Forget the red car era, in which public transportation was seen as unglamorous and irrelevant to Los Angeles life. In 2008, public transport projects crowd the region like sorority girls vying to be Pasadena’s Rose Queen.
In January another hopeful, a high-speed intra-regional transportation system designed to link a necklace of Southern California airports and ports, transitioned from planning to implementation phase when the LA City Council approved a joint-government authority to oversee the development of its initial operating segment (IOS). The authority will supervise and approve route selection, the Environmental Impact Review (EIR), financing, land acquisition, bids, and construction on a proposed route linking Los Angeles to the Ontario Airport.
If funded and built as currently conceptualized, the entire system would be completed by 2030, move at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, and provide transportation for up to 500,000 riders a day.
Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith characterized the step as “a giant leap” from a planning process more than seven years in the making. Smith represents the council on The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), which initiated the project and has carried it through preliminary planning.
The first segment of the system is slated to have stations in West Los Angeles, Union Station, West Covina, and the Ontario Airport. According to Smith, an LAX station was also suggested for the route by SCAG’s board about six months ago. SCAG has commissioned conceptual plans from land use and transportation consulting company IBI Group, but the official design phase for the IOS could be more than a year away and would be contingent on funding.
Conceptual rendering for Union Station. IBI GROUP
Rather than occupy city streets or require underground tunneling, the transit system would piggyback onto Los Angeles freeways. Caltrans participated in the planning stages and has bought into the concept of the project.
A study by SCAG staff will be completed this June to help the authority decide on routes and technologies. The document will provide comparisons between the I-10, SCAG’s preferred alignment, and a newer alternative on property owned by the Union Pacific Southern Route that runs parallel to State Route 60. Transportation systems being considered include a high-speed steel wheel system, such as Japan’s bullet train, or Maglev, which harnesses advanced magnetic levitation technology and an elevated monorail.
The latter was favored throughout much of SCAG’s project evaluations, but SCAG currently holds a technology-neutral position. Smith, however, touted Maglev for its lower construction and maintenance costs and lower pollution levels. Maglev does have one drawback, though. There are few long term data demonstrating proven success. In China, Shanghai boasts the only operating Maglev system in the world. Bullet trains, which have a lengthier track record, have positive safety records.
IBI Group oversaw SCAG’s initial planning process and developed conceptual designs for four Maglev stations. Their work will provide a reference point for architects designing the stations in the future.
“The aesthetic features of the stations are intended to reflect the intrinsic values of the Maglev system: advanced technology, movement, and speed,” the IBI Group stated in a report to SCAG. Their sleek, often-curved conceptual designs contrast cast-in-place concrete cores with glass and polycarbonate walls leveraging natural light and ventilation through open air stations to take advantage of the region’s climate. Louvers or perforated metal screens provide shading. Connections to other forms of transportation like light rail, bus, air, and automobile were emphasized.
While the conceptualized stations share a visual identity, each addresses individual site considerations. At West Los Angeles, IBI’s challenge was to conceive of a station that could meet the system’s taxing demands but also retain the modest scale required to integrate with the residential community. At Union Station, the firm created space for a new mode of travel in an already packed and historic site by elevating a Maglev station above existing rail. In West Covina, the station is built into a mall—the result of SCAG successfully reaching out to the retail complex’s operator, said David Chow, director at IBI.
As with the myriad of transportation projects in development across the region, the elephant in the room is cost. A 2005 estimate by IBI predicted the project could cost up to $7.8 billion, a figure that would be higher with current market prices. Funding-wise, the system would not be “a government subsidized project,” but rather a public-private partnership developed to supply funding, councilman Smith asserted.
A new player on the Maglev scene, American Maglev of Marietta, Georgia, has offered an unsolicited bid, proposing to provide free construction if the first route is revised to include the port of San Pedro. In this case, fees charged to cargo transportation would finance the rest of the endeavor. But American Maglev does not yet hold a track record of successful projects.
In making the case for a high-speed system to serve the region, Richard Marcus, program manager for Maglev and High-Speed Rail at SCAG, pointed not only to population growth but to Los Angeles’ position as a major port. According to Marcus, 43 percent of containers that enter the United States travel through the San Pedro Bay. In the next 22 years, the number of containers received will triple. “Continuing to build freeways is not the answer,” said Marcus, with understatement. “We’re going to have to come up with another way.”
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Forget the red car era, in which public transportation was seen as unglamorous and irrelevant to Los Angeles life. In 2008, public transport projects crowd the region like sorority girls vying to be Pasadena’s Rose Queen.
New York, New York
The issues WORK is grappling with at P.S.1 are ones that Andraos and Wood have been thinking about for a while. In particular, they are concerned with finding new ways to bring ecologically minded design to an urban level. “For us, it is more than a formal experiment,” explained Andraos, “it is a reflection of what is going on around us,” from the citywide popularity of farmer’s markets to the mayor’s PLANYC 2030 campaign to make New York more green. They have clearly hit on something, because in the first 24 hours after their selection was announced, Woods said they received hundreds of emails, including many that weren’t from architects. There was a man who has been running a farm in Queens, a high school teacher who has incorporated agriculture into the curriculum, and even staffers at the local botanical gardens. “It is as if we stumbled onto a whole network of people who are interested in this issue and what we are doing,” said Wood.
JOHNSEN SCHMALING ARCHITECTS
Though all of the big breweries in Milwaukee are gone except for Miller, beer and its production marked the city indelibly, according to Sebastian Schmaling. “The old beer barons were often great patrons of the arts, and there are wonderful old bars downtown that have amazingly detailed interiors,” he said. In fact, his five-year-old firm, Johnsen Schmaling Architects, has made its office in one of them. One of the firm’s larger residential projects is a renovation of an old Blatz brewery building into apartments. In a subtle reference to the building’s past, the architects created screens in the lobby that hold 1,600 of the original old Blatz bottles that they found stored in the building’s basement. The panels pivot into place to separate the lounge from the main entrance, and light washes down to illuminate the amber glass (below, left and right) “We didn’t want to bring it to a frat-boy level of humor, of course, and the bottles are the only reference, but it is part of the cultural history here,” said Schmaling.
As the scale of the projects they take on grows—they are currently working on a 70-unit residential building called Stable Flats—their drawing sets are getting more detailed, but the underlying thinking remains the same. “On Stable Flats, we had to rethink the process some, and partnered with a company that makes modular steel and concrete structures,” he said. This foray into prefabrication will let the scale and complexity of projects continue to grow while maintaining the same level of control. If it sounds like a lot, it is, according to McDonald, but it is also worth it: “It is so hard to build something, that this just makes life easier,” he said, and “by taking on more risk, you actually reduce the stress, because you have full responsibility.”
Kansas City, Missouri
According to Maginn, about 25 percent of el dorado’s work is custom fabrication, though the ability to design and produce fixtures informs almost all their work. “Designing and building things in steel satisfies a core need for a lot of us—making is crucial,” he explained. There is a
full metal shop in the studio, and this allows the architects to test and prototype details before going on-site. “We have a lot of respect for good contractors, and as fabricators, we can form a relationship with them that is really helpful for the project,” he said. It also means that el dorado can use prefabricated elements to stay within budget, as it did for the Cox Communications (top right) and the Hodgdon Power offices (bottom right), both in Kansas.
The 14-person firm is set up as a confederacy of designers, fabricators, and artists, and on each project, one individual leads the design process and gets the input of the rest. “We can help each other and judge each other, and also make use of a design language we have already developed,” said Maginn. “We aren’t reinventing the wheel each time, but this way, each project pushes that language forward a few steps.”
New Haven, Connecticut
When the architect Michael Meredith got a fellowship at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, about ten years ago, the work he produced there was somewhat off the beaten architectural path: He designed a series of cushions for Donald Judd’s beautiful but ungiving furniture and wrote a series of theme songs for some friends. Nonetheless, Meredith said that much of the work he and his partner Hilary Sample are working on today has its roots back in Texas. “A lot of it comes from the people we met there,” said Meredith, like the Ancram Studio in Upstate New York (below). “The art world has been good to us,” said Meredith.
The house may be one of MOS’ more traditional projects. “Because we both teach full-time [Sample at Yale; Meredith at Harvard’s GSD] we often gravitate towards the marginal and weird,” said Meredith, who then tried to explain what an inflatable factory/ theater/community center in Newfoundland might look like. “We don’t really have bread-and-butter projects,” he explained. But the ones they have are interesting: MOS is one of the one hundred young firms chosen by Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron to design houses for Ordos, a brand new city for 1.6 million in Mongolia. Though he is no stranger to some of the odder edges of his profession, Meredith was still impressed: “Walking around there is like being in some postapocalyptic movie—there are buildings and museums, but not always roads, and there is just no one there.”
Santa Monica California
Like many of his contemporaries, Belzberg is a huge supporter of the technologies that allow him to pursue innovative forms without seeing them as an end of their own. “We only take on work that can be built, because there is a real joy in building,” he said. “You can’t get seduced by the image of what the software allows you to imagine—it’s good to have limits like budget, program, and building code.”
One project currently beginning construction is the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (above), and for Belzberg, it presented the most productive constraint of all: a public client. They decided to submerge the building underground to keep from losing any open space, and so worked very closely with the LA Department of Parks and Recreation, which he described as a collaborator on the project. “They weren’t an approving body, but they acted as a design review board on every major decision,” Belzberg said, adding that it was an invaluable part of the process because they were so well-acquainted with the many constituencies. “As architects, we sit in the office all day thinking we know what all of the voices out there are saying, but we don’t. Working with a public agency made us much more sensitive.”
A playground in Quebec called the Safe Zone (top right) makes good on that approach. The brownfield site needed to be sealed off for safety, so Stoss designed a series of mounds covered in soft rubber pips made out of sneaker soles and old tires, creating a brightly colored landscape that doesn’t dictate how the kids who play there will use it. For Perkins Park in Somerville, Massachusetts, (bottom right) Reed described watching the way his own children horse around and make use of whatever catches their eye, and so he incorporated a series of overlaid patterns and colors into the design that don’t dictate what the game should be. “We wanted to provide a full palette of colors and textures and forms to give a sense of free play,” said Reed.
The same sensibility informs larger projects like the Erie Street Plaza in Green Bay, Wisconsin (top), albeit in a more adult way. “Sometimes you have to let the environmental conditions or bureaucratic conditions determine the way a project evolves over time,” he said. The Fox Riverfront in Dennis, Massachusetts is perhaps the most representative of this ethos: Reed described a landscape whose different parts will essentially duke it out over the years. Four conditions—salt marsh, cedar meadow, junegrass, and a filtration meadow—will grow or shrink as drought or municipal maintenance budgets allow. “If the town can’t afford to mow, then perhaps the cedars will grow into the junegrass, or if there is heavy rainfall, then perhaps the salt marsh will expand.” Either way, Stoss is willing to let it play out.
MOORHEAD & MOORHEAD
New York, New York
Sometimes architects test out ideas by making furniture, and industrial designers often itch to work at an architectural scale, but for Moorhead & Moorhead, this regular back and forth is a given: The two-man firm consists of brothers Granger and Robert Moorhead, the former an architect and the latter an industrial designer. “Each discipline has its own logic,” explained Granger, “and that logic connects material to program. In architecture, there is a logic to detailing in the field, whereas industrial designers are detailing for production.”
According to the Moorheads, who have worked together for eight years, they try to approach each project—be it the residential compound in Uruguay they are just completing or the rubber lamp they designed for the 2002 Skin show at the Cooper-Hewitt—with the understanding of both those scales at once. Last year, they worked with their father (also an architect) on a project in North Dakota, where they grew up, that is part public art installation, part architecture. A local artist commissioned six designers to make small spaces for reflection and art that would be mobile so that many more people could use them. Their solution was to use thermal plastic rods much like the struts of a tent set into a rigid bench that is both seating and structure. The result (above) suggests something between an open-air chapel and the frame of a covered wagon, and is a compelling synthesis of the two brothers’ respective disciplines.
Brian Johnsen and Sebastian Schmaling,
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
and Robert Moorhead,
Moorhead & Moorhead
City planners have worried about maintaining New York’s web of roads, sewers, bridges, and public transit since commissioners drew up a blueprint for growth in 1811. Now, though, consensus is emerging that agencies must coordinate their upkeep if the city is to survive climate change and enormous population increases. Worries that our sewers are filling up and spewing wastewater into rivers are as old as city planning itself, but a coordinated response to those worries is new. Public officials from San Diego to Stockholm are addressing their cities’ ecological future, and they are less focused on technological fixes than on coordinating the way parks, transit, and economic development agencies share the land.
“We must think more holistically to achieve true, sustainable growth,” Empire State Development Corporation downstate chairman Patrick Foye told attendees at a New York Building Congress lunch on September 20. He’s got company. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ambitious 127-point sustainability program PlaNYC 2030 asks Parks Department officials to work with transportation planners to develop standards that will make new parking lots into grassy sponges for stormwater. And the chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is responding to the aftermath of the storm that shut down subways on August 8 by surveying for sites where it can tap porous pavement or new vegetative landscaping to soak up water.
While the MTA consults landscape architects to make its far-flung properties more efficient, Foye’s agency is shelving its traditional emphasis on megaprojects like the Atlantic Yards development in favor of a measured approach. “The state’s historic focus on large-scale projects has actually short-changed our region,” Foye told the September 21 meeting. In the speech, Foye proposed a rezoning around the new Moynihan Station that would sprinkle air rights along the 34th Street corridor: This, he said, would “mean less disruption to commuters and tie development to the market.” In other words, it would temper demands on subways, sewers, and roads, lessening the odds of a catastrophe. That same incremental focus will guide Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 agenda, now six months old, through its implementation.
At the Hudson Yards site, which the MTA is selling to developers who want to link new buildings to the new station, PlaNYC has proposed a test site for a new system, called HLSS for “high-level storm sewer.” Such a sewer can sweep rain and snow into the river, reducing the risk that nearby older sewers will fill with combined stormwater and wastewater and shut down. “We emphasize backup systems for water supply, upgrading the energy grid,” said Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff in an interview with AN. “If we don’t upgrade our infrastructure, the risk to life and property and costs going forward are only going to magnify.”
These may seem like harsh words even from Doctoroff, a man who is known for his steely style. But he doesn’t come off like a Cassandra—his thinking is in line with his counterparts in London, Chicago, and other cities trying to increase housing densities and upgrade mass transit. Mayors in Sacramento and Boston are striking deals with big employers and adopting sustainability plans that will guide their public investment for the next generation. “Anybody who has eyes and ears and a brain,” he says of the city’s physical condition, “will be reminded that we are in a perilous state.”
That state demands clever collaboration across agencies. The crammed acreage that makes the city so logical for high density and mass transit also means that any effort to repair pipes and plumbing leads, logically and politically, to new patches of literal green. When the city wants to put a new water node or sewer line underground somewhere, explains assistant Parks commissioner Joshua Laird, it wants to make sure no developer builds anything on the site that would make it inaccessible for tests and repairs. So it creates new parks. “The land will have a park on it that we will manage with the caveat that if DEP needs to get back in there they will be able to,” says Laird. “There’s a new shaft site on Bowery adjacent to one of our houses. They had acquired an old Edison site, and when it is done, will be required to put a park on top.”
The MTA is also trying to keep development within its control by developing mixed-use hubs at some of its commuter rail stations, beginning with Beacon in Putnam County. Moreover, executive director Sander has convened a panel of green advisors. He promises the outlines of a masterplan for improving the MTA’s stormwater management, track upkeep, and energy efficiency by April 22, the first anniversary of Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 kick-off speech. This would go beyond the MTA’s longstanding use of new energy-efficient technology to make existing tracks carry more trains and existing bus routes carry more customers. Sander hopes to cover some of the involved expenses with revenue from the mayor’s much-discussed congestion charge.
Congestion pricing has emerged as a point of solidarity among Sander, Doctoroff, and EDC chief Robert Lieber, who all have been known to approach isolated economic-development issues focusing on the priorities of their respective agencies. Lieber is using his influence to urge executives whose companies might generate jobs to urge legislators to stop bickering over congestion pricing. Lieber, whose agency coordinates all waterfront conversions around town and accordingly must clear a host of rotting piers and suspect industrial sites, told audiences at an Economist-sponsored powwow and a New York Building Congress breakfast that he plans to use his pulpit to fight for new sources of infrastructure funding from all levels of government.
That call will expose discord between the no-nonsense city government and the more theatrical lawmakers in Albany. After a Con Edison steam pipe exploded in July and forced Midtown traffic to grind to a halt, Doctoroff described the new authority as inevitable. “Con Edison has got to invest more money, but you also have to change the way you think about energy,” said Doctoroff at the time. “Demand for energy by 2030 is projected to grow about 45 percent, and our plan holds it constant. We want to take stress off the system, and that means distributed generation.” PlaNYC calls for a city-created Energy Efficiency Authority to help finance building retrofits and create scattered small power plants, but Albany must approve the authority’s creation.
