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Newseum News!

Ennead to transform its Newseum building for Johns Hopkins University

Ennead Architects, the New York-based firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership, will team up with SmithGroup to redevelop the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. for Johns Hopkins University. The Baltimore-based university announced its plans to purchase the building from the nonprofit Freedom Forum earlier this year for $372.5 million. Johns Hopkins will consolidate its existing real estate holdings in the city at the new offshoot building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which will host various academic and administrative initiatives.

Ennead is an appropriate choice to head the project for obvious reasons. Led by architect James Polshek, the firm designed the current Newseum building before changing its name from Polshek Partnership in 2010. Opened in 2008, the building has several distinct features, including a 75-foot-tall marble slab engraved with an excerpt from the First Amendment. A so-called “window on the world” also occupies the structure’s Pennsylvania Avenue frontage, allowing for views between the street, the National Mall, and visitors inside the museum. Ennead has handled multiple high-profile museum projects around the world, such as the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ennead submitted initial drawings for the major remodeling to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) on July 3. Before construction can begin, the commission must provide informal feedback and officially approve of the final design. The filing sent to the CFA indicates that certain aspects of the building’s facade will change. The marble tablet with the excerpt from the Constitution, as well as the newspaper headlines that line the avenue, will be removed. The entrance will be reimagined as more transparent and open. Due to boundary line regulations on Pennsylvania Avenue, though, much of the structure’s original massing will remain in place.

The interior will undergo a significant transformation as well. The university has announced plans to reconfigure floor slabs and circulation within the building—currently, much of the museum is positioned around a large, multistory central void. With more than 400,000 square feet of floor space available inside, the facility will house classrooms, offices, and event spaces that will be open to the public. No plans for alterations to the 135-unit Newseum Residences have been released.

As for the Newseum itself, administrators at Freedom Forum have not yet announced where the museum will move. After years of serious budget deficits, the institution will close temporarily at the end of 2019. Employees will work out of a provisional office in Washington until a new home is found. Hopkins has suggested that construction on its facility could begin as early as 2020, and as late as 2023, with no estimated completion date.

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Out of Season

Investors blame Isay Weinfeld’s design for the closing of the new Four Seasons Restaurant
The iconic new Four Seasons Restaurant has officially closed after reopening less than 10 months ago and following a $32 million renovation. In 2016 the original and much-venerated restaurant was forced to relocate because the owner, Aby Rosen, would not renew its lease. Now, investors are reportedly pointing fingers at design flaws as the cause of failure. The original restaurant was located in Mies van der Rohe’s New York-renowned Seagram Building. The interior, designed by Philip Johnson, remained nearly unchanged since 1959, and in 1989 it received an interior landmark designation from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Four Seasons Restaurant carries hefty, modernist roots, although, in recent years, Rosen has been caught trying to make changes to the space without prior approval from the LPC. With the guidance of architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld was selected to design the restaurant's new home at 42 East 49th Street. A New York Post article claims that, according to unnamed sources behind the scenes, the restaurant's well-heeled investors are blaming its failure on two private dining areas on the second floor that were supposed to attract high dollar events. The article names large columns, blocked views, "disagreeable" furniture, and construction delays as design-related issues leading up to the restaurant's demise. Meanwhile, owner Alex von Bidder mentioned to the New York Times that he, “thought the new restaurant was great, looked great and had a great team in place.” Nevertheless, investors made the decision to close. AN reached out to Isay Weinfeld for comment and received the following response: “I could not be prouder of our designs for the Four Seasons Restaurant. But I respect all opinions, including the silly ones.” The restaurant is owned by Alex von Bidder and members of the Bronfman family, and previously Julian Niccolini. In the same year that the restaurant announced its move, Niccolini pleaded guilty to sexual assault but remained a co-owner. Since the re-opening and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, critics and the public have scrutinized the restaurant for still involving Niccolini. In December 2018 he was finally forced to resign.
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Go Long

