[UPDATE, 4/28/17] A memorial service for friends and family will be held on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at the The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd Street) from 5:00 to 6:00pm.
Hugh Hardy, the New York architect who worked on almost every major theater in the city, has died today at age 84.
Throughout his career, he worked on venues like Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and, with Eero Saarinen, the renovation of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.
Beyond the theater, Hardy was responsible for the revamp of the Rainbow Room and the Windows on the World restaurant in Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center, two profoundly see-and-be-seen New York spaces. Besides those rooms, many office workers who eat lunch outdoors know his designs through Bryant Park's kiosks, grill, and cafe, as well as the kiosks in Greeley and Herald squares. His third firm's recent work includes BAM's Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center. That project, by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture,won an AIA New York merit award in 2015.
Hardy influenced architecture outside the city, too. In the 1970s, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates (HHPA), the second firm he founded, completed a health center in the midcentury capitalist utopia of Columbus, Indiana.
Following his passing this morning, Hardy's friends and colleagues took to Twitter with condolences and praise for his contributions to the profession:
Very sad news in the architecture world: Hugh Hardy, master architect of theaters, restorations, and ultimate New Yorker, has just died.
We mourn the loss of Hugh Hardy. It's impossible to imagine New York City without Hugh, a brilliant architect and civic visionary. pic.twitter.com/SP9VOOdh3l
— Urban Design Forum (@UDFNYC) March 17, 2017
601 Lexington Avenue, widely known by its former title as the Citicorp Center, may be the subject of a revamp totaling 200,000 square feet, courtesy the New York office of global architecture firm Gensler.
The recently landmarked building (designated in December) could see a new exterior plaza and array of terraces added if the design is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC) next week. Further changes include an atrium located inside (and thus exempt from LPC endorsement) that will house a coterie of retail outlets and dining facilities. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, a spokesperson for Gensler clarified that the plaza is indeed "being redesigned" as renderings suggest.
601 Lexington Avenue was designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1977 and completed the following year. The resultant angular apex created a silhouette that has become an icon of the Manhattan skyline and was a feature that led the building's landmark designation last year. It's at the other end of the building, at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, however, where the changes will be made. Critic Paul Goldberger was complimentary of the existing ground-level features at the time of Stubbins's death in 2006: “[It is] probably the most important skyscraper built in New York in the 1970s because of its elegant and memorable shape, but also because of its engagement with the city at the base," he said.
According to Gensler, the building's owners, Boston Properties is "focused not on increasing rents, but on increasing the value of the entire neighborhood by making a distinctive plaza and atrium space." The firm continued: "To this end, the new outdoor plaza and terraces make room for more dining and retail options, while enlivening the staid office component. The resulting 200,000-square-foot redevelopment transforms an internally focused space into a bustling urban oasis for Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood."
Changes date back to as recently as 2010 when a new office lobby was installed. Twenty years ago, the existing atrium and open-air concourse were renovated. The LPC hearing for the changes will be on Tuesday, March 21.
The 1931 Aluminaire House, like The Architect’s Newspaper, is leaving New York and headed to Palm Springs for Modernism Week. A new Paul Goldberger-narrated video tells the story of the Kocher and Frey-designed house and its journey from MoMA to Long Island and—this morning—to Palm Springs where it will arrive on February 14.
In California, its first stop will be the Tramway Gas Station/Visitors Center, also designed by Frey, for a media event, and then it will be on display for the 11 days of Modernism Week. Afterward, the Aluminaire will again be in storage until the City of Palm Springs completes the design and construction of the new Downtown Palm Springs Park. There, directly across the street from the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Aluminaire will be reassembled and opened to the public, with funds raised by the ongoing work of the Aluminaire House Foundation.
Architect Robert Adam has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame. The annual award is given “to honor lifetime contributions to traditional, classical and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world.” Founded in 2003, the prize includes $200,000 and a bronze miniature of the of the Choregic Monument of Lysikrates.
Robert Adam, a Rome Scholar, is the founder of ADAM Architecture, as well as of the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (INTBAU). The organization works to connect those interested in traditional architecture and urbanism.
“Throughout his career, Robert Adam has engaged the critical issues of our time, challenging contemporary attitudes toward architecture and urban design. He has written extensively on the tensions between globalism and regionalism as we shape our built environment,” said Michael Lykoudis, Driehaus Prize jury chair and Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. “Sustainability is at the foundation of his work, achieved through urbanism and architecture that is respectful of local climate, culture and building customs.”
