All posts in East

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Concrete Paradise

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence splashes onto the market

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, located in Ponte Vedra Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has hit the market for $4,445,000, according to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Built from 1959 to 1961 and situated on just over two acres of land, the property boasts 6,800 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, and a guest house separated by a central courtyard. Between the two residences, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms. Other amenities include central air-conditioning and an in-ground sprinkler system.

Perhaps the Milam Residence’s most distinctive feature is its eastern frontage, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. A series of rectangular concrete block extrusions extend outward from the houses’s windows, adding a 3D depth effect to the facade and distinguishing the building from its neighbors. The hard edges of the structure contrast markedly with the softness of the surrounding beach, helping the house stand out as a local landmark.

As Rudolph’s only building in northeastern Florida, the home has remained in the hands of the Milam family since attorney Arthur Milam originally commissioned the project in the late 1950s. At the time, Rudolph was still in the incipient stages of a career that would be defined by some of the most renowned concrete and modernist designs in the country, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall in 1963. In a move that reflects both the architect’s renown and growing interest in the preservation of modernist buildings as unique cultural artifacts, the Milam Residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. With an eye toward the future of the property, the Milam family is searching for a buyer who understands the home’s architectural significance and recognizes this as an opportunity not just to live by the sea, but to own a piece of history that needs to be properly cared for.

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An Enduring Icon

L.A.'s Getty Museum will dedicate an entire exhibition to Notre-Dame
Coming soon to the J. Paul Getty Museum is a single-gallery exhibition dedicated to the legacy of the most famous piece of medieval architecture in the world. An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral will be on view starting July 23rd in Los Angeles as a tribute to the French landmark and its global staying power despite the massive fire that ravished its iconic roof.  Organized by Anne-Lis Desmas, senior curator of the Sculpture and Decorative Arts department, the showcase will feature paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that highlight the history of the 850-year-old cathedral. “The artworks on view in this special installation," said Desmas in a statement, "elucidate the importance of this ‘majestic and sublime edifice… this aged queen of our cathedrals,’ as (Victor) Hugo called it, from its contribution in the Middle Ages to its restoration in the 1800s.” Getty Museum director Timothy Potts said that the recent fire sparked a newfound global appreciation for the architecture itself, which is why the institution is moving to put this collection on display now. “We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holding of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute.” The Getty Museum, established in 1974, has long been an authoritative research and conservation institution, as well as an education center on Grecian, Roman, and Etrurian art. In 2006, the museum’s sister site, the Getty Villa, opened in Malibu to house and showcase some of the Getty’s 44,000-piece collection, including ancient antiquities, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The museum also boasts a large stock of global photography dating back from the invention of the camera through contemporary times, some of which will be on display in An Enduring Icon through October 20th. 
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Lucy on the Curb with Diamonds

Studio Gang's Solar Carve tower meets the sun with sculpted glass
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The most recent addition to an already impressive collection of architectural characters inhabiting New York City’s High Line, 40 Tenth Avenue offers a sculpted massing that will maximize its solar exposure along the public park. The project, led by Studio Gang, is situated between the Hudson River and the High Line, with a primary west-facing orientation. To minimize the afternoon shadow cast onto the park, the architects developed a uniquely inverted, stepped setback shape to the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer Focchi
  • Architect Studio Gang
  • Facade Installer Walsh Metal & Glass
  • Facade Consultant & Structural Engineer Arup
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Focchi EWT 1, EWT 2, EWT 3
  • Products Focchi Insulated Double Glaze Units Ipasol Neutral 38/23 & 70/37 coating
Clad in a high-performance curtain wall from Italian firm Focchi, the tower integrates 12 types of glass. Despite a rather complex massing, the geometry of the enclosure was refined into a canted, diamond-shaped panel, surrounded by triangulated panels set perpendicular to the slab edges. The overall effect is a faceted, three-dimensional version of the architectural corner—perhaps a recasting, or import, of the Miesian corner to one of Manhattan’s most significant public spaces. The project adds to a portfolio of high-rises designed by the Chicago-based practice (which also has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Paris) that explore “solar carving” as a formal and performative strategy. “'Solar Carving’ is one strand of a larger body of research about how we can make buildings responsive to the specific qualities if their context and climate,” said Studio Gang design principal Weston Walker. “To maximize sunlight, fresh air, and river views for the public park, we pushed the building toward the West Side Highway and carved away from its southeast and northwest corners according to the incident angles of the sun’s rays.” A growing issue for the High Line is the diminishing degree of sunlight caused by the development of Manhattan’s Far West Side. According to Walker, the city’s prevailing 1916 Zoning Resolution—legislation that mandated ziggurat-like setbacks to boost ventilation and light for city streets—did not anticipate the proliferation of midblock public spaces such as the High Line. “As-of-right zoning would have endangered rather than protected the park by allowing the tower to be built directly over the High Line.”
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Gallery Girls

