Search results for "Manhattan"

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All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

L Train tunnel repairs completed ahead of schedule
A year after New York’s Governor Cuomo superseded an MTA plan that would have closed the Canarsie Tunnel that runs between Brooklyn and Manhattan entirely for 15 months, repairs to the L Train-carrying tunnel are complete. The governor touted his success this past Sunday, April 26, in an on-air press conference filled with the types of informative slides that have captured the internet’s imagination during quarantine. According to Governor Cuomo, it took only 12 months to complete the shoring up of the tunnel, which was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, instead of the originally anticipated 15 months. That’s down from what the MTA had originally proposed; either closing the crossing entirely for 15 months to repair the concrete bench walls lining the tunnel, or operate on a reduced service schedule and work on the weekends for up to 3 years. Cuomo also took a swing at naysayers who predicted his plan wouldn’t work, or that predicted an L Train shutdown would be a disaster. “The opposition to this new idea was an explosion,” said the governor on Sunday. “I was a meddler, I didn't have an engineering degree, they were outside experts, how dare you question the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy knows better. It was a thunderstorm of opposition. but we did it anyway, and we went ahead with it. And we rebuilt the tunnel, and the tunnel is now done better than before, with all these new techniques. It opens today. “It opens today not in 15 months, but actually in only 12 months of a partial shutdown. So it's ahead of schedule, it's under budget, and it was never shut down. I relay this story because you can question and you should question why we do what we do. Why do we do it that way? I know that's how we've always done it, but why do we do it that way? And why can't we do it a different way?” However, while the repairs were completed much quicker than anticipated, the technology being used hasn’t necessarily been tested for the long haul. Instead of replacing the tunnel’s concrete bench walls, they’ve been covered in a structural fiberglass wrap that was adhered with polymers and mechanical fasteners; the walls were then rigged a fiber optic monitoring system that will allow engineers to pinpoint any future shifts or collapses. During construction, which began in April of last year, the L Train ran in 20 minute intervals between Brooklyn and Manhattan, leading to overcrowding on both the platforms and trains for the line’s 400,000 daily commuters. Although tunnel repairs are complete and the subway line’s schedule should have returned to normal, there are still a few ongoing station and electrical substation upgrades in the works. Ironically, thanks to coronavirus, most subway lines are now running on a limited schedule.
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Jenga!

ODA’s 420 Kent leans towards the New York skyline with cantilevered massing and reflective glass
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From South Williamsburg to Long Island City, the formerly industrial waterfront of Brooklyn and Queens is undergoing an exhaustive spree of development delivering thousands of residential and commercial units. 420 Kent, a project developed by Spitzer Enterprises and designed by New York-based architecture firm ODA, continues that trend with three mixed-use towers that establish a formidable presence with highly reflective glass cladding and a series of dramatic cantilevers. Bearing more than a passing resemblances to a Jenga game, the 800,000-square-foot project is located between the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn Navy Yard and runs adjacent to a riverside esplanade. Each of the towers is 24 stories and rises from streetwall-ringing podiums. The development broke ground in 2016 and wrapped up in 2019.
  • Facade Manufacturer Guardian Glass Pioneer Windows
  • Architect ODA
  • Facade Installer Pioneer Windows ZDG Construction Management (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultant SURFACE Design Group
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Pioneer Curtain Wall System 7600 series
  • Products Guardian SunGuard AG-43
The site is prominent and possesses unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline—a feature the design team aimed to highlight by positioning each apartment as a corner unit. “In order to do that we broke away from the typical rectangular floor plan that has four corner units and made all 12 corner units, and we had four types of floor plans that were stacked to create terraces for 30 [percent] of the units,” said ODA founding principal Eran Chen. “This created a series of 15 feet cantilevers that are supported by a diagonal structural columns.” Facade consultant SURFACE Design Group, a frequent collaborator with ODA, handled the schematic design of the enclosure through construction administration and monitoring. Each of the curtainwall modules measure 4'-2" by 8', which consist of AG-43 SunGuard Glass supplied by Guardian Glass backed by an aluminum-framed curtain wall system, as well as shadow panels at the spandrel, and zero slight line out-swing windows. According to SURFACE Design Group partner Benson Gillespie, wind-load and the project’s many cantilever transitions proved a challenge. “In the higher wind-load areas (at the corners), the vertical mullions were internally reinforced where required to accommodate the loads, and numerous quality control measures were taken throughout construction to ensure the facade system’s performance, including air and water chamber testing at these difficult transitions.” As highlighted by the damage inflicted on Williamsburg by Hurricane Sandy, 420 Kent is unsurprisingly located in a FEMA-designated flood zone and the design team incorporated mitigating measures for the complex in line with code requirements. The solution is a one-story tall concrete wall at the building base located below flood elevations, supplemented with temporary barriers at the doors and entrances.
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Life Comes At You Fast

Burning Man 2020 won’t go ahead after all, moves online
Despite prior assurances just two-and-a-half weeks ago, Burning Man 2020 won’t be going ahead as previously planned thanks to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As The Burning Man Journal announced on April 10, instead of building the real Black Rocky City in Nevada’s desert of the same name in August, the festival will move online. Organizers have already set up a virtual Black Rock City (VBRC, accessible here) where burners and the public alike can check out this year’s Multiverse-themed festival installations. Although Black Rock City is an impressive feat of urban planning—so much so that books have been written about the meticulous calculous involved—cramming 80,000 campers into an area the size of a sliver of Midtown Manhattan would have been suboptimal for preventing the spread of communicable disease. In the same article, the festival organizers explained that they had previously hoped that the festival could go on as scheduled due to the multitude of stakeholders, artists, organizers, participants, and municipal planning involved with each Burning Man. However, other than COVID-19, it seems that the festival this year also faced additional restrictions from the Bureau of Land Management (Black Rock Desert is a national conservation area with strict requirements about what festivalgoers can do and bring on-site).
“Beyond our concerns about the coronavirus, new impositions and unnecessary cost requirements from the Bureau of Land Management have seriously threatened the viability of producing Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert. If Black Rock City is to be built on public lands in the future, we have significant challenges to overcome with the BLM.”
The virtual version of the “Playa”, VBRC, will be available to access for a fee—and participants still need to reserve tickets—and Burning Man organizers have estimated that they’ll see attendance around 100,000 this year as a result. Whatever form the digital festival takes, it will, unfortunately, preclude the construction of some of the monumental pavilions and open-air art pieces Burning Man is famous for. Although there won’t be an Empyrean temple or BIG-designed sort-of mirrored ball going up this year, an in-person meetup event could still be scheduled for the first half of 2021 if coronavirus conditions improve and stay-at-home orders are lifted.
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Master Mind

