Search results for "wHY"

Placeholder Alt Text

A Country is Not a House?

Architecture is more than walls.
“I’ll bet you live within four walls” is one of the most frequent comments I get from proponents of building a wall along the southern border as a critique of my creative and activist endeavors against wall construction. The comments can be quite vile. Here is one comment (since deleted) on the YouTube posting of my recent TED talk,
"Thank you so much Ronald Rael! I'll come find your home and simply open your door, sit down and make myself at home! Pay rent? Nah essay! Rent is taxes homie! Permission to enter your home? Nah bendayho! I don't need permission to enter your home! You don't see the need for Mexicans to get permission to enter the United States! What's that? You'll call the cops? You snitch! What's that? You'll force me out of your home?! That's wrong to deport me outside of your walls that hold up your roof and prevent anyone from getting in!”
In addition to making an actual threat to my own personal home and property, something no immigrant I have ever met has done, he is mocking the variations in the Spanish language (“essay” is ese, a slang way of saying dude, “homie”, is someone from your hometown, and bendayho, I'm assuming, is pendejo, a word used to describe an imbecile, but literally means “pubic hair”). It might be futile to pen a response to such comments, but as a professor of architecture, it got me thinking… why do so many make a parallel between a country, and a house, when it comes to making an argument for the border wall? A quick internet search, thinking about the ridiculousness of this reaction—that if we build walls to enclose our house (which my TED Talk critic correctly notes are also often used to structurally support a roof), doesn’t it make sense to build walls around our country, and if so, what about a roof? This led me to an article in the New Yorker that suggested, in sarcastic response to the construction of walls, that we should also build a roof over our country! I’ve always been fascinated by utopian and dystopian architectural projects that challenge the conventions of our built environment, which is perhaps why I’ve been interested in the border wall. When thinking about mega-roofs, architect Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for an enormous dome to be constructed over a portion of Midtown Manhattan comes to mind. He suggested it would save 80 percent of energy costs and snow removal costs, so perhaps the proposal for a nationwide roof structure has its merits? The Sheats-Goldstein Residence, an experimental house designed in 1961 by John Lautner, was comprised of an enormous roof with no walls enclosing the main living space that connected to the exterior terrace and pool. Instead, the interior was defined and protected from the elements by a curtain of forced air, like those you might have experienced if you’ve ever entered a big box store. Construction on this incredible house began in 1961, the year that President Kennedy was inaugurated, the Peace Corps was established, and the first man went into space, a time when it seemed mankind could overcome impossible barriers but also the same year the Berlin Wall began construction (and we all know what happened to that). Many years later, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence was enclosed with a nearly invisible and retractable glass facade, as there were several impracticalities to not having a barrier between inside and outside that house, despite the balmy Los Angeles weather. However, the luxurious glass wall wasn’t necessarily installed for security, and certainly it wasn’t out of practicality—an inexpensive concrete wall may have been more practical, but would undermine the original concept of the house as well as the architect’s original intent of openness and connection. Perhaps in alignment to Lautner’s vision for how one defines the confines of a house, Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out a concept for hemispheric security not beholden to a limited view of border fortification. Roosevelt said, “What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition—clear, definite opposition—to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall.” With this in mind, what might Lautner and Roosevelt think of a 1,954-mile-long concrete-and-steel wall surrounding our house? Obviously neither would have thought it to be a necessity or practicality, nor perhaps in alignment with the original intent of the architects of our country. I wonder what they would think about a 3.8-million-square-mile roof? Economics professor David Youngberg points out the problems with making analogies between “my country” and “my house” and the two uses of the possessive pronoun “my”—one of which is possessive and the other, associative. While one may own a house, we do not own our country, we merely live in it. A country is public space. With this in mind, should we think about our country like we do our house, and does it need walls? If we agree with the argument, that if we live by surrounding ourselves at home with walls, therefore we should also surround our country with walls, then perhaps let’s take that argument further, and not forget other components of what makes a secure home in addition to the roof. For example, the floor, a basement perhaps, central heating… how about other components of the house, like a refrigerator, with healthy food for everyone in our house to eat or a comfortable bed and a warm place to sleep? What about a medicine cabinet accessible to everyone in the house! A porch and a welcome mat, to welcome neighbors are also important features in a house (clean your feet before coming in)! Surrounding our house, we enjoy a verdant garden and appreciate nice neighbors, and we lend tools to our neighbors, a cup of sugar, and we want our neighbors to prosper—do we really want to be the only nice house in the neighborhood? How about a neighborhood watch program? Don’t we want our neighbors to look to out for us just as we look out for them? What about reliable plumbing to provide clean water? In our houses, we need a system that takes our bodily waste and delivers it to a place where it can be processed safely. Can you imagine the problems that would arise for everyone if we dumped it in our backyards, or our neighbor’s yard? Fresh air? Some of us have a heating and air conditioning system in our house that not only keeps our climate under control, but also filters the air, providing a place to live with comfortable, clean air. We don’t fill our house with pollution—we enjoy clean air inside our houses, and we probably all wish the air outside was as clean as the air outside, and vice versa, because we like to open our doors and windows to let the outside in—it helps keep our house fresh. Perhaps a house is not a country, but if we are to make that analogy, here are some thoughts of things to do rather than build that wall: Build that plumbing, and ensure safe, clean and reliable drinking water! Build that ventilation system, and ensure that no one remains out in the cold and breathes fresh air! Build that medicine cabinet, so that everyone’s heath in the house is cared for! Build those roofs, to make certain that everyone protected from the elements! Build those bedrooms, so that everyone has a place to rest their head at night! Build that floor, so we are all on an equal plane and a level playing field! Build that porch, and lay out that welcome mat! Build that neighborhood, so that everyone in our global community has a house that ensures safety, security, and neighborliness across our own property lines! A couple more thoughts; we also don’t shoot guns inside our house, and certainly not at other people in the house. We also do not lock up neighboring families from other houses inside our house for indefinite amounts of time, or separate our neighbor's children from their parents and keep them in cages inside our house if they came knocking at our door seeking help. —Ronald Rael, Oakland, September 7, 2019  
Placeholder Alt Text

