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Radical Recollection

Friedman Benda recaps Gaetano Pesce's defining moment
A revelatory presentation of the experimental designer Gaetano Pesce is on view at Friedman Benda through December 14. Age of Contaminations is a carefully selected historical sweep provides a close reading of the idiosyncratic designer’s practice over 27 crucial years of the Italian architect's career, beginning with the asymmetrical, modular Yeti Armchairs (1968) and concluding with the otherworldly Ghost Lamps (1995), where recycled paper and polyurethane has been molded into a vaguely figural silhouette. Referencing an early peak of Pesce’s career, the title Age of Contaminations is borrowed from the artist’s installation in The Museum of Modern Art’s historic 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, where the designer conceived works for a post-apocalyptic future where humans have settled into subterranean cities to escape an unidentified fallout on the surface. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated e-catalog available for free on the gallery’s website, wherein leading authority on craft and design history Glenn Adamson provides a chronological survey and impassioned critique of Pesce’s career. Perhaps the most interesting designs on view are the least aesthetically pleasing: Dacron-filled fiberglass cloth chairsGolgotha (1972)—resemble the functional version of a Piero Manzoni painting, and the garish, slick palette of his Golgotha Table (1972) provides a visually grating yet conceptually transcendent testament to Pesce’s Roman Catholic upbringing. The designer’s relentless openness to experimentation and earnest resistance to a consistent style is manifest in one of the more striking works in the exhibition is the monumental Moloch Lamp (1971), deftly placed behind one of the gallery space’s pillars, allowing it to make an even more powerful impact once visitors are confronted with it in closer proximity. Pesce’s most famous design, the Up5 (Donna) chair and Up6 footstool make a requisite appearance just beneath the lamp’s intense metallic glow. The chair, which resembles the breasts or buttocks of the female body, is tethered to its spherical footstool, mimicking a prisoner’s ball and chain. A recent demonstration by the feminist group Non Una Di Meno (Not One Less) during Milan design week expressed explicit opposition to the design, yet Pesce insists that the work was intended to emphasize the restrictions of femininity in order to spur debate, rather than uphold traditional values pertaining to gender. Read the full show recap on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Chasing History

New York Times brings back its Streetscapes column

Fans of the late Christopher Gray’s Streetscapes column had much to cheer about last weekend when The New York Times relaunched the feature with a new author.

Historian and novelist John Freeman Gill, a friend and admirer of Gray and “avid Mystery Photo solver,” will now write the column, which will run every other week both online and in print.

“Those of you who know Streetscapes will understand what a humbling turn of events this is,” Gill wrote in a message on Facebook.

“To NYC geeks like me, the column is an institution, the creation of the brilliant, inimitable, and wickedly funny Christopher Gray,” Gill said. “I was lucky enough to call Christopher my friend in his latter years, so being able to carry on his legacy in even a small way is especially meaningful to me.”

Streetscapes, which ran between 1987 and 2014 in the newspaper’s Sunday Real Estate section, was a favorite with architects, historians, and all-around New York City lovers. Its goal was to explore New York City's real estate through its architecture.

Gray, described as an “architectural detective and social historian”  in Sunday’s reboot, wrote more than 1,300 columns before he died in 2017 at the age of 66. His columns touched on the city’s architecture, history and preservation policies. He self-described his goal as “to write about the everyday buildings, to investigate even the most trivial, incidental, oddball structures.”

Gray also contributed to a Streetscapes page on Facebook, for which he chose a Mystery Photo of a building every Tuesday and invited readers to identify it.

Gill is the author of The Gargoyle Hunters, a historical novel set in New York City. His first Streetscapes column was about a series of Clinton Hill carriage houses that have had many different uses, including a stable, garage, photography studio, restaurant, and possibly a speakeasy.

The new author has asked readers to send him story ideas at streetscapes@nytimes.com.

“Ours is a vibrant, textured city, and many of you know pockets of it in ways that I don’t,” wrote Gill. “I hope we can all do this column together.”

