Search results for "David Rockwell"

Eavesdrop: Anne Guiney


Well, well, well, it seems that the summer sun shines hotter on the lofty peaks where architecture critics reside, since we have to wonder what a few of them were thinking: In a piece on Lebbeus Woods, Nicolai Ouroussoff seems to pine for the pure old days when nobody ever built anything. You tell ‘em Nic—making buildings is bad, bad, bad! Epater les Constructeurs! … Speaking of tsk, tsk, tsk, one young writer chose the latest issue of Elle to muse in great detail about his personal life, specifically the demise of his marriage and a subsequent relationship. We are of the starchy New England school—“Shut it, sister!”—and were duly shocked at the lurid revelations, but the ensuing uproar turned out to be, well, uproarious: Blog commenters went for blood, and “narcissistic navel-gazing douchebag” may be the kindest thing he was called. Like we said, we don’t go in for scandal, so he shall remain unnamed (but it’s the issue with Jessica Simpson on the cover).… When we read about Robert A. M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West, we, too, believe that the rich are indeed different from you and we—they’re insane! Well, at least the subset willing to shell out $80 million for an apartment. But we digress. Paul Goldberger has examined that phenomenon not once but twice—once for the New Yorker, and a second time for Vanity Fair. It is rather important, we know, but really? Twice? Someone call the Condé Nast accounting department, stat! You cut two checks for the same story! And didn’t Mr. Stern design a house for Mr. Goldberger, way back in the day? … And finally, which newspaper staff is ditching work for a week to jaunt off to Venice for the Biennale? Not so hard, actually: We are! When we return, a full report on whether the prosecco was better at the dinner hosted by Aaron Betsky and David Rockwell or at the one held by Zaha Hadid.

Send gossip of the ink-stained-wretch variety to

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Food and the City
David Rockwell and Danny Meyer at Gramercy Tavern, March 27, 2008.
Adam Friedberg

AN: We’ve been thinking about restaurants and their role as public spaces, and the way they interact with and influence the life of a neighborhood. In different ways, both of you have worked to expand that role. Danny, this neighborhood has changed a lot [20th and Broadway] in the last 15 years, and must have seemed on the fringe when you decided to open. What brought you here?

DM: It’s hard to give language to what was a gut feeling. With Union Square Cafe in 1985, it was an infatuation with the Greenmarket. In 1993, this was still sort of a no-man’s-land, bizarre but true, but the architecture in the neighborhood wasn’t going to change dramatically. It is also a classic feature of New York to have pockets of industries, and here, they were on the wane: In Union Square, there was the men’s garment district, and literally you couldn’t get down the sidewalk on 16th Street without bumping into rolling garment racks; you knew that wasn’t going to last. In Madison Square, there were wholesale industries, like toys, tabletop, kitchens …

DR: How much of that was a conscious process?

DM: When I realized I’d dumbed into making it work at Union Square, I thought, ‘Well, this can work anywhere,’ and started looking for dying industries. In 1985, I walked around the Meatpacking District and thought it was one of the world’s great stage sets. Later on, it hit with a combustibility that made it completely unattractive for me.

DR: Now you’ll have to wait for its revival in 50 years! It’s like South Beach without the beach.

DM: It doesn’t have a natural balance of residences and businesses; it’s still a stage set. If you’re the kind of chef who likes Las Vegas, this is where you would do it in New York.

DR: Thinking back 15 years to when we designed Nobu, Tribeca had a lot of the characteristics you’re describing, like great architecture, but it also had residential pockets. I think part of the appeal for people going to restaurants is the exotic journey to a place where they didn’t live, the notion of a destination. The Meatpacking District is by-and-large design boutiques and restaurants, as opposed to being embedded in a fabric that’s kind of growing around it.

DM: I always felt that if the balance tipped either way too much, it would be less appealing. Why? Because I wanted to be busy at lunch and dinner. Midtown was never interesting to me because it was all business, and the Upper West Side, because it was all residential.

DR: There is also something about authenticity, in being the quintessential embodiment of the neighborhood. Think of the Theater District: I’m a huge theatergoer, and after all these years, I still go to Orso’s on 46th Street because it feels like an integrated part of the community. As a designer, that’s fascinating to me. Design has become a bigger discussion point in restaurants—which it wasn’t when we started 22 years ago—and what has become clear to me is that there has to be a leader—a restaurateur or a chef who has a vision that the design can relate to. If not, it becomes sort of an alien object. I was going to Union Square Cafe long before I knew Danny, and what I admired about it most is that you couldn’t put your finger on the single ingredient that made it work. That’s what we strive for in design: to have the design embedded in the concept of the owner and the operator in a way that it provides a back story; then design decisions aren’t arbitrary.

DM: The neighborhood is the frame that provides the context, and the restaurant has to belong in that frame. I wanted to pick neighborhoods that I felt comfortable in. One of the reasons you don’t see me in Las Vegas (so far) or you wouldn’t see me in the Meatpacking District, is that it’s not who I am.

DR: Another week, you never know!

DM: But it’s not going to ring true. I always thought that, like Union Square, I’m weird, but not too weird, and normal, but not too normal.

DR: You know it’s interesting you mentioned Vegas, which is nothing like this city. Just take the circulation in Vegas, for example, where it’s a one-way corral—there’s a way in, there’s a way out, and you’re largely directed like cattle. I think most people who look at restaurant design don’t understand that the biggest decisions really aren’t what things look like. The biggest decisions are about choreography, circulation, scale, a series of views that unfold, the ability to get the food to the tables, how the first 15 people feel—all of the basic decisions that break down the scale of the room. And all of those decisions have to be driven by a relationship with the restaurateur or chef.

AN: Those are all urban design issues, too.

DR: Exactly.

DM: I think a good designer is like a really good shrink. The information is there, you just don’t know how to pull it out of your subconscious. This is what I’ve loved about the relationships I’ve had with architects. It was dumb luck that I met Larry Bogdanow, who designed Union Square Cafe. I didn’t know the first thing about architecture. I told him I wanted a place that looks like an architect was never in there, and that you’d never know it had been designed in 1985. But what I learned was that all these small episodes that happened because of that architecture are what people wanted. Here at Gramercy Tavern, I wanted to create episodes so that, as a diner, wherever you are, you’re in your own neighborhood. Another neat thing happened—David probably figured this out 30 years ago, but I hadn’t—when you create more small communities within the restaurant, you multiply the number of corner tables!

DR: Another fascinating thing is the collaboration that goes on in a restaurant. It’s a social place in which you are eating food that is handmade for you, so you have the ability to make links between all of these things and the texture of a place. I think more than ever, since we’re in this world of sameness and can replicate a design through CNC milling a million times, that the notion of craftsmanship and sense being touched by the human hand is increasingly important.

AN: We wanted to ask you both about private programming in public spaces, in particular the controversy over replacing the restaurant in the old bathhouse in Union Square. On the one hand, there’s been a seasonal restaurant there, Luna Park, for years, but many argue that it amounts to a privatization of public space. 

