Search results for "Manhattan"

Placeholder Alt Text

Carbon Canceled

A built environment symposium closes out Climate Week NYC 2019
With Climate Week NYC coming to a close, the Built Environment Symposium was a fitting finale, gathering together political bodies, industry professionals as well as architects and designers to speak openly about their collaborative efforts to make New York City a greener place The third panel discussion in particular, “New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act: Significantly Reducing Building Emissions,” brought together preeminent voices working to address the environmental impacts of New York’s buildings. Melanie La Rocca, commissioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB) sat down with Jason Vollen, director of architecture for Metro New York at AECOM and Christopher Toomey, vice president of major projects at McKinsey & Company to discuss the importance of addressing the costs of the built environment, and why pieces of legislation are invaluable to instituting rapid change.  With 67 percent of the city’s emissions stemming from its buildings, the need for action is acute, and the mayor’s office has accentuated the urgency by implementing Local Law 97, a mandate that all buildings over 25,000-square-feet comply with aggressive carbon caps by 2024. The very building the panelists sat in, the Midtown Manhattan office of host firm AECOM, is one such building that will fall under the new jurisdiction.  Local Law 97 is the first of its kind to make the financial penalties for non-compliance so significant that building owners will have to address the issues head-on. Fines start at $268 per metric ton over the predetermined limits (based on a building’s size and class) and additional fees are added for non-submittal of records, as well as false or flawed reports, all on an annual schedule. Hopefully, these financial roadblocks will incentivize building owners in ways that previous legislation has only wagged fingers.  This regulation doesn’t just apply to new buildings, but all buildings in New York City. That’s roughly 50,000—and this measure has sparked controversy as older buildings will have to invest in major renovations, as many did not incorporate energy efficiency in their original designs. Aged technologies like boilers and old-fashioned window glazing will need to be replaced, likely at a great initial cost to those landlords.  The panelists talked very seriously and practically about the realities of retrofitting all these spaces. “We could build an entire industry around retrofitting structures,” Toomey said, adding that there are studies that speculate that this would necessitate the creation of up to 140,000 new jobs.  However, the bureaucracy involved in clearing thousands of new buildings in the next four years in advance of the “penalty stage,” where non-complying structures will be fined heavily for carbon use, is intimidating even for the DOB: “We don’t want 20,000 applications coming in 2023,” said La Rocca. To avoid this, the DOB, architects, and project managers are encouraging companies to act now and stay ahead of the curve for not only the 2024 benchmarks but the 2030 ones as well. “No one wants to be an SUV in a Prius world,” said Vollen, “It would be an embarrassment down the line.” Architects like Vollen are encouraging high-profile companies to handle their compliance measures sooner than later with a leading mindset—to both leverage their names as well as allow for more time to design creative, innovative solutions to emissions targets rather than hasty adaptations.  While the panelists all acknowledged the risks and experimentation needed in NYC’s fight to lower emissions, La Rocca closed the discussion, saying, “This is an opportunity for us all to reimagine what we do.” 
Placeholder Alt Text

