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NOW BOARDING: DESTINATION, JFK

Destination Unknown

Eero Saarinen's last work, the TWA Terminal at JFK, will soon enjoy a second, temporary life as a Kunsthalle. And after thattwho knows? As Cathy Lang Ho reports, the future of the modernist masterpiece is as open as the sky.
Photography by Dean Kaufman.

 

Long before Santiago Calatrava unveiled his architectural allegory for flight that will become the downtown PATH station, Eero Saarinen gave New York City a symbol that captured the grace and excitement of the jet age by mimicking the shape of a soaring bird. Since its completion in 1962, the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport has served as an icon of both modern air travel and modern design. But its daring gull-winged constructionna reinforced concrete sculpture that tested the limits of its material and of what modernism could beewas the source of its distinction as well as downfall. The building's stand-alone, sinewy form made it difficult to adapt it to the rapidly modernizing airline industry. Larger airplanes, increased passenger flow and automobile traffic, computerized ticketing, handicapped accessibility, and security screening are just a few of the challenges that Terminal 5 (as it's officially known) could not meet without serious alteration. When the terminal closed in 2001 (in the wake of TWA's demise in 1999), no other airline stepped up to take over the space.

 

 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) did, however, receive dozens of expressions of interest from sources ranging from the Finnish government to the Municipal Art Society to the Partnership for New York City. We expected to hear from preservationists, cultural organizations, and business people, but what surprised us was the number of requests we got from the general publiccregular people, travelersswho are just deeply interested in this building,, said Ralph Tragale, manager of government and community relations for the Port Authority. One of the requests came from Rachel K. Ward, an independent curator who worked previously with the theme of tourism and the cross influences of global travel and global art in an exhibition in Switzerland. Her particular interest in tourist sites and destinations was the basis of an idea to stage a series of installations that respond to and are situated within the arch-symbol of commercial travel itself. The result, Terminal 5, presents site-specific works by 18 artists, as well as a series of lectures, events, and additional temporary installations (see sidebar), on view from October 1 to January 31. The building is such a potent symbol, representing so many thingssair travel, the 1960s, transitions, globalism,, said Ward. Each artist had a unique response.. First lady of text messaging Jenny Holzer has, naturally, staked out the arrivals and departures board, while Ryoji Ikeda has created a series of light and sound installations for one of the tunnels. In mid-September, Vanessa Beecroft filmed a live performance piece in the terminallher first since 20011 which will be screened in the space. Toland Grinnell, known for his penchant for luggage, will make use of the baggage claim area. What's exciting to me is that the artists are using the building's forms to create works that will only exist in this space,, said Ward. Organizers are trying to arrange a shuttle service from Manhattan, and encourage the use of the new AirTrain.

Ward's timing was an important reason why the PA accepted her proposal. The exhibition's run precedes a long period of construction that will not end until 2008. The exhibition is a great opportunity to let the public enjoy the space,, said Tragale, and to show other potential uses for it.. Plans for Terminal 5's future have been contentious, with a battle played out publicly last year between the PA and preservationists who objected to a new terminal design concept that would have engulfed the landmark. Critics blasted the inital plan's intent to cut off Terminal 5's views of the runway, which motivated the design's floor-to-ceiling windows. They also objected to the idea that it would no longer be used as a functioning terminal. At that time, Kent Barwick, the president of the Municipal Art Society, said, By eliminating use of the terminal, you're condemning the building to a slow death.. Even Philip Johnson, who knew Saarinen, weighed in, telling The Los Angeles Times earlier this year, This building represents a new idea in 20th-century architecture, and yet we are willing to strangle it by enclosing it within another building. If you're going to strangle a building to death, you may as well tear it down..

In October 2003 Jet Blue entered an agreement with the PA to expand its presence at JFK. The upstart domestic airlineethe busiest at JFK, accounting for 7 million of the airport's 30 million passengers yearlyy was initially interested in the possibility of actively using the Saarinen structure but found that the cost to retrofit the relic exceeded that of building an entirely new terminal. Jet Blue commissioned Gensler and Associates to design a new terminal adjacent to Terminal 5, which, though still in concept phase, was released last month. The $850 million, 625,000-square-foot terminal is much smaller and more respectful of its site than the initial concept that so riled preservationists last year. The sheer reduction in size makes it better, but we're still concerned about the terminal being an active space,, said Theodore Prudon, president of DOCOMOMO-US. If it becomes just a left-over space, it's a disservice to the building. Also, it's more vulnerable if it's economically unviable.. Terminal 5 will be used, but the question is how intensely,, said Bill Hooper, senior principal in charge of the project at Gensler. We're still in design development now, trying to figure out how to make as much of the original terminal work.. Gensler's design begins with the renovation of the two tunnels that extend from the terminal to connect to waiting airplanes, known as Flight Wing Tube #1, which was part of Saarinen's original design, and Flight Wing Tube #2, which was designed in the late 1960s by Roche Dinkeloo to support 747s that did not exist when the terminal was first built. A new plaza will occupy the space between the two terminals, allowing visitors a view, until now unseen, toward Terminal 5's backside.

 
   

Beyer Blinder Belle will oversee the structure's restoration to its 1962 state. The process will involve undoing four decades' worth of alterations and additions, such as new baggage rooms and a sun canopy that was attached to the faaade. For its part, Jet Blue has expressed its desire to integrate the Saarinen building into its corporate image. As a result, Gensler's design is low profile, which reflects both its placement behind Terminal 5 and the way Jet Blue does business,, said Hooper. Jet Blue has also made the Terminal 5 exhibition possible, signing on as a major sponsor. After the exhibition closes, the PA will issue an RFP for the structure's adaptive reuse. We've heard ideas for a museum, a restaurant, a conference center,, said Tragale. We're open to what the business community has to offer..
Cathy Lang Ho is an editor at AN.

