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Letter to the Editor> Pier55 responds to City Club of New York criticism
[Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to an op-ed from the City Club of New York. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] There is a pressing need for new public open space and programming along the Lower Manhattan waterfront. When Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 closed in 2011, New York City lost vital parkland that had served both local community and citywide residents. The problem was that there was never enough public funding to support a new pier at that site. Pier55 will revitalize that waterfront space with nearly three acres of new public parkland, a unique design and new arts, educational and community programming. A public-private partnership between the Diller - von Furstenberg family and the Hudson River Park Trust will ensure Pier55 will remain sustainable for generations to come. As former City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has written, this use of a public-private partnership follows a long tradition that has supported other public parks across New York City, such as the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as public arts spaces like Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell and the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. That is all part of why Pier55 has received an overwhelmingly positive response from local families and park advocates who are excited about the future of the Hudson River Park. The project has also been through a rigorous and transparent environmental review process and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. Unfortunately, the City Club of New York disagrees. Instead of engaging the community — as the Hudson River Park Trust and Pier55, Inc. have done over the past year — the City Club continues to make false claims about Pier55 and its public process. The fact is that Pier55 underwent a comprehensive Environmental Assessment which found that the park would have no significantly adverse impact on fish and other aquatic wildlife. The Environmental Assessment remains publicly posted on the HRPT website to this day, and it was distributed publicly for a two-month comment period that went well beyond what is required by state law. Additionally, it has already been stated that pile driving for Pier55 will not occur between November and April, when wildlife like winter flounder and striped bass are found in higher densities in the area. The City Club has provided no actual evidence refuting the Environmental Assessment or proving why any further environmental review would be required. Pier55 will provide a diverse array of programming, but it should be noted that boating activities are already found at numerous other piers along Hudson River Park. Contrary to opposition claims, as determined by the United States Coastguard, Pier55 will not obstruct navigation in the Hudson River because that particular area has never been used for boating activities. Pier55’s commitment to public programming is also based on a commitment to public access. The park will remain open to the public all year round and the vast majority of events at Pier55 will be offered for free or at low cost. It must also be noted that Pier55’s 2.7-acre size is within the scope of what is allowed based on a 2013 law amending the state’s Hudson River Park Act. This amendment, crafted based on input from the local community board and other stakeholders, allowed HRPT to rebuild the former pier outside its original footprint. Aside from all that, it is odd to see the City Club argue that Pier55 — one pier among many at Hudson River Park — will block views of the river. The pier will provide park visitors with new and unique views of the Hudson River, and it will replace a fenced-off site that currently provides no public benefit. Overall, Pier55 is a public benefit that is being funded by necessity through a public-private partnership. Pier55, Inc. is not a corporation — it is a nonprofit organization. It will not reap profits from any events held at Pier55, and all programming revenue will go back into funding the park and serving the public. As New Yorkers for Parks and other supporters have noted, this public-private model will ensure that the new pier remains sustainable for generations, even in the absence of public funding. The City Club’s arguments against Pier55 may be numerous, but they are without merit and do not reflect the overwhelming community support for the project, which has only grown as more local residents hear what the new park will provide for their neighborhood. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders on making Pier55 a success for the community and the city. We hope the City Club will reconsider its inaccurate claims and join us in that effort. —Pier55 Development Team
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Letters to the Editor> Readers respond to AN’s Municipal Art Society editorial
Editor's Note: In The Architect’s Newspaper’s December issue, editor-in-chief William Menking published the editorial, “What Happened to the Municipal Art Society?” In it, he questioned MAS’s commitment to architecture and New York City, saying: “What was once one of the fiercest and most devoted New York City organizations that would litigate when it thought the best interests of the city were threatened, has now become a de-fanged developer and real estate–led organization that serves as a cheerleader for major development projects…” Many of you responded and we are sharing a few letters below. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. I was the executive director of the Municipal Art Society (1975 to 1984) when the idea of locating a space where we could have our offices and also be able to have public programs was suggested by board member Fred Papert in 1976. The MAS Board at that time was chaired by Brendan Gill with Doris Freedman as president and, immediately seeing the possibilities of bringing our urban design and preservation concerns to a broader public, they got behind the idea enthusiastically. The MAS was founded in 1893 and had always been a group of enthusiasts inspired by the City Beautiful movement. For decades it didn’t have a full-time staff, and its projects were led by board members who were architects, lawyers, philanthropists, civic activists, and people who had influence with government agencies. At the time, our offices were located on the remote 45th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We were looking for a new home that would be as different as possible. There was a real estate depression in Manhattan, so there were endless possibilities available. I looked at about 50 East Side locations from 35th to 65th streets. We could even have bought a whole—semi-decayed—building in Midtown for $650,000. Then we learned that the North Wing of the Villard Houses might be available and were excited by its possibilities. At 51st and Madison the location was at the crossroads of the city. We approached the Helmsley Organization, which owned the buildings (on land owned by the Archdiocese of New York). What emerged after a period of negotiation was an initial lease for approximately 25 years, with relatively small escalations, starting at about $2.00 a square foot, and another 25 years of optional extensions with periodic escalations to market rents. I signed the lease for the space in 1977 with Harry Helmsley, who evidently didn’t think it had much potential. While searching for the real estate, I did a survey of all of the citywide land-use organizations to determine which ones would be compatible with MAS in housing their offices in the building and sharing the public spaces for gallery exhibitions and public meetings. There were more than ten such nonprofit organizations, but some were far too large to fit, while others did not want to leave where they were. We finally ended up with the Architectural League, the Parks Council, and the New York AIA, which acted as an umbrella for the planning and landscape organizations. Then, as a way to keep the relationships open with all of these organizations, Doris Freedman suggested that MAS create an informal breakfast club to which only the top official of each of them was invited to meet monthly and share intelligence on development proposals before various city agencies. When the Urban Center project started, the MAS was raising its funding month by month. It had no endowment and almost no cash on hand. On the strength of the concept of an Urban Center (totally original at the time) we raised the funds (nearly a million dollars) for the renovation for programming. We finished the work in the fall of 1979 for the offices, the public spaces, and Urban Center Books (which was funded entirely by Joan Davidson and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.) We and our nonprofit sub-tenants were all subsidized by our commercial tenants. The National Trust for Historic Preservation held its annual meeting in New York in late 1979, and we were able to open the doors of The Urban Center in time to welcome them. It is interesting that MAS, an organization with a passionate, involved board, a tiny staff and no financial strength at the start, could carry off such a grand plan. It was the only organization that perceived the vacuum in unified civic leadership and undertook to fill it. The pioneering donors like CBS, Brooke Astor, Mobil Oil, and the National Endowment for the Humanities took a big leap of faith to back the effort at the beginning. In its time, The Urban Center did much to balance the combined strength of the real estate community and the public agencies with the concerns and desires of local citizens and enlightened professionals. The MAS organized and managed The Urban Center in its thirty years of existence with a lively program of exhibitions, presentations, bookstore, and celebrations, as it became a destination and meeting place for design professionals and students from all over the world. It is still missed by many. Margot Wellington, Urbanist I did not recognize the Municipal Art Society described in the December 11th Editorial. As a partner for the past three years in improving the safety, health, and prosperity of Brownsville, Brooklyn, MAS has brought attention to preservation, livability, and resilience concerns that it and other outer borough neighborhoods, particularly those with the highest rates of poverty, have long needed. In its work with residents and organizations in Brownsville, MAS has combined the best of its advocacy tradition with emergent tools and smart urban strategies aimed at helping local residents thrive. It’s an impressive evolution for an organization that continues to stand fundamentally for a more inclusive city. Rosanne Haggerty, president of the Community Solutions/Brownsville Partnership I worked up there. I learned about “social loafing,” which I teach in my management courses. Val Ginter, former MAS Tour Guide I worked, consulted, and partnered with the MAS for many decades and think you may have underestimated the value of the work it has been doing over the past years. For credibility, I was the professional advisor to the legendary MAS Time Square Competition recently revisited at the Skyscraper Museum. More recently, during my term as president of the AIA New York Chapter, I partnered with the MAS and the Architectural League on a public forum addressing the then immediate and contentious future of the American Folk Art Museum. But the most important work the MAS has been doing is related to the future of the city, the region, and the globe starting with its immediate and intimate involvement with the post-Sandy activities. The MAS was present at the 20 agency meeting at the AIA NY Chapter and was central to the HUD/RBD activities and runs right up to the recent Urban Thinkers Campus and organizing of programs like the critical multi-agency, multi-institutional one held recently at the National Museum of the American Indian dealing with the ever more critical issues of Climate Change. Not to recognize the importance of these activities is not giving credit where credit is due. Yes, we all look forward to a new home for the MAS and to robust new leadership, but this should not eclipse the contributions MAS is making while these new opportunities are being addressed. Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, Architect Your article is on target. The MAS is currently a sad situation given its long and distinguished history. For more than a century, MAS acted as advocate for zoning, planning, and historic preservation. It has since the 1950s provided first-rate public programs and tours to help the public reach a greater understanding of both planning and preservation issues. The Historic Districts Council has filled the preservation advocacy vacuum for the entire city and is more in touch with the issues and concerns all residents than MAS, which is generally perceived as “Midtown Manhattan- centric” and a “blueblood” organization. The HDC is responsible for so much fine work, but lacks the high profile of MAS. However on other issues such as planning and zoning, there is still is an important gap to be filled by MAS which was able to make the transition over the decades from a “City Beautiful Movement” organization of the 19th century concerned with “Municipal Art” to a dynamic advocate for rational zoning, planning, and preservation and the education of the citizenry in these issues through the 20th Century. I truly hope MAS can continue and find their way in the 21st. John Kriskiewicz, Architectural Historian Points well taken. We need a watchdog and you remind of us of the former and important role played by the MAS. Anthony Alofsin, Architect I joined MAS in the past year, and was asked to serve as chair of the preservation committee in the last six months. I feel the responsibility to respond to your article. This committee’s focus is the basis for the formation of MAS nearly 125 years ago, so the weight of the position was not lost on me. In taking stock of our preservation activities I came away with an external view, which was consistent with what you are saying. However, the internal evaluation yielded a different result. From an outside perspective, MAS had stepped away from the active preservation forum. We were not walking the halls nor shouting out loudly or early enough. We had lost direct touch with our constituents when the Urban Center was closed. However, in my internal research I learned that MAS became spread thin, overcommitted financially, and carried hefty legal bills to fight these fights. The outgoing director dedicated much of his tenure to streamlining programs, reducing costs and creating a fiscally viable organization. He focused on organizational health and moved us from reactive battles to proactive planning. If there was a loss of voice, I do stand by a leader who created focus and organizational health. My recommendations were to increase our financial commitment toward staff in preservation; to get into the fight earlier; to use new tools to engage a broader audience; and to support the broad array of smaller preservation organizations. Those recommendations were supported by the Board. And so, this fall we hired an experienced, highly respected preservation professional to support our efforts. We have formalized our areas of focus—Penn Station, supertalls, East Midtown, landmarks, and loss of character in neighborhoods across our five boroughs. Considerable planning has gone on in these core areas for the past three years. As we appoint a new president, MAS has a huge opportunity to be owned by all who care about its work. Many of the most frustrated voices are also those who have been a part of our history and care deeply about the Society. The sweep of a century has moved from no preservation to our first preservation policy, to tools that allow us to merge preservation with design planning. Through the leadership of a new President, the Board, our staff, and members, MAS is committed to an ambitious future for the city, which includes the fundamental importance of preservation. MAS has a huge opportunity to become owned by all who care about its work and thus drive the agenda. It is a membership organization and ownership should grow to encompass ALL New Yorkers. Christy MacLear, executive director at Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Has MAS lost its fight? An important question, but we could equally ask: “Have we lost our fight?” William Menking’s editorial poses a question that the media, advocacy organizations, and the profession itself should be asking. As an example, AN itself used to be known for publishing the latest gossip from the upper boardrooms of design and architecture, aiming to break down walls. But controversy is hard to sustain. For both not-for-profit and for-profit concerns, the fight seems to be for relevance. The many organizations that are committed to what makes New York New York, struggle with how to inspire New Yorkers to fight the continuing loss of variety in our city and its places. The struggle plays out through individual fights for buildings and larger fights for policy change, but what remains lacking is investment in and support of a platform to coordinate, combine, and focus these efforts, large and small. In our own experience, MAS sponsored The Next 100 initiative to communicate what was at stake for Grand Central. Since the teams presented these architectural visions in 2013, there has been almost no reaction and certainly no sign of a larger movement galvanizing interest around campaigning for any of the elements of the visions proposed for Grand Central and its district. Is this because we don’t see projecting a vision and building excitement about the future as a critical part of the preservation battle? Or maybe it is too hard to accept, that we need to work on the battles you cite, as civic issues that bring together organizations and their resources. Claire Weisz, FAIA, principal, W X Y architecture + urban design