DM: It’s a fascinating issue for me. Any question that begins with ‘What does the community want?’ always leads me to wonder, ‘Well, who is the community?’ Whether or not you ever went to Luna Park or ever believed it should have been put smack dab in the middle of Union Square, there were lines of people trying to get in every single night. There was clearly a community of people who loved having a place to go. To some degree, it made others feel safe because there were people in the park. These are people who may not go to community board meetings or get politically active. Then there are also preservationists, and people who think there shouldn’t be any money exchanged in a public space unless it’s for the public good. It’s kind of like religion—no one religion can be all right unless the rest are all wrong. All these constituencies need to be balanced: There is a playground constituency, a Greenmarket constituency, a food constituency, a dog-run constituency… I’m very comfortable, for example, with the model we have at Shake Shack, where we have a partnership with Madison Square Park Conservancy so that we can return money to that park.

DR: The opportunities for architects to work with public/private partnerships to create interesting new opportunities is going to grow exponentially—with tighter budgets, there’s just less and less public money. We’ve been thinking for three or four years about playgrounds, and wanted to establish a pro bono, not-for-profit group in New York. I realized early on that we had to build in parents as a constituency—the people who use playgrounds had to be comfortable with it. And so when we were making our presentation—it had to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Seaport, and Community Board 1—it was hard for them to understand at first that there was no reason for us to do this other than to contribute, and we volunteered to raise money to endow the organization. That’s when the light bulb went off for them. Now we’re approached by every community in New York that wants a playground. They’re all private groups for public places.

DM: People are okay with playgrounds because you don’t have to pay to use them.

DR: But the link that I’m making is about the programming of public spaces. And one of the things that we haven’t touched on, Danny, though it is an interesting point, is to look at the city inside-out. Look at the role of restaurants, and by extension hotel lobbies—New York’s inner spaces. During the 1920s, which was the golden age of hotels in this country, lobbies were an extension of the public realm; they’re private spaces but opened to the public. The city looks so neat and organized from the air, and then when you get down to the ground, it’s much messier and it’s much more vital—that’s what is fascinating.

DM: I moved to New York for good because I had fallen in love with the Algonquin lobby.

DR: I moved to New York because when I was 11, we came into the city, went to lunch, and then went to the theater to see Fiddler on the Roof. And with both of those city experiences, a kind of light bulb went off and I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I got a sense of the relationship between communal spaces and storytelling, and it was a real eye-opening experience for me, to see the relationship between audience and performer.

DM: Well, that’s New York. In fact, it’s the dialogue between whoever is performing and whoever is the audience, everywhere. Those were my first experiences, too—it could have been theater, it could have been jazz, it could have been in a restaurant. There’s always someone who has something to say and someone who’s there listening. That’s what the whole city is about. 

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Restaurant Row
Michael Moran


Reuse was the motto in designing Sweetgreen, a grab-and-go yogurt and salad bar near Georgetown University. The owners procured a 500-square-foot burger franchise whose exteriors were inspired by Tudor cottages. CORE changed little on the outside except to turn the red roof green. On the interior, reclaimed hickory planks run from the door to the floor, walls, and ceiling; a custom stainless steel serving counter focuses attention on the nutritious offerings; and brightly-lit menu boards reinforce the fast-food motif. 



Inspired by Japanese torii gates, a series of passageways defines this sushi spot’s dining hall, arching across the ceiling and folding into shelves and table-bracing brackets. Laser-cut from cold-rolled steel, the gates were easily bolted together on site. A gun-blue patina and coat of butcher’s wax, all hand-finished, protect them from restaurant wear and tear, while offset columns create niche-like spaces near the bar. Atop the gates, embedded LED strips soften the room with ambient light.

second home


When you come down from your Rocky Mountain high, Second Home offers a cozy environment to thaw the chill. The designers blended rugged, continental-divide surfaces such as dry-stack stone walls and rough-hewn wood plank ceilings with more cosmopolitan design elements, including 1950s Italian chandeliers, graffiti-covered chairs, fin-de-siècle Viennese secessionist banquettes, and upholstered walls. A sultry, low-slung lounge and open-air patio with a 15-foot fire pit sum up the restaurant’s frontier chic.



Inserted within the 1917 Penny Savings Bank building, Banq gives the radical-ceiling motif a sleek update. For this upscale South End eatery, the designers turned the task of concealing mechanical systems into a design brief: Wooden slats rise up from the floor and flow across the ceiling in undulating patterns to express vents, plumbing, and lighting, all of which form a grotto-like canopy soaring above the dining room.



Working with Ivanka Trump, Joe Valerio has created a destination restaurant in the new SOM-designed Trump Hotel that’s all about the view. Named after the floor where the restaurant resides, Sixteen’s neutral palette—a limestone floor, amber glass ceiling, tan leather seating—keeps the eye focused outward on the bridges, lake, and landmark architecture like the nearby Wrigley Building. Divided into three dining areas, the restaurant draws on the iconography of the city rather than the flash of the Trump brand.

zeff smith


Putting a slicker face on the urban rustic trend that has ruled the city’s hipster dining scene, this East Village bistro summons the vibe of a New York social club: Behold a 40-foot zinc bar, custom ceiling lights fitted with antique glass lampshades, old subway tile walls, and classic Thonet-style dining chairs. The main room features photographs of Victorian nudes, while the party-room walls show images from vintage magazines and books that contain the name Smith.

cafe grumpy


City traffic flows in streams and pools in eddies. Brett Snyder of Cheng+Snyder and Guy Zucker of Z-A used that metaphor as a design template for Chelsea’s Café Grumpy. Stuffed into a typically tight New York storefront, the cafe is organized around a coffee bar of plywood blocks that divides the space into an in-out corridor and small inlets for seating. The understated blond wood and exposed brick interior focuses all the attention on the java. 

red egg


The Lower East Side and Chinatown have always been liminal spaces between Old World and New. Bridging that gap was the main challenge in designing Red Egg. Would it be a small-plates bar or a restaurant with an ample lounge? Fish tank or light installation? Openshop opted to embrace it all: The ceiling is adorned with a constellation of “88 lucky koi” light bulbs; the bar is flanked by communal tables; and banquettes in back allow for more secluded dining. 



Located in the St. Regis Hotel, Adour takes the idea of urban theater long associated with the hotel lobby and translates it into dining experience as public ritual. For Rockwell Group, that meant layers of luxurious textured craft, from a bronze-based bar with a parchment goatskin top to panels of antique seeded glass. The main dining room is fashioned after an elegant library, where temperature-controlled armoires display an extensive wine collection, and the furniture is upholstered, naturally, in wine-colored leather.



L’Ouest Express, conceived by super-chef Paul Bocuse and French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, aims for a new concept in restaurants that would be an oxymoron in less expert hands: elegant fast-food dining. Opened in January in Lyon, the first L’Ouest Express has a clean look based on big curves, a duotone palette, and a flattering lighting system that could have been borrowed from the cosmetics department of a high-end department store. It’s an aesthetic bound to travel far and fast.



David Chang has built his burgeoning Momofuku empire by taking exquisite ingredients and making simple dishes from them—ramen, pork buns, and chicken wings. It could be said that Hiromi Tsuruta of Studio März has worked this magic in reverse. At Ko, he takes simple materials—plywood, halogen lamps, brushed slate, an artfully rusted metal grating—and creates a sleekly understated 12-seat bar that puts the food first while still offering a comfortable atmosphere for enjoying the restaurant’s only offering, a marathon seven-course meal.



Located atop a 24-story tower in the Boca Raton Resort and Club, Cielo overlooks ocean and sky on three sides. Patrons enter the space on a slight platform (the architects raised the elevator stop to eliminate the step up) to maintain an unobstructed view. Ceiling “clouds” are made from a variety of materials, including stretched, reflective white PVC. Most diners sit a tier below at glass-topped tables on white, motorcycle-leather-clad chairs. “At night, the building envelope nearly disappears,” said partner Carol Bentel. 