AN cofounder William ‘Bill’ Menking passes away at age 72
  William “Bill” Menking, architectural historian and educator who was co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, passed away today at his Tribeca, Manhattan, loft after a long battle with cancer. He was 72 and is survived by his wife Diana Darling and their daughter Halle. Menking was an invaluable part of the architecture community of New York as well as nationally and internationally. Best known for founding The Architect’s Newspaper with Diana Darling in 2003, he was also a prolific curator and writer. Menking was on the Board of Directors at the Storefront for Art and Architecture and The Architecture Lobby, as well as a tenured professor and trustee at Pratt Institute. He was the curator of the 2008 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture and organized many exhibitions, including The Vienna Model: Housing for the Twenty-First Century City and Superstudio: Life Without Objects, the latter of which became an important book on the Italian collective. He was also the author of Four Conversations on the Architecture of Discourse (2012) and Architecture on Display: On The History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2010); both were co-edited with Aaron Levy and published by Architectural Association in London. For Bill, the discourse and production of architecture were as much about people as they were ideas. In fact, the two were interchangeable in many ways. Likewise, art was his life and he made life into an art. It is sad that someone who enjoyed life as much as Bill would ever have theirs cut short, but we can take solace in the fact that Bill did more living in his 72 years than most of us would do in three times that long. His friends were his colleagues, who he loved to connect and gather, whether for a gallery talk or for a round of beers. “I am sorry for those who didn't experience his amazing [1998] Archigram show at the Thread Waxing Space [in New York], just one of many mega projects in his determination to share his boundless enthusiasms with us,” said Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University. “The same generosity spread into the weekends when he staged Texas-style BBQs in his garage in Greenport, on his beloved North Fork.” This zest for life and love for travel took him around the world, most of all to Italy; he literally attended every Venice Architecture Biennale since it started in 1980. He was something of a one-man tourism bureau for the places he visited, always excited to give the best recommendations for architecture, museums, sightseeing, or restaurants. He would rarely lead you astray; usually one wound up far off the beaten path. “Bill was such a luminous and restless intellect, drunk with the delight of connecting the loose ends of architecture, urbanism, and art,” said architect Marion Weiss. “His enthusiasm for radical architecture, urban exceptions, and great food was infectious." Bill had a knack for being in the center of the action. Perhaps because it was in his DNA—he descended from some of the earliest British settlers in America, as well as the Okies who continued this trailblazing tradition. Bill was born at the Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 1947 and raised in Stockton, a small town in California’s Central Valley, where he worked as an air-traffic controller for crop dusters and once played football against O.J. Simpson. He attended UC Berkeley to study architecture and urban studies from 1967–1972, and I can only imagine the things he saw there (something about Governor Reagan bombing him and his friends or something). Clearly, this immersion in American counterculture helped shape his excellent taste and avant-garde predilections, from radical architecture to social activism, to local clothing shops and DIY oyster shacks. During school, he headed to Florence, Italy, where he met key players of the radical architecture movement such as Archizoom Associati, Superstudio, and Grupo UFO. His interactions with this community of radical thinkers, designers, and architects would form the foundation of some of his most important research and curatorial practice, including multiple shows on Superstudio as well as a seminal book (written with Peter Lang) published in 2003. It laid the groundwork for his future work on Archigram, the British cousins of the radical Italian architecture movement. In 1974 and 1975 he worked as an organizer for the United Farm Workers, helping establish labor unions in rural towns in central and southern California, before landing in downtown New York City at a time of heightened cultural production. Hanging among this vibrant art scene, he met Dan Graham, with whom Bill drove around New Jersey documenting suburbia. In typical Bill fashion, he got a job as a server at Studio 54, where he witnessed iconic moments like when Bianca Jagger rode a white horse through the club. He moved into his famous Tribeca loft space on Lispenard Street, which he built out into a classic downtown dream loft that he was always excited to offer up as a venue for fundraisers, or for meetings and holiday dinners with AN staff. He had one of the better-stocked liquor collections, almost entirely gifts from foreign visitors who would stay with him when visiting New York. With an acumen for learning and navigating the urban environment, Bill began working in the early ’80s to work as a location scout for film and TV in New York. This led him to sunny and decrepit Miami, where he took up an art director post on Miami Vice; his contributions to the show helped rehabilitate many of Miami’s now-celebrated modern and Art Deco buildings. In the ’90s, Menking moved to London to attend the Bartlett School of Architecture, where he was subsequently hired as a tutor. During his time there, he became close with Peter Cook and other members of Archigram, and wrote for architectural publications including The Architects’ Journal and Building Design, both then thriving in England. The experience inspired Bill to import this model to the United States, and The Architect’s Newspaper was born in 2003 in his loft. “We had no idea what we were doing, and it made it better!” he often told me. “In an age where information is fundamental to our lives, The Architect’s Newspaper filled a gaping void, with straightforward reporting on what’s happening in the profession day to day that we weren't getting from the two remaining monthly professional journals, and certainly not from newspapers,” recalled Robert A.M. Stern, architect and regular reader of AN. “It also brought to our shores an American version of the lively discourse we’d been reading from the U.K.” “AN is just what it says it is, a newspaper. Strange that no one used this concept before Menking,” said Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture and avid AN reader. “Like the New York Times and the Guardian, it is my source for deeply informed, judicious information about what is happening in the field.” We will continue to celebrate the life of Bill Menking, who will be remembered as someone who was always in the right place at the right time, agitating and connecting, breathing life into whatever was around him. Bill’s memory will live on not only through the continued influence of The Architect’s Newspaper, Pratt, and Storefront, but also through all the lives he touched with his mentorship and guidance. Everyone who came through the paper took some part of Bill’s thinking with them. For me, his influence is palpable: How to avoid the status quo or the cliché. How to work in and around institutions. How to do more with less, and not be too precious. How to keep the social mission radical. Many of my fellow travelers came through Bill, including my Rockaways fishing buddy Walter Meyer and my Sunday pasta buddy James Wines, both, like Menking, equally lovers of life and intellectual discussion. I can’t count the number of people whose work I studied in architecture school that I ended up meeting through Bill in social situations, nor, I suspect, can others. “Bill was someone who gave you everything without asking anything in return. He was a connector of people, ideas and souls,” said Eva Franch I Gilabert, former director of Storefront for Art and Architecture and now director of the Architectural Association. “If I just made a map of all the people he connected me to, I would be able to make a portrait of a generation of idealist, honest, generous, radical and eternally young.” One time, Bill and I were hanging out with his buddy Alastair Gordon outside the tent at Design Miami, when Hans-Ulrich Obrist came up to us. Taking a moment to pause, Hans said it best in his signature accent, with a big, shining smile: “Bill Menking is a legend.” In the coming days The Architect’s Newspaper will be launching a memorial landing page where we will be posting tributes to William Menking.
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Sunken Fare

CRÈME serves up some Bangkok street culture at New York’s latest Thai haunt
For the design of Wayla, a new eatery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood, local practice CRÈME took its cues from the lively street markets that rope across Bangkok. Jun Aizaki, the founding principal of the Brooklyn-based studio, worked with a close-knit team of restaurateurs and investors to develop this multifaceted project. His infusion of objet d'art sourced from Thailand’s famous flea markets is an ode to the bustling metropolis.  Reminiscing on the design of the space, Aizaki recalls a time before social distancing, when he conjured up a unique combination of architectural elements that encourage gathering. “It’s everything we can’t do right now.” With a limited budget, he opted to play up the tenement building’s vernacular characteristics—the deliberately visible water pipes; raw, unpainted brick walls, and monolithic concrete floors. “These elements became unwittingly part of the environment, a surprise that we intentionally emphasized to distinguish the space and tie it all together.” These motifs recur throughout as an overarching aesthetic framing a myriad of community spaces. Read the full profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.  
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1948–2020

