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Upon stepping inside the new, light-filled Ford Foundation for Social Justice, you’d never know the crisp and clean, 415,000-square-foot building felt darker and smaller just four years ago. The landmark headquarters of the formerly-named Ford Foundation was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1967 and has long been considered one of New York’s greatest architectural treasures. Its 12-story, corten steel structure featuring textured granite walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows were emblematic of groundbreaking mid-century modern design, but in recent years the prized building has fallen behind the times. This month, Gensler’s New York office completed an extensive renovation effort to redesign and rebrand the organization’s Midtown East facility as a sustainable hub for social justice–oriented groups to commune and collaborate. The 51-year-old building was reconstructed in compliance with updated city safety codes with an increased attention to energy efficiency and accessibility. Where rays of daylight used to only trickle into the structure’s iconic, glass-clad atrium, they now sweep through the office areas and out the other side of the building. It’s arguably one of the sunniest spaces in the neighborhood and now boasts near-complete transparency. “People used to walk by here and have no idea what was going on inside,” said Darren Walker, the Foundation’s current president. “It sat here like a mammoth, making a statement of discretion and tranquility. But now, while you can see so much of the original vocabulary of the building in things like its 6-foot planning grid and innovative use of brass, it’s much more transparent and energetic.” Central to Gensler’s revamp was expanding the amount of public and meeting spaces for outside organizations from 53,600 square feet to a whopping 81,000 square feet. With more room to host global groups committed to human equity and achievement, the Foundation aims to bolster its outreach efforts while also promoting its own themes of transparency, fairness, and dignity through an inviting design. Gensler also added extra lifts, subtle wheelchair ramps, gender-inclusive signage, and updated workplace furniture to meet ADA standards—all in order to encourage diversity within the Foundation’s four walls. This idea of displaying human value through design also translates to the new open office plan that nurtures collaboration and gives employees access to coveted daylight and ample views of the lush Dan Kiley–designed garden atrium. Jungles Studio, in collaboration with SiteWorks, rehabilitated the space to align with Kiley’s simple original vision. To combat years of overgrowth and erosion, they deepened the tree holes, improved irrigation, and restored the garden’s reflecting pool as well as the brick pavers throughout. This indoor greenhouse is visible from the workspace above now that the closed-door private offices that once lined the atrium walls have been opened up as laneways on each floor. Ed Wood, design director and principal at Gensler, said the overall design intent for the project was to create a feeling of the “new, but familiar.” Perhaps the most impressive part of the Foundation’s renovation signifies just that. During the project, over 1,500 pieces of furniture were meticulously restored while over half of the original Warren Platner–designed wood pieces were refinished to match their original stain. Each legacy lighting fixture, bronze accent, leather-laid item, piece of millwork, as well as the carpet and wood flooring was either refurbished or reimagined using extremely similar materials or pieces salvaged from the Foundation’s storage. The updated interior successfully transports visitors back to a time when Mad Men era-design dominated New York’s office towers without making it look cheesy and out of date. It’s actually refreshing. When the Ford Foundation first opened, it was a design marvel and a nod to the Foundation’s claim to be the wealthiest organization of its kind in the world. With this update, Gensler brought the building back to life and advanced its architectural status by not only making it a prime example of a 21st-century renovation project but by intelligently piecing back together all the iconic elements that made the interior so irresistible decades ago. The public spaces inside the Ford Foundation for Social Justice will officially open to the public in January. Its grantees and affiliate organizations will be welcomed into the new convening spaces starting then as well. The project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification. In addition to the staff, the building permanently houses Philanthropy New York, the United Nations Foundation, and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.
Because I'm Happy
Studio Cadena’s shimmery holiday installation takes over Flatiron Plaza
Studio Cadena’s ultra-bright holiday sculpture in Flatiron Plaza made its debut during New York’s first snowfall of the season. Though it was officially unveiled last night, Happy was set up late last week and photography captured the flurry of moments when it was first discovered by the public. Happy is the winner of the fifth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Competition, a partnership between the New York Department of Transportation Art, Van Alen Institute, and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District. Its installation signals the start of programming for BID’s “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer.” The project was created by Studio Cadena, a Brooklyn-based firm that was chosen out of seven other invited design teams. Their winning proposal features a series of translucent yellow screens draped from an open frame that are meant to add a spark of joy to everyone who passes by. It also doubles as a filter for people to see the city in a different light, according to Benjamin Cadena, Studio Cadena’s founder and principal.
