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Here are the architecture and design events postponed because of coronavirus
United States2020 Tall + Urban Innovation Conference, Chicago: The Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat has postponed its upcoming conference in Chicago scheduled for April 5-7. AIGA Design Conference, Pittsburgh: The Professional Association for Design's annual conference, scheduled to kick-off at the end of this month in Pittsburgh, has been rescheduled for November 12-14. AIA Conference on Architecture 2020, Los Angeles: The American Institute of Architects has canceled its 2020 conference, which was scheduled to take place May 14-16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The AIA is "exploring options to reschedule." The Architectural Digest Design Show, New York City: Scheduled for March 19-22 at Manhattan's Pier 94, the annual AD Design Show has been pushed back to June 25-28. The Architecture League of New York: In an email sent to members and friends, The Architecture League of New York announced the cancelation of a slew of upcoming lectures and events, including a series of lectures by the 2020 winners of the Emerging Voices program. The lectures will be rescheduled for a later date. Frieze New York: Scheduled to commence May 7, the New York edition of the massive annual art fair has been canceled. Frieze London is still a go for October 8-11 as of this writing. The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Harvard GSD has canceled all of its upcoming spring events and public programming. The school itself, like many colleges and universities across America, has shifted to online coursework. The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York City: ICFF will return to its home at Manhattan's Javits Center in May 2021. The National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.: The National Building Museum is postponing its March 13 reopening following a three-month closure to complete extensive renovations. All special educational programming and events scheduled through April 30 will also be canceled or postponed. NeoCon, Chicago: Bustling annual commercial design fair NeoCon will not be held June 8-10 at Chicago's Merchandise Mart as scheduled. NYCxDesign: Scheduled to kick off May 12, this five-borough design bonanza features openings, installations, talks, and open houses. It's been rescheduled for October to coincide with a slew of existing planned architecture and design events including Arctober and Open House New York. The Shed, New York City: The Shed cultural center at Hudson Yards has suspended all performances and events through March 30. South by Southwest, Austin, Texas: The massive annual tech, music, film, and arts festival—along with all auxiliary conferences and events associated with it—has been canceled by the City of Austin. It was slated to kick off March 13 and run through March 22. "We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU," reads the SXSW website. The Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles: SCI-Arc is postponing its upcoming slate of public programming through April 7. WantedDesign Brooklyn, WantedDesign Manhattan: The next edition of the popular two-borough annual design show WantedDesign will be in 2021. “Having anticipated celebrating our 10th anniversary with our dear NYC friends and international design community, we are genuinely disappointed not to be able to proceed with our May exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn as planned,” reads a post on the WantedDesign Facebook page.
Mainland ChinaChina International Furniture Fair, Guangzhou: The 2020 edition of this long-running furniture fair was set to take place March 18-21 at Guangzhou’s Canton Fair Complex. It’s been postponed and be held on a yet-to-be-determined date. Design Shanghai: Asia’s largest international contemporary design fair was scheduled to take place March 12 through 15 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center. It has been rescheduled for May 26 to 29. “We have made this decision based on advice and information from government and local authorities,” reads the Design Shanghai website, “in China and consultation with our partners, venue and local team. The safety of our customers and team is our first priority. The venue and layout will stay the same and we will keep you fully informed of any further developments.” Festival of Design, Shanghai: As reported by Architectural Digest, this interdisciplinary lecture series launched by architecture practice Neri&Hu and held concurrently to Design Shanghai has been canceled. He Art Museum opening, Shunde, Guangdong: The unveiling of the Tadao Ando-designed He Art Museum (HEM) in the Guangdong province has been pushed back from its original March 21 opening date. The museum “is looking forward to finding a suitable date for which will be announced in due course” reads a notice announcing the postponement. JINGART, Beijing: The third edition of this hip nascent art fair has been canceled. It was scheduled to take place May 21 through 24 at the Beijing Expo Center. Shenzhen International Furniture Exhibition: Held annually in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, this highly attended event was scheduled for March 18-21. It has been postponed. X Museum, Beijing: The March opening of this Millenial-focused private art museum, launched by young collectors Theresa Tese and Michael Xufu Huang, has been postponed.
DubaiArt Dubai: On March 3, organizers of the annual art fair, now in its 14th year, announced that it would be postponed. It was originally slated for March 25-28.
GermanyLight + Building, Frankfurt: The massive annual lighting and home automation trade show scheduled for March 8-13 at Messe Frankfurt has been postponed after “extensive consultations.” It will now take place through September 27 through October 2.
Hong KongArt Basel Hong Kong: The Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, which was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre from March 19 to 21, has been canceled. As the Art Basel website reads: “We remain committed to Hong Kong and look forward to welcoming you to the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong on March 25-27, 2021.” M+ Matters: Archigram Cities: The opening of this highly anticipated series of events showcasing the archives of English avant-garde collective Archigram at visual culture museum M+ was delayed on February 12. A new opening date is forthcoming.