Barry Bergdoll showcases a new wave of modern architecture on Long Island
The “North Fork” of Long Island, from the town of Riverhead to Orient Point at the eastern tip, is one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the New York region. A peninsula jutting out into Long Island Sound, it is the last place where one can still find open space devoted to farming, alongside fresh and saltwater inlets, bays, and ponds in the state. It also has a unique regional style of cedar shingled “Cape” homes and handsome pine potato barns that date back to the 18th century. But North Fork is also home to a handful of modernist post-World War II summer homes, that have remained largely unknown in comparison to those in the Hamptons, it’s more glamorous neighbor across the Peconic Bay. Now, thanks to Columbia Art History Professor and ex-MoMA architecture curator Barry Bergdoll, the story of modern architecture on the peninsula will be better known. Somehow Bergdoll found the time last year to stage A New Wave of Modern Architecture, a small but alluring exhibition on the region’s post-war modern architectural history. Now, the exhibit has moved six miles east to the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, New York, and Bergdoll has added to the show’s survey of contemporary housing and expanded our understanding of the region’s architectural uniqueness. He begins with the area’s fascinating early history of artists who gathered around the legendary art dealer, Betty Parsons, who came to the area in the 1950s. Parsons commissioned the architect-slash-sculptor Tony Smith to build a guest house and studio above the Long Island Sound. He designed a pavilion fronting the sound out of large railroad ties. He then designed and built a house for Abstract Expressionist painter Theodoros Stamos in 1951. For Stamos, Bergdoll writes, “Smith designed a dramatically innovative variant on the American timber frame house, elevating a single-story space sandwiched between two trusses, one upside down to create a large open floor plan. Elevated off the ground, the house’s living space afforded sweeping views over Long Island Sound from its bluff-top site.” Finally, he points to the double pavilion house Charles Moore designed for Simone Swan in 1975, a few houses away from Parson’s home, as an influence to newer designs. This second exhibition highlights a number of new houses, including a modest but beautiful wood-shingled Peconic bayside house by Toshiko Mori, and a TTC passive house designed by Wayne Turett on a back lot in Greenport, New York. But Bergdoll’s most insightful addition to the show is his description of what makes the area’s modern houses unique. He points to the North Fork’s environmentally sensitive farm and wetland landscape as an influence in the innovative new houses being constructed “with structural openness” and elevated platforms capable of capturing views of the landscape. This modest little show identifies a singular new style evolving just a few hours east of New York. The exhibit is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, as well as Saturdays from 11:00 am through 5:00 pm. Admission is free.
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City of Design

First-ever Detroit City of Design Competition brings kinetic energy generators and a nap room
Detroit is known as the birthplace of Motown and techno, lauded for its thick pizzas and Coney dogs, and scrutinized as a decadent example of urbanism under late capitalism. For better or worse, the city and its reputation fascinates city-fixers, attracts artists, and galvanizes community action. Some Detroiters hope to spin a different kind of change with the first-ever Detroit City of Design Competition, an event that will bring three winning installations to select city neighborhoods. Designers from the 31 UNESCO Cities of Design, a designation bestowed by the United Nations' UNESCO on urban areas with distinctive design cultures, were asked by neighborhood organization to design "solutions" (a loaded mandate) to boost safety and walkability in Hope Village, Southwest Detroit, and Grandmont Rosedale. A jury of locals, city officials, and designers from elsewhere chose installations from Detroit's SmithGroup; Detroit's Other Work, and Montreal's Collectif Escargo. Design Core Detroit, an organization that promotes design as economic development, spearheaded the competition. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contributed funding for the initiative. "Urban spaces have a tendency to become hard and cold if left unattended," said Caitlin Marcon, deputy director of Complete Streets at the Detroit Department of Public Works, in a press release. "Durable materials that meet our need for longevity sometimes do not spark our desires for beauty. These prototypes harness the creative and softer qualities we seek while being functional for street life and gathering." The projects will debut in September during the Detroit Month of Design and will be relocated to their chosen neighborhoods in April 2020. Each winner received $20,000 to design and build their prototype. Take a look at the images below to learn more about the selected designs. All quotes are designers' statements from the media release: Cyclerate SmithGroup Hope Village "Cyclerate aims to enhance public safety through unity, lighting, communication, and play. The installation, which lights up using kinetic energy generated by hand-powered cranks and stationary bike generators, encourages the community to work together to illuminate the structure. Participants can also engage in a friendly competition with one another to identify who can produce the greatest power output on the cycles. Expect to be surprised by the power produced through real-time statistics. The installation currently features LED lighting, Bluetooth speakers, and USB power charging stations. With its built-in expansion capability, the scalable structure can accommodate additional cycles, componentry, and lighting." Garden Novella Other Work Southwest Detroit "Garden Novella is a platform to express cultural, collective, and individual identity. It weaves together recorded stories from Southwest residents to serve as a guide through a modular system of welcoming vessels. Sun-powered lanterns, hanging gardens, seating, and the recorded stories combine to create an interactive environment. The featured stories express the double consciousness experienced by many in the Southwest community; they aim to connect generations, repair the damage caused by repatriation and explore the process of translation in a bilingual community." 3Rooms Collectif Escargo Grandmont Rosedale
"3Rooms consists of three spaces that are intimately linked to the world of the house—simultaneously conveying a sense of belonging and celebrating the beauty of united communities. The first 'room' is 'LeJardin' (The Garden), where the community is invited to participate in agriculture. 'Le Boudoir' is for nap lovers, readers and anyone who desires [siq] a rest in the shade of fruit trees. Finally, 'The Hut' features a steeper incline, making it a perfect spot for anyone who wants to be a little more playful. Each module lights up in the evening with a soft glow, functioning as a fireplace in the middle of the neighborhood. The hue alternates from red, blue, mauve or multicolored. 3Rooms is a safe cocoon for improvised gatherings. Like a poetic metaphor of the surrounding houses, it is merry, bright, colorful and full of life."
In a statement, Olga Stella, executive director of Detroit Design Core, noted the project's potential impact: "We are inspired by the innovation presented in the winners and finalists and the way they demonstrate the value of design to the community. We hope these installations will peak [siq] the interest of private and public groups to commission the winning design teams to create permanent fixtures in these and other neighborhoods.”
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The Bigger Picture