Dutch artist Menno Schmitz designed Merkato 55, the latest Meatpacking District food palace, with the same panache he brought to his silk screens of famous American jazz musicians and not-so-famous Dutch rock bands. Here, Schmitz recasts African art and design in a contemporary American restaurant. From the massive silk-screened portraits of Africa’s many nations to the beaded chandeliers, the space has an unmistakable African character that artfully avoids pastiche.




Company is AvroKO’s second foray in Las Vegas. Located in the Luxor Hotel, the space is the result of creative thinking after the client asked for a lodge-look. Literal not being AvroKO’s style, they deconstructed various big-country motifs—think toboggan blades and wooden skis—and stacked them to create screens between the main dining area and a floor-to-ceiling wine wall. Over-scaled light wheels made of iron brackets and translucent fabric update the notion of saloon chandeliers, and a grid of aspen trunks greets guests at the entrance.



Located in the Palmer House Hilton, Lockwood is hard by Millennium Park, making it a good watering hole for architecturally inclined visitors. An island bar unites the historic lobby and contemporary restaurant, while square amber shades enclose original Tiffany chandeliers. “We wanted to create a hybrid, to be complementary without trying to replicate,” said Jennifer Johanson, principal of EDG. “We think Bertha Palmer [who first helped plan the interior] would have wanted to be on the leading edge.”



A CNC-milled honeycomb forms the backdrop for this wine bar at New Brunswick’s Heldrich Hotel, its palette crafted to show off the beverage of honor. “For any material we chose, we tried to superimpose a glass of wine next to it to see if it would look good,” said principal Fadi Riscala. The bar itself, made of white quartz slabs from Kentucky-based supplier Rover, harmonizes with white-glass-tiled columns. Custom-designed chairs offer privacy without blocking views—of the wine rack, of course.



Bolts of crimson and cobalt lure patrons to this locale in a suburban mall: A red ceiling band and floors to match pull visitors toward a lacquer-red-tiled fireplace. Taking a detail from Skylab’s Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, sixty thousand linear feet of horizontal fir line the walls. In the restaurant, a backlit ceiling features pyramidal forms borrowed from Japanese screens, a motif with a witty twist in the stunning “blue room” and its wall of tiled sushi plates.



Evoking the fall harvest season, this wine bar makes use of American white oak, stained concrete, leather, and copper in a tonal and textural homage to vintners, growers, and distillers. The sculptural, double-sided bar creates a social nexus with flexible seating options, defined by varied ceiling heights and color-coded nooks. The compact design also neatly meets the client’s request that the restaurant be operated by as few as two people—one in the kitchen and one tending bar.



It is fitting that a slow food–as–fast food restaurant in the Mission District would find a former KFC for its home. Not only did KFC popularize the spoon-fork hybrid for which the restaurant is named, but Spork’s owners aim to reclaim hamburgers and fried chicken as wholesome food. Designer Eric Heid recycled many original KFC features for this “utilitarian diner.” The fryers’ stainless steel hood has been bolted to the ceiling as lighting, and the re-upholstered plywood booths are crisper versions of their predecessors.

lucky devils


Located in a storefront space in Hollywood, Lucky Devils presents a quintessential LA vibe, right down to the wallpaper showing a time-lapse night-shot image of Highway 101. The 2,000-square-foot space presents a clean, well-lit room with banquettes and plastic chairs from the Italian manufacturer Kartell. The ceiling is more animated, with dropped white panels for subliminal way-finding. Regulation track lighting bounces off crumpled, red paper to toss “flames” that reinforce the restaurant’s inferno-based name.



Housed in an old Pontiac dealer-ship, this 8,000-square-foot Gulf Coast seafood restaurant combined an existing building’s industrial vocabulary with polished accents. The architects then structured their palette around oysters: rough on the outside, shimmering on the inside. The exposed kitchen opens onto an expansive dining room of patched concrete floors and pearlescent tabletops lit by capiz shell chandeliers. Shades of sea green and a wavy plaster wall above the banquette complete the aquatic ambience.

Eavesdrop: Anne Guiney


Forget about the mortgage crisis, folks—when shelter magazines fold, you know the economy is going to pot! The powers that be over at Condé Nast closed down the 106-year old House & Garden the other day, and doomsday scenarios have been flying fast and furious amongst those of us who think about toile wallpaper and the care and feeding of amaryllis. According to our Nast-y mole, H&G’s long-time editor, Dominique Browning, and publisher, Joe Lagani, were not particularly simpático, and the latter quit smack dab in the middle of the magazine’s first ever Design Happening, a series of events pegged to New York Design Week. Lagani had apparently been beefing up advertising sales, so his departure, the specter of coming economic trouble for H & G’s target demographic, and a world already overstuffed with shelter magazines seem to have spelled the end.


Imagine the surprise of the editors at Architectural Record when an obituary on New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp came in from their critic Joseph Giovannini. The first sentences: “When Herbert Muschamp died on October 2, at the age of 59, it was as though a planet dropped out of our architectural constellation. From his first book in 1974, File Under Architecture, he was a fixture in our sky of thought…” This, about the man whom Record had an-nounced its intention to sue for tortious interference just a few years before! Editor Suzanne Stephens had been working on a book about the rebuilding of Ground Zero, and Muschamp announced that she couldn’t include the work he had commissioned from various chic architects for an issue of the Times’ Sunday Magazine, though she had already received permission from the Times legal folks. The squabble reached a crescendo on a design world-packed flight back from the 2004 Venice Biennale, when Ms. Stephens was seated in the same row as our planetary critic, who bellowed, “I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO LOOK AT YOUR ******* FACE!” The lady had a sharp retort. Meanwhile, the architects involved were forced to take sides: Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier, Fred Schwartz, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman, and all the younger firms withheld their permission, presumably at Muschamp’s bidding. Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Rafael Viñoly, David Rockwell, and Alexander Gorlin felt no such compunction and gave the OK. Suffice it to say that the editors at Record toned the obituary down for the print edition, but posted the original online in all of its stellar style.

Send tips, tulip bulbs, and text messages to EDITOR@ARCHPAPER.COM

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Public Amusements

Center for Global Conservation

673 Bronx Zoo
FXFowle Architects

From the Bronx Zoo to the New york Aquarium, the Wildlife Conservation Society is embarking on major expansion projects.

Courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society

While the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is known as a major nonprofit dedicated to saving wildlife all over the worldd its preservation efforts are now taking place in 53 countriessthe organization actually originated with the New York City zoo system. Initially called the New York Zoological Society, the WCS started with the creation of the Bronx Zoo, in 1895. Currently, the WCS oversees zoos on city-owned land in Central Park, Prospect Park, Queens, and the Bronx, as well as the aquarium at Coney Island.

The WCS is embarking on an expansion and renovation effort at its facilities throughout the boroughs. FXFowle Architects is in the process of renovating the Lion House, a 1903 building by Heins and La Farge that has been empty since the 1970s. Since receiving the commission in 2001, FXFowle has also been hired to design the Center for Global Conservation (CGC), a new stand-alone building not too far from the Lion House.

This year, the WCS also announced that it selected Slade Architecture to design a building that will house the shark tank at the New York Aquarium, near Coney Island, and has issued an RFQ for a redesign of the aquarium's perimeter, including a section that faces the boardwalk and the ocean.