ItalyExpocasa, Turin: The start of the long-running trade show, focusing on interior design and renovation, has been pushed back from February 29 to March 28. Fuorisalone, Milan: Fuorisalone, an informal series of events that take place across Milan's different design districts in conjunction with Salone del Mobile, has been postponed to coincide with the rescheduled furniture fair in June. Salone del Mobile, Milan: On February 25, the organizers of Salone del Mobile announced that the international furniture fair was moving from April 21 to 26 to June 16 through 21 as health officials worked to contain the spread of coronavirus in the heavily impacted Lombardy region. Organizers launched a Twitter hashtag #salonemovestojune to help spread the word, proclaiming: "We can't stop. We won't stop." Syracuse University School of Architecture, Florence: The central New York-based university has suspended all of its spring semester study abroad programs in the Tuscan city. This includes the School of Architecture's popular Florence program based at Villa Rossa and Palazzo Donatello. Various other colleges and universities with campuses in Florence have also canceled their spring semesters. Venice Architecture Biennale: The start date of the 17th edition of the Biennale, curated by Hashim Sarkis, has been pushed back to August 29 by organizer La Biennale di Venezia. It was scheduled to commence on May 23. Despite the delay, the exhibition will still conclude on November 29.
South KoreaLeeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul: Housed in buildings designed by Jean Nouvel, Mario Botta, and REM Koolhaas, this popular art museum is closed until further notice. Several other galleries and museums in Seoul are also temporarily shuttered.
AN presents the Architectural League’s 2020 Emerging Voices winners
The Architectural League of New York’s annual Emerging Voices program once again delivers eight up-and-coming practices making an impact on building and discourse. This year’s jury was composed of Stella Betts, Mario Gooden, Mimi Hoang, Lisa Iwamoto, Dominic Leong, Paul Lewis, Matt Shaw, and Lisa Switkin. Approximately 50 firms were evaluated throughout the invited competition. As in past years, the winners were varied and represented practices from across North America, although many of the 2020 winners can be found on the East Coast. All of the winners will be honored next month and will participate in a lecture series at 130 Mercer Street in Manhattan:Olalekan Jeyifous and PORT on March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Mork Ulnes Architects and Young Projects on March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Escobedo Soliz and Dake Wells Architecture on March 19 at 7:00 p.m. Blouin Orzes architectes and Peterson Rich Office on March 26 at 7:00 p.m.
Only four years after founding their firm, Pavel Escobedo and Andres Soliz have built a trusted brand in Mexico City’s saturated design market. Escobedo Soliz formed soon after the pair graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and together won the 2016 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) summer installation competition.
Their YAP project, Weaving the Courtyard, brought acclaim in the U.S. but not at home, Soliz said. “That award is amazing for people in New York and holds a lot of prestige among those people, but here in Mexico, sadly, developers don’t care as much. What we took from that experience was a foundation of concepts and rules that we have used to build our practice, like the value of using simple or prefabricated materials and constructing by hand.”
After struggling to get commissions back in Mexico, the duo moved to Bolivia for a year to begin work on an ongoing design-build structure: a 17,200-square-foot funeral chapel made of artisanal brick on a shoestring budget. This project helped define the studio’s emerging focus on social service. When the pair returned to Mexico, their first major project was the José Maria Morelos Primary Rural School in Santa Isabel Cholula, part of the recovery from the deadly 2017 Puebla earthquake, which damaged over 200 public school buildings in the state. The design team conceptualized and built the school in just nine months.
“In Mexico, the country’s laws are very strict and the architect frequently has to be the builder,” said Soliz. “That’s why we go after custom projects in different contexts and with low budgets, whether it's for someone’s home or a special typology like the funerary chapel. We like to focus on the quality of materials and controlling the details. As young architects in Mexico, this keeps us competitive.” - Sydney Franklin
Bryan Young, principal and founder of Brooklyn-based Young Projects, aims for ambiguity. His buildings lend themselves to spatial and material misreadings that disrupt conventional hierarchies, inviting occupants to recalibrate their relationships with their surroundings.
“A tension exists between a normative reading and a misreading, but the misreading is just subtly off,” Young said. “It’s always something that is just a little bit off that draws you into the work.”
Young founded his firm in 2010 after working for Allied Works, Architecture Research Office (ARO), and Peter Pfau, all previous Emerging Voices winners that explore and exploit material properties. Since then, Young has designed polished residential projects that reinterpret familiar materials or layouts. Several walls of the Pulled Plaster Loft in Tribeca ripple with a custom pulled-plaster treatment that adapts techniques used to make traditional crown molding; the plan of the forthcoming 6 Square House in Bridgehampton, New York, is simultaneously a cluster of squares, a crossing of bars, and a fragment of an extendable pattern; and the Glitch House in the Dominican Republic is clad in encaustic cement tiles arranged to confuse light and shadow.
Smaller, in-house experiments (Young refers to them as “young projects”) incubate ideas and processes that could be applied to larger work, or just inspire new ways of creating. Currently sitting in his office is a tensile structure encrusted with salt crystals that might—or might not—point toward what Young Projects has in store. - Jack Balderrama Morley
Dividing his time between Oslo, Norway, and San Francisco, Casper Mork-Ulnes has learned to synthesize design principles from the two regions as the basis for Mork Ulnes, the firm he founded in 2005. “Simply put,” he explained, his eight-person team is “influenced by Scandinavian practicality and California’s spirit of innovation.”
Residential design makes up the majority of the firm’s completed work, including the dramatic renovation of several Victorian-era homes throughout San Francisco. When updating antiquated interiors, Mork Ulnes “strives to make [homes] more efficient, more light-filled, and less compartmentalized,” according to the architect, “to perhaps hark back to a California way of living in which buildings were once more extroverted.”
