Aaron Betsky, the curator and critic who is leaving his position as president of the School of Architecture at Taliesin (SoAT) when the spring semester concludes in May, has been appointed as the director of the School of Architecture + Design within Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies. He begins on June 20. Betsky’s predecessor, Hunter Pittman, will transition into the role of associate professor within the school, which is one of four that comprise the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies alongside the School of Visual Arts, the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, and the School of International and Public Affairs. “Aaron is a proven leader with demonstrated dedication to cross-disciplinary exploration, academic excellence, and educational innovation,” said Richard Blythe, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, in a statement released by Virginia Tech. “His international standing and connections in architecture and design are considerable and will undoubtedly help the college expand its global reach, activities, and influence.” Betsky was tapped by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in January 2015 to serve as dean at SoAT, and successfully lead the school, formerly known as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, through a turbulent period of pedagogical and financial uncertainty. From 2017 onwards, he served as president of SoAT which, for now, will remain open following a recent reversal of the board’s January 25 vote to permanently shutter it. Before taking on leadership roles at SoAT, Betsky served at the long-running director of the Cincinnati Art Museum (2006-2014), director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam (2001-2006), and curator of architecture, design, and digital projects at the San Francisco Museum of Art (1995-2001). In 2008, he served as artistic director of the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale. Betsky, also a prolific lecturer and author who has never shied from sometimes-controversial opinion, has also held teaching positions at the University of Cincinnati, the Taubman School of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and others. His books include Queer Space (1997), Architecture Must Burn (2000), Landscrapers: Building with the Land (2002), and Architecture Matters (2017) alongside a number of monographs on architects including Zaha Hadid, MVRDV, and I.M. Pei. A regular contributor to Dezeen and a blogger for Architect Magazine, Betsky has also written on art and architecture for a wide range of publications including Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, ArtForum, AN, and the New York Times. “I’m very excited about the opportunities offered by Virginia Tech,” said Betsky in a statement. “The School of Architecture + Design in particular has a stellar history of experimentation and leveraging its position within a land-grant institution to serve its many communities—particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also beyond. I look forward to furthering the school’s commitment to using technology as a tool to build better cities and steward the landscapes we inhabit in ways that are not only beautiful, but also deeply sustainable for our planet into the future.”
All posts in East
Do Look Down
The Edge debuts over 1,000 feet above Hudson Yards
Edge, a cantilevered observation deck jutting out from the 100th floor of the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)-designed 30 Hudson Yards supertall, opened to the public yesterday at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Before officially opening to the ticket-holding general public in the afternoon, project developers Related Companies and Oxford Property Group hosted an invite-only opening day celebration featuring a jaunty brass band, influencers aplenty, and a dizzying choreographed performance by aerial dance troupe Bandaloop. But before the sky dancers rappelled down the side of the building from high above the outdoor viewing area and proceeded to twirl and twist and leap and flip 1,000-plus feet above the streets of New York City, something else hanging over the assembled crowd was addressed: coronavirus. As relayed to media and others at the event, Edge, which is the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth-highest in the world, will operate regularly as planned. The number of ticket sales, however, will be reduced to minimize crowds in a proactive effort to curb potential spread of the virus.* Once it's deemed safe to do so, normal ticket sales—they run $36 per adult and $34 for New York residents—will resume. In addition to this somewhat somber announcement, the launch of a new Tuesdays-only program offering New York City Public School groups free admission to both Edge and Vessel, another crowd-drawing Hudson Yards attraction, was also unveiled by Jeff Blau, chief executive officer of Related. Following yesterday’s event, a group of fifth-graders from P.S. 33 in Manhattan got a special sneak-peak of Edge before its wider general opening. Floating 1,131 feet above the city and encased in 79 frameless angled glass panels, Edge is no doubt an acrophobe’s absolute worst nightmare. A small section of the triangular, 7,500 square foot viewing deck that boasts see-through glass panel flooring will test the fortitude of even the pluckiest of visitors. But the 360-degree views afforded from the top—especially on a clear and sunny day like yesterday—are magnificent. Premium-priced views aside, Edge itself is a remarkable feat of engineering that, per a press release from Related, “completes the tower’s architectural dialogue with the city.” The deck itself protrudes 80 feet from the side of the skyscraper and is composed of 15 different stone sections, each weighing between 35,000 and 150,000 pounds, that are anchored to the building’s south and east exterior elevations. “The Edge observation deck is the most dramatic in a series of gestures which link KPF’s buildings, in the Hudson Yards development, to the principal surrounding structures of the city,” said William Pedersen, KPF founding principal. “Gesturing directly towards the Empire State Building, and higher than its observation deck, Edge pays homage to its role as the most emblematic of all New York buildings.” Aside from the star attraction observation deck, the 100th floor at 30 Hudson Yards—also home to the controversy-marred $25 billion megadevelopment’s shopping mall which takes up the bottom four floors of the building and is the main access point to Edge—there’s also a spacious indoor viewing area, gift shop, multimedia experience documenting the construction of Hudson Yards, and a champagne bar for fueling up on liquid courage before stepping outside. One floor up, on the 101st floor, is a full-service restaurant and event space named Peak. Edge’s interior spaces and Peak were designed by Rockwell Group. It's also worth noting that the ear-popping elevator ride up to the top takes a little less than a minute. And to get to the actual elevator bank, visitors are led through a winding corridor beyond the ticketing booth where lighting and sound effects make the whole experience akin to queueing up to board a Disney theme park ride. It's the Tower of Terror, Hudson Yards-style. Edge is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to midnight. * After this article was published on March 12, it was announced that Edge will temporarily close to visitors on March 13 “following guidance from the Governor limiting gatherings of 500+ people to aid in the containment of COVID-19.” .
