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Philip Courtelyou Johnson

Issue 03_02.16.2005

Philip Courtelyou Johnson 
1906-2005

Johnson’s influence on architecture had extraordinary reach and took many different forms. Architects who knew and admired him—and some who didn't—remember a New York fixture and a legend.

© luca vignelli/esto

I recall a story following Philip’s retirement from the office and his departure from regular lunches at The Four Seasons Restaurant. One of his friends told him, “You know Philip, the Four Seasons is not the same without you.” Philip didn’t miss a beat and responded, “The Four Seasons is nothing without me.”
Another recollection I have is of one of the times when Philip Johnson and David Whitney had dinner in the corner of the Pool Room. Philip called me over to the table, which concerned me since I had recently replaced the rubber trees by the pool with preserved palms—a change from Johnson’s design. Philip told me, “I’m glad you didn’t ask me...they look wonderful.”
ALEX VON BIDDER, MANAGING PARTNER, THE FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT

Four Seasons Restaurant (1958)
 
ezra stoller © esto

I am grateful to have this opportunity to write a few words on my mentor of twelve years, Philip Johnson. Mr. Johnson preached that serving the client’s aspirations was an architect’s highest priority; he was proud to be in the service business. As proof, I can recall countless times that Mr. Johnson would destroy models, tear up drawings, or completely abandon ideas at the slightest sign of the client’s discontent. So confident in his purpose and his skills, he would never argue but simply start over. I feel fortunate to have spent all those years under the guidance of so noble a man as he.
DENNIS WEDNICK, PRINCIPAL, DENNIS WEDNICK ASSOCIATES

The loss that those of us who are two generations removed from Philip Johnson feel upon his death is at first surprising. He epitomized, after all, everything that we, the children of the 60’s, the post-structuralists/decosntuctivists/feminists, loathed: success built on male clubiness, not on architectural merit or social contribution; power built around the cult of personality; stylistic fickleness that not only bore no shame but contributed to media and academic hegemony; social elitism cloaked as “intellectual” discourse; gayness deployed not as cultural/institutional opening but as cultural/institutional closure. But we should not be surprised by our surprise. For all of the distaste surrounding Johnson’s tactics, he was the post-structruralist animal par excellence: flexible in identity genderwise, professionally and aesthetically; changing the rules of the game as he went, not just his position in it; astute about the ephemeral nature of historical acclaim; savvy in constructing a position not about a stable present but an unknown future; supremely ironic and self-conscious. We are sad because now we only have the generation ahead—the white/grays—to do battle with, and they are so much less fun, savvy, and robust. The architectural landscape just got infinitely more boring.
PEGGY DEAMER, ASSISTANT DEAN AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, YALE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE

Seagram building (1958, with Mies van der Rohe)
 
ezra stoller © esto

Johnson’s Second Act

Johnson’s second career overlapped with his first. Following World War II and his graduate education at Harvard, he would continue a lifelong relationship with The Museum of Modern Art, but would make a greater name for himself as an architect. His most important commission would be an ongoing one. In the late 1940s he began work on his home, the Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut, a project for him without end, which would be symbolic of most of the stylistic turns in Johnson’s portfolio.

Most people date the Glass House at 1949, which is correct for the first glass pavilion and original 5 acres, but Johnson used the title to refer to the entire property, now 42 acres, which included pavilions from each following decade through the 1990s. Johnson was passionate about the property’s landscape and considered it part of the architecture.

Johnson’s long career can best be summarized by decades. Beginning with houses similar in feeling to his Miesian-inspired Glass House in the 1950s, Johnson later took on institutional projects, such as libraries, museums and theaters in the 1960s, from the Sheldon Library in Lincoln, Nebraska to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. The 1970s would offer larger projects like the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California and the seminal office buildings at Pennzoil Place, done for developer Gerald D. Hines, with whom Johnson would form a long relationship that would span more than a dozen buildings. These were done with then-partner, John Burgee. 

Also from the late 1970s and into the 1980s was Johnson’s iconic work for AT&T. Designed to bring back the glory of stone-faced skyscrapers to Manhattan, the building became a poster child for postmodernism. Johnson would not retire until two decades following its completion. Deconstructivism inspired the clever geometry of St. Basil’s Chapel in Houston and other projects of the 1990s done with his current firm, Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, but in time Johnson would explore sculptural forms beyond standard geometry, as seen in his recently completed, torqued and twisted clock at Lincoln Center. Similar forms were used in his monumental Cathedral of Hope, designed for a primarily gay congregation in Dallas, and today, still unbuilt.

Once significant numbers of visitors have strolled through his New Canaan property, eventually to be made public through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Johnson should be better understood. The property synthesized Johnson’s architectural ethos, where small, but monumental, structures embody architectural ideas and are integrated into varying conditions of landscape, from a smooth lawn to tall, wild grass within a total composition. Like his house, Johnson was at once urbane and traditional. He was also passionate about the next, new thing. HILARY LEWIS IS THE CO-AUTHOR OF PHILIP JOHNSON: THE ARCHITECT IN HIS OWN WORDS (RIZZOLI) AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF PHILIP JOHNSON (BULFINCH/TIME WARNER BOOK GROUP). SHE IS NOW COMPLETING A THIRD VOLUME ON JOHNSON FOR THE MONACELLI PRESS.

AT&T building (1984)
 

ezra stoller © esto

 

Philip and I had many encounters and conversations that were, for me, near historical. Yet some of my favorite memories of him were less consequential in the larger scheme of things and represented the often unexpected intermingling of his architecture and the random events of the moment. I remember the first time I had lunch with David Whitney and him in New Canaan. Seated at the corner dining table, I could see the entire room—the painting by Nicolas Poussin, the sculpture by Elie Nadelman and, of course, the incredible landscape in autumnal splendor—all while eating lobster salad, potato chips and chocolate ice cream.
TERENCE RILEY, CHIEF CURATOR, DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

Is he really dead? I assume that he’s languishing in cryo, in the vault next to Walt, awaiting reanimation or cloning—Boys from Brazil style—when the technology is sufficiently advanced. Philip 2100! What styles will he purloin then? What as yet unborn favorites will he play? Will a Campari still await at his table at the Four Seasons? Will the glass house be in move-back condition? Will the Fourth Reich be up and running to receive the frustrated imprint of his sinister genius? Will his membership at the Century still be active? Will anyone remember him?
I’m taking no bets.
MICHAEL SORKIN, PRINCIPAL, MICHAEL SORKIN STUDIO

Lipstick building (1986)

 

© peter mauss/esto

Johnson Comes to New York

Philip Johnson’s extraordinary influence on New York City’s architecture scene began almost by chance. An undergraduate at Harvard in 1929, his sister Theodate introduced him to Alfred Barr, who was then teaching a pioneering course in modern art at Wellesley College. Johnson soon began traveling to New York to meet with Barr to discuss modern art and the founding of the Museum of Modern Art. Through Barr, Johnson met the young art historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock, and in 1930, armed with introductory letters from Barr to the leading European modernists, the two set of on a tour of the continent’s modern architecture. This ultimately led to the Modern’s first architectural exhibit, the celebrated 1932 Exhibition of Modern Architecture, or as it usually called The International Style: Architecture Since 1922.

