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Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.


Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.
Whitney now eyeing Meatpacking District site 


Dia's now-defunct design by SOM 
COURTESY SOM 

When the Dia Art Foundation’s galleries at 548 West 22 Street closed in January 2004, it left a temporary void in New York’s cultural landscape, filled later that year with the promise of a new location connected to the proposed High Line Park. But on October 24, as reported in the New York Times, Kate Levin, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) received a letter from Dia’s new board chair, Nathalie de Gunzburg, announcing that the institution would not occupy the city-owned building at 820 Washington Street as intended. The announcement was followed by the surprising news that the Whitney Museum of American Art is considering the site as an alternative to expanding its Marcel Breuer–designed home on Madison Avenue.

The Dia’s Gansevoort proposal matched the pioneering spirit the foundation embodied. Just as the museum settled in the then-burgeoning West Chelsea area in 1987, spurring its rise as an arts district, Dia would have created a stronghold for art in the transitioning Meatpacking District, and become a crucial part in the transformation of the High Line from an aging elevated railway into a dramatically landscaped public space.

In February of this year, Dia’s director Michael Govan was hired away after a 12-year tenure to become director and CEO of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Shortly thereafter, Leonardo Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, stepped down from Dia’s board after serving for eight years, thrusting the institution into a state of instability as both men were key leaders in Dia’s growth.

Sources close to the situation suggest that between time pressure from the city, which aims to open the building by 2009, and the Whitney Museum’s expressed interest in the location as an alternative to their much-contested uptown expansion plans, Dia was forced to make a decision before they had a new director in place. Laura Raicovich, Dia’s deputy director, conceded that timing was a factor. She stated that going forward with the Meatpacking District plan did not make sense until the foundation had a director in place and the “New York City program is developed.” 

While construction on the Meatpacking site had yet to begin, Dia had been working with Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the design of the 92,600-square-foot location. “It would have been a perfect project for the city,” Duffy said. “We worked closely with Ricardo Scofidio and James Corner [the masterplanners of the High Line] to make sure that the projects would interface well. I am a huge fan of Dia, and anyone who thinks highly of them is disappointed by the news.

“The site wasn’t entirely easy,” he continued. “There are meat lockers close by, and the maintenance and administration areas for the High Line—and public bathrooms—had to be in the building. But we managed an elegant solution. Maybe a wiser person would have seen the writing on the wall when Michael left.” 

Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, maintains that despite Dia’s decision, the emphasis of the High Line continues to be on its cultural and artistic value, but added, “That site is unusual because it’s owned by the city of New York, so the city has the ability to shape how it is used.”

Despite the disappointment, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden seemed sure that another cultural institution will take over the space. “A cultural use at 820 Washington is ideal for the southern terminus and principal entry to the High Line. The city will be actively seeking another cultural use,” Burden wrote by email.

Whitney spokesperson Jan Rothschild declined to comment about the museum’s intentions at 820 Washington Street other than to reiterate that the Whitney is “keeping its expansion options open.” But, she added, “No matter what we do, we are committed to working with Renzo Piano, and he is committed to us.” In an interview with Newsweek on November 2, Piano said that in September the museum asked him to consider the notion of designing a new building on a downtown site, and brought him to 820 Washington Street.

The Whitney’s attempts to expand its facilities spans 20 years, during which time it has hired and fired two architects—Michael Graves in 1985 and Rem Koolhaas in 2003—before hiring Renzo Piano to draw up plans in 2005. Piano’s initial plan met with stiff resistance from the community and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) but ultimately won all the necessary approvals and was granted several zoning variances in July from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals. A new hurdle took shape when a coalition of Upper East Side neighbors filled suit against the museum in late August to contest the variances.

Meanwhile, Dia remains committed to finding another location in New York. “The Gansevoort site is a great location, but New York has other great locations,” Raicovich said. “Dia’s top priority is looking for the site that will best accommodate its programs.” 

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Nine Million Stories in the Naked City?
Red Hook, 2005

Demographers say that New York will grow by a million residents within the next 25 years, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to plan for them. An as-yet unreleased report commissioned by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff makes some interesting recommendations—like decking over the Sunnyside yards and parts of the Brooklyn-Queens expressway—but doesn't get into the nitty gritty of who might actually pay for them. Is the report, Visions for New York City, really that, or is it a map for the next generation of developers? By William Menking and Anne Guiney. Photography by M. E. Smith.

In his 2006 State of the City address, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg promised to deliver a strategic land-use plan that would encompass housing, transportation, and infrastructure for all five boroughs, and would be closely tied to redevelopment initiatives already underway. For a city whose planning process has historically been decentralized, it was welcome news. Word of the report began circulating several months later, and this August, a copy appeared on the website Streetsblog.com. Visions for New York City: Housing in the Public Realm (which has not been officially released yet, and is therefore presumably still in draft form) covers much of what the mayor suggested it would, but comes from a different quarter than many expected: It was commissioned by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff and prepared by Alex Garvin & Associates for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). (The two worked very closely together on NYC2012, the bid to bring the Olympics to New York.) As it makes explicitly clear, Visions for New York City is not official policy, but when it is ultimately released, will nonetheless likely provide the framework for coming discussions about what New York will look like in 25 years, and how the city will get there.

The introduction to Visions for New York City cites a projection from the Department of City Planning (DCP) that by 2030, New York City's existing population of over 8 million will exceed 9 million, if not sooner. It makes the reasonable argument that while the city's current economy is strong and has a well-planned infrastructure and a high quality of life, this cannot be ensured if growth happens in an unplanned fashion. The report thus makes a series of recommendations on where the city might house this population and how to improve its infrastructure.

Visions for New York City is divided into two sections: Increasing the Housing Supply and Improving the Public Realm. The first, and more comprehensive, section essentially looks at what developers call soft sitess in all five boroughs, i.e., areas that are now either underutilized, such as neighborhoods zoned for industrial uses where little industry still occurs, or rail yards or highways which could be decked over and turned into blank development sites. Some of the many sites Garvin & Associates studied are the Sunnyside Yards in Queens, portions of the Bronx and Harlem Rivers in the Bronx, Staten Island's north shore, and the sunken section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Cobble Hill. The report further suggests that increasing mass transit into underserved areas will stimulate development. It also acknowledges the unlikelihood of securing major public investments to extend existing subway lines, and concedes that the creation of light rail or bus rapid transit systems is far more feasible.

Sunnyside Yards, 2001

Red Hook, 2003

These potential building sites would allow for the creation of between 160,000 
to 325,000 new residential units with virtually no residential displacement,, depending on how densely each site is zoned. Such a significant amount of new housing without any displacement is politically appealing, but of course there is a catch: The largest and most promising site is the Sunnyside Rail Yards in Queens, which would need to be decked over before it could be developed as housing. It is close to Manhattan, and if developed, would reconnect Astoria to Sunnyside Gardens, which, from an urban planning standpoint, would be an additional benefit. But at 166 acres, the very aspect that makes it so appealing —its size—is likely to make it politically and economically difficult to pull off. The site has been coveted for development since the Regional Plan Association's 1929 Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs proposed it as a place for an intermodal train station to relieve overcrowding in Manhattan. And while the Metropolitan Transit Authority owns the majority of the site, this summer, real estate attorney Michael Bailkin purchased a development option on part of it, which raises the financial stakes for anything that happens on the site. Without massive city subsidies, the cost of building such a large deck—the relatively diminutive 13-acre deck planned for Manhattan's Hudson Yards is estimated to cost $350 million—is likely to discourage anything but extremely high-density or luxury housing. According to Vishaan Chakrabarti, a senior vice president at The Related Companies who served for two years as the Manhattan director for the DCP, making some of that new housing affordable will be difficult. "The implication of the report is that all of the housing will be market-rate, but when you are talking about building housing on platforms, there are economic drivers that make [building any of it as affordable] difficult," Chakrabarti said. "We have not yet perfected the mechanism to harness market forces to build affordable housing, though it is not for a lack of trying." He added, "I was hoping to see something about this in the report."

The Sunnyside Yards are not the only familiar item on the list of suggestions: as D. Grahame Shane, a professor of urban design at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (and a contributor to AN) said, "The list of development opportunities reads like a record of every university urban design studio for the last 15 years." That said, the report does represent an effort on the part of Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Doctoroff to think spatially about the future of the city. This is something architects and planners have long hoped would be true of city politicians. But Ronald Shiffman, a former City Planning Commissioner himself under Mayor David Dinkins and director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, nonetheless had reservations about Visions. "These same politicians are afraid to engage the public in a discussion to flesh out its finer points," said Shiffman. "They have come up with a proposal but don't discuss the social infrastructure: They don't say how this million new people will make a living. I'm glad that they are looking at it, but they also need to engage the broader community on other levels. This whole new population won't work in offices."

 Sunset Park, 2005

 Sunset Park, 2005

This oversight on the part of the report has serious drawbacks, according to other observers. Laura Wolf-Powers, chair of Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at the Pratt Institute, believes that Visions uses a narrow and shallow definition of the public realm, since it only discusses housing and to a lesser account some transportation issues. "There are many important quality of life issues that are not acknowledged in this report, like sanitation and waste water remediation facilities. Not only that," she added, "these uses are often located in the very manufacturing zones like those along the Bronx and Harlem Rivers that the report would give over entirely to housing." While these sites might be better used as housing, these functions must go somewhere. It's not news that manufacturers and industrial businesses that want to remain in the city are having trouble finding affordable space. The East Williamsburg Industrial Park, for example, which is home to over 2,500 small businesses, is facing residential encroachment from gentrifying sections of Williamsburg and Bushwick. One of the areas cited in the report as worthy of future study is the Sunset Park waterfront, which is mostly industrial today and has been recently designated as an area that the city has committed to keeping that way. While Visions acknowledges the value of the area's current character and only recommends converting 90 acres of surface parking (operated by the Department of Small Businesses) into sites for development, it still proposes 27,400 new units of housing, which would undoubtedly put pressure on the area's industrial functions.

Infrastructural capacity is a looming issue, said Chakrabarti, and one that cannot be ignored. Nor should it preclude the kinds of conversation that Visions will surely raise: "Energy capacity and wastewater treatment are real problems. We have capacity now, but not for another million people. Still, I don't think you can say, 'We don't have the infrastructure, so we can't fulfill the demand for housing.' It just means that housing will get more expensive."

The very fact that the report was commissioned from a private planning firm 
and did not come out of DCP is telling about the nature of its recommendations. There is an underlying assumption that public investment will allow for private sector development; the ultimate feasibility of finding these public monies is skated over. In the past, the city's planning reports have come out of the DCP, or people engaged with the Planning Commission—like Robert Wagner, Jr.'s 1984 New York Ascendant under Mayor Ed Koch—but Visions rarely mentions the DCP and any role it might play in planning for the future. (Doctoroff's office and the DCP both declined to comment for this article.) In fact, the report details a list of government agencies that must coordinate to make such far-reaching new policies work, like the EDC, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Transportation, but goes on to suggest, "The Mayor's Office must delegate management for these projects, as doing so is integral to their execution and ultimate success." While some might see this as a cession of public authority, Chakrabarti points out that sometimes, outsiders can say things that City Hall cannot. "There are often conflicting goals in terms of what is good for the city as a whole and what an individual neighborhood may want, especially in regards to density," he said. "An outside consultant can make important suggestions that are politically difficult."

One wonders if the secretive nature of the process, and its stress on the primacy of the private sector, is a product of Doctoroff's recent trouble with getting the West Side Stadium built, which was the sine qua non for bringing the Olympics to New York City. Several of the larger sites mentioned in Visions for New York City are on land that is at least partially owned by the state, not the city, which means that they are exempt from the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and thus due much less public review. But the controversy and public acrimony surrounding Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal—which also involves decking over infrastructure, public subsidy, and no ULURP—the now-defunct West Side Stadium project, and the World Trade Center site should suggest that proposals with only a nominal amount of involvement are no less immune to trouble than those which involve public input. When Visions is released, no doubt in a modified form, we hope that it is treated not as an identification of development sites across the city, but the starting point for a comprehensive and very public conversation about New York City's long-term needs. 

William Menking and Anne Guiney are editors at AN.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS: When photographer M. E. Smith noticed one day about 10 years ago that the subway station at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn had been torn down, he decided to start documenting the changes in the city around him. As the pace of development picks up and once-desolate areas fill with commerce and people, his photographs have inevitably taken on a documentary quality. A show of his work in and around New York was recently on view at Cooke Contemporary in Jersey City (see Functional Shift, AN 16_10.06.2006).

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Grand Plans

The Biennale featured, in the Arsenale and various national pavilions, the works of many photographers known for their urban documentation, including Armin Linke, Gabriele Basilico, Edward Burtynksky, Antoni Muntadas, Bas Princen, and Sze-Tsung Leong. Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri's site specific_SHANGHAI 04 (2004), above, and Spanish photographer Dionisio Gonzalez Heliolopolis (2006), below, both appear in the mini-exhibition C on Cities, curated by the magazine C International Photo Magazine.


Courtesy Galerra Max Estrella
 



Cities Without Architecture
Richard Ingersoll
Architecture critic and author; professor at Syracuse University in Florence

Behind this year's Venice Architecture Biennale lurks a daunting moral imperative: Something must be done before the planet is overrun by urbanization. But whether architecture is the problem or the solution remains a serious doubt. The title of the show, Cities, Architecture, and Society, is peculiarly inaccurate in that the content of the major exhibition in the stadium-length Corderie of the Venice Arsenal is devoted to 16 urban regions of a size and complexity that can no longer be called cities. Any of them—London, Tokyo, New York, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai—are made of a fusion of several cities around a historic core city, each comprising a sprawling megalopolis of millions of inhabitants in areas that are usually more than 50 kilometers in diameter. Aside from this linguistic anomaly, the main exhibition suffers from a more egregious absence: There is no architecture: that is, there are no memorable projects presented meaningfully through drawings, models, or photographs. The buildings and projects that are visible in an impressive series of films and photographs used in the show are furtive—always incidental to some greater reality. At first this lack of architecture strikes one as a pleasant surprise in an exhibition known for its incestuous relationships to star architects and its tendentious promotion of formal trends. But after 300 meters of being hounded by statistics and zenith views of cities, one starts to miss the company of celebrity authors and their trademark works, or at least some sense of a project for architecture.

This year's director, Richard Burdett, professor at the London School of Economics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London, aside from delegating the Golden Lion career award to his close friend Richard Rogers, has studiously avoided giving any notion of a criterion for architecture. Good intentions, however, are blazoned on the walls—sustainability and social justice—but they are not given any particular aesthetic agenda. Nor do the few specific examples, such as the transport system in Bogota, offer any notion of what can be done. An exemplary project for urban regeneration, for instance, Barcelona's 22@, a 200-hectare new town, is thrown in with hundreds of images and completely lost. Burdett's vision of the megalopolis, as he states, is of promising challenges, providing the opportunity to re-design the meanings, the functions, the aptitudes and the positive features of the various urban structures and strategies. But the display remains primarily analytical.

The alarm over uncontrollable urban growth has been sounded frequently since the end of the 19th century, when Ebenezer Howard, reacting to the inhumane densities of London, the world's first boundless megalopolis, proposed the Garden City as a means of restoring the balance between city and nature. Two generations later Jose Lluis Sert published the modernist notions of decentralized urbanism in his 1942 tract Can Our Cities Survive? And more than 50 years back the most influential urban historian, Lewis Mumford, was constantly engaged in battles against sprawl and urban growth. The Dutch Pavilion directed by Aaron Betsky recuperates some of the bird's-eye-views of how Dutch architects confronted the question of urban crowding, using archival materials, such as H. P. Berlage's 1910 plan of South Amsterdam and the 1960s beehive scheme of Bijlmemeer. The Austrian Pavilion, curated by Wolf Prix, also recuperated historic exhibitions of urban utopias, including a recreation of Fredrick Kiesler's 1925 City in Space and Hans Hollein's 1964 malaprop collages of aircraft carriers in wheat fields. These historic works were in fact the closest thing to an architectural agenda in the Biennale. The only other truly inspiring exhibit from a formal point of view was Metro-polis, curated by Benedetto Gravagnuolo and Alessandro Mendini, devoted to the new subway system in Naples, a series of art-stations designed by well-known international architects and artists as varied as Dominique Perrault and Anish Kapoor.

If the question of rampant urbanization is by now rather old, what's new about Burdett's analysis? Nothing, really, except the consideration of the ever-increasing dimensions of scale and the influence of digital technologies, which have resulted in the concept of flows. He promises that 75 percent of the world will live in urban situations by 2050, but since most of Europe and developed nations have already surpassed this measure, this fact does not seem so controversial. Uncontrollable urban growth is a vexing problem in terms of its environmental consequences, but this has not really yielded a show that provides convincing solutions; rather, it is a bit like walking through a geography textbook. There have been other recent exhibitions, such as MVRDV's traveling installation Metacity/Datatown (1999) and Rem Koolhaas and Stefano Boeri's Mutations: Harvard Project on the City at the Arc en Reve in Bordeaux (2000) that were more successful in creating a graphic method for appreciating the quantitative difference of the contemporary megalopolis.

A surprising number of the national pavilions were devoted to what can be called everyday urbanism. The Australian Pavilion in fact uses the term specifically, the Belgian is devoted to the beauty of the ordinary, and those of the U.K., Hungary, Korea, and many others worked on the pervasiveness of vernacular and commercial landscapes, which in general excludes the work of architects. The Japanese eccentric Terunobu Fujimori was featured in his country's pavilion, offering a movement called ROJO (Roadway Observation Society). One had to remove their shoes to walk through the charred wooden walls into a room paved in tatami mats to look at the weird collection of things found on the roadside and the architect's arcane additions to these landscapes.

The U.S. Pavilion was typically out of step. While the choice of the theme of Hurricane Katrina was a good one considering that most large urban agglomerations contend with a considerable degree of risk from disaster—a subject that has been beautifully investigated by Paul Virilio—the curatorial team of Architectural Record and Tulane University completely avoided the international scandal of the disaster in New Orleans, and the continuing scandal of governmental indifference. They simply offer some student project–like solutions on stilts that will never be built.

The Spanish Pavilion was one of the most formally satisfying, and while it includes many fine urban projects, the focus is exclusively on the presence of women. It presents three dozen white boxes, each with a vertical video screen showing a woman from the waist up, speaking about urban questions. The curator, Manuel Blanco, somewhat like the filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, has produced an exclusively feminine version of a world dominated by men, presenting women who work as planners, politicians, artists, developers, taxi drivers, street vendors, and, of course, architects. Architect Carme Pinos commented, "Everyone says how great I look in the video, but no one seems to have noticed my tower," referring to her recently finished the 20-floor Torre Cube in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her comment captures the spirit of this year's Biennale, which downplays the role of architecture.

The French Pavilion is by far the most exuberant and popular, and perhaps best captures the overall atmosphere of this year's Biennale as cities without architecture.. Directed by architect Patrick Bouchain, it sprawls outside and over the top of its neoclassical porch, with deck chairs and card tables scattered about. Inside one finds scaffolds that shelter a bar, kitchen, and a workshop for artisans to make tee-shirts and other take-home items. The structure also supports a stair for ascending to a roof terrace where visitors can enjoy a sauna, sundecks, and hammocks. A frolicking, hedonistic, and purposely messy affair, much in the spirit of Lucien Kroll, who was involved in its planning, this invasion of the existing structure makes a serious case for participatory design by adaptation rather than settling for the imposed formal order of architects.
 




Digital Globe / Telespazio


QuickBird satellite views of (from left to right) Milan, Barcelona, and Bogota. Similar views of all the cities under examination appear in the Corderie of the Arsenale.
 



The Big Reconciliation
Liane Lefaivre
Chair of architectural history and theory at the Applied Arts Academy; research fellow in the urbanism department of the Technical University of Delft

For over five hundred years, since Leon Battista Alberti, architects and urbanists formed a whole, working together in the making of cities. That is until the early 1970s, when architecture and planning went through The Big Divorce in American architecture schools. Among the reasons for the break-up was the drying up of publicly-funded support for urban revitalization programs. Urban issues were, largely, thrown out of architecture schools. Key figures left for schools of government and policy, geography departments, and such. As a result, for the past 30 years, architects and urban professionals stopped speaking to one another almost entirely.

Now, Richard Burdett, director of the Cities Program at the London School of Economics and head of the itinerant Urban Age conference series, has, at the request of the Venice Architecture Biennale organizers, kick-started a dialogue between the two disciplines. In order to do so, he presented some of the grubbiest, grittiest, and dynamic cities in the world, including among others Istanbul, Shanghai, Caracas, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.