All of these projects were done in consultation or collaboration with a range of city entities, including the Mayor's Office, the Department of City Planning, and the Department of Design and Construction; the latter recommended architects from its General Excellence Program, including Slade.

The WCS projects reflect the nonprofit's values about environmental conservation and preservation. When the Lion House buildinggwhich is part of an original Beaux Arts complexxis completed in the late spring of next year, it will be the first landmarked building in New York City to achieve a LEED rating. In retrofitting the structure, the architects had to reevaluate its HVAC systems, skylights, and other energy-related features to bring the building to present-day efficiency standards. The approach for the CGC building, which began shortly after the Lion House, was similar.

I like to think of these two projects together,, said Sylvia Smith, partner of FXFowle. For Lion House, we worked from the inside out. The exterior landscape was shaped by the building form itself. For the CGC, we worked from the outside in. We really took our design cues for the interiors from the elements of the landscape..

The mantra is always respect the nature we're in,, said Susan Chin, of the Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department of the WCS, which oversees these building projects.

While the design for the New York Aquarium's new shark tank will not be presented until July, the building's approach will have a similar respect for the environment and public education. The shark building will be architecture with a capital A,, said Chin, noting that the building will be much more of a design statement than the WCS buildings completed to date. You'll definitely notice it..

The uniqueness of the WCS's building campaign is intimately tied to its mission. The WCS understands that sustainable buildings are holistic systems,, said Smith. And it realizes that its buildings and their stories can be part of its message..


The Pier at Ceasar's
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Elkus/Manfredi Architects with Rockwell Group

The Pier at Ceasar's updates a beloved 19thhcentury type, now that shopping had replaced vaudeville as the entertainment of choice.

Courtesy Elkus/Manfredi Architects and Gordon group Holdings

Though only three remain today, Atlantic City's piers used to be as central to the city's identity as its beloved boardwalk, the Miss America Pageant, and Monopoly property. They were built in the late 19th-century as sideshow-lined entertainment venues and featured everything from vaudeville acts and dance halls to a famous series of diving horses. David Manfredi, principal of Elkus/ Manfredi Architects, remembers visiting Steel Pier as a small boy and being mesmerized by the act, which took its last plunge in 1978. He recalled, With a great deal of fanfare, the horse walked off the platform and leapt into the pool,, about 40 feet below.

Though his firm was undoubtedly chosen to design the Pier at Caesar's for experience more relevant than his early trips to the boardwalk, Manfredi's affection for the old Atlantic City made him a particularly good choice to create a complex sited on the old Million Dollar Pier. When opened at the end of the summer, the three-level structure will combine a contemporary high-end mall with some of the old entertainments of its original incarnation. The project represents the transformation of this building type over its 100-odd year existenceein short, the switch from horses to Hermms.

As Atlantic City declined, many of the piers were torn down, and others repurposed. Million Dollar Pier became a traditional shopping mall, despite its awkward 900-foot-by-200-foot footprint. Perhaps to block out the decaying city outside, the mall was entirely enclosed; shoppers had no sense that they were literally hundreds of feet out into the Atlantic. When you were inside it, you could have been in a mall anywhere in the country,, said Manfredi. When we saw it, we thought, What a missed opportunity!''

The existing pier platform was left intact, but the building on top has been entirely rebuilt. According to Manfredi, the architects were careful to provide vantage points from which to see the ocean and the beach. We wanted it to be specific to Atlantic Cityyyou'll know you are there, and you'll know you are on the water,, he said. And if nature in its raw state is not enough, at the end of the pier there balconies from which shoppers can watch a water, light, and fire show that will run every hour.

The spectacle continues outside: The pier is largely clad in electronic billboards. Another throwback, explained Manfredi: The old piers were just covered in graphics and signage, which was aimed at the people strolling down the boardwalk. That's one more thing we are bringing back.. AG
Anne Guiney

Recreational facilities
Randall's Island
Randall's Island Sports Foundation

From bird-watching to water-sliding, New York's Randall's Island will offer a host of new outdoor activities.

Aquatic development group/courtesy randall's island sprots foundation

When Robert Moses first envisioned a Randall's Island filled with baseball diamonds and football fields, few believed that what was essentially a large garbage dump could become New York's center of recreation and one its largest public parks. While Moses successfully implemented his plans, attendance was dismal and his dream soon deteriorated. Over 70 years later, the idea is being revived with an assortment of new facilities, including the recently opened Icahn Stadium, extensive plans for landscape restoration, and a soon-to-be-built waterpark.

In replacing the deteriorating Downing Stadium in April of 2005, the $42 million Icahn Stadium marked the first major step toward the island's revival as a recreation destination. Hillier Architecture's stadium design is simple and innovative, with light towers doubling as tension cable-bearing roof supports. The project, which includes track and field facilities, was organized by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF), a development group founded in 1992 to oversee new construction on the island.

Each summer since 2003, Randall's Island has hosted the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil in a series of temporary tents. In order to accommodate crowds and create a more inviting atmosphere, the RISF has overseen renovations and reconstruction of much of the area's infrastructure, including boardwalks and trails throughout the island, and a new waterfront pathway designed by Roesch Architects. The pathway will trace the full 5-mile circumference of the island. Unlike Icahn Stadium and many other RISF programs, the $4 million pathway will be funded exclusively by the city and state.

Another state-funded initiative will restore a 5-acre section of salt marsh and freshwater wetlands at the Little Hell Gate Inlet along the island's west coast. Indigenous plants and wildlife, including red-winged blackbirds and green herons, will be reintroduced to the landscape. The area will also serve the Randall's Island Kids Nature Program, which is organized by the RISF to provide activities, classes, and events for children.

The biggest and flashiest new addition to Randall's Island, however, is a 26-acre new waterpark (shown at the lower right corner of the plan, at left) that should be completed by summer of 2008. Located on the northwestern tip of the island, the park will be comprised of two partssone a year-round indoor facility, the other a summer-only outdoor portionnand will cost $168 million, entirely funded through private sources. The waterpark will be designed, built, and operated by the central New Yorkkbased Aquatic Development Group, and its grand scale should ensure Randall's Island's role as the recreational hotspot for both the city and the region.

Mitchell Park
Village of Greenport, New York
SHoP Architects/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli

seong kwon courtesy shop

seong kwon courtesy SHoP

seong kwon courtesy SHoP

Like many old whaling towns along Long Island's Peconic Bay, the village of Greenport is more dependent on summer tourism today than its historic industries of fishing and boatbuilding. In the late 1970s, a fire along the waterfront burned a 5-acre section of town that had included a car dealership, a gas station, various marine boat and engine repair facilities, and an oyster company. The remaining vacant land was left seriously polluted: Nine underground storage tanks remained on the site, which was also contaminated by petroleum and arsenic.

Many Greenporters argued that the waterfront site should be redeveloped into tax-generating shops, but Mayor David Kapell argued that even the existing stores in the village could not stay open in the winter because of a lack of customers. It would be better to create a public facility to bring people to Greenport who would then patronize existing stores. In 1996 Greenport held a design competition to transform the waterfront site into a series of public amenities that would be called Mitchell Park. The jury selected James Corner as the winner, but when the Philadelphia-based landscape architect could not reach an agreement with the town, the jury gave the commission to the third-place runner-up SHoP Architects, bypassing the second-place scheme, which they considered unbuildable.