Finally, leaders are trying to persuade the private sector to invest in unglamorous upkeep. The administration disclosed plans in October to connect private landlords with the Clinton Climate Initiative, which has amassed $5 billion in loans to finance building retrofits. And PlaNYC’s implementation will require owners of parking lots over 6,000 square feet to plant trees along their edges and will promise a property tax break to offset 35 percent of the cost of new green roofs.
This kind of broad-based, small-bore work will define planners’ mandates and architects’ work for the next several years, but even if it is entirely successful, its achievement will hardly make the city an oasis of efficiency. Sander exposed the city’s fragile bones at a planners’ conference in mid-October when he confidently answered a question about how congestion pricing fees would help the MTA improve service. “You’ll see a 19th-century transit system moving into the 20th century.”
The Biennale featured, in the Arsenale and various national pavilions, the works of many photographers known for their urban documentation, including Armin Linke, Gabriele Basilico, Edward Burtynksky, Antoni Muntadas, Bas Princen, and Sze-Tsung Leong. Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri's site specific_SHANGHAI 04 (2004), above, and Spanish photographer Dionisio Gonzalez Heliolopolis (2006), below, both appear in the mini-exhibition C on Cities, curated by the magazine C International Photo Magazine.
Courtesy Galerra Max Estrella
Cities Without Architecture
Architecture critic and author; professor at Syracuse University in Florence
Behind this year's Venice Architecture Biennale lurks a daunting moral imperative: Something must be done before the planet is overrun by urbanization. But whether architecture is the problem or the solution remains a serious doubt. The title of the show, Cities, Architecture, and Society, is peculiarly inaccurate in that the content of the major exhibition in the stadium-length Corderie of the Venice Arsenal is devoted to 16 urban regions of a size and complexity that can no longer be called cities. Any of them—London, Tokyo, New York, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai—are made of a fusion of several cities around a historic core city, each comprising a sprawling megalopolis of millions of inhabitants in areas that are usually more than 50 kilometers in diameter. Aside from this linguistic anomaly, the main exhibition suffers from a more egregious absence: There is no architecture: that is, there are no memorable projects presented meaningfully through drawings, models, or photographs. The buildings and projects that are visible in an impressive series of films and photographs used in the show are furtive—always incidental to some greater reality. At first this lack of architecture strikes one as a pleasant surprise in an exhibition known for its incestuous relationships to star architects and its tendentious promotion of formal trends. But after 300 meters of being hounded by statistics and zenith views of cities, one starts to miss the company of celebrity authors and their trademark works, or at least some sense of a project for architecture.
This year's director, Richard Burdett, professor at the London School of Economics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London, aside from delegating the Golden Lion career award to his close friend Richard Rogers, has studiously avoided giving any notion of a criterion for architecture. Good intentions, however, are blazoned on the walls—sustainability and social justice—but they are not given any particular aesthetic agenda. Nor do the few specific examples, such as the transport system in Bogota, offer any notion of what can be done. An exemplary project for urban regeneration, for instance, Barcelona's 22@, a 200-hectare new town, is thrown in with hundreds of images and completely lost. Burdett's vision of the megalopolis, as he states, is of promising challenges, providing the opportunity to re-design the meanings, the functions, the aptitudes and the positive features of the various urban structures and strategies. But the display remains primarily analytical.
The alarm over uncontrollable urban growth has been sounded frequently since the end of the 19th century, when Ebenezer Howard, reacting to the inhumane densities of London, the world's first boundless megalopolis, proposed the Garden City as a means of restoring the balance between city and nature. Two generations later Jose Lluis Sert published the modernist notions of decentralized urbanism in his 1942 tract Can Our Cities Survive? And more than 50 years back the most influential urban historian, Lewis Mumford, was constantly engaged in battles against sprawl and urban growth. The Dutch Pavilion directed by Aaron Betsky recuperates some of the bird's-eye-views of how Dutch architects confronted the question of urban crowding, using archival materials, such as H. P. Berlage's 1910 plan of South Amsterdam and the 1960s beehive scheme of Bijlmemeer. The Austrian Pavilion, curated by Wolf Prix, also recuperated historic exhibitions of urban utopias, including a recreation of Fredrick Kiesler's 1925 City in Space and Hans Hollein's 1964 malaprop collages of aircraft carriers in wheat fields. These historic works were in fact the closest thing to an architectural agenda in the Biennale. The only other truly inspiring exhibit from a formal point of view was Metro-polis, curated by Benedetto Gravagnuolo and Alessandro Mendini, devoted to the new subway system in Naples, a series of art-stations designed by well-known international architects and artists as varied as Dominique Perrault and Anish Kapoor.
If the question of rampant urbanization is by now rather old, what's new about Burdett's analysis? Nothing, really, except the consideration of the ever-increasing dimensions of scale and the influence of digital technologies, which have resulted in the concept of flows. He promises that 75 percent of the world will live in urban situations by 2050, but since most of Europe and developed nations have already surpassed this measure, this fact does not seem so controversial. Uncontrollable urban growth is a vexing problem in terms of its environmental consequences, but this has not really yielded a show that provides convincing solutions; rather, it is a bit like walking through a geography textbook. There have been other recent exhibitions, such as MVRDV's traveling installation Metacity/Datatown (1999) and Rem Koolhaas and Stefano Boeri's Mutations: Harvard Project on the City at the Arc en Reve in Bordeaux (2000) that were more successful in creating a graphic method for appreciating the quantitative difference of the contemporary megalopolis.
A surprising number of the national pavilions were devoted to what can be called everyday urbanism. The Australian Pavilion in fact uses the term specifically, the Belgian is devoted to the beauty of the ordinary, and those of the U.K., Hungary, Korea, and many others worked on the pervasiveness of vernacular and commercial landscapes, which in general excludes the work of architects. The Japanese eccentric Terunobu Fujimori was featured in his country's pavilion, offering a movement called ROJO (Roadway Observation Society). One had to remove their shoes to walk through the charred wooden walls into a room paved in tatami mats to look at the weird collection of things found on the roadside and the architect's arcane additions to these landscapes.
The U.S. Pavilion was typically out of step. While the choice of the theme of Hurricane Katrina was a good one considering that most large urban agglomerations contend with a considerable degree of risk from disaster—a subject that has been beautifully investigated by Paul Virilio—the curatorial team of Architectural Record and Tulane University completely avoided the international scandal of the disaster in New Orleans, and the continuing scandal of governmental indifference. They simply offer some student project–like solutions on stilts that will never be built.
The Spanish Pavilion was one of the most formally satisfying, and while it includes many fine urban projects, the focus is exclusively on the presence of women. It presents three dozen white boxes, each with a vertical video screen showing a woman from the waist up, speaking about urban questions. The curator, Manuel Blanco, somewhat like the filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, has produced an exclusively feminine version of a world dominated by men, presenting women who work as planners, politicians, artists, developers, taxi drivers, street vendors, and, of course, architects. Architect Carme Pinos commented, "Everyone says how great I look in the video, but no one seems to have noticed my tower," referring to her recently finished the 20-floor Torre Cube in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her comment captures the spirit of this year's Biennale, which downplays the role of architecture.
The French Pavilion is by far the most exuberant and popular, and perhaps best captures the overall atmosphere of this year's Biennale as cities without architecture.. Directed by architect Patrick Bouchain, it sprawls outside and over the top of its neoclassical porch, with deck chairs and card tables scattered about. Inside one finds scaffolds that shelter a bar, kitchen, and a workshop for artisans to make tee-shirts and other take-home items. The structure also supports a stair for ascending to a roof terrace where visitors can enjoy a sauna, sundecks, and hammocks. A frolicking, hedonistic, and purposely messy affair, much in the spirit of Lucien Kroll, who was involved in its planning, this invasion of the existing structure makes a serious case for participatory design by adaptation rather than settling for the imposed formal order of architects.
Digital Globe / Telespazio
QuickBird satellite views of (from left to right) Milan, Barcelona, and Bogota. Similar views of all the cities under examination appear in the Corderie of the Arsenale.
The Big Reconciliation
Chair of architectural history and theory at the Applied Arts Academy; research fellow in the urbanism department of the Technical University of Delft
For over five hundred years, since Leon Battista Alberti, architects and urbanists formed a whole, working together in the making of cities. That is until the early 1970s, when architecture and planning went through The Big Divorce in American architecture schools. Among the reasons for the break-up was the drying up of publicly-funded support for urban revitalization programs. Urban issues were, largely, thrown out of architecture schools. Key figures left for schools of government and policy, geography departments, and such. As a result, for the past 30 years, architects and urban professionals stopped speaking to one another almost entirely.
Now, Richard Burdett, director of the Cities Program at the London School of Economics and head of the itinerant Urban Age conference series, has, at the request of the Venice Architecture Biennale organizers, kick-started a dialogue between the two disciplines. In order to do so, he presented some of the grubbiest, grittiest, and dynamic cities in the world, including among others Istanbul, Shanghai, Caracas, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.
The concept behind the exhibition is exciting, with greater implications for the health of the planet and humanity than the latest architectural trends. No one has attempted a comparative study of the world's megacities on this scale before. The exhibition itself won't likely wow the general public, however. Panels of text, images, and charts filled with unprocessed information about the lower depths of urban reality is not the stuff of blockbusters. Among the show's shortcomings is the fact that issues like density and society are raised but are left hanging in the air. In the age of Google Earth, one might also wonder why more interactive media was not used. But what the show lacks in depth of coverage will presumably be supplemented by other activities throughout the next two months while the Biennale acts as a forum for debate and an incubator for policy brainstorming with a planned series of high-level workshops. Here, one supposes that issues like democratic rights, sustainable growth, local government versus World Bank–dictated rules of governance, and Hernando de Soto's brand of neoliberalism will be addressed.
The theme of cities had a galvanizing, almost psychoanalytic effect on many national pavilions. At the U.S. Pavilion, Robert Ivy's team at Architectural Record along with Reed Kroloff of Tulane University grappled with the profound dysfunctionality of post-Katrina New Orleans and wound up with a statement of the inability of architecture alone, in spite of endless good will, to overcome certain political and social realities. The French Pavilion, perhaps as a form of expiation for the race riots that marked the nation's suburbs last year, was turned into one big pop-anarchist Rabelaisian bistro, celebrating togetherness in the midst of delicious food smells and plentiful wine. Austria fell back on two of its bluest chips, venerable masterpieces by once rebellious artists, one by Friedrich Kiesler of 1925 and one of 1964 by Hans Hollein. By contrast, the Hungarian Pavilion took a chance on an independently minded, youthful approach—examining the reach of Chinese-made goods in the world—and came up with a relevant contemporary statement on a specific urban reality. At the Russian Pavilion, the work of Alexander Brodsky, with his hilariously Gogolian black humor, offered a commentary on urban life in Russia today. The Spanish Pavilion was devoted to 52 of the most important women involved with architecture and urbanism in Spain. The overwhelmingly encouraged feminine presence goes a long way in explaining why this country has such great architecture and cities.
Of all the countries, Great Britain was the most active in organizing real discussions. Paul Finch, the editor of Architectural Review, together with Odile Decq, Peter Cook, and Robert White of White Partners should be commended for presenting a series of public debates called The Dark Side Club, which took place every night during the vernissage from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., after all the other parties had ended. And the British Council assembled a panel called My Kind of Town: Architecture and Urban Identity, featuring Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, author Alain de Botton, Nick Johnson of visionary development firm Urban Splash, critic Alice Rawsthorn, and Sudhev Sandhu, author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City. Judging by the international attendance, these lively events might set a trend in future Biennales.
Richard Rogers used the high-profile moment of winning this year's Biennale Golden Lion Award for Life Achievement to stress the need for strict government regulations, citing Portland, Oregon, as the most popular city in the U.S. because it is the best at regulating and containing sprawl and encouraging inner-city densification. Of all the speakers I heard, he was the one who got the most enthusiastic response. In the same vein, this Biennale brought the work of a generation of designers in their 40s to the fore, including James Corner of Field Operations in New York, Rahul Mehrotra of Mumbai, Yung Ho Chang of MIT and Beijing, and Jeremy Till from Sheffield, England, to whom architectural issues are not antithetical to urban, political, social, or ecological concerns.
Giorgio Zucciatti / Courtesy Venice Biennale
Courtesy Institute for Japanese Culture
Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrrger (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: With the opening of the Italian Pavilion in the Tese delle Vergini (near the Arsenale), the old Italian Pavilion in the Giardini was given over to dozens of smaller exhibitions organized by various schools, countries, and research groups. The facade of the pavilion is wrapped in Olivo Barbieri's photograph of the Gonehexin Road overpass in Shanghai. Bottom: The Japanese Pavilion is devoted to the work of Terunobu Fujimori, whose naturalist architecture features the use of charred wood, planted roofs, and rough stone and earth. Within this woven hut, installed in the pavilion, visitors could watch a slideshow of images taken by ROJO, the Roadway Observation Society, founded in 1986 by a group of artists, including Fujimori, dedicated to documenting extraordinary roadside phenomena.
Architecture Between the Cracks
Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect
The Biennale is basically a provocation from director Ricky Burdett to architects and planners. Why do architects not have a role in the forming of cities, why are we not involved more, or voicing opinions more? Why do we have such a lame role in civic discourse? Planners always seem to have good ideas, but they do not follow through. If they did we would not witness the degree of dystopia displayed at this Biennale. Planners do not have power, they are disengaged with physical reality; instead they seem to be buried in paper statistics. With the war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism, poverty, starvation, and genocide erupting around us, how do we answer the questions posed by the exhibition's organizers: Can planning promote social cohesion? Can good governance improve things? Do we all answer "yes" and go and have a Bellini? This is when the 1970s come to mind: Back then, we went into action more directly and architecture's sense of purpose ran deeper.
How did architecture become perceived to be surface-deep? It's an apt question to ask in a city like Venice, where the tourist-pleasing Serenissima facade comprises less than one-third of the city. Going around on the vaporetto (ferry) #82, one sees the blue-collar industrial and working gut of Venice. Author Alain de Botton asked me if I liked the decoration on the building facades. I recommended the vaporetto commute so he could see beyond the place's surface happiness. Architect Patrick Bouchain, organizer of the French Pavilion Metacity/Metaville, where two dozen architects, graphic designers, and media artists set up house and every day go about domestic chores like cooking and sweeping, told me that in Paris, street sweepers are called technicians du surface. The traditional French respect for the worker stands in contrast to the country's recent crisis over the lack of assimilation of immigrants. Intolerance and antagonism are causing riots and lawlessness because people are unable to share discourse and civic values. The message is simply to go back to what we all have in common, and try to establish direct communication among lives in the cities. (The irony is that the pavilion encourages both a sense of community and anarchy, breaking the decorum of exhibition halls by making it an inhabited space, a fragment of a city, with all the transgressions they encompass.)
The Spanish Pavilion, curated, designed, and organized by the perfectionist super-phenom Manuel Blanco, is the individuated and collective voice of women in Spain from all walks of life: female vox populi. It is a very clear, powerful, and credible message. Women are animated, beautiful, sympathetic, and most of all humane. Manuel says his approach was obvious since Spain has a feminine prefix, yet female voices have been suppressed by strong male dominance in politics and culture.
The Irish have the most to show in terms of their efforts to balance Ireland's fast economic growth, ecology, large planning efforts, and sustainability. It is unfortunate that their room, in the old Italian Pavilion, is painted black, since their projects are realistic and send a positive message about the robust engagement of politicians, planners, and architects to make the semblance of utopian future possible.
The relationship and balance between the obvious and visible architectural quotient of a city versus the support fabric of its infrastructure is the point of this Biennale. I was not so worried that there was not enough architecture. A lack of buildings does not mean architecture is absent. There is a territory where architects can take over creatively, as is demonstrated by the Irish group show, which is filled with strong case studies.
There was a lot of dialogue and discussion going on during the vernissage, but one looming question was: Where were the Americans? The U.S. Pavilion sent a strong impression of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The intricate moving model of cubes suspended by fragile strings is a metaphor for New Orleans housing as a puppet of mechanized bureaucracy. Once these strings are cut, the cubes float aimlessly without life support (full disclosure: this is the work of GSD students). And yet Americans had a weak (if any) presence in the public discussions organized by the Biennale. It made me realize that not only is the U.S. isolating itself in foreign policy, but we may be in danger of isolating ourselves in the area of urbanism too. What can we learn from others, what can we share? Are we engaged in this global discourse? If so, we should certainly be able to have several alternatives and viable models other than New Urbanism.
Cyrille Weiner ( top); Stefan Jonot (bottom)
The French Pavilion has become temporary home to two dozen artists and designers, who have outfitted the neoclassical building with bunk beds, a kitchen, bar, DJ stand, rooftop sauna, and sundeck.