Though they were destroyed nearly 20 years ago, the Minoru Yamasaki-designed World Trade Center towers, 1 and 2 World Trade Centers, remain in clear memory for architects and non-architects alike. Their shared height and radical abstraction made them instant icons of the late modernist movement and a dual symbol of New York City’s renewed presence in the postindustrial global economy. The Twin Towers’ undeniable significance made the recent discovery of their original blueprints all the more worthy of attention, including the unusual trade of hands that took place in the last half-century. After the two towers were completed in 1973, the blueprints fell into the hands of Joseph Solomon, a former junior partner in Emery Roth & Sons, a New York-based architecture firm that partnered with Yamasaki on the project. Documenting elevations, sections, design details, and virtually all other elements of the site, the blueprints were serendipitously found in the trash in Denver, where Solomon brought them as he set up a new practice. Solomon passed away in 2017, leaving his daughter to clear out his garage, which, unbeknownst to her, included the valuable blueprints. Denver resident Jake Haas saw the drawings lying in front of the Solomon home and, quickly determined their worth, sold them to local pawnshop owner Angelo Arguello, who then sold them to James Cummins Bookseller, a Manhattan-based rare book dealer, thus bringing the blueprints back to where they were first drawn up. “I think you do get a sense of what a massive undertaking this was,” Brian Kalkbrenner, a seller with James Cummins, told the Wall Street Journal while marveling at the plans in their entirety, thought to be the only complete set in existence. The rare book dealer subsequently put them up for auction during the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory held last weekend where they were shown to the public for the very first time and, according to Channel 9 News, were sold for an astounding $250,000. While the winner of the auction has not been disclosed, Haas expressed that he would like to eventually see them on display in a local museum for the public to remember the towers that once stood tall in the Financial District.
Bringing Up The House
Rafael Viñoly-designed courthouse will remake Jersey City’s Journal Square
Renderings of the new Hudson County courthouse in Jersey City have been revealed, showing a truss stacked on bands of glass for the new Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, set to be completed in 2023 at 595 Newark Street. With construction currently estimated at $345 million, the project is “one of the largest-ever publically-funded projects in New Jersey,” according to New York Yimby. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, who completed the Bronx County Hall of Justice in 2006, the building is the picture of structural expressionism with extra-large concrete columns and glazing set behind metal cross bracing. The building resembles a two-story box truss stretched over an open atrium. The 400,000-square-foot project includes 24 courtrooms, hearing and mediation rooms, jury assembly spaces, offices, a 75-seat food court, a self-help law library, and a new facility for the sheriff’s department. A 459-space parking garage, wrapped in a metal facade, turns the corner onto Central Avenue. The Hudson County Courthouse (HCC) website states that “the courthouse was designed to facilitate use by the public and to ensure the security of all visitors,” positioning the public amenities and high-traffic courtrooms on the ground level and the Criminal Court and Family Court on the second and third levels, respectively. The top two floors of the building will house the administrative offices. Land clearance for the 5-story, LEED Silver building began in 2018 but will continue with the 1953 Hudson County Administration building. The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will demolish the existing building on the site, which was deemed in need of complete renovation to reach modern acceptability in a 1993 study, according to an article on nj.com. Described by Assignment Judge Peter Bariso Jr. on the HCC website as “essentially kept alive with Band-Aids,” the administration building would require a substantial financial investment to fix its security, electrical, and asbestos issues. The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex will require road reconfigurations, eliminating Cook Street and reconnecting Central Avenue between Hoboken and Newark Avenues to improve traffic flow to and around the project. Oakland Avenue will be widened from a one-way to a two-way street. The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a $2.6 million road construction contract to Garfield-based Zuccaro Incorporated in February, as reported by Jersey Digs. The 2020-2021 phase of the project will also include a partial renovation of the neighboring historic William J. Brennan Courthouse, which will continue to hold court throughout the construction. The HCIA issued a statement in November 2019, stating that the project’s amenities are consistent with Jersey City’s 2060 Redevelopment Plan to improve the neighborhood. These plans include a 3-acre public park in Journal Square but are not scheduled until 2024. The project's groundbreaking is set for the summer of 2020.