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Goodbye History, Hello Hamburger

Fringe Cities is a poignant study of urban renewal, and its aftermath, in the small-American city
The narrative of mid-century urban renewal is not unfamiliar; under the guise of slum clearance, vast tracts of America's architectural heritage were razed with entire communities (often of color) displaced and warehoused in deleterious expanses of public housing. There is no dearth of imagery or literature stemming from the era, ranging from Jane Jacobs's grassroots campaign against the all-powerful Robert Moses to the implosion of St. Louis's infamous Pruitt-Igoe tower blocks. However, often missing from dialogue on the subject is the integral role that federal policy and financing played in the reshaping of the American city, specifically outside of major metropolitan centers. Opened in early October at New York's Center for Architecture, the MASS Design Group-curated exhibition Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City, is an impressive historical and photographic survey examining the scope and rationale of urban renewal efforts across 100 "fringe" cities—defined as a small urban area with under 150,000 residents located at least 30 miles away from a major metropolitan center, which, are in many circumstances, still attempting to ameliorate conditions cemented by mid-century planning. The exhibition opens with a broad outline of federal urban policy over the course of the ongoing century, roughly beginning with programs associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, then the plateau and decline of national funding and policy following Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, and present day's irregular growth cycles, facilitated by lopsided regulation. Strengthening the linear narrative of the timeline is a collection of renderings and illustrations produced by contemporaneous architects and designers depicting idyllic post-clearance scenes, tools to convince a skeptical public of the supposed extensive benefits of urban renewal. The strongest curatorial tool at the initial juncture of the exhibition are aerial images of 42 of the MASS-identified "Fringe Cities," overlaid with blotches of red that highlight areas slated for demolition and reconstruction in the strain of automobile-centric developments and zoning. This method—which is similar to cartography appraising the damage of World War II bombing campaigns—effectively conveys the disproportionate scalar impact such efforts placed on small urban centers, which in many circumstances altered them beyond recognition within the span of a few years. For the purposes of the exhibition, MASS honed in on four specific case studies: Easton, Pennsylvania; Saginaw, Michigan; Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Poughkeepsie, New York. "Being urban in form but offset from more diverse economic centers, these places were particularly ill-equipped to design, administer, and implement meaningful redevelopment strategies, and they were less resilient economically to rebuild in its wake," said MASS Design Group associate Morgan O'Hara. "Urban America was not always as polarized as we see today, and it is an important narrative to understand these changes, and the role of both policy and design decisions in contributing to the disinvestment of these Fringe Cities." If the first floor of the exhibition is geared towards a top-down perspective of urban renewal, the second-half of Fringe Cities brings the topic to street-level with a collection of historic photographs of long lost downtowns juxtaposed with desolate contemporary scenes. One significant inclusion is that of Iwan Baan's extensive imagery from Poughkeepsie. More importantly, MASS effectively dives into the work that grass-roots organizations have done, in lieu of federal, state, or even municipal funding, reversing or at least halting the economic and demographic decline that the selected cities have experienced for decades. On this final note, MASS presents the current urban moment as both a challenge and opportunity for architects and designers that requires community engagement to avoid the pitfalls of heavy-handed planning. O'Hara concluded, "In order to accomplish this, it is imperative that designers reach beyond their precise contracted purview to create effective community partnerships, as an outgrowth of this critical understanding: that designers cannot understand or attend to the full range of local needs without embedded, long term community decision making." Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia New York, New York Through January 18, 2020
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Mount Etna in New York