When given the opportunity to design from the ground up, the firm favors locally sourced woods and distinctly minimal forms. For example, the exterior of Mylla Hytte, a 940-square-foot cabin set within a Norwegian forest, is clad in untreated heart-pine planks that will weather over time, in contrast to the plywood of its interior walls and built-in furniture. - Shane Reiner-Roth
The members of Chicago and Philadelphia–based firm PORT have made it their mission to elevate urban navigation from a chore to a pleasure. The firm believes that a city’s highways, byways, and interstitial spaces reflect a collective attitude toward equity, democracy, and civil rights, and that those values can be bolstered by creative design intervention.
Christopher Marcinkoski and Andrew Moddrell both trained as architects and formally established PORT in 2013 after setting their sights on the spaces in between buildings. They demonstrated their passion for the interstitial with their Lakeview Low-Line project, a collection of bright yellow urban furniture installed beneath the elevated train tracks of Chicago’s Brown Line. “Lakeview takes a site that no one pays attention to,” said Marcinkoski, “and demonstrates the possibility of transforming that space into something that is generous and welcoming.”
PORT has also taken to increasing public engagement at sites that have long been the center of civic attention, as in its OVAL+ series of temporary pavilions for Eakins Oval, the 8-acre park in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. - Shane Reiner-RothSculptural gallery interiors, high-end retail, and housing and maintenance strategies for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)—three areas that might seem incongruous, but at the eight-year-old Peterson Rich Office (PRO), designing airy, light-filled spaces is part and parcel of considerate urban planning.
Founders Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich trace their approach to experiences working at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Steven Holl Architects—two firms known for their bright institutional projects—as well as SHoP, which Rich says taught him to break down the profession’s “traditional barriers and open [himself] up to different types of work.” Because of often tight budget constraints, PRO’s projects focus on form, gesture, and filling spaces with natural light instead of expensive materials.
The studio is working with New York’s Regional Plan Association to come up with suggestions for how NYCHA can simultaneously make up its $31.8 billion maintenance deficit while capitalizing on the agency’s 68.5 million square feet of undeveloped floor area. This isn’t the firm’s first dance with NYCHA; in 2014, PRO’s 9x18 project provided a blueprint for turning the housing agency’s 20 million square feet of parking into infill housing, and those strategies made their way into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.
“We always start with a certain amount of research, and try to draw from that research a series of goals for the project,” Rich said. “We try to introduce what we call ‘five points’; these are values and goals built with the client, guiding principles, and those things emerge from context, institution, and need. It’s narrative, and we try to stay true to those things.” - Jonathan Hilburg
“People are often surprised by how our projects end up looking like they do in these really rural areas,” said Andrew Wells, cofounder of Springfield- and Kansas City-based firm Dake Wells Architecture. “The common question we get is, How did you do that? For us, it boils down to solving peoples’ problems. There is an aesthetic component to that, yes, but it’s just a response.”
On numerous occasions, Wells and Brandon Dake, who together started the studio in 2004, have presented several design options to a client who ended up choosing the most challenging proposal on the table. Take Reeds Spring Middle School in rural southwestern Missouri. Set on 150 acres of undeveloped land beneath the Ozark Mountains, this 2017 project is tucked into a sloping ravine. “Finding the right spot to put the school was hard, so one of our ideas was to allow the building to negotiate the steep topography of the site,” said Wells, “but we didn’t think they'd go for it.” In the end, the semisubterranean design allowed Dake Wells to add a storm shelter to protect students, teachers, and staff during tornado season, one of the client’s biggest goals, and resulted in a striking exterior.
According to the design team, using few materials and a muted color palette also helps them concentrate on forming shapes that will stand out. Both Dake and Wells are from small towns in Missouri and feel most rooted in their work when they return to similar spots throughout the region on commission, often collaborating with low-income school districts with tight budgets. “We don’t subscribe to the notion that good design is for elite clients with money to spend,” Dake said. “We take on low-budget projects and push them as far as we can.” - Sydney Franklin
Few have mastered the nuanced art of designing for the extreme climate of Canada’s Circumpolar North in the face of global warming. But Marc Blouin and Catherine Orzes of Montreal-based Blouin Orzes architectes have made that challenge the heart of their practice. Dedicated to what they describe as a “tireless journey” through the villages of Nunavik, the vast northern third of Quebec, Blouin and Orzes create buildings that empathetically address the pressing needs of Inuit communities.
For Blouin Orzes, the work doesn’t stop at the building itself—the architects also play an active role in public consultation processes, sourcing funding and filing grants on behalf of their clients. “It’s a constant search for a balance between tradition and modernity in the contemporary realities of northern communities,” the architects explained. “We have discovered the importance of patiently learning from a culture distinct from our own and have come to love the landscapes and respect nature’s harsh conditions.”
The Katittavik Cultural Centre in Kuujjuarapik, a village on the coast of Hudson Bay, is representative of the firm’s work providing much-needed social spaces for people in remote locations. Upward of 10,000 people use the center, located in one of Nunavit’s 14 communities north of the 55th parallel. The area’s harsh conditions create construction challenges, like high costs, a limited labor force, protracted schedules, and concerns about sustainability. Yet building here takes not only resources and time, but also considerable trust—which the designers work continually and respectfully to earn. - Leilah Stone
For Olalekan Jeyifous, the physical world doesn’t take precedence over the space of imagination. By embracing the tension between reality and invented narratives, his work produces a panoply of architectural inquiries in various media, including hyperreal photomontages, public sculpture, whimsical installations, and immersive VR experiences. Rather than prescribing function, his projects encourage their audiences to reconsider architecture’s relationship to the communities it affects.
