Editor-in-Chief, Jessica Sheridan
IN THE NEWS
AROUND THE AIA + THE CENTER
At the Center for Architecture
Editor's Note: Architecture Week gets under way the end of this week. Check out the many events on hand at the Center for Architecture (see Around the AIA + Center for Architecture). Also, participate in openhousenewyork, allowing free access to buildings citywide.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
New York New Visions: Checking the Mirror
(top l-r): Robert Campbell, FAIA, Boston Globe; Rosalie Genevro, The Architectural League of New York, and Margaret Helfand, FAIA, Helfand Architecture. (middle l-r): Marcie Kesner, AICP, APA New York Metro Chapter; Mark Strauss, AICP, FAIA, AIANY 2006 President; and Mark Ginsburg, FAIA, Curtis + Ginsberg. (bottom l-r): Ernest Hutton, Assoc. AIA, AICP, Co-Chair NYNV; Petra Todorovich, Regional Plan Association; and Alex Garvin, Yale University.
Event: Take Five: New York New Visions—Success or Failure?
After the five years of wrangling among the many stakeholders in Lower Manhattan, few people are happy, and fewer agree about why. Has the New York New Visions (NYNV) coalition made a difference? If Ground Zero remains a civic disappointment, NYNV's experience at least gives useful pointers on how to respond to future disasters (natural and manmade).
NYNV was "a self-invited guest at the table," advising the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and other decision makers without wielding any tangible power, argued moderator Mark Ginsberg, FAIA. Ernest Hutton, Assoc. AIA, AICP, believes, "we ultimately failed, but not because we compromised our principles... We slowly evolved into an underused resource." Original NYNV co-chair Margaret Helfand, FAIA, identified an "effort to influence the media," a critical and risky part of the process. Critic Robert Campbell, FAIA, bringing an out-of-town perspective, noted, "what you want to do is get into the kind of interactive conversation with the media in which you're learning from them as much as they're learning from you." A clear and bold public position, panelists agreed, is essential.
"The very fact of NYNV is a triumph," according to Alex Garvin, the only participant from "the other side of the table" (as LMDC's Vice President for Planning, Design and Development). Neighborhood groups had superseded designers and planners as active players in land-use decisions since before World War II, and the NYNV organizers successfully reversed that trend. Unfortunately, Garvin claimed, the very persuasiveness of NYNV's case came to be a problem as it helped raise standards and expectations. But without its influence, these conditions might have been far worse.
Architecture—Not What it "Seams" to UNStudio
The transformational spatial sequence in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Event: UNStudio Presents Design Models Book Talk
The development of architectural form centers on the relation of part to whole, both within buildings themselves and within their contexts. UNStudio addresses these relational issues by creating a "seamless organization of disconnected parts without a trace of the boundary between," according to Van Berkel, the firm's co-founder.
The recently completed Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany exemplifies UNStudio's approach to form. Organized around a central void, two opposing spiral ramps link, separate, and reconnect the exhibition levels generating a transformational spatial sequence. As floors become walls and then ceilings, the boundaries among the spaces blur. Likewise, the siting of the museum on a hill adjacent to a highway blurs the distinction between building and site—linking the building's form, material, and program to the surrounding infrastructure.
The search for "seamlessness" is not only a formal interest to Van Berkel, but an appropriate approach to the exigencies of contemporary building. The complexity of current building programs and client-consultant relations necessitates a networked approach to design. UNStudio utilizes 3-D CAD models to coordinate multiple consultants and building systems, and to discover unexpected organizational effects. Ultimately, Van Berkel hopes to leave the public with an "afterimage"—a lingering trace of form and experience.
Gregory Haley AIA, AICP, is a project architect and urban designer at Studio V Architecture and has taught architectural design studios at Boston Architectural Center and NYIT School of Architecture.
Cornell's Milstein Hall: OMA's "miracle box"
Milstein Hall takes advantage of an impressive site without overwhelming adjacent buildings.
Event: Reception presenting plans for Milstein Hall
Those who expect visually jarring acute angles from every OMA project will be surprised here by the Miesian orthogonals. A gentle mound rising from the ground floor, organizing the auditorium and other public areas, provides contrast and echoes the landscape within the box. Milstein does not overwhelm its neighbors; perching above Fall Creek (Koolhaas terms it a belvedere or veranda), the views it creates are striking enough. It's a problem-solving building, much like OMA's well-received McCormick Tribune Campus Center at Illinois Institute of Technology.
