Archtober 2014 is finally here! The AIA New York Chapter and 48 partner organizations have been hard at work to bring you a jam-packed month of architecture and design activities. From weekend walking tours, to summits and conferences, children’s programs, and exhibitions, there is something for everyone in Archtober.
Tonight, we kick off the festival with the opening of “New Practices New York 2014,” an exhibition that presents the work of six young NYC-based architecture and design firms. If you couldn’t make it, be sure to stop by the Center for Architecture and check out their site-specific installations in our double height storefront and learn about their unique approaches to the field. While you’re here, don’t forget to head to the Pentagram-designed Archtober lounge to pick up your favorite Building of the Day postcards.
If you don’t know where to start, follow Archtober on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn about what’s coming up. We hope to see you celebrating New York City’s architecture and design!
During Climate Week, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) brought together a “City Council Environmental Roundtable” on Tuesday, 09.23.14, with a score of environmental groups and leaders of the New York City Council, which, in concert with Mayor Bill de Blasio, had passed landmark legislation mandating significant carbon emission reductions. NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn praised the “ambitious goal” and introduced the Council Members present, including Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who Bystryn commended for “sharing their sustainable priorities for the coming year.”
There were introductory remarks by the chair of the NYC City Council’s Environmental Committee, Council Member Donovan Richards, whose district includes the Rockaways, and whose home had no heat or electricity for a month after Hurricane Sandy. He noted: “We understand now we have an obligation to be good stewards on the earth,” adding that “climate change is real; it’s here whether we want to admit it or not.”
Following Richards was NYC Council Member Brad Lander of Brooklyn, who was well known as co-chair of the Council’s progressive coalition and as former chair of the Pratt Center. He spoke of the world we are leaving behind for our children and grandchildren: “It’s no exaggeration to say that we are living at a critical juncture for the future of the planet. Climate change threatens to wreak havoc on the world (and the city) that we hand off to our kids.” Lander said: “At the City Council, we’re using this moment to look closely at how NYC can become more resilient, more energy efficient, more carbon neutral, and more environmentally just. Together with Speaker Mark-Viverito and our colleagues, and with the de Blasio Administration, we are working toward legislation to push building retrofits for energy-efficiency (which also create good jobs and saves money), reduce City purchasing of fossil fuels, update our air and building codes, improve mass transit options, and more.”
Speaker Mark-Viverito started her remarks by saying, “I wanted to share a little bit about what our agenda looks like – public policy that will have a positive impact. It includes the quality of life for communities that have been historically overburdened. We look forward to moving very quickly in partnership with the mayor.” She shared specifics: “We can set ambitious goals because we are building upon a strong foundation, including the 2007 PlaNYC goals on carbon emissions. We are now two-thirds of the way to meeting those 30% reduction goals. We must do more: 80% by 2050. The Council will continue to place New York on the leading edge of combating global climate change. It is not enough to set ambitious goals. The Council will aggressively reduce our own emissions by mandating zero emissions for municipal buildings. Building on our 2009 Greater Greener Buildings Plan, we will require training for building operators and help finance retrofits. Many more of the Green Codes Task Force recommendations will be implemented.” Consistent with the social equity mandate of the de Blasio Administration, she siad, “It is very important to me that all New Yorkers share in the benefits that will result, including NYC Housing Authority residents, through new jobs generated by these initiatives.” She concluded by saying that “the PlaNYC update due in April 2015 must also talk to jobs and widely shared benefits.” Read More
The UN Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York City on 09.23.14 was assembled to garner support for an agreement that would limit the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature, an initiative that would require international input. Before the world leaders and industry experts even convened, 400,000 people from all over the world took to the streets of NYC to demand climate justice and political change. On 09.21.14, the whole world was watching the People’s Climate March.