David van der Leer, exiting director of Van Alen Institute, noted the impact that Happy could have on people's’ daily lives during a cold and colorless time of year. “By expressing a positive emotion in a public space, Studio Cadena’s delightful installation invites people to take a moment to consider the joy of being in the big, busy city during the holiday season.” Happy was selected by a jury of experts in design and public art including the Corcoran Group’s Nick Athanail, Michael Bierut, partner at Pentagram, Emily Colasacco, event director of NYC Summer Streets, as well as V. Mitch McEwan, partner at A(n) Office, and Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny of SITU Studio. The installation will be on view through January 1, 2019.
The new Calgary Central Library opened its doors to the public on November 1, a joint project between Snøhetta and Canadian studio DIALOG. The crystallized, aluminum-and-fritted-glass facade of the building’s upper portion belies a warm wood interior, and the entire library rises over an active Light Rail Transit Line that runs from below ground and up to the street level. The six-story, 240,000-square-foot library is expected to welcome twice as many visitors as the previous Central Library, no small feat in a city where more than half of the 1.2 million residents have an active library card. Patrons are welcomed by a massive wood archway at the entrance (made from western red cedar sourced from British Columbia, as with the rest of the wood in the building) shaped in reference to the region’s distinct Chinook arch cloud formations. Inside, past the lobby and atrium, an 85-foot-tall gap was carved that runs all of the way up to an oculus in the roof. According to Snøhetta, each floor was organized on a scale of “fun to serious,” with the livelier programming, such as the Children’s Library, arranged at the bottom of the building, and quieter study areas at the top. Visitors can ascend a sinuous central staircase below the oculus, and peer into the open floors and the stacks at each level. Vertically-striated wood slats were used to clad the edges at each section, extending and refining the woodwork seen in the entrance arch. At the very top is the Grand Reading Room, which, although unenclosed like the rest of the library, is meant to be the most intimate space in the building. Although faced with a difficult site, the design team chose to accentuate the necessary train tunnel at the Central Library’s northern corner. This is where the building’s curved sides join together to form a prominent “prow,” and where an inviting “living room” has been situated. The facade is made up of scattered, rhombus and triangle-shaped panels and windows. The density of the panels has been modulated depending on the level of privacy and sunlight required for each area, and openings carve out views for the spaces that look out over the city. Those strategic cuts also allow curious pedestrians to look into the library, which Snøhetta hopes will entice community members inside.
It’s October, and that can only mean one thing: New York–based architecture teams congregating to carve pumpkins at the Center for Architecture. During this year’s Pumpkitecture! competition, 20 teams battled it out for a chance to take home the coveted Pritzkerpumpkin and People’s Pumpkin Award. Of course, despite the full range of talent on display, not every team could take home 2018’s top honors. The jury, consisting of Laila Gohar, chef and conceptual artist, Jing Liu, principal and co-founder of SO-IL, Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr Studio, and Omar Sosa, founder of Apartamento Magazine, ultimately awarded the Pritzkerpumpkin to Alloy for their high-concept “Jack-in-the-box”, and the People’s Pumpkin to SITU’s “Pretentioulicious desiccated pumpkin strands.” Teams entered pumpkins that ranged from high-brow—see SOFTlab’s quartered and reflected pumpkin, or SITU’s aforementioned popular vote-winning spiralized vegetable strings—to more classic takes on the jack o’lantern typology. Much like the first Hat Party on the High Line earlier this year, each firm brought a taste of their distinctive design philosophy to their entry.