Something Something Radiohead

wHY Architects's new youth center in East Palo Alto will center the community
The work of Los Angeles based firm wHY Architects is known for its simplicity, attention to detail and ethical sourcing of building materials. As the renderings indicate, these sensibilities were all employed in the design of the nearly-completed East Palo Alto Youth Arts & Music Center (YAMC), also known as the EPACENTER. The building will bring much-needed public programs to East Palo Alto, California, which has recently started to shed its notorious public-safety profile. The project was first made possible thanks to the San Francisco-based John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, which purchased the post-industrial marshland site for $3.5 million, with the intention of developing a facility for underserved members of the community. The site is across the street from the recently-built Ravenswood Family Health Center and down the street from College Track, a nonprofit which offers programs to grade school students in the community. wHY Architects was invited to design a multiprogram building on the site in Summer 2015, under the condition that they engage with the area’s youth demographic during an initial eight-month collaborative design process. According to the firm, these engagements were carried out to “build trust and establish expectations for the YAMC, and more importantly, to effectively identify and harness the creative discussions and engagements into the final design.” Additionally, wHY Architects developed the design for the 24,000-square-foot building in collaboration with Hood Design Studio, a social art and design practice founded in Oakland, California. Like many of wHY Architect’s public projects, EPACENTER is altruistic in nature: its programming will address the issue of gentrification by offering spaces for the preexisting community to foster creative production, while many of its building materials are upcycled industrial elements found around the city. As Palo Alto Online expressed during the early phase of its construction, “The center will be an enormous boon for the community, not only as a safe and peaceful space in a city known for its high crime rates, but one where residents struggling against a rising tide of external forces—gentrification, climbing rents, new office buildings—can celebrate and maintain their city's culture as it is today.” The exterior of the building will have a bold presence, including a thick wooden roof structure and boldly colored tilework, while its interior will be airy and light-filled, complete with inviting built-in seating and shaded outdoor spaces. The project is scheduled to wrap up in 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Get Paid Faster with Core ePayments
Brought to you by:
Nothing harms an architecture firm’s operations more than slow or unsteady cash flow. In fact, 82% of businesses fail because of cash flow mismanagement. Late payments and aging accounts receivable cause problems for firms of all sizes. Small to medium-sized firms often don’t have enough liquidity to ride survive long periods of negative cash flow, and larger firms have higher overhead costs and bigger payrolls to manage. When money flows into a firm slower than it flows out, the firm risks financial collapse.

Archaic payment processes limit firms

One of the top reasons architecture firms struggle with cash flow issues is an archaic payment process. While many other services have switched over to automated and digital payment processes, architecture firms have been slow to make the transition. Much of the industry still relies on manual invoicing – printing, reviewing, stuffing envelopes, paying for postage and following up on payments. That’s why BQE has partnered with Stripe, the industry leader in online payments, to launch its new ePayments feature, which allows BQE customers to easily accept credit card payments on their invoices.

Core ePayments will grow your business

BQE users have long been asking for the ability to accept payments from their customers via credit cards and ACH, and for the functionality to complete their payables within the Core application. We released BQE Core ePayments to solve your most critical step-the last mile-so your business gets paid. Using ePayments doesn’t mean you have to stop accepting traditional payment methods, like checks. In fact, Core ePayments is a great addition to any payment system you already have in place. The easier you make it for your customers to pay you, the more likely you are to get paid. For those who have already moved to an electronic payment system, this new integration means you won’t have to use a third party system to accept payments, and then perform the additional steps to enter the payment in Core. Now you can reduce the disconnect for your end-user, in terms of when the payment is received vs when it was entered in Core, and improve your cash flow.

Safety and security are our top priorities

We partnered with the best of the business in online payments (Stripe) to make sure you and your clients receive the highest security and safety standards during and after the transaction. The entire process, from start to finish, is entirely traceable and secure. Once a transaction is completed, we automatically record the payment in Core to keep your Accounts receivable up to date and provide a secure paper trail. Here’s how the ePayments process works on your customers’ end:
  • Step 1: Your customer receives an automatic invoice
  • Step 2: After clicking on the “Pay Now” button, your customer will be redirected to a payment page where they can securely enter their credit card details. They can choose to pay partially or in full.
  • Step 3: The customer’s credit card will be charged for the amount they entered and a payment record will automatically be created in Core. The money will be removed from your customer’s bank account within 24 hours.

What is Stripe?

Stripe is a world-class, leading payment processing platform that allows merchants to accept credit card payments on their websites. Stripe is safe and secure, operating in 25 countries and powering more than 100,000 businesses. While PayPal is one of the oldest names in the books for online payments, Stripe has been making waves for intrinsically encouraging good security. When credit card data is entered into your payment form, the information is never sent to your server. Instead, it’s sent directly to Stripe. This is important because it means that:
  • You’re automatically PCI compliant (because you don’t handle any sensitive card data on your servers)
  • You’re more secure (because a security break of your servers won't result in any stolen credit card data)
  • You won't store credit card data on your servers (again, avoiding PCI compliance fees and security concerns)
We’ve partnered with Stripe so you can ensure your business and clients receive the highest security and safety standards.

How the integration works with Core

Core ePayments makes sending invoices and getting paid online painless. Here’s how ePayments works in three simple steps:
  • Step 1: Core users can create a new account Stripe, or use existing credentials (if they already have a Stripe account).
  • Step 2: Once you set up your Core ePayments account, you will have the option to turn on the “online payments” option for invoices. This adds payment options to any emails you send from the application, with the invoice attached. It also adds a “Pay Now” button to the actual invoice.
  • Step 3: When your customer clicks on either of these payment options, they’re sent to a payment page where they can apply the full or partial payment to the invoice.
The module syncs with BQE Core, so you can automatically invoice clients and expedite reconciliation. And you have full control of the entire process because you can choose which credit cards you want to accept. Who has time to wait for checks then keep track of depositing them? Archaic processes will hold your business back. ePayments by BQE Core does the payment collecting for you!
Placeholder Alt Text