Eavesdrop Issue 12_07.13.2004

TIMES BITES BACK
Looks like we'll have to find someone else to complain about now that Herbert Muschamp is stepping down as NYT architecture critic. Buttnothing against his successor, Nicolai Ouroussoff>we're still hearing calls for the paper of record to add other critics to its architecture coverage. Why? Because, as Architectural Record's Robert Ivy notably argued in a December 2002 editorial, two pairs of eyes are better than one. And one critic too easily engenders the kinds of ethical transgressions, megalomaniacal behavior, and general wackiness that marked Muschamp's tenure. First, I vigorously reject the assertion that Herbert was corrupt,, NYT culture editor Jonathan Landman told us when we checked in. It's nasty gossip.. (Nasty maybe, but not really just gossip.) All fields think they should have more critics,, Landman continued, and they all think they need it uniquely.. But why is architecture the only cultural beat with a single critic (even dance has more!)? It's not a competition. One architecture critic is what we've had since the 60s and that's what we'll continue to have because it's all we need,, Landman snapped. He did not elaborate. So there.

DEAN DILEMMAS
It's been two years since Bernard Tschumi announced he was stepping down as dean of Columbia's School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. But is a replacement in sight? At press time, anxious insiders were surmising that university president Lee Bollinger would choose none of his search committee's nomineessinterim dean Mark Wigley, Yung-ho Chang, and Mark Angelil. Fueling suspicion is the fact that Bollinger was a no-show at an end-of-semester faculty meeting where many expected he'd reveal his final choice. This is like the war on terror,, one exasperated observer laments. It has no end, but just goes on and on.. However, a decision is going to be announced very shortly,, Columbia vice-provost Stephen Rittenberg officially reassures us. I don't know why [Bollinger] didn't make the meeting,, Rittenberg added, but I'm sure he wasn't just trying to avoid it.. Meanwhile, Peter Rowe is stepping down as Harvard Design School deannand it hasn't been pretty. At a recent student reception, the good-bye presents included a T-shirt that we're told the portly Australian squeezed into before climbing atop a circular security deskkwhich happens to be nicknamed the Donuttand going into a bizarre monologue consisting of unidentifiable impersonations. He tends to amuse himself that way,, one colleague says, but it's kind of hard to watch.. The inexplicable imitations continued at his own faculty farewell dinner, where Roweewho has ties to Chinaahorrified guests with a screeching rendition of Chinese opera. People weren't sure whether to be bored,, reports one, or thoroughly appalled.. Rowe did not return calls. Harvard's own dean's list remains vacant, after president Lawrence Summers reportedly met (though didn't go for) GSA director Ed Feiner and SOM principal Marilyn Taylor.

IN THE AIR
TV design shows don't have to be about transforming humdrum homes into hokey ones. And Laurene Leon Boym agrees. We hear the kittenish designer is developing a pilot for a half-hour, weekly television show called Laurene's World. Scheduled to launch next year on the televangelist-sounding Neworld Millennium cable network, it will be an educational program that shows the public what design's about,, she explains, and will be anything but a makeover show..

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

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Invisible Memorial

After seven years of fits and starts, the United States General Services Administration's project to memorialize downtown's African Burial Ground is taking off again. But does the latest series of public forums really mean the process is back on track? Deborah Grossberg investigates.

Although the United States General Services Administration (GSA) has received high honors in recent months from the National Building Museum and the American Architectural Foundation for its design achievements, the organization stands accused by some New Yorkers of dropping the ball on a crucial project close to home: the African Burial Ground Memorial. After the high-profile discovery of the historic site nearly 15 years ago and the announcement of an RFP for a memorial design in 1997, the project has fallen off the GSA's and the public's radar. Basically, the GSA's been on vacation on this project,, said Mabel Wilson, an architect on the finalist team GroundWorks, whose design was selected along with four others in February 2003.

City councilmember Charles Barron, an active participant on the Committee of the Descendants of the African Burial Ground, voiced his dissatisfaction more forcefully: The GSA has been showing us the same kind of arrogance and disrespect as it displayed at the beginning of this project..

On a map from 1763 (left), a rectangular 6-acre strip just north of the Commons today's City Hall Parkkis labeled Negro Burial Ground..

Acknowledging that the memorial was, in the words of GSA chief of staff Karl Reichelt, long overdue,, the GSA stepped up the pace on the project last year. In September, the organization brought in the National Parks Service (NPS) as a consultant and public liaison, a role it often plays in work involving national historic landmarks. (The African Burial Ground was designated a landmark in 1993.) We're not necessarily in the business of building memorials,, said Mark Dremel, project manager for the African Burial Ground at the GSA. NPS knows monuments and memorials. They're taking the lead on this.. Dennis Montagna of NPS agreed. The GSA ran the competition much like its arts and architecture program, which primarily contracts design and construction services and commissions works of art for federal buildings,, he said. At a certain point the competition just ground to a halt.. NPS got the ball rolling in May, facilitating two small public workshops as a prelude to five larger, if under-publicized, forums held at schools, churches, and community centers in each borough in mid-June. The forums in turn set in motion a six-week revision process to be followed by final submissions and the selection of a winner, though the GSA has not set dates for those milestones. The memorial is slated for completion in December 2005, according to the GSA.

The African Burial Ground project fell into the GSA's hands in 1989 while it was conducting a cultural site survey for a federal office building at the corner of Broadway and Duane Street. The study, mandated by the 1966 Historic Preservation Act, uncovered 18th-century maps depicting a forgotten African graveyard occupying 6 acres just north of City Hall Parkkknown in colonial times as the Commonsscutting through the south side of the GSA's building site.

The find reversed centuries of hidden history for New York's African-American community. The African Burial Ground proved that Harlem is not the only black New York,, said Eustace Pilgrim, director of graphics at the Department of City Planning and one of the memorial finalists.