Academic commissions can pose special challenges: meeting the needs of complex programs (pedagogy, research, social life, security, transportation, conservation) while stretching strained budgets, satisfying alumni and faculty, and striving to add recruitment-boosting icons. It's not surprising when new campus buildings either fall into well-worn neoclassicist patterns or develop awkward innovative gestures. Fortunately, OMA's new design for an expansion of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, makes an inviting, practical contribution to the storied campus. Rem Koolhaas and AAP dean Mohsen Mostafavi unveiled Milstein, the building Koolhaas calls a "miracle box."
Cornell's position above the gorges of Fall Creek and Cascadilla Creek affords spectacular views, yet some segments of the campus create barriers turning the University's back to its landscape. In response, two of OMA's primary decisions were to extend the campus northward, drawing pedestrian circulation toward the water, and to counteract all forms of isolation, individual and disciplinary, maximizing circulation within and between buildings.
Further priorities include preserving AAP's existing facilities (Sibley and Rand Halls, which create a gateway to the campus from a bridge leading to a residential area, and the Foundry, a sculpture studio/workshop for art students) while creating new gathering spaces and transforming the Arts Quad's northern area into a campus focal point. The solution was a simple two-plate horizontal box that connects Sibley and Rand, places essential academic program elements in a single transparent space visible from multiple angles on campus, and adding a 282-seat auditorium, sunken plaza, and roof terrace.
Sheltered and enclosable areas maximize open-air exposure while respecting Ithaca's formidable winters. Skylights of different sizes ensure that the center of the building receives evenly distributed natural light, give a signature overhead view (the optical illusion of a spherical volume) to passing aircraft, and double as ventilators.
"One of the exciting things about IIT for us," Koolhaas says, "was that it actually behaved in the way it was supposed to behave, and it worked in the way it was supposed to work. That is why we expect the same fit in this case—we hope." Groundbreaking begins in early 2007, and Milstein is scheduled to open in 2009.
Bill Millard is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Oculus, Icon, Content, and other publications.
Deans School Each Other
Event: The Dean's Roundtable and arch schools-public view(ing) Exhibition Opening
This year's Dean's Roundtable reinforced that the educational philosophies of New York area architecture schools varies widely, but a shared set of goals can produce more well-rounded architects prepared to face authentic challenges. Eleven local deans debated on the disconnect between education and the profession, and on the value of integrating non-traditional studies into architecture studios.
Community involvement is helping architecture schools influence the profession on new levels. There are ways to "involve architects as citizens in a community" instead of solely using the profession as a medium for change, noted Syracuse University Dean Mark Robbins discussing the school's architecture facility relocation to downtown. NJIT Dean Urs Gauchat stated that design interventions (such as the work NJIT had recently undertaken in Patterson, NJ) are perhaps a more potent solution for schools to consider. "On a local level, there is more institutional memory" and innate expertise offered by architects.
It was agreed that architecture curricula can benefit from a broader base of study, and schools are beginning to integrate science and humanities into architecture studios. Disputing the 40-year paradigm that planted architecture in the realm of art, City College Dean George Ranalli, AIA, said that he believed architecture to be a "hybrid discipline," combining technology and science.
Despite the diversity among the schools' philosophies, Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, introduced the idea that if the deans could unify their goals, students could improve New York regional issues that local and state government can not.
The exhibition, "arch schools-public view(ing)," will be on view at the Center for Architecture through 11.10.06. See the On View section for details.
Event: Waking Up From the American Dream: New Ideas about House and Home
Current conversations about design aspirations do not address the middle-class, agreed four critics discussing ideas about house and home in the living room of a newly constructed four-story $2.7 million Boerum Hill townhouse (one of the 14 Townhouses designed and master planned by Rogers Marvel Architects as part of the mixed-use Hoyt Schermerhorn Urban Renewal Site). The public's poor visual skills and limited design vocabulary pose a challenge for writers trying to address a broad audience.
The suburbanization of America beginning with the post-WWII housing boom has left us with a powerful and prevalent building typology. There is little demand for alternatives to faux-farmhouses, such as the well-designed homes chronicled by Karrie Jacobs in her new book The Perfect $100,000 House. Americans are often turned off by modern architecture, according to author Winifred Gallagher, because of limited and often poor associations with modern design. Architects who eschew the vernacular in pursuit of the avant-garde lose the emotional value the public associates with traditional building styles.
Susan Szenasy, Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis, lamented the limited reach of the design press There is hope, however, in New Urbanism, noted Gallager; the Liberty Harbor development in Jersey City is a place where traditionalists are embracing modernism as an historic style.
Aaron Slodounik is a freelance art and architecture writer.