AN selects seven more upcoming exhibitions you shouldn’t miss
It’s that time again! AN has rounded up another list of the top architecture, design, and art exhibitions open or opening over the next couple of months. The exhibitions below dive into the lives of lesser-known figures in architecture, uncover hidden histories and explore the importance of identity and place. Check them out below: Revealing Presence: Women in Architecture at the University of Illinois, 1874-2019 Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 500 East Peabody Drive Champaign, IL 61820 September 26 through October 12, 2019 Mary Louisa Page was the first woman to earn an architecture degree in the United States in 1878 from the University of Illinois—the school offered its first architecture course ten years prior. Revealing Presence showcases the breadth of work that women have contributed to the built environment through a chronological presentation of historical data and images. Spanning the course of 145 years, the show reveals the growing representation of women in the architectural profession over time through the inclusion of a timeline illustrating the increasing number of female faculty and students at the University. Women currently comprise over 40 percent of architecture graduates.  Marc Yankus: New York Unseen ClampArt 247 West 29th Street Ground Floor New York, NY 10001 October 3 through November 16, 2019 Marc Yankus is a New York-based photographer with over 40 years of experience capturing historic buildings, streetscapes, and abstract compositions found when one looks closely at the built environment. In his sixth solo show at ClampArt, Yankus exhibits a series of photographs that continue his investigation into the buildings of New York City. Through his expert use of Photoshop, the artist removes all of the distractions that come with urban life—traffic, pedestrians, and noise—providing a glimpse into a New York “unseen.” The result is a collection of prominent city buildings seemingly frozen in time.  Housing Density: From Tenements to Towers  The Skyscraper Museum 39 Battery Place New York, NY 10280 On view through December 2019 This new exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum takes a look at the history of residential development in New York City throughout the twentieth century. By examining the approaches to private, public, or publicly-assisted housing, the guest curators Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthias Altwicker aim to sort out the different meanings of density over time and how they have shaped the ways residents live in the city today.  Given contemporary debates on infilling NYCHA projects and up-zoning neighborhoods, the exhibition hopes to inform some of these discussions by offering a clear illustration of urban density through historical projects. Some of the projects examined include models of communities such as Tudor City and London Terrace, early NYCHA projects such as the Queensbridge Houses, and large-scale postwar projects such as Stuyvesant Town. Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America Austrian Cultural Forum New York 11 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022 September 25 through February 17, 2020 Curated by Stephen Phillips and Axel Schmitzberger, Resident Alien, explores the cultural contributions of Austrian-American architects on modern, postmodern, and digital design culture over the past century. The exhibition is organized into five form-driven categories—Cloud Structures, Aggregate Self-assemblies, Media Atmospheres, Primitive Domains, and Urban Terrestrials—as a way to investigate how bicultural heritage has informed formal, technological, and psychoanalytic architectural discourses. Architects and designers that will be featured include Rudolph Schindler, Victor Gruen, Hans Hollein, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and Frederick Kiesler, among 27 others.  Lucy Sparrow’s Delicatessen on 6th Rockefeller Center 45 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY 10111 October 1-20, 2019 Presented in partnership with Art Production Fund as part of the “Art in Focus” Public Art Program, Lucy Sparrow’s interactive installation is opening at Rockefeller Center this week. The British artist has become well known for her felt art pieces and this exhibition marks the sixth installation in her felt shop series. The installation is set to resemble a New York City “upscale deli” with every item—from chocolate to fruit, cheese and fish—all handmade out of felt. All of the items in the fine food shop will also be available for purchase.  Off the Wall: Harold Mendez The Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University 61 Main Street Houston, TX 77005 September 21 through August 24, 2020 Rice University’s Public Art series “Off The Wall” has commissioned a series of site-specific installations by recent graduates of the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art. Each installation is scheduled to be on view for a year on the south wall of the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, a modern structure designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners. The inaugural artist in the series is Harold Mendez, an artist whose work integrates photography and sculpture as a way to explore identity, place, and geography.  Mendez received his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has since been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, among others. Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatres) 1014 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10028 November 6-8 at 7:00 PM November 9-10 at 5:00 PM Co-commissioned by Performa and 1013 and co-produced with The Kitchen, this collaboration between artist Nairy Baghramian and choreographer Maria Hassabi will be inhabiting a Fifth Avenue townhouse for five nights this November. The building, originally built in 1906, will serve as the stage for an intimate performance that takes cues from the qualities of the domestic environment. The work aims to "probe the interplay of architecture and gender while teasing out fantasies," according to The Kitchen.
Placeholder Alt Text

Let the Sunshine In

The leaking Oculus skylight will cost another $200K to fix
Port Authority officials are currently working on repairing the damaged Oculus skylight at the Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have already spent at least $50,000 on waterproofing the $3.9 billion dollar Manhattan transit hub's glass ceiling, according to The Wall Street Journal, and are expected to spend another $200,000 on repairs.  The skylight consists of dozens of glass panels that run the 355-foot length of the Oculus's spine and are powered by a mechanical system with 130 motors that move each of the panels in sync, rather than as two static hemispheres. Officials believe that the retractable skylight began leaking on to the marble concourse in 2018 after a rubber seal that spanned the length of the roof ripped due to a system malfunction. As the software failed to work, workers were forced to repeatedly start and stop the program to get the skylight to open and close. Despite sealing the ring around the skylight with water-resistant tape, the agency expects to spend more on sealing the skylight with an actual waterproof membrane instead of a stopgap.  The feature is designed to open each year during the September 11 commemoration, envisioned by Calatrava as a symbol of a dove being released from a child’s hand. The architect's initial proposal required that the entire roof pivot open but that idea was nixed after the building's soaring budget doubled from the initial $2 billion dollar estimate.  One Port Authority spokesman said last Thursday that the agency is conducting an engineering analysis on how to permanently repair the skylight. “While that analysis is ongoing, we are taking prudent steps to better protect the skylight with a more durable barrier system,” he said.  City officials had anticipated the skylight would be able to open for the 2019 memorial, however, it remained closed for the first time since the building opened in 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Concrete Ideas

