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Sharks!

New York Aquarium opens $158 million addition that’s all about sharks
  Coney Island will gain a major attraction this weekend when the New York Aquarium opens a $158 million addition called Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Civic leaders joined aquarium officials and donors on Thursday to cut the ribbon for the facility, which opens to the public on Saturday. With more than 57,000 square feet of space, from an underwater tunnel that takes visitors beneath a coral reef exhibit to a rooftop observation deck, the three-level addition brings visitors “nose to nose” with 18 different species of sharks and rays, plus 115 other kinds of marine life. Having been in the works for the past 14 years, the facility represents a major addition to the New York Aquarium, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is considered the oldest continuously-operating aquatic museum in the United States. The design is the work of a consortium led by Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning and Design and Chief Architect for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Key design team members included Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects of New York, Doyle Partners of New York, and the Portico Group of Seattle. In 2013, the design received an Award for Design Excellence from the New York City Public Design Commission. The goal, planners say, was to create a facility that educates visitors about the importance of sharks to the health of the world’s oceans, points out the threats they face, and inspires visitors to protect marine life in New York and beyond. “Our new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit will awaken New Yorkers to the magnificence and importance of the ocean here in New York,” said Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin in a statement. “We hope that the pride and sense of wonder instilled by Ocean Wonders: Sharks! translate into stewardship for our oceans.” Completed as a joint venture of the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York City, which owns the land and provided most of the construction funds, the addition also represents a major achievement by the Aquarium and the Coney Island community in rebuilding from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “We’re celebrating a remarkable new facility where New Yorkers can learn more about—and be delighted by—our ocean-dwelling neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the ribbon cutting. “But we’re also celebrating another big step toward recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The New York Aquarium brings the wonders of the sea to our doorstep, and we’re proud to have made a major investment in its restoration.” The curving structure cantilevers over the Coney Island boardwalk, which was recently designated a New York City landmark. Its exterior includes an 1,100-foot-long “Shimmer Wall” that was designed in collaboration with visual artist Ned Kahn to convey the force and fluidity of the ocean. This kinetic facade consists of more than 33,000 aluminum “flappers” that undulate with the wind. Inside are nine galleries that Chin says were inspired by nature. They include the “Coral Reef Tunnel,” an immersive underwater tunnel that enables visitors to view sharks swimming overhead; Sharks Up Close,” an interactive gallery showcasing the physiology and behavior of sharks and rays; “Sharks in Peril,” a gallery that shows why sharks are vulnerable to overfishing and other threats, and “Discover New York Waters,” a gallery that highlights the marine ecosystems off New York’s coast.  Other areas include “New York Seascape,“ which shows how scientists are working to save sharks; “Shipwreck,” which explores the more than 60 wrecks found along the New York coastline and how they serve as gathering spots for sharks; “Canyon’s Edge,” a look at the ecosystem of the Hudson Canyon, which begins at the mouth of the Hudson River and is comparable in size to the Grand Canyon; “Conservation Choices,” showing how visitors can become conservationists; and “Ecology Walk,” a look at the ecology of Coney Island and nearby areas such as Jamaica Bay and Sandy Hook. On the top level are the Ocean Overlook and the Oceanview Learning Laboratory, a 1,500 square-foot educational space featuring an outdoor terrace with a rooftop touch tank and other teaching facilities. The New York Aquarium opened in 1896 in Castle Garden, part of the Battery Park section of Manhattan. Since 1957, it has been located on the Coney Island boardwalk in Brooklyn. Of the total $158 million cost of the Ocean Wonders exhibit and its companion Animal Care Facility, $111 million came from New York City and $47 million came from private groups, individuals, and tax-exempt financing. The addition is expected to generate $20 million a year in economic activity. New York officials noted yesterday that the aquarium addition is one of many ways that New York had been working to revitalize Coney Island, even before Hurricane Sandy. “We’ve been making big investments across Coney Island in everything from affordable housing to new amusements to infrastructure upgrades,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corp. “Today we’re proud to add ‘sharks’ to that list. Investing in our cultural institutions is critical to our ongoing neighborhood investments, and we’re thrilled to see this iconic exhibit build on the momentum in Coney Island.”
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Frick Frack Paddywhack

