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Ten Better Places for a Football Stadium


Issue 12_07.13.20Ten Better Places for a Football Stadium

The Mets, the Jets, the Nets, the Yanks — new stadia all around! But where to put them? Architect and urbanist Michael Sorkin surveyed the five boroughs for sites to consider.

The fight over the city’s attempt to build a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan was never about football (other than the political kind) or, for that matter, the Olympics: It was over where to put the stadium and who should pay for it. The West Side project has now gone down in flames because the administration chose one of the worst places available and then asked us all to pay, largely (and transparently) in order to jack up real estate prices in the area for the usual cohort of salivating developers. Not only did construction depend on building a platform—an artificial ground—over an active rail yard, a proposition that would have added as much as a billion dollars to the cost of the project, access to the site is awful. Bringing the number seven subway from Port Authority would have cost additional billions. Automobile access from the West Side Highway or from the avenues would have been nightmarish. Structured parking would have been expensive and could never have allowed the tail-gating so beloved by fans.

The enormous object also sought to extend the blocks-long barrier to the waterfront created by the Javits Convention Center; their combined lump would have obliterated relations to the Hudson River from the island and permanently disfigured the scale of the West Side. In choosing to move the site for the Olympic proposal to Queens as part of a new Shea Stadium, the city has been forced to settle on a site that makes sense for such a project. Indeed, Flushing is one of the best places in the city for a stadium from the perspectives of automobile and mass transit access, of potential synergies with surrounding athletic and public facilities, and of the minimal effort required to prepare the site for construction. 

The wave of projected stadium-building in New York—for the Mets in Queens, the Yankees in the Bronx, the Nets in Brooklyn, as well as for the Olympic bid—is a symptom of a larger phenomenon. Sports stadia have come to be represented not just as premiere emblems of American civic culture (all hail the steroid-bloated millionaires at play!) but as drivers of urban economic revitalization. Here, they join that other instant panacea, gambling casinos, as leading markers of the decline of public planning as the development paradigm shifts decisively to so-called public-private partnerships. What this means in practice is that private business—including such fatted enterprises as sports teams, gambling cartels, and office developers—are given giant public subsidies as an inducement either to come to or to remain in cities. Public benefit from such investments is allegedly returned in the form of jobs, taxes, or other more elusive outcomes of “development.”

In New York, this model has become the virtual default and every major project proposed by the Bloomberg Administration—from Greenpoint to Ground Zero—follows this model. Indeed, large-scale planning has shifted from the Department of City Planning—which has been reduced to an urban design role—to the office of the deputy mayor for economic development, whence the big “visions” come. These, predictably, tend to be calculated to engorge the Ratners, Silversteins, and Steinbrenners of the city, civic paragons who need to be bribed to stay in town to trickle-down on the public. Of course, it is a hopeless, evil ploy, another contribution to the yawning income gap, welfare for plutocrats who, it is hoped, will throw the rest of us a crumb or two.

In fact, study after study has demonstrated the folly of this approach. Virtually none of these subsidies is ever recouped and such subventions for the powerful always rob the poor—those at the bottom of the list of municipal priorities, for whom housing, education, transportation, and healthcare are of somewhat greater importance than football. Moreover, the only good jobs generated by these projects are in construction (permanent jobs tend to be few in number, seasonal, and low-paying) but these would also be provided through building apartments, clinics, or subways. Indeed, these projects may be the least efficient expenditure of public funds imaginable and one of the highest hypocrisies of the self-proclaimed laissez-faire thieves who run the country. 

Setting aside the fiscal foolishness of public support for this private enterprise, the city’s initial proposal also relied on a distorted view of the nature of large sports facilities and their capacity to add amenity to cities. A football stadium is not a neighborhood-friendly object but an industrial one and the criteria for siting such huge constructions resemble those for choosing a spot for a factory or power station (the proportions of which are perfectly reproduced in the stadium design proposed for the Jets). Receptacles for enormous numbers of people briefly gathered, stadia are assembly lines for intermittently pumping them in, pumping them full of beer, and pumping them out. 

Because of this industrial character, huge stadia have little to offer directly to viable neighborhoods, although their energy does have the potential to benefit places that cannot be used otherwise, are derelict, or lack a community in place to suffer any adverse impacts. Likewise, a stadium can add élan, jobs, and secondary commerce to neighborhoods that are struggling for economic help (as a number of European stadiums have done). On the Far West Side—a neighborhood at the point of booming, as recently reported in The New York Times, football or no—the stadium would clearly have been a liability, reinforcing the large-scale developer-driven urbanism favored by the administration and thwarting the more intimate grain that viable neighborhoods demand and deserve.

Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, and the rest of the anything-for-the-Olympics crowd insistently represented the Far West Side as the only viable possibility (until it was voted down), at least ten other sites in the city would be far more advantageous and suitable for such an infusion of energy and cash, assuming that any public contribution for the greater good can be more persuasively argued. One of these is Flushing and it may attract the Olympics yet. The odds, however, seem long for 2012, which suggests that there is time to consider additional sites for 2016, for the Jets, the Giants, and for the big public gatherings that are important to our collective life. Here are ten worth thinking about.
MICHAEL SORKIN IS AN ARCHITECT, CRITIC, AND DIRECTOR OF THE URBAN DESIGN PROGRAM AT CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK.

Legend

 

1. Hunts Point/Port Morris/Mott Haven, Bronx

A huge site adjacent to the Bruckner Expressway (from which cars could be directed to parking without hitting the city grid), astride the Amtrak line, close to the water, and easily served by both subways and Metro-North, seems to be all plusses. Not simply would construction be minimally disruptive, it would provide a strong symbol for neighborhoods that are among the city's poorest. The easy relationship with the athletic facilities on Randall's Island would also be a positive should the city win the Olympics. A second potential site in the same vicinity is the nearby intermodal railyard opposite Manhattan.

 

2. Yankee Stadium/Bronx Terminal Market

If Yankee Stadium is to be replaced on a nearby site while the house that Ruth built continues to host games, it is clear that the neighborhood has room for two stadia. Transportation is excellent, an infrastructure of bars and other support sites is profuse, and the prospect of the redevelopment of the Terminal Market and the Harlem River waterfront would add greatly to the area’s atmosphere. A football stadium could also help anchor the revival of the central Bronx from the Concourse to the Hub. In addition, the relationship between new baseball and football stadiums would make the neighborhood one of the premiere sports sites on the planet.

 

3. Sunnyside Yards, Queens

A superb place for a stadium! As the city presses ahead with plans to create a fourth commercial core around Queens Plaza (to join midtown and downtown Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn), a stadium could form a powerful centerpiece, especially if it accreted a series of additional uses, such as housing and big-box retail. Transportation is excellent and is projected to improve with the construction of a multi-modal station under the Queens Boulevard Viaduct. And with modest new construction, cars could be routed to parking directly from the LIE, parking that could also serve commuters into Manhattan. To be sure, additional costs would result from the need to build the stadium above the railyards but the payback in convenience and non-disruption of neighborhood life would more than compensate.

 

4. Brooklyn Navy Yard

Although this site has obvious access issues, they are not materially worse than those on the West Side and are more cheaply solved. Like a number of potential locations, this one could be made to work by improved water access, by special shuttles from surrounding subways on game day, and by direct access to parking from the BQE. The site commands marvelous views of the Manhattan skyline and the industrial character of the stadium would blend well with that of the Navy Yard.

 

5. Sunset Park/Bush Terminal, Brooklyn

The largely derelict waterfront between the Bush Terminal and the harbor, is an extremely tasty possibility. This is one of the last living industrial areas in the city—with over 33,000 jobs—and it could profit from what, in other circumstances, are negatives. The stadium’s own industrial character is compatible with existing uses which also support a population of potential sports fans. Moreover, a stadium could help save Sunset Park from the likely fate of Greenpoint under the city’s just announced re-zoning plans. Their implementation threatens existing neighborhood character both by their up-market, over-scaled ambitions for the waterfront as well as through a mixed-use policy that is likely to see remaining industry displaced by gentrification. The Sunset Stadium—combined with a planned park, nearby cruise ship terminal, recycling plant, and automobile port—could create unique synergies.

 

6. Hunters Point, Queens

Assuming that New York is not the winner of the 2012 Olympics, the site of the proposed Olympic Village at the mouth of Newtown Creek would be excellent. This generously scaled, unbuilt area would allow a stadium surrounded by housing and parks and could become a driver in the rehabilitation and remediation of the fetid Newtown Creek. Access is excellent, including all rail modes, water movement, and a possible direct link to the LIE and BQE. The site also enjoys the kind of elastic relationship to its surroundings that would allow such a huge facility to be both near enough for neighborhood access and far enough to be buffered against the risk of overwhelming what remains a relatively fine-textured community.

 

7. Flushing/Willets Point, Queens

Perhaps the most self-evident site of them all, this location next to the new Shea Stadium would plug into a tested area at the convergence of four freeways (perhaps the best served spot in the city for cars) and to the LIRR and subway stations already on site. Adding ferry service would benefit both the athletic complex as well as the burgeoning neighborhoods of Flushing and Corona. Which are now isolated from each other. The convergence of stadium building, buoyant neighborhood growth, the reclamation of the Flushing River, and the relocation of the Willets Point automobile shops (perhaps within the site, perhaps within the stadium) make this a slam-dunk (if you'll forgive the metaphor). And, nearby LaGuardia would again make sense of a team called the “Jets.”

 

8. Coney Island, Brooklyn

The revival of Coney Island has been announced for years but proceeds at a snail’s pace. Some hopeful signs: Keyspan Park, a minor league baseball stadium, is enjoying great success; the city has just completed a massive renovation of the Stilwell Avenue subway station; and use of the beach is on the rise. Moreover, Coney Island is a virtual synonym for urban recreation and locating the Stadium adjacent to Keyspan Park, Astroland, and the beach would take it to the next level of attraction, luring other sports, entertainment, and related uses. The nearby Belt Parkway and ample opportunities for water transport round out a very pretty picture. And what more logical neighbor for Nathan’s!