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Letter to the Editor> Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Ready for some tough love, some bitter medicine? Looking back, we architects got our profession into some bad places with some serious mistakes. We were often so eager for fame and celebrity that we sometimes behaved irresponsibly. We did not use design in its best sense; we gave away our treasure. We were not always reliable regarding time and money. We handed over the leadership role in building to others who lacked the necessary skills and training, and who held no responsibility or liability. Left with less authority and control, architects instilled fear and distrust in our clients. We aided and abetted clients with unrealistic and unworthy ambitions. Specifically, when clients proposed projects where the scope, budget, and schedule didn’t fit together, we were so eager for the assignments that we did not blow the whistle, but jumped in feet first. I can think of three fine institutions with worthy missions and stellar reputations that committed virtual suicide. Those institutions (almost) betrayed their missions by creating inappropriate, overpriced Silly Buildings. The architects and the leadership of those institutions were co-conspirators and bad stewards. Their actions in pursuit of fame and recognition did irreparable harm to their institutions. We foolishly participated in competitions, an insulting process for selecting architects. What wise partnership was ever created by such a superficial beauty pageant? What smart client chooses an architect simply by how a building looks, without knowing what that architect is like to work with, or if they can execute the project well? What other profession gives its work product away for free? What bettor places a two dollar bet when the prize is two dollars? (And here often there is NO prize!) The field is littered with competition winners who end up losers: no built project, no fee, no valuable relationship. Competitions may have been a reasonable selection process in another time and place. They don’t work here and now. Competitions are abusive and counterproductive for everyone. The lack of self-worth actually begins with poor professional habits. Hiring young professionals without pay, or calling them consultants rather than employees, is illegal and unethical. We are not properly compensated for our services: we provide unpaid speculative designs for clients to try to secure assignments. We are not being paid on a timely basis. (These are circumstances under which no client would expect their contractor to continue working, but we do. Are we richer or dumber than the contractors?) We compete for projects by simply offering to do them for the lowest fees. This practice is unsustainable: if we continue to undersell ourselves, the profession will become a commodity. We allowed, even encouraged, the media to publicize projects whose main value is novelty and eccentricity, not quality. Maybe novelty is easier to spot and sell. While pandering to the public’s desire to stare ghoulishly at a highway accident, novelty hasn’t improved the work or the profession. Encouraging this bad behavior leads clients to ask for more silly buildings, which they (and society) often can’t afford. As young professionals, we are often eager to get a fast start, to break out of the gate early. We start before we have fully mastered the complex task of making buildings. It takes time to learn how to deal constructively and fairly with parties who have other agendas or financial interests. From these errors, we can learn what will lead us to a better future. First, let’s use design in its best, most holistic sense. Design is not simply about how the building looks on the outside (for that is simple). Design dictates how buildings are planned, and how they use resources (materials, energy, space, money, and time). Design informs efficiency, durability, and beauty. Let’s get the design and construction of our projects done on time and on budget. Let’s return to being our clients’ trusted advisors and partners. Let’s be more creative, not just about designing what we are asked to design, but in making new building types for the present and the future, not just the past. Let’s be inventive about the process of building, the largest segment of the American economy. The way we build now is antiquated and doesn’t work well, which leaves room for major improvements. Can you imagine a car produced the way we make buildings? You’d hire a designer, while another company puts together the components of body, engine, brakes, transmission, all made by other companies. You’d end up with a $3 million car that has never been prototyped or tested, and it wouldn’t run as well as a $20,000 Volkswagen. Yet this is how we make buildings! Let’s demand the fees that it takes to do great design. It does cost more to study more alternatives to get the very best one. It takes money to create better, more thorough, and accurate documents to build our designs, and to provide strong services in the construction phase. The client benefits. Better services result in better buildings, lower construction costs and fewer extras. Clients will learn that paying for increased services will make the buildings they own more appropriate and more durable. When we received the fees we deserve, we run better offices, with better staff and equipment, and fewer worries about money. Let’s sell these more relevant building types and these construction and fabrication processes not just to our clients, but to crowd-funding and to venture capitalists. Instead of working for a one-time fee, we would maintain ownership of our ideas and the income streams they produce. Our professionalism should be recognized. Why are we intent on measuring the energy a building uses (not even the energy materials and the building process consume), rather than the professional practice that created the metric? Let’s start a professionalism rating system to gauge architects’ service: firms would be rated by the appropriateness and usefulness of their designs, the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of their process, and the reduced risk to their clients. Let’s take back the leadership we once had in the building process, and again become our clients’ trusted, and compensated, partners. Paul Segal, FAIA Columbia University Adjunct Professor, author of Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs into Buildings.
