On 10.01.14, Archtober kicked off with a forum featuring NYC Department of Design + Construction (DDC) Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora, who discussed the search process for the newly-created position of Chief Architect. Members of the search committee, including AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, will select a candidate, who will be empowered to take DDC’s design, sustainability, and resilience efforts to a new level.
DDC is one of the largest civic construction management agencies in the United States with a current portfolio approaching $10 billion across all five boroughs. Since 1996, DDC has completed almost 4,000 projects ranging from new and/or renovated facilities to street, plaza, and coastal resiliency projects to improve the quality of life of New York City residents, businesses, and visitors. Projects have included the new Police Academy Campus, Queens Museum, Bronx Zoo Lion House, Weeksville Heritage Center, Stapleton Branch Library, Columbus Circle, Times Square, and myriad others.
Reporting directly to the DDC Commissioner, the Chief Architect will be responsible for reimagining and leading design excellence and realizing DDC’s mission to bring beautiful, efficient, innovative, resilient, and environmentally-conscious design to all New Yorkers. In this newly created position, the Chief Architect will have the authority to review and approve all design, and promote and implement new initiatives focused on design excellence, resiliency, sustainability, and innovation. The Chief Architect will collaborate with city agencies, the design community, and DDC professionals to use architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design in implementing city policies and goals. This will include responsibility for bringing visibility to DDC’s innovative design programs through local, national, and international outreach and public events.
For additional information, please see the DDC’s posting.
SARATOGA RACES AND ELECTIONS
The election of Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, was the opening news at the AIA New York State Design Conference, which took place 10.09–10.11.14 in Saratoga Springs, NY. Castillo, currently AIANYS Vice President for Government Advocacy and 2011 AIANY President, was running for 2015 President-elect against AIANYS Board Secretary Ric Stott, AIA, a past-president of AIA Peconic. Other members of the 2015 AIANYS Executive Committee include 2015 President Tim Boyland, AIA; Immediate Past-President Ray Beeler, AIA; VP/Public Advocacy Marcus Marino, AIA; VP/Public Advocacy Robert Stark, AIA; Secretary Jeff Smith, AIA; Treasurer John Notaro, AIA; and Regional Representatives Burton Roslyn, FAIA, Randy Collins, AIA, and Jessica Sheridan, AIA. Saratoga warmly welcomed conference-goers from around the state and region with its stately architecture, walkable streets, music-filled bars, and tradition-rich equine culture. A highlight for some was the Saturday tour of the historic Saratoga Race Course, led by Samantha Bosshart of the Saratoga Preservation Foundation and Michael Phinney, AIA, of Saratoga-based Phinney Design Group. Racing for the season ends on Labor Day, but those present saw some thoroughbreds practicing in the brisk morning air, and stood on the recently-completed Whitney Viewing Platform at what is called the “Oklahoma Track” because it is so far away.
NEW PRACTICE / NEW DESIGN
The Saratoga Design Conference was an exploration of the dramatic changes taking place in the practice of architecture and the resulting innovative design work. The Design Conference’s primary purpose was to impart both practical and theoretical knowledge that will enable those attending to expand their areas of practice and increase their relevance. New partnerships were discussed with New York State’s schools of architecture to bring professionals academics closer together and help merge theory and practice. As AIANYS President Beeler put it, “New practice methodologies, such as research and evidence-based design, are transforming the profession and making our work more relevant to the needs of clients and the public.”
The 2014 AIA New York State Honor Awards were conferred at a gala dinner at the Saratoga Hilton on Friday, 10.10.14. The list of the service and achievement award winners included: Adrienne Bresnan, FAIA, and Joseph Bresnan, FAIA (Fellows Award); Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, and John A. Notaro, AIA (Matthew W. Del Gaudio Awards); Dennis A. Andrejko, FAIA (Kideney Award), Gregg Pasquarelli, AIA (President’s Award); Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA (Intern-Associate Award), Jodi Monroe, AIA, and Rebuild by Design (Community Development Awards); and Gensler, represented by Joe Brancato, AIA (Firm of the Year). Two additional awards were celebrated at Saturday’s closing “Rise and Shine” breakfast. They went to Deborah Gans, FAIA (Educator Award), and Jennifer (JD) Harper (Student Award). Read More
New York would seem to be the ideal place for young, energetic architects to establish a practice. As a world capital of design, there is no shortage of development here – new skyscrapers are erected, old buildings reimagined, and civil infrastructure projects initiated. But with goliath architecture firms like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and HOK offering steady and reliable, if not particularly innovative or challenging, designs, it can be difficult for new firms to get a foot in the door. With the pressures of the market economy underlying design decisions, developers and city agencies alike are likely to make a safe choice when it comes to architecture. But what is gained without taking risks? What happens to the cultural fabric of the city if architecture loses and its creative edge becomes relegated to a developer’s afterthought, or gets saddled with political dueling? How can New York combat the trend toward banality and encourage innovative design practices to take root here?