 

9. Fresh Kills, Staten Island

The closing of the municipal dump at Fresh Kills has been followed by a proposal for a park that takes a delicate, naturalizing view of our garbage Himalaya. But this landscape of industrial and residential waste is also ideal for a use that simply caps a portion of the site for stadium building and parking. There are obvious accessibility challenges but both the Staten Island and West Shore Expressways skirt the site, Arthur Kill provides passage for water transit, a disused rail line leads to the St. George Ferry Terminal, and a link to the Perth Amboy/Elizabeth branch of the New Jersey Transit line on the opposite shore is easily imagined. So too is a stadium that sits within and utilizes our municipal mountains.

 

10. Governors Island

Simultaneously unlikely and perfect, Governors Island currently languishes in indecision, awaiting its big idea. Perhaps it can accommodate two. The Island itself embodies two conditions: the original “natural” island as it existed until the beginning of the 20th century and its large southern extension, built from fill excavated during the construction of the IRT. By re-dividing the island into northern and southern islands, the historic northern half could become an extension of the space-challenged United Nations, the perfect site for the pursuits of peace. Appropriately isolated, the southern island would be a glorious and secure site for mass gatherings and big games. The challenge of getting there could also be turned to advantage. Unless a pedestrian bridge or tramway were built from Red Hook (not a completely illogical pair of possibilities), all access would be from the water. But this is less daunting than it otherwise seems. To begin, Governors Island is very close to both Manhattan—with its existing infrastructure of ferry terminals—and Brooklyn with its capacity to lead cars from the Battery Tunnel and the BQE or Gowanus Expressway directly to shore-side parking. Moreover, given that football is played on Sundays—when service on the huge Staten Island ferries is reduced—a dedicated boat or two making round trips from South Ferry could efficiently deliver very large numbers of people to the island in minutes. Finally, the proximity of the stadium to the Statue of Liberty raises the prospect of a view of that great symbol through the uprights of another, from the new Freedom Bowl, America’s stadium.

 

Stadium Scorecard

 

Fulton Street Plan Chugs Along

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Kids These Days

To fill you in on what you missed, and to follow up on our conversations last fall with local deans (See Dean's Listt AN 14_9.7.2004) we asked the faculty of each of the tri-state area architecture schools to select a single outstanding project from this year's crop of student work. Although one project can never represent the breadth of student achievement or faculty instruction at a given institution, the work below reflects something of the current trends in architecture education and pedagogy.

Jeff Carnell Jonah Gamblin and
Tuan Luong
Bridget MacKean Amila Salihbasic and
John Murphey
John Guilliford and
Yeon Wha Hong
David Benjamin and
Soo-in Yang

On a Monday afternoon a few weeks ago, The Architect's Newspaper asked the students whose work follows in these pages to join us for a casual conversation about their experiences at school and the questions they face as they prepare to join the workforce. Ten of the fifteen studentssDavid Benjamin, Jeff Carnell, John Gulliford, Yeon Wha Hong, Jonah Gamblin, Tuon Luong, Briget MacKean, John Murphey, Amila Salihbasic, and Soo-in Yanggsat down with editors Anne Guiney, Cathy Lang Ho, and William Menking to chat about everything from the difference between development politics in New York City and the Netherlands to the apparent decrease in the influence of theory on today's students. As expected, nobody wants to be a CAD monkey, and most felt that a small firm would provide better early experience than a large one. One of the most interesting questions discussed was What is and should be the role of the architect today?? Here's what some of these talented students had to say.

David Benjamin (Columbia): The first challenge for ussand it sounds like others here are just as interested in thissis how to move beyond the computer form-making that was so exciting a few years ago, and actually build these things. We also want to take on more real-world issues, from using fabrication machines to dealing with developers. I'd hate to lose theory, and hate for architects to lose our role as people who can imagine a new world, but I want to engage more fully in that world..

Jonah Gamblin (Yale): When everyone first got into the studio [with developer Gerald Hines], we were all trying to actually be like developers. But later, there was a moment when we started to ask ourselves, Okay, what qualifies you to be involved in this process?' It isn't valuable for architects to pretend to be developers; they have a particular expertise they can bring to the table, which is different from that of the developer or the engineer. In the studio, many of us ultimately had a sense that architects can come up with novel ideas for the organization of buildings..

Tuan Luong (RPI): I think an important thing we can bring to the table is sensitivity toward site, from the cultural aspects to the more ephemeral ones that developers wouldn't necessarily think about. If they're thinking about the bottom line, we're thinking about how it might improve the lives of people in the long term.

John Gulliford (Pratt): I think that while developers typically focus on one element or one function, we can make connections between these different things, and actually allow one element to have multiple functions. That comes from the places from which we draw inspiration, the questions we ask..

Amila Salihbasic (NYIT): We can't forget that every day we influence people's lives. We can't forget why we're doing what we're doing. We're here for the people. The only thing developers care about is money. It's our duty to shape this world. We can do this..

Yeon Wha Hong (Cooper Union): I think architects operate at a whole different scale than the people who have started working in the realms that are traditionally the territory of architects. What makes us different is that we are public intellectuals, and our generation of architects should fight for that. When we build we must address historical context and social fabric. We have a specific language, which has its own history, its own language. We're engaging in this dialogue at a completely different scale..

 

Jeff Carnell, 27, B.Arch 2006

School: City College of New York
Studio: 4th-year Design (fall)
Project: weekend residence in upstate New York
Instructor: Joe Tanney

Jeff Carnell's fourth-year studio assignment was to design a 3,500-square-foot weekend retreat on a 2-acre lakeside lot in upstate New York. He set the house on the steepest part of the sloping site so that residents park at the highest level to enter the house. From the office and laundry on that level, one descends to ever more private spaces below until reaching the master bedroom just six feet above the lake's water level. I wanted to reinforce the remove from the city with an inversion of the standard order of houses,, said Carnell.

 

David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang, 32 and 30. respectively, M.Arch I 2005

School: Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Studio: Advanced Architecture (spring)
Project: open research
Instructor: Reinhold Martin

This project, titled Better, Cheaper, Faster, asks the question, What if bottom-line development and good architecture were the same thing?? Its designers David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang believe that new computer-based fabrication techniques can offer a link between good architecture and the bottom line mentality of real estate developers. They designed a lightweight, collapsible framing system of CNC-milled 1/4-inch Baltic birch plywood that could replace typical balloon framing and its formal limitations. The designers tested the system by building a 10-foot cube. We wanted to use CNC technology for its efficiency rather than for form,, Benjamin explained, and in the process develop new ways for architects to engage the process of design and construction.. The two recent graduates are starting a firm called The Living (www.thelivingnewyork.com) to develop the idea in larger-scale projects.

 

Thomas Wong, 22, B.Arch 2006

School: Cornell University, College of Art, Architecture and Planning
Studio: Ottoist Diversions: From Form Finding to Pattern-Breeding (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Ciro Najle and Jose Arnaud

This research project titled Cantenary Bifurcations, Tree Organizations began in a studio based on Frei Otto's experiments with catenary chain net structures. Cataloguing structures of catenary curves and the spatial effects that emerge by varying the distance between their endpoints, Thomas Wong began building structures that bifurcated in tree-like patterns. To create a spatial enclosure modeled on his research, Wong looked at the inherent logic of growth and directional accumulation of site specific conditions in local Ithaca fauna, such as vines on pergola ribs.. According to Wong, The more branching that happens, the better the structural capacity of the shell..

 

Yeon Wha Hong, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Anthony Vidler, Guido Zuliani, Stephen Rustow, Anthony Candido, Tamar Zinguer, and Ricardo Scofidio

>It was interesting for me as a New Yorker to research the whole city of Kyoto as a site,, said Yeon Wha Hong of her project, RE-Writing of the Kyoto City Block: Inventing a Language of Spatial Characters. The East-West orientation of blocks in Manhattan is reversed there, and there is a different relationship of streets to blocks.. Hang used this research, as well as an interest in the formal similarities of Japanese joinery, old maps of Kyoto, and pages produced with moveable type to design a block in the city for the relatively transient foreign community there. She explained that she was interested in the program because it was an alien overlay on a fixed urban condition...

 

John Murphey, 23, B.Arch 2005

School: New Jersey Institute of Technology
Studio: 5th-year Comprehensive (spring)
Project: open research
Instructor: Richard Garber

This articulated structure may look like the bastard child of Ron Herron's iconic Walking Cityy and a dinosaur skeleton, but it's actually the result of adapting plywood yacht hulls and modular submarine construction methods to the design of what John Murphey calls a Command Pod for rapid deployment by scientists and researchers in the field.. Murphey intends the structure's ribs to be built out of water-jet cut laminated plywood, and covered with a molded plywood shell. The pod's adjustable steel legs lift it off the ground to withstand severe environmental conditions. Murphey emphasizes that his current pod is a base model only and may be modified as needed.

 

Santiago Rivera Robles-Martinez, 32, M.Arch III 2005

School: Parsons School of Design
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: hotel, open site
Instructor: David J. Lewis

When Houston Street was widened in 1940, a row of tenement buildings was knocked down, leaving several odd-shaped lots. Santiago Rivera Robles-Martinez's thesis project returns a triangular piece of that space to residential use, albeit in the form of a hotel, which would also allow him to blend public and private uses. The typical New York facade breaks public and private abruptly and I wanted to challenge that architecturally,, he explained. The sidewalk is periodically pulled into the building to create a series of public spaces such as a DJ lounge and an open-air cinema; Rivera Robles-Martinez thinks of it as an inhabitable facade.

