Search results for "train stations"

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Beyond Gridlock
The first place entry in the professional category, MMs Transit, designed by Joshua Stein, Aaron Whelton, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob Brostoff.
Courtesy the designers

On March 21, The Architect’s Newspaper and the Los Angeles–based Southern California Institute for Future Initiatives, a program of SCI-Arc, announced the winners of their open ideas competition, A New Infrastructure: Innovative Transit Solutions for Los Angeles.

Inspired by LA County Measure R—a half-cent sales tax hike passed last November that promised up to $40 billion in transit funding for the city—the competition offered architects, engineers, and planners a chance to rethink LA’s transit infrastructure from a neighborhood scale and from far-reaching, system-wide perspectives. The contest attracted 75 proposals from around the world, providing a refreshing look at a set of problems all too often met by sighs of weary futility among transit professionals.

Most of the winning schemes took a big-picture approach to reintegrating this famously far-flung city. The professional winner Más Transit (pictured above), by Joshua Stein, Aaron Whelton, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob Brostoff, proposed a system in which high-speed regional and local rail would be seamlessly linked via a raised infrastructure above the city. The design would cluster nodes of density around its inventively layered network, while making San Diego less than an hour away by train. The student winner, Ryan Lovett, tackled transit issues in concert with rezoning to incorporate work, production, and living into the same dense districts, a simple development strategy that solves multiple environmental problems.

Many of the best ideas to emerge from the competition were repeated across the spectrum. The second-place student winners, Alan Lu and Yan-ping Wang, proposed a modular mobile transit vehicle, which, like one proposed by Lovett,could travel both on and off a track. Meanwhile, the third-place professional winner, Osborn’s Mag Luv proposal, also integrated high-speed rail with local mass transit systems, including zip cars and other individually-oriented transit technologies, converging on 12 centers of transportation and activity.

Several of the top prize winners—like Ben Abelman, Vivian Ngo, and Julia Siedle’s Freeways Are For Trains—proposed using LA’s existing freeway system as a base from which to build new transit and dense urban development. Others, like Fletcher Studio’s Infrastructural Armature, looked at merging transit with other existing infrastructure, like water and sewer networks, from which “infrastructural tentacles” could grow. Roe Goodman’s honorable-mention-winning student proposal suggested transit stations that could double as neighborhood centers, offering markets, bike storage, and other amenities. NBBJ’s Green Tech City scheme, which won a professional honorable mention, proposed linking new stations within a greenbelt, accompanied by zoning in the area to encourage the burgeoning green-tech sector in the city.

Among the organizers’ special selections was Odile Decq’s eye-popping Fast, Fluid & Free, which proposed an electric-car transport system modeled on free bike-sharing systems developed in Europe, along with mixed-use linkages spanning the freeways with parks, commerce, and car and bike stations. Wes Jones’ The Answer Is Not Mass(ive) Transit took a contrarian approach, suggesting that instead of resource-intensive infrastructure, planners consider small-scale solutions like the Elov, a pod-like electric vehicle that fits into less space than a smart car and reduces the volume of traffic by serving the same number of occupants in only one quarter of the space.

Outside of new ideas, the competition encouraged conversations among transit players, designers, and community leaders, who don’t speak together enough when transit decisions are made. The jury included architects Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, and Neil Denari; but also Aspet Davidian, director of project engineering facilities for the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Cecilia V. Estolano, chief executive officer of CRA/LA; Gail Goldberg, director of planning for the City of Los Angeles; Roland Genik, urban planner and transit designer; and Geoff Wardle, the director of advanced mobility research at Art Center College of Design.

Most agreed that the discussion about transit in the city needed to better tap into the design and urban planning fields. But they also argued that the whole issue needed rethinking from a coordinated, regional perspective. Mayne pushed for a change in how we see the city at large, while Denari pressed for proactive—not reactive—planning, and Goldberg pushed for more long-term thinking. Moss pointed out that Measure R only detailed rail and road improvements, but not how such improvements would affect the city. He deplored a city balkanized by local politics, without an overall vision. “We’re known in LA for experimental architecture,” he said. “But when it comes to urban planning, we’re about as meek a place as there is.”

And now, the winners.

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Announcing Winners: A New Infrastructure
An image from the winning entry, Mas Transit, by Joshua G. Stein/RadicalCraft, Aaron Whelton/AAW Studio, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob M. Brostoff
Stein/Whelton/Thomforde/Brostoff

On March 21, SCI-Arc's SCI-FI program and The Architect’s Newspaper announced the winners of their open ideas competition, A New Infrastructure: Innovative Transit Solutions for Los Angeles.

The competition, inspired by LA County Measure R—a half-cent sales tax hike that promises up to $40 billion in transit funding for the city— attracted 75 proposals from around the world. It offered architects, engineers, urban planners, and students a chance to propose new ideas for the city's transit infrastructure. Their entries focused on specific rail extension projects in the city and also take a look at larger-scale, interrelated planning challenges.