Revised Frick expansion clears Landmarks but still faces challenges
A revised scheme for the Selldorf Architects-designed expansion of Manhattan’s Frick Collection with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) acting as executive architects has gained approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). While commissioners voiced their concern over the addition’s fenestration and whether enough was done to move the proposed programming underground, they ultimately voted to approve the presented plan. That approval still faces resistance from local residents and preservationist groups, including an injunction hearing scheduled for this September that could slow the project down further. In approving the expansion, landmarks commissioners noted the support the project had drawn from the public, including from architects, preservationists, art historians, curators, and landscape architects, but acknowledged they had also received emails in opposition as well. Four grandchildren of Henry Clay Frick have signed letters signaling their support, and the commissioners were quick to mention their prior approval of the more experimental, Jeanne Gang-led expansion at the American Museum of Natural History. Community groups such as the City Club and Landmarks Conservancy have also voiced their support. In the Conservancy's testimony before the LPC, they stated that their Public Policy Committee had “found that the new limestone-clad additions are appropriate in their height, massing, and materials. They draw inspiration from the historic buildings in a respectful manner. The rooftop addition to the Reception Hall will rise gracefully from the building, in the manner of a conservatory. The connecting link is modest, but well-considered. There will be no loss of historic fabric, and while some façade elements of the Library Building will be less visible, they will not be removed or altered by this project.” The original scheme for the Frick's latest expansion was presented at a May 29 hearing where the public was invited to openly comment. Selldorf and BBB had proposed increasing the floor area of the Frick by 10 percent­­­­(18,000 square feet) to provide room for new conservation areas, offices, and gallery spaces with 1,800 of that square footage to be placed underground. Perhaps the most debated portions of the expansion plan touch on the Russell Page-designed garden on East 70th Street which was added in 1977. Installing the proposed 220-seat auditorium below the garden will require removing the garden above and reinstalling it exactly as it was before. The north wall of the 4,100-square-foot garden, part of the 1977 Bayley, Van Dyke & Poehler addition that originally created the garden, is also on the block to be rebuilt. As the scheme calls for the library to rise directly over the garden’s northern wall, a series of hornbeam trees behind the wall that were planted in 2010 (replacing pear trees placed by Page to mask the back of the existing library building) would need to be removed. The original plan had placed the new library almost flush with the north wall, but the trees were ultimately spared in the final version. Annabelle Selldorf was on hand for the follow-up LPC meeting on June 26 and explained that by setting the addition’s massing back three feet from the north wall’s edge, they were able to carve out a shelf behind the cornice for replacement trees. The smaller hornbeams would be located in the same positions as their predecessors and are intended to recreate the trompe l’oeil, the sense that the garden stretches on past its confines, that the current trees bring to the landscape. Selldorf was adamant that shaving three feet off of the addition was the most that can be done, and that tightening the massing any further was impossible due to programmatic requirements. The circular John Russell Pope-designed Music Room, set to be dismantled to make way for more special exhibition space, was briefly discussed as commissioners prodded the Frick to explain why the space couldn’t be repurposed. Museum representatives explained the difficulty in staging exhibitions inside of a round room and the associated temporary architecture required, and that more space was needed to display their collection. The Music Room’s Versailles-patterned wood floors and non-structural wall panels will be reused in the replacement gallery space, and the entire room will be 3D scanned and included in the Frick’s collection. That is, if the room is actually taken apart. As the commissioners noted during this week’s meeting, an active Request for Evaluation (RFE) to designate the Music Room, West Gallery & Enamels Room, and the 1977 Reception Hall as interior landmarks is currently being processed. Questions were raised over whether approving the expansion would preclude the music room’s designation, but commissioners received clarification that the two items were not in conflict with each other. It was entered into the record that the LPC takes a meticulous approach to interior designations and that if the RFE is approved, the scheme will have to be retooled to include a circular music room. Though the commissioners questioned the design team on whether more of the proposed programming could be moved underground­, the plan presented was approved with six votes for, one against, and one commissioner choosing to abstain. The Frick is an individual landmark within the landmarked Upper East Side Historic District, but commissioners highlighted the fact that the Frick Collection is a campus of separate buildings from many different time periods when making their final decision. Opponents have compiled a laundry list of complaints against the Selldorf and BBB plan. The Stop Irresponsible Frick Development (SIFD) coalition, a collection of architects, preservationists, and activists gathered on the steps of City Hall on June 25 to make their voices heard about why the expansion should be halted. Citing the lack of time given to the public to review the revised scheme, the LPC’s failure to consider landmarking the Music Room first, the potential conflict of interest arising from interim LPC chair and BBB partner Fred Bland’s participation in the process, the necessity of the Frick to expand its collection to such a degree, and the addition of a glassy café topper above the reception hall, the group had tried to delay the June 26 vote. Although an emergency temporary restraining order was submitted by the group on June 25 to the State Supreme Court, the judge decided not to grant the measure. However, an injunction hearing has been scheduled for September, which will force the Frick to defend their decisions in court and risks throwing a wrench in the project’s timeline. Preservationist Theodore Grunewald was responsible for filing the Music Room RFE (at the May 29th hearing itself, a first in the Commission's history) arguing that the room deserves to be judged on its own merits. This is the first time that an RFE for a separate part of a project has been raised independently before the LPC. In an op-ed published to the New York Times on June 25, Martha Frick Symington Sanger, a great-granddaughter of Henry Clay Frick, laid the groups concerns bare. “Let us engage an independent professional to evaluate the feasibility of excavation for proposed new facilities,” wrote Sanger, although the LPC noted that they have, historically, never taken outside design considerations into account when making their decisions. “Revisit the possibility of modernizing and repurposing existing underground facilities; purchase the adjacent, 6,000-square-foot building that is currently on the market for less than 10 percent of the anticipated cost of the current proposal; and seek landmark status for the music room, which could just as easily be preserved as a gallery.” The full presentation given at the June 26 LPC meeting is available here. According to the Frick, construction on the addition will not begin until 2020. AN will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.
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Half a Minute

A simple 3-D imaging platform could change the way you see architectural plans
The process of drawing up architectural plans is in flux. For more than a decade, assorted software programs have attempted to bridge the gap between two and three dimensions by taking flat drawings or field data collected onsite and migrating them into modeling platforms, which create photorealistic renderings or 3-D virtual reality walkthroughs of a project. But what if the process began with what exists in three-dimensional time and space instead? That’s a question 3-D media company Matterport has answered by creating what it calls True3DTM imaging of real-world environments using its proprietary platform, which includes its Pro2 3D camera and cloud-based services. “What’s really happening in the industry is this shift and transition that’s been happening for a number of years from 2D to 3D,” noted Matterport’s Director of AEC, John Chwalibog. “That’s where everything has been going and continues to go with some of the augmented reality and virtual reality type technologies. It’s kind of taken 3D to another level of ‘actual 3D,’ or what we at Matterport call ‘True3D,’” he said. “So, instead of having rendered models of the design process, especially with existing spaces, why not start with the actual model of the space and use that as the backdrop to really drive and start that design process?”

How It Works

What makes the Matterport platform unique is its simplicity and efficiency. Scanning a room in 3-D previously required trained technicians and complicated software that took countless hours to capture and process. Matterport has simplified the experience by creating its Capture app for iPad that allows users to operate its 3-D camera with the push of a single button, which takes just 20 to 30 seconds per scan (total time to document an entire building depends on the size). Once the space has been captured, users can upload the data to Matterport, which processes and hosts the files for sharing within a matter of hours, Chwalibog says. The Pro2 camera generates high-quality 4K, 2-D photography in addition to state-of-the-art 3-D and VR walkthroughs and floorplans all from one device. The software and cloud services work together to capture and automatically weave together thousands of digital 3-D images into an accurate, immersive photorealistic model that can be shared, annotated, and exported to a variety of tools such as Autodesk ReCap or Revit, improving efficiency and collaboration on the front-end of the project. Additionally, Matterport adds value to the entire building lifecycle, including construction documentation and maintenance. Chwalibog notes that on the job site, project team members use the technology to record milestones, such as when structural steel, foundation work, rough walls, plumbing, mechanical, electrical, or plumbing are in place. “What you end up with is a series of three-dimensional models of particular moments in time during that construction process, so it meets the needs of construction documentation to actually document what was built,” he said. “I can identify any changes from what was actually built versus the design intent, so now I can proactively make some decisions about how that’s going to impact the next milestone.” Likewise, Chwalibog says the three-dimensional record of the project gives property owners much better intelligence about existing conditions which can prove invaluable years later if or when a renovation takes place.
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Office Cultured

