All posts in East

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A Bit Off the Top, Please

Court ruling against Upper West Side tower could take down 20 floors
A striking New York State Supreme Court ruling may force the developers of an Upper West Side condo tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue to scale back their soaring design by 20 floors. While developments of this kind are often modified in the planning phase in order to comply with zoning regulations, this case has a twist: Construction of the 668-foot building is nearly complete. Last Thursday, Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry ordered that the New York City Department of Buildings revoke the building permit for the development at 200 Amsterdam as well as demolish all floors that exceed zoning restrictions. The exact number of floors slated for removal remains unclear, but The New York Times reports that it could be 20 or more, depending on the final interpretation of the zoning laws. That’s quite a trim for a 52-story building. 200 Amsterdam, designed by Elkus Manfredi, occupies the lot where the original Lincoln Square Synagogue stood. In 2013, the synagogue moved to an updated building designed by CetraRuddy right next door, and renderings of the luxury condo high-rise first appeared in 2016. UWS community activists have viewed the project with contempt over the past few years, and many celebrated the ruling as a feat for community organizing. “We are very gratified that after a long fight, the gerrymandered zoning lot at 200 Amsterdam has been declared illegal. This groundbreaking decision averts a dangerous precedent that would have ultimately affected every corner of the city,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), in a press statement. In a statement to AN, developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan defended their vision for 200 Amsterdam and indicated plans to appeal the ruling:
“This ruling is a shocking loss for New York City and its residents. It defies more than 40 years of precedent in the city’s zoning laws. It also ignores the thoughtful decision of the DOB to grant the permit which was upheld by the BSA following exhaustive document review and testimony over a two-year period. Both of those decisions recognized that retroactively applying new interpretations of the city’s zoning to previously approved projects undermines the stability of the regulatory environment needed to support the investment that is critical to New York City’s economy, tax base, housing stock and services.  We will appeal this decision vigorously in court and are confident that we, and the City, will prevail on the merits.”
While the retroactive trimming of a nearly-finished tower is certainly unusual, it is worth noting that New York has seen this situation before—in 1991, a New York developer was forced to tear down the top 12 floors of a 31-story residential tower at 108 East 96th Street five  whole years after it was built. This marked the most severe consequence a New York developer had ever faced for zoning violations; the NYT reporting from 1991 claims that developers of the project repeatedly blamed the violations on an “error in a city map.” The immediate future of 200 Amsterdam remains unclear, but the potential of a partial demolition presents a unique set of challenges, especially with some of the most profitable units located on the upper floors.
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Conflicts of Interest

Cooper Hewitt director and six trustees resign over wedding controversy
Caroline Baumann, director of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, resigned from her post last week after internal controversy arose over her 2018 wedding. According to The New York Times, an investigation conducted by the Smithsonian’s inspector general dove into the amount of money Baumann paid for a custom-made wedding dress, as well as the procurement of her East Hampton, New York, wedding venue—both acquired through potential conflicts of interest in the eyes of the design museum’s governing body.  Some background: All museums under the Smithsonian umbrella are partially funded by the United States government and, like all government jobs, its employee code of conduct states that “employees shall not solicit or accept any gift from any source that is, or appears to be, offered because the employee holds a Smithsonian position or may have influence within the Smithsonian.” The probe into Baumann’s wedding began after an anonymous staff complaint was filed over concerns on two aspects of Baumann’s nuptials. In September 2018, Baumann married branding consultant John Stewart Malcolmson in a $750 silver wedding dress which investigating agents believed, according to NYT, to be a heavily-discounted price that she negotiated using her status as head of Cooper Hewitt. According to Brooklyn-based designer Samantha Sleeper who made the piece, she did not give Baumann a discount nor did Baumann request a discount, even though her dresses start at a rate of $3,000. Sleeper denied the claim that Baumann used her status to procure the gown and insisted the low-dollar amount was standard for the cocktail-style dress which she had purchased. The other issue the agents looked into involved where Baumann and Malcolmson held their wedding; a 16-acre sculpture garden on Long Island founded by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen. The property, LongHouse Reserve, won a Cooper Hewitt Award in 2015. Per multiple sources, Larsen and Baumann are good friends and he offered up the site for her to use free of charge. NYT noted that Larsen’s nonprofit of the same name has freely used Cooper Hewitt conference rooms for board meetings, an exchange that also drummed up concern within the Smithsonian.   Baumann reportedly stepped back from her directorial role over the claims, despite opposition from the museum’s board of trustees. In the aftermath, six of its 27 members resigned over the weekend from their posts, including architect David Rockwell. NYT reported that artist Judy Francis Zankel, the board secretary, wrote in her resignation letter that the way Baumann was treated “violates every principle of decency.”  “I feel that remaining on the board tacitly condones this behavior,” she continued. Zankel went on to question whether there was a “touch of misogyny” in Baumann’s forced ousting. “Can you imagine all this brouhaha about a dress and a wedding directed toward a man in the same position?”  The specifics of these accusations are especially confusing given Baumann’s success within the institution since she started working there in 2001. After being appointed director in 2013, Baumann supervised the museum’s rebranding by Pentagram and oversaw the $91 million renovation of its Carnegie Mansion home by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle. Diller Scofidio + Renfro completed its internal exhibition design in 2014 and the following year, the museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden reopened to the public. The massive project resulted in widespread praise for the 123-year-old institution. Over email, the museum confirmed Baumann’s departure and announced Dr. John Davis, Smithsonian Provost, as Cooper Hewitt’s interim director: “Baumann has been a passionate voice for design, and much was accomplished during her tenure."
