The Hudson River Park Trust has announced Manhattan’s first public beach. The nonprofit group has tapped James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to transform the disused Gansevoort Peninsula (the site of the old salt shed) into a 5.5-acre park and beach in the Hudson River. The jagged track of land sits just west of the Whitney Museum, at the southern terminus of another JCFO project, the High Line. The renovation will turn the vacant plot into a public park, complete with a beach—though the Trust admits that it won’t be open for swimming, likely because of the Hudson’s poor water quality. The new park will also be a buffer for storm surges and flooding and will be the largest green space in the entire Hudson River Park once complete. Gansevoort Peninsula sits adjacent to where artist David Hammons’ ethereal recreation of the demolished Pier 52, Day’s End, will rise in stainless steel, and the Trust has pledged that the work will be integrated into the future park. That’s not all—the Trust is overseeing a suite of new projects up and down the western coast of Manhattan. Pier 55, the Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects–designed island—park financed by billionaire Barry Diller—is rising just north of Day’s End on top of sculptural concrete caps. Down the coast is the ongoing $30 million renovation of Pier 26, which OLIN is transforming into an ecology center. Rafael Viñoly Architects is also building a two-story education center nearby. So far, $152 million has already been raised for the Trust's combined projects via air rights sales, and private, state, and city funding will be used to reach the required $900 million. The Trust will be soliciting feedback from the public and Community Board 2 before finalizing the revamped Gansevoort Peninsula's design and beginning construction in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the park and beach are slated to open in 2022.
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Snøhetta’s Upper West Side skyscraper may have its permits revoked
New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has fired a shot across the bow of developer Extell Development over 50 West 66th Street, a Snøhetta-designed 775-foot-tall tower first revealed at the end of 2017. The 127-unit residential tower, which was first announced as a 262-foot-tall building in 2015, has used a contentious zoning tactic to boost the building’s height, and accordingly, the prices it can command. The middle of the tower includes a 160-foot-tall mechanical void that does not completely count towards the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) defined by the zoning code. While the Department of City Planning had claimed that it would close the loophole in the zoning code responsible for these so-called "towers on stilts" by the end of 2018, that deadline has come and gone. The city now expects to finalize their fix by the summer of 2019. Although the DOB had already greenlit construction at 50 West 66th Street, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced today that Extell has 15 days to go back the drawing board and remove the unnecessary height. If Extell doesn't, its construction permit would be revoked. “This is a victory not only for the Upper West Side, but for communities all over the city that find themselves outgunned by developers who try to bend or break zoning rules for massive private profit,” wrote Brewer in a statement. A number of Upper West Side residents and City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal have been outspoken opponents of the project, which, if built, would become the tallest building in the neighborhood. It remains to be seen if Brewer’s decision will carry a precedent for similar projects that have gained extra height by stacking their mechanical rooms—a tactic also employed by the piston-like Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed tower at 249 East 62nd Street.
In 2014, a year after I graduated from architecture school, I read Karrie Jacobs’s Fast Company piece on Nicole Dosso, “The Tallest Tower in the U.S. is Being Built by a Woman.” A perfect title, a perfect piece. In it, Jacobs wasn’t describing Dosso as a “female architect” or as a “woman in architecture.” She simply stated that the tallest tower is being built by a woman, period. As a 23-year-old female starting out in her career, I was energized and in awe of Dosso, and my peers who weren’t in architecture were too. It was a breath of fresh air, a moment of strength. Another example is a recent New York Times article titled, “Architecture is No Longer Just a Gentlemen’s Profession.” Precisely. These are the types of headlines and stories we need. Last Saturday’s New York Times op-ed, “Where Are All the Female Architects?” was not titled to advance our cause. The piece did talk about redefining success since there’s often a limited view of what being an architect means. But its headline, along with a slew of others lately asking where are the female architects, adds to the misleading narrative that there are none out there. It’s a negative story to suggest because there are truly so many. It’s time to change this narrative. I no longer want to hear people asking, “Where are all the women architects?” or saying, “I can’t name five female architects.” I’ve published interviews with 50 women on my platform Madame Architect who build, design, or otherwise advance the practice of architecture, and I’ve spoken to even more. We need to listen to them, write about them, amplify them, and support them in combating the issues our industry faces in order to change this situation.
Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories.Yes, we need to call out the systemic issues in the industry that are perpetuated time and time again and prevent many women from rising through the ranks. They need to be discussed and approached thoughtfully. But why not show what the redefinition of success looks like by writing about the myriad women who are doing exceptional, sensitive, and important work while simultaneously running businesses, acting as caregivers, and making time to mentor? To me, that is the beginning of change. Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories. Show their successes, their reinventions of practices, and how they forged their own paths. Take Andrea Simitch, who leads the nation’s top-ranked undergraduate architecture program, or Nina Freedman, the former “secret wing” to Shigeru Ban and founder of Dreamland Creative Projects. There is also Sylvia Smith, senior partner at FXCollaborative, who started and oversees the firm’s award-winning cultural and educational practice, as well as Sandra McKee, who spearheaded Rafael Viñoly’s Tokyo International Forum but now owns her own international studio and hosts ArchiteXX’s mentorship sessions. Younger women are also emerging as leaders in the field. Elyse Marks, a restoration architect, rope-access technician, and marathoner, defies gender norms every day while hanging hundreds of feet in the air, while Alda Ly, one of the co-founders of MASS Design Group, runs her own practice working with entrepreneurs and startups like The Wing. Danei Cesario is raising two girls while traveling to speak on industry equity and diversity, while Isabel Oyuela-Bonzani introduces architecture to high school students.
