Search results for "michael sorkin"
Michael Sorkin urges Lucas Museum to stay in Chicago and revitalize the city’s South Side
Finding “urbanism with Chinese characteristics”
Michael Sorkin named as American Academy in China’s inaugural Research Fellow
Eavesdrop> Everyone’s a winner? Mitchell Joachim and Michael Sorkin square off with rival anti-Guggenheim competitions
1. The feel of cool marble under bare feet.
2. How to live in a small room with five strangers for six months.
3. With the same strangers in a lifeboat for one week.
4. The modulus of rupture.
5. The distance a shout carries in the city.
6. The distance of a whisper.
7. Everything possible about Hatshepsut’s temple (try not to see it as ‘modernist’ avant la lettre).
8. The number of people with rent subsidies in New York City.
9. In your town (include the rich).
10. The flowering season for azaleas.
11. The insulating properties of glass.
12. The history of its production and use.
13. And of its meaning.
14. How to lay bricks.
15. What Victor Hugo really meant by ‘this will kill that.’
16. The rate at which the seas are rising.
17. Building information modeling (BIM).
18. How to unclog a rapidograph.
19. The Gini coefficient.
20. A comfortable tread-to-riser ratio for a six-year-old.
21. In a wheelchair.
22. The energy embodied in aluminum.
23. How to turn a corner.
24. How to design a corner.
25. How to sit in a corner.
26. How Antoni Gaudí modeled the Sagrada Família and calculated its structure.
27. The proportioning system for the Villa Rotonda.
28. The rate at which that carpet you specified off-gasses.
29. The relevant sections of the Code of Hammurabi.
30. The migratory patterns of warblers and other seasonal travellers.
31. The basics of mud construction.
32. The direction of prevailing winds.
33. Hydrology is destiny.
34. Jane Jacobs in and out.
35. Something about feng shui.
36. Something about Vastu Shilpa.
37. Elementary ergonomics.
38. The color wheel.
39. What the client wants.
40. What the client thinks it wants.
41. What the client needs.
42. What the client can afford.
43. What the planet can afford.
44. The theoretical bases for modernity and a great deal about its factions and inflections.
45. What post-Fordism means for the mode of production of building.
46. Another language.
47. What the brick really wants.
48. The difference between Winchester Cathedral and a bicycle shed.
49. What went wrong in Fatehpur Sikri.
50. What went wrong in Pruitt-Igoe.
51. What went wrong with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
52. Where the CCTV cameras are.
53. Why Mies really left Germany.
54. How people lived in Çatal Hüyük.
55. The structural properties of tufa.
56. How to calculate the dimensions of brise-soleil.
57. The kilowatt costs of photovoltaic cells.
59. Walter Benjamin.
60. Marshall Berman.
61. The secrets of the success of Robert Moses.
62. How the dome on the Duomo in Florence was built.
63. The reciprocal influences of Chinese and Japanese building.
64. The cycle of the Ise Shrine.
66. The history of Soweto.
67. What it’s like to walk down the Ramblas.
69. The proper proportions of a gin martini.
70. Shear and moment.
71. Shakespeare, etc.
72. How the crow flies.
73. The difference between a ghetto and a neighborhood.
74. How the pyramids were built.
76. The pleasures of the suburbs.
77. The horrors.
78. The quality of light passing through ice.
79. The meaninglessness of borders.
80. The reasons for their tenacity.
81. The creativity of the ecotone.
82. The need for freaks.
83. Accidents must happen.
84. It is possible to begin designing anywhere.
85. The smell of concrete after rain.
86. The angle of the sun at the equinox.
87. How to ride a bicycle.
88. The depth of the aquifer beneath you.
89. The slope of a handicapped ramp.
90. The wages of construction workers.
91. Perspective by hand.
92. Sentence structure.
93. The pleasure of a spritz at sunset at a table by the Grand Canal.
94. The thrill of the ride.
95. Where materials come from.
96. How to get lost.
97. The pattern of artificial light at night, seen from space.
98. What human differences are defensible in practice.
99. Creation is a patient search.
100. The debate between Otto Wagner and Camillo Sitte.
101. The reasons for the split between architecture and engineering.
102. Many ideas about what constitutes utopia.
103. The social and formal organization of the villages of the Dogon.
104. Brutalism, Bowellism, and the Baroque.
105. How to derive.
106. Woodshop safety.
107. A great deal about the Gothic.
108. The architectural impact of colonialism on the cities of North Africa.
109. A distaste for imperialism.
110. The history of Beijing.
111. Dutch domestic architecture in the 17th century.
112. Aristotle’s Politics.
113. His Poetics.
114. The basics of wattle and daub.
115. The origins of the balloon frame.
116. The rate at which copper acquires its patina.
117. The levels of particulates in the air of Tianjin.
118. The capacity of white pine trees to sequester carbon.
119. Where else to sink it.
120. The fire code.
121. The seismic code.
122. The health code.
123. The Romantics, throughout the arts and philosophy.
124. How to listen closely.
125. That there is a big danger in working in a single medium. The logjam you don’t even know you’re stuck in will be broken by a shift in representation.
126. The exquisite corpse.
127. Scissors, stone, paper.
128. Good Bordeaux.
129. Good beer.
130. How to escape a maze.
133. Finding your way around Prague, Fez, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Kyoto, Rio, Mexico, Solo, Benares, Bangkok, Leningrad, Isfahan.