The competition jury included architects Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, and Neil Denari;  Aspet Davidian, director, Project Engineering Facilities, LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Cecilia V. Estolano, chief executive officer, CRA/LA; Gail Goldberg, director of planning, City of Los Angeles; Roland Genik, urban planner and transit designer; and Geoff Wardle, director, Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design.
 

PROFESSIONAL WINNERS

First Prize
Más Transit: Joshua G. Stein/RadicalCraft, Aaron Whelton/AAW Studio, and Jaclyn Thomforde with Jacob M. Brostoff

Más is regional high-speed rail for Los Angeles with a landscape to match. Promoting dense, organic development, it diversifies the communities in the built environment, making travel less necessary, easier and more predictable, and bypassing roadway congestion through a new raised infrastructure. Looping around the city, with connections to subways and buses, Más links local and inter-regional commuting; providing frequent service that will also sync up with the California High Speed Rail network. San Diego via más is less than an hour away, including transfer times; San Francisco is less than three hours away.

 

Second Prize
Infrastructural Armature: Fletcher Studio: David Fletcher, Dylan Barlow, Ryan Chandler, Daniel Phillips, Tobi Adamolekun

Recognizing the vital role that mobility, water, and sewage will play in Los Angeles' future, the city must begin to invest in a core armature of new bundled infrastructures which will allow the city to survive the impending reality of peak water and peak oil.  The city must reorganize along the matrices of transportation, water and sewer networks, and grow infrastructural tentacles out into the world to ship and receive.

 

 

Third Prize
Mag Luv: Osborn: Holly Chisholm, Kate Harvey, Armen Isagholi, Takeshi Kobayashi, Michael Pinto, Jared Sopko, Esmeralda Ward, Yuju Yeo

The scheme proposes eroding a portion of the freeway and supplanting it with a new object, mode, and form for adoration—Mag Luv. The high speed magnetic levitation peripheral train appropriates freeway, right of way, and “dream space” to become the mega structure of the Los Angeles transit system. The loop circumnavigates the city providing 12 hubs of activity, transportation, and power production.
 

HONORABLE MENTION: PROFESSIONAL

 

Mobility on Demand: RSA: Dwight Bond, Diane Tadena, James Wong

A combination of rail, light-rail, smart cars, bike share, and different bus systems will provide easy connections in and between cities. Multiple vehicle types provide users with choices among combinations of cost, comfort, and functionality. A commuter might choose to ride the train to work, pick up a smart car to attend a meeting, go to the gym, or pick up groceries before going back home. In creating a dense commercial and residential environment to support and foster the inevitable expansion of the transit system, the scheme also investigates alternative development strategies that are adaptable to the ever-changing conditions of our urban culture.

 

Green Tech City: NBBJ: Harry Bairamian, Hrant Bairamian, So Eun Cho, Tony Choi, Scott Hunter, Byoung Kweon, Anthony Manzo, Nnamdi Ugenyi, Jonathan Ward, Tim Zamora

This scheme created green-tech districts along the Westside expansion corridor stretching from downtown to Santa Monica. The plan likened itself to a living organism, including a Skeletal System composed of new green districts between stations; a respiratory system that included a 2.5-mile green park along the length of the transit system; and tendons, which were linkages to the community, like freeway bridges, human-scaled densities, walkability plans, urban parks, and agricultural zones.

 

Go Mixed-Modal: Tom Beresford

In 2000, LA Metro gambled that it could increase both ridership and transit efficiency by making a bus a little more like a subway: The Metro Rapid. Mixed-modal goes even further to suggest that any bus has the potential to go “local,” “rapid,” or “express” at coordinated points along its route to flexibly serve transit demand. A bus may go “express” by entering grade-separated express lanes shared with planned or existing rail modes, with the help of new frictionless electric power-transfer technologies and hybrid rail/road drive surfaces. The mixed-modal project offers a vision of what the Expo line might look like if it operated as the “trunk” of a regional transit tree with “branches” extending up and down existing Metro Rapid lines.


 

STUDENT WINNERS

First Prize
Glocalizing Los Angeles: Ryan Lovett

The physical separations between places of work and play have become outdated and burdensome. Meanwhile the divide between commercial, residential, agricultural, and manufacturing zones have become so exaggerated that the infrastructures needed to connect and sustain them crumble in lack of upkeep and congestion. In conjunction with newer, faster transit systems, this plan proposes a simple development strategy that collapses the distances between all the elements needed to support our lifestyles by suggesting that workplaces, as well as production of food and goods, be within walking distance.
 