The concept behind the exhibition is exciting, with greater implications for the health of the planet and humanity than the latest architectural trends. No one has attempted a comparative study of the world's megacities on this scale before. The exhibition itself won't likely wow the general public, however. Panels of text, images, and charts filled with unprocessed information about the lower depths of urban reality is not the stuff of blockbusters. Among the show's shortcomings is the fact that issues like density and society are raised but are left hanging in the air. In the age of Google Earth, one might also wonder why more interactive media was not used. But what the show lacks in depth of coverage will presumably be supplemented by other activities throughout the next two months while the Biennale acts as a forum for debate and an incubator for policy brainstorming with a planned series of high-level workshops. Here, one supposes that issues like democratic rights, sustainable growth, local government versus World Bank–dictated rules of governance, and Hernando de Soto's brand of neoliberalism will be addressed.

The theme of cities had a galvanizing, almost psychoanalytic effect on many national pavilions. At the U.S. Pavilion, Robert Ivy's team at Architectural Record along with Reed Kroloff of Tulane University grappled with the profound dysfunctionality of post-Katrina New Orleans and wound up with a statement of the inability of architecture alone, in spite of endless good will, to overcome certain political and social realities. The French Pavilion, perhaps as a form of expiation for the race riots that marked the nation's suburbs last year, was turned into one big pop-anarchist Rabelaisian bistro, celebrating togetherness in the midst of delicious food smells and plentiful wine. Austria fell back on two of its bluest chips, venerable masterpieces by once rebellious artists, one by Friedrich Kiesler of 1925 and one of 1964 by Hans Hollein. By contrast, the Hungarian Pavilion took a chance on an independently minded, youthful approach—examining the reach of Chinese-made goods in the world—and came up with a relevant contemporary statement on a specific urban reality. At the Russian Pavilion, the work of Alexander Brodsky, with his hilariously Gogolian black humor, offered a commentary on urban life in Russia today. The Spanish Pavilion was devoted to 52 of the most important women involved with architecture and urbanism in Spain. The overwhelmingly encouraged feminine presence goes a long way in explaining why this country has such great architecture and cities.

Of all the countries, Great Britain was the most active in organizing real discussions. Paul Finch, the editor of Architectural Review, together with Odile Decq, Peter Cook, and Robert White of White Partners should be commended for presenting a series of public debates called The Dark Side Club, which took place every night during the vernissage from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., after all the other parties had ended. And the British Council assembled a panel called My Kind of Town: Architecture and Urban Identity, featuring Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, author Alain de Botton, Nick Johnson of visionary development firm Urban Splash, critic Alice Rawsthorn, and Sudhev Sandhu, author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City. Judging by the international attendance, these lively events might set a trend in future Biennales.

Richard Rogers used the high-profile moment of winning this year's Biennale Golden Lion Award for Life Achievement to stress the need for strict government regulations, citing Portland, Oregon, as the most popular city in the U.S. because it is the best at regulating and containing sprawl and encouraging inner-city densification. Of all the speakers I heard, he was the one who got the most enthusiastic response. In the same vein, this Biennale brought the work of a generation of designers in their 40s to the fore, including James Corner of Field Operations in New York, Rahul Mehrotra of Mumbai, Yung Ho Chang of MIT and Beijing, and Jeremy Till from Sheffield, England, to whom architectural issues are not antithetical to urban, political, social, or ecological concerns.
 



Austria


Markus Pillhoffer


Italy


Giorgio Zucciatti / Courtesy Venice Biennale


Japan


Courtesy Institute for Japanese Culture

Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrrger (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: With the opening of the Italian Pavilion in the Tese delle Vergini (near the Arsenale), the old Italian Pavilion in the Giardini was given over to dozens of smaller exhibitions organized by various schools, countries, and research groups. The facade of the pavilion is wrapped in Olivo Barbieri's photograph of the Gonehexin Road overpass in Shanghai. Bottom: The Japanese Pavilion is devoted to the work of Terunobu Fujimori, whose naturalist architecture features the use of charred wood, planted roofs, and rough stone and earth. Within this woven hut, installed in the pavilion, visitors could watch a slideshow of images taken by ROJO, the Roadway Observation Society, founded in 1986 by a group of artists, including Fujimori, dedicated to documenting extraordinary roadside phenomena.



Architecture Between the Cracks
Toshiko Mori
Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect

The Biennale is basically a provocation from director Ricky Burdett to architects and planners. Why do architects not have a role in the forming of cities, why are we not involved more, or voicing opinions more? Why do we have such a lame role in civic discourse? Planners always seem to have good ideas, but they do not follow through. If they did we would not witness the degree of dystopia displayed at this Biennale. Planners do not have power, they are disengaged with physical reality; instead they seem to be buried in paper statistics. With the war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism, poverty, starvation, and genocide erupting around us, how do we answer the questions posed by the exhibition's organizers: Can planning promote social cohesion? Can good governance improve things? Do we all answer "yes" and go and have a Bellini? This is when the 1970s come to mind: Back then, we went into action more directly and architecture's sense of purpose ran deeper.

How did architecture become perceived to be surface-deep? It's an apt question to ask in a city like Venice, where the tourist-pleasing Serenissima facade comprises less than one-third of the city. Going around on the vaporetto (ferry) #82, one sees the blue-collar industrial and working gut of Venice. Author Alain de Botton asked me if I liked the decoration on the building facades. I recommended the vaporetto commute so he could see beyond the place's surface happiness. Architect Patrick Bouchain, organizer of the French Pavilion Metacity/Metaville, where two dozen architects, graphic designers, and media artists set up house and every day go about domestic chores like cooking and sweeping, told me that in Paris, street sweepers are called technicians du surface. The traditional French respect for the worker stands in contrast to the country's recent crisis over the lack of assimilation of immigrants. Intolerance and antagonism are causing riots and lawlessness because people are unable to share discourse and civic values. The message is simply to go back to what we all have in common, and try to establish direct communication among lives in the cities. (The irony is that the pavilion encourages both a sense of community and anarchy, breaking the decorum of exhibition halls by making it an inhabited space, a fragment of a city, with all the transgressions they encompass.)

The Spanish Pavilion, curated, designed, and organized by the perfectionist super-phenom Manuel Blanco, is the individuated and collective voice of women in Spain from all walks of life: female vox populi. It is a very clear, powerful, and credible message. Women are animated, beautiful, sympathetic, and most of all humane. Manuel says his approach was obvious since Spain has a feminine prefix, yet female voices have been suppressed by strong male dominance in politics and culture.

The Irish have the most to show in terms of their efforts to balance Ireland's fast economic growth, ecology, large planning efforts, and sustainability. It is unfortunate that their room, in the old Italian Pavilion, is painted black, since their projects are realistic and send a positive message about the robust engagement of politicians, planners, and architects to make the semblance of utopian future possible.

The relationship and balance between the obvious and visible architectural quotient of a city versus the support fabric of its infrastructure is the point of this Biennale. I was not so worried that there was not enough architecture. A lack of buildings does not mean architecture is absent. There is a territory where architects can take over creatively, as is demonstrated by the Irish group show, which is filled with strong case studies.

There was a lot of dialogue and discussion going on during the vernissage, but one looming question was: Where were the Americans? The U.S. Pavilion sent a strong impression of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The intricate moving model of cubes suspended by fragile strings is a metaphor for New Orleans housing as a puppet of mechanized bureaucracy. Once these strings are cut, the cubes float aimlessly without life support (full disclosure: this is the work of GSD students). And yet Americans had a weak (if any) presence in the public discussions organized by the Biennale. It made me realize that not only is the U.S. isolating itself in foreign policy, but we may be in danger of isolating ourselves in the area of urbanism too. What can we learn from others, what can we share? Are we engaged in this global discourse? If so, we should certainly be able to have several alternatives and viable models other than New Urbanism.
 



France




Cyrille Weiner ( top); Stefan Jonot (bottom)

The French Pavilion has become temporary home to two dozen artists and designers, who have outfitted the neoclassical building with bunk beds, a kitchen, bar, DJ stand, rooftop sauna, and sundeck.



China






Stefan Jonot (top and middle); Danish Architecture Center (bottom)

Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrager (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: Their Tiles Garden is made over 60,000 tiles recycled from demolished structures in Hangzhou. Bottom: The Hungarian Pavilion made use of cheap, Chinese-made plastic goods to create animated canopies, wall-hangings, and other installations. The Danish Pavilion proposed various projects for sustainable development in China, including Magic Mountains, a green business district.



The End of the Line for the Biennale?
Hugh Pearman
Architecture critic, London Sunday Times; editor, RIBA Journal

Despite the importance of the subject matter and the high seri- ousness with which it has been approached, this Biennale, for me, does not work as an exhibition. The long, long gloomy columnar promenade of the Corderie in the Arsenal complex—in recent years the heart of the show, crammed with goodies—has never been sparser. You feel you are attending a stern lecture. Only the lecturer is absent, and has sent along his notes instead.

The rest of the show, over in the pocket garden suburb of national pavilions and scattered here and there throughout the city, is as patchy as ever though one finds intermittent flashes of joy. But it is difficult to imagine where this exhibition can go from here. The last good one with a strong theme was curated six years ago by Massimiliano Fuksas, Less Aesthetics, More Ethics. That allowed plenty of provocative architecture, but it also required an analysis of the social dimension.

And now? The architecture biennales are always rather touch-and-go. The go button is always pushed late: It is always a scrabble to get it together in time. This one feels like the end of an era. If the series is to continue, it must be comprehensively re-thought. It must have a reason to exist.
 



The Laser-Print Biennale
Aaron Betsky
Director, Netherlands Architecture Institute; Incoming Director, Cincinnati Art Museum

As far as I am concerned, the best room was the central space at the Italian Pavilion, where the imaginative power proper to art and architecture were used to confront, criticize, and speculate on the city as a reality, rather than reduce it to facts and figures. For sheer scale, the AMO layout, an aerial panorama of the whole Gulf coast, from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, could not be matched. And of course in our historical exhibition [at the Dutch pavilion] we tried to bring up the issue of the city as a real place for which we have to take responsibility as architects, not just as concerned citizens. For the same reason I appreciated the attempts by the Russians, the French, and the Hungarians to make this point in an imaginative way. And that would lead to my major gripe: Just as architects should not pretend to be graphic designers or landscape architects, nor should they claim to be sociologists or politicians. Positioning your work within a social and political field is one thing; claiming to be Al Gore is another. The imagination was buried too deep beneath the pavement of Venice this year to be unearthed by any statistical tools.
 



Highs and Lows
Paola Antonelli
Acting Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art

The Venice Biennale is, as always, worth it, even though the overall lack of normall architectural scale—meaning models, drawings, reference to neighborhoods—made this year for a rollercoaster between the elegantly cold and the sometimes overdone touchy-feely. The show at the Arsenale belongs in the former category. Director Richard Burdett's momentous analysis of 16 great cities was impeccably presented in an installation designed by Aldo Cibic and his partners. The installation had some beautiful moments, some planned—the room comparing densities, for instance, filled with self-explanatory beautiful styrofoam stalagmites, or the views of the cities flowing under your feet in small connecting bridges—and some serendipitous: in the Caracas corner, an oil stain in the floor that ghostly mimicked the shape of the city hung on the wall just above. The deeper you went into the Arsenale, the more you could get lost in data, comparative studies, and gorgeous satellite pictures, but somehow you longed for people and buildings.

The pavilions were very uneven. One wonders why some nations don't just stay home, or rent out their pavilions to the other countries that might really have something to say. Among the interesting ones: the Spanish, curated by Manuel Blanco, my favorite, with women of all walks of life talking about their cities, with architecture a part of their soundtrack. The British, taking the city of Sheffield as a case study and exploring it at different scales, from sheep to satellite view. The Japanese were a bit out of theme, but soothing and beautiful. The Slovenian: at last some innovative architecture. The French overshared—do we really need to see guys cooking in a pareo?—but were a hit because they were very hospitable, to the point where otherwise respectable architects were hopping the fence to join their late-night parties and the police were called nightly to kill the fun.

Personally, I learned to blog. Together with London's Architecture Foundation, MoMA launched a wild beast of a blog that became quite the recipient of everybody's rants and raves (www.venicesuperblog.net).
 



Disquietingly Quiet
Odile Decq
Principal, Odile Decq Benoit Cornette

When we try to describe a city, we often start by quantifying its inhabitants, expressing through its size what typology of city we are speaking about: small, middle, large, or extra-large. The presentations of the 16 megalopolises in the Arsenale strive to analyze the phenomena of how they came to be. But never could a collection of quantified facts express what a city is.

Architects are dedicated to thinking about and organizing people and life; architecture exhibitions are dedicated to vicarious representations that are free of the noise and smell of flesh-and-blood cities. This Biennial takes a non-risky position, avoiding experiments on concrete strategies. It is a pity for the general public and the thousand of young future architects, desperate for inspiration for visions of tomorrow.
 



Planning Potential
Ron Shiffman
Director, Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development

Richard Burdett's exhibition begins with a description of cities in a changing world and ends with an invitation to cities to change the world. At critical junctures, displays focus on issues such as income disparity, density, mobility, and information flows. Implied throughout are the issues of class and race, which underlie many of the disparities the exhibition highlights.

The individual city presentations varied in quality. New York's presentation (coordinated by Pamela Puchalski of the Center for Architecture) successfully captured several of the city's innovative planning and development initiatives such as the High Line park and the effort to build more housing along the city's waterfront. Given the city's penchant to diminish its mandated participatory planning processes by surrendering its decision-making role to the state, as they have in the case of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, I was surprised to read in the exhibition text that New York has decided to accommodate growth by capitalizing on its edges along the water, investing heavily in new housing projects in the outer boroughs, and involving its citizens in the debate on the future of the city. One wishes it were really so. Too little investment and far too little debate. Perhaps New York City should borrow from the Norwegian city of Tromss, which decided to call a time-out on large-scale development and engage its citizens in what is truly a public debate.
 



Painting by Numbers
Hani Rashid
Principal, Asymptote

After the painful, but visually enticing, onslaught of Burdettian data, statistics, and images of cities on the verge, perhaps the upcoming Venice Art Biennale will follow suit by filling the Corderie and Giardini Pavilions with the financial statements of artists, galleries, and museums (leaving out the art). Now that could actually be interesting!
 



Comparative Views
Barry Bergdoll
Chair, Department of Art History, Columbia University; Incoming Philip C. Johnson Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art

In 1933 CIAM studied 34 world cities in aerial overviews and statistical analyses aboard the S.S. Patris while cruising between Marseille and Athens. The result, the Athens Charter, published in 1943, was the lingua franca of postwar modernism's bid to take charge of the city through functionalist and universalist criteria. It was hard not to think how far we are from this venture of over 70 years ago, arriving by air in one of Europe's prime museum cities, Venice, to take in Richard Burdett's ambitious marshalling of aerial views and statistics comparing 16 cities on five continents. If the pious list of five recommendations at the show's conclusion had more to do with issues of city governance—even in a display largely devoid of analysis of the vastly different historical and political forces at play—the results displayed could not have been further from CIAM's taking hold of the reins through design. The Biennale was filled with small-scale interventions in the impoverished quarters of the Third World and landscape re-workings of the detritus of the industrial past in the cities of the First World. The shrinking city of Berlin, where capitalism and democratic political process has eclipsed Europe's communist past, were lumped together with Shanghai and with Mumbai, the latter earmarked soon to overtake Tokyo as the largest city in the history of civilization. Caracas, presented neutrally as yet another booming metropolis, with little acknowledgment of the distinct political and economic situation of the petroleum capital with its populist anti-imperialist leader (a not so subtle protest is registered in the Venezuela Pavilion where the sole exhibition objects are a grainy aerial photograph and a broadsheet declaring a complete lack of interest in any Westernn-imposed urban solutions). As the exhibition embraces the notion of a globalized crisis—with many of the virtues and problems of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth—the particularity of each city begs for attention. Projects were modest and isolated, except for large-scale planning sponsored by developers, who increasingly have turned to star architects.

What could have underscored how omnipresent a very different urban condition in 2006 is than the looming mass of the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, whose towering 15 decks threw the national pavilions at the Giardini in shadow during much of the preview. None of the tourists disgorged was clamoring for entry to the Biennale, even if the morning Gazettino di Venezia featured both the influx of international architects and a photo reportage on the visible erosion everywhere of Venice's fragile brick and stone fabric caused by the ever-increasing traffic of super tourist liners in the lagoon.
 



The No-Stop City
Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi
Architecture Critic

The Italian Pavilion curated by Franco Purini presents the design of Vema, a theoretical city for 30,000 residents located between Verona and Mantua. Contained within an area measuring 3,720 by 2,300 meters, the city is divided into sectors designed by 20 groups of architects under 40, chosen from among the most promising young practices in Italy. The immense model of Vema, which dominates the exhibition space, can be appreciated on two levels. For the general public, Purini's project will seem to go against the grain: The creation of a newly founded city in a Western country, so similar to the Renaissance examples of Sabbioneta and Palmanova, is in clear opposition to the dominant urban model of sprawling metropolis or the Koolhaasian Generic City. What makes Vema contemporary are the projects designed by young architects. The result is thus a strange hybrid in which the ideal cities of Filarete and Vignola coexist with deconstructivist, super-modern, and neo-organic projects.

For insiders, Purini's project is an attempt, as brilliant as it is unconvincing, to reduce the tension between young, experimental architects and the old guard, of which Purini himself is a leading exponent. The video that accompanies the exhibition thus presents a picture of Italian architecture as a continuum, where the old and new coexist without conflict, and wherein we are able to overcome the violent clashes that have historically occurred, for example, between figures such as Manfredo Tafuri and Bruno Zevi, and gain inspiration from models as diverse as the baroque Paolo Portoghesi and the radical Archizoom.
 



Women on the Verge
Below is an excerpt of architectural theorist Beatriz Colomina's video observation included in the exhibition Espana [f.] nosotros, las ciudades (Spain [f.] we, the cities) at the Spanish pavilion, curated by Manuel Blanco. Hers was one of 52 recordings of Spanish women—clients, architects, citizens—speaking about their experiences of particular buildings or of urban life in general.

What interests me most about cities is how they are so radically transformed with each new technology, from gas lamps to trains to electricity to video cameras. Lately I have become interested in cell phones. No technology has transformed the city more than cell phones in a long time. They have completely revolutionized the relationship between public and private. To be in a city you no longer have to be in the street—you can join a friend in a cafe simply by calling—and if you are in the streets you may not be in the city, as when you are so immersed in a conversation that you are somewhere else and the streets you are walking become a kind of mirage. In fact, in almost any city today there are more people on the phone than in the streets. Every aspect of our experience has changed.

This became evident on September 11 when any traditional sense of public and private space became obsolete. In the heart of the spectacular nightmare, covered continuously by every single television channel, the most intimate exchanges were taking place. For the first time in the history of a catastrophe, the families and loved ones of many of the victims were among the first to know when they received cell-phone calls made from hijacked airplanes and from inside the World Trade Center towers. These calls carved out a whole new sense of space, a last vestige of domesticity.

In the aftermath of the events, the desperate attempts on the part of cell-phone companies to deliver the last messages that had not gone through attested to the importance of this form of communication. In a situation in which there were very few human remains recovered, those messages were all that was left, the very thing that is always missing in tragic accidents. No longer simply a fragile substitute for real people, the digital record became the most solid reality.

There was a new sense of space constructed by the unrelenting bombardment of repetitive images through TV and the Internet and the simultaneous exchange of the most intimate and unique, one-on-one communications via cell phones.

If 9/11 in New York revealed the cell-phone as the last vestige of domesticity, 3/11 in Madrid revealed the cell-phone as a weapon, triggering the train bombs. Personal defense became public attack.



Spain


Cemel Emden



Painting By Numbers
Wolf Prix
Principal, Coop Himmelb(l)au

The theme of the 10th International Architecture Biennale is key for the architecture of the next decades. Thus I find that though the main exhibition at the Arsenale displays a striking collection of different factors and important data, it fails in developing a theory or visions out of this information. On the other hand, the shows at the national pavilions in the Giardini present, with a few exceptions, the helplessness of architects in association with strategic city models.



I Heart New York
Alexander Gorlin
Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects

Maybe Richard Burdett, the curator of the Architecture Biennale's Cities theme, should have first listened to Madonna's latest song, I Love New York, before putting together a mind-numbing, statistic-fest that completely fails to understand the essential experiential differences among cities around the world: 

I don't like cities, but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork / Los Angeles is for people who sleep / Paris and London, baby you can keep

Other cities always make me mad / Other places always make me sad / No other city ever made me glad / Except New York,  I love New York


Walking through the Arsenale, one would hardly know there was a difference between Bogota and New York. In fact it seems that Cairo is denser than New York, therefore...exactly—so what? The quality of the characteristics that make a difference between cities is leveled in this show by categories that have nothing to do with living in each place, such as stock market capitalization or the ranking of their commodity exchanges. Most of the cities appear to have been selected for politically correct purposes: one from continent A, one from continent B, and who knows why so many from South America? The show also suffers from extreme Google Earth–mania, an obsessive fascination with those satellite maps that are now available to everyone. But who experiences a city at 250 miles up in outer space?