Jeyifous describes his work as a result of the “process of connection as opposed to reaction, evoking a notion of ‘place’ rooted in immanence and possibility.” His built public work embraces multiplicity and interpretation, and engages each community’s historic and contemporary challenges, including histories of mobility and displacement, issues of equity in urban housing markets, and the importance of public spaces as sites of protest.
His unbuilt work is equally rooted in social justice. Born in Nigeria, Jeyifous has developed various projects that envision the future of the country’s sprawling megacity, Lagos, in a way that questions ideas of what progress looks like. In Shanty Mega-structures, he produced a series of renderings depicting the city’s informal settlements at the scale of large commercial developments, asking viewers to reconsider who visionary architecture should be for and what practices should inspire it. - Leilah Stone
Andrea Steele's L10 Arts and Cultural Center will bring integrative cultural space to Brooklyn
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Announcing the winners of the 2019 AN Best of Design Awards
Perhaps this signals something larger about architecture in 2019, or even the end of the 2010s. Is U.S. architecture becoming more formally muted? Or is 2019 just a quiet year? Is this phenomenon an ongoing reaction to something in the media that has promoted design that is flashier and more figurally exuberant? Or is this just a one-year trend? Our jury this year was a very savvy group that included old AN friends and some new faces as well. By provoking discussions and offering up new ideas, the jury is essential to the mission of AN. We hope you enjoy this selection of winners, honorable mentions, and editor’s picks, and we look forward to hearing from you again next year with new projects! We will be updating this list over the next few days with winner and honorable mention profiles. To see the complete feature, don't miss our 2019 Best of Design Awards Annual issue, out now! 2019 AN Best of Design Awards Building of the Year Winner TWA Hotel Beyer Blinder Belle Planners LLP LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects New York City Finalists Cottonwood Canyon Experience Center Signal Architecture + Research Wasco, Oregon Anita May Rosenstein Campus, Los Angeles LGBT Center Leong Leong Killefer Flammang Architects Los Angeles Public Winner Anita May Rosenstein Campus, Los Angeles LGBT Center Leong Leong Killefer Flammang Architects Los Angeles Honorable Mentions Discovery Center, Îles-de-Boucherville National Park Smith Vigeant Architectes Hunters Point Community Library Steven Holl Architects Editors' Picks Tsleil-Waututh Administration and Health Centre Lubor Trubka Associates Architects Louis Armstrong Stadium ROSSETTI Urban Design Winner Brooklyn Army Terminal Public Realm WXY Brooklyn, NY Honorable Mention City Thread SPORTS Cultural Winner Menil Drawing Institute Johnston Marklee Houston Honorable Mentions Ruby City Adjaye Associates New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center nARCHITECTS Editors' Pick The Evans Tree House at Garvan Woodland Gardens modus studio Saint Mary Mercy Chapel PLY+ Exhibition Design Winner Calder: Nonspace STEPHANIEGOTO Los Angeles Honorable Mentions Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial Studio Joseph VENTS TEMPO | Catty Dan Zhang Editors' Picks Model Projections Agency—Agency Common Threads ikd Green Building Winner Galenas Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility Urban Green Design Akron, Ohio Honorable Mentions Tree Pittsburgh Headquarters GBBN 370 Jay Street, New York University Mitchell Giurgola Editor's Picks Marvin Gaye Recreation Center ISTUDIO Architects Greenport Passive House The Turett Collaborative Adjaye Associates New York City Honorable Mentions CME Center Krueck + Sexton 277 Mott Street Toshiko Mori Architect Editors' Picks University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute Perkins and Will 280 St Marks DXA studio Young Architects Winner bld.us Infrastructure Winner North Chiller Plant, University of Massachusetts Amherst Leers Weinzapfel Associates Amherst, Massachusetts Honorable Mentions Richmond Water Transit Ferry Terminal Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects BART Market Street Canopies VIA Architecture Editors' Picks Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge Rosales + Partners Northeastern University Pedestrian Crossing Payette Commercial — Hospitality Winner Furioso Vineyards Waechter Architecture Dundee, Oregon Honorable Mentions McDonald’s Chicago Flagship Ross Barney Architects The Carpenter Hotel Specht Architects Editors' Picks Heritage Savvy Studio Lumen at Beacon Park Touloukian Touloukian Commercial — Retail Winner Apple Scottsdale Fashion Square Ennead Architects Scottsdale, Arizona Honorable Mentions Sunshine and National Retail Center Dake Wells Architecture Christian Dior Myefski Architects Editors' Pick Grant Gallery Ted Porter Architecture The Culver Steps Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects Commercial — Office Winner 1000 Maine Avenue KPF FOX Architects Washington, D.C. Honorable Mentions 901 East Sixth Thoughtbarn Delineate Studio Solar Carve Studio Gang Editors' Pick American Express Sunrise Corporate Center Perkins and Will Interior — Workplace Winner HUSH Office Interior Inaba Williams and Kyle May New York City Honorable Mentions ShareCuse Architecture Office Vrbo Headquarters Rios Clementi Hale Studios Editors' Picks McDonald’s HQ Studio O+A Conga Headquarters DLR Group Interior — Institutional Winner Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School Great Hall Renovation tonic design Raleigh, North Carolina Honorable Mentions The Center for Fiction BKSK Architects The Children’s Library at Concourse House Michael K Chen Architecture Editors' Picks Countryside Community Church Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture Gordon Chapel Renovation, St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School MBB Interior — Retail Winner maharishi Tribeca Abruzzo Bodziak Architects New York City Honorable Mentions Malin+Goetz San Francisco