Along with his design practice, Adam has written many publications on classical and historic architecture, including Classical Architecture: A Complete Handbook and Classic Columns: 40 years of writing on architecture. Adam is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an academician at the Academy of Urbanism, and a senior fellow at the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.
In conjunction with the Driehaus Prize, the late James S. Ackerman was announced as the recipient of the Henry Hope Reed Award. The annual Henry Hope Reed Award recognizes those working outside of the practice of architecture who have “supported the cultivation of the traditional city.”
“James Ackerman’s immense contributions to contemporary understanding of Renaissance architecture have greatly influenced not only the field of architectural history but the practice of architecture today,” said Richard H. Driehaus, founder, chairman and chief investment officer of Chicago-based Driehaus Capital Management LLC. “His work brought the past to life, allowing generations of architects to learn from the early masters of the craft.”
An additional award was also announced to recognized the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).
“We live in an age that often privileges the private realm over the public, and the Congress for the New Urbanism has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the public realm. Initially through the design of new communities like Seaside, Florida, and later through education outreach that expanded demand for the improvement of established towns and cities,” stated Dean Lykoudis. “For over two decades, CNU has shown how it is possible to meet the needs of diverse communities with a basic set of principles that can be adapted for different cultures and traditions to create vibrant, beautiful places.”
This year’s jury included Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president emerita of the American Academy in Rome; Robert Davis, developer and founder of Seaside, Florida; Paul Goldberger, contributing editor at Vanity Fair; Léon Krier, architect and urban planner; and Demetri Porphyrios, principal of Porphyrios Associates.
The 15th Driehaus Prize will be presented at a ceremony on March 25th, in Chicago.
As a belated gift to the architecture community, PBS will be airing a new documentary about Finnish-American modernist architect Eero Saarinen. American Masters — Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future will air Tuesday, December 27th on PBS and will be available on DVD January 3rd, 2017. Peter Rosen is the film’s director and producer, and Eric Saarinen, ASC, Eero Saarinen's son, is the film’s director of photography and co-producer.
Eric Saarinen grew up surrounded by design and architecture at Cranbrook Academy, a campus designed by his grandfather Eliel Saarinen, who taught there alongside Eric's godparents, Charles and Ray Eames. Throughout the documentary Eric visits Eero's projects across the country, filming in 6k video and using drones to document his father’s work as never before.
The show looks at the National Historic Landmarked North Christian Church and the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, the Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, and MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The soon-to-be-renovated TWA terminal at JFK airport is also highlighted, along with his design for Dulles Airport.
Along with archival interviews with Eero and his his second wife, The New York Times art critic Aline Saarinen, new interviews with architects and critics discuss his legacy. Architects Kevin Roche, César Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Robert A. M. Stern, and industrial designer Niels Diffrient all speak about the influence Saarinen had on their own work, while architecture critic Paul Goldberger, curator Donald Albrecht, author Jayne Merkel, and Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, discuss his lasting impact on the field as a whole.
“Closure was something I didn’t have with my dad. But I forgive him for his genius,” said Eric Saarinen. “He figured out a way to be important across time, so even though he died young, he is still alive.”
American Masters — Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future airs Tuesday, December 27 at 8 p.m. on PBS as the series’s Season 30 finale.
This is a story about our global urban future… It’s also a story about America’s recent urban past, in which bureaucratic, “top down” approaches to building cities… with little or no input from those who inhabit them…. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City shows that anti-democratic approaches to city planning and building are fundamentally unsustainable; a grassroots, “bottom up” approach is imperative to the social, economic, and ecological success of tomorrow’s global cities.
…Jane Jacobs… single-handedly undercuts her era’s orthodox model of city planning, exemplified by the massive Urban Renewal projects of New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses.
So reads the official website for the new film, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City which opened the DOC NYC film festival on November 10. It clearly sides with Jacobs’s David rather than the Moses’s Goliath. As Paul Goldberger says, “They were famously at odds with each other. It really did become a war between opposing forces. Today, we’re still fighting these battles across the world.”
It’s a great story with large implications for our world. There is compelling archival footage and photos, and a panoply of talking heads including Mary Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Roberta Gratz, Thomas Campanella, Ed Koch, Alex Garvin, and Goldberger.
Jacobs’s rich lore is more than just a face-off with Moses (Rowe told me that in the 10 years she worked with Jacobs in Toronto, she never mentioned Robert Moses once). Jacobs saw shades of gray, used her powers of observation to spot “un-average clues” or exceptions, and was unencumbered by the theory and doctrines of the planning practice. The irony is that Jacobs's analysis of what she saw in front of her has now been codified into a gospel to be followed slavishly (Citizen Jane is very different from the imperious Charles Foster Kane, the fictional Citizen Kane). It reminds me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, a parody on the Messiah (Brian was born on the same day as his next-door-neighbor, Jesus Christ) who exasperatingly says to his adoring followers, “You must all think for yourselves!” to which they parrot back "WE MUST ALL THINK FOR OURSELVES!” Jacobs was nimble and inventive, a listener and watcher, and then a doer.