134. The proper way to behave with interns.
135. Maya, Revit, Catia, whatever.
136. The history of big machines, including those that can fly.
137. How to calculate ecological footprints.
138. Three good lunch spots within walking distance.
139. The value of human life.
140. Who pays.
141. Who profits.
142. The Venturi effect.
143. How people pee.
144. What to refuse to do, even for the money.
145. The fine print in the contract.
146. A smattering of naval architecture.
147. The idea of too far.
148. The idea of too close.
149. Burial practices in a wide range of cultures.
150. The density needed to support a pharmacy.
151. The density needed to support a subway.
152. The effect of the design of your city on food miles for fresh produce.
153. Lewis Mumford and Patrick Geddes.
154. Capability Brown, André Le Nôtre, Frederick Law Olmsted, Muso Soseki, Ji Cheng, and Roberto Burle Marx.
155. Constructivism, in and out.
157. Squatter settlements via visits and conversations with residents.
158. The history and techniques of architectural representation across cultures.
159. Several other artistic media.
160. A bit of chemistry and physics.
165. The Law of the Andes.
166. Cappadocia first-hand.
167. The importance of the Amazon.
168. How to patch leaks.
169. What makes you happy.
170. The components of a comfortable environment for sleep.
171. The view from the Acropolis.
172. The way to Santa Fe.
173. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
174. Where to eat in Brooklyn.
175. Half as much as a London cabbie.
176. The Nolli Plan.
177. The Cerdà Plan.
178. The Haussmann Plan.
179. Slope analysis.
180. Darkroom procedures and Photoshop.
181. Dawn breaking after a bender.
182. Styles of genealogy and taxonomy.
183. Betty Friedan.
184. Guy Debord.
185. Ant Farm.
187. Club Med.
188. Crepuscule in Dharamshala.
189. Solid geometry.
190. Strengths of materials (if only intuitively).
191. Ha Long Bay.
192. What’s been accomplished in Medellín.
193. In Rio.
194. In Calcutta.
195. In Curitiba.
196. In Mumbai.
197. Who practices? (It is your duty to secure this space for all who want to.)
198. Why you think architecture does any good.
199. The depreciation cycle.
200. What rusts.
201. Good model-making techniques in wood and cardboard.
202. How to play a musical instrument.
203. Which way the wind blows.
204. The acoustical properties of trees and shrubs.
205. How to guard a house from floods.
206. The connection between the Suprematists and Zaha.
207. The connection between Oscar Niemeyer and Zaha.
208. Where north (or south) is.
209. How to give directions, efficiently and courteously.
210. Stadtluft macht frei.
211. Underneath the pavement the beach.
212. Underneath the beach the pavement.
213. The germ theory of disease.
214. The importance of vitamin D.
215. How close is too close.
216. The capacity of a bioswale to recharge the aquifer.
217. The draught of ferries.
218. Bicycle safety and etiquette.
219. The difference between gabions and riprap.
220. The acoustic performance of Boston Symphony Hall.
221. How to open the window.
222. The diameter of the earth.
223. The number of gallons of water used in a shower.
224. The distance at which you can recognize faces.
225. How and when to bribe public officials (for the greater good).
226. Concrete finishes.
227. Brick bonds.
228. The Housing Question by Friedrich Engels.
229. The prismatic charms of Greek island towns.
230. The energy potential of the wind.
231. The cooling potential of the wind, including the use of chimneys and the stack effect.
233. Straw-bale building technology.
234. Rachel Carson.
236. The excellence of Michel de Klerk.
237. Of Alvar Aalto.
238. Of Lina Bo Bardi.
239. The non-pharmacological components of a good club.
240. Mesa Verde National Park.
241. Chichen Itza.
242. Your neighbors.
243. The dimensions and proper orientation of sports fields.
244. The remediation capacity of wetlands.
245. The capacity of wetlands to attenuate storm surges.
246. How to cut a truly elegant section.
247. The depths of desire.
248. The heights of folly.
249. Low tide.
250. The Golden and other ratios.