Stefan Jonot (top and middle); Danish Architecture Center (bottom)
Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrager (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: Their Tiles Garden is made over 60,000 tiles recycled from demolished structures in Hangzhou. Bottom: The Hungarian Pavilion made use of cheap, Chinese-made plastic goods to create animated canopies, wall-hangings, and other installations. The Danish Pavilion proposed various projects for sustainable development in China, including Magic Mountains, a green business district.
The End of the Line for the Biennale?
Architecture critic, London Sunday Times; editor, RIBA Journal
Despite the importance of the subject matter and the high seri- ousness with which it has been approached, this Biennale, for me, does not work as an exhibition. The long, long gloomy columnar promenade of the Corderie in the Arsenal complex—in recent years the heart of the show, crammed with goodies—has never been sparser. You feel you are attending a stern lecture. Only the lecturer is absent, and has sent along his notes instead.
The rest of the show, over in the pocket garden suburb of national pavilions and scattered here and there throughout the city, is as patchy as ever though one finds intermittent flashes of joy. But it is difficult to imagine where this exhibition can go from here. The last good one with a strong theme was curated six years ago by Massimiliano Fuksas, Less Aesthetics, More Ethics. That allowed plenty of provocative architecture, but it also required an analysis of the social dimension.
And now? The architecture biennales are always rather touch-and-go. The go button is always pushed late: It is always a scrabble to get it together in time. This one feels like the end of an era. If the series is to continue, it must be comprehensively re-thought. It must have a reason to exist.
The Laser-Print Biennale
Director, Netherlands Architecture Institute; Incoming Director, Cincinnati Art Museum
As far as I am concerned, the best room was the central space at the Italian Pavilion, where the imaginative power proper to art and architecture were used to confront, criticize, and speculate on the city as a reality, rather than reduce it to facts and figures. For sheer scale, the AMO layout, an aerial panorama of the whole Gulf coast, from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, could not be matched. And of course in our historical exhibition [at the Dutch pavilion] we tried to bring up the issue of the city as a real place for which we have to take responsibility as architects, not just as concerned citizens. For the same reason I appreciated the attempts by the Russians, the French, and the Hungarians to make this point in an imaginative way. And that would lead to my major gripe: Just as architects should not pretend to be graphic designers or landscape architects, nor should they claim to be sociologists or politicians. Positioning your work within a social and political field is one thing; claiming to be Al Gore is another. The imagination was buried too deep beneath the pavement of Venice this year to be unearthed by any statistical tools.
Highs and Lows
Acting Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art
The Venice Biennale is, as always, worth it, even though the overall lack of normall architectural scale—meaning models, drawings, reference to neighborhoods—made this year for a rollercoaster between the elegantly cold and the sometimes overdone touchy-feely. The show at the Arsenale belongs in the former category. Director Richard Burdett's momentous analysis of 16 great cities was impeccably presented in an installation designed by Aldo Cibic and his partners. The installation had some beautiful moments, some planned—the room comparing densities, for instance, filled with self-explanatory beautiful styrofoam stalagmites, or the views of the cities flowing under your feet in small connecting bridges—and some serendipitous: in the Caracas corner, an oil stain in the floor that ghostly mimicked the shape of the city hung on the wall just above. The deeper you went into the Arsenale, the more you could get lost in data, comparative studies, and gorgeous satellite pictures, but somehow you longed for people and buildings.
The pavilions were very uneven. One wonders why some nations don't just stay home, or rent out their pavilions to the other countries that might really have something to say. Among the interesting ones: the Spanish, curated by Manuel Blanco, my favorite, with women of all walks of life talking about their cities, with architecture a part of their soundtrack. The British, taking the city of Sheffield as a case study and exploring it at different scales, from sheep to satellite view. The Japanese were a bit out of theme, but soothing and beautiful. The Slovenian: at last some innovative architecture. The French overshared—do we really need to see guys cooking in a pareo?—but were a hit because they were very hospitable, to the point where otherwise respectable architects were hopping the fence to join their late-night parties and the police were called nightly to kill the fun.
Personally, I learned to blog. Together with London's Architecture Foundation, MoMA launched a wild beast of a blog that became quite the recipient of everybody's rants and raves (www.venicesuperblog.net).
Principal, Odile Decq Benoit Cornette
When we try to describe a city, we often start by quantifying its inhabitants, expressing through its size what typology of city we are speaking about: small, middle, large, or extra-large. The presentations of the 16 megalopolises in the Arsenale strive to analyze the phenomena of how they came to be. But never could a collection of quantified facts express what a city is.
Architects are dedicated to thinking about and organizing people and life; architecture exhibitions are dedicated to vicarious representations that are free of the noise and smell of flesh-and-blood cities. This Biennial takes a non-risky position, avoiding experiments on concrete strategies. It is a pity for the general public and the thousand of young future architects, desperate for inspiration for visions of tomorrow.
Director, Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development
Richard Burdett's exhibition begins with a description of cities in a changing world and ends with an invitation to cities to change the world. At critical junctures, displays focus on issues such as income disparity, density, mobility, and information flows. Implied throughout are the issues of class and race, which underlie many of the disparities the exhibition highlights.
The individual city presentations varied in quality. New York's presentation (coordinated by Pamela Puchalski of the Center for Architecture) successfully captured several of the city's innovative planning and development initiatives such as the High Line park and the effort to build more housing along the city's waterfront. Given the city's penchant to diminish its mandated participatory planning processes by surrendering its decision-making role to the state, as they have in the case of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, I was surprised to read in the exhibition text that New York has decided to accommodate growth by capitalizing on its edges along the water, investing heavily in new housing projects in the outer boroughs, and involving its citizens in the debate on the future of the city. One wishes it were really so. Too little investment and far too little debate. Perhaps New York City should borrow from the Norwegian city of Tromss, which decided to call a time-out on large-scale development and engage its citizens in what is truly a public debate.
Painting by Numbers
After the painful, but visually enticing, onslaught of Burdettian data, statistics, and images of cities on the verge, perhaps the upcoming Venice Art Biennale will follow suit by filling the Corderie and Giardini Pavilions with the financial statements of artists, galleries, and museums (leaving out the art). Now that could actually be interesting!
Chair, Department of Art History, Columbia University; Incoming Philip C. Johnson Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art
In 1933 CIAM studied 34 world cities in aerial overviews and statistical analyses aboard the S.S. Patris while cruising between Marseille and Athens. The result, the Athens Charter, published in 1943, was the lingua franca of postwar modernism's bid to take charge of the city through functionalist and universalist criteria. It was hard not to think how far we are from this venture of over 70 years ago, arriving by air in one of Europe's prime museum cities, Venice, to take in Richard Burdett's ambitious marshalling of aerial views and statistics comparing 16 cities on five continents. If the pious list of five recommendations at the show's conclusion had more to do with issues of city governance—even in a display largely devoid of analysis of the vastly different historical and political forces at play—the results displayed could not have been further from CIAM's taking hold of the reins through design. The Biennale was filled with small-scale interventions in the impoverished quarters of the Third World and landscape re-workings of the detritus of the industrial past in the cities of the First World. The shrinking city of Berlin, where capitalism and democratic political process has eclipsed Europe's communist past, were lumped together with Shanghai and with Mumbai, the latter earmarked soon to overtake Tokyo as the largest city in the history of civilization. Caracas, presented neutrally as yet another booming metropolis, with little acknowledgment of the distinct political and economic situation of the petroleum capital with its populist anti-imperialist leader (a not so subtle protest is registered in the Venezuela Pavilion where the sole exhibition objects are a grainy aerial photograph and a broadsheet declaring a complete lack of interest in any Westernn-imposed urban solutions). As the exhibition embraces the notion of a globalized crisis—with many of the virtues and problems of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth—the particularity of each city begs for attention. Projects were modest and isolated, except for large-scale planning sponsored by developers, who increasingly have turned to star architects.
What could have underscored how omnipresent a very different urban condition in 2006 is than the looming mass of the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, whose towering 15 decks threw the national pavilions at the Giardini in shadow during much of the preview. None of the tourists disgorged was clamoring for entry to the Biennale, even if the morning Gazettino di Venezia featured both the influx of international architects and a photo reportage on the visible erosion everywhere of Venice's fragile brick and stone fabric caused by the ever-increasing traffic of super tourist liners in the lagoon.
The No-Stop City
Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi
The Italian Pavilion curated by Franco Purini presents the design of Vema, a theoretical city for 30,000 residents located between Verona and Mantua. Contained within an area measuring 3,720 by 2,300 meters, the city is divided into sectors designed by 20 groups of architects under 40, chosen from among the most promising young practices in Italy. The immense model of Vema, which dominates the exhibition space, can be appreciated on two levels. For the general public, Purini's project will seem to go against the grain: The creation of a newly founded city in a Western country, so similar to the Renaissance examples of Sabbioneta and Palmanova, is in clear opposition to the dominant urban model of sprawling metropolis or the Koolhaasian Generic City. What makes Vema contemporary are the projects designed by young architects. The result is thus a strange hybrid in which the ideal cities of Filarete and Vignola coexist with deconstructivist, super-modern, and neo-organic projects.
For insiders, Purini's project is an attempt, as brilliant as it is unconvincing, to reduce the tension between young, experimental architects and the old guard, of which Purini himself is a leading exponent. The video that accompanies the exhibition thus presents a picture of Italian architecture as a continuum, where the old and new coexist without conflict, and wherein we are able to overcome the violent clashes that have historically occurred, for example, between figures such as Manfredo Tafuri and Bruno Zevi, and gain inspiration from models as diverse as the baroque Paolo Portoghesi and the radical Archizoom.
Women on the Verge
Below is an excerpt of architectural theorist Beatriz Colomina's video observation included in the exhibition Espana [f.] nosotros, las ciudades (Spain [f.] we, the cities) at the Spanish pavilion, curated by Manuel Blanco. Hers was one of 52 recordings of Spanish women—clients, architects, citizens—speaking about their experiences of particular buildings or of urban life in general.
What interests me most about cities is how they are so radically transformed with each new technology, from gas lamps to trains to electricity to video cameras. Lately I have become interested in cell phones. No technology has transformed the city more than cell phones in a long time. They have completely revolutionized the relationship between public and private. To be in a city you no longer have to be in the street—you can join a friend in a cafe simply by calling—and if you are in the streets you may not be in the city, as when you are so immersed in a conversation that you are somewhere else and the streets you are walking become a kind of mirage. In fact, in almost any city today there are more people on the phone than in the streets. Every aspect of our experience has changed.
This became evident on September 11 when any traditional sense of public and private space became obsolete. In the heart of the spectacular nightmare, covered continuously by every single television channel, the most intimate exchanges were taking place. For the first time in the history of a catastrophe, the families and loved ones of many of the victims were among the first to know when they received cell-phone calls made from hijacked airplanes and from inside the World Trade Center towers. These calls carved out a whole new sense of space, a last vestige of domesticity.
In the aftermath of the events, the desperate attempts on the part of cell-phone companies to deliver the last messages that had not gone through attested to the importance of this form of communication. In a situation in which there were very few human remains recovered, those messages were all that was left, the very thing that is always missing in tragic accidents. No longer simply a fragile substitute for real people, the digital record became the most solid reality.
There was a new sense of space constructed by the unrelenting bombardment of repetitive images through TV and the Internet and the simultaneous exchange of the most intimate and unique, one-on-one communications via cell phones.
If 9/11 in New York revealed the cell-phone as the last vestige of domesticity, 3/11 in Madrid revealed the cell-phone as a weapon, triggering the train bombs. Personal defense became public attack.
Painting By Numbers
Principal, Coop Himmelb(l)au
The theme of the 10th International Architecture Biennale is key for the architecture of the next decades. Thus I find that though the main exhibition at the Arsenale displays a striking collection of different factors and important data, it fails in developing a theory or visions out of this information. On the other hand, the shows at the national pavilions in the Giardini present, with a few exceptions, the helplessness of architects in association with strategic city models.
I Heart New York
Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects
Maybe Richard Burdett, the curator of the Architecture Biennale's Cities theme, should have first listened to Madonna's latest song, I Love New York, before putting together a mind-numbing, statistic-fest that completely fails to understand the essential experiential differences among cities around the world:
I don't like cities, but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork / Los Angeles is for people who sleep / Paris and London, baby you can keep
Other cities always make me mad / Other places always make me sad / No other city ever made me glad / Except New York, I love New York
Walking through the Arsenale, one would hardly know there was a difference between Bogota and New York. In fact it seems that Cairo is denser than New York, therefore...exactly—so what? The quality of the characteristics that make a difference between cities is leveled in this show by categories that have nothing to do with living in each place, such as stock market capitalization or the ranking of their commodity exchanges. Most of the cities appear to have been selected for politically correct purposes: one from continent A, one from continent B, and who knows why so many from South America? The show also suffers from extreme Google Earth–mania, an obsessive fascination with those satellite maps that are now available to everyone. But who experiences a city at 250 miles up in outer space?
In the end, the whole show should have been about New York—Manhattan, to be precise—in an attempt to understand why it is clearly the most exciting city on earth and the present-day capital of the world—I love New York!
If you don't like my attitude than you can F-off / Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf / New York is not for little pussies who scream / If you can't stand the heat, then get off my street
The China Syndrome
Cathy Lang Ho
Editor, The Architect's Newspaper
China crops up often in the Biennale, which perhaps should not be surprising given its dizzying rate of urbanization and the extent to which its rapid development has affected global architectural and construction practices, not to mention the world's ecological balance. The Danish Pavilion followed curator Henrik Valeur's prompt: How can we improve people's living conditions without exhausting the very resources needed to sustain a better life? The display presents the sort of dramatic statistics that Rem Koolhaas first introduced with his Pearl River research almost a decade ago, alongside theoretical projects by teams of Danish architects and Chinese architecture schools. Their fantastical gestures—business centers that resemble picturesque mountains, a peaking infrastructure-laden mega-wall circling a city—betray the sense that the country is still perceived, by too many in the world (including the Chinese themselves) as a tabula rasa.
Hungary had a quirkier approach to the topic of China as both a consequence and protagonist of globalization: Its pavilion was filled with artful installations made of cheap China-made toys: a canopy of chirping plastic penguins, a wall of plastic resin with repulsive furry toys imbedded within. The installation was part of a larger project, documented in a fine catalogue, investigating the impact of Chinese immigrants on the world's cities and of Chinese-made goods on life everywhere. It was one of the few projects that conveyed what I wish the Biennale accomplished more: how globalization and urbanization has affected people's lives. This was poignantly communicated in Hu Yang's Shanghai Living (2005), a photographic series displayed in the Italian Pavilion, showing a factory worker, shop-girl, office manager, and dozens of other Shanghai residents in their homes. Each is presented with a statement from the subject, personalizing the effects of the phenomena measured elsewhere in the Biennale.
Hu Yang's images are on display in C on Cities, a special photography exhibition in the Italian Pavilion, curated by the London-based publication C International Photo Magazine. Issue 3 is dedicated to its Biennale presentation, and is available through www.ivorypress.com.
Shanghai Living (2005) by Hu Yang
(Shanghainese general manager)
Up to now I am satisfied with my life, and I like photographing and collecting western art works during my leisure time. I have pressures, mainly from competition within the circle and requirement from inside. I want to do everything I can to promote Shanghai's photographing industry.
Shanghai Living (2005) by Hu Yang
We are leading a hard life and eat battercakes, pickles and a glass of water for all three meals. When our kids want meat dishes, we cook them an egg. We work more than 15 hours a day if it doesn't rain. We want our kids to be educated and not to live like us. I will risk anything for our kids to go to university. My eldest son is excellent and wins prizes every semester. I suffer being teased by local ruffians.
Universities have long served as strong architecture patrons, though the best-known examples have often been secluded, pastoral set pieces for idyllic, semi-monastic educational enclaves. As Sharon Haar observes, however, with the rebirth of the city has come the revitalization of the urban campus. Though urban campuses are confronted with unique problems, such as limited, expensive real estate, they are proving to produce architecture that is provocative both intellectually and urbanistically.
Ask students: The city is in. If at one time America's college-age population was sentt away to school in a cornfield, small college town, or hillside enclave, today they flock to cities, where urban campuses are growing and prospering, making new commitments to their cities, and at the same time enlarging their domain into neighborhoods scarred by urban renewal, urban abandonment, or both. Universities are occupying spaces in the skyline, taking over spaces vacated by businesses that have fled to the suburbs or relocated to more technologically equipped, 21st-century office buildings; they are building new housing and retail developments; and they are finding new ways of partnering with neighboring communities with an aim to avoid the territorial and intellectual antagonisms of the past. And yes, they are building new buildings, many by signature architects.