Jacobs’ lessons are enormous. Although I applaud the filmmaker taking a point-of-view and championing Jacobs, what concerns me is an oversimplification of the story and the facts. Understanding that films can only give broad strokes and focused arguments, we still need to be mindful that there are many factors at work. (The terms “single-handedly” and “undemocratic” in the citation above are clues.)
Moses came out of the Progressive Movement in the 1930s and created public spaces such as parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, and beaches to make life better for all. Post-War, he expanded his purview to “construction coordinator” (in all, he held twelve titles such as NYC Parks Commissioner, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Chairman, Head of the State Power Commission—all unelected) which gave him powers over public housing. He declared a war on slums, calling them a cancer, and his solution to the urban blight was to tear down and rebuild. With ample federal funds available, the aim was to erect an “expressway tower city,” in Jacob’s words. Goldberger cites this was a commonly-held belief at the time, but there was a price to be paid, and Jacobs was the lightening rod that pointed this out in stark relief.
The light bulb for Jacobs was East Harlem. The neighborhood contains the highest geographical concentration of low-income public housing projects in the United States, 1.54 square miles with 24 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Also known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, in the un-renovated areas Jacobs observed an ecosystem, not chaos, with a vibrant underlying order, rhythms and complexity, and density as beauty. And she observed that the intentions of the planners in urban renewal developments like this were unmet (when she asked Philadelphia developers why their new structures in Society Hill weren’t working the way they were billed, she says she was told it was because people were stupid and not using the spaces in the right way.)
To the filmmakers, the contrast in planner rhetoric and Jacob’s common-sense observation is epitomized by the god-like, birds-eye view from the sky looking down (Moses) vs. the view from the street (Jacobs). Moses’s heartlessness and disregard are shown when he says of the people who had to be displaced to make way for his construction, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs” (attributed to Vladimir Lenin, among others). And he smashed many dozens of eggs to make his plans real.
Referring to Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Campanella says “When Death and Life comes out in the '60s, it’s a clarion call. It’s Martin Luther nailing those 95 theses to the cathedral door. The book is really the first cogent, accessible articulation of a whole set of ideas that questions the mainstream thinking about our cities.”
We are shown proof of the insurmountable folly of “urban removal,” evidenced by the blowing up of Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis. In film footage, we are shown that this was not an isolated example; we see the implosion of the Murphy Homes in Baltimore, Lakefront Homes in Chicago, and Mill Creek in Philadelphia dynamited into oblivion, admitting they were colossal mistakes.
It’s a complicated picture. Let us not forget that this East Harlem was not the desirable neighborhood it is today. El Barrio was one of the hardest hit areas in the 1960s and 1970s as New York City struggled with drug abuse, race riots, urban flight, gang warfare, the highest jobless rate in New York City, teenage pregnancy, crime and poverty, and a food desert. Tenements were crowded, poorly maintained, and frequent targets for arson. Public housing projects may not have been the ideal solution, but the problems were manifold and many were hungry for modern, clean alternatives.
The other big building issue is car traffic. The film shows the 1939 Worlds Fair General Motors Futurama, showcasing highways and pristine cities and suburbs. As the NYC Parks Commissioner, Moses was deeply involved with the fair, so might this be where he became enamored of the highway as the solution to the city’s ills? Is this when he transformed from the pre-war “angel” Moses who built public amenities for the common man to post-war “devil” Moses who destroyed the fabric of the city that is presented here?
There is no question that the automobile was given priority by Moses over the street ballet, but the situation is not always that simple. (In New York City, there is no alternative to surface delivery of goods throughout the city, even if you are able to transport by rail or boat to a depot.) The Cross-Bronx Expressway did bifurcate the Bronx and destroy neighborhoods, but can we really blame it for turning the South Bronx into Ft. Apache? No doubt it was a factor, but there was also the crack epidemic, white flight, abandoned buildings, gangs, redlining, arson (remember “the Bronx is Burning”?) and other social, economic, and political forces.
With a collective sigh, we are still relieved that the Lower Manhattan Expressway was never built, however the drawings shown to illustrate Moses’s plan are in fact an inventive, futuristic post-Moses scheme by Paul Rudolph funded by the Ford Foundation between 1967-1972 (Moses was out of power by 1968) which featured monorails, people movers, and a surreal Lego-like vertical expanse of housing lining the expressway.