The $12 million Mitchell Park was completed late last summer, and has already made its impact on the local merchants who cater to the town's visitors. The park creates a link between a bus and railroad station, the Shelter Island ferry terminal, and the town's main drag and new public marina. A hardwood boardwalk and bluestone-and-gravel path crosses along the waterfront and connects a landscaped amphitheater, open-air ice-skating rink (which becomes a mist plazaa in the summer), and various follies. These include a roundhouse for the town's historic carousel, shade arbors, a small mechanical building, a camera obscura, and a harbormaster's building.

The park and its architecture are an anomaly in Greenport, where nearly every new structure is built in some ersatz historical style. SHoP's convincing mix of local vernacular industrial architecture and a modernist sensibility has given the village a brilliant new center.
William Menking

Sebago Canoe Club
Canarsie, Brooklyn
Leroy Street Studio

courtesy leroy street studio

This summer, the Sebago Canoe Club will be launching boats from a new dock, marking the first stage in a major upgrade to the 73-year-old organization's Canarsie facility. The club represents an eclectic group of people in Brooklyn,, according to architect Shawn Watts of Leroy Street Studio, which agreed to upgrade the facility on a pro-bono basis. Right now, competitive paddlers and urban adventurers use a Parks Departmenttowned facility, and store roughly 300 kayaks and canoes in a collection of brightly- painted used shipping containers. Watts, who got to know a Sebago member through his wife's attendance at an arts class, has also applied for and received grants from the state and the J. M. Kaplan Fund to begin improving the facility.

Watts' design includes three new structures that link up with the existing shipping containers, which will still be used for storage. Each one is a simple steel frame clad in clear polycarbonate panels that can be opened as weather permits. One of the structures will be is an activity space (pictured above) in which the club plans to offer classes such as boatbuilding. The other two house bathrooms and meeting rooms.

Watts explained that the new structures will act as a porch in summer and light-heated underpass in winter.. The facility will also stand in egalitarian counterpoint to the many private marinas and yacht clubs that line Paedergat Basin. With its mix of materials and textures, Watts said, the updated Sebago still feels like Brooklyn..
Alec Appelbaum

Union Square Park Pavilion and Comfort Station
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and ARO

courtesy ARO

With protests to watch, skateboarders to dodge, and produce to ogle, it is little wonder that the stone pavilion at Union Square's northern edge goes unnoticed by most of the people who walk by it. The 1932 bandstand's two wings currently flank the summertime restaurant Luna Park, and it also houses a public restroom which is used by the staunch of heart, weak of bladder, and very few others. Recently, however, it has fallen into disrepair. In 2003, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation hired Michael van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), the Boston-based landscape architects, to develop a plan for the northern end of the park. MVVA soon brought local architects Architecture Research Office (ARO) to restore and expand the pavilion.

According to ARO principal Stephen Cassell, the firm is expanding the basement level to make offices for parks employees. The architects will relocate the restaurant's kitchens, currently in a series of shacks leaned up against the pavilion, below ground. The most visible part of the scheme is a new comfort station. The 600-square-foot glass and metal mesh structure (above, at left) will have a bathroom for the playground and another opening onto the plaza. Though the design was approved by the Fine Arts Commission in May, it hasn't been a speedy process, and a start date for construction has not been assigned. It is a little project, and fun,, said Cassell, But it has also been a very process-heavy job. There is so little park space in the city, and so many competing interests..
Anne Guiney

floating pool
Beacon, New York
Meta Brunzema Architect

courtesy Meta Brunzema Architect

While most New yorkers would raise an eyebrow at the idea of swimming in the waters of the Hudson next to Manhattan, In 2005, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP), along with private supporters like musician Pete Seeger, proposed to build a flow throughh pool set at the river's edge in Beacon, New York, in which water would pass freely through the mesh structure. The DEP hired the Manhattan-based architect Meta Brunzema to develop a design; construction began on June 2.

Since the ability for water flow is central to the pool's functioning, the materials that Brunzema chose were crucial. She specified woven nylon belts for the pool's flooring and a thin structural mesh called Dyneema for its siding. The mesh's gaps are small enough keep all hands and feet safely inside, but large enough to allow small fish to swim through. Sunbathers and swimmers can relax on a ring of floating fiberglass seats around its perimeter, and a splinter-free dock connects the shore to the seating.

The structure will be anchored to the riverbed with cables (section, above), and flotation tubes will be embedded within the fiberglass seating to keep the pool and sunbathers afloat. With an entry fee of less than a dollar and seating for only 20 people, a line should build up, but that's okay: Brunzema hopes that eventually these pools will be scattered in rivers all throughout the state..
Stephen Martin

Battery Park City
Weisz + Yoes Architecture

courtesy weisz + yoes architecture

Perhaps the most exciting of a series of projects launched by the Battery Park Conservancy is an ocean-themed carousel (above) designed by Weisz + Yoes Architects. When it is completed at the end of 2007, it will join the Garden of Remembrance (dedicated to the victims of September 11) and the Battery Labyrinth. Later years will see the addition of a newly landscaped Town Green and Lawn and a refurbished Castle Clinton.

The details of the design are still being refined, but as it stands, its framework will be made of stainless steel, and the roof and walls of either plaster or fiberglass. According to principal Claire Weisz, the spiral roof is intended to evoke the dramatic quality of a cathedral while also making it more visible to passersby.

What makes the carousel distinct from its type is that it is employs two projection technologies, one that dates to the 1600s, and a second that is decidedly more contemporary. At the carousel's hub, there is a magic lantern, or a dimmable glass cylinder that moves up and down and spins, much like a child's top. It will be lit up from the inside and project shadows of fish on the roof.

But in Weisz's words, this analogg experience of spinning shadows will be overlaid with another digitall experience of projectors showing images of the city at night. The whole series of images,, said Weisz, is supposed to compose a narrative of travel from the city to underwater..
David Giles

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The Adventures of Robin Hood

The cutting-edge nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation has recruited a band of architects to give to the poor by designing libraries in some of New York City's neediest public schools. With its second phaseeand 31 librariessnow complete, the Library Initiative is an example of pro bono design at its best. Cathy Lang Ho reports.

Marpillero Pollak created a simple dropped perforated metal ceiling, with cut-out holes filled with colored Plexiglas and Jasper Morrison Glo-Ball Flos lights that echo the round foam seats by M2L below. With Milder & Co., they devised a set of tables (background) that can be pushed apart or linked together.
> peter mauss / esto

In 20011three years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg won approval for his $13 billion school construction and improvements campaign, which is just now beginning to be implementeddLonni Tanner, then director of special projects at the Robin Hood Foundation, decided that New York City's public schools needed serious attention. Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting, grant-giving nonprofit, had just funded the renovation of a library in a charter school in Brooklyn, undertaken by Karen Davidov and Henry Myerberg of the since-dissolved partnership Helfand Myerberg Guggenheimer. I was curious if other schools needed a similar resource,, said Tanner, so she canvassed 250 of the city's 650 public elementary schools. I was shocked at what I saw,, she said. I saw a few dusty books on some shelves, old Wang computerssnothing that could be close to being called a library.. At the time, 60 percent of New York public school students in grades three through eight were reading below grade level. Believing that education is the key to fighting poverty, Robin Hood, in a groundbreaking partnership with the city's Board of Education, launched the Library Initiative.