Preserved under 20 feet of landfill, the African Burial Ground occupies what was once a desolate ravine outside city limits. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Dutch and English settlers denied Africans permission to bury their dead in church graveyards within the city proper, forcing them to use this out-of-the-way, undesirable strip of land. Archaeologists estimate that approximately 20,000 Africans, both enslaved and free, were buried on the site from the late 1600s to 1794, when the burial ground was closed. Memories of its existence slowly faded after Dutch-Americans brought the site to grade in the early 1800s. In 1991 the GSA began archaeological site testing. The African-American community, already frustrated at its exclusion from the process, became enraged when The New York Times reported that the GSA planned to excavate the burial ground with the so-called coroner's method, a technique consisting of digging up graves with a backhoe. Waging a grassroots campaign, activists campaigned for increased oversight. In December 1991 Senator David A. Paterson established a task force to supervise the project. Soon thereafter, the GSA signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission outlining its responsibilities to the African Burial Ground, including the construction of a memorial on the site.

The African Burial Ground Memorial's five finalist designs attempt to tread lightly on a site many consider sacred.

At left & below: GroundWorks proposes greening the site, save a small clearing for a lanternlike spirit catcher,, a chamber for contemplation and mourning.

Below to bottom of page: Eustace Pilgrim and Christopher Davis have created a sloped berm with a curved wall adorned with Yoruba-inspired terracotta faces;

McKissack & McKissack's slave ship tells a literal tale of suffering;

Joseph DePace's proposal refers to African burial practices;

Rodney Leon draws from African architecture with its spiral path leading to a libation chamber.

The GSA completed construction of its $276 million building at 290 Broadway on a piece of the site deemed by archaeologists to contain no human remains in 1995. The memorial project was a mitigation of our responsibility for constructing a building on the burial ground site,, said GSA's Dremel. The MOA also required the GSA to fund a research project to study human remains removed from the site. Dr. Michael Blakey of Howard University led the research team whose findings have provided new insight into the brutal conditions of slavery in colonial New York City, which was the second-largest slave port in the U.S. in the 18th century, after Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, 10 to 20 percent of the city's population was of African descent. To date, the GSA has spent $30 million on archaeological and anthropological research. Dremel blamed the memorial competition's holdup on the lengthy research being conducted at Howard. But many wonder why the memorial project could not have gone forward at the same time as the research, as was originally planned. The initial RFP asked us to accommodate a future reinterment of human remains and artifacts,, said architect and finalist Joseph DePace. Reburial of the remains on the site took place at a ceremony last October. Now that the remains are back in the ground it's unclear whether further construction on this site poses the possibility of some kind of disrespect,, said DePace.

Tender treatment of the site, which many community members see as sacred, was a hot topic at the June forums. But dialogue was repeatedly bogged down by questions that were more suitable for a GSA delegate than the newly appointed NPS representative and designers who were present at the meetings. Community members also expressed disappointment at the forums' poor attendance, claiming they had not been well organized. Forums drew between 20 and 80 people in auditoriums capable of seating hundreds.

At the June 14 forum in Brooklyn, attendees debated whether building on the site would be sacrilegious. Ollie McLean of the Descendants of the African Burial Ground asserted, We don't build on a sacred cemetery. We want a green, landscaped space with an eternal flame on that land.. As an alternative, McLean suggested seizing abutting properties by eminent domain, one for the memorial and the other for a museum dedicated to African-American history. In Brooklyn, we're displacing thousands for a ballpark. It's the least GSA can do..

Rodney Leon, a finalist and principal of AARRIS Architects, looked at the issue differently. There's a difference between an occupied building and a memorial. The real question is how do you create a gravestone for 20,000 anonymous people? How do you undo their anonymity?? Leon derived his design's sequence of monumental formssa spiral ramp, a circular gathering space, and a triangular tapering towerrfrom West and North African architecture. The forms create a visible contrast against the grid of the city,, said Leon.

Other forum participants supported building on the site, arguing for the use of references to African burial practices. Said one, If you're looking for the place where we put buildings on our dead, then you'll find it in Africa.. The same speaker cited Egyptian pyramids and Dogon burials within the walls of houses as examples. DePace agreed, arguing, Paradoxically, [the Descendants' proposals] are referencing European burial practices.. DePace's project uses African symbols and materials like a pyramidal perimeter fence woven from copper strips and a groundcover of crushed white oyster shells, used to decorate graves in West Africa to symbolize the spirit living on the sea. Our design is respectful of the site's sacred nature, touching lightly on the ground,, he said. Eustace Pilgrim and Christopher Davis, a team of artists, also emphasized a light touch with a design that features a curved pathway dividing a landscaped berm from a reflecting pool.

Herbert Wilson, III, of McKissack & McKissack, one of the finalists and principal of the oldest minority-owned architecture firm in the nation, defended his team's plan to put a more substantial building on the site. We need to mark the site with a symbol that stands out for years and is emblematic of lives lost.. His firm's project references the middle passage with a ribbed structure in the form of a slave ship surrounded by reflecting pools, waterfalls, and a sound installation of screams meant to recall the terror of slaves flung overboard.

Constructive public design dialogues notwithstanding, the projecttnow in its seventh yearrremains crippled by lack of managerial continuity. Consistency has been an issue,, conceded Dr. Sherrill D. Wilson, director of the Office of Public Education and Interpretation of the African Burial Ground (OPEI), an informational center funded by GSA. We're the only functioning part of the project that's been here from the beginning..

Adding to the confusion is the issue of the project's budget, which, according to the GSA, may get a boost from its initial cap of $1 million to account for inflation. But GSA has not released an estimate of the exact increase, forcing finalists to guess for themselves. As it stands, some hope for $2.5 million while others are attempting to stay within the original budget. Mabel Wilson sees the project's delays as unsurprising continuations of the site's history of invisibility. Slavery is the blind spot in America's eye,, said Wilson. The government and the general public don't see this site as visible and relevant..