Bio Season

A Walter Gropius biography and Bauhaus study paint rich portraits of the period
Walter Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus By Fiona MacCarthy Harvard University Press List Price: $35.00 Bauhaus Goes West: Modern Art and Design in Britain and America By Alan Powers Thames & Hudson List Price: $40.00 “When Walter Gropius arrived in London on 18 October 1934, he was treated like a creature from another planet.” That first impression, the first sentence in the first chapter of English architectural historian Alan Powers’s enlightening study of the reception of the Bauhaus in Britain, has long prevailed. Historians have tended to see the short period that Gropius and fellow Bauhäusler Marcel Breuer, Lucia Moholy, and László Moholy-Nagy spent in London as a relatively fruitless layover on the Bauhaus’s posthumous westward march to North America (and have ignored the fact that many prominent figures also went eastward to the Soviet Union or Palestine). The New World was a land of opportunity for modernism as the United States succumbed to the genius of Gropius, whom Tom Wolfe later—riffing on Paul Klee—satirized as the movement’s “silver knight” in his 1981 book From Bauhaus to Our House. If Britain was unmoved, America was transformed, or so the oft-told tale would have it. Powers’s book is one of two new major studies that tell a different story. Gropius’s new biographer Fiona MacCarthy reports that Gropius—whom she met a year before his death—“looked back on his years in London with a kind of exasperated fondness,” while Powers argues that Britain was a far more consequential chapter in Gropius’s development as an architect than has ever been acknowledged. Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 in Weimar, but after the school lost the confidence of the local state government, it moved into its iconic modernist buildings in Dessau, only to be chased away again six years later by the local rise to power of the Nazi Party. The school eked out a final year in an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin until its third director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, read the graffiti on the wall and closed the school under pressure from a government now under Hitler’s command. Exile was already a condition of the Bauhaus long before the diaspora sought to re-create, in vastly different circumstances, from Moscow to Harvard, something of what had been lost. For more than a generation, American architectural historians have set out to debunk in exhibitions and books the powerful myths of the Bauhaus’s international reincarnation that Gropius himself—with enormous help from Swiss historian and polemicist Sigfried Giedion—continually nurtured. This year the Bauhaus is celebrating its centennial, and the jury is out on whether the scholarly work of those revisionist contemporary historians is being advanced or slightly eroded. Post–Cold War Germany has a vested tourism interest in promoting the myth that all of modernist design emanated from the crucible of the Bauhaus—new museums are opening dedicated to it in Weimar and Dessau—and many of the myriad publications that accompany the festivities have set out to recharge the magnetic power of the Bauhaus as a lodestone to attract credit for almost anything modernist, especially steel architecture and metal furniture. But recent scholarship has shown just how complex and contradictory the school was during its 14-year existence as a laboratory for the most varied experimentation, and scholars continue to try to resist the pull of the Bauhaus as an easy-to-remember moniker and marketing device. Among their myriad achievements, one joint contribution of MacCarthy’s and Powers’s books is to reopen the question of what the Bauhaus diaspora brought to the U.K. and what the English sojourn contributed to Gropius’s formation, but in both books, the American part of the story feels a bit like an afterthought. One of the dangers for those writing a biography of anyone who was at the Bauhaus is that it is tempting to treat that place as key to understanding their subject’s artistic biography from beginning to end. This reductive assumption is perhaps somewhat excusable with “the man who built the Bauhaus,” since even in America, as MacCarthy notes, Gropius kept an address book with a separate section for Bauhäusler, and set the powerful myth of his Bauhaus in motion with the 1938 show he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, intended more as a reanimation rather than a postmortem. MacCarthy is best known for her prizewinning biography of William Morris, and elements of her own biography pop up from time to time when she explains why a new biography of Gropius—a 1,200-page, two-volume account was published in 1983—is needed. She recalls a visit with Gropius to the extraordinary apartment house-cum-commune in Lawn Road near Hampstead—a modernist building designed by Wells Coates that opened in June 1934, a few months before Gropius’s emigration—as the spur that determined her to be his posthumous apologist. She writes in conscious emulation of Nikolaus Pevsner’s Pioneers of the Modern Movement: From William Morris to Walter Gropius, published in 1936, when Gropius had decided to leave for Harvard. But MacCarthy doesn’t ruminate—as Alan Powers’s book helps us to do—on what it means that a radical building like Coates’s was built in anticipation of the Bauhaus master’s arrival, not after it. MacCarthy’s appraisal of the evolution of modern architecture and design seems hardly to have advanced beyond Pevsner’s bromides in claims such as, “Without Walter Gropius’s broad-based approach to industrial designing as first developed at the Bauhaus, there might not have been an architect-designer as fluently imaginative as the American Charles Eames.” Don’t pick up The Man Who Built the Bauhaus—a great read, suitable for the beach, which Gropius and other Bauhäusler loved, from the banks of the Elbe to Cape Cod—to bathe in Gropius’s architecture. MacCarthy has little understanding of architecture, no sense of the role that others, including Adolf Meyer and Breuer, played in Gropius’s most successful designs, and only a weak sense of his international role in the 1950s and ’60s, after he arrived in America. Despite the fact that he spent over half of his professional career in America, this period takes up only a quarter of this hefty volume. There are not even mentions of such key works as the U.S. Embassy in Athens, opened in 1961. This review could be quickly filled with a list of absences of key aspects of Gropius’s career, or misunderstandings, such as the Bauhaus building being constructed of “prefabricated concrete walls,” or the roof of Gropius and Breuer’s Frank House in Pittsburgh (1939–40) hosting a dance floor (it is in the dining room two floors below). But this churlish assessment is to miss the point. MacCarthy’s aim lies elsewhere. In her book, we are offered an account of the sentimental journey of one of the most influential architects and pedagogues of the 20th century. The themes are of loss and absence, of the long shadow cast by Gropius’s failed first marriage to Alma Mahler and his longing for greater contact with their daughter, Manon; of the loss of the Germany he had known; of life in exile; and the troubling lack of connection with his adopted daughter, Ati (who married John M. Johansen). All this has been painstakingly and empathetically reconstructed from private letters and interviews, and finally, after the book ends with a very moving passage, MacCarthy sees Gropius as having spent his whole life fighting against that very “architectural soullessness, the despoliation of nature, the denial of community…and capitalist greed” that is still commonly held to be the legacy of modernism among Britain’s particularly virulent anti-modernists, led in recent years by Prince Charles. In the acknowledgements she offers another element of her motivation for this impressive commitment of five years of research and travel: namely, to counter Gropius’s reputation as a cold-hearted modernist and “reveal Gropius as a man of considerable passions and tenacity.” Little concrete argumentation is offered for the supposed positions in defense of nature and against capitalism by the designer of New York’s Pan Am Tower, but one goes away with something of that connection to Gropius, the man, who so moved his new biographer 50 years ago. Bauhaus Goes West will be an eye-opener for historians and general readers alike. Powers’s main achievements are to reveal the extent to which strains of modernist experimentation existed in England before the arrival of the German and Hungarian émigrés from the Bauhaus, and also to argue convincingly that many of the key elements of their later work in America were influenced by experimentation in Britain. In a rich weave of documentation and little-known images—as opposed to the oft-reproduced photography offered in the Gropius biography—we are offered a nuanced and subtle context for the handful of years spent in London by Gropius, Breuer, and Moholy-Nagy—each of whom is given a chapter. They arrived in a country where, Powers argues, “there was a greater endorsement of a broad range of Modernism among an older generation than has been supposed,” and where a broad range of German modernism, notably the work of Bruno Taut and Erich Mendelsohn, was recognized as equally as important as the work produced at the Bauhaus. Even more important Powers underscores the radical changes that took place in modernism in the 1930s. He shows that the “romantic and regional turn in the second half of the 1930s,” in which Gropius and Breuer took part, was evident in a greater embrace of timber and structural fieldstone walls in both works that have long been part of the canon, such as Breuer and F. R. S. Yorke’s Gane’s Pavilion of 1936, and works that are great discoveries, such as a wood house by Gropius in Kent. It was in Britain that Breuer began to experiment with bent laminated plywood, which would be crucial to the transformation of American timber architecture after he joined Gropius in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But Powers does not restrict himself to a handful of famous designers. He has researched an impressive roster of lesser-known Bauhaus émigrés and of British students who had attended the Bauhaus, and most important, he studies the work of a number of female designers, such as Enid Marx, little known outside—or even inside—Britain. Marx later wisely remarked that “the strength of the Bauhaus was not in the profundity of its technical training, but in the atmosphere of enterprise and experiments in all the arts which it managed to create.” Bauhaus Goes West is as impressive for offering a history of British textile experimentation during this period as for fully depicting a corpus of architectural statements that make it clear that modernism’s contribution to the 1930s in Britain was much more impactful than is generally acknowledged. The impact was not simply in formal terms, but also in the way that different Bauhaus figures offered different paths to explore, notably Moholy-Nagy, whose interest in the biological underpinnings of design dovetailed with scientific research in England, where the botanist A. G. Tansley coined the word “ecosystem” in 1935. As Powers notes, then, as now, “everyone finds the version of the Bauhaus they are seeking.” Barry Bergdoll, cocurator of the 2009 Bauhaus exhibition at MoMA, teaches architectural history at Columbia.
Placeholder Alt Text

