Search results for "Richard Meier"

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Henderson, NV

Construction begins on Lake|Flato's ASCAYA "Inspiration Home"
A luxury housing development in Nevada has started construction on the Lake|Flato-designed "Inspiration Home," one of seven homes in the new development designed by renowned architects to give "design inspiration" to future residents. ASCAYA is carved out of the hilly volcanic rock of the McCullough Range in Henderson, and is arranged so each lot has a view of the city and surrounding mountains. Its elevation at the highest point is 3,000 feet, and the remaining spots are sought-after: One of its 313 lots coming in at just a little over an acre recently sold for $2.6 million. Lake|Flato's inspiration home is a single story and measures 9,000 square feet, with four bedrooms and a four-car garage in addition to a large living space. The master bedroom opens into a private patio aimed at nearby Las Vegas. Sustainability and the landscape are integrated into the design of the house. Its walls are made of rammed earth, which blends into the surrounding rock as well as providing great insulation for the location's hot climate. The main living space also opens up into an outdoor courtyard. This is the third of seven inspiration homes to break ground on the site. Others were designed by Swaback Partners, SB Architects, Hoogland Architecture, Marmol Radziner, and Backen, Gillam, & Kroeger. Richard Meier, Pritzker Prize–winning designer of the Getty Center, contributed one of his signature all-white homes. Lake|Flato's philosophy of blending the house into its desert surroundings is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's own home and school in the desert, Taliesin West. When building the compound in Scottsdale, Arizona, he was mindful of integrating the house into the rocky landscape to the point of literally building its walls with local rocks. John Sather of Swaback Partners is a graduate of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. All these homes are in a style that could be described as "desert contemporary," setting the tone for architects who will design buildings for the development later on. Adding to that aesthetic is a luxury clubhouse designed by Swaback Partners that will include a fitness center, spa, and pool.
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To Scale

This museum in a Tokyo warehouse is dedicated to preserving architectural models
A recently-opened museum in Tokyo aims to archive and display architectural models from great Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma, Riken Yamamoto, and Shigeru Ban. The museum treats the models as  important archival pieces in respect to their finished buildings as well as pieces of art worthy of appreciation. The museum is called Archi-Depot, and it’s located in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo. Its founder, Warehouse Terrada, is a storage company that advertises its expertise in storing wine, art, and other media. This helps explain the layout of the space, which has its models simply arranged on 116 shelves in an open warehouse. Guests can look up more information, including photos and blueprints, of each model using QR codes. The layout of the museum is clean and minimalist, and it doesn't take an expert in architecture to appreciate these delicate miniatures. According to Archi-Depot, their mission is work at the intersection of museum and archive. “Architectural models are considered to be profound materials that transmit designers’ thoughts, as well as being high quality sculpture works,” the museum says on their website. “Fans of architecture will gather from all over the world, as ARCHI-DEPOT has an accumulation of Japanese architectural models.” This museum is the first of its kind in Japan but its philosophy is similar to that of the Richard Meier Model Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey, which specifically gathers models made by the Pritzker winning architect Richard Meier. Other museums have dedicated specific exhibits to architectural models.
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White House

Richard Meier house added to National Register of Historic Places
The Richard Meier–designed Douglas House has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Harbor Springs, Michigan house was built in 1973 for Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas. Clad in Meier’s signature white, the Douglas House is sited dramatically over Lake Michigan. Due to the steep site, the house is entered from the roof level by way of a foot bridge. This long entry sequence enforces a strict separation between the public and private. Once inside the house is oriented to exterior views. The roof deck and the living room provide uninterrupted views out over Lake Michigan. Richard Meier commented on the early stages of working with the Douglases: “One day I received a letter from a Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas inquiring if I would sell them the blueprints for the Smith House. I replied that while I was not prepared to sell the drawings, I would certainly be willing to design a new house for them along similar lines. They accepted, and I started designing a house for a site that they had purchased in a residential subdivision in northern Michigan. As it happened, the developer who had sponsored the subdivision insisted on reviewing the design of any house that would be built within its boundary. He asked me to submit photographs of my work, whereupon he immediately refused to permit a house designed by me since it did not have the prerequisite classic pitched roof. To my delight, the Douglases responded to this impasse by promptly selling the plot and looking for another site, and that was the beginning of a very gratifying collaboration." The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior via the National Park Service. The goal of the register is to support “public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.”  Properties added to the register can be either buildings, structures, objects, or sites.
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Black Box