Bernheimer Architecture Claus Porto New York tacklebox architecture Editors' Picks Notre Norman Kelley R13 Flagship Leong Leong Interior — Hospitality Winner Tamarindo Stayner Architects San Clemente, California Honorable Mentions All Square Architecture Office ROOST East Market Morris Adjmi Architects Editors' Picks Woodlark Hotel OFFICEUNTITLED The Fleur Room Rockwell Group Interior — Healthcare Winner Chelsea District Health Center Stephen Yablon Architecture New York City Honorable Mention Mount Sinai Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Perkins Eastman YPMD Pediatric Neurology Clinic Synthesis Design + Architecture Editors' Pick NEXUS Club New York Morris Adjmi Architects Restoration & Preservation Winner Owe'neh Bupingeh Preservation Project Atkin Olshin Schade Architects Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico Honorable Mentions Brant Foundation Art Building Gluckman Tang Avenue C Multi-Family Thoughtbarn Delineate Studio Editors' Picks Chicago Union Station Great Hall Restoration Goettsch Partners Boston City Hall Public Spaces Renovation Utile Healthcare Winner University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute Perkins and Will Cincinnati Honorable Mention Duke University Student Wellness Center Duda|Paine Architects MSK Nassau EwingCole Editor's Pick Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic Foster + Partners Tia Clinic Rockwell Group Interior — Residential Winner Michigan Loft Vladimir Radutny Architects Chicago Honorable Mention Inaba Williamsburg Penthouse Inaba Williams Gallatin House Workstead Editors' Picks Watermark House Barker Associates Architecture Office Lakeview Penthouse Wheeler Kearns Architects Residential — Single Unit Winner Glass Cabin atelierRISTING Iowa Honorable Mentions Bigwin Island Club Cabins MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Triple Barn House Mork Ulnes Architects Editors' Picks Ephemeral Edge Dean/Wolf Architects Manifold House David Jameson Architect Residential — Multiunit Winner 139 Schultz CPDA arquitectos Mexico City Honorable Mentions XS House ISA Origami Waechter Architecture Editors' Picks Solstice on the Park Studio Gang Bastion OJT Landscape — Residential Winner Malibu Overlook Stephen Billings Landscape Architecture & Michael Goorevich Malibu, California Honorable Mention Musician’s Garden Stephen Billings Landscape Architecture Landscape — Public Winner Josey Lake Park Clark Condon Cypress, Texas Honorable Mentions First Avenue Water Plaza SCAPE Landscape Architecture Pier 35 SHoP Architects Editors' Picks Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture Drexel Square West 8 & SHoP Architects Education Winner Cottonwood Experience Center Signal Architecture + Research Wasco, Oregon Honorable Mentions Club de Niños y Niñas Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica RISD Student Center WORKac Editors' Picks Santa Monica College Center for Media and Design + KCRW Media Center Clive Wilkinson Architects Cal Poly Pomona Student Services Building CO Architects Lighting — Outdoor Winner Lightweave FUTUREFORMS Washington D.C. Lighting - Indoor Winner TWA Hotel Beyer Blinder Belle Cooley Monato Studio New York City Building Renovation — Commercial Winner Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice Gensler New York City Honorable Mentions Apple Fifth Avenue Foster + Partners Avling Kitchen & Brewery LAMAS Editor's Picks Intelligentsia Bestor Architecture Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue MdeAS Architects Building Renovation — Civic Winner Keller Center Farr Associates Chicago Honorable Mention Centennial Planetarium Lemay + Toker Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art Sparano + Mooney Architecture Editors' Picks Oregon Conservation Center LEVER Architecture National Arts Centre Rejuvenation Diamond Schmitt Architects Building Renovation — Residential Winner Phillipsport Church House Architecture in Formation Wurtsboro, New York Honorable Mention 1/2 House NOW HERE Editors' Pick Case Room Geoffrey von Oeyen Design Adaptive Reuse Winner TWA Hotel Beyer Blinder Belle New York City Honorable Mentions Senate of Canada Building D Diamond Schmitt Architects Redfox Commons LEVER Architecture Editors' Picks Fifth Avenue Adaptive Re-use Inaba Williams 10 Jay Street ODA New York Temporary Installation Winner Soft Civic Bryony Roberts Studio Columbus, Indiana Honorable Mention Salvage Swings Somewhere Studio Editors' Picks Lawn for the National Building Museum Summer Block Party Rockwell Group Coshocton Ray Trace Behin Ha Design Studio New Materials Winner Grass House bld.us Washington, D.C. Honorable Mention Walking Assembly Matter Design & CEMEX Global R&D Digital Fabrication Winner Knitcandela Block Research Group, ETH Zürich & ZHCode, Zaha Hadid Architects Mexico City Architectural Representation Winner Support KEVIN HIRTH Co. New York City Honorable Mentions Other Medians Studio Ames Manual of Instructions NEMESTUDIO Editors' Picks Shaped Places of Carroll County New Hampshire EXTENTS Interim Urbanism: Youth, Dwelling, City N H D M Small Spaces Winner Small Wooden Pavilion MQ Architecture Garrison, New York Honorable Mentions Aesop Shaw DC David Jameson Architect Schaefer Residence Duo Dickinson Architect Student Work — Group Winner A Home for MJ Drury University Design-Build Program, Jordan Valley Community Health Center Springfield, Missouri Student Work — Individual Winner Museum/Park Design Alberto Arostegui, Savannah College of Art and Design Unbuilt — Urban Design Winner St. John's Park Ballman Khapalova New York City Honorable Mentions Pensacola Waterfront Framework SCAPE Landscape Architecture Pier 70 SITELAB urban studio Editors' Picks Chicago Transit Authority Damen Green Line Station Perkins and Will Boston Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines & Zoning Overlay District Utile Research Winner Delirious Facade LAMAS Honorable Mentions The Water Alert and Testing Resource (WALTER) Ennead Architects USModernist Masters and Library Databases USModernist Editors' Picks Sound Pavilion UNC Charlotte Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab Architectural Ecologies Lab Unbuilt — Residential Winner