Forced Labor, Forced Out

A new group of experts wants to eradicate modern slavery in the built environment
This article appears in the September print edition of The Architect's Newspaper.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index estimated that 24.9 million people around the world are enslaved in forced labor. Although the practice underpins much of the global 21st-century building economy—for example, the index noted that of all imports to the United States that are at risk of being produced under conditions of modern slavery, timber was the fifth largest by value—its invisibility to many in the U.S. has kept the issue from attracting widespread professional attention.

But as consumers become more concerned with where their pants are being made, who grows their coffee beans, and their electricity use, it’s reasonable to expect them to demand that the architecture they inhabit is realized without slave labor, too. The U.S. garment industry—which last year imported $47 billion worth of slave-produced pieces from China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam, among other countries—has been slowly responding to awareness around its corrupt supply chains, and the New Canaan, Connecticut–based Grace Farms Foundation (GFF) wants the building industry to be next.

The design world was recently clued in to the grave issue of labor justice when the late Zaha Hadid said she had “nothing to do” with the hundreds of migrant workers who died on the construction sites of World Cup facilities in Qatar. Many were outraged. Ambassador (ret.) Luis C.deBaca, a senior justice adviser at GFF with expertise in disrupting contemporary slavery and a Robina Fellow at Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, said the initial activism that stemmed from controversial megaprojects in the Gulf States shed light on a broader problem in the industry.

“For many in the human rights community, Hadid’s tone-deaf response to the plight of those workers laboring on World Cup projects not only symbolizes the profession’s abdication of responsibility,” C.deBaca said, “but is proof of an ivory-tower nihilism that undercuts architecture’s claim to leadership in designing for community as opposed to wealth.”

C.deBaca is part of an expanding working group of high-profile construction and design professionals, scholars, human rights experts, and industry association leaders gathered by Sharon Prince, GFF president and cofounder, and AN editor-in-chief Bill Menking. To address exploitation in building supply chains, the two brought together many of the principals of the firms that designed and built Grace Farms to educate the industry and develop better practices. They aim to create a LEED-like score sheet to evaluate forced labor’s role in buildings and products, as well as guidelines on how to infuse antislavery language into design briefs, competition rules, contracts, and more.

“It is time to recognize our responsibility,” Prince said, “and subsidizing construction projects with forced labor on job sites is only half of the slavery issue. Illuminating forced labor in building material supply chains, that design teams specify, has not yet begun. We must turn our attention to the built environment and eradicate modern slavery’s permanent imprint.”

To do this, the team is promoting total transparency from the ground up (and even from below the ground; 4 percent of forced labor occurs in the global mining industry, per the International Labour Organization). Brad Guy, former chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group, recently joined GFF’s initiative. He’s also a member of the AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group and is developing a pledge that will try to channel interest in the environmental and social impact of building materials. This includes spreading the word on the “dirty dozen”: bricks, copper, electronics, fiber and textiles, glass, granite, gravel, iron, minerals, precursor chemicals, tin, rubber, steel, and stone. He said these often-specified materials are at risk of being sourced unethically on job sites around the world.

“I’m pretty sure that most people would not consciously choose to purchase these building products if they were the product of forced or child labor,” Guy said. “The core of an architect’s standard of care is the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and the point of incorporating human rights as a fundamental criterion in the production of buildings and materials is for that reason.”

According to Nat Oppenheimer, executive vice president of structural engineering firm Silman, highlighting a tight list of materials can help clarify how much easier it has become to track their origins. “It can change the frame for the design community, hopefully motivating others to ask about other materials and start doing their own research, which in turn may spur further innovation on tracking technology and the creation of new clean versions,” Oppenheimer said.

Though the Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group, as it’s officially called, has been active for only a year, its efforts are moving forward quickly thanks to the diligence of its members and, in part, because there is already substantial awareness out there. “We’re seeing increasing government regulation around the world, whether in specific modern slavery legislation, such as in Australia and the United Kingdom, or in broader business and human rights initiatives coming out of the European Union and the United Nations,” said C.deBaca, who led the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons during the Obama Administration. “Anyone doing projects overseas or who has multiple offices, or even who sources materials from outside of the U.S., needs to know about this problem.”

So the team is busy spreading the news. Oppenheimer and C.deBaca will present their work at the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Congress in New York this September, while Deborah Berke, also a member of the working group, is planning a spring series of discussions on the topic at the Yale School of Architecture. Hayes Slade, 2019 president of AIA NY, and Benjamin Prosky, AIA NY executive director, will host a meeting to discuss existing antislavery laws and the more than 45 ethical product and materials certifications or reporting mechanisms that can be applied in the U.S. alone.

“As architects, it’s impossible to look at our work from the products selected to the job site to the completed project and not think about how it all came together,” said Slade. “We are also at a point where information is more readily available and so our expectations and aspirations for transparency are increasing.”

It’s an achievable goal, Prince believes, to get more people on board and boost consciousness of the issue in a short amount of time. She says it will take a serious communication and organization strategy, and that’s why the more experts involved, the better.