Wilson intends to combat the site's invisibility by greening the memorial site as well as the landscape surrounding the buildings on the entire burial ground. The centerpiece of her team's project, a glowing, tapered glass shelter, appears in a clearing within the larger grove. Wilson said, Though the plan goes beyond the scope of the competition, it's a relatively feasible way to make visible an area of the city whose history has been systematically erased and forgotten..

With no date set for the announcement of the winning design, no jury publicly named, no clear budget, and no disclosure of what the remainder of the memorial-building process would entail, it remains to be seen whether the GSA and the NPS will give the African Burial Ground Memorial the visibility it deserves.

Deborah Grossberg is an assistant editor at AN.

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The Shipping News
 
 

As shipping containers begin to break out of Red Hook, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the outer-borough rail yards that are their natural habitat, and show up on the Upper East Side's museum row, it is fair to ask: Why containers, and why now? The architectural zeitgeist has settled -- at least for the summer -- on the container as the building material of moment. In New York City, two projects are on display: Sean Godsell's Future Shack is currently in the garden of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and LOT-EK's Mobile Dwelling Unit will open on July 1 in the Sculpture Court at the Whitney Museum of American Art. (Another container-based project, Adam Kalkin's Quik House, was installed this spring at Deitch Projects in SoHo as a part of the gallery's exhibition, Suburban House Kit. It closed on March 27.)

LOT-EK's Mobile Dwelling Unit (MDU) is the prototype of what the firm imagines could be a moveable living space that would plug into a purpose-made vertical infrastructure dock in cities around the world. The 40-foot container is fitted out with zones for sleeping, living, bathing, cooking, and working. Once it is lifted into place and attached to the hypothetical dock, each zone could slide out, creating a useable series of rooms. When the occupants want to go elsewhere, they could undock or replace individual zone modules so that the MDU's profile is once again that of a standard container, and move on.

Godsell's Future Shack represents a more Spartan approach to refitting a container for domestic uses than the MDU, but since it was conceived as a potential solution for housing refugees around the world, its rough and ready quality makes sense. The interior is clad with plywood sheets, and skylights provide interior light. A shed roof above the container is fitted with solar panels to provide electricity. Godsell had been working on the idea for several years, but since entering the Future Shack in the nonprofit group Architecture for Humanity's competition for housing refugees in Kosovo, the project has garnered notice and credibility.

Kalkin's first container project was actually a performance piece, but since then, he has moved closer to the unglamorous concerns of cheap housing. The tongue-in-cheek order form that accompanied his Deitch installation may have been the last gasp for the performative elements of his projects, because he says he is now developing ideas about containers as housing in Afghanistan.

These contemporaries clearly have some superficial similarities, but each seems to have used the shipping container as a vessel for decidedly different ideas. While Godsell's no-nonsense approach uses an abundant and inexpensive resource for its possibilities for speedy assembly and reasonably low cost to house people in need, Kalkin coyly references everything from Duschamp's multiples to 1950s ideas of modern living. Meanwhile, LOT-EK's Ada Tolla explained part of her and partner Giuseppe Lignano's fascination with shipping containers stems from the fact that they embody a much larger global system. "It is not just an object that sits," she said. "It has connotations of Asia and Africa, and the infrastructure behind this network. We try to transport that network and its systems into architecture."

The abundance of shipping containers is a byproduct of a trade imbalance that means that many more arrive in the United States than leaves. In and around New York, shipping containers are as numerous and unwanted as pigeons, with thousands arriving every year. The costs for their shippers to have them return, empty, runs up to $9000which is not much less than the cost of buying them. From the windows of the PATH train to Newark, one can see yards with countless multi-colored containers stacked high, waiting for freight that may never arrive. This glut has made them fairly cheap to buy: Depending on condition, a basic model begins at about $2,000.

People have been using shipping containers for things other than storage for a long time now -- without the help of architects, thank you very much. The yard on the outskirts of Newark periodically doubles as an unofficial homeless shelter. An auto body shop in Williamsburg uses several containers to house everything from spare parts and offices to a pair of understandably irritable Rottweilers who guard the lot at night. Seabox.com, the website of a container manufacturing and outfitting firm in East Riverton, New Jersey, shows pictures of containers tricked out as a shed with aluminum siding and Palladian windows, and in one truly impressive case, a mobile home for an elephant.

Circus animals, guard dogs, and monkey wrenches are no longer the only ones to enjoy such accommodations though. Beyond LOT-EK, Godsell, and Kalkin, firms including Jones, Partners: Architects, Jennifer Siegal's Office of Mobile Design, and even typically mild-mannered Fox & Fowle have developed proposalssand in Siegal's case, actually builttfor projects ranging from single-family houses to large-scale, multi-unit developments. While Jones and Siegal have both used the boxes as the basis for prefabricated houses, Fox & Fowle's award-winning entry to a Boston Society of Architects ideas competition sketches out a development of 351 live/work units on a 18.5 acre brownfield site in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The plan is still more of a conceptual exercise than anything at this point, according to lead architect Mark Strauss. Strauss says that he chose containers as the building block because of their structural qualities and the chance to address the problem of their abundance.

From a material standpoint, it is easy to see why the homely shipping container has seduced so many architects. They have a steel framework that is not compromised when several are stacked up, and steel or aluminum cladding that can be modified or stripped away fairly easily. Containers are often insulated and waterproof, and come with wooden floors. There are international size standards, with the most typical modules being 8 feet wide, 8 feet and 6 inches high, and 20 feet long.