Mapping Community unveils how public buildings get built in NYC
A new exhibition now on view at the Center for Architecture explains how money moves across New York’s public building sector. It’s a complex system that, if you’re not directly involved in it, can seem unnecessarily confusing and slow. Mapping Community: Public Investment in NYC demystifies how things like libraries, schools, and parks pop up, as well as the players behind them. Curated by Faith Rose, former executive director of the NYC Public Design Commission, and David Burney, professor of urban placemaking management at the Pratt Institute, the showcase walks viewers step-by-step through the process of capital planning. It’s spread out over two floors and utilizes a very clear and graphic layout so that the information is distilled to the audience in a digestible yet still visually distinctive manner.  “No one entity is responsible for the entire process, and even people deeply involved in one part aren’t always aware what the other pieces entail,” said Rose in a statement. “I don’t believe there has ever been an exhibition that tracks the mechanisms of capital planning from start to finish.”  There probably hasn’t.  That’s likely because New York City boasts one of the largest local government systems in the United States and its beast-of-a-procurement-process is less than transparent. But things are changing and this big-picture view of the “ecosystem of agencies” involved reveals the work it takes to make tangible improvements to the city. This knowledge, for better or for worse, arguably gives a viewer (or in this case, a local resident), the agency to insert themselves into the planning process and help shape their own neighborhood.  To communicate the complexity of the subject, the curators pieced together an in-depth look into one public project per borough, separated by typology, and detailed the planning process at the community level. One of those case studies centers on Essex Crossing, the massive, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A contentious construction project from the start, it was once an empty six-acre lot but now houses everything from luxury condos by SHoP Architects, to an affordable housing complex by Beyer Blinder Belle, a senior living community by Dattner Architects, and the newly-opened Essex Market.  This part of the exhibition tells the story of how Manhattan Community Board 3 and other local organizations fought over a series of negotiations with the NYC Economic Development Corporation, as well as the site’s developer, to get a new K-8 school in the program. Here, it explains why the Department of Education has currently decided not to move forward with building a new school. It also reveals how local needs in other areas can affect capital projects.  Whether it was the right thing to do or not, garnering this information allows locals and exhibition audiences to better understand how the 1.9-million-square-foot Essex Crossing has come to be, what its future may look like, and how they can have a say in that. According to Hayes Slade, 2019 AIANY President and principal of Slade Architecture, that’s the key to improving the city. “New Yorkers should feel empowered to be part of community-building,” she said, “and that is only possible if they are knowledgeable of the process.” Mapping Community will be on view through August 31. 
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Future Fellows

