"A statue is a work of art—in this case, designed by a remarkable artist who relied heavily on history and the views of the top historians. Her art does not, nor is it meant to, depict an actual historical moment. "Furthermore, placing a statue of Literary Walk comes with many restrictions and obligations. The design must harmonize with the other statues there; it cannot represent an entire movement; it must be allegorical; the subjects must be from the 19th century."In the above comment, which appeared in a New York Daily News editorial by Brewer, she alluded to the recent criticism raised by civil rights scholars and leading local academics that likely played a big role in the commission’s decision to postpone the motion. In August, a group of 20 experts asked the Fund in a letter to reconsider putting Truth alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, over the fear that the representation could “obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists.” Despite this, Bergmann revealed a new rendering of the statue at the meeting that included Truth standing over a table where Anthony and Stanton sat. The suffragists’ scroll that was featured in the original design was removed and an inscription at the bottom of the pedestal now reads “Women’s Rights Pioneers.” Hyperallergic reported that in an effort to address the critics’ concerns, Bergmann told the PDC she used body language and facial expressions to convey the tensions that might have been going on between the three women at the time of their discussions. For the commission and those who signed the letter, that wasn’t enough. Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society co-wrote the letter and issued another statement at the meeting, asking the Fund to place a plaque on the statue to give further historical context should this design move forward. In addition, landscape architect Signe Nielson, chair of the PDC, told Bergmann and the Fund that they will need to provide the approval letters and address some minor “aesthetic concerns” before next month’s meeting. Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, told amNewYork that the team expected these results, saying, “it’s just another delay.” Over the next few weeks, members of the academic community and other stakeholders expect to be more thoroughly involved in the second redesign. Todd Fine of the Washington Street Historical Society, one of the signees in attendance on Monday, tweeted that though historians might accept the redesign, "the problem is the lack of outreach and the secrecy."
All posts in East
What to see during Climate Week NYC 2019
Moving on from #MeToo
Bernhard Karpf, managing principal of Richard Meier's office, has left firm
Shimmering, shuddering tower revealed for 450 Eleventh Avenue at Hudson Yards
Lights, Camera, Action!
The concrete towers of the New York State Pavilion are ready for restoration
Pull Up a Chair
R & Company's Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong exhibit surveys fresh interpretations of the typology
Pezo Von Ellrichshausen brings Chilean design to Cooper Union
SHoP's Essex Street Market brings food hall glory to the LES
Neo Marquina Minimalism
Fogarty Finger frames the Meatpacking District with glass, white oak, and black marble
REACH for the Stars
Steven Holl expands the Kennedy Center with semi-submerged pavilions
These photos are from Modern Management Methods: Architecture, Historical Value, and the Electromagnetic Image, by Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam, to be released November 29 by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City.
Modern Management Methods casts architecture in a new electromagnetic light. Through the X-ray and the archive—paired forms of modernist media—the project renders the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, a site of geopolitical uncertainty and bureaucratic happenstance, at the scale of the architectural detail. Thus, it asks how the value of a building is produced through instruments of expertise, management ideologies, and historical narratives.
At a time when the U.S. is withdrawing from its international obligations and nationalism is on the rise in this country and others, what does it mean to consider the U.N. Headquarters as a building in New York City? What do we learn by grounding abstractions like universal heritage and internationalism in the material realities of this place, with all the messiness and negotiations of such an undertaking at the city, state, and extraterritorial levels?
Following the September 11 attacks, in 2002 the $2.4 billion Capital Master Plan was launched to refurbish the U.N. Headquarters, bring the building up to fire code and environmental standards, and to strengthen its security—all while maintaining its iconic historical character. The plan was an exercise in risk management in an era of securitization, in the administration of jurisdiction (the U.N. is sovereign territory), and in the regulation of symbolic architectural value. It was also an intensive restoration process, dismantling, for instance, the famed curtain wall to replace it with blast-proof, tinted glass.
Modern Management Methods locates these administrative moments in the spaces of the archive and the building. Through unorthodox survey practices, the project correlates documents from the Capital Master Plan—memoranda, reports, and PowerPoint presentations—and X-rays Blanchfield and Lotfi-Jam took (with a radiographer) of the U.N. Headquarters’ structural columns, window mullions, and communications systems. These two forms of representation reveal how conversations around security, nationalism, environment, accessibility, and historical value entered the bureaucratic framework of a capital construction project, and the specific sites in which this paperwork was translated into architecture.