Terreform, Berke, Wines, and more remember the late Michael Sorkin
Michael Sorkin, inimitable scribe of the built environment and leading design mind, passed away in New York at age 71 last Thursday after contracting COVID-19. Survived by his wife Joan Copjec, Sorkin leaves behind an invaluable body of work, as the following tributes—from friends, colleagues, peers—readily acknowledge. This is the second of a two-part series; the first can be read here Jie Gu, director, lead urban designer, Michael Sorkin Studio “Jie, can you wiggle these buildings and make them sexy?” “Jie, can you let me have some fun?” “Jie, I had a dream last night. I think we need to try something new.” “Jie, I will be in on Saturday, leave me something not boring.” Michael, I miss the dynamic “creatures” you directed me to model. Michael, I miss the tremendous beauty of your red-colored sketches. Michael, I miss your utopian dreams for sustainable cities. Michael, I wish I could have spent more time with you. “Jie, if I go, you must use our legacy to keep going in the direction that seems best.” These were his last words to me, and they will resonate with me forever. Makoto Okazaki, former partner, Michael Sorkin Studio Like Matsuo Bashō, the most famous haiku poet of Edo-period Japan, Michael was inspired by his many journeys. The last email I received from him—on February 5th, 2020—was about a hospital in Wuhan built in just ten days to treat those infected with COVID-19. It was located within the area where we had, in 2010, designed a masterplan, what we called Houguan Lake Ecological City. In the same email, Michael expressed his disappointment over having to cancel a trip to China due to the spread of coronavirus. He was often on business trips, which took him all over the world. On one occasion, he joked to me that a secret of his happy marriage was traveling alone a lot. I took this as advice! Wherever he was, Michael would send his inspirations and sketches back to the studio in New York City. We would develop them into a design proposal—not without some miscommunication—then toss it over to him. Back and forth, until we landed on something both strange and fantastic. We were thrilled by the whole process. Michael, you’ve now left on another journey. We all miss you. Deen Sharp and Vyjayanthi Rao, co-directors, Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research Michael fizzed with ideas, his energy always captivating and inspiring. You could walk into his office to talk about a book project that we at Terreform had underway and walk out with instructions to contact a dozen different people about three more. Somehow amid this frenzy of activity, Michael always managed to maintain a laser-like focus on the Terreform mission of producing research to achieve more just, beautiful, and equitable cities. Somehow in this flood of ideas and instructions, proposals and counterproposals, Michael would always get the project done and the book (it always ended in a book!) printed. Terreform was founded in 2005 as a place for connecting research, design, and critique on urgent urban questions and using that research in the public’s interest. UR (Urban Research), founded in 2015 as Terreform’s publishing imprint, was the vehicle to make ideas accessible and truly public. With Michael at the helm, both platforms produced an inordinate number of proposals, books, reports, articles, symposiums, and launches. All were self-initiated, and Michael, initiator that he was, has left all of us at Terreform with plenty more to do. Most urgent is completing his—and Terreform’s—flagship project, New York City (Steady) State. The project’s central proposition is that the city can take responsibility for its ecological footprint. With New York City as his laboratory, Michael led several designers and social scientists in formulating designs and policies that could catalyze metabolic changes to critical infrastructural systems. The aim was to achieve a “steady state” of self-sufficiency within the city’s political boundaries. Ever the contrarian, Michael turned to steady state economics—a radical approach in a world addicted to growth and wilfully blind to its toxic consequences—to fashion an equally radical political vision of cities as central units for ensuring social and ecological justice. NYC (Steady) State was conceived as a series of books focusing on food and waste systems, energy, and mobility as the four key systems drastically in need of redesigning. Just last month, Michael was making final edits to Homegrown, the first book in the series and one focusing on New York City’s food production, consumption cycles, and distribution systems. His devotion to the project was so fierce that even after being hospitalized he sent emails urging us to complete and publish the volume. Beyond New York, projects were incubating in and about practically every corner of the world, all guided by students, friends, and admirers of Michael's. Their ideas were seeded or sharpened in their encounters with Michael at Terreform's 180 Varick Street office, where practically every workday ended with a visitor dropping by to say hello, being introduced to the crew, and sharing ideas over drinks. Terreform’s research projects have taken us to many places and brokered many friendships. For instance, Terreform has a lively group of friends in Chicago hard at work on South Side Stories, a collective project that shines a light on activist groups in the South Side and their struggle to reposition the Obama Presidential Center from a magnet of gentrification to catalyst for equitable, evenly dispersed urban development. Set in another conflict zone, the Terreform/UR book Open Gaza will add to Michael’s already substantial contribution to the Palestinian struggle for social and spatial justice when it is published next month. Our research projects, along with UR’s many internationally focused book projects, are primarily vehicles for showing how critique and design can speak the same language. For Michael, Terreform’s unique mission lay in developing an interdisciplinary dialogue that could be embraced by theorists, practitioners, and activists alike, and enable them to share new ways of looking at and imagining the world. Even as it hewed close to the standards of the university, Terreform sought to democratize these forms of knowledge beyond it by creating an accessible platform to address urgent issues in a timely and nimble fashion. We know we can never fill the huge absence that Michael leaves us. We are nevertheless determined to carry on Michael’s enormous legacy, to complete the large number of projects that are already underway, and to continue the work of urban research for greater social justice, beauty, and equality in our cities. Click here to learn how you can support Terreform. UR books are available for purchase here. James Wines, artist and architect The tragic loss of Michael Sorkin, as both a dear friend and premier voice for urban design on the international architecture scene, is still impossible for me to accept. At 87, I thought I would have been long gone before this, and so never anticipated experiencing the shock and despair I am feeling right now. Michael’s work in design criticism, theory, history, and planning—particularly his efforts to shape the future of cityscapes—was inclusive and visionary; indeed, he was an indelible fixture in global thinking on these topics. He was one of those rare disciplinary figures whose voice was synonymous with the profession, so that it is impossible to think about the condition of architecture and urbanism today without Michael’s ideas as pivotal points of reference and beacons of wisdom. His absence is inconceivable. While the endless fruits of his creativity will remain in museum and university archives to nourish future generations, an enormous part of the communicative value of Michael’s work was his participation in public dialogues. In this sense, he was like a great musical performer who made wonderful recordings; but the full measure of his talents was best experienced in concert format. Michael played both the revolutionary thinker and the consummate public speaker, a performance unmatched in architecture. As friends, professional colleagues, and career-long skeptics concerning all manifestations of design orthodoxy, Michael and I had a bottomless reservoir of art and design issues to debate during our thirty-plus years of dialogue. In terms of primary emphasis, we were both committed to solutions for the public domain and how to best encourage interaction among people within cityscapes. I often used to comment, when introducing our appearances on symposia, that Michael took care of the larger issues in urban design while I followed up with solutions for the small stuff under people’s feet. As our discussions unfolded, this was invariably the scenario that played out: Michael would cover the master plans, civic strategies, economics, and infrastructure, and then I would insert ideas for the pedestrian amenities of walkways, seating, plazas, gardens, and play spaces. Whereas I could hold my own in the presentation of visual material, Michael’s verbal eloquence always stole the show. I can recall so many lectures and conferences where I would find myself so enthralled with Michael’s delivery that my own faculties failed when it came my turn to speak. He was the ultimate impossible-act-to-follow on any podium. Michael and I had that kind of nurturing friendship where we could meet in an explosion of discourse on some hot topic, or just sit quietly at dinner and experience the reinforcing comfort of saying nothing. Of all Michael’s many talents, the pinnacle was his acerbic wit, with which he skewered the pomposities of our profession and politics of the day. Not only was his trenchant humor invariably on target, it was always articulated in such a way that inspired the opposition to re-think an issue. It is especially ironic that Michael Sorkin—a major advocate of integrative cities and people interaction—passed away during a time of global pandemic, when millions of urban dwellers have retreated into protective isolation. For this reason, I want to end this tribute with a quote on his work from my 2000 book Green Architecture:
Michael Sorkin might appropriately be called a visionary with a heart. He has understood that, with the universal buzz about people living in cyberspace and communicating primarily through global wavelengths, this is already a reality and just another convenient set of tools that will soon be assimilated into the realm of routine. In this respect, computers are just like every other exotic technology that has nourished science fiction hyperbole and ended up as nostalgic curios in antique auctions. In designing for the future city, Sorkin has acknowledged that people are weary of looking at digital screens all day and sit-coms all night; so why on earth would they want their neighborhood to be another extension of virtual reality? The fact is that people need and value human interaction more than ever because of computer technology. In the Sorkin city, they walk, talk, sit on stoops, tend their gardens, and breathe cleaner air. Preserving this desirable reality is the basic goal of sustainability and the primary urban design challenge of the future.
Moshe Safdie, principal, Safdie Architects For several decades, Michael Sorkin has been a unique voice in architecture. In a period of competing schools of thoughts, transitioning from one “-ism” to another, his critical voice was clear and constant, unwavering, with a focus on the impact of architecture on peoples’ lives and well-being; on the principles that must sustain urban life. He spoke about morals, values and ethics as others reviewed architecture as an ongoing fashion parade. Michael’s commitment to the idea that architecture must be in the service of those for whom we build, led him to strip the discourse of architecture from jargon and private lingo; expressing ideas clearly and articulately to the general public. As a critic at The Village Voice, he reached many outside the profession. He became propagandist for architecture, both within the profession and to the public at large, expanding horizons of the impact of our built environment has on our planet. Michael was a great and passionate teacher. I vividly remember his attendance at design reviews at the GSD, where sometimes faculty comments verge on the esoteric. Michael responded with surgical precision, getting to the essence of a design, and doing so in plain-talk. In his practice, both in Michael Sorkin Studio and Terreform, he was a prolific provocateur, embracing scales from small neighborhood parks to entire cities. The studio produced numerous proposals. Alas, not enough were realized, but the impact on the current generation is profound. It is not often that we find, in one person, an architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, critic and writer. I will miss his voice, cut-off suddenly and untimely, at a time when it is most needed. I hope that the coming generation will embrace the professional ethic his life represents. Deborah Berke, partner, Deborah Berke Partners, and dean of the Yale School of Architecture Michael Sorkin was a great critic, inspired teacher, and a brilliant thinker. And happily for me, he was my friend. We would have a drink together once or twice a year and talk about New York. From old New York to the New York we loved to the New York we missed to the New York we hoped for in the future. Michael was a searing and insightful critic, all the way back to his days at The Village Voice, as well as in his many books and in his more recent criticism for The Nation. He was also an insightful teacher—he taught at Yale twice, first in 1990 as the William B. and Charlotte Shepherd Davenport visiting professor, then in 1991 as the William Henry Bishop visiting professor. He brought these same teaching skills to his strong leadership as the director of the master of urban planning program at the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College (CCNY). He was also one of the most learned and well-read people I’ve ever met. His interests were diverse and his memory was expansive. Michael argued for the greater good in every aspect of the built environment—from the smallest detail of a building to the largest gesture of a regional plan. He will be missed. His convictions, his voice, and his heart are irreplaceable. Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University I can still rerun lines in my head verbatim from some of Michael’s Village Voice pieces—especially the ones I just couldn’t stop rereading while howling with laughter. His send-up of the Charlottesville Tapes was a true classic, a teddy bear to reach for in the most desperate moments of trying to survive postmodernism. Michael was an arsonist to be sure, yet he also wanted to rebuild something of value and commitment in the place of pretension and posturing. He held out hope for all engaged in architecture to his last moments—as the bright moral light on the horizon that he was—that architecture could still be an instrument for building community. When Reinhold Martin and I looked to launch our experimental Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream project in 2011, amid the ongoing foreclosure crisis, we turned to Michael, inviting him to participate in the opening panel discussion. He offered cogent analyses of our all-too vague brief as well as suggested lines of attack for making architecture that mattered. Along the way he also offered the audience gathered at MoMA PS1 and online a very moving description of his own upbringing in Hollin Hills, Northern Virginia. Hollin Hills was a place where Americans cultivated living together, Michael said, in language that starkly contrasts with the language of intolerance that has since invaded American life, virus-like. Ironically, I think he feared this virus more than the one that took him from us. Michael left us right when we needed him most. With his lucid intelligence, sense of purpose, and biting satirical way of writing, he could cut away the flack even as he focused us on the essential. Nothing he wrote is dated, even if much of it was provoked by immediate events. To reread his pieces is to be in conversation with one of the most truly original and free-thinking minds of architecture. I can’t imagine how anyone will fill the gap, but the texts will continue to delight us and offer refreshing insights. (Think how he knew, for instance, to appreciate Breuer’s Whitney at the moment when fashionable opinion was dead-set against it.) There are many ways to spend our evenings apart at the moment. I, for one, have found a superb tonic for these dark times: pour a glass of bourbon in Michael’s memory and prop open your favorite collection of his writings. We will miss you for years and years to come, Michael. Vanessa Keith, principal, StudioTEKA Design When I came to New York City as a young architect 20 years ago, I was in search of a mentor. Coming from a fine arts background, I wanted someone who I felt was a truly great mind, who I could learn from, and who would take me under their wing. So when I met Michael while I was working on a project for the Spitzer School of Architecture at CCNY, I felt an immediate affinity. He reminded me in some ways of my academic parents and their radical lefty friends who dreamed of a better world while working on their PhD dissertations. From there, I started teaching studio at CCNY in 2002, and being invited to Michael’s UD juries was definitely a high point. He was so innovative, and he always had the backs of everyday people who don’t always get to have their voices heard. He made us think critically and differently, and he didn’t shut down ideas just because they were coming from someone younger or less “educated.” In 2007, Michael; Achva Stein, then head of CCNY’s landscape architecture program; David Leven, of LevenBetts and CCNY; and Ana Maria Duran, a good friend from grad school at Penn who was teaching at PUCE (Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador) in Quito, were doing a joint architecture, landscape, and urban design studio focused on a site in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Ana Maria invited me to lead a student charrette at the Quito Architecture Biennale, which I accepted. Once there, I received another invitation, this one to travel with the studio groups to Lago Agrio, taking Achva’s place. Again, I accepted, getting the yellow fever vaccine and some anti-malaria pills. Shivering and teeth chattering from a reaction to the injection, I jumped on the bus heading down the mountains. What a treat! We took trips up the river with local guides in canoes, avoided the areas marked “piranha,” and at a safer junction jumped into the muddy river water fully dressed in all our gear. The entire group stayed in the rainforest at a research station, saw butterflies in metamorphosis against the backdrop of oil installations, and had a jolly old time. Michael joked about making a calendar featuring scrappy Ecuadorian street dogs, the very antithesis of the Westminster Dog Show. He always rooted for the underdog, valuing the ingenuity and skills of local people and treating them with the utmost respect. Michael helped so many people, and he was so generous with his time. He was always up for coming to Studioteka and playing the role of critic for whatever we were working on in our annual summer research project. That’s how my book, 2100: A Dystopian Utopia — The City After Climate Change for Terreform’s UR imprint, came to be. Several years of in-office juries, occasionally zinging (but usually hilarious and on-point) critiques, and edits followed, and the book came out in 2017. Since then, Michael and the team at Terreform have offered incredible guidance, support and enthusiasm, helping us to get the word out, and cheering me on through each book event, lecture, publication, and milestone. More recently, we had our 2100 VR day at StudioTEKA and gave Michael, along with UR managing director Cecilia Fagel, their very first experience in virtual reality! They were dubious at first, but they were quickly among the converted. At one point in the VR tour, they were put on a plank changing a lightbulb hundreds of feet above the city, and in the end, they asked everyone to jump down. Michael demurred, Cecilia said yes, and we had to catch her! Michael was a brilliant mind, a champion of the dispossessed, and someone who fought valiantly for a just, equitable, and environmentally sustainable future. He believed in cities, in the power of collective action, and that doing better was always possible. Now we must strive to carry on without him, and push hard for the better world he laid out for us in his work. M. Christine Boyer, William R. Kenan, Jr. professor of architecture and urbanism, Princeton University School of Architecture It is too soon to bid farewell to my friend and colleague Michael Sorkin, whom I knew since we were students together at MIT. The last time we saw each other, in late January, we simply hugged each other goodbye: he was due to fly to China, I to Athens. It is indeed a silent spring now that he is gone! Yet his legacy lives on. He leaves a profound and lasting impact on public awareness, on architectural practice, on political commitment! His call to action remains. Michael Sorkin was the conscience of architecture, a visionary change-maker, dedicated educator, engaged author, and imaginative designer. He never backed down from opposing points of view. Rather, he called us all to live better in the world, to mend the city of inequity and injustice. He helped us build solid relationships through his edited books, a forum he built for voices to rise up together in solidarity. He was truly the root from which sprung our dedication to a socially responsible architecture. Michael’s pen brilliantly and humorously elevated the level of architectural and urban criticism into a new art. He was always writing for a better city yet to come. His concern was how to build a city of freedom, diversity, authenticity, participation, intimacy. Let his words speak!
“For me, writing has been the extension of architecture by other means both polemically and as fuel for my money pit of a studio. I write because I am an architect.” —Some Assembly Required (2001) “Architecture cries out for a reinfusion of some sense of responsibility to human program as a generative basis for both its ideology and its formal and technological practice, but gets it less and less.” —Some Assembly Required (2001) “[T]he new city is little more than a swarm of urban bits jettisoning a physical view of the whole; sacrificing the idea of the city as the site of community and human connection.”—Variations on a Theme Park (1991)
He pleaded for a return to a more authentic urbanity, “a city based on physical proximity and free movement and a sense that the city is our best expression of a desire for collectivity.” The goal was, and is, “to reclaim the city is the struggle of democracy itself.” And it is a struggle over contending voices!
“[T]he City is both a place where all sorts of arrangements are possible, and the apparatus for harmonizing autonomy and propinquity./ Freedom, pleasure, convenience, beauty, commerce, and production are the reasons for the City.” —Local Code: The Constitution of a City at 42° N Latitude (1993)
Michael’s critical writings on the politics of architecture live on, be they about the utopian schemes for the World Trade Center or the reconstruction of New Orleans, or the engagement of Palestinian and Israeli voices in the future of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He wrote about the battle for freedom, global and local responsibility, the environment, even as he addressed the milieu of architecture, making appeals for inclusion, for connectivity, for sharing, and more. In this silent spring of isolation that robs us of his voice, his pen, his friendship and humor, listen to the small murmurs arising, the tributes that come in from far and near. Witness his influence great and small. From the soil he has nourished with his commitment and action will spring forth—amid ongoing contestation—a better city. Listen to his call! This dear Michael, our Michael, is your enduring legacy.
Sharon Zukin, professor emerita of sociology, Brooklyn College and City University Graduate Center Michael Sorkin was an architect’s writer and a writer’s architect. He had a brilliant wit, a ready command of politics, history, and principles of design, and a passionate commitment to social justice. He wrote in plain English and published prolifically. He scorned hypocrisy, shunned opportunists, and acted to build a better world. Although he had peeves—venal real estate developers, corrupt politicians, celebrity architects, that tin-plated hustler Donald Trump—Michael wasn’t peevish. He could not tolerate intolerance. He was impatient with himself, but he was also a generous teacher, colleague, and friend. During all the years that I knew him (I want to write have known him), I never understood how he could travel so far, write so much, or launch so many projects with so many people and always bring them to completion. Yet his genius ranged most freely, and his rage was most keenly charged, when he wrote about ego and power in the city that he loved: New York. I admired Michael as a writer before I knew him as either an architect or a friend.  I had been a devoted reader of his architectural criticism in The Village Voice during the 1980s. At the time, New York was in transition, moving from widespread deprivation to Reaganite glamour, yuppie glitz, and localized gentrification, even as fiscal austerity penalized the Rust Belt of the outer boroughs and quarantined communities of color. Michael cut through the hype to the complicit collusion of the real estate industry and government agencies; I learned a lot from reading him. Although he and I walked the same streets—and lived in the same neighborhood, Greenwich Village—his streets were more layered than mine because he knew more, had a better eye, and directed his critiques with pinpoint clarity. Who could ever catch up with him? The elegant essays that make up the book Twenty Minutes in Manhattan—shaped by the walk from his home to his office—are my favorites in Michael’s considerable oeuvre. He starts with the stairs in the Old Law tenement where he and Joan, his wife and life-partner, lived for many years. He recounts the difficulties he has had climbing those stairs, especially on crutches after surgery, and then segues into a brief but exact description of their construction. This leads him to reflect on other, grander stairs. The long, straight flights of stairs in late-nineteenth-century industrial buildings that formed a “tectonic loft vocabulary” within the cultural syntax of New York. The elegant double staircases in the Château de Blois. The capacious stairs in the MIT dorm designed by Alvar Aalto, made wide so students would stop to talk to each other. Long before Prada stores and tech and other “creative” offices sprouted them, Michael had already taken the measure of a staircase’s possibilities. “Architecture,” Michael drops into his conversation with the reader, “is produced at the intersection of art and property.” He exhumes the grid plan from its origins in the fifth century BC and relates it to the well-known scheme for laying out potential profit-bearing plots of land throughout Manhattan. Adopted in 1811, the grid not only set New York’s major money machine in motion but also set the course for its buildings, their heights and morphologies, and, yes, the stairs inside them. Which naturally makes him consider the pitch of the treads at the pyramids in Chichen Itza, only to return, once more, to his New York brownstone. This is—was—typical of Michael in writing as in casual conversation: erudition wrapped in humor that didn’t allow pomposity. Like Jane Jacobs, whom he greatly admired, and in whose honor he founded a lecture series at the Spitzer School of Architecture, he was a citizen of both the Village and the world. Like Jacobs, too, he saw the world in the city—but he also saw the city in the world. Michael traveled constantly, giving lectures, pitching projects, taking his students on field trips to South Africa one year and to Cuba another. During his career, he wrote about many different cities. Wherever a community of architects, activists, and urban designers protested a plan, or struggled to turn back an egregious intrusion of monumentalism into a skyline or streetscape, Michael was there. You could count on him to fire broadsides, mobilize the troops, and persuade strangers to join him. A few years ago, he persuaded me and others to write a short essay for a collective book he was putting together with people in Helsinki. This group strongly opposed the city government’s plan to contract with the Guggenheim Museum, then still in its expansionist phase, to build an expensive branch on a stretch of waterfront better left for public use. With these collaborators, Michael organized an anti-competition for design ideas and made us scholars into a jury. This mobilization, echoed by the popular opposition within Helsinki, helped to sink the Guggenheim plan. (Or, at least, it forced the city council to reveal its lack of funds.) The last time I saw Michael, one month before he died, he asked me to come by his office. We talked about a Hungarian artist’s book project on luxury apartments for which we were both writing essays, dished some dirt about various cultural figures on the South Side of Chicago, and looked at the old photographs of Michael’s family on his shelves. We laughed about the double portrait of Joan and himself in front of the Taj Mahal that he had painted in Vietnam; Joan, considering it trashy, would not allow it in their home. Michael asked if I could recommend someone who could write about race and class in the neighborhoods near the University of Chicago for a book he was planning for his publishing house UR, and then asked if I would write something for yet another book he was planning, on smart cities. Although he was not in the best of health, a frailty that the virus would exploit, he still pushed forward.  He was only prevented from taking another trip—to Africa—by the emerging blockade of travel restrictions. My last email from Michael came one week later. He heard me talking about my new book on the radio and immediately sent me fan mail. This, too, was Michael: he acted on friendship. Almost twenty years ago, he and I edited a book of essays by New York urbanists where we tried to put together our abundant sorrows and critical thoughts about the World Trade Center. The words Michael wrote about the fallen Twin Towers surely apply to him. He was, in all respects, “the Everest of our urban Himalayas.”
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1923 - 2020