Also more complex is the Moses Washington Square plan to extend Fifth Avenue so traffic could go through the park. The opposition by Jacobs in 1958 does not tell the whole story. In the film, there’s a provocative photo from that year sporting a banner that reads “Last Car Through Washington Square” indicating that traffic already traversed the park. In fact, Moses had been trying to revamp traffic plans around the square since the 1930s, first with a circle around the square nicknamed the “Bathmat Plan,” then the “Rogers Plan” in 1947 which also rerouted traffic around the square and removed the fountain. There was opposition each time.
As for other uses of documentary materials to bolster an argument rather than being accurate journalistically, this one is personal: I saw my apartment complex, East River Housing, clearly labeled, in a series of shots throughout the film, and used as an example of Moses’s public housing that destroyed neighborhoods; however East River was built as socialist housing by the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGWU) and never part of the pubic housing system. No distinction was made, and it is a tower in the park design that actually works.
What Jacobs did was right for her neighborhoods, her time, and many axioms are universally true, but they have been taken to be gospel, much the way that modernism was perverted by developers to make easy, cheap, boring buildings rather than a gem like the Seagram Building.
The film is as much about the future of cities as it is about the past, but there are few suggestions about how to cope, except to go back to Jacob’s observations and let the old survive. It’s not about finding new solutions or even a new Jane Jacobs. It’s about codifying and simplifying her efforts. See what you think for yourself—it’s worth a look.
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
Other architecture and arts films of interest at DOC NYC (November 10 - 17):
The New York State Pavilion in Queens could one day witness a radical redesign as the winners of an ideas competition to give the pavilion a new breath of life are announced.
Originally designed by Philip Johnson and located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the pavilion is a fine example of architecture from the atomic age. Once part of the 1964 World's Fair, it is now the only structure still standing from the event.
As covered by AN earlier this year, a competition organized by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the Pavilion, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was held to generate ideas on how to rejuvenate the pavilion. The competition garnered more than 250 submissions: Deborah Berke, founding partner of Deborah Berke Partners and new dean of the Yale Architecture School, Paul Goldberger, and other design critics were on hand to judge the entries.
Claiming a prize of $3,000, Seattle-based architects Sarah Wan and Aidan Doyle, were crowned as winners for their “Hanging Meadows” proposal. In what appears to be a gigantic, curvaceous greenhouse containing a variety of greenery of all sizes, Wan and Doyle's design will never be realized. The competition, no matter how strong the winning design may be, was only created to showcase the pavilion's potential. According to theNew York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the structure could cost more than $52 million to do up, though the city officials have allocated $12.9 million for it.
“It’s an iconic landmark,” Wan said of Johnson's pavilion. “We’re always interested in new ideas and how older buildings in disuse can become new revitalized structures.”
Of the proposals submitted, a select group, including the runners up and third place entries, as well as the winners of the Queens residents–only submissions will be on show at the nearby Queens Museum. The exhibition starts today and runs through August 28.
Submissions so far mostly depict colorful scenes that refer back to the pavilion’s original red and yellow coloring. These include the “Queens Pavilion Cheeseburger Museum,” “Trampoline Castle,” “The Funland of Art” (that promises to be “the most fun your kids will ever have”), and the “Pavilion for the People.”
Architect Cesar Juarez and artist Alida Rose Delaney won the Queens-only submission. The two conceived of a performance space and stadium seating set in a public park. This was achieved through the removal of the original low-rise pavilion walls that trace its perimeter to facilitate the structures merging with its environmental context. Speaking in the Wall Street Journal, Juarez cited his childhood fascination with the pavilion. “There’s a lot of mystery and intrigue to it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, mentioned how further development on the structure could one day take place when a “strong and innovative vision of the pavilion’s future role in the community” is established. “We certainly hope it will encourage designers and visitors alike to think about the historic assets in their own neighborhoods that, with a little love and ingenuity, can continue to play a vibrant role in our lives,” she added.
There is something about the towering, architectural designs of Donald Trump that brings out the best in New York’s architectural wordsmiths and critics: The Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West was a perfect foil for Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times. Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis re-skinned the old Gulf and Western Building in bronze-tinted glass. (Trump had wanted the glass to be gold.) Johnson, according to the book New York 2000, promised Trump, his client, “a fin de siècle version of the Seagram” building. Muschamp called the facade “a 1950s International Style glass skyscraper in a 1980s gold lamé party dress,” a change he considered an“undeniable improvement.…” “This is not a major work by Mr. Johnson,” Muschamp wrote later in the article. “Still, he has introduced considerable refinement to an essentially crass idea. In fact, the design’s chief merit is the contrast between the commercial vulgarity of the gold skin and the relative subtlety with which it is detailed.”