Knight Foundation announces its first class of Public Spaces Fellows
Seven influential leaders, experts, and practitioners have been selected for the inaugural class of Knight Public Spaces Fellows. Launched this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a non-profit committed to fostering community in service of democratic ideals, the program will grant each individual $150,000 to put towards building effective public space initiatives around the United States. Selected from an open call that drew of over 2,000 candidates, the Knight Fellows stood out for their track records of influencing or creating spaces that advance community engagement and connection in cities. Sam Gill, the Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact, describes the individuals recognized in this inaugural class, saying in a statement, “These rare people see something different when they look at streets, parks, and sidewalks—they see a vision of how our communities could look, feel, and be different.” Knight has expressed a desire for their chosen nominees to incorporate and build upon their existing and former projects, while also using the fellowship to break ground on new projects and ideas for the field. Check out the list of seven recipients below:  Anuj Gupta (Philadelphia) As general manager of Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia's famous 125-year-old food and retail hub, Gupta has helped bring a record number of visitors to the space in his tenure. He's integrated innovation distribution models for service, selected new and trendy vendors, and figured out special ways to keep people coming back to the market. He's widely recognized for his initiatives that connect people of different cultures through food.  Robert Hammond (New York) Hammond is the cofounder and executive director of the High Line on Manhattan's West Side. A vision that began 20 years ago, it's now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city and has spurred a wave of development in the Chelsea neighborhood. In 2017, he established the High Line Network, which assists communities in the infrastructure reuse projects.  Walter Hood (Berkeley, California) Widely known for designing award-winning urban spaces for cultural institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Broad Museum, and the Solar Strand at the University of Buffalo, Hood creates projects that intersect with art, fabrication, landscape, research, and urbanism. He's a professor at the University of California, Berkley where he teaches landscape architecture and urban design, and is the founder and creative director of Hood Design Studio Eric Klinenberg (New York) As the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science at New York University, Klinenberg thinks and teaches on urban public spaces. He most recently served as research director of Rebuild by Design, the federal competition that sought innovative ideas for rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Last year, he published “Palaces for the People”, a book about how social infrastructure such as libraries, parks, and playgrounds can revitalize democratic culture and civic life. Chelina Odbert (Los Angeles) Odbert is co-founder and executive director of Kounkuey Design Initiative, a nonprofit design firm based out of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley, Nairobi, and Stockholm. Her studio heavily focuses on community participation and its role in public development, as well as how design can integrate the strongest environmental, social, and economic strategies to help solve inequity.  Kathryn Ott Lovell (Philadelphia) Lovel currently serves as the commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, one of the nation's largest parks systems. Appointed in 2016, she established the first strategic plan for the agency, "Our Path to 2020," which emphasizes citizen-centric service, a commitment to the city's well-maintained assets, and creating relevant and accessible programming such as the Parks on Tap mobile beer garden, and the Philadelphia International Unity Cup soccer tournament, among others.  Erin Salazar (San Jose, California) Salazar is the founder and executive director of Exhibition District in San Jose, a woman-owned and operated arts nonprofit that's helping create economic opportunities for artists to do work in downtown San Jose. A muralist herself, she is committed to city beautification and redefining the concept of public space while also drawing out the cultural authenticity of a city that's rapidly urbanizing and full of large corporations. Most recently, Exhibition District started Local Color, an incubator project that reactivates neglected buildings. 
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Slate-d for Greatness

