It was an event that was on message and on time. With the unfortunate passing of Mayor Bloomberg’s mother this week, officiating duties for Design Commission’s Twenty-ninth Annual Awards for Excellence in Design fell to Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris and Design Commission president Jim Stuckey. As the invitation noted, remarks were scheduled to begin at 6:15PM, and Harris started remarking on the dot and kept to the script, reading directly from it in fact, with few off-the-cuff remarks. “Short and sweet,” was how one audience member described it afterward, with an Oscar-worthy combo of Harris and Stuckey–like an urban design version of Hathaway and Franko, without the awkward flubs.
Indeed it was hard to avoid Hollywood references at an event held at the same locale where W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers got their start. At the Museum of the Moving Image–itself one of the evening’s winners–the blue felt walls of the main screening room held a capacity crowd in their embrace. When the museum’s design team Leeser Architecture and Karlssonwilker were announced, the otherwise restrained crowd, who had been trying not to show favoritism, sustained its applause a bit longer. And in the case of the museum, who could help it–the place is beautiful.
At the reception afterward, a logjam of architects ensued. Steven Holl bumped up against Richard Dattner. WXY’s Clair Weisz talked shop across from Van Alen’s Olympia Kazi, who held court with characteristic effusiveness as Landmark Commissioner Robert Tierney enjoyed the garden. Back out on the street, the ever-glib Astorians went about their business, unaware of the high design goings-on inside.