Richard Meier blacks out for new tower on the East River
Pritzker Prize–winning architect Richard Meier's trademark is the white, or off-white, structure. Yesterday, though, the architect blacked out at the behest of his developer friend Sheldon Solow for a 42-story, 556-unit residential tower on the East River. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed renderings of the 828,000-square foot, Terminator-black, UN-adjacent building, at 39th Street and First Avenue. It's Meier's tallest in New York and his first since his three apartment towers on West Street were completed more than 12 years ago. The WSJ generously described the form as "a plain rectangular slab...the new building, except for its color, is vintage Meier inside and out, a polished specimen of neo-Modernist simplicity." Sources close to AN panned the design: "A cheap lighter." "Nice gap tooth." "Looks like they hired no one to design it." "Should have stuck to white." Solow insisted that Meier use black, because all of the developer's buildings are black. Solow thinks of architects as painters, and it was a question here, Solow explained, of getting Meier to adjust his palette. Solow has intended to develop the site, formerly home to Con Edison steam plants, for decades. After years of environmental remediation, and fights with planning agencies and the community boards, visions for the towers were scuttled in the 2008 recession. Last year, Solow resumed the development, filing plans for the tower were last August, although a few details have changed since then: the size of the building is up 10,000 square feet, with one-third condos and two-third rentals. The project is expected to be complete in 2018. The site could accommodate more programs, including a proposed commercial high-rise by SOM, and a one-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations, although Solow would like to see how Meier's project progresses before confirming details on these projects.
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Lunch at a Landmark: Norman Foster explains the creative process behind his iconic structures
On October 7, the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation hosted its annual “Lunch at a Landmark” at the top of the Hearst Tower. Guests, New York’s elite architectural, design, and preservation cognoscenti, were offered a rare insight into the building—one from Norman Foster himself. To best explain his old-meets-new approach to the Hearst Tower, Foster revisited five of his past projects: the Reichstag in Berlin; the Millennium Bridge over the Thames; the Millau Viaduct in Millau, France; La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France; and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux. The original Art Deco Hearst building by Joseph Urban was always intended to have a tower rising from its base. However, due to complications like the Great Depression, it was nearly 80 years before that tower came to fruition. To build the 46-story-tall skyscraper, Foster scooped out the building’s interior to introduce light and create a kind of “town-square.” This move was initially contested on the grounds of “facadism” but Foster persisted. “When someone says I can’t do something, that is when I get really excited about it,” he said. Now, the dynamic lobby with its dramatic entrance that takes pedestrians over an indoor waterfall to enter is one of the building’s most iconic design moments. Of course, Foster could make an educated guess that this would be the case. He took a similar approach to Berlin’s Reichstag in 1999. In that instance, the hollowed-out core was a historically sensitive move that visually helped to give the building back to the people. Even as he preserved the Russian graffiti and other emblems of the building’s past, the clear dome in the tower physically placed the people above the government as a bright symbol of democracy. Although bridges are markedly different from buildings, Foster also connected past and present with the Millennium Bridge and the Millau Viaduct, quite literally. Taking cues from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern in London, the Millennium Bridge’s thin, steel profile frames picturesque views of the city for the approximately 4 million people per year who walk across it. While France’s Millau Viaduct didn’t have to contend with any historic buildings, it presented a similar challenge in that its location, the Massif Central Region, is a National Heritage Site. Using tall piers to support the slender bridge, Foster and Michel Virlogeux (the lead engineer at Eiffage, the same company responsible for the Eiffel Tower), created a structure that only lightly touches the land and enhances the landscape for everyone driving across it. These three projects illustrate Foster’s concept of a design “marriage,” a relationship that he likens to a family, where there is a new generation that may have a distinct style, but it has very strong ties to the older generation. In two other projects he discussed, La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France, and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux, Foster opted for a different approach. For La Voile, Foster ran up against a well-intentioned law in the South of France that protected the coastline. Unfortunately, this meant that a nondescript house on his client’s property was also protected. But, by hollowing out an old stone tower from the center, Foster created a new “skin,” a design that totally swallows the original home—perfectly preserving it without compromising the new design. In fact, the fit was so perfect, that the local police raided the house once to make sure the original one was accessible underneath (it was). Along similar lines, but less dramatically, Foster integrated a new structure for making white wine at the Château Margaux winery with an 1815 building by Louis Combes. Pulling inspiration from trees and farm structures, the resulting building appears to grow both organically from the site and from its 19th Century counterpart. These five projects offer a survey of Foster’s innovative and varying approaches to melding old and new architecture in ways both familiar and unique to each site. It will be exciting to see how these approaches unfold as he turns to more radical projects such as the drone port in Rwanda and beyond.
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Roadside Renzo
Kum & Go HQ gets the Renzo Piano treatment.
Courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop

The Menil Collection. Parco della Musica Auditorium. The new Whitney Museum. The Art Institute of Chicago. And, now, Kum & Go Headquarters.

Renzo Piano’s latest client is the family-owned, Des Moines, Iowa-based convenience store chain Kum & Go. His contribution to Des Moines will further move one of the region’s most prominent businesses from a suburban campus choked by cars and cul-de-sacs into a redeveloping district featuring a public library by David Chipperfield and a sculpture park by New York-based architects Mario Gandelsonas and Diana Agrest.

Piano’s design packages all the features that an ever-widening base of clients come to him for. Its strong, terraced horizontal lines hint at the indigenous Prairie Style, lightened with span after span of floor-to-ceiling glass. The five-story building (complete with rooftop garden) is suspended over a glass-walled entrance pavilion via a series of thin steel columns, offering Piano’s best chance in this project for his hallmark structural poetry.

Boasting expansive Prairie Style terraces and a wealth of glass, Piano’s building is expected to open in 2018.
 

Project manager Danielle Hermann of OPN Architects (the local architects of record) says the plan is intended to have the “building floating over the landscape.” The approximately $100 million project will begin construction late this fall, and is expected to be complete by 2018.

“Lightness, simplicity, and openness are the main concepts expressed in the design,” said Piano in a press release. “The four vast planes flying over the site will emphasize the lightness and the transparency of the building, and will dialogue with the sculpture park nearby.”

 

A third of the four-acre site will be taken up by Piano’s building, leaving ample room for a landscaped, privately-owned public park space that will serve as an extension to Gandelsonas and Agrest’s Pappajohn Sculpture Park across the street. Piano’s plan is designed to defer to the sculpture garden, while offering cool, shady outdoor space that complement the topography next door.

The Kum & Go building “should serve as a community connector and really fit well in the site—to serve as a natural, artful extension of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park,” said Kum & Go CEO Kyle Krause.

 

The neighborhood, called Gateway West, is a master-planned area of redevelopment, and a building by a Pritzker Prize–winning architect could be its crown jewel. Beyond Kum & Go and the sculpture park, it hosts the Chipperfield library, several other corporate headquarters, and a raft of new restaurants, several of which have been installed into adaptively reused buildings. Previously an undefined edge-zone abutting the corporate, modernist highrises of downtown, “It’s creating a new place in the city of Des Moines,” said Erin Olson-Douglas, an architect with the city who works on economic development and urban planning.

Krause’s family will own the building, with Kum & Go (who operate 100 LEED-certified gas stations) as a tenant. Krause proffered the vision for moving the company into the city center from the suburban campus they were rapidly outgrowing. Inspired by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (who moved his company from the suburban fringe of Las Vegas to its downtown), Krause wanted to harness the same urban energy that comes through chance encounters in active, vibrant places, according to the company’s senior vice president of store development Nikki DePhillips.

The attention Piano has focused on the city is reason to be proud, said Olson-Douglas, but it is also an opportunity to exorcise some fly-over-country anxiety. When Piano was selected, Olson-Douglas wondered, “Are we really good enough for that?” But, with an art museum by Eliel Saarinen, IM Pei, and Richard Meier, and Drake University’s Eliel and Eero Saarinen master plan, “There’s always been a culture of high architecture,” she said. “The decision the Krauses made ups that ante, and reinforces that history.”