The building, he said, stands as a “triumph of private enterprise in such a publicly conspicuous place.” Now, he concluded, “a new Trump flagship sails into these troubled civic waters, carrying with it more than a faint air of a floating casino, or perhaps the winnings from one.” But elsewhere he wrote that it could have been worse. True, the design could have sported dollar-sign finials, a one-armed-bandit handle sticking out the side, window shades painted with cherries, oranges, and lemons, and a pile of giant Claes Oldenburg coins at the base instead of the scaled-down version of the Unisphere. Or maybe that would have been an improvement. Refinement was never this building’s point anyway.
Critics like Muschamp, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Paul Goldberger could hardly depend on Trump for an informed comment on his designs or buildings. He called his own Trump Tower triplex, an Angelo Donghia–designed, marble-and-onyx-covered ode to Versailles, “comfortable modernism.” The New York critics had varying opinions about the tower and its six-story indoor mall, which Trump claimed had been designed by his wife, Ivana. The mall’s interior of polished brass and 240 tons of Breccia Pernice marble in shades of rose, peach, pink, and orange was called a “pleasant surprise” by Goldberger, who saw it as “warm, luxurious, and even exhilarating—in every way more welcoming than the public arcades and atriums that preceded it on 5th Avenue.” Huxtable took a more critical view of the space, which she called a “pink marble maelstrom and pricey super glitz…unredeemed by [its] posh ladies’ powder-room decor.” (There may be hope for future buildings, however; Trump’s current wife, Melania, apparently studied architecture and design in school.)
The 725 5th Avenue Trump Tower exterior, with 28 sides, was designed by Der Scutt, of New York’s Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, and was equally criticized by Muschamp, who concluded, “everything [about it] is calculated to make money.” This, of course, was seen as a positive design value by Trump, who argued that the faceted facade gave every room two views and therefore made them more valuable. In fact, the designs of Trump’s buildings are driven solely by profit. Is this unusual for commercial construction in New York? Of course not—but Trump’s buildings are such obvious, in-your-face examples of this reality of how the city is being built in the 21st century.
Beyond the large, expensive brass “Trump” lettering that adorns his buildings, Trump has made a career of taking advantage of public subsidies and then putting up the cheapest-looking project possible. His re-skinning of the Penn Central Transportation Company’s 2,000-room, Warren and Wetmore–designed Commodore Hotel is an example of one such project. Here, he took a perfectly decent—even handsome—1919 brick-and-limestone building, next door to Grand Central Terminal, and clad it with a reflective glass that has not weathered well. The project, rebranded by Trump as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, was done by one of his favorite architectural firms, New York’s Gruzen & Partners, with Der Scutt. The architects did not remove the old facade but instead overlaid a bronze-colored glass set in a grid of dark anodized aluminum. Trump spoke about that facade in The Art of the Deal; he was “convinced that half the reason the Commodore was dying [was] because it looked so gloomy and dated and dingy.…[He] wanted a sleek, contemporary look. Something with sparkle and excitement that would make people stop and take notice.” It’s not that the business barons of yore, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, the developer of Grand Central Station, were not concerned with profit, but Vanderbilt and his architects, Reed and Stem, as well as Warren and Wetmore, designed a handsome public work of architecture, whose striking stone gateway’s presence makes Trump’s glass skin seem cheap and dated. The building has one of the worst 1980s-era facades in New York.
Given his background, it’s not surprising that Trump, who wallows in his New Yorkness, has no idea of the difference between architecture and building. He was raised in Jamaica Estates, Queens, hard up against the Grand Central Parkway, in what today would be called a Federalist Georgian McMansion, with tall Corinthian columns. He went to New York Military Academy for high school, attended Fordham University, and graduated from the Wharton School, where he studied real estate. While at Wharton, he worked at his father’s building company, which made a fortune developing small buildings in Queens and Brooklyn after World War II, when the government (via the Federal Housing Administration) subsidized affordable housing. Woody Guthrie lived in one in of these buildings, Beach Haven, in Coney Island, and wrote a song about its racially discriminatory rental policies:
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project
Beach Haven, like so many other federally financed affordable projects, was forbidden by the National Housing Act of 1934 from including any extra architectural details or embellishments, something the national real estate industry worked to have included in the law. Though it has directness to its design and some sort of dignity missing from Fred Trump’s Manhattan buildings, Beach Haven is nevertheless a standard New York City complex of stripped down, bland six-story brick boxes, spread across a city grid. It—like his son Donald’s later projects—was a profit-seeking opportunity. The FHA later discovered that Fred Trump had pocketed over $4 million in illicit profits from the construction.