As towns and their institutions of higher education grew, most often toward one another, the abstract intellectual conflict of town-versus-gown was actualized in physical conflict over space. New York City incrementally chased the fledgling Kings College (established in 1754, which later became Columbia University) to the northern reaches of Manhattan Island, until finally, lodged in Morningside Heights in the late 19th century, the university commissioned McKim, Mead & White to design a campus to protect itself from future onslaught. Many other colonial institutionssHarvard University, founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Yale University, established in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticuttgrew to become inextricably intertwined with their urban contexts. When these schools transformed into research powerhouses a century ago, they set the stage for the enormous boom in campus construction and of student populations. Student bodies have spiked steadily since World War II as a result of veterans' enrollment programs, a shift to a service economy, and later, the baby-boom, the expansion of opportunity for women and minorities, and more recently to accommodate non-traditionall (older) students and the echo-boomerr generation.
Many universities' current urban strategies are the result of hasty decisions, failures of modernist planning and some of its architecture, and universities' awkward participation in urban renewal a half-century ago. Yale and the University of Pennsylvania are hoping that their current participation in community renewal will reverse the urban devastation that occurred in part because of land banking in the 1960s. During that period, many schools cleared land in inner-city neighborhoods for buildings that did not materialize or expanded in ways that disrupted the urban fabric and neighborhood cohesiveness.
In contrast, Columbia University has reached out to its community in the process of planning its expansion into Manhattanville, promising new commercial prospects for the neighborhood and architectural transparency. Its president, Lee Bollinger, contrasts the proposal to the blank walls that the university presents in Morningside Heights. But the process must also be understood in relation to the debacle of 1968, when the school's proposal for a new campus gym in Morningside Park fueled a massive student strike. Student activists linked U.S. involvement in Vietnam with the university's attempt to annex neighborhood public space.
Harvard is banking on its ability to design an entire piece of Boston with its plans for expansion in Allston. New York University and Cooper Union know that the neighborhood of residential spaces they are building or leasing downtown is necessary to keep students streaming in, in spite of impossible real estate conditions that would keep them out.
How do sites that were once anathema to higher education find themselves now so intertwined in the future of American pedagogy? A major factor is the revival of cities themselvessnew strongholds for public architecture, cultural institutions, and models for working, living, and playing. In the 1980s PBS series Pride of Place, Robert A. M. Stern extolled the American campus for being a place apart,, and the New York University cultural historian Thomas Bender stated in his book The University and the City: From Medieval Origins to the Present (Oxford University Press, 1988), The university has always claimed the world, not its host city, as its domain.. But more recently social theorist and New School University provost Arjun Appadurai noted in an interview published in Items and Issues Quarterly 4 (Winter 200332004) that the blurring of the line between universities and corporations and the increasing globalization of students and research networks make cities such as New York ideal locations for higher education. Today's academy is rarely a solitary retreat, despite a losss felt by some faculty.
Perhaps echoing the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson when he was designing the University of Virginia, the architectural theorist Kurt W. Forster wrote in From Catechism to Calisthenics: Cliff Notes on the History of the American Campuss in the May 1993 issue of Architecture California, Lasting institutions like colleges and universities invoke a social rationale for their physical installations, a rationale that speaks to their overarching purposes and helps elucidate the ideas behind their operations. In our culture, we are educated to find in our surroundings the manifestations of character and purpose, particularly when those larger abstractions such as character, purpose, and meaning would tend to escape our immediate grasp.. Architecture is critical to pedagogy. From Jefferson to Henry Ives Cobb, McKim, Mead & White, Louis Kahn, and Eero Saarinen to today's campus designers, the ideals of the campusswhere tradition and innovation, solitary contemplation and global interaction meet and debateemake it an ideal site for inspired architecture.
Sharon Haar is an architect and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is completing a book, City as Campus: Siting Urban Pedagogy.
Location: 23rd to 26th streets along Lexington Avenue, Manhattan
# of students:15,500 (13,000 undergrad.; 2,500 grad.)
Campus Master Plans:
Davis Brody Bond, 1986
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, 2001
G Tects, 20044present
|Proposed renovation of Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street. A new glass wedge encloses a sculptural stair.|
|courtesy Gordon Kipping / G Tects|
An elegant tower at Lexington and 23rd Street began in 1847 as the first free higher-education establishment in the republic. Over time, it became the anchor of Baruch College. In 2001, when Kohn Pedersen Fox's Vertical Campuss unsheathed 14 sloping stories above Lexington Avenue, Baruch suddenly evoked the fusty philosophy major who'd bulked up over the summer. The Vertical Campus, with running-board details at sidewalk level and glass and brick wings, drew critical praise for giving students a central kibitzing point. In the opinion of Vice President of College Advancement David Gallagher, the sloping tower fulfilled a 1986 Davis Brody Bond master plan by giving the scattered buildings a discernible heart.
Now the school wants to concentrate its burgeoning campus further, and give it a bolder identity. A masterplan, to appear by spring 2007, will chart the unification scheme. The new Baruch, said Gallagher, will weave that building more closely with the old oneesomehow. Whether it's an underground passage or acquisition of buildings, the masterplan will tell,, he said. (Since CUNY relies on annual funding from Albany, Gallagher hedges on Baruch's entering the real estate market.)
Baruch also wants its students (it has 15,500 of them, full- and part-time) to hew closer to campus, potentially with campus dormitories. The school commissioned Gordon Kipping of New York firm G Tects (and Frank Gehry, whom Kipping assists at Yale) in fall 2004 to suggest a format in which buildings might connect. Kipping proposed filling the path between 17 Lexington Avenue and the Vertical Campus with new crowns on two existing courthouse buildings and a new structure with fluid setbacks. His sketchhwhich has no authority over the eventual plannsandwiched 17 Lex's limestone skin in curvaceous glass sheaths. If Kipping's study influences trustees, the new 23rd Street lobby could offer a triple-height atrium space for students. To the public, it would offer Jumbotron views of lectures, with closed-captioning, to let any stroller spend 50 minutes as a student. Let's restore the idea of a free academy,, Kipping said.
On September 15, Baruch named the building for donors Lawrence and Eris Field. Gallagher said the college will issue an RFP for a masterplanning firm on CUNY's approved list, then wait 18 months for the plan. Budgets from Albany and City Hall would dictate the pace of expansion. Gallagher estimated that the unification will take 10 years. By then, Baruch could need another expansionnin cyberspace or Gramercy.
State University of New York
Location: Buffalo and Amherst, New York
# of students:27,276 (17,838 undergrad.; 9,438 grad.)
Campus Master Plans:
Amherst Campus: Sasaki, Dawson and Demay, 1970
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus: Chan Krieger and Associates, 2002
|Courtesy Cannon design|
The State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo occupies the heart of New York's second largest city. But the school, whose original buildings straddle the city's Main Street, also has a suburban identity: SUNY created a second campus in 1970 in Amherst, just 3 miles north of Buffalo, following the trend of urban flight that shattered most American cities in the 1960s and 70s. The school rejected the idea of expanding its main campus, including a megastructure proposal by native son Gordon Bunshaft and a downtown waterfront annex, instead commissioning Sasaki, Dawson and Demay to create a compact, inward-looking master plan at Amherst.
The Amherst campus features buildings by some of the leading designers of the 1970ssHarry Weese, I. M. Pei, Ulrich Franzen, Marcel Breuerrand it even has a Birdair sports dome. Despite this impressive list, the effect of these buildings on the area was, according to Reyner Banham in his 1981 book Buffalo Architecture: A Guide, has hardly galvanic, nor their style especially Buffalonian..
But the school is trying to reinvigorate Buffalo, according to dean of SUNY's architecture department Brian Carter, by bringing good architecture back to the city center.
In 2002 the university commissioned Boston firm Chan Krieger to create a third center, called the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus, on a 100 acres of downtown land surrounding the university's Roswell Park Cancer Institute. This complex has just seen the completion of the first of two new buildings: Last May, the school opened the Hauptman Woodward Laboratory building designed by Mehrdad Yezdani of Cannon Design in Los Angeles, a 70,000 square foot medical research facility (pictured). This laboratory will connect via a bridge to a second research facility, the 290,000-square-foot Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics designed by Francis, Cauffman, Foley Hoffman of Philadelphia, which opens in December. Both buildings give Buffalo what Banham suggested it needed for a full architectural recoveryynew buildings for economic and functional reasons, but one that are psychologically of high architectural quality..
The campus has also inspired SUNY's school of architectureewhich is located just two subway stops awayyto launch a series of design initiatives on issues dealing with universal design and childhood obesity, for example. This interaction is something that Carter believes can work effectively on an urban campus, where diverse fields can come together to collaborate on research projects.
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Location: Astor Place, New York City
# of students:900
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art's unusual tuition-free educational model is the driving force behind the architecture, engineering, and art school's current building initiative. Most colleges rely on tuition as a steady source of income, but since all of the school's 900 students attend at no charge, administrators are always looking for other financial resources to fill the gap. It's a magnificent vision but a terrible business model,, said Ronni Denes, Cooper's vice president of external affairs. Our current plan is geared at leveraging our real estate assets to ensure the school's future financial stability..
The school's real estate portfolio includes desirable properties such as the Chrysler building, whose rents provide more than half of its operating budget. The master plan, devised by a planning committee made up of trustees, aims to increase that percentage by cashing in on its properties concentrated around Astor Place.
Cooper is not expanding like most universities with new master plans, but rather consolidating and modernizing its facilities. Said Denes, It's in our interest to keep the school small and efficient.. Its engineering school will be moved out of an obsolete building from the 1950s and into a sleek, high-tech, nine-story building designed by Morphosis' Thom Mayne (pictured) on the site of the old two-story Hewitt Building at 3rd Avenue and 7th Street, which Cooper leases from the city. The new building will also house the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a public gallery and auditorium on the ground floor.
The vacated property between 3rd and 4th avenues and 8th and 9th streets will be razed and leased to developers, in much the same manner as the nearly completed condominium designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates and developed by the Related Companies at Astor Place. The school will reach out to developers for the project, anticipated to be 14 stories high, once the Morphosis building breaks ground in June. The new building will house Cooper's administrative offices as well as other private businesses. The school's master planning committee hopes to have some review of the commercial development's design, as it did with the Gwathmey Siegel building, and even its clients. According to Denes, Cooper would like to attract businesses with some kind of synergy with the school's academics, such as architecture firms, artists' studios, and biotech companies..
Cooper's master plan does not include any gestures to unify the new buildings with their predecessors like the Foundation Building into a more recognizable campus. Our students don't want to be walled in,, said Denes. We think of New York City as our campus..
City College of The City University of New York
Location:138th Street and Convent Avenue, Manhattan
# of students:12,108 (9,117 undergrad.; 2,991 grad.)
Campus Master Plans:
George Post, 1905
George Ranalli, Architect, 2004-present
|Courtesy of Rafael Viioly Architects|
In recent years the City College of New York has deepened its commitment to architecture and design, recruiting impressive faculty, creating new degree programs (such as the Urban Design Program, started in 2000 under Michael Sorkin), and most notably, building a new School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture. The $37.4 million building, designed by Rafael Viioly and slated for a 2008 completion, is a gut renovation and expansion of an existing modernist glass box building that houses administrative offices.
With so much ambition and activity, a campus master plan seems long overdue. In fact, a year and a half ago George Ranalli, dean of the architecture school since 1999, was commissioned to produce one. His plan calls for closing Convent Avenue to create a more sheltered campus center, around which administrative offices would be dispersed, rather than lumped together as they are now in one of the college's two large 1970s block-buildings, described by Ranalli as megastructures that need to be broken up..
To Ranalli's frustration, however, his plan is on the back burner while the campus expands, as it has throughout its history, based on immediate needs rather than long-term vision. (In reaction to the school's ad hoc development, Sorkin, who was a member of Ranalli's planning team, has created his own alternative scheme.) We started working on a master-planning process four years ago, with open forums to talk about current conditions but things have not proceeded in a typical way,, said Lois Cronholm, chief operating officer of City College. For example, with the dormitory building [now under construction], we had a need, so we found a way for to fill it, quickly.. The dormitoryythe first for the traditionally all-commuter schoollis being designed by Design Collective, Inc., of Baltimore, and should be completed in 2006. Capstone Development Corporation is the school's development partner; it will manage the facility for 30 years before ownership is transferred back to the school.
In addition to the architecture building and dorm, the school is presently pushing forward with the construction of two additional science buildings, both designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.
The four new buildings are all located on the college's south campus, a medley of architectural styles that stands in contrast to its historic north campus, a collection of buildings designed in 1905 by George Post. The biggest challenge is putting the south campus together in an integrated way, as soon as possible,, said Cronholm, who foresees no more new construction for the college in the near future, unless the dorms are successful, in which case, we'll see.. The wait-and-see approach to planning appears to be the closest thing to a master plan the college has, and will likely continue to shape the campus.
Location:Morningside Heights and Manhattanville, New York
# of students:23,650 (7,114 undergrad.; 16,536 grad./professional)
Campus Master Plans:
McKim, Meed & White, 1893
I. M. Pei, 1970 (not implemented)
Renzo Piano Building Workshop/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 20033present
|A view west on 131st Street to the Hudson River.|
|courtesy columbia university|
Of the major expansion plans being undertaken by schools in the New York City area, only one is planning to build an entirely new campus: In 2003 Columbia University hired the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) and Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) to create an ambitious master plan to guide the development of nearly 33 acres in Manhattanville, the neighborhood north of Columbia's McKim, Mead & White campus. The $4.6 billion Manhattanville Expansion Project encompasses the blocks between 12th Avenue and Broadway, and 125th and 133st streets, and will be phased in over the next 30 years. The university owns 53 percent of the land within the proposed development site and the MTA owns about 20 percent. Columbia promises to work with residents to acquire the remaining property.
Perpetually growing and space-constrained, Columbia has developed about one million square feet every five years since 1994, though it still lags behind all other Ivy League schools in terms of square-footage-per-student. Columbia has about 326 square feet for each of its more than 23,000 students, while Yale has 866 square feet for each of its 11,359 students and Harvard has 673 square feet for each of its 19,650 students.
Throughout its history, Columbia has had a tenuous town-gown relationship with its neighborhood. The 1968 controversy over the school's proposal to build a gymnasium in Morningside Park was a key turning point in the planning of the university. Nearly 40 years later, the planning process for Manhattanville is transparent, cautious, and considerate. We've learned a lot from our past mistakes,, said Jeremiah Stoldt, director of Columbia's plan for facilities management. We've met with block associations, the community board, and other local groups to present our thinking and gain feedback. A lot of aspects of the plan came from this feedback, such as preserving east-west axes and open space..
Transparency and urbanity are the main goals of the plan,, said Marilyn Taylor, who is leading the project for SOM. We felt from the beginning that the campus had to be open and invite the public in, and that it relate to the neighborhood, which has a rich history and physical legacy.. The area is zoned for manufacturing and one of its most noticeable features are the rugged aqueducts that define its edges.
|A rendering of the new campus and streetscape, looking west from Broadway on 125th Street.|
Now in precertification (pre-ULURP), the master plan shows a deep respect the existing urban grid, with east-west streets left open and sidewalks widened in strategic places to stimulate pedestrian life. The designers have called for buildings to be programmed, scaled, and designed in ways that both announce a unified campus and fortify the character of the neighborhood. The master plan encourages university buildings to devote street levels to uses that are needed by or accessible to the public, to be spaces they feel invited into, whether to grab a sandwich, look at art, or find out about university jobs,, said Taylor.
Like most universities today, Columbia is in need of more modern research facilities, which are often large-scale, defensive buildings. But the Manhattanville master plan explores the idea of open plan and nontenured buildings,, as Taylor described them, which have a flexibility that can encourage more multidisciplinary study as well as a greater possibility of being a part of their community. Design guidelines call for a material palette that includes glass for transparency, terra cotta brick to echo the past but with a more progressive look, and steel, relating to the nearby viaducts while providing a clarity of expression.
The first phase, which will be realized over the next ten years, includes the preservation of several prominent buildings, including Prentis Hall on 125th Streettcurrent home of the School of the Arts and formerly a milk-bottling plant. SOM will oversee its conversion into a public art space. The New Yorkkbased Switzer Group will renovate the Studebaker Building at 615 West 131 Street, a former automobile assembly plant. Another first-phase project is the construction of a new School of the Arts and a new research building on Broadway, both by Piano.
One of the plan's strongest features is its call for improved links to the nearby Hudson River, which is now cut off by the West Side highway viaduct. The architects envision a park or other potential recreational sites. Taking inspiration from Fairway market, a neighborhood institution located between the neighborhood and the waterfront, Taylor envisions the creation of a marketplace or other compatible uses. You could close it down at night, for concerts, festivals, or fairs,, suggested Taylor. But it would have to be a community initiative. What we can do with our plan is include an active urban layer, such as retail on 12th Avenue, that would contribute to these sorts of possibilities..
The current focus of the university and local community boards is to come to an agreement on rezoning Manhattanville. While the city is receptive to rezoning , how dense or commercial the area will be come remains to be seen.