In the end, the whole show should have been about New York—Manhattan, to be precise—in an attempt to understand why it is clearly the most exciting city on earth and the present-day capital of the world—I love New York!

If you don't like my attitude than you can F-off / Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf / New York is not for little pussies who scream / If you can't stand the heat, then get off my street



The China Syndrome
Cathy Lang Ho
Editor, The Architect's Newspaper

China crops up often in the Biennale, which perhaps should not be surprising given its dizzying rate of urbanization and the extent to which its rapid development has affected global architectural and construction practices, not to mention the world's ecological balance. The Danish Pavilion followed curator Henrik Valeur's prompt: How can we improve people's living conditions without exhausting the very resources needed to sustain a better life? The display presents the sort of dramatic statistics that Rem Koolhaas first introduced with his Pearl River research almost a decade ago, alongside theoretical projects by teams of Danish architects and Chinese architecture schools. Their fantastical gestures—business centers that resemble picturesque mountains, a peaking infrastructure-laden mega-wall circling a city—betray the sense that the country is still perceived, by too many in the world (including the Chinese themselves) as a tabula rasa.

Hungary had a quirkier approach to the topic of China as both a consequence and protagonist of globalization: Its pavilion was filled with artful installations made of cheap China-made toys: a canopy of chirping plastic penguins, a wall of plastic resin with repulsive furry toys imbedded within. The installation was part of a larger project, documented in a fine catalogue, investigating the impact of Chinese immigrants on the world's cities and of Chinese-made goods on life everywhere. It was one of the few projects that conveyed what I wish the Biennale accomplished more: how globalization and urbanization has affected people's lives. This was poignantly communicated in Hu Yang's Shanghai Living (2005), a photographic series displayed in the Italian Pavilion, showing a factory worker, shop-girl, office manager, and dozens of other Shanghai residents in their homes. Each is presented with a statement from the subject, personalizing the effects of the phenomena measured elsewhere in the Biennale.



Hu Yang's images are on display in C on Cities, a special photography exhibition in the Italian Pavilion, curated by the London-based publication C International Photo Magazine. Issue 3 is dedicated to its Biennale presentation, and is available through www.ivorypress.com.


Shanghai Living
 (2005) by Hu Yang 
Tang Zhen'an
(Shanghainese general manager)
Up to now I am satisfied with my life, and I like photographing and collecting western art works during my leisure time. I have pressures, mainly from competition within the circle and requirement from inside. I want to do everything I can to promote Shanghai's photographing industry.



Shanghai Living (2005) by Hu Yang
Wei Yufang
(Shandongnese vendor)
We are leading a hard life and eat battercakes, pickles and a glass of water for all three meals. When our kids want meat dishes, we cook them an egg. We work more than 15 hours a day if it doesn't rain. We want our kids to be educated and not to live like us. I will risk anything for our kids to go to university. My eldest son is excellent and wins prizes every semester. I suffer being teased by local ruffians.

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The Crystal Method




At the Hearst building on 57th Street, the trip up from street level on a side-skewed escalator embedded in a stepped glass waterfall feels a bit like scaling the sides of a pyramid. Reaching the mezzanine lobby of this old-new corporate headquarters is to experience a true sense of arrival, just as its architect Norman Foster surely intended.

The Hearst building is the most significant of the new crop of Manhattan icon buildings because it changes the terms of engagement. Instead of making itself known by powerhousing its way into the skyline like the Time Warner Center, Foster's first skyscraper in the United States enlists restraint and sophisticated technologies—qualities so much harder to grasp than a snappy image—to endorse a corporate brand. But whether all the advanced environmental, structural, or social engineering is for real or for show remains unclear.



The main lobby is a showstopper. Elevated three levels above the street, it is every bit as operatic—albeit with a sci-fi air—as the Aida-esque cast concrete original built by set-designer Joseph Urban and George P. Post in 1928, which has been preserved as a kind of orchestra pit from which the new skyscraper rises. Occupied by pharaonic phalanxes of 30-ton box columns and various mega-diagonals with artist Robert Long's six-story banner of mud art running up the core, this 35,000-square-foot space—which Foster calls the piazza—is rendered even more like a real town square since Urban's concrete walls have been stripped clean and furred out to look like the exteriors of, say, the walls of a Milanese bank building circa 1930. But instead of opening to the sky, the piazza is covered by a vast skylight. Tilting back in a cafe chair at Cafe 57 (aka the company canteen and the main occupant of the space), one stares right up at 36 stories of glass and steel muscle flexing its way to the skyline. Suddenly, the to-ing-and-fro-ing of people is reduced to an inconsequential shuffle, as soothing as the sound of the Jamie Carpenter–designed waterfall that has been computer programmed to mimic a babbling brook. Corporate confidence this suave is intimidating.

That makes it all the more significant that most of the building's rave reviews have dwelled not on Foster's magnificently controlled stagecraft but on its environmental and structural features. It's especially unusual given the business of its client: Hearst is a media giant, the third largest magazine company in the country, with a stable of titles including Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Seventeen, and Esquire. For an empire fixated on image to put good works before good looks is a watershed moment in corporate branding strategy. In fact, Hearst is so proud of all the green stuff going on in the building that it has emblazoned its LEED Gold medallion right between the revolving doors leading into the building. And kudos to them for the 75 percent of the year that air-conditioners will be using outside air; the reduction in electrical energy use that can be estimated to be the equivalent of 1,074 tons of CO2; and the 14,000-gallon reclamation tank in the basement that is at the ready to supply some 50 percent of the water needed for all the building's plantings. And so on.



Not to diminish the building's very real accomplishments, but the United States is so far behind most European and Asian efforts when it comes to enacting sustainability measures that it's hard to get too excited about reducing electricity and water consumption. The building doesn't have nearly as many of the energy-saving strategies as Foster's Free University in Berlin and Swiss Re in London boast. In fact, its accomplishments as a green building are modest when compared to almost any other building by its own architect. It might rate well by local standards, but the truth is, every new skyscraper in New York should be LEED Gold–certified by now.

As for the diagrid structure, which has been described variously as a jack-in-the-box, a French-market net bag, and a hydraulic scissor-lift, it is derring-do of a higher order. The diagrid started out as a device to stiffen the east facade, which was necessary because the architects pushed the service core off-center, toward the western edge of the site, up against a neighboring 50-story apartment building. (They placed the core on that edge, reasoning that westward views would be blocked anyway by the apartment building.) But the diagrid looked so good, Foster went for the full wrap even though it creates floor plates that vary considerably in size, from 17,000 to 21,000 square feet. This is just another of the idiosyncrasies that a single corporate client can afford. At another point, the architects thought a cable rod running vertically through the building's corners might be necessary to steady any sway resulting from the 20-foot difference in floor-plate size at the extreme corners, but that became redundant once the longest beams were suspended from above rather than secured by a cantilever.



In a similarly productive collaboration between determined aesthetics and innovative engineering, the design team managed to come up with a way to make the lobby even more grandiose, in spite of structural necessities. (The space is already an impressive structural feat in that its skylight is the primary support for the old concrete shell of the Urban structure.) Foster was not going to let the opening between the modest ground-floor entrance and the spectacular mezzanine lobby look like some trap door from below. Instead, there is a gaping 80-foot-by-30-foot space through which the elevators rise, thanks to a specially devised ring beam that disperses the force thrust of all those mega-columns supporting the tower.



Traditionally, the job of corporate icons has been two-fold: to show off institutional might and to instill employees with slavish devotion. The Hearst building accomplishes the first of these tasks with impressive pizzazz. The office floors should please employees, too, even if views from some senior editorial offices are slashed right through with big fat braces. The plan is conspicuously open with cubicle walls that are lower than American Dilbert cells and higher than their Euro-equivalents. And all perimeter offices have glass walls allowing sunlight to flow in unimpeded.

Still, there's an overall sameness, even with the glorious conference corners where unimpeded glass meets vertiginous views. They made me think of the good-old bad days when hierarchies were more visible, even aspirational. Here, there's no art department ghetto where the music blasts and the walls are tacked-up with messy collages. There's no editor-in-chief lair with furnishings better than the rest, inspiring ambitious underlings to plot their climb up the masthead. All that sunlight is well worth the loss of outdated modes of status reinforcement, right?

But then deep in the heart of the building is the Good Housekeeping Institute. It is a strange and vital place where stacks of new products are piled around and row upon row of lab equipment sits at the ready to test everything from the latest washing machine from Miele to the next generation of Fruit Loops, all hoping for the coveted Seal of Approval. The Institute, with its messes and lab-coated technicians huddled at a counter sharing lunch, underscored the complete aesthetic control and good taste that practically smothers the rest of the building.

Since the 1920s, the Institute has held luncheons in a special dining room that has received numerous U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Hearst executives decided to replicate the original dining room in the new 29th floor Institute—a Mount Vernon set piece, complete with black marble fireplace, sconces, rugs, and furnishings re-installed intact. Apparently, they think that our presidents are more comfortable in a colonial-style setting rather than in a space like the 46th-floor boardroom where two diagonal columns intersecting the northward view of Central Park etch a mighty V for victory.

The new Hearst building is a welcome addition to the Manhattan horizon. It may not dominate the skyline but it certainly raises the bar for the next corporate brand with ambitions.

Credits

Gross square footage: 856,000 sq feet
Total construction cost: $400 million (estimated)
Architect: Foster and Partners: Norman Foster, Brandon Haw, Mike Jelliffe, Michael Wurzel, Peter Han, David Nelson, Gerard Evenden, Bob Atwal, John Ball, Nick Baker, Una Barac, Morgan Flemming, Michaela Koster, Chris Lepine, Martina Meluzzi, Julius Streifeneder, Gonzalo Surroca.
Fit-out: Norman Foster, Brandon Haw, Mike Jelliffe, Chris West, John Small, Ingrid Solken, Michael Wurzel, Peter Han
Associate architect: Adamson Associates; Tishman Speyer Properties, development manager.
Engineers: Cantor Seinuk Group, structure; Flack & Kurtz, mechanical; VDA, vertical transportation.
Consultants: George Sexton, lighting; Ira Beer, food service; Gensler, interiors.
General contractor: Turner Construction
All Images: Chuck Choi / Courtesy Foster and Partners

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Playing the links

As developmenttand property valueearound the High Line heats up, planners and advocates try to ensure that the new elevated park isn't annexed as a city-maintained backyard for new condos. Alec Appelbaum looks at how the city's most interesting new park is balancing public accessibility with private development.


high line renderings courtesy city of new york; building images courtesy respective firms


As a freight line, the High Line was designed to bring trains right up to the loading docks of the buildings it served; as a public park, it will bring people up to and even through those same buildings.

Much of the High Line's strange beauty stems from its stark contrasts: It is a massive steel industrial relic that shelters an improbably delicate and accidental landscape. For many years, the old railroad trestle running above and through the buildings along Tenth Avenue seemed to be hidden in plain sight, its obsolescence rendering its bulk almost invisible. But since work began to transform it into New York's most anticipated new public space, the High Line has come into sharp focus, especially for developers and architects who want to build near this new amenity.

There was not always consensus on the High Line's future, of courseeas recently as 2002, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ordered its demolitionnbut after the Department of City Planning (DCP) rezoned the surrounding area last year to allow condominium and hotel uses and the transfer of air rights within the new district, opposition faded. More than a dozen new residential projects are in the works, and others are sure to be announced as more parcels change hands. This mini-building boom has led to the latest of the High Line's contradictions: How can a public park seem open and accessible to all when it touches and even passes through privately held property? Everyone involved with the projecttits designers, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architecture firm Field Operations, champions Josh David and Robert Hammond of Friends of the High Line (FoHL), and not least of all, the DCPPis adamant that access is paramount. Another priority is to keep the High Line from feeling like a patio extension of adjacent buildings, which would destroy its appeal. To keep that from happening, the Parks Department has just released a set of guidelines to keep public and private in balance.

The standards, which augment bulk requirements embodied in the 2005 rezoning, enforce three main ideas: Connections from new developments should appear distinct (taking the form, for example, of bridges or vestibules); they must be usable by the public; and their materials must not distract from the High Line itself. David stresses how harmonious the new private access guidelines are with FoHL's initial vision. The fact that the High Line weaves through the center of city blocks and connects to buildings is integral to its identity,, he said. It's not a street, yet we want this to be well-used and well-loved at all times of day by all kinds of people.. Philosophically, David suggests, it's more vital to keep the High Line merging with buildings the way it did when it carried trains than it is to pretty up those buildings.

James Corner of Field Operations says the planners who wrote the guidelines share his reverence for the High Line's unique blend of industrial underpinnings and wild plants. Their co-presence is what makes the thing so powerful,, said Corner. And like David, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Corner guards against letting doors, awnings, and logos blunt the landscape's impact. The last thing we want is an elevated street with plazas,, he said. We want to avoid any permeable curtain wall that immediately joins the High Line; we want to retain the autonomous character of the High Line..

Part of what protects that character is its lack of access. Officials won't divulge any rules for spacing or capping connections, but they all stress plans to keep the links strategic,, in Corner's term. Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed staircases and lifts for the public every two blocks. Buildings will face strict scrutiny if they want to add a link on the path. We have to focus on how few access points can we get away with,, said Burden. Keeping [the original spacing of] 5.5 feet between the [vertical posts of the] rail fencing is essential,, she continued, and private space, caff or retail, has to be set back 15 feet.. Yet the flow into the park must feel active, Burden said. The worst thing would be blank doors..

This is a delicate balance in a hot real estate market. Since 2001, according to Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, property values in Chelsea have started catching up to the borough-wide average. The Meatpacking District's menagerie of restaurants and hotels has conditioned developers to amp up the glitz just south of the High Line's terminus at Gansevoort Street. How can you expect discretion once they get to the park?

More easily than you might think. Miller guesses that proximity to the High Line alone makes buildings more valuable. You don't have to be an architecture enthusiast to appreciate that it's something different,, said Miller.

Morris Adjmi is designing a hotel for developers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs at 450 West 14th Street, which bears the rare distinction of straddling the trestle. A diagonal moves through the building and we have two triangular spaces beside that,, said Adjmi. The idea is to feel like it's a seamless transition and the High Line informs the environment.. The plan involves a cube of glass over the structure to expose the park's changing colors. Later, Adjmi will decide whether a ramp or a staircase should reach the park. What's key, he says, is to make guests feel they have a head start on reaching a public destination. The High Line is such a unique space and [its] design taken to such a high level that accessibility to it will be like having a house on the beach..






The Caledonia, a condominium at 450 West 17th Street designed by Handel Architects (top), and a hotel at 450 West 14th Street designed by Morris Adjmi Architects (middle) for hoteliers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs have direct access to the elevated trestle. Meanwhile, Deborah Berke and her client Marianne Boesky chose not to connect her new gallery at 509 West 24th Street to the structure (bottom).

Roger Duffy, a partner at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is designing another key building: the new continued on page 20 playing the links continued from page 19 Dia Center for the Arts at the park's Gansevoort Street beginning. He aims to celebrate the High Line's role on the skyline rather than to offer users some exclusive vantage. His plan places a sculpture by Dan Grahammoriginally installed at the Dia's 22nd Street locationnon the center's roof so that it appears to float beside the park when you approach it from the Meatpacking District. Let's say you come up the slow stair. At that moment you turn left and there's an entrance there with a piece of great art hovering; it is inviting and welcoming but doesn't overwhelm the High Line.. His grammar for the roof also defers to the iron trestle borders. On the roof we have clerestory lights clad in metal. We thought the metal could come down to the horizontal datum of the High Line..

Laura Raicovich, the deputy director of Dia, describes the museum's connection as a transition point from the multi-input experience of walking the High Line to the contemplative experience of looking at art. She, like Corner, stresses practicality and quiet. The High Line is the facade of the building,, she said. You can design an ego-less buildinggif one existsshere because simplicity is very important.. She says key inspiration came from Dia: Beacon, where the founding architect had shown the kind of practicality Corner admires. A lot of the key design cues come from what we feel has been successful at Dia Beacon,, she said.

Robert A. M. Stern, who is designing a building with a connection point at 10th Avenue and 17th Street for Edison Properties, won't talk about his plans but does admit to a fondness for simplicity. He cited the former West Side Highway, which became an impromptu urban beach before it was demolished. Just being up above the city is wonderful,, said Stern. For him, the ideal connection would be restrained and the experience akin to the moment when a train emerges from Grand Central Terminallan awakening to daylight and industrial infrastructure, not a privileged view.

But deciding how to manage connections involves controlling traffic as well as providing views, and the city will review proposals on a case-by-case basis. Said Corner, whose firm is preparing principles to supplement the Parks Department's guidelines, The High Line was built by engineers who were only concerned with logistics. We've tried to stay true to that, toooto avoid anything too aestheticized and try to keep things tough and real. I would advocate the same thing for these sorts of connections..

Parks Commissioner Benepe oversees these connections because the Mayor's Office designated the High Line as a city park in order to gain site control. And Benepe approaches the access design as a practical concern in attracting users to a park unlike any other. We want it to be a place where you can go on a cloudy day and be alone or go on a summer day and be there with thousands of people. Our hope is that it will feel like a festival, minus the sausage vendors and tube socks..

Fortunately for Benepe, developers seem inclined to tie the value of connections to the High Line's foot traffic. The excitement of the High Line is that it's not managed,, said Michael Field, executive vice president of Edison Properties. Public spaces are always better when there are more people in them..

Negotiations over access from privately held property will remain trickyyCorner says he's seen some drawings that get a little too intimate for his comfort. Each developer must submit plans to the Art Commission. These negotiations, while sensitive, seem likely to remain as mysterious as the landscape they affect. One of the elements of keeping this process positive is not hashing out the day-to-day details,, said David. So it's not an area I'm going to go into.. David may not have that much cause for worry. Adjmi says his clients are considering a park-level screening room that would host public events. And Field is hardly alone in surmising that a popular High Line will feel much more special than a gated one. It seems the design guidelines for access resonate with architects who understand that a link to the High Line is a link to the beauty the city has when we enjoy it equally.

Alec Appelbaum writes about the urban environment.

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A Bridge Too Far

A Bridge Too Far
The long-awaited Brooklyn Bridge Park's maintenance will be funded by commercial and housing developments within its boundaries, which has some locals worried whether the trend toward private funding of public spaces has gone too far. Alex Ulam reports.


courtesy michael van valkenburgh

Proposed new developments
1 Proposed building
2 Unprogrammed greenspace
3 Promenade
4 Ball courts
5 Boat launch/marina
6 Existing building (360 Furman Street)
7 Beach

After defeating a 1984 plan by the Port Authority to sell off the piers along the East River waterfront below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, neighborhood groups began to advocate for a new park along the same site. Twenty years later, their efforts have begun to pay off: A 1.3 mile-long stretch of the East River waterfront from Atlantic Avenue to just north of the Manhattan Bridge is about to be developed as Brooklyn Bridge Park. New York State and New York City have committed $150 million to design and build the 85-acre park; construction is expected to begin next year.

But for some Brooklyn residents, the current master plan, which was approved in January, looks more like a pastoral backdrop for luxury coops than an urban park: Almost 10 percent of the land has been set aside for commercial development within the site. The plan allows for five new buildings within the park's boundaries, the tallest of which could be 30 stories, and several preexisting structures will be converted into housing and commercial space. The bulk of this new development is clustered near the park's main entrances at Atlantic Avenue and at Fulton Street, where plans call for a 225-unit hotel and a residential complex.

Brooklyn Bridge Park marks the latest stage in the growing involvement of the private sector in the financing of public spaces, especially along the waterfront, where building and maintaining a landscape is more expensive than in upland areas. Hudson River Park, for example, which is still under construction along Manhattan's West Side, is the first public park in the state that depends solely upon commercial entities within its boundaries to pay for its maintenance and operation costs. These parks also represent a new paradigm in that they are not being developed by parks agencies but rather by quasi-public entities headed by political appointees; in this case, by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC). Brooklyn Bridge Park has expanded on this model by including housing. Through a financial arrangement called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), the condo buildings slated for the park will, instead of paying property taxes to the city, directly pay for the park's maintenance and operations as well as capital maintenance, which in total is estimated will cost $15.2 million annually.