Bonetti/Kozerski's Pace Gallery rises over the Chelsea scene with volcanic stone and foamed aluminum
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New York's leading art galleries are in a figurative arms race; buildings upwards and outwards to accommodate museum-sized curatorial ambitions. In September, the Pace Gallery, led by Marc and Arne Glimcher, joined the fray with the opening of its new 75,000-square-foot gallery in West Chelsea. The project, designed by Bonetti/Kozerksi Architecture with facade consultancy by Studio NYL, is clad in volcanic stone mega panels, foamed aluminum, and topped with an aluminum-and-glass crown. The project rises to eight stories on the site of the gallery's former one-story location, with a boxy massing in keeping with the turn-of-the-century warehouses and former industrial sites found adjacent to the High Line. To this end, the street-facing northern elevation is broken up by rhythmically placed floor-to-ceiling rectangular windows flanked by masonry. At the cornice, the structure steps back to facilitate space for a 4,800-square-foot sculpture court located beneath a suspended two-story gallery space clad with 17-foot-tall glass windows.
  • Facade Manufacturer Island Exterior Fabricators Guardian Press Glass SA Nerosicilia Alusion
  • Architect Bonetti / Kozerksi Architecture
  • Facade Installer Island Exterior Fabricators
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL
  • Structural Engineer WSP
  • Location Manhattan, New York
  • Date of Completion October 2019
  • System Prefabricated megapanel system
  • Products Guardian Crystal Grey SN68 Nerosicilia N3 Volcanic Stone Alusion aluminum foam panels
According to the design team, the initial material choice for the facade was concrete panels. However, concern regarding the quality of local concrete companies shifted the palette to volcanic stone sourced from Mount Etna in Sicily. The stone panels are 1-1/4" thick and were delivered with a preassembled frame of black powder-coated aluminum with a volcanic stone trim. "The volcanic stone we chose is dense and very durable and by using an oven to re-melt the surface we were able to achieve a consistent black color but with some desired textural variations," said Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski. "One of the things we like best about this palette is that it's enigmatic—it is not immediately clear to people exactly what it is." From a distance, the side elevations appear to have a passing resemblance to the porous surface of the north side's volcanic stone, in the form of deep-textured concrete. The panels, which number over 250 and were also assembled by Island Exterior Fabricators, are in fact composed of foamed aluminum and required extensive research and testing to gauge their suitability as rainscreen cladding. The use of foamed aluminum was also informed by West Chelsea's ongoing construction boom and upzoning. According to Studio NYL facade design director Will Babbington, "aluminum foam proved to be an effective material for the side elevations; lightweight and aesthetically pleasing, and an economic choice considering the elevations will be covered up by inevitable adjacent development." The glass panels that define the crown of the new gallery are, for lack of a better word, gigantic. Each IGU panel measures roughly 5'6"-by-17'10" and weighs just over 1,000 pounds. Four threaded stainless steel handle the dead load of the assembly while structural silicone provides a significant degree of bite to hold the panels in place.
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Midtown West

CetraRuddy's ARO undulates in Midtown with composite aluminum and glass
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New York-based architectural practice CetraRuddy is no stranger to designing residential skyscrapers in Manhattan, with a body of work differing from typical contemporary glass stalagmites thanks to the inclusion of significant swathes of stone and metal. ARO, a slender 62-story tower located in Midtown West that wrapped up this year, continues this trend with a facade of undulating and shifting floorplates clad in a skin of aluminum composite panels and enclosed with tinted float glass. The 540,000-square-foot tower rises from the center of the site to further the distance from the adjacent properties to the east and west, a measure taken to maximize the building's allotted zoning height and overall daylight penetration. DeSimone Consulting Engineers handled the tectonics of the project's structural system. "To adequately support the slender building," said the structural team, "the tower's structural system is comprised of steel columns at the foundational level, reinforced concrete shear walls with flat plate concrete floor slabs, and reinforced concrete columns. Overall, construction utilized 34,000 cubic yards of concrete."
  • Facade Manufacturer BVG Glazing Systems Guardian Glass Alcoa
  • Architect CetraRuddy
  • Facade Installer Ecker Windows
  • Facade Consultant BuroHappold Engineering
  • Structural Engineer DeSimone Consulting Engineers
  • Location Manhattan, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom system fabricated by BVG Glazing
  • Products Guardian Crystal Grey SN68 Alcoa Reynobond
The structure is just one of the visibly outward elements of the overall design and the floorplates protrude as a series of undulating ribs from the narrow vertical form. Across the four elevations, the structure is key to the articulation of the six different curtain wall modules with differing ledge depths corresponding to the placement of the glass modules. Eighteen-inch-deep, white Reynobond aluminum composite "fenders" cap the floorplates, soffits, break up the floors as thin rectangular columns, and act as integrated solar devices. "The sun is a friend of this building; the sky is reflected in its glass and the metal fender protects from undesirable solar gain and glare," said CetraRuddy. "The projecting undulation captures the sunlight, giving the facade pleasing depth and visual interest." As a result of the tower's shifting floor plates and undulations, the glass modules shift in their alignment from being stacked directly atop one another to a quasi-stepped appearance. Each panel is approximately four feet wide and 11 feet tall, and are fastened to the floor plate with steel embeds. The glass, a tinted float glass produced by Guardian Glass with a remarkably lower heat coefficient than typical coated clear glass, was custom assembled by systems producer BVG Glazing Systems. John Cetra, Founding Principal of CetraRuddy, is co-chairing The Architect's Newspaper's Facades+ NYC conference on April 2 & 3 and will present the ARO in the afternoon panel "Optimizing the Form."
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MILLIØN-dollar Pei Day