Such were the issues on the table at the panel discussion preceding the opening of “New Practices New York 2014” on 10.01.14. The exhibition, which comes out of a biennial competition hosted by the AIANY New Practices Committee, celebrates emerging New York architects who are swimming against the design tide in the city. Four of six of this year’s winners were on hand the night of the exhibition opening to present on their work and discuss how to make New York more hospitable to innovative design practices. The panel, moderated by Beatrice Galilee, curator of architecture and design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was alternately optimistic and cynical about the opportunities for architects to realize their exciting and experimental projects, but each presenter articulated a unique and definitive role for architects in society, offering insight into the gamut of work going on in New York. Read More
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program launched in September 2014 and gave 53,000 children in New York City access to free, full-day UPK. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has begun planning for the 2015-2016 school year, when it plans to roll out the next wave of seats. To accommodate the additional students, New York City agencies, non-profit and community organizations, and architects must collaborate to create safe spaces that meet communities’ needs.
On 06.12.14, AIANY and the NYC Department of Design + Construction (DDC) hosted a charrette at the Center for Architecture that focused on creating UPK spaces in public branch libraries. Architects and representatives from DDC, DOE, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library (QPL) spent the morning discussing common goals and designing potential classrooms in seven different libraries across five boroughs.
On 10.06.14, stakeholders came together again to continue the conversation. Speakers detailed the findings from the charrette, and reported on the work completed since then, including DDC’s work scouting and preparing classrooms, and how QPL has embraced the challenge. Speakers addressed questions from the charrette, including issues related to outdoor activity and space allocation, and presented suggestions based on work they have done in this area. Read More
Times Square is mutating steadily, and its relation to the rest of the city is changing as well. Despite its central location, it has never really been the heart of the city; if Manhattan is viewed as an organism, the Times Square of the 1970s and ’80s was its cloaca. Crime and porn defined the place, at least as much as the grit, the funk, the crowds, and the dodgy street food ever did. (At one point in this panel’s reminiscences and reflections, Alexander Cooper, FAIA, expressed astonishment that “we’ve gone an hour-and-a-half and the word ‘porn’ hasn’t come up.” After that observation, it came up quite a bit.)
Many New Yorkers recall aspects of the pre-renovation Times Square fondly, and perhaps even more lament its Disneyfication, but there are few who would seriously want the conditions that journalist Robert Lipsyte called “an oasis of celebration and a sewer of crime” to have endured. The area, Cooper observed, offered “a moment of opportunity” for the patient efforts of city planners and the visionary exercises of architects, established and young. This panel, an initiative of the AIANY 2014 presidential theme “Civic Spirit: Civic Vision,” recalled and analyzed that transformative work, leaving NYC Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod’s ultimate question, “Did we do it right?” unresolved, but also leaving little doubt that something dramatic had to be done. Read More
In 2010 the New York City population over the age of 65 was just shy of one million, three million if one includes those over 45 years old. Forecasts predict that the senior population will grow 20% in the next 15 years. With the former and current city administrations focusing on affordable housing, housing for the elderly is moving into the spotlight.