 

Second Prize
Modular Diffusion: Alan Lu, Yan-ping Wang

In a car, the passenger can go from any given point to another in one continuous trip.  To achieve this level of mobility in tandem with an increase in roadway capacity, we introduce a mass transit system based upon a Modular Transit Vehicle (MTV for short).  This modular system would allow passengers to (1) board from a wide range of street stops, (2) travel along the freeway, and (3) take the freeway exit closest to the destination and drop passengers off there, all in one ride.

 

Third Prize
Freeways Are For Trains: Ben Abelman, Vivian Ngo, Julia Siedle

This team believes that Los Angeles need not invest in a “new” public transportation system but transform its existing transportation system of freeways into “trainways.”  By taking over “freeways” with rail tracks, a comprehensive expansion of the LA Metro will respond to the projects that are indicated in Measure R and will commence at a much lower cost due to taking advantage of the rights of ways established by the freeway.

 

HONORABLE MENTION: STUDENT

Feeding Community and the Gold Line
Roe Goodman
University of British Columbia

If we are to develop along a freeway we need to keep in mind that the surrounding residential neighborhoods need to access the train in a way that encourages a shift away from car dependency. This entry proposes a string of micro-scale infill developments along a bus line that feeds into the Eastside Transit Corridor. Positioned along newly developed commercial corridors, stops have waiting rooms that store bikes, serve as markets, and create a center of community.
 

 

Interstate 10
Tim Do, George LaBeth, Randy Stogsdill
SCI-Arc

This scheme proposes a reconsideration of the existing freeway corridor as a multi-function transit corridor. The existing freeway would be retrofitted with a new structure that over a series of stages adds layers of public and environmentally friendly transit options. As this second tier becomes more populated, greenscaping is added, converting the freeway corridor into a vibrant public space.

 

Cross-Link/Cross-Program
Minjeong Gweon
Cal Poly Pomona

Los Angeles’ current subway network relies too much on a centralized spoke-network approach. A more effective subway system should also include cross-linkages. This subway design project looks to develop a new cross-link between the existing red line (which connects Hollywood and Downtown) and the future purple Westside Extension line. The proposed connecting line would add three new stops: the first at Santa Monica Blvd. and Highland Ave, the second at Santa Monica and Fairfax, and the third at La Cienega. The connecting point to the red line would be at Hollywood and Highland, and the connecting point to the future purple line would be located at the Beverly Center.


  

ORGANIZERS' SELECTIONS

Fast, Fluid & Free: ODBC/ Odile Decq

This project takes advantage of LA’s polycentric character, developing a grid of multimodal transit systems, articulated on different levels within the existing city. On the scale of the city, the plan proposes a Free Car Transport System, on the model of free bike systems largely developed in Europe today. Electric cars will be available for hire throughout the city. Other proposals include Smooth Jumps over Motorways: stations that combine the urban proposal of green park links between the two sides of the freeways by building a station over them, and containing contain carparks, commerce, Free Car and Free Bike  stations.

 

The Answer Is Not Mass(ive) Transit: Wes Jones

Instead of the massive, resource-intensive, and inflexible infrastructure that results from top-down approaches to planning, this proposal argues, why not consider a flexible, pragmatic, small-scale, bottom-up approach? Introducing the Elov, a small, pod-like vehicle that fits into less space than a smart car and reduces the volume of traffic by serving the same number of occupants in only one quarter of the space. Because of its light weight and micromotor efficiency, the Elov can be charged overnight using home outlets, further reducing the required infrastructure.

 

EVENTS

Friday, March 27, 2-4 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Competition Winners and METRO Transit Officials
Metro Headquarters
Windsor Room, 15th Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles
 
Thursday, April 2, 7-9 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Transit And The City Panel Discussion
MAK Center at the Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood

Tuesday, April 14, 7-9 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Transit and The Community Panel Discussion
GOOD Space
6824 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles

Friday, June 26, 1:45-3:15 pm
A New Infrastructure Discussion:
Architects And Transit Panel Discussions
AIA Mobius/ Dwell Conference
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles


Sponsors for A New Infrastructure include AECOM, Arup, and Sussman/Prezja. The project is also funded in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles' Department of Cultural Affairs.

How Stimulating?

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law. The 1,100-page bill will inject $787 billion of federal funds into the economy, a good portion of it in the form of new infrastructure projects for schools, highways, wind turbines, and train stations.

With the nation in the throes of a full-on recession, many Americans have pinned their hopes on the stimulus, especially architects, who have been hit particularly hard by the construction-related bust. While there are many places online to parse the bill, including a special website set up by the Obama administration, AN also has the lowdown on how readers in New York and California might be affected by the infusion of cash.

Money for Nothing by Alec Appelbaum

Life Support? by Mike Schulte

Editorial: Think Again

Architects have been on alert ever since Obama declared on December 6 that he aspired to a building plan as ambitious as any the country has ever known—or at least that is what architects wanted to believe they heard. In reality, it wasn’t actually so much about new buildings as possibly new transportation, and not even so much about new railroads or high-tech mag lev—with their attendant stations and hub development—so much as about prosaic road and bridge repairs.