A new wave of social and relaxation spaces bridges the gap between work and home
As anyone used to late-night emails knows, the nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. But while innovative companies have traded cubicles for open, flexible office plans, people are seeking even more elastic social spaces that foster wellness and connection—both in the office and out. Consider them an updated version of the "third space," common areas where people go to unplug, reenergize, and decompress. "When we first got involved in workplace in the '90s, our interest was, ‘How can design contribute to creative communities?’" said architect Clive Wilkinson, whose Los Angeles firm has designed the interiors of the Googleplex campus and offices for other leaders in tech and media. "We were in a prehistoric era when cubicle farms still ruled. We’ve come so far since then," he continued, citing the shift from the afterthought coffee rooms of the 1980s to the "Starbucks workplace" of today’s laptops-and-lattes company cafes. "A large part of the social space in the workplace today is somewhere between a boutique hotel and your home," Wilkinson explained. "Depending on the type of client, it can go more one direction or the other." The aesthetic shift is due in part to the influence of designers like Philippe Starck, whose hospitality designs brought a glamorized domestic environment into public spaces, but it’s also a result of the premium put on today’s knowledge workers, noted Wilkinson, who is writing a history of offices tentatively titled The Theater of Work (Frame Publishers). In one of his firm’s current projects, a new headquarters for Utah bedding-manufacturing company Malouf, an entire building will be designated for nonwork areas, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, barbershop, and spa. It’s not just in the office where people are feeling the change in work culture. "There’s a real flattening now between what is considered work with a capital ‘W’ and all the other side projects that people are interested in," said Richard McConkey, an associate director at Universal Design Studio (UDS). "There's not such a clear division between work, home, life, cultural projects, and hobbies anymore; that's why all these multifunctional spaces are occurring." UDS has developed on a number of projects that blur the lines of live-work-play, including MINI Living, the car brand’s Shanghai entry into the coliving concept of small private spaces surrounding shared semipublic spaces. But the UDS project that perhaps best represents the growing thirst for gathering is London’s Ace Hotel, the lobby of which has been called one of the city’s most popular coworking spots, although it isn’t officially one at all. Ian Schrager’s Public hotel in New York is similar in attracting nonguests to spend their days there, usually with laptop or phone in hand, even during off-business hours. "The classic 'third space' is between work and home,” said architect Melissa Hanley, cofounder, CEO, and principal of San Francisco architecture and interior design firm Blitz. "I think of it as, ‘Where’s the place I naturally gravitate to, because I feel best there?’ That can be a pub or a coffee shop; it could be the decompression or ramping-up zone." To bring that energy back to the workplace, Hanley’s firm has created game rooms and social hubs—it even has a speakeasy in the works for a client. But while the ping-pong tables of the past may have been a distraction, today’s game rooms, cafes, and bars are reflections of a company mission. “Work is happening even in these ancillary spaces. These third spaces we're creating are in support of the company’s bottom line," Hanley said. So what advice would she give to a prospective client? "There's just such an incredible amount of data in support of creating more human-centered spaces in the workplace—the benefits are innumerable." That’s why, from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, there’s a new crop of businesses catering to the need for a retreat somewhere between work and home. Beyond the traditional barbershop, clubhouse, or nail salon, these next-gen spaces tap into the growing wellness trend: Chillhouse, a monthly membership spa in New York, offers massages and manicures in an Instagram-friendly space focused on self-care; Nap York allows visitors to catch a snooze on an Airweave mattress for $10 a half hour. Then there’s Calm City, the roving meditation studio in a renovated RV, founded by Kristin Westbrook. An avid meditator who had trouble finding a private place at her hectic Rockefeller Center office, Westbrook was inspired by the food truck trend to create an oasis of calm for stressed-out New Yorkers located just outside their offices. "I've always wanted a Superman’s phone booth on every corner, a pod that you could go jump in and be transformed," Westbrook said. That break can be a crucial antidote to the stresses of the day. "Human beings are social creatures, and with many of us working longer hours and living alone in large cities, the feelings of loneliness are certainly very real and powerful," wrote Anita Cheung, cofounder of Moment Meditation, a modern mindfulness club in Downtown Vancouver, B.C., in an email to AN. "Membership in a club and a consistent (and manageable) schedule of activities outside of the ‘nine to five’ allow people to develop other facets of their lives beyond who they are at work, as well as instill a greater sense of community." That’s part of the mission of the Battery, a private member’s club in San Francisco that has taken a cue from the social clubs of the past to create a place for connection and conversation—no business or tech talk allowed. "We try to provide a little bit of an escape from your day-to-day operations," said founder Michael Birch, whether it's a moment for a cocktail, a pause between meetings, or just a place for serendipitous conversation. To facilitate that human connection, designer Ken Fulk imagined the interiors as sumptuous settings for the club’s wide range of programming and events—a mix of large, high-energy spaces to be around people, and smaller, more intimate groupings. "I think people are seeking real connection again," Birch said. "People have disappeared a little bit onto the online world. We very much discourage technology use in the club: We don’t allow people to have laptops out after 6 p.m., we don’t allow photos, and we don’t allow people to talk on their telephone other than inside a telephone booth." The relationship between work and life can be even more blurred in spaces that blend the two like never before. Take New York coliving and coworking space The Assemblage, which has two addresses in Manhattan (and a third on the way), as well as The Sanctuary, a retreat center outside Bethel, New York, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Though workspace is at the core of The Assemblage's offerings, the company encourages members to get out of their offices and connect over communal breakfasts and lunches. It also features "intention altars" and offers wellness programming like meditation, breathwork, and yoga, "all under one roof, so that individuals can experience this fluid living/working and balanced lifestyle," wrote Magdalena Sartori, the company’s chief creative officer. "Erasing that distinction between work and life empowers individuals to create their own schedule and lifestyle," she added. But as we trade the typical greige workplace environment for a more holistic, humanistic approach, are we simply going farther down a work-obsessed rabbit hole from which you can never clock out? When even the workplace pretends to be a third space, one filled with simulacra of the outside world, are we worse off than we were before? Maybe not. If the offices from the Industrial Revolution to the year 2000 were "rehistoric," as Clive Wilkinson put it, how will people look back at the way we work today—with increasing flexibility to break away from our desks—100 years from now? "They’ll think that we woke up, that suddenly this was the beginning of a work age," Wilkinson said of the turn away from military- or factory-inspired workspaces. "We’re almost at the place now where we’ll remain stable for the next 100 or 200 years, because I think humans have finally understood how communities work in a workplace, how they need to support each other and communicate.”
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Rock the Vote