Today, the program boasts 31 alternatives to the bleak public school norm, created by 16 architects who worked mostly pro bono over the course of two phases (see sidebar for complete list). The highly publicized results of the pilot phase, completed in 2002, prove that there are myriad ways to skin a cat: Charged with creating distinct spaces for instruction, presentation, and private reading, accommodating 10,000 books (donated by Scholastic) and several computer workstations (donated by Apple), and ensuring clear sightlines throughout the space, among other requirements, ten firms produced wide-ranging prototypes of lively, child-friendly spaces that are rigorously programmed for learning as well as cost-efficient, durable, and easy to maintain. Because the libraries departed so dramatically from their standard-issue, institutional contexts, they quickly became magnets within their schools and larger communities, captivating students who regard them havens, retreatssplaces where they want to be.

Gluckman Mayner Architects used the library as a chance to explore sustainable materials, such as non-off-gassing Woodstalk for millwork, non-VOC adhesives, bamboo flooring, and recycled-content Interface carpet tiles. To counter the divisions of the floor area, the architects wanted a unified ceiling treatment. They gave it a sky motif, with wallpaper designed by 2x4 and customized light fixtures that are simple fluorescent bulbs with bent metal forms to evoke birds or flying books.

Custom responses were integral to conveying to students, many of them economically underprivileged, that they are important and deserve special attention. (Robin Hood selected schools where over 75 percent of students qualify for a free lunch.) But replicability is equally important to the Library Initiative. The idea from the outset was to develop a standard, since the aim is to get architects to all the schools eventually,, said Myerberg, who was instrumental in helping define the Library Initiative and worked with Tanner to recruit first-phase architects. But we didn't want a cookie-cutter approach, like Starbucks, either..

This inquiry into how to allow the libraries to be unique expressions of their contexts and their architects while capturing economies of scale has intensified in the second round of libraries, completed the last month.

In phase two, 9 firms produced 21 libraries. Four of the firmssTsao & McKown, Tod Williams Billie Tsien, Richard H. Lewis, and the Rockwell Group, where Henry Myerberg now worksswere architects returning from the first round, and who were asked to design multiple libraries, nudging the potential of serialization further. We love the idea of the libraries having distinct identities, but the cost pressure is continually growing so the impulse to standardize grows stronger,, said Robin Hood's chief of external affairs Joe Daniels, who oversaw the build-out of phase-two libraries. The libraries were budgeted at about $1 million each, encompassing the cost of construction as well as training and staffing librarians, which Robin Hood considers essential to the program's success. To date, Robin Hood has contributed $7.5 million to the initiative, which the Board of Education matched funding three-to-one, putting in $22 million. The libraries average about 2,000 square feet; the construction cost of each was roughly $400,000, or $200 per square foot.

Second-round architects, like many in the first, found vibrant colors, playful furniture, irregularly shaped spaces, and bold lighting and graphics to be effective accomplices in creating high-impact, low-cost gestures. Many new architects had the urge, like Weiss/Manfredi did with its award-winning first-round project, to extend the presence and magic of the library into the rest of the school. Rogers Marvel offered tantalizing views into their library at P.S. 105 in Far Rockaway by filling two unused doorways that face the adjacent corridor with alternately clear and frosted glass blocks, where they also sited benches so that silhouettes of readers inside would be visible to passers-by. Meanwhile, Marpillero Pollak Architects' library at P.S. 5 in Sunset Park beckons students with an entrance fronted by a window and an oversized bench, emblazoned with the Library Initiative logo created by Pentagram's Michael Bierut, who worked with all the architects to incorporate graphics into their spaces.




PHASE 1 completed Fall 2002

Della Valle + Bernheimer Design (PS 18)
Tsao & McKown Architects (P.S. 19)
Weiss/Manfredi Architects (P.S. 42)
Deborah Berke Architect (P.S. 46)
Helfand Myerberg Guggenheimer Architects (P.S. 50)
Alexander Gorlin Architect (P.S. 92)
Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates (P.S. 101)
Ronette Riley Architect (P.S. 149)
Paul Bennett Architect (P.S. 165)
Richard H. Lewis, Architect (P.S. 184)

PHASE 2 completed Winter 2005

Tsao & McKown Architects (P.S. 46, 86, 94, and 246)
Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates (P.S. 1, 28, and 32)
Richard H. Lewis, Architect (P.S. 10, 36, 93, 287)
The Rockwell Group (P.S. 5, 17, 106, 137, 145)
1100 Architect (P.S. 16)
Rogers Marvel Associates (P.S. 105)
Dean Wolf Architects (P.S. 151)
Marpillero Pollak Architects (P.S. 1)
Gluckman Mayner Architects (P.S. 192)

1100 Architects took its cue from the school's small reptile zoo, creating a long bookshelf that snakes through the space and creates distinct separate areas for private reading and group activities.

The learning curve was higher for new architects,, said Myerberg, but we all learned what worked and didn't work from the first round.. For example, for P.S. 50, he had designed a system of Lego-like bookcases arranged in a staggered pattern, but they confounded librarians' ability to uphold the Dewey decimal system. In his second set of libraries, the bookcases follow a more linear pattern.

The treatment of bookcases varied widely from architect to architect. Billie Tsien said that her firm learned early on to discern what was important and treatable versus what they could do little about, such as a wall of unattractive windows. To them, bookcases were key. We learned that your best friend is your cabinetmaker,, said Tsien. They can deliver the room for you in a beautiful way because they're making a container for people and books at the same time.

It's the cabinetwork, too, that's essentially replicable.. Many other library architects also emphasized the importance of custom casegoods to ensure maximum book capacity and a snug fit. And many insisted on wooden bookshelves, despite the expense, as if to reinforce the traditional idea of libraries and avoid the typical approach to children's or institutional spaces, to go plastic, hard, and cool. Richard Lewis' firm decided that all the furniture that was fixed would have a traditional look while all the movable furniture would be modern, so their bookcases are old-fashioned molded wood while chairs are by Arne Jacobsen and cabinets are by USM. Tsao & McKown designed shelving (made from medium-density fiberboard) that's almost constructivist in detail,, said Zack McKown, so that kids can reverse-engineer how they were built..

Rogers Marvel Architects used cheap VCT (vinyl composition tile), arranging two different shades of yellow in a random pattern, giving the floor interesting visual texture.

Interestingly, Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects had the opposite point of view about bookcases, using off-the-shelf metal frames. We didn't think it was the place to spend money,, he said. Why reinvent the wheel? Whenever possible, we wanted to use straightforward, utilitarian products to support the architecture..

Flooring was also an important realm for experimentation. Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Tsao & McKown, which both used cork in their first library, resurrected the soft, resilient, acoustically and environmentally friendly material in their second-round libraries. Richard Lewis, Marpillero Pollak, and Dean/Wolf followed their lead, specifying the material in different colors. The Rockwell Group used mostly Interface carpet, as did Gluckman Mayner, which paired the soft floor covering with bamboo, to denote the different areas of the room. Meanwhile, Rogers Marvel used perhaps the cheapest flooring material of all, vinyl composition tile (VCT), but picked a nice yellow in two shades and arranged them randomly, giving the floor some visual texture. These varied solutions raise the potential of developing standards or uniform elements for future libraries. We are looking for elements that can be applied across different projects, without restricting architects' designs,, said Daniels. For example, in the future, we could offer a choice of three or four flooring options or shelving solutions, and make a deal up front with a vendor or fabricator..

