Newsletter Subscription
Print Subscription
Change Address
News
12.29.2011
2011 in Review> East Coast Editors' Picks
A chronology of top stories from the pages of The Architect's Newspaper.
Thomas Leeser's addition to the Museum of the Moving Image.
Peter Aaron / Esto

This year we welcomed foreign firms to US shores, marked memorial milestones, tracked the reinvention of abandoned infrastructure, and reported on universities as key players in urban development. Here are a few of our favorite articles from AN's East Coast edition that offer a snapshot of the issues and voices that made news in 2011.

Courtesy Foster + Partners
 
 

01.24.2011

Crit> Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Foster + Partners brings neo-modern seriousness to museum addition, but is it enough? Fame isn’t always glory. That’s one lesson of the career of I.M. Pei, that most underrated of overexposed architects. Though best known for later baubles like the Louvre’s glass entrance pyramid, in the ‘70s and ‘80s he produced buildings of remarkable (yet all-too-often unremarked) competence and diligence. Many of these are to be found in Boston, a city whose small size, long history, and hub-of-the-universe aspirations complemented Pei’s sense of scale and proportion, his balance of deference and showbiz, and his capacity to complement old sites with new interventions. His works in that city, such as the 1974 Christian Science complex and 1971 Harbor Towers, evince monumentality without grandiosity, modernity without brutality, and the acknowledgement of historical neighbors without maudlin imitation of their forms.
 

COURTESY BIG
 
 

01.26.2011

BJARKE INGELS MAKES NO LITTLE PLANS

Danish architect ready to leave his footprints in Manhattan and beyond: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, principal of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has set his sights on the Big Apple. Since September, he has been jet-setting back and forth between his Copenhagen headquarters and his new Manhattan office in preparation for a closely-watched mystery debut. Already an established member of the young architectural vanguard (with an icon of his own in the shape of a figure-eight-shaped housing complex in Copenhagen), Ingels told AN that he is prepared to take American real-estate development head-on: “Everyone has been warning us that it’s impossible to work with American developers—that they’re too profit-driven,” Ingels said. “But it’s really exactly the same with developers everywhere.”
 

Peter Aaron / Esto
 
 

02.22.2011

Crit> Museum of the Moving Image

Thomas Leeser's intricately-paneled architecture recalls the experience of film itself: Oh, to live in the unbuilt world of Thomas Leeser! While most architects have by mid-career accumulated a village of unrealized projects, all offering glimpses of unbuildable wonders or cancelled near-misses, Leeser’s exceptional collection features unbuilt buildings that seem at once otherworldly and down-to-earth. With a long-refined vocabulary of tessellated-panel cladding, continuous-curve surfacing, laconically sculptural massing, knife-sharp edging, and a certain icy taste for sparkle, his practice has produced an evanescent architecture for a counterfactual world, more exciting and exacting than our own: For Yakutsk, Russia, a wooly mammoth museum whose facade tessellations extrude into leggy permafrost-foundation piles, all with the irresistible creaturely charisma of the animal it exhibits; for Abu Dhabi, a hotel whose voluptuous curves manifest as Wright’s Guggenheim in full ballroom spin; for Heidelberg, Germany, there’s a solid-looking museum that, at least seemingly, melts into air.
 

COURTESY GROUNDLAB
 
 

03.26.2011

FEATURE> CONTESTED GROUND

Landscape architecture continues to experience a professional flowering based on the growing significance of sustainability and ecological issues as they relate to planning the broader built environment. But awareness is also growing among architects that they are no longer kings of the mountain. Gwen Webber scouts the perimeter of a possible turf war in the making.
 

FERNANDO GUERRA FG+SG
 
 

04.21.2011

COMMENT> EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURA

Vera Sacchetti discusses the 2011 Pritzker laureate: In Porto, a small, gray city in the north of Portugal, you grow accustomed to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century weathered granite buildings that seem to rise from the ground as naturally as mountains. This is the foggy, damp place that has shaped the life and work of Eduardo Souto de Moura, the 2011 Pritzker Prize laureate, and he, in turn, has helped bring the city into modernity over the past thirty years. “In Porto, you have the beautiful historical city,” the architect has said, “the monuments and buildings trying to find—like cats when they go to sleep—their natural place and positioning, and then they become almost natural, all made with the same stone… And that gives them an immense serenity.”
 

COURTESY WAGGONNER & BALL ARCHITECTS/SMART MOBILITY
 
 

06.23.2011

FEATURE> GO DOWN, MOSES

Today cities are putting people before cars, replacing highways with green boulevards: Remember highways, those ribbons of concrete that in the 1940s and 50s looped together cities, states, and regions in much the same way as ocean liners connected America to Europe in the 20s and 30s? Once highways represented the country’s proudest infrastructure. Those days are over, as are the urban policies that allowed New York’s ultimate powerbroker Robert Moses, late in his heyday in the 60s, to ram roads (the bigger, the wider, the busier the better) through fragile communities, ripping the urban fabric to shreds for decades to come. Today’s urban thinking puts pedestrians before cars.
 