Elizabeth Sverbeyeff Byron, prescient architectural talent scout, dies at 96
Elizabeth Sverbeyeff Byron, a longtime architecture editor at several home design magazines and renowned for her prescience in spotting undiscovered young architects, many of whom have gone on to major careers, died at her home in Manhattan on April 1 of natural causes after a brief illness unrelated to the coronavirus. She was 96. Despite her descent from the loftiest ranks of 19th-century Russian royalty and literature, Byron was justly proudest of her six-decade career in design journalism. It began at the Home Section of The New York Times in the 1960s (where she and another Times design reporter, Barbara Plumb, wrote The New York Times Guide to Home Furnishings,) and ended at Architectural Digest in 2016, when she was well into her nineties, after an unbroken run that also included long associations with House & Garden and Elle Décor. Her combination of a feverish work ethic, discriminating eye, extensive connections in international high society (she was a fixture in the Social Register), and endless curiosity made her a valued talent scout and interior stylist with a keen instinct for the next and best new thing. Byron was known as much for her resourcefulness as for her superb taste, demonstrated when she arrived at a Colorado ski lodge she was having shot and discovered that, contrary to the architect’s assurances, it was absolutely empty. With characteristic forcefulness, she quickly convinced the Denver showroom of Knoll International to deliver enough floor samples to fully furnish it almost overnight and got a gallery to provide suitable artworks. However, even the young architects she was always eager to promote found this perfectionist to be a demanding taskmaster. Tod Williams, whose work she championed early on, once confided to me what a harrowing experience it was to be dragooned by her when she published a house by him and Billie Tsien in House & Garden. It was there, from the time of my arrival as a senior editor in 1979 until her forced departure as architecture editor in 1988 (S.I. Newhouse, Jr. Condé Nast’s board chairman, had decreed “Architecture is death”—that is to say, not a moneymaker) that we forged a most unlikely but fruitful partnership, sometimes contentious but always rewarding. I had unflagging confidence in Elizabeth’s impeccable taste, left it to her to decide what should be published, and we very rarely disagreed. Our good cop/bad cop routine was an essential division of labor, since her role in acquiring projects gave me, as the critic, complete freedom to honestly assess a project, which was not at all typical of the adulatory tone of such magazines at that time, and quite the opposite of our principal rival, Architectural Digest. Well before my arrival at House & Garden, she had already run houses by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Charles Moore, Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, and Michael Graves, whose work she became familiar with from her diligent attendance at lectures and exhibitions at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, the period’s hothouse of innovative thought and practice. Among the major figures we introduced to a mass readership were Frank Gehry in 1980, Arata Isozaki and Steven Holl in 1983, and Thom Mayne and his then partner Michael Rotondi in 1984. I even concurred with some of her less-than-avant-garde enthusiasms, such as Hugh Newell Jacobsen. But although Jacobsen’s skillful amalgams of traditional and modernist forms were not to my personal taste, I always accepted that such expertly executed middle-of-the-road design was required in a periodical aimed at a broad national audience. Elizaveta Vladimirovna Sverbeeva (as her name was sometimes spelled in one of several variations of Cyrillic orthography) was born on August 28, 1923, in Berlin, where her paternal grandfather, Sergei Nikolaievich Sverbeyeff, had served as the last Russian Imperial ambassador to Germany and played an important but ultimately unsuccessful role in trying to avert the outbreak of World War I. Her father, Vladimir Sergeyevich Sverbeyeff, was a physician, and her mother, Countess Mariya Alexeievna Belevskaya-Zhukovskaya, descended from the most colorful, and some thought scandalous, branch of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov. Byron’s great-great-grandfather was Tsar Alexander II, who married his mistress just one month after the death of his wife, Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. But because Alexander II’s adventurous son, Grand Duke Alexei-- who made a widely publicized tour of the US in 1871-1872 that included a buffalo hunt in Nebraska with General Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody-- married the daughter of the Romantic poet Vasily Zhukovsky (the era’s foremost Russian writer after Pushkin but nonetheless a commoner), the couple was barred from the line of succession. A new family name, Belevsky-Zhukovsky, was devised for their offspring. In 2006, the New York Public Library acquired a trove of Belevsky-Zhukovsky family memorabilia from Byron, whom I used to call Elizaveta Vladimirovna in traditional Russian patronymic fashion. However, that same year she refused an invitation to attend the State Funeral re-interment of the remains of her kinfolk Tsar Nicholas II and his family in St. Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Cathedral because of her opposition to Vladimir Putin. When the Russian Revolution abruptly ended her grandfather’s diplomatic career, Ambassador Sverbeyeff and his family fled to Berlin, which during the Weimar Republic became the largest White Russian expatriate community in Europe. The rise of Hitler spurred a second mass exodus of Russian aristocrats, this time to Paris, where Elizabeth Sverbeyeff was educated and lived until immigrating to the US. In New York in 1947 she married Alexandre Tarsaidze, the much-older scion of a noble Georgian family who wrote several books on Russian royal history. They divorced in 1953. Her second husband, whom she wed in 1965, was the Harvard-educated art dealer Charles Byron-Patrikiades. He died in 2013, and she leaves no immediate survivors. Remarkably, she was able to advocate the finest in new architecture for more than half a century to a general readership almost at the same time as it was being published initially in professional journals, rather than afterward in the typical trickle-down sequence of cultural accretion. Her eagerness even in the last days of her life to keep up with the latest developments in all the arts remained a constant inspiration to me. So was her unflagging joy in the douceur de vivre. As a friend who was with her at the very end told me, “She just went out like a candle,” an apt metaphor for the illumination she gave. Dosvedanya, Elizaveta Vladimirovna.
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A Call to Arms