Protestors shut down the New Museum’s IdeasCity Bronx
IdeasCity Bronx, a festival organized by the New Museum and scheduled for this past Saturday, was canceled shortly after the programming began. Held at Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River, the festival was supposed to feature discussions, performances, and workshops by artists, architects, and local community organizations as a way to address “the physical, social, and economic forces that define the Bronx and other cities.” Themed “New Ecologies 3755,” many of the discussions were to be centered around the effects of global climate change but also how they relate to Bronx communities, but plans were derailed after protesters intervened. During the event’s opening talk by V. Mitch McEwen, the festival’s curator, a group of activists to the side of the stage interrupted the proceedings with a speech of their own, leading to about 30 minutes of heated back-and-forth between the protesters and the scheduled speakers, ultimately ending with the day’s events being canceled. Prior to the festival’s commencement, a few Bronx grassroots organizations scheduled to participate, including DreamYard, Take Back the Bronx, and No New Jails, had already withdrawn. Other groups, such as Bronx-based arts organization Hydro Punk, had declined the offer to participate from the beginning. During her opening remarks, McEwen passed the microphone to Tiara Torres, one of the protesters from Hydro Punk, who stated, “New Museum has never invested anything into the Bronx. This is a one-day event. They are not contributing any long term financial backing or support into any of the ideas that come from today.” According to Hyperallergic, the activist went on to say that they had declined to participate after finding out that the events were being promoted by the real-estate company South Bronx Luxury. McEwen told AN that the organization had received no financial support from real estate developers. Highlights from the event were supposed to include a keynote discussion by Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, but after attempting to speak during the protesters’ interruptions, Cruz and Forman did not continue with their presentation. But the site was the biggest point of tension, to be sure. Concrete Plant Park is located in the Southern Boulevard part of the Bronx, a neighborhood that activists say is actively being threatened by “gentrification-driven rezoning.” McEwen explained to AN that the location wasn’t the first choice to begin with. Since its opening in 2011, IdeasCity New York was staged across from the New Museum in Manhattan along the Bowery, but with ongoing conversations surrounding new ideas in ecology, the Bronx seemed like a better fit. McEwen said, “we started to map out sites on the Bronx River and other waterways believing that this borough defined by waterways is more complex and robust than Manhattan.” They had anticipated the site to be located near the Soundview Ferry Terminal, but according to McEwen, they were “strongly encouraged to move” by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. “We should not have been in [Concrete Plant Park],” she said, while also agreeing that many of the protester’s points were “brilliant and spot-on” and were even “aligned with the framework of how we organized IdeasCity” to begin with. 
 
View this post on Instagram
 

The DreamYard Project will no longer be participating in IdeasCity Bronx—based on the lack of clarity, collaboration and communication in the planning of IdeasCity Bronx, as well as the compromised integrity of DreamYard’s community-centered values. . Three months ago, we were approached by IdeasCity for the opportunity to uplift our young people and community’s work around Arts and Activism. We were asked to collaborate in organizing a panel discussion, a student performance and community-based organization /activism booths; since then, a small team of DreamYard staff members have worked diligently to organize these parts of the event, and ensure fair compensation for our young people and representing CBOs that we have asked to get involved in this event. DreamYard staff members initially created a panel discussion on the relationship between politics and grassroots movement, “Who’s Got the Power?” which centered a young DreamYard participant, and a DreamYard alumna and current staff member. Since then, IdeasCity renamed the panel discussion we were organizing, shifted the original intention of the discussion (shaped by intentional labor of Black Indigenous Queer Femmes), and was essentially handed over to another party who was not involved in the concept, the process, nor the work we do and are seeking to uplift. We do not feel safe having our young people participate, nor having DreamYard’s name further implicated in what has turned out not to be a collaboration, but something in which DreamYard’s name has seemingly been used as merely a means to an end. . We entered this collaboration in good faith, and since then have been made aware of the missteps inherent in the planning of IdeasCity. Based on the feedback from the community as well as the challenges in planning this event, we have decided not to participate in IdeasCity Bronx. . <Continued in comments>

A post shared by DreamYard Project (@dream_yard) on

In a public statement McEwen made on Twitter, she ends with a series of questions aimed to open dialogue and to keep the conversation going. “NYC Parks Department—I have no words,” she asks, “what would a functional democratic process around public space look like for New York City?” She urges for a “radical imagining” of the spaces in which we exchange knowledge outside of the academic institution, and of a place where the pain expressed by the protestors can “coexist in dialogue with the technical, creative, and spatial work involved in change.” In a statement shared via email, the New Museum told AN:
We wholeheartedly support V. Mitch McEwen’s curatorial vision for IdeasCity over the past year, and the ciphers and convenings that have advanced thinking in significant directions. We believe it is more important than ever to continue to provide platforms for productive dialogue, debate, and healing in a challenging and divided world. Knowing this can only happen through deeper engagement, proximity, authentic and time-tested connectivity, and sustained commitment, IdeasCity will continue to organize events in the hope that, going forward, groups of every type can come together, voicing differences, but collaborating on possible futures.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fall for art

