Ennead: Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center in America

Ennead: Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center in America

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This is one in a series of books, each of which tells the story of a single building.  It is our hope that as these books accumulate alongside our body of work, they, in their aggregate, will form a profile of our design intentions.  -Ennead Architects

The American-Scandinavian Foundation, founded in 1910 to promote international understand and cooperation through education and cultural exchange between the United States and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, had occupied a portion of the Asia Society on Park Avenue in New York City.  To establish its own identity and address the specific programmatic needs of the institution, the Foundation purchased two townhouses last occupied by the East German Mission to the United Nations on Park Avenue between East 37th and 38th Streets.  One structure, the Grace Rainey Rogers house designed by Horace Trumbauer and Julian Francis Abele in 1909, was a solid six-story limestone townhouse of the type that lined Park Avenue from the 19th century through the middle of the 20th century.  Adjacent was a poorly constructed limestone-faced box, only slightly articulated to appear sympathetic to the Rogers house.  As constructed by the German Democratic Republic, which was neither under any obligation to meet New York City construction codes nor to follow accepted standards of construction, the annex was unusable and the site considered an opportunity for a new addition to the Rogers house.  Thematically, it was though that the project could be a blending of the traditional and the modern, a key aspect of Scandinavian architecture.