 

Amila Salihbasic, 28, B.Arch 2005

School: New York Institute of Technology
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Mark Chen

For a contemporary dance center on the south side of Houston Street, Amila Salihbasic considered the work of a number of contemporary dance troupes. She said she thought a great deal about the way that dancers in the New Yorkkbased group De La Guarda managed to occupy walls and ceilings as well as floors, and Diller + Scofidio's work on the dance piece Moving Target (1996). On the facade of her design, a single plane folds up and around toenclose distinct programmatic spaces, both public and private. I wanted to show movementtpedestrians, what is happening underground, all the vehicles, and the people within,, said Salihbasic. The building is a kaleidoscope showing all of that at once..

 

John Gulliford, 24, B.Arch 2005

School: Pratt Institute
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Marc Schaut, Gordon Kipping

John Gulliford chose his Astor Place site for his project Social Synthesis because of its extraordinary energy: the Cooper students, skate rats, honking taxis, and passersby who always seem to be around. That energy also suggested a natural analog for his skyscraper: In starting my research, I was drawn to the human bodyythere are so many systems coexisting at onceeand I started to think of the building as a vertical body,, said Gulliford. He wanted to pull the energy up into the building at certain points, and began to think of them as chakras, or the seven spiritual points believed to be in the human body. The program fell into place accordingly, with an uninhabited Divine Zonee at the top of the tower, and a public Energy Lounge and Studyy at the base.

 

Erica Goetz, 26, M.Arch I 2006

School: Princeton University School of Architecture
Studio: Integrated Building (fall)
Project: hotel and restaurant in the Hudson Valley
Instructors: Paul Lewis, Hillary Brown, and Nat Oppenheimer

Erica Goetz harnessed energy from the natural forces of the sitee for this project for a lakeside hotel and restaurant in the Hudson Valley. She created a variant of a trombe wall for the facade: the internal side serves as the retaining wall, and transmits the temperature of the earth (cool in the summer and warm in the winter) inside. The external concrete wall is faceted in such a way that heat is deflected in the summertime, and absorbed in the winter. Instructor Paul Lewis said, Erica's design has a formal complexity that is seductive yet based on the simple argument of a self-shading building..

 

Bridget MacKean, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Jefferson Ellinger

This proposed artists' residence in Maine's Arcadia National Park is sited next to a beach with 15-foot tidal swings. Bridget MacKean first created digital maps of the site and used animation technology to map how the oscillation of the tides transformed the landscape over time. She employed this technique to design her building as a part of the natural system. MacKean stressed that her goal with the project was oriented more toward research than design: I wanted to experiment with Maya in a more analytic manner, instead of just using it for form-making..

 

Tuan Luong, 24, M.Arch I 2005

School: State University of New York, Buffalo
Studio: Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructor: Omar Khan

This installation focused on a 1/2 scale model of downtown Buffalo's highway system. Titled Fluxuations: the Perceptual Transformation of Architecture, the project included a machine created by Tuan Luong that could scan across the city model on ceiling and floor tracks and project the information in full scale onto an adjoining wall. Luong explained that he was interested in the transfer from an architect's model to full-scale realization: The machine creates a dialogue back and forth between the scales and questions the working design method of the architect.. Luong hopes to further develop a process whereby information projected on the walls can generate the design for a building.

 

Christopher Hayner, 22, B.Arch 2005

School: Syracuse University School of Architecture
Studio: 5th-year Thesis (full year)
Project: open research
Instructors: Elizabeth Kamell and Ivan Rupnik

This mobile home design project titled TransPLANTing a Migrant Community is intended to serve migrant workers, solving the itinerant group's long-standing housing problem. Designer Christopher Hayner argued that traditional barrack-like housing does not allow for either privacy or individuality, and at the same time cuts the workers off from their adopted communities.. Hayner started with typical mobile home technology and a utility core for easy accommodation in RV parks, and modified the unit to create a unique configuration. For example, a pull-out porch with a barbeque allows the home to become part of a larger community, while private quarters face the back. The home also has a greenhouse on its roof to grow food for the poverty-stricken and land-starved community.

 

Ralph Bagley IV and Jonah Gamblin, 25 and 27, respectively, M.Arch I 2005

School: Yale School of Architecture
Studio: Advanced Design (spring)
Project: fashion museum and school in Milan, Italy
Instructors: Stefan Behnisch and Gerald Hines

Under the guidance of the architect Stefan Behnisch and the developer Gerald Hines, Ralph Bagley IV and Jonah Gamblin developed a proposal for the Fondazione Nicola Toussardi (a fashion museum and school in Milan), which is the public element of Garibaldi Republica, a project currently in development by Hines. According to Gamblin, the two spent the first half of the semester developing a software program that would help them synthesize financial information and site demographics, and used the results to develop planning strategies for the building. Only then did they begin to design the building. According to Gamblin, We were studying the financial implications of different architectural decisions, and looking at how you can use the economic logic of a project as a way to find new design strategies, as opposed to seeing it as a restriction..

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Season's Readings

Architectural publishers are a hyperactive bunchha reflection of the audience they serve, no question. with mountains of books signaling the arrival of a new season, we decided it was time to sort out the best.

The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream
Meredith L. Clausen,
MIT Press, $45.00 (hard)


The turmoil surrounding the redevelopment of the World Trade Center might seem unprecedented but Meredith Clausen reminds us that we've been here before. The history of the Pan Am Building at Park Avenue and 45th Street is as contentious as that of any building in Manhattan, involving celebrity architects, power-brokering, even death at the blade of a helicopter. This biography of a landmark proves to be a cautionary tale.

 

BBK
Various authors, BBkAmerica,
$1.49 each (paper)


Each book in this brand new collection of pocket-sized pamphlets is meant to be read in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. At $1.49 each, they also cost less than the average lattt. But the content of the miniature volumes is weightier than might be expected: Each BBK contains an essay, short story, picture portfolio, or biography, some old and some new. Texts range from Jonathan Swift's 18th-century satire A Modest Proposal to Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight's essay on the planningof the Washington mall, The Mall in Peril.

 

The Modern Procession
Francis Alls
Public Art Fund, dist. by D.A.P., $24.95 (hard, including DVD)



The Museum of Modern Art's return to Manhattan left its temporary quarters in Queens nearly forgotten. This book recalls the journey organized in June 2002 by Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alls designed to commemorate the original move to the outer borough. The procession, in which 200 participants shouldering replicas of some of MoMA's best known workssand artist Kiki Smithhmarched from West 53rd Street to Long Island City, is documented in images, text, and film.

 

  Nothing Less Than Literal
Mark Linder,
MIT Press, $40.00 (hard)


Mark Linder looks at the cross-pollination of ideas between minimalist artists and architects in the late 1960s. Examining writing by figures like Colin Rowe and Robert Smithson as well as the work of more recent architects like John Hejduk and Frank Gehry, Linder claims that, contrary to conventional wisdom, architecture preceded art in the development of the formal language of minimalism.

 

Brooklyn: New Style
Liz Farrelly
Booth-Clibborn Editions, $45.00(paper)


Brooklynites can be noisy in their preference for their borough, but this compendium of work by resident artists and designers of every stripe shows that there is plenty to boast about. The Architect's Newspaper's own art director Martin Perrin imposes order on the diverse and unruly nature of the work by organizing it by zip code, and intersperses descriptions of each artist and his or her work with photographs of the rooftops, streetscapes, train tracks, and waterfront that inspire it.

 

  Record Pictures: Photographs From the
Archives of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Michael Collins
Steidl/MACK, $50.00 (hard)


>Record picturess was the name given to the photographic accounts of civil engineering projects in the 19th century, and artist Michael Collins has gathered a series of these extraordinary images into a book of the same name. While the photographs of railways, bridges, and power stations have specific documentary concerns, one can see them as precursors to the precise typological studies of Bernd and Hilla Becher and the many students who emerged from their influential Dusseldorf school.

 

Cruelty & Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America
Eduardo Baez, Jean-Francois Lejeune
Princeton Architectural Press, $45.00 (paper)


This catalogue for an exhibition of the same name, held in 2003 at the International Center for Urbansim, Architecture, and Landscape in Brussels and organized by Jean-Francois Lejeune, tries to get at the contradictions in Latin American cities like Quito, Lima, and Mexico City by looking to their roots. From the overlay of the 1573 Law of the Indies on ancient Aztec cities to Le Corbusier's pleasure in Brazil's vibrant public sphere, the essays included in this book immerse readers in the complex development of urbanism in Latin America.

 

  Ornaments of the Metropolis:
Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture
Henrik Reeh
MIT Press, $39.95 (hard)


Sigfried Kracauer's writings on cities have never been as well known as his film work, but reward a look. In this slim but dense book, Henrik Freeh analyzes the early essays and autobiographical novel of the architect turned social theorist and critic. He shows that, for Kracauer, ornament was not merely a pleasantly decorative addition to buildings and streets but central to the way each of us understands cities. Freeh's own photographs illustrate his text.

 

  Pioneers of Modern Design, From William
Morris to Walter Gropius
Nikolaus Pevsner; revised and expanded by Richard Weston
Yale University Press, $40.00 (hard)


If you only know Nikolaus Pevsner's 1936 book from one of its later black-and-white paperback Penguin editions, this new larger format book will come as a revelation. Pevsner was an early champion of modernism and contended that it was the only true and appropriate style for contemporary architecture. While theorists like Manfredo Tafuri and others have shown his argument to be oversimplified and limited, this new Yale edition supports Pevsner's stance with luscious color photography that makes it easy to understand why he believed a new world order was on the horizon.

Compiled by Deborah Grossberg, Anne Guiney, Philip Tidwell, and William Menking

 

The New International Style

Modern House Three
Raul Barreneche
Phaidon, $69.95 (hard)

The New Modern House
Will Jones
Princeton Architectural Press, $35.00 (paper)

Housey Housey: A Pattern Book
of Ideal Homes
Claire Melhuish and Pierre d'Avoine Architects
Black Dog Press, $39.95 (hard)

Call it the triumph of hope over experience. Architectural publishers continue to put out glossy modern house books promoting better, smarter ways of living, even as McMansion subdivisions metastasize the world's remaining open spaces. Yes, it's true: American-style tract houses are being as enthusiastically consumed by the rest of the world as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Britney Spears.