Invisible No More
Invisible City reveals Philly’s avant-garde side
In the novel Invisible Cities, written by Italo Calvino, we learn of fantastical cities of monumental silver domes, elevated cities of catwalks, and cities made of cities, where residents reinvent themselves with every move. All these cities are, in fact, Venice. In the exhibition Invisible City, cocurated by Sid Sachs, director of exhibitions at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and Jennie Hirsh, assistant curator, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA, we learn of fanciful cities of roads lined with giant pretzels, cities where twisting towers rise above verdant parkways, and where anthropomorphic puzzle pieces search for connection. All these cities are, in fact, Philadelphia—visions of Philadelphia, anyway, as dreamt up and occasionally realized by avant-garde artists and architects at midcentury. Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde celebrates the City of Brotherly Love’s unique contributions to art and culture from 1956 to 1976, a time when “Philadelphia was fundamental to urban planning, popular music, post-minimalist sculptural installations, and postmodern architecture.” Featuring significant works from the era, the interdisciplinary exhibition spans four venues and an expansive website, with related talks, tours, and capital-H Happenings happening across the city throughout March. Although the architecture gallery at the Philadelphia Art Alliance will be of particular interest to AN readers, visitors would be remiss to skip past the other venues because Invisible City is best experienced as a whole. The show is an ambitious, sprawling, impressionistic portrait of a creative city at midcentury. It's beautiful and inspiring, but, like an impressionist portrait, hard to understand what you're seeing when you get too close. At the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, sculptures made from stacked brick, planks of wood, and repurposed lawn ornaments fill the space like a minimalist construction site. The artists on display were clearly influenced by their exposure to Marcel Duchamp’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In another venue, plastic paintings by James Harvard, which look like they were produced in an autobody shop, hang just a few feet away from collages of hypothetical highway roadsigns by Venturi and Rauch with Murphy Levy Wurman—including the aforementioned giant pretzels. It feels like there’s an affinity between these works: the Duchampian interest in the found objects: the Venturian embrace of the ordinary, and the shared interest in witty appropriation, but the show doesn’t make any explicit connection between disciplines or ideas. Things aren’t much clearer at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, where the architecture gallery is bookended by grand visions created for the Bicentennial by Venturi & Rauch and Mitchell/Giurgola. Between these monumental proposals are models, drawings, collages, and ephemera representing works that are more modest in scale, but not in concept: an original basswood model of Anne Tyng's 1971 Four-Poster Home; a model of Tyng and Louis Kahn's unbuilt geometric City Tower; hand-corrected pages from Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. It’s an impressive display of some of the best work ever produced by Philadelphia architects. Much of it is familiar. And if it’s not, you’ve got some work to do, because other than name, date, and medium, the exhibit provides no information for most of the work on display. Were these architects all talking to each other? Were they looking at local artists who were looking at Duchamp? Maybe! The highlight of the show, for me, was discovering some lesser-known talents, like David Slovic and the firm Friday. However, I had to conduct my own research to learn about Friday’s complex, contradictory, and delightfully democratic designs. For any context at all that, you have to go online. Thankfully, Invisible City's virtual venue, invisiblecity.uarts.edu, features an extensive chronology and interviews with many of the artists and cultural figures from the era. Whereas the minimal labels and works-behind-glass are cold and distant, the interviews are warm and often personal. Denise Scott Brown shares the story about their fight to preserve South Street, a historic black community that was going to be destroyed for a ring road. Richard Saul Wurman, creator of TED Talks, shares stories about his time as a designer in the offices of Louis Kahn, looking back on his professional experiences with a genuine sense of awe: “Lou changed my life. He taught me you could tell the truth. There were huge penalties...but it was worth it.” I enjoyed my trip through the Invisible City, despite leaving with more questions than answers: Why is Philadelphia a city where Pop Art and postmodernism germinated but never blossomed? Why is it a city that was home to architects who transformed the discipline, but whose contributions in their own town are surprisingly invisible? “It's the ultimate question about our city,” says Slovic in his interview. “Why isn't [Philadelphia] leading the way instead of following?” Why is it an invisible city? Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde runs until April 4, 2020.