The London-based real estate development and management firm Urban Space Management has demonstrated the practical and urbanistic potential of container-based buildings in Container City on Trinity Wharf in the Docklands. In creating artists' live/work spaces, they found the cost to construct a new building would have amounted to 120 per square foottabout three times what artists typically pay for studio space. Containers were an affordable and structurally efficient alternative. The first Container City, completed in 2000, was so successful that two others have followed.

According to both Ada Tolla and Mark Strauss, the short answer to the question of shipping container's sudden appearance in the spotlight is a straightforward one: Because they are there, and there are so many of them. Their long answers are more complex (and very different) but also suggest that shipping containers, because of the variety of ways architects (and people) approach them, may not always be relegated to their rusty piles along the waterfront.

Eavesdrop Issue 10_06.08.2004

ARCHITECTS, UNITE!
Bless Oscar Niemeyer's heart. In a May 26 report from the Latin American news agency Prensa Latina, the 96-year-old Brazilian architect was harshly critical of the Bush administration. But then he got a tad blurry. Describing Fidel Castro as one of the greatest leaders of humanity,, the avowed communist reportedly suggested that Bush envies the Cuban Revolution.. Niemeyer went on to affirm that he's still a believer, since besides the [revolution's] permanence, there is a workerr?socialist President Luiz Inncio Lula da Silvaa?heading the government of Brazil.. (Shhh! Don't tell him that Brasilia didn't work out the way everyone hoped, either.) Meanwhile, closer to home, a coterie of New York architects has also united against Bush. We hear that designers Calvin Tsao, Zack McKown, Richard Gluckman, and Deborah Berke are among those who will be opening their own residences this summer to host intimate $500 and $1,000-a-plate dinners, prepared by celebrity chefs. Proceeds will go to Downtown for Democracy, a group of creative types who believe that regime change begins at home. Its recent design auction at the Maritime Hotel raised $50,000 and featured an Oval Office installation by John Erik Karkula and Steven Sclaroff, along with works donated by Vladimir Kagan, Ali Tayar, David Weeks, Joseph Holtzman, and others.

TULANE'S NEW REED
Since reporting major staff changes at Architecture, we've learned that the magazine's former editor-in-chief, Reed Kroloff, is making a move of his own. Kroloff, who has served as an architecture consultant since resigning in 2002, will take a new post as dean of Tulane University's School of Architecture on October 1. I hope they asked me to join them because they saw an opportunity to propel the program forward, much as we did with Architecture,> Kroloff says.

BOB? IT'S HUNTINGTONN
New York City Landmarks Commissioner Bob Tierney has gotten lots of opinions about Edward Durell Stone's 1964 Two Columbus Circle, which may be significantly altered by its possible future owner, the Museum of Arts and Design. But we doubt he expected to hear from Huntington Hartford, the notorious supermarket heir and onetime playboy who first built the structure to house his art collection. After a judge recently cleared the way for the building's sale, the enfeebled 92-year-old mustered enough feistiness to call from the Bahamas. I heard he lambasted the decision and demanded to know why the building wasn't landmarked,, says one source. He really gave Tierney a piece of his mind.. Tierney only confirmed that Hartford called. Meanwhile, we've learned that a very prominent and wealthy cultural doyenneewho we've been scared into not naminggis still working to buy the building from under the museum.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

COLUMBIAN CALAMITY
Things are heating up again in the ongoing search for a new dean for Columbia's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. With the almost-hired Zaha Hadid now out of the picture, rumor has it that interim dean Mark Wigley and Beijing architect Yung-Ho Chang are running alongside recently ousted Institute of French Architecture director Jean-Louis Cohen and architects Dagmar Richter and Mark Angelil. A source close to several selection committee membersswho include Kenneth Frampton, Steven Holl, Michael Bell, Laurie Hawkinson, Elliott Sclar, and othersssays that Wigley and Chang are leading contenders. People say Mark is a good administrator,, our chatterbox reports of the less-than-inspired reasoning, while Chang has access to the whole feeding frenzy going on in Asia.. However, we hear Sclar, an urban planning professor, may have problems with Chang's own planning (dis)inclinations while Hawkinson, our source says, is making trouble, effectively shooting down every name that comes up.. In fact, the source blames Hawkinson for causing the school to lose Hadid, who has since won the Pritzker Prize. Laurie wanted to force [the London-based Hadid] to sign something promising to spend a certain amount of time in New York,, the source continues, though it's also kind of scandalous that [Hadid] wouldn't do it.. A committee member confirms that people are complaining about Laurie,, but adds that it baffles me because I think she's one of the more open ones.. Hawkinson couldn't be reached for comment.

SKYSCRAPER, HAI!
The first visitors to the Skyscraper Museum's permanent new home, which opened early this month in Battery Park City, were found on the subway. The Morimoto family of Nagoya, Japan, wanted a snapshot in front of a Lexington Avenue subway car when Tishman Construction's Richard Kielar, on his way to the museum's opening day, picked them up. They asked me to take their photo and told me they were going to the Statue of Liberty,, Kielar recalls, so I said, Why don't you first come see the newest museum in town?? The family then followed Kielar to the new digs, designed by Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built by Tishman, both of which donated their services. They were happy and excited to be the first,, Kielar continues. We took their pictures..

WEDDING BELLS FOR BETSKY
Netherlands Architecture Institute director, former SFMOMA design curator, and transatlantic fixture Aaron Betsky is about to tie the knot with his longtime partner, artist Peter Haberkorn. The June 26th wedding ceremony will mark the couple's sixteenth anniversary and will take place in Hollanddwhich accords equal status to same-sex marriagessat Rotterdam's City Hall. We hear Steven Holl will document the occasion in watercolor while Peter Eisenman sings Ave Maria and Daniel Libeskind jumps out of a cake.

