Search results for "east new york"

Placeholder Alt Text

Sheet Ghost-Chic

Anthony McCall brings his light works back to New York
English artist Anthony McCall is bringing his ghostly, “solid-light” installations back to New York City in December, with a new solo show at the Sean Kelly Gallery in East Midtown, his sixth in the space. From December 14 through January 26, 2019, visitors can catch two new works from McCall, and his 2003 piece Doubling Back, which was first shown at the 2004 Whitney Biennial. A number of McCall’s black-and-white photographs will also be on display. While McCall’s show at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works in February was able to take advantage of the space’s cavernous ceilings and present vertical light pieces, horizontal installations are the focus of the Sean Kelly show, Split Second. Despite the format change, McCall’s hallmark exploration of volumetric forms using a volume-less medium, light, will be fully on display. Split Second and Split Second (Mirror) will be making their world debut at their namesake show. In Split Second, a flat blade and elliptical cone will be projected on the gallery’s back wall and slowly combine and form intersecting planes that rotate around each other. In Split Second (Mirror), McCall will split a projected “cone” with a wall-sized mirror, “cutting” the shape with a plane of light reflected back at the source. Doubling Back was McCall’s first return to the form after a 20-year hiatus. Each of McCall’s solid-light installations are actually very slowly moving films—up to a half hour or longer—and Doubling Back is no exception. Two sinuous waves, one moving horizontally and the other vertically, overlap and form pockets of light and shadow, integrating the architecture of the gallery itself into the piece. A selection of photos from McCall’s solid-light installations from the 1970s and 2000s will also be on display, capturing still images, or slices of time, from past work. That sort of snapshot is a bit ironic considering McCall’s description of his work as intentionally slowed down, creating an ever-changing relationship between the viewer and the piece. For best results, patrons will have to experience McCall’s “sculptures” for themselves. Sean Kelly Gallery is located at 475 10th Avenue in Manhattan and is open from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.
Placeholder Alt Text

Some Old Time Religion

UK housing chair blasts modernism amid ire over alleged extremist views
Conservative intellectual and chair of the UK’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, Sir Roger Scruton, has come out swinging against modernism. The commission’s goal is to provide housing policy recommendations that further the beautification of new developments and foster a sense of community. The controversial scholar, who has faced calls to resign over his views on race, date rape, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and more, derided modernism as destroying the urban fabric in a speech before London’s right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank. As Scruton delivered the inaugural Colin Amery Memorial Lecture on November 14, he railed against Norman Foster, Mies van der Rohe, and what Scruton described as a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) backlash that precluded the building of new housing in dense urban areas. Calling the housing crisis an aesthetic issue, not an economic one, Scruton posited that “the degradation of our cities is the result of a modernist vernacular, whose principal device is the stack of horizontal layers, with jutting and obtrusive corners, built without consideration for the street, without a coherent facade, and without intelligible relation to its neighbors.” Scruton claims that as opponents of these non-contextual housing projects force their relocation to the outer edge of the city, it encourages an increasing amount of “void and sprawl.” The commission chair also got in his hits against the International Style Seagram Building, calling it and all of its imitators “lamentable.” Of the Foster-designed City Hall in London, he described it as an “alien object” at the center of a “growing moral void” that intentionally excluded human-scale interaction. Modernist vernacular in general, according to Scruton, is inherently inferior to the pre-modernist style of weaving together seamless street walls with heavy ornamentation, in particular those in Victorian and Georgian styles, a refrain also gathering in popularity among white ethno-nationalists. Scruton used the speech as a chance to dismiss his critics, saying that his work at the commission had been “interrupted by the half-educated having their say first.” He may have been referencing calls from architects and Labour MPs to resign over a long history of divisive comments. In a 2001 article for New York’s conservative City Journal magazine, Scruton claimed that being gay was just as bad as smoking and knocked 10 years off of the lives of LGBTQ individuals. Just this past April, Scruton suggested that one of the 9/11 hijackers, who had studied architecture in Hamburg, was “taking revenge on an architectural practice which had been introduced into the Middle East by Le Corbusier.” Scruton’s comments on Jews in Hungary forming a “[George] Soros empire” to undermine the country’s national sovereignty, and his close ties to Hungary’s Prime Minister and hardliner Viktor Orbán, have also drawn international scrutiny. Scruton, for his part, has brushed off these criticisms as wholly unfounded and a distraction from the important work he was hired to do.
Placeholder Alt Text