Inaba Williams and Kyle May infuse HUSH’s Brooklyn headquarters with impactful interventions
The ability to give attention to precise details when dealing with an expansive environment is no small task. The challenge requires that such elements be bold enough to resonate throughout the space. With the outfitting of digital design agency HUSH’s new Brooklyn Navy Yards HQ, AN Interior 50 honoree practice Inaba Williams and partnering architect Kyle May were able to do just that. Their scheme ensures that minimal yet visually striking interventions could anchor a sprawling 8,000-square-foot, white-walled, former factory floor. Counterbalancing HUSH's virtual output, the pairing’s concept centered on integrating purely physical elements that express movement, materiality, and light. Sheer red curtains, custom cast-resin furnishings, chrome hardware, and reflective paneling made the difference in this project. Read more about the intervention on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
MALL of America
MALL builds practice with pop culture
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On October 17, 2019, Isabella Calidonio and Tanvi Rao, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Jennifer Bonner, principal of MALL. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Isabella Calidonio and Tanvi Rao: Can you tell us how MALL began, and more generally about your path from graduate school at Harvard to today? Jennifer Bonner: I finished at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 2009, almost exactly when the recession started. I had already worked in London for Foster and Partners and David Chipperfield Architects, but I wanted to work for another architect before I started my own practice. Unfortunately, there were no job openings anywhere, so I applied to teach at various schools. Georgia Tech offered me an adjunct position for a semester. The question then became, “How do you start teaching and build a practice at the same time?” I next started wondering what the name of my office should be. Perhaps it would have been more beneficial to first ask myself where I would find clients! I began with Studio Bonner with full intentions of getting licensed and using the word architect in the name of my firm, but that never happened. My work at that time, during the recession, was directly linked to academia and the majority of the projects were speculative ideas installed in galleries or within the institutions where I was teaching. After practicing for five years, I moved to Cambridge to teach at the GSD with an ambition to rethink the identity of my practice. That's when MALL was born. A lot of people use their own name and a lot of people use acronyms… There are two kinds of acronyms: SOM, which is an acronym for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the founding partners, but if you ask your generation, most do not know their names or what it stands for. The second model would be the acronym OMA, or Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which has nothing to do with Rem Koolhaas’s name. I was more interested in the OMA model, and imagining an acronym that is flexible and might even change from project to project. There have been a few different variations, "Mass Architectural Loopty Loops" and "Maximum Angles, Little Lines." Beyond the name, the practice has been running for about ten years now. The first five years were hard work, figuring out my architectural interests by setting up a series of conceptual projects, while the last five have been really enjoyable and productive, and include building those ideas. What is it like to run an office by yourself? During my first three years in practice, I partnered with Christian Stayner, an architect in Los Angeles. It was a very useful time to gain momentum together, especially in the beginning of our careers. Now we are working independently and developing very different types of projects. That partnership and pursuing public art projects was one way of coping with the recession. Today, MALL is what I call a “one-woman band” and I hire various employees on a project-by-project basis. It is liberating to run an office on my own and to define what that looks like. You are a mother, a sole-practitioner, a curator, a writer, an Associate Professor and Director of the M.Arch II program at Harvard. How do you manage to stay afloat, and how do you bring together all of these different identities? In particular, do you reflect often on your identity as a female architect? Last year I won a Progressive Architecture Honorable Mention Award. Apart from one other firm, eight other winners were male, and it got me thinking about the importance of being a female solo-practitioner. I also asked myself “Why aren't there more women winning these awards?” and whether I should be teaching less and practicing more. At the same time, I wondered how I could devote hours to teaching and administrative roles while also making highly creative work? Part of the magic at MALL is the ability to remain small and to be highly selective about what projects that I take on. Most projects begin with a research question, not an inquiry from a client. In the case of the PA Award, the project began four years ago as a body of conceptual work titled “Best Sandwiches”, later, we pitched it to several developers as a midrise tower, “Office Stack”. To answer your question about how I balance all of these roles, after a decade of being in the thick of it all… I couldn’t imagine it any other way. We know that you're really interested in pop culture, and encourage your students to look outside of the discipline for ideas about representation. Can you talk a bit about your sources of inspiration and how you incorporate them into practice and teaching? I am inspired by popular culture and tendencies found in art. I often wonder if art can push architecture in new directions today. I believe it's possible. For example, when selecting materials for Haus Gables, I was looking at contemporary art practices and traditions found in the American South, not references from the discipline of architecture. From a geographic standpoint, I'm constantly moving… seemingly every three years over the past two decades and so I'm always in a different city, which creates a persistent curiosity that encourages me to carefully observe the world around me. I also believe that Instagram is very useful for this as well, because now I have access to what others are observing in the world even if I’m sitting in a basement studio space in Cambridge. Regarding teaching, I just started a new course at Harvard called “Representation First (!!!), Then Architecture.” We’re not looking at architectural representation. We’re looking