If there is good news, it's that the modern housee has also gone global. Modern House Three by New York writer Raul A. Barreneche and The New Modern House by London-based Will Jones show us residential architecture that's stylishly international in its concerns and referencesssomething Philip Johnson could never have imagined. Tellingly, two of the most intriguing examples featured in Modern House Three are in China. In the misty foothills of Qinlin, the Shanghai architect Ma Qing Yun has built a stately modernist box of concrete masonry and wood that reverently recalls Louis Kahn. Yet details like the local river stones set into the exterior walls and the interior of woven bamboo sheeting make this an architecture entirely of its place.

Bloembollenhof, a housing subdivision
in Vijfhuisen, Netherlands, designed by S333, brings together clean modern forms, simple materials (like wood panels and corrugated steel), and innovative planning.
Courtesy princeton architectural press

Meanwhile, in the countryside outside of Beijing and in sight of the Great Wall, Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has designed a house to serve the extraordinary vista. The striking timber-covered rectangular box, banded by large windows, is set on a tall concrete base. Inside, the main floor is a vast loftlike space with folding partition walls that can be configured in numerous ways. A hidden ladder pulls down from the ceiling for entry to the rooftop terrace, and pneumatically hinged trap doors in the floor open for access to sleeping quarters (accommodating up to 14 people), as well as a kitchen, bathrooms, storage, and a meditation chamber. Chang has radicalized the weekend house.

With only a few exceptions, the 33 dream houses profiled in Barreneche's insightful, handsomely designed coffee-table tome are the high-style showplaces of the design-conscious rich. By contrast, Will Jones' modest soft-cover book presents a more idiosyncratic collection, ranging from single-family residences to unbuilt concepts, prefab secondary homes to multifamily housing. Among the 40 projects featured are quirky examples like British architect Laurie Chetwood's Butterfly House in Surrey. Fashioned from cables, wires, fiber optics and sculptural metalwork, it depicts a caterpillar's metamorphosis. There's also Bloembollenhof, a housing estate in the Netherlands, designed by the Dutch firm S333 as an alternative to suburban sprawl. The firm devised four simple low-rise building types with gables, dormers, and skylights that can be variously arranged to create 52 different homes, from single dwellings to townhouse blocks. Constructed out of wood and corrugated steel, the buildings resemble farm structures. By massing them closely together, the architects have helped preserve the rural character of the surrounding landscape.

In Gary Chang's 2002 Suitcase House
in Badaling, near the Great Wall in China,
pneumatic hinges prop open trap doors that open to sleeping quarters below the floors.
Courtesy phaidon

Another perspective on the modern house is offered in Housey Housey by the Bombay-born British architect Pierre d'Avoine and his wife, architecture writer and ethnologist Clare Melhuish. Subtitled A Pattern Book of Ideal Homes, it is an assemblage of 23 housing plans, drawn from D'Avoine's 20 years of practice and research in residential design in Britain and abroad. While appealing and contemporary, these are not showy, mega-dollar projects. They are instead highly original responses to real-world building conditions, which should make them particularly useful to most architects. Take the prefab Piper Penthouses that were lifted onto the rooftop of a converted London apartment building by crane. Or the large two-story Invisible House neatly inserted into the former back garden of a suburban London house. So as not to disturb the views of neighbors, one of its floors was dug into the ground. NIMBYism, it seems, exists everywhere.

These three books demonstrate just how universal a language modern design has become. Let's hope more architects the world over can teach their clients, especially developers, to speak it.
Marisa Bartolucci lives in New York and writes about architecture, art, and culture.

 

Tschumi on Moneo

Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in
the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects
Rafael Moneo
ACTAR/MIT Press, $39.95 (paper)

Rafael Moneo is a major figure in world architecture, at once a respected designer and an important influence in Spanish building culture. He is also an excellent teacher. His new book, Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects, is largely texts expanded from lectures given in the early- to mid-1990s at Harvard's GSD and Madrid's Circulo de Bellas Artes, and it keeps the livee feel of a master performance. His subject is an influential group of architects, all except one Pritzker Prize winners like himself. The result is an exacting but easy read that unfolds like a novel by Italo Calvino. In Calvino's Invisible Cities, the explorer describes dozens of cities but at the end confesses that they evoke a single topossVenice, the city he loves above all others. Moneo describes architecture similarly. This is his own perspective, but he elaborates architecture's nooks and crannies. But what view of architecture are we talking about here?

Could Moneo's Venicee be regional? Reading Theoretical Anxieties, I was reminded of an event in Barcelona nearly 20 years ago, where I was invited to introduce my first built project to an audience of architects. I talked about architecture and culture, film and literary criticism, establishing parallels and suggesting cross-fertilization among disciplines. At the end came outrage: No crossovers, please: Architecture is architecture, literature is literature, film is film!! To this day, the certainty of the audience puzzles me. Is architecture an absolute value that can be isolated from everything around it? To find out more, I read further in Moneo's book.

Moneo discusses each architect in turn, beginning with an introduction that explains the architect's intentions and concerns and then proceeding to a group of projects he considers exemplary of the designer's oeuvre. This structure works well, and the grainy black-and-white illustrations do not detract from the rhythm of the reading. He sets the tone in the first chapter on James Stirling: This book is about the architect's tools and forms. Stirling's tools are the section (in his early constructivist and 19th century industrial periodd) and the plan (in his later career, influenced by Corb's architectural promenade and Colin Rowe). Moneo characterizes Stirling's forms as a balance of massessachieved in a quasi-canonical mannerr when discussing the Leicester Engineering Building (1959963), which celebrates the meeting of the diagonal and the perimeter.. From the outset, Moneo's analysis is formal and compositional, at once praising the architectural landscape of the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie (1977783) and joining Rowe in lamenting its lack of facades.

Stirling rarely discussed theoretical concerns, but Robert Venturi and Aldo Rossi often did. Moneo excels in his analysis of these two figures. He not only describes their intentions with precision and clarity but, having lived through the ideologies of the era, can also assume a critical distance. Moneo's presentation of Rossi's view of typology as the embodiment of timelessness and permanence, and of type as a basis for temporal continuity, is accurate and insightful.

Moneo is less at ease in presenting Peter Eisenman's often far-ranging theories. He is more comfortable with formal analysis of Eisenman's work; he understands and reads with sensitivity and connoisseurship the frontality, shifts, intersections of planes, diagonals, rotations, and other devices that make up the architect's repertory. He confesses to being less impressed by [Eisenman's] sources of inspirationnincongruent, unnecessary borrowings from other fieldssthan by the skillful manipulation of formal proceedings.. Are these reservations symptomatic of Moneo's wish for a self-contained discipline of architecture? Or do they reflect his abiding view of architectural history as a history of forms, not concepts? (Later, commenting on Herzog & de Meuron, he writes that perhaps the only external field useful to architects is art.)

One of the elegant things about this book is Moneo's way of deconstructing how architects work. Would Frank Gehry recognize himself in Moneo's observation of Gehry's strategy of breaking apart the program, reshaping it through an elemental impulse, and searching for the appearance of immediacy? The description tells the reader as much about architectural strategy as about Gehry. Moneo convincingly differentiates Eisenman's and Gehry's attitudes toward representation, noting that if the first fetishizes traditions of graphic representation, the second fetishizes the more intuitive production of models. (Moneo is scathing about Gehry here: In the final analysis, to make architecture is to know how to make a model..) Although Moneo rarely discusses construction, he does mention Gehry's understanding of the American construction industry as well as the architect's avoidance of simulation, which Moneo associates with Eisenman and Venturi. But the formal takes precedence over the material in Moneo's comparison of Eisenman's Columbus Convention Center (1989993) to Gehry's Santa Monica Place Shopping Center (1980). Moneo never talks about the role of Los Angeles' climate on Gehry's early collaged materials, as opposed to the Swiss climate and its energy conservation laws on the continuous stucco surfaces he admires in Gehry's Vitra building, which he identifies as a new direction in the master's oeuvre.

Switzerland would have no architecture without insistence on materiality. Moneo correctly locates this interest in the work of Herzog & de Meuron, in which he observes, materials are what makes forms emerge.. But he again shows his desire to isolate architecture from construction. Because their work does not explicitly manipulate forms, he finds no personal gesturee in it. Here Moneo is limited by the fact that he discusses only works through the early 1990s. He perceptively characterizes their early work as a search for origins marked by fascination with the archaic, noting how they explore the formal potential of materialss in their Napa Valley winery or Swiss countryside projects. However, the book's scope precludes examining more recent, culturally informed projects in which surfaces and different components of architectural form provide receptacles for other, external influences. (Certainly Herzog & de Meuron's Tokyo Prada store of 2002 would have altered Moneo's view on their exploration of the archaic.)

This time restriction also limits his reading of Rem Koolhaas, whom he presents as a rigid anti-contextualist, for whom place doesn't matter.. This conclusion ignores the sophisticated dialogues that Koolhaas' recent buildings in Seattle, Berlin, Porto, and Chicago establish with the cultures in which they are located. Moneo is better at analyzing Koolhaas' individual projects than his overall project. For example, describing Koolhaas' stylistic mixings as cocktail architecturee is reductive, but elucidating Rem's flair for iconographic representations of programs, as in the Zeebrugge Ferry Terminal in Belgium (1989), makes for highly perceptive commentary. Given the writer's astute talent at establishing comparisons and parallels among different architects, I would have been interested in seeing a link developed between Rossi's view of type as a universal constant and Koolhaas' obsessive efforts to invent new typologies, which are never mentioned by Moneo.