Fashion Institute of Technology
Location:26th to 28th streets along 6th Avenue, Manhattan
# of students:10,513 (10,378 undergrad.; 135 grad./professional)
Campus Master Plans:
Kevin Hom and Andrew Goldman Architects, 1995-96
ShoP Architects, 20055present
|Courtesy SHoP Architects and Fashion Institute of Technology|
When the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries opened in 1944, it was housed on a few floors of the High School for the Needle Trades at 24th Street and 8th Avenue. As the needle tradess evolved, so too has the school that became the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), which is now a part of the State University of New York system. FIT moved into its current complex of buildings (designed by DeYoung and Moscovitz and bound by 26th and 28th streets and 7th and 8th avenues) in 1975, and had periodic smaller campus additions in the 1980s.
All schools in the SUNY system must have a master plan before they can receive public funding for construction projects, so in 1995 FIT hired Kevin Hom and Andrew Goldman Architects, which identified five major projects: the construction of a conference center and dining hall; the creation of more classrooms in an existing building, the expansion of the student center; and perhaps most dramatically, the conversion of the block of 27th Street already straddled by FIT buildings into a pedestrian mall. In addition to this, Wank Adams Slavin Associates is renovating a building on West 31st Street that will provide 1,100 FIT students with housing.
The first two projects in the master plan were completed in 2004 and 2005 respectively, by Hom and Goldman, and the classroom and student center projects are in the planning stages. The pedestrian mall has proven to be more controversial, however, and has twice been voted down by Community Board 5. According to Brenda Perez, director of media relations at FIT, the school has put the project on hold until all the other elements of the plan have been completed, which may not be until 2009.
At the same time, FIT is in the early stages of developing a new master plan with ShoP Architects, the architects who designed the expanded David Dubinsky Student Center, dubbed C2 (pictured). According to principal William Sharples, the master planning work grew out of the firm's 2004 competition-winning entry for the student center, and is still in its preliminary stages. AG
New York University
Location:Greenwich Village, Manhattan
# of students:40,000 (20,212 undergrad.; 15,884 grad.)
Campus Master Plans:
Johnson and Foster, 1962 (not implemented)
|woodruff/brown / courtesy kpf|
In March, New York University (NYU) hired Sharon Greenberger, former New York City chief of staff to the deputy mayor for economic development, to fill a new post at the university: vice president for campus planning and real estate. According to Greenberger, the office she heads, which is divided into four sectionssplanning and design, space management, residential services, and real estate developmentt is still in its start-up phase. I've just started the hiring process, and the intention is to have a full staff in place by the end of the year.. Greenberger will be looking for architects and designers to fill positions, especially in the planning and design unit.
According to Greenberger, the new division will not make any decisions about campus planning or architecture until the hiring process is complete. But the office is sure to be extremely busy in 2006. Created by university president John Sexton, who took office in 2001, the division serves in large part to unify the school's scattered planning divisions in the face of an ambitious growth initiative which includes faculty recruitment and an expanding student body. This administration has ambitious plans for the university, which will put more constraints on space and provide more ambitious thinking about its growth,, said Greenberger.
NYU is no stranger to large building initiatives and their complexities. In the 1980s and 90s, the school, then led by president John Brademas, underwent a massive campus expansion in Greenwich Village, which raised the hackles of many local residents and made it the city's third largest landowner (the city is the largest; the Catholic Church the second). (NYU's newest building is the 2003 Furman Hall, bordering Washington Square Park, by Kohn Pederson Fox, pictured left.) The creation of Greenberger's post was meant partly as a gesture of openness toward the community. Figuring out how a school can expand in an urban environment while also being good neighbors to the community can be challenging,, said Greenberger. The administration recognized that it requires more expertise in the fields of campus planning and real estate to make that happen successfully..
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), agreed that the university could do better in its community outreach. We often find that we don't know what's going on at NYU,, he said. There's always been a great effort to push the university to release information about its long-term planssto no avail.. One contentious issue has been the university's 2001 purchase of a site in the Silver Towers super-block that currently houses faculty apartment buildings by I. M. Pei and and a supermarket. GVSHP lobbied to have the entire block, bordered by Washington Place, LaGuardia, Mercer, and Houston, designated a landmark. NYU did not support the effort, which would limit its ability to alter or further develop the site. DG
Parsons The New School for Design
Location:Greenwich Village, Manhattan
# of students:3,000 (15,800 total enrolled in The New School)
Campus Master Plans:
Helpern Architects, 1995
Cooper, Robertson & Partners, 2004.
|courtesy lyn rice Architects|
You might feel tempted to flaunt technique when reinventing a design school. If that school sat smack between Union Square and Washington Square, though, you might seek a civic icon. At Parsons, Lyn Rice did both. His newly unveiled design for the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (pictured) opens students' doings to the street with triple-height lobby glass.
Showcasing had been somewhat bass-ackwards throughout the eight-part New School, Parsons' parent, which occupies 19 buildings strewn about the Village and now seeks a firmer identity along lower Fifth Avenue. The design school serves as its lodestar, now that Rice has rearranged it. The school's most valuable real estate,, said Rice, at 13th Street and 5th Avenue, housed maintenance and trash collection. Rice decided to scoop outt the janitorial services to the basement for an upgrade. Replacing it, he installed 3-foot window frames with one long bench. The boundary between salon and sidewalk becomes a place for students to hang out..
It's also, Rice said, a place for students to confront their mandate. The architect uses a glazed roof to create a light-filled urban quadd between seven banks of elevators. Rice describes this as tipping the classic college green on its side so that it fits in a highrise. In an urban quad, circulation is vertical in these elevator cores,, he said. The graphics lining the walls could rotate each semester, Rice suggested, giving students instant sidewalk critics.
The New School's quest for a more cohesive urban identity comes after decades without a master plan. Lia Gartner, its director of design and construction, is overseeing a suite of brand-boosting capital projects. She said the university seeks to show pedestrians the sense of this place being untraditionall and give students and faculty the best use of this miscellaneous collection of buildings..
Gartner said pedestrians can expect more exposure. Cooper, Robertson & Partners is developing a master plan whose focal building, 65 Fifth Avenue, figures to get a new faaade. Another building, around the corner from Parsons, will get interior upgrades beginning this year. Rice's extroversion promises to resound. A lot of students aren't from New York City,, Rice noted. So this will be a great reminder of where they are.. AA
Location:Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
# of students:4,540 (3,068 undergrad.; 1,472 grad./professional)
Campus Master Plans:
Whittlesey and Conklin, 1962
Cooper, Robertson & Partners, 20033present
|Courtesy Pratt Institute and Steven Holl Architects|
Pratt Institute's greatest asset, in architecture dean Thomas Hanrahan's opinion, is its location in Brooklyn's lively Clinton Hill neighborhood. Aptly, the new campus plan by Cooper, Robertson & Partners looks outward, with some major plans to expand the campus borders,, said Robert Scherr, director of Pratt Institute's Facilities Planning and Design. Anticipating the school's growth within the area, Pratt's president Thomas Schutte took a leading role in the recent formation of the nearby Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business Improvement District (BID). Like many local schools, Pratt owns a significant number of buildings outside of its main campus (Higgins Hall to the south, for example, and Myrtle Avenue to the north), and wants to strengthen their connections to each other and to the neighborhood and community as a whole.
Although the Cooper, Robertson plan, which calls for the development of a digital art center, a student union, and a student services building, has not yet been fully ratified by the school's board of trustees, the implementation of several initiatives is moving forward. A couple of projects were the result of large private donations, such as Juliana Curran Terian's $5 million donation for the Design Center Entrance Pavilion, and Hiroko Nakamoto's $50,000 donation for the new Pratt security kiosk. Years of deferred maintenance were the impetus for campus-wide upgrades: Many of the student dormitories, faculty housing, administrative facilities, and the Main Building are currently finishing major renovations.
The largest current project on campus is the Design Center Entrance Pavilion by dean Hanrahan's firm, Hanrahan + Meyers Architects. In an effort to combine all the principal design programs into what will be the largest design center in the United States, the new entrance and gallery will create a connection between Steuben Hall and the Pratt Studios. The entrance is currently under construction and will be completed in 2006.
The largest project outside of the fence involves the Higgins Hall complex, which houses the School of Architecture. Rogers Marvel Architects is overseeing major interior renovation while Steven Holl Architects designed a new central wing (pictured) which brings together the hall's north and south wings in a single entrance and exhibition space. The Pratt Store, designed in-house by Pratt's office of Facilities Planning and Design, located on Myrtle Avenue and Emerson Place, was completed in December 2004. This design reflects the institute's goals of strengthening the surrounding community by bringing new services and activity to the neighborhood.
As for what to expect from future Pratt development? The Clinton Hill neighborhood is totally gentrified,, said Scherr. Our only growth potential lies to the north toward Myrtle Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway..
Location:New Haven, Connecticutt
# of students:11,000 (5,242 undergrad.; 6,040 grad.) John Russell Pope, 1919
James Gamble Rogers, 1921
Cooper, Robertson & Partners, 2000
|matt wargo / venturi, scott brown and associates|
Yale has long been a patron of great architecture, commissioning important works from Eero Saarinen, Gordon Bunshaft, Paul Rudolph, and Louis Kahn. The university's current building initiative continues this legacy. Gwathmey Siegel & Associates recently took over the job of designing an addition for Rudolph's famed Art and Architecture building. The addition will house an arts library and classrooms for the art department that are currently located in the Rudolph building, allowing the architecture school to expand into the newly-freed space. (The addition was originally commissioned to Richard Meier & Partners in 2001 but in December 2003, the project was sidelined with the loss of a major donor. The project picked up steam again this summer when a new donor emerged. Though Meier's scheme was complete, Gwathmey Siegel will begin the project from scratch.) Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is overseeing the renovation of the original Rudolph building while Polshek Partnership Architects has recently been retained to renovate Kahn's Art Gallery.
The arts campus expansion is only a portion of a much larger group of projects recently completed or underway at Yale. Some just-finished buildings include an engineering building by Cesar Pelli & Associates, a chemistry laboratory by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and a medical research center by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (pictured). According to Laura Cruickshank, who became Yale's director of University Planning, Facilities Construction, and Renovation in July, The university is improving multiple areas of the campus simultaneouslyyScience Hill, the arts buildings, the central campus, and the medical school.. Projects currently in design include another building by Venturi, Scott Brown building for biology in the Science Hill area and a forestry and environmental studies building by Hopkins Architects.
The massive building initiative is all part of a campus plan completed in 2000 by Cooper, Robertson & Partners, which outlined the development of new construction as well as landscape architecture, circulation, signage, and traffic. The so-called 20-year Framework for Campus Planning was Yale's first attempt at creating a university-wide plan since the 1920s, and addressed the campus' poor integration with the surrounding city of New Haven. With its gated courtyards and inward-facing Gothic building blocks, Yale's campus plan, proposed by John Russell Pope in 1919 and revised in 1921 by James Gamble Rogers, originally contained a number of connective axes and public spaces that may have served to open the campus but were ultimately scrapped. Cooper, Robertson's plan suggested that the university pay particular attention to places where its campus meets the cityyon its streets and sidewalks, and through its landscaping, lighting and signageeto help weave Yale and New Haven into a more cohesive urban fabric..
CAD enters another dimension, with two new modeling approachessbuilding information modeling (BIM) and parametric modeling (PM))that offer better design, analysis, and management capabilities. Are architects ready to make the leap? Clay Risen finds out.
|Joe MacDonald, an associate professor at the Harvard Design School teaching CATIA and principal of his own firm, Urban A&O in New York, used CATIA to design the Wave Workstation|
Despite significant changes wrought by computer-aided design (CAD), blueprints and drafting pencils still define much of the architectural practiceelargely because software has yet to provide an easy, standardized way to translate complex renderings into practical plans. But that may be about to change. Along two different fronts, software has gone a long way in recent years toward merging design and execution: parametric modeling (PM), which tracks and integrates design parameters set by the user; and building information modeling (BIM), which integrates building schedules, databases, and budgeting software into 3-D modeling. And while the day when PM and BIM comprise the industry standard is a long way off, they are already redefining the cutting edge of the practice.
Last fall, Gehry Technologies, a spinoff of Gehry Partners, shipped the first order of its long-awaited Digital Project, an adaptation of Computer-Aided Three-dimen-sional Interactive Application (CATIA), the PM software Gehry has used on projects like the Guggenheim Bilbao and Disney Concert Hall. Meanwhile, AutoDesk is aggressively marketing Revit, its BIM software package, having gained great publicity after Skidmore, Owings & Merrill announced its use of the program in its work on the Freedom Tower.
It's funny because a year ago, a lot of us in the industry were saying we couldn't wait for this to happen,, said Campbell Hyers of Control Group, an IT consulting firm that works heavily with architecture firms. A lot has happened in a year. This is long overdue.. Parametric modeling responds to a long-standing problem with CAD. While visualization tools, such as Maya, are great for form-finding, they are unable to generate the precise measurements needed to convert complex models into buildable plans. For that, architects must export their work into an engineering program, such as Rhino, then into AutoCAD to produce project documents. Not only is this process inefficient, but it almost guarantees that information will be lost along the way.
|The stereolithography (STL) model viewed in wireframe, can be exported from CATIA at any time during the process to have scale models made on a rapid-prototyping machine, allowing designers to evaluate variations quickly. Any changes will be propagated accordingly throughout the model, a dynamic set of geometric interdependencies.|
All of this software hit graduate schools around 1990 and it delivered an unfortunate and unfulfilled promise of complex curves and geometries that in the end proved impossible to build,, said Joe MacDonald, an associate professor at the Harvard Design School and a principal at Urban A&O, a New York firm that uses CATIA. The building industry had no way of managing or making sense of what essentially were just sexy renderings..
Programs with strong parametric modeling capabilitiesswhich, along with CATIA, include Solid-Works and Bentley Systems' MicroStationntake care of all of that in a single environment and, as a result, the impossibly curvy designs rarely seen outside design school crits and Frank Gehry's portfolio will be well within reach of most firms. We are working in an environment that offers a total simulation of a building to the point where, for example, plans and sections mean very little to our design process,, MacDonald said.
And while PM is only slowly catching on, the firms that have adopted it have proven easy converts. Soon after founding Front in New York two and a half years ago, the firm's partnerssarchitecture-trained Bruce Nichol, Mike Ra, and Marc Simmonssfound themselves in the fortunate but challenging position of working with Gehry Partners on a pair of projects, both of which required them essentially to become a parametric modeling shop. (OMA, Herzog & De Meuron, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa Architects, and other firms have also come to them for technological support on various projects.) And while they have gone on to do a raft of non-PM workk?CATIA and Digital Project is a tool for us, just as AutoCad, Rhino, and Strand 7 are,, said Raa the trio hasn't shied away from using the technology to tackle one of their own projects, the SCL Glass Head-quarters and Showroom in Brisbane, Australia. For the curvy shed, built entirely of glass made by the client, PM is allowing them to do with glass what Gehry does with titanium, imbedding information on the back end of the job that will be used for fabrication and construction,, said Ra.
|The CATIA model was subjected to surface curvature analyses (screen shots, far right). CATIA's automotive reflection tools were used to simulate reflections.|
And if they decide they want to change any part of the glass-beam structure? A rule change can be propagated into all the other glass beams that might be different in size,, said Ra. The final payback is that the design drawings become shop and fabrication drawings. Thousands of pieces of glass that are different, and you can spit them out as usable shop drawings..
BIM, on the other hand, focuses on improving the production process. By embedding databases and schedules within 3-D models, BIM softwareesuch as AutoDesk's Revit, Graphisoft's ArchiCAD, and Nemetschek's VectorWorks Architecttis able to quickly translate an architect's ideas into schedules, budgets, and orders. We can very quickly generate a schedule that shows, say, the volume of concrete required by contractors,, said James Vandezande, who oversees digital design for SOM's New York technical group. Thus not only architects but clients and contractors can immediately see the cost and duration of a particular project, and what happens to those variables when changes are made to the design.
The two fronts are not wholly distinct: Revit contains some parametric capabilities, while CATIA can deliver some BIM functions. But their relative strengths are different, and, say experts, those differences are drawing more clearly the distinction between service- and design-oriented firms.
The groups starting to use BIM are doing straightforward, normative buildings,, said Dan Schodek, who teaches CATIA at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In Revit you can do some curves and swoops, but not nearly with the design capability of parametric software. Meanwhile, you can get database output from CATIA and other programs, but life is not made easy for you..
|New Yorkkbased Front Inc. is an architecture and engineering firm and a parametric modeling specialist. For the SCL Glass Headquarters in Brisbane, the architects designed a shed entirely made of glass (rendering, left) to showcase the client's various production capabilities such as curving, laminating, insulating, tempering, and shape-cutting. The building was modeled in CATIA (below) to be fabricated directly in the adjacent factory.|
In theory, neither PM nor BIM is wholly new. Gehry and a handful of other architects have been using parametric modeling software for over a decade, while SOM has been using a rudimentary form of BIM for almost 25 years. But those are exceptions, and few firms have found such programs worth the time and effort.