In 1931 he co-curated (with Barr and Julian Levy) the independent show Rejected Architects, which created a public furor and paved the way for the International Style exhibit. It featured work by young architects that didn’t meet the requirements of the conservative Architectural League. The show was staged in a rented storefront and Johnson hired a sandwich-board man to parade in front of the League’s offices with the message “See Really Modern Architecture Rejected by the League.” 

The League was outraged and tried to have the man arrested, but the attendant front-page publicity insured the show’s success and brought modern architecture to the public’s attention for the first time in the United States.

Although Mies van der Rohe had been announced as the designer of the International Style show, it was Johnson who, as the director of the Modern’s Department of Architecture, installed it. Alongside the standard private and public monuments it featured factories, hospitals, and a section on public housing prepared by Lewis Mumford and Catherine Bauer. The exhibit opened on February 9, 1932 and was visited by nearly 33,000 people before traveling across the United States. 

Johnson continued to promote modern-ism throughout the 1930’s at the museum. In 1934 he staged Machine Art that presented objects such as door locks, ball bearings and toasters as designs of aesthetic beauty for the first time in a museum. That year he executed perhaps his first architectural design in the exhibit Why America Can’t have Good Housing—he mocked up a typical slum apartment he said was “complete and perfect down to the last cockroach.”

In 1934, Johnson unexpectedly gave up his directorship at the Modern. He and the museum’s executive director Alan Blackburn announced they were forming a National party and moving to Louisiana to work for the radical populist Huey Long. His political career was short lived—its main accomplishment seems to have been the design of a grey shirted uniform. Johnson moved back to New York for good after graduating from Harvard’s architecture school in 1945. 
WILLIAM MENKING IS AN EDITOR AT AN

Philip Johnson in the Glass House (1949)
 

© ezra stoller/esto

I have lost a great friend; architecture has lost a great friend.
Philip Johnson possessed a great talent, but it was too little appreciated by those who confuse consistency with conviction. F. Scott Fitzgerald put it well when he wrote to the effect that a mind incapable of simultaneously entertaining contradictory ideas wasn’t much of a mind. Philip’s was the best mind of his time and, attuned to the contradictions of life, he did not sweep them under a carpet of conformity or consistency.
Philip was a friend to me for over forty years. I began as his student and remained such to the end. Whenever I encountered a problem I turned to Philip, not in the hope that he would solve it, but in the knowledge that he would be sympathetic and inspire me to move on to the next best thing.
Philip Johnson was a great rejuvenator.

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Mall City

Critics have long cried foul over the construction of malls in New York City's densest borough, and in recent years developers have dropped the term in favor of euphemisms like vertical retail environment.. Asks Deborah Grossberg, are the indoor shopping mazes rising up across town really a different breed?

Malls are a menace to New York: they drain the life out of vibrant neighborhoods by siphoning customers away from street-level retail and repelling Manhattan residents, leaving behind chintzy eyesores crowded with vacationing suburbanites. Or at least that's the conventional wisdom. But in recent years, as big-box stores and glitzy mall developments planned and funded in the bull-market 1990s appear in high-traffic pedestrian areas from Union Square to Harlem, fears among urban planners and theorists have shifted focus. New York City developers and architects have improved on the old models for urban malls, and the rapid gentrification spurred on by Mayor Giuliani's city clean-up effort combined with the development-friendly policies of the Bloomberg administration have encouraged a mall-city merger on a broader scale. While the new urban malls are more profitable and better connected to the street, small-scale street-level retail has started to look increasingly homogenized, chained-out, and mall-like.

 

uwe ditz photography,
courtesy the related companies

When Manhattan's first enclosed shopping malls opened in the 1980s, urban planners and theorists worried that the new megaplexes might herald an era of suburbanization for New York. Everyone was enraged when Trump built his mall 20 years ago and now it seems relatively benign,, said architect and critic Michael Sorkin. I'm a bit agnostic about these new developments.. Other critics have been less tentative. In December, one of the most popular new developmentssThe Shops at Columbus Circleewon the Municipal Art Society's (MAS) 2003 MASterwork Award in Urban Design for the best new privately owned public space. Rick Bell, executive director of AIA-NY and one of the award jurors, said, Since 9/11, many of the city's great public atriums have been closed off to pedestrians due to security concerns. The entrance hall at the Shops is an indoor-outdoor space with spectacular Central Park views that's open to all New Yorkers..

Malls have always been the domain of the middle class, and though the new Manhattan developments vary from bargain-basement to the height of luxury, they still represent a populist influence on the city's retail. Politicians and planners usually use malls as lures for the white middle class, but for Manhattan it's been reversed,, said Jeffrey Hardwick, author of Mall Maker: Victor Gruen, Architect of an American Dream (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). The middle class has come back to Manhattan and malls have followed..

Some say that the relative silence of mall-haters is the result of a wising-up on the part of the city's retail developers. Developers and retailers have gotten smarter about building in Manhattan,, said Peter Slatin, creator of the real estate news website The Slatin Report. They're working together to make more integrated vertical malls..

In attempting to redefine the urban mall, today's developers begin by banishing the term itself. Early shopping centers like the Manhattan Mall, which opened in 1989 at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street, stuck to straightforward names and standard mall design. Introverted shops and cheap ddcor marked them for what they were. Those malls never resonated with New Yorkers,, said Bell. New mall developers avoid that negative image, instead conjuring jargon like vertical retail environment,, which is The Related Companies and Apollo Real Estate Advisors' preferred tag for their Columbus Circle shopping development.

courtesy manhattan mall

Historically, making vertical retail work has been impossible in a city where land values are too high to give the classic two-story mall model financial feasibility. In order to draw shoppers up to higher levels, architects and developers have improved connections to the neighborhood outside, executing transparent, extroverted designs.

Harlem USA, the shopping development at the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard that opened in 2001, emphatically rejected the typical introverted suburban mall style invented by Viennese architect Victor Gruen in his 1956 prototype for the modern mall, The Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota. At Southdale, Gruen closed off stores from the street, taking total control of the retail environment. When SOM was commissioned by Grid Properties to design Harlem USA, the firm focused on turning the Gruen model inside out. We created an anti-mall,, said Mustafa Abadan, the project's manager at SOM. The roots of New York retail are at the street level, and the idea was to engage that energy, to draw it in by orienting out.. SOM did away with internal circulation; The upper floors of individual stores are only reachable through escalators within the stores, and the lobbies of the third floor movie theater, accessible via an independent street-level entrance, face outwards. Even though the stores are bigger, they maintain the essential New York street typology,, said Abadan.

bob zucker courtesy som

Harlem USA has drawn much more negative press than the Shops due to its location in an historic neighborhood. Area shop owners make the standard arguments that chains have drawn business away from mom-and-pops, and that the character of the neighborhood is suffering. Others see the development as an important step in Harlem's economic renaissance. Harlem USA brought customers to the neighborhood who would otherwise have shopped on 34th Street or Downtown,, said Abadan.