See new exhibitions of large-scale art at the New Museum this summer
The New Museum’s multiple summer exhibitions has work that could intrigue architects. Starting with Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid, the exhibition title Work from Underneath refers to health and safety manuals that offer instructions for survival (the artist cites the Great Fire of London “that burned down half of the city in a single day…a fear of things collapsing on top of you”). She shows new work, including the large-scale painting Three Architects (2019) that depicts three female practitioners working on buildings of refuge. Models are placed throughout the red-walled room, which looks out onto the sea. A series of smaller-scale paintings, Metal Handkerchief (all 2019), depict tools that are stuck in a wall. Meanwhile, Old Boat / New Money (2019) is an installation of 32 leaning planks that invoke a ghost ship stuck in the building to suggest that history is embedded in contemporary spaces.  Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded presents the iconic 1965 work, La Menesunda (slang for a confusing situation), an intricate labyrinth that confronts visitors with consumer culture, mass media, and urban life. Alongside works by her friends, who were other famous artists, Minujín made big art rooms, early precursors to the Instagram museums and retail pop-ups of today. La Menesunda is eleven rooms. Visitors ascend stairs, walk through neon signs in a tiny hallway, and visit a salon in the shape of a woman’s head with makeup artists and masseuses ready to offer their services, among other fun experiences. The Rotating Basket with walls woven from vinyl strips, The Swamp, a corridor covered from floor to ceiling in foam, The Forest of Shapes and Textures with a plethora of materials, and an octagonal mirrored room with a transparent booth whose platform activates ultraviolet lights and fans that blow confetti when stepped on. This work was part of a wave of contemporary art after the overthrow of dictator Juan Perón in 1955, during Argentina’s brief period of democracy in the 1960s that was ended by a military coup in 1966.  Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces (the title is taken from Six Easy Pieces, physicist Richard Feynman’s 1994 book on the fundamentals of physics for non-scientists) is set within sculptural installations that expand on her videos’ narratives. Rottenberg’s exhibition ponders humans’ interaction with nature. At the entrance, viewers encounter AC and Plant (2018), a sculpture of a window AC unit that goes drip-drip-drip into a plant pot and a hallway installed with electric fans, Ceiling Fan Composition (2016) that activate the space. Her videos combine documentary and fiction, and people who work in factories. Cosmic Generator was filmed in two locations at opposite ends of the world: A Chinese restaurant in a US/Mexico border town, and a wholesale market in Yiwu, China. In the installation, viewers enter through a tunnel, much like the one seen in the video, and exit through a curtain of tacky, multicolored plastic garlands. A border wall is seen separating Mexicali from its US counterpart, Calexico. In fact, under this site is a network of underground tunnels called “La Chinesca,” where the Chinese immigrant population, originally brought to Mexico as workers by the Colorado River Company at the turn of the last century, housed casinos, brothels, bars, and opium dens. Abandoned in the 1970s, the tunnels nonetheless remain a hub for Chinese culture in Mexico. Rottenberg says, “Here is a plethora of Chinese restaurants adorned with imported plastic glitz [from China] and catered by bored waitresses devoid of customers. And then, inevitably, there is the wall, apparently unassailable as it marches across desolate sands to obstruct the mobility of human beings.” She goes on, “I created my work in the empty store right at the onset of Trump’s trade war with China. I wondered what would happen if world trade just stopped: How would that look? I never meant for that piece to be so topical, but somehow it is.” Lubaina Himid: Work from Underneath runs until October 6, 2019, Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded runs until September 29, 2019, and Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces runs until September 15, 2019.
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Newseum News!