NAME THAT HOTELIER
Which prominent, design-savvy hotelier got so messy at a Los Angeles party not so long ago that, thinking it was a cigarette, he lit a scrap of paper rolled into a straw (Gee, what was that being used for?) and singed his eyebrows? We're told a subsequent tussle with a lady friend also resulted in the caps on his front two teeth being knocked out to complete his not-so-pretty new look.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

TSCHUMI'S GREEK TRAGEDY
No stranger to controversy, Bernard Tschumi is now involved in a big, fat Greek mess. Last month, officials in Greece's newly installed center-right government initiated criminal proceedings against the jury that selected the former Columbia dean's design for Athens' new Acropolis museum. The suit, which doesn't name the architect, alleges that the design threatens antiquities at the site. Tschumi insists the building, which he estimates is only 25 percent finished and which will largely rest on stilts above an existing archaeological excavation, poses no harm and that a Greek court earlier agreed. It's the right wing fighting the left, and attacking the project because it was initiated by the previous government,, Tschumi says. The design has nothing to do with it, but nothing in Greece is simple..

MAU WANTS GREEN, REM WANTS GLAM
It seems Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaas>the duo behind S,M,L,XL and other projectssare parting ways. Recently, Mau told us why he split with the Dutch architect last year over the commission they won in 2000 to design Toronto's 600-acre Downsview Park, which is expected to break ground this fall. When we started, he was already famous, but then he just went through the roof,, explains Mau, who's now working with Frank Gehry on a museum of biodiversity in Panama City, and for him the project went way down the list, while for me it was the most important.. Wanting to get his attention, Mau says he offered Koolhaas the project's lead, but the latter still chose to move on to greener pastures. There's always drama between Rem and me,, Mau joked, adding, He can be obsessive about everything. How can you possibly be worried about letterhead when you have to design a new city in China?? Meanwhile, at last month's Manhattan launch of his new magabook (part magazine, part book), Content, Koolhaas was spotted hitting up W fashion glossy editor James Reginato. Rem went straight for the jugular,, our snoop reports, and said I would like to do something with your magazine that would be very radical.' Jim turned around and said, Radical? For W? What could he possibly mean?''

DON'T VOTE FOR ZAHA
Last month, an (unauthorized) e-mail from the office of Santa Monicaabased Morphosis made the rounds, asking recipients to vote for the firm's NYC2012 Olympic Village proposal in an online Newsday poll. Evidently the sponsors of the competition are taking this poll seriously,, the e-mail read, before warning, Select the voting button carefully, it is easy to mark Zaha Hadid's scheme instead of ours.. No word yet on who's favored to win Prom Queen this spring.

ANDO, SEX GOD
It's official: Tadao Ando is a playboy. The shaggy-haired designer is seen caressing a model (no, not that kind) on the cover of this month's Japanese edition of Playboy. Alongside stories on the Playboy Mansion and tips on becoming a lady's man, Ando is featured as the designer of a man's dream housee in Malibu. In Japan, they have two versions each month,, confesses a Playboy reader. One is more like pornography, but the otherrwith Andoois more culturally oriented.. Heard that one before.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

MUSCHAMP'S CLAIMS ON GROUND ZERO
Architects may have outsized egos buttif there was any question beforeeHerbert Muschamp's may be out of control. As of press time, rumors were swirling that the NYT architecture critic has been making life difficult for the publishers of the forthcoming book Imagining Ground Zero: Official and Unofficial Schemes for the World Trade Center Competition (Rizzoli and Architectural Record). It seems the book's author, Record editor Suzanne Stephens, wants to include schemes from the September 8, 2002, designer-palooza featured in the NYT Magazine in which Muschamp asked architectssincluding Charles Gwathmey, Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas>to contribute plans for Ground Zero. However, He's been calling the architects and telling them not to let their work be published,, says a designer familiar with the fiasco, and several of them are complying.. Why would Muschamp want to interfere, when the NYT itself has acknowledged it doesn't own the rights to the designs? He was asked to write about the projects in the book,, the source continues, so it can't be that he just feels left out. The only answer would have to be power.. While the story is still developing, we've learned that Rizzoli is exploring legal options and, though they wouldn't give an explanation, the offices of several of the architects we contacted, including Meier, confirmed they don't intend to provide the plans in question. Both Stephens and her Rizzoli editor declined comment, and Muschamp did not return calls.

STARCK: I'VE HAD IT WITH YOU PEOPLE
Don't expect any more Target toothbrushes from Philippe Starck. The Frenchman has had his fill of big, American clients. At the SoHo MoMA Design Store earlier this month for the launch of a travel clock and weather monitoring device he designed for Oregon Scientific (which, for the record, is based in Hong Kong), the colorful designer talked to us about everything from how high atmospheric pressure gives him the blues to how one can make lovee in just 15 minutes. (Okay, we're leaving out some context here, but you get the idea.) Wanting to change subjects, we asked about a rumor we'd heard that he was designing a new W Hotel. It's not true. I don't want to work anymore with big American companies,, Starck snapped. When pressed to elaborate, he would only offer: Because they're big and American. Think about it..

NO MALLS FOR MEIER?
We don't like them, either. But could it really be that Richard Meier has never, ever in his 69 years been to a shopping mall? At last month's much-ballyhooed opening of the new AOL Time Warner Center, one of our spies overheard the architect confessing as much in the complex's mall, er, urban retail center,, as its developers insist on calling it. This is so interesting. I've never been to a mall before,, our snoop reports Meier admitting in all seriousness. What? Not even out of curiosity? Not even when malls made, like, totally trendy social commentary? Meier's rep points out that he recently visited quite a few of themm to look at different retail outlets for research,, before adding, He has a very compressed schedule and doesn't have a lot of time to go shopping, period..

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Moving Pictures

With clients' (and the public's) expectations rising after 9/11, Fred Bernstein finds that architectural animations are a tool designers can no longer pass up. Options range from New Yorkkbased video artists to low-cost foreign firms.