Moneo's attention to architecture as architecturee finds its culmination in lvaro Siza's work. Perhaps because Siza's practice echoes Moneo's own cultural origins, it resonates throughout the book as a whole. Siza, Moneo writes, seems to want to tell us that he simply wants his architecture to reek' of architecture. And it is this aroma of architecture''or, if you wish, of what we understand as architectureethat we breathe in his works.. What in architecture reekss of architecture? Am I not religious enough to grasp it, or am I missinggor missing out onnsome attainable absolute value? Moneo revels in the formal operations of Siza's art, describing the Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor (1971174) as an attempt to show architecture at its purest, devoid of phenomena and event.. Opposed to purely linguistic considerations,, it is a building that speaks of architecture and tries to offer the architectural experience in terms offits very essence: space in all purity, space without the limitations that use confines it to in buildings.. This is architecture in its most visual incarnation, an architecture of forms rather than ideas.

The exclusive view expressed in Theoretical Anxieties and Architectural Strategies begs a rhetorical question: In writing about literature and writers today, could one do so without examining the role of film, television, media, social politics, or theories of public and private space? Moneo's fundamental thesis about the arbitrary form at the very origin of our workk restricts architecture's terrain, leaving out issues of context and content. Yet within these preconceptions, few writers have addressed the territory with equal incisiveness or authoritative command. Hence the second question raised by this volume: How can an architect write well about his colleagues? Here Moneo's sharp insights and thorough research make for remarkable reading. But if there is a moment when Moneo's discerning commentary becomes outstanding, it is when he makes cross-comparisons among architects, establishing similarities, relations, and differences. It is at this point that Moneo is most potent and, to my mind, really talks about architectureewhich exists at the intersection of vastly different practicessby using these well-informed differences and adding information drawn from first-hand knowledge of the architects, their work, and his own. At this point Moneo moves beyond the common denominator of form to touch on the rich complexity of what architecture is. In the sense that architecture is between the lines, you have to read between the lines of this book. Bernard Tschumi is an architect in New York and Paris.

 

Guide to New York Guides

The Landmarks of New York: An Illustrated
Record of the City's Historic Buildings
Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Monacelli Press, $65.00 (hard)

City Secrets: New York City
Robert Kahn, editor
The Little Bookroom, $24.95 (hard)

Garden Guide: New York City
Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry
The Little Bookroom, $19.95 (paper)

Touring Gothamms Archaeological Past:
8 Self Guided walking Tours through New York City
Diana di Zerega Wall and Anne-Marie Cantwell
Yale University Press, $18.00 (paper)

City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program
Essay by Eleanor Heartney, introduction by Adam Gopnik
Merrell Publishers, $49.95 (paper)

The AIA Guide to New York by Elliot Wallinsky and Norval White was first published in 1967, but it remains the architecture guidebook to New York City against which all others must be measured. It is still the most comprehensive source on the city's architecture, primarily because it is one of the few to thoroughly survey all five boroughs, and includes more than 130 maps and 3,000 building images. Originally long and lean, it has gotten chunkier with each new edition. Its one drawback is that it is too bulky to be carried easily on walks. Also, it has not been revised since 2000 which means, for a city like New York, it's sure to have significant omissions.

A quick glance at the New York section of Urban Center Books makes it clear that many authors have tried to round out the picture.

In the armchair traveler category, the most satisfying new book is The Landmarks of New York by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, a leading landmarks advocate and former member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The book is billed as the definitive history and guide to New York's most treasured structures,, although Robert A. M. Stern's three volumes on New York, published by Rizzoli, might also lay claim to this title. Landmarks of New York is a history of preservation in the city, and begins in 1831, when New Yorkers began to first fret that important buildings were being lost, and continues through the destruction of the World Trade Center. Along with every official landmarked building in the city, Diamonstein-Spielvogel includes many lesser-known but interesting examples, like the four Hunterfly Road Houses on Bergen Street in Brooklyn that were the center of an early black community in the 1830s.

There is also a growing number of idiosyncratic guides for locals who might think they know the city inside out. The pocket-sized City Secrets: New York compiles the favorite spots of writers, artists, filmmakers, architects, and others, presented with first-person reminiscences as well as directions and hours of public operation. There are many gems: Between the Enrico Caruso Museum in Brooklyn and the Capitol Fishing Tackle Company near the Chelsea Hotel, there is SOM's 1967 Marine Midland Bank in Lower Manhattan, accompanied by remarks from Richard Meier, who claims that with the exception of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim, the best works of architecture built in New York during the last half of the 20th century were the black buildings.. (The other two he cites are the Seagram Building and the CBS Building.)

Part of the same pocket-sized series is Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry's comprehensive Garden Guide: New York City. It features many little-known publicly accessible green spaces, such as the Lotus garden on the roof of a garage on West 91st Street, and community gardens like the Taqwa Community Farm and the Garden of Happiness, both in the Bronx.

The slim paperback Touring Gotham's Archaeological Past: 8 Self-Guided Walking Tours Through New York City is a guide to the city not only of today but of yesterday. It discusses Native American life here, the early development of the grid, and long-gone neighborhoods. It includes drawings of a 16th-century Dutch West India wind-powered sawmill and maps of the Lower Manhattan waterfront when it bumped up against Hanover Square. In a city that seems to change by the moment and quickly obscures its past, it is a pleasure to know what's under our feet as well as on the street.

Another often-overlooked feature of New York is its public art. City Art: New York's Percent for Art Program features the nearly 200 works of public art completed since the program's 1983 initiation. While many of these pieces are easily accessible, others are in obscure spots. With an introduction by New Yorker critic Adam Gopnik and an essay by art critic Eleanor Heartney, the book documents the work of several of the city's best known public artists and their experiences working for the city.

Kristen Jones and Andrew Ginzel's 1992 installation, Mnemonics, at Stuyvesant High School, featured in City Art.
Courtesy Merrell Publishers

These books are but a sampling of the range of New York City guidebooks, each with a strong point of view. While they contain many familiar landmarks and spaces, they also offer just enough that is new (or little-known) to allow you to see the city with the wide-open eyes of a tourist. William Menking is an editor at AN.

 

Singular pleasures

It's no secret that architects and designers are fantastic fetishists. Sensuous forms, hard details, or soft textures can be enough to arouse even the most mild-mannered among us. The greatest turn-on of all, though, might just be the monographhthose beautiful tomes that we love to possess, exhibit, and gaze at. Here are several recent publications that we found not only eye-popping but stimulating too.

Ando: Complete Works
Philip Jodidio
Taschen, $125.00 (hard)


Bruno Taut:
Alpine Architecture
Matthias Schirren
Prestel, $39.95 (hard)

David Adjaye: Houses
Peter Allison, ed.
Thames & Hudson, $45.00 (hard)


 

Emilio Ambasz:
A Technological Arcadia
Fulvio Irace, ed.
Skira, $70.00 (hard)

Event Cities 3: Concept vs. Context vs. Content
Bernard Tschumi
MIT Press, $35.00 (paper)

Joel Sanders: Writings and Projects
Joel Sanders
Monacelli Press, $40.00 (paper)

 

Nox: Machining
Architecture
Lars Spuybroek
Thames & Hudson, $49.95 (paper)

Peter Eisenman: Barefoot on
White-Hot Walls
Peter Noever, ed.
Hatje Cantz/D.A.P., $49.95 (paper)

The Charged Void:
Urbanism
Alison and Peter Smithson
Monicelli Press, $65.00 (hard)

 