There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted.There are also countless women I’ve met who may not build, but advance the practice and advocate for the value of architecture and architects, like critic Alexandra Lange, public relations expert Tami Hausman, strategist Ashley Bryan, and activist Jessica Myers. These women show there are different types of success at all levels that deserve to be celebrated and talked about. There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted. Good architecture now has a broader definition, and we can be more inclusive in showcasing the architecture that addresses the issues facing society today. I should also note that the women I’ve called out in this article are all based in New York. Since I live and work full-time here, these are the architects with whom I can have meaningful, intimate, face-to-face conversations. Of course, I am trying to profile more women located elsewhere in the country and around the world. But just imagine: If there are so many unique stories held within a singular city, there must be countless architects out there doing fascinating work that we need to acknowledge. In last week’s New York Times op-ed, writer Allison Arieff quoted Caroline James, a graduate of Harvard’s architecture program and founder of the advocacy group Design for Equality. James told Arieff that it’s “time to ID the problem and what we need to do moving forward” by giving women the tools they can use to succeed, such as mentorship and access to information. This is exactly my goal for Madame Architect, and the same spirit drives other organizations like ArchiteXX, Rebel Architette, Equity by Design, and Girl Uninterrupted. We should also start early by speaking and listening to students, asking them what questions they have, what resources they’ll need, and what kinds of mentors they want. When I was studying at Cornell, I read Toshiko Mori’s newly-released monograph and remember focusing on the following words which have since fueled my attitude toward my career: “Architects cannot be defeated by disappointments. The profession requires mental strength, good health, and especially a strong stomach. An unlimited amount of optimism, a healthy dose of idealism, and high energy and high spirits help us to persevere through difficult circumstances.” This industry is tough and we need to infuse it with this kind of motivation. We need a strong start in 2019 where we can mobilize, spread knowledge, build community, and support men and women alike within architecture. I don’t believe this is the only solution, but this moment is a new beginning. So let’s write about these women—these architects—in the way that Karrie wrote about Nicole. We are not missing and we will no longer be hidden. Julia Gamolina is the founder and editor of Madame Architect. She also currently handles business development at FXCollaborative.
Pompidou and Circumstance
Richard Rogers wins the 2019 AIA Gold Medal
Lord Richard Rogers, honorary FAIA, has been awarded the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2019 Gold Medal, the highest honor the institution offers. In recognizing the English architect's storied career, which spans more than 50 years, the AIA singled out Rogers’s Centre Pompidou in Paris (a collaboration with Renzo Piano), whose massive popularity kickstarted the high-tech style. The cultural complex was praised for its functional transparency and rejection of monumentality, hallmarks of Rogers’s that the AIA notes continued throughout his career. Rogers’s continued commitment to solving social, urban, and environmental issues through design, and his political activism were also praised. His continued impact on the skyline of London and New York, and approach to human-oriented urbanism, were singled out by the jury in particular as well. “He is the quintessential builder, committed to mastering the craft and technology of construction, harnessing it towards efficient buildings, and forging an expressive architectural language,” wrote Moshe Safdie, in a show of support for Rogers’s nomination. “Before it was fashionable, he was an environmentalist, who recognized early in his career the challenges of energy and climate, developing innovative solutions.” “Richard Rogers is a friend, a companion of adventures and life,” wrote Piano, who also supported Rogers’s nomination. “He also happens to be a great architect, and much more than that. He is a planner attracted by the complexity of cities and the fragility of earth; a humanist curious about everything (from art to music, people, communities, and food); an inexhaustible explorer of the world. And there is one more thing he could be: a poet.” Rogers has seen his fair share of awards, including the 2007 Pritzker, a RIBA Gold Medal in 1985, and a RIBA Stirling prize in both 2006 and 2009. The AIA jury was composed of the following members: Kelly M. Hayes-McAlonie, FAIA, Chair, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York Dan Hart, FAIA, Parkhill Smith & Cooper, Inc., Midland, Texas Lori Krejci, AIA, Avant Architects, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska Dr. Pamela R. Moran, Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Virginia Antoine Predock, FAIA, Antoine Predock Architects, Albuquerque, New Mexico David B. Richards, FAIA, Rossetti, Detroit, Michigan Emily A. Roush-Elliott, AIA, Delta DB, Greenwood, Mississippi Rafael Viñoly, AIA, LMN Architects, Seattle, Washington
Twelve firms are in the running to design a massive expansion to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Last week, teams from Santiago Calatrava, SOM, Bjarke Ingels Group, and more submitted their qualifications ahead of the city’s Thursday deadline to secure a bid, according to The Chicago Tribune. The $8.7-billion addition, known at O’Hare 21, will replace Terminal 2 with a global terminal and concourse that will cater to domestic and international flights from United and American Airlines. Two additional satellite concourses will be built out during construction as well. The top two firms chosen after an extensive review process by the Department of Aviation will be awarded design contracts for the new global terminal and satellite concourses respectively. O’Hare 21 is the airport’s first major architectural undertaking in 25 years and will expand its total terminal area from 5.5 million to 8.9 million square feet. The chance to design a gateway project for an airport of this size is a huge win for any firm. Many of the studios that submitted proposals already have both large-scale and small-scale airport projects on their resume: Calatrava (Bilbao), Fentress Architects (Denver), Studio Fuksas (Shenzhen), and SOM (Mumbai, Singapore). O’Hare’s own Terminal 1 was designed in 1986 by Jahn, which has also entered the race. Other high-wattage firms are forming joint ventures with local architects to win the competition. Foster + Partners is working with JGMA and Epstein, while Rafael Viñoly Architects is teaming up with Goettsch Partners. Studio Gang has an even larger team under its belt that includes STL Architects and Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Global firms HOK and Gensler are also in the mix, running on their own. According to the Tribune, securing the architects to design the O’Hare expansion is a critical job Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes to have done before leaving office in May. The city expects to finish the multi-phase project by 2026.