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Act II for House VI?
Dick Frank

[Editors note: The day after AN went to print with the news of the House VI sale we received the following message from the potential purchaser of the house: “Regrettably, due to a family medical situation, I will not be purchasing House VI. My disappointment knows no bounds.” We will continue to follow the sale of House VI. —William Menking]

Peter Eisenman’s 1975 House VI, which was commissioned and lived in by Suzanne and Dick Frank, has been sold to an architect who promises “to preserve and restore the house to its original condition with very minor adjustments.” The house’s new owner, Thomas Schmitt—who worked for I.M. Pei and lives in Richard Meier’s One Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn—was looking for an iconic architectural work that might also serve as a studio and living space for his daughter, the artist Christina Schmitt. He found the listing for House VI in the real estate section of an online service, and because his daughter’s work is heavily influenced by the integration of math, music, and painting, he thinks it will be perfect for the family.

The Cornwall, Connecticut house has been lovingly maintained and cared for by the Franks, who said they appreciate it for being “half revolutionary and half calmly classic.” Mrs. Frank said she and her husband “will sorely miss its upstart and calming effects as well as the ethereal lighting the forms welcome.”

But they are thrilled that the home’s new owner is an artist who will preserve the structure. The Franks, to their credit, waited to find the right buyer who would care for this important building. Schmitt praised them for being so forthcoming on the history of the design and construction of the house.

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Daiquiri Sunset
Richard Meier's update and addition to Miami's legendary Surf Club.
Courtesy Richard Meier + Partners

A series of residential towers is set to replace some of Miami’s historic hotels. The city has seen a wave of development in the last 10 years, and neighborhoods such as North Beach—once off the radar—have become new urban hot pockets.

Many long-time residents are concerned about the dangers of luxury condo-fication, and Mayor Philip Levine has voiced concerns about preserving Miami’s iconic architecture. “One of the catalysts for change in South Beach in the late 80s and 90s was the recognition of art deco. So we want to preserve the MiMo style as a catalyst for North Beach. We have to be very careful to preserve any and all architecturally significant properties,” he told the Washington Post.

Four new residential projects are giving a glimpse into the challenges and possibilities of mitigating new redevelopment within existing urban fabric, preserving architectural and cultural heritage, and making places in which people of all socio-economic backgrounds can thrive.

The historic Golden Sands Hotel will be partially saved to become the front of a luxury condo tower.
Courtesy ArX Solutions
 

Two of the hotel-to-condo projects offer a blend of old Miami and new, ultra-modern building. The L’Atelier Residences will be slotted in behind the historic facade of the Golden Sands Hotel. The historically protected art deco facade and an interior lobby will be retained. Historic preservation required this restoration, but co-developer Meir Srebernik saw it more as an opportunity to “create a dialogue between the old and new construction.”

The Surf Club before the Richard Meier renovation and addition.
Courtesy Richard Meier + Partners
 

Similarly, Richard Meier will update the iconic (and ultra-exclusive) Surf Club hotel, converting it to condos. The original 1930 building, a protected Mediterranean villa with a ballroom and bathing cabanas, will be restored with new 12-story residential and hotel towers looming behind it.

The site of the historic King Cole Hotel (left) will be home to the Ritz-Carlton Residences, designed by Piero Lissoni (right).
David Almeida/Courtesy Wolfsonian; Courtesy dbox
 

The site of the old King Cole Hotel will be home to the Ritz Carlton Residences, a midrise waterfront residential project designed by Milanese architect Piero Lissoni. Because the hotel was repurposed as a hospital before closing permanently, a zoning quirk re-categorized the site as low-density residential to match the abutting sites. Thus, had the developers demolished the building, it would have meant rebuilding at a lower height restriction so they are adapting the existing structure.

The Biltmore Terrace by Morris Lapidus (left) and Renzo Piano’s new design (right).
Phillip Pessar / Flickr; Courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop
 

Real estate firm Terra Group asked Renzo Piano to redevelop the site of The Biltmore Terrace Hotel, a Morris Lapidus–designed postwar tower that had recently been a Howard Johnson. There was some controversy when plans to refurbish the building into a new hotel were scrapped abruptly after a height variance was given. However, the building was not landmarked, so a complete demolition began several weeks later. The developer opted instead to master plan the site with a 17-story condo tower and a large park space by landscape architects West 8 that aims to let passersby see the beach from Collins Avenue—a complement to Piano’s subtle architecture.