at art practice, popular culture, and material found in the every day, as a way to encourage inspiration from places other than within our own discipline. We’re looking at cake decorating techniques from the 18th century which include intricate piping from French masters, but also methods found in America with the use of marzipan in the 1950s. Other things we obsess over in that course… food photography, 1980s bubble letters, or the origins of clipart. Perhaps these cultural eccentricities can offer architectural design and representation something new, or at least unexpected. When you share your work, have you found that these non-architectural influences and modes of representation resonate with a broader audience? Do you alter your presentations relative to your audience? It’s important to know your audience, but I don’t think we have to make such a strong distinction between academic audiences and the general public. I’m interested in using devices that already have a broad appeal—like the image of a gable or the medium of a guidebook—to draw people in, to educate them by making them feel included in a discussion about architecture. For example, in the interior of Haus Gables, I wanted to select a material palette that linked the house to local cultures in Atlanta. The soft white wood used in the primary structure of the house draws associations to Scandinavian architecture. But I was building a house in Atlanta, in Goodie Mob’s “Dirty South”… it couldn’t have been a Scandinavian house. I put pressure on myself to create environments on the interior that resonate with Atlanta’s aesthetic culture. This is where the faux finishing comes in. There is a tradition of faux finishing, where southerners could not afford precious materials such as Italian marble and instead painted it onto domestic surfaces. To answer your question about audience… is it locals who rent the house out for amateur photoshoots with big ambitions to “fake it until you make it”, or the fan base for Atlanta rapper Mulatto who shot her “Longway” video there, or is it architectural academia all along? Perhaps it’s all of them. Beyond incorporating faux finishes in Haus Gables, we see a very playful array of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures on the interior. How did you select these interior finishes? Is it simply a matter of taste or is there some science behind it? It may be bit of playing out taste… you have to start somewhere. But the design of the interior environments was also very intentional and conceptually oriented. There is an idea about combining expensive materials with inexpensive materials, like rubber vinyl you might see in hospitals or fake wood vinyl from Home Depot. The expensive materials elevate the inexpensive ones. So, there is an economic argument to make here, too. Overall, each room took on a unique identity relative to the material selections. To reinforce difference, transitioning between rooms and around corners became important moments. When I received the final architectural photographs of the house, I saw something that I did not anticipate. All of the colors tend to flatten space. It reminds me of a trend in contemporary fashion—color blocking—where bright yellow, pink, and mint green become a color block. In one 55’ long view through the house, you can see similarities to color blocking in fashion as the bedroom, dining room, and kitchen start to look like a Marni sweater. It's interesting that you've thought so much about the color and the overall visual experience of the interior of Haus Gables. Why is the exterior white? The cross-laminated timber that is exposed on the interior is monochromatic. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a soft white wood. And I knew that the finishes should be kind of daring or bold, to create an environment that the soft white wood could not create alone. The idea for the exterior in white was really because of Domestic Hats, a project that served as the conceptual precursor to Haus Gables. I was drawn to the idea that Haus Gables is a full-scale model, almost a replica of one of the massing models I created for Domestic Hats. So white, as a color, links the built house to the white foam architectural massing model. The exterior of the house also has a unique texture. I was inspired by John Chase’s Glitter Stucco & Dumpster Diving. In that book, Chase writes about how ordinary houses in Los Angeles finished with stucco are often additionally finished by the owner with glitter… to make the house sparkle. A kind of upgrade. The glitter in Haus Gables is a reference to this phenomenon in Los Angeles. I was also inspired by Mary Corse, who painted with glass beads. The same glass beads that are used by the Department of Transportation in road striping. Chase’s Glitter Stucco and Corse’s reflective beads become a “dash finish” in the façade of Haus Gables. Maybe it's a house with way too many ideas, but it was my first building at MALL, I couldn’t help myself! We recently learned that Haus Gables had no client. How did this affect the design, and what was it like to design a house without a client? I have a bunch of family members… aunts, uncles, sister, mom, dad, but none of them have asked me to design a house and it’s fair to say that they don't see the value in architecture. And then there's me… I've invested 20 years of my life in architecture. As you may know, many architects receive their first commissions from a family member. This was not going to happen for me. We, meaning me and my husband, decided we had to do it ourselves. We bought a piece of land in Atlanta when we were teaching at Georgia Tech, and applied for a construction loan. On one hand, there's a lot of freedom. Nobody was presenting demands like where to put the bathroom or how many closets to have. But there's still a budget, and there's tremendous stress associated with taking on the financial risk of such an experimental construction project. For example, the CLT panels were from Austria and required payment in full before they started manufacturing the product. That doesn’t totally align with bank financing. Overall, there were many difficulties as a result of moving forward without a client. Still… it was totally worth it! I believe I was able to achieve several of MALL’s architectural ideas faster than if there was a traditional client involved. We just have one more question. What has been the most rewarding moment in your practice thus far? That’s an easy question for me to answer. Completing Haus Gables has been the most rewarding moment. To build something after talking about it for years and years… it was very liberating and very rewarding. Despite the struggle to get it built, I wouldn't change a thing.