Parks Without Borders
NYC Parks Commissioner talks policy, parks, and breaking down barriers
Over the next three months, The Architect’s Newspaper will feature a series interviews with Susannah Drake, founding principal of DLANDstudio, and leading public space advocates about the meaning, design, and development of public space. Up first, New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver will discuss New York's Parks Without Borders initiative to make parks and open space more accessible. Borders are a hot topic in our current politically volcanic world. Some are geographic, most are political, and many have to do with resources and strategic control. Robert Frost’s poem titled Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is often misinterpreted as suggesting that defined boundaries between people or societies are positive. In practice, defined borders can lead to violence, social isolation, inefficiency, and habitat loss. The classic phrase, “living on the other side of the tracks,” was taken to the extreme in the United States after World War II as new highway systems, elevated transportation structures, slum clearance, and dehumanized public housing towers transformed cities across the United States. Today, cities including Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis are working to break down physical and perceived boundaries to make a healthier living environment for all. In New York City, the efforts of three groups, one public and two nonprofit, demonstrate how smart urban planning and design can make the city healthier, safer, and more democratic by improving underutilized public lands. Mitchell Silver, commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, is the visionary behind the city’s Parks Without Borders program. As a native New Yorker who spent his formative years in the city before traveling the country and the world as a planner and thought leader, his vision as head of the public parks agency has been to expand the availability of park space by breaking down physical barriers, jurisdictional boundaries, and site lines into city parks. AN: What is the origin of the Parks without Borders program? MS: The origins came from two sources. Growing up in New York, I was always bothered by the big berm that separated Flatbush Avenue from Prospect Park. The road seemed like a raceway defined with so many fences and barriers. Through professional and personal experience, I encountered different forms of public space around the world and saw far fewer barriers. Public space was seamlessly connected to the city. Of course, fences are needed for sports and steep slopes but in many cases, they are unnecessary. When I became commissioner of the Parks Department, I remembered something that Frederick Law Olmsted said about parks: “The sidewalk adjacent to the park should be considered the outer park.” What I recognized was that the sidewalks around parks, such as Fort Greene Park and Prospect Park, were under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department but felt separate. The land from the park to the curb should feel like part of the park. The public realm should be seamless. The public doesn’t know or care who owns the land. The New York City Police Department needed to own the idea of crime prevention through community design. I submitted the idea to the Mayor as part of OneNYC and through a partnership between City Planning, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection, and our agency, and a $50 million pilot was launched. There were two components: $40 million was dedicated to eight showcase projects, determined through the extensive public process that received over 6,000 nominations. In addition, $10 million was dedicated to parks and playgrounds across the city already under development to enhance the park design. The key principles are to make a seamless public realm by rethinking the edges, entrances, and adjacent spaces of parks across the city. Open space should be open. Growing dense urban centers need vital public space for all races, genders, and ages across the board. What barriers have you met in implementing the project? Resistance encountered? As with all projects of this nature, we met with all of the community boards via borough board meetings and held public meetings in each of the five boroughs to explain the program and ask the public to nominate a park for the program. We communicated our theory that good uses tend to push out bad uses. In other words, plan for what you want to see and not what you don’t want to see. Feedback was split along demographic lines. Older people perceived fences as safeguards and that reducing the height of fences and opening up parks invited crime and homelessness to take over. But we have had early success. At McDonald Playground in Staten Island where Parks Without Borders money was dedicated to a Community Parks Initiative project, the community was initially concerned about lowering fences. The park feels so open now that people ask if we added more land. And, while the plan for Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn is greatly supported by the community, there has been resistance related to the planned removal of some large, invasive, non-native trees, and the mounds constructed in the 1970s as part of the project. What is the schedule of implementation? Over 20 parks are in the pipeline. The showcase projects will be completed by 2020. They include Prospect Park, Seward Park, Jackie Robinson Park, Corona Park, Fort Greene Park, Faber Park, Van Cortlandt Park, and Hugh Grant Circle. How does the program align with other DPR/Administration initiatives? NYC Parks is advocating for Equity, Access, Placemaking, and Healthy Living. One of the programs, Walk to a Park, is intended to reduce the time it takes to get to a park. Reducing barriers and moving entrances helps increase access to parks. DPR planners conducted a thorough planning process examining the location and attributes of parks across the city and determined where residents might be underserved. Using GIS, they mapped a five-minute walk from parks, playgrounds, and trails across New York City and then used the analysis to prioritize capital expenditures. Does the DPR Parks without Borders program impact all communities across NYC regardless of demographics? Yes, with multigenerational, ADA access. At McDonald Playground, a woman hugged me suggesting that I changed her life because she can now sit with her daughter in a quieter area of the park and watch the kids play ball. She said I extended her life. Beyond physical fences and walls, what other kinds of borders have you seen in your time as commissioner? Rules create barriers. We don’t want to engage in anti-planning which can exclude rather than include people. Including more people in more existing parks is one example. Anti-planning, or planning to prohibit a certain group is not fair. For example, some of our playgrounds have a sign that states: “Adults prohibited unless accompanied by a child.” That means a senior citizen is prohibited from using a public space or must walk to another park that doesn’t have that rule. To address this inequity, NYC Parks in 2017 evaluated all city playgrounds and installed new signs at locations that would allow adults in a park or playground, but only prohibited adults in fenced off areas where children’s play units were located, like swings, slides and climbing structures. This one change allows more adult