Chicago is clearly to be preferred. Not simply is it the city where the Obamas will presumably live post-presidency, but it is where Obama made his first deep contributions in public service and the place to which he returned to begin and advance his political mission. More, the neighborhoods bruited as choices in Chicago (half a dozen have appeared on one list or another) might all strongly benefit from the injection of institutional activity and investment.That column ended up in a proposal from Sorkin’s studio that positioned the library in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, where several large vacant sites along 63rd Street lie waiting. Just to the north is the University of Chicago, where Obama taught law. Woodlawn’s relationship with its wealthy neighbor, the University of Chicago, is famously strained. While the most contentious days of that story may be in the past, Woodlawn suffers from the same entanglement of poverty, segregation, and violence that snarls many South Side communities. As Curbed editor Sarah Cox noted, a high-profile development like the Obama Presidential Library could be a shot in the arm:
@Cementley I'm really pulling for Woodlawn now. This could be huge for the South Side. — Sarah F Cox (@xoxoCox) January 9, 2014Sorkin’s proposal attempts to address this with “the revival of Woodlawn’s main street,” 63rd Street, between Ellis and Woodlawn avenues—a three block stretch of vacant lots just steps from a Metra stop:
The Obama library has the opportunity to become a genuinely local player and to contribute to the improvement of everyday life for the neighborhoods that surround it. This will require a physical and social architecture that is supportive, not aggressive or standoffish. It offers the chance to build a model environment.It would be "the first Presidential Center to be truly urban," the proposal says. Sorkin told AN his studio drew up the proposal in preparation for a National Design Award reception at the White House. He said he handed the brochure to Michelle Obama. But it’s not the only South Side site that has drawn attention. Paula Robinson, president of Bronzeville's Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, recently argued in the Chicago Tribune that Obama’s presidential library should land in the Michael Reese Hospital site. View the proposal, which Michael Sorkin Studio describes in the text as “highly conceptual plans,” here: MSS_Obama Library proposal
I’d like to thank Harvey Weinstein, Sue Mengers, our truly incredible cast and crew…..oops. A paraphrased platitude: knowledge is everywhere and we meld productively with the minds of giants, dwarves, and those of average size. Among those to whom I am indebted: Kallikrates and Iktinos. Sinan. My mother, for giving me a copy of Lewis Mumford when I was fourteen. My father, for agreeing with my mother to buy that modernist house with no basement. My long-suffering, severely underpaid, amazingly supportive collaborators. Michael De Klerk. Alvar Aalto. Bruce Goff, the more so for putting up with all that bullshit from Frank Lloyd Wright. Lawrence Sterne for the funniest book ever written. Guarino Guarini. James Wines, for nominating me 28 times for this. Michelle Obama, for the fabulous lunch. My dear wife Joan, for her loving dissatisfaction, uncompromising mind and spirit, and inspirational good looks. But, I’d like to dedicate this award to two authentic mental titans we’ve lost this year, comrades in arms, dear friends, great teachers, more deserving than I of this tribute: Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Leb taught me the true reality of genius, creative fearlessness, the leagues-long distance form can go, and the way in which ideas of the deepest profundity can live in architecture. He inspired me with design’s power of resistance to constraint and with an ever unfolding and questioning dream of what building might be in both mind and place. Marshall taught me about the bottomless meaning that inhabits the city, the infinitely nuanced relations of thought and passion, the way in which politics can be a conduit for kindness and joy, and the pleasure and the contiguity of the astonishing urban poetries to be found from Aristotle’s agora to hip-hop’s Bronx. My great gratitude to the Cooper Hewitt and the NDA jury for conducing the sweetness and duty of thinking about what it means to have been alive among such minds as these.