Donald would later put up (or at least put his name on) a similar sort of development, along Riverside Drive just north of 57th Street. Like Beach Haven, Riverside South is a series of bland rectangular boxes spread across a series of city blocks. Though here, rather than looking out over Coney Island, the development looks toward the river. The detailing of these riverside buildings is faintly art deco, recalling their Upper West Side neighborhood in their massing and repetitive walls.
This was also the site for Trump’s proposed Television City, which could have been even worse, or at least more massive. In 1974 to 1975, Trump proposed to develop Television City—with 4,850 apartments, 500,000 square feet of retail space, one million square feet of office space, a 50-room hotel, television studios, parking for 3,700 cars, and 28 acres of open space—in a largely abandoned old train yard. The original scheme, which proposed a large superblock of high-rise towers, with a three-armed telescoping tower, was designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, of Chicago, and would have been the tallest tower in the world, at 1,670 feet and 150 stories. It was a massive development, with several towers over 70 stories, all built on a podium over the old rail yards and a park. The West Side Highway would have been relocated under the towers to create a road not unlike the one under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Needless to say, there was opposition to this new complex. The world’s tallest building, many thought, was never meant to be built, but was a ploy, a wedge to get more square footage in the plan approved by the city.
In some ways, Television City came closer to real architecture than any other project from the Trump family (albeit as a forerunner of the contemporary glass boxes that have risen all over the city since the late 1990s). Though Goldberger claimed the tower was “hardly a real building for real people in a real city,” Michael Sorkin was more pointed. In the Village Voice column “Dump the Trump,” Sorkin wrote, “Looking at the boneheaded proposal, one wonders whether the architect even visited the site. Indeed, there is evidence that he did not. The rank of glyphs bespeaks lakeside Chicago, and the centerpiece of the scheme, the 150-story erection, Trump’s third go at the world’s tallest building…was there ever a man more preoccupied with getting it up in public?”
Trump, on the other hand, was his typical ebullient, promotional self and called the plan, in a press release, “the master planner’s grandest plan yet.” Because Trump, more than any builder in New York in the late 20th century, has transformed the city with barely the slightest architecturally-worthy design or public service.
NYCxDESIGN is back this week for its third year. On Saturday, May 7th, an immersive interactive installation designed by Brooklyn–based Snarkitecture activated the East Village's Astor Place Plaza. The developers of luxury 125 Greenwich Street commissioned the firm to create an installation in the plaza that dialogues with the emerging World Trade Center neighborhood, featuring, of course, the Viñoly–designed 88-story, 898-foot-tall 125 Greenwich Street. Remember pin screens? Snarkitecture extrudes the cityscape into white fiberglass rods that reference the metal toys, with the World Trade Center buildings and Viñoly's structure rendered in white satin lacquer.
Snarkitecture's installation will be complemented by design-focused talks led by the field's top practitioners. The Design Pavilion opened Saturday, May 7, and remains on view 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily through tomorrow, May 11. NYC Design Talks will feature speakers Paul Goldberger, Rafael Viñoly, Michael Shvo, and representatives from IBM, the Design Trust for Public Space, NYC DDC, AIGA, among others, with talks held at The Cooper Union, Parsons The New School For Design, and Fashion Institute of Technology. All talks are free and open to the public; see the full schedule here.
NYCxDESIGN is organized by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and New York City's marketing, partnership, and tourism organization, NYC & Company.
For fans of the writer and urbanist Jane Jacobs, who died in 2006, May 4 has long had special significance because it was her birthday. This year it will be bigger than usual because May 4, 2016 is a milestone—the 100th anniversary of Jacobs’s birth in Scranton, Pa.
Architects and urban planners on at least four continents are organizing a series of talks, walks, and other events to celebrate Jacobs’s life and impact on the built environment, starting this spring and continuing through the year.
In addition to Jane Jacobs Day and Jane Jacobs Walks, there will be a Jane Jacobs Centennial Lecture Series (mostly in New York but as far away as Japan and India); a two-day symposium at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; a Jane Jacobs Fellowship Program and a Jane Jacobs Medal ceremony.