Junya Ishigami reveals completed Serpentine Pavilion
Junya Ishigami’s sinuous stone 2019 Serpentine Pavilion is now complete and will open to the public this Friday, June 21, on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery in east London. Ishigami worked closely with AECOM to design a lightweight, open-ended structure that floats a canopy of slate tiles above an occupiable void. Ishigami, the fourth Japanese architect to be tapped for a Serpentine commission since 2000, has designed a structure meant to evoke the feeling of wandering into a cave or forest as an extension of the natural landscape that complements the traditional architecture of the Serpentine Galleries. Sixty-seven tons of slate were used to create a swooping shingle roof that references a traditional building material found worldwide as well as natural rock formations. The triangular pavilion curves downwards at the corners and visitors can enter through the uplifted middle sections, imbuing the roof with a “billowing” motion. Inside, a forest of white columns has been randomly distributed and once open, the pavilion will be filled with simple tables and chairs designed by Ishigami. This year’s Serpentine Pavilion will be open to the public from June 21 through October 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Serpentine Gallery will be staging its usual site-specific movie screenings, dances, written work, art, and dance as part of its Summer at the Serpentine series. Of course, if you’ve been following the news, this year’s pavilion hasn’t been without its share of drama. The discovery that Ishigami + Associates was requiring its interns to work 13-hour days, six a week for free (on top of having to supply their own equipment) set off a fervor online, and the Serpentine Gallery ordered the studio to pay anyone who was working on the pavilion. The controversy doesn’t end there. Just this morning, the head of the Serpentine Galleries, Yana Peel, resigned, one week after the Guardian revealed that Peel co-owns the Israeli tech firm NSO Group, which licenses out spyware used to crack down on protestors and dissidents around the world. The Serpentine Galleries released the following statement this morning, lauding Peel’s tenure: “Yana leaves the Serpentine Galleries deeply grounded in its mission to provide both established and emerging artists with a dynamic platform to showcase their work, and well-positioned to thrive. While we have every confidence in the Serpentine’s ability to continue to serve artists, visitors, and supporters in the future, she will be sorely missed. The arts sector will be poorer without her immeasurable contributions to our cultural lives.”
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Weld-To-Do

Beleaguered Transbay Transit Center to reopen in July
Nine months after cracks were discovered in two structural steel beams of the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects–designed Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, the transit hub will finally reopen on July 1. However, busses won’t roll through the $2.2 billion terminal until the end of the summer; at first, only the 5.4-acre rooftop park will be open to the public. The repair plan announced in January appears to have worked, and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the building was declared safe by a panel of engineers yesterday. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which covers the entirety of the San Francisco Bay Area, had determined that welding access holes in the two cracked beams had been incorrectly cut during construction, resulting in stress fractures. After the city paid $6 million in testing and $2.5 million a month in security for the closed center, contractors decided to reinforce the two affected beams, and two untouched beams they connect to, with steel plates. Although the three-block-long transit center is safe to occupy again, the interior was stripped during the repairs and workers need more time to reinstall the ceiling and column coverings. Bus drivers, who had previously been picking up and dropping off passengers at a satellite terminal on Folsom Street a block away will need to be retrained as well. So in the meantime, fitness classes will resume on the transit center’s roof and pedestrians can once again explore the park. Still, there’s no news on the progress to bring rail to the complex’s basement, which was built to accommodate high-speed trains but remains empty. No timeline or budget has been agreed upon for a BART and Caltrain extension to the Transbay Transit Center, although politicians and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the independent agency responsible for bringing rail to the station, have agreed upon the need to do so.
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Carpet Diem

Miniature undulating cityscape comes to Madison Square Park
Manhattan’s Madison Square Park has opened its 38th outdoor installation to the public today, dropping an evocative, interactive “cityscape” from sculptor Leonardo Drew into the park that will stay up until December 15. The 100-plus-foot-long City in the Grass stands as a solitary statement on its own but also makes ample reference to the city surrounding it, including the Empire State Building, which looms over the park. The piece is a tapestry of colors, textures, and materials that simultaneously evokes growth, comfort, ruins, and intimacy on the park’s Oval Lawn. Three stepped spires, the tallest of which tops out at 16 feet, anchor City in the Grass and are an obvious allusion to the Empire State Building to the north. Each spire is made from a mixture of plaster and latex paint, and Drew says that their eclectic appearance is a reference to Cuba’s dilapidated hotels, where peeling paint reveals the underlying structure. Surrounding each spire is an abstracted landscape of black and white wood offcuts of varying heights, reminiscent of buildings, but without a specific reference. These urban islands “float” in between waves of steel panels adorned in colored sand and patterned after Persian carpet designs, literalizing the “ebb and flow” of urban life through peaks and valleys. The peeling, layered look of the carpet, complete with holes and seams that let the grass below poke through, is meant to evoke the feeling of a familiar, well-worn home item. While the piece may look like it was assembled from found materials, Drew was quick to point out that he doesn’t use found objects; every piece and tear is deliberate. Drew is typically known for his wall pieces and City in the Grass is his first outdoor public installation. Appropriately enough, the piece is meant to encourage public interaction. While City in the Grass might look fragile, visitors are encouraged to sit, stand on, and explore it from every angle (just don’t climb on the spires). City in the Grass was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. As the exhibition will remain up throughout the fall and winter, visitors can experience the materials weathering in real time in response to the natural landscape around it.
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Beyond Stonewall