AN rounds up our favorite coast-to-coast fall exhibitions of 2019
With summer finally falling behind us, the fall exhibition circuit is just heating up. Here, we’ve rounded up the season’s must-see art and architecture exhibitions from coast to coast. Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates The Shed 545 W. 30th Street, New York, NY October 9, 2019 - January 19, 2020 The second and fourth floors Hudson Yards' The Shed will display 150 of the Hungarian artist's seminal works confronting truths about society, our environment, and introspection. Working since the 1960s, Denes's 50-year career is explored and presented in a hopeful way as the echoes of the Climate March recede and Climate Week NYC begins.  The two floors dedicated to Denes address two separate arcs present in her oeuvre: her exploration of technology in relation to control over her artistic process is espoused on the second floor, with displays of her two series, Philosophical Drawings and Map Projections, while the fourth floor is completely dedicated to her meditation on the pyramid, simply titled Pyramid Series.   By utilizing the intersection of the environment around her and technology available, Denes envisions a future plan for our society that hit home during the beginning of the ecological movement in the ’60s, and rings even truer today.  THROUGH POSITIVE EYES The Fowler 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles, CA September 15, 2019 - February 16, 2020 The Fowler Museum at UCLA is bringing together the stories, photography, and performances of more than 130 people living with HIV/AIDS in the upcoming exhibition Through Positive Eyes. Artist and activists from 10 cities around the globe have come together to exhibit original photos and video of these individuals, bringing unique stories to life as well as revealing a more collective, global-scaled narrative of this epidemic. There will also be a sculpture installation by L.A.-based multimedia artist Alison Saar.  The title is taken from the Los Angeles-based Through Positive Eyes Collective, a group of seven HIV-positive residents who will be performing twice a week throughout the exhibition. Yet while there are so many voices, and so much artistic production going into this single exhibition, it has all been envisioned and curated around one core belief: that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic.  WITH EACH INCENTIVE: POSTCOMMODITY The Art Institute of Chicago 159 E. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL July 25, 2019 - April 26, 2020 The indigenous collective Postcommodity, currently comprised of artists Cristóbal Martinez and Kade L. Twist, have "completed" their purposefully incomplete With Each Incentive at the Bluhm Family Pavilion at the Art Institute of Chicago. Free and open to the public, the pavilion splashes a colloquial building form of the Global South—vertical concrete blocks columns topped out with exposed rebar—against the skyline of downtown Chicago.  By placing these built forms in a place where they are seen as foreign, the Postcommodity duo comments on the ongoing phenomenon of migration of Central and South Americans to the midwestern city. The installation is also accompanied by a custom made codex that brings in images of relevant people, places, art, and graphics that the artists believe join in this site-specific theme, as well as Postcommodity’s perennial stance towards issues of borders, indigeneity, and the pan-American experience. The Los Angeles Schools The A+D Museum 900 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA September 21, 2019 - November 24, 2019  The Architecture and Design Museum in L.A. is putting on an exhibition of student work from the leading architecture and design schools in the city, from SCI-Arc to Cal Poly LA Metro. The show is curated to express the methods and thinking propagated at these institutions, working to position L.A. even more prominently as “a center for architectural production, investigation, and research charged with producing tomorrow’s leaders in the world of architecture and design,” according to a press release. In addition to the curated show, the museum is also hosting a number of events and lectures that are all open to the public throughout the exhibition’s run. Individual school voices and narratives will be highlighted in what is a showcase of talent-to-come from some of the world’s leading academic institutions shaping the next generation of the profession.  Tigerman Rides Again Volume Gallery 1709 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL September 15, 2019 - November 2, 2019 This Chicago gallery chose to honor the final works of architect Stanley Tigerman in this exhibition of his black and white, undulating geometries. In the final months of his life, the 88-year-old architect resumed his life-long practice of daily drawings that had briefly been put on hiatus, and produced what harkened back to some of his boldest paintings and drawings of the late ’50s and early ’60s.  The mind of the man behind a large portion of Chicago’s postmodernist architectural aesthetic, his commitment to and passion for architecture history, Mies van der Rohe, and his favorite contemporary artists, are all evident in this showcase of final works. The exhibition shows how Tigerman was able to bring in diverse influences from all over the art world and synthesize them into clear, poignant visions both on the street and on the page.  Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City The Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY October 2, 2019 - January 18, 2020 Designed and curated by MASS Design Group, this exhibition explores the specifics of the "fringe city;" a smaller city on the outskirts of a larger metropolis. These cities were hit disproportionately hard by the effects of United States government investment in urban planning schemes centered around demolition, superblocks and slum clearance in the years between 1949 and 1974, collectively known as Urban Renewal.  From traffic congestion to increased neighborhood segregation, the effects of this era of urban planning are still being felt today in cities all over the country. But this exhibition takes a deep dive into MASS’s exploration of the fringe city condition, and understand the challenges faced by residents and local organizations in order to find new solutions towards human-scaled change.
Placeholder Alt Text