Operation PPE creates 3D-printed equipment for the COVID-19 front lines
Things right now are undoubtedly, brutally rough. And when the going gets rough, the architecture and design community gets 3D printing. As part of a sweeping grassroots mobilization effort that expands and evolves daily, architects, designers, makers, and a small army of displaced students have banded together and fired up their 3D printers to produce the personal protective equipment (PPE) so desperately needed in hospitals that are struggling to provide necessary gear to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is, without question, the worst public health crisis of our lifetime. The numbers are truly staggering, and for medical professionals, it is very much like a war, causing casualties and death,” said Dr. James Pacholka MD, a surgeon at Southern Ohio Medical Center, in a statement shared with AN. “No one wants to fight a battle without adequate protection and the PPE’s are our armor, so any help we get in that regard is incredible. And for people using their expertise to help us in any way that they can is honestly beautiful, and serves as a warm reminder of mankind’s goodness and generosity.” In that regard, the architecture and design community has more than risen to the occasion. The Operation PPE effort began in earnest with an SOS of sorts sent via email late on March 24 by Kirstin Petersen, assistant professor at Cornell University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering to fellow professor Jenny Sabin, director of Sabin Lab at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) and principal of the eponymous architectural design studio based in Ithaca, New York. Petersen relayed the dire need for PPE, specifically face shields, at Weill Cornell Medicine, the university’s medical school and biomedical research unit in New York City. The request—initially estimated by Weill Cornell to be 20,000 to 50,000 per day in New York City—rapidly disseminated throughout multiple departments at the university. By 10:00 a.m. the next morning, Sabin, with the blessing of Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell AAP, had reopened the school’s Digital Fabrication Lab, fired up all 10 of its 3D printers, and got to work. At the same time, Sabin spread the word to faculty, staff, and students while providing detailed instructions on the lab website. Petersen and Amy Kuceyeski, associate professor of mathematics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, also started a Slack channel to keep lines of communication open and flowing in a single dedicated space. “We were able to respond to the need right away,” Sabin explained to AN. “And what started out as just a few labs on Cornell’s campus then began to grow.” Sabin and others that have since joined the Operation PPE movement are basing their output, which includes a laser-cut clear plastic shield alongside a 3D-printed visor band that snugly fits across a user’s forehead, on an open-source design file created by Erik Cederberg of Swedish company 3D Verkstan. That design, and that design only without any major modifications, has been verified for use by Weill Cornell. The shields, which can be discarded or sanitized and reused, are made from polyethylene sheets while the visor band component is generally made from PLA or ABS, both standard 3D printing materials. PET or PETG, however, is preferred by the medical community as it’s safer to reuse and longer-lasting. Once the components are distributed, hospital staff sanitizes and assembles the face shields. Ultimately, 3D-printed PPE is meant as a temporary solution, as desperate times call for creative measures. But as far as stopgap measures go at least one medical professional, an emergency room doctor at a major New York City Hospital, gave his approval: “The 3D shields and masks being made may be very useful, and can be designed with comfort, visibility, and re-usability in mind,” he said in a statement provided to AN.