Six LGBTQ-related sites could be landmarked in New York City
Six sites significant to LGBTQ history have been calendared by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), a significant step towards formal landmark designation. The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street; the Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th Street; the Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street; the James Baldwin Residence at 137 West 71st Street; and the Audre Lorde Residence at 207 Saint Paul’s Avenue on Staten Island are all one step closer to greater protection. This official calendarization arrived four years after the groundbreaking 2015 designation of the Stonewall Inn, the long-standing Greenwich Village gay bar that witnessed the 1969 Stonewall riots, as an official New York landmark. However, this official protection came nearly a half-century after the riots immortalized the bar, illuminating the tepid pace at which the LPC has moved to acknowledge LGBTQ-related landmarks. This month's calendaring could be seen as a response to this, spearheaded by activists and advocates who see the potential for progress through the landmarking process. Many pioneers are encapsulated in the selections—Caffe Cino is considered a hotbed of early gay theater, and both James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, whose homes were recognized, revolutionized the possibilities for gay people of color. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, also known as The Center, has been a vital meeting place since the early days of the AIDS crisis. While many of these spaces are no longer actively serving their original purposes, the physical spaces are visual reminders of the struggles for justice that so many faced, and continue to face, today.  Now that the calendar process has been completed, the next step for the Commission is to hold a hearing on June 4, where the general public can testify before commission members. A formal vote will follow.
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The Weight of Sacrifice