There is currently an exhibit in Toronto on Jacobs's life called Jane at Home (featuring items from Jacobs’s own estate, and curated by her son Jim); a new staging of the Jane Jacobs (and Robert Moses) opera, A Marvelous Order; themed food truck menu items called Jane Jacobs Specials, and even a Jane Jacobs Girl Scout merit badge (started by a troupe in Salt Lake City).
In the literary world, Jacobs will be the subject of a new book, Robert Kanigel’s Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, to be published by Knopf this fall. Kanigel’s book follows Peter Laurence’s Becoming Jane Jacobs, released last year. A group of writers is working with The Whole Earth Catalog creator Stewart Brand to publish a Whole Jane Catalog. Another publisher is reportedly working on a book that would contain a collection of her shorter articles.
Some of the most ambitious events will be in large cities, such as New York, Toronto and Philadelphia. There will be plenty of events in small towns, too. “It’s bigger than ever this year...Everyone has found ways to celebrate her,” said Stephen Goldsmith, an artist, planner and professor who runs the Urban Ecology program at the University of Utah and serves as director of the Center for the Living City, an organization devoted to “advancing the observations of Jane Jacobs.”
“We’re always getting new information” about Jacobs–oriented events, Goldsmith said. "It builds up organically…That’s what gives it its vitality."
There are several websites created to keeping Jacobs’s memory alive. They include the centerforthelivingcity.org and two sites that keep track of Jacobs-themed walking tours, janeswalk.org and janejacobswalk.org. Jacobs-themed walks in New York are coordinated by the Municipal Art Society at Janes Walk NYC @ MAS.org. Philadelphia has a vibrant program, organized by PlanPhilly and listed on Facebook under janeswalkphilly.
In New York City, the Rockefeller Foundation awards an annual Jane Jacobs Medal in a program administered by the Municipal Art Society of New York. (Past recipients range from Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of Friends of the High Line, to performers Robert DeNiro and Bette Midler.)
All of this activity is in tribute to the woman who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, first published in 1961 and considered one of the most influential books on urban planning written in the 20th century. Its reputation is all the more remarkable because its author had no formal training in urban planning or design.
One of the biggest tributes is the yearlong Jane Jacobs Centennial Lecture Series. Coordinated by the Center for the Living City, it starts on May 4 and has more than a dozen speakers. Most lectures are taking place at the Museum on Eldridge Street at 12 Eldridge Street, between Canal and Division in lower Manhattan, but some will be elsewhere. The New York talks start at 6:30 p.m. In New York, the talks are free, but people can make a donation if they want.
As of late April, the New York lineup of speakers includes broadcast journalist and writer Ray Suarez, May 4; Central Park Conservancy founder, landscape designer and Jane Jacobs Medal recipient Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, June 15; economist Sandy Ikeda, psychiatrist Mindy Fullilove Thompson and architect Ron Shiffman, July 13.
Also, architecture critic Paul Goldberger, September 14; writer Adam Gopnik, September 28; Jacobs biographers Robert Kanigel and Peter Laurence, Oct. 6; Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, November 9; former New York City transportation commissioner and Jane Jacobs Medal recipient Janette Sadik-Khan, November 16; Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation president Gary Hattem, November 30; sociologist Saskia Sassen and sociologist Richard Sennett, December 7.
Roberta Brandes Gratz, urban critic, author and president of the Center for the Living City, will give a Jacobs lecture in Tokyo, Japan, on July 30. Goldsmith will give a Jacobs lecture in Hyderabad, India in July. Jaime Lerner, an architect, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and leader in urban acupuncture, will give a Jacobs lecture in Salt Lake City in September.
Other speakers, dates to be determined, include New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman; New Orleanian writer Lolis Eric Elie; New Orleans radio program host Gwen Tompkins; Brazilian urban planner Roberto Rocco; African community activists Rahul Srivastava and Matias Echanovea; New Orleans architect Steven Bingler; architect and critic Michael Sorkin, and historian Richard Rabinowitz.
The Jane at Home exhibit, featuring personal items from Jacobs’s estate, is on display now and runs through May 8 at Urbanspace Gallery, 401 Richmond Street West in Toronto, Canada. It was curated by Jacobs’s son, Jim.
A two day symposium entitled “Jane Jacobs 100 – Her Legacy and Relevance in the 21st Century,” will be held at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands on May 24 and 25. The organizer is educator and urban planner Roberto Rocco.
There are hundreds of Jane’s Walks throughout the year. All have different themes and different objectives. There are preservation-oriented walks, waterfront walks, horticultural walks. According to Goldsmith, individuals or groups can decide where they want to walk and what they want to talk about, post it on one of the website calendars, and take it from there.
What would Jacobs think about all this?