“This is an opportunity for industry leaders to use their design and construction wherewithal for significant humanitarian effect through the material procurement and specification process,” Prince said. “And we want to find new projects to test this on. Perhaps Amazon’s new HQ2 in Crystal City, Virginia, is a good place to start since they have distinctly made a commitment to responsible sourcing and developed one of the most sophisticated data platforms that could be tuned to illuminate and audit the building material supply chain. We’re looking for that kind of dedication.”

Sydney Franklin is a member of the GFF Architecture + Construction Working Group, of which AN’s editor-in-chief William Menking is a cofounder. Read more about the group's efforts to end modern slavery in architecture here

Placeholder Alt Text

This Year's Best

TWA Hotel, Snøhetta projects, The Shed top TIME's World's 100 Greatest Places
TIME Magazine’s second annual list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places is here and several major, recently-opened cultural marvels secured top spots—two of which were just completed by Norweigan-firm Snøhetta. Put together by the editors and correspondents at TIME, as well as a handful of industry experts, the following parks, hotels, restaurant, and museums were voted highest because they exhibited four key factors: quality, originality, sustainability, innovation, and influence.  It’s interesting to note that only two principals of big-name firms that designed the projects below have made the TIME 100: The Most Influential People list in recent years: Liz Diller (2018) and David Adjaye (2017). The only architect to make the list this year, Jeanne Gang, didn’t have a new piece of architecture up for consideration among the World’s Greatest Places 2019. Not a single Bjarke Ingels Group project made the cut either.  Though it’s not clear why they weren’t chosen, it is possible to guestimate which soon-to-be-finished works across the globe might catch an editor’s eye in 2020 based on this year's finalists. See the TIME’s full list here and AN’s shorter, what-you-must-know version below to learn more:  The Shed New York City By Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group New York’s newest 200,000-square-foot art center only opened in April but it’s been one of the most talked-about building in Hudson Yards. Situated on West 30th Street and surrounded by new glass towers, the kinetic structure features a 120-foot-tall retractable outer shell covered in ETFE panels. It boasts eight different levels for rehearsals, large-scale exhibitions, and events, as well as live music, dance, and theater performances. According to DS+R, The Shed embodies the architecture of infrastructure.  All Square Minneapolis, Minnesota By Architecture Office Austin-based firm Architecture Office created a stand-out space in Minneapolis for the nonprofit/restaurant All Square. Unveiled in September 2018, the 900-square-foot, neon-lit eatery provides the formerly incarcerated with a place of employment and continuing education. The civil rights social enterprise was started by lawyer Emily Turner and has bragging rights to the best craft grilled cheese sandwiches in town. The Gathering Place Tulsa, Oklahoma By Michael Van Valkenburg Associates  Imagined by billionaire philanthropist George B. Kaiser, The Gathering Place is a 66.5-acre riverside park situated two miles from downtown Tulsa. It opened to the public last September and has since welcomed over 2 million people. New York-based landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team transformed a slate of land next to the Arkansas River into a veritable green theme park of activities for adults and children. It’s the largest public “gift park” in U.S. history; 80 philanthropic donors funded the construction of the park and created an endowment to secure its future.  Ruby City San Antonio, Texas By David Adjaye Associates Officially set to open this October, the 14,000-square-foot Ruby City holds the 800-piece art collection of the late Linda Pace, artist, philanthropist, and heiress to the Pace Foods salsa fortune. Constructed with a sparkling, rose-tinted concrete exterior made in Mexico, the museum complex includes a series of open galleries with sculptural skylights that bring the sun into the interior spaces. The project was created in collaboration with local firm Alamo Architects.  TWA Hotel Queens, New York By Lubrano Ciavarra Architects Flanking the backside of Eero Saarinen’s historic midcentury modern TWA Flight Center, the new TWA Hotel is a glass-clad, dual-structure composed of 512 sound-proof rooms, a rooftop infinity pool, and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck that looks out over incoming international flights. Guests started arriving at the Jet-Blue adjacent site in May to enjoy the recently-renovated terminal, completed by Beyer Blinder Belle, and its newly-opened dining options. The ultra-energy-efficient hotel also houses 50,000 square feet of underground events space.  Central Library Calgary, Canada By Snøhetta and DIALOG Snøhetta’s Central Library takes up 240,000 square feet of space in downtown Calgary and stands six stories tall. One of the many design elements that make the public building so attractive is its gleaming facade made of white aluminum and fritted glass, as well as the way it straddles an active rail line. On the inside, a massive oculus and sinuous wooden stair system give the 85-foot-tall atrium a light and airy, yet dramatic feel. The public project opened last November The National Museum of Qatar Doha, Qatar By Ateliers Jean Nouvel Qatar’s highly-anticipated National Museum came online in March and is part of a recent construction boom in the country as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup. Designed to mimic Qatar’s desert rose sand formations, the 430,000-square-foot institution stretches in a series of interlocking discs across a portside site in downtown Doha. The galleries inside tell both the story of the desert's natural history as well as the country’s evolution, cultural heritage, and future. Xiqu Centre Hong Kong, China By Revery Architecture  Hong Kong’s new opera house is covered in 13,000 curved aluminum fins arranged in a wave-like fashion—a design move inspired by the delicacy of theater curtains. Though the architecture itself is shaped like a box, the cladding gives it a texturized appearance that’s almost psychedelic to see up close. The cultural space, which opened in April, includes a 1,073-seat theater that floats above an interior plaza used for exhibitions and performances.  V&A Dundee Dundee, Scotland By Kengo Kuma As the second outpost of London’s Victoria and Albert Design Museum, the staggered, concrete facade of the V&A Dundee is a stark contrast to its historic sister site and makes it stand out amongst the industrial waterfront near downtown Dundee. Kengo Kuma inverted two pyramids for the outline of the structure, some of which juts out into the River Tay, to both evoke Scotland’s craggy, cliff-edged coastline and the shape of a ship on the sea. It opened its doors last September with a set of permanent exhibitions on Scottish design.  Statue of Unity Gujarat, India By Michael Graves Architecture & Design and sculptor Ram V. Sutar Standing 597 feet tall on an island in the Narmada River, this bronze statue is a larger-than-life replica of India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was completed last November and since then, visitors have flocked to the western India state to climb the statue for unparalleled views of the nearby mountain range. Soon, its base is slated to become a resort.  Under Lindesnes, Norway By Snøhetta Finished in March, Under doubles as a partially-underwater marine biology research station and an ultra-exclusive restaurant. Snøhetta’s sunken “periscope” design dives 16 feet below the North Sea and features a 36-foot-long, 11-foot-tall window wall in the dining room. The exterior is clad in concrete, but the interior boasts other materials such as oak and terrazzo. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Dean's List