It will take time to get used to. Right now even rich developers can hardly afford it,, said Winka Dubbeldam, principal at Archi-tectonics, who added that she is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the new software. That doesn't mean in the future that they're not going to be more affordable. And then I would love to have one of those multiplatform things.. For the time being, though, she's content with what she hassa cocktail of Maya, Rhino, and VectorWorks.
But most see PM and BIM as the future of the profession. For one thing, parametric modeling has begun to find a place in the nation's top architecture schools, especially as Dassault Systtmes, the French firm that owns both CATIA and SolidWorks, has sought out relationships with faculty and architecture programs. MacDonald noted, At Harvard, CATIA made a big push.. Two years ago, John Nastasi, who taught at the New Jersey Institute of Technology before going to Harvard and studying under Schodek, opened the Product Architecture Lab, a master's degree program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. It's one of the first programs in the country to rely heavily on CATIA. It's the only tool I've found that aligns itself closely with how a building goes together,, Nastasi said.
At the same time, large clients, such as the U.S. General Services Administration, are starting to demand BIM-centric deliverables as a way to speed up the construction process and improve post-construction maintenance.
|Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is using Revit on the design of the Freedom Towerrthe first highrise to be developed in the programmas well as more workaday projects, like the Elizabeth Academic High School in New Jersey.|
And while today there is a sharp distinction between PM- and BIM-centric software, many expect that in the future the two will begin to converge. We have environments like CATIA that are driving themselves to become more user-friendly and relevant to the architectural world,, Schodek said. No doubt those designers of [BIM software] are also trying to make their programs more robust design-wise. Ultimately there might be some coalescing..
Malcolm Davies, CEO of Gehry Technologies, said he hopes his company's Digital Project is a step toward just that sort of convergence. We have mechanical engineering products integrated and all the function of CATIA,, he said. At the same time, he added, the software has a more user-friendly interface and leaves out many of the expensive non-architectural functions in CATIA.
Indeed, the fast-paced developmenttand ultimate convergenceeof PM and BIM technologies point to a common horizon: a seamless relationship between design, construction, and maintenance in which pure data is the only deliverable. Ten years from now,, mused Carl Galioto, a partner in SOM's New York office, we will be having a drink and laughing about how we used to draw in two dimensions and delivering sheets of paper..
clay risen is an assistant editor at the new republic.
As software packages grow more powerful, More Complex, and more expensive, one IT firm is simplifying things for architects. By treating software and support like a utility, purchased like water or electricity, New yorkkbased Control Group may be able to take the sting out of tech investments, and help small firms keep up with the big boys. Sara Moss reports.
IT guys (and they are mostly guys) are the heroes of the modern office. They fix our email when it's not working, retrieve crashed files, advise us on hardware and software needs, debug and reset whatever needs debugging or resetting. But one firm, Control Group, is pushing the idea of technology support to another level. Just as architects hope for enlightened clients to father their procreations, the partners of Control GrouppCampbell Hyers, Colin O'Donnell, and Scott Andersonnare pleased to have clients who challenge them to propose solutions that not merely support but enable more creative design processes.
When Hyers talks about the build-out of their new office, a raw Tribeca floor-through, it's clear that he's as much a design freak as a tech geek: He worked as an architect for half a dozen years at Rafael Viioly Architects before starting Control Group with O'Donnell and Anderson, who have backgrounds in networks and design technology. Their office won't need much design work, though: On any given day, it's near-empty, as most of the company's 19 employees are scattered throughout the city providing support for the firm's nearly hundred clients, the majority of which are architecture and engineering firms, including Studio Daniel Libeskind, 1100 Architects, Nicholas Grimshaw Partners, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Buro Happold, and yes, Rafael Viioly.
Control Group is not the only technology consulting firm geared towards architects, but it is unique in its aspiration to treat technology as a flexible entity. It started out with clients asking us to host their networks and systems,, said Anderson, pointing out the advantage of being able to check on a firm's programs and files remotely and the potential to allow firms to share their work with collaborators. Consequently, Control Group established a server in a former army facility in Brooklyn.
More importantly, they found that most firms' technological growth occurs in an ad-hoc, incremental fashion, which often left them stuck using systems that don't best suit their current needs or future goals. We hate to be the ones telling an architect that he has to invest $25,000 in a new server and software,, said Anderson.
They are now developing an idea which they've dubbed utility computing,, drawing comparisons to how electricity is distributed. Early on, power stations were small, not particularly powerful, dispersed, and many people even had their own generators. The same goes for water, with people tapping into their personal or local resources. Gradually, larger centralized stations served greater areas, bringing efficiencies and savings.
Computing has gone through similar revolutions, with mainframes giving way (not very long ago) to personal computers, which kicked off the software explosion that has changed the global economy forever. But centralized computing never completely disappeared; banking and other business industries are rooted in remote networks, with local workstations serving merely as monitors, without software or memory. The biggest players in the industry, like Microsoft and Apple, who have the most to gain from PCs and individual software licensing, have persistently explored how they might play a role in restoring centralized user resources.
The design fields remain decidedly in the realm of localization. Architecture firms expand and contract with the number and size of jobs in their offices, and purchase hardware and software accordingly. For many small to mid-size firms, the initial outlay is sizable; purchasing a copy of AutoCad can cost $3,500 per employee, and with AutoDesk requiring users to pay a yearly fee for updates and support, prices climb even higher. Hyers likens the standard approach to buying software and servers to building a power plant just to light a single bulb.
With utility computing, however, firms can purchase technology as they need it. Control Group envisions a system in the future in which each user can log onto their computer in the morning and select the programs they will need that day, and pay a low rate per program, only for the days that they need it. You could tap into it like water, by the glass,, said O'Donnell.
We are hosting services and applications, like Microsoft Exchange, offsite for our clients right now,, said Hyers. We are developing relationships with other hardware and software vendors to bring their particular technology to our clients in an affordable by the drink' format, and expect to release those as they are available next year..
Clients welcome this approach. Said Paul Schulhof of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (a Control Group client), A utility-like structure seems to be the trend in other industries, especially when you are dealing with complex software. People prepare their taxes remotely online all the time, and pay for it that one time instead of buying it.. Matthew Johnson of Diller Scofidio + Renfro agreed: Campbell has mentioned that it is something they are working on, and we could definitely use it, since the cost of software is astronomical.. Until about five years ago, we could manage [our computing systems] on our own,, said Schulhof. As we took on more work and our systems grew more complex, it became harder to make sure the network was safe and protected. Also, we are doing more international work now, which means that there has to be a collaborative exchange of information, and a more sophisticated way of working on files together. Since each new piece of software adds complexity and takes time to assimilate, we like to have just what we need, not more..
In general, many firms are now rethinking their CAD strategy (especially with the emergence of building information and parametric modeling programs), and enlisting an outside party to help them take stock and plan for the future. And, according to Hyers, the more Control Group can plan, the more it can control each client's tech environment and working conditions. We're trying very hard not to become enablers of past problems,, said Hyers; that way, they can focus more on developing other ideas to help the profession function better. And it seems that there is more to come; said Hyers, the concept of utility computing is more of a direction than a destination..
Sara Moss is a writer based in New York.
Architectural publishers are a hyperactive bunchha reflection of the audience they serve, no question. with mountains of books signaling the arrival of a new season, we decided it was time to sort out the best.
|The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream |
Meredith L. Clausen,
MIT Press, $45.00 (hard)
The turmoil surrounding the redevelopment of the World Trade Center might seem unprecedented but Meredith Clausen reminds us that we've been here before. The history of the Pan Am Building at Park Avenue and 45th Street is as contentious as that of any building in Manhattan, involving celebrity architects, power-brokering, even death at the blade of a helicopter. This biography of a landmark proves to be a cautionary tale.
Various authors, BBkAmerica,
$1.49 each (paper)
Each book in this brand new collection of pocket-sized pamphlets is meant to be read in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. At $1.49 each, they also cost less than the average lattt. But the content of the miniature volumes is weightier than might be expected: Each BBK contains an essay, short story, picture portfolio, or biography, some old and some new. Texts range from Jonathan Swift's 18th-century satire A Modest Proposal to Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight's essay on the planningof the Washington mall, The Mall in Peril.
|The Modern Procession |
Public Art Fund, dist. by D.A.P., $24.95 (hard, including DVD)
The Museum of Modern Art's return to Manhattan left its temporary quarters in Queens nearly forgotten. This book recalls the journey organized in June 2002 by Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alls designed to commemorate the original move to the outer borough. The procession, in which 200 participants shouldering replicas of some of MoMA's best known workssand artist Kiki Smithhmarched from West 53rd Street to Long Island City, is documented in images, text, and film.
|Nothing Less Than Literal |
MIT Press, $40.00 (hard)
Mark Linder looks at the cross-pollination of ideas between minimalist artists and architects in the late 1960s. Examining writing by figures like Colin Rowe and Robert Smithson as well as the work of more recent architects like John Hejduk and Frank Gehry, Linder claims that, contrary to conventional wisdom, architecture preceded art in the development of the formal language of minimalism.
|Brooklyn: New Style |
Booth-Clibborn Editions, $45.00(paper)
Brooklynites can be noisy in their preference for their borough, but this compendium of work by resident artists and designers of every stripe shows that there is plenty to boast about. The Architect's Newspaper's own art director Martin Perrin imposes order on the diverse and unruly nature of the work by organizing it by zip code, and intersperses descriptions of each artist and his or her work with photographs of the rooftops, streetscapes, train tracks, and waterfront that inspire it.
|Record Pictures: Photographs From the |
Archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Steidl/MACK, $50.00 (hard)
>Record picturess was the name given to the photographic accounts of civil engineering projects in the 19th century, and artist Michael Collins has gathered a series of these extraordinary images into a book of the same name. While the photographs of railways, bridges, and power stations have specific documentary concerns, one can see them as precursors to the precise typological studies of Bernd and Hilla Becher and the many students who emerged from their influential Dusseldorf school.
|Cruelty & Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America |
Eduardo Baez, Jean-Francois Lejeune
Princeton Architectural Press, $45.00 (paper)
This catalogue for an exhibition of the same name, held in 2003 at the International Center for Urbansim, Architecture, and Landscape in Brussels and organized by Jean-Francois Lejeune, tries to get at the contradictions in Latin American cities like Quito, Lima, and Mexico City by looking to their roots. From the overlay of the 1573 Law of the Indies on ancient Aztec cities to Le Corbusier's pleasure in Brazil's vibrant public sphere, the essays included in this book immerse readers in the complex development of urbanism in Latin America.
|Ornaments of the Metropolis: |
Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture
MIT Press, $39.95 (hard)
Sigfried Kracauer's writings on cities have never been as well known as his film work, but reward a look. In this slim but dense book, Henrik Freeh analyzes the early essays and autobiographical novel of the architect turned social theorist and critic. He shows that, for Kracauer, ornament was not merely a pleasantly decorative addition to buildings and streets but central to the way each of us understands cities. Freeh's own photographs illustrate his text.
|Pioneers of Modern Design, From William |
Morris to Walter Gropius
Nikolaus Pevsner; revised and expanded by Richard Weston
Yale University Press, $40.00 (hard)
If you only know Nikolaus Pevsner's 1936 book from one of its later black-and-white paperback Penguin editions, this new larger format book will come as a revelation. Pevsner was an early champion of modernism and contended that it was the only true and appropriate style for contemporary architecture. While theorists like Manfredo Tafuri and others have shown his argument to be oversimplified and limited, this new Yale edition supports Pevsner's stance with luscious color photography that makes it easy to understand why he believed a new world order was on the horizon.
Compiled by Deborah Grossberg, Anne Guiney, Philip Tidwell, and William Menking
The New International Style
Modern House Three
Phaidon, $69.95 (hard)
The New Modern House
Princeton Architectural Press, $35.00 (paper)
Housey Housey: A Pattern Book
of Ideal Homes
Claire Melhuish and Pierre d'Avoine Architects
Black Dog Press, $39.95 (hard)
Call it the triumph of hope over experience. Architectural publishers continue to put out glossy modern house books promoting better, smarter ways of living, even as McMansion subdivisions metastasize the world's remaining open spaces. Yes, it's true: American-style tract houses are being as enthusiastically consumed by the rest of the world as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Britney Spears.
If there is good news, it's that the modern housee has also gone global. Modern House Three by New York writer Raul A. Barreneche and The New Modern House by London-based Will Jones show us residential architecture that's stylishly international in its concerns and referencesssomething Philip Johnson could never have imagined. Tellingly, two of the most intriguing examples featured in Modern House Three are in China. In the misty foothills of Qinlin, the Shanghai architect Ma Qing Yun has built a stately modernist box of concrete masonry and wood that reverently recalls Louis Kahn. Yet details like the local river stones set into the exterior walls and the interior of woven bamboo sheeting make this an architecture entirely of its place.
|Bloembollenhof, a housing subdivision |
in Vijfhuisen, Netherlands, designed by S333, brings together clean modern forms, simple materials (like wood panels and corrugated steel), and innovative planning.
|Courtesy princeton architectural press|
Meanwhile, in the countryside outside of Beijing and in sight of the Great Wall, Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has designed a house to serve the extraordinary vista. The striking timber-covered rectangular box, banded by large windows, is set on a tall concrete base. Inside, the main floor is a vast loftlike space with folding partition walls that can be configured in numerous ways. A hidden ladder pulls down from the ceiling for entry to the rooftop terrace, and pneumatically hinged trap doors in the floor open for access to sleeping quarters (accommodating up to 14 people), as well as a kitchen, bathrooms, storage, and a meditation chamber. Chang has radicalized the weekend house.
With only a few exceptions, the 33 dream houses profiled in Barreneche's insightful, handsomely designed coffee-table tome are the high-style showplaces of the design-conscious rich. By contrast, Will Jones' modest soft-cover book presents a more idiosyncratic collection, ranging from single-family residences to unbuilt concepts, prefab secondary homes to multifamily housing. Among the 40 projects featured are quirky examples like British architect Laurie Chetwood's Butterfly House in Surrey. Fashioned from cables, wires, fiber optics and sculptural metalwork, it depicts a caterpillar's metamorphosis. There's also Bloembollenhof, a housing estate in the Netherlands, designed by the Dutch firm S333 as an alternative to suburban sprawl. The firm devised four simple low-rise building types with gables, dormers, and skylights that can be variously arranged to create 52 different homes, from single dwellings to townhouse blocks. Constructed out of wood and corrugated steel, the buildings resemble farm structures. By massing them closely together, the architects have helped preserve the rural character of the surrounding landscape.
|In Gary Chang's 2002 Suitcase House |
in Badaling, near the Great Wall in China,
pneumatic hinges prop open trap doors that open to sleeping quarters below the floors.
Another perspective on the modern house is offered in Housey Housey by the Bombay-born British architect Pierre d'Avoine and his wife, architecture writer and ethnologist Clare Melhuish. Subtitled A Pattern Book of Ideal Homes, it is an assemblage of 23 housing plans, drawn from D'Avoine's 20 years of practice and research in residential design in Britain and abroad. While appealing and contemporary, these are not showy, mega-dollar projects. They are instead highly original responses to real-world building conditions, which should make them particularly useful to most architects. Take the prefab Piper Penthouses that were lifted onto the rooftop of a converted London apartment building by crane. Or the large two-story Invisible House neatly inserted into the former back garden of a suburban London house. So as not to disturb the views of neighbors, one of its floors was dug into the ground. NIMBYism, it seems, exists everywhere.
These three books demonstrate just how universal a language modern design has become. Let's hope more architects the world over can teach their clients, especially developers, to speak it.
Marisa Bartolucci lives in New York and writes about architecture, art, and culture.
Tschumi on Moneo
Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in
the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects
ACTAR/MIT Press, $39.95 (paper)
Rafael Moneo is a major figure in world architecture, at once a respected designer and an important influence in Spanish building culture. He is also an excellent teacher. His new book, Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects, is largely texts expanded from lectures given in the early- to mid-1990s at Harvard's GSD and Madrid's Circulo de Bellas Artes, and it keeps the livee feel of a master performance. His subject is an influential group of architects, all except one Pritzker Prize winners like himself. The result is an exacting but easy read that unfolds like a novel by Italo Calvino. In Calvino's Invisible Cities, the explorer describes dozens of cities but at the end confesses that they evoke a single topossVenice, the city he loves above all others. Moneo describes architecture similarly. This is his own perspective, but he elaborates architecture's nooks and crannies. But what view of architecture are we talking about here?
Could Moneo's Venicee be regional? Reading Theoretical Anxieties, I was reminded of an event in Barcelona nearly 20 years ago, where I was invited to introduce my first built project to an audience of architects. I talked about architecture and culture, film and literary criticism, establishing parallels and suggesting cross-fertilization among disciplines. At the end came outrage: No crossovers, please: Architecture is architecture, literature is literature, film is film!! To this day, the certainty of the audience puzzles me. Is architecture an absolute value that can be isolated from everything around it? To find out more, I read further in Moneo's book.