What is New England architecture?
New England might not garner the attention that other places get for contemporary architecture, but the region has a legacy of world-class architecture, including some great works of modernism. Two iconic monuments of modern architecture in America are in New England—Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard and Alvar Aalto’s Baker House at MIT—along with seminal late-modern buildings such as Boston City Hall and the Yale Center for British Art. Today, many contemporary design stars have built structures across New England, including Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron, Michael Hopkins, Renzo Piano, Charles Correa, Fumihiko Maki, and Tadao Ando. The finalists for a competition for a new contemporary art museum on Boston’s waterfront included Switzerland’s Peter Zumthor and Studio Granda from Iceland. The only local firm considered for the museum was the then relatively young Office dA; principals Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de León went on to fame as architectural educators beyond Boston. Although not unique to New England, the whole mentality of "if-you-are-good-you-must-be-from-somewhere-else" is found here. As one might expect, Boston is the center of most architectural activity in the region. Yet, despite a heroic postwar age of Brutalism, too much contemporary architecture barely rises above the level of commercial real estate. With the exception of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art and David Hacin’s District Hall, much of the frantic new downtown construction features the kind of glass boxes that pierce city skylines from Dubai to Shanghai. The city’s embarrassingly named Innovation District (often called the Inundation District due to its propensity for flooding) is scaleless, overbearing, and disconnected from the soul of Boston. OMA’s new scheme for the area—which the architects gratuitously refer to as “a dynamic and vibrant area that is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting neighborhoods and destinations in the country”—is an 18-story glass cube with the dreary moniker of 88 Seaport Boulevard. One might have hoped for more from OMA’s first Boston commission. The block will offer almost half a billion square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of retail, and a paltry 5,000 square feet for civic and cultural use. Its gimmick is slicing the building into two sections with some terracing and plantings sandwiched in between. OMA disingenuously claims this double-volume exercise “creates diverse typologies for diverse industries,” and furthermore “generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domain.” In short, Boston will get an off-the-shelf dystopian nightmare. However, the Engineering Research Center at Brown University by KieranTimberlake is not just another knockoff. Although flush from the controversial but triumphant U.S. Embassy in London, the Philadelphians’ latest New England project is what good contemporary architecture ought to be. The $88-million, 80,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom building is both understated and environmentally responsible. Its 22 pristine labs steer the Ivy League school into uncharted territory in nano research, energy studies, and information technology. The ERC is a triumph, especially given Brown’s decades of struggle to find an appropriate contemporary architectural voice. Recent work on the Providence campus includes an international relations institute by Rafael Viñoly—the design of which was dumbed down to mollify historic preservationists; a tepid Maya Lin sculpture; and an awkwardly sited Diller Scofidio + Renfro art center that was commissioned to show that Brown could do trendy and edgy. These common missteps are best exemplified by the university’s first competition for an athletic center. Although the competition was officially won by SHoP, the donor sponsoring it declared his dislike of modern architecture and demanded the school hire Robert A.M. Stern instead. The cutesy Georgian result is predictably bland. The ERC was ahead of schedule and under budget, and rather than treating Rhode Islanders as rubes, the architects created what Stephen Kieran calls “a nice piece of Providence urbanism.” While the firm’s great strength is diminishing the environmental impact of their buildings, the ERC also contributes a handsome facade to the campus’s traditional buildings. The fiberglass-reinforced concrete fins, the building’s signature element, impose a timeless probity worthy of Schinkel. If KieranTimberlake grows weary of being identified as the designers of the $1-billion embassy that Trump slammed as “lousy and horrible,” imagine how tired Tod Williams and Billie Tsien must be of consistently being tagged with the label “designers of the Obama Library.” Is a client choosing them because of the reflected fame? Will all new works by the New York-based architects be measured against that Chicago shrine? Yet Williams and Tsien have created a number of noteworthy academic works in New England that deserve similar attention, including buildings at Bennington and Dartmouth. Their theater and dance building at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, is almost complete. Here, the very long shadow is not cast by the architects’ own projects, but by Louis Kahn’s library across campus. Kahn’s brick tribute to 19th-century Yankee mills—and the symmetry of Georgian style—is one of the great pieces of architecture in New