The Vornado Realty Trust shopping development at the southwest corner of Union Square also used transparency to ensnare shoppers. In Manhattan, people see shopping as sport,, said JJ Falk, principal of JJ Falk Design, the firm that designed the Filene's Basement, DSW Shoe Warehouse, and interior circulation for Vornado's Union Square development. It's like visiting a museummif people like what they see, they'll stay in the space longer.. A glass towerr of circulation is meant to draw street traffic up from the Union Square transport hub, and Falk located the escalators within the three-story Filene's Basement flush with floor-to-ceiling glass walls facing Union Square. It's like you're in the park,, said Falk.

 

courtesy jj falk design

DSW and Filene's opened at the Union Square location in October and a Whole Foods Market is slated to open later this year. Although preliminary sales data for the stores were unavailable, Falk said that the entire construction cost for the project would be recouped in six months should current sales trends continue.

Neighborhood tie-in was important to developers of The Shops at Columbus Circle as well. It was first a matter of creating great spaces for pedestrian passage to tie the city together,, said Howard Elkus, a principal at Elkus/Manfredi, the Boston-based firm specializing in retail architecture that designed the Shops. Their design weaves the retail space of the Shops into the city grid with two axes of circulation, one curving around Columbus Circle's arc, and the other sweeping up 59th Street into a five-story, 150-foot-high great room.. The minimal boundary between mall and street was emphasized through James Carpenter Design Associates' design for the entryway's faaade, an 85-foot-wide, 150-foot-tall cable net glass wall that boasts the title of largest in the world.

Besides an emphasis on transparency, Related and Apollo banked on the position of the 365,000-square-foot Shops at the heart of the 2.8-million-square-foot mixed-use Time Warner Center (designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) to offset the enormous cost of building in New York (The Time Warner Center cost a total of $1.7 billion) and to justify the astronomical annual rents for prime retail space ($300 to $400 per square foot). The classic anchor store model was supplemented with luxury residences, high-end office space, five top-tier restaurants, and a concert venue for Jazz at Lincoln Center (designed by Rafael Viioly Architects). The Shops therefore have a better chance to become a destination for shoppers from New York as well as farther afield.

Moreover, the development's high-end mix of shops is as good a fit for Upper West Side shoppers on the way home from work as it is for tourists making a beeline from Times Square to Central Park. One big attraction has been the 60,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market in the complex's basement. Although some complain about the grocery store's high prices, most have seen it as a godsend. Cities don't need malls to function as community centers as they do in the suburbs, but when they're combined with the things that people loveeand in New York that begins with fooddthey have greater potential for success,, said Bell..

The approach to luring customers with extensive mixed-use developments comes closer to realizing the utopian dreams of early mall designers like Gruen. At Southdale, Gruen planned apartments, a park, a medical center, even schools to accompany the mall. It looked like a Corbusier plan with towers and green space,, said Hardwick. Gruen's fantasy suburban city was scrapped for lack of budget, a fact to which he often attributed the ultimate decay of his vision.

The question now is whether the inclusion of residential, cultural, and palette- pleasing elements will function as planned. It's unclear whether it will actually pay off, or whether it's just a new PR spin,, said Hardwick. Now nearing its first anniversary, the Shops report promising numbers, with higher sales than expected and 99 percent of its 347,000 square-feet of leasable space occupied.

The South Street Seaport mall is one decades old development that has consistently struggled to turn a profit.

courtesy south street seaport

As malls adapt to embrace city life, planners seem more concerned about what urban historian and professor at Harvard's GSD Margaret Crawford termed spontaneous malling,, the process by which an urban space starts to take on the qualities of a mall without the aid of developers. At this point, Broadway in SoHo is a total mall,, said Crawford, who wrote the essay The World in a Shopping Malll published in Sorkin's Variations on a Theme Park (Noonday Press, 1992). Broadway, which used to sport hip boutiques and galleries, is now lined with chain outlets like Old Navy, Crate & Barrel, and Sephoraathe same stores found in suburban malls. Spontaneous malling is happening more and more, and cities consider it desirable since it attracts suburban shoppers, in this case from New Jersey..

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are often the culprits in emerging street-as-mall phenomenon in New York. By organizing signage, street furniture, wayfinding, and even the uniforms for garbage collectors, BIDs often induce mall-like situations. Said Slatin, It's a constant tug-of-war over whether to homogenize a neighborhood or leave the jumble. There's value in the order, especially in terms of security and comfort for tourists, but at the same time the city has a way of making its own order..

Manhattan has managed to remake malls in its image, while the traits that make up malls have quietly bled into the city's fabric. There have always been cries that the mall is going to kill things or that it's dying,, said Hardwick. The amazing thing is how flexible the form actually is.. Even in a city with such a vibrant retail culture, the mall has found ways to penetrate. The end result in Manhattan has been two surprisingly similar variations: the mall as city and the city as mall.

 Deborah grossberg is an associate editor at an.

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Back to the Future

With one foot in the 19th century and the other in the 21st, the most innovative young firms are tempering their love affair with the computer with a healthy respect for arc welders and chop saws. William Menking looks at why the future ain't what it used to be...

In their Williamsburg workshop, FACE erected a prototype of a moment bay a rigid freestanding component before the application of its stress skin. They are offering these components as a completed house for clients or as a prefab system for other architects and designers. Their 2004 Branford Point residence (below) is based on the system.

When pictures of the Korean Presbyterian Church in Queens by collaborators in Chicago (Douglas Garafalo), Los Angeles (Greg Lynn), and Cincinnati (Michael McInturf) were widely published in 2000, the building was recognized not just as formally innovative, but representative of a new model of practice. Architecture magazines joyfully crowed that the future had arrived, and that it was curvy and collaborative. Two years later, in an article in Architectural Record, the critic Michael Speaks claimed that architecture had changed fundamentally, but this time, it wasn't about form or process. From now on, architecture would follow the contours of the economy.. He pointed to the Dutch practice UN Studio, which claimed to have created the first virtual office that included finance people, management gurus, and process specialists as well as designers. Those methodologies are still important, but architecture keeps changing, and for some of the most interesting young firms right now, it seems that past is prologue. They embrace a working model that incorporates a workshop as an integral element of their design practice and philosophy. For such design/test/fabricate firms, the Eames studio in Los Angeles in the 1950s and the workshops of 19th century designer-builders are as influential as the possibilities of CATIA.

In the New York region alone there are scores of young architectural practices fabricating in workshop lofts in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and other small towns in New York and New Jersey. A regional sampling of the better known of these firms include the architects FACE, Sharples Holden Pasquarelli (ShoP), Veyko, Freecell, and Bill Massie.