Developers have not been chosen for the new development parcels. According to Deborah Wetzel, a spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the BBPDC's parent organization, Requests For Proposals will be issued this fall. In addition to the new developments, legislation passed in the State Assembly in June made it possible for an existing building within the site, at 360 Furman Street, to be removed from city tax rolls and incorporated into the park. The developer of 360 Furman Street is Robert Levine, who bought the former Jehovah's Witnesses book plant for a reported $205 million several years ago. Through a spokesperson, Levine refused requests to be interviewed for this article. But in a May 2006 article in The Real Deal, Levine was interviewed about the funding of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The municipality is no longer able to support these things,, he said. The only way it can work is with private funds..

Not everyone believes that it has to be that way: In May, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, a group formed to oppose the BBPDC's plan, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against the ESDC seeking to remove the approximately 1,200 units of luxury housing from the park. The lawsuit charges the ESDC with violating state laws, which they say prohibits public parkland from being used for non-park uses. The suit also claims that the plan violates a 2002 agreement between the city and the state, which restricts development of the park to activities consistent with an earlier masterplan developed at the behest of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Local Development Corporation (BBPLDC), comprised of representatives from community organizations and local elected officials, and formed in 1998.

For the Defense Fund, the planned residential development not only compromises the current design, but also has potential create conflicts between park users and residents. Our goal is to get a real park that people can use without privatizing it for housing,, said the president of the Defense Fund, Judi Francis.

Citing the litigation, Wetzel declined requests for interviews with ESDC officials. But in a written statement, she maintained that design guidelines for the new buildings, being developed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, will protect the park's public aspect. The guidelines will ensure that public benefit from development is maximized, including requiring high-quality architecture and buildings that contribute positively to the life and vibrancy of the adjacent parkland and the surrounding neighborhoods,, the statement reads.

Noting the park's relatively remote location from residential neighborhoods, the park's landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh says that the hotel and housing will enhance the quality of the park user's experience by establishing a critical mass of people in the park at all times. Who the hell would go to this park in the winter and at night if you didn't have activity down there?? he asked. From Atlantic Avenue the walk to the Brooklyn Bridge on Furman Street, which is very forlorn, is about 20 minutes. You go down there today and you won't pass a single personnwhere in New York can you walk for 20 minutes and not see anybody??

Opponents of the plan contend that the maintenance budget is unrealistic and that the park has been over-designed. They have jacked up the maintenance costs in order to justify building all of these buildings,, said Bronson Binger, a former assistant commissioner for the New York City Parks Department, who filed an affidavit on behalf of the Defense Fund's lawsuit. My main problem is the $15.2 million maintenance costs per year for about 85 acres of park,, he said. Compare that to $23 million for Central Park's 840 acres. Clearly, there are things in there that shouldn't be.. But Matthew Urbanski, a principal with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, counters that the complications of maintaining the piers and a waterfront landscape justify the relatively high maintenance costs. We have massive piers three times the size of the size of the ones in Hudson River Park built on wooden piles,, he said, adding, We have to jacket the piles with plastic or concrete and then maintain them from year to year..

At the root of the controversy over Brooklyn Bridge Park are two competing visions contained within two separate plans: one is the current Van Valkenburgh plan, the other is the 2000 masterplan, commissioned by the BBPLDC from Urban Strategies (Van Valkenburgh was a subcontractor on the plan). The BBPLDC held a year's worth of public meetings to develop the park's program. Several years later, the BBPDC was founded and conducted a financial analysis of the Urban Strategies plan. State officials determined it was not financially feasible, and hired Van Valkenburgh to devise a second masterplan. The Urban Strategies plan featured a hodgepodge design with recreational facilities interspersed throughout the whole park. Its maintenance and operations budget was to be financed primarily through recreationally oriented commercial development as well as stores within the park. In contrast, the later Van Valkenburgh plan concentrates most of the active recreational activities on the piers. The upland areas are reserved primarily for passive recreational activities, housing and retail.

Roy Sloane, a former board member of the BBPLDC, is concerned that the interests of many neighboring communities, which have been agitating for more recreational facilities, are not adequately served by the Van Valkenburgh plan. The state threw out the community-based plan,, said Sloane. The recreational center, which we needed, was removed and replaced with 1,200 units of housing..

Urbanski argues that the current plan actually includes more opportunities for active recreation, and cites a pier devoted to basketball and handball courts and large protected areas set aside for kayaking. Furthermore, in Urbanski's view, many elements of the 2000 plan, such as its siting of large buildings on the park's piers, would not have worked structurally. The old plan made assumptions that were terribly erroneous,, he said, adding that studies show that the 2000 master plan's maintenance budget was grossly inadequate.

Binger, however, maintains that the civic qualities of the park will inevitably be compromised by the current plan: When parkland abuts private land, conflicts inevitably happen.. Van Valkenburgh has responded that his design ensures that public aspect of the park will be preserved. The housing and hotel parcels back up to public streets that are not in the park,, he noted. We have used a series of devices like landforms to create discrete but precise limits between the development parcels and the park..

A case is scheduled for a court hearing on August 2.

Alex Ulam is a manhattan-based writer who focuses on environmentalism and urbanism.

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Power Grid

Manhattan
Below 14th Street


8 Union Square South
Location: 8 Union Square South
Developer: Claremont Group
Architect(s): Arpad Baksa Architects
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size: 15 floors, 20 units, 52,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Summer 2007



This condominium will replace the Morris Lapidussdesigned Odd Lots store on the corner of University Place and Union Square South, which was recently demolished. The new building is made of white pre-cast concrete and has floor to ceiling aluminum windows wrapping its northeast side. this new amenity.



137 Wooster
Location: 137 Wooster Street
Developer: Arun Bhatia Development Corporation
Architect(s): Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Ettinger Engineering Associates, M. Paul Friedberg and Partners
Size:6 floors, 10 units, 37,500 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): January 2007



In 2003, the zoning changed to allow residential development in the SoHo Historic District on a case-by-case basis, and this is one of the first projects to be approved. The building consists of two distinct masses, one on Wooster Street and one on West Broadway, each tailored to its specific street frontage.



Trump SoHo
Location:246 Spring Street
Developer: Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organization
Architect(s): Handel Architects, The Rockwell Group
Consultant(s): The Trump Organization
Size:42 floors, 386,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): 2009



Donald Trump has shifted his gaze downtown with a project on the corner of Spring and Varick streets. The mixed-use development will combine a hotel and condos in a 42-story tower set atop a base that will be open to the public. Some community groups are concerned that housing is being introduced into a mostly manufacturing district.



4400442 West 14th Street
Location:4400442 West 14th Street
Developer: Diane von Furstenberg
Architect(s): WORK AC
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Americon Contractors, Tillotson Lighting, Bellapart
Size:5 floors, 30,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2006



Work AC gutted an existing red brick building abutting the High Line to make way for fashion giant Diane von Furstenberg's flagship store and studios. On top of the old building they added two floors: The first additional level is glass topped with aluminum fascia; the more sculptural second level is made of alternating clear and translucent glass.



Norfolk Lofts
Location:115 Norfolk Street
Developer: Zeyad Aly
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size:7 floors, 22 units, 22,800 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007



Grzywinski Pons is working on a seven-story condominium building near the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side, the young firm's first major project. The glass facade reveals a large atrium which serves as a source of light and air for units not facing the street.



Thompson and Broome
Location:520 Broome Street
Developer:Donald Zucker Organization
Architect(s):The Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Rosenwasser Grossman
Size:9 floors, 51 units, 73,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approval



A 2004 change in SoHo's zoning allowing the construction of residential buildings on parking lots paved the way for this condo building, which could soon replace a 1922 three-story parking structure. The area is zoned for commercial use, but the developer has applied for a variance. A decision will be announced this fall.



27 Wooster Street
Location:27 Wooster Street
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson
Consultant(s):Robert Sillman Associates, Jack Green & Associates, R.A. Heintges Architects
Size:8 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq.ft.
Completion (est.):2008



This SoHo loft building, which is just west of Jean Nouvel's building at 40 Mercer Street, has eight floors and not a single common corridor. Elevators open to each individual unit. The architects kept the building thin to give each unit maximum street and courtyard exposure.



40 Bond Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, Handel Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:11 floors, 33 units
Completion (est.):2007



Herzog & de Meuron's much-lauded project just north of Houston Street is their first residential commission in the United States. According to developer Ian Schrager, the cast glass mullions of the facade are the architect's reinterpretation off and homage tooLouis Sullivan's 1899 Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker Street.



123 Washington Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:The Moinian Group
Architect(s):Gwathmey Siegel & Associates
Consultant(s):Cosentini Associates, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, Ravarini McGovern Construction
Size:53 floors, 220 hotel rooms, 180 condo units, 440,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007



The Moinian Group recently received $50 million in Liberty Bond financing for this hotel and condominium tower next to the soon-to-be demolished Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan.



Manhattan
Above 59th Street


411 East 115th Street
Location:411 East 115th Street
Developer:Jeffrey Berger
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size: 7 floors, 31 units, 31,400 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007



Situated on a through-lot with exposures on 115th and 116th streets, this condominium's two street facades belong to two separate buildings, linked at the center of the lot with a skybridge. This enabled the two structures to share a circulation core with one elevator and one main lobby.



Kalahari Apartments
Location:40 West 116th Street
Developer:L& M Equity Participants, Full Spectrum
Architect(s):GF55, Schwartz Architects, Studio JTA
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size: 12 floors, 249 units, 54,184 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007



The facade pattern on these two linked buildings derives from three sub-Saharan culturessthe Ndebele of South Africa, the Ashanti of Ghana, and the nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. According to its designers, the project's symbolism is a response to the need for an African-American awareness of and contribution to architecture and urban planning..



111 Central Park North
Location:111 Central Park North
Developer:The Athena Group
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):SLCE Architects, Bovis Lend-Lease Construction
Size: 19 floors, 47 units, 87,500 sq. ft. residential, 8,700 sq. ft. retail
Completion (est.): Fall 2007



Hillier's architects took advantage of the fact that this building is the first residential highrise on Central Park North and made sure all 47 units, most with balconies, had unimpeded views of the park. An oversized second-floor outdoor garden and common terrace continues the arboreal theme.



The Rushmore
Location:80 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size: 41 floors, 289 units, 657,000 sq. ft
Completion (est.): 2008



Initially part of the massive Trump Place complex along Riverside Boulevard, the Rushmore was sold to Extell, which modified some of the floor plans to create larger units. Rising from a massive, block-long base, the Rushmore's twin towers echo a popular Upper West Side design motif, seen most recently at the Time Warner Center.



The Avery
Location:100 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:32 floors, 274 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2007



Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.



120 West 72nd Street
Location:120 West 72nd Street
Developer:Anbau Enterprises
Architect(s):BKSK Architects
Consultant(s):Goldstein Associates, Laszlo Bodak Engineer, Higgins & Quasebarth
Size:16 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007



Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.



Manhattan
Between 14th Street and 59th Street


310 East 53rd Street
Location:310 East 53rd Street
Developer:Macklowe Properties
Architect(s):Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects; SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Sota Glazing Inc.
Size:31 floors, 88 units
Completion (est.):2007



Perched on a three-story limestone pedestal, this residential buildinghas a 28-story glass curtain wall with balconies conceived as extensions of the interior. Its apartments are larger than the average in Midtown; the smallest measure 1,600 square feet.



405 West 53rd Street
Location:405 West 53rd Street
Developer:SDS Procida
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Montroy Andersen Demarco Design Group Inc., Sideris Engineers P.C., Engle Associates
Size:7 floors, 82 units, 201,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2008



Henry Smith-Miller freely acknowledges this condominium's debt to Le Corbusier's Unitt de Habitation in Marseille. But its New York provenance shows: Maisonettes on the ground floor are shielded from the street by a curtain of steel, creating small courtyards like those that typically front brownstones.



325 Fifth Avenue
Location:325 Fifth Avenue
Developer:Douglaston Developer and Continental Properties
Architect(s):Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Levine Builders, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Andi Pepper Interior Design, Thomas Balsley Associates, Israel Berger & Associates
Size:41 floors, 250 units, 390,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2006



Directly across from the Empire State Building, this new condo-minium will have a limestone pedestal along the street, and a 41-story tower above. The glass faaade features voluntary, multiple set-backs; most of the units have balconies.



241 Fifth Avenue
Location:241 Fifth Avenue
Developer:241 Fifth Avenue, LLC
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:20 floors, 60,000 sq. ft.


Since the Madison Square Park area was recently declared an historic district, Perkins Eastman had to meet strict guidelines in designing this 20-story highrise. Floors 1 to 15 will be flush with its neighbors on Fifth Avenue, while floors 16 to 20 will be set back from the street. The site is currently for sale, and includes the building plans.



The Atelier
Location:635 West 42nd Street
Developer:Moinian Group, MacFarlane Partners
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:46 floors, 478 units, 520,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007
Budget: $200 million



Atelier's 15,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be topped with a veritable city of studios and condos, featuring wraparound balconies and expansive views. Atelier recalls the bow of a great ship,, said architect Costas Kondylis, interpreted in glass..



610 Lexington Avenue
Location:610 Lexington Avenue
Developer:RFR Holdings
Architect(s):Foster and Partners
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:(80 condos, 50 hotel rooms), 257,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2008



RFR Parners' Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs transferred the air rights from their more famous neighbor (and property) on 53rd StreettMies van der Rohe's Seagram's Buildinggto allow Norman Foster's tower to take the form of a continuous, thin upright slab without setbacks. It will house condos and an upscale hotel.



548 West 29th Street
Location:548 West 29th Street
Developer:West LLC
Architect(s):Caliper Design
Consultant(s): GMS LLP, John Guth Engineering
Size:12 floors, 18 units
Completion (est.):Late 2007



This top-heavy building starts out narrow, rising on a 25-foot-by-100-foot Chelsea lot, but at the sixth floor, it starts to widen, cantilevering over its neighbors to the east and west. Caliper Design principal Stephen Lynch explained that the faaade is clad in a custom-designed metal panel system that provides an irregular texture to the building's surface.



Sky House
Location:11 East 29th Street
Developer:Clarett Group
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):ABR Construction
Size:55 floors, 139 units, 580,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007



This highrise uses air rights from the 1849 Church of the Transfiguration next door, and sits atop a new glazed parish house. The lot's 50-foot street frontage and 100-foot depth determined the tower's slender profile, which allows only three units per floor. We didn't want the architecture to dominate the site,, said Kirstin Sibilia of FXFowle. Architects chose masonry cladding, Sibilia explained, for its timeless appeal.



459 West 18th Street
Location:459 West 18th Street
Developer:Level 6 Developments
Architect(s):Della Valle + Bernheimer Design
Consultant(s):Robert Silman Associates, Front
Size:11 floors, 13 units, 29,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):January 2008



Rather than look to the past as a reference, Della Valle + Bernheimer chose to respond to the design of an adjacent (and as-yet unbuilt) building by architect Audrey Matlock. [Matlock's] building is all delicate planes and irregular surfaces,, said partner Jared Della Valle. Ours is about mass, determined by the building's L-shaped plan and setbacks..



East River Science Park
Location:29th Street and First Avenue
Developer:Alexandria Real Estate Equities
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):Stubbins, architect of record; Hargreaves, landscape architect; Tishman Construction, client rep; Turner Construction, construction manager
Size:870,000 gross sq. ft.
Completion (est.):N/A



This city-supported development aims to foster New York's biotech industry by creating a campus in Kips Bay, already home to a high concentration of medical and research facilities. Zoned for bioscience facilities, the 3.7-acre site will accommodate both private companies and public institutions.



10 Chelsea
Location:500 West 23rd Street
Developer:Leviev Boymelgreen
Architect(s):Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel Architects
Consultant(s):WSP Cantor Seinuk, Lilker Associates, Thornton Thomasetti Group
Size:12 floors, 113,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007



This mixed-use residential/ commercial building is made of exposed poured-in-place concrete with a dark red aluminum window wall. The glass is a combination of clear glass and insulated translucent glass used as side panels. Amenities include a public terrace overlooking the High Line.



611 Sixth Avenue
Location:611 Sixth Avenuet
Developer:The Brauser Group
Architect(s):Garrett Gourlay Architect
Consultant(s):DeSimone Consulting Engineers, MGJ Associates, Frank Seta
Size:10 floors, 41 units, 3 retail units, 116,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2007



Presently occupied by a three-level garage and a two commercial buildings, this site will soon be home to an eight-story condominium planted on two levels of retail. The black brick building is being being built as-of-right.



Brooklyn
Downtown


110 Livingston Street
Location:110 Livingston Street
Developer:Two Trees Management
Architect(s):Beyer Blinder Belle
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size:7 floors, 300 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2006



This 1926 McKim, Mead, and White building was home to the New York City Board of Education for 75 years. Sold by the city in 2003 to Two Trees Management, it is undergoing a major interior renovation which will add four floors to its crown. The challenge was to design interiors that stand up to the magnificence of the facade,, said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.



3066313 Gold Street
Location:3066313 Gold Street
Developer:Ron Hershco and Dean Palin
Architect(s):Ismael Leyva Architects
Consultant(s): Rosenwasser Grossman, I.M. Robbins, Flack + Kurtz, Matthews Nielson Landscape
Size:40 floors, 303 units, 400,000 sq. ft.; 35 floors, 214 units, 250,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2008
Budget:$400 million



As the tallest new residential development in all of Brooklyn, these two mixed-income residential towers will be pivotal in the downtown area's transformation from daytime-only business center to a 24/7 live-work neighborhood.



Thor Tower
Location:Willoughby Square
Developer:Thor Equities
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Size:55 floors, 1.2 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2008
Budget:$360 million



Willoughby Square, a 1.5-acre plot of land in downtown Brooklyn long condemned by the city, will be the site of a new public park and underground parking garage. Thor Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper, will anchor the park's north side and looks to be the first of several towering projects in the vicinity to break ground.



Brooklyn
North


The Aurora
Location:30 Bayard Street
Developer:The Developer's Group
Architect(s):Karl Fischer Architect
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size:13 floors, 53 units
Completion (est.):2007



The restoration of Williamsburg's McCarren Park, with new facilities and landscaping, as well as a conversion of a Robert Moses-era public pool into a performance space, will almost certainly encourage additional growth. The newest project is the Aurora, an apartment building which will feature an in-house grocery and delivery service.



North Side Piers
Location:164 Kent Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers, RD Management, L&M Equity Participants
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:29 floors, 290 units, 350,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Spring 2008



The Northside Piers is one of the first major waterfront developments in Greenpoint-Williamsburg since the area was rezoned last year. It is the first (and smallest) of three sister towers intended for the site, which was also masterplanned by FXFowle. This first tower will provide 180 units of market-rate and 110 units of affordable housing.



Greenpoint Terminal
Location:East River between Greenpoint Avenue and Oak Street
Developer:John Guttman Real Estate Management
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:13.7 acres, 2.6 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approvals



After a massive fire destroyed a row of 19th-century warehouses in Mayyand thereby muted a looming preservation fighttthis 14-acre site along the East River is closer to being redeveloped into a retail, commercial, and residential complex. Perkins Eastman had been asked to plan the site before the fire.



North 8th Street
Location:49 North 8th Street
Developer:Toll Brothers
Architect(s):GreenbergFarrow
Consultant(s):MGJ, Neil Wexler Associates, Scorcia and Diana Associates
Size:6 floors, 40 units, 76,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2006



The second major collaboration in Williamsburg between the national homebuilding company Toll Brothers and Atlanta-based architecture firm GreenbergFarrow, this six-story building will have a single-loaded corridor so that all 40 units have quality views.



Brooklyn
Central 


Park Slope Apartments
Location:391 Fourth Avenue
Developer:ROSMA Development
Architect(s):TEN Arquitectos
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Mehandes Engineering
Size:11 floors, 49 units, 53,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Summer 2007



Contextual districts assume a low floor-to-floor height, roughly 8 feet, TEN principal Tim Dumbleton noted, "but the market demands higher ceilings, so it's a challenge to fit more volume within the zoning envelope." TEN achieved 10-foot ceiling heights in this 11-story condo, preserving the monlithic character they desired and meeting setback requirements with a composition of two stacked volumes.



Lookout Hill
Location:199 State Street
Developer:Alchemy Property
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:11 floors, 46 units, 54,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007
Budget: $16 million



This 11-story residential project bridges the low-scale residential buildings in Boerum Hill to the south and the taller, mixed-use buildings in downtown Brooklyn to the north. The brick-and-metal-panel facade varies in depth, reducing the building's mass and giving some rhythm to the street wall.