The country’s newest architecture deans share their visions, role models, and mascots
For many architecture and design schools across the United States, 2019 marks a shift in institutional leadership. From Charlotte to Berkeley, new deans will assume the helms of some of the country’s most challenging—and exciting—programs. The deans will have the opportunity to shape design pedagogy and practice in significant ways, potentially guiding how academic institutions teach and address issues related to the built environment for years to come. But in an era of collaborative learning and community engagement, what does deanship look like? AN asked eight of the country’s new deans about their plans for the future of their schools and their discipline. Here’s what they have to say: Respondents’ answers have been edited and condensed in some cases. Vishaan Chakrabarti University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design A former principal at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the founder of the New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your vision for the school moving forward? Given the spatial nature of our three existential challenges—climate change, social inequity, and technological dislocation—I believe that schools of architecture are as relevant today as law schools were during the civil and equal rights era. I am keenly interested in exploring with students, staff, and faculty the questions of how to reconcile the demands of professional practice—which takes decades to do well—with the understandable impatience of many students to radically and immediately change our world in light of the environmental, intersectional, economic, and political crises in which they have come of age. How is your new school different from your previous institution, Columbia University? Because [Berkeley] is public, it serves disproportionately large numbers of first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diverse groups relative to most private institutions. More broadly, Berkeley is part of the Pacific Rim and therefore exists at a healthy distance from the Eurocentric framework that still dominates many design schools. Harriet Harriss Pratt Institute School of Architecture Before assuming her role at Pratt, Harriet Harriss was the head of the postgraduate program in architecture and interior design at the Royal College of Art in London, where she explored new models of design education addressing gender imbalances that exist at many institutions. What is your vision for the school moving forward? The tradition of parachuting in architectural visionaries ready to superimpose their agenda and aesthetics upon an unsuspecting faculty—with little regard for the established expertise within a school of architecture— is no longer viable. The vision I have is the one I intend to co-design with the talented and dedicated educators, students, and administrators at Pratt Institute School of Architecture… What’s needed is a dean who is willing to facilitate, enable, and empower, who is committed to ensuring talented students’ and educators’ work gets the recognition and exposure it deserves, and one who will work toward ensuring the work is realized across an expanded field of professional practices and public contexts. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Architecture’s habit of focusing upon an individual’s contribution over that of a collective does not reflect the reality of architectural practice or education. Instead, we need to recognize the achievements of collectives in shaping the most successful spatial outcomes and increase our capacity for collaboration in order to respond effectively to challenges ahead. What would you make your school’s mascot? Do we need mascots? Or actions that lead to meaningful impact? Branko Kolarevic New Jersey Institute of Technology Hillier College of Architecture and Design Previously a professor and administrator at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, Branko Kolarevic is a designer and educator with experience at multiple universities across North America and Asia. How is your new school different from your previous institution, the University of Calgary? The urban fabric and the demographics of [Newark and Calgary] are very different, as are the local economies and politics. The school in Calgary was based on graduate and postgraduate education, while the Hillier College is mostly focused on undergraduate degrees, even though we have both professional and post-professional masters degrees (and also a PhD program)… There are similarities, as both NJIT and the University of Calgary place great emphasis on research; both are in the top tier research-wise. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? My role model is late Bill Mitchell, the former dean at MIT, who was my mentor when I was a doctoral student at Harvard GSD, and who provided unwavering support throughout my academic career. I also had a privilege early on to learn about leadership from two great deans: Marvin Malecha, who was dean of the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design in early 1990s when I taught there, and Roger Schluntz, former dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture. They both radiate positive energy that is infectious and are great minds and compassionate leaders who care deeply about people around them. What would you make your school’s mascot? That's a tough one. Given that New Jersey is known as the “Garden State,” I would pick our state bird (American goldfinch) or insect (honeybee) as a mascot. Both the goldfinches and bees are designers and builders of their nests, so in my view they are appropriate mascots for a design school. Lesley Lokko The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York Beyond her training as an architect and her tenure as head of school at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, Lesley Lokko is a Scottish-born-Ghanaian-raised writer with 12 best-selling novels. How is your new school different from your previous institution, the University of Johannesburg? Managerially and administratively, they are very different, but the hunger that drives the staff and students is very similar. Both places have a desire to say what has previously remained unsaid: that issues of class, race, gender, and power are central to architectural production, not marginal; that diversity strengthens architectural, landscape, and urban culture; that difference matters, not because it is “different,” but because it enriches discourse. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Alvin Boyarsky [chair of the Architectural Association from 1971 to 1990]. He made the marginal mainstream and was committed to change. What would you make your school’s mascot? A chameleon. Shape-shifter. Brook Muller University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture  Brook Muller was an associate dean of the University of Oregon (UO) School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and his work focuses primarily on design theory and ecologically responsible practice. What is your vision for the school moving forward? I seek to build a shared vision for the College of Arts + Architecture, so the idea is to shape it when I hit the ground… My priorities include (1) Introducing [students] to an expansive set of issues and asking them to assume active stances…(2) [Building] community partnership…in the arts and design…(3) Promoting interdisciplinarity and other forms of intra-college community building; (4) Assuming a proactive stance in fostering equity… (5) Pushing the boundaries of sustainability and ecological responsiveness. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Frances Bronet, my former dean at UO, who is now President at the Pratt Institute. [An interview with Frances Bronet is on page tktk] Frances was tireless, visionary, and enthusiastic, always one step ahead. I have seen many different models of leadership; hers was predicated on building effective collaborations and trust. It was a lot of fun to walk into work when Frances was at UO. What would you make your school’s mascot? I like UNC Charlotte’s current team nickname (49ers). This name came about as the institution was founded in the late 1940s after World War II in response to rising educational demand. Focusing on the city and on opening up educational opportunities for those who are deserving—that strikes me as a beautiful pairing. Dan Pitera University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture Dan Pitera served as the executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, a community-based nonprofit located at the University of Detroit Mercy. The center’s website describes him as “a political and social activist masquerading as an architect.” What is your vision for the school moving forward? We do not need to abandon the tools of our discipline to engage a wider variety of people in a collaborative way… Working in this way is often viewed as an alternative practice. Instead, I propose that we are working to alter how architects practice. Our school of architecture will interrogate and craft methods to meaningfully incorporate community-driven practice throughout the profession. What would you make your school’s mascot? A mascot for the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture would have to amplify and celebrate our values. It would stand for justice, be inclusive, have a global perspective, be daring and be fun. After consulting several students, we came up with the Canada goose. Yearly, two Canada geese nest on a visible section of roof at our school of architecture on their daring annual journey… The geese are unaware of political boundaries of countries, cities, institutions, or buildings. They have welcomed us into their home. Sarah Whiting Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Previously the dean of the Rice University School of Architecture, Sarah Whiting is a founding partner of WW Architecture, a practice she established with her husband Ron Witte. How is your new school different from your previous institution, Rice University? The GSD is almost five times bigger than Rice, and it has three departments and multiple programs, whereas Rice was a one-department school. At the same time, both schools are filled with extraordinary faculty and students, and both schools situate design’s importance within global culture, so they really do share a similar ethos. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Two figures who immediately come to mind as role models include Robert (Bob) Geddes at Princeton (dean from 1965 to 1982) and Harry Cobb at the GSD (chair of architecture at the GSD from 1980 to 1985). Both did a remarkable job of building up faculties of diverse yet precise voices—resulting in specific, yet unpredictable conversations within their schools—during extraordinary moments for architectural education. Meejin Yoon Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning Before joining the faculty at Cornell in early 2019, Meejin Yoon led the architecture department at MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning. She is a cofounding principal of the architecture firm Höweler + Yoon. How is your new school different from your previous institution, MIT? [Cornell and MIT’s] overlaps are probably more interesting than their differences. Specifically, I’m thinking of the underlying social and cultural values that drive creative imagination, breadth of scholarship, and depth of research across the domains of architecture, art, and planning at both schools. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Dean William Mitchell… I will never forget Dean Mitchell’s response when I anxiously shared the news that my students, in fulfilling a studio assignment, had caught the building on fire. He acknowledged that no one was hurt, assured me that insurance would take care of the physical damage, and concluded by sharing that experimentation means taking risks and that he was happy that I was stirring up things in the department of architecture. His level of encouragement and support for taking risks that push boundaries was profound, and I have always admired him as a role model for academic leadership. What would you make your school’s mascot? A fire-breathing dragon.
Placeholder Alt Text