Marpillero Pollak Architects extended the presence of the library into the school, with an entrance bench/gathering area. The Library Initiative's logo was designed by Michael Bierut of Pentagram, who worked with the library architects to create site-specific graphics.

To counter the uniformity that might come with recurring elements, Robin Hood has been encouraging architects to emphasize site-specific graphic installations involving students. Marpillero Pollak created a window frieze using chidren's drawings of fictional characters. Meanwhile, Richard Lewis worked with Pentagram, as well as artists Dorothy Kresz, Peter Arkle, Raghava Kalyanaraman, and Lynn Pauley to create murals to fill the space between the tops of bookcases (which could be no higher than five shelves) and ceilings.

As the Library Initiative enters its third roundda list of 25 schools and architects will be determined this summerrcost savings will be even more crucial, as the Board of Education reduces its matching funds from three-to-one to two-to-one. But the Library Initiative has already developed a certain cachet in the architectural community, with many clamoring to be involved. The same goes for vendors, many of which have donated or discounted their materials and services. Luckily, there are plenty of libraries to go around. 31 down,, said Tanner, who left Robin Hood last month. 619 to go.. cathy lang ho is an editor at an.

Rogers Marvel Architects used cheap VCT (vinyl composition tile), arranging two different shades of yellow in a random pattern, giving the floor interesting visual texture.



1100 Architect
Dean Wolf Architects
Gluckman Mayner Architects
Marpillero Pollak Architects
Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates
Tsao & McKown Architects
Richard H. Lewis Architect
The Rockwell Group
Rogers Marvel Architects

Client: New York City Board of Education
General contractor: F. J. Sciame Construction Co.
Funding partner: Robin Hood Foundation
In-kind donations: Scholastic Books, Harper Collins, Apple, Maharam
Graphic design: Michael Bierut, Pentagram
Photography: Peter Mauss / ESTO

* It's worth noting that many of the companies involved with the Robin Hood libraries supplied their products or services pro bono or at discounted rates.

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Bright Lights, Big City

Though ethereal, light is one of architecture's most important materials. Whether natural or artificial, light can accentuate architectural genius, mask mistakes, grab attention, make a place feel sacred or safe. New lighting technology and educational programs are keys to keeping architecture's spark alive.

LEDs, the Latest Frontier on Architectural Lighting

LEDs are everywhere, and not just in traffic lights and digital alarm clocks where they started several decades ago. LEDs, short for light emitting diodes, have been steadily making their way into architectural applications around the world. Until recently, LEDs were considered impractical for widespread use in large environments but the technology has improved dramaticallyythey're smaller and brighter, use less power, can be computer controlled, and cycle through all the colors of the rainbowwenticing more and more architects and designers to integrate them in their work.

Many manufacturers (even those that only recently incorporated the technology into their lines) have now made LEDs, if not a core component of their product offerings, part of their R&D. We consider implementing LED technology for every new product under development,, said Ted Chappell, president of New Jerseyybased Erco Lighting, which did not bring LED-based products into its line until its 2002/ 2003 catalog.

Left and below: UN Studio and Arup Lighting, both based in Amsterdam, teamed up to give Seoul's Galleria West fashion mall a dazzling, Paco Rabannesque makeover. Concealing a nondescript 1970s concrete building is a layer of 4,330 frosted glass discs, shielding an equal number of LED luminaires. Each disc acts as a giant pixel; the building becomes a vast display screen. With Dutch company Xilver, Rogier van der Heide of Arup developed an RGB LED fixture that improves the color tone of the LEDs.
Courtesy arup lighting

The most common application of LEDssmany would argue to a faulttis in color-changing scenarios and as decorative details in a larger environment. If I need a saturated color, I look to LEDs,, said lighting designer Jim Benya, principal of Benya Lighting Design in Tigard, Oregon, who is currently creating a midnight sky scene for a hospital MRI room with blue LEDs. Another lighting designer, Ken Douglas, principal of Illumination Arts in New Jersey, is embedding the light source into the faaade of dark red brick building that lost its presence at night. In our designs, we are using it mostly as a secondary aesthetic element, to add a little flavor or as a highlighting element,, he said.

Courtesy arup lighting

Color-changing capabilities exist with other lamps like metal halide, which was used by Horton Lees Brogden to light the Met Life building in New York City with stunning results. But Douglas noted, With those lamps, there has to be a physical component moving around, or glass moving back and forth, or a color wheel, and every time you have a part that moves, you have a part that fails..

RGB fluorescent has traditionally been the source behind color-changing effects, and is still being used very successfully on certain projects, such as on the faaade of the 41-story Deutsche Post tower in Bonn, Germany, designed in 2003 by Helmut Jahn. However, more designers like Darren Nolan, an architect with Peter Marino + Associates, which recently completed an eight-story building for Chanel in Tokyo, turned to LEDs to illuminate its faaade. We made comparisons between fluorescent and LEDs, but issues of maintenance, heat generation, and consistency of color temperature convinced us to go with the latter,, he said. The architects were also charmed with the ability of the LEDs, imbedded on the modernist glass and metal faaade, to change light patterns each night, simulating for example Chanel's signature tweed. While the upfront costs of LEDs were higher, said Nolan, in the long run the architects felt LEDs would be more cost effective.

Chanel's new Tokyo headquarters, designed by Peter Marino, has a triple-glazed facade featuring view-controlled glass and LEDs that enable the building to be completely transparent by day and lanternlike at night. The building has art director who programs different patterns for the facade.

Courtesy peter marino + associates

The extremely long life of LEDs makes them a particularly sound solution in situations where fixtures are hard to maintain. Paul Gregory, principal of Focus Lighting in New York City, specified LEDs for the new Semiramis Hotel in Athens, Greece, for example, for areas where limited space would have made it hard to replace other lamp types. Gregory, who collaborated with Karim Rashid on the project, felt confident in the choice, having used LEDs on the Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia four years before, which he says has been extremely low maintenance and still looks good. The questions is always, Can you do something complex and still have it look great in four years,, he said. Not with Par cans [theater lighting]; not with MR16s..

While the overall lumen output from available LED sources remains low, there are extremely bright LED products for small-area applications, such as display cases or enclosed spaces. The technology is also ideal for low-light-level outdoor applications, like step lights and pavers, because the technology operates under a wide range of temperatures, unlike fluorescents which do not respond well to cold, and HID lamps, which do not start or extinguish immediately. Also, since they use few watts, LEDs can be solar or battery powered, which makes them appropriate to situations where uninterruptible power is important. Erco Lighting began its foray into LED-based fixtures with products dedicated to this application. We marketed them as orientation' luminaires,, said Chappell. They serve as excellent marker lights for pathways as well as safety lights for entrances and step applications..

Paul Gregory of Focus Lighting worked with David Rockwell on FAO Schwarz's renovation, which features a ceiling with 80,000 LEDs that can be programmed into different patterns

J. P. Lira / courtesy focus lighting

Since they do not radiate heat, LEDs work well in environments where heat may damage the object being illuminateddart or chocolate, for example. For this reason, task lamps are incorporating the technology, since users are generally in close proximity to the light source and can therefore be burned by it. The Arketto lamp, which Luxo released in 2004, produces virtually no apparent heat and has a 50,000-hour life, according to the company. That LEDs do not produce any heat is a myth, however, according to Benya. An LED does not radiate heat, which actually means it cannot cool itself in this way, but still has to conduct the heat away from the source. The higher the wattage, the bigger the heat problem.. If an LED source is not cooled, he notes, it negatively affects light output and longevity. He believes this problem is the Holy Grail for the industry; if it can be resolved, then LEDs will enter more standard architectural applications like downlightsand spots.