The high hopes for a vast and visionary infrastructure push that would translate into a wave of architectural design have gradually faded. A January 20 article in The New York Times put it bluntly: “Big transformative building projects seem unlikely.”

And still the air of opportunity persists, bolstered by the lists of 10,000 schools to be updated, 90 ports to be secured, 75 percent of federal buildings to be weatherized, and 1,300 waste-water projects to be built. (Remember what stunning work Steven Holl and Yoshio Taniguchi did with those water and waste plants?) At some point the “private sector” is also supposed to kick in with a $100 billion investment in clean energy projects, some of which will have to be three-dimensional.

The brute fact is that—like the shot of adrenalin to Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction—the $825 billion stimulus package has to be delivered fast and straight to the heart of the problem: joblessness. Even fast-track architecture doesn’t normally operate at that speed. Some advocacy groups, namely America 2050, a national coalition of regional planners, scholars, and policy-makers focusing on innovative ways to solve infrastructure, economic development, and environmental challenges, is warning that the money must not be spent all at once, but rather in phases that allow for strategic planning, job training, construction, and engineering evaluations.

And that’s where architects can regain some ground. In a timely book about the relevance of architects, Architecture Depends (MIT, 2009), Jeremy Till, the dean of architecture and built environment at the University of Westminster in the UK, says that architects have to shelve the notion that they are in the business of solving problems where the answer is almost always new construction. 

For if architects are not part of first imaginings, he writes, they are already hopelessly out of the game: “It is normally assumed that the most creative part of design is concerned with the building as object, hence the fixation with formal innovation, but it may be argued that the most important and most creative part of the process is the formulation of the brief.”

Many architects are already aware of this and have reprogrammed their practices to address a wider spectrum of analysis—of social usage, of historical relevance, of fiscal viability or even geological context—well before design takes place. More architects, the whole profession actually, needs to become better known for what planning theorist John Forester calls “sense-making” rather than form making. Cedric Price famously said that the best solution to an architectural problem may not be a building. And never has it seemed more imperative to the welfare and survival of the profession that architects make themselves known as designers of options, instead of icons.

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Crit: South Ferry Terminal
Doug and Mike Starn's installation See It Split, See It Change.
Courtesy MTA

In recent years, some of the best architecture in the world has been built underground. The infrastructural imperatives of subway systems have brought out the best in architects, as evidenced in London’s Jubilee Line Extension, in Paris’ Meteor, and perhaps above all others, in the Bilbao subway designed by Norman Foster: True, it runs for just over a mile and is thus of little use, but it looks great.

Naturally, it would never occur to the magistrates of New York (at least in the past half century) to care greatly about such things. But some of our stations are better than others, and a new station at South Ferry, at the very base of Manhattan, has much to commend it. Set to open at the end of January, South Ferry, which will serve as the terminus for the 1 line, differs from the competition in two key architectural respects, and was designed by in-house MTA architects working under Porie Sakia-Eapen. Neither the above-ground entrance nor the overall conception of the site is radically new. What’s different is that the area where the trains pass has been covered with a long barrel vault about 16 feet high. Though the fact is seldom remarked, the ceilings in New York’s subways are usually very low, which only adds to the dispiriting dreariness of most stations. By contrast, the combination of South Ferry’s high concave ceilings, its pink granite floors, and the white porcelain cladding of its columns and walls suggests the sort of infrastructural grace that one associates with Northern Europe.


a mosaic of lower manhattan highlights the island's geological history.
 
COURTESY mta
 
 

Also impressive is the way that at one point, a bridge spans the tracks, making it possible to see and feel the trains passing underneath. In the more than 400 stations that make up the city’s subway system, this is not unique, but I know of no other such bridge that is underground or that provides windows permitting riders to see the trains as they pass. Though the windows were something of an afterthought, this bridge cannot fail to engage the avid attention of anyone with an appetite for infrastructure.

More immediately striking than either of these architectural features, however, is the large-scale decoration of the entrance concourse, a 150-foot parabolic wall, 14 feet high, covered with the site-specific installation See it Split, See it Change, created by the artistic team of Doug and Mike Starn. This work consists of 425 fused-glass panels that depict the darkened branches of trees in Battery Park silhouetted against a stark white ground. These branches, whose relentless ramifications suggested to the artists the complexity of the subway system itself, appear as well in a stainless-steel fence, also designed by the Starn twins, that separates the entrance from the station proper.

The final component of their installation, rather different from the rest, is a mosaic of Manhattan from the Battery to 155th Street, based on a U.S. census map from 1886, that integrates a map from 1640 in such a way as to superimpose the 1811 grid over the geological specifics (like the spring at Spring Street and the canal at Canal Street) that have been covered up in the course of centuries.