She supported certain causes before her death, such as the formation of a Center for the Living City, Goldsmith said. But in other cases, “we never knew what Jane might have thought. You never knew what her reaction would be. She was a modest person who didn’t think of herself as an activist. She wanted to be writing. To have her so celebrated, I would imagine she would be a little embarrassed by all the attention.”
Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion, located in Queens, was once part of the 1964 Worlds Fair. Now it is the only remaining structure from the event. Years of neglect has seen the pavilion fall into a state of disrepair. However, all does not appear to be lost thanks to The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the Pavilion, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Together, they have organized an ideas competition in an attempt to bring the pavilion back to life.
The competition so far has received a number of submissions up for public vote. The current frontrunners are a hydroponic farm (essentially a farm that uses nutrient water instead of soil) and a flexible exhibition space. The former an ambitiously wants to demonstrate a process that could "feed cities into the next century" while the latter envisions an outdoor performance area and park.
In recent memory, the pavilion's only claim to fame was its appearance in Iron Man 2 where it played host to the Stark Expo.
The pavilion's appearance on screen however, has done little to bolster its circumstances, although a fresh coat of paint was added in fall last year. The New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition now hopes to "spark a conversation about the value of historic preservation," citing Johnson's work as an "irreplaceable structure" that is one of Queens' "most significant assets."
Submissions so far mostly depict colorful scenes that refer back to the pavilion's original red and yellow coloring. These include the "Queens Pavilion Cheeseburger Museum," "Trampoline Castle," "The Funland of art" (that promises to be "the most fun your kids will ever have"), and the "Pavilion for the People."
Others proposals include an observatory, ice-rink, and planetarium. There are few constraints on putting forward an idea. Participants must be over the age of 13 and submit an original idea complete with an image. A Sketchup model of the pavilion has been made available to download to aid contributors. The competition is also free to enter.
For now, the public has until July 1 to submit their ideas, with Deborah Berke, founding partner of Deborah Berke Partners and soon to be Dean of the Yale Architecture School and critic Paul Goldberger among others judging the submissions.
The jury will select first, second and third place, of which will receive $3,000, $1,000 and $500. The voting system however, will be used to select a "fan favorite" with the winner taking home $500.
This month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is opening the Met Breuer, replacing the Whitney Museum of American Art that called the Brutalist showpiece home for nearly five decades. Last year, the Whitney moved to Renzo Piano's building in the Meatpacking District. The Met is renting the Breuer (now the Met Breuer) on an eight-year lease while David Chipperfield works on a new space for contemporary art.
The site of the Met's latest acquisition, however, has a colourful past, fending off near misses from Graves to Koolhaas and Piano. AN Takes a look at what so nearly could have been.
In 1989, the New York Times ran the headline: "The Whitney Paradox: To Add Is To Subtract." Such was Paul Goldberger's distaste for what Michael Graves had originally proposed to lie adjacent to Marcel Breuer's building. Indeed, Graves' Postmodern proposal gave rise to Goldberger questioning: "What value does the Breuer building have, both as a work of architecture unto itself and as a part of the streetscape? And how gingerly, therefore, should it be treated?"
Built in 1966, Marcel Breuer's Modernist granite building may be the epitome of abstract architecture, having remained detached for so long, shooing away any potential plunderers of its monumental message. Breuer, a Hungarian and product of Gropius' Bauhaus, went so far as to erect concrete walls to resist interaction with adjacent buildings, keeping them at arm's length.
Despite it's introverted nature, the Breuer building, over time, has developed a friendly relationship with its brownstone neighbors, amassing a mutual respect for each other. As Goldberger writes: "The brownstones help the Breuer building appear to exist in a world of its own."
Graves's proposed demolition of the brownstones was met with outrage, and was ultimately dropped from consideration.
Koolhaas, in turn, kept the brownstones while adding a contorted growth reaching out of their roofs. "They [the brownstones] were treated as an opportunity to display art within the scale of space for which it was created," OMA said in its proposal. "The greatly expanded area for the permanent collection will be housed in the existing buildings. Pre-war art displayed in brownstones will recall the original West 8th Street Whitney. Post-war art, usually much bigger, would be displayed in the Breuer building."
The project was rejected amid post September 11th economic slowdown and the fact that it appeared to loom over the Breuer Building.
Renzo Piano, too, kept the brownstones in his reimagining of the Breuer Whitney.
"The Breuer building is resistant to all attempts to bring it into an urban dialogue along the street, but that alone should not be a reason not to build a work of architecture that attempts, gently and powerfully, to coax it into speaking." Goldberger wrote in 1989.