An air rights vote divides a Lower East Side community
Tuesday night, the residents of the Seward Park Co-op on Manhattan’s Lower East Side went to vote on whether to sell the four-building complex’s air rights to developers Ascend Group/Optimum Group. If the measure had passed, Seward Park would have received $54 million ($39 million after taxes) and four months of maintenance for its residents; in return, Ascend would have used this upzoning to build a pair of 22- and 33-story residential buildings to the co-op’s south. According to community members present that night, the referendum, which required approval by two-thirds of the residents, failed to pass on Tuesday. The final vote was 690 for, 537 against. Residents had become increasingly divided over the potential sale, and many issued public op-eds both for and against the sale as the buildup to the vote grew more intense. If the vote had passed, Seward Park would have been able to pay down $20 million in mounting mortgage costs, replace its 24 ailing elevators, and repair the complex’s crumbling brick facades. Opponents argued that the money isn’t worth the irreparable harm that Ascend will be doing to the neighborhood. From the massings released, the towers, if built with Seward Park’s air rights, would potentially block views from southern-facing co-op units. “No”-aligned residents are also concerned about the impact that building market-rate housing would have on raising the cost of living in the neighborhood. Ascend is looking to build on either side of the landmarked Bialystoker nursing home on East Broadway, which would become a lobby for the towers. With the air rights, a 242-foot-tall tower would rise on Bialystoker’s west side, and a 343-foot-tower would join it the eastern lot and cantilever over the ramp to Seward Park’s underground garage. In this scheme, the development would total approximately 270,000 square feet and contain 210 units across the three buildings. Of course, Ascend will build on the lots even as residents chose to vote no. The developers will still renovate Bialystoker according to their as-of-right scheme and would put up a 239-foot-tall, 20-story tower on the western lot and a 186-foot-tall, 17-story building on the eastern section. This plan would see the creation of a 115,000-square-foot, 140-unit development. According to the developer’s website, “Should the shareholders decide not to sell the air rights, two things will follow. First, Ascend/Optimum will build on both its lots using its existing development rights. Demolition has already begun to prepare for this scenario. Second, the Coop will have lost its only opportunity to sell some of its air rights. Ascend/Optimum is the only property owner adjacent to the Seward Park Coop that can purchase these air rights.”
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Train of thoughts

Van Alen Institute’s spring festival focuses on getting around New York City
New York City subways and buses serve eight million riders per weekday. However, the transit system that many New Yorkers rely on encounters frequent delays and suspensions. As a response, New York-based Van Alen Institute will bring together city planners and participants to imagine new approaches towards seeing, navigating, and moving through the urban environment, with a series of events ranging from bus and bike tours to a flash design competition, from June 17 to June 23. The Van Alen-organized spring festival, "FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City" seeks to rethink the consequences of the 15-month-long L-train shutdown, among other transit issues in New York City. They will host “The Williamsburg Challenge,” where participants will test out what it’s like to travel from Union Square to Williamsburg without using the L train. The institute has also invited professional teams to propose creative solutions to solve the over-ground congestion created by the L train shutdown, in a one-night-only design competition. On June 20, AN’s very own Assistant Editor Jonathan Hilburg will moderate the talk, “Mind the Gap: Improving Urban Mobility through Science and Design." Participants include author Susan Magsamen, Perkins + Wills Associate Principal Gerald Tierney, Gehl Studio Associate Julia Day, and Multimer Strategy Associate Taylor Nakagawa. Other events include an East Village-to-Harlem bus tour led by sociologist and author Garnette Cadogan, a four-hour Brooklyn bicycle tour, a screening of the William Holly Whyte-produced The Social Life of Small Urban Space, and an interactive Urban Mobility Variety Show at Figment NYC featuring dance, music and other performances. Check out this link for a full schedule and tickets.
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Take Out Totems

A feast of architectural ducks abound in the latest edition of “California Crazy”
The third edition of Jim Heimann’s California Crazy from TASCHEN asks what happens when you build out a new city in the car-crazy age of the early 20th century. The result? A freethinking (and wheeling) design style that cut ties with the past and dropped giant owls, ice cream cones, and hot dogs across the desert landscape. Southern California, according to Heimann, has always been a land of roadside attractions, movie lots, amusement parks and attention-grabbing style. The rebar-and-plaster animals made for movie sets gradually became larger as roadside businesses, looking for ways to lure in customers whizzing by at high speeds, constructed buildings to be seen from a distance, but also act as attractions in and of themselves. The access to cheap land and loose (or no) zoning let builders in the 1920s and beyond build increasingly fantastical buildings as well as mini-golf courses and life-sized recreations of historically famous buildings. The core premise was always to entertain and attract, even if the results drew scorn from architectural critics. But over time, the conglomeration of “buildings that look like other things” across Hollywood and Los Angeles created their own architectural vernacular, one that eventually spread east to cities like Las Vegas. California Crazy also includes David Gebhard’s essay, in which he defines the relation this language has to the automobile and “normal” domestic architecture. The original version of California Crazy was published in 1980, but our fascination with fanciful architecture seems like more than a passing fad. Buildings like NBBJ’s Big Basket or the giant chest of drawers in North Carolina continue to draw attention, and in California Crazy, Heimann breaks down exactly why we still find them so intriguing.
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Building Ghosts