Ennead to transform its Newseum building for Johns Hopkins University

Ennead Architects, the New York-based firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership, will team up with SmithGroup to redevelop the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. for Johns Hopkins University. The Baltimore-based university announced its plans to purchase the building from the nonprofit Freedom Forum earlier this year for $372.5 million. Johns Hopkins will consolidate its existing real estate holdings in the city at the new offshoot building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which will host various academic and administrative initiatives.

Ennead is an appropriate choice to head the project for obvious reasons. Led by architect James Polshek, the firm designed the current Newseum building before changing its name from Polshek Partnership in 2010. Opened in 2008, the building has several distinct features, including a 75-foot-tall marble slab engraved with an excerpt from the First Amendment. A so-called “window on the world” also occupies the structure’s Pennsylvania Avenue frontage, allowing for views between the street, the National Mall, and visitors inside the museum. Ennead has handled multiple high-profile museum projects around the world, such as the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ennead submitted initial drawings for the major remodeling to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) on July 3. Before construction can begin, the commission must provide informal feedback and officially approve of the final design. The filing sent to the CFA indicates that certain aspects of the building’s facade will change. The marble tablet with the excerpt from the Constitution, as well as the newspaper headlines that line the avenue, will be removed. The entrance will be reimagined as more transparent and open. Due to boundary line regulations on Pennsylvania Avenue, though, much of the structure’s original massing will remain in place.

The interior will undergo a significant transformation as well. The university has announced plans to reconfigure floor slabs and circulation within the building—currently, much of the museum is positioned around a large, multistory central void. With more than 400,000 square feet of floor space available inside, the facility will house classrooms, offices, and event spaces that will be open to the public. No plans for alterations to the 135-unit Newseum Residences have been released.

As for the Newseum itself, administrators at Freedom Forum have not yet announced where the museum will move. After years of serious budget deficits, the institution will close temporarily at the end of 2019. Employees will work out of a provisional office in Washington until a new home is found. Hopkins has suggested that construction on its facility could begin as early as 2020, and as late as 2023, with no estimated completion date.

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Well Actually, it's the Bloomberg Building