Bronx

Gateway Center
Location:Bronx Terminal Market
Developer:BTM Development Partners
Architect(s):GreenbergFarrow Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:1,000,000 sq. ft.
Budget:$3500$400 million



The Bronx Terminal Market, a major wholesale food market, has long been in need of restoration. In 2004, the Related Companies purchased the property and hired Greenberg-Farrow to masterplan the site and design two three-story retail centers connected by a six-story garage, along with a riverfront park and esplanade.



Henry Hudson Parkway
Location:3260 Henry Hudson Parkway
Developer:Hudson Arlington Associates
Architect(s):Handel Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:9 floors, 127 units, 240,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
Budget:$90 million


Handel Architects' Riverdale project will add over 100 housing units to the neighborhood while preserving its relatively low scale with a nine-story profile. By creating a facade of windows looking to the east and a 60-foot-by-80-foot landscaped courtyard, the architects are hoping to draw attention away from the adjacent freeway and toward the neighborhood.



The Solaria
Location:640 West 237th Street
Developer:Arc Development, LLC
Architect(s):SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Unavailable
Size:20 floors, 56 Units
Completion (est.):2007


The Solaria's marketing scheme is that it is the star-lover's dream, with New York's only telescope and observatory on the roof. On a common star-gazing deck, building-dwellers will have access to a celestial map as well as educational sessions from the Amateur Astronomer's Association of New York.



Queens

Queens Street Apartments
Location:43317 Dutch Kills Street
Developer:ROSMA Development
Architect(s):TEN Arquitectos
Consultant(s):Mehandes Engineering, D.V.A.
Size:600 units, 500,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Unavailable



The Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company owned eight buildings in Long Island City, including the six-story cast-in-place concrete warehouse that will serve as a base for TEN Arquitectos' 600-foot-tall slab. The residential project, still in concept phase, is in the recently upzoned area along Jackson Avenue near the Sunnyside Yards.



Queens Family Courthouse
Location:89914 Parsons Boulevard
Developer:The Dermot Company
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):Kajima Construction Services, Marinos Gerazounis & Jaffe, DeSimone Engineers
Size:12 floors, 380 units, 290,000 sq. ft. residential, 44,000 sq. ft. retail; 19,5000 sq. ft. community
Completion (est.):2007
Budget:$130 million



To comply with HPD specifications, theconversion of the Queens Family Courthouse into housing includes many affordable units and space for community use. The latter will be housed in the historic building, built in 1927 as a library, while housing will occupy the new glazed addition.



5505 48th Avenue
Location:5505 48th Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers
Architect(s):H. Thomas O'Hara Architects
Consultant(s):Ettinger Associates, Axis Design Group
Size:8 floors, 142,000 sq. ft.; 5 floors, 19,000 sq.ft.; 118 units
Completion (est.):2007



Toll Brothers called on H. Thomas O'Hara to design a low-rise, high-end condominium in the heart of Queen's most industrial neighborhood. The architects responded with not one but two buildings. The base of both structures will be granite and channel glass, while the upper floors will be built out of pre-cast concrete.
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NEW PRACTICES NEW YORK


In September 2005, The Architect's Newspaper and the AIA New York chapter held the first of four New Practices Roundtables, a discussion series meant to provide a forum and resource for start-up architecture firms. Launched at the initiative of last year's chapter president Susan Chin and directed by current president Mark Strauss, the roundtables were a chance for architects to share their insights and experience (not to mention frustrations) with starting and running their own firms. The sessions, held at the Center for Architecture featured experts, including technology consultants, branding specialists, insurance lawyers, who advised on matters such as how to get recalcitrant clients to pay up to the cost-efficiency of outsourcing to how to get one's work published.

The overwhelmingly positive response to these roundtables (which we will resume in the fall) inspired us to sponsor a competition called New Practices, New York, aimed at identifying and showcasing exceptional young local practices. Jurors included Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics, Martin Finio of Christoff:Finio, Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architectsswhose practices are only slightly older than the competing firms and who were all guest speakers in the seriessas well as Chin, assistant commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs; I served as jury chair. We reviewed portfolios from over 50 architecture firms (formed after January 1, 2001) and found six exceptional firms to showcase.

The winning firms' portfolios and videos about their work will be on view at the Center for Architecture from July 26 to September 23. (Reception on Wednesday, July 26, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., open to the public.) In addition to the exhibition, a bimonthly exhibit and reception will be held for each of the practices selected at the HHfele America Showroom (25 East 26th Street, across from Madison Park); dates are listed below.

WILLIAM MENKING



WINNING FIRMS

Architecture In Formation (Matthew Bremer); September 14
G TECTS LLC (Gordon Kipping); November 9
Gage / Clemenceau Architects (Mark Foster Gage, Marc Clemenceau Bailly);
January 11
Interboro Partners (Tobias Arborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theordore); March 8
WORK AC (Dan Wood, Amale Andraos); May 10
Zakrzewski Hyde Architects (Stas Zakrzewski, Marianne Hyde); July 12




Architecture In Formation


Long Island House, view of rear terrace (Long Island, 2006)


Midtown Duplex (Manhattan, 2005)


The Ranch Commons, conceptual house (Bulverde, Texas, unbuilt)




G TECTS LLC


DNA Studio, multimedia lobby for Internet entertainment firm (Manhattan, 2004)


Baruch College, renovation and project to link existing campus buildings (Manhattan, construction to start in 2008)


Harlem Media Tech, conceptual proposal for a media arts center in Harlem, for the exhibition, Harlemworld: Metroplis as Metaphor held at the Studio Museum in Harlem (Manhattan, 2004)




Gage / Clemenceau Architects


Metropol Tower, proposal for developer office tower, 2006 (Ft. Lauderdale, unbuilt)



Seoul Performing Arts Center, 2005 competition entry (Seoul, Korea, unbuilt)




Interboro Partners

Deploy the Devoider!, conceptual proposal for Urban Voids competition (Philadelphia, 2005)




WORK AC

Diane von Furstenberg Headquarters, renovation/addition to existing warehouse, including penthouse conference room pictured (Meatpacking District, December 2006)

The Emerald, a 52-unit apartment building in Midtown 2005 (Manhattan, unbuilt)

Spotwelders, editing lounge for video-editing facility (Manhattan, 2005)




Zakrzewski Hyde Architects


116 Hudson Penthouse
, interior (Manhattan, 2004)


Art Box, competition entry for a demountable exhibition space (2006)

Spring Street Loft, facade detail of 11-story condominium (Manhattan, estimated completion October 2006)

 

Eavesdrop: Philip Nobel

 Architects beware! It turns out it’s really hard to build stuff. This week we have two cautionary tales from the field—one tragic and the other, well, just a little soggy.

Since the rumor has been going around and around, perhaps you’ve already heard about the chaos at the new Institute of Contemporary Art building in Boston, a lovely Koolhaasesque design by our very own Diller Scofidio + Renfro? If so, you’ll know that the contractor is going bankrupt and the client is value-engineering on-the-fly as the thing, already well along as befits a building scheduled to open in mid-September, nears completion. Indeed, you may have also heard, as I did, that changes are being made without the architects’ input, Liz and Ric are “freaking,” and the ICA brass has even, at this very late date-god forbid-“lopped off a chunk” of it.

All bunk! Alas. But the truth is interesting, too. On April 3, two masons and a passing driver (stuck in afternoon traffic) were killed when scaffolding collapsed at another Boston construction site, a project for Emerson College on Boylston Street. The general contractor, Macomber Builders, which has gotten more than a few OSHA citations for serious scaffolding violations in recent years, is in predictably hot water: It is under investigation and is getting sued by at least one of the victim’s families. As a result, Macomber has circled the wagons and in the last few months its attention has drifted from other projects—including Discofro’s harborside museum. “There was definitely a lull,” Charles Renfro said, after dismissing the more spectacular stories making the rounds. “But now there’s no lull—it’s going gangbusters!” He said the September 17 opening is a go, he laughed off the idea of an excised “chunk,” and then he got all philosophical: “Construction sites are never paradise. Paradise doesn’t happen until the building is built.”

Tell that, my friend, to the poor sodden souls at Obra Architects, the young New York comers picked for this year’s Young Architects Program installation in the forecourt at P.S.1. After a frenzied construction campaign frustrated by our unfortunate June deluges, the series of plywood-ribbed and polyethylene-scaled “shells” opened and, you all may have heard as well, immediately started to melt. “It’s not melting!” Jennifer Lee, cofounder of the firm with Pablo Castro, protested when she was reached at the site during an emergency visit a few days after the opening. “It was in its completed vision for a few days and then some aspects of it had to be re-engineered.” As any visitor to Queens could see for themselves, the re-engineering included a hastily improvised system of cables, wooden posts, and stray pieces of plywood propping up the vision that the curators had likened, pre-construction, to “a giant albino python.” Lee said all would be made right—“We're looking forward to people coming back to see it in its new life”—and then she too waxed philosophical: “It was about trying to push the limits. There are ten shells altogether and in certain of them we possibly, conceivably, pushed the limits too far.”

So from this we may deduce the following: Construction is really complicated, disasters happen, but philosophy will always be there the save us. 

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OVER BOOKED

Archi-Tours
Architecture Now!
Philip Jodidio
Taschen, $39.99

Architecture in Japan
Architecture in the Netherlands
Architecture in Switzerland
Architecture in the United Kingdom

Philip Jodidio
Taschen, $24.95 each




Following the success of the first three titles of its Architecture Now! series, Taschen is introducing a fourth installment this summer, as well as a new collection of books that survey contemporary architecture organized by country. The new series, written by the publishing house's go-to architectural historian Philip Jodidio (who, besides authoring the Architecture Now! books, has written several monographs for Taschen), is kicking off with books on Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Each volume opens with a brief essay summarizing the national architecture culture (all texts are offered in English, French, and German), followed by presentations of recent work by 15 to 20 architects, organized alphabetically by firm. Though the selection of firms and projects might seem obvious to those who follow the international design scene closely, they accurately reflect the mixture of regional and international influences that pervade architecture today. While Jodidio looks to an international array of architects working in each countryyArchitecture in Switzerland in particular has a number of non-native architectssin general, he privileges local talent. For example, the Japan volume includes stores in Tokyo by Toyo Ito and Jun Aoki, while the famous Prada Store by Herzog & de Meuron is left out. This focus allows the character of each country to emerge and makes the idea of national surveys feel worthwhile.
jaffer kolb is an editor at AN.



EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Here is Tiajuana!
Fiamma Montezemolo, Rene Peralta, Heriberto Yepez
Black Dog Publishing, $29.95




In the days following 9/11, a spontaneous, self-curated show called Here Is New York appeared in a SoHo storefront. A collection of photographs related to the World Trade Center tragedy taken by anyone who wanted to submit their work, the show was included in its entirety in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Life of the City, nine months later. The show borrowed its name from E. B. White's essay, a title that has levitated over Manhattan's literary world since the original was published in 1949. It is the perpetual present tense of White's title that the exhibition revised and that captured the instant change in life in New York at 9/11. The most startling thing about the exhibition was how it cast a state of crisis as a continual present tense.

Here Is Tijuana! offers another perpetual present-tense emergency, though one that has persisted for a far longer period of time. Written and edited by anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo, architect Rene Peralta, and philosopher Heriberto Yepez, who all teach and practice in Tijuana and San Diego, Here Is Tijuana! fits in the genre of books that in the last 20 years have embarked on a urban reconnaissance mission. Mixing images, texts, data, and interviews from a range of sources, the book maps everyday life in Tijuana against a broad backdrop of social and economic data. As a form of urban theory, its referent is most clearly Mike Davis' City of Quartz (Vintage, 1992) and Albert Pope's Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1997), but its graphic design and visual content place it closer to The Contemporary City (Zone Books, 1987) and The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (Taschen, 2002).

All these books invented new forms of urban research but are by and large set in a somber lull, unable to harness indignation or fear to overcome outright predation. Here is Tijuana! is not as carefully constructed as any of these books, though its urgency is more vivid, documenting a daily reality that's of direct concern to the book's authors. After emergingg for the last 50 years, Tijuana is still perceived as what the authors describe as a transaction without another transaction,, a place that operates on the continual verge of something. But this is not the same Tijuana of 30 years agoothen understood as a kind of urban dam of people pressed against the U.S. border. Tijuana is inequity, defined to a large degree by its proximity to the U.S., but it is also now a teaming and centerless milieu that expands east and south, as much as it presses north.

Here Is Tijuana! captures the city's present but also shows its future potentials. It is no longer defined as a failed transaction with San Diego; it is also the largest zone of electronics-assembly plants in Mexico, for example, and has many self-sustaining industries.

Here Is Tijuana! presents a place and a condition, both begging to be understood. The book is filled with latent questions: How do we constitute the depiction of social emergencies today? How do we see them and respond to them, and what is the recourse for those who live under crisis conditions when the processes that would allow change are perpetually out of reach? It's obvious the book's authors love the city, and are not demonstrating social need as much as human potential.
Michael Bell is a New Yorkkbased architect and associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP.



GRAND PRIX
Get Off My Cloud: Wolf D. Prix,
Coop Himmelb(l)au, Texts 196882005
Edited by Martina Kandelerf-Fritsch
and Thomas Kramer Hatje Cantz, $50.00



Courtesy hatje cantz
A rendering of the BMW Welt, the automaker's distribution center by Coop Himmelb(l)au, which began construction in 2004.

Wolf Prix, who cofounded Coop Himmelb(l)au with Helmut Swiczinsky in 1968, is one of the few to come out of the experimental architecture groups of the 1960s still designing at a very high level. In fact, unlike other radicall survivors of the 1960s (Peter Cook of Archigram is another), Prix has moved from paper architecture to important built works. Get Off My Cloud, a compilation of Prix's writings, spans his career, from 1968 to 2005. In the book's foreword, Christian Reder, an author and art professor, notes that Prix confronts an almost compulsively paralyzed public and its leading exponents with a staccato tempo of model-like solutions, only his are expanded by the freedom of no longer having to believe in a revolution.. His writings show that he is still a believer.

Over the 26 years covered in the book, Prix's writings have gone from poetic manifesto to drier, academic-speak, but he remains critical of consumerism, ephemeral e-commerce, conceptual minimalism, and media hyped renderings.. To his credit, he maintains that architects must confront background contexts, programs, and new technologiess and recognize that architecture is a social portrait..

Prix argues, Only star architects, who have developed a potential for resistance, are able to influence what's happening in building..Coop Himmelb(l)au's recent commissions like the BMW project in Munich have moved Prix into the celebrity stratosphere, but can he translate his visionary thoughts into visionary construction? It will take more than words, but he appears to be well on his way.
WM
.



THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Cedric Price: Retriever: Annotations 7
Edited by Eleanor Bron and Samantha Hardingham
Institute of International Visual Arts Publishers, 9.99


Cedric Price was a wonderfully iconoclastic public figure, a left-wing radical until he died in 2003. Though many famous anecdotes about his antics are in circulationnlike the time he refused to give a lecture at the Architectural Association until Alvin Boyarksy, then head of the school, brought a snifter of cognac to the lecternnstill very little is known about him. A definitive biography of Price has yet to be written. But this loose-leaf catalogue offers a beginning toward understanding the man, by providing a look into his private library.

The publication is a list of every book, magazine, newspaper, bulletin, and map in Price's library, along with a key describing the personal inscriptions and enigmatic markings littered throughout them. Samantha Hardingham, a research fellow at the University of Westminster, and Price's long-time partner, actress Eleanor Bron, began cataloguing his library in 2004.

One example of something that appears in the key is an ink stamp of a pig with hoofs draped over the edge of a page, which shows up repeatedly. In one instance, it comes with Price's obscure note, Bath chaps + cooked pig cheeks.. The editors add the helpful annotation, reference to Bath, Somerset. CP loathed the place, like the chaps..

Price's books range from childhood mementos to scholarly tomes on architecture and city planning. A 1943 book Narrow Streets was given to him as a school prize and the editors remark, At the age of 9 CP was invited to choose his own prize. He chose this book. Having spotted it in the window of the local bookshop, he assumed it had to do with town planning. Are you sure this is what you want?' his teacher asked. It turned out to be a novel about a blue-blooded East End girl adopted by a wealthy society woman, set during the war in London.. We also learn that in 1960 Buckminister Fuller gave Price a copy of his unpublished text How Little I Know and it is inscribed with uncharacteristic modesty to Cedric & Liz who is well aware of how little I know. With affectionate regard Bucky Fuller..

The catalogue is a quick read and a cryptic introduction to Price. It also reminds us how much more we want to know about him. WM



HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Nearest Thing to Heaven:
The Empire State Building and American Dreams,
Mark Kingwell,
Yale University Press, $26.00


For architects, the Empire State Building seems somewhat beyond the pale, its very perfection or essential embodiment of a categoryy the skyscraperrmakes it, strangely, uninteresting. As the Mona Lisa must be to art historians, or Casablanca to cinnastes, there's something vaguely embarrassing about the topic, despite or because of its popular acclaim. Compounding the matter for a provincial architectural profession enamored with narratives about the power of individual architects and the grace of individual clients, the Empire State Building, like Casablanca, was a strange and deeply fortuitous convergence: a perfect storm of narrow talents and experienced hacks who together made the best thing any of them ever did. They aimed for pic- turesque and got sublime. Even Rem Koolhaas, expert in recycling local color into pedigreed architectural rhetoric, focuses in Delirious New York not on the Empire State but on the building it replaced when it began construction in 1929, the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

But architects aren't the only ones with this blind spot. The Empire State Building's uncanny visible invisiblity is the main and best theme developed in Nearest Thing to Heaven by Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. One dramatic feature of the Empire State Building,, he observes, is its tendency to disappearrthat is, as Wittgenstein said of language, to lie hidden in its obviousness.'' Elsewhere, Kingwell aptly applies Hegel's comment, The known, just because it is known, is the unknown.. At their best, Kingwell's diverse musings about movies, landscapes, and keepsakes accumulate into a new way of knowing and unknowing the familiar building. These culminate in an entertaining episode of visibility, mechanical reproduction, and anxiety in which the author is detained, lining up to visit the Empire State observation deck, because x-rays of his bag reveal the weapon-like profile of a miniature souvenir of the building itself. Much of the book is similarly sharp, only occasionally veering into the anodyne assertions ((Though we long to scrape it, the sky always retreats from our touchh) we might fear from an author whose other titles include Catch and Release Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life (Penguin, 2005).

More alarming is to see an accredited philosopher so easily bamboozled by the quasi-philosophizing of architects. This is not theoretical fancy,, Kingwell solemnly concludes after a long quote from Koolhaas, which was of course just that. This crudeness of his architectural understanding begins to seem willful when Kingwell blurs Antonio Sant'Elia with Le Corbusier, Mies with Loos, and Walter Gropius with Bruno Taut, in ways that serve his argument but not the historical record. The latter's name is spelled Tout,, perhaps to better rhyme with trout..

It's tempting to excuse Kingwell as he excuses the muddle-headed scholarship in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Rand's concern wasn't really with architecture, of course. It was a practice she did not really understand.. But the stakes are too high. Any new book about a New York skyscraper is tacitly about those other disappearing skyscrapers, the late, great Twin Towers. Kingwell doesn't flinch from the reference: Since the last days of 2001, the [Empire State] building has assumed a new brightness, a more resonant luster. [I]f such a thing is possible, it has somehow become more visible than before. That mysterious dynamic between longing and visibility is the subject of this book,, throughout which we get sideways glances downtown, sentences like the one that begins Skyscrapers, like airplaness? and continuous retroactive foreshadowing.

But Kingwell's trivial treatment of the World Trade Center's architecture diminishes, or is diminished by, his rhetorical use of its destruction. In contrast to his polymorphous readings of Empire State, his interpretation of the Trade Center is direly narrow. He writes, The aesthetics of the World Trade Centerrrather, the lack of themmare again significant here. Yamasaki was afraid of heights, and perhaps as a result the twin towers exhibited none of the soaring quality found even in the earliest skyscrapers.. Forgiving the odd use of soaring,, that breezy clause between the dashes requires an entire book. Elsewhere, Kingwell describes its absolute refusal not only of decoration [[] but of any suggestion of grace or style.. And yet what Yamasaki brought to International Style modernism with the Twin Towers was precisely a stylish new interest in decoration and the fussily graceful detail, all the way down to those gothic arches decorating their base. Kingwell's assertion that New York without the Empire State Building is unimaginable, far more so than without the World Trade Centerr suggests an alarming relativism of unimaginabilities, and prompts one to wonder whose New York he's imagining.