Speaks' claim that the economy is driving changes in architectural practice was true for some of these firms when they were starting out. FACE, a Brooklyn-based office created by Todd Fouser, Reuben Jorsling, Joe Godsy, and Sean Tracy, began as a design workshop in 1994. We wanted to develop our own projects from prototyping to fabricationnbut on someone else's dime,, said Tracy. They believed that fabrication was a more lucrative and interesting route to success for young designers than working in an office producing reflected ceiling plans. Early in the firm's life, it worked with Steven Holl and Vito Acconci on the design development and fabrication of the faaade of the Storefront for Art + Architecture. Other similar collaborations included partners such as Hodgetts + Fung, Gaetano Pesce, and Nam June Paik.

For members of the DUMBO-based firm Freecell, the choice to work in their shop as much as at their computers is a philosophical one, and informs the way they design. Principal Lauren Crahan, who has worked at Rafael Viioly Architects and Weiss/Manfredi, explained that it makes the firm integrate it's thinking about structure, material, and form in a way that would otherwise be difficult: On big projects, the process was typically linearrfrom schematics to design development, then all right, time to detail it.' This approach is more of a stew, in which you have to consider all the pieces at once.. Associate Corey Yurkovich added that fabricating also makes sense on a practical level. You can solve problems in a way that you just can't on a computer,, he said. It is the shop versus the dream world of design.. No one at Freecell (which also includes principal John Hartmann and associate Andree Pogany) is a closet Luddite, of course: I'd never say throw out the computer,'' said Crahan, but at the end of the day, AutoCad can't satisfy your curiosity..

To guide the contractors building the camera obscura ShoP designed for Greenport, New York, they provided a drawing that looks more like assembly instructions for a child's model airplane than standard construction documents. Each structural member of the camera obscura is numbered and corresponds to the drawing.

The Philadelphia architecture workshop Veyko evolved out of a day job founder Richard Goloveyko had at a British car restoration shop while studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. I was always more interested in the physical making of architecture, and it seemed a natural step to open a workshop rather than to go to work in an office,, he said. He formed a partnership with his wife Lisa Neely who, according to Goloveyko, prefers working from an overall sketch down to the details, while I work from details and materials up to an overall scheme. Our designs meet halfway in the workshop..

The Troy, New York, shop of architect Bill Massie is an outgrowth of his work as a graduate student at Columbia, where he was always fascinated with materials. Massie recently purchased a 12,000-square-foot building near Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (where he teaches) and has divided it into a 7,000-square-foot shop and a 5,000-square-foot office. He intends to produce component parts of entire structures in his shop and ship them to the construction site, ready for erection. He has done this on several projects, notably his own Big Bend House in Montana, for which each curving structural member was machined in his shop.

Architects going back to Michelangelo have used models as both a design tool and presentation technique. But what makes today's workshops unique is that they can quickly fabricate models directly from laser milling machines and build one-to-one full-scale models. According to FACE's Tracy, In-house fabrication allows us to quickly see the limitations of a design and the complexities of its construction.. FACE can design and fabricate a steel column, send it to another shop to be treated with a protective surface and then mock it up back in their studio. ShoP's Gregg Pasquarelli was emphatic: Our workshop is not just for models and representation, it is a design tool.. It may come as a surprise for young graduates of architecture schools, where paperless studios reign, that SHoP (whose other principals are Chris Sharples, William Sharples, Coren Sharples, and Kimberly Holden) requires all architects coming into the firm to be able to free hand sketch, draw in 3D on a computer, and build in 3D in the shop. ShoP is growing rapidly and is about to add 3,000 square feet of new workshop space, allowing it to do more full scale modeling and prototyping. With several large-scale commissions in the office, such as the new building on Seventh Avenue for the Fashion Institute of Technology, they are also poised to prove that this working method can succeed at a much larger scale.

This trend is driven in part by an architect, fabricator, and contractor's ability to communicate via computer (and we're not just talking email) during every step of the design/build process. Further, these firms realize that technology now allows for mass-customized and differentiated parts that can create tailored forms for the price of a standard building. However, because of the newness of these forms they must be tested in a shop before they can even be prototyped. ShoP's Camera Obscura project in Greenport, New York, shows the potential of this thinking. The entire structure was designed and fabricated (by outside subcontractors) in pieces, and the builder was given an un-dimensioned but numbered plannjust like a child's plastic model airplane directions. The pre-cut and pre-tested pieces reduce the risk of communication glitches between designer and builder, and make sure the project is completed on time and without the usual designer-contractor problems. For his Big Bend House, Massie was able to create a full-scale template of its mechanical services in his shop. He then laid the template on the ground and poured concrete around it, leaving necessary voids for the placement of mechanical systems.

Sparks fly in Freecell's DUMBO workshop as architect John Hartman cuts the expanded metal mesh of Moistscape, which was installed at Henry Urbach Architecture last summer.
     

One can imagine that one day some of these firms may feel constrained by their shoppi.e., designing only that which they know they can fabricateebut for now, young workshop- based firms are raising expectations about the potential of this model to impart a more tactile, material, and less generic feel to architecture. Some complain that the computer is causing architects to distance themselves even further from the prosaic needs of building. With every new project, these firms are pointing the way back.

Gehry Takes Manhattan

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LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH (BUYERS) AND FAMOUS (ARCHIT

With the real estate market up and public appreciation for design surging, residential buyers are willing to pay more for the cachet of a big-name architecttand developers are catering to the new demand. But are designer buildingss adding quality to New York's urban fabric or just padding developers' pockets? Anna Holtzman finds it's a little of both.

Is residential real estate in New York finally catching up to its stylish inhabitants? The city seems to be going through a design boom: Richard Meier, Santiago Calatrava, Philippe Starck, Tsao & McKown, Winka Dubbeldam, Gwathmey Siegel, and Michael Graves have all recently made, or will soon make, their mark on the lower half of Manhattan. And there's talk of on-the-boards residential buildings by Frank O. Gehry and Christian de Portzamparc. The projects come with swanky names (the River Lofts, the Downtown), luxury amenities, and high-end price tags to boot.

If you suspect this designer craze is all about name-branding, you're right. The draw of well-known architects for developers is obvioussthey establish a certain price-point, like a designer label; they add status to a project,, said Bassie Deitsch of Boymelgreen, the developer responsible for the Starck and Tsao & McKown buildings, both on the lower west side. But before dismissing this phenomenon as a superficial trend, one must take into consideration the bigger picture. As New York architect and developer Peter Moore put it, any builder taking the risk of high design is a good thingg?whatever the initial motivation. And motives evolve. As Izak Senbahar, developer of the new Richard Meier tower on Charles Street, said, It raises the bar. Everyone is working for profit, but when you drive around the city and see something beautiful and elegant, you're encouraged to do more of that..

For Frank Sciame's first real estate development, 80 South Street, Santiago Calatrava proposes townhousess floating in the air.