While the contrasts in the projects might tell a story about the importance of historic preservation, they also show a range of strategies for working within physical and legal restrictions to make places that are sensitive to their surroundings and can hopefully be enjoyed by communities while preserving the character of a place. Even if most people cannot afford to live in these ultra-exclusive residences, they still experience them in one way or another, from architectural appreciation to walking dogs in green space.

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Tokyo government approves Zaha Hadid's designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium while controversy continues
Despite courting backlash for being imposingly large and costly, Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium have been green-lighted by the Tokyo government. Officials maintain that further modifications at this stage of proceedings would only incur further expenses from construction delays. In July last year, Hadid acquiesced to criticism against her original stadium, announcing new designs with economizing modifications promising to be more “efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.” A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects told Dezeen that the structure would sport “a lightweight, tensile fabric” to “reduce the weight and materials of the roof to give it greater flexibility as an indoor and outdoor venue.” However, Hadid’s firm declined to disclose whether the size of the venue would also be scaled back. The two massive arches forming the backbone of the roof, which critics have billed an unneeded frill, will prevail. To slash construction costs from the initial $3 billion, officials have proposed delaying building a retracting roof until after the Olympics and making 15,000 of the stadium’s 80,000 seats temporary. “We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more contemporary grandstands,” said John Coates, Vice President of the International OIympics Committee. “It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.” Nevertheless, the price tag continues to hover at $2 billion due in part to the fact that use of Hadid’s designs requires the demolition of the existing 1964 stadium designed by architect Mitsuo Katayama. Pritzker laureates such as Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have been among Hadid’s most vocal critics, themselves one of eleven finalists in the 2008 competition. In an interview with Dezeen at the groundbreaking for her 1000 Museum Tower in Miami last year, the Iraqi-British architect posited: “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium.” However, soaring construction costs have been reported across the board, with the committee reviewing designs for ten Olympic products after bids for one facility came in at 15 times the estimated cost. Although Hadid’s stadium has received the go-ahead, city and central government continue to hotly debate how to split the $2 billion bill.
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See the Grand Palais submerged in a virtual waterfall in 3D projection mapping design by Japanese art collective teamLab
Recently, Paris’ Grand Palais was awash in the cascade of a virtual waterfall, transforming the beaux-arts palace into a captivating scene from the lost city of Atlantis. TeamLab, a Japanese collective of technologists and artists, used 3D projection mapping to create the holographic play of light and shadow, while maintaining a fidelity to the laws of physics. The artists calculated the movement of the waterfall by creating a 3D model of the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées in a virtual computer environment and allowing water to cascade over it. “The water is expressed as continuum of hundreds of thousand of water particles that flow in accordance with how the computer calculates the interaction of the particles,” teamLab explained in a post on its website. “Once an accurate water flow simulation has been constructed, 0.1 percent of the water particles are selected and lines drawn in relation to them. The waterfall is expressed as the combination of these lines.” The torrents of water fall with arresting slowness and are deflected as they “collide” with the silent statues and columns of the magnificent building. TeamLab, the brains behind Tokyo’s interactive hanging gardens and LED Christmas trees, programmed a slight time lag into the cascade as a nod to their Japanese ancestors, who perceived time and space as “on a longer axis.” The artists allege that only if one “does not feel a barrier between them and the waterfall,” or, in other words, cedes their full attention, can the viewer truly experience the artwork’s underlying intent. The projection mapping light show was created as part of the Art Paris Art Fair 2015.
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A Big Interesting Mess
Columbia University professor Richard Plunz discusses New York City affordable housing as part of an Inventory of What's Possible..
Courtesy IPA

On April 9 and 10, the Institute for Public Architecture and Pratt Institute School of Architecture held “An Inventory of What’s Possible,” a symposium organized to discern what can be done to implement Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to build 200,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years. The event consisted of visits to a variety of different public and supportive housing projects from various eras throughout the city, in addition to talks by professors, students, city officials, community activists, and the president of a residents’ association. They discussed new ideas, historic projects, problems, possible solutions, and opportunities that the current affordable housing crisis presents.

