window doesn’t quite terminate within a wall as in a modernist wall puncture.” Both details help to break up the large expanses of brick that are necessary in exhibition buildings.

Exerpt directly from Folio 2.

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