A ground-up, grassroots movement grows

While Sabin’s Digital Fabrication Lab and other labs within Cornell departments that have access to 3D printers and laser cutters quickly got to work (all with an eye toward social distancing and overall safety), Yoon sent out an all-hands-on-deck email to the school’s vast network of alumni. Within 48 hours of Petersen reaching out to Sabin, a slew of major architecture firms—Terreform, Grimshaw, Bjarke Ingels Group, Handel Associates, Weiss Manfredi, and Kohn Pedersen Fox among them—had joined the effort. Edg, a mid-sized Manhattan-based architecture and engineering firm, also sprung into action. Notably, edg made a slight but critical adjustment to the visor band allowing for a tighter and more protective fit that also enabled production to increase by up to 20 percent. Currently, edg is producing up to 100 face shields per day and plans to launch a website to connect and coordinate those looking to pitch in. “In less than four days we had this massive web of people firing up their machines, dedicating material, and donating their time and effort,” remarked Sabin. As of this writing, Cornell's on-campus labs have donated 5,800 face shields, a number that jumps significantly when also including PPE made and donated by alumni architects and their networks. “Together and in a very short amount of time, we were able to respond to a gap within the supply chain by leveraging 3D printing and a network of digital fabrication labs. On one hand, 3D printing is not the best way to make these parts, and one 3D printer isn’t going to make an impact, but when you have thousands… it’s incredible.” Students and faculty from schools including Parsons, the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon, and Iowa State have since joined Operation PPE. “The power of people coming together is just amazing,” said Sabin. Mitch McEwen, assistant professor at the Princeton School of Architecture and founding director of Black Box Research Group, has also played an active early role on the design and organizational fronts. As noted by McEwen, one area of focus for the team has been on the material supply chain. “How do you widen the stream of materials coming into this, and how do we get ahead of the curve on the next PPE disaster?” she said, adding that the Department of Health and Human Services has mentioned a potential shortage of PPE gowns is on the horizon. “PPE shortages have been cannibalizing the materials they already have.”

Expanding the network

Cornell AAP alumnus Jay Valgora, founder of multidisciplinary design firm STUDIO V, was among the first architects to enlist in Operation PPE and has been instrumental in helping get the word out wide and far. (His son, Jesse, an architecture student at Syracuse University, is also involved in the fabrication and material-sourcing efforts.) “Everyone wants to help and no one knows what to do,” Valgora told AN. “So it’s kind of great to not only do this—to get this equipment into the hands of medical workers who really need it—but it’s also great to give people a vehicle where they can help out and play a positive role.” Noting that his staff is now working from home remotely, Valgora said: “I can still go into the studio, which is empty now, so I went in there with Jesse and we dragged our 3D printers out and brought them home and set them up in our loft and started to print around the clock.” In addition to printing away alongside Jesse at his makeshift home lab, Valgora is teaming with Illya Azaroff, president-elect of AIA New York State, to help consolidate the growing number of different grassroots factions that have joined Operation PPE throughout the state. “We’re trying to create a larger movement to get more people involved,” said Valgora of his team-up with the AIA. “It would be great if the next step were to be to take this national.” While Valgora collaborates with AIA New York State to bolster outreach and involvement within the architecture community, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), acting as a clearinghouse, has also launched a formal intake process to better coordinate with local businesses looking to make and donate crucial medical supplies. The donations will be vetted by the Department of Health to ensure they meet safety protocols, at the scale needed for the city’s COVID-19 response. The NYCEDC has received over 1,700 queries from interested businesses in just several days. Per Shavone Williams, vice president and chief of staff for public affairs at the NYCEDC, the businesses working directly with the city to produce PPE include Makerspace NYC, Adafruit, and Brooklyn-based custom fabrication company Bednark Studios. Between these three enterprises, 127,000 face shield kits were delivered to New York hospitals this past week.

The effort out West

In Southern California, similar PPE-producing efforts are underway including one directly inspired by Sabin Lab's call to arms that's spearheaded by Alvin Huang, an associate professor at the USC School of Architecture and founding principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture. Since putting out an open call last week, Huang has brought together an initial network north of 80 people—largely USC faculty, alumni, and friends—working with 100 3D printers and three laser cutters. Students from other Los Angeles-area schools including SCI-arc and Santa Monica College have also joined the local effort as have firms including KAA Associates, ARUP, CO Architects, Michael Maltzan Architects, RCH Studios, Brooks Scarpa, and others. The gear produced by the Huang-launched campaign is being distributed to, via pickups coordinated by USC's Keck Medicine, to LAC+USC Medical Center, Keck Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and MLK Willowbrook Hospital. “I’m proud to announce we’re mobilizing our architecture, design, and manufacturing communities to utilize 3D-printing technologies,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at daily press briefing held earlier this week in which he discussed the city's larger L.A. Protects initiative. “We're getting this done by tapping into resources in our own backyard—developing prototypes and designs with USC's architecture, engineering, and medical schools. We're working with UCLA and other local universities, design schools, and architecture firms to utilize their materials and to use their expertise.” Like the effort originating at Cornell, Huang’s bourgeoning L.A.-centered network is creating and distributing protective face shields using a new design from Budman that’s been approved by Keck. The primary focus, however, is on producing 3D-printed “pseudo N95 masks,” which are also verified by Keck. N95 masks, which as others involved with the Operation PPE effort have pointed out, are not being produced at the same scale as face shield kits because 3D printers simply cannot replicate their complex design in a way that meets medical standards. “We brought this to the attention of Keck as we were concerned that we might be leading people to think they are safe when they’re not,” Huang told AN. “Keck said they were fully aware and had tested everything [...] they said these masks were not what they are using now, and they’re not a replacement for medical-grade PPE. They’re backups to the backup.” “This might be the scariest thing I’ve heard,” admitted Huang. “But Keck’s response was that this is wartime medicine, and we’re preparing for war, and in wars you need a backup to the backup. And Keck identified this as a backup that’s one level above using homemade cloth masks, bandanas, and socks.” It’s a grim assessment, for sure, but these are extraordinary times. As for Sabin, she’s looking past the bleakness and focusing on the synergetic, humane work being done by a community united by one common objective. “For me, the important thing to get out there is the network of people that have come together. The bridge, in terms of working across disciplines, has very much been the context of emerging technology, especially in digital fabrication and 3D printing,” she said. “There’s a kind of democratic space in that it is informal and bottom-up, and we’ve been able to make a real impact in that way. I think everybody’s been looking for a way to contribute during this difficult and unprecedented time, and I think this is a real and positive way to come together even though we can’t be near each other physically. And every visor, every shield, makes a difference.” For those without a 3D printer or digital fabrication skills, please see #GetUsPPE to explore other ways in which you can help.
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Clear Your Calendar, Again