Absence is made tangible at the new national memorial to lynching victims
Absence is not abstract. It is felt and perceived. Absence implicates all of us inasmuch as it confounds the very writing of our stories. To see absence is to have our limits revealed, not as if in a mirror, but in a manner that shows that we are entangled with distant tethers that keep our bodies, our histories, in check. Absence, when made visible, is not observed immediately. It takes time. The April 26 opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, is perhaps one such catalyst for the effacement of the visitor with respect to the racial terror that led to the loss of thousands of lives through lynching. Lynching victims who were burned alive, hanged, shot—murdered—in and along the towns and byways of our nation from 1877 until 1950, are documented in this memorial initiated by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Such violence continues today in the form of excessive imprisonment; by the murders of black women and men by the police; by the enforcement of state-sanctioned economic violence. By crafting spaces in which the subtractive is both a tool and a frame, the design of this memorial signals the recuperative agency of building as a means to affect the erasable and irascible conditions that established and purvey hatred, fear, and ignorance in this country. Here, looking away is not conscionable, as it moves against the habitus of memory, where our own individual pasts intersect with the Past. That the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum are realized in this, the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, is indeed an extraordinary feat indebted to the efforts of many individuals that came before. However, I would be remiss in not reminding readers that in recent reportage, including The New York Times and Rolling Stone, there is scant mention of the architects. During the spectacle of the opening ceremony, EJI’s Executive Director, Bryan Stevenson, acknowledged builders, contractors, laborers, and “local” architects—but did not name the project architects, MASS Design Group. Only on the EJI website can we find mention that the Initiative had the “assistance” of MASS Design Group. It feels purposeful, and we are thus left to speculate. I am left wondering: Are architects supposed to fade away in the fashioning of a memorial? I can think of recent examples for which this is clearly not the case. What has been wrought in other locations, including Washington, D.C., Berlin, Johannesburg, New York City, and Birmingham, all speak through their authors. And, in varying degrees, formal aspects of each of these memorial spaces are present now in Montgomery. Memorials render ghosts. And Boston-based MASS Design’s work with the EJI on the design and building of this structure is no less haunted by the iniquities of American history. With distant views of limpid hills and a semiformal state capitol town center with its empty shops, deserted lots, 59 Confederate markers, and recent loft conversions, the Memorial for Peace and Justice is adjacent, without irony, to the storefront of the State of Alabama Office of Pardons and Paroles Day Reporting Center. From the street below, the memorial structure is partially indiscernible due to its horizontal profile cutting across the sightline, but it may also be read as an empty pedestal through and on which the lives of so many passed, passed away, disappeared. One climbs farther up the hill alongside a boundary wall upon which a series of chronological narratives is posted to convey the story of “Why here?” and “Why now?” The manifestations of slavery, of incipient racism that persist today, are described as a backdrop to an unfolding of both landscape and architecture as marked sites for unceasing brutality. We are soon confronted by a bronze sculpture of humans in chains by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo. The signs begin too high to be read easily and meet our eyes as we climb the hill. A sharp corner, and one rises again to the structure while unfortunately overlooking the conclusion of the memorial space one floor below. There is no fixed entrance, per se, except a momentary pause with a large fire extinguisher. Stepping onto a timber floor, one is immediately surrounded by a dense array of body-size steel casks hung from pipes that disappear into a paneled metal ceiling. One moves cautiously through a grid of “bleeding” Corten steel containers, each incised with the name of the county and names accompanied by dates, including those unknown, of the lynched. The floor gradually descends as the casks remain above our heads; their intact volumes remain whole. By moving downward, one returns into the ground. The horizon has been excised. Gravity is idle. A series of narratives printed on thin metal strips is hung in a similar manner to the initial chronologies, describing in the briefest of ways the events of individual lynchings. The blunt quotidian language, their facticity, arrests our movements. At the next corner, one is presented with two very large indictments. A cascade of water pushes across the adjacent wall, merging with, not obscuring, an extended text. The temperature changes. Two choices are apparent: Climb a ramp or stair into the center of the quadrangle or leave. The empty center, while perhaps disguised as a space of confrontation, is more like a cloister in which condemnation is subdued, internalized; here it is possible to see across through the casks while observing others. It is not a sanctum. Greeting one’s unceremonial departure from the memorial upon moving outside, another sliver of text is located across from the pipes and pumps of the interior waterfall. This is not as much a “door of no return,” as merely a way out. This non-exit merges with an unmarked landscape of horizontal metal casks, akin to those held inside the structure—a topology of loss. Despite being worrisome for those who might wish to touch one of the steel containers after a hot day, one walks between their seemingly geographic order(s) locating states and counties, and names. Farther on, a series of bronzes by Dana King, depicting Rosa Parks and her heroic companions leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, intersects the path. A small circular garden of mushroom-like concrete stools is sited nearby and is unlike anything seen elsewhere, with no explanation as to its role. One moves across on pathways above, around, and below another bronze, this one by Hank Willis Thomas, spelling bodies of containment, of stability falling away. With the building of such thresholds for historical reckoning, the arc of our knowing also asserts unknowing; absence lingers. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum attest to our own entanglements with reconciliation and truth. Memorials, like museums, are structures that attempt to keep us in their grasp as long as possible, allowing for the disclosure of our interior selves with multiple worlds. Such “new worlds” are partially uncovered at the intersection of reflection and remembrance, yet allow for and point to the rupture of what our passages have been and continue to be.
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Playing Footie

Herzog & de Meuron’s Chelsea Football stadium plans are put on indefinite hold
Plans for the $1.3 billion gothic revamp of British soccer team Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London have been shelved, according to a cryptic message posted on the club’s website citing “the current unfavourable investment climate.” First revealed in 2015, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed stadium would have replaced Chelsea’s current field along with the surrounding buildings, and put up a 60,000-seat replacement in its stead. Initially pegged as a $664 million project, costs rose as delays and lawsuits from homeowners and businesses who would be in the new stadium’s shadow mounted. The stadium’s defining feature (aside from the 20,000 new seats, all of which were promised unobstructed views) would have been the 264 brick buttresses ringing the field. The arches would form a covered loggia around the stadium’s central pitch, and supported a steel ring above the field, providing the structural supports for the additional seats, shops, a museum, and a restaurant. Both the brickwork as well as the black, wrought-iron detailing are less-than-subtle references to vernacular British architecture; Herzog & de Meuron described the vaulting design as a “cathedral of football.” The Guardian paints a more comprehensive picture of why the project was put on hold. Chelsea club owner Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli businessman, has found himself caught in the crossfire of the worsening relationship between the United Kingdom and Russia. Abramovich has found himself unable to renew his investor visa, and as the delays mounted, the billionaire expressed frustration at the idea of investing in a country that was delaying his ability to do business. While Abramovich would still be allowed to stay in Britain, he technically wouldn’t be able to do any work there. AN will update this story as more information becomes available.
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Demolition Disputes