National WWI Memorial moves ahead with controversial Pershing Park plan
Years ago, Frank Gehry asked sculptor Sabin Howard to help him design a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. Though the job didn’t pan out for “stylistic reasons,” Howard said, it planted the seed that grew his interest in creating commemorative spaces. “I proved to have too much of an opinion,” Howard told AN. “I said to Frank, ‘Look, do you want me to be your in-house sculptor or you want me to tell you what I really think?’ He goes, ‘Shoot,” and I said, “Well it looks like you designed the Natural History Museum here.” Had he taken the job, Howard would have been engulfed in what’s turned out to be a two-decade-long controversial battle to get the memorial built ahead of the 2020 Victory in Europe Day. While he didn’t end up on this monumental project in the nation's capital, he did venture into the complexities of another. This spring, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) approved Howard’s sculptural contribution to the upcoming National WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, a 1.76-acre landscape set along Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. Designed by Joseph Weishaar,The Weight of Sacrifice” is the result of another two-decade controversial effort to pay tribute to an often overlooked period of history. A Soldier’s Journey, Howard’s massive, 60-foot-long, 10-foot-high bronze figure sculpture, will be the centerpiece of the renovated landscape, and a major component of the project that took years for preservationists and the U.S. government to sign off on. “As an entire team, we struggled with the urban context at the beginning,” said Weishaar, who was selected for the project just a few years after graduating from the University of Arkansas’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in 2013. “Where do you draw the boundaries between urban park and memorial?” This was one of the biggest questions that needed to be answered. Unlike most major war memorials in Washington, D.C., this one is not located on the National Mall, though in late 2017 it was hoping to be moved there. It’s slated for Pershing Park, steps away from the White House. Opened in May 1981, the park was an instant success, featuring a design by award-winning landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. Among its most distinctive features is a monumental fountain that flows into a pond that becomes an ice rink every winter, protected by subtle grade changes from the surrounding hustle and bustle. In recent years, the revered landscape had begun suffering from neglect and underuse. The new plan to restore 95 percent of the protected urban park has been met with major contention, despite the efforts of Weishaar and The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, the group created in 2012 to fundraise and lobby for the project, to respect the site’s historic legacy and help it stand out. “We want to recapture some of the energy the park had when it was first completed and then overlay this new design element of the memorial so that it won’t take away from the landscape,” Weishaar said. “If you make memorials too big and too oppressive, then that’s all anybody can focus on. They won’t sit there and eat their lunch. They’ll always feel like they have to be reverent.”
Everything visible in current renderings of the memorial is the result of several redesigns, all to make the architectural intervention smaller and smaller. Since Weishaar’s design was selected out of 360 entries in January 2016, he’s reworked the scheme to appease preservation groups as well as the CFA, National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service. Though the largest addition to Pershing Park will be the memorial sculpture itself, not everyone is satisfied with the final look. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), has both testified before the CFA and submitted a letter to NPS about his concerns. “I’m about as glass-half-full on this as I could probably be, but I’m proud of the public process that TCLF participated in,” he told AN. “At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that the central water feature will not remain and I still believe that having a wall of this length and height will significantly alter the visual and spatial relationship between the upper and lower plazas.” Weishaar’s plan integrates water as a focal point but has significantly reduced the size of the park's existing water feature to allow people to walk up close to the relief sculpture—a moment on the site that Howard was keen on highlighting. The story unfolds before the viewer’s eyes—a person of average height will see the knees of the figures straight on. “I want people to have a visceral reaction to this,” Howard said. “It reads like a film.” Though the sculpture seems traditional, Howard utilized a contemporary process called photogrammetry to create it. He took images with his cell phone of actors portraying scenes from wartime and then combined the individual shots to find the pattern that would create the best flow for the visual story. It took him 12 versions, done over nine months, to determine the final relief. From there, he spent 700 hours over two months drawing a detailed mock-up of the piece. “For this part, I wasn’t even sculpting,” Howard said. “I was creating a hierarchical construction, a system of design that we could break down to do the sculpture quickly.” This kind of commission, he said, is something that would have taken him 15 years to complete, but he’s been charged with doing it in four. He begins sculpting in August now that nearly all approvals have gone through, and he'll be working with the Pangolin Editions sculpture foundry in England to assemble the figure molds. “I’m trying to be as disruptive as possible,” Howard said. “I never thought my career would take this kind of turn into using tech to create classical figurative art, but I don’t think I can go back now.” As for the potential collaboration with Gehry, Howard's not sure where that journey would have taken him. In working with Weishaar, however, he's impressed himself with the lengths at which he and the design team have been willing to go to make this memorial happen.  “To me, art is not democratic,” he said. “But the park is. I was very stubborn with the sculpture design, but Joseph had to be very flexible with the landscape.” When Weishaar submitted his design for the commission, he was just 25 years old, about the average age of a soldier who fought in the war. While making his proposal, he learned more about the history of WWI than he ever did in grade school, he said. It's become his mission—and his job—to spread the word.  “Not only are we turning this park into a memorial, we’re also putting both the landscape and the war back on the map and on the minds of people.” Originally, the National WWI Memorial was supposed to be completed by November 2018 ahead of the war's centennial. Now, the project is estimated to be done in late 2021, pending fundraising. The design team will meet with the CFA again this summer to further discuss the site plan.
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Re-Imagining the Modern