Families gather at Ground Zero on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
2:30pm, 09.11.06. After a day of remembrance, families leave Ground Zero.
Thank you for the "A Day of Remembrance" pictures. I was one of the honor guards for the fifth anniversary, and I want to share with you some of the pictures I took at Ground Zero.
The clearest lesson came from Reed Kroloff, Dean of Tulane University School of Architecture, who stated in a symposium, "It was not Katrina that caused the devastation; it wasn't the rains; it wasn't the winds that destroyed New Orleans; but it was the failure of the levies, a failure of the Army Corps of Engineers, and a Federal Government failure." [See "Venice Biennale: Five Impressions," eOculus, 09.19.06]
Yet again, Reed Kroloff gets it wrong. The devastation was the result of the failure of the New Orleans government, or lack thereof, to allocate and mobilize the resources, which it continuously voted down, required to protect the citizens of New Orleans. A more corrupt government you will not find in these United States. This failure is not a mystery, nor has New Orleans' failure to defend itself against the catastrophe that was known to be inevitable has gone unreported except, of course, in the pages of the New York Times, which has its own agenda.
I remain disgusted, and you should be too.
Richard Nash Gould
EDITOR'S SOAPBOX: Astoria Chitchat
Maybe it was the poor sound system at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria—many of the presentations were inaudible—but I left the first Pecha Kucha NY Night feeling confused. The idea was that presentations will be quick and concise keeping interest level up and allowing more speakers to talk in an evening. The idea sounded great to me, but in practice it left room for improvement.
New York is now one of 29 international cities (from Tokyo to Amsterdam to Sydney) chosen to participate in an event conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work. Pecha Kucha (Japanese for the sound of conversation according to the website) consists of a selected group of presenters who are limited to 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide.
A wide range of fields and experience levels included: Charles Renfro of Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Eric Bunge, AIA, and Mimi Hoang of nARCHITECTS; Valeria Mogilevich and Damon Rich from the Center for Urban Pedagogy; and Cynthia Leung and Beverly Liang of forthcoming Dear Reader fashion magazine. When I could hear the speakers, I found myself questioning why they were showing the projects that they chose to present. The speakers seemed randomly selected and, instead of piquing my curiosity about their firms, I lost interest in the presentations. If there had been a common theme providing a reference point for the firms, I would have felt more interested and want to further research the work less familiar to me.
Ultimately, the presentations became background noise to the socializing and networking. Over 500 people showed up—amazing for a Wednesday evening rife with mass transit problems and the remote location. With the outdoor venue and picnic tables encouraging conversation (not to mention the kielbasa and selection of European beer), I met a variety of design enthusiasts, many whom do not normally attend architecture events in the city. Pecha Kucha organizers claim to have tapped into a global demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown. Being that this was the first gathering in New York, I'm looking forward to the second (to be held in January); one hopes some of the kinks will be worked out and this will become a new New York tradition for emerging designers.
eON THE SCENE
Going, Going, GONE!
John Bricker smiles with satisfaction as the bidding war brings his total selling price to $6,500
Darris James, Assoc. AIA
Cindy Allen, editor-in-chief, Interior Design, with Calvin Tsao, AIA, TsAO & McKown Architects. Allen was one of the most energetic bidders, purchasing over 4 designers during the auction. Tsao was the night's most animated designer on the block, selling for $3,500.
Darris James, Assoc. AIA
Event: IDLNY Designers on the Block Benefit Auction
Bidding wars abounded and numbered paddles brandished during the first Interior Designers for Legislation in New York (IDLNY) "Designers on the Block" benefit auction at The Mohawk Group showroom. Twelve noteworthy architects and designers donated two hours of their time to be used as agreed upon by the winning bidder and designer. With talents including Bill Bouchey, Design Principal at Mancini·Duffy, and Jamie Drake, principal of Drake Design Associates, there is little surprise that the event raised $42,850 to support the IDLNY organization.
As the crowd—mostly designers and vendors—mingled, there were enthusiastic discussions as to whose time would be worth top dollar. When asked who is worth the most, Anthony Lee, of Gary Lee Partners, confidently responded "Gary Lee of course. He is an amazing talent… not to mention my boss!" Kristen Richards, editor-in-chief of Oculus and ArchNewsNow, could not decide between Barbara Zieve, IIDA, associate partner at Butler Rogers Baskett Architects, and Shashi Caan, of Shashi Caan Collective.