At best, Kingwell is merely mistaking his own impressions for architectural intentions, and in philosophical terms, hypothetical imperatives for categorical ones. At worst, one worries that he's looking to find in the World Trade Center the solemnity that would give some grounding to this otherwise pleasantly airy book. But because all the spooky hints and feints don't add up with the same care Kingwell elsewhere applies, he veers into the bathetic. An early description of Empire State concludes, There was, inevitably, another facet, or shard of meaning [[]: a thought of fatal conjunction, airplane and skyscraper surfaces touching farther downtown, destruction of the still missing towers.. The problem is that word inevitably.. The destruction of the Twin Towers is an easy point of reference, reliably adding depth or resonance or borrowed poignancy to arguments that haven't necessarily earned it. The very ease with which 9/11 can, and has been, deployed in critical and political discourse, demands that it be engaged with ever more precision and accuracyylest that day's own causes and consequences suffer the same fate Kingwell suggests has befallen the Empire State Building: knownn and thus unknown, invisible behind apparent visibility.
Thomas de Monchaux is a New Yorkkbased writer and architect.



JUNK CULTURE
Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America
Giles Slade, Harvard University Press, $27.95




With the Al Goreenarrated An Inconvenient Truth in movie theaters and Brad Pittt voice-overed series Design:e22The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious now airing on PBS, the specter of environmental disaster is on everybody's mind (as if you needed to be reminded). But despite the rise in public consciousness, there appears to be a growing, even frenzied, consumer interest in the next new thinggthe new cell phone, computer, car, and iPoddall destined for an ever-shortening product life and the inevitable landfill.

In Made to Break, Giles Slade, an independent scholar, charts the history of this essentially American phenomenon and, some might say, the country's greatest cultural export. Architects and designers concerned about their own contributions to this trend should pay attention to the story he tells, if only to see what they're up against.

Slade's highly readable book is not an academic history but a collection of revealing and deftly organized anecdotes. For instance, we learn in the span of just a few pages how single men and women, recently transplanted to the country's growing metropolises, first spurred the demand for disposable products in the late 19th century. Without the time (or mothers nearby) to do laundry regularly, single men, Slade tells us, began to buy throw-away paper collars and cuffs en masse. Soon after, disposable razors were invented and then cheaply made wristwatches and so on. For women, the invention of a new absorbent material made from celluloiddoriginally used in military bandages in World War IIled to the creation of sanitary napkinss in 1920; this was followed by disposable kerchiefss (named Kleenex) and, later, nylon tights.

Slade's ability to tell an entertaining story, however, does not prevent him from supporting it with meaningful analysis. For instance, it's not lost on him that these early, revolutionary products mostly had to do with hygiene. Personal hygiene has always had deep moral associations, so it should come as no surprise that advertisers and social progressives alike began to vilify what they called thriftt and economyy as miserly and morally dirty.. These campaigns were decisive, Slade argues, in shaping early consumer habits and value judgments, acclimating the public to a culture of repetitive consumption and paving the way for the manufacturing practice known as planned obsolescence.

This brings us to the focus of the book. Slade carefully distinguishes between different categories of obsolescence and builds up to a powerful critique of the practice by, among other things, recounting the many dubious arguments made on its behalf. An early proponent was the mid-century industrial designer Brooks Stevens, famous for his Edmilton Petipoint clothes iron and car designs for Alfa Romeo. We make good products,, he wrote in 1958, induce people to buy them, and then next year deliberately introduce something that will make those products old-fashioned, out of date, obsolete. We do that for the soundest reason: to make money.. What Stevens is really describing is psychological obsolescence, or the feeling that what one owns is hopelessly old-fashioneddnot broken, mind you, or even inefficient, just out of date. Psychological obsolescence is one kind of planned obsolescence; another is sometimes called death-datingg and is usually achieved through product manipulation. General Electric has been accused of doing the latter with their light bulbs, and General Motors, according to Slade, pioneered the former in 1927 when it began to introduce new models on a yearly basis. It would surprise more than a few to discover that Henry Ford was an early champion of products that will last foreverr and that it was he, not those he dominated in the market, who lost this fight.

It is harder these days to get away with death-dating but clearly, psychological obsolescence through annual (even biannual) design modification is ubiquitous. Many in the 1950s, like industrial designer George Nelson, saw it as a prodigious tool for social betterment,, stimulating economic growth, generating new technologies, and steadily reducing prices to the advantage of the less fortunate. This is still a deeply engrained way of thinking, but most of us today are aware of its limitations. We are less likely now than we once were to take the increasing number of households with large screen TVs (to pick a common example in the economic literature) as evidence of social progress, as if it implied that such people were benefiting meaningfully from an apparent increase in purchasing power. These days we're careful to weigh more heavily the value of the environment, healthcare, and education.

The book that Made to Break brings most immediately to mind is Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). Like that book, Slade's is a page-turner with a purpose, but it is also less a revelation than a mine of useful information. Like all good histories, it makes the obvious facts seem a little less pre-determined, like they might just be something we have the power to change. David Giles is an editorial intern at AN.



UNMIXED GREENS
Ecological Architecture: A Critical History
James Steele, Thames & Hudson, $55.00

Ten Shades of Green:
Architecture and the Natural World

Peter Buchanan,
Architectural League of New York (distributed by W.W. Norton), $24.95



christian richters / courtesy architectural league
Renzo Piano's Fondation Beyeler (Riehen, 1997) combines stone walls and steel panels to achieve low-cost heating and cooling and to fit in with its surroundings.

With an oilman in the White House who only reluctantly acknowledges that global warming is a threat, the environmental movement clearly needs all the protagonists it can get. Two lavishly illustrated new books offer architects tips for building a more sustainable future. Peter Buchanan's Ten Shades of Green, based on an exhibition he curated at the Architectural League of New York in 2000, identifies ten green principles or attributes from a range of contemporary work that, according to the author, any design can embody. Meanwhile, James Steele's Ecological Architecture: A Critical History showcases two centuries of exemplary green architecture from around the world. While Steele guides us through evolving ecological thought, Buchanan provides a vocabulary for scoring a design's greenness. Both books show how insightful design has always respected local tradition and responded to its settings, taking advantage of natural light and wind.

Of the two books, Steele's offers a clearer prescription for dealing with future challenges. Steele presents capsule portraits of influential architects, from Ebenezer Howard through Buckminster Fuller to Paolo Soleri and Tadao Ando, and maintains an intellectual thread that thematically links chapters on subjects from new urbanism to digital design. With carefully chosen drawings and photos, and a dose of purple prose, he captures the heady ambition that propels innovation. In addressing postmodernism's interest in history, Steele writes that designers like Robert Venturi and Michael Graves began to suggest that all platonic solids had subliminal linguistic meaning.. Steele's portraits remind us that great green architecture can be transporting as well as comfortable.

London-based author and architect Buchanan relies on categories, or shades,, that make design sustainable, followed by concise analyses of nine large-scale projects and four houses. One shade is Embedded in Place,, which acknowledges the need for continuity with local conditions and traditions. He cites Clare Design's Cotton Tree Pilot Housing in South Queensland, Australia, as an example that preserves local trees and taps into local vernacular for forms that will enhance energy efficiency. Another category, Health and Happiness,, addresses not only physical issues (like the threat of exposure to toxic materials) but psychological ones as well: Providing access to natural light and air and bringing nature indoors is not just good for the planet, he argues, but also beneficial to people's emotional health.

The categories are comprehensive and offer a generous framework to consider green strategies. Still, the terms' grammatical awkwardness sometimes makes their application seem off or stretched. We can admire Sir Norman Foster's Commerzbank for wrapping around a vertical garden that keeps tenants cool. But do we appreciate its lessons more because it matches five of ten shades,, compared to projects that meet only one or two? Architects might come away from the book still fuzzy about the materials and technologies that would earn similar results in different context. Moreover, he uses terms we would never hear in conversation, making projects hard to latch onto. Foster's Commerzbank, he argues, achieves a whole hierarchy of foci.. What to do with this knowledge? Reject a partial hierarchy of foci?

Steele, who teaches in Los Angeles, also succumbs to hyperbole. He closes with a look at a masterplan of a two-square mile patch of open space along the Los Angeles River called Baldwin Hills. Designed by Mia Lehrer, Conservancy International, and Hood Design, the project earns Steele's praise for delivering natural amenity to all ethnic groups,, thus relating ecological benefits to social justice. The designers' choices changed the entire concept of an urban park.. Big words and claims gain credence when we see their individual components as well as their intellectual heritage.
Alec Appelbaum is a New Yorkkbased writer specializing in urban issues.




































 

 

PRODUCTS



NEW DESIGN CITIES
Edited by Marie-Josse Lacroix
Editions Infopresse, $32.00

This book is the result of a colloquium that took place during the 2002 International Design Biennial in Saint-Etienne, France, which debated cities' different strategies for positioning and growth through design.. While the book does not actually engage in any debate regarding strategies, the authors describe various design projects that contribute to the competitiveness of cities..

The book considers seven different cities: Antwerp, Glasgow, Lisbon, Montreal, Saint-Etienne, Stockholm, and New York. The New York case study focuses on Times Square and there is nothing new here for New York readers. The Glasgow section, on the other hand, has a great deal to offer. Stuart Macdonald, director the city's famous Lighthouse Center for Architecture, Design and the City, offers a concise telling of Glasgow's postindustrial transformation out of the gloom of its industrial pastt through design and cultural regeneration starting in 1990 when it was a European City of Culture. But he is able to sift hype from reality: He notes that the City of Culture design initiatives in fact had little effectt on the city, generating only temporary work and attention for the city; more influential in his mind is the raised consciousness and participation of designers and artists in an increasingly open urban regeneration process.

Many of the essayists, including Stockholm's Claes Britton and American sociologist Saskia Sassen, emphasizes the importance of integrating design initiatives in urban policy. In many respects, this book should be read by politicians more than designers. William Menking





MIAMI BEACH:
BLUEPRINT OF AN EDEN

Michele Oka Doner
and Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.
Feierabend Unique Books, $95.00

Past times on Miami Beach are for me vague images at best. How little I recognize, how much I want to revisit it all. Sometimes I hardly feel I was really there,, writes Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., founder of the Wolfsonian Museum, in a letter to his old friend, artist Michele Oka Doner. The letter opens this sumptuous book and is the first of many to appear, along with photographs, blueprints, maps, news clippings, and other ephemera, all drawn from each's family archives. Wolfson's and Oka Doner's archives are unique, however; most people don't have snapshots of their parents with Ava Gardner and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The two are Miami blueblooddhis father was the city's mayor in the 1930s and hers in the 1950s and 60s. Their memoir of Miami Beach is intensely personal while offering unique perspectives on the place's cultural formation.
Cathy Lang ho





DREAM WORLDS:
ARCHITECTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT

Oliver Herwig and Florian Holzherr
Prestel Verlag, $60.00

In Dream Worlds, Munich-based journalist Oliver Herwig examines theme parks, shopping malls, housing developments, and other highly controlled environments that use architecture in the service of mass entertainment. Herwig sees these removed fantasy spaces as the heirs of ideal cities and ancient coliseums. From the Mall of America to the island developments of Dubai, he argues that each reflects the fantasies and desires of their respective societies. The author's critical voice is strong throughout; the book reads not as a history or social study but as highly personal observation. With a case like the Munich Oktoberfest, the effect is comparable to having a family road trip ruined by the sarcastic teenager in the backseat. However, in locations like Las Vegas and Disneyworld, Herwig's commentary transcends cynicism and provides meaningful insight into the cultural forces that created these artificial environments. Herwig is conscious of previous analyses of his case studies, and his comparison between the Las Vegas of today with the one studied by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is particularly enlightening. The accompanying photographs by Florian Holzherr capture the uncanny atmosphere of these dream worlds.
Nathan Landers





Le Corbusier's Hands
Andrr Wogenscky
MIT Press, $14.95

Published in France in the 1980s but only recently translated, this short volume is a Proustian remembrance of Le Corbusier written by Andrr Wogenscky, who had a close relationship with Corb for 30 years as his draftsman, assistant, and later, colleague and friend. The book is a collection of brief observations, statements, and anecdotes that together reveal an intimate picture of the modernist master. No matter how close a friendship he had with anyone, even during the course of a conversation or at a work meeting, Corbusier seemed to leave,, writes Wogenscky. He would retreat into his inner life, more populated than the world of men.. The author touchingly captures Corbusier's solitary nature, politesse, candidness, literary taste, and more, and in doing so, illuminates the many sources of influence on his works. Andrew Yang





The Stirling Prize
Ten Years of Architecture and Innovation

Tony Chapman
Merrell/RIBA Trust, $59.95

When the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) conceived of the Stirling Prize in 1996, the U.K. was in the middle of what author Tony Chapman calls architectural dark ages.. He and the other contributors to the bookka monograph commemorating the 10th anniversary of the prize, which recognizes the building that has contributed most to British architectureeargue that it has encouraged the creation of good architecture in the U.K. and beyond. Organized chronologically, the book presents each year's winner, runners-up, and an accompanying essay by critics including Hugh Pearman, Deyan Sudjic, and Tom Dyckhoff.Jaffer kolb







Source Books On
Landscape Architecture
Volume 1:
Michael Van Valkenburgh
Associates: Allegheny Park
Volume 2:
Ken Smith Landscape
Architecture: URBAN PROJECTS

Edited by Jane Amidon,
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95 each

Princeton Architectural Press' new Source Book in Landscape Architecture Series is meant to parallel the publisher's architectural series edited by Jeffrey Kipnis and Robert Livesey. According to the new series' editor Jane Amidon, its goal is to provide a glimpse into the processes of emerging and established designers as they mature from tentative trial to definitive technique..

The first volume focuses on Michael van Valkenburgh's designs for Pittsburgh's Allegheny Riverfront Park. Detailed images are complemented by an interview and various essays that probe van Valkenburgh's design process for this specific project and his overall design philosophy.

Volume two, on Ken Smith, is identical in format, but includes several projects, including his design of MoMA's roof garden, East River Landing, and P.S. 19 in Queens. Like the first volume, the compact paperback includes an interview, critical essay, chronology of projects, as well as exhaustive project documentation, including photographs, plans, sections, and models.

A third volume, due out later this summer, will focus on Peter Walker's plans for the Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas, Texas. Future books planned for the series will be devoted to the work of Grant Jones and Paoli Burgess. DG





The Donnell and Eckbo Gardens: Modern California Masterworks
Marc Treib
William Stout Publishers, $45.00

Modernism reached its apogee in landscape architecture in California, emblematized by two works: Thomas Church's Donnell Garden (Sonoma County, 1948) and Garrett Eckbo's Alcoa Forecast Garden (Los Angeles, 1959). Historian and U.C. Berkeley professor Marc Treib offers a deep analyses of these iconic projects, sharing almost every piece of documentation that exists (Church's and Eckbo's archives are housed at Berkeley). He places the gardens in the context of their designers' broader careers, detailing their collaboration with clients and colleagues, and painting a picture of cultural life in mid-century California. CLH





Landscape Urbanism Reader
Edited by Charles Waldheim
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95

New York's High Line is hard to categorizeeit will be a landscaped park but it is also a highly programmed architectural space, while its origins as infrastructure are still a huge part of its appeal. The emerging field of landscape urbanism is one way to define such a project and the growing numbers of likeminded proposals around the country. After a 1997 conference of the same name held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the school formally launched the discipline with a degree program, which in this book has its its first theorists. Contributors including James Corner, Alan Berger, and Linda Pollak argue that we should understand landscape as a crucial part of urban infrastructure.Anne Guiney





Lexicon of Landscape Architecture
Meto J. Vroom
Birkhauser (distributed by
Princeton Architectural Press), $50.00

One of the great pleasures of dictionaries is getting distracted by a strange new word while looking up another. For those curious about the history of gardens and landscapes, Lexicon will prove full of interesting diversions. The landscape architect Meto Vroom defines more than 250 words, from abstractt to wind,, as it figures in landscape history and practice. Each entry begins with a traditional dictionary definition, and then turns into a short essay full of examples and citations for further reading. Vroom is catholic in his tastes, and sources range from Simon Schama to Richard Neutra and Charles Darwin.AG


NOTABLE
MONOGRAPHS



Norman Foster: Reflections
Norman Foster
Prestel, $70.00



Louis I Kahn
Robert McCarter
Phaidon, $85.00



Kevin Kennon: Architecture Tailored
DAMDI Design Document Series, $67.95



Koning Eizenberg Architecture:
Architecture Isn't Just for Special Occasions
Monacelli Press, $50.00



Fresh Morphosis 199882004
Essays by Peter Cook, Steven Holl,
Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin, et al. Rizzoli, $75.00



KM3: Excursions on Capacities
MVRDV
Actar, $80.00



Patkau Architects
Essay by Kenneth Frampton
Monacelli Press, $50.00



Richard Rogers:
Complete Works Volume 3

Kenneth Powell
Phaidon, $95



Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA
Yuko Hasegawa
Electa Architecture, $69.95
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LOOKING AND BUILDING IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES
Downtown Los Angeles is thriving in unexpected places. It`s not the new, multi-billion dollar projects and sweeping conversions of old bank buildings into posh lofts that are invigorating the famously sleepy city core. It`s the old, scruffy 1920`s streets and the life that fills them. Greg Goldin interprets the scene..



Olivo barbieri / courtesy yancey richardson gallery
Italian photographer Olivio Barbien`s site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)

Downtown Los Angeles is misunderstood. To most observers, there is no there there. Like the rest of the great metropolis, downtown is amorphous, indecipherable, a suburb in reverse that is occupied by day and empty by night. Yes, we`ve got the Frank Gehryydesigned Walt Disney Concert Hallla crown jewel to rival any city`s crown jewel. (And, don`t forget, ours was designed first, before Bilbao!) But the concert hall stands in singular aloneness, surrounded by parking lots, drab government behemoths, and piles of granite and glass tombstones occupied by elite bankers and law firms. What L.A. needs now is some big-time infill.

To an extent, this is underway. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimated in February that there has been $12.2 billion worth of built and planned construction in the downtown area since 1999. Lofts and condos are hot. More than 26,000 new residential units have been added since 2000. Thanks to an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance that eased the city`s regulations for restoring older buildings, historic properties are being converted at an unprecedented rate. The city has a new cathedral by Rafael Moneo and a new state transit building by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, while an arts school by Wolf Prix is the works. Meanwhile, local firm Rios Clemente Hale is designing a 40,000-square-foot plaza to anchor a 3.8-million-square-foot hotel-cum-mall-cum-residential-complex, known as L.A. Live!, adjoining the Staples Center, home court of the Lakers. The arena, which follows the nationwide trend of stadiums returning to cities` downtowns, is credited with a spurt of big-box growth at the south end of downtown since its opening in 1999.

Still, the view of a neglected and empty downtown persists because the city`s civic leaders, their developer patrons, and their acolytes in the press remain committed to transforming the admittedly grim but prominent civic center, which sits relatively removed from the rest of downtown, at the top of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill has suffered more from the misguided attention of city bigwigs and planners than perhaps any neighborhood in Los Angeles. In 1961, bulldozers began clearing hundreds of flophouses, SROs, fine Victorian homes, and small shopssthe very things that made it a genuine, lively community. More than 10,000 residents were displaced. In one way or another, the city has been trying to get them back ever since, but 50 years of urban renewal has produced an eyesore and an international embarrassment. This is the downtownn that gets all the attention, and is frequently mistaken for the city`s real, other, downtown.


olivio barbieri/coutesy yancey richardson gallery
Italian photographer Olivio Barbieri`s site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)

Unfortunately, this predicament is perpetuated by relentless efforts to pour more capital into Bunker Hill. The latest, a $1.8 billion scheme, was given the official seal of approval in late April when, after nearly two years of anticipation, Gehry unveiled a design for what is called the Grand Avenue Project. The private-public development, headed by New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, aims to transform Grand Avenue into a destination not only for downtown but for the entire region,, in the words of one leading public official. When it`s all completed, we`re going to have Gehry in stereo,, he boasted.

Whether Gehry in stereo can convert a 9-to-5 bureaucratic stronghold into a 24/7 boomtown is anyone`s guess. Still, the mistake is one of interpretation. Downtown Los Angeles has several centers. Bunker Hill, which is cut off from the rest of downtown by geography and freeways, is a hilltop governmental-cultural ghetto. The action, as a more sober Frank Gehry used to admit, is elsewhere. (Gehry once famously said that if the choice had been his own, he would have built Disney Hall somewhere along Wilshire Boulevard. That street, which connects downtown to the beaches in Santa Monica, is, as Gehry said, our true downtown, only it`s vertical..)