Ambrosia Gensler Los Angeles Honorable Mentions Little Berkeley Kevin Daly Architects Stump House PARA Project Editors' Picks Aqualuna 3XN Micro Unit Studio Ames Unbuilt — Interior Winner Life on Mars: From Feces to Food Lydia Kallipoliti Mars Honorable Mention The Renovation and Reuse of a Historic Granite Bank musumanoco Unbuilt - Commercial Winner Aurora Belzberg Architects Mexico City Honorable Mention Surf Entertainment Facility BLUR Workshop Editors' Picks Folded Wings Form4 Architecture Nanotronics Smart Factory Rogers Partners Unbuilt — Cultural Winner Arkansas Arts Center Studio Gang Little Rock, Arkansas Honorable Mentions Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History Studio Gang Terminal B Performance Venue Touloukian Touloukian Editors' Pick SynaCondo Studio ST Architects Unbuilt — Education Winner Otto Speech School Charles Rose Architects Chestnut Ridge, New York Honorable Mentions University of Arkansas Center for Farm and Food System Entrepreneurship University of Arkansas Community Design Center Church Hill North O’Neill McVoy Architects Editors' Picks Del Mar College Southside Campus Gensler Tecnano FGP Atelier Unbuilt — Green Building Winner Sendero Verde Handel Architects New York City Honorable Mention Coleridge Street Residences Touloukian Touloukian Unbuilt — Public Winner Adams Street Branch Library NADAAA Boston Honorable Mentions Northeast Bronx YMCA Marvel Architects 7Hills Homeless Day Center University of Arkansas Community Design Center Editors' Picks Memorial Garden for Victims of Gun Violence Svigals + Partners Bus Shelter Design for the City of Miami Beach Pininfarina Unbuilt — Landscape Winner Boston Children's Hospital Green Master Plan Mikyoung Kim Design Boston Honorable Mentions Tom Lee Park SCAPE Landscape Architecture and Studio Gang The Clearing: Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial SWA Group Editors' Picks Beaubien Woods Action Plan Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture Chicago South Lakefront Framework Plan SmithGroup A special thanks to our 2019 AN Best of Design Awards Jury! Jaffer Kolb, Cofounder, New Affiliates Sara Lopergolo, Partner, Selldorf Architects Carlos Madrid III, Associate Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Anne Rieselbach, Program Director, The Architectural League of New York Oana Stănescu, Founder, Oana Stănescu Studio
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
In most major cities of the world, an urban tech landscape has emerged. One day, we were working on our laptops at Starbucks, and the next, we were renting desks at WeWork. We embedded our small architectural and design firms in low-rent spaces in old factories and warehouses, and then we emerged as “TAMI” (technology, advertising, media, and information) tenants, heating up the commercial real estate market. Friends who could write computer code started businesses in their apartments before moving into tech incubators and accelerators, which then morphed into a “startup ecosystem.” Though a competitive city in the 1990s might only have had one cutely named cluster of startups—New York’s Silicon Alley, San Francisco’s Media Gulch—by the 2010s, many cities were building “innovation districts.” How did this happen? And what does it mean for these cities’ futures?
The simplest explanation is that cities are catching up to the digital economy. If computers and the web are one of the primary means of production for the 21st century, all cities need the infrastructure—broadband, connectivity, flexible office space—to support them. Companies that control the means of production also need raw material—the data that newly “smart” cities can provide—to develop concepts, test prototypes, and market their wares. Local governments and business leaders have always reshaped cities around the businesses that profit from new technology; In the 19th century, they built railroad stations, dug subway tunnels, and laid sewage pipes; in the 20th century, they wired for electricity and erected office towers. Maybe we should ask why it has taken cities so long to rebuild for digital technology.
Inertia is one answer, and money is another. Entrenched elites don’t readily change course, especially if a new economy would challenge their influence on local politics and labor markets. Think about the long dominance of the auto industry in Detroit and the financial industry in New York, both late converts to digital technologies like self-driving cars and electronic banking, respectively.
Another reason for cities’ slow awakening to the tech economy is the post–World War II prominence of suburban office parks and research centers, part of the mass suburbanization of American society. On the East Coast, tech talent began to migrate from cities in the early 1940s, when Bell Labs, the 20th-century engineering powerhouse, moved from Lower Manhattan to a large tract of land in suburban New Jersey. A few years later, on the West Coast, Stanford University and the technology company Varian Associates spearheaded the construction of an electronics research park on a university-owned site of orange groves that later became known as Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley got the lion’s share of postwar federal government grants and contracts from the military for microwave electronics innovation, missile research, and satellite communications. Venture capital (VC) soon followed. Although VC firms began in New York and Boston, by the 1960s and ’70s they were setting up shop in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Valley’s hegemony was solidified in the 1980s by the rise of the personal computer industry and the VCs who got rich by investing in it. The suburban tech landscape so artfully represented in popular mythology by Silicon Valley’s DIY garages and in physical reality by its expansive corporate campuses was both pragmatically persuasive and culturally pervasive. Its success rested on a triple helix of government, business, and university partnerships, defining an era from Fairchild, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard (the first wave of major digital technology companies) to Apple, Google, and Facebook.