Unpacking Selldorf Architects’ controversial addition to Venturi Scott Brown’s Museum of Contemporary Art
As postmodernism comes roaring back in the architecture world, the time finally seems ripe for many unfairly maligned buildings to receive their due respect. But at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), the opposite seems on the verge of happening: A proposed concrete-and-glass expansion threatens to severely damage a lovely and highly functional building by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA). The agglomerated museum of today—built in pieces between 1915 and 1996—mixes austere concrete with playful color, oversize plaster columns with powerful round arches, large signs and neon with an intimate courtyard. The original portion, a spare house by the California architect Irving Gill, gently tussles with VSBA’s surrounding addition; together, they embrace the tensions inherent in preserving a house within the context of a museum’s more monumental scale. And yet the complex still manages to fit comfortably in its historic surroundings: a set of buildings also designed by Gill that together form a central green for the village of La Jolla. The proposed expansion, on the other hand, shows little interest in its surroundings. The work of New York City architect Annabelle Selldorf, it includes an interior renovation that would smartly turn the existing auditorium into gallery space with a pleasant set of oceanside terraces. But things go awry in the new galleries and glass-entrance atrium, which, in the architect's zeal for a sort of Tadao Ando–inspired minimalism, end up missing out on an opportunity to contribute to the building’s richness. The most alarming proposal, though, is the removal of VSBA’s dramatic colonnade and, consequently, the courtyard that it helps to form. Selldorf argues that the colonnade obstructs views of the original house, but she overlooks the way in which its exaggerated scale both projects the museum’s civic presence and creates a sense of shelter that allows visitors to experience the house in Gill’s intended intimate setting, separated from the traffic out front. Visitors pass through the compressed courtyard on their way into the building—but then upon entering suddenly encounter the double-height explosion of light, neon, and brightly colored patterns that is VSBA’s iconic Axline Court. Under the new plan, the house would indeed be more visible from the road, but it would appear small and insubstantial, overshadowed by the later additions. Visitors would enter via the glass atrium then proceed directly into the new galleries, undercutting the importance of the house and making the Axline Court into a kind of curious afterthought. Both Selldorf and museum director Kathryn Kanjo say they want the court to remain lively, but given the proposed circulation—in which most visitors will only come across it at the back of the bookstore or after passing through three galleries—it’s hard to see what purpose it could serve. The sum total of the new plan would be a mishmash: an unhappy family of buildings that refuse to talk to one another all jammed together onto a single site. It would lose the crescendoing choreography of spaces that gives it vitality and order, as well the carefully considered relation to the town green. And not for any good reason: it would be quite possible—and substantially cheaper—to add galleries where Selldorf proposes without fundamentally detracting from the existing building. Unfortunately, such an approach would require an appreciation on the museum’s part of its architectural legacy that has so far not been forthcoming. Officials I spoke to seemed to have given little thought to the impact of the new project on the VSBA building, and when pressed on their thinking offered no particular reason that the existing circulation or aesthetics needed to be changed. And the museum made only the feeblest of efforts to contact Scott Brown and Venturi about the plans—former director Hugh Davies says he left a single message at their office in 2014, though by that point they had been retired for several years and consequently never heard it. No follow-up was ever attempted; the duo were understandably surprised when I showed them the plans a few weeks ago. By contrast, when Renzo Piano undertook the renovation of the former May Company department store on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, he immediately contacted the office of the architects who designed it, A.C. Martin, and walked through his ideas with the firm’s current partners. Why are Venturi and Scott Brown, widely recognized as among the most important architects of the postwar era, not accorded a similar respect? The short answer to this question is simply that their work is unfashionable: too old to seem new but not old enough to have that nostalgic patina of “another era.” The longer answer is perhaps that architecture that engages the messiness of the world around it must fight an uphill battle for survival in the world of contemporary building—where architecture is too often seen as a formal game, as a matter of sculpting material and form with little concern for the complexities of place and identity. Too many of today’s architects and clients, not understanding the ethical imperative behind the VSBA mode of design, write it off as postmodern riffing—surface-level ornament without a coherent underlying order. But actually each element of the work relates to the larger whole—to symbolic meanings, to the physical and cultural context, to sequences of spaces. And in those relationships emerge subtle and sometimes even disconcerting distortions and juxtapositions—a traditional dome represented only through a bright neon outline in the Axline Court, an entry sequence that at first leads you toward the old front door of the Gill House and then suddenly turns you sideways. These moments allow us to look at the world a little differently: to see the familiar as strange and to reflect on what it means. This powerful but difficult way of making meaning, so well appreciated in many of the artworks of MCASD’s collection, seems to offend contemporary sensibilities when it makes its way into architecture. Indeed, this is not the first time VSBA‘s work has been mistreated in a contemporary renovation. The 2007 expansion of their 1991 Seattle Art Museum by the minimalist architect Brad Cloepfil similarly disregarded a carefully orchestrated entry sequence, replacing it with—drumroll please—yet another generic atrium. Though the VSBA-designed building’s exterior was ostensibly left alone, Cloepfil’s hefty glass tower flatly declines to engage with it (or with the rest of its context, for that matter). Now the original building has taken on the feeling of an eccentric side wing wedged up against a chunky office block. At this point nothing short of a total renovation could set things right. Fortunately, it isn’t too late for the San Diego museum to learn from Seattle and modify its course. It need not totally redesign the addition, but it ought to let the VSBA- and Gill-designed buildings continue on in their lively interplay of similarities and differences. It ought to leave the columns alone, or at least update them respectfully, and rethink the wisdom of having visitors enter through a generic atrium. As Scott Brown put it to me, “Making a more simple-minded entry could be, maybe, just that—too simple-minded.”

A compromise does seem possible. Earlier this year, value engineering eliminated one of the best features of Selldorfs proposal: translucent skylights above the new galleries and converted auditorium. Why not bring them back by saving money on the new atrium and entry sequence? The worrisome proposed circulation would be improved, as would Selldorfs own galleries. The Axline Court would retain its function as the hub around which the various other parts of the museum are clustered, and the Gill house would remain at the museums visual and circulatory heart.

Such a renovation would recognize a key thing: that effective renovations must be a labor of love. They cannot arise from a dislike of what was there before. If the new addition struggles against the Gill and Venturi Scott Brown buildings, if it chooses not to understand or engage with them, then no one will winnot Selldorf, not the museum, and certainly not the village of La Jolla. The rare vitality achieved in the current building will not be easily recovered.

A shortened version of this story appeared in AN’s June print issue. This story has been updated to reflect new information.
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Initiate Docking Procedures

Fogarty Finger reveals an upscale WeWork for the Brooklyn Navy Yard
As major changes and speculation over what’s next hover around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 office tower is nearing completion. The stepped, 16-story building is currently receiving its facade, and co-working company WeWork has already laid claim to 220,000 square feet of office space. With so much ground-up space to work with, the company (and developers Boston Properties and Rudin Development) has tapped local firm Fogarty Finger to design the amenity spaces for their new digs Fogarty Finger took cues from residential and hospitality design to impart a softness throughout, which, given their track record in designing high-end office spaces, is why the studio was chosen for the job. From the renderings, it seems the interiors are a step up from WeWork’s typical glass-and-reclaimed-wood look, usually handled by their in-house design team (Bjarke Ingels had no role in the project, either). Dock 72 is the first ground-up office building to be built in Brooklyn in nearly 30 years, and given the building’s Class A ratings (the highest office standard) and waterfront views, Fogarty Finger was responsible for designing 35,000 square feet of high-end amenities. Two bar-and-lounges, one on the ground floor, the other adjacent to the 16th floor’s conference center, a 600-foot-long, 30-foot-wide lobby that runs the length of the building, a juice bar, spa, gym, café, and a market. The interiors lean heavily on an industrial aesthetic (concrete floors, black steel columns), with strategic splashes of warm wood paneling along the ceiling and a white oak trim in the furniture. In keeping with the Navy Yard's effort to bolster New York City's manufacturing base, local manufacturers from the yard were invited to curate the public areas. As founding partner Robert Finger describes it, Dock 72 is only the latest project to escalate the included amenities as developers try to capture Class A office space tenants; high-value tech employees in this case. Once the next phase of the Navy Yard’s expansion is complete, Dock 72 will link up with a suite of planned waterfront amenities surrounding the office core.
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Make Your Voice Heard