Opinions vary on what has spurred this recent interest in design. Perry Street, and the amount of press it generated, did a lot to create that awareness,, said Meier, referring to the pair of gleaming residential towers he designed. Others see it as the result of broader influences: The time was right for this,, said Frank Sciame, developer of the Calatrava-designed South Street tower, currently in the works. Five years ago, we would have done a conventional tower.. Ironically, it was the tragic events of September 11 that indirectly led him to select a visionary architect for the project. After 9/11, given the great buildings that were going up at Ground Zero and the fact that this site was [relatively nearby and] at the river's edge, we decided that it should also be a tangible symbol of Manhattan's recovery.. What emerged was an unusual design by Calatrava comprised of 10 boxlike units that seem to float independently in the air.

Senbahar agreed that post-9/11, New Yorkers have a greater appreciation of good architecture. So if you create something of quality, people will pay more for it,, he said.

So why has it taken New York this long to wake up to design, when cities such as Miami and London started using architects to market residential buildings years ago? Senbahar posited, In New York, apartments sell from the inside out. Layout is important.. Meanwhile, faaade is secondary. There's also a greater demand for real estate in New York, so you have a captive audience,, said Senbahar. In Miami, you're talking about mostly second homes, so you have to entice the buyer with attractive buildings.. He continued, In construction, if you keep it simple, it's a lot easier.. So when the real estate market was lower, developers preferred to play it safe by sticking with conventional designs that were cheaper to build. Now that the market is up, developers are taking advantage of the fact that buyers won't blink at higher price-tagssand are using the added value of design to compete with one another.

Dubbeldam, who designed the interiors and undulating curtain wall of the Greenwich Street Project, cringed at this sort of thinking. Quality is not more expensive,, she stated emphatically, because it pays out more in the long run. It's better for the developer in the end.. Dubbeldam is appalled by the majority of American developers, saying that they have no consciousness about energy, no thinking about ecologyythey think that architects are just fancy picture-makers..

The glazed curtain wall of the Greenwich Street Project by Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics cascades to the street.

Just how far developers are willing to involve architects in their grand plans varies from project to project. In many cases, as with the now two-year-old 425 Fifth Avenue designed by Michael Graves for developer Trevor Davis of Davis & Partners, the exterior and interior designs are done by a high-level architect, but considerations such as floor layouts and interior detailing are determined by a combination of real estate consultants and contract architects. The Sunshine Group is one such consulting firm. In addition to marketing, the group consults developers on pre-development planning, which architects to work with, apartment layouts, ceiling heights, number of bathroom fixtures, closet size, et cetera. Boymelgreen brought in Sunshine to consult on the Downtown, which in turn selected Starck to infuse the interiors and entryway with his signature playful style. Layouts and faaade, however, were left to project architect Ishmael Leyva.

Terraces, French doors, skylights, fireplaces, Sub-Zero and Miele appliances, and spa-like bathrooms are among the amenities at the River Lofts, a combination restoration and new construction project by Tsao & McKown.

Some architects are pushing to increase the scope of their roles, however, and changing developers' minds in the process. In the case of Tsao & McKown's River Lofts, for example, Sunshine initially invited the architects to work on the project to add our particular brand of lifestylee to the interiors of the apartments, said Calvin Tsao. However, Tsao & McKown ultimately convinced the developer, Boymelgreen, to let them have a hand in the faaade as welllwith the support of Sherida Paulsen, then chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. When it came to the firm's next project with Sunshine and Boymelgreen, the Spring Street Lofts in SoHo, the architects were brought in at an earlier phase and were able to collaborate with the client in a much more organic way. Rather than look askance at being called in as lifestyle gurus,, said Zack McKown, we saw it as an empowering position..

The newest Meier tower, still under construction, echoes the first two completed in 2002, in design, luxury amenties, and price points.

A rare few architects are getting in on development at the ground level. Dubbeldam was brought onto the Greenwich Street Project by developer Jonathan Carroll of Take One before he even had a site in fact, Dubbeldam wound up find ing its location. In the case of Charles Gwathmey's Astor Place tower, the architect found himself in the unusual situation of starting out on the client side, as a board member at Cooper Union. Before signing on as the designer, he hired the developer, Related Companies, and selected the site himself. It was only later, after a series of unscripted events including Gwathmey leaving Cooper's board, that he was brought on as architect and was thus able to shape every part of the project, from the footprint to interiors.

What truly smart developers have come to understand is that taking architecture into consideration from the get-go can only benefit the value of their building in the long run. Senbahar chose Meier for Charles Street in deference to the Perry Street Towers, which were already built by developers Ira Drucker, Charles Blaichman, and Richard Born when he came on the scene. He wanted to maintain a consistent aesthetic among a grouping of buildings that he believes may someday be landmarked. In improving the neighborhood, this move also improves that which remains a developer's main concern: real estate values.

Charles Gwathmey's Astor Place is being touted by its developer, the Related Companies, as Manhattan's first rotational, asymmetrical, sculptural building..

Unfortunately, as Dubbeldam pointed out, the vast majority of developers are still stuck in the dark ages in terms of design. I think [these high-design buildings are] just isolated projects,, said Dubbeldam, but I hope they can inspire overall change.. Yet when it comes to the realm of affordable housing, even the optimistic have little hope that these high-end projects will inspire change. Unfortunately,, explained Senbahar, whenever design requires a higher level of construction, it's reflected in the cost, and therefore it would be very difficult, especially with the high land prices in New York.. Developer Moore lamented, We still have a long way to go [towards better design for the city as a whole]. That's where the city should get involved. There's no even-handed aesthetic control. We need an aesthetic cop..
ANNA HOLTZMAN, A FORMER EDITOR AT ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE, IS PRODUCING A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT SUBWAY MUSICIANS.

Through the Roof

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NOW BOARDING: DESTINATION, JFK

Destination Unknown

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 
   

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

Brooklyn’s Newest Landmark

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K-Town of Tomorrow

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Deans List

The New York area has a concentration of arguably the most powerful educators in the country. We've assembled eleven deanssfour new to their respective institutions, and two new to the post entirelyyto ask them about their schools and the state of architectural education.
Photography by Yoko Inoue

Certain architecture schools under certain deans have managed to capture the sense of their epoch while simultaneously moving the profession forward. One thinks of Walter Gropius at Harvard's GSD, Yale under Paul Rudolph, John Hejduk at Cooper Union, Alvin Boyarsky at the AA, Bernard Tschumi at Columbia, and Peter Cook at the Bartlett. One cannot imagine these places without the strong leadership of their deans. Gropius founded the GSD and helped bring modernism to the United States, while Rudolph encouraged debate among his faculty and never required a party line. Hejduk forged a new way of thinking about and representing architecture. Each set a course for architecture with which every subsequent generation has had to contend. As architecture regains cultural currency, its protagonists are being asked again to imagine how our surroundings might look, work, and grow. Architectural educators have immense potential to influence the shape of the world to come. Here's how they are rising to the challenge. Anne Guiney, Cathy Lang Ho, William Menking