Peace In Our Time
Dueling lawsuits over Washington, D.C.’s The Wharf dismissed
A 2018 lawsuit filed against Perkins Eastman by the general contractor of The Wharf, a $2.5 billion mixed-use development located along a once-blighted stretch of industrial waterfront in southwest Washington, D.C., has been dismissed. Likewise, a countersuit filed against Clark Construction Group LLC by Perkins Eastman has also been dropped. Clark Construction’s suit against Perkins Eastman, a major international architecture firm headquartered in New York City, was filed in March 2018. It sought $5 million in damages resulting from what Clark Construction alleged were significantly flawed design documents furnished by Perkins Eastman. Because of the alleged inaccuracies and omissions in the documents, which Clark Construction claimed resulted in everything from inoperable doors to misplaced structural columns, the Bethesda, Maryland-based contractor had to tweak and correct numerous defects which, in turn, caused the company to incur substantial financial damages. Phase one of The Wharf was completed and opened to the public in October 2017. “The errors and omissions complained of herein did not arise and were not known, knowable, discovered, discoverable, appreciated, or appreciable until various points within the past three years,” claimed Clark Construction’s complaint, which alleged that Perkins Eastman had committed professional negligence, breach of written contract, and negligent misrepresentation. “It remains possible and likely that errors and omissions will continue to arise and become known, discovered, and appreciated in the future as discovery in this matter proceeds including, without limitation, expert discovery.” Perkins Eastman issued a countersuit, alleging Clark Construction of withholding $500,000 in outstanding invoices in an act that, per the suit, amounted to breach of contract. “Clark continues to exercise dominion and control over money and property that contractually and legally is property of PEDC [Perkins Eastman DC, PLCC] in a manner that is intentional, reckless, and in willful disregard of PEDC’s ownership rights,” read Perkins Eastman’s counterclaim. But as Construction Dive recently reported, the dispute has worked itself out with both sides dropping their respective lawsuits. No financial settlements were noted in the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, although as Construction Dive notes, both parties agreed to pay their own legal fees. “While we cannot comment on specifics, Clark is pleased to have reached an amicable agreement on all outstanding project matters. We look forward to working together with Perkins Eastman on future projects,” a spokesperson for Clark Construction relayed to Construction Dive in a statement. Speaking to AN, L. Bradford Perkins, founding partner of Perkins Eastman, noted: “We too, like Cark, are pleased to get this behind us.” “We felt that the lawsuits were not the best way to resolve this issue,” Perkins said. “We're both extremely proud of what we did together.” “We both want to work together in the future,” Perkins added. Phase two of The Wharf, also master-planned by Perkins Eastman, kicked off in March 2018 and will add an additional 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use space (heavier on residential this time around) to the sprawling project that, when fully complete in 2022, will encompass more than 24 acres of redeveloped land. Phase one of The Wharf includes, among other things, a pier-top office complex, multiple hotels, retail space, and apartments. The waterfront-reenergizing development has received a mostly warm welcome from Washingtonians and visitors despite some traffic congestion-related hiccups.
overlooked no more
Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect is a fantastical retrospective of expert draftsmanship
Although he never reached the fame of neoclassical contemporaries such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux and Étienne-Louis Boullée, French architect and artist Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) remains a draughtsman of immense vision, from a turbulent era that witnessed the collapse of the Ancien Régime and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Luckily, in the months leading up to his death, the artist bequeathed his vast collection of 800 drawings to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which launched the first retrospective Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect at the beginning of 2019. The show’s latest iteration at The Morgan Libary & Museum is the first in New York City and is a succinct and, truth be told, sublime survey. The exhibition includes sixty of Leqeue’s drawings and is curated by the Morgan’s Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints, Jennifer Tonkovich. Lequeu was born in 1759 to a long line of master carpenters in Rouen, the provincial capital of Normandy. His early career began with accomplished studies at the Rouen School of Drawing followed by a string of urban planning and architectural commissions, and a migration to the imperial capital of Paris in the waning days of the Bourbon dynasty. Initial professional success and a multiyear pilgrimage to the customary landmarks in Italy ultimately fizzled, and Lequeu settled into the relative monotony of governmental bureaucracy. Perhaps as a creative outlet to deflect from hampered ambitions—not dissimilar from the architectural fantasist A.G. Rizzoli—Lequeu produced hundreds of pen and wash drawings ranging from self-portraits to invented landscapes populated by renderings of imagined buildings and monuments, many found in his quasi-handbook Civil Architecture. “One of the big takeaways, for me, has been despite the official recognition, and in the absence of any sort of validation, he continued to draw, to envision new worlds, and incorporate novel elements,” said Jennifer Tonkovich. “He never gave up his idiosyncratic vision.” The Morgan, with its flamboyant marble flooring and intricate classical detailing, is a fitting curatorial space for the show. The exhibition room is split between an outer and inner ring: The former introduces the subject with a series of self-portraits—mouth agape and jowls creviced—and largely follows the trajectory of his drawings of architectural manuals to spectacular renderings produced at night within the confines of a claustrophobic Parisian apartment. The quality of penmanship is impressive unto itself, but drawings such as Design for a Living Room at the hôtel de Montholon and the Apotheosis of Trajan highlight the profound depth of ancient architectural knowledge at Lequeu’s fingertips, with an acute syncretism of Greco-Roman, Persian, and Indo-Chinese influences. While the architectural drawings are demonstrations of vivid imagination, all remain rooted in the clear and calculated logic of profile, section, and plan. Not only are Corinthian orders and cenotaphs deconstructed into their composite parts—base, shaft, capital, and entablature—but the tectonics behind their engineering are legibly, and fantastically, expressed. Although the human body and erotic themes extend across Lequeu’s oeuvre, the center of the exhibition focuses on his works of more explicit playful sexual depictions. With the same level of detail applied to his architectural renderings, thighs and crotches are splayed and labeled, nuns lift their habits to reveal corseted breasts, and buttocks stand athwart. The timing of the exhibition is prescient in the current political moment—classicism is cast as a revanchist tool by reactionaries to reestablish Eurocentric cultural norms and artistic conformity. The retrospective’s response is an art historical broadside against that perception: “Lequeu is trying out ideas, exploring non-western forms, testing the limits of structures, experimenting with unorthodox decoration,” continued Tonkovich. “He is not bound by rules or convention, and the result is designs that are clever, mysterious, beautiful, and mystifying.” Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Avenue Through May 10, 2020