The march sent a powerful message to the UN: the world’s citizens are frustrated with government inaction towards climate change. AIANY members, staff, and friends marched alongside other allies and advocates representing an enormous range of disciplines and priorities. The movement was all-encompassing, and everyone was united in sharing the same goals. The AIANY group joined fellow Green Building Contingent organizations – New York Passive House, GreenHomeNYC, Regional Plan Association, Solar One, and Urban Green Council – in the “We Have Solutions” group, which included renewable energy, food and water justice, environmental organizations, and more. Read More
On 09.16.14, the Historic Districts Council (HDC), the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School hosted “Affordable Housing/Historic Preservation: A Roundtable Discussion” at The New School. Moderated by GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman, the panel focused on the challenges associated with preserving affordable housing units in New York City.
Panelists included Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Rosie Mendez, NYC Council Member; Harvey Epstein, associate director and project director for the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center; Nadine Maleh, director of Inspiring Places, Community Solutions; and Rachel Meltzer, assistant professor of Urban Policy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School. Speakers emphasized the importance of community participation in the planning processes, and debated how the city should structure inclusionary zoning policies. Read More
AIANY 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, remembers how, at a 2007 centennial conference at the University of Michigan, Architecture 2030 founder and CEO Ed Mazria, AIA, concluded his presentation on the architect’s role in creating a carbon-free environment by projecting a full-screen headshot of his very beautiful granddaughter: “As I recall, he somewhat tearfully related his concern for her future based on our environment.” Seven years later, and following on the heels of the UN Climate Summit, the People’s Climate March, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s climate-conscious announcement, Mazria’s outlook seems more optimistic. On 09.24.14, after reiterating the architecture and design community’s critical role in securing a livable future, he outlined the progress made in the building sector since issuing the 2030 Challenge.
The data is harrowing enough to make a pessimist out of anyone. Mazria reminded the audience that, according to the scientific community, an increase above the 2°C global average threshold would result in catastrophic, irreversible climate change. If we continue with business as usual, greenhouse emissions will escalate steadily, and temperatures will rise to levels with no recorded precedents: “By 2050, the Earth’s coldest years will be warmer than the warmest years we’ve ever experienced.” Read More
On 09.18.14, the Holcim Foundation announced the winners of the 2014 North American Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction during a ceremony held at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. The location was certainly not an afterthought on the part of the program’s organizers. A former quarry and industrial site located in Toronto’s Don River Valley, it re-opened in 2010 as a environmentally-focused community center designed by prominent firms including Du Toit Allsopp Hiller Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects. It is also a former Holcim Award winner, receiving an acknowledgement at the Montreal ceremony in 2008, two years prior to its construction.
As Mark Jarzombek, associate dean at the MIT School of Architecture and a juror for the North America region, noted, the Holcim Awards for sustainable construction are awarded to “shovel-ready” projects – those still in planning phase but with a high probability of being built. The Holcim Foundation hopes that the prestige of winning the award will serve as an impetus for the project’s completion. “The Holcim Awards help projects on the way from paper to realization, sometimes in cement,” added Montreal broadcaster and host Dennis Trudeau.
The fourth international awards competition attracted 6,103 entries from 152 countries. After all submissions were vetted, eligible submissions were evaluated by jurors representing five different geographical regions – North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Toronto was the location of the second of five regional award ceremonies, following Moscow. At the Evergreen Brick Works, 13 projects from the North American region were recognized, with prizes $330,000. Winners were awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals, as well as four acknowledgements and six “Next Generation” awards for young professionals and students. Throughout the rest of 2014, ceremonies will take place in Medellín, Beirut, and Jakarta, after which three global award winners will be selected from the 15 regional medal winners. Read More
When one signs on to read a book to review, the book becomes your friend. It sits with you on the subway, it waits with you to pick up your child. In this case my new friend, Szenasy, Design Advocate, is the friend I have been looking for years. She is pragmatic, seasoned, enlightened, funny, and fully of New York City. She is the reason you moved to New York City as a youth – a friend like Susan Szenasy, Hon. AIANY (or the book) shows you the magic of the built environment. In fact, the book, edited by Ann Hubner, Akiko Busch, and Angela Riechers, is mapped out in chronological fashion and unfolds through Szenasy’s life. Each decade presents a focus or cultural event that contributed to Szenasy’s development as a critic and writer.