 

 

George Ranalli
City College of New York
School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture
Founded: 1968
# of students: 360 undergrad., 24 grad.
Dean since: 1994

When I came to City College, the school had- n't had a dean in 10 yearssthere was clearly some institutional neglect. City College students got a strong technical education and had a sense of public serviceemany ended up doing public work, at the Government Services Administration or the New York City Housing Authority, for exampleebut not so strong in design. I have been working to reintroduce design by building up the senior faculty, hiring a junior faculty of practitioners making their mark, and starting an annual lecture series. We also have new graduate programs, like the Master in Urban Design. And we are moving into a new buildinggour first independent oneewhich is a tremendous show of institutional support for the program. There is still a great tradition of public service and interest in public architecture. We have the City College Architectural Center (CCAC), which allows students and faculty to work with community groups on design and planning. CCAC has done studies in the Bronx and Yonkers, in addition to more theoretical surveys. There are many ways to theorize about architecture and buildingssas objects, in historical contexts, et ceteraabut there are still too many eccentricities from when architecture started grave-robbing other disciplines for ideas. When the primary starting point is one of juxtaposition and not amelioration, you end up with something that is indifferent to site, weather, culture, and so on. So much theory is still shrouded in a premise of juxtaposition and surrounded by the aura of the architect-as-artist, without any concern for the ability to connect. We need a reformation of architecture as an ameliorative force.


Mark Wigley
Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Founded: 1881
# of students: Approx. 600 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004 (interim dean since 2003)

I see the school as an international laboratory for developing experimental visions of what an architect might be. Not only do we help every student to be state of the artt to produce brilliant buildings, plans, and policiesswe are also continually redefining the state of the art. That's what the school has done so well, and that's what students from 55 different countries come here for. In the last 15 years, many celebrated experiments were developed here but now is the time to complete the test by moving our innovations into the world, engaging it technically, politically, and socially. This doesn't mean the school becomes less experimental. On the contrary. A whole new possibility of conversation opens up with clients, politicians, artists, the public, the profession, engineers, and the construction industry. The school will therefore spend a lot more time out in the streets and bring more of the outside in. We brought in over 200 speakers last spring alone. A more fluid form of organization is already emerging within the school, allowing it to keep changing shape as the demands facing the profession change. What I'm trying to do is encourage a fertile biodiversity of people and positions, a lively ecology that allows the whole school to operate as an intelligent organism, adjusting itself in order to think through each new issue. If you only gave students what you thought was the right set of skills and concepts, our discipline would be dead in a few years. To serve the profession, we need to give students what the profession doesn't yet want or understand. The real purpose of a school like ours is not to cultivate a certain type of architecture but a certain evolution in architectural intelligence.


Anthony Vidler
The Cooper Union
Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Founded: Degree in Architecture, 1964;
School of Architecture, 1975
# of students: Approx. 150 undergrad.
Dean since: 2002.

If I'm attempting anything as dean, it is to encourage the community of teachers and students to come at problems from a critical point of view, approaching them as starting points for research. We have a common approach to all studios, always beginning a design problem with historical, formal, and technological analysis. So the students' work is not about imitation but rather about revealing the hidden complexities, paradoxes, and disjunctions within a problem. Cooper Union is, on every level, a design research institution. Everything we do is geared at understanding the limits of problems and pushing those limits, raising questions about how we live in the world today. Understanding globalism is not a question of sensitivity-training but rather of serious research into questions of cultural, social, economic, and ecological difference as they imply the need for inventive architectural solutions. Our challenge now is how to integrate these questions into a teaching framework, how to restructure the traditional disciplinary divisions so that they naturally embody a global reachhthe type of study that Spiro Kostof tried to develop for many years at U.C. Berkeley. There has been a tendency from the professionally oriented sector to question the validity of theory. But this is a result, I think, of the fact that the very idea of Theoryy has become isolated as a subject in and of itself, an example of academia's need to divide its subjects into courses. The best theoryy of architecture is no more or less than thinking deeply about architecture. Any design has a theoretical construction embedded in it, whether you like it or not. Cooper has always joined its intellectual investigations to a deep, tactile sense of urban responsibility. For us, the question is how to activate that sensibility so that it's socially and culturally effective. I'd rather produce a powerfully responsible citizen of the world, an architect who has knowledge and skills but is still inquiring how to best apply them, than someone who automatically knows what a building should look like..


Mohsen Mostafavi
Cornell University
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Founded: 1871
# of students: 320 undergrad., 60 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

Cornell's architecture school has had a long and fascinating history. I am especially intrigued by the tension, dating to the 1960s and 70s, between the objectivity of O. M. Ungers, who was dean here, and the historicity of Colin Rowe, who taught here for 30 years. This is the kind of positive, productive competition of ideas that makes Cornell interesting. The AA [where I was head] was an architecture center but here I find myself working with not only the three departments of the College but potentially almost any other part of the surrounding university. Since I believe that architecture must interact with the world I am excited about the collaborative possibilities with other departments. I can imagine our students working with the molecular biology department on tissue research or with the City and Regional Planning Department whose new chair, Kenneth Reardon, leads a program that is politically inclined and working in many underserved communities. I am interested in making our students global practitioners. We've had a strong Rome program for many years and I am investigating links with both India and South America. Presently, I am looking for space in New York City to open a Cornell outpost. I am not supportive of studios that teach the same projects year after year. I want projects that anticipate future political possibilities as well as the formal art of architecture, balancing traditional education with emerging applications of practice and design.


Judith DiMaio
New York Institute of Technology
School of Architecture and Design
Founded: 1973
# of Students: 726 undergrad., 14 grad.
Dean since: 2001

This is a different school in that it operates in three different campuses and each with its own student culture. The Old Westbury campus is a commuter school with digital studios but most students work at home on their own computers. The Manhattan campus is the most technologically advanced and has a large proportion of foreign students who bring an international perspective to the school. Finally, the Central Islip campus has fewer commuting students since it has dormitories. Studios there still tend to emphasize free-hand drawing over computer rendering. The kind of education I had at Cornelllprescriptive and formulaiccno longer works in the global world. It's not what students need today and it's not what the marketplace demands from them. I don't believe you can teach architecture. You can only teach students how to see and be self-critical. Using the eye, the mind, and the hand is a precarious balance. We're trying to achieve this, in part, by introducing a curriculum that embraces a range of representation techniques, including free-hand drawing, watercolor, sketchbook drawing, perspective, and advanced visualization. I am also attempting to strengthen our history and theory courses and have hired Bryan Bryce Taylor to oversee this part of the curriculum. And to broaden our students' horizons, I have instituted a Berlin study program in addition to our Rome and Spain programs.