In October 2019, the City Council approved a controversial Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for the $8.7 billion plan to construct four new smaller jails to replace the Rikers Island complex. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx would each get a community jail building that the reformists and their supporters in the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice (MCOJ) called “smaller, safer, and fairer.” “This is part of a once-in-many-generations opportunity to build a smaller and more humane justice system that includes four facilities that reflect the City’s commitment to dignity and respect,” the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) said at the time. “The new facilities will offer better connections to and space for those detained and their families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, education, therapeutic programming and service providers.” In addition to the Borough-Based Jail Program (BBJP)’s larger urban ambitions of moving the detention facilities off of Rikers and closer to the communities where inmates come from, on February 4, the DDC issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a pool of design-build teams that will propose schemes to dismantle and build new facilities across the four selected boroughs. AECOM and Hill Engineering have already been tapped to help envision and implement a design-forward approach to the new sites. When The Rikers Island Jail Complex Replacement Act was passed in 2018, it was made clear that design, quality, past performance, and qualifications would be the priority rather than simple budget concerns. The DDC and the MOCJ, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Correction (DOC), announced an independent peer review committee of architects and designers yesterday that will assist in the selection and design that will help select the teams from the RFQ, provide guidelines for the RFP, and participate in architectural review that will “ensure high-quality design submissions that balance aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability and durability.” Several of the reviewers have been involved in the BBJP process already, having served on the Justice Implementation Task Force’s Working Group on Design. Below are the Peer Review Panelists:
Dominick DeAngelis, RA, AIA, Vice President of Architecture and Engineering, NYC School Construction Authority Mr. DeAngelis is responsible for the design of $18 billion of construction over the next five years that will create 57,000 seats in 87 new schools or additions, and upgrade 1,840 additional NYC public schools. Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design + Art + Wayfinding, NYC Department of Transportation Ms. Feuer’s DOT office makes streets attractive and welcoming for all users, and publishes a street design manual for City agencies, consultants and community groups. She has been a public art peer for the federal General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program for over 15 years. Erik Fokkema, Architect, Partner, EGM Architecten Mr. Fokkema has expansive experience in the Netherlands in institutional facilities, as well as private residential and public buildings. He is an expert in building operations, making the complex simple, and designing humane and user-friendly buildings. Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects New York-based architect Mark Gardner’s experience scales from buildings to interiors to product design, and he works to understand the role of design as a social practice. He is an expert and strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in architecture and design. Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director, The Architectural League of New York An architectural historian and urbanist, Ms. Genevro has led initiatives at The Architectural League addressing housing, schools, libraries and topics such as climate change. She is a frequent contributor on the City’s building environment. Samantha Josaphat, RA, Founding Principal, Studio 397 Architecture Ms. Josaphat’s portfolio includes architecture and interior design of higher education projects, as well as large- and small-scale residential projects, to which she brings impressive knowledge of the City’s building regulations. She is President of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Purnima Kapur, Urbanism Advisors, former Executive Director, NYC Department of City Planning Ms. Kapur was a key architect of the City’s groundbreaking Mandatory Inclusionary Housing regulation, which has led to five Integrated Neighborhood plans, and has been integral to the redevelopment of Brooklyn over the past two decades via projects including the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront, Downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island. Bruce Kuwabara, OC, OAA, FRAIC, AIA, RIBA, Partner, KPMB Architects One of Canada’s leading architects, Mr. Kuwabara’s diverse portfolio encompasses cultural, civic, educational, healthcare and performing arts projects in North America and Europe. Luis Medina-Carreto, Project Manager, Press Builders Mr. Medina is an expert in New York City construction management and methods, with a reputation of bringing projects to completion on schedule and on budget in the City’s complicated building environment. Gudrun Molden, Architect, Founding Partner, HLM Architects Gudrun Molden comes to the City from Norway with extensive experience in detention facility architecture in an urban context, including Oslo city center and Åna prison in Norway. Nancy Prince, RLA, ASLA, Chief of Landscape Architecture, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Ms. Prince establishes the design aesthetic and vision for the Parks Department’s large and varied portfolio of projects. Prior to entering public service, Ms. Prince spent years designing New York City’s parks and playgrounds. Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President, The Fortune Society With decades of experience in the criminal justice field, Stanley leads Fortune’s management, direct service programs, fundraising and advocacy work to promote alternatives to incarceration and support successful reentry from prison. Annabelle Selldorf, AIA, Principal, Selldorf Architects Ms. Selldorf founded her practice in New York City over 30 years ago. Her firm’s broad expertise has been applied in cultural, educational, industrial and residential projects throughout the United States. Lisa Switkin, FAAR, ASLA, Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations Ms. Switkin has helped to reshape New York City’s public spaces for 20 years, including the design and delivery of the High Line, Brooklyn’s Domino Park and the public spaces at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. Andrew Winters, AIA, Head of Development Services, Sidewalk Labs While serving as Director of the Office of Capital Project Development under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mr. Winters oversaw the development of public assets such as the High Line, East River Waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge Park. More recently he has overseen the planning, design and construction of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.