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The Ignored Realm

Rem Koolhaas sets a global non-urban agenda with Countryside at the Guggenheim
In both pre-Christianity Rome and China, the countryside was a place of retreat where those seeking respite from the bustle and grime of the city would go for rest, relaxation, and creative inspiration. The Chinese founders of Taoism called this freedom and wondering Xiaoyao, while Roman philosophers referred to time away as Otium: and idealized existences—from off-the-grid hippy utopias to the peaceful bliss of Arcadia—have continued to crystallize in the natural landscapes of the rural. Contemporary ideas around wellness, mindfulness, ayahuasca startup retreats, and glamping at Burning Man fill the same role in our society as a full-circle return to pre-industrial, pre-capitalist, nature-centric lifestyles that are paradoxically a product of our neoliberal consumerist culture and sold as an antidote to it. This lineage, from the beginning of western civilization and ancient eastern philosophy to 21st-century marketing culture, is just part of Rem Koolhaas’s ten-year transcultural, transhistorical research and analysis of non-urban territories, or what he calls the “ignored realm.” On view at New York’s Guggenheim Museum through August 14, Countryside: The Future is a project of Koolhaas, AMO director Samir Bantal, and Troy Conrad Therrien of the Guggenheim. The show fills the museum’s entire main rotunda. It is meant to upend traditional notions of the countryside by investigating the places where the influence, as well as the oddities, normally associated with the urban can be found outside the city. If, at one time in the not-so-distant past, the countryside was an idyllic place where each human had a role, Koolhaas posits that the “romantic” landscape of creek beds, hillsides, and family farms is now unrecognizable as a stable, human-centered place, but rather a hyper-efficient, inorganic, non-place where Cartesian technological systems define life. The show reverses course on much of what we have come to accept as the baseline for thinking about development. Take that famous statistic: by 2050, 70- to-80 percent of humanity would live in cities. “Are we really heading for this absurd outcome, where the vast majority of humanity lives on only 2% of the earth’s surface, and the remaining 98%, inhabited by only one-fifth of humanity, exists to serve cities?” Of course, Rem is not the first person to do research on the rural. But he has the resources (5 partner schools and AMO), the storytelling ability, and the platform (an entire museum in NYC) to reorient the conversation, as he has on other topics such as cities, Dubai, and toilets. The exhibition starts outside the museum, with a tractor next to a small, high-tech indoor tomato farm under pink lights that illuminate passing pedestrians. In the lobby, a requisite hanging sculpture in the rotunda is made from a bale of hay, an imaging satellite akin those used by Google Maps, and an underwater robot that kills fish threatening coral reefs. Land, sea, and even space are all implicated in this broad survey of the rural, as this sculpture sets the tone for the rest of the show, which launches into an outpouring of information. It is reminiscent of OMA/AMO publications Content, Volume, or the Elements exhibition and books, as visitors are greeted by a wall text of 1,000 questions posed by Koolhaas. Nearby is a table showcasing publications that provided context: The Red Book and the Great Wall, The Future of the Great Plains, Golf Courses of the World, and a German publication about Muammar al-Gaddafi. At the core of the show, the Guggenheim’s iconic ramp houses a set of themed vignettes. ‘Political Redesign’ is a catalog of ‘heroic’ 20th-century geopolitical operations, ranging from the founding of several United States federal agencies during the Dust Bowl, to German Architect Herman Sörgel’s plan to unite Europe and Africa by lowering the level of the Mediterranean Sea and building a bridge over the resulting span. Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature and the evolution of the Jeffersonian grid from squares to circles are also highlights. Countryside then moves away from these governmental models into more polyvalent experiments with nature, technology, politics, planning, and preservation. Many of these we might normally associate with the urban, such as the anarchist community in Tarnac, France that was raided by police in 2008 but is now home to an informal university hidden in the forest. There are also glimpses of rural China, most beautifully Taobao Live, Alibaba’s live streaming channel that allows sellers in the countryside to broadcast their produce and foodstuffs to audiences in the cities. Arcosanti, afro-futurism, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative are among the other kaleidoscopic ways that the narrative extends beyond industrial farming into a host of other social and political spheres. Working through contemporary preservation methods, proposals, and scenarios, including a curious example from Siberia where valuable mammoth tusks are becoming exposed in the ground by climate change and creating new economies for local, amateur “archaeologists,” the exhibitions closes on ‘cartesian euphoria,’ a kind of paranoiac-critical reading of the technologies and systems that are rearranging nature and politics in the countryside, complete with a full-scale installation of a PhenoMate, a cutting-edge farming tool that uses machine learning to identify which plants in a nursery bed photosynthesizing the most, and selectively breeds stronger strains without genetic modification. The show operates politically in a context where the countryside, and those who live in it are a marginalized group, at least culturally. Urban elites deride rural areas as many things, most out-of-touchedly as “fly-over states.” After a decade or more or the architectural world focusing on cities and urban areas as the main spaces of inquiry, Rem’s turn to the countryside —most likely born from a desire to look where most others are not— and his ability to show the public that the so-called hinterlands are a place where not only are some of the most important agricultural, industrial, and social mechanisms of society operating, but it is also where many of the interesting intersections of experimental politics, economics, engineering, and social relationships are taking place. To ignore the rural because we don’t agree with the politics of those who live there, or think that their culture is not sophisticated is not only missing out on experiencing a countryside beyond a luxury faux-rustic retreat, but it is also disregarding the fact that the countryside and the city are and always will be inextricably linked, as elucidated by a brilliant provocation that cities have become stuck in “frivolity,” while supported by complex, managed landscapes in the countryside. For example, urbanites underneath London’s ArcelorMittal Orbit leisurely eat ice cream brought in from factory farms in the outskirts. It is also a show with a decidedly top-down lens on the countryside. Some will not like the relative lack of representation of small-scale communities in the show, but the acknowledgment of systems and technology is an important way of seeing these territories. Had the curators included more grassroots narratives, it likely would have watered down the larger, geopolitical stories being told, and the show is better off for staying focused on larger-scale issues rather than getting into the folk aspects of the countryside, which would be more predictable and less compelling. Countryside is definitely a magazine- or book-on-the-wall type of exhibition, but not in a bad way. The texts are snappily written in typical Koolhaasian style, and there are not too many complex maps or charts, making the exhibition feel more like a journalistic analysis of what is interesting about the countryside, not necessarily a theoretical treatise or prescriptive path forward. It could be read as a transformation of the museum into a publication, a curatorial strategy that upturns not only our ideas about the Guggenheim but about how to leverage a hyper-didactic exhibition into an aesthetic experience.  