It’s clear that the current plan for the expansion of the main campus of NYU is far from optimal. Construction on the existing residential superblocks will cause years of disruption to the daily lives of residents of both NYU’s housing and of the surrounding neighborhood. And, the inscription of additional building will deeply compromise the formal quality of those blocks, adding mass and density where there is no urbanistic call for it. While we understand the university’s desire to leverage the happy encounters of campus life by adding its new facilities in proximity to Washington Square, we note that many core functions of the campus are already distributed around the neighborhood and beyond and that there is elasticity in the idea of propinquity. Our question to ourselves was whether there were viable alternatives for a non-disruptive, concentrated expansion within a reasonable walking compass of NYU’s center of gravity. We believe we have found one such possibility and offer it as “friends of the court,” sympathetic to the desires of NYU for additional space, admiring of the existing architecture of the superblock sites, and eager to see our neighborhood develop in a way that both preserves and enhances its unique character, a character that immeasurably contributes to NYU’s own remarkable qualities of place.
This proposal suggests accommodating NYU’s academic expansion at the end of Houston Street on Pier 40, in the adjacent St. John’s Building, and on the legendary—and long deconsecrated—ocean liner S.S. United States (or other obsolete vessel), which could offer dorm, dining, and meeting facilities. Pier 40 has long been a site in search of a use and our scheme offers an opportunity for new university facilities, for a substantial expansion of the existing athletic fields, for other new community uses, and for a revival of our maritime spirit. We’ve designed for an aggregate of academic facilities comparable to those currently proposed by NYU and additional space for student, faculty, and visitor housing in a highly glamorous setting. The Coles Sports Center would be retained at its existing location and the superblocks would also remain as they are, perhaps with modest tweaks.
Of course, a project like this will be subject to much negotiation and review and does require the removal of the parking currently occupying the pier, a use we regard as thoroughly incompatible with the superb waterfront site. It is also contingent on transfer of all or part of Pier 40 to NYU and the acquisition of the St. John’s building and the S.S. United States, currently the subject of an RFP for re-use and previously floated as a hotel and conference venue in Philadelphia. This plan offers the advantages of non-disruption in the Village, easy access to the central campus, a spectacular location, what might well be a lower aggregate cost to the university, and a revenue stream for the Hudson River Park. While the designs offered here are highly preliminary—the drawings are more notional than architectural—and would need to be carefully contoured to actual uses and configured to reduce flooding risk, the availability of this virtual ready-made is intended to suggest the availability of sound, even superior alternatives to current plans. It is offered in full awareness of the vital role NYU plays in the life of downtown and seeks to conduce an expansion of the university’s facilities that will make a positive contribution both to NYU and its neighborhood. We would be delighted to develop it further.
photograph by lotte hansen
Organized by the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York’s School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, the annual Lewis Mumford Lecture has become an intellectual rite of spring for urbanists, architects, and students of both. The series was founded in 2004 by Michael Sorkin, the graduate program’s director, and launched with a lecture by Jane Jacobs, followed by an equally inspired roster of speakers including Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and David Harvey, the geographer and economic theorist.