New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy green space like sitting under a tree or using a comfort station. As a planner what is your perspective on borders that might exist because of climate or geographic lines that are mapped but not always perceived by the public? Rockaways? In places where public safety is an issue such as around water, clearly there need to be rules and physical barriers to keep people safe. Environmental conditions can also require limited access. For instance, the habitat for piping plovers needs to be protected by limiting beach access. This reduced the walk score but was an important trade-off. In natural areas, controlling beach erosion is important. Sometimes these barriers are jurisdictional, particularly in coastal areas. New York City is doing a better job than in the past. What is your perspective on urban and transportation design decisions in the direct post-war period, in the '60s and today in relation to race, demographics, and urban living? White flight of the '60s, urban renewal with its characteristic superblocks, and highways dividing neighborhoods were not the highlight of good planning. Cities were perceived as unsafe and as a result, many parks were surrounded with high walls to create defensible space. Now Parks Without Borders is changing this situation by moving from defensible space to open and inclusive space. Prospect Park is a great example. Programming by the Alliance activated the park. They designed for what we want to see rather than what we don’t want to see. There are so many users in our parks that space needs to be very inclusive. Our parks are our outdoor living rooms and reflect those that use them. While DPR does not have purview over public housing, it would be great to get your perspective on the landscape of housing projects in New York City as well as their overall relationship to the city. The “tower in the park” model is somewhat right. The park part is not right. Residents assume that the landscape is off limits because it is fenced off. Design organizations are now engaging NYCHA Tenant Associations about opening-up the green space within the NYCHA housing campus. For example, some NYCHA Houses have converted open space to community gardens, so the trend of better using NYCHA green space is moving into the right direction. Digital access to information creates places where people collect in the city. Beyond these spheres are dead zones that might be considered another form of border. Are there any efforts by DPR to expand digital access? I’d love to see WiFi in parks. We currently have charging stations at some beaches and WiFi in some parks. Lack of funding for maintenance and operations is an ongoing issue for public space. How will Parks Without Borders impact maintenance needs of parks? Maintenance practice of 21st-century parks warrants reexamination. More funding and more staff are welcome but aren’t the answer. We need to be innovative with resources. The agency is now using a zone approach with analytics to optimize the work of maintenance crews. We are also employing new design approaches and adding horticultural staff. One example is having park cleaning seven days per week. This seems like an addition, but the change is cutting down Monday absences because those crews were not unfairly burdened with the weekend trash. This created a better team ethos. Utilization of staff is as important as getting more staff. Working smarter with specialized teams with more training that can troubleshoot issues system-wide (catch basin team, green infrastructure team) is helping. Any final words? With limited resources we are forced to think about what is important and how to be innovative, which I base of the 3 S’s of management: You must have the right organizational structure to achieve your vision and mission. You must have the right systems in place to be successful. You must have strong management and operation standards across the five boroughs to function as one agency.
Like Chilean Miners...
AN interviews six emerging designers to watch
Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. –Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” –Drew Zieba
This Valentine’s Day, Times Square will boast a sculptural showcase of love by Manhattan-based firm Reddymade. Last night, Times Square Arts and AIA New York announced the female-led studio as the winner of the eleventh annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition. Starting February 1, 2019, Father Duffy Square will be home to X, a glowing aluminum structure evoking interpersonal and civic love. The invite-only competition was curated by AIA New York, who held an exhibition opening yesterday at the Center for Architecture to showcase the work of the eight finalists, all emerging firms in the city. Tim Tompkins, president of Times Square Arts, said the framework for the project was simple. Firms were asked to explore, in physical form, the meaning of American philosopher Dr. Cornel West’s famous quote: “Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love feels like in private.” According to Tompkins, Reddymade’s winning proposal symbolizes several thematic concepts that drew the jury to choose it. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years about public art in Times Square is that ideally it should operate on many different levels and have a multitude of meanings,” Tompkins said. “X alludes to Times Square as an X-shaped intersection. It’s also the symbol of a kiss and a nod to the neighborhood’s XXX history. Most relevant today, it’s the mark we make to vote, representing democracy and freedom of choice for the individual.” Suchi Reddy, founder and principal of Reddymade, said the focus on justice, diversity, and equality has been top of mind for her firm for several years, so the competition brief spoke to her in particular. “I think this was a really intelligent brief and we wanted to create a tectonic expression that inherently responded to something,” she said. “We love the idea of form following feeling, so we felt very strongly about creating a space people could inhabit and bring their energy to.” X is the largest installation the competition has selected to date. It features two intersecting aluminum planes with rounded openings at the crossing where, when viewed from different angles, appears heart-shaped. At 18 feet tall, people will be able to walk underneath the sculpture. As more people gather, a glowing light will illuminate from the structure, growing brighter as an expression of the power of community and love. Reddymade’s winning proposal, along with the other invited finalists—Agency Agency, Buro Koray Duman, Isometric Studio, N H D M, Only If Architecture, Splice Design, and STUDIO 397—were on view at the Center for Architecture through November 2, 2018. This was the competition’s first ever exhibition, further democratizing the public engagement process and shining a light on the other design teams and their vision for Times Square. “There’s always a real struggle in picking out a winning design,” said Tompkins. “We recognize many firms spend time submitting proposals in competitions like this even though they’re invited, so one of the ways they get a return on that investment is having their great work be seen in a space like this.” X will be displayed in Times Square throughout the month of February. Last year, Aranda\Lasch + Marcelo Coelho installed a 3-D printed lens with a heart-shaped aperture.