“Superior design is an essential element for creating the City’s more humane and more equitable justice system,” said DDC commissioner Lorraine Grillo in the panel’s announcement press release. “These buildings will be important civic structures, reflecting the ambition of the City’s justice reforms, ensuring the dignity and well-being of those who are incarcerated, work and visit them, and integrating into the city centers where they are located,” the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice director Elizabeth Glazer added. Workshops and community feedback have informed the process, including an emphasis on using community space, and the public meetings will give citizens the opportunity to give input on the ground floor sections. However, some feel that the city has not done enough to listen and reach out. A series of lawsuits are pending against three of the four facilities. Activist and neighborhood groups in Manhattan claim that the city did not reach out to the community, namely senior citizens living at the nearby Chung Pak center, and that the city knew about Native American human remains in the area that could be affected. The suit was filed by Neighbors United Below Canal and the American Indian Community House. A lawsuit in the Bronx claims the de Blasio administration failed to consider alternative sites, ignored environmental impact reports, and went around the required public review processes. In Queens, Queens Residents United and the Community Preservation Coalition make similar claims about top-down planning and lack of engagement with residents of the neighborhood. The DDC is proceeding with the projects, a spokesperson for the department told AN, while Nick Paolucci at the NYC Department of Law told AN that, “This litigation is ongoing. We stand by the city and its approvals for this important initiative.” “Our borough-based jails plan is the culmination of years of collaboration between the city, local elected officials, and the communities they represent,” City spokesman Avery Cohen told Court House News. “We will vigorously defend our work in court as we move forward with our commitment to close Rikers Island and create a justice system is that is smaller, safer, and fairer.” The fight is far from over. The RFP guidelines will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, NYC Department of City Planning Design, an Advisory Group appointed by the City Council and affected Borough Presidents, and the Public Design Commission, who will also review the final proposals as the massive project moves through ULURP.
A year-and-a-half after the news broke that FXCollaborative would be converting Manhattan’s derelict First Church of Christ Scientist on West 96th Street into the new home of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), the project has gone before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to mixed reviews. The Beaux-Arts-reminiscent church was originally completed in 1903 by Carrère & Hastings, and befitting its pedigree, was landmarked by the city in 1974. However, due to the rapid decline of Christian Science, the building was sold to Crenshaw Christian Church in 2004, then again to a residential developer in 2014. The building was decommissioned as the First Church of Christ Scientist when the original congregation left and merged with the city’s Second Church, in the process turning that location into the new First Church of Christ Scientist (yes, it’s confusing). After several failed attempts to convert the building into high-end condos, the developer unloaded the property to CMOM in 2018. Now FXCollaborative’s plans for 361 Central Park West have been unveiled. At an LPC meeting this Tuesday, March 3, the museum presented their reworked vision for the building. That includes removing the former church’s stained glass windows and replacing them with clear, bird-safe glass, excavating below the building for a new cellar and sub-cellar area, inserting a new workshop and performance space at the top of the building, improving handicap accessibility, and a suite of quality-of-life improvements. One of the design team’s guiding principles was to better connect the museum to Central Park across the street, which the new windows and lowered entrances should help with. The full proposal can be found on the LPC’s website. Of note is that much of the exterior will be seemingly unchanged apart from the new rooftop area, including a refusal to route lighting through any of the existing exterior stone. However, the rooftop addition and removal of the building’s historic stained glass is causing the most consternation among preservationists. The Society for the Architecture of the City, former congregation members, and nearby residents expressed concern over the changes, as the addition would be visible from the street and the original windows were part of the building's original designation. If the project moves ahead, the windows would be sent to St. Louis’s National Building Arts Center for conservation. A number of big names also tendered support for the conversion, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who spoke in person, and Deborah Berke, who submitted a letter of support. Ultimately the commission was mixed on the changes and raised the same concerns mentioned previously. The project was sent back for revisions and will be brought before the LPC again sometime in the near future. If everything goes smoothly, the museum’s new home is anticipated to open in 2023.
Halls of Perception
Utile expands Autodesk’s Boston headquarters with a kaleidoscopic arcade
From the use of AI in the design of eco-friendly chairs to visualizing data and pushing the limits of parametric architecture, Autodesk is an industry leader in the development of 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Designing the California-based company’s latest office would be a dream project for many practices. The Boston-based architecture firm Utile was tapped to do just that—not once but twice. When Autodesk’s South Boston Meeting and Event Center (MEC), completed by Utile in 2018, was in need of an expansion, the company called on the self-described research-oriented think tank again. “Utile gained Autodesk’s trust during the design of the adjacent MEC,” Utile architect and project lead Ingrid Bengtson explained. “We were given a lot of creative freedom.” The former U.S. army storehouse that was chosen for the extension was already imbued with natural light and floor-through views. The firm highlighted these attributes by introducing a variety of flexible working and meeting spaces. “Our brief was that the space should have a wow factor,” Bengtson added. Read the full walkthrough on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.