England. The big block of the drama building by Williams and Tsien wisely does not choose to echo Kahn but is curiously almost a throwback to the early Brutalism of I. M. Pei. It establishes a more rugged character with a marvelous texture composed of gray Roman bricks. A more satisfying Granite State structure by Williams and Tsien is a library, archives, and exhibition complex at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. MacDowell is a century-old artists’ colony where thousands of painters, writers, and musicians, including James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Willa Cather, have sought quiet and isolation in a collection of rustic cabins in the woods. Thornton Wilder wrote his classic play Our Town during his time here. Williams and Tsien’s sensitive addition to the colony’s 1920s library is only 3,000 square feet, cost around $2 million, and is an exquisitely crafted gem. The single-story library is constructed of a nearly black granite. Set in a birch grove created by the leading modern landscape architects in Boston, Reed Hilderbrand, this gathering place for residents appears at one with the rocky soil and forests of Northern New England. A 23-foot-tall outdoor chimney flanking the entrance plaza to the library makes reference to the hearths in all of the MacDowell studios. It also looks like a primitive stele, giving the entire ensemble an aspect that is more primal than modern. Another prominent New York architect, Toshiko Mori, has produced a simple yet elegant warehouse for an art museum in the faded seaport and art destination of Rockland, Maine. Built to house a long-time contemporary art cooperative that had no permanent collection and only inadequate facilities for exhibitions and classes, the saw-toothed clerestories at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) make reference to New England factories while bringing in what the architect calls “that special Maine light.” Like those functional structures, Mori used economical, non-custom materials such as plasterboard and corrugated zinc that wrap the exterior, embracing the lack of funds to her advantage. Despite the nod to Rockland’s working class vibe, Mori created a thoughtfully wrought sophisticated work of art on an unremarkable side street. Mori’s Japanese heritage comes through in her subtle proportions based on a 4-foot grid. The CMCA offers a refreshing contrast to extravagantly costly new museums by superstar architects—the 11,000-square-foot arts center cost only $3.5 million. Mori has crafted a museum based on flexibility rather than attitude. A summer resident of nearby North Haven, she endowed her simple statement with an air of Yankee frugality. But perhaps the most encouraging new project is the $52-million John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A cooperative venture of three departments in three different colleges—architecture, landscape, and building technology—the autumn-hued, aluminum-wrapped school embodies the dynamic spirit of New England’s first publicly supported architecture program. The 87,000-square-foot studio and administrative space is the work of Boston–based Leers Weinzapfel and landscape designer Stephen Stimson, with contributions from the faculty-cum-clients. Construction Technology chair Alexander Schreyer, for example, a guru of heavy-timber structural systems, helped fashion what is perhaps the largest wood-frame building on the East Coast. The zipper trusses that span the 84-by-56-foot, two-story-high common area demonstrate the inventiveness of wood technology. The glulam trusses arrived on-site precut and were snapped together with pins. In short, the academic contributors got to show off their research and also benefit from it. In a region noted for some of the nation’s oldest and most renowned design schools, the Design Building announces the arrival of the new kid on the block. Its handsome envelope is pierced by asymmetrically placed tall and narrow fenestration as a nod to the doors of the tobacco barns that are the university’s neighbors in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley. From its roots as a fledgling offering in the art department in the early 1970s, design education at UMass has grown into a powerhouse. As the core of a complex of postwar and contemporary architecture, the Design Building helps to bring Roche Dinkeloo’s Brutalist Fine Arts Center into contact with a business school designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). While BIG’s work is sometimes incredibly innovative, the firm’s UMass project looks as if it might be another example of a second-tier work foisted on a boondocks location. Less flashy than its newer neighbor, Leers Weinzapfel’s Design Building is nonetheless a bold, homegrown achievement. New England’s patrimony is a tapestry of local and outside talent. A significant regional building would not be a postmodern structure in the shape of a lighthouse or a neotraditional re-creation of a Richardson library, but something like the UMass studios. Capturing the spirit of the best of New England design depends little upon reputation and huge expenditure. Rather, there is a direct correlation between realizing a quality work of art and understanding the region’s history of wresting a hard-won life from the granite earth. The challenge for successfully practicing architecture in New England is accepting an uncompromising intellectual toughness that demands respect for the eminently practical as well as the aspirational.