The historical sensitivity revealed in this choice of map is enhanced by the nearby reconstruction of an ancient wall that was once the limit of Manhattan Island, discovered in the process of constructing South Ferry Station. Like the display of unearthed fragments along the walls of Brooklyn Museum’s new subway entrance, or in various stations of the Athens subway system, this reconstruction suggests an almost curatorial sensibility. It reveals a deep reverence for the past in the very heart of the newest addition to the infrastructure of New York City.

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R.I.P. Z Train
As if last night's hearing about the MTA's "austerity budget" wasn't scary enough, the Straphangers Campaign held a mock funeral today for the Z Train to drive the point home, complete with a memorial wreath and a bagpiper playing taps below Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan. The transit advocacy group chose the line especially because it meant many commuters on the J Line would see their commutes rise upwards of an hour. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to ask Governor David Paterson and state legislative leaders to spare the Z Line from extinction by voting new state aid for the transit system,” Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the group, said by way of eulogy.  “It’s curtains for the Z unless Albany comes to the rescue.  If not, the Z will buried.” Though the Z may be most emblematic of the severe cutbacks the MTA is proposing, it is certainly not the only line affected. Service on the G Line will be cut short, the R Train will skip three stations at night, and like the Z, the W will cease to be. Additionally, four bus lines will close and 11 others will cease night service, as well as longer waits for buses and trains at night and reduced staffing at stations. The MTA is currently holding hearings on the new budget, which would take affect in July if a new funding stream cannot be established, such as congestion pricing or East River Bridge Tolls. There are seven more hearings planned in the coming weeks. Russianoff was joined at the funeral by two of the three borough presidents affected by the changes, Scott Stringer of Manhattan and Marty Markowitz of Brooklyn. "The demise of the Z Train is a somber matter--and not only to namesake rapper Jay-Z--but also because it represents a more serious problem," Stringer said. Not to be outdone, Markowitz cracked wise his most beloved borough. "Friends, New Yorkers, straphangers, I come to praise the Z train, not to bury it," he quipped. "Though the Z begins in Queens and ends in Manhattan, it is--like the J--Brooklyn to the core. When trains like the Z die, our city’s economy dies with them. This is why we grieve at this mock funeral today. Let’s hope these are not the Z’s last rights. Long live the Z!" But the high--or low, depending on your reverence--point of the whole affair was Russianoff's recital of a Z-centric version of Psalm 23:
“The MTA is my conductor; the Z Train shall not want … (hopefully). Transit officials maketh the J and Z skip-stop during rush hours, providing faster trips. They leadeth the J and Z quickly in the path from Jamaica, Queens to lower Manhattan. But now the MTA sayeth it is very broke and must still the Z, and addeth an hour more a week commuting time for many riders.” “Yea, though the Z walks through the valley of the shadow of death, it will fear no MTA plan: For thou art with the Z, Governor David Paterson. Thy leadership and thy budget staff, they comfort Z riders. Thou preparest new revenue proposals to stop the death of the Z; thou annointest the Z’s wheels with oil; the Z’s subway cars runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow the Z in all its days and the Z will dwell in the house of MTA subway tracks forever.”
And, lo, I could hearth yon groaning over mine Wifi.
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Big Turbine Keep On Turnin'
Touchstone Architecture/Columbia River Crossing
Everyone seems to be talking about infrastructure and green jobs, which are expected to be a big part of any Federal stimulus package. One tension, however, is that a lot of infrastructure projects, especially highways, are anything but green. Here's one plan that attempts to reconcile this discrepancy, a wind turbine-equipped bridge planned for Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. The schemes, designed by Florida-based Touchstone Architecture, would integrate vertical turbines into the structure, powering lighting and toll stations. It's difficult to evaluate the project as energy generation capacity has yet been estimated. It's important to note, however, that this project is not pie-in-the-sky. The proposed Columbia River Crossing would integrate car, train, pedestrian, bicycle traffic, including Interstate-5 and a light rail line to Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.
Touchstone Architecture/Columbia River Crossing
The Crossing is be one of hundreds of projects vying for federal funds, but advocates hope the green bells and whistles will help it stand out from the crowd. (The Oregonian via Planetizen).

Editorial: Public Transit in Every Pot

When a steam pipe exploded in Midtown last July, and the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed just weeks later, people around the country began listening to the Cassandras who had been warning about the decrepit state of our infrastructure, urban and rural alike. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the cost of bringing it all up to date would be $1.6 trillion, and at the time, that number seemed just impossible—would Congress ever allocate that kind of money to something as unsexy as infrastructure? No way.

Fast forward 15 months—and one $700 billion bailout later—and it doesn’t seem so crazy. More traditional quarters of the Republican Party may regard New York Times columnist David Brooks as the skunk at the picnic, but he is squarely in line with a growing number of people who believe that the one way to pull us out of the looming recession is to devote significant federal resources to public works, especially those that focus on transportation and the development of alternate sources of energy. A “Green New Deal” has been championed in one form or another by people across the political spectrum: President-elect Barack Obama, Al Gore, T. Boone Pickens, the Regional Plan Association, and even Martin Feldstein, the economist who advised President Reagan on policy.