MILLIØNS wins competition for new cafe at Syracuse’s Everson Museum of Art
MILLIØNS, the young Los Angeles–based firm headed by Zeina Koreitem and John May, has won the competition to design a cafe at Syracuse’s I.M. Pei-designed Everson Museum of Art. Thus ends an invited competition led by Michael Speaks and Kyle Miller of Syracuse University that solicited proposals from around the world before narrowing the field to four semifinalists, which included FreelandBuck, NATURALBUILD, and Norman Kelley. In addition to housing a cafe and event space, the renovation will also display selections from a 3,000 piece ceramic collection donated by artist and collector Louise Rosenfield. Renderings show a double-height feature wall made of open shelving with pottery arranged informally throughout, as well as display tables composed of clusters of inverted pyramids, a potential nod to the monumental geometries of Pei. The translucent wall of shelving will visually connect the museum’s atrium to the cafe on an upper level. Besides referring to Pei’s work, the design also evokes some of MILLIØNS’s earlier creations. Renderings of the new cafe show a ridged, mirrored wall and an ethereal bath of colors, as though the room were filtered through dichroic glass, which the duo used in the New York flagship for shoe retailer Jack Erwin. The design is centered around these few, big moves; detailing is sparse and most materials in the rendering are left abstract and flat, perhaps in keeping with the Everson building’s austere forms. Pei, who died earlier this year, designed the museum’s late-modern, brutalist home in the 1960s with the idea that the structure would sit like a sculpture on the surrounding plaza. It features a pinwheel plan and cantilevered galleries clad in brushed concrete, all signature features of the time. The building, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, was a relatively early project for the architect. The renovated spaces are scheduled to open in 2020.
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Shelf Life

[Updated] Hunters Point Library facing maintenance issues after opening
Update 10/30/2019: A representative for Steven Holl Architects says that issues with water entering the building and the sprinkler have been resolved. They claim that "the issues that have come up are wrinkles normal to the opening of any new building, especially when the building is receiving such a huge audience," adding that "reading areas and study desks are continually full." Update 10/29/2019: A spokesperson for the Queens Public Library has said that DDC determined that the water was due to a problem with fire sprinkler, which has been resolved. Water also seeped from the rooftop area through a doorway. DDC is addressing both these problems and is working with contractors to repair the cracks in the floor. The Steven Holl Architects–designed Hunters Point Library in Long Island City, Queens, is already facing troubles, according to the New York Post. Previously under fire for its accessibility issues—the adult fiction stacks could only be accessed via staircase, a feature which met ADA compliance as the library claimed that patrons with limited mobility could ask librarians for help (the books have since been moved)—the building was suspected of leaking (it has been determined to have been both a faulty sprinkler system and an insufficiently weather-proofed door) and has been showing cracks on the floor, some as long as ten feet, just a month after opening.  In addition, librarians and patrons say there are major sound issues, with floors that “screech” when chairs are moved and a quiet room that is anything but. Librarians also told the Post that they felt the 22,000-square-foot building, which New York magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson described as a five-story “Seussian obstacle course,” could have made a better attempt at maximizing its usable space for books and other resources, rather than being designed like a “museum or gallery.” Librarians have also reported inadequate visibility within the library. Curbed says that the Queens Public Library system is working with the Department of Design and Construction, who was responsible for the actual building of the library, to address these concerns. The Hunters Point Library was a much-anticipated addition to the Queens waterfront and is eminently visible from the Manhattan waterfront. Through the project was approved in 2010, construction didn’t begin until 2015 and it opened just this September. Costing approximately $41 million (over $1,800 per square foot), the library was built as part of the Bloomberg-era Design and Construction Excellence initiative, which brought a series of public buildings with serious architectural chops to the city. As Davidson has previously pointed out, they came in often at staggering prices, due perhaps more to government inefficiency and bureaucracy, as well as state rules that require taking on the lowest-bidding contractors, than because of high-flying architectural fees and forward-thinking designs. (Holl himself reportedly told would-be publicly minded architects in New York City to “get ready to lose money, and do it with a smile," according to Davidson.) Steven Holl Architects and the New York City Department of Design and Construction have been contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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Obligatory Akira Reference