The average bid for the designers was $3,500 with the lowest bid going to Adam Tihany, of Tihany Design, who brought in a respectable $1,100 despite being conspicuously absent. The superstar of the night was John Bricker, Creative Director and principal at Gensler. After a fierce bidding war, Terry Mowers, Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Tandus, won Bricker with a whopping bid of $6,500! When Mowers was asked about his plans for this prominent designer, he said, "We wanted him for grooming and styling consultancy!"
IN THE NEWS
Fuzzy Edges in Iowa
The Architecture of Science
Hopes are high as the first HHMI research campus opens this week at the Janelia Farm, a 281-acre land parcel along the Potomac River near Leesburg, VA. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the 740,411-square-foot complex is said to transform accepted patterns of scientific research and typical designs for lab buildings. Consisting of a laboratory building, conference guest rooms, and apartments for visiting scientists, the institute blends into the natural surroundings of the site and features highly flexible laboratory space that can be adapted easily to meet changing research needs. The centerpiece, a 1,000-foot-long laboratory building, called the "landscape building," conforms to the site's existing topography, instead of overwhelming it.
ONYX—Semiprecious in Chelsea
Art and Finance Merge in Bronxville
Get Your CultureNOW!
Museum Blends Building and Garden
AROUND THE AIA + THE CENTER
It's Architecture Week!
Event: Design-In Marathon
Event: FamilyDay@theCenter: Building Green Art Workshop
Event: Exhibition Opening: Going Public 2: City Snapshot(s) and Case Studies of the Mayor's Design and Construction Excellence Initiative
Event: Going Public Roundtable
Event: Heritage Ball with Dinner Chair MaryAnne Gilmartin
Event: Party@theCenter! Drinks! Dancing! DJ!
Eighteen and Life
Submit your response for the latest poll:
Results from last issue's poll:
AIA Westchester/Mid-Hudson is planning an all-day tour of three Louis Kahn-designed buildings and other notable buildings at the Yale University campus on October 14 from 9:00am-6:00pm. There will be a screening of "My Architect," the celebrated documentary film by Nathaniel Kahn, en route to the campus; box lunch will be provided; and, there will be a food and drink reception at Temple Beth El at the end of the tour. There is a $100 fee to participate, and you can earn 5 AIA/CES Credits. Go to the website for more information and to sign up.
NAMES IN THE NEWS
The New School will honor John L. Tishman, chairman and CEO of Tishman Realty & Construction Corporation and vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the The New School, at its 2006 LaGuardia Award Dinner in November… David Taylor has been appointed associate principal at Arup, leading the firm's performing arts sector work in the Americas… The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has appointed Denise Berger, AIA, Deputy Director of Operations in the agency's Engineering Department… It has been confirmed that Anselm Franke is currently in discussions with The Storefront for Art and Architecture to join the organization as its new Director…
Mark Greene, AIA, sighted sporting "The Cap" in Amsterdam. Architecture as public policy is a global issue…
Courtesy Mark Greene, AIA
Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas at the Cornell University NY Campus reception presenting plans for Milstein Hall.
Eric Bunge, AIA, and Mimi Hoang of nARCHITECTS at Pecha Kucha Night NY.
Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA
Concave face of Anish Kapoor's polished stainless steel "Sky Mirror" at Rockefeller Center.
Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA
Convex face of Anish Kapoor's polished stainless steel "Sky Mirror" at Rockefeller Center.
Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA
"Project Showcase: The New York Times Building," the exhibition at the Center organized by AIANY, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and FXFowle Architects opened September 26.
Jan Berman, President of exhibition underwriter MechoShades, with Bruce Fowle, FAIA.
FXFowle Architects senior principal Dan Kaplan, AIA, NY Times Director of Construction Glenn Hughes, and Bruce Fowle, FAIA.
Crowds gather at the Hearst Tower opening, September 21.
The lobby of the Hearst Tower.
An interview with Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx was featured on the Grist website September 28.
Registration: 2006 AIANJ Design Awards Program
AIA New Jersey invites architects to submit projects (completed since January 1, 2004) that reflect the highest standards of design excellence. For architects practicing in New Jersey, submitted projects may be located anywhere; projects located in New Jersey can be submitted by non-New Jersey architects.
Submission: Record Houses 2007
The editors of Architectural Record are seeking submissions of built, single-family dwellings that incorporate innovation in program, building technology, form, and materials. Winners will be featured in an issue of Architectural Record.
Submission: Scion Floorplan
Scion (a line of vehicles from Toyota) is looking for designers to submit innovative concepts for a new 750-square-foot showroom. Winners will receive $5,000 and the opportunity to have their design realized.