Moneo discusses each architect in turn, beginning with an introduction that explains the architect's intentions and concerns and then proceeding to a group of projects he considers exemplary of the designer's oeuvre. This structure works well, and the grainy black-and-white illustrations do not detract from the rhythm of the reading. He sets the tone in the first chapter on James Stirling: This book is about the architect's tools and forms. Stirling's tools are the section (in his early constructivist and 19th century industrial periodd) and the plan (in his later career, influenced by Corb's architectural promenade and Colin Rowe). Moneo characterizes Stirling's forms as a balance of massessachieved in a quasi-canonical mannerr when discussing the Leicester Engineering Building (1959963), which celebrates the meeting of the diagonal and the perimeter.. From the outset, Moneo's analysis is formal and compositional, at once praising the architectural landscape of the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie (1977783) and joining Rowe in lamenting its lack of facades.
Stirling rarely discussed theoretical concerns, but Robert Venturi and Aldo Rossi often did. Moneo excels in his analysis of these two figures. He not only describes their intentions with precision and clarity but, having lived through the ideologies of the era, can also assume a critical distance. Moneo's presentation of Rossi's view of typology as the embodiment of timelessness and permanence, and of type as a basis for temporal continuity, is accurate and insightful.
Moneo is less at ease in presenting Peter Eisenman's often far-ranging theories. He is more comfortable with formal analysis of Eisenman's work; he understands and reads with sensitivity and connoisseurship the frontality, shifts, intersections of planes, diagonals, rotations, and other devices that make up the architect's repertory. He confesses to being less impressed by [Eisenman's] sources of inspirationnincongruent, unnecessary borrowings from other fieldssthan by the skillful manipulation of formal proceedings.. Are these reservations symptomatic of Moneo's wish for a self-contained discipline of architecture? Or do they reflect his abiding view of architectural history as a history of forms, not concepts? (Later, commenting on Herzog & de Meuron, he writes that perhaps the only external field useful to architects is art.)
One of the elegant things about this book is Moneo's way of deconstructing how architects work. Would Frank Gehry recognize himself in Moneo's observation of Gehry's strategy of breaking apart the program, reshaping it through an elemental impulse, and searching for the appearance of immediacy? The description tells the reader as much about architectural strategy as about Gehry. Moneo convincingly differentiates Eisenman's and Gehry's attitudes toward representation, noting that if the first fetishizes traditions of graphic representation, the second fetishizes the more intuitive production of models. (Moneo is scathing about Gehry here: In the final analysis, to make architecture is to know how to make a model..) Although Moneo rarely discusses construction, he does mention Gehry's understanding of the American construction industry as well as the architect's avoidance of simulation, which Moneo associates with Eisenman and Venturi. But the formal takes precedence over the material in Moneo's comparison of Eisenman's Columbus Convention Center (1989993) to Gehry's Santa Monica Place Shopping Center (1980). Moneo never talks about the role of Los Angeles' climate on Gehry's early collaged materials, as opposed to the Swiss climate and its energy conservation laws on the continuous stucco surfaces he admires in Gehry's Vitra building, which he identifies as a new direction in the master's oeuvre.
Switzerland would have no architecture without insistence on materiality. Moneo correctly locates this interest in the work of Herzog & de Meuron, in which he observes, materials are what makes forms emerge.. But he again shows his desire to isolate architecture from construction. Because their work does not explicitly manipulate forms, he finds no personal gesturee in it. Here Moneo is limited by the fact that he discusses only works through the early 1990s. He perceptively characterizes their early work as a search for origins marked by fascination with the archaic, noting how they explore the formal potential of materialss in their Napa Valley winery or Swiss countryside projects. However, the book's scope precludes examining more recent, culturally informed projects in which surfaces and different components of architectural form provide receptacles for other, external influences. (Certainly Herzog & de Meuron's Tokyo Prada store of 2002 would have altered Moneo's view on their exploration of the archaic.)
This time restriction also limits his reading of Rem Koolhaas, whom he presents as a rigid anti-contextualist, for whom place doesn't matter.. This conclusion ignores the sophisticated dialogues that Koolhaas' recent buildings in Seattle, Berlin, Porto, and Chicago establish with the cultures in which they are located. Moneo is better at analyzing Koolhaas' individual projects than his overall project. For example, describing Koolhaas' stylistic mixings as cocktail architecturee is reductive, but elucidating Rem's flair for iconographic representations of programs, as in the Zeebrugge Ferry Terminal in Belgium (1989), makes for highly perceptive commentary. Given the writer's astute talent at establishing comparisons and parallels among different architects, I would have been interested in seeing a link developed between Rossi's view of type as a universal constant and Koolhaas' obsessive efforts to invent new typologies, which are never mentioned by Moneo.
Moneo's attention to architecture as architecturee finds its culmination in lvaro Siza's work. Perhaps because Siza's practice echoes Moneo's own cultural origins, it resonates throughout the book as a whole. Siza, Moneo writes, seems to want to tell us that he simply wants his architecture to reek' of architecture. And it is this aroma of architecture''or, if you wish, of what we understand as architectureethat we breathe in his works.. What in architecture reekss of architecture? Am I not religious enough to grasp it, or am I missinggor missing out onnsome attainable absolute value? Moneo revels in the formal operations of Siza's art, describing the Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor (1971174) as an attempt to show architecture at its purest, devoid of phenomena and event.. Opposed to purely linguistic considerations,, it is a building that speaks of architecture and tries to offer the architectural experience in terms offits very essence: space in all purity, space without the limitations that use confines it to in buildings.. This is architecture in its most visual incarnation, an architecture of forms rather than ideas.
The exclusive view expressed in Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies begs a rhetorical question: In writing about literature and writers today, could one do so without examining the role of film, television, media, social politics, or theories of public and private space? Moneo's fundamental thesis about the arbitrary form at the very origin of our workk restricts architecture's terrain, leaving out issues of context and content. Yet within these preconceptions, few writers have addressed the territory with equal incisiveness or authoritative command. Hence the second question raised by this volume: How can an architect write well about his colleagues? Here Moneo's sharp insights and thorough research make for remarkable reading. But if there is a moment when Moneo's discerning commentary becomes outstanding, it is when he makes cross-comparisons among architects, establishing similarities, relations, and differences. It is at this point that Moneo is most potent and, to my mind, really talks about architectureewhich exists at the intersection of vastly different practicessby using these well-informed differences and adding information drawn from first-hand knowledge of the architects, their work, and his own. At this point Moneo moves beyond the common denominator of form to touch on the rich complexity of what architecture is. In the sense that architecture is between the lines, you have to read between the lines of this book. Bernard Tschumi is an architect in New York and Paris.
Guide to New York Guides
The Landmarks of New York: An Illustrated
Record of the City's Historic Buildings
Monacelli Press, $65.00 (hard)
City Secrets: New York City
Robert Kahn, editor
The Little Bookroom, $24.95 (hard)
Garden Guide: New York City
Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry
The Little Bookroom, $19.95 (paper)
Touring Gothamms Archaeological Past:
8 Self Guided walking Tours through New York City
Diana di Zerega Wall and Anne-Marie Cantwell
Yale University Press, $18.00 (paper)
City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program
Essay by Eleanor Heartney, introduction by Adam Gopnik
Merrell Publishers, $49.95 (paper)
The AIA Guide to New York by Elliot Wallinsky and Norval White was first published in 1967, but it remains the architecture guidebook to New York City against which all others must be measured. It is still the most comprehensive source on the city's architecture, primarily because it is one of the few to thoroughly survey all five boroughs, and includes more than 130 maps and 3,000 building images. Originally long and lean, it has gotten chunkier with each new edition. Its one drawback is that it is too bulky to be carried easily on walks. Also, it has not been revised since 2000 which means, for a city like New York, it's sure to have significant omissions.
A quick glance at the New York section of Urban Center Books makes it clear that many authors have tried to round out the picture.
In the armchair traveler category, the most satisfying new book is The Landmarks of New York by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, a leading landmarks advocate and former member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The book is billed as the definitive history and guide to New York's most treasured structures,, although Robert A. M. Stern's three volumes on New York, published by Rizzoli, might also lay claim to this title. Landmarks of New York is a history of preservation in the city, and begins in 1831, when New Yorkers began to first fret that important buildings were being lost, and continues through the destruction of the World Trade Center. Along with every official landmarked building in the city, Diamonstein-Spielvogel includes many lesser-known but interesting examples, like the four Hunterfly Road Houses on Bergen Street in Brooklyn that were the center of an early black community in the 1830s.
There is also a growing number of idiosyncratic guides for locals who might think they know the city inside out. The pocket-sized City Secrets: New York compiles the favorite spots of writers, artists, filmmakers, architects, and others, presented with first-person reminiscences as well as directions and hours of public operation. There are many gems: Between the Enrico Caruso Museum in Brooklyn and the Capitol Fishing Tackle Company near the Chelsea Hotel, there is SOM's 1967 Marine Midland Bank in Lower Manhattan, accompanied by remarks from Richard Meier, who claims that with the exception of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim, the best works of architecture built in New York during the last half of the 20th century were the black buildings.. (The other two he cites are the Seagram Building and the CBS Building.)
Part of the same pocket-sized series is Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry's comprehensive Garden Guide: New York City. It features many little-known publicly accessible green spaces, such as the Lotus garden on the roof of a garage on West 91st Street, and community gardens like the Taqwa Community Farm and the Garden of Happiness, both in the Bronx.
The slim paperback Touring Gotham's Archaeological Past: 8 Self-Guided Walking Tours Through New York City is a guide to the city not only of today but of yesterday. It discusses Native American life here, the early development of the grid, and long-gone neighborhoods. It includes drawings of a 16th-century Dutch West India wind-powered sawmill and maps of the Lower Manhattan waterfront when it bumped up against Hanover Square. In a city that seems to change by the moment and quickly obscures its past, it is a pleasure to know what's under our feet as well as on the street.
Another often-overlooked feature of New York is its public art. City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program features the nearly 200 works of public art completed since the program's 1983 initiation. While many of these pieces are easily accessible, others are in obscure spots. With an introduction by New Yorker critic Adam Gopnik and an essay by art critic Eleanor Heartney, the book documents the work of several of the city's best known public artists and their experiences working for the city.
|Kristen Jones and Andrew Ginzel's 1992 installation, Mnemonics, at Stuyvesant High School, featured in City Art.|
|Courtesy Merrell Publishers|
These books are but a sampling of the range of New York City guidebooks, each with a strong point of view. While they contain many familiar landmarks and spaces, they also offer just enough that is new (or little-known) to allow you to see the city with the wide-open eyes of a tourist. William Menking is an editor at AN.
It's no secret that architects and designers are fantastic fetishists. Sensuous forms, hard details, or soft textures can be enough to arouse even the most mild-mannered among us. The greatest turn-on of all, though, might just be the monographhthose beautiful tomes that we love to possess, exhibit, and gaze at. Here are several recent publications that we found not only eye-popping but stimulating too.
Ando: Complete Works
David Adjaye: Houses
Event Cities 3: Concept vs. Context vs. Content
Joel Sanders: Writings and Projects
Peter Eisenman: Barefoot on
The Charged Void:
The cutting-edge nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation has recruited a band of architects to give to the poor by designing libraries in some of New York City's neediest public schools. With its second phaseeand 31 librariessnow complete, the Library Initiative is an example of pro bono design at its best. Cathy Lang Ho reports.
|Marpillero Pollak created a simple dropped perforated metal ceiling, with cut-out holes filled with colored Plexiglas and Jasper Morrison Glo-Ball Flos lights that echo the round foam seats by M2L below. With Milder & Co., they devised a set of tables (background) that can be pushed apart or linked together.|
|> peter mauss / esto|
In 20011three years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg won approval for his $13 billion school construction and improvements campaign, which is just now beginning to be implementeddLonni Tanner, then director of special projects at the Robin Hood Foundation, decided that New York City's public schools needed serious attention. Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting, grant-giving nonprofit, had just funded the renovation of a library in a charter school in Brooklyn, undertaken by Karen Davidov and Henry Myerberg of the since-dissolved partnership Helfand Myerberg Guggenheimer. I was curious if other schools needed a similar resource,, said Tanner, so she canvassed 250 of the city's 650 public elementary schools. I was shocked at what I saw,, she said. I saw a few dusty books on some shelves, old Wang computerssnothing that could be close to being called a library.. At the time, 60 percent of New York public school students in grades three through eight were reading below grade level. Believing that education is the key to fighting poverty, Robin Hood, in a groundbreaking partnership with the city's Board of Education, launched the Library Initiative.
Today, the program boasts 31 alternatives to the bleak public school norm, created by 16 architects who worked mostly pro bono over the course of two phases (see sidebar for complete list). The highly publicized results of the pilot phase, completed in 2002, prove that there are myriad ways to skin a cat: Charged with creating distinct spaces for instruction, presentation, and private reading, accommodating 10,000 books (donated by Scholastic) and several computer workstations (donated by Apple), and ensuring clear sightlines throughout the space, among other requirements, ten firms produced wide-ranging prototypes of lively, child-friendly spaces that are rigorously programmed for learning as well as cost-efficient, durable, and easy to maintain. Because the libraries departed so dramatically from their standard-issue, institutional contexts, they quickly became magnets within their schools and larger communities, captivating students who regard them havens, retreatssplaces where they want to be.
|Gluckman Mayner Architects used the library as a chance to explore sustainable materials, such as non-off-gassing Woodstalk for millwork, non-VOC adhesives, bamboo flooring, and recycled-content Interface carpet tiles. To counter the divisions of the floor area, the architects wanted a unified ceiling treatment. They gave it a sky motif, with wallpaper designed by 2x4 and customized light fixtures that are simple fluorescent bulbs with bent metal forms to evoke birds or flying books.|
Custom responses were integral to conveying to students, many of them economically underprivileged, that they are important and deserve special attention. (Robin Hood selected schools where over 75 percent of students qualify for a free lunch.) But replicability is equally important to the Library Initiative. The idea from the outset was to develop a standard, since the aim is to get architects to all the schools eventually,, said Myerberg, who was instrumental in helping define the Library Initiative and worked with Tanner to recruit first-phase architects. But we didn't want a cookie-cutter approach, like Starbucks, either..
PHASE 1 completed Fall 2002
Della Valle + Bernheimer Design (PS 18)
PHASE 2 completed Winter 2005
Tsao & McKown Architects (P.S. 46, 86, 94, and 246)
|1100 Architects took its cue from the school's small reptile zoo, creating a long bookshelf that snakes through the space and creates distinct separate areas for private reading and group activities.|
The learning curve was higher for new architects,, said Myerberg, but we all learned what worked and didn't work from the first round.. For example, for P.S. 50, he had designed a system of Lego-like bookcases arranged in a staggered pattern, but they confounded librarians' ability to uphold the Dewey decimal system. In his second set of libraries, the bookcases follow a more linear pattern.
The treatment of bookcases varied widely from architect to architect. Billie Tsien said that her firm learned early on to discern what was important and treatable versus what they could do little about, such as a wall of unattractive windows. To them, bookcases were key. We learned that your best friend is your cabinetmaker,, said Tsien. They can deliver the room for you in a beautiful way because they're making a container for people and books at the same time.
It's the cabinetwork, too, that's essentially replicable.. Many other library architects also emphasized the importance of custom casegoods to ensure maximum book capacity and a snug fit. And many insisted on wooden bookshelves, despite the expense, as if to reinforce the traditional idea of libraries and avoid the typical approach to children's or institutional spaces, to go plastic, hard, and cool. Richard Lewis' firm decided that all the furniture that was fixed would have a traditional look while all the movable furniture would be modern, so their bookcases are old-fashioned molded wood while chairs are by Arne Jacobsen and cabinets are by USM. Tsao & McKown designed shelving (made from medium-density fiberboard) that's almost constructivist in detail,, said Zack McKown, so that kids can reverse-engineer how they were built..
|Rogers Marvel Architects used cheap VCT (vinyl composition tile), arranging two different shades of yellow in a random pattern, giving the floor interesting visual texture.|
Interestingly, Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects had the opposite point of view about bookcases, using off-the-shelf metal frames. We didn't think it was the place to spend money,, he said. Why reinvent the wheel? Whenever possible, we wanted to use straightforward, utilitarian products to support the architecture..