Downslope from Bunker Hill is Broadway, L.A.`s oldest main street. You can`t find a stronger contrast to the arid altiplano rising several blocks to the west. Broadway is teeming. You can get your shoes shined on the street. You can pop into the Grand Central Market and stand at a counter to snack on marinated cabbage and gorditas. You can stroll the wide, bustling sidewalks, in search of a fedora or a wedding gown. You can get married on Broadway, and pick-pocketed, too. You can buy bootlegged Mexican movies and tiny packets of Chiclets chewing gum.

Broadway bustles because it has hundreds of ground-floor shops, tightly spaceddlike any good main drag. And as John Kamp, a local city planner points out, Broadway is also successful because it has so many bus stops. People come to Broadway because it is part of their everyday trajectory through the city, not a special trip to an unlikely destination.. The crowds justify high rents, which in some cases are higher per square foot than on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

A bit further south and east is another area on the rise, the Fashion District, which borders Skid Row. In the past several years, the neighborhood has sprung to life with none of the fanfare or money heaped on Grand Avenue. The district has, in fact, benefited by being overlooked. A vestigial industrial zone where building owners are not required to have front yards, rear yards, or other setbacks, it contains a large stock of urban-friendly buildings. Buildings typically have multiple entrances. One, on the 800 block of South Main Street, has 14. Others might have a dozen small storefronts in the span of 150 feet of sidewalk frontage. The pedestrian-friendly scale allowed wholesalers to open their doors to retail. While garment workers sew upstairs, fashionistas ply the streets below, hunting for cheap knock-offs and bargain trendy buys. Here, too, rents rival those on Broadway. Buildings are selling for as much as $570 a square foot.

These are but two examples of other downtowns. There are still others, such as Little Tokyo and the nearby Arts District, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights. These parts are thriving not because someone has managed to give them a theme but because visually interesting, authentic, aurally stimulating businesses are pressed hard against the sidewalks. These are the parts of downtown Los Angeles that have never been relieved of the compression that brings urban life to the surface. Check them out, and you will see that Los Angeles has a downtown. It`s just not where you`re told to find it.
Greg Goldin is the architecture critic at Los Angeles Magazine and a regular contributor to the L.A. Weekly. He guest-edited this issue of AN.


FRANK GEHRY, KING OF THE HILL
In 1980, Frank Gehry was one of the more modest members of the "L.A. Dream Team" assembled to develop a visionary, but ultimately unrealized scheme to redevelop what remained of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, whose decaying Victorian mansions had been bulldozed 20 years before in the name of urban renewal. He was still regarded as an outsider seven years later when he won the competition to design Walt Disney Concert Hall in the same Grand Avenue area. Now he`s back as king of this particular hill, with schematic designs for the site he tried to reshape two decades ago.


bart bartholomew
Gehry Partners` proposal for Grand Avenue.

The popular and critical success of Disney Hall has endeared Gehry to the suits who run downtown, and their new bad boy is Thom Mayne, whose Caltrans building and iconoclastic approach to urban planning they consider dangerously radical. It`s their loss, and they`ll probably catch up, even if it takes 20 yearssjust as they did with Gehry, who has finally gained acceptance in his hometown.

The current iteration of the Grand Avenue Project attempts the same lively mix of uses and attractions as proposed by the original developer, the Maguire Partners and their Dream Team in 1980. Defying all the conventions of urban development, they wove together contributions by different architects, including a plaza by Gehry, a highrise residential tower by Barton Myer, an office tower by Cesar Pelli, a hotel-condo block by Ricardo Legorreta, fanciful pavilions by Charles Moore, a modern art museum by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, and landscaping by Lawrence Halprin. The plan included contrasting buildings surrounded by walkways, fountains, and greenery.

The proposal was widely acclaimed by the public and in the architecture press, but the Community Redevelopment Agency, a hapless band of amateurs, preferred Arthur Erickson`s sleek office towers. His scheme was a series of isolated objects with no connective tissue, and which failed to engage the street. The featured public amenity was Arata Isozaki`s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), but this was pushed below the street so as not to block the view of a shopping center on the site beyonddan element that was never built.

Twenty-five years later, Gehry is back, and has released a preliminary design that includes two L-plan towerssone of offices, the other for a hotel and condossthat act as frames for Disney Hall and a 250,000-square-foot retail-restaurant complex. This is the first of three phases in the $1.8 billion project, which will eventually comprise eight towers and a 16-acre park, to be designed by a team including the firms Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Levin & Associates. (Mayne was part of that team but was dropped by the developer, New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, in April 2005 for artistic differences. He was later replaced by Gehry, one of the initial competitors.)

Gehry`s May presentation at Disney Hall consisted of little more than a massing diagram. As it stands, there are no expressive gestures, and he offered few hints of how the scheme would be fleshed out. Skeptics wondered how great an influence The Related Companies would have on the design, and the extent to which it would be driven by retail imperatives. The ongoing fiasco at Ground Zero has undoubtedly reinforced a widespread cynicism about the contest between architecture and profit. (Gehry famously refused to submit a proposal for the original planning competition for the World Trade Center site, a decision that now looks incredibly prescient.) There is also the issue of whether one architect, however brilliant, can achieve unity and diversity through such an ambitious development, or whether parts should be delegated to other designers as in the old Maguire scheme.

The largest question, and one that will not be answered for at least a decade, is whether the Grand Avenue Project will animate the neighborhood as most downtown improvements have failed to do. In the wake of its loss on Bunker Hill, the developer, now called Maguire-Thomas Partners, spurred a redesign of Pershing Square, which had become as blighted as New York`s Tompkins Square Park. Legorreta understood how Mexican plazas work and landscape designer Laurie Olin drew on Rittenhouse Square, a lively oasis in his native Philadelphia. The block-sized park was opened to the street, colorful structures beckon pedestrians, but few enter except to retrieve their cars from the underground garage. As Robert Venturi once observed, Americans are reluctant to sit in outdoor public places except to eat and be entertained, and the city authorities failed to provide concession stands or programming. Even the crowds of shoppers a block east on Broadway ignored this one patch of greenery in east-central L.A. What does that say for the chances of the new park included in Gehry`s scheme?

Grand Avenue links some of the city`s most cherished public buildings, including the classic Central Library, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Disney Hall, as well as the Colburn Music School and the aloof citadels of the Music Center and Rafael Moneo`s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Even Disney Hall, everyone`s favorite new civic icon, hasn`t noticeably boosted foot traffic on the street, and most concertgoers arrive by escalator from the underground parking garage. The residential population of downtown has boomed over the last decade, and there has been a flurry of loft conversions and new apartment blocks. Urban homesteaders need shopping and services, but will they find those in the new retail center? For the newly crowned Gehry, this may be the toughest challenge of his 50-year career.
Michael Webb is a Los Angeles-based architecture critic whose most recent book is Adventurous Wine Architecture (Images Publishing, 2005).


IF YOU ADAPT IT, WILL THEY COME?
For more than 20 years, downtown Los Angeles has been the exclusive playground of bohemian artist-types who perferred cheap rents to Trauslen refrigerators and anonymity to swank eateries. not anymore. Downtown L.A. is slowly evolving into a collection of distinct neighborhoods each touting new high-end condominium and apartment conversion projects complete with rooftop swimming pools and fitness centers. You can even find an occassional cup of concrete-floored, skylit loft to your glass-enclosed office tower.

Newly minted lawyers, businessmen, and accountants, raking in mega starting salaries, think downtown will be a hot real estate market for years to come. Maybe it`s a chicken-and-egg situation, but they`re signing on to long waiting lists or pre-purchasing units before construction has even started. When the historic Douglas Building Lofts, renovated by Rockefeller Partners Architects, went on the market in 20044nearly 18 months before the Spring Street property was completeddall 50 units sold within a week. At the Flower Street Lofts, one of the first residential developments in the South Park district, several of the original buyers took advantage of the appreciating market and flipped their units within a year of purchase.

Emboldened by what appears to be an insatiable appetite for urban living, developers continue to increase unit prices, even as the rest of the L.A. market begins to flatten out. According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID), in the first quarter of 2006 the average cost per square foot was $547.80, an astonishing 18.8 percent increase from last year at the same time. The market, in other words, is booming. Since 1999 nearly 7,000 new condominiums and apartments have been created in downtown Los Angeles. If all goes as projected by the DCBID, there will be nearly 20,000 more by 2015.

But, as the residents and workers in downtown Vancouver have learned, a thriving community won`t necessarily emerge just because you`ve built and occupied thousands of new units. Although one is in the works, up to now, there hasn`t been a grocery store downtown for decadessand Citarella or Whole Foods are far from the drawing boards. And no such thing as Sarabeth`s Kitchen or Frette is even imagined. Add to this a lack of community and no green space and downtown had little more to offer than lofty spaces with skyline views. Developers have worked to remedy this by enticing cafes and small businesses to open in the ground floors of residential developments, while others are creating courtyards and rooftop recreation areas. The uncertain promise is that there`s more to comeeenough to lure buyers out of the suburbs and into the core.

Clearly, an influx of new homeowners and businesses in downtown will be an economic boon for the city, but for the thousands of poor and homeless living in the area`s shelters and low-cost residential hotels, gentrification means one thing: eviction. Already, developers have converted several of the 240 hotels (many of them functioning as SROs) into market-rate apartments and condominiums. Fearful that more of the downtown poor will be displaced, the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a one-year moratorium on the conversion or demolition of low-cost hotels citywide, with the option for an extension. In an effort to further help the transient poor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a $1 billion bond measure to pay for subsidized apartments. The funds would cover housing as well as social services. And other plans to bring improvements downtown are in the works. In March, L.A. County officials unveiled a $100 million campaign that would house the estimated 14,000 homeless concentrated on downtown`s Skid Row by expanding much needed countywide programs and providing more emergency and transitional housing, and health services. The campaign is part of a $12 billion investment plan to build 50,000 housing units countywide over a ten-year span.

Ten years ago nobody would have believed any of this was possible. And had it not been for the new public icons, Disney Concert Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Staples Center, it might not have been. And while major cultural and entertainment projects are no doubt paramount in a successful urban environment, the most important ingredient of all is the local population, be they new condo owners, low-income transients, factory workers, or artists. Finding a way for all income levels to thrive in the new downtown will be the challenge of city officials and developers.
Allison Milionis is a freelance writer living and working in Downtown Los Angeles.

mill street lofts
1820 Industrial Street
The Los Angeles office of German firm Behnisch Architects has designed one of the first ground-up, loft-style buildings in an area filled with adaptive re-use projects. We realized early on that because of the low scale of the surrounding buildings, if you built up you could offer amazing views of downtown,, said project architect Christof Jantzen. The building, developed by local firm LinearCity, stands 16 stories high and contains what Jantzen describes as eight different unit types,, ranging from 650 to 2,100 square feet and including single-, double-, and triple-story condos, some following the inverted L-shaped configurations that Le Corbusier used in his L`Unitt d`habitation in Marseilles.


Behnisch Architects

In keeping with the spirit of the industrial loft conversions that surround the project, the project has a concrete structure with exposed concrete floors, tall ceilings, and large windows. The materials and fixtures used throughout will be sheet metal, fiber cement, and pre-cast concrete panelssall sustainable materials. In addition, operable windows, indirect sun-orientation, a gray-water treatment system, and a passive-cooling ventilation system might just earn the developer the LEED-rating it seeks. Adjacent to the 16-story highrise, a smaller set of townhousess shares the same material vocabulary as the loft building, though with more privacy.

I think the developers need to be highly praised for what they`re doing,, said Jantzen. They have a vision for the area that will transform it into a great neighborhood.. In 2004, LinearCity also developed and sold lofts in an adjacent building, the ToY Factory, and is engaged in another adaptive reuse project across the street, the Biscuit Company Lofts by Aleks Istanbullu Architects.

Biscuit company lofts
673 Mateo Street
When Paul Solomon, founder of the development group LinearCity, called Los Angeles- based Aleks Istanbullu Architects to transform a pre-existing factory into residential condos, the architect knew immediately that he wanted to do something different from a standard conversion. He wanted to design loft spaces that vary in size, plan, and character throughout the boxy building, a 1925 biscuit-baking factory formerly owned by the manufacturer Nabisco.


courtesy aleks istanbullu architects

The site comprises the 110,000 square-foot, seven-story main structure and a single-story annex; Istanbullu will add an additional floor to each, increasing the total square footage to 153,000 square feet. On the main building, Istanbullu created a large penthouse with extensive outdoor space. He transformed the existing annex into a set of three-story row houses by carving out a mezzanine and adding a floor.

According to Istanbullu, the architects decided to use the contrast approachh on the additions, by which he means making clear the distinction between old and new. The penthouse and the top floor of the annex are constructed out of steel, stone, and glass, though the colors were chosen to complement the brick building below. It will remain largely intact, though Istanbullu adjusted the circulation to create irregular interior spaces. I really wanted variety, to find and create unique units,, said Istanbullu. Although the building is a box, by shaping the hallways in an odd configuration, I could get a lot of plan varieties.. New structural walls in the core of the building were installed to bring it up to building code, while some pre-existing, non-load-bearing walls were removed to keep a feeling of openness.

The interiors will be minimally outfitteddmost won`t even include a refrigeratorrdominated by the pre-existing inch-thick maple floors, brick walls, and copper details. Like luxury loft-style condominiumns in New York City, prices will likely attract a wealthy clientele.

vibinia lofts
114 East 2nd Street
In 1996, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles initiated demolition of the 17,000-square-foot St. Vibiana Cathedral, its home since 1876, sparking a heated preservation battle that ultimately left it untouched and now the cornerstone of a major $120 million, 468,000 square-foot mixed-use development project by Los Angeles developer Tom Gilmore.


Courtesy Tom Gilmore

According to Gilmore, the Los Angeles Conservancy, a local preservation organization, approached him in 1997 and asked for assistance in purchasing the property, which includes a 2.5-acre lotta full city block. With money lent (somewhat ironically) by the Archdiocese itself, Gilmore bought the property for $4.6 million, pledging to restore the cathedral and ensure an active future for it.

Gilmore came to an agreement with the California State University to convert the cathedral into a performing arts space downtown, a plan that earned $4 million from the state toward the cost of restoration and seismic retrofitting.

I am an adamant urbanist,, said Gilmore, adding, I`m not a fan of little disconnected venues; I am all for density.. By transferring air rights from the cathedral and its connected refectory, Gilmore could plan a series of small mixed-use buildings and a 41-story residential highrise spread out throughout the site. We`re staggering the buildings and utilizing setbacks in order to create a pedestrian-friendly environment,, said Gilmore. Gilmore and his partner, Richard Weintraub, hired local architecture firm Nadel Architects to design the project, who began with massing diagrams to plan the site. The bottom line is that the skin and profile are less important than massing in a project of this scale,, Gilmore pointed out.

The $8 million restoration of the cathedral was completed last year, overseen by local preservation experts Levin & Associates Architects. The rest of the project is still in designnGilmore notes that the preliminary renderings are more flashy than I`d like to see themm?as the project goes through planning and zoning. Gilmore hopes the tower, which will have 2,200 square feet of ground-level retail fronting a parking garage, will break ground in the beginning of 2007 and be completed in 2009.

Fuller Lofts
210 North San Fernando Road
One of the more notable adaptive-reuse conversions downtown is Santa Monicaabased Pugh + Scarpa Architects` restoration of the 1927 Fuller Pink Company, a former office building and a relic of L.A.`s art deco moment. Though not an official landmark, it sports stunning details, including pilasters, sculpted floral bas reliefs, and according to principal architect Gwen Pugh, a wonderfully preserved lobby..


courtesy pugh + scarpa architect

Pugh + Scarpa has restored the five-floor, 151,000-square-foot building and added two additional floors, creating a total of 102 units. The architects cored out the center of the concrete building in order to create a 40-foot-wide lightwell and room for a small interior courtyard. The rooftop addition has its own identity, clad in glass and corrugated metal. On the building`s north side, the metal cladding undulates in plan, contrasting with the cube on which it is perchedda gesture that, according to Pugh, is intended to divorce the skin from the boxx and make the original building`s undecorated north facade more interesting.. On all sides, irregularly placed balconies, resembling constructivist boxes, further disrupt the original building`s simple planarity.

The Lincoln Heights district is roughly 2 miles from downtown, in an area that`s still largely undeveloped (parking lots and empty plots far outnumber supermarkets). According to Pugh, the Fuller Lofts is the only project in the immediate vicinity that has been motivated by the city`s new Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which the city adopted in 1999 (and greatly expanded in 2003) in order to lure businesses downtown.


CIVICS LESSON
Frank Gehry`s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Rafael Moneo`s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Thom Mayne`s Caltrans headquarters have changed the way Angelenos understand their downtown. Spectacular, freewheeling, and deeply moving, these buildings have drawn crowds and made architecture relevant, and perhaps essential. So why haven`t more of the new public buildings followed suit? In the preceding decades, John Portman`s Bonaventure Hotel epitomized L.A.`s style, which typically meant being walled off from the street, virtually impenetrable, and wrapped in a one-way mirror. Now public buildings are increasingly incorporating plazas, street-level portals, and transparent facades. Though many public buildings still embrace the bunker mentality, it might reflect bad planning and site selection as much as architectural design: The city still has the habit of plopping security-conscious buildings cheek-by-jowl to public-conscious ones. Whole street elevations are permitted to go unarticulated and turn a barren carapace to neighbors. Several new public projects reveal how far L.A. has come, and how far it has to go.

central los angeles area
High School #9

450 North Grand Avenue


armin heiss / isochrom / courtesy coop himmelb(l)au

After the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Coop Himmelb(l)au`s High School for the Visual and Performing Arts may be one of the most dramatic structures to be completed in downtown L.A. The new structure, which began construction in March and is scheduled to openin 2008, will feature a dramatic glass and steel lobby and house 1,728 music, dance, visual and performing arts students. Estimated to cost $208 million, the signature feature of the school will be a 140-foot-tall tower that will give students a clear view of the adjacent Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

los angeles united states
Courthouse

First Street and Broadway


courtesy perkins and will
In 2001, Perkins + Will won a commission from the General Services Administration to design a 1,000,000-square-foot couthouse in downtown L.A. The 16-story building features approximately 40 courtrooms with floor-to-floor heights of 19 feet, along with some administrative office space and an expansive ground-floor atrium. Sustainability was crucial for the client and designers: Photovoltaic panels comprise about 50 percent of the large curving glass facade, under-floor circulation systems minimize heating and cooling costs, and clerestory windows throughout the courtrooms bring in natural daylight. The building is in still in design and construction should begin in mid to late 2007.

Los angeles police department headquarters
First and Main Streets


courtesy dmjm

Filling most of the block across from City Hall, the L.A.P.D.`s new headquarters went through an extensive public review process while it was under design, and ultimately incorporated the lessons of over 30 community meetings. The architects, DMJM/Roth-Shepard Design, incorporated necessarily strong security requirements such as 75-foot setbacks to surround the building with public spaces. The 500,000-square-foot building`s two above-ground volumes form an L-shape around a large plaza along First Street. The budget is set for $303 million, and construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.
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Looking and Building in All the Right Places

Italian photographer Olivio Barbien's site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)

Downtown Los Angeles is misunderstood. To most observers, there is no there there. Like the rest of the great metropolis, downtown is amorphous, indecipherable, a suburb in reverse that is occupied by day and empty by night. Yes, weeve got the Frank Gehryydesigned Walt Disney Concert Hallla crown jewel to rival any cityys crown jewel. (And, donnt forget, ours was designed first, before Bilbao!) But the concert hall stands in singular aloneness, surrounded by parking lots, drab government behemoths, and piles of granite and glass tombstones occupied by elite bankers and law firms. What L.A. needs now is some big-time infill.

To an extent, this is underway. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimated in February that there has been $12.2 billion worth of built and planned construction in the downtown area since 1999. Lofts and condos are hot. More than 26,000 new residential units have been added since 2000. Thanks to an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance that eased the cityys regulations for restoring older buildings, historic properties are being converted at an unprecedented rate. The city has a new cathedral by Rafael Moneo and a new state transit building by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, while an arts school by Wolf Prix is the works. Meanwhile, local firm Rios Clemente Hale is designing a 40,000-square-foot plaza to anchor a 3.8-million-square-foot hotel-cum-mall-cum-residential-complex, known as L.A. Live!, adjoining the Staples Center, home court of the Lakers. The arena, which follows the nationwide trend of stadiums returning to citiess downtowns, is credited with a spurt of big-box growth at the south end of downtown since its opening in 1999.