New book grapples with ambitious, contentious moment in Pittsburgh’s urban history
Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Rami el Samahy, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo The Monacelli Press List Price: $50.00 In times of cynicism, revisiting more optimistic moments in architecture can conjure mixed emotions. Mid-century architects, designers, and planners exuded the optimistic belief that architecture and design could solve social ills worldwide—a spirit celebrated in recent exhibitions of Latin America and Yugoslavia at MoMA, and new books on Miami’s modernism. In a new book, Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance (Monacelli Press), Rami el Samahy, Chis Grimley, and Michael Kubo paint a vivid picture of the mixed emotions evoked by the changing urban landscape in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city heralded as a role model of rustbelt reinvention. The book functions as an introduction to a complex moment in the city’s history, looking at Pittsburgh as a case study in a broader moment of urban renewal in many U.S. cities. Pittsburgh was deemed “the Mecca of urban renewal” in Architectural Forum in 1957, and yet Imagining the Modern is the first book to chronicle the city’s modernist history in a comprehensive way. The book emerged from a 2015–2016 curatorial experiment at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center, overseen by curator Raymund Ryan. Ryan invited the book’s authors, principles of the Boston-based studio OverUnder, to be architects-in-residence in the museum and explore Pittsburgh’s contentious relationship to urban renewal in an exhibition. The trio went to great lengths to dig up photography, publications, ephemera, and other documents around five Pittsburgh neighborhoods and projects: Gateway Center, the Lower Hill, Allegheny Center, East Liberty, and Oakland. The exhibition’s walls were plastered with unsung gems from local archives, and a series of panel discussions affiliated with the exhibition added to the cacophony of voices measuring the legacy of urban renewal and how architects ought to respond. Imagining the Modern distills this rich material in a manageable way, in the spirit of the authors’ reappraisal of Boston’s mid-century concrete, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (Monacelli Press). Their new book specifically deals with the built and imagined architectural transformations of Pittsburgh in the 1950s and ‘60s, and with even a quick flip through the book one can see the changing urban fabric of the city. Imagining the Modern includes a wonderful array of high-quality images and well-designed diagrams—from archival documents to photographs to city maps, the stunning visual display is captivating and invites the reader to explore “the manifold ways in which the modern was imagined in Pittsburgh.” Imagining the Modern offers several modes of engagement rather than taking a strong position on Pittsburgh’s modern legacy. Scholars Kelly Hutzell, Caroline Constant, and Martin Aurand provide historical context and analysis for the development of Pittsburgh’s urban form and infrastructure. The book includes a series of diagrams entitled “Modern Networks” by Aurand that map the extensive networks of public and private entities that commissioned local modern architecture. The diagrams reflect the complexity of the patronage that funded this “Pittsburgh Renaissance;” one could spend hours trying to decipher the often confusing lines between architects, buildings (both built and unbuilt), commissions, and patrons. At the heart of the book are archival documents, which the authors present as evidence for readers to arrive at their own conclusions. A section of the book is devoted to reproductions of excerpts from two “Visionary Documents” that outlined the challenges for modernist designers to solve—pollution, traffic congestion, housing, parking, urban blight—while also suggesting ways to remedy such issues through architecture and design. Imagining the Modern goes on to show readers how plans for Pittsburgh neighborhoods and infrastructure were marketed, sometimes successfully, to respond to these issues through superlatives and dazzling renderings. Pittsburgh positioned itself as a “Cinderella City,” as a headline put it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 30, 1953: “Ridiculed, scorned and snubbed for over a century and a half, Pittsburgh throws off her pall to become the ‘City of Tomorrow.’” As steel production left the region and factories closed in the 1950s and ‘60s, dazzling buildings of mid-century modern buildings by leading architects rose with a zeal unfathomable today. Harrison & Abramovitz, Mitchell & Ritchey, Simonds & Simonds, and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), to name a few, all built memorable works in Pittsburgh around this time. Imagining the Modern shows the development of the city’s most iconic buildings alongside ambitious plans that remain unbuilt, including one scheme that proposed filling the Oakland neighborhood’s Panther Hollow ravine with a mile-long research facility to bridge the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Rather than allowing the beautiful architectural renderings and photography to simply seduce the reader—which, occasionally, they do—Imagining the Modern also shows a collection of excerpts from the architectural and popular press responding to these proposals. The book juxtaposes the cheerleading coverage of The Pittsburgh Press alongside the coordinated, albeit unsuccessful, campaign by The Pittsburgh Courier to thwart plans for the displacement of thousands of mostly Black residents of the Lower Hill. The book’s photography also humanizes the actors on both sides of the city’s transformation, with moving images of people designing, building, debating, celebrating, protesting, photographing, and using the new works. Refreshingly, the book complexifies the role of architects in this transformative moment as well. Interviews and works by Troy West, for example, show that architects weren’t only the handmaidens of the powerful—his teaching and collaborative practices, which he operated as Architecture 2001 and Community Design Associates, offered an alternative model to the top-down design and planning approaches that often mar the legacy of postwar design. Instead of staking claims about the history of Pittsburgh’s modernism, Imagining the Modern showcases the debate that optimistic work by designers and planners continue to provoke. At a time when cities across the U.S. are working tirelessly to reverse the effects of urban renewal—understood as a pseudonym for “Negro removal,” as Dr. Mindy Fullilove suggests in her book Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, And What We Can Do About It—this book asks readers to take a closer look at a few urban visions through a mix of historical essays, sexy images, riotous press clippings, enlightening diagrams, insightful interviews, and informative project descriptions that offer everyone an entry into a fraught urban and architectural moment.