Georg Windeck is an architect, educator, and researcher. His broad range of professional activities includes the design and construction of various building types, urban planning and historic preservation. He is licensed in Berlin and New York. Windeck studied architecture at the Technical University Berlin and sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy Berlin. His work celebrates the craft of building as a creative endeavor that embraces technological possibilities through artistic concepts. Over the past 15 years Windeck has been teaching at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union. He also teaches at the Critical Theory and the Arts graduate program of the School of Visual Arts, New York.
Projects & Links
Estonian Academy of the Arts
(with Daniel Schuetz; associate team member: Anna Zagol)
The desire to express the individual character of the artistic disciplines, while establishing the unity of the institution as whole, is a key to the understanding of the Estonian Academy of Arts, and of its architectural design.
Urbanism: The academy is a compact, autonomous building, situated on a relatively small lot in the midst of the of Tallinn. The compact form of the building addresses the spatial constraints of the site. It expresses the role of the academy as an important public institution, architecturally and urbanistically distinguished from the corporate developments surrounding it. The building reacts spatially to the street and neighboring buildings through cuts into and extrusions from its main volume.
Field of Paintings – Stack of Programms: The studios, auditoriums, workshops, and faculty offices with their unique spatial requirements are treated as individual programmatic “boxes” with varying lengths, heights, and depths, which are assembled in a dense stack. The center of the stack consists of programs without daylight requirements. The programs along the perimeter of the stack are open to one side like three-dimensional picture frames, displaying their activities to the street. The roof of the building, the top of the stack, is the fifth elevation, visible from the surrounding high-rise buildings.
Structure: The structure of the building consists of interlocking horizontal and vertical concrete slabs, arranged in an irregular three-dimensional framework of cells, like a sponge. These structural cells vary in size and shape to accomodate different spatial volumes. They are programmatically neutral and internally flexible to allow for future functional changes. They can be fitted out and finished on the interior in accordance with the requirements of the inhabiting program. The non-hierarchical nature of the academy’s architecture allows for expansion in all directions by simply adding further cells.
The Wine-Dark Sea
Europan 9 Competition, 2007
(with Daniel Schuetz and Yael Erel; associate team member: Dana Strasser)
“...And flashing-eyed Athena sent them a favorable wind, a strong-blowing West Wind that sang over the wine-dark sea...”
(Odyssey Book II)
This project is located on the deserted grounds of the ancient city of Siracusa. It is an architectural essay on the historical, mythological, and phenomenological dimension of the landscape of Sicily. Traces of events in time are transformed into contemporary programs for a Mediterranean landscape garden.
Rather than proposing a master plan that covers the area of the entire site, the project identifies several nucleuses of future developments. Each individual program has a distinct relationship with the seashore and the limestone rock. They all react to the topographical conditions of the site, which are transformed into architectures that offer amusement, repose, education, and all kinds of experiences related to the the city of Archimedes, and the Homeric times: a bath, a music stage, an orchard, a refuge, an observatory, etc. The individual sites are connected by paths that follow ancient and modern and by imaginary traces: The railway track, the footprint of the Dionysian wall, and the mythical seashore.
These architectures are progressive interpretations of the city’s collective and individual memories that allow for a radical construction of the city’s future. Philosophical sustainablility is a prerequisite for a sustainable development in general.
“Not even the summit of mount Etna, from where you can see the mosts gorgeous islands, three seas, and the coasts of Italy swimming in light beneath your feet, has inspired my feelings more intensely than the golden evening silence over the endless death field of Syracuse. The sensations of nature are not as closely related to the human spirit as those of history; they don’t have a memory. Siracusa is a city embedded in history and washed by myth.”
1080 5th Avenue
Architect: Hillier Group; Principal in charge: Peter Schubert; Project Architect: Georg Windeck Structural Engineer: WSNY; Project Engineer: Wilfried Laufs
This project was the combination of several apartments in a building on 5th Ave into one residence. Key component was a staircase to connect the floors on the façade of the building within the setback portion of the top floors. The staircase is housed in an elliptical glass enclosure facing the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park. Its shape is defined by the curvature of most comfortable travel possible within the smallest space affordable, in order to minimize the zoning encroachment. The glass enclosure consists of curved load-bearing insulation glass that stands by itself without any metal support over the full height of two floors. It is the tallest structure of its kind that has been built to date.