On March 12, novelist and filmmaker Paul Auster delivered the sixth Mumford lecture, reading excerpts from several novels. Before he read, Auster confessed he never understood the interest of architects in his work, but described his own long fascination with Mumford. “I first read The City in History in my early '20s,” he said. “The book was a revelation to me, offering a new perspective on just about everything. Mumford was both a deep and broad thinker, a very rare combination; a delicate writer; a passionate humanist; and a fearless articulator of his own original insights. He writes about human beings both from the outside and the inside.”
It was a description that could be applied to the novelist himself. But it was Michael Sorkin’s introduction, reprinted here, that perhaps best pinpointed the liaison between literal and imaginative urbanism.
Paul Auster is a master of the topological novel. His remarkable popularity among architects and urbanists truly springs from the spatial preoccupations that infuse his work, a quality it shares with such cartographers as Calvino, Borges, Robbe-Grillet, Hitchcock, Chandler, Kafka, Poe, and other designers of habitats for the nearly ineffable. Each of Auster’s books provides a set of calipers, a measuring instrument for both the palpable and the metaphysical dimensions of space.
That space more often than not is New York, an immense Rosetta Stone for decoding motive and meaning. Is there a more direct and compelling image of translation or a more succinct metaphor for the way cities produce meanings than the series of strolls taken by Peter Stillman in City of Glass, in which the blocks of the city become the tablet on which, letter by letter, words are spelled out for the pursuing detective, Quinn? The urban unconscious is structured as language and pattern. Space is character.
Despite the seemingly purposeful drive of these two walkers, the pervasive and much-observed importance of chance and coincidence in Auster’s work also firmly links his project to the city. Cities are accident machines, generators of random encounters with people, places, objects, and self. Life as lived or constructed builds a narrative route through this collusion of unexpected and familiar events.
Auster has a remarkably fine sense of the Janus of liberation and nightmare that these accidents engender. His power as a storyteller is both in constructing a singularity—one passage through time, space, and emotion—and in throwing it into radical doubt, a condition of unreliability that loops back to reveal the ultimate unknowability of the city itself. That Auster’s work so teems with allusion and filiation and with the intertextual also evokes a remarkably urban condition.
The clarity of Auster’s own relationship to specific forms, incidents, and authors refracts this recombinant urbanity into colors both strange and familiar. Behind this spectral variety, there is an umbra of noir. Auster’s deep immersion in the detective novel does not simply produce a city as a set of suspicious behaviors, clues, dead-ends, and pregnant enigma; it locates it at the crumbling reaches of modernity, the limits of the rational city produced by the fragile clarities of deduction.
As with any confirmed New Yorker, Auster fills this landscape with scenes of alternative “life styles,” roadmaps to escape. In his frequent evocations of Thoreauvian isolation and self reliance—snug houses in Vermont, caves in the Western desert, concealing thickets in Central Park, imaginary countries in South America, or just cars on the road—his novels are deeply utopian and constantly threaten, as utopias will, to lapse into nightmare. Walden easily becomes the Unabomber’s hut.
Auster is brilliant at evoking our contemporary urban dystopia: lives without money, confined to single rooms; the stable balance of human relations torn apart or imprisoned by numbing regularity. He is a lapidary recorder of our anxieties, from the petty annoyances of the everyday, to insomniac nights, to the maw of loneliness, to the scary fluidity of identity, to the always lurking possibility of cataclysm.
Perhaps the reason so many Auster characters wind up in Brooklyn is the search for that elusive mental Arden that the borough seems to represent, a touchstone of the author’s fundamental optimism. Auster inhabits our city, its bars and stationers, bookshops and subways, its parks and sidewalks, its Chinese restaurants and candy stores, with a typical New Yorker’s sense that in the recursive folds of the city, the universe is embedded. And it’s a universe and a city that produces not just fear and trembling but sublime joys, the intensities of love and friendship, the pleasures of the street, the satisfactions of a cup of coffee or a good cigar—the happy accidents that are the great gifts of good city life.
Auster reads the city to write it; he is one of our most creative urbanists.