Old Bay, New Bay

Johns Hopkins unveils design details for its Renzo Piano-designed Agora Institute
Last September, Johns Hopkins University announced that they had hired Pritzer Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano to design a home for The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at the university’s Homewood Campus in Baltimore. Yesterday, the first glimpse of these plans were unveiled to city officials and according to The Baltimore Sun, elicited mixed reviews.  The project was established in 2017 through a $150 million dollar gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, an interdisciplinary academic forum “committed to strengthening global democracy through powerful civic engagement and informed inclusive dialogue.” Piano stated in a press release that “The building is designed to reflect these priorities, in design, materials, and accessibility.” Accordingly, the design currently features two “floating” glass hemispheres that are said to embody the institute’s commitment to transparency and open dialogue. While intellectually stimulating, the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel voiced concern that the large glass cubes might have the opposite effect on those outside of the campus community.  However, the University is hopeful about its new addition to Wyman Park Drive. “This new building promises to be a gathering place for scholars and citizens to model the robust exchanges of ideas that are essential for healthy democracies,” said Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels. It is expected to house faculty offices, labs, and graduate student spaces as well as coworking areas. Reflecting on the spirit and purpose of the Greek Athenian Agora (Piano took a similar Grecian approach with Columbia's Forum), the building will also feature community space for conferences, art exhibitions, and a rooftop terrace.  Partner Mark Carroll is leading the project on behalf of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who have partnered with the Baltimore-based firm Ayers Saint Gross. The architects will attempt to meet, at minimum, LEED Silver Certification for their sustainability target. Lee Coyle, Hopkins’ director of planning and architecture told Baltimore Fishbowl, “we think it’s an opportunity for Johns Hopkins University to make a statement about commitment to sustainability as a true world issue.” Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2020 and conclude by Summer 2022. In addition to the Agora Institute, Hopkins is also planning on giving new life to the nearby old Baltimore Marine Hospital. An architect has yet to be selected for that undertaking. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Fat Pockets

The MTA proposes its largest capital plan ever
Signal modernization, line extensions, and upgraded subway cars may not sound like riveting headline news, but the recently released blockbuster $51.5 billion Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) budget proposal is targeting the woeful state of New York City's public transportation network. If approved, the MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan projects a 70 percent jump in funding from the previous budget cycle.  The capital plan was proposed on the heels of major criticisms of the city’s subway system. In 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the subway system after an A train derailed in upper Manhattan. Other common complaints included delayed service, overcrowded cars, and sweltering platform temperatures. Accordingly, well over half of the funds have been allocated for the subway system alone.  The program made major promises to MTA riders, including faster service, 70 new ADA accessible stations, and the completion of the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway. More specifically, the capital plan committed to modernizing signaling for 50 percent of passengers by reaching 11 train lines, and a total of 80 miles in track replacement. The transit system could also see sweeping upgrades like 1,900 new subway cars, 2,400 new buses, and over $4 billion spent for station renewals.  The capital plan would require billions of dollars worth of concerted federal, state, and local funding. The plan asked for $3 billion in federal funds for the Second Avenue Subway alone, which President Trump has already tweeted his support for, seemingly unprompted (Governor Cuomo was puzzled and denied reaching an agreement with the federal government). Another $3 billion is expected each from state and city authorities. While Cuomo has already committed to sending the state funding, the Governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio have notoriously disagreed over who is responsible for paying for the subway’s state of disrepair. The capital plan faces a lengthy approval process, including an upcoming MTA Board review and a review by the Capital Program Review Board. A major portion of the funding, $15 billion, is expected to be generated from the newly approved, but yet to be implemented, congestion pricing in parts of Manhattan. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Taking Titles and Stealing Views

Central Park Tower tops out to become the world's tallest residential building
The 1,550-foot-tall Central Park Tower is officially the tallest residential building in the world. After topping out earlier this week, the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture-designed structure now stands nearly complete at 217 West 57th Street, higher than any of its neighbors on Manhattan's Billionaire’s Row.  It’s the second project on that strip of premiere Midtown Manhattan real estate from Extell Development Company, the minds behind Christian de Portzamparc’s One57. The latter project became the first supertall condominium on the street in 2016. Since the original unveiling of that design in 2005, over eight similar projects have popped up and are now either finished or under construction along or near West 57th Street. As the latest to top out, Central Park Tower has broken the height record set by Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue, with 131 floors. Though largely residential and boasting 179 luxury condos, Central Park Tower—with its glass-clad facade and stainless-steel, pinstripe-like fins—will feature a seven-story Nordstrom flagship store at its base and three floors of amenities for apartment owners. Spanning a total of 50,000 square feet, these areas include an outdoor terrace with a pool, a wellness center with an indoor pool, and a ballroom and cigar bar on the 100th floor (without a pool, sorry).  At 300 feet above the street, the tower cantilevers slightly to the east and then nearly all the way up to the top floor, allowing views of Central Park from the north-facing apartments. Looking up from the park below, the building has the appearance of a series of extremely thin, elongated towers stacked closely to one another. That design move was intentional to maximize those (multi)million-dollar views. Together, the sections created a textured look that gleams during the daylight in different ways. Despite its fancy features, the supertall project might suffer a similar sales fate like the other towers on Billionaire's Row. It’s been widely reported that 40 percent of the seven buildings in the area are unsold simply because they are too expensive and the Midtown market isn't as favored as some Lower Manhattan or even Brooklyn developments. There's one sign, though, that this could be changing: 220 Central Park South by Robert A.M. Stern recently passed $1 billion in sales according to 6sqft, largely thanks to the close on its $238 million penthouse by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. Until Central park Tower hits its expected sellout of over $4 billion, 220 Central Park South will remain the most expensive residential building in the United States.  In an interview with Justin Davidson published this week in New York Magazine, Gordon Gill said that, apart from being another competitive project on Billionaire's Row, Stern’s building posed another challenge for the architects from the beginning. It sits directly in front of Central Park Tower and boasts closer views of the sprawling landscape below. 
“It’s like being at the theater; if everyone’s in rows trying to see the stage, nobody can see anything at all,” said Gill. “The solution is to stagger the seats. When we moved the tower off-center to get better retail spaces, we discovered an opportunity to capture incredible direct and oblique views. That’s why the building is stepped and staggered in every direction — north, south, east, and west — walking all the way up to 1,550 feet. If you look at this building from a distance, it has a strong ethos and a sense of stability. On the other hand, there’s a lot of movement. The trick was managing all that activity without getting overly effusive.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Not Quite There

