For almost 50 years, 339 Lafayette was known as the Peace Pentagon because of the various activist groups headquartered there, including the War Resisters League, the Granny Peace Brigade and Global Revolution TV. Axis Mundi—one of 339 firms invited to reimagine the space after its sale in 2016—concentrated on another community-building vehicle: the arts. Stacking various public performance spaces, we wrapped the structure in tinted, triangulated, prismatic glass. This injects a dramatic new geometry into the streetscape. But because it reflects faceted views of its surroundings, the façade also represents a kind of diversity of perception (the lifeblood of activism). Perforated metal panels alternating with the glass modulate the light entering the building, much as a bris soleil does, energizing the interior spaces and making them more visually and socially dynamic. Finally, all the floors share a generously proportioned sky-lit stairway that invites in natural light and enhances ventilation, while also offering easy access to each space.

Design Team: John Beckmann, Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Evangelia Karachaliou, Javier Lamela,
and Ronald Dapsis
Renderings: Ferdinand Sauerbruch and Evangelia Karachaliou
© Axis Mundi Design LLC