The Japan Society bridges Olympic games past and future at Made in Tokyo
Fifty years of change can totally transform any city and nowhere is that more evident than Tokyo, a mega-metropolis that’s constantly redefining itself. Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 at the Japan Society in Manhattan makes the comparison between where Tokyo has been and where it’s going stark, easy to understand, and perhaps, hopeful. With the 2020 Summer Olympics fast approaching, Made in Tokyo—curated by Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow with Japan Society gallery director Yukie Kamiya—presents the Tokyo of 1964 and 2020 side-by-side to examine how the city has evolved and where it could go in the future. Historical changes in Tokyo’s architecture are inextricably linked with its political, economic, and social fortunes and the exhibition uses the 1964-through-2020 timeline to tease out the way these factors have shaped the city. Tokyo is rife for densification and because of that, new typologies make the most use of vertical space. At an October 11th talk at the Japan Society, Kaijima and Tsukamoto pointed to a driving school on top of a grocery store as just one way the city fosters the combination of disparate ideas. Made in Tokyo spotlights the city’s versatility and how the past and forthcoming Olympic games have and will affect six public and private architectural categories: stadium, station, retail, capsule, office, and home. The Japan Society and Atelier Bow-Wow have assembled an impressive collection of materials drawn from public and private archives, as well as from over 30 architectural studios. That includes two central, stadium-shaped enclosures featuring materials from the 1964 and 2020 games assembled around each for easy wayfinding; a life-sized segment from a capsule hotel, helpful for providing scale to those who have never been to one; archival drawings; photographs and architectural models by Kenzo Tange and Kengo Kuma; video fly-throughs; and a virtual tour of exemplary Tokyo projects lead by Atelier Bow-Wow. “In the 1960s—15 years after the end of World War II, Japan grew with great productivity and enthusiasm,” said Atelier Bow-Wow in a press release, “various urban institutions were created and young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, there is an incentive for large capital and organization towards mass-redevelopment. Through this tremendous turnover of city spaces and transitions of urban institutions we will showcase the evolution of life in the city of Tokyo.” Made in Tokyo will run through January 26, 2020, and will be accompanied by a host of lectures, film screenings, discussions, and art performances.
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Breaking the Bronze Ceiling

Women's suffrage statue finally approved for Centennial unveiling
The final design has been approved for Central Park’s first statue honoring real women. A six-year effort spearheaded by the non-profit Monumental Women has resulted in a composition depicting women’s rights pioneers Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered around a table drafting a document. The statue will be unveiled on August 26, 2020, celebrating the centennial of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. “With this statue, we are finally breaking the bronze ceiling,” said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women in a press release. “It’s fitting that the first statue of real women in Central Park depicts three New York women who dedicated their lives to fighting for women’s rights.”  The 166-year-old park is a tourist mecca in the center of Manhattan, attracting 42 million visitors each year. But amidst the foreign war heroes, presidents, and animals erected in marble and bronze around the park, not one has ever been a named female. Only the fictional Alice in Wonderland boasts her own statue. Monumental Women began its work on securing a site and design for the women's suffrage statue back in 2014, identifying Central Park’s Literary Walk as an ideal and fitting location for a statement on women’s contributions to New York City and the United States at large. The non-profit has collected over $1.5 million in funds for the statue and has support from local community boards, other non-profit arts commissions, and gender equality activists. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has also been an instrumental figure since the beginning, declaring this week when the final design was revealed a "monumental moment."  Renowned sculptor Meredith Bergmann, who will tackle the historic project, has been working with Monumental Women to edit the design over the last few months. The process of approvals has been difficult and the initial versions of the statue have drawn immense criticism. But the project has also generated discourse on the historic trends and precedents for public sculpture. Historically, only men have been granted permission to exist in the public realm, to be seen and heard. Women were relegated to the domestic sphere and left out of politics—notabley voting—which is strongly connected to the NYC Public Design Commission’s decision to unveil the statue on the centennial of this event. Throughout the entire United States, there are fewer than 400 statues of real women, excluding representations of metaphor, myth or ‘type’ models. It’s about time that women get their spot on a pedestal to celebrate real, tangible achievements that changed the course of the country’s history. The Bergmann statue is one step closer to bridging the gap and gives the millions of girls who visit Central Park a figure to physically and figuratively look up to.
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A Monumental Makeover