This and other shortcomingsslow overall light output, cool white range (lacking the warmth of incandescents), high priceehave kept LEDs out of mainstream architectural applications, but have also been the focus of manufacturers' research. For example, Color Kinetics recently introduced IntelliWhite, which offers an expanded range of temperatures. And, according to Dave Shepard, national sales manager with lighting manufacturer Luxo, which recently released an LED task light, the price of LED components seems to come down every six months or so. He notes that the industry is currently in the middle of a pronounced decrease.

Gregory also worked with Karim Rashid on the Semiramis Hotel in Athens, where LEDs work with colored glass for decorative effect.

Jennifer alexander / courtesy focus lighting

>I've never seen a technology in our field evolve so much over so short a period of time,, said Benya. Every time you stop and take a snapshot, remember that what you specify today is going to become obsolete faster than the computer you just bought.. This is in direct conflict with what Benya considers the purpose of architectural lightinggto design something permanent and durable. We call them light fixtures for a reason,, he said. He maintains a healthy skepticism toward LEDs, pointing out that when the source does fail, it often means the entire system must be replaced, not just a bulb.. The diodes need to be soldered or otherwise connected to a complex electrical system; when one goes, the entire lighting system may have to go. It's a monumental paradigm shift,, he said. A luminaire is now a throwaway wrapper around an expensive light-bulb, as opposed to the other way around..

Perhaps indicative of how far LEDs have come is that primary complaint about the technology from designers is not about their performance, but about their architectural applications. My criticism is about how the technology has been used in the last few years,, said Douglas. In the early 1990s, everything had to be MR16s; it didn't matter whether they were the right fixture or not. LEDs are like that. People are making things flash and dance even if it isn't a building that should be doing that..
Emilie W. Sommerhoff is the editor-in-chief of Architectural Lighting.


A Lighter, Brighter Jets Stadium

As the battle over the development rights of the Hudson rail yards enters its next phase (March 21 was the MTA's deadline for competing bids), the most prominent contender and mayoral favorite, the New York Jets, unveiled a revised design for its proposed New York Sports and Convention Center (NYSCC) that brightens and softens Kohn Pedersen Fox's (KPF) original scheme.

KPF's first try was a clunky, closed box plunked down between 31st and 33rd streets, split by a central axis that ran down 11th Avenue. The Municipal Art Society (MAS) put its carefully considered two cents in, and the architects listened. In the revised design, the structure's height is reduced by 120 feet. The wind turbines that were supposed to line the rooftop were also eliminated. Shrinking the structure improved it, but it was still a big awkward box.

courtesy l'observatoire international

>One of the initial driving forces in the new design was the Municipal Art Society's desire to create a strong axis on 32nd Street,, Bill Pederson said. They felt that the plan would be strengthened by a strong east-west orientation.. The architects responded by creating an asymmetrical faaade and reorienting the complex toward a new pedestrian-friendly entrance plaza on 11th Avenue, a planned retail corridor.

The most dramatic revision by far, however, involves the skin of the building. The designers have wrapped the core volume in a translucent glass veil, giving the structure the appearance of floating.

Toronto-based graphic designer Bruce Mau, originally brought in to develop wayfinding and graphic imagery, got into the collaborative design spirit and contributed by conceptualizing the entire 60,000-foot exterior surface as a single image, with each 6-by-12-foot pane of glass dotted alternately with translucent and transparent film. If you think about a pane of glass as a pixel, you can make an image that reads on an urban scale,, Mau said. From far away, it's very soft, light, and diaphanous; on an intimate scale it's very pop and graphic..

The Jets' desire to make the project less monolithic and more appropriately scaled to the neighborhood is furthered by the contribution of lighting designer Hervv Descottes, founder of New Yorkkbased L'Observatoire International. We wanted to work with different degrees of transparency,, said Descottes, discussing the wrap-around LED screen to be installed at the structure's ground level. The lighting designer envisions seven distinct lighting schemes that can be deployed, changing the building's profile from day to night and event to event. At times, the stadium would reflect the Hudson River, while at others it would shoot two beams of lighttone straight into the sky and one right into New Jerseyyto communicate game-day excitement. It's subtle but strong signage,, he noted.

Will the NYSCC's inventive use of media and light be enough to win over its objectors? Time will tell. Eva Hagberg is a New Yorkkbased writer.


Parson's MFA in Lighting, the Nation's First to Incorporate Design

When Peter Wheelwright took over as chair of the architecture department at Parsons in 1999, he also inherited an ailing Masters of Arts program in lighting design. Shortly thereafter, the proverbial light bulb went off: Why not take advantage of the inherent synergy between the three fields in the departmenttarchitecture, lighting, and interior designnand at the same time extend the depth and breadth of the study of lighting design, which historically has lagged behind as an academic discipline?

Parsons has been a leader in lighting design since 1975, when Jim Nuckolls, a pioneer in both the practice and education of the discipline, launched the first incarnation of its MFA. Originally, the program was an appendage of the continuing education department. In the early 1990s, it joined the architecture program, yet after a decline in student enrollment, the school decided to turn it into a vocational one-year Master of Arts degree in 1998.

Lighting study by Azusa Yabe

courtesy parsons school of design

Wheelwright began the revamp by hiring the program's first full-time director, Joanne Lindsley, who had been the president of the International Association of Lighting Designers, and then resolved to transform the degree back into a two-year MFA with a fresh slant. The resulting program, which kicked off its first semester last fall at full capacity with 24 matriculated students, puts lighting design and architecture students in the same studio space. They share faculty as well as history and theory courses, and even work in tandem on the same design projects. It's radical for an architecture program to have such a strong relation to lighting design,, said Wheelwright. Although they think they do, few architects today really know how to design with light..

Key players in launching the new MFA are David Lewis, director of Parsons' graduate architecture program and a principal of Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis, and lighting designer Linnaea Tillett. The program's advisory board includes lighting designer Paul Marantz of Fisher Marantz Stone. Since Lindsley left the program in 2004, Wheelwright has served as acting director, while talks of a search for a new head are in development. Said Wheelwright, The new MFA needs an academic to run it, someone who understands the relationship of design to social practice..

Lighting study by Jung Eun Park

courtesy parsons school of design

Extending his theory that cooperation yields greater benefits for related disciplines, Wheelwright has widened his students' access to educators and facilities by networking with Parsons' main competitor in the field, the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). RPI is doing something very different,, he said, explaining that their Master of Science is focused more on scientific research and development. They're inventing light bulbs; we're designing. So we've begun to strategize linkages.. Students from Parsons have already visited Rensselaer, and RPI faculty members have given lectures as Parsons.

Most other lighting design programs in the U.S., such as those at Illinois State, Florida State, and Carnegie Mellon, are concentrations within their schools' theater design departments. Wheelwright believes that Parsons is embarking on a program that is unique. I hope [this year's class] will be the first batch of students trained in the history and theory of lighting design, who will look at light from a phenomenological point of view, as well as learning its mechanics and techniques. If we do that,, he claimed, We'll be doing what no one else does.. Anna Holtzman is a New Yorkkbased writer.

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