Thanks for the Memories

Design editors reflect on architecture journalism in the 21st century
Julie V. Iovine Executive Editor 2006–2013 My years as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, between 2006 and 2013, were exciting, of course, but eye-opening too, in ways I had not expected. There I was, sitting in the catbird seat with many of the world’s most talented and prominent architects working within a few blocks (at least, no farther away than 13.4 miles), ready and willing to answer emails, give tours of their offices, and reveal their latest projects and agendas—with more from abroad checking in as they passed through town. How could that not be fun? After a decade as a New York Times reporter, where every encounter with an architect was fraught and slightly adversarial—with both sides trying to extract something, whether quote, coverage, or exclusive image—at The Architect’s Newspaper, I was tracking shared interests. Instead of asking “What have you done for the public lately?” I wanted to know about the compelling and relevant issues important to architects right now. Anyone passionately interested in architecture was free to chime in, and often did, including artists, engineers, software developers, and many more. In the short years since its founding as a nimble observer and attentive commentator, The Architect’s Newspaper became thoroughly embedded in the community it covered. It was a time when architecture was taken seriously across the land, but especially in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. So much so that it took just a few phone calls in the fall of 2009 to convene four NYC commissioners—transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, design and construction commissioner David Burney, planning commissioner Amanda Burden, and parks and recreation commissioner Adrian Benepe—for a roundtable conversation on the record about what was succeeding, failing, and in the works for the city over the coming years. I cannot imagine the press today so easily being given that level and quality of access. Across New York City, cultural, architectural, and urban institutions were taking advantage of this moment of being heard by the city’s policy leaders and decision makers. There were forums, exhibitions, and commissioned works of the highest caliber that could realistically hope to have an impact on the urban environment. Of course, the entire population was also watching every progressive—and regressive—move around rebuilding at the World Trade Center site. AN was there too. In 2010, I recall tagging along with a crew from City Hall trailing behind Barry Bergdoll, then MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design and engineer Guy Nordenson as they explained the innovations for dealing with climate change offered up by an extraordinary roster of architects, landscape designers, engineers, and more in the exhibition Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront. Many public servants at that time probably still believed the way to cope with flooding was with concrete barriers. Rising Currents changed that idea, for good. In 2013, the Architectural League took on the city’s intractable housing problem by sponsoring architects to develop solutions, including micro-units for single adults. By 2016, people were moving into the first micro-loft buildings. But for me, it was actually when the Great Recession hit that I witnessed what members of this profession are truly made of. As offices closed and shrank—including ours—and people of great talent found themselves unemployed and unmoored from even the possibility of designing much in the near future, I beheld an extraordinary resilience. Many times I would hear from principals of offices once 20-plus strong, forced down to one architect and a part-time draughtsperson, saying it was great to be a hands-on designer again. Others entirely reinvented themselves and developed new expertise in health care or the suddenly relevant field of security design. Turning a personal mission into a public mandate, Jonathan Kirschenfeld founded the Institute for Public Architecture in 2009, championing integrity and quality for building types—childcare facilities, low-income housing, prefab—too often churned out on the cheap. The speed and ingenuity with which architects showed they could halt, pivot, and charge in a new direction was astonishing. The old cliché that designing is problem-solving finally made real sense to me: Whatever the economy threw at them, architects could figure it out. Especially gratifying and illuminating for me were a series of interviews we conducted, called “Recession Tales.” We talked to architects from different generations, professional backgrounds, and experiences about how they had handled personal or professional setbacks in the past: Harry Cobb, James Polshek, Rob Rogers, and David Adjaye among them. Whether it was Cobb describing being blacklisted in the 1970s after curtain wall failures at the John Hancock Tower in Boston, or Adjaye admitting his severe financial woes, every architect we spoke to drew intimately vivid pictures of tough times endured with courage, revealing impressive strengths and an extraordinary ability to pull together. I suppose the profession has never been for the faint of heart. The expand-and-contract nature of the building trades is always rolling through cycles. Still, as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper during one of the toughest roller-coaster rides in recent memory, I was buckled into a front row seat, and the ride was unforgettable. Sam Lubell West Editor 2007–2015 I arrived at The Architect’s Newspaper at just the right time. It was fall 2006, and I was a West Coast newbie. Little did I know that the region was undergoing fundamental shifts that I would get to record, experience, and even influence, over the next nine years. In my head, L.A. was still a single-family, concrete, and car-dominated place. But it was quickly shifting to a much denser one full of new subway lines, high-speed rail, corridors of mixed-use development, new parks, and anti-sprawl legislation. Its architects were taking advantage of a magical mix of schools, creative energy, and technical capability to create some of the best work in the world. And the rest of the region—from San Diego up to Seattle—was