Vote delayed again for Central Park suffragette statue with Sojourner Truth
It’s been less than a month since the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund announced it would add Sojourner Truth to its Central Park suffragist monument, and after the redesign was unveiled this week, the New York City Public Design Commission (PDC) put the project on hold.  In a public meeting on Monday, September 16, the commission voted unanimously to save the “Women’s Right Pioneer Monument” vote for another hearing. They asked the Fund and sculptor Meredith Bergmann to get letters of support from community boards and independent opinions from historians on the accuracy of the design—which the professional artist, who has over 20 years of experience, reportedly already did, according to Hyperallergic. Even Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has chimed in with support for Bergmann, saying the road to a female-centric statue in New York has been long enough.
"A statue is a work of art—in this case, designed by a remarkable artist who relied heavily on history and the views of the top historians. Her art does not, nor is it meant to, depict an actual historical moment. "Furthermore, placing a statue of Literary Walk comes with many restrictions and obligations. The design must harmonize with the other statues there; it cannot represent an entire movement; it must be allegorical; the subjects must be from the 19th century."
In the above comment, which appeared in a New York Daily News editorial by Brewer, she alluded to the recent criticism raised by civil rights scholars and leading local academics that likely played a big role in the commission’s decision to postpone the motion. In August, a group of 20 experts asked the Fund in a letter to reconsider putting Truth alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, over the fear that the representation could “obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists.”   Despite this, Bergmann revealed a new rendering of the statue at the meeting that included Truth standing over a table where Anthony and Stanton sat. The suffragists’ scroll that was featured in the original design was removed and an inscription at the bottom of the pedestal now reads “Women’s Rights Pioneers.” Hyperallergic reported that in an effort to address the critics’ concerns, Bergmann told the PDC she used body language and facial expressions to convey the tensions that might have been going on between the three women at the time of their discussions.  For the commission and those who signed the letter, that wasn’t enough. Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society co-wrote the letter and issued another statement at the meeting, asking the Fund to place a plaque on the statue to give further historical context should this design move forward. In addition, landscape architect Signe Nielson, chair of the PDC, told Bergmann and the Fund that they will need to provide the approval letters and address some minor “aesthetic concerns” before next month’s meeting. Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, told amNewYork that the team expected these results, saying, “it’s just another delay.”   Over the next few weeks, members of the academic community and other stakeholders expect to be more thoroughly involved in the second redesign. Todd Fine of the Washington Street Historical Society, one of the signees in attendance on Monday, tweeted that though historians might accept the redesign, "the problem is the lack of outreach and the secrecy." 
Placeholder Alt Text

East Coast Transplant

Gravity-defying 5th and Hill tower with cantilevering pools approved for construction
The Downtown Los Angeles skyline is about to receive a remarkable addition; on September 12, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the construction of 5th and Hill, a 53-story tower with nearly two dozen cantilevering lap pools and a five-story waterfall. Designed by Miami-based firm Arquitectonica and overseen by developer Jeffrey Fish of JMF Enterprises, the tower will either incorporate 160 condos or be divided between 190 hotel rooms and 31 condos, twelve of which will have private cantilevering pools either way. Both schemes would include a restaurant, bar, and related amenities. The tower's L-shaped site faces Pershing Square Station on one side and Hill Street on the other. Above the entryway on 5th Street will be an ingenious (if not extravagant) waterfall which will obscure the 5-story parking garage directly behind it, while the 13th floor will have an access bridge to Perch, a popular bar and restaurant atop the historic Pershing Square Building. The design of the bottom half of 5th and Hill, however, is tame compared to its top half, which progressively becomes more variegated starting on the 30th floor, with pools cantilevering several feet beyond its envelope and cutting through many of its interior spaces. According to the project's website, many of the adventurous design gestures were inspired by “mid-century California design.” The tower’s design raised eyebrows when its renderings and a draft of its Environmental Impact Report were first unveiled a year ago, yet surprisingly little of its exterior design appears to have changed. This may be due to the enthusiasm the scheme inspired in the planning commission, the members of which agreed that 5th & Hill was “audacious,” “ambitious,” and had exemplary methods for concealing its parking and integrating adjacent buildings into the plan. Fifth and Hill marks the second building Arquitectonica has designed for Downtown, the first being the 19-story Emerson building on Bunker Hill, and will be the West Coast’s answer to the staggering 56 Leonard designed by Herzog and de Meuron in Manhattan (and the many similarly-styled buildings it inspired). It's still uncertain when the project will break ground, but it's estimated that construction will take 30 months.
Placeholder Alt Text