Five top landscape firms join forces to save the National Mall Tidal Basin
As the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. weathers the impact of tourism and climate change, teamwork may be the best way to save it. The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Trust for The National Mall have announced a partnership of five landscape architecture firms tasked with shaping the Tidal Basin’s future. “The National Mall Tidal Basin embodies freedom, perseverance, and democratic values, and it is a place where people come together from around the country and around the world to celebrate these ideals," said Katherine Malone-France, NTHP's chief preservation officer, in a statement. "That is why we must bring our best innovation and ingenuity to meet the challenges it is facing. DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, and Reed Hilderbrand are slated to join forces in order to maximize the Tidal Basin’s potential as a public space. The coalition exists within the National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, a forum for innovation and collaboration with regard to the future of the landscape. Surrounded by the iconic memorials of Washington, the Tidal Basin has played an important role in the city’s landscape throughout history. The heavily-trafficked Tidal Basin Loop Trail offers unmatched views of the National Mall and its surrounding monuments, but a crumbling sea wall has led to regular flooding that impedes sidewalk access and threatens the world-famous cherry trees around the basin. The Ideas Lab hopes to compile a broad range of perspectives from the firms in order to combat the many challenges faced by the Tidal Basin such as infrastructure issues, an overwhelming visitor experience, the need for intensive land conservation, and more. “Our goal, as a lead partner of the National Park Service, is to bring innovation and partnerships to expedite the fulfillment of the Master Plan for the National Mall,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall. “These five visionary teams are a prime example of how collaboration between distinguished experts in fields aligned with our project needs will create solutions to help overcome the complex preservation issues affecting the treasured Tidal Basin.” The proposals will be presented in an Ideas Lab exhibition slated to run next summer through fall 2020, during which the public will have the opportunity to inform the design process before concepts are finalized.
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Playing Games