On April 9, participants toured housing ranging in time from Strivers Row by James Brown Lord, Bruce Price, and Stanford White (1893) to Via Verde by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw (2012) and in space from Roland Wank’s Grand Street housing in Lower Manhattan to Clarence Stein and Henry Wright’s Sunnyside Gardens in Queens and Twin Parks in the north Bronx. Richard Meier; Prentice, Chan & Olhausen; and Giovanni Pasanella all have buildings at Twin Parks. The tour drove home the point that New York City’s legacy is remarkable for its range, quality, and continuing success. It also showed that there are lessons to be learned—both positive and negative—from what has been built in the past.

After welcomes by Pratt Dean Thomas Hanrahan, and professor and AN editor-in-chief William Menking, panel discussions furthered historical perspectives, provided views of neighborhood activists, and presented new ideas about ways to attack the affordable housing crisis.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld, the founder of the Institute for Public Architecture, who had designed some of the housing visited the day before, noted, “We have 50 years of research on the public realm at Pratt in the institute founded by Ron Shiffman (Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, or PICCED) and now directed by Adam Freeman. Housing—and the way we think about the public realm and the interior realm—defines our humanity as a city. New York is the quintessential innovator in thinking about housing in a dense place, willing to take chances and create new types of housing.”

Karen Kubey, who directs the Institute for Public Architecture, mentioned "Total Reset" an Institute Fellows residency program on public and below-market housing that took place last summer, noting that Michael Kimmelman had covered it enthusiastically in “Trading Parking Lots for Affordable Housing,” in The New York Times on September 14.

Later in the day, when Institute Fellows presented the findings from their work, Miriam Peterson, Nathan Rich, and Sagi Golan described the “9 x 18” plan that Kimmelman had praised. They proposed a new parking policy, especially in areas near pubic transportation, an attempt to create streets that promote an active lifestyle.

“There is much more parking on NYCHA sites than on other urban blocks. The idea is to replace parking lots with parking structures that house community facilities,” said Golan.

“A lot of the residents were willing to trade parking space for other amenities.” Another Institute Fellow, Kaja Kuhl, a Columbia GSAPP professor who goes to five neighborhoods every year with the 5 Borough Studio, talked about the importance of starting a conversation with each community. She uses “Postcards from Home” to learn how the residents view “home” and found that they see it as “neighborhood and community,” “privacy,” and even “food.” She said, “We heard that housing should be affordable,” and she showed some of the student projects that were inspired by these conversations. At the Forest Houses in the Bronx, students looked at the schools that surround the NYCHA development as a place to share school facilities like a library, a gymnasium, and computer labs with each other and with NYCHA residents by putting them on the housing authority campus.

Frederick Biehle, a Pratt professor and principal of VIA Architecture, had also considered restoring streets and reshaping the urban fabric in his studio that focused on the Ingersoll and Whitman Houses in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He suggested “delineating public, semipublic, and private spaces” to counter the “sameness and banality” of the existing buildings. The studio proposed a new two-story base connecting two existing towers with semi-private space for residents and an interior courtyard with new institutional programs—a skating rink, a school, stores. “Each individual building gets to determine its own block. The metastasized scheme doubles the number of units, but the buildings’ lower floors become more porous. Townhouses face the street.” He described a number of possibilities and noted, “It’s amazing that so many successful, doable projects were proposed.”

In a morning session on “Stabilizing Neighborhoods,” the moderator was Daniel Hernandez, the Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and a Pratt professor. He noted the importance of early engagement in identifying issues and then implementing them, since “it’s a moment when there is a lot of cultural change going on in the agencies.”

NYIT Professor Nicholas Bloom described the promise of subsidized coops and said, “The word ownership comes up often in the mayor’s document.” He talked about the success of earlier subsidized coops, such as Village View in Manhattan and the Luna Park Co-op in Coney Island, which encouraged residents to take care of their neighborhoods. He proposed that NYCHA create a subsidiary to build some of these on their land on a nonprofit model, similar to what is done in Singapore. They might be built with FEMA funds in some areas, would “put more eyes on the street,” and might be step-up housing for some NYCHA families. “There has to be a less strident conversation about underused land in NYCHA communities,” he said.

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, a principal of Buscada who teaches at the New School for Public Engagement, discussed the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). She described it as “a big mess but one that is interesting.” In 1967, families were driven out but told that they could return when new housing was built. However, not enough was built for many families to return. She emphasized the importance of perpetuity in communities.