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Letter to the Editor> A-OKC: Oklahoma City should reconsider demolishing its Modernist heritage
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Thank you for your piece on Oklahoma City—much needed attention to what is happening there. Having grown up in Edmond, just north, I have watched good buildings disappear over time. Seeing Johansen’s model of Mummers Theater as a child was the first I became aware of architecture and that buildings could be different. I was truly amazed that what I was seeing was a theater! It was heartbreaking to watch it come down and I am still suffering from survivor’s guilt. I very likely would not be an architect if not for that building. Much of the concern over the fate of these buildings come from the coasts and I know that your work will help inspire the many in Oklahoma who value architectural diversity. Lyn Rice Terreform-ative
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Letter to the Editor> Terreform ONE responds to Anti-Anti-Guggenheim gossip
[Editor’s Note: The following is a response to a recent entry in The Architect's Newspaper's gossip column, Eavesdrop. In the response, Michael Sorkin is referred to as an editor at AN. Sorkin is not an editor, but does sit on AN's East Coast editorial advisory board. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Our Guggenheim anti-counter competition posted on the Terreform ONE blog is a sarcastic commentary. It is not an actual architecture competition and this is readily apparent to almost anyone reading it. We produced the post in response to the enormous confusion created by Michael Sorkin's self initiated counter competition and anti-Guggenheim defamation campaign. We received a number of requests for information in our "info at Terreform dot org" email box and some negative backlash from legitimate entrants. As stated in our text, we have a profound respect for the Guggenheim Museums and Foundation. We also wish to divorce ourselves from any association with Sorkin and his personal opinions as a professional critic. Why Sorkin is so resentful of the Guggenheim, Terreform ONE, and many other publicly recognized groups is disconcerting. Furthermore, the individual attack on our co-founder Mitchell Joachim stating that Sorkin was his "father” is simply outrageous, offensive, and unprovoked. Why in this case does The Architect's Newspaper need to behave like a tabloid? – perhaps it's because Sorkin is an editor. Terreform ONE
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Letter to the Editor> Francois Roche responds to Patrik Schumacher’s reproach of the Chicago Architecture Biennial
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] The Architect's Newspaper recently published an excerpt from Patrik Schumacher’s now-infamous Facebook post which he also sent to AN. In response, Thailand-based architect Francois Roche sent us the following letter from his Facebook page; an edited version was also posted on Dezeen. For context, here is part of Schumacher’s text, and Roche’s unedited response. Read Schumacher's full statement here.