Recording Now

Outpost Office explores trampoline parks and more with Site Visit podcast
The founders of Columbus, Ohio-based studio Outpost Office conduct a lot of site visits. Not just for their own emerging architectural practice, established in 2014 in Ukraine, but as a way to have fun, educate themselves, and their peers. Ashley Bigham and Erik Herrmann are both assistant professors of The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. In their free time—which is few and far-between as academic practitioners—they host a clever podcast called Site Visit where they invite guests to give them tours of random architecture. The best example of how interesting and unpretentious this design podcast is lies in the fact that their first episode ever was recorded in Michigan’s #1 home improvement store.  The first eight-episode season was released last year and attracted nearly 4,000 subscribers. Now in its second season, Site Visit is expanding with more episodes and more diverse points of view. AN spoke with Bigham and Herrmann about the inspiration behind the podcast, how to get good audio of a building, and why they feel they could tour the same space over and over again and still learn something new each time. AN: First, the name. What inspired you to call the show Site Visit Erik Herrmann: We wanted the name to be simple and direct. No one has very much time these days, so we get right to the point. And for architects, it’s also a bit of a wink, which also clues you into the tone. Site visits are the things we do as architects when we leave the confines of the office and get out “into the world.” Site Visits are thrilling, but also a bit intimidating for young architects. You have to improvise, negotiate, and perform in all kinds of fascinating ways. You are often wearing a lot of hats...literally and metaphorically. Every site visit is different, so no one is exactly in their comfort zone. We wanted to produce something that was authentic to the medium of podcasts and wasn’t like a lecture, review, or interview which are the typical formats we get architectural knowledge from. These formats are usually about someone directly demonstrating their expertise. We wanted to cultivate a conversation amongst friends with buildings at the center.  In your roster of episodes, you visit a theater, a military academy, an architecture school, and downtown Denver, among other places. How do all these “architectures” connect?  EH: There are a lot of great podcasts on architecture, but they often tend to be academic and borrow a lot from the traditional formats we discussed earlier. Within that space, we saw an opportunity to try something a little different. There's a particular genre of podcasts we were attracted to that are essentially serialized conversations amongst friends that center around a shared experience. The podcasts Doughboys, which reviews chain restaurants, and The Flophouse, which reviews films, are two examples.  We then started talking a lot about things we genuinely liked to talk to each other about, which to be honest was buildings. But we’re also academics, so we can’t help but talk about buildings in terms of, to borrow Stan Allen’s terms, not only practice but also project. We wanted to find an approachable, straightforward format that allowed our guest’s project or more overarching theory of architecture to organically emerge while the conversation focuses on a specific building. So our initial intention was simply to invite someone who could help unpack a building for us and it worked! Through their choice of that site and their personal description of it, we’ve started to better understand how people see the world around them.  Do you have specific criteria for the sites you visit?  EK: Our guest always chooses the location. Our only rule is that it’s not a space they themselves designed. Our preference, though, is that it’s a public building.  Any highlights from Season 1? Ashley Bigham: Episode 1 with Ellie Abrons remains one of the favorites. We went to Menard’s, which is a midwest chain of home improvement stores, and it was a great way to kick off the podcast. In the beginning, we were worried that our guests would only choose signature buildings by famous architects. Menard’s is great because it is a very complex piece of architecture. It’s basically a fun palace. It’s a densely filled commercial space that has an impact on all people, particularly children. So many people in the Midwest love it and tell us they went there all the time as a kid. Anyone who has ever been into a big box store can relate to what we were talking about in this episode without even visiting that specific one. The episode also offers some insight into Ellie’s approach to architecture. What can listeners expect with Season 2? AB: Our first interview is with Anya Sirota of Akoaki in Detroit. She’s also a professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture. She took us to Airtime in Ann Arbor, which is an indoor trampoline park. Season 2 will also include our first live episode which we’re very excited about. We’ll be recording an episode live during the fall conference for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture at Stanford. EH: We are highlighting a couple of other people located in the Midwest as well for Season 2, an architect and museum curator specifically. We want to expand the conversation to include a lot of new voices.  I noticed you had previously visited an inflatable bouncing park in Season 1 and a trampoline park in Season 2. How were you able to approach Season 2 premiere episode with a fresh perspective?  AB: We could honestly visit the same site every single episode because each of our guests would see it differently, and therefore we would too. What’s been the biggest challenge in producing a podcast on architecture? EH: With every episode, we’ve found it challenging to describe the architecture and the experience. I think that’s the hardest thing to do clearly with the audio format. We try to curb that by offering visuals on our Site Visit Instagram or the website, but when we’re recording it’s a constant challenge trying to remember to experience the space through your words, and not primarily through your eyes.  We also got a very interesting comment once from a friend of ours who is a lawyer. She asked whether we would ever bring on a guest who is visually impaired. People who are blind or are differently-abled might experience space differently than we do. It’d be fascinating.  Do you think you’ll venture into a third season? AB: I think so. When we started the podcast, we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to devote to it, but we’ve really grown to enjoy the conversations. We’re actually visiting with episode six guest Whitney Moon later this fall. She’s teaching a course on podcasts and architectural media at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and we’re going to drop in and see what the students are up to. The show has a life long after the microphone is turned off. 
Placeholder Alt Text