The show is literally distorted by the Guggenheim’s double-curved surfaces, spiraling ramp, and constantly shifting vantage points, with a string of text spiraling around the underside of the ramps like a dizzying thesis statement, always to be revisited. If there is a sticking point, it is that the aesthetic of the exhibition will be familiar to many, as it harkens back to previous OMA/AMO publications. Koolhaas has long collaborated with Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom, who created a custom Countryside typeface for the show, which resembles both handwriting and her Neutral typeface used throughout. In an exhibition that is really a publication, typefaces matter, and the familiar layouts and fonts make the exhibition seem more like the work of a signature architect or firm, not a global coalition. No, but seriously, folks, go see the show! Taschen has published an accompanying publication, available for 24.95 online or at the gift shop.
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Forever Young (& Ayata)

Young & Ayata builds practice through discipline
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at the Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller (and is now an AN interview series). On October 10, 2019, Felix Samo and Tirta Teguh, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Kutan Ayata of the Brooklyn-based Young & Ayata. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Felix Samo and Tirta Teguh: We’ll start with an easy one… What does it mean to practice architecture? Kutan Ayata: Do we have three hours?! Actually, this is something I recently discussed at length in a lecture titled, “Practicing-Teaching.” These two modes of operation are inseparable for us, as well as for many of our colleagues who established their offices after the recession in 2008. We actually started our office three months before the recession… timed perfectly! We quickly realized that traditional practice was no longer going to be viable for us. So, our practice includes teaching, our teaching includes practice. They’re inseparable. Practicing architecture is pedagogical. It’s about an exchange of ideas. Because we are primarily supported by teaching salaries, we can be very selective when it comes to our practice. Our office is a space where we actively explore our evolving curiosities about architectural potentials without too much compromise. Was starting an office something that you always wanted to do or something that happened unexpectedly or circumstantially? It’s both. I always knew I wanted to have a practice of my own. Michael [Young] would say the same thing. We both worked for about eight years for others before starting our practice. The way we started was incredibly casual. Michael and I lived on 14th Street in Manhattan after we graduated. We met up one night for drinks and had an unplanned discussion about starting a firm. We studied at Princeton at the same time and we worked together at Reiser + Umemoto. We got along, and we enjoyed working together. At that time, forming a partnership was almost more of a social decision than a professional decision. The spirit of that moment is maintained—we enjoy working together which helps us stay motivated. The answer is “yes” to both parts of the question: the practice came about rather unexpectedly, but it was also very intentional. What was your experience of the financial crisis in 2008? How did it affect the way you and your peers practice? That was a defining moment. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened to us. We had real projects, real contracts, projects going into construction… and all that basically disappeared overnight. All of a sudden, no job, no income. It was obviously a moment to freak out. But we found ways to deal with the situation. That’s when I started teaching, which changed the way I look at the world. The crises gave us an opportunity to slow down and contemplate our position in the discourse of Architecture. We began developing self-generated speculative projects, which, to this day, serve as the conceptual basis for much of our work. Concerning success you’ve had as an architect and as an office, do you attribute these moments more to fortunate circumstances or to skill and perseverance? Again, both. Nothing happens without hard work. In this last 10 years, both of us have started families, had kids… our lives got more and more hectic. We have less and less time to work. Additionally, we often teach at multiple schools each year and every day of the week, which is not common, nor easy. Before Michael earned the tenure-track position at Cooper Union, he was jumping around quite a bit—sometimes teaching at three schools in three different states in one semester. We figured out a way to make our work time more efficient amongst all those scheduled pressures. Success doesn’t come without a tremendous amount of hard work, but it also doesn’t happen without luck. We’ve had some luck. But in this country, I still believe you’re rewarded for hard work. That’s what strikes me about living and working in the United States… value is assigned to sustained effort. Persistence is recognized here and that’s quite amazing. What was the experience of starting a firm in a country in which you didn’t grow up? When we started the firm in 2008, I had already been in the US for 14 years. I came right after high school. The US was my home at that point. Now I’m quite removed from the place I come from, in the sense of customs and business… it’s all very unfamiliar. I know my high school lingo in Turkish, but I don’t know how to operate there as an adult. Does where you grew up have an influence on your work, or have you been removed from where you grew up for so long that it does not affect the work? It’s hard to say. I’m sure it does in some deep psychological level. It’s been 25 years, and I’ve lived most of my life in the US now. But let’s unpack this. When I was in Turkey, I was a die-hard skateboarder, and I always wanted to go to California. I didn't quite make it that far, but I found a partner who's from California. I tried to come to the US during high school as well. I ended up in a really small town, which was very depressing. At that moment, I didn’t want to stay, but it was very clear to me that my future would be in the US. But where I come from certainly influences me. Exposure to certain conditions present in Turkey during the time I lived there definitely influence how I look at the world today. Do architects have the