31 Days of Architecture
Archtober is almost here! Check out the Building of the Day schedule
It’s nearly the most architectural time of the year! Archtober, New York City’s annual architecture and design month organized by the Center for Architecture, is just around the corner, believe it or not, and the lineup of archi-activities this season is not to be missed. Now in its eighth year, Archtober will celebrate the influence of the design industry through exhibitions, films, lectures, conferences, and the architect-led Building of the Day tours, which grant visitors unique access to the city’s coolest projects. The first site this year is One John Street by Alloy, a new 130,000-square-foot residential property on the DUMBO waterfront. Perched next to the Manhattan Bridge, the 12-story building boasts unmatched views. You won’t want to miss your chance to get inside one of these apartments. You can also peruse the freshly-renovated TWA Hotel, or check out the brand new WeWork space inside S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 (the current talk of the town). You can also revel in the engineering feat that is The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. Sales for all tours begin today. You can purchase tickets via the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule of sites to see: Oct. 1 One John Street Architect: Alloy Oct. 2 Lenox Hill Health Greenwich Village Original Architect: Albert Ledner; Renovation Architect: Perkins Eastman Oct. 3 Domino Park Architect: James Corner Field Operations Oct. 4 Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Architect: Polshek Partnership/Ennead Oct. 5 Swiss Institute Architect: Selldorf Architects Oct. 6 TWA Hotel Original Architect: Eero Saarinen; Renovation Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle, Lubrano Ciavarra Architect Oct. 7 BSE Global Architect: TPG Architecture Oct. 8 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library Architect: Marble Fairbanks Oct. 9 Five Manhattan West Architect: REX Oct. 10 Bronx River Arts Center Architect: Sage and Coombe Architects Oct. 11 277 Fifth Avenue Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects Oct. 12 The Marcel Breuer Buildings at Bronx Community College Architect: Marcel Breuer Oct. 15 Hayes Theater Architect: Rockwell Group Oct. 16 R & Company Architect: wHY Architecture Oct. 17 Dock 72 Architect: S9 Architecture Oct. 18 Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO) Oct. 19 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden and Water Conservation Project Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Oct. 20 100 East 53rd Street Architect: Foster + Partners Oct. 21 Kew Gardens Hills Library Architect: WORKac Oct. 22 Spyscape Museum Architect: Adjaye Associates Oct. 23 Manhattanville Campus Plan: Jerome L. Green Science Center (Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute) and The University Forum Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Davis Brody Bond LLP (Jerome L. Green Science Center) Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Dattner Architects (The Forum) Oct. 24 325 Kent Avenue Architect: SHoP Oct. 25 Sculpture Studio Architect: Andrew Berman Architect Oct. 26 The Shed Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group Oct. 26 Alice Austen House Original Architect Unknown Oct. 28 Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Architecture, Exhibition Design, Landscape Architecture: Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects (Architect of Record), the Wildlife Conservation Society - Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department, and The Portico Group Oct. 29 African Burial Ground Monument Architects: Rodney Leon / AARRIS Architects Oct. 30 123 Melrose Architect: ODA New York Oct. 31 Hunters Point South Architect: WEISS/MANFREDI View all programming on Archtober.org.
The first-ever “Hat Party on the High Line” event drew a rowdy crowd of art, culture, fashion, and architecture aficionados to the elevated park last night courtesy of the Friends of the High Line, with proceeds going to support the park’s continued operation and atmosphere of inclusivity. The night was sponsored by a huge host committee made up of some of architecture’s biggest names (including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, BIG, James Corner Field Operations, Zaha Hadid Architects, Rafael Viñoly Architects, and more) and hosted by Diane von Furstenberg. Perhaps the biggest draw was the 9:00 PM hat contest, where guests strutted their stuff on a runway in front of judges Alan Cumming, Aki Sasamoto, Florent Morellet, Charles Renfro, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, and Vi Vacious and Acid Betty from RuPaul's Drag Race. Partygoers rose to the challenge and presented their wildest hats, most of them inspired by the plant life and views of the High Line, to raucous applause. While BIG debuted a twisting-tower hat reminiscent of their High Line-topping XI, Zaha Hadid Architects 3D printed a swooping blue and white hat reminiscent of the curves found at 520 West 28th, and other studios including SOM and DS+R all competed to take home the crown. Ultimately the night was won by Vinayak Portonovo of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), seen modeling the studio’s contribution; a glitzy take on PAU’s plan for the new Penn Station.