Here are the major design events that have moved to 2021
When AN first compiled our list of events, fairs, and shows that had been postponed at the end of February due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the situation on the ground was very different than at the time of writing. With much of the world practicing social distancing or under orders not to leave the house, and the possibility of a protracted battle to contain the disease’s spread looming, some of the world’s largest design events have now rescheduled even further out and will take place next year. Below is just a selection of what’s been rescheduled to 2021; we’ll update this list as more information becomes available. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo Although much fanfare was made over the eight new venues, including Kengo Kuma’s timber Olympic Stadium, originally slated to host activities throughout the summer games, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will now take place in summer of 2021. The regular games will now be held from July 23, 2021, through August 8. Similarly, the Paralympics will now take place from August 24, 2021, through September 5. As it’s been noted, this leaves only six months between the end of the summer games and the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4, 2022. The Tokyo Olympics have already radically changed the city, and the reorganization went far beyond the construction of new stadiums. As Atelier Bow Wow documented at Manhattan’s Japan Society last year in Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020, the capital flowing into the city primed it for a mass redevelopment, much as it did during the 1964 Summer Olympics. Everything from housing to transportation has been affected, but for international travelers, it may be quite some time before you can see that shift firsthand. Salone del Mobile.Milano Salone del Mobile in Milan—the world’s largest furniture trade show—was originally pushed from April 2020 to June, but last week news broke that the show will take place in April of 2021 instead. Citing “medium-term uncertainties” at a time when Milan is still under lockdown (although Italy’s weekly death toll is reportedly dropping due to the strict distancing measures imposed by the government), Salone’s organizers emphasized that a 2021 show would be extra special, given that it would be the 60th anniversary. The show will now overlap with several other trade festivals, and, in a press statement, organizers said that they hoped this confluence would jumpstart Milan’s economy:
“This single, great sector-wide trade fair will represent a fresh opportunity to pull together to revitalise our businesses, the entire supply chain that works in synergy with the Salone, and Milan.”
Expo 2020 Dubai While the much-hyped Expo 2020 Dubai, a worldwide showcase for innovative design, is still technically scheduled to open on October 20, 2020, that may soon change. Three days ago, the festival’s organizers gathered for a conference call and recommended that the expo be delayed for a year. “The UAE and Expo 2020 Dubai have listened. And in the spirit of solidarity and unity, we supported the proposal to explore a one-year postponement at today's Steering Committee meeting,” said Reem al-Hashimy, director general for Expo 2020 Dubai. According to Aljazeera, the United Arab Emirates has already spent upwards of $8 billion on infrastructure projects related to the expo, but with international travel currently locked down, it’s looking increasingly unlikely the event can proceed as planned. Elements of the show have already been partially installed, such as Asif Khan’s 70-foot-tall trio of entrance gateways. The final decision of whether to postpone or not will come in June, at the behest of Paris’s Bureau International des Expositions, who administers the international expo.
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Today's Hotel, Tomorrow's Hospital

From parking garages to parks, these are the pop-up medical facilities of the COVID-19 pandemic
As American cities brace for a steep influx of patients suffering from or suspected to be infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the sprint is on to make up for a woeful dearth of available hospital beds. Per American Hospital Association data, there are 924,000 staffed hospital beds in the country, and more than two-thirds of those are usually occupied. And while the total number of additional hospital required during this mounting pandemic varies day by day, place by place, the only conclusion is that an impossible amount of more beds is needed. To make up for the narrowing availability, temporary hospitals have been erected or are in the process of being erected in some unlikely places. These urgent acts of emergency-level adaptive reuse, many of them spearheaded by city agencies, intergovernmental organizations, healthcare providers, the National Guard, and the Army Corps of Engineers, have taken root on fairgrounds, in football stadiums, in motels, and in Central Park. Not all of these converted spaces, however, are being used to treat COVID-19 patients, although many will. Some will provide housing to nurses and doctors, some will act as quarantine units, some will house the homeless, and others will serve as fully functional overflow hospitals dedicated to providing care to patients suffering from ailments that aren’t the coronavirus. To offer assistance in these conversions, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has even formed a special task force which will release a comprehensive report in early April to help guide decision-making. “This is a race against time for healthcare facilities to meet bed surge capacity needs” said AIA Academy of Architecture for Health president Kirsten Waltz, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED, who is the director of facilities, planning, and design at Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts. “This task force will help inform best practices for quickly assessing building inventory and identifying locations that are most appropriate to be adapted for this crisis.” Below are some of the different buildings and facilities being adapted across the country to serve new purposes during the coronavirus outbreak.

Convention centers

Boasting boundless and easily adaptable floor space, robust loading docks for moving in and out a high volume of equipment and gear, high-powered ventilation systems, and more than a few ADA-compliant bathrooms, convention centers are natural places to establish temporary hospitals. Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center, normally one of the busiest convention centers in the United States, was one of the first to undergo the transformation into a sprawling, nearly 3,000-bed capacity overflow hospital operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (The Army Corps of Engineers, the New York National Guard, and a team of civilian staffers can be credited for the rapid turnaround.) A large number of other convention centers across the country are either being eyed as potential makeshift medical hubs or are currently being converted into them including the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Detroit’s TCF Center, McCormick Place in Chicago, the Baltimore Convention Center, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the Santa Clara Convention Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Parking garages

While many hospital parking structures are now home to drive-though coronavirus testing sites, in at least one major medical facility, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, beds are being moved into a parking garage to treat those potentially infected by the novel coronavirus at a safe distance from other patients.

Sports fields/stadiums

Originally and still largely used as a military term, field hospitals get their name from their strategic location on wide-open spaces in close proximity to sites of mass injuries and casualties such as, well, battlefields. Twenty-first-century field hospitals are now being erected on battlefields of a different kind that normally see a different sort of frenzied combat: football. CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks, is being converted into a large temporary treatment center by the Army and will be dedicated to treating patients with ailments not related to the coronavirus so that beds in overwhelmed Seattle area hospitals are freed up for those suffering from the deadly respiratory disease. Elsewhere in hard-hit Western Washington, another 200-bed field hospital will be erected on a turf soccer field in the Seattle suburb of Shoreline. Relatedly, football pitch-bound field makeshift hospitals are now somewhat de rigueur in countries like Brazil. A section of the famed Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows, Queens–in better times, home to the U.S. Open—will also be covered into a 350-bed auxiliary medical center by New York City Emergency Management.

Decommissioned hospitals

Shuttered hospitals, many of which have never been closed in the first place, are coming back to life due to the coronavirus pandemic. A wide number of bed-equipped, recently closed medical facilities—including the old Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, and Laurel Regional Hospital in Maryland—have already or will potentially reopen to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients or patients in need of other types of urgent care in overburdened areas.

Dorms/college campuses

With students at an overwhelming number of colleges and universities dismissed from attending in-person classes for the rest of the academic year, an ample amount of available real estate has suddenly opened up. As COVID-19 first began to spread across New York City, New York University pledged to make available some of its now-vacated dormitories for COVID treatment-related purposes if needed. Student housing at New York’s expansive system SUNY and CUNY public colleges could also be potentially turned into emergency medical facilities, quarantine units, and/or temporary housing for healthcare workers. While dorm rooms can be easily retrofitted into treatment spaces, college and universities are also considering converting or already have converted other on-campus facilities into field hospitals. The McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, are two examples of non-dorm collegiate spaces that will serve a new purpose during the pandemic.