The Harsh Truth

Sojourner Truth added to women's suffrage statue in Central Park, academics criticize decision
The nonprofit behind building Central Park’s first-ever monument dedicated to women’s suffrage announced last week that it’s including abolitionist and activist Sojourner Truth alongside suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the bronze cast slated for Literary Walk. Critics who previously said the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund was whitewashing women’s suffrage are already saying it’s has made another major mistake by grouping the three historic females together and is calling for a redesign. 
“If Sojourner Truth is added in a manner that simply shows her working together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Stanton’s home, it could obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists, and would be misleading.” 
That’s an excerpt from a letter sent to the Fund that was signed by 20 leading academics on African American history and black culture, including professors from Barnard College, NYU, Brown, and Yale, among others. Leslie Podell, creator of “The Sojourner Truth Project” signed as well. They noted that while Truth did have a relationship with Stanton and Anthony and that they did all attend the May 1867 meeting of the Equal Rights Association, it’s not actually known whether or not they all were at Stanton’s house at the same time.  It was previously announced that the design of sculptor Meredith Bergmann, which featured just Stanton and Anthony, was approved as the official suffragette statue by the Public Design Commission (PDC) if the Fund made an effort to acknowledge women of color and their role in the movement in a future project. A model of the statue is now on view at the New York Historical Society through August 26. Though the addition of Truth to the piece shows that leadership behind the project is listening, their move feels less than transparent to some.  Hyperallergic spoke with Todd Fine, president of the Washington Street Advocacy Group and co-organizer of the letter with Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society. He said he’s confused as to why the nonprofit didn’t include an image of the new proposal with the public statement. That would have given people the opportunity to weigh in on the final product before it was presented to the PDC. According to the article, the Fund has already submitted the new idea.  Those in opposition don't want the process to be rushed, or that a new design be chosen in haste. Either way, the piece is expected to be placed in Central Park one year from next Monday, so a dialogue to redesign it must begin now. And the signees want to talk. 
“We believe that there may be elegant ways to memorialize the full scope of the suffrage movement to incorporate these challenging differences,” the letter reads, “but they will require careful consideration, explicitly including black community voices and scholars of this history.”
 
Placeholder Alt Text

A Calatravesty

Venice fines Santiago Calatrava for slippery, inaccessible bridge
Santiago Calatrava is being fined—again—for his work.  This time it’s $87,000 for his Ponte della Costituzione, or Constitution Bridge, in Venice, Italy. An Italian court recently ruled that the Spanish architect needs to pay the city for cost over-runs and “negligence” in faulty design. According to The Telegraph, the 300-foot-long steel and glass piece of infrastructure ended up being weaker than intended.  Completed in 2008, the project was controversial from the beginning. Protests and heated criticism over its placement rang out upon its announcement in 1999. The biggest issues included its lack of accessibility for wheelchair users, the conflict between its modernist design and the city’s historic scenery, and the fact that it’s located very close to one of the other three walking bridges that span the Grand Canal. Nevertheless, the structure was installed after years of delays for a total of $12.9 million and now leads locals and tourists over the water from a bus terminal (many of them with rolling luggage in tow) in Santa Croce to the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia.  The Telegraph reports that one of the other unexpected problems that people have complained about over the years involves the glass steps. They noted how slippery the stairs get when it rains or the fog descends on Venice in the winter, but Calatrava's office recently told AN that the steps are "no more slippery than other parts of the city." In addition to this, due to the bridge’s location in a highly-trafficked area, the steps have become worn-down. Some of them have already been replaced, according to the ruling judges, even though they were expected to last 20 years.   Furthermore, the court determined that the steel tubes used on the bridge were too small and the egg-shaped glass elevator, which was later added for accessibility, overheated too much. A court found earlier this year it had to be removed for safety reasons, costing the city $44,000.  The Telegraph noted that when asked over a decade ago to respond to all the criticism, Calatrava noted that he had “no influence in the selection of the contracting company that built the structure.” His work, he said, was limited to the aesthetic. In a call with AN, the firm clarified that the stairlift was, in fact, incorporated into the initial design that was revealed in the late 90s, but it was rejected by the city council. They claimed wheelchair users could take the Vaporetto water taxi instead. Years later, a new mayor commissioned the glass elevator "against Calatrava's advice," the firm said.  This isn’t the first time the famed architect has gotten in trouble with a municipality over the complexity of his projects and the time it takes to build them. Despite that, bridges are one of his specialties having designed 35 total in his career. The first, located in Barcelona, was completed in 1987—which is why the fines against him due to the mistakes on the Constitution Bridge are so high, according to the court.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
Placeholder Alt Text

Post-Patriot Rumors

Does Tom Brady want to be an architect when he retires from football?
Well, it appears as though the next multi-hyphenate celebrity looking to add "architect" to their roster of titles is: You guessed it, Tom Brady. In an interview on WEEI’sThe Greg Hill Show,” the New England Patriots quarterback mentioned he may want to get into residential design after retiring from professional football. “Maybe I’ll be an architectural designer,” Brady said, “because I love building houses." That much may be true. He’s really into personal building projects. Brady and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, have built several homes together, including their 14,000-square-foot Brookline mansion which just went on the market last week for nearly $40 million. Patriots fans have been freaking out over the rumors of its sale, speculating that he’s likely to retire after this upcoming season. Brady squashed the chatter in the WEEI interview, telling fans not to look too much into it. It’s yet to be determined whether fans will believe him—with the sale of the home it means Brady is decreasing proximity to Patriots owner Bob Kraft who owns property next door. Brady and Bundchen also custom-designed an 18,000-square-foot mansion in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles together. Though they sold it to record producer Dr. Dre in 2017, they clearly put a thoughtful lot of work into the home: It boasts an eco-conscious build-out created in tandem with architect Richard Landry, known as the “King of MegaMansions,” and expensive interior designer Joan Behnke With the Brookline mansion now up for grabs and their Brentwood home in the hands of Dr. Dre, the question remains whether Brady and Bundchen will take up another design project for their next residence. For now, they'll have their 5,000-square-foot, 5-bedroom condominium in New York to return to in 70 Vestry, a 14-story limestone tower in Tribeca designed by Robert A.M. Stern. Forbes reported that the family moved there in 2017 for $20 million.  Should Brady officially go into the architectural profession post-Patriots, he’ll join other personalities such as Kanye West, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton, and Travis Scott who’ve all expressed interest in design.