Flooring was also an important realm for experimentation. Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Tsao & McKown, which both used cork in their first library, resurrected the soft, resilient, acoustically and environmentally friendly material in their second-round libraries. Richard Lewis, Marpillero Pollak, and Dean/Wolf followed their lead, specifying the material in different colors. The Rockwell Group used mostly Interface carpet, as did Gluckman Mayner, which paired the soft floor covering with bamboo, to denote the different areas of the room. Meanwhile, Rogers Marvel used perhaps the cheapest flooring material of all, vinyl composition tile (VCT), but picked a nice yellow in two shades and arranged them randomly, giving the floor some visual texture. These varied solutions raise the potential of developing standards or uniform elements for future libraries. We are looking for elements that can be applied across different projects, without restricting architects' designs,, said Daniels. For example, in the future, we could offer a choice of three or four flooring options or shelving solutions, and make a deal up front with a vendor or fabricator..
|Marpillero Pollak Architects extended the presence of the library into the school, with an entrance bench/gathering area. The Library Initiative's logo was designed by Michael Bierut of Pentagram, who worked with the library architects to create site-specific graphics.|
To counter the uniformity that might come with recurring elements, Robin Hood has been encouraging architects to emphasize site-specific graphic installations involving students. Marpillero Pollak created a window frieze using chidren's drawings of fictional characters. Meanwhile, Richard Lewis worked with Pentagram, as well as artists Dorothy Kresz, Peter Arkle, Raghava Kalyanaraman, and Lynn Pauley to create murals to fill the space between the tops of bookcases (which could be no higher than five shelves) and ceilings.
As the Library Initiative enters its third roundda list of 25 schools and architects will be determined this summerrcost savings will be even more crucial, as the Board of Education reduces its matching funds from three-to-one to two-to-one. But the Library Initiative has already developed a certain cachet in the architectural community, with many clamoring to be involved. The same goes for vendors, many of which have donated or discounted their materials and services. Luckily, there are plenty of libraries to go around. 31 down,, said Tanner, who left Robin Hood last month. 619 to go.. cathy lang ho is an editor at an.
|Rogers Marvel Architects used cheap VCT (vinyl composition tile), arranging two different shades of yellow in a random pattern, giving the floor interesting visual texture.|
Client: New York City Board of Education
General contractor: F. J. Sciame Construction Co.
Funding partner: Robin Hood Foundation
In-kind donations: Scholastic Books, Harper Collins, Apple, Maharam
Graphic design: Michael Bierut, Pentagram
Photography: Peter Mauss / ESTO
* It's worth noting that many of the companies involved with the Robin Hood libraries supplied their products or services pro bono or at discounted rates.
The world's most glamorous cities are vying for the 2012 Olympic Games. Here's a look at New York's competition.
The 39 cities that have hosted the summer and winter Olympic Games for the past century have taken a mixed approach to the task, reflecting the issues of their times more than the particularities of place or the universality of the event. The famoussor infamoussBerlin Olympics of 1936, awarded to the German capital before the Nazis came to power, became an opportunity for Adolf Hitler to demonstrate to the world, in an Albert Speerrdesigned stadium, the efficiency of Nazi Germany. In 1984 Los Angeles reused many facilities built for its 1932 Olympics, dressing up the city in banners and public art projects, like an Archigram Instant City. With its real urban problems papered over for two weeks, L.A. pulled off an event that was considered a triumph of corporate sponsorship and patronage, reflecting the Reagan era as much as the movie Wall Street. The organizers of the L.A. games predicted theirs would become the model for future Olympics, since it made a profit of $223 million, but other cities haven't been as lucky. Atlanta barely survived its 1996 stint, reportedly losing hundreds of millions of dollars, though it did add over 5,000 units of low-cost housing to the city in the process.
Today, the competition has become a war of battling trophy buildings by star architects, with New York City leading the way (see page 1 and Issue 2.3.2004). Historically, the Olympics have proven to be capable of spurring the creation of public amenities like parks, housing, and sports facilities. The latest strategy is the use of celebrity designs as a wedge to open neighborhoods to gentrification, for example, bringing spectacular housing by the likes of Zaha Hadid and MVRDV to Queens, one of the most mixed-income residential and manufacturing areas of the city. It's worth noting that all the 2012 bids (except Havana's, which has not been made public) call for 70 to 80 percent of their budgets to come from private investment and 20 to 30 percent from public resources.
Leipzig's bid includes an 80,000-seat stadium designed by Peter Eisenman that can break down and be downsized or carted away, leaving open space and parks more appropriate to the scale of the small Saxony village. Leipzig is the anti-Los Angeles of the Olympics, offering a pleasant, small town experienceea new approach that may prove that the Olympics does not have to be the great invasion feared by residents. Havana is also playing up the modest Olympics angle, carrying its anti-commercial, anti-big platform to the extreme by barely publicizing its bid. Every plan, in fact, is notably restrained, responding to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) call for quick commutes and sustainable development.
|Module parts of Peter Eisenmann's Stadium for Leipzig||Dominique Perrault's "the Magic Box"|
On May 18th, the IOC will announce which of the nine bidding cities have been accepted as official candidates. The host city for the 2012 games will be named on July 6, 2005. The contenders:
Nowhere near able to match its rivals' investments in architectural or infrastructural projects (or even a website) to enhance its Olympic bid, Havana is, unsurprisingly, banking on high-minded social ideals to make the cut. The Cuban Olympic Committee (COC), headed by Jose Ramon Fernandez, who is also the vice-president of Cuba, points out that the Olympics have never been held in the Caribbean and only once before in Latin America (Mexico City, 1968). Many feel it's about time the games are awarded to a developing country.
Furthermore, Fernandez argues that the country deserves to be awarded the Olympics for its sporting achievements. Cuba consistently performs well at international sporting events (for example, winning 11 gold, 11 silver, and 7 bronze medals at the Sydney Olympics))far out of proportion to the size of the island's population of 11 million. The priority should be athletic merits, not a nation's wealth or sponsors or television,, he said in a press conference announcing the city's bid. Cuba is promising a modest, dignified, non-commercialized Olympics that restores emphasis on athletes.
Cuba uses sport, like the former Soviet bloc countries did, as a way to promote its socialist ideals. For this reason, the country actually has decent existing sports facilities. It even has an Olympic Stadium, built for the Pan American Games in 1991. Havana is the frequent host of conferences, is well experienced at organizing large-scale events, and has quality hotel accommodations as a result of its thriving tourist trade.
Havana's downfall will be its weak transportation system. The charm of the 1950s tail-finned Chevys, well-educated taxi drivers, and diverse buses (donated from countries around the world, still bearing original destination signs such as Oslo, Maastricht, Edmonton) will surely not be enough to convince the IOC to make the dream of Fidel Castro, an avid sportsman, come true.
|Peter Eisenmann's Stadium for Leipzig|
Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and its 2012 Olympic bid, themed The Meeting of Continents, plays up this unique condition. The city's bid argues that Istanbul's symbolic role as a bridge between Islamic and Judeo-Christian culture is especially appropriate given the current state of world affairs.
Istanbul yearns to reclaim its status as a superpower city. Its bid marks the city's fourth consecutive attempt at hosting the Olympics. An 89 percent approval rating further proves Turkey's determination, but the city's relatively weak infrastructure continues to place Istanbul as a long-shot contender. The city's chances have improved since its last bid, however, due to the 2002 completion of the 80,000-seat Ataturk Olympic Stadium and a brand new subway system that is still in the process of expanding.
The $120 million Ataturk was designed by Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena, the same French architects responsible for the Stade de France, Paris' key Olympic stadium, in collaboration with local architect Doruk Pamir. The architects opted for an open top to the concrete brut design after the Stade faced serious humidity problems due to its closed-roof construction. Still, the stadium shelters 54,000 spectators, 36,000 of whom are protected on the west side by a monumental canopy in the shape of a crescent, the symbol of Turkey. The dramatic semi-circular roof is suspended between two 60-meter poles set over 200 meters apart, serving as yet another metaphor for Istanbul's role as the link between Europe and Asia.
|The Ataturk Olympc Stadium designed by Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena|
Leipzig, a city in Saxony known for its Renaissance and Baroque buildings and classical music venues, is an unusual Olympic contender. Its compact historical center and quiet residential suburbs could be a plus for the 2012 bid, though. The IOC wants simple and compact games and we are perfectly suited for that,, said bid manager Peter Zuehlsdorff.
The Leipzig proposal, which is based on a 2001 feasibility study by Albert Speer, Jr., features flexible designs by a number of big-name architects, including Peter Eisenman, Dresden-based Peter Kulka, and Berlin-based Barkow Leibinger Architects. Kulka's project connects various sports arenas with transparent, cloudlike structures and numerous bridges crossing Leipzig's river basin. After the games, Kulka's stadium will be melted down,, leaving a smaller arena. Eisenman's stadium is also designed to be downsized after the games, leaving an arena more appropriate for Leipzig's population of 500,000. Assembled out of movable modules, the stadium will provide seats for 80,000 during the Olympics, and can be downsized to a stadium for 20,000 once the games are over. Or the whole thing can be taken apart and relocated after the games.
The Olympia Pavilion, designed by Barkow Leibinger, will function as a signn and traffic knot,, according to the architects, a highly visible marker located on an important thoroughfare leading to the main Olympic grounds. The pavilion, which will house exhibitions during the games and later serve as a sports museum, has a dynamic, irregular faaade, wrapped with textile ribbons.. If Leipzig wins the Olympic bid, the facility could be built as early as 2006, to act as a media center for the FIFA World Cup.
|Barkow Leibinger's information center, Leipzig (above) Foreign Office Architects, EDAW, HOK Sport, and Allies and Morrison's master plan for London 2012||>|
London's 2012 bid follows the Barcelona model of Olympic development. The bid proposes a scheme in which the games serve as an engine to spur city improvements, leaving behind a sustainable legacy after the games. Keith Mills, chief executive of the bid, was quoted in the Telegraph as saying, There will be no white elephants at the London games. We'll build what we need and no more..
Though London's planned new venues have not yet reached the design stage, Foreign Office Architects completed the master plan for the project, situating 70 percent of all venues within a 500-acre park 13 kilometers outside central London in the Lower Lea Valley, a river flood plain and run-down light industrial area. The park, designed by EDAW, an international urban design and planning firm, will restore the flood plain by removing existing river walls. London-based Allies and Morrison Architects and HOK Sport are also involved with the London bid.
An Olympic stadium, velodrome, aquatic center, and media center will be built along the valley in a plan that takes into account Richard Rogers' Millennium Dome, situated 5 kilometers away, which will be recruited to serve as an Olympic venue. Norman Foster's new Wembley Stadium, dubbed The Church of Footballl with its curved, partially retractable roof, will be completed in late 2005 and will serve the 2012 games.
The key to the success of London's plan will be a reorganized transport system capable of shuttling visitors from central London out to the valley. Rail infrastructure already exists but new stations will be needed. The city's bid hopes that 90 percent of visitors to the Olympics will be able to commute by train, given London's congestion problems and corresponding steep tolls for motor transport. Athletes will be housed within walking distance from most venues in the valley, though commutes to distant venues like Wembley could be daunting.
|Cruz & Ortiz's design for the enlargement of La Peineta stadium in Madrid|
Madrid's bid for the Olympic Games of 2012 comes at a time when the city is already immersed in an extensive process of urban transformation, spurred by economic prosperity and heavily dependent on designs by signature architects. Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners, Foster and Partners, Rubio & lvarez Sala, and CCsar Pelli are building new office towers. The city's cultural institutions are being enriched by Herzog & de Meuron's Caixa Forum, Jean Nouvel's addition to the Reina Soffa Museum, and Rafael Moneo's extension of the Prado Museum. And more projects are working toward fortifying Madrid's historic urban center, such as the reconstitution of the Prado axis by lvaro Siza and the expansion of open space with new parks such as La Gavia by Toyo Ito. Finally, Madrid is seeing its residential panorama enlivened with new dynamic proposals by international architectural studios like MVRDV, David Chipperfield Architects, and Morphosis, in collaboration with local Spanish teams.
As is the case with other bidding cities, staging the Olympics will give Madrid the chance to develop new sporting facilities and upgrade existing ones. Won by an international competition in 2002, the new Olympic Tennis Center by Dominique Perrault is conceived as a multipurpose magic boxx with dozens of indoor and outdoor courts, and cultural spaces. Seville-based Cruz & Ortiz is expanding La Peineta stadium, which they designed in 1994. The stadium's new neighbor will be an aquatic center by Juan Joss Medina, also won by competition.
The proposed projects are supported by Madrid's highly developed transportation networks, soon to be enhanced by the new terminal of the Madrid-Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers and Estudio Lamela. Though the airport is just 12 minutes from the city center via the underground metro, the airport expansion includes plans to link it to all the Olympic venues, as well as the commuter train system and the regional High-Speed Train (AVE).
|Dominique Perrault's design of the Olympic Tennis Center in Madrid has been nicknamed "the Magic Box"||>|
The year 2012 would mark the 100th anniversary of Russia's participation in the Olympics. According to the Moscow bid, the city hopes to use the opportunity to introduce a new and democratic Russiaa to the world. The city last hosted the games during the Communist era (1980). The city's previous experience could benefit its bid by proving it is capable of hosting the games, but it could also be damaging if the IOC considers the 32-year interlude as too short to merit a double-play.
Moscow's bid concept, Olympic River, builds on the social and cultural importance of the city's river by situating many of its developments along its waterfront. Most of the city's venues served as Olympic facilities in 1980, like the Luzhniki, Krylatskoe, and Olympiskiy complexes, but some new projects are planned as well, including a new 200-acre Olympic Village and a 17,000-suite residential-style Media Village. Moscow also boasts a strong transportation infrastructure, starring an excellent subway system that meets 90 percent of the city's commuting needs, carrying six to eight million passengers daily. The city also plans to create a fourth ring road and a number of new expressways before 2012.
|The Stade de France built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup anchor's the Paris proposal. Designed by French Architect's Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena, who also designed The Ataturk Olympic Stadium|
With its compact plan, high-quality transportation facilities, and substantial experience with hosting world-class sporting events, Paris is the bookmakers' favorite for the 2012 Olympics, even though public approval for the project is low (compared to other cities), at 75 percent. The Parisian plan situates the majority of its Olympic venues in two clusters, one to the north of Paris, centered on the Stade de France in St. Denis, built for the 1998 World Cup; and the other in the 16th Arrondissement, home to the Roland-Garros Stadium, built in 1928 and upgraded in 2000. The Olympic Village, to be designed by French architect Frannois Grether, is situated in Batignolles, on a 50-hectare site that is 6 kilometers from each cluster. It includes a 10-hectare park, which will be constructed regardless of the success of the city's bid.
Most of the sports venues Paris plans to use for the Olympics already exist, though the city is planning to start construction on five new stadiums in 2009. Three of them will be located within the two clusters: the Dome, for volleyball, the SuperDome, for artistic gymnastics and basketball, and the Aquatics Centre. The other two will be outside the city: the Velodrome, in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, and the Shooting Centre in Versailles. The plan also makes clever use of historic landmarks. The Eiffel Tower's foundation is slated to be transformed into a beach volleyball court, the Chhteau de Versailles' grounds will become a cycling track, and the historic Longchamp racecourse, built in 1857 and upgraded in 1966, will house equestrian events. According to the Paris 2012 bid, the rest of its new construction will be for temporary use only.
Rio de Janiero
Rio's bid claims passionn is the most abundant resource the city can offer the Olympic Committee: Passion for nature, the environment, life, sport, excellence, and the future.. Indeed, Rio 2012 is playing up the city's festive reputation, emphasizing music, dancing, street performancess[and the] spirit of celebrationn on its website.
Rio's Olympic theme, One Village, One City, One World, alludes to the city's planning strategy which fits all of its venues within the city limits, not more than 20 kilometers apart, in four separate zones: Barra, Sugar Loaf, Maracann, and Deodoro.
The Barra region constitutes the jewel in Rio's Olympic crown,, according to the Rio 2012 website. Situated on one of Rio's lagoon beaches, the area is one of the city's fastest growing, which means developers will have no trouble marketing its residential and commercial real estate after the games are over. Barra will house a number of new venues which are already under construction for the 2007 Pan American Games, including a new Olympic stadium with an 80,000-seat capacity. A linear park, the Olympic Boulevard, will extend along Barra's beachfront, linking the new Olympic Village with the ring road to Sugar Loaf and Maracann. Sugar Loaf, another white sand, clear water paradise 20 kilometers away from Barra, will house mostly outdoor events like beach volleyball, canoeing, cycling, and sailing in mostly existing or temporary facilities.
Deodoro and Maracann are both inland sites in need of the type of economic rejuvenation the Olympics can ignite. Deodoro offers 5 million square meters of green rolling hills, which will be used for equestrian and shooting. Maracann Stadium, the largest in the world and the soul of Brazilian football,, according to Rio's bid, will play a significant role in the region's plans, along with two new arenas. One of them, the $166 million Jooo Havelange Stadium designed by architect Carlos Porto, is currently under construction, also for the Pan American Games, and is scheduled for completion in 2005. The developers of the Havelange hired Minneapolis-based Ellerbe Becket as engineering consultants. The 45,000-seat enclosed structure will focus on environmental friendliness, with a roof designed to capture rainfall with which to water the grass field.
PRODUCED BY DEBORAH GROSSBERG, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALEXANDER EISENSCHMIDT, CATHY LANG HO, WILLIAM MENKING, LAURA MULAS, KESTER RATTENBURY, BBKE URAS, AND JAMES WAY.
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.