Paul Goldberger
Parsons School of Design
Founded: School in 1896; Department of Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting
(previously Environmental Design), 1984
# of students: 140 undergrad., 102 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

As someone who's spent his life as a critic seeking and establishing bridges between architecture and the rest of the world, I took this job in part because I think education is supposed to do the same thing. Architec-tural education is much more than professional training. It is also about examining the role of architect in culture. Parsons is emphatically not a vocational school. Nor is it the art department of a liberal arts school. It's an intellectually rigorous version of an art and design school. One of our distinctions is that we are one of the few architecture programs with an interior design program. Also, we are trying to take advantage of the New School as much as possible. For example, we are talking to the Actor's Studio and the Mannes College of Music about developing a Stage Design program together. There's a need for architectural education to go in several directions simultaneously that might appear contradictory but are not. There's a need for greater connection to other disciplines and to the real worlds of politics, economics, and culture. There's also a need internally for architectural education to focus more proactively on issues of pure professional practice, on the things you need to know in order to practice. What ties these two ideas together is that, different though they seem, both are ways of breaking away from a hermetic, self-theoretical idea of architecture.


Thomas Hanrahan
Pratt Institute
School of Architecture
Founded: 1887
# of students: 500 undergrad., 100 grad.
Dean since: 1996

From the beginning, Pratt Institute has worked along the model of the European polytechnic school, trying for a horizontal integration in the education of designers, builders, engineers, artists, and inventors. As architecture schools everywhere grew towards a more professional focus, there was a narrower definition of what architecture is, but to a large extent, we have maintained that identity and goal. Pratt is a large school, and we draw on all its strengths. Critical thinking skills are paramounttthe ability to define the activity of architecture as research and not just the more narrow approach of problem-solving. As students gain more diverse ideas about architecture and its sources, the entrenched boundaries of professionalism start to give way. At Pratt, we are building on the legacy of the polytechnic, and looking at how things are made in the information age. When computer software showed up, the challenge on a basic level was What can we draw?? We're now in the second wave of in-formation architecture, with much more complex structural implications. We have to ask what comes after the elaborate renderings and models, and find the next steps. It goes back to the Bauhaus model of rethinking disciplinary boundaries. When Sybil Moholy-Nagy from the Bauhaus lectured here in the 1960s, she urged students to think and live experimentally.. One of the broader questions is how architecture can reinvent itself, and make itself continually relevant? It cannot be understood as just competent on a basic level; it must be relevant as well. The world around us continually reinvents architecture's mandates and these mandates must be constantly placed before students.


Stan Allen
Princeton University School of Architecture
Founded: 1919
# of students: 50 undergrad., 70 grad.
Dean since: 2002

The School of Architecture at Princeton is a small programmwe only accept 8 percent of those who apply. The size is good for students who thrive in an intense, competitive atmosphere. Our graduate programs are well known for their active faculty and graduates. And the undergraduate program, though less visible, turns out really fantastic students. This is a product of the university's emphasis on rigorous teaching standards in its undergraduate programs. In the 1990s history and theory seemed to drive design schools and even practice. It is my intention to recuperate a design culture for the schoollone that builds on our history/theory expertise but rethinks the relation-ship to practice. I believe the old dichotomy between academia and practice needs to change. In fact, the world seems to be coming back to architecture with a new appreciation of its value to culture and the city. This dichotomy comes together around the city. I want Princeton not to remain above the fray but to enter it by utilizing our students' tremendous visual, verbal, and organizational skills and begin imagining possible urban futures. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country so we are situated in an incredible laboratory of emerging 21st-century urbanism.


Alan Balfour
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Department of Architecture
# of students: 260 undergrad., 65 grad.
Dean since: 1996

At Rensselaer, I created a program that's categorically different from many other architecture schools. At the graduate level I built a series of masters programs in a spectrum of fields, including a Ph.D. in architectural sciences. As part of the architecture school I inherited the Lighting Research Center, which was funded by NYSERDA when it was founded in 1991 and adopted by the lighting industry for establishing standards. The industry invests $800,000 a year in its research. I don't think a lot of architecture schools have a strong research center built into the degrees. When I arrived, the school almost self-consciously avoided big-name architects, perhaps out of distrust of the type of architecture that's personality-driven. I'm not necessarily against the prima donna card; my own mentoring came from Kahn and Eisenman. The real influence is the experience of a strong will. Look at Zaha Hadid. She is driven by sensuality. Her work is felt; it's not about theory. The infinite promise of the computer somehow makes the idea of critical theory a minor irritation. The tools of the architect have moved work beyond any simplistic issues of semantic order. These tools allow us to explore more broadly the nature of natural and manmade order. The main challenge is looking for faculty. In order to sustain the research, two-thirds of our recent hires have advanced research backgrounds. At the same time, I've brought in some talented designers, like William Massie, Andrew Saunders, and Anna Dyson. I loved the AAAthe graduate school, in fact, was created by me while I was head of the school [from 1990 to 1996]. But what I love about RPI is that I see the students graduating from all the programs with an immense confidence in what they know. The AA was the reverse. We didn't give them competence in what they knew as much as openness to immense mysteries.


Mark Robbins
Syracuse University School of Architecture
Founded: 1873 # of students: 383 undergrad., 80 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

Even the most successful schools need a shake up periodically because architecture is not static, and schools can't be. Syracuse hardly needs a shake-up, but one of the things I can bringgas an architect, artist, and with my experience in policy from the National Endowment for the Artssis an interest in and ability to bridge communities. The new chancellor has a mandate to develop a creative campus,, one in which we think about the university in relation to the city. It's not just about making adjacencies between deans and departments, but breaking down the wall to the city. In some cities, it might be less critical to make a connection, but here, we have the potential to bring people into the campus through art, architecture, site installations, and other thingssand get them thinking, Hey, there's some- thing going on there.. The city of Syracuse is small enough that we can help energize and impact it. The proof is not just in the city's acceptance, though; we have to develop certain things in the students: The sense that they have the techniques of their discipline in problem-solving, theoretical expansiveness, and the ability to communicate exceptional ideas to a non-specific audience. Most of the students feel an intellectual responsibility to practice in some way. Above all, I want to instill a creative engagement in the students. Their five years here is just the beginning, and a curiosity that leads in many directions will compel them for the rest of their lives. And by the wayyit doesn't snow here 365 days a year!


Robert A. M. Stern
Yale University School of Architecture
Founded: 1916
# of students: 192 grad.
Dean since 1998

The Yale School of Architecture has histori- cally been open to all ideas, and while not overtly ideological, it has emphasized theoretical rather than practical matters. The fundamental philosophical breadth of our approach is not only curricular and geographical but also artistic; we refuse to promote a single conception of what architecture is or might become. It is never about one thinggit is a constellation of possibilities. A university is about open questions, not definitive answers. The first obligation of an architecture school should be to its own discipline. But that does not mean that architecture can be studied in a vacuum. We reach outside our field in many ways. We ask critics, artists, environmentalists, sociologists, and others to share their ideas with us. To succeed in his or her art, an architect must be a thinker and a maker, empowered by knowledge and a certain sense of humility. At Yale, we believe that architecture is construction, context, and so much more: It is a culture, a commitment, and a lifelong path to discovery. We have a very active public lecture series and the best exhibition schedule of any American university. But the thing that makes the school truly special is our endowed chairs. We have five fully endowed visiting chairs, which bring the world's leading practitioners to the school to teach a studio for a semester. We have also just instituted an endowed chair for junior faculty that will bring some of the best young designers to New Haven.