THE ARCHITECT'S NEWSPAPER
 
 

07.28.2011

FEATURE> CLASS STRUGGLE

Mapping higher education as a potent force of development across the city, now and in the future. Essay by Mitchell Moss: In spite of the recent economic slowdown, New York City’s colleges and universities are on a building spree, providing planners, land use lawyers, architects, and construction workers with well-paying and stable employment. Once a sleeping giant, the city’s colleges and universities have long been active in acquiring individual parcels, modernizing outmoded structures, and building “as-of-right” by taking advantage of the city’s permissive zoning that falls under the heading of “community facilities.” But today, the city’s higher education industry is playing hardball as it seeks to build classrooms, labs, residence halls, student centers, and administrative palaces in order to attract students and faculty in the 21st century. And the leaders of the city’s colleges and universities are anything but shy when it comes to expanding their campuses. In fact, they are using every possible planning and zoning tool: eminent domain, rezoning, leasing, trading air rights, public-private partnerships, strategic acquisitions, and, of course, contributing space for public purposes, as they negotiate the treacherous minefield of land use planning in New York City.
 

COURTESY SILVERSTEIN
 
 

09.07.2011

FEATURE> MAKING MEANING

Drawn largely from stories in our own pages, this selective timeline recalls key design moments, revisions, and decisions leading up to the tenth anniversary opening of the 9/11 Memorial.
 

JESSICA EDWARDS
 
 

09.19.2011

Q+A> GARY HUSTWIT

The director of Helvetica and Objectified talks about his new film on cities, Urbanized: This month Urbanized, the latest film by Gary Hustwit, premieres in selected cities around the U.S. after making its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Coming on the heels of his odes to typography (Helvetica, 2007) and product design (Objectifed, 2009), Hustwit has now turned his lens on the design of cities. AN met up with the filmmaker to talk about how the key players in urban planning and design and make their ideas comprehensible to a wider public.
 

PHIPPS ROSE DATTNER GRIMSHAW
 
 

09.26.2011

ROAD TO GREEN

Dattner Grimshaw Bronx partnership yields model sustainable housing: Via Verde, the affordable housing complex designed by Dattner Architects in partnership with Grimshaw, would fit with any of the sexy newcomers on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Built atop a former rail yard in the Melrose section of the South Bronx, the triangular site sits directly across from some featureless low-income housing in uninspiring old-school red brick.
 

Tom Stoelker / AN
 
 

10.12.2011

Comment> Jerold S. Kayden

Occupying Wall Street at the public-private frontier: In future years, people will remember 2011 as the year in which physical public space reclaimed its lofty status in the public sphere thanks to the audacious actions of engaged individuals. From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, physical public space has aggressively reminded the world of its centrality in accommodating and nurturing political debate and protest. Public spaces come in many flavors. They include city-owned streets, sidewalks, and parks. In New York and other cities, they also include a zoning-created variety known as privately owned public space. Through a technique known as incentive zoning, New York since 1961 has encouraged developers of office and residential skyscrapers to provide a now-substantial array of more than 500 plazas, arcades, and indoor spaces in return for valuable zoning concessions. The most valuable concession of all has been bonus floor area, and the City has thus granted more than 20 million square feet of extra building area for developers. Although the spaces differ in terms of the legal specifics that created them, the signature requirement is that they be usable by the public.
 

KIYONORI KIKUTAKE
 
 

10.27.2011

Q+A> REM KOOLHAAS

High on Metabolism, Rem talks about his latest book Project Japan: Sounding weary with focusing on his own positions and prominence and energized by researching Japan in the 60s and 70s, Rem Koolhaas came down for coffee at the Carlyle Hotel to talk to AN about his new book Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (Taschen), a six-year project undertaken with Swiss critic and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist to interview the founders and thinkers of what the architect calls “the first non-Western avant-garde movement in architecture” and the Dutch architect’s search for a more meaningful engagement between architecture and societies.
 

MONTAGE BASED ON PHOTO BY PETER MAUSS / ESTO
 
 

11.08.2011

FEATURE> CULTURAL OUTLETS

What does it mean when museums position themselves as engines of social change...powered by luxury car companies? Stephen Zacks considers new claims on the urban environment: This fall, BMW funded a Guggenheim lab on the Lower East Side that will travel—along with a lot of forward-thinking programs and events—to nine cities around the world for the next six years. Earlier this year, Audi funded the New Museum’s Festival Ideas for the New City on the Bowery which the museum plans on staging every other year. And in May, Volkswagen announced a two-year partnership with MoMA to fund online educational programming, on-site “labs,” and an exhibition of socially conscious international work at PS1.
 

Courtesy BHA
 
 

12.15.2011

Rolling Out

Philly's elevated railway is struggling to become a High Line: The Reading Viaduct, a grass and tree-covered stretch of historically rich yet defunct industrial rail line in Philadelphia, has opened up a lively dialogue about its potential as an urban connector. With a location ripe for redevelopment, the mile-long viaduct runs north from the edge of Center City to Callowhill, a former manufacturing neighborhood. However, as in most public projects where budgets are tight, the realization of an elevated park has a long way to go.
 

COURTESY U.S. COMMISSION OF FINE ARTS
 
 

12.20.2011

PORTFOLIO> UNBUILT WASHINGTON

The National Building Museum presents the nation's capital as it might have been: More and more, the National Mall is living up to its moniker “America’s front yard”: patchy turf, puddles, and cracked sidewalks give it an air of foreclosure. The National Mall Design Competition, now under way, will surely produce ambitious proposals to mend the Mall, but getting them approved and funded could take years and is far from guaranteed.
 

 

The Editors