responsibility to engage global issues? You can’t escape them. But I don’t think architecture as a discipline is responsible for solving the world’s problems. There are other issues that we are immediately engaged with, that are more disciplinary and, to us, more important, at least from the perspective of an architect. I’d like to draw the line between a citizen and an architect. We have our politics, we have our interests, we know where we stand in terms of the issues. In the last 10 to 15 years, there are always voices within the discipline which claim a broader reach and an urgency to deal with political issues. We’re more interested in central disciplinary questions that operate through aesthetics, which has its own political agency. Your answer reminds me of something you said in your 2014 Architectural League of New York talk, when you claimed that architecture should be separate from politics. You said that “architecture is not contingent, it develops its logic internally and grows from disciplinary concerns.” Can you elaborate on that and share how this belief affects your work? The relationship between architecture and politics is intensifying, but we have remained focused on issues internal to our discipline as a way to ensure its continual evolution. For us, it’s most interesting to talk to other architects about architecture… to have deep discussions and debates about the pertinent and persistent architectural topics. Of course, architecture performs on a broader cultural platform once it’s out in the world, but we believe that we have a responsibility to imagine that we can use our knowledge and tools to create new worlds rather than simply reflect and accommodate the one in which we live. In many of your projects, there is a continuous translation between objects, drawings, and buildings. Where does this interest come from and how does it ultimately affect your work? Michael and I are stuck in-between architectural generations, which is simply a result of what was happening in architecture culture when we graduated from Princeton. We’re close friends and colleagues with the generation of architects above us—let’s call them digital formalists or the affect and sensation generation who focused on digital modeling, digital fabrication, and rendering—and the generation of architects below us, who are interested in things like figure, graphic expediency, and engagement, and who more commonly use physical models and collage. We're interested in the routines and techniques of both cohorts. When we completed graduate school, the digital project was winding down as it pertains to experimentation in an academic environment. Michael and I were never directly a part of the authorship of that project. We never rejected it, but we also weren't looking to dismantle it. We quickly realized that we were interested in engaging multiple contemporary mediums and modes of representation. We were operating through sketching, physical modeling, digital fabrication, lecturing, teaching, writing, etc. Our projects are intellectual pursuits as much as they are design speculations, and they are developed through and across each of those modes of operation. The combination of and translation between drawings, objects, and buildings is a way for us to combine unique mediums through which our aesthetic ideas mature. Can you talk about this approach to design in relation to your most recent project, DL 1310? How does the building embody conceptual studies that may have first appeared in drawings or objects? It’s important to recognize that we evaluate all mediums individually. Throughout the development of DL 1310, drawings did things for us that objects could not, and vice versa. Equally important to note is that a drawing of the project by itself doesn’t necessarily capture the entire idea of a project, nor does a model, nor does the building. Cumulatively, these three outputs are the project. In fact, I would argue that as much as we love to build, the building is a form of representation with the very least amount of freedom in terms of articulating the architectural idea. This is because the building must account for more than a drawing or a model… concern for cost, financing institutions, contractors, subcontractors—these things add more complexity. We don’t think about these complexities in relation to compromise, but we do recognize the addition of necessary forces beyond our control that claim partial authorship over the project. In DL 1310, the building is inspired by a range of drawings and objects we’ve produced over the years in addition to the ones produced for that project. It goes back to an answer I gave earlier. All of our projects, including DL 1310, are part of a body of work with an interconnected and evolving aesthetic sensibility. Regarding clients, who commissioned DL 1310? How did your relationship with the client impact the result? The project is a collaboration between our office and Michan Architecture. Michan Architecture is an office based in Mexico City that is led by a former student of mine, Isaac Michan Daniel. We kept in touch after he graduated and moved back to Mexico, where his father owns a development company and serves as a collaborator. He called us one day a few years ago and asked us if we’d like to collaborate on a small housing project. That's how it all started. It's a relationship that developed through teaching that became a friendship and now a collaboration. How does the office operate now? How many people do you employ? Right now, it’s just me, because Michael is in Rome. Well, today he’s in London, but he is away all year at the American Academy in Rome. What’s interesting is that I've seen him more frequently this fall than I last fall when we were both in New York. Our teaching schedules don't typically align so we're always communicating over the phone and through email. So, it’s actually not different this year with him living in Italy. We’re currently working on a competition and our shared comments are made on the internet. This is the reality of practice today, regardless of whether your office is distributed or operating in one place. That's how we’re managing projects right now. During the winter months, we rarely have anybody else in the office with us. In summer, we try to grow to four or six people for more intense production outside of the academic calendar. With a few exceptions, almost all of our projects have been completed during the summer months. What’s been the most rewarding moment in your practice thus far? The office is a place where I can go and explore ideas freely without the pressure of economic performance. Teaching affords us the opportunity to approach practice in this way. The space academia created for the practice is thrilling. It's an incredible luxury. To have time to think about issues that interest us and to speculate on the way in which they become architectural… that's the biggest reward. It’s incredible for Michael and me to have time to spend working on things that we love. For architecture, that's incredibly important. If you're working on a project that you're not interested in, you’re not likely to do a good job. We really enjoy the day to day activities of the office. Because of the way in which we are able to practice, we remain excited and optimistic about the future and our ability to make meaningful contributions to the world through design.