Moving on from #MeToo

Bernhard Karpf, managing principal of Richard Meier's office, has left firm
Bernhard Karpf, the short-lived top executive of Richard Meier & Partners Architects, has officially (and quietly) left the firm, according to The Real Deal (TRD). After nine months of leading the company post-Meier’s groundbreaking #MeToo moment, Karpf is no longer working there.  It’s unclear whether this move means Meier is back in the office again leading more work or if other the principals Vivian Lee, Reynolds Logan, or Dukho Yeon will take over operations of the practice. It is extremely odd, however, that, as TRD noted, the spot where Karpf’s photo on the firm’s website has been replaced with Meier’s. A 31-year-career working at the practice resulted in his stepping away with no major recognition for his work or little-to-no immediate reports in the design media. The updated listing of the firm’s Partners page was all that indicated the abrupt change.  The firm declined to comment on his decision to leave the firm and instead said: "We thank Bernhardt Karpf for his many years of dedicated service and his wide-ranging work that was part of what made Richard Meier & Partners the world-renown design firm that it is today.” The sequence of events that have occurred—or at least those that have been made public surrounding Meier’s stepping back—is what’s most opaque about the transition of leadership at the firm. Last October, AN reported the 84-year-old celebrity architect would “take a step back from day-to-day activities” after being accused of alleged sexual harassment and assault by his employees. The story broke in The New York Times in March of last year after which Meier, who founded the firm over 50 years ago, took a six-month leave of absence.  After half a year passed, Karpf became managing principal, while Lee, Logan, and Yeon were promoted to their current positions. Design partner Michael Palladino continued leading the firm’s Los Angeles office and the other three executives, partner James R. Crawford, and associate partners Mark Sparrowhawk and Alex Wuo, remained in their roles. Despite the upward movement and enhanced leadership of the above, it’s common knowledge that Meier has still had some influence on projects over the last year and has been continuing to build and maintain his network of clients around the world. When asked about Meier’s whereabouts earlier this year by Bloomberg, Karpf said he is still around. “We talk, he’s available,” he admitted, although he's also admitted before that Meier comes into the Midtown Manhattan office twice a week.  In February, Karpf told TRD that he was keen to stay at the firm despite the recent controversy for the sake of his clients and all his history there. That same month in the interview with Bloomberg, he said that Meier hadn’t been part of regular operations at the firm for years and that it’s largely the architects in charge and all the employees who deserve the credit for keeping his legacy as a leading designer alive. But Meier's accusers disagree, saying Karpf didn't do enough to stand up for them and that he was in self-preservation mode. At one point, Karpf said the entire story was "last year's news."  In spite of Karpf's previous intentions not to leave, six months after these statements he was gone. The firm has yet to publically name a managing principal to replace him.
Placeholder Alt Text

A Country is Not a House?