Benjamin Dulchin, who is a community organizer, not an architect, represents the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Developmentan, an umbrella organization for 101 community development groups. He is trying to help neighborhoods set agendas and develop policies by studying what has worked and what conditions made success possible. He said that while it is important to build permanently affordable housing, it is also necessary to focus on crime, economic development, and institutions to sustain a community.

Paula Segal, the executive director of 596 Acres, an organization that advocates for community gardens spoke, unsurprisingly, in favor of their preservation and of ownership of land by communities. She is particularly opposed to giving gardens to for-profit developers.

In a discussion period after their talks, Ron Shiffman said, “Displacement and speculation on land has become palpable in every neighborhood of New York. A lot of good planning came from neighborhood-based organizations. Let’s start integrating some of the wealthiest communities.”
Pratt faculty member Meredith TenHoor chaired a panel on Enabling Quality Design. She noted that in the 1970s, when cities were seen as failing, it was often the design of housing that was blamed.

Suzanne Schindler, who teaches at Columbia, discussed another historic example—Twin Parks in the Bronx (1967–75), which participants had visited the day before. She described the interesting variety of buildings, built by a group of 15 churches and synagogues with help from the state and federal governments and designed by well-known architects. The 2,300 apartments ranging from studios to five bedrooms “were created to stabilize the neighborhood but gang warfare happened right there.” She asked, “What can we learn?” and answered, “It all depends, not just on design but on how a project is managed,” showing a single loaded corridor completely blocked, plazas fenced in, she added, “You need to think about design along with management, security, and other factors.”

Pratt professor David Burney commissioned innovative community centers from celebrated, mostly young architects when he was in charge of architecture at NYCHA in the 1990s and then headed the city’s Department of Design and Construction during the Bloomberg Administration. “When I got to NYCHA, I found that there was still some money left for buildings but it was hard to spend. You couldn’t build unless you could provide free land and use the low income tax credit. The Reagan Administration insisted on private developers, and the early attempts had been disastrous,” he said. They found a community garden on West 84th Street and hired Castro-Blanco Piscioneri Architects to build 35 permanently affordable units. With Becker + Becker, they built two- and three-bedroom apartments in a contextual walkup building on 8th Street; at 189 Stanton Street they built supportive housing for families with AIDS designed by James McCullar. “There are ways of doing things that are different. All these projects are completely integrated into their neighborhoods,” he pointed out.

TenHoor then asked the speakers, “How do we get quality? Who defines those standards?” Menking said, “At Sunnyside, the architects were deeply committed to quality and social scientists were part of it.” He also noted the role that philanthropy had played in the past, citing Phipps Houses, The Robin Hood Foundation, and Common Ground. Burney suggested, “Reverse the notion that design costs money, that design is only for the wealthy.” He also said, “As every architect knows, when you get to the end of the project, it’s the landscaping that gets cut.” He noted the importance of “health and the built environment. We are not number one in many things, but we are number one in obesity.” TenHoor mentioned the role of the private sector, noting that Mayor Lindsay advocated it and that it attracted architects of the caliber who designed Twin Parks. Schindler mentioned “long term issues and short term issues. If someone is going to maintain it, they may build it differently.”

Toward the end of the day, the president of the residents association at the five-story walkup First Houses (1936), Brendaliz Santiago, presented the tenants’ point of view. “NYCHA doesn’t communicate with tenants,” she said, “but we want community residents involved in planning.” Since New Years Eve 2014, though, she has been working closely with NYCHA. “With unity there is power.”

Karina Totah, Senior Advisor to the Chair of the New York City Housing Authority, explained, “The mayor gave the chair two directions: Reset your relationship with key stakeholders and create a plan for how you are going to make NYCHA survive.”She said, “Safe, clean, and connected is the goal,” and that engaging residents like Santiago to get resident input is a priority as well as dealing with short term financial problems, rehabilitating, and harnessing the real estate NYCHA already owns, and operating 138,000 units. “We are the largest landlord in New York City,” she added.

The two-day event brought together architects, professors, students, community organizers, residents, and managers of housing projects. The conversation necessary to jumpstart Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious housing plan has begun.