The summer shows at the Shed take an eclectic look at the built environment
The Shed at Hudson Yards, the new inflatable arts venue on the western edge of Manhattan, has assembled a varied group of visual art exhibitions that are all on view through August 25. Open Call: Group 2 in the Level 2 Gallery and Collision/Coalition in the Level 4 Gallery all boast new artworks centered on the built world. Julia’s Weist’s Study for Fiction Plane makes its world debut in the Open Call show. Weist has aggregated a collection of eight photographers’ work depicting fabricated, simulated spaces or “sets” by artists ranging from Larry Sultan, Sarah Pickering, Corrine Botz, and the artist herself. Fake hospital rooms where actors affect symptoms for medical students, ersatz domestic spaces set afire for burn pattern analysis, a mock city constructed by the FBI, and a Mars simulator are some of the sites. Weist is now collaborating with Hollywood artists to place these photos in the background of upcoming TV shows to add another layer of artificiality. Another hall of mirrors, this time more literal, is in Hedges, 2019 by Hugh Hayden, where a shingled house with dormers is covered with large sprouting branches like the twigs of a bird’s nest is set inside three mirrored walls to reflect an infinite row. Gabriela Corretjer-Contreras’s Llévatelo To’ No Me Deje Na, 2019 takes us inside her alter-ego Nena’s bedroom from Puerto Rico where we can try on her clothes and examine her personal environment, with mementos of the colonial experience. Modern Management Methods, 2019, tackles the United Nations headquarters renovation in Manhattan. Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam used UN archives and X-rays to focus on the campus renewal that followed 9/11, and they take on such issues as security, nationalism, environment, accessibility, as well as the bureaucratic framework of this multi-billion-dollar capital project. The duo describes their artwork as a building section cut that simultaneously reveals “global managerialism.” Analisa Teachworth’s The Tribute Pallet, 2019, invites viewers into a shack-like scaffolded structure with a multimedia installation and a table with glass jars holding candy to be eaten by visitors. Similar to Kara Walker’s monumental Domino Sugar installation in 2014, the slave trade is called out in the harvesting and processing of sugar. Similarly, Kiyan Williams’s Meditation on the Making of America, 2019, uses soil as its main material for a “portrait” of America that violently extracted and exploited black bodies and the land. And The Forever Museum Archive: The untitled/A Template for Portable Monuments by Onyedika Chuke, 2019, is a structure adorned with snakeheads and symbols of divinity, protection, and descent. A bonus is New York’s Poetry Slot Machine, 2019 by Saint Abdullah and Daniel Cupic, which is based on a relic from WWI placed on the streets by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. They featured the poetry of the Persian poet Hafiz, which was used by Iranians for guidance when facing critical decisions. Surplus slot machines from empty casinos were installed around the city in 1917 and raised $2 million during WWI, $4 million during the depression and $6 million during WWII. At the Shed, you pull the lever and get a poem by the 14th-century poet instead. On another floor is the exhibition Collision/Coalition featuring work by Oscar Murillo. His canvases, dummies, and video depict a walk from Hudson Yards, where the Shed is located, to Rockefeller Center with the dummies pushed in wheelchairs. His central conceit is that the newly opened Hudson Yards is the inheritor to Rockefeller Center, a take very similar to that of The Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross.
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Forensic Architecture

The Evidence Room embodies the architecture of Auschwitz at the Hirshhorn
According to Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, a Dutch author and architectural historian, constructing Auschwitz was “the greatest crime ever committed by architects.” Known for his work in what he coined as “architectural forensics,” van Pelt famously testified in the landmark libel case filed in Britain’s High Court of Justice in 2000, David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt. The evidence he gathered by studying the efficacy in the design of both the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau helped prove that the infamous concentration camp was intentionally designed by German architects to systematically kill over one million Jews during World War II. In tandem, it denounced the British Holocaust denier who filed the complaint and secured the widely-held belief that the horrific human massacre had actually happened. That trial inspired van Pelt to tell the story in his 2002 book, The Case for Auschwitz, which became the basis of a special exhibition commissioned for the 15th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016. That seminal show, The Evidence Room, is now on view for the first time in the U.S. at the Hirshhorn National Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washingon, D.C. The exhibition depicts van Pelt’s body of proof in the sculptural form of 65 wall-mounted plaster casts that replicate the blueprints, bills, survivor’s drawings, photographs, and artifacts he acquired on the construction and operation of Auschwitz from 1941 to 1943.  The ghostly, all-white installation also utilizes materials such as steel and wood and features three, full-scale building elements, dubbed “monuments,” that were part of the original killing rooms at Auschwitz. There’s a gas chamber door, which notably hinges outward and proves that architects revised the entryways of the on-site morgues to become gas chambers. There’s also a wall hatch and ladder, which guards climbed to throw the cyanide gas down into the chambers. Lastly, on view is a floor-to-ceiling gas column through which the deadly pesticide Zyklon B was routed down into the two underground chambers.  Though Nazis blew up the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other concentration camps in an effort to destroy evidence of the Holocaust at the end of WWII, van Pelt’s archival documents from the trial argue the truth of these atrocities point-blank: that the architecture was predetermined for mass killing. The Evidence Room is an immersive experience originally designed three years ago by van Pelt and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, including Donald McKay, Anne Bordeleau, and Sascha Hastings. This iteration of the installation was organized by the Hirshhorn’s assistant curator Betsy Johnson, in collaboration with The Evidence Room Foundation, a new nonprofit that will maintain and fund the exhibition. The version of the show at the Hirshhorn will run through September 8.
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Futuro on the Roof