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A Lab, For Art!

Barkow Leibinger and Sasaki create a radiant, net-zero ArtLab for Harvard
The Berlin-based Barkow Leibinger, with the help of the Boston-based architect of record Sasaki, has created the adaptable, translucent ArtLab for Harvard. As the university expands across the river into Boston’s Allston neighborhood, they’ve been developing an ArtYard—a contemporary, arts-focused answer to the walled Harvard Yard in Cambridge. Barkow Leibinger’s brief was to create an adaptable, net-zero-energy building that offered space to meet the many programmatic needs of different disciplines working side-by-side. The 9,000-square-foot ArtLab is arranged in a pinwheel configuration, providing spaces for artmaking, research, classes, and performances. It also has studios for artists-in-residence, a sound lab and recording studios, and an open workshop in the building’s center. “We were designing the building, but also designing the programming,” explained Frank Barkow, cofounder of Barkow Leibinger. “Different programs had to be in close adjacency to each other: studios, workshops, film editing suites, those sort of things.” Previously, disparate creative fields were spread across the campus, many with limited space, said Barkow. In the ArtLab, “different arts are in close proximity to each other,” he said. “You've got fine artists working close to film, close to performance, close to dance. It was important that the ArtLab acting as an incubator with different creative practices in close proximity to each other.”  The ArtLab also had to be temporary, or at least portable. Made of a steel frame that’s been mechanically fastened and clad in insulated glass and polycarbonate panels, the building is not only lightweight in visual character, but in physical design. Placed on grade on a concrete slab, it can be quickly dis- and re-assembled as the spatial needs of the expanding campus evolve. “It’s what I call basic Kmart construction,” joked Barkow. “It’s open web, steel joints, glazing, polycarbonate, chipboard, plywood. It’s quite simple.” He added that the firm is used to designing factories and inflected the art building with an industrial element. “It’s robust. They can knock it around. They can beat it up. In a way, it’s much less precious than the historical buildings that make up much of the Harvard campus.”  While a polycarbonate envelope is common for industrial construction in Europe, it’s used less frequently in the United States, which was a challenge for the local architects of record. Sasaki undertook “a lot of research and testing,” according to Sasaki principal Lan Ying Ip. “To our knowledge, there has never been a net-zero building designed with a polycarbonate facade,” she said. Sasaki’s director of technical resources, Brad Prestbo, added that when working with the material “all the fundamental design moves that you normally make really have quite an impact on the overall performance of the envelope.” Sasaki also worked to create a custom system that could meet the solar heat metrics required by the energy model. And, not only is the continuous envelope well-insulated, but every aspect of the building is electric-powered by photovoltaic cells on the roof and requires no fossil fuels for heating. The polycarbonate was used throughout as both a barrier wall and as part of a rain screen assembly. “Oftentimes, the same piece of polycarbonate would transition between those two states,” explained Prestbo. The project had to use both opaque and transparent polycarbonate to hide mechanical elements and while creating an overall translucent effect, and making it appear as a “light box” at night. More than purely aesthetic, transparency is also a guiding conceptual feature. “[Harvard] wanted the building to be a kind of mediator between the neighborhood’s community and the campus,” explained Barkow. “It’s meant to be open. It's meant to be inviting. The public can come in and see what’s going on.”
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Old Town Roads

Rem Koolhaas goes country at the Guggenheim
After spending decades devoted deconstructivism and an unapologetic sense of urbanity, Rem Koolhaas is switching things up. The Pritzker winner, widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in architectural thinking today, has shifted his gaze into uncharted territory—the countryside. “In the past decades,” Koolhaas said in a recent press statement from the Guggenheim, “I have noticed that while much of our energies and intelligence have been focused on the urban areas of the world—under the influence of global warming, the market economy, American tech companies, African and European initiatives, Chinese politics, and other forces—the countryside has changed almost beyond recognition. The story of this transformation is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful for AMO to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.” Koolhaas’s newfound fascination with non-urban areas will culminate in Countryside, The Future, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from February 20 through the summer of 2020. The exhibition will highlight urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues in a collaboration between Koolhaas and AMO, a research and design think tank within the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Drawn from original research on the rapidly changing rural areas across the globe, the exhibition will fill the Guggenheim rotunda with an immersive, multi-sensory installation based on work by Koolhaas and AMO, as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Design; the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Wageningen University, Netherlands; and the University of Nairobi. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Koolhaas and AMO have been laying the groundwork for the show for the last few years. Countryside, The Future will mark Koolhaas’s most striking departure from the ultra-urban to the decidedly non-urban, lumping the rural, remote, and wild into the broader category of the “countryside.” A selection of global case studies will address topics such as artificial intelligence, human-animal ecosystems, political radicalization, and other phenomena that are drastically changing the Earth’s landscapes. The exhibition will make use of imagery, film, archival material, and more to create an immersive and captivating view of the countryside.
Countryside: The Future will be accompanied by a schedule of public programs to be announced closer to the exhibition and posted at guggenheim.org/calendar. AN will follow the exhibition’s opening next week with a full review.