In Mexico, handcrafts and folk art have shaped society for centuries. Often referred to as artesanía—a blend of indigenous and European designs—the country’s rich history of artisanal techniques has generated some of the most celebrated handmade objects, from the decorative to the utilitarian. Today, while crafts products enjoy a resurgence in popularity, inequalities persist, posing a number of obstacles in sustaining centuries-old traditions. Since 2009, the Oaxaca-based organization Innovando la Tradición has been invested in rethinking the imperatives of clay-based crafts, while promoting sustainable practices. Besides running educational activities across potters’ communities in the region, the group’s commercial branch, Colectivo 1050°, identifies opportunities for the distribution of handmade objects to contemporary and high-end markets. AN Interior contributor Benoît Loiseau speaks with cofounder Diego Mier y Terán about the organization's challenges and hopes. AN INTERIOR: You’ve spoken extensively about the risks of seeing Oaxacan pottery disappear. Are you noticing any progress? COLECTIVO: It’s likely that 40 percent of the villages will stop producing pottery within our lifetime. That said, I think there’s hope, and we have seen villages revive their craft traditions. There’s currently a trend in the market for crafts and handmade products, and we are witnessing an increased interest in traditional pottery and ceramics. It is one of our missions to elevate the economic value of traditional pottery, but also its cultural and symbolic value. Ultimately, though, our goal is to change the narrative around how artisans are perceived and presented in the dominant discourse of institutions—one based on the exoticization of otherness—from museums, NGOs, designers, chefs, and government. AN: Do you find that younger generations are interested in taking up the craft? Is there an issue of perception? C: For young people, to see their parents struggling financially in the profession is clearly not an incentive. Earth is seen as something dirty, not elegant, cool, or modern. For that generation it often feels more dignified to build cars or computers. But we have seen changes when communities start earning more, with increased sales. The whole relationship within the family then changes, with children looking to take part in the workshops. We just had an exhibition at the Franz Mayer Museum [Mexico City], where we showed traditional pieces, made in the present day. It’s a big change; it’s really saying that the craft is alive. Clay is so ingrained in the history of Mexico—and of humankind—if given a little window, people will engage. AN: A number of contemporary designers in Mexican cities work closely with artisans and craftsmen. How do you envisage best practice? C: Best practice is in the making, but I don’t see a critical discussion taking place around design in Mexico at the moment, particularly in terms of colonizing practices. Designers are fixed on the fetishization of crafts, with little consideration for social change. It’s a dangerous and harmful situation for artisanal communities because designers are reproducing inequalities. AN: In August you curated the IV Encuentro Nacional Alfarero Independiente, the fourth edition of the national gathering of potters and artisans from 12 states and 25 different villages, which gathered over 85 participants this year. What was the focus of the event? C: The main focus was on sharing knowledge. It is very rare for artisans, particularly potters, to share knowledge and techniques with other villages, even less so other states. On the one hand, because the work demands to be in a closed environment, but also because there’s a certain level of competition—they’re nervous their work would be copied. AN: Can you tell me about one of your most significant pieces? C: The Tonaltepec Bowl is made with a very unique technique. Archaeologists have found examples in the area dating from as far back as 4,000 years. Still 30 years ago, most of the women in that remote village worked with clay, selling their products at the local market. When we visited in 2012, only five ladies were working with clay, and two years later, they had basically stopped, because the market had disappeared. So we started a series of workshops with the children in the village and other members of the community. Altogether, this generated somewhat of a revival, and production resumed. The bowl made it to Noma’s pop-up restaurant in Tulum last year. AN: How do you redistribute profit, and ensure that your activities are sustainable? C: Most of the products we sell are continuous. We test them, to see if the market responds to them. Forty to 50 percent of the retail price of the product goes back to the artisans. The rest goes to operations—maintaining shops, administration, packaging—then there’s a marginal 10 percent profit that pays for the activities of Innovando la Tradición.