For New York City, and the Northeast in general, Brooks’ argument for transportation spending is the central one. In a recent Times column, he suggested a “National Mobility Project,” which argues that we should take the mix of fiscal stimulus and research in alternative energy, and focus it on the realm of transit. This makes sense: Many supporters of a Green New Deal advocate turbine farms in the Southwest and the Dakotas to capture that region’s least-exploited resource, the wind. Our version of that is our regional transit system—everything from Amtrak and Metro-North to NJ Transit and the MTA. One of the Obama campaign’s platform issues was a commitment to thinking about cities on a metropolitan scale, and that means thinking about transportation of every kind.

One of the most striking elements of the Skyscraper Museum’s recent symposium on density in Hong Kong was the way that the government there believes in the centrality of investment in infrastructure and transit to future development. Project after project detailed train stations built before the new neighborhoods that would use them, and the assembled panel of New Yorkers—including MTA commissioner Elliot Sander, Port Authority chief Chris Ward, and developer Vishaan Chakrabarti of the Related Companies—looked on with a mixture of awe and envy. There are many reasons why the Hong Kong model wouldn’t work here, but the straightforward premise that infrastructure feeds growth does. Architects, developers, planners, and urbanists have a rare opportunity to argue for the kind of investment that will strengthen the city and its connections to the region. If the Obama administration does in fact begin to formulate an infrastructure-based stimulus program, New York must be a part of it.

Editorial: Public Transit In Every Pot

When a steam pipe exploded in Midtown last July, and the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed just weeks later, people around the country began listening to the Cassandras who had been warning about the decrepit state of our infrastructure, urban and rural alike. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the cost of bringing it all up to date would be $1.6 trillion, and at the time, that number seemed just impossible—would Congress ever allocate that kind of money to something as unsexy as infrastructure? No way.

Fast forward 15 months—and one $700 billion bailout later—and it doesn’t seem so crazy. More traditional quarters of the Republican Party may regard New York Times columnist David Brooks as the skunk at the picnic, but he is squarely in line with a growing number of people who believe that the one way to pull us out of the looming recession is to devote significant federal resources to public works, especially those that focus on transportation and the development of alternate sources of energy. A “Green New Deal” has been championed in one form or another by people across the political spectrum: President-elect Barack Obama, Al Gore, T. Boone Pickens, the Regional Plan Association, and even Martin Feldstein, the economist who advised President Reagan on policy.

For New York City, and the Northeast in general, Brooks’ argument for transportation spending is the central one. In a recent Times column, he suggested a “National Mobility Project,” which argues that we should take the mix of fiscal stimulus and research in alternative energy, and focus it on the realm of transit. This makes sense: Many supporters of a Green New Deal advocate turbine farms in the Southwest and the Dakotas to capture that region’s least-exploited resource, the wind. Our version of that is our regional transit system—everything from Amtrak and Metro-North to NJ Transit and the MTA. One of the Obama campaign’s platform issues was a commitment to thinking about cities on a metropolitan scale, and that means thinking about transportation of every kind.

One of the most striking elements of the Skyscraper Museum’s recent symposium on density in Hong Kong was the way that the government there believes in the centrality of investment in infrastructure and transit to future development. Project after project detailed train stations built before the new neighborhoods that would use them, and the assembled panel of New Yorkers—including MTA commissioner Elliot Sander, Port Authority chief Chris Ward, and developer Vishaan Chakrabarti of the Related Companies—looked on with a mixture of awe and envy. There are many reasons why the Hong Kong model wouldn’t work here, but the straightforward premise that infrastructure feeds growth does. Architects, developers, planners, and urbanists have a rare opportunity to argue for the kind of investment that will strengthen the city and its connections to the region. If the Obama administration does in fact begin to formulate an infrastructure-based stimulus program, New York must be a part of it.

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Protest: HOV and Bothered
A map of METRO's proposed road and rail extensions, pending the passage of Measure R.
Courtesy LA METRO

One of the handful of state and local initiatives on the ballot this November, Measure R, sponsored by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), looks to provide $40 billion over 30 years to fund both future and ongoing transportation projects within the county. Before I get into the ineptitude of Metro’s long range planning and their lack of a system-wide approach to providing transportation to the region, let me say first that any vote for public mass transportation is a good investment. Therefore, I support Measure R on the November 2008 ballot. However, Metro is pondering other funding sources that I oppose, several projects that should not be funded, and several other projects that need some serious guidance.