This strip club's VIP room is a long-forgotten Futuro house
I first encountered a Futuro house in a lavish palazzo during Milan Design Week in 2016. It was part of Louis Vuitton’s exhibition Objets Nomades. Fifty years, ago, a futuristic prefab house hit the market in the U.S.A. Originally designed in the 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, the portable houses featured built-in furniture, a full bedroom and bathroom, heating and air conditioning, as well as a living room and dining room. The fiber-reinforced fiberglass shell was punctuated by oval windows—an iconic shape now associated with futuristic design (and UFOs). But despite its place in design history, very few Futuro houses remain. There are around 60 of the houses left, which have become a mix of residences, tourist-draws on Airbnb, and museum pieces, among other quirky uses. The most exciting might be in Tampa Bay, Florida. Suuronen's company stopped production in 1975, partly due to rising production costs in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. One house, a display model used in Clearwater, ended up in the hands of local Futuro dealership manager Jerry DeLong, who also happened to also own “2001 Odyssey"—a local strip club. The spaceship first appeared in ads in 1971, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The club was making big money until the mob pressured DeLong to sell, and, according to the Tampa Bay Times, fell under the ownership of “the Trafficantes,” or the crew led by Santo Trafficante Jr. Several years later, in 1974, Pasquale “Pat” Matassini bought the club, but Matassini was later convicted of distributing $1 million in counterfeit cash, and in 1992, was accused of having ties to the Tampa crime family because he owned a bar called Godfather’s on Trafficante-owned land. These days, according to the Tampa Bay Times, "the spaceship is entered via a carpeted staircase from the first floor of the club. There’s a curved bar in the center, serving soft drinks and water. Black lace curtains hang over leather booths that wrap around the mirrored walls. The ceiling is adorned with glow-in-the-dark constellations and a disco ball." the Futuro house has become 2001 Odyssey's VIP room." Well, this is one possible “future,” but probably not the one Suuronen imagined for his visionary design. For more on where the other remaining Futuro houses have landed, check out thefuturohouse.com.
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Austrian Influence

Resident Alien will chronicle the contributions of Austrian-American architects
Adolf Loos is widely known for setting the stage for the modernist movement in architecture, and the Austrian architect and theorist is arguably one of the most influential practitioners ever born. At the height of his impact in the late 19th century, when he designing structures both in Austria and what’s now the Czech Republic, Loos began writing seriously on the subject of minimalism and why architecture should do without ornamentation.  Richard Neutra was coming of age at the same time, along with his would-be close friend Rudolph Schindler. Both Vienna-born men had hugely successful careers designing modernist homes in Southern California—structures that were undoubtedly guided by the teachings of Loos.  An upcoming exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is shining a light on the distinct cultural contributions that Austrian-American architects like Loos, Neutra, and Schindler have made over the last century in the United States. On view starting in September, Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America will feature numerous practitioners whose expertise not only changed the profession but in some cases, the American zeitgeist. Think Victor Gruen, inventor of the mid-century American shopping mall Curated by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture professor Stephen Phillips and Cal Poly Pomona professor Axel Schmitzberger, the exhibition will break down the impact of the migrant architects through three ethereal categories: Cloud Structures, Media Atmosphere, and Urban Terrestrials. The organizers will rely on the help of designer and UCLA professor, Julia Koerner, as well as B+U co-founder and SCI-Arc professor Herwig Baumgartner, to chronicle the works of their Austrian predecessors in America. Both young architects will also be featured in the show.  According to a press release, Resident Alien will bring a much-needed dialogue about the momentous immigration architects made from Austria to the U.S. during the modernist period, and why it so heavily affected American architecture. The curators will also explore the concept of bicultural heritage and how it has been, and is currently, communicated through space, technology, art, education, and more today.  While details on the makeup and materials of the exhibition haven’t been released yet, the other contemporary architects represented will include Carl Pruscha, Hans Hollein, Peter Trummer, and Mark Mack, as well as the partners at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Barbara Imhof of Liquifer Systems Group, Maties Del Campo and Sandra Maninger of SPAN Architecture, and Andrea Lenardin of A-L-M Projects, among others. The late Raimund Abraham, who designed the Austrian Cultural Forum's New York building itself, as well as Liane Zimbler, the first European woman to get an architecture degree, will also be featured. Resident Alien will run through February 2020. 
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Out of Season