How can architecture criticism give everyone a seat at the table?
As Christopher Hawthorne moves on from the Los Angeles Times and as new forms of criticism proliferate, we asked the architecture community what the role of the critic is today, and what it might be missing. What do you see as the role of the critic in architecture today? Why is it important? What aspects of architecture are not being addressed today by critics? What are the problems with criticism today? Here are the responses we received from those who felt that architecture criticism is inherently political and should be approached as such, from across the country and abroad. How can women and people of color be included in the conversation when the field has typically buried their voices? This article was originally published in our May print issue, and was preceded by a selection of answers from architecture critics themselves and those who thought that the internet has fundamentally changed the field. Nolan Boomer Arts critic and editor of Take Shape. “At the core of architectural criticism is the realization that setting is not the backdrop of humankind’s story, but actually a character that shapes its plot...some of the best criticism appears in other genres like fiction and poetry, but it often isn’t considered as such.” Alice Twemlow Head of Design Curating and Writing Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven and professor of design at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. “If you take architecture to be less about individual buildings, and more about the structural, political, and conceptual framing of the shifting relationship between public and private space, (which I do) then the role of the architecture critic merges with that of the social critic and, in that respect, is immensely important. When that framing is thoughtful and brilliant, she should make sure we hear about it; and when the framing is uninformed or unfair, she should also make sure we hear about it. She should remind us of the past, respond to the current situation, and anticipate or lead future moves. She should advocate for the right of every public citizen to access the aesthetic and practical benefits of the built environment whilst being protected from it failings and harmful effects. And if that sounds like hard work, and that it encroaches on the territory of urban planning, social politics, environmental science, ethics, and philosophy, that’s because it is, and it does.” Mitch McEwen Assistant professor at Princeton University School of Architecture and partner of A(n) Office. “Architecture has made so many heroic and visionary claims, and also failed so many people for so long. The architecture critic can sort through these claims and failures and new potentials, both for us and for a wider public.” Mark Foster Gage Principal of Mark Foster Gage Architects and the assistant dean of the Yale School of Architecture. “I think there is an old notion of a critic who tells you if something is good or not. This is outdated and it probably comes from [Gene] Siskel and [Roger] Ebert on television, watching movies—‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down.’ Here the critic is an arbiter of taste. It’s not helpful: it’s about judgment rather than a new opening of discussion. It’s a closure, stopping conversation cold. Once you call a movie bad, why discuss it? I believe a critic is a person that opens people’s eyes as to WHY certain things are notable in various disciplines (or outside of them). A critic should be opening conversations, prompting curiosity, and inciting interest. I also think it is the responsibility of the critic to focus on contemporary work and issues—‘the new’ is always in most need of support and discussion, especially among those who feel intimidated or uncomfortable about it. This is what the critic is supposed to do, make it possible to bring more people into the conversation about any type of work. They are stewards of curiosity and interest, not judges of success or failure.” Enrique Ramirez Writer and architectural historian based in Brooklyn. “This question presumes that criticism is important to the discipline and practice of architecture. To say so is to admit to a certain kind of hubris. Criticism is not needed, for no matter if critics decide to take on the mantle of an investigative magistrate and try to shed light on a particular issue, to watch different actors scurry about once their particular malfeasances become exposed, to say: ‘Aha, Architecture...YOU’VE BEEN CAUGHT’...this is criticizing, but is it criticism? I used to think, ‘Yes, it is.’ It’s not. An architectural critic may tell you, ‘Look at this building ...Modernism is EVIL!’ or ‘Postmodernism is TRITE!’ or ‘Everything coming out of UCLA or Michigan is MAGENTA and CORNFLOWER BLUE!’ Okay, but so what? If that is the mode of engagement that architectural critics prefer, then I want no part of it. As critics, we need to look at colleagues in other fields to see how they advocate for the cultural relevance of their object of inquiry, for this is at the heart of criticism. Architectural criticism seems stuck in a kind [of] mode that conflates ‘criticism’ with ‘criticizing,’ one that privileges the dressing down of a building over everything else. Architecture lives in the world at large, and as critics, we need to state how this is the case.” José Esparza Chong Cuy Associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “I believe that an informed public opinion of what needs to be celebrated and denounced is more important than ever. Contemporary life is shaped by so many invisible mechanisms that need to be exposed to the day-to-day eye. There are so many things at play regulated by sociopolitical, economic, and environmental factors in the spaces we inhabit that we need to have thought out critical positions to be able to act accordingly, both socially and professionally. Having a better understanding of these invisible mechanisms could potentially open new ways of operating. Moreover, I believe that all critical mediums should make an attempt to cover rural environments. It is clear that city-living is not the only option, but critics should make an effort to cover stories about rural life and the rural landscapes to connect the practice or architecture to these settings as well. We tend to forget how interconnected the rural and urban contexts are, and the critic should use its platform to inform how one setting feeds off the other and vice versa.” Bika Rebek Founding principal of Some Place, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia GSAPP. “A master of expansive writing reaching all fringes, and perhaps my favorite critic is Karl Kraus. While architecture is just one of his wide-ranging interests, his writing is personal, angry, funny, extremely timely and unconcerned with the consequences. Contemporary architectural criticism would benefit from this fearlessness and sense of humor. With more pointed controversy, critics could attract wider audiences and become part of an age-old dialogue, spinning the web further through the lens of our time.” Jesse LeCavalier  Designer, writer, and educator whose work explores the architectural and urban implications of contemporary logistics. He is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment, assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. “Foucault’s appeal to a kind of criticism focused on curiosity, attention, stewardship, and imagination remains, for me, an appealing statement about the potential role of the critic: ‘I can’t help but dream about a kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgments but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes—all the better. All the better. Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination.’ While thoughtful and perceptive engagement with buildings will always be important, I feel like now more than ever we need to develop an expanded understanding the larger forces shaping the built environment, from our own consumer choices to larger policy transformations, their implications, and ways to engage them.” Kate Wagner Creator of McMansion Hell and a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University researching concert hall design in transition from late- to post-modernism. “Architecture is inherently political on its own! While the city is relevant to the building, we should avoid using the city as a crutch.” Fred Scharmen Teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. His first book, Space Settlements, will be out later this year. “I saw a joke on Twitter the other week that said: ‘Every academic discipline has another academic discipline which watches them, occasionally making sarcastic comments.’ For architecture, criticism gets even weirder, because this shadow discipline is supposed to do at least two more other things: it’s meant to be internalized, so architects should be working and self-critiquing at almost the same time; and it’s also supposed to be outward-facing, to explain what’s going on inside the discipline to an external audience. So somehow we’re all meant to be our own worst and best critics, hecklers, and narrators, all at once. This situation is messed up.” Peggy Deamer Professor of architecture at Yale University, an architect practicing in New York, and content coordinator of the Architecture Lobby. “The role of the critic is to inform both the public and the discipline about what aesthetic, economic, cultural, or social value is potentially embedded in that discipline and point out examples that are good or bad in relation to that potential. Critics aren’t identifying the connection between how we in the discipline work—with illegal, economically naive, sexist, and formally myopic protocols—and the poverty of what we are asked to work on (rich peoples second houses; the occasional private institution) and the consequent lack of respect and financial stability.” David Grahame Shane Adjunct professor in the Urban Design program at Columbia GSAPP. “Architectural criticism is not important as there is so little architecture of quality produced today by large firms or clients to consider. Look at Hudson Yards or the World Trade Center, and weep. The profession is BIM-ed and value-engineered to death. Public commissions and competitions that once gave openings to critics and young firms have disappeared along with small bookstores and magazines. Chat rooms and the academy remain as hermetic critical fortresses with their own private codes and handshakes. Sadly public intellectuals and critics are a disappearing breed, dying off in the new architectural ecology, occasionally spotlighted by museums as avant-garde and remote insights. It’s not a pretty picture, but surely in the future people will regain a sense of shared communities in the city and countryside and a new breed of architectural critics and architectural practice will re-emerge.” Michael Sorkin Architect, author, educator and founding principal of Michael Sorkin Studio. “The critic’s duty is resistance!  As the country careens toward full-on fascism, its environment assailed and warfare looming, we must defend the social architectures of civility and not lose ourselves in the artistic weeds.  A critic who fails to assail Trump, supports him.” Kelsey Keith Editor-in-Chief of Curbed. “Architecture as a study and as a practice has done a lot to isolate itself. I think that the built environment matters so much because it affects and influences people in the places they live. I speak not as an academic or as a critical theorist, but as someone who genuinely loves all this, wants it to be better, and believes that end is achieved in part via criticism. An architecture critic’s role in society today is to contextualize—whether the point is to educate, or entertain, or satisfy some curiosity: ‘Why are A-frames suddenly so popular again? Why is it important to preserve the work of a rare woman project lead from a midcentury architecture firm?’ Most critics are too busy broadcasting their own well-formed opinions to actually listen to the zeitgeist. Dialogue is important, but so is listening to others—as a knowledge-gathering tool or when their perspectives differ from your own.” Abdalilah Qutub (Abdul Qutub)   Co-founder of Socially Condensed Fully-Built Enviromemes. “The role of the architectural critic today goes beyond the immediate issues surrounding a building, but also includes the larger ethical practices and impacts in which the participants in the architectural field might be involved. There are two main themes that are not really being fully addressed today: Workers’ rights issues and the overwhelming whiteness of the field. The dominance of white men now only further keeps alive the whiteness of the field that has been passed on by previous generations. Recent efforts within the #MeToo movement and the allegations that have recently come out against Richard Meier further reveal some of the underlying power structures in the field and how they are being abused. Criticism alone is not going to solve these problems without the provocation of direct action from the architectural and associated fields (strikes, demonstrations, and protests).” Nicholas Korody Co-founder of the experimental architecture practice Adjustments Agency, co-curator of the architecture store domesti.city, and editor-in-chief of the architecture publication Ed. “The role of the critic today is first and foremost to draw attention to the architecture of architecture—that is, the ways in which ‘architecture’ is not a given, but rather something constructed and therefore mutable. Within the discipline and profession, we take for granted that certain things, from exploitative labor practices to rampant sexism and even assault, come with the territory. They do not have to. Alongside this, we accept with little criticality the complicity of architecture with capital, with the end result that not only do we now design only for the select few, we also help fuel the conversion of our cities into playgrounds for speculative finance. This relationship is historically specific, and the role of the critic is to both point this out and to imagine alternatives. Critics today tend toward the myopic. They see a form and not what’s behind it: labor relations, environmental degradation, capital accumulation, displacement of people. Every act of construction has cascading effects far beyond the building site. Critics must contend with this. Broadly speaking, it is a conservative field. Many supposedly liberal or even leftist critics are in fact advocating for a maintenance of the status quo, which is a violent position to take. There are far too few voices demanding truly radical change within the discipline. Criticism is itself a form of practice, a way of imagining possibilities where others see none. Integral to that is looking far beyond the discipline, far beyond buildings. Most importantly, critics must take positions—albeit ones capable of change—and fight for them. Political neutrality does not exist. A good critic loves architecture so much they despise everything about it.” Ana María León Trained as an architect, León is a researcher and architecture historian at the University of Michigan. “Critics link the discipline not only to a broader audience, but also to larger concerns that often escape architecture’s purview. If good histories take a critical view of the past, good critiques are able to historicize the present. Our current political moment urgently needs more critical voices. Critics are still overwhelmingly white, male, and Western. This is not to say that white, male, Western critics are unable to look beyond their own identities, but representation matters, and a diversity of voices tends to insure a diversity of opinions and points of view. I would love it if say, The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to critics in South America, Africa, Asia, and asked them to review events and buildings there for a broader public.” Eva Franch i Gilabert Architect, educator, curator, founder of Office of Architectural Affairs (OOAA), current executive director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and future director of the Architectural Association. “A critic is the historian of the present, or the present future, or as Reyner Banham’s intellectual biography points out, of the immediate future. To understand the power of architecture, unveil it, and transmit it to a larger audience is the most benevolent image of the critic, but the most seminal and most needed is to allow the field to find positions beyond obsessions; to position design culture in relation to the most important issues affecting contemporary culture and the built environment. Any critic needs to go beyond the cliché, the commonplace assumptions behind good design, and understand radical, powerful designs that are able to produce more equitable societies. A critic that is able to read beyond press releases, instant gratifications, three minute impressions of what should be and help us all imagine what actions, ideas, and form could be. The problems with criticism today are the same as the ones with architecture: it is extremely hard to go beyond client-oriented work, to produce designs that question the status quo and the forces at play. The making and buying of history in the PR age is an issue to be investigated thoroughly. It is extremely hard for editors, critics, and architects to keep a critical distance. While this might not be any different than in times past, at least I think there is now a more transparent understanding of sponsored articles, and the influence and power of certain lobbies. The real difficulty of being a critic is that we do not have editorial structures that support criticism in its full flesh. As in many other fields false criticism, sensationalism, scandalous headlines, ...are more in vogue than rigorous - maybe less sensationalist- forms of criticism. The problem is that bad criticism is more profitable in terms of business models; good criticism needs of idea models, less business models....”