The AIA Conference on Architecture is just around the corner, from June 21 to 23 at the Javits Center in New York City. To add to the excitement, the city will be bustling with architecture events and exhibits, including at MoMA PS1, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the Van Alen Institute. Here are our editors' highlights for the week. 1) MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St. (Midtown) June 18 6:00–8:00 pm. Free. RSVPs required* www.momaps1.org Exhibition reception for 2018 Young Architects Program, featuring finalists LeCAVALIER R+D, FreelandBuck, BairBalliet, and OFICINAA. The winning scheme Hide & Seek by Dream The Combine (Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers), opens to the public June 26. Opening reception, limited space. 2) Night at the Museums Various locations June 19 4:00–8:00 pm. Free. NightattheMuseums.org Fourteen Lower Manhattan museums open their doors, free of charge, as part of this annual event. Visit the Skyscraper Museum, African Burial Ground, Museum of Jewish Heritage, South Street Seaport Museum, National 9/11 Memorial, and others. 3) Architecture Books Opening Reception Storefront for Art and Architecture 97 Kenmare St. (SoHo) June 19 7:00–9:00 pm. Free. Storefrontnews.org Now on display at the legendary Steven Holl and Vito Acconci–designed gallery, selection of 100 fundamental books, selected by a jury, based on Storefront’s Global Survey of Architecture Books. On June 26, Storefront will host a conference at the New York Public Library Main Branch (6:30–8:30 pm, free), featuring prominent architects. 4) Solstice: 24x24x24 Storefront for Art and Architecture 97 Kenmare St. (SoHo) June 20–June 21 Storefrontnews.org Making the most of the longest day of the year, 24x24x24 brings together 24 designers to shape a day of programming and contribute a seat for a collective gathering during the summer solstice. From dawn until dusk, 24x24x24 is an experiment in collective production in design, action, and thinking. 24x24x24 is collectively organized and curated by a group of architects who will be taking over Storefront for Art and Architecture from 7pm on June 20 to 7pm on June 21. 5) Mind the Gap: Improving Urban Mobility Through Science and Design Van Alen Institute 30 West 22nd St. (Flatiron) June 20 6:30–8:30 pm. Free. VanAlen.org An examination of how populations move through cities, using tools and methods from neuroscience and behavioral psychology. Organized by the Van Alen Institute. AN’s very own Assistant Editor Jonathan Hilburg will moderate the discussion. 6) Summer Solstice Aperitivo Vitra 100 Gansevoort St. (Meatpacking District) June 21 4:00-8:00 pm. Free with RSVP* aiany.org Toast the summer solstice with Vitra and Skyline Design. Aperitivi, live DJ, and special exhibitions. 7) Architecture League Prize 2018: Night 1 Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Parsons School of Design 66 Fifth Ave. (Greenwich Village) June 21 7:00–9:00 pm. $10 for non-members. RSVP required* ArchLeague.org Lectures by the winners of the Architectural League’s prestigious annual prize, recognizing the nation’s top young architects: Gabriel Cueller & Athar Mufreh, Coryn Kempster, and Bryony Roberts. Followed by reception 8) Modulightor Building Open House 246 East 58th St. (Midtown) June 22 6:00–9:00 pm. $15. RSVP required* modulightor.com Tour Paul Rudolph’s stunning four-story glass townhouse. 9) Infrastructure: The Architecture Lobby National Think-In Javits Center 655 W 34th St, New York June 22 7:00 am–7:00 pm Prime Produce 424 W 54th St (between 9th and 10th aves) June 23 10:00 am – 7:00pm This Think-In is divided into two parts over two days: active engagement with relevant sessions at the AIA National convention to ensure substantive dialogues on professional issues on Friday, June 22; and Think-In panel discussions on Saturday, June 23 at Prime Produce that examine the theme of Infrastructure. Infrastructure is the network of systems necessary for an organization to function. When those systems are degraded enough, the defining functions of the organization fail. The Architecture Lobby has selected this theme for its first National Think-In to generate a way forward and rebuild our discipline’s infrastructure. 10) Architecture League Prize 2018: Night 2 Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Parsons School of Design 66 Fifth Ave. (Greenwich Village) June 22 7:00–9:00 pm. $10 for non-members. RSVP required* ArchLeague.org Lectures by winners of the Architectural League’s prize: Anya Sirota, Alison Von Glinow & Lap Chi Kwong, and Dan Spiegel. 11) A’18 Community Service Day Various locations Check-in: Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia Place 7:30 am–6:00 pm; reception 6:00–8:00 pm aiany.org/a18 Looking for a meaningful way to spend the last day of conference? AIANY encourages you to volunteer for a half or full day of work that will benefit local nonprofits. Roll up your sleeps and pitch in on projects that range from upgrading a church kitchen, fixing a shelter’s community room, working a mobile farmer’s market in an underserved community, and installing infrastructure at a school’s educational outdoor garden. Volunteers will have the chance to make a real difference for these organizations and the people they serve, and see parts of New York City that they might not otherwise visit. Collaborating firms include: Cannon Design and Stalco Construction, James Wagman Architect, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects, FXCollaborative, Perkins Eastman, and 1100 Architect. Participants must sign up in advance. 12) Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries Parsons School of Design 66 Fifth Ave. (Greenwich Village) June 22–23 12:00–6:00 pm. Free. ArchLeague.org Exhibition featuring the 2018 winners of this prestigious prize program. This year’s theme, Objective, asked entrants to consider objectivity and criteria by which architecture might be judged today. 13) Panorama of the City of New York Queens Museum Flushing Meadows Corona Park Ongoing QueensMuseum.org Conceived by urban mastermind and World’s Fair President Robert Moses for the 1964 Fair, the Panorama is a 1:1200 scale model of New York City, covering 469 acres and including hundreds of thousands individually crafted buildings. In 1992, the original modelmaker updated the Panorama while the museum underwent its expansion, designed by Rafael Viñoly. 14) New York at Its Core: 400 Years of NYC History Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave. (Upper East Side) Ongoing MCNY.org What made New York New York? Follow the story of the city’s rise from a striving Dutch village to today’s “Capital of the World.” Framed around themes of money, density, diversity, and creativity, the city delves into its past and invites visitors to propose visions for its future. 15) Designing Waste: Strategies for a Zero Waste City Center for Architecture 536 La Guardia Place (Greenwich village) Through September 1 CenterforArchitecture.org Waste is a design problem. This show presents strategies for architects, designers, and building professionals to help divert waste from landfills. Curator Andrew Blum will lead tours of the exhibition on Friday, June 22, 10:00–11:00 am, and Saturday, June 23, 11:00 am–12:00 pm. This exhibition is based on the Zero Waste Design Guidelines and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Text by AIA City Guide, Storefront for Art and Architecture and AN.