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Rarer Than a Purple Cow

Williams College: The Campus Guide unearths hidden New England gems
Williams College: The Campus Guide By Eugene J. Johnson and Michael J. Lewis, photographs by Ralph Lieberman Published by Princeton Architectural Press MSRP $37.50 Williams College: The Campus Guide is more than a tour of the distinguished liberal arts college in far northwestern Massachusetts. It is rather a scholarly history and informed analysis of the school’s buildings and their role in shaping the visual identity of a hitherto architecturally undocumented place. Williams is the 32nd volume in Princeton Architectural Press’s Campus Guide series, a twenty-year run that began with the University of Virginia in 1999. These handsome handbooks have enlarged our knowledge of collegiate design at some of the more notable American campuses. The quality, alas, varies from title to title. Some appear to be glorified brochures, while the Williams one is a major contribution to the literature. What makes this guide exceptional is that the authors and the photographer are respected architectural historians with decades of teaching experience at Williams. More important, Eugene J. Johnson and Michael J. Lewis insisted that the college give them complete freedom in their opinions and observations. (I declined to do the series guide for my alma mater, as it was apparent that my college wanted total editorial control, and that their goal for the book was more public relations than scholarship.) The Williams authors had additional hurdles. For much of its two-hundred-year history, the school was small, isolated, and not well endowed. Until women were admitted in the 1970s, raising both enrollment and intellectual rigor, the college was home to white prepsters, a place where the fraternity brothers "inhabited the kinds of architecture to which their parents had accustomed them.” Stacked up against architectural powerhouses such as Princeton, Yale, and MIT, Williams’ chroniclers Johnson and Lewis proffer a lot of fascinating history and background that enlivens the discussions of brick and mortar. The early physical presence of Williams was Yankee utilitarian. Starting in the mid-19th century, a notable grab bag of Victorian designers worked here, including Gervase Wheeler, Thomas Tefft, Richard Upjohn, Henry J, Hardenbergh, and J. C. Cady. Much of the design was haphazard, depending upon donor whims. The Olmsted Brothers drew up Williams' first campus plan in 1902. Tastes tended to the safely conservative through the 1950s. Perry, Shaw & Hepburn, architects of the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, designed a student center in the default campus style, Colonial Revival. Yet, college president Harry Garfield hired Ralph Adams Cram, the brilliant campus designer who shaped Princeton into an architectural masterpiece. The great Gothicist felt that his interpretation of English Georgian was more appropriate to the New England school. As always, Cram demonstrated a mastery of proportion, materials, and appearance. His Freshman Quadrangle is singled out as “the loveliest passage of the entire Williams campus.” Despite hosting an avant-garde art department–a famous incubator of architectural historians and museum directors—Williams did not get a Functional Modern building until the 1960s. The Architects Collaborative (TAC) was hired to craft a campus plan, while the college awarded an honorary doctorate to TAC founder Walter Gropius. Jumping somewhat timidly into the Modern era, Williams secured successful dormitory complexes by Benjamin Thompson and Mitchell-Giurgola and a dining hall by Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, along with a dreadful library by Harry Weese. In the 1970s Charles Moore extended the art museum. This was “an adventurous move for a college that had traditionally gone with competent professionals rather than architects on the cutting edge.” Due to strained college finances, Moore paid for what he called “Ironic columns” on the museum's exterior, itself a riff on the architect's concurrent Piazza d'Italia in New Orleans. Despite commissioning such leading names, building at Williams remained ad hoc and episodic. A stunning library by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is offset by William Rawn's Center for Theatre and Dance, a gratuitous “expression of architectural ego,” the placement of which truncated a bold axial plan by Denise Scott Brown. Missed opportunities include an unrealized Steven Holl art building and a somewhat flaccid student center by James Stewart Polshek. The combination Chandigarh-and-New-England-styled resort hotel was “chosen from a long list of distinguished firms,” including Venturi Scott Brown and the Helsinki uber-Modernists Heikkinen + Komonen. Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen were interviewed, along with Alvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, and another architect (the names were never revealed to the public) about adding a wing to the Clark Art Institute. Ando’s building is called “a disappointment," primarily for its planning, and the wall of donor names, “sized according to the amplitude of their donations,” draws particular scorn. This biography of Williams College and its architecture is told as a family epic: A complicated life, full of intrigue, might-have-beens, and triumphs. Or as Adam Falk, president from 2010 to 2017, writes in a foreword, the guide is “historically insightful, compulsively readable, visually stunning, and infused with a healthy dose of irreverence.”