Architect, writer, and researcher Susanne Schindler, and landscape architect Nancy Owens, RLA, LEED AP, principal at Nancy Owens Studio, collaborated with Team R8 for the Making Room design study, which explored new housing unit arrangements to best meet current demographics and lifestyles. Their proposal suggested a mix of housing types based on single room occupancies with shared amenities that could be reconfigured to accommodate singles, couples with work space, and extended families. This model can provide the elderly with community and privacy. Landscaping – surfaces, elevation heights, and sequences – is an important component to encourage activity and presence in the community. Both Schindler and Owens agree that laws need to be changed to legally support the development of these new living arrangements. Read More
It was a tremendous treat to hear scholars Tom Avermaete and Maristella Casciato discuss their process and share the evolution of the exhibition and subsequent publication Casablanca Chandigarh: A Report on Modernization on 10.06.14 at the Center for Architecture. Rarely is one privy to the process of assembling an architectural exhibition, and rarely is a book so close to the didactic mechanism of an exhibition. Avermaete and Casciato walked the audience through the intellectual findings of new material from the Pierre Jeanneret archive via the Canadian Centre for Architecture archive, and married the Jeanneret material on Chandigarh with research on its sister city in Modernism, Casablanca. Avermaete and Casciato crafted the exhibition and book around the idea that these two cities are a product of the history of Modernist ideals, and that they have worn exceedingly well as Modernist cities filled with inhabitants.
Avermaete and Casciato set up the story of the two cities with two heroes: Le Corbusier and Michel Ecochard (of course all Modernism needs a male hero). Le Corbusier’s story is typical: he glides through the countryside on his first visit to India with his sketchbook and romantically sketches half as journalist, half as visionary. The Punjab Notebook was described by Avermaete and Casciato as a prophetic manuscript, an example of the poetic research that Corbusier invented. With Casablanca, Ecochard is a dashing pilot and motorcyclist whose aerial photos and critical photojournalistic images developed into a rich method of anthropological research. Avermaete and Casciato cite the methods of both architects as valid. Read More
It’s a time of investment in Staten Island. The borough is currently undergoing two major projects. To capitalize on the passage of 22 million people and two million tourists a year through St. George Ferry terminal, the city is developing Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront with an impressive outlet mall, a residential and hotel complex, a new waterfront park in Stapleton, and the largest observation wheel in the world, twice the size of the London Eye – 630 feet, or 60 stories high, with up to 1,400 people per ride, and 40 people per capsule. With the prospect of creating over 1,000 jobs, the city anticipates that the plan will stimulate the local economy as well as function as a social center for the borough’s residents. The North Shore will receive $1 billion in private investment, the largest development in Staten Island since the 1964 Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
The observation wheel may supersede what had been the icon of Staten Island in the second half of 20th century: the Freshkills landfill. Towards the center of the island, the NYC Sanitation (DSNY) and Parks Departments have been at work transforming what was once the largest landfill in the world into a thriving, 2,200-acre public park. Unlike the St. George development plan, Freshkills Park is intended for local residents. Its restoration is an attempt to compensate for 57 years of trashing the community and to reverse decades of environmental and psychological damage incurred by the landfill. Read More
Just over 20 years of practice has proven that Architecture Research Office (ARO) had chosen its moniker well. For this year’s Oberfield Lecture, Stephen Cassell, AIA, and Kim Yao, AIA, two of the firm’s three partners, presented seven projects summarizing the office’s current course and future trajectory.
The smallest structure was a 69-square-foot chicken coop – yes, 20 years on, they still take on projects that require only two pages of contract documents – while the largest is a 120,000-square-foot football stadium addition. The micro-project offered the opportunity to study surface manipulations as an architectural expression, while the stadium examined topography and access in wedging in a 500-foot-long building that maintained campus sightlines. Read More
With an increasingly historicized New York City, the number of landmarked or historical districts in which architects will work is only increasing. The panel “Keeping it Real: Researching Historical Buildings” included representatives from the architectural and engineering professions, an academic, and a director of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Each looked at research and data collection in order to navigate preservation laws and renovations for historical buildings.
Existing archives are the foremost place one should check. Few will be as thorough as the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive at Syracuse University, where Theresa Harris, Ph.D., is project coordinator. She suggested looking for established works – archives, books, letters, memoirs, local historical organizations – before getting into deeper research in more extensive collections and databases. Language is a key to research. “Know the language of archivists,” Harris advised; she suggested keywords such as “files” and “papers” rather than merely “archives.” Of course, more well-known and documented architects as Breuer will have stronger foundations. Read More