The Cool Hunt

The Cool Hunt Every architecture office has a materials library, though that can mean anything from a pile of product samples to a rigorously organized and staffed archive. Luckily for architects, the explosion of new materials in the last decade has brought with it an array of tools to help architects keep up with it all. Cathy Lang Ho surveys the sources. For an installation in Milan during the International Furniture Fair last month, Steven Holl Architects created a piece (left) that explored the theme porosity,, using a wood-veneered aluminum he found at Material Connexion. The material's ability to be laser cut and creased without breaking perfectly suited the design. Nick Gelpi Is not architecture determined by new materials and new methods?? Le Corbusier wrote in Architectural Record in 1929. The Swiss architect pressed further: A hundred years of new materials and new methods have made no change whatsoever in your [American] architectural viewpoint.. And where do things stand today? American architecture is still not exactly regarded as being on the forefront of material or technological innovation. Architecture is so boring,, lamented George Beylerian, president of Material Connexion, the mother of all materials resources, founded in 1997. What happened to the days when architects were fearless? It seems like only a few are trying to see what they can do with new materials or new ways of using materials.. Of Material Connexion's 1,200 users, architects comprise a minority, far outnumbered by industrial designers, manufacturers, and even fashion designers who tap into Material Connexion's Manhattan library or online database, where thousands of cutting-edge materials and processes have been juried, explicated, and catalogued. Some might consider the cost of Material Connexion's membership an obstacle: An individual membership, which includes access to both on-site and web libraries, is $450 per year. A corporate membership, which allows up to four people to use the on-site and web libraries, is $1,470. Many architecture firms balk at such fees, unlike, say, Prada, BMW, Target, or Steelcase (members all). But the payoff can be immense. With materials harvested from sources like the journal of the Society of Plastic Engineers and industries from medical equipment to aerospace, Material Connexion's offerings are more surprising and fantastical than what one would encounter walking the floors of a building trade fair. Consultation comes with the membership. Designers will come and tell us the characteristics they're looking for in a material, and we'll do our best to narrow down the possible solutions,, said Angela Aldrete, who works in the library. For many of Material Connexion's membersswho include Jean Nouvel, Bernard Tschumi, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Office of Metropolitan Architectureethe amount of time saved by this type of research assistance can be priceless. The most recent issue of DesignAid included MesoOptics' PureFX (left), in which a material is coated with a special film that transforms a laser point into a line with only a five percent loss of light; and Bendywood, available in beech, ash, oak, and maple, can be bent in a cold, dry state at a radius of over ten times its thickness (below). Courtesy Inventables Robin Reigi, whose eponymous showroom in Chelsea provides innovative materials and processes to architects and designers, has also seen a burgeoning demand for material research since she started her business six years ago. Somewhat organically, she has branched into material consultation, with clients like General Motors, Nissan, and Herman Miller recruiting her to hunt down materials to solve specific design problems. But Reigi doesn't expect architects to start paying for advice. We market our products to them but we won't look to them for fees,, she said. The best service she can provide is to act as a filter, offering a carefully edited selection of products that are functionally and visually extraordinary. She represents mostly small (under $5 million) companies, and often works closely with them to improve or develop products and processes that she thinks will appeal to architects. Architects always tell me what they want, and it often makes me think, Does that exist? If it doesn't, why not? And who can make it?? Reigi said. For architects who are part of that large New York demographic that's addicted to having everything delivered, two compelling subscription services have emerged in response to the wave of material-mania. Chicago-based company Inventables launched DesignAid three years ago, a quarterly magazine about fresh technologies and materials that comes with a box of labeled samples (about 20 in each installment). Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht came up with the concept for DesignAid after talking to architects and designers and finding that everyone's office was in chaos,, in Kaplan's words. The service starts at $6,500 yearly and increases according to the size of the firm and number of users. Meanwhile, Princeton Architectural Press is launching a similar publication, though on a smaller scale than DesignAid. Subscribers to Materials Monthly will receive three to five samples per month, for $200 per year or $24.95 per volume. Schacht would not specify how many subscribers DesignAid has, though he did note that architects are the smallest group, lagging far behind manufacturers, industrial designers, and interior designers. One reasonable explanation is that new materials are easier to apply to fashion, products, and interiors than architecture. It takes a lot of guts for an architect to use a material that's new and hasn't been tested,, said Rita Catinella Orrell, product editor at Architectural Record. When she's wading through the thousands of product samples and press releases she sees every year, she pays particular attention to the amount of research a manufacturer has done to back up a product. Sure, there are general trends that manufacturers and architects are interested in at the moment, like translucency and sustainability,, she said. But getting something tested and approved for buildings is a long process.. It's easy to get sucked into the sexy trap,, agreed Morley Bland, resource director at Beyer Blinder Belle, but when push comes to shove, if something is unproven, too expensive, or so special that you have to wait around for it, most architects be reluctant to use it.. Bland is a member of the Research Directors Association, a group of individuals who are formally in charge of their firms' libraries or informally their firms' resident product geek.. Only in its sixth year, the group has chapters across the country and about 200 members, 60 in New York who meet monthly. Their primary aim is to share information, for example, turning each other on to cool new finds or providing recommendationssor warningssabout specific materials or manufacturers. They also share ideas about how to best conduct research and present their findings to their firms. Some make staff presentations, while others send weekly email newsletters. Blaine Brownell, an architect and Seattle-based NBBJ's resident product guru, has gone so far as to offer free product-of-the-week email newsletters to anyone who asks. (He also created his own printed and PDF catalogue of new materials, Transmaterial, available on his website.) The group has also discussed ways of creating a national shared database and of formalizing what they do, perhaps by establishing requirements or at least a clear definition of the resource director's job, which might increase their value to a firm. All this progress on the materials front is sure to pull architecture along with it. Cathy Lang Ho is an editor at AN. RESOURCES www.materialconnexion.com www.robin-reigi.com www.inventables.com www.rdanet.org www.transstudio.com Materials Matter Material Connexion recently launched a quarterly publication called Matter, which is mailed to its library members and distributed at its resource centers in Manhattan, Cologne, and Milan. Featuring case studies, profiles, and topical articles, the latest issue (#3, Spring 2005) also presents four best in showw materialssstand-outs from Material Connexion's monthly jury sessions. The following is excerpted with permission: Cement: Construction Cement (MC# 5151-01) High toughness cement for construction. This cement is a high-performance material that possesses a unique combination of properties including good tensile and compressive strength, ductility, durability, and enhanced aesthetics. It has been designed to serve contemporary architectural creativity and can be used in a highly diverse range of applications. There are currently three different types of this cement: FM contains metal fibers and is suitable for structural civil engineering applications such as load-bearing structures; AF is a variation of FM that includes the same mechanical properties and incorporates excellent standardized fire-resistance behavior; and FO contains organic fibers and is suitable for architectural applications such as wall panels, furniture, canopies, etc. Current applications are for architectural and engineering applications where high-performance cement is required. It can be used as a self-consolidating material, which can replicate fine formwork detail or dry cast, facilitating the creation of highly architectural aesthetic structures. Process: Fragrance Encapsulation (MC# 5167-01) Moldable resin with encapsulated fragrance. A custom-designed fragrance is incorporated into a cellulose base polymer and extruded into pellets. These pellets form the raw material for secondary injection molding into various shapes. The fragrance has a lifespan of 20 years from initial encapsulation and there are currently over 20,000 different fragrances that may be encapsulated. A range of percentage loadings (the intensity of fragrance) as well as color co-ordinations is available in pearlized, gloss, and matte finishes. Current applications include injection molded packaging items for cosmetic and fragrance industries, watchbands, and toys. Naturals: Formable Composite Board (MC# 5165-01) Molded composite panel from recycled carpet. Natural (wool) and synthetic (nylon 6 and nylon 6, 6) fibers from post-consumer carpet is bonded using a synthetic resin (non-urea formaldehyde) with heat and pressure to create rigid paneling for construction. The panels have good compressive and impact strength, are water, mold, and rot resistant, may be machined easily using conventional woodworking tools and exhibit excellent dimensional stability. Thermoforming is possible, creating de-bossed surfaces as well as hemispherical cylinders with radii of curvature diameters as low as 4 inches (10.2 centimeters). Panel thickness ranges from 0.37551 inches (112.54 centimeters) and panel sizes up to 4 x 24 feet (1.22 x 7.3 meters). The panels may be laminated with wood veneers, GRP (glass reinforced plastic) sheets, or painted. Current applications are for wallboard, as an alternative to MDF for cabinetry and office furniture and as an alternative to pressure treated lumber. Polymers: Acoustical Panel (MC# 5174-02) Acoustical panels for interior exposed applications. Expanded polypropylene pellets are bonded together to create a lightweight, non-fibrous sound-absorbing panel used as an exposed tackable surface. The panels are available in white and charcoal gray in 1 and 2 inches (2.54, 5.08 centimeters) thicknesses and in 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 feet (60.1 x 60.1, 60.1 x 122 centimeters) sizes. The panels comply with ASTM E-84 class 1 for flame spread and smoke generation and give absorption of both low and high frequency sound (12554,000Hz). The surface of the panels may be cleaned with regular detergents and are both water resistant and have high impact strength. Current applications are for sound absorption in gymnasiums, swimming pools, and other sports facilities, in manufacturing clean rooms, food processing plants and restaurants as well as machine shops, offices, and gun ranges. Material-of-the-month Club Princeton Architectural Press introduces a subscription-based catalogue of new materials Materials Monthly's first issue (left) includes Polygal's polycarbonate sheets (below), which feature extreme flexibility and durability, and KnollTextiles' Imago resin sheets (at bottom), which are embedded with fabric. Courtesy Princeton Architectural Press This month, a new publication will join the ranks of subscription services dedicated to helping architects specify materials. Materials Monthly, published by Princeton Architectural Press, has a different take on materials than established publications like McGraw-Hill's Sweets catalog, however. Ten times per year, subscribers will receive a cardboard box filled with three to five samples of innovative products, along with leaflets describing their potential applications, technical specifications, and manufacturers. The sheets will be indexed for easy organization, and subscribers will receive a binder system for storage. Subscribers will also have access to a searchable database and an online forum for architects to post their experiences using materials they find through the service (www.materialsmonthly.com). Los Angelessbased architect Jennifer Siegel is editing the content of the first ten boxes. According to publisher Kevin Lippert, guest-edited issues are also in the works. We'd like to do some issues that are related to a specific building, where an architect, say, from Frank Gehry's office, might talk about three interesting materials used in the Disney Concert Hallltheir upsides as well as their downsides,, said Lippert. Inspired by his childhood subscription to a service that sent science kits through the mail every month, Lippert wants the new publication to be playful as well as useful. Getting cool new stuff in the mail is something architects enjoy,, said Lippert. He also sees small firms using the service to build or enrich their libraries without too much hassle. There are so many new materials coming out these days that it's hard for small practices to keep on top of what's going on,, he said. That's especially true for firms based outside of metropolitan areas like New York.. Materials Monthly already has a few hundred subscribers, according to Lippert, and he'd like to see those architects contribute to the direction of the publication. The whole thing is kind of fluid,, he said. We're looking at what the audience is interested in, and that will lead us in new directions.. DEBORAH GROSSBERG is an editor at AN. It's Not Easy Being Green Specifying sustainable materials is still harder than it should be. Deborah Grossberg looks at the problems involved, and the best ways to go about going green. 3form, a Salt Lake Cityybased materials company concerned with sustainability, developed EcoResin, a 40 percent post-grind recycled resin, which serves as a base for all its products. Its newest line of resins, Varia 05, includes layers of sustainably harvested materials from across the globe, as in Capiz (pictured at left), which features Indonesian Capiz shells. Courtesy 3form In the past decade, sustainability has become an essential part of an architect's vocabulary, and the demand for green building materials is growing in step. Materials specialists report that architects and designers are in consistent pursuit of green materials. Though some of those conversations are stymied by lack of availability or high costs, their increased demand has driven manufacturers to develop and test more and more green building products. The Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments, an organization composed of six major companies in the building products businesssPhilips Lighting, Johnson Controls, Forbo Flooring, Owens Corning, JohnsonDiversey, and Milliken Carpetssis one new collaborative that's pushing the movement further by banding together and serving as one-stop shopping for architects or clients seeking green solutions. Paul von Paumgartten, director of energy and environmental affairs at Johnson Controls, said, Everyone who makes a product in the building industry is in the process of making their products green. If they don't get it, they're going to be left behind.. Von Paumgartten's attitude is driven by bottom line as much as a commitment to the environment. As city and state governments mandate standards for energy efficiency based on systems like the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED certification, manufacturers have begun to see sustainability as the future of their largest contracts. Around a quarter of all Fortune 500 companies now do an annual sustainability report,, said von Paumgartten, who has also served on the board of USGBC. What they're finding is that they consume a huge amount of energy in their buildings.. The company is also thinking green at the design level; it utilizes a software application to help architects design with EcoResin in a cost-effective and waste-conscious manner. 3form's booth at ICFF used the software to duplicate and flip its undulating surfaces, thereby cutting in half the number of molds needed. Courtesy 3form But even as talk of sustainability becomes mainstream, problems remain for architects. For one thing, the question of what's green and what's not is a matter of constant contention. Mark Piepkorn, an editor of GreenSpec, a catalogue of green building materials and products published annually by Vermont-based BuildingGreen (which also publishes Environmental Building News), said, It's difficult to figure out which products are truly green. There's no way to make a formula that you can apply the same way to every product every time.. For example, though a product's recycled-content and recycling potential are generally regarded as green attributes, they can pose a conundrum, particularly when considering a material's lifecycle. Polyvinyl chlorides, or PVCs, which are used in most vinyl building products, cause a great deal of damage during processing, use, and disposal, when they release noxious chemicals such as dioxins into the environment. Some companies have come out with recycled PVCs, but these materials still have serious environmental consequences at the fabrication or disposal stages, even though recycling does lessen the amount of PVCs in landfills. LEED decided in February not to provide credits for avoidance of PVCs, stating on its website that the available science does not support such a creditt? a decision many in the industry find irresponsible. Two new green materials available at Robin Reigi Art & Objects are Kirei Board (left), a strong, lightweight wood alternative made from compressed and woven raw sorghum stalks and bonded with formaldehyde-free adhesive; and Icestone (below), a stone substitute made of concrete and 75 percent post-consumer recycled glass, and manufactured in a day-lit facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Courtesy Robin Reigi Art & Objects A major problem for architects hoping to specify green building materials is the lack of a standardized, reliable system for classifying and comparing them. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs))scientific studies of a material's impact on the environment before, during, and after processinggare expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to perform. Manufacturers pay for them, but without a dependable third-party system for disseminating information about the studies, it is often hard for architects to tell whether the manufacturers are highlighting good results in one category of performance while suppressing negative ones in otherssin effect, greenwashing their products. Some third-party rating systems do exist, but none have been singled out as the definitive source for information about green materials. Of the available systems, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and available for free online at www.bfrl.nist.gov, allows architects and designers to compare the relative sustainability of 200 classes of generic materials, but not specific products. Another source, ASTM's Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products (coded E2129-03) provides manufacturers and architects with a template for conducting LCAs. A PDF of the document costs $33, and is available online at www.astm.org. The most promising new rating system proposed, a web-based tool called eLCie developed by the International Design Center for the Environment (IDCE), will be launched in June. eLCie will provide manufacturers a chance to submit information for third-party LCAs at reduced rates, and the completed quantitative assessments will be displayed in standardized forms online, allowing architects to compare ratings for specific products at a glance. eLCie will be compatible with Autodesk's Revit software, allowing architects to quantitatively compare the relative environmental gains of using different materials in a given project. Architects interested in trying the software can sign up for a free two-month trial at www.idce.org. Another encouraging development was the USGBC's release of the long-awaited rating system for existing buildings (LEED-EB) in November. The program focuses more on the lifecycle of a building and its materials than LEED for new construction does, and it is significantly cheaper to obtain. Many environmentally conscious architects have skipped the confusion and expense of green materials, choosing instead to think about green design on a macro scale. It's often cheaper to go green with design solutions like daylighting or rain water catchment than green material specification,, said Piepkorn. In any case, a more holistic solution is necessary in the long run. According to von Paumgartten The greening of materials is a trend that's only going to get bigger and broader and bolder.. DEBORAH GROSSBERG Mori, Material Maverick Architect Toshiko Mori designed the installation for the Extreme Textiles show at the Cooper-Hewitt, but her interest in new materials is long-standing. Anne Guiney recently spoke with Mori about her research into textiles and their applications in architecture. all images courtesy toshiko mori architect You have been looking into the possibilities of textiles in architecture for some time now, first with the show Immaterial/Ultramaterial (Harvard Design School, 2001), and the accompanying book (George Braziller, 2002), then with your work for the Extreme Textiles show, and now for your forthcoming book Textile Tectonic (George Braziller, 2005). Immaterial/Ultramaterial started the exploration, and looked specifically at materials and their properties. It is very expensive and time-consuming to develop new materials, and so we [Mori and Nader Tehrani, of Bostonn based Office dA] worked with students to combine two or more materials and their different properties. For example, insect netting used on doors has tensile strength. If you pleat or iron it, you give it structure. By casting it in clear rubber, it becomes solid and stable. Two weak materials can then become one strong one. The question was how to change the original properties of materialssmuch like reinforced concrete. A self-supporting fiberglass staircase Mori recently installed at a house in Florida, shown here in the shop in which it was fabricated. Textile Tectonic is the second version, and deals with issues of fabrication. Once you start talking about materials, you have to start thinking about how to use them in making things, and issues of performance. After you develop a material, and then begin to fabricate with it, you have to ask yourself Why?? The answer is ultimately in how it performs. New materials are often developed by or for the military, the medical industry, or other industries for specific applications, in which one can articulate the performance precisely. In nanotechnology, the idea that you can make new materials for specific purposes is still more theoretical. In a sense with textiles, we are already there. We can use them to protect from heat, to waterproof things, to give strength, and to produce them in any pattern. They can be multilayered and multifaceted. What are some applications for textiles in building? Boat building is an almost didactic example of the ways they have been used. The traditional methods of constructionnwooden plank cladding over a structural wooden frameegave way to plywood, which in turn gave way to composite materials like fiberglass. Now, boats are basically all made out of textiles. With composites, one can weave different materials and different strands, or change the direction of the weave of the fiber in the composites. There can be specific weaves for specific layers, to better distribute load of the wind or the force of the water. In Eric Goetz's shop [a Connecticut-based boat builder also featured in Extreme Textiles], you can see this evolution. He makes hulls for America's Cup yachts, and they have to be very stiff and very lighttlight for speed and stiff to stand up to the extreme forces of the water and the wind. There is a huge amount of money involved, but I am interested in the question of how to make this amazing machine out of textiles. Three projects developed by Mori's students at Harvard in a 2003 seminar called Weaving Materials and Habitation.. Top: This project explored the idea of floppy structures, and the minimum amount support that must be used to create a shelter. Center: To develop an unlikely and weak material into something strong, students pasted five layers of toilet paper together, and then notched and wove the resulting strands into this undulating wall. Bottom: To explore the lateral distribution of force, students sandwiched elastic between two layers of basswood, and then wove them into a wall which responds to touch. Opposite: A rendering of Mori's installation design for the Extreme Textiles show at the Cooper-Hewitt. How have you been able to apply these ideas in your own work? I recently completed a staircase for a house in Florida. The conditions there are extremeethe wind, sun, and water are all very strong. We had to come up with a material that is light and that can stand up to these forces. Stainless steel is good, but it isn't really stain-free. We designed a structural staircase made out of seven layers of composite fiberglass on the stairs themselves; the landing is made out of nine layers. Usually, fiberglass is used as infill paneling, but in this case, there are no supporting beams. Another project I am working on with Eric Goetz is to develop a series of lightweight roof prototypes out of composite materials, almost like an upside-down boat hull. Ideally, a great deal of the infrastructure would be woven into the roof. But boat hulls have much tougher performance criteria than typical buildings, and are much more expensive, so I have to keep telling Eric, It's not for [America's Cup entrant] Team Prada, okay!! We are trying to degrade, or lessen the performance criteria to see if we can incorporate this technology into standard building methods so that the price drops. How did you approach your work for the Extreme Textiles show? I was an adviser to the museum and the exhibition curator Matilda McQuaid, and I designed the installation. The show looks at materials from an architectural point of view, sorting them by their performance qualitiesslighter, stronger, et ceteraanot by their function. The installation wasn't easy, because of the historical context of the Cooper-Hewitt museum building. None of the materials are decorative per se, but their visual quality is important in attracting people and showing how exciting they aree I wanted to use that as a lure. The materials are installed in a series of steel frames, because they are all at very different scales. The frame is meant to be a virtual one in which materials are suspended, and can be seen in the round, not just in a case. The frames are focusing devices. Otherwise, it would be like the World's Fair!