“The State of the Art of Architecture” delivered by the Chicago Architecture Biennial Exhibition must leave lay-visitors bewildered by one overwhelming subliminal message: Contemporary architecture ceased to exist, the discipline’s guilt and bad conscience has sapped its vitality, driven it to self-annihilation and architects have now en masse dedicated themselves to doing good via basic social work. A less charitable interpretation sees the hijacking of the newly created Chicago Architecture Biennial by a marginal but academically entrenched ideological tendency within the discipline that has abandoned their societal remit of innovating the built environment at the world technological frontier and instead pours its allocated resources into concept-art style documentation and agitation of behalf of underdeveloped regions and milieu. —Patrik Schumacher

From inside / a review far away from the Neo-Liberal Jealousy and last Übermensch libertarian Patrik Schumacher jiggering... this past week / but within the ideological and political Tabula rasa that operated on the situation / Chicago Cultural Center was (is) before everything a social center... the last homeless spot in downtown Chicago / With a tacitly organized passive violence, during the Biennial opening days only “members” with authorized badges were admitted / Rejecting the regular “trashy-freak” users / To quote Bourdieu ... Taste is an affair of business, exclusion, and social class... contemporary museums widely betray the emancipating hypothesis of their origin and foundation / At the Biennial all architects were participating to this “hygienist” strategy / But the most absurd ... was to listen to their speeches about bio-politics, greenish-color and bottom-up slummy romanticism, saving Willy and the world with Joseph Grima (the curator in charge of this specific Activism Carnival) on the throne of those selves-complaisance-indulgence... at the spot and the time where the Cultural-Social Center became “bunkerized.” ... Between Patrik and Zaha, who are ignoring with cynicism the workers’ dramatic condition of servitude in Abu Dhabi, and who participated to the biggest brainwashing enterprise of these past ten years: technologies as a strategy of ignorance-arrogance-positivism (pleonasm), and symmetrically the participants of this Biennial who “naively and innocently” excluded the damaged bodies and disordered minds, while wearing their black Penguin suits to moralistically enact political entertainment... WHO are the most criminal? Simply the two faces of the same coin or bitcoin... feeding themselves as a reciprocity simulacrum, as Ping-Pong between the Cynical and the Clown... the history of intellectual Tabula rasa... of architecture discipline... Could we find a crack between the techno-fetishism and at its opposite the techno-regression? It is so comfortable to choose one of these chapels... there are many advantages to reduce or to falsify consciousness and knowledge... Techno-sciences shouldn’t be an Object any more.... but a Subject that we have to re-appropriate in “democratic anthropo-technic” strategies... Francois Roche
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Letter> State of what art? Patrik Schumacher rails against the Chicago Architecture Biennial
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] The State of the Art of Architecture, delivered by the Chicago Architecture Biennial Exhibition, must leave lay-visitors bewildered by one overwhelming subliminal message: Contemporary architecture has ceased to exist, the discipline’s guilt and bad conscience has sapped its vitality, driven it to self-annihilation, and architects have now en masse dedicated themselves to doing good via basic social work. A less charitable interpretation sees the hijacking of the newly created Chicago Architecture Biennial as a marginal but academically entrenched ideological tendency within the discipline that has abandoned its societal remit of innovating the built environment at the world technological frontier, and is instead pouring its allocated resources into concept-art style documentation and agitation on behalf of underdeveloped regions and the milieu. I am rather suspicious of these creative/artistic engagements with poverty. It sometimes risks mutating into a questionable aesthetization of poverty, a questionable romance. Questionable because what the poor of this world most probably (and rightly) aspire to requires little creativity and imagination because it is already plotted out for them by the ladder of development leading up to what has been achieved in the most advanced arenas of world civilization, where—in contrast—true, path-breaking creativity is indeed called for. I rather feel that our discourse has become far too moralizing and politicized. It’s all too familiar by now: Political correctness swamps the discipline and takes over its discursive spaces. For example, why should an ARCHITECTURAL biennial give a huge space to an ART project like Amanda WilliamsColor(ed) Theory when ART has already its own (many more) venues for public display/discourse? How is this more relevant to contemporary architecture than contemporary architecture itself? Patrik Schumacher
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Letter to the Editor> Meet the Street
We saw your editorial on design organizations (“Design Organizations Need to Meet the Street”) and were thrilled to see the positive things you had to say about the Center for Architecture. After repositioning the Center as a 501(c)3, we are more committed than ever to public outreach and really promoting the idea that design matters to a general audience. We’re very proud of our storefront and we’re happy to hear you are too. Camila Schaulsohn AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture
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Letter to the Editor> A Bright Future for the Frick