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Concrete Dystopia

Massachusetts considers partial- to-full removal of Paul Rudolph’s Hurley Building
The future of the Paul Rudolph-designed Boston Government Service Center (BGSC) rests in the hands of the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Last October, the state announced the redevelopment of the Charles F. Hurley Building and this week, a new report was sent to the commission detailing four options for the Brutalist structure in downtown Boston that include partial or full demolition. Produced under the auspices of the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, the document is the result of deep dive by engineers and architects into the Hurley Building and its notoriously challenging interior layout. The first option explores removing a small part of the 237,000-square-foot structure to make way for a new, high-rise construction. A pedestrian-level walkway would splice throughout the site in an effort to open up the complex to the street. Each of the other options considers demolishing half, two-thirds, and eventually the entire building for the contemporary tower, respectively, with added urban design elements thrown into the mix.  In the coming months, the Massachusetts Historical Commission will either green light or scrap these options. If one or several are seriously considered, it could help bidding developers make more informed decisions about their individual plans for the 3.25-acre site. AN previously reported that solicitations for a development partner are expected to be issued by mid-2020 and that construction slated to begin within three years. The state is also making moves to relocate the various agencies and 675 government employees within the Hurley Building ahead of future work. Part of the allure for preservationists lies in the fact that it’s a Paul Rudolph design. Located just yards away from the 50-year-old Boston City Hall designed by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles—which is currently undergoing a five-year-renovation, the Hurley Building and the rest of the complex further connect locals to Rudolph’s legacy of Brutalism in the city. One group, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, believes the report didn’t fully acknowledge the fact that Rudolph designed the building from 1962 to 1966, which could hurt its case in the eyes of the historical commission. “They fully note the importance of his design guidelines for the project, and his direct work on the other [Lindemann] building—but are weaker on acknowledging the intensity of his influence on the design of the Hurley Building,” the foundation stated in a press release on its website.  This debate has been going on for quite some time and it’s unclear just how serious the state will take preservation. What is clear is that Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker prefers to completely redevelop the site with little focus on adaptive reuse. 
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The big apple

John Cetra of CetraRuddy talks recent projects and Facades+ New York
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On April 2 and 3, Facades+ is returning to New York for its largest annual conference, which is split between a full-day symposium followed by the second day of intensive hands-on workshops led by dozens from across the country. Co-chair John Cetra, founding principal of New York-based practice CetraRuddy, collaborated with The Architect's Newspaper in the curation of panels themes and speakers. Panels include; “Materiality & Fabrication: Bespoke Facade Solutions,” “Scaling up Passive House | For the Greater Good,” “Optimizing the Form,” and “Adaptive Reuse Challenges in NYC Historic Icons.” UNStudio founding principal Ben van Berkel and WXY principal-in-charge Claire Weisz are leading the morning and afternoon keynotes, and Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto of Reiser + Umemoto will dive into their spate of recently completed projects. Prior to the conference, AN sat down with Cetra to discuss architectural trends reshaping New York City and the firm’s recent body of work. AN: Over the last thirty years, CetraRuddy has successfully navigated New York's real estate landscape to deliver scores of projects across building scales. What lessons have been learned and what advice would you give young firms today? John Cetra: We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past 30 years. One of the most salient is that to successfully navigate the New York real estate landscape, architects need to understand the unique context we have to work in and in particular, the zoning resolution and its nuances. In our practice, an advanced understanding of the requirements has allowed us to create unique buildings forms like One Madison and ARO. This applies across the board, whether in contextual zones, landmarked districts, or not. We value context and history, but we are also open and receptive to new thinking, and we like to weave the two together through design. At Fotografiska, we created a new multi-use event space on the top floor of an 1890s-era building by exposing the structural beams holding up the roof. This is an entirely new space—but it celebrates the original materiality and design of the building in a very respectful way. One of the panels will include your recently completed ARO. Can you explain the significance of the project from the perspective of facade design and engineering? ARO’s facade is crucial to its design—it enhances and clarifies the building’s massing, and works in harmony with the tower’s shape. The signature fenestration pattern is comprised of a glass curtain wall with a light metal net that creates a singular graphic overlay or a ‘second skin.’ This net employs 18-inch-deep “fenders" that act as an integrated solar device, reflecting light as the glass areas absorb light. In this way, the sun is a friend of this building—the sky is reflected in its glass and the metal fenders protect the interiors from sunlight at high angles. As the light changes throughout the day, the articulation of the facade creates depth and visual interest, responding to the time of day and weather. From a technical perspective, the unitized curtain wall system required the design team to minimize the number of custom panel sizes and conditions. Even though the massing undulates and projects forward in cantilevered sections, there are only six different shapes and unit sizes that made up the entire facade. You worked closely with AN to co-curate the upcoming conference. What do you hope will be the primary takeaways of the conference? I think the conference will show that there are no set, universal rules, and that building facades can be of very high quality because of the tools we as architects and designers have at our disposal. Digital technology combined with architectural creativity, a thoughtful understanding of context, and understanding of program can result in beautiful buildings that are sustainable, a pleasure to live or work in, and thoughtful additions to our built environment. Additionally, in terms of contextuality, façade design can successfully contribute and respond to the local built environment. The technology exists now to create site-specific, context-aware facade solutions that are also really attractive and, most importantly, climate-responsive. This is a heartening advance that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming conference. Further information regarding Facades+ New York can be found here.