Letter from the border: Architecture is more than walls
“I’ll bet you live within four walls” is one of the most frequent comments I get from proponents of building a wall along the southern border as a critique of my creative and activist endeavors against wall construction. The comments can be quite vile. Here is one comment (since deleted) on the YouTube posting of my recent TED talk,
"Thank you so much Ronald Rael! I'll come find your home and simply open your door, sit down and make myself at home! Pay rent? Nah essay! Rent is taxes homie! Permission to enter your home? Nah bendayho! I don't need permission to enter your home! You don't see the need for Mexicans to get permission to enter the United States! What's that? You'll call the cops? You snitch! What's that? You'll force me out of your home?! That's wrong to deport me outside of your walls that hold up your roof and prevent anyone from getting in!”
In addition to making an actual threat to my own personal home and property, something no immigrant I have ever met has done, he is mocking the variations in the Spanish language (“essay” is ese, a slang way of saying dude, “homie”, is someone from your hometown, and bendayho, I'm assuming, is pendejo, a word used to describe an imbecile, but literally means “pubic hair”). It might be futile to pen a response to such comments, but as a professor of architecture, it got me thinking… why do so many make a parallel between a country, and a house, when it comes to making an argument for the border wall? A quick internet search, thinking about the ridiculousness of this reaction—that if we build walls to enclose our house (which my TED Talk critic correctly notes are also often used to structurally support a roof), doesn’t it make sense to build walls around our country, and if so, what about a roof? This led me to an article in the New Yorker that suggested, in sarcastic response to the construction of walls, that we should also build a roof over our country! I’ve always been fascinated by utopian and dystopian architectural projects that challenge the conventions of our built environment, which is perhaps why I’ve been interested in the border wall. When thinking about mega-roofs, architect Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for an enormous dome to be constructed over a portion of Midtown Manhattan comes to mind. He suggested it would save 80 percent of energy costs and snow removal costs, so perhaps the proposal for a nationwide roof structure has its merits? The Sheats-Goldstein Residence, an experimental house designed in 1961 by John Lautner, was comprised of an enormous roof with no walls enclosing the main living space that connected to the exterior terrace and pool. Instead, the interior was defined and protected from the elements by a curtain of forced air, like those you might have experienced if you’ve ever entered a big box store. Construction on this incredible house began in 1961, the year that President Kennedy was inaugurated, the Peace Corps was established, and the first man went into space, a time when it seemed mankind could overcome impossible barriers but also the same year the Berlin Wall began construction (and we all know what happened to that). Many years later, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence was enclosed with a nearly invisible and retractable glass facade, as there were several impracticalities to not having a barrier between inside and outside that house, despite the balmy Los Angeles weather. However, the luxurious glass wall wasn’t necessarily installed for security, and certainly it wasn’t out of practicality—an inexpensive concrete wall may have been more practical, but would undermine the original concept of the house as well as the architect’s original intent of openness and connection. Perhaps in alignment to Lautner’s vision for how one defines the confines of a house, Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out a concept for hemispheric security not beholden to a limited view of border fortification. Roosevelt said, “What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition—clear, definite opposition—to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall.” With this in mind, what might Lautner and Roosevelt think of a 1,954-mile-long concrete-and-steel wall surrounding our house? Obviously neither would have thought it to be a necessity or practicality, nor perhaps in alignment with the original intent of the architects of our country. I wonder what they would think about a 3.8-million-square-mile roof? Economics professor David Youngberg points out the problems with making analogies between “my country” and “my house” and the two uses of the possessive pronoun “my”—one of which is possessive and the other, associative. While one may own a house, we do not own our country, we merely live in it. A country is public space. With this in mind, should we think about our country like we do our house, and does it need walls? If we agree with the argument, that if we live by surrounding ourselves at home with walls, therefore we should also surround our country with walls, then perhaps let’s take that argument further, and not forget other components of what makes a secure home in addition to the roof. For example, the floor, a basement perhaps, central heating… how about other components of the house, like a refrigerator, with healthy food for everyone in our house to eat or a comfortable bed and a warm place to sleep? What about a medicine cabinet accessible to everyone in the house! A porch and a welcome mat, to welcome neighbors are also important features in a house (clean your feet before coming in)! Surrounding our house, we enjoy a verdant garden and appreciate nice neighbors, and we lend tools to our neighbors, a cup of sugar, and we want our neighbors to prosper—do we really want to be the only nice house in the neighborhood? How about a neighborhood watch program? Don’t we want our neighbors to look out for us just as we look out for them? What about reliable plumbing to provide clean water? In our houses, we need a system that takes our bodily waste and delivers it to a place where it can be processed safely. Can you imagine the problems that would arise for everyone if we dumped it in our backyards, or our neighbor’s yard? Fresh air? Some of us have a heating and air conditioning system in our house that not only keeps our climate under control, but also filters the air, providing a place to live with comfortable, clean air. We don’t fill our house with pollution—we enjoy clean air inside our houses, and we probably all wish the air inside was as clean as the air outside, and vice versa, because we like to open our doors and windows to let the outside in—it helps keep our house fresh. Perhaps a house is not a country, but if we are to make that analogy, here are some thoughts of things to do rather than build that wall: Build that plumbing, and ensure safe, clean and reliable drinking water! Build that ventilation system, and ensure that no one remains out in the cold and breathes fresh air! Build that medicine cabinet, so that everyone’s heath in the house is cared for! Build those roofs, to make certain that everyone protected from the elements! Build those bedrooms, so that everyone has a place to rest their head at night! Build that floor, so we are all on an equal plane and a level playing field! Build that porch, and lay out that welcome mat! Build that neighborhood, so that everyone in our global community has a house that ensures safety, security, and neighborliness across our own property lines! A couple more thoughts; we also don’t shoot guns inside our house, and certainly not at other people in the house. We also do not lock up neighboring families from other houses inside our house for indefinite amounts of time, or separate our neighbor's children from their parents and keep them in cages inside our house if they came knocking at our door seeking help. —Ronald Rael, Oakland, September 7, 2019