Unity creates new open source tool just for architects with Reflect
Video game software suites like Unreal Engine and Unity have made their way into the architectural arsenal with AEC firms like Skanska, Foster + Partners, and Zaha Hadid Architects using them to visualize and test new buildings. However, these tools weren’t necessarily built with AEC professionals in mind and while they often result in nice-looking environments, they don’t generally offer much in the way of architecture-specific functionality like the ones architectural designers have come to rely upon in BIM and CAD software. To help bridge this gap, the company behind Unity is testing a new piece of software called Reflect. “Unity Pro is a super powerful tool that people use it for creating design walkthroughs and custom application development,” said Tim McDonough, vice president at Unity, “but these firms have a whole bunch of people that would like to be able to view their Revit data easily in a 3D engine like Unity without having to be a software developer, which is what are our current tools built for.” Reflect, which will launch publicly this fall, connects with existing software suites like Revit and Trimble to leverage the vast amounts of data that designers and contractors rely upon, and uses it to create new visualizations, simulations, AR, and VR experiences. Users can view and collaborate across BIM software and Reflect, which are synchronized in real-time across multiple devices for both desktop and mobile. “Users were saying it took them weeks to get data out of Revit into Unity and by the time they got it out, the project had moved on and what was done was irrelevant,’” said McDonough. “We’ve taken out the drudgery so that now what used to take weeks takes just minutes.” https://youtu.be/YnwcGfr0Uk0 A number of firms have already been putting Reflect to the test. Reflect is open source and allows users to develop their own applications, whether for use in their firm or for a broader architectural public. SHoP Architects has been trying out Reflect since the software entered its Alpha phase this summer, creating various solutions to test on their supertall project at 9 Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn. Adam Chernick‌, an associate at SHoP focusing on AR and VR research, noted that while showing off buildings in software like Unity has become part of standard practice, getting those visualizations attached to critical information has been a challenge up until now. “It hasn't been super difficult to get the geometry into the game engines," he said, "but what has been even more difficult is getting that data into the game engines." One of the first uses for Reflect that the SHoP team devised was an AR application that allowed them to monitor the progress of 9 Dekalb and easily oversee construction sequencing using color-coded panels that map onto the building’s model in their office. Chernick explained that there was a huge amount of exterior window panels to keep track of and that the app really helped. “We wanted to be able to visualize where we are in the construction process from anywhere—whether in VR or AR, and be able to get a live update of its status,” he said. “Now we can watch the building being constructed in real-time.” The SHoP team has also leveraged the power of Reflect—and its integration with Unity—to create new visualization tools for acoustic modeling. “We created an immersive acoustic simulator where you get to see how a sound wave expands through space, reflects off of walls, and interacts with geometry,” said Christopher Morse‌, an associate of interactive visualization at SHoP. “You can slow it down, you can pause it, and you can stop it.” The idea, he explained, is to help architects make acoustic decisions earlier in the design process. “Currently a lot of those acoustic decisions come later and most of the geometry is already decided,” Morse said, noting that at a certain point, all designers can really do is add carpeting or acoustic tiling. “But we want to use these tools earlier and in order for that to actually work, we needed to enable an iterative feedback loop so that you can create a design, analyze and evaluate it, and then make changes based on your analysis." With Reflect, there's also no more grueling import and export process, which Morse said prevented designers from even incorporating tools in their workflow. “Once we had Reflect, we integrated it into our existing acoustic visualization software in order to make that round trip quicker so that people can put on the headset, make a change in Revit, and instantly reevaluate based on those changes.” There is also metadata attached to the geometry, such as material information. While 9 Dekalb is too far along in its construction to incorporate the new software heavily into the design, SHoP’s begun testing out their acoustic modeling app in the lobby of the project. https://youtu.be/f0IA55N_99o Reflect could also provide BIM data in more a user-friendly package to more people working on building projects. “We think that BIM is so valuable, but not enough people get to use it,” said McDonough. “We were trying to figure out how to get BIM in the hands of people on a construction site, so everyone can see all that information at a human scale.” At SHoP, this means creating apps that contractors can use on the job. Currently, their AR apps work on mobile devices, but SHoP hopes that, as AR headsets become more mainstream, they’ll also be able to use the apps on products such as the HoloLens. “This could be a paradigm shift,” says Chernick‌. “We realize that this massive, thousand-sheet set of construction documents that we need to create in order to get a building built is not going anywhere soon. But what we can do is help make this process more efficient and help our construction teams understand and potentially build these projects in more efficient ways.”
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Future Is Now

Aesthetic of Prosthetics compares computer-enhanced design practices
How has contemporary architecture and culture been shaped by our access to digital tools, technologies, and computational devices? This was the central question of Aesthetics of Prosthetics, the Pratt Institute Department of Architecture’s first alumni-run exhibition curated by recent alumni and current students Ceren Arslan, Alican Taylan, Can Imamoglu and Irmak Ciftci. The exhibition, which closed last week, took place at Siegel Gallery in Brooklyn. The curatorial team, made up of current students and recent alumni, staged an open call for submissions that addressed the ubiquity of “prosthetic intelligence” in how we interact with and design the built environment. “We define prosthetic intelligence as any device or tool that enhances our mental environment as opposed to our physical environment," read the curatorial statement. "Here is the simplest everyday example: When at a restaurant with friends, you reach out to your smartphone to do an online search for a reference to further the conversation, you use prosthetic intelligence." As none of the works shown have actually been built, the pieces experimented with the possibilities for representation and fabrication that “prosthetic intelligence” allows. The selected submissions used a range of technologies and methods including photography, digital collage, AI technology, digital modeling, and virtual reality The abundant access to data and its role in shaping architecture and aesthetics was a pervasive theme among the show's participants. Ceren Arslan's Los Angeles, for instance, used photo collage and editing to compile internet-sourced images that create an imaginary, yet believable streetscape. Others speculated about data visualization when drawings are increasingly expected to be read by not only humans, but machines and AI intelligence, as in Brandon Wetzel's deep data drawing.

"The work shown at the exhibition, rather than serving as a speculative criticism pointing out towards a techno-fetishist paradigm, tries to act as recording device to capture a moment in architectural discourse. Both the excitement and skepticism around the presented methodologies are due to the fact that they are yet to come to fruition as built projects," said the curators in a statement.