Great Room With a View

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Emerging Voices
JEAN VONG

The Architectural League of New York has named its newest crop of Emerging Voices. Since its inception in 1982, the program has served as a coming out for architects and designers, giving promising new talents a platform to share their ideas and work. 2005's featured firms talk about beauty, vent pipes, blue trees, and asking whether or not a client actually needs a building.

March 17

Taryn Christoff
Martin Finio
Hadrian Predock
John Frane

6:30 p.m.
Scholastic Auditorium
557 Broadway

March 23

Claude Cormier
Douglas Reed
Gary Hilderbrand

6:30 p.m.
Urban Center
457 Madison Ave.

March 31

Pablo Castro
Jennifer Lee
John Ronan

6:30 p.m.
Urban Center
457 Madison Ave.

April 7

John Hartmann
Lauren Crahan
Zoltan Pali

6:30 p.m.
Urban Center
457 Madison Ave.

 

Christoff:Finio Architecture
Manhattan

Elizabeth Felicella

Taryn Christoff and Martin Finio founded their joint practice in 1999. The firm has since completed many New Yorkkarea projects at an intimate scale, including the Catherine Malandrino store (2004), the headquarters of the Heckscher Foundation for Children on the Upper East Side (2005), and a beach house in New Jersey (pictured below). Their design for an aquaculture center in Aalborg, Denmark (above), was included in the National Building Museum show Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete.