Investors blame Isay Weinfeld’s design for the closing of the new Four Seasons Restaurant
The iconic new Four Seasons Restaurant has officially closed after reopening less than 10 months ago and following a $32 million renovation. In 2016 the original and much-venerated restaurant was forced to relocate because the owner, Aby Rosen, would not renew its lease. Now, investors are reportedly pointing fingers at design flaws as the cause of failure. The original restaurant was located in Mies van der Rohe’s New York-renowned Seagram Building. The interior, designed by Philip Johnson, remained nearly unchanged since 1959, and in 1989 it received an interior landmark designation from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Four Seasons Restaurant carries hefty, modernist roots, although, in recent years, Rosen has been caught trying to make changes to the space without prior approval from the LPC. With the guidance of architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld was selected to design the restaurant's new home at 42 East 49th Street. A New York Post article claims that, according to unnamed sources behind the scenes, the restaurant's well-heeled investors are blaming its failure on two private dining areas on the second floor that were supposed to attract high dollar events. The article names large columns, blocked views, "disagreeable" furniture, and construction delays as design-related issues leading up to the restaurant's demise. Meanwhile, owner Alex von Bidder mentioned to the New York Times that he, “thought the new restaurant was great, looked great and had a great team in place.” Nevertheless, investors made the decision to close. AN reached out to Isay Weinfeld for comment and received the following response: “I could not be prouder of our designs for the Four Seasons Restaurant. But I respect all opinions, including the silly ones.” The restaurant is owned by Alex von Bidder and members of the Bronfman family, and previously Julian Niccolini. In the same year that the restaurant announced its move, Niccolini pleaded guilty to sexual assault but remained a co-owner. Since the re-opening and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, critics and the public have scrutinized the restaurant for still involving Niccolini. In December 2018 he was finally forced to resign.
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Cash Cab