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] I am delighted with the recent Crit’s praise for the beautifully renovated Cooper Hewitt (AN 01_01.14.2015), but I am puzzled by the inconsistency with regard to the Frick Collection’s expansion plans.   The piece says of the Cooper Hewitt, “working within the building’s constraint, they relocated offices to adjacent buildings”—which is precisely what the Frick proposes to do! It goes on to admire the Cooper Hewitt’s “better shop and lovely looking cafe,” but appears to deplore such amenities for the Frick! As a longtime New Yorker and lover of the Frick, I want this revered museum to stay (it will) the same; and I also want it to keep renewing itself (it could) in fresh and exciting ways, as every great institution must do or—over time—be diminished. The Frick has challenges with space and visitor services that need to be met: for example, to replace the awkward and unappealing underground galleries with, say, a concert-lecture hall; to create modern, adequate new galleries; to provide a loading entrance and other essential facilities; to widen and make more cheerful and user friendly the too narrow and gloomy reception hall; to integrate the superb library into the museum to be more accessible to the public—and so much more. And what opportunities to seize: open more fully to the public the historic Frick House; better accommodate the brilliant special exhibitions that now have to scramble, if they can find display space at all; enhance publications, public programming, and art acquisitions. (Some say that no way should the Frick be bringing in new treasures! By what authority, one wonders? Would they be happier without the Rembrandt, Ingres, Piero, Houdon, Clodion, and Murillo recently added to the museum?). The time is now; given the chance, the glorious Frick Collection could become even grander, even more beloved than it now is. I devoutly hope it will have that chance. Joan K. Davidson President, Furthermore President Emeritus, J.M. Kaplan Fund Former Chair, New York State Council on the Arts
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Letter to the Editor> Ban Bang: A reader responds to Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum
[ Editor’s Note: The following reader-submitted letter was left on archpaper.com in response to our critique of Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum (AN 05_10.15.2014_SW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Deja vu all over again. Your article is a thoughtful critical review. I add a few observations.   It is always interesting when the architect attempts to explain away results by alluding to the client not allowing him to do something, therefore something not so good was done. A knowledgeable client is always a great aid to a project, and unenlightened clients can thwart good ideas, and unambitious clients can have different agendas, but no architect is forced to do something bad. At worst, certain good ideas are not implemented, and when that happens the project design must be rethought so that the result is at least coherent. There is a disturbing tendency these days (shades of Edward Durell Stone) to hide issues of irresolution in buildings by the application of a screen. In this case, it [Aspen Art Museum] fails at hiding the sins and robs the passerby of a sense of scale and what could be a richness of detail. As a result it reminds one of a wicker basket dropped over the top of something else. Moreover, the idea of wood being the only material which can relate to mountains boggles the minds of many, the great Swiss architects not the least of them. The design of the roof space frame is interesting but there seems absent from the result any rational justification for clear span. Museums are marvelous opportunities: a synthesis of light, systems, movement, and modulation of space. Paradise Lost, once more. Harry Wolf Harry Wolf Architect
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Letter to the Editor> Frick Director Responds to Expansion Critics
[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Regarding the article “Frick Fracas,” (AN_14_12.4.2014), while there has been much debate about the Frick’s proposed addition to address its longstanding space needs, much of it rests on mischaracterizations about the history and original purpose of the site where it will be located. The property on which the 70th Street Garden now sits was purchased between 1940 and 1972 to construct an addition. The Frick initially planned to install an interim garden on the site as a placeholder until funds could be raised for the addition. But due to high costs, the museum decided to build a permanent architectural garden instead—not promised, as opponents claim—and a one-story pavilion. In explaining the reason for this change, former Frick Director Everett Fahy, told the Landmarks Preservation Commission on May 21, 1974 that the revised plan for the site was intended to satisfy the “forseeable minimal needs of the Collection for certain interior space.” Now the Frick’s minimal needs are no longer being met. After studying several plans that would have kept the garden and pavilion intact, the Frick has concluded the site offers the best solution. The Frick has three gardens now and will continue to have three gardens after the addition is built. The 70th Street Garden, while lovely, will be replaced by an outdoor garden atop the new addition that will offer views of Central Park and space for contemplation. Ian Wardropper, Director The Frick Collection
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Letter to the Editor> Evidence of Attention
[ Editor's Note: The following reader comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “New Cities and Old” (AN 04_07.16.2014_SW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Whether it be formal arts districts or vibrant arts offerings spread across a metropolitan area, community support of the arts is key to quality of life for downtowns, suburbs, and connected rural communities. Jill Diaz Director of Development at Carolina Ballet