Rafael Viñoly Architects recently released new renderings for the renovation of 787 Eleventh Avenue. The renderings show how the large industrial building is revamped into an array of car showroom and office spaces for Packard Motor Company. The renovation of the historic building along 11th and 12th Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen was originally announced in 2016. Located in proximity to the iconic Via 57 West, Mercedes House and Hudson Yards, the Rafael Viñoly-designed edifice will be a new addition to the already crowded architectural scene. It will add to Manhattan Midtown’s westward expansion to the Hudson River. The existing eight-story Art Deco building was originally designed by the late Albert Kahn in 1927. Viñoly’s renovation adds two upper floors to the building. The new ninth and tenth floors recedes from the periphery of the building to produce an uninterrupted private outdoor green terrace.The lower floors will remain a car showroom and contain service areas, while the upper floors will become commercial office space to accommodate the expanded workforce. Viñoly envisions a work environment with upgrades such as a 12,000-square-foot green roof deck. The roof was originally allocated as employee parking, which is now moved to the basement. In the original structure, widely spaced columns support one-acre-large floor slabs, which permit open office layouts. To further enlarge the volumes of spaces, the seventh floor slab is removed to create a double-height office. Other features of the new design include the renovation of the facade, the ground-floor entrance, the building lobby and modern infrastructure. The architects will install floor to ceiling windows as large as ten feet by ten feet to allow for better lighting into the offices, as well as expanded views to the city and the river.
As Christopher Hawthorne moves on from the Los Angeles Times and as new forms of criticism proliferate, we asked the architecture community what the role of the critic is today, and what it might be missing. What do you see as the role of the critic in architecture today? Why is it important? What aspects of architecture are not being addressed today by critics? What are the problems with criticism today? Here are the responses we received from critics across the country and abroad. This article was originally published in our May print issue. Stay tuned for further perspectives from practitioners, emerging architects, and scholars. Mark Lamster The architecture critic of The Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. His biography of Philip Johnson, The Man in the Glass House, will be out this November. “I think there was a sense, in the 1990s and early aughts, that criticism had become too absorbed with signature buildings by the architectural jet-set, mainly because that was what was coming out of the New York Times under Herbert Muschamp. But over the last decade or so, the field has expanded to address a broad spectrum of urban issues, as it should if it’s going to keep the public engaged. The irony here is that the backlash to the era of ‘starchitecture’ (and I hate that term) has meant a certain vilification of and disregard for the discipline. So I think it’s important to celebrate quality architecture and to make clear how important it is to making places that can improve people’s lives every day.” Alexandra Lange The architecture critic for Curbed. Her newest book is The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Creates Independent Kids. “These questions, and this debate, make me tired. What other critics are asked to justify their existence time and again? I believe my work is valuable, and I choose to believe an ‘architecture critic’ can write about almost anything at the intersection of design and the public. The problems of criticism are the problems of journalism: lack of resources, a flocking to the popular, and lack of diversity.” Witold Rybczynski Architecture critic for Slate, WigWag, and Saturday Night. His latest book is Now I Sit Me Down. “I’ve always thought that journalistic architectural criticism was an odd bird. Compared to restaurant, book, or theater reviews, reviews of buildings have little immediate effect on the public. Once a building is built, it’s there, for better or worse, and we must learn to live with it. In any case, reviews based on press kits, guided tours, or interviews with the architect are unlikely to yield profound insights. Theoretically, reviews of as-yet-unbuilt work might be more influential. The problem is that critics generally don’t have the information, resources, or time to make considered judgments. These limitations are compounded when criticism is driven by the need to produce up-to-the-minute newsworthy copy. Having said that, writing about architecture can be valuable. Buildings last a long time, and it’s useful to reflect on their utility—what works and what doesn’t—and their meanings in our lives. Of course, this is best done in the fullness of time, decades after the building opens, when the sharp corners have been knocked off, so to speak. The result is more like cultural observation than reporting. A word about the internet, whose many architectural websites have resulted in a boom in architectural criticism. Sadly, it has also produced more hurriedly written, harshly polemical, and poorly researched prose than ever before.” Frances Anderton Writer, curator, and host of DnA: Design and Architecture, a weekly radio show broadcast on KCRW public radio station in Los Angeles. “It was easier to be a critic when you were crusading for modernism, or another -ism, from a podium at a highly-regarded publication. Whether that ultimately gave society better buildings is an open question.” Barry Bergdoll Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Architectural History at Columbia University and curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. “The role of the architecture critic has not shifted in its most vital importance since the first evidence of it as a professional activity commanding respect and authority in the public sphere with articles criticizing the urban policies of Louis XV in Paris in the mid-18th century. Namely, the architecture critic sets out to forge a bridge between the professional activity of the designing architect and the role of a citizenry by having an informed opinion about the changing environment in which they live. Of course, like an art critic, the architecture critic can contribute to the acclaim of a specific designer; but that is only the beginning of the capacity of the architecture critic to form public opinion. The role is not precisely the same for a critic writing in a publication—printed, broadcast, or on the internet—that primarily serves the profession, and the unfortunately much smaller set of architectural criticism that is