In the field of architectural animation, as in so many other things, one date separates then and now: September 11, 2001. The direct effects of 9/11 on companies that make architectural videos are vast..Michael is out in California with Peter Walker,, said Matthew Bannister, principal of New Yorkkbased dbox, referring to the Ground Zero memorial designer Michael Arad. When he comes back, we'll have five days to do the animation. It'll mean working some extra-weird hours..

Bannister's company had already done four other Ground Zeroorelated projects before it was asked to animate the winning design in the memorial competition. The LMDC, Bannister said, wanted it to be very realistic for the public presentation.. At least half a dozen other firms that specialize in three-dimensional renderings have been involved in redeveloping the World Trade Center site. There have been animations of the proposed master plans, the designs for Freedom Tower and other structures, and most recently, the memorial finalists (who were given a list of renderers by the LMDC, which picked up the tab for the animations).

But the indirect affects of 9/11 are greater. Technologies have a way of making themselves indispensable, especially after a splashy public showing. It's akin to what happened in the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial: Prosecutors say that jurors now expect DNA evidence in every case. Since 9/11-related architectural videos began appearing on the television news, consumers of architectureedevelopers, tenants, city planning commissions, and not least the publiccexpect projects to be presented with walk-throughs or fly-throughs, usually with background music, trees blowing in the wind, and people walking up and down virtual stairways.

Luckily for architects, the range of options for creating animations is multiplying. For firms doing the work inhouse, a website, cgarchitect.com, offers advice on the latest products and techniques. At the same time, the ease of transferring data over the Internet has made it possible for some large firms (including Manhattanbase Kohn Pederson Fox) to save money by having animations produced overseas. As a result, architects say, the days when a video was a luxuryyand one completed only after the design was finishedd are over. Videos are prepared at every stage of the process, and can serve as design tools.

Bannister said that in one case, his firm was asked to make animations of spaces that hadn't even been rendered in two dimensions. After the client approved the video, the architect would do the drawings,, he said. Ed Manning, another New Yorkkbased architectural animator, said one of his clients was planning a renovation that, in Manning's mind, would produce awkward spaces. On his own time, he produced an animation that convinced the owner to rethink the design. He could see exactly why the spaces wouldn't work,,Manning recalled. He added that traditional two-dimensional renderings, given their capacity to hide or highlight whatever a designer wants, can be misleading in a way that 3-D renderings are not.

Bernard Tschumi, who recently stepped down as dean of Columbia's architecture school in order to focus on his increasingly busy practice, said that he, too, is using animations more and more as an in-house design tool. An animation confirms things about a space, or opens avenues you didn't think about.. Manning freelances for Imaginary Forces, a company that until now has been known for movie and TV animation. Two years ago, the firm opened a New York office dedicated to serving the architectural market.What's happened, he said, is that rising standards of visual literacy, along with advances in technology and lower costs in applying it, make it possible for architects to think about creating images that are as detailed and realistic as the images that have been used for entertainment and advertising..

Said Bannister of dbox, We're a relatively new business model in the United States, where, until recently, hightech renderings were mostly done in bedroom shops.'' By contrast, he said, this has been an established business type for many years in Europe,, where concern for historic city centers meant that photorealistic renderings of proposed new buildings were de rigueur. But in New York, he said, after 9/11 there was a sudden expectation for computer visualizations, which led to a rise in businesses like ours..

Another entrant is Screampoint, a California firm represented in New York by Wendy Cohn, an urban planner. For years, Cohn worked for the Manhattan borough president on such mega-projects as the redevelopment of Times Square.When Hsiao-Lai Mei, a West Coast entrepreneur, showed Cohn his photorealistic animations, she realized that developers could use them to present their plans to New York's community boards and Planning Commission. (The commission itself has since become a Screampoint client.)

On a laptop at the firm's office in Rockefeller Center, Cohn offers the proof: In one caseea video of a proposed mall in Honoluluuit's impossible to believe the animation isn't a movie. According to Cohn, the client liked the animation so much, he took it to Italy to pick out marble paving that matched the effect created by Screampoint's artists. But Screampoint's selling point isn't just verisimilitude. Founder Mei developed a system that links 3-D images to a multitude of data: Click on a wall in an animation, and you may find out when it was painted, and what color. Click on a floor of an apartment building, and you may find out how much rent the tenant has been paying. According to Mei, his system makes 3-D imaging a tool that can be utilized throughout the life of a project. Our typical clients are large owners and developers, though we work alongside architects and engineers,, he said. The interaction with the designers is very tight..

Though Cohn occupies a Rockefeller Center office, most of Screampoint's work is done outside the country. It's 24-7. Someone is always working in China or in Egypt or in Yugoslavia or Mexico,, she said. Indeed, the value of sending work overseas, apparent in so many other fields, is quickly becoming recognized in the world of architectural animation. Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) has all but its simplest animations made in Beijing. Architect Richard Nemeth discovered the high qualityyand low costtof Chinese renderings when he was working with a client in China several years ago. He tracked down the Chinese renderers and began giving them work. People in the firm would say, These renderings are really nice, where do you get them done?'' Nemeth recalled.

Until then, KPF had used New York animators. Now the firm posts its data on a password- protected website, where it is downloaded by Chinese workers. We call every evening and talk to them about what changes need to be made. The next morning, we have a draft,, said Nemeth.

He said the typical animation, such as a fly-through of Songdo, a new city in Korea that KPF is master-planning, takes seven or eight drafts. But that's because the people doing the work in China have a very good sensibility,, he said. If they didn't, you could do 15 drafts and still not be happy with the results..

Not every firm is ready to outsource its animation. Tschumi, for his part, has three fulltime people doing videos in his loft office on 17th Street (out of a total staff of 30). Lately, he has been winning one high-profile competition after another and the videos produced under his roof, he acknowledged, are one of the reasons. Increasingly, the animations are part of the competition entry,, he explained.