On 09.03.14, the Center for Architecture hosted Szenasy in conversation with the formidable John Hockenberry, who asked questions and offered some wonderfully unorthodox insights. Questions like “Who have you pissed off the most?’” and “What would you like to rant about?” prompted Szenasy to confide that the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed One World Trade looks unfinished, and Hockenberry to add that he thought the top was a memorial to diabetic syringes. Both Szenasy and Hockenberry are too cultured and professional to let their opinions get too out of hand, but it certainly was a lively discussion that was appreciated by the audience. The evening aptly re-enforced the ethos of community, friendship, and the deep passion for design that Szenasy’s book constructs. Read More
On 09.15. 14, lead partners and principals of four diverse firms, Jamie von Klemperer, FAIA, of Kohn Pedersen Fox/KPF; Sunil Bald of Studio SUMO; Craig Dykers, AIA, MNAL, FRIBA, FRSA, LEED AP, and Elaine Molinar, AIA, MNAL, LEED AP, of Snøhetta; and Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, gathered to talk about the influences of global and (or, vs.) local in their architecture practices. Moderator, Clifford Pearson, Architectural Record deputy editor, started the program with a reference to Ancient Rome – a point that resurfaced at various points during the evening: while the tools are new and the speed and local engagement is greater, global architecture has been present for millennia.
Many of the speakers began with an interpretation of what it means to be local today. Dykers presented a diagram of his own various nationalities. Although he is German, his parents have relatives from all over Europe, he has lived the longest in Denmark, his first name is Scottish, and his last name, Dutch. He argued that when you look closely (or when you pull back, looking at the globe at large), specificity becomes difficult to identify. This multinationality extends to Snøhetta itself, an office made of 16 different nationalities, with two primary offices in Oslo and New York and a few small offices across the globe. For an international firm such as KPF, with offices in six countries and with largely international projects over the last 10 to 25 years, what is simply local or simply foreign is also difficult to identify. Are KPF architects who live and work in Seoul local, foreign, international, or global architects? Global capitalism blurs these lines. For example, in New York, Michael Kors has offices two floors above KPF, while there is a Michael Kors store down the street from KPF’s temporary Kerry Centre office in Jing An, Shanghai. Read More
People are the key to energy-efficient buildings. As revealed in the 07.16.14 “Shifting Behavior” event, organized by the AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE), a truly energy-efficient building actively engages its occupants. North Americans now spend 90% or more of their time indoors, and much of the remaining travelling between buildings. The built environment is thus crucial to limiting humanity’s negative environmental impact, but also presents a number of economic opportunities.
Energy conservation can benefit a building’s bottom line through reduced energy expenditure and promote an ethic of environmental conservation through reduced demand for fossil fuels. The technologies and passive design strategies employed in certification systems, such as Passive House, have brought energy-efficient structures into the mainstream at prices that rival conventional construction; however, people will always be instrumental in a building’s success. Some estimates suggest that occupant behavior can influence energy usage by as much as 30 to 50% of overall consumption. As a result, strategies that encourage occupant-driven energy conservation are among the best tools designers have in ensuring buildings and communities remain productive, sustainable, and resilient. Read More
On a Saturday in mid-September, a group of architecture and history enthusiasts joined the Lead Design Educator of the Center for Architecture Foundation on a walk through portions of the South Street Seaport Historic District. The ramble introduced the group to ways of “reading the streetscape” through conversation and a guided look at the mercantile structures in this once vital waterfront. The district preserves early building practices including the handsome Schermerhorn Row, a warehouse that was essentially the World Trade Center of 1811. Constructed of robust load-bearing brick walls, closely spaced wooden floor joists, and relatively small windows, the structure was not terribly sophisticated considering what the rest of that century would bring regarding architectural technology. Built on trash and soil excavated from hills further upland, Peter Schermerhorn hastily built the Row on landfill as a speculative development. The crooked lintels over the windows are the result of his haste – he did not allow the landfill to settle properly. The elements of a storyline began to appear in the details that the group was discovering and reading together. Read More