Tadeusz Kantor Museum
2nd Prize in international ideas competition 2004
(with Daniel Schutz and Yael Erel)
The task of this competition was to propose an exhibitional expanse for the art of the neo-dadaist theater director and painter Tadeusz Kantor in the historic district of Cracow, Poland. The collections to be housed in this museum consist of objects from performances, theoretical writings, drawings and paintings.
The proposed structure is an architectural reflection on several aspects of the work and life of the artist. His obsession with wrapping and concealing objects is mirrored in the urban gesture of blank perimeter walls that frame the long and narrow corner site between the extisting Krysztofory Palace and townhouses. Within these walls, a hidden stack of structural boxes creates an environment of tectonic instability for the exposition of absurd objects and machines.
New Housing New York
Competition Entry 2003
(with Daniel Schuetz)
The objective of this housing scheme was to propose a great variety of affordable apartment units in a vivid urban environment and to improve the quality of the public street space along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
The given corner site is occupied by one large building, which is formulated as a "bookend" to the city block. The term refers to both its form and program.
In terms of form, the building extends the existing figuration of the low-rise family homes of the side-streets onto the given cornersite. Two low wings on 12th street and 13th street fold up into a multi-story slab that faces 4th avenue. Instead of a conventional setback in the upper parts of the building, a large opening is cut into the lower half of the street-wall. It opens the interior gardens of the block to the avenue. In terms of program, the project reinterprets existing forms of urban life in this area of Brooklyn, which are typically the following: 2-and 3-storied townhouses with front-and back gardens line the side streets. Multi-storied tenement buildings with retail-and community functions on their ground floor face the avenue. These existing typologies of residential and civic program are transformed according to the needs of contemporary city life. They are assembled architecturally into one urban compound that frames a civic space.
Alonnisos International Health Center For Holistic Medicine
Competition 1998; Honorary mention
The proposal for this hospital for homoeopathic medicine on the Greek island Alonnisos is an architectural representation of the effort to create an international forum for the worldwide movement for holistic medicine. The functions are brought together in a compact urban structure that is conceptualized as an abstraction of a Mediterranean village, located on a southern slope facing the sea. Different programmatic parts are revealed as a dense whole rather than as fragmented singularities. Lines of passages structure the building through cuts and "Bands of Movement". The topography of the hillside is projected into the building as a system of staircases that carry one through the program. These staircases not only function as a programmatic entity, but also serve as a vessel for the exploration and discovery of unique relationships between landscape and building.
The northern side of the building contains the entry with administration and the therapy section. Communal functions such as lecture hall, library and meditation rooms are contained within the central portion of the building. They connect both to the piazza and the garden. A cafeteria and apartments with communal terraces run along the perimeter, facing the landscape.
Physical attributes and program coincide to establish a tectonic organism. There is no separation between program, structure, form and the relation to its habitat.
Competition 1995; Finalist
"The beauty of form is the inner idea of nature. Only the flower is for the fine arts."—Karl Friedrich Schinkel: "Thoughts about Art"
In 1995 the German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT organized an international ideas competition in protest against the so called “reconstruction” of the Bauakademie by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the historic center of Berlin. The aim of this competition was to propose a contemporary architecture for the historic site in the spirit of Schinkel's continous striving for the radical progress of architectural form.
The proposed design is a contribution to the discussion about a new kind of architectural language that is derived from natural forms. It is an effort to search for the role of architecture within the contemporary process of finding the "form" of the present. The cubic form of Schinkel's Bauakademie is replaced by a complementary figur that unfolds itself free from any axial coordinates. The airy and transparent spaces are designed to support creativity and intellectual work. They are "spaces of passage" that continously transform in volume and lucidity when inhabited.
Nam June Paik Museum
(with Daniel Schuetz and Maik Seidel)
"The medium is the medium" (NJP), and the architecture is the architecture.
The task of the competition was to propose a museum for the display of the work of the Korean video-artist Nam June Paik in Suwon, Korea. It raised the question about the relation between architecture and electronic art.
The proposal is based on certain principles and characteristics of the artists medium, the TV which are translated into tectonic conditions and spatial experiences; the building reacts to the given site like TV relates to reality: as a filtered and transformed reproduction.
An cube internalizes both the surrounding city and landscape and reproduces them in the language of architecture: In plan, the museum is a city; galleries, administration and all the other functions inhabit the individual houses of this city; in section, the museum is a landscape. The topography of this landscape is the circulation of the museum. It consists of ramps and terraces. The display of the artworks of Nam June Paik requires various kinds of gallery spaces. They vary in size, shape, and lighting, and are all designed for the presentation of specific pieces of the collection.