Rockwell Group’s design for the recently opened Blue School in New York City falls outside the lines of traditional design for primary and secondary education, especially in the cramped Big Apple. While the school includes many basic elements such as closed-door classrooms and a sizable cafeteria, the one thing the architects were expected to uniquely incorporate for the private school, which was founded by alumni of the Blue Man Group, is color. Lots of color. Stretched across four floors of a mixed-use, former medical building in Manhattan’s Financial District, the school serves as a “home away from home” for its kids, featuring flexible spaces and playful palettes that encourage creative self-expression and pride at all ages. The Blue School opened last month for its inaugural semester, welcoming 100 students and 70 faculty members through its shiny glass doors under a neon sign signaling its presence in the neighborhood. The 45,000-square-foot facility is the New York-based institution’s second campus designed by Rockwell Group. It provides much-needed breathing room for the school’s fourth through eighth-grade levels, which were previously housed in what’s now the primary school located in the South Street Seaport. Thanks to the move, pre-kindergarten through third-grade students were also given more space inside their facility, which opened in 2010. For the Upper School, as the new facility is known, Rockwell Group leveled up the design out of respect for the older children, who naturally are becoming more mature as they age. The architects outfitted the space with a bright, eye-catching interior and a layout designed to spark personal discovery as well as collaboration. “There’s a sense of respect the kids feel in spaces designed for them,” said Michael Fischer, the associate principal who led the design with David Rockwell. “They have autonomy, feel empowered and trusted.” Upon walking through the doors of the new Blue School, students, teachers, and guests are greeted with a lobby sporting a lounge-like feel, as well a high-gloss, neon yellow central staircase that serves as the main point of circulation in the facility. To the left in a community space called the Commons, colorful outdoor furniture adds a contemporary twist to the cafeteria setting along with bleacher-like seating wrapped in wood and staggered along the walls for a topographical effect. Additionally, a bar with stools lines the edge of the 1,800-square-foot space overlooking the street. The Commons also includes walls lined with LED-lit garden planters where food is grown as part of the school’s science curriculum as well as for students’ meals. The living wall is maintained in partnership with Brooklyn Grange and enhances the living room-like atmosphere of the shared space. On the basement level, Rockwell Group created a grown-up version of their Imagination Playground system with which students can construct their own seating stations using shapely, blue-foam cushions. The surrounding walls are clad with colorful, geometric wallpaper by Flavor Paper. Two studios as well as a column-free gymnasium, which doubles as a 130-seat auditorium—the Blue School’s first ever performance space—were also designed for the school’s arts and exercise programs. If flexibility is an integral part of the Blue School’s educational philosophy and its interior architectural design, the concept is most evident on the top floors where each learning space includes key elements that allow teachers and students to take over space how they see fit. Rockwell Group collaborated with Uhuru to create non-directional trapezoidal desks that can be easily set up to form clusters for group-work situations. Each classroom also includes a raised carpeted platform dedicated to quiet reading or presentations. An art room, maker lab, and materials library were also given major space on the second floor. Both are fully stocked with every kind of arts and engineering supply imaginable, from paint brushes to saws, to glue and glass. An adjacent materials library—open to the kids at all times—serves several fields of study and specific STEAM courses. The Blue School’s library features a book-lined, double-height reading space with a massive sofa and custom common tables by Rockwell Group for Knoll. Hanging from the ceiling next to the curtain-wall window is a light sculpture designed in collaboration with Dot Dash Design. It changes colors throughout the day and amplifies the school’s interior at night. From the street level, passersby can see activity within the facility and students get a sense of inclusion in the bustling neighborhood. Since the Blue School began in 2006, it has added one grade level per year to its roster of students—hence the need to build out a new campus for its burgeoning population. The first group of kids to begin at the school recently graduated from 8th grade and though they never had the chance to move into the new Upper School, they were integrated into the extensive planning process that Rockwell Group held with students, parents, and teachers. The school expects the number of students to double over the next several years. Blue School will featured as an Open Access site during Open House New York this Saturday, October 13th. Check it out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or go on a guided tour with representatives from Blue School and Rockwell Group at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are not required.