aimed at the general public. The paradox nature of architecture is that it is the most omnipresent of art forms and yet the one that the non-professional audience often has the least capacity to judge. This puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the ever-rarer figure of the architecture critic with a broad mandate, namely the shockingly small handful of critics writing in the daily press of national and local record. Here the critic serves to educate at once public and public officials. It is the role of the critic to raise the issues that matter, to frame them in a way that both voters and elected officials and private sector actors in shaping the public realm can understand not only what is at stake but the vital relationship between intelligent design and enhanced environments. It is the difficulty of this task that makes so many nostalgic for a handful of legendary figures like Ada Louise Huxtable at the New York Times or Allan Temko of the San Francisco Chronicle, brilliant writers and thinkers whose texts were easy of access and whose capacity to craft public opinion inspired admiration, awe, and even fear where needed. Few critics are able to achieve the needed balance between the appreciation of the formal invention of architecture and the public issues at stake in most projects.” Oliver Wainwright Architecture and design critic of The Guardian. “The role of an architecture critic is not simply to critique architecture, providing an opinion on the quality of the latest buildings, but to unpick and expose the planning policies, funding sources, and political agendas that shape the built environment and frame projects in their wider societal contexts. Architectural publishing is facing a number of hurdles, not least in the dwindling number of advertisers paying ever less for space in magazines with shrinking circulation figures, wounded by the rise of free online content. Magazines are increasingly reliant on sponsored advertorials, lucrative awards programs, and other commercial partnerships to stay afloat, while many national newspapers have given up on covering the subject—of the eight national broadsheet papers in the UK, only three now have a regular architecture critic.” Justin Davidson Author and architecture and classical music critic for New York magazine. His latest book is Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York. “Construction always involves tradeoffs and often emerges from an adversarial process, fueled by agendas that are both overt and hidden. The reporter/critic is in a unique position to ask questions of all sides, absorb the technical detail, and pass on to the public a point of view that is backed up by clarity and explanation. My hope is that when readers don’t agree with me, at least they know why. In order to be effective, architecture critics have to look beyond architecture. I got into this business because I loved writing and I loved beautiful buildings. The deeper I dive, the more aware I am of the overlapping areas of expertise that get called into play every time the easy equipment shows up: finance, planning, zoning, activism, preservation, politics, performing arts, engineering, retail, gentrification, transit, industry, the waterfront, housing policy, climate change, social history, literature, psychology, acoustics, and more. I’m gratified to see that critics for general interest publications (as opposed to specialized ones) have a broad sense of their field. It’s rare these days to see a review that focuses on the building as aesthetic object, the exemplar of a style, or the incarnation of a theory. I also think that most critics consider themselves reporters, too, which is essential. What’s missing is numbers: every city builds, people in every city live and work in works of architecture, and yet the number of papers that cover this crucial element of local news is tiny. The perception that architecture is a specialist’s turf - and therefore of little interest to most readers - is contradicted by the passionate feelings that so many residents have (and express!) over what does and doesn’t get built in their community. The other thing that’s missing is a willingness to revisit buildings a year or two or more after they’ve opened to see how they fare in the real world. Too often, we see buildings in their pristine (or even incomplete) state, empty and theoretical. When I first visited the Whitney, for example, I missed a lot of the basic circulation and functionality problems that materialized later. I didn’t notice how maddening the coat check system was until I saw 100 people trying to check their coats at the same time.”
Keeping up A-Pier-ences
New renderings revealed for Tribeca’s Pier 26 revamp
Construction on the $30 million renovation of Tribeca’s Pier 26 is slated to start up this summer, and the Hudson River Park Trust and landscape architects OLIN have released a new batch of renderings of the project’s final design. The Hudson River Park Trust went before Community Board 1’s Waterfront, Parks & Resiliency Committee last Tuesday and revealed their finalized design for transforming the 790-foot-long concrete pier. While OLIN had released glimpses of the pier’s programming before (including a playground with two enormous sturgeon-shaped jungle gyms for kids to climb), the latest design incorporates many of the features that the local community had hoped for. A gentle grass lawn and more wildly-planted “forest” area with indigenous trees will guide visitors from the western edge of Hudson River Park, towards the two child-sized soccer fields in the middle of the pier. The fields will be covered in a blue net to stop stray balls from flying into the Hudson River, and surfaced with a plastic grid capable of draining. Further west will be a lounge deck with steps adjacent to scrubby, dune-like landscaping. OLIN has designed a tiered tidal pool planted with native flora at the pier’s westernmost tip, as well as a wooden esplanade that zigzags across the length of the pier. The walkway will rise 15 feet in the air at the tip of Pier 26, giving guests a full view of both New Jersey across the river, as well as the tide pool below. OLIN will be using Kebony for the path, an engineered sustainable softwood. Planned for the space between Pier 26 and 25 is the Estuarium, a two-story, Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed education center. Only $10 million of the center’s required $50 million has been raised so far. While no start date has been set for the Estuarium’s construction, it could imperil the pier’s 2020 opening date; the site chosen for the sturgeon playground will be used a staging area during the education center’s construction (sorry, giant metal fish fans). Construction on the underside of the pier will run from this summer until next year, followed by the work on the structure's topside.