Other architecture firms give animation work to companies like dbox, which employs 13 artists in its studio on West 14th Street. The firm was founded, according to Bannister, in the computer lab at Cornell's architecture school in the 1990s, where he and his founding partners studied. He is proud to note that their influences include pre-computer-age works of architectural representation, such as the mid-20th-century photographs of Julius Shulman and, going further back, the 18th-century view-paintings of Venetian Giovanni Canaletto. The Canaletto book is always out somewhere, always open,, he said. These elaborate animation services don't come cheap. ((If I sense that we're bidding against someone, they're probably not coming to us for the right reasons,, said Bannister.) Dbox, according to Bannister, has not yet felt the impact of its overseas competitors. We're always booked up at least a month in advance.. The firm also produces art videos that have been shown in a number of museums.

With computer animation software becoming more widely available, most firms have at least one person on staff who knows how to use it. But,, said Bannister, buying a Les Paul guitar doesn't make you Eric Clapton..

Last Chance To Save Ground Zero

The eloquence of the void at Ground Zero will never be surpassed. Walking past the site almost every day, I am always moved by its immense formal authority and grandeur, its presence. Its scale and proportion are not unfamiliar: Times Square, the Zocalo in Mexico City, Red Square, the great plaza of Isfahan, are in the same family of spaces, profound settings for public assembly and crucial city symbols. I imagine Ground Zero transformed into such a space of gathering, something between a plaza and a park, a permanent memorial to an event that was so terribly public.

To build such a place requires both an excellent design for the square itself and careful attention to its perimeter, to the solid edges that enclose it. The basic envelope is fundamentally sound and includes many superb and historic structures, including the Barclay-Vesey building, St. Paul's Chapel, and the beautiful Post Office. Many opportunities to further shape this envelope also exist, particularly to the south where virtually the entire edge might be reconstructed. There are also sites both east and west that--rebuilt--could dramatically reinforce the sense of place. These peripheral sites would be logical for cultural institutions, commercial space, and housing.

Although there were many who immediately called for the dedication of this entire place to public use and public commemoration, this option was quickly removed from consideration as "impractical." The Lower Manhattan Development (not memorial) Corporation decided early on that the only "vision" they would support was one that replaced all of the commercial space lost on September 11 on the site itself. The LMDC has been remarkably adroit in stifling any other suggestion and has been equally canny in their use of architecture to obscure the fundamental exclusion of the public from a meaningful role in decision-making. When the public responded with outrage to the series of diagrammatic solutions to the site design offered two summers ago, the LMDC feigned responsiveness by staging a "competition"--whose winner was selected by administrative fiat--in which a number of architects proposed designs for exactly the same program. None had the courage to suggest that massive amounts of office and shopping space might not be the only possibility. With their fawning connivance, the public was distracted from a discussion of fundamentals and invited instead to debate the finer points of architectural style, which version of 12 million square feet of commercial space it preferred. Now, even the winner of the competition enjoys the indignity of seeing his ideas winnowed away by the growing committee of high-style designers hired by Larry Silverstein, who uncritically seek to bolster their reputations and bank accounts on the site.

Why build skyscrapers here? The main argument is commercial--pulling Silverstein's and the Port Authority's chestnuts out of the fire--but this flies in the face of both a lack of demand (vacancies are high all over town) and of many alternative sites for such buildings. There is, of course, also an argument that the restoration of what was there is the appropriate riposte to terror. This has unfortunately yielded the stupid machismo yet another "world's tallest building"-- a title the Trade Center held only briefly, an equally likely result for any successor. To me, this is simply too preening a response, without gravity, without respect. Finally, it's argued that skyscrapers are the preeminent symbol of New York. Certainly they are the highest architectural achievement of our commercial life. However, I believe that Central Park is the greatest symbol-and the greatest repository-of our public culture.

The last act of the LMDC's roughshod arrogation of downtown's future has been the memorial competition--its finalists just announced--which attracted over 5,000 entries, a clear indication of the pent-up desire for participation. This competition, however, can never substitute for what should have happened, an open competition for ideas at the beginning of the process, throwing it wide open for invention and debate and allowing the memorial to function as the driver. The LMDC has instead waited until the very end and offered competitors a site that is luridly constrained. Submerged below grade, hemmed by the glass-covered slurry-wall and a gigantic waterfall, over-hung by cantilevered cultural institutions, surrounded by Daniel Libeskind's elaborate and banal iconographic program, and lying beneath the looming bulk of the world's tallest building, the memorial--whatever it turns out to be--will suffer the consequences of being an afterthought, an appendage to the big plans of the LMDC, the Port Authority, and Larry Silverstein.

But this need not be. Let the winner of the memorial competition-the only open competition held so far-build his or her winning entry in a great space of public assembly, not in the midst of a clutch of slick office towers. Let those who are so eager to build do so on the perimeter of the site, or in Midtown South, or in Queens or Brooklyn or the Bronx. Let us have a wonderful hub of transportation-the means of bringing people together-under and near Ground Zero. Let cultural institutions gather around the site, as they do around Central Park. But, stop the demeaning arrogance of business-as-usual and the construction of an architectural zoo on this hallowed ground.

Can we pay for this? We must. It is time for the federal government to step in: No less than Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor, this is the site of a national trauma and, whatever its ownership, a place that "belongs" to us all. To be sure, the price tag would be several billion dollars but we are about to spend $18.3 billion reconstructing Iraq, to make that country whole after the devastations of tyranny and war. Surely, we can afford to make Ground Zero a place of peaceable assembly for everyone. Indeed, if terror demands a civic reply, what better than a solemn memorial to those lost and a space for the most fundamental exercise of democracy in space, the freedom to gather in a place that is our own.