While Taryn and I come from the culture of crafttit is part of our makeuppthe practice is evolving to the point where we want to test and even antagonize this sense of ourselves. Emerging technology interests us, but in the sense that we can use the formal possibilities of new modeling technologies to let us explore ways to make the world around us less familiar. It can make you question anew how buildings are built and how we live in them. We're interested in the way it compresses the line between drawing and the realities of fabrication, and while we haven't done as much of that yet, the promise is definitely there.

We don't put much focus on form-driven architecture but are looking for an architecture that works, solves the problems of the program, and looks good. We've also been called emergingg for a long time and are still evolving, so next year maybe our processes and work will be different. Martin Finio

 

Claude Cormier Architectes paysagistes
Montreal

Richard Barnes

Claude Cormier established his five-member landscape architecture firm in 1995. His work includes large-scale master plans for Montreal landmarks such as Place-des-Arts (2002) and Old Port (2000), urban plazas like Place Youville (pictured below), and small gardens such Blue Tree (above), an installation at the Cornerstone Festival of Architectural Gardens in Sonoma, California. Cormier is currently working on a project for the University of Quebec and an urban beach for Toronto.

Janet Rosenberg

Three elements we think are important: that each project make good, logical sense; that it is visually interesting; and that it has a sense of humor. Everything is so serious! There is never a break anywhere, ever. Sometimes it's not bad to surprise people and show a touch of one's sensibility. We use a lot of color, since there is room for it in the public, urban landscapes we typically work in. Of course, it must be done with an understanding of the space around it, and that is where the logical common sense comes in. Sometimes there is a furorrpeople say A tree is not blue!!?but conflict is not always bad. It can challenge one's sense of perception. Art does this, and so why can't landscapes? Claude Cormier

 

Freecell
Brooklyn

courtesy freecell

John Hartmann and Lauren Crahan founded Freecell in 1998 and were joined by associate Corey Yurkovich in 2002. Recent projects include MOISTscape, an installation at Henry Urbach Architecture (2004), Reconfiguring Space at Art in General (2003, pictured above), and Type A Studio (2004). The firm is working on a roof deck on the Lower East Side, a house in Florida, and a brownstone
renovation in Brooklyn. Both Hartmann and Crahan teach design studio at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Photography, painting, and drawing are important parts of the background of our work. We're fascinated with the lure of cities, even if we can't explain the appeal of certain objects in them. Taking hundreds or thousands of photographs of things we are drawn to is a way of discovering what those things are and why we like them; the pictures reveal color and form, or density and sparseness, and those qualities inevitably inform the architecture created.

When people ask how we choose the colors in our projects, I think of pictures of the incredible saturation of the orange-yellow glow of sodium halide lights on the street. We wouldn't mimic the light, but we can draw on that atmosphere and its quality for a project. The repetition of vent pipes on a building is also appealing, so the same type of repetition shows up in the book cave we did for Shortwave Bookstore [pictured above].

With drawing and painting, it is as simple as strengthening your ability to observe and concentrate. Something about forced concentration leads to a much more detailed knowledge of a thing, and that knowledge then becomes a part of you and the way you think and work. John Hartmann

 

OBRA Architects
Manhattan

courtesy obra architects

Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee left Steven Holl Architects in 2000 to found OBRA. Recent projects include an exhibition at the Rhode Island School of Design entitled Architettura Povera (2004, pictured above) and the Tittot Glass Art Museum in Taipei, China (below). The firm is currently working on three projects in New York: Rockville Center Apartments, Motion Technology Manufacturing Facility and Offices, and a residence in Long Island designed with Steven Holl Architects. A house in San Juan, Argentina, will finish construction in late 2005.

For us, competitions are the engines that propel us forward. While we try not to do the same thing each time,
we are always interested in things like trees, running water, and people, which can take either metaphorical or actual form.

We all live in a technological age, and sometimes design seems to come down to choosing from a series of products. We try to address, subvert, and finally transcend that. We're interested in laser-cutting, but not as an objective in itself. We want to use it in a way that looks beyond the limitations of the technology itself, and towards its unpredictability. Since so many things can be homogenized by technology, we want to look at the potential of architecture to bring back a sense of identity.

Architecture is a living thing, a strange mirror that can bring us back to our own forgotten condition. Pablo Castro

 

Predock_Frane Architects
Santa Monica

courtesy predock_Frane architects

Hadrian Predock left his father Antoine Predock's firm in 2000 to start a practice with John Frane. The duo's work was included in the 2004 Venice Biennale, and current projects include the Central California Museum of History in Fresno, and two projects for Zen Buddhist groups: the Desert Hot Springs Zen Retreat in California (pictured above) and the Center of Gravity Foundation in northern New Mexico (below). They are also collaborating with the elder Predock on an inn at the French Laundry in Napa.

jason predock

We don't like the word contextualism, because it is such a codified and constrained term. So often, when people use it, they are just referring to other architectures. You have to ask What is context?? It can be the culture of the people or an artificial, imposed landscape as much as anything original. At the French Laundry, there is both the culture of Napa, and also [chef] Thomas Keller's conceptual approach and set of tools. In the Mojave Desert [Zen retreat], we are dealing with a set of positive and negative environmental forces. There is always wind and usually people try to block that force or funnel it awayyit is a negative. But you can also use it to elaborate the spatial sequences you are creating. We think you find deeper meanings and more intricacy when you start to think about all of these relationships and interactions.

As for our process, there are two parallel tracks, the pragmatic and the conceptual. You have to know how many bathrooms there should be, but you can also question the programmdo they even need a building?  John Frane and Hadrian Predock

 

Reed Hilderbrand landscape architecture
Boston

courtesy reed hilderbrand
landscape architecture

Douglas Reed founded his landscape architecture practice in 1993, and was joined by principal Gary Hilderbrand in 1997. Recent projects include the Children's Therapeutic garden in Wellesley, Massachusetts (pictured above) and Hither Lane, a private garden in East Hampton (below). The firm is currently working on several projects in the Boston and Somerville area, such as the waterfront near the New England Aquarium, a commission from Harvard University, and, with Tadao Ando, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

We are increasingly working in brownfield sites, but while the term is a relatively new one, the idea is not. In the 19th century, Olmsted took abused parts of the city and made something extraordinary. We see ourselves as engaging
in a long tradition, but in contemporary terms and with contemporary expression.

In our work, we look for clarity, brevity, and simplicity. It is a process of reducing a complex series of elements to something apparently simple and serene, but not simplistic. To endow an urban site with those qualities is a big challenge, but I think a great thing. Some of these characteristics are really ancient things, and we aren't afraid of gestures that are emotive or mysterious.

We have always celebrated the richness of vegetation, and are interested in the expressive use of plants and grading as a medium to convey ideas.  Gary Hilderbrand

 

John Ronan Architect
Chicago

courtesy John Ronan Architect

John Ronan founded his solo practice in 1997. In 2004, he won the competition to design a 472,000-square-foot high school for Perth Amboy, New Jersey (pictured above, left), and completed an addition to the Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Current projects include a youth center for the South Shore Drill Team in Chicago (above, right), houses in Chicago and on Lake Michigan, and a residential conversion of the Yale Steam Laundry in Washington, DC.

I tend to work from reality backwardssI start off by asking what can I do with this?? instead of developing a notion, and then making that idea conform to what is already on the ground. That is a part of my interest in programmatic sustainability, or how buildings change and evolve over time. That often means designing spaces that can be manipulated by their users; the focus is on space over form. I start with spatial exploration, but material investigation also comes in very early in the process, and can have a truly generative role.

I think that one forges meaning through the interdependency of structure, materials, and space. At a certain point, the three come together, and you can't change one without changing the others.  John Ronan

 

SPF:a
Los Angeles

courtesy spf:a

Zoltan E. Pali established Pali and Associates in 1988, and in 1996 Jeffrey Stenfors and Judit Fekete joined Pali to found Stenfors, Pali, Fekete:architects, or SPF:a. The firm's recent work includes barn at the Sharpe House in Somis, California (2004, pictured above, left), and the Bluejay Way Residence in Los Angeles (2005, above, right). SPF:a is working with the Nederlander Organization on a project to restore Los Angeles' Greek Theater in Griffith Park and is transforming a warehouse into a charter school, also in L.A.

Some people want to wake up and reinvent architecture every Monday morning, but many of the results disappear pretty quickly. I'm not interested in being a formalist. Playing around with form is an un-objective way of going about design. I try to be as clear, concise, and objective as I can, so that it is not just my ideas that define a project, but what is there. I also enjoy the interaction with creative clients, and finding out what is in their heads.

I am much more interested in new materials and technologies and how you incorporate them into built structures for the betterment of the environment. That process is what generates the formmit comes from the way you choose to solve a problem. I always want to find beauty along the way. If I had to make a choice, I would sacrifice the new for beauty, since architecture is not about being the next new thing.  Zoltan Pali

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Philip Courtelyou Johnson

Issue 03_02.16.2005

Philip Courtelyou Johnson 
1906-2005

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

© luca vignelli/esto

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

Four Seasons Restaurant (1958)
 
ezra stoller © esto

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

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

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

Johnson’s Second Act

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

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

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

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

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

AT&T building (1984)
 

ezra stoller © esto

 

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

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

Lipstick building (1986)

 

© peter mauss/esto

Johnson Comes to New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philip Johnson in the Glass House (1949)
 

© ezra stoller/esto

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

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Mall City

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

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

 

uwe ditz photography,
courtesy the related companies

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

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

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

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

courtesy manhattan mall

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

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

bob zucker courtesy som

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

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

 

courtesy jj falk design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

courtesy south street seaport

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

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

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

 Deborah grossberg is an associate editor at an.

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Back to the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gehry Takes Manhattan

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LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH (BUYERS) AND FAMOUS (ARCHIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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