Central Park

Plenty of strange, sometimes disturbing sights can be seen within Central Park. None, however, quite match the surreally sobering heights of witnessing volunteers erect a tent-based respiratory care center in the middle of New York City’s backyard. Said facility, which will have a capacity of 68 hospital beds and also include an on-site morgue, was established this past weekend in Central Park’s East Meadow by humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with Mount Sinai Health System to “provide care for patients seriously ill with COVID-19.”

Fairgrounds

Generally only used at a very high capacity for a few weeks of the year, fairgrounds over a vast amount of space with the needed infrastructure—electricity, water, various buildings, arenas, parking lots the size of a small town—already in place. The Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, California, for example, will take advantage of this advantageous arrangement and temporarily house members of the region’s sizable, highly vulnerable homeless population during the pandemic. Elsewhere in California, the Orange County Fairgrounds are being mulled as a potential site to accommodate overflow from established medical facilities in the area; it’s a similar story at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. Outside of California, the massive Washington State Fairgrounds are being considered as an emergency medical site about 30 miles south of Seattle in the city of Puyallup. In Florida, where the virus is on the verge of exploding in certain areas, a 250-bed facility is already under construction at the Miami-Dade Fairgrounds. In several states, fairgrounds and their parking lots are already being used to host drive-up coronavirus testing sites.

Hotels and motels

Hotels and motels are perhaps the most versatile and, due in part to low occupancy rates brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, the most readily available spaces to repurpose during a pandemic. Providing privacy, some level of comfort, and isolation, they can be used to treat non-critical patients recovering from the COVID-19-related illnesses, quarantine patients suspected to be infected, house exhausted, high-risk healthcare workers on the frontlines (in sometimes deluxe accommodations), and provide a temporary safe haven to vulnerable populations like the unsheltered. Officials in various cities including New York, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and Oakland, California, have leased hundreds, even thousands, of hotel and motel rooms to be used in various capacities in the coming weeks, with the Army Corps of Engineers working to identify and then convert many of them into fully functional temporary medical facilities. Many, of course, have their own ideas as to which specific hotels should be used.
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hard corps

New York’s Javits Center completes transformation into 1,200 bed emergency hospital
A 1,200-bed field hospital, established in response to the dire need for additional hospital beds as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) overwhelms New York City’s existing medical infrastructure, opened today at the Jacob K. Javits Center. The Army Corps of Engineers, along with civilian staff and members of the New York National Guard, executed the dramatic transformation of the Javits Center from a normally bustling venue for trade shows and conventions to a fully equipped overflow medical facility in just one week. If needed, the makeshift hospital at the Javits Center can be expanded to accommodate 2,910 beds. This would make it one of the largest hospitals in America, regardless of ephemerality, according to ABC News. By comparison, New York-Presbyterian, the city’s largest hospital, has a 2,600-bed capacity. First floated as a potential field hospital earlier this month, the Javits Center, a vast green-roofed, glass-encased complex on Manhattan's far West Side designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, is the first of several Army Corps-identified facilities across the five boroughs to be adapted into a temporary medical hub. Late last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Army Corps, pending approval from the White House, will also convert four other facilities with considerable square footage into field hospitals: The Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the New York Expo Center in Bronx, CUNY Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. These four facilities will have the capacity for a combined 4,000 additional hospital beds as even more sites, including the Brooklyn Center Nursing Home and a Marriott hotel in downtown Brooklyn, are considered by state health officials as having overflow-need potential according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Cuomo has also stressed the need for temporary hospitals in New York City-adjacent counties including Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau, and Rockland. As of this writing, 59,742 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in New York, the most of any state. Nearly 800 people have perished from the virus in New York City alone. Over the weekend, a non-Army Corps-initiated field hospital also began to take shape in Central Park’s East Meadow. Designed specifically as a respiratory care unit, the 68-bed Central Park tent hospital is being constructed by volunteers enlisted by the faith-based humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with Mount Sinai Health System. Unlike the field hospital at the Javits Center, which will only provide care to those suffering from a range of health issues that aren’t coronavirus in order to take the mounting burden off of established hospitals grappling with New Yorkers stricken with the highly contagious viral disease, the Central Park facility is dedicated to treating “patients seriously ill with COVID-19,” per a statement released by Mount Sinai Hospital to BuzzFeed News. Back at the Javits Center, the transformation of the 1.8-million-square foot building’s cavernous exhibition halls into a Federal Emergency Management Agency-operated medical facility has been met with a positive response. And for those skeptical that the United States was capable of speedy, China-style turnaround in creating makeshift hospitals, the swift transformation of the Javits Center has proven that the Army Corps, when called upon, can get things done and get them done in an expeditious manner. (New York’s urgent need for ventilators and other supplies, however, is a whole other story.) All things considered, the temporary hospital at the Javits Center appears clean and comfortable. Individual beds contained within semi-enclosed “rooms” are shielded by three temporary walls and a curtained entrance made from seemingly the same materials formerly used to host booths in the space, while floor lamps, folding chairs, medical supplies, and side tables topped with (faux) potted plants complement the spaces. While the transformation doesn't appear to allow for individual treatment areas to include private plumbed fixtures, some online commentators have pointed out that a deficit of toilets at the Javits Center shouldn’t be a problem. “The Javits Center is an amazing facility,” ABC News reported Gen. Todd Semonite, head of the Army Corps of Engineers, as telling reporters at a press conference held last week. “Every 10 feet there's a great big steel door in the floor, you open it up in there is all the electrical; there's cold water, there's hot water and there's a place for sewers, so you can actually do things like sinks, right in the middle of a convention center to be able to make that happen.” Outside of New York City, the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was due to host the AIA Conference on Architecture 2020 in May, is in the process of being converted by the National Guard into a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-run field hospital as demand for hospital beds in the greater L.A. area begin to surge. Hard-hit Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay area, is also turning a large convention center into a temporary treatment center for COVID-19 patients presenting on-life threatening symptoms. Similar efforts are also planned or already underway at convention centers in Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere. To help with this unprecedented effort, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has launched a special task force to inform and offer guidance to public officials, architects, and healthcare facility operators as they convert existing buildings into temporary medical hubs at a pace never experienced before. The task force, according to a press statement, will develop a COVID-19 Rapid Response Safety Space Assessment for AIA members that includes “considerations for the suitability of buildings, spaces, and other sites for patient care. The assessment will be developed by architects with a wide range of expertise, including healthcare facility design, urban design, public health and disaster assistance.” “On a daily basis, I am hearing from our architects who feel a deep sense of moral duty to support our healthcare providers on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said AIA 2020 president Jane Frederick, FAIA. “As our communities assess buildings to address growing surge capacity, we hope this task force will be a resource to ensure buildings are appropriately and safely adapted for our doctors and nurses.”
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Fancy Delancey

The International Center of Photography settles into its new home at Essex Crossing
At the end of January, the International Center of Photography (ICP) opened its new integrated center at the rapidly constructed Essex Crossing mega-development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The new center, a three-story, 40,000-square-foot arts center by SHoP Architects with an interior designed by Gensler, is the ICP’s third home and the first to house both its educational facilities and curatorial spaces since its original location on Fifth Avenue. Essex Crossing is a six-and-a-half acre site located on the southern border of Delancey Street master-planned by SHoP Architects and was built on land formerly razed for urban renewal efforts and left vacant for half a century. The bulk of the redevelopment consists of mixed-use towers—ICP is located at the podium level of one of the projects—but is studded with several publicly accessible venues such as the new home of the Essex Street Market. SHoP's design runs through the entire block, with a glazed facade on the east elevation and one of patterned aluminum for the service entrance to the west (the western facade covers a blank wall, lending the illusion of a brise-soleil and breaking up a monolithic street presence). The ground floor houses a cafe and largely serves as a point of circulation for the galleries, library, and the school above. The ICP’s new central gallery is a double-height space defined by a concrete-and-metal material palette and is flooded with natural light from the eastern glazed facade. The entire exhibition room is ringed by a catwalk which provides a top-down viewing perspective of the hall while simultaneously lined with smaller works. A multimedia gallery located on the third-floor functions as both a curatorial and event space. As an educational institution, the ICP hosts programs, courses, and workshops for over 3,500 students annually. Facilities include darkrooms, shooting studios, digital media labs, amongst others. The focal point of the educational amenities is a double-height library of metal-and-wood framing accessible to both members and guests. The COVID-19 outbreak has, unfortunately, also led to the temporary closure of the ICP and its inaugural exhibitions; Tyler Mitchell:I Can Make You Feel Good; CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop; James Coupe: WarriorsThe Lower East Side, and Selections from the ICP Collection. While the Center will be closed for the foreseeable future, thousands of images and interviews from its collection have been made available to the general public online.