In contrast to the suburban postwar growth of Silicon Valley, the urban tech landscape was propelled by the rise of software in the early 2000s and gained ground after the economic crisis of 2008. Software was easier and cheaper to develop than computers and silicon chips—it wasn’t tied to equipment or talent in big research universities. It was made for consumers. Most important, with the development of the iPhone and the subsequent explosion of social media platforms after 2007, software increasingly took the form of apps for mobile devices. This meant that software startups could be scaled, a crucial point for venture capital. For cities, however, the critical point was that anyone, anywhere, could be both an innovator and an entrepreneur.
The 2008 economic crisis plunged cities into a cascade of problems. Subprime mortgages cratered, leaving severely leveraged households and financial institutions adrift. Banks failed if they didn’t get United States government lifelines. Financial jobs at all levels disappeared; local tax revenues plummeted. While mayors understood that they had to end their dependence on the financial sector—a realization most keenly felt in New York—they also faced long-term shrinkage in manufacturing sectors and office vacancies.
London had already tried to counter deindustrialization with the Docklands solution: Waterfront land was redeveloped for new media and finance, and unused piers and warehouses were converted for cultural activities. In Spain, this strategy was taken further in the 1990s by the construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum and the clearing of old industrial plants from that city’s waterfront. By the early 2000s, Barcelona’s city government was building both a new cultural district and an “innovation district” for digital media, efforts that bore a striking resemblance to the 1990s market-led development of the new media district in Manhattan’s Silicon Alley and the growth of tech and creative offices in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood.
Until the economic crisis hit, both spontaneous and planned types of urban redevelopment were connected to the popular “creative city” model promoted by Charles Landry in London and Richard Florida in Pittsburgh (later, Toronto). In 2009, however, economic development officials wanted a model that could create more jobs. They seized on the trope of “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” that had been circulating around business schools since the 1980s, channeling the spirit of the economic historian Joseph Schumpeter and popularized in a best-selling book by that title by the management guru Peter Drucker. Adopted by researchers at the Brookings Institution, urban innovation districts would use public-private partnerships to create strategic concentrations of workspaces for digital industries. It seemed like a brilliant masterstroke to simultaneously address three crucial issues that kept mayors awake at night: investments, jobs, and unused, low-value buildings, and land.
In the absence of federal government funding, real estate developers would have to be creative. They built new projects with money from the city and state governments, the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program for foreign investors, and urban impact funding that flowed through investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Federal tax credits for renovating historic buildings and investing in high-poverty areas were important.
Though all major cities moved toward an “innovation economy” after 2009, New York’s 180-degree turn from finance to tech was the most dramatic. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and 2001, followed by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and an economic recession, initially kept the city from endorsing the uncertainty of tech again. Michael Bloomberg, mayor from 2001 to 2013, was a billionaire whose personal fortune and namesake company came from a fusion of finance and tech, most notably the Bloomberg terminal, a specially configured computer that brings real-time data to stock brokers’ and analysts’ desks. Yet, as late as 2007, Mayor Bloomberg, joined by New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer, promoted New York as the self-styled financial capital of the world, a city that would surely triumph over its only serious rival, London. The 2008 financial crisis crumpled this narrative and turned the Bloomberg administration toward tech.
By 2009, the city’s business elites believed that New York’s salvation depended on producing more software engineers. This consensus motivated the mayor and his economic development officials to build big, organizing a global competition for a university that could create a dynamic, postgraduate engineering campus in New York. Cornell Tech emerged as the winner, a partnership between Cornell University and the Israel Institute of Technology. Between 2014 and 2017, the new school recruited high-profile professors with experience in government research programs, university classrooms, and corporate labs. They created a slew of partnerships with the city’s major tech companies, and the resulting corporate-academic campus made Roosevelt Island New York’s only greenfield innovation district. Not coincidentally, the founding dean was elected to Amazon’s board of directors in 2016.
The Bloomberg administration also partnered with the city’s public and private universities, mainly the aggressively expanding New York University (NYU), to open incubators and accelerators for tech startups. After NYU merged with Polytechnic University, a historic engineering school in downtown Brooklyn, the Bloomberg administration made sure the new engineering school could lease the vacant former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority nearby, where NYU’s gut renovation created a giant tech center.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn waterfront was booming. The Brooklyn Navy Yard added advanced manufacturing tenants and art studios to its traditional mix of woodworking and metalworking shops, food processors, and suppliers of electronics parts, construction material, and office equipment, and began to both retrofit old machine shops for “green” manufacturing and build new office space. While tech and creative offices were running out of space in DUMBO, the heads of the downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO business improvement districts came up with the idea of marketing the whole area, with the Navy Yard, as “the Brooklyn Tech Triangle.” With rezoning, media buzz, and a strategic design plan, what began as a ploy to fill vacant downtown office buildings moved toward reality.
Established tech companies from Silicon Valley and elsewhere also inserted themselves into the urban landscape. Google opened a New York office for marketing and advertising in 2003 but expanded its engineering staff a few years later, buying first one, then two big buildings in Chelsea: an old Nabisco bakery and the massive former headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Facebook took AOL’s old offices in Greenwich Village. On the next block, IBM Watson occupied a new office building designed by Fumihiko Maki.