Submission: IDENSITAT 07 HOME/AWAY
Aiming to address the singularity of place and importance of public space, IDENSITAT 07 calls for proposals that deal with rapid changes in the towns of Calaf, Manresa, and Mataró, Spain. Submitted projects may either fall into the category of Production (those which will be realized on site) or Documentation (related projects that are either already completed for other locations or theoretical in nature).
Registration: 2007 AIA Housing Awards
The Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community of the AIA calls for submissions of one- and two-family custom homes, production homes, multifamily housing, and special housing for recognition in this year's award program.
Registration: Building a Sustainable World: Life in the Balance
This open competition, hosted by the California Chapter of the RIBA-USA, asks architects to develop a concept for a self-sustaining, maximum capacity sustainable community or urban subdivision that exists "off the grid." Winners will receive monetary award, have their work exhibited, and be asked to participate in a symposium.
Submission: Metropolis 2007 Next Generation
"Energy" is the focus of this year's Metropolis Next Generation competition, which searches for bold thinking and inventive new ideas from young designers practicing 10 years or less. The winning applicant will be awarded $10,000 to help realize his or her design, or take it to the next step in its development.
Living Steel, a worldwide program to stimulate innovation in housing design and construction, is asking architects to design sustainable urban housing for locations in Brazil, China, and the UK. Winners will receive €50,000 and a contract to complete their designs.
At the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place:
About Town: Exhibition Announcements
This exhibition features models and drawings depicting plans by five shortlisted finalists in Rutger's search to re-vision their College Avenue Campus into a more welcoming, pedestrian-friendly public space. Competitors were asked to create a landscape plan for the "greening" of the campus, as well as design a new signature academic building.
Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick
As plans for Moynihan Station are developed, this exhibit details a proposal for creating a comprehensive regional rail network connecting Manhattan's two main train stations and the extensive systems that they serve.
The Municipal Art Society; 457 Madison Avenue
Chest of drawers, Tejo Remy, 1991.
Courtesy Museum of Arts & Design
For over a decade, the Droog Design collective has set forth innovative and inspired designs for everyday objects using low-cost, industrial, or recycled materials. This traveling exhibit, making its sole North American stop in New York, reveals the playfulness, significance, humor, and social meaning imbued in the work of this international design platform.
Museum of Arts & Design; 40 W. 53 St.
Image courtesy BCUE
10.04.06 through 11.17.06
With the idea that overlooked aspects of a neighborhood often help define its character, graffiti, subway art, and other everyday urban scenes are brought to the forefront of this exhibition, which displays student work from the Academy of Urban Planning.
The Municipal Art Society; 457 Madison Avenue
Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition Memorial Garden, Brooklyn, NY
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
10.07.06 through 10.27.06
This exhibition will bring documentary photo, video, and archival information on hundreds of 9/11 Living Memorial Project sites together in the newly restored Federal Hall National Memorial.
National Park Service Federal Hall Memorial; 26 Wall Street
Image courtesy Proteus Gowanus
10.13.06 through 2007
While the role of the book is being questioned in today's society, this exhibition tackles the concept of "library," and touches upon the small alternative libraries that have appeared around the country. A series of interdisciplinary presentations will help expand this yearlong exhibition.
Proteus Gowanus; 543 Union Street; Brooklyn, NY
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After the Innovative Design Study (misinterpreted as a design competition) and the saga ensuing after the selection of Daniel Libeskind's plan, "it was all downhill," as Petra Todorovich observed. The professional and public input, she found, scared public agencies into a defensive mode. It's hard today to imagine how NYNV might have counteracted this political reaction, but Todorovich identified three roles NYNV and the wider civic community played: substantive planning, research, and design, beginning shortly after 9/11 and before LMDC even existed; offering a forum for public participation; and serving as watchdogs and critics. Campbell's lament summed up the political realities bluntly: "We are marginalized as a profession."
NYNV's lasting effect may be to shift the context and assess other similar efforts. Before NYNV existed, 21 separate groups weighed in on questions of design and planning. Shortly after 9/11, the Real Estate Board of New York conferred with every profession whose input it considered essential—lawyers, engineers, and accountants, but no designers or planners. Overcoming this isolation and fragmentation to gain a seat at the table was no small achievement, and experience may hone the profession's tactical political skills.
Ground Zero needs a better-balanced design with an emphasis on the public realm, not "a suburban vision for an urban environment," as Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP, described both the original WTC and the towers currently planned. To the extent that architects and planners are now civic players to be reckoned with, not bystanders, one can gladly hold NYNV responsible for that.
Bill Millard is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Oculus, Icon, Content, and other publications.