It has been said that if you build it they will come. If Metro successfully builds its planned expansion of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on every freeway in Los Angeles County as stated in their 2008 Draft Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), released this summer, then we will certainly have more cars and congestion to deal with (20 percent of funding from Measure R will go to HOV lane expansion and other highway improvements). The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a six-county Metropolitan Planning Organization that includes Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties, expects over six million more people in the region by 2035. With every major freeway built to its right-of-way, and virtually no support to bulldoze entire neighborhoods to build more freeways, it seems like southern California has reached its limit on freeway expansions. So Metro has decided to make our highways more efficient with a seamless HOV lane system. God help us if every freeway becomes a double decker I-110 knock off where instead of the current impermeable trench dividing our community we have large impermeable walls of loud, polluting automobiles. While we should be encouraging people who do not have any options other than the automobile to carpool, why does Metro not seek to get at the heart of the problem and build more transit to more places, making the entire transportation system more efficient, instead of just our freeways? And why can they not see that creating more efficient freeways increases the capacity for more cars on the road, creating more congestion and a continued land use nightmare of single-family home subdivisions gobbling up dwindling farmland and desert at our urban periphery?

Now Metro tells us that we should seek more funding to expand transit by generating new sources of revenue on top of their latest ballot initiative. Their answer is to take some of these existing HOV lanes and transform them into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Again, why would we now tax those who are doing what we want them to do, carpool, and then allow other single occupancy vehicles to pay to enter these specialty lanes? Metro transit engineers and policymakers claim that an HOT lane is more efficient then any free HOV lane because you can essentially price out much of the traffic during peak times, allowing a free flowing HOT lane. This congestion pricing scheme would make total sense if there was not already an existing HOV lane, plus thousands of carpoolers who already use these lanes, reducing the congestion on our freeways. The fact that these HOV lanes are becoming more and more congested is a positive sign that we are changing people’s habits, and more HOV lanes should be built to accommodate this shift. Instead of the HOT lane, why not create a countywide congestion pricing zone, and charge everyone who drives into the county except for those who use our HOV lanes? This would surely make more money than any other congestion pricing scheme for Metro, and it would deter the number one culprit of our congestion problem, the single occupancy vehicle. And similar to the HOT lane strategy, all funds from this toll would then go into building alternatives, i.e., more mass transit.

This brings me to my second point. Metro is currently studying a Regional Connector transit line that they claim is needed to join the 7th and Metro transit station, which is the terminus of the Metro Blue Line light rail, to Union Station, connecting all three transit lines (Metro Blue light rail, Gold light rail, and eventually the Expo Line light rail to Culver City) in downtown Los Angeles. Well it just so happens we do have a train that links the 7th and Metro station to Union Station and the Gold Line. It is called the Metro Red Line subway. So, why are they spending millions of taxpayer dollars to study a route that would duplicate existing infrastructure, add only two or three more stations, and not even extend to Union Station but to the Gold Line station on 1st and Alameda Streets (currently under construction as part of the Gold Line eastside extension project)?

Why not take that $650–$800 million and use it for more worthy and pressing projects? City Council member Jose Huizar is having trouble funding his streetcar down Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. With an estimated cost of around $90 million, why not build the Broadway street car line plus eight or nine other street car lines in downtown? This would be a much more logical use of the allocated funds to the poorly conceived regional connector. I can think of several other streets of equal length that could use a rebirth of the streetcar in addition to the proposed Broadway line: 1st Street, 4th Street, 7th Street, Olympic/9th Street, Grand Avenue, Main Street, and Alameda Street, with one or two more lines to spare. Or what about using the money for Metro’s proposed Purple Line extension? The Purple Line subway currently runs west from Union Station heading along Wilshire Boulevard to Western Avenue. An extension west along Wilshire would be the primary east-west arterial through the county, and Wilshire would have all the appropriate density and infrastructure to support a subway. It would connect an extensive part of the Westside to downtown, and it would immediately pull thousands of people out of their cars everyday. An extension that should be all subway, all the way to Santa Monica along Wilshire.

I know I have posed a lot of questions for Metro, but they have given me—and the general public—even fewer answers.

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Gaining Speed
A conceptual downtown station.
IBI GROUP

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. 

maglev
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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Emerging Voices 2008

 WORK AC
New York, New York

work ac ps1

work ac
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If being chosen as part of the Emerging Voices series is a coming-of-age mark for small firms, P.S.1’s Young Architects Program has become another, with the added benefit of a summer’s worth of DJs and beer. Each spring, the museum chooses a firm to build a temporary installation in the courtyard that can accommodate its Saturday series, Warm Up, essentially a hip block party. WORK AC’s Public Farm 1 got the nod this year for a proposal that brings sustainable agriculture back to the city. A sloping structure made of cardboard tubes (left and bottom left) will incorporate planters with flowers and vegetables for harvest, rainwater basins for crop irrigation, and solar panels for cell-phone-charging stations and the like in the shade below. According to principals Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, they have details to work out, but that is in keeping with the spirit of the series: With its short time frame and modest $70,000 budget, each year’s winner has a chance for on-the-fly experimenting.