Jared Kushner’s brother, the tech investor Jonathan Kushner, joined two other developers to buy the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former headquarters and printing plant on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The developers converted the buildings into tech and creative offices and called the little district Dumbo Heights. By 2015, the growth of both venture capital investments and startups made New York the second-largest “startup ecosystem” in the world after Silicon Valley. Within the next three years, WeWork (now the We Company) surpassed Chase Bank branches as Manhattan’s largest commercial tenant.
All this development was both crystallized and crucified by Amazon’s decision to open half of a “second” North American headquarters (HQ2) in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, in 2018. Amazon organized a competition similar to the Bloomberg contest that resulted in Cornell Tech, but in this case, the contest was a bidding war between 238 cities that offered tax credits, help with land assemblage, and zoning dispensations in return for 50,000 tech jobs that the company promised to create. But in announcing its selection, Amazon divided the new headquarters in two, supposedly placing half the jobs in New York and the other half in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Many New Yorkers erupted in protest rather than celebration.
The amount of tax credits offered to the very highly valued tech titan, almost $3 billion in total, appeared to rob the city of funding for its drastic needs: fixing the antiquated subway system, repairing the aging public housing stock, and building affordable housing. The decision-making process, tightly controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, enraged New York City Council members, none of whom had been given a role in either negotiating or modifying the deal. The deal itself was closely supervised by New York State’s Economic Development Corporation behind closed doors, without any provision for public input or approval.
Housing prices in Long Island City rose as soon as the deal was announced. A city economic development representative admitted that perhaps half of the jobs at HQ2 would not be high-paying tech jobs, but in human resources and support services. In a final, painful blow, Amazon promised to create only 30 jobs for nearly 7,000 residents of Queensbridge Houses, the nearby public housing project that is the largest in the nation.
Amazon representatives fanned their opponents’ fury at public hearings held by the New York City Council. They said the company would not remain neutral if employees wanted to unionize, and they refused to offer to renegotiate any part of the deal. Opponents also protested the company’s other business practices, especially the sale of facial recognition technology to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Yet surveys showed that most registered New York City voters supported the Amazon deal, with an even higher percentage of supporters among Blacks and Latinos. Reflecting the prospect of job opportunities, construction workers championed the deal while retail workers opposed it. The governor and mayor defended the subsidies as an investment in jobs. Not coincidentally, Amazon planned to rent one million square feet of vacant space in One Court Square, the former Citigroup Building in Long Island City, before building a new campus on the waterfront that would be connected by ferry to Cornell Tech.
After two months of relentless, vocal criticism, in a mounting wave of national resentment against Big Tech, Amazon withdrew from the deal. Elected officials blamed each other, as well as a misinformed, misguided public for losing the economic development opportunity of a lifetime.
Yet it wasn’t clear that landing a tech titan like Amazon would spread benefits broadly in New York City. A big tech company could suck talent and capital from the local ecosystem, deny homegrown startups room to expand, and employ only a small number of “natives.”
From San Francisco to Seattle to New York, complaints about tech companies’ effect on cities center on privatization and gentrification. In San Francisco, private buses ferry highly paid Google workers from their homes in the city to the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, green space and cafes in the Mid-Market neighborhood proliferate to serve Twitter employees and other members of the technorati, low-income Latinos from the Mission district are displaced by astronomical rents—all of these factors stir resentment about Big Tech taking over. In Seattle, Amazon’s pressure on the city council to rescind a tax on big businesses to help pay for homeless shelters also aroused critics’ ire. Until recently, moreover, tech titans have been unwilling to support affordable housing in the very markets their high incomes roil: East Palo Alto and Menlo Park in California, and Redmond, Washington.
It remains to be seen whether urban innovation districts will all be viable, and whether they will spread wealth or instead create highly localized, unsustainable bubbles. Venture capital is already concentrated in a small number of cities and in a very few ZIP codes within these cities. According to the MIT economist David Autor, although the best “work of the future” is expanding, it is concentrated in only a few superstar cities and only represents 5 percent of all U.S. jobs.
Yet urban tech landscapes emerge from a powerful triple helix reminiscent of Silicon Valley. Elected officials promise jobs, venture capitalists and big companies make investments, and real estate developers get paid. Though these landscapes glitter brightly compared to the dead spaces they replace, they don’t offer broad participation in planning change or the equitable sharing of rewards.
Sharon Zukin is a Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and is author of the forthcoming book The Innovation Complex: Cities, Tech, and the New Economy.
Monumental Gains for Women
Brooklyn is slated to erect two statues in honor of Shirley Chisholm
Council Member Cornegy’s move to commemorate Chisholm’s work is part of a community cultural initiative aimed at highlighting people of color who’ve specifically influenced the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, where Chisholm grew up, and northern Crown Heights. This statue, unveiled in a maquette, will be designed by renowned artist Sterling Brown, Jr., in conjunction with the Crown Heights North Association. It’s set to be installed by July 2019 in Brower Park by the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, a two-mile walk from the larger, Olmsted Vaux–designed Prospect Park. Hers will be one of four statues that honor some of the community’s iconic leaders. Once erected, Chisholm’s monuments will make her the city’s fifth female figure to be memorialized in bronze or stone. The Department of Parks announced in August that suffragette leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony will receive a statue together in Central Park next fall.
“As Brooklyn’s Backyard, we are deeply honored to welcome this important monument to a true Brooklyn hero, Shirley Chisholm,” said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. Full story: https://t.co/KuraIK8e2O#SheBuiltNYC pic.twitter.com/KDd6w0qGXw— Prospect Park (@prospect_park) November 30, 2018