James B. Duke House
Architect/Engineer: Superstructures; Principal in charge: Vikrant Sampat / Mark Ingalls; Project Architect: Georg Windeck
The historic James B. Duke mansion that currently houses the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University is one of the important landmark buildings along the legendary 5th Avenue “Millionaire’s Row” on Manhattans Upper East Side. It was completed in the style of a French hotel particuliere in 1912 by Horace Trumbauer and renovated in the interior for academic use in 1958 by Robert Venturi. The restoration of the limestone façade, the slate and copper roof, as well as the masonry barrel vaults of the basement called for a sensitive approach to the historic fabric of the building. The goal was to preserve as much of the existing material of the Duke House as possible and retain its charming patina, while addressing hazardous stone deterioration in the façade and waterproofing deficiencies throughout the building.
A combination of different repair types was used for the restoration of the limestone façade: Epoxy injection for cracks, patching mortar for small spalls, profiled “Dutchman” insets for large spalls, as well as full stone ashlar replacements for ornamental pieces of the pediment.
Neues Bauhaus Museum Weimar
Competition Entry 2012
(with Daniel Schuetz)
Treibgut German: “flotsam, jetsam”
The proposed museum consists of fragments of the Bauhaus that have been floating around the world and are now spilled ashore in the vanished Asbach river of Weimar.
The site is located in a tension-field between different urban identities of the city: the classicistic park in the southwest, the Wilhelminian residences in the north, the Nazi “Gauforum” in the east and the Medieval old town in the south; all these parts of the city collide in this location. They represent different forms of society and their respective ideologies, which are all part of the history of Weimar, Germany and Europe. As such they embody the outer forces that affected the turbulent history of the Bauhaus. This makes the site an ideal place for the construction of the Neues Bauhaus Museum.
The proposed design occupies the emptiness that exists between the surrounding urban structures, while retaining a conceptual distance to its architectural environs. It does not attempt to be part of an ensemble with the adjacent buildings but plays according to its own rules. The existing trees on the site are kept; they become, seemingly by chance, part of the building’s composition. The wooded parts of the slope towards the park also remain untouched. In the area of the museum entrance the slope is partially cut away, creating a new connection between park and city.
The distribution of the program into individual building volumes emphasizes the different phases, tendencies and facets of the historic Bauhaus. Based on the unifying shape of the square, the individual cubes are subdivided in various proportions that are inspired by the graphic principles of the legendary Bauhaus preliminary course. Each of the cubes houses a distinct part of the program, i.e. a chapter of the exhibition. The program is distributed on two levels: The upper level that can be accessed from the city street houses the permanent and temporary exhibitions. The lower level that can be accessed from the park contains the archive, workshops and café. A two-level foyer-cube connects these two levels. The administrative offices are located on a mezzanine floor above the entrance. The delivery of artwork is accommodated in a lower level loading court on Asbachstrasse.
All façades of the cubes are clad with colored glass panels. These panels are opaque in the light-sensitive exhibition spaces. In areas that suggest open views and day-lighting, they become transparent. The façade system continues on the roof surfaces in the form of photovoltaic panels – in the spirit of the unity of art and technology.
By Georg Windeck
Co-Edited by Lisa Larson-Walker, Sean Gaffney and Will Shapiro
Powerhouse Books, New York 2016
Construction Matters examines the way that architects understand and respond to technological innovation through the creation of new types of spaces, and the materials through which an architectural idea finds its physical realization. Understanding the properties of different materials is indispensable for the creation of architecture that is original, powerful, and meaningful.
Organized into chapters on the major methods of construction--masonry, concrete, steel, and wood—Construction Matters examines specific technologies that experienced major transformations in the last century, or were newly invented: a new material, jointing technique, or fabrication procedure for example. The architectural application of this invention is then analyzed with building case studies that are selected based on an obvious formal relationship between the building's form and the new type of construction that it incorporates--ranging from prewar designs in the United States and Europe to recent projects in Asia and includes built projects as well as significant design proposals.
Construction Matters develops a way of thinking about architecture in relation to technology that transcends a particular building method or design task. It is based on Windeck’s architectural practice, teaching, and independent research that ranges from scientific advancements to philosophical contemplations. The multi-facetted discussion that emerges from this work is developed in close collaboration with artist and journalist Lisa Larson Walker (A09), with mathematician and architect Will Shapiro (AR11), and with artist and architect Sean Gaffney (AR10). If we are to rescue the physical substance of architecture--the Matter of Construction--and create a practice that celebrates both the physical and the metaphysical aspects of building, we must understand how and why Construction Matters.