Some of the formal complexity of the design owes its origins to the ways in which the architects brought in light. Le Corbusier set a memorable example at Ronchamp of dense walls punctured with apertures that allow light into the sanctuary, along with clerestory lighton whichtheceilingappearstofloat. (Abramson Teiger achieved a similar effect in the kitchen of the Amster residence, a house they renovated in 2003.) In the same vein, the perimeters at Young Israel were conceived as membranes with and through which to interpret light. Abramson Teiger architecturalized the entry points of light into the building, as a physical symbol of the spiritual; for example, light monitors were sculpted and pronounced.
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The architects orchestrated several sources that permit light of different qualities to enter. As at YULA, they used Jerusalem stone on the eastern wall, to orient the congregation toward the holy city, and deployed a thin strip of clerestory windows to wash the stone continuously in a soft light. In the ceiling, they placed apertures that allow small, episodic splashes of light, which for them symbolizes moments of enlightenment in prayer. Light monitors in the roof curve the light in from above, illuminating the congregation. The architects also introduced stained glass panels that color the light.
Teiger have pursued commercial projects, ranging from hotels and retail stores to a carwash and dental building. The flagship store for Dermalogica, a skincare clinic in Santa Monica, California, is one of the smallest, at 1,660 square feet, but one of the most experimental. Light again plays a defining architectural role.
Contexts are relative and not always physical, and for a skincare clinic, the architects chose to work within the metaphoric context of beauty: If it is only skin-deep, then it can and should be pushed, pulled, and pinched.
In this project, the materials alone, as surfaces, are environmental. The architects chose indeterminate materials and finishes translucent glass and high-gloss paints that, cumulatively, create atmospheric effects that mystify space. Houses of beauty have always been arenas of Cinderella transformation, and the architects played with a palette of materials that is illusionistic.
Expanses of translucent glass, often backlit, condition visitors for the main moment in the space, a set of three rounded free-standing organic rooms that serve as treatment cubicles. Colored light washes over the reflective surfaces, bathing curvaceous forms in auratic effects and implying that there is something magical about stepping inside. Patrons feel cocooned when they enter these intimate, freestanding shapes for their treatments; they are in a precious and protective precinct.
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