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Cultural Lensing

Access for All aims to inspire New York through São Paulo's urban design
From an urban design perspective, São Paulo, Brazil, Munich, in Germany, and New York could not be any more different—they exist on separate continents, have vastly different densities, and utilize space in their own distinct ways. So, what, you might ask, could these cities possibly have in common? The answer, according to Andres Lepik and Daniel Talesnik, is more than you think. Access for All: São Paulo’s Architectural Infrastructures, which opened this week at the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture, sets the stage for comparison between São Paulo and its peer cities across the globe. Curated by Talesnik, a trained architect and Bauhaus expert, the exhibition was originally presented at Architekturmuseum Der Tum under the direction of Lepik. Although São Paulo has a significantly greater population density than Munich, Talesnik felt that the German city had plenty to learn from the Brazilian city’s avid use of public space. For decades, the megacity of 12 million has seen a growing investment in public infrastructure in order to ease its open space shortages and respond to the demand for cultural and recreational programming. Access for All presents a selection of these projects since the 1950s, organized into three categories: large-scale, multi-programmatic projects; open public spaces; and projects located along the iconic Paulista Avenue. The exhibition comes 10 years after Lepik’s curation of Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement at the Museum of Modern Art, which highlighted architectural projects on five continents that aided underserved communities. Lepik’s research was an appropriate precursor for a case study in São Paulo, a city deeply affected by economic inequality, high crime rates, traffic congestion, and public health hazards. Talesnik views the selected projects as microcosms of urban life. From the pedestrianized Minhocão highway to the multi-story SESC Pompeía cultural center, the projects are analyzed through sociocultural impact rather than formal characteristics, highlighting the dynamic relationship between the built environment and its inhabitants. In its new home at the Center for Architecture, the exhibition intends to teach New York a few lessons. The large infographic at the start of the exhibition has been stripped of its “Munich” column and replaced with a “New York” column to compare and contrast figures alongside São Paulo’s. At the exhibition’s opening, visitors wanted to know what exactly New York might take away from the São Paulo method. Figuring out that mystery is one of Lepik’s and Talesnik’s favorite parts of the exhibition: “Who knows,” Talesnik laughed. “But we’re certainly curious.” Access for All is on display through May 23.
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Spy Craft

The International Spy Museum is veiled in cantilevered glass megapanels
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The International Spy Museum presents a striking figure in the relatively staid streetscape of Washington, D.C. The building opened in May 2019 and was designed by London-based Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) in collaboration with architect-of-record Hickok Cole, and replaced the original home of the Spy Musem that was constructed in 2002. The project is a demonstration of high-tech architecture; notably, the pleated glass veil shrouding an atrium and circulation space—both cantilevered off the primary black aluminum-clad exhibition-space structure. L'Enfant Plaza is not the most exciting corner of Washington, D.C.—the megaproject, designed by I.M. Pei and developed by William Zeckendorf, is often derided for its overwhelming massing and dearth of pedestrian amenities. The International Spy Museum is located within a forecourt of the megaproject and, in its idiosyncrasy, establishes a formidable presence in the area. The project rises to a height of 130 feet, the height limit within the city, and is primarily encased in a tapered aluminum black box lifted off the ground by pilotis. Total square footage for the museum comes out to approximately 120,000 square feet divided across seven stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Roschmann Macalloy Sadev Sika
  • Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Hickok Cole Architects (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Installer Custom Glass Services
  • Facade Consultant Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Washington D.C.
  • Date of Completion December 2019
  • System Custom glass veil system
  • Products AGC Interpane Ipasol Neutral 73/42 Macalloy stainless steel tensions rods
The location proved a challenge for the design and construction teams; the museum stands atop the L’Enfant Plaza metro station, a subterranean shopping mall, and, for good measure, a parking garage. To minimize operational disruption to the sites below, the design and structural teams opted to use lower impact hollow-bar micropiles for the foundation and established a schedule to allow multiple construction crews to operate simultaneously. Harking back to the design of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's 1977 Centre Pompidou, all of the structural elements and principal routes of circulation are fully presented at the primary west elevation. Sloped red steel fins rising from the collonade of pilotis that ring the structure and, quite literally, do the facade’s heavy lifting. Each rises to a height of 70 feet and were shipped from Virginia to the site in two pieces and assembled in-situ. “From these five points, the facade is suspended on a trapeze of bespoke steel fabrications, that collectively resolve the gravity loads and lateral forces, in addition to the potential differential drift,” said Hickok Cole senior associate Bryan Chun. “Along with RSHP, we engaged Eckersley O’Callaghan as the facade consultant from the onset of the design process, their expertise and acumen were essential to define the limits of each member, and we selected Roschmann Glass specifically for their ability to engineer in a design-assist capacity.” The panels for the fritted-glass veil are massive and measure 7'-6" by 18'-6" each, and stacked, the total height of the glass curtainwall is 60 feet. In lieu of mullions, the veils are held together with stitch plates that lend sufficient stability to allow the laminated glass to run less than an inch thick. While the primary elevation is the project’s showstopper, the curatorial spaces are equally impressive. Aided by 3D-modeling software used during the design process, each structural beam is outfitted as a conduit for the museum’s MEP and HVAC systems, a strategy that allowed for nearly undisrupted 22-foot floor-to-floor heights as well as clear 60-foot floor spans.
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Eastward Bound

Nicholas de Monchaux appointed to lead department of architecture at MIT
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced that Nicholas de Monchaux will be the new head of its School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) beginning July of this year, and will also maintain an affiliated faculty member position in the institute’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). As a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome with degrees in architecture from Yale University and Princeton University, de Monchaux comes to the program after serving as a Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Director of the Center for New Media at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2006. During his time at Berkeley, de Monchaux authored Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an expansive study of the technology and design behind space exploration that later won the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and was shortlisted for the Art Book Prize. With Kathryn Moll, he maintains a principal role at modem, an architecture practice with a focus on social, ecological, and community-based projects. The news comes two years after J. Meejin Yoon, a cofounding principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, stepped down at the head of architecture at MIT to become the dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. While in that position, Yoon advocated for the school to focus on the intersection between technology, design, and climate science. Professor Andrew Scott has maintained the role of interim department head while the school appointed a new permanent head, and will continue in that role through the end of the spring semester. De Monchaux has not yet stated his goals as the new department head, but it is assumed that he will continue his focus on current environmental challenges and social shifts as he has addressed them in his professional and academic roles.