Can you capture a portrait of a city with a taxi-mounted sensor?
Big data and its purported utility comes with the attendant need to actually collect that data in the first place, meaning an increase of sensing devices being attached to all manner of things. That includes treating many everyday things, from skyscrapers to human beings, as sensors themselves. When it comes to the urban environment, data on air quality, weather, traffic, and other metrics, is becoming more important than ever. However, in general, the sensors that collect this data are fixed, attached to buildings or found in other stable spots. “They’re good in time, but not in space,” said Kevin O’Keeffe, a postdoc in MIT’s Senseable City Lab, in a release from the university. Airborne sensors such as drones, on the other hand, explained O'Keefe,  work well in space, but not in time. To collect greater data that more accurately reflects an entire city—in both space and time—mobile sensors would be needed at street level. Cities already have fleets of mobile devices close to the ground: vehicles. While private cars operate only sporadically, and buses run fixed routes, taxis spend all day and night traversing large swaths of cities. Incidentally, the lab also tried using garbage trucks, but they did not collect as much data as they predicted cabs could. Inexpensive sensors could be attached to taxis to provide researchers and others important data on the on-the-ground status of urban environments. However, to see the viability of this concept, the Senseable City Lab had to first find out just exactly how much ground taxis actually cover. And then, how many sensor-enabled taxis would it take to create an accurate picture of a city's terrain and air quality? By analyzing taxi routes in New York City, researchers discovered that a relatively small number of cars covered a pretty wide territory. It took just ten cabs to cover a third of Manhattan in a single day. And, while one might expect this to be particular to Manhattan and its orderly grid, the researchers also discovered that similar patterns occurred in cities across the world, from Vienna to Singapore. That said, because many taxis travel to similar areas and along high-traffic routes, the number of cabs it takes to cover even greater ground grows quite rapidly. In the case of Manhattan, it takes 30 taxis to cover half the island and over 1,000 to reach 85 percent. To realize the full potential of car-borne sensors, which can reach popular areas as well as underserved ones, O’Keeffe suggested a hybrid approach: placing sensors on taxis along with a few dedicated vehicles, à la Google Street View. The research team hopes that this data will help planners and politicians put together a more realistic idea about how mobile sensing could work in their city, its cost, and potential impacts. The data will also hopefully help cities tailor any mobile sensing projects to their particular needs, and the Senseable City Lab believes that these mobile sensors would be less expensive than traditional options. This research also appears in a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was co-authored, along with O’Keeffe, by Amin Anjomshoaa, a researcher at the Senseable City Lab; Steven Strogatz, a professor of mathematics at Cornell University; Paolo Santi, a research scientist at the Senseable City Lab and the Institute of Informatics and Telematics of CNR in Pisa, Italy; and Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab and professor of the practice in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Curious urbanites can check out the accompanying maps and infographics on the lab’s website.
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Refocus, Refresh

New York's 200-year-old National Academy of Design won't ever reopen
America’s oldest artist-advocacy organization, the National Academy of Design, has decided to permanently close its museum operations. The Beaux-Arts mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side has been sold, and the institution is reinventing itself with an endowment. Run by artists for artists since 1825, the Academy is comprised of invite-only members, a whos-who list of many of the biggest names in American art. For most of the institution’s history, each member was also required to donate to the Academy’s collection, meaning that the NAD has pieces by American greats like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Thomas Eakins. This collection made for groundbreaking shows that produced world-class art historical scholarship. But what about the living members?  Previously, the academy had been aligned with both its own museum as well as a well-respected art school, but now the NAD has now cut ties with both. “The museum and school were draining all the resources," Walter Chatham told the Art Newspaper. An architect who has served as co-chair of the Board of Governors since 2014, Chatham added, "There wasn’t any money for the programs that would actually improve the academicians’ lives. Eventually we want to get back into education and exhibitions, but I don’t think we’re going to have a museum again.”  The museum debate came to a head with the sale of two Hudson River School masterpieces, prompting condemnations and sanctions from national museum organizations like the Association of Art Museum Directions and the American Alliance of Museums. Brian T. Allen, an art historian writing for the National Review, said, “I was a member of both and supported the sanctions. My museum wouldn’t lend work to NAD shows. In retrospect, I think the penalties did the NAD a disservice.” Unlike the sale of the paintings, the sale of the Academy’s three Upper East Side buildings leaves them with an enduring source of income—a legally restricted $66 million endowment to put towards operations that will prioritize the current academicians and living artists as the center of the Academy’s mission. The refreshed focus will hopefully help the institution that has long grappled with the "existential" question of its inherent museum-ness. The "class" of 2018 includes artists Mel Chin, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Vik Muniz, who will join the over 400 other living members. Refocusing their efforts on the class of living artists isn't the only initiative for the "new" NAD, as the academy has also begun publication of an online journal, NAD Now, which features fresh writing focused on the art and scholarship of members both past and present. The National Academy of Design is a storied and historic institution that is emerging once again for the 21st century, and, following in the footsteps of many other renowned arts institutions making the move out of increasingly expensive Manhattan. For example, take SculptureCenter, which sold its longtime home on the Upper East Side in order to “reinvent” itself in Long Island City, Queens, and continues to thrive. These changes are difficult for a time-honored institution’s legacy. However, in the words of Allen, “I say ‘Welcome back,’ and hope my colleagues in the American art world will do the same.”