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
Milwaukee, Wisconsin



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.


 
 
The use of the bottles is also indicative of the way that Schmaling and partner Tim Johnsen think about context, and how they bring it into their work. “Context is an overused word,” said Schmaling, “but if you can read a site more poetically and less literally, you can develop a language that guides you through the project.” Another building that takes this approach is the Camouflage House in Green Lake, Wisconsin (above). “We were lucky to be able to spend a lot of time on the site, even camping out on weekends, and began to look at the verticality of the trees, the patterns of bark, and the colors through the seasons,” Schmaling said. The finished house echoes the solid-and-void pattern that one gets when looking through trees to the water, rooting the house to its site in the woods. 





ONION FLATS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

onion flats  
For any architect caught between a client and a contractor—at some point, that’s every architect—the idea of jettisoning both must seem tempting. The Philadelphia-based firm Onion Flats has managed to do just that, and for partner Tim McDonald, there’s no turning back. “Life is short,” said McDonald, “and we have no interest in going back and forth over color or material or budget. We control everything, straight down to the finances, and actually get a lot more accomplished.” While they sometimes form joint ventures, as they did for the Rag Flats (left and bottom left) housing, Onion Flats maintains a primary role. To do so, the firm evolved from a more traditional design/ build model into one with a
 
development arm called Onion Flats, a design practice called Plumb Bob, and a contracting and construction management firm called Jig. The three are intimately connected, allowing McDonald and his partners (two of whom are his brothers) to rethink the way they work. “Typically, a drawing set has to define 100 percent of a project, but we want our building sites to be creative places, so we have often kept ours smaller, making seven drawings as opposed to 30,” he said. McDonald explained that this lets the team respond with agility to the facts on site, which are rarely identical to those on paper. 

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.” 






EL DORADO 
Kansas City, Missouri

 

el dorado
Think, for a moment, about how many architecture jokes you know, even ones involving severe black eyeglasses. There aren’t many, and for good reason: As a group, architects typically take themselves seriously. Not so Dan Maginn and his partners at el dorado, a Kansas City–based design and fabrication firm. “There is nothing less funny than a building that tries to explore humor,” he said, “but there is nothing funnier than a group of people trying to do something in an environment that isn’t set up for it.” Architecture is a tough business, said Maginn, and if you can’t hang on to some humor and humility, it’s not worth it. Maginn and his partners have set up their firm to make sure they can do just that.

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.” 





MOS 
New Haven, Connecticut

MOS

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.

 
 
Some work comes over the transom, though not always in the standard way. A wrong number led to one MOS project that is tethered to the shore of Lake Huron in Vancouver (above). Designed for a couple, the house floats a few feet from the water’s edge on massive steel pontoons that can also be used as ballast when partially filled with water. Flexible couplings for utilities and waste allow the house to rise and fall with the lake level, which can fluctuate dramatically over the course of a year. “Climate change has really affected Lake Huron,” 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.”





BELZBERG ARCHITECTS 
Santa Monica California

belzberg architects

belzberg architects  
Hagy Belzberg’s big break came when his firm was commissioned to do a 12,000-square-foot interior at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The building was widely praised by the press, and Belzberg got a share of it for his warm and curvilinear wooden interiors (left). But just as important as the exposure was the sense of possibility it opened: “It gave us the confidence to pursue more complicated forms,” said Belzberg.

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.”





STOSS LANDSCAPE
URBANISM 

Boston, Massachusetts

stoss landscape

 

stoss
A stoss is a geological term describing the side of a landscape that has borne the brunt of a glacier’s force, and it comes from the German word for “push.” There are ruder translations, too, according to principal Chris Reed, and while he wasn’t aware of them when he launched Stoss Landscape Urbanism eight years ago, the mix makes sense. Reed described his firm’s approach to the design of landscapes large and small as inventive about a place’s nature and willing to bring flexibility into urban spaces. So why not have that in a name, too? 

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

moorhead & moorhead

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.





LECTURE SERIES:
Wednesday, 
March 5

Jamie Darnell, David Dowell, Dan Maginn, Josh Shelton, and Douglas Stockman,
el dorado

Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, 
WORK Architecture Company

 

Wednesday, 
March 26
 
Hagy Belzberg, Belzberg Architects

Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, 
MOS


Wednesday, 
March 12
 
Johnny McDonald, 
Pat McDonald, 
Tim McDonald, 
and Howard Steinberg, 
Onion Flats

Chris Reed, 
Stoss Landscape Urbanism

 


All lectures begin at 
7:00 p.m., with the exception of the March 5 lecture, which will begin at 6:45 p.m. Lectures will be held at the New Museum, 235 Bowery.



Wednesday, 
March 19
 
Brian Johnsen and Sebastian Schmaling, 
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Granger Moorhead 
and Robert Moorhead,
Moorhead & Moorhead