9/11 Memorials Take Shape in NJ

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How The Far West Side Will Be Won

What will it take to develop Far West Midtown? All sides agree on the need for more residential and commercial development, as well as improved transportation and open space. But how the pieces come together is the stuff of political brinkmanship. Laura Wolf-Powers puzzles it all together.

Here are the indispensable pieces of the Far West Side development puzzle: an expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; the westward extension of the midtown business district; the new residential development the market is craving; usable open spaces that connect the city with Hudson River Park; the vitality and scalar integrity of the South Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Here's the piece with the uncomfortable fit: a stadium facility that anchors the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics, linked to a major transit investment, the extension of the #7 subway line. The Bloomberg administration, digging in its heels, says plans to transform the Far West Side will go nowhere without it. Its opponents argue that a stadium-free solution, one that relies on zoning changes and the Javits expansion to spur phased growth in the area, will promote better development at lower cost to taxpayers and with far less disruption to the existing city fabric.

This is the backdrop for the jigsaw of design and politics that is Far West Midtown. Three solutionssone by Cooper-Robertson Architects on behalf of the Department of City Planning, one by Meta Brunzema Architects endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4 and a neighborhood-based coalition, the Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance (HKHYA), and a third by Robert Geddes, which is sponsored by the Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch Collegeewould produce different urban environments for those who live and work in the district. Because of the fiscal as well as the design ramifications of the city's proposal, which may go forward as early as this month, the debate over Hudson Yards has mushroomed into a super- issue that engages elected officials and citywide planning groups as well as local residents, developers, and property owners. A season of political brinksmanship awaits them all.

The city's Hudson Yards Plan is ambitious and monumental, full of large buildings and sweeping gestures that embody City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden's vow to get ahead of the curvee in anticipating and shaping new large-scale development. But this monumentality has also run the city's plan into trouble. Though it makes sense to place a large-footprint structure in what is already a super-block corridor from 30th to 34th streets between 7th Avenue and the river, the proposed stadium is so overwhelming as to diminish the quality of the streets and spaces that surround it, according to Rob Lane, director of design programs at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). [Though the plan does] a really good job of animating the base of the stadium,, he said, there is still a question of whether people can be comfortable in these spaces given their sheer walls.. The RPA dealt the city a blow in a report last week opposing the stadium on both design and fiscal grounds.>

The city's proposal to expand the Javits Center northward, blocking view corridors and waterfront access at 39th, 40th and 41st streets, has also drawn fire. But neighborhood groups are most upset about a rezoning of 10th and 11th avenues in the 30s, a move that would pave the way for a north-south wall of office towers that, with FARs of 24 or more, could result in buildings with as much as 2 million square feet, as high as 90 stories. The proposed rezoning is already a compromise: Under pressure, the city agreed to increase density only moderately in Hell's Kitchen east of 10th Avenue and maintain residential zoning in that part of the neighborhood.

 

Still, for the grassroots community group Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA), the Cooper Robertson plan amounts to a template for uniform building mass, type, and program that would leave the community without the waterfront connection it has sought for so long, and choke out the residential and industrial uses that give the neighborhood its mixed, gutsy character.

Community responses to these concerns are expressed in Brunzema's scheme, a collaboration with planner Daniel Gutman. Brunzema, who lives and works in a five-story townhouse on West 35th Street, asserted, We see the neighborhood as a place with its own rhythm of scales and building programssnot a tabula rasa.. The plan adds only moderate density above 34th Street, putting most new bulk on the 34th Street east-west superblock, including the rail yards. (Both HKHYA and the city allow for about 40 million square feet of new development, though the community would prefer less).

To accomplish this, the HKHYA alternative excises the stadium from the western rail yards and expands the Javits Center southward in its stead. The plan accommodates desired development by allowing for residential and commercial towers atop the convention center extension, perched on the periphery of the building. A public park, on the rooftop amid the towers, provides a connection from the blocks to the east (also fully built-out commercially) through to the Hudson River. Critics have praised the plan's move to concentrate bulky new development on an east-west corridor that is already large in scale, and applauded its transformation of odd-shaped publicly owned sites into innovative, organic open spaces (including several abutting Lincoln Tunnel on-ramps). However, the idea of a 10-acre park on the roof of the south-expanding Javits has drawn skepticism. You would have these enormous towers meeting a vast open space without much relief in terms of massing,, said the RPA's Lane, who also points out that park users would have to ascend 32 feet from 11th Avenueeand 60 feet from Hudson River Parkkin order to access the space.

Brunzema's plan has a much simpler flaw in the eyes of the city: It rejects the stadium and the #7 extension, the official sine qua non for a new Far West Side. The city also maintains that, under the HKHYA-endorsed design, the Javits would lack needed contiguous floor space. The design is nonetheless a powerful statement of how Far West Midtown development could be more flexible and sensitive to context if City Hall's obsessionnthe stadiummwere removed from the mix.

A third alternative, a study sponsored by Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College, claims to let disputants have it all. This so-called dream scheme,, spearheaded by Robert Geddes, dean emeritus of the Princeton University School of Architecture, would demolish the existing Javits Center, reconnect the street grid to the river from 34th Street northward, and build an entirely new convention center on the superblock corridor, where it would cover both the eastern and western rail yards. According to architect Chuck Lauster, the newly appointed director of the Pergolis Gallery at the Newman Institute, both a sports stadium and up to 10 million square feet of office space could be built on the roof of the convention center. Advocates say that if city and state officials would jettison the Javitssa young building in good structural condition but an admitted eyesoreeNew York could have a waterfront greenway, high-density development potential, and a stadium all at once. Many view the Javits flipp as an outrageously expensive nonstarter, and the proposal does not prevent monolithic office development on 10th and 11th avenues. Nevertheless, stranger compromises have been struck in this town.

Far West Midtown's fate depends on the interface of design solutions with fiscal and political ones. RPA's opposition to the stadium has been damaging. Neighborhood activists now have powerful allies in West Side property owners, including Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan. But the city claims that if activists defeat the stadiummby persuading the State Assembly to block it or through litigationnthere will be no redevelopment, not even a rezoning of the area. A political observer close to the issue predicts a complete reshuffling of the deckk on the West Side if the city stops campaigning for a Manhattan stadium and sets its Olympic sights on Queens. In the aftermath of such a reshuffle, could former combatants sit across from one another and discuss the distribution of density, the role of east-west connectivity, the relationship of a city to a river? We may yet find out.  LAURA WOLF-POWERS teaches city and regional planning at Pratt.