Still, the view of a neglected and empty downtown persists because the cityys civic leaders, their developer patrons, and their acolytes in the press remain committed to transforming the admittedly grim but prominent civic center, which sits relatively removed from the rest of downtown, at the top of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill has suffered more from the misguided attention of city bigwigs and planners than perhaps any neighborhood in Los Angeles. In 1961, bulldozers began clearing hundreds of flophouses, SROs, fine Victorian homes, and small shopssthe very things that made it a genuine, lively community. More than 10,000 residents were displaced. In one way or another, the city has been trying to get them back ever since, but 50 years of urban renewal has produced an eyesore and an international embarrassment. This is the downtownn that gets all the attention, and is frequently mistaken for the cityys real, other, downtown.


olivio barbieri/coutesy yancey richardson gallery
Italian photographer Olivio Barbieri's site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)

Unfortunately, this predicament is perpetuated by relentless efforts to pour more capital into Bunker Hill. The latest, a $1.8 billion scheme, was given the official seal of approval in late April when, after nearly two years of anticipation, Gehry unveiled a design for what is called the Grand Avenue Project. The private-public development, headed by New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, aims to transform Grand Avenue into a destination not only for downtown but for the entire region,, in the words of one leading public official. When itts all completed, weere going to have Gehry in stereo,, he boasted.

Whether Gehry in stereo can convert a 9-to-5 bureaucratic stronghold into a 24/7 boomtown is anyonees guess. Still, the mistake is one of interpretation. Downtown Los Angeles has several centers. Bunker Hill, which is cut off from the rest of downtown by geography and freeways, is a hilltop governmental-cultural ghetto. The action, as a more sober Frank Gehry used to admit, is elsewhere. (Gehry once famously said that if the choice had been his own, he would have built Disney Hall somewhere along Wilshire Boulevard. That street, which connects downtown to the beaches in Santa Monica, is, as Gehry said, our true downtown, only itts vertical..)

Downslope from Bunker Hill is Broadway, L.A..s oldest main street. You cannt find a stronger contrast to the arid altiplano rising several blocks to the west. Broadway is teeming. You can get your shoes shined on the street. You can pop into the Grand Central Market and stand at a counter to snack on marinated cabbage and gorditas. You can stroll the wide, bustling sidewalks, in search of a fedora or a wedding gown. You can get married on Broadway, and pick-pocketed, too. You can buy bootlegged Mexican movies and tiny packets of Chiclets chewing gum.

Broadway bustles because it has hundreds of ground-floor shops, tightly spaceddlike any good main drag. And as John Kamp, a local city planner points out, Broadway is also successful because it has so many bus stops. People come to Broadway because it is part of their everyday trajectory through the city, not a special trip to an unlikely destination.. The crowds justify high rents, which in some cases are higher per square foot than on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

A bit further south and east is another area on the rise, the Fashion District, which borders Skid Row. In the past several years, the neighborhood has sprung to life with none of the fanfare or money heaped on Grand Avenue. The district has, in fact, benefited by being overlooked. A vestigial industrial zone where building owners are not required to have front yards, rear yards, or other setbacks, it contains a large stock of urban-friendly buildings. Buildings typically have multiple entrances. One, on the 800 block of South Main Street, has 14. Others might have a dozen small storefronts in the span of 150 feet of sidewalk frontage. The pedestrian-friendly scale allowed wholesalers to open their doors to retail. While garment workers sew upstairs, fashionistas ply the streets below, hunting for cheap knock-offs and bargain trendy buys. Here, too, rents rival those on Broadway. Buildings are selling for as much as $570 a square foot.

These are but two examples of other downtowns. There are still others, such as Little Tokyo and the nearby Arts District, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights. These parts are thriving not because someone has managed to give them a theme but because visually interesting, authentic, aurally stimulating businesses are pressed hard against the sidewalks. These are the parts of downtown Los Angeles that have never been relieved of the compression that brings urban life to the surface. Check them out, and you will see that Los Angeles has a downtown. Itts just not where youure told to find it.
Greg Goldin is the architecture critic at Los Angeles Magazine and a regular contributor to the L.A. Weekly. He guest-edited this issue of AN.


FRANK GEHRY, KING OF THE HILL
In 1980, Frank Gehry was one of the more modest members of the "L.A. Dream Team" assembled to develop a visionary, but ultimately unrealized scheme to redevelop what remained of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, whose decaying Victorian mansions had been bulldozed 20 years before in the name of urban renewal. He was still regarded as an outsider seven years later when he won the competition to design Walt Disney Concert Hall in the same Grand Avenue area. Now he's back as king of this particular hill, with schematic designs for the site he tried to reshape two decades ago.


bart bartholomew
Gehry Partners' proposal for Grand Avenue.

The popular and critical success of Disney Hall has endeared Gehry to the suits who run downtown, and their new bad boy is Thom Mayne, whose Caltrans building and iconoclastic approach to urban planning they consider dangerously radical. Itts their loss, and theyyll probably catch up, even if it takes 20 yearssjust as they did with Gehry, who has finally gained acceptance in his hometown.

The current iteration of the Grand Avenue Project attempts the same lively mix of uses and attractions as proposed by the original developer, the Maguire Partners and their Dream Team in 1980. Defying all the conventions of urban development, they wove together contributions by different architects, including a plaza by Gehry, a highrise residential tower by Barton Myer, an office tower by Cesar Pelli, a hotel-condo block by Ricardo Legorreta, fanciful pavilions by Charles Moore, a modern art museum by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, and landscaping by Lawrence Halprin. The plan included contrasting buildings surrounded by walkways, fountains, and greenery.

The proposal was widely acclaimed by the public and in the architecture press, but the Community Redevelopment Agency, a hapless band of amateurs, preferred Arthur Ericksonns sleek office towers. His scheme was a series of isolated objects with no connective tissue, and which failed to engage the street. The featured public amenity was Arata Isozakiis Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), but this was pushed below the street so as not to block the view of a shopping center on the site beyonddan element that was never built.

Twenty-five years later, Gehry is back, and has released a preliminary design that includes two L-plan towerssone of offices, the other for a hotel and condossthat act as frames for Disney Hall and a 250,000-square-foot retail-restaurant complex. This is the first of three phases in the $1.8 billion project, which will eventually comprise eight towers and a 16-acre park, to be designed by a team including the firms Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Levin & Associates. (Mayne was part of that team but was dropped by the developer, New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, in April 2005 for artistic differences. He was later replaced by Gehry, one of the initial competitors.)

Gehryys May presentation at Disney Hall consisted of little more than a massing diagram. As it stands, there are no expressive gestures, and he offered few hints of how the scheme would be fleshed out. Skeptics wondered how great an influence The Related Companies would have on the design, and the extent to which it would be driven by retail imperatives. The ongoing fiasco at Ground Zero has undoubtedly reinforced a widespread cynicism about the contest between architecture and profit. (Gehry famously refused to submit a proposal for the original planning competition for the World Trade Center site, a decision that now looks incredibly prescient.) There is also the issue of whether one architect, however brilliant, can achieve unity and diversity through such an ambitious development, or whether parts should be delegated to other designers as in the old Maguire scheme.

The largest question, and one that will not be answered for at least a decade, is whether the Grand Avenue Project will animate the neighborhood as most downtown improvements have failed to do. In the wake of its loss on Bunker Hill, the developer, now called Maguire-Thomas Partners, spurred a redesign of Pershing Square, which had become as blighted as New Yorkks Tompkins Square Park. Legorreta understood how Mexican plazas work and landscape designer Laurie Olin drew on Rittenhouse Square, a lively oasis in his native Philadelphia. The block-sized park was opened to the street, colorful structures beckon pedestrians, but few enter except to retrieve their cars from the underground garage. As Robert Venturi once observed, Americans are reluctant to sit in outdoor public places except to eat and be entertained, and the city authorities failed to provide concession stands or programming. Even the crowds of shoppers a block east on Broadway ignored this one patch of greenery in east-central L.A. What does that say for the chances of the new park included in Gehryys scheme?

Grand Avenue links some of the cityys most cherished public buildings, including the classic Central Library, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Disney Hall, as well as the Colburn Music School and the aloof citadels of the Music Center and Rafael Moneoos Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Even Disney Hall, everyonees favorite new civic icon, hasnnt noticeably boosted foot traffic on the street, and most concertgoers arrive by escalator from the underground parking garage. The residential population of downtown has boomed over the last decade, and there has been a flurry of loft conversions and new apartment blocks. Urban homesteaders need shopping and services, but will they find those in the new retail center? For the newly crowned Gehry, this may be the toughest challenge of his 50-year career.
Michael Webb is a Los Angeles-based architecture critic whose most recent book is Adventurous Wine Architecture (Images Publishing, 2005).


IF YOU ADAPT IT, WILL THEY COME?
For more than 20 years, downtown Los Angeles has been the exclusive playground of bohemian artist-types who perferred cheap rents to Trauslen refrigerators and anonymity to swank eateries. not anymore. Downtown L.A. is slowly evolving into a collection of distinct neighborhoods each touting new high-end condominium and apartment conversion projects complete with rooftop swimming pools and fitness centers. You can even find an occassional cup of concrete-floored, skylit loft to your glass-enclosed office tower.

Newly minted lawyers, businessmen, and accountants, raking in mega starting salaries, think downtown will be a hot real estate market for years to come. Maybe itts a chicken-and-egg situation, but theyyre signing on to long waiting lists or pre-purchasing units before construction has even started. When the historic Douglas Building Lofts, renovated by Rockefeller Partners Architects, went on the market in 20044nearly 18 months before the Spring Street property was completeddall 50 units sold within a week. At the Flower Street Lofts, one of the first residential developments in the South Park district, several of the original buyers took advantage of the appreciating market and flipped their units within a year of purchase.

Emboldened by what appears to be an insatiable appetite for urban living, developers continue to increase unit prices, even as the rest of the L.A. market begins to flatten out. According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID), in the first quarter of 2006 the average cost per square foot was $547.80, an astonishing 18.8 percent increase from last year at the same time. The market, in other words, is booming. Since 1999 nearly 7,000 new condominiums and apartments have been created in downtown Los Angeles. If all goes as projected by the DCBID, there will be nearly 20,000 more by 2015.

But, as the residents and workers in downtown Vancouver have learned, a thriving community wonnt necessarily emerge just because youuve built and occupied thousands of new units. Although one is in the works, up to now, there hasnnt been a grocery store downtown for decadessand Citarella or Whole Foods are far from the drawing boards. And no such thing as Sarabethhs Kitchen or Frette is even imagined. Add to this a lack of community and no green space and downtown had little more to offer than lofty spaces with skyline views. Developers have worked to remedy this by enticing cafes and small businesses to open in the ground floors of residential developments, while others are creating courtyards and rooftop recreation areas. The uncertain promise is that therees more to comeeenough to lure buyers out of the suburbs and into the core.

Clearly, an influx of new homeowners and businesses in downtown will be an economic boon for the city, but for the thousands of poor and homeless living in the areaas shelters and low-cost residential hotels, gentrification means one thing: eviction. Already, developers have converted several of the 240 hotels (many of them functioning as SROs) into market-rate apartments and condominiums. Fearful that more of the downtown poor will be displaced, the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a one-year moratorium on the conversion or demolition of low-cost hotels citywide, with the option for an extension. In an effort to further help the transient poor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a $1 billion bond measure to pay for subsidized apartments. The funds would cover housing as well as social services. And other plans to bring improvements downtown are in the works. In March, L.A. County officials unveiled a $100 million campaign that would house the estimated 14,000 homeless concentrated on downtownns Skid Row by expanding much needed countywide programs and providing more emergency and transitional housing, and health services. The campaign is part of a $12 billion investment plan to build 50,000 housing units countywide over a ten-year span.

Ten years ago nobody would have believed any of this was possible. And had it not been for the new public icons, Disney Concert Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Staples Center, it might not have been. And while major cultural and entertainment projects are no doubt paramount in a successful urban environment, the most important ingredient of all is the local population, be they new condo owners, low-income transients, factory workers, or artists. Finding a way for all income levels to thrive in the new downtown will be the challenge of city officials and developers.
Allison Milionis is a freelance writer living and working in Downtown Los Angeles.

mill street lofts
1820 Industrial Street
The Los Angeles office of German firm Behnisch Architects has designed one of the first ground-up, loft-style buildings in an area filled with adaptive re-use projects. We realized early on that because of the low scale of the surrounding buildings, if you built up you could offer amazing views of downtown,, said project architect Christof Jantzen. The building, developed by local firm LinearCity, stands 16 stories high and contains what Jantzen describes as eight different unit types,, ranging from 650 to 2,100 square feet and including single-, double-, and triple-story condos, some following the inverted L-shaped configurations that Le Corbusier used in his LLUnitt ddhabitation in Marseilles.


Behnisch Architects

In keeping with the spirit of the industrial loft conversions that surround the project, the project has a concrete structure with exposed concrete floors, tall ceilings, and large windows. The materials and fixtures used throughout will be sheet metal, fiber cement, and pre-cast concrete panelssall sustainable materials. In addition, operable windows, indirect sun-orientation, a gray-water treatment system, and a passive-cooling ventilation system might just earn the developer the LEED-rating it seeks. Adjacent to the 16-story highrise, a smaller set of townhousess shares the same material vocabulary as the loft building, though with more privacy.

I think the developers need to be highly praised for what theyyre doing,, said Jantzen. They have a vision for the area that will transform it into a great neighborhood.. In 2004, LinearCity also developed and sold lofts in an adjacent building, the ToY Factory, and is engaged in another adaptive reuse project across the street, the Biscuit Company Lofts by Aleks Istanbullu Architects.

Biscuit company lofts
673 Mateo Street
When Paul Solomon, founder of the development group LinearCity, called Los Angeles- based Aleks Istanbullu Architects to transform a pre-existing factory into residential condos, the architect knew immediately that he wanted to do something different from a standard conversion. He wanted to design loft spaces that vary in size, plan, and character throughout the boxy building, a 1925 biscuit-baking factory formerly owned by the manufacturer Nabisco.


courtesy aleks istanbullu architects

The site comprises the 110,000 square-foot, seven-story main structure and a single-story annex; Istanbullu will add an additional floor to each, increasing the total square footage to 153,000 square feet. On the main building, Istanbullu created a large penthouse with extensive outdoor space. He transformed the existing annex into a set of three-story row houses by carving out a mezzanine and adding a floor.

According to Istanbullu, the architects decided to use the contrast approachh on the additions, by which he means making clear the distinction between old and new. The penthouse and the top floor of the annex are constructed out of steel, stone, and glass, though the colors were chosen to complement the brick building below. It will remain largely intact, though Istanbullu adjusted the circulation to create irregular interior spaces. I really wanted variety, to find and create unique units,, said Istanbullu. Although the building is a box, by shaping the hallways in an odd configuration, I could get a lot of plan varieties.. New structural walls in the core of the building were installed to bring it up to building code, while some pre-existing, non-load-bearing walls were removed to keep a feeling of openness.

The interiors will be minimally outfitteddmost wonnt even include a refrigeratorrdominated by the pre-existing inch-thick maple floors, brick walls, and copper details. Like luxury loft-style condominiumns in New York City, prices will likely attract a wealthy clientele.

vibinia lofts
114 East 2nd Street
In 1996, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles initiated demolition of the 17,000-square-foot St. Vibiana Cathedral, its home since 1876, sparking a heated preservation battle that ultimately left it untouched and now the cornerstone of a major $120 million, 468,000 square-foot mixed-use development project by Los Angeles developer Tom Gilmore.


Courtesy Tom Gilmore

According to Gilmore, the Los Angeles Conservancy, a local preservation organization, approached him in 1997 and asked for assistance in purchasing the property, which includes a 2.5-acre lotta full city block. With money lent (somewhat ironically) by the Archdiocese itself, Gilmore bought the property for $4.6 million, pledging to restore the cathedral and ensure an active future for it.

Gilmore came to an agreement with the California State University to convert the cathedral into a performing arts space downtown, a plan that earned $4 million from the state toward the cost of restoration and seismic retrofitting.

I am an adamant urbanist,, said Gilmore, adding, IIm not a fan of little disconnected venues; I am all for density.. By transferring air rights from the cathedral and its connected refectory, Gilmore could plan a series of small mixed-use buildings and a 41-story residential highrise spread out throughout the site. Weere staggering the buildings and utilizing setbacks in order to create a pedestrian-friendly environment,, said Gilmore. Gilmore and his partner, Richard Weintraub, hired local architecture firm Nadel Architects to design the project, who began with massing diagrams to plan the site. The bottom line is that the skin and profile are less important than massing in a project of this scale,, Gilmore pointed out.

The $8 million restoration of the cathedral was completed last year, overseen by local preservation experts Levin & Associates Architects. The rest of the project is still in designnGilmore notes that the preliminary renderings are more flashy than IId like to see themm?as the project goes through planning and zoning. Gilmore hopes the tower, which will have 2,200 square feet of ground-level retail fronting a parking garage, will break ground in the beginning of 2007 and be completed in 2009.

Fuller Lofts
210 North San Fernando Road
One of the more notable adaptive-reuse conversions downtown is Santa Monicaabased Pugh + Scarpa Architectss restoration of the 1927 Fuller Pink Company, a former office building and a relic of L.A..s art deco moment. Though not an official landmark, it sports stunning details, including pilasters, sculpted floral bas reliefs, and according to principal architect Gwen Pugh, a wonderfully preserved lobby..


courtesy pugh + scarpa architect

Pugh + Scarpa has restored the five-floor, 151,000-square-foot building and added two additional floors, creating a total of 102 units. The architects cored out the center of the concrete building in order to create a 40-foot-wide lightwell and room for a small interior courtyard. The rooftop addition has its own identity, clad in glass and corrugated metal. On the buildinggs north side, the metal cladding undulates in plan, contrasting with the cube on which it is perchedda gesture that, according to Pugh, is intended to divorce the skin from the boxx and make the original buildinggs undecorated north facade more interesting.. On all sides, irregularly placed balconies, resembling constructivist boxes, further disrupt the original buildinggs simple planarity.

The Lincoln Heights district is roughly 2 miles from downtown, in an area thatts still largely undeveloped (parking lots and empty plots far outnumber supermarkets). According to Pugh, the Fuller Lofts is the only project in the immediate vicinity that has been motivated by the cityys new Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which the city adopted in 1999 (and greatly expanded in 2003) in order to lure businesses downtown.


CIVICS LESSON
Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Rafael Moneoos Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Thom Maynees Caltrans headquarters have changed the way Angelenos understand their downtown. Spectacular, freewheeling, and deeply moving, these buildings have drawn crowds and made architecture relevant, and perhaps essential. So why havennt more of the new public buildings followed suit? In the preceding decades, John Portmanns Bonaventure Hotel epitomized L.A..s style, which typically meant being walled off from the street, virtually impenetrable, and wrapped in a one-way mirror. Now public buildings are increasingly incorporating plazas, street-level portals, and transparent facades. Though many public buildings still embrace the bunker mentality, it might reflect bad planning and site selection as much as architectural design: The city still has the habit of plopping security-conscious buildings cheek-by-jowl to public-conscious ones. Whole street elevations are permitted to go unarticulated and turn a barren carapace to neighbors. Several new public projects reveal how far L.A. has come, and how far it has to go.

central los angeles area
High School #9

450 North Grand Avenue


armin heiss / isochrom / courtesy coop himmelb(l)au

After the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Coop Himmelb(l)auus High School for the Visual and Performing Arts may be one of the most dramatic structures to be completed in downtown L.A. The new structure, which began construction in March and is scheduled to openin 2008, will feature a dramatic glass and steel lobby and house 1,728 music, dance, visual and performing arts students. Estimated to cost $208 million, the signature feature of the school will be a 140-foot-tall tower that will give students a clear view of the adjacent Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

los angeles united states
Courthouse

First Street and Broadway


courtesy perkins and will
In 2001, Perkins + Will won a commission from the General Services Administration to design a 1,000,000-square-foot couthouse in downtown L.A. The 16-story building features approximately 40 courtrooms with floor-to-floor heights of 19 feet, along with some administrative office space and an expansive ground-floor atrium. Sustainability was crucial for the client and designers: Photovoltaic panels comprise about 50 percent of the large curving glass facade, under-floor circulation systems minimize heating and cooling costs, and clerestory windows throughout the courtrooms bring in natural daylight. The building is in still in design and construction should begin in mid to late 2007.

Los angeles police department headquarters
First and Main Streets


courtesy dmjm

Filling most of the block across from City Hall, the L.A.P.D..s new headquarters went through an extensive public review process while it was under design, and ultimately incorporated the lessons of over 30 community meetings. The architects, DMJM/Roth-Shepard Design, incorporated necessarily strong security requirements such as 75-foot setbacks to surround the building with public spaces. The 500,000-square-foot buildinggs two above-ground volumes form an L-shape around a large plaza along First Street. The budget is set for $303 million, and construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.