Studio Gang’s undulating Brooklyn tower launches sales
Sales have officially begun for 11 Hoyt Street, Downtown Brooklyn’s upcoming 770,000-square-foot residential tower designed by Studio Gang Architects. The 480-unit curvilinear skyscraper is impressive by virtue of its unique shape and gigantic size; its 57 stories occupy a full city block. Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang is leading the project, with plans to transform the site of a once-dismal parking garage into one of the tallest and most luxurious skyscrapers in Brooklyn—a modern work of art. The proposed building is noteworthy for its beveled and undulating facade, which differs drastically from the ubiquitous glass skyscrapers that currently populate the area. Each window on 11 Hoyt will be individually framed by the building's precast concrete skeleton, with multiple sections extruding outward to form a diagonal, rippling wave pattern across the height of the tower. When the sun shines down on the facade, it will create a unique play of shadows that will accentuate the building’s animated and flexible appearance, while highlighting its glass and concrete sculptural elements. The project site, bordered on four sides by Hoyt Street, Elm Place, Fulton Street, and Livingston Street, is conveniently situated just blocks away from multiple subway lines. Residents who choose to approach the building by car can enter through the outdoor-landscaped porte-cochere, which connects directly to the main lobby. There are a total of 480 units in the building, with interiors designed by London-based Michaelis Boyd Associates. The smallest studios start at $600,000, and the largest four-bedroom unit is priced at $3,400,000. While the floor plans come in nearly 200 different variations, each unit has ten-foot ceilings and eight-foot-tall windows with spectacular views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn, and Queens. Over 55,000 square feet of indoor amenities can be found at the base of the skyscraper, including a lavish cinema, cocktail lounge, library, performance space, private dining area, study lounge, and virtual game room equipped with a golf simulator. A separate Sky Lounge can be found on the 32nd floor. Perhaps 11 Hoyt’s most notable amenity is its 27,000-square-foot private elevated park located atop the second floor, which will become the largest in all of New York City for any residential building. The landscape, designed by Edmund Hollander Design, will hold a sun deck, fitness area, hot tub, children’s play area, and multiple lounge areas. Next to the private residential park will be the “Park Club,” a massive space that will house a 75-foot saltwater swimming pool and a private fitness center designed by The Wright Fit. “From the world-class design and extraordinary, unique amenity offering to the vast, elevated private park, 11 Hoyt raises the bar in the Downtown Brooklyn residential marketplace,” Erik Rose, managing director of Tishman Speyer, the building's developer, told Yimby. “We are incredibly proud to be launching sales for this unmatched residential product and we know it presents a tremendous opportunity for discerning buyers." The project is expected to be complete sometime in 2020.
Two new Chelsea galleries are popping up underneath the High Line in New York City as part of a multi-artspace build-out by Related Companies, developer of Zaha Hadid Architect (ZHA)’s 520 West 28th Street. Designed by New-York based studioMDA, the new flagship for Paul Kasmin and the High Line Nine galleries broaden the art and architectural appeal of the adjacent elevated park. For Kasmin’s fourth show space in the neighborhood, Markus Dochantschi, founder of studioMDA and former architect at ZHA, envisioned a column-free, 3,000-square-foot gallery with a boxy, angled exterior featuring white concrete and a subtle wood texture. Inside, large-scale sculptures can fit smoothly in between the 22-foot-high walls and below a coffered ceiling with 28 individual skylights that diffuse natural light into the space below. This super-waffle grid also creates a pattern for the building’s rooftop sculpture garden, with a landscape designed by Future Green Studio. Visible from the High Line, it has an undulating form that allows plants to be set deep within the soil. Dochantschi and studioMDA also created the multi-tenant High Line Nine gallery next door, the face of which provides a stark contrast to the bright, inviting Kasmin gallery. Sporting a brutalist-inspired, curved facade cast in white bronze, the building is situated directly underneath the rail park and stretches in arcade form from 27th to 28th Streets via a central corridor. Each tenant within the High Line Nine will receive a space ranging from 650 square feet to 1,800 square feet accessible via the core passageway. The elongated facility will take on an industrial feel thanks to the exposed High Line columns and steel beams connected to the structure above. At the end of the High Line Nine, there will be a café and wine bar called il Piccolo Ristoro. So far, Leila Heller Gallery, Valli Art Gallery, Polich Tallix, Hollis Taggart Gallery, ZieherSmith, and Burning In Water as well as the adjacent Kasmin have signed on as part of the group.
Architecture in the Aftermath
2001–2018: Looking at the architectural history of the World Trade Center
In the early aftermath of September 11, 2001, New York City showed incredible resilience as people banded together to support those who were affected by the tragedy. The fateful day's horrific events took thousands of lives with the collapse of the two tallest towers in the United States, leaving rubble and wreckage at Ground Zero. In an effort to reclaim the site as a powerful and beautiful place to work, gather, and reflect, an unprecedented wave of downtown development began 17 years ago. We've all watched the city build—from scratch—a new complex that doesn’t replace history, but strengthens it. The new World Trade Center stands today as a place of remembrance and as an architectural marvel of the early 21st century—one that was built at an extraordinarily aggressive schedule and isn’t done yet. With a master plan designed by Studio Libeskind, the 16-acre site includes a handful of office towers, cultural facilities, commercial spaces, and parkland all conceived by world-class architects working within the confines of a nationally significant property. One of the most-anticipated upcoming projects, a performing arts center by Brooklyn-based studio REX, is now under construction with an estimated completion date between 2020 and 2022. In honor of the anniversary of 9/11 and what’s to come for the booming site, here’s a look back at the history of the structures that now populate the grounds and the few that remain to be built. 7 World Trade Center Designed by SOM’s David Childs, this 52-story tower was the first completed building to open on the site in 2006. The award-winning structure was also the first office building in New York to be LEED Gold–certified. Its reflective skin features floor-to-ceiling glass panels that reflect the tone of the sky, allowing its westward-facing facade to seemingly disappear from sight. At night, LED installations line the base of the tower with text art from artist Jenny Holzer. 4 World Trade Center Finished in 2013, this Fumihiko Maki–designed office tower stands 72 stories tall with 140,000 square feet of retail on its first five floors. Home to Eataly, H&M, and Banana Republic, it’s part of the Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall, which extends into the adjacent transit hub designed by Santiago Calatrava. Maki and Associates’ minimalist design includes a glazed exterior with colored silver glass that achieves a metallic quality as the light changes throughout the day. The southwest and northeast corners are also drastically indented to provide views for the office space inside. National September 11 Memorial and Museum The 9/11 Memorial is the heart of the area's redevelopment. Conceived by Michael Arad and Peter Walker in 2003, the memorial design features two recessed pools set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. These large black voids receive continuous streams of water, with the names of victims etched in the black stone’s edge. The National September 11 Memorial Museum, created by Davis Brody Bond in collaboration with Arad and Walker, houses the physical building blocks of the former WTC campus as well as found artifacts, written articles, and gathered anecdotes from the day of the attacks. Completed in 2014, the 110,000-square-foot museum features an above-ground glass pavilion designed by Snøhetta that welcomes visitors into a light-filled space before descending 70 feet below into the cavernous Foundation Hall, built around one of the original towers' retaining walls. One World Trade Center Designed by SOM’s David Childs, One WTC rises 1,776 feet to the top of the New York City skyline. The 104-story structure opened in spring 2014 with its first tenant, Condé Nast, moving in later that year. The iconic building's form is shaped by eight isosceles triangles that interlock in such a way that the floorplans, square at both top and bottom, are octagonal in the middle. The base of the structure features 2,000 pieces of prismatic glass that refract the changing light throughout the day. Oculus The $4-billion architectural object housing the revamped World Trade Center Transportation Hub features the winged design of Santiago Calatrava. Designed to resemble a bird in flight, the striking structure opened in May 2016 after years of construction delays and budget overruns. Now, it’s the site of the aforementioned Westfield Mall, situated inside a pristinely-white, soaring interior with a ribbed roof. Each year on September 11, the overhead window panels fully retract to reveal an open skylight that stretches the length of the building. The “Way of Light” annually shines through at 10:28 a.m. when the second tower fell. Liberty Park Designed by AECOM’s landscape studio, the 64,000-square-foot Liberty Park is set atop the World Trade Center’s vehicle screening center, providing unmatched views of the memorial and surrounding office complex. It opened in 2016 to rave reviews as the only public part of the site that’s easily walkable, providing a simple pedestrian pathway from east to west. The one-acre open space features ample seating, 19 planters, and a 300-foot-long green wall. Also situated within the park is the Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, currently under construction but stalled due to fundraising issues. 3 World Trade Center Richard Rogers’s design for 3 WTC was completed earlier this summer as the 1,079-foot tower welcomed its first tenants in June. Designed with a stepped profile, the tower’s corners are accentuated by stainless steel load-sharing trusses that allow for column-free interiors and unobstructed panoramic views of the city. The building also features a 5-story podium and three large-scale terraces. 2 World Trade Center Originally planned with a design by Norman Foster, 2 WTC is the last remaining tower to be built on the campus, now featuring a proposal by Bjarke Ingels Group. The 90-story tower will be made up of seven cuboid volumes stacked atop one another, allowing for green terraces within each setback. Currently, colorful murals wrap around the construction site of 2 WTC as well as the bottom of 3 WTC, showcasing the breadth of new creative talent that’s moved to the Financial District since the new campus opened. Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center Having broken ground just months ago on the northeast side of the WTC campus, the new REX-designed performing arts center will be housed within a translucent, marble-clad box. Through its thin exterior walls, daylight will seamlessly filter into the 90,000-square-foot structure while at night, the white-veined cuboid will serve as a beacon for the site. The building will be divided into three levels with performances spaces and back-of-house support areas. REX unveiled their design for the center in 2016 and construction is expected to be finished within the next two to four years.