steadily churning out similar innovation, and, thanks largely to booming tech giants, growing like never before, welcoming some of the world’s most famous architects while developing an impressive new garde (despite a major lull during the Great Recession). Of course, they were facing darker issues as well, like booms and busts, gentrification, affordability crises, gridlock, and mushrooming homeless populations. Through it all, I drove my beat-up Hyundai to offices, meetings, classrooms, and building sites, making friends, and getting the scoop. My role as AN’s West Coast editor helped me become—despite my outsider-ness—embraced by a coast, and a design community that I learned favors innovation, creativity, and sheer will over status and hierarchy. It started with our first launch events, which drew hundreds of designers eager for a publication to help pull them all together. And AN encouraged me to pursue new features and investigations, promote competitions, find my voice through editorials, and build community one event at a time. The Architect’s Newspaper, for me, represented much more than a publication. It represented a home. That’s what it’s done for writers, and of course, architects, around the country. I no longer have that Hyundai, but the many design circles AN has helped nurture and connect are still as strong as ever. Aaron Seward Executive Editor 2014–2015 I started working at The Architect’s Newspaper in September 2005 when it was still being run out of the Menking loft on Lispenard Street in New York’s Chinatown. My title was Projects Editor and my primary task was producing a custom publication for the Steel Institute of New York called Metals in Construction. It was one of the many sidelines that the publisher, Diana Darling, would initiate over the years to keep the paper in the black. Her frenetic energy and torrent of business ideas put a fine point on just how audacious an endeavor it was to launch a newspaper in an era in which every pundit with half a platform was declaiming the death of print, not to mention the death of the authoritative publication itself, which was prophesied to wither away under the “democratizing” glare of the internet. Well, here we are. AN is 15 years old and flourishing, doing a better job than ever of presenting just how exciting and essential architecture is to society. Meanwhile, the internet gave us Twitter, Facebook, and Donald Trump. Thank you very much. My tenure at AN lasted a decade before I left to edit Texas Architect. There were many highs and lows during that time, but nothing sticks in my mind quite so much as those early days in the loft, which was an education in itself, full of books and art, emanating an edgy, downtown vibe. It was a family business, and we were all part of the family. The editors worked in an office at the front of the loft, Diana had her space at the back, and the rest of us—the production team, the grunts—were piled cheek by jowl into a separate apartment at the rear corner—the loft’s Siberia, if you will. Bill and Diana’s daughter, Halle, eight at the time, was around. She would swipe our scissors right off our desks. And there was a puppy, Coco, who would lope into Siberia, dashing in and out. The work was intense and focused, but there was no shortage of fun. A certain sense of wry humor, which found its way into the editorial (an enduring legacy of the paper), bound us together, as did the awareness that we were part of the larger cultural phenomenon called architecture, whether it wanted us or not. At this point, it seems to have wanted us. Long Live AN! Matt Shaw Current Executive Editor It is always fun to go back to the very first issues of AN for inspiration. I noticed a small box on the back page of those issues marked “Punchlist,” a section that named websites for reference. Many were unfamiliar, as we might expect, but what struck me was the prescience of anticipating the digital-analog media conundrum in 2003. Since the beginning, AN has been attempting to build bridges between print and the internet. How do they relate? Is the paper a legacy print publication that has a website? Or is it two entirely different beasts? The speed of the web (and thus the news cycle in general) is always increasing, while print stays relatively the same. This means that at AN we are constantly trying to rethink the relationship between print and digital. In January 2018, we debuted a new section in the paper called “In Case You Missed It,” a roundup of all the things that happened online while we were making the issue. It not only serves as a curated briefing for those who don’t troll Twitter all day, but it also sequesters the news into a neat area, leaving the rest of the paper to entertain longer, more insightful articles: in-depth follow-ups, expert takes, off-the-wall stories, and historical ruminations that don’t need to fit into the ebbs and flows of the 24-hour news cycle. The strategy seems to be working: We have published some high-impact articles that have shifted the discussion on a number of topics, as well as news stories that have gotten hundreds of thousands of views and exposed us to new reaches of the internet. In an era of Instagram and memes, it is imperative that we keep rethinking what the media is today and how architectural news and discourse are affected by current shifts in technology, information dissemination, and the degradation of our attention spans. On the website, this battle will take place as we begin to put print content online in a way that starts to mimic the curated and cohesive feel of a print publication. For instance, we might put entire features online all at once with a single web page serving as a datum through which other articles can be accessed. In print, we will try to relate back to the speed and timeliness of the web by providing links for reference. We look forward to embracing these challenges and are excited for where they will take us.
Placeholder Alt Text

Aon Flux

Chicago’s Aon Center plans an observatory that will dangle over its sky-high edge
Chicago’s third-tallest tower is one step closer to receiving a $185 million, tourist-centric makeover. New York-based developer 601W first proposed adding a dual set of 1,000-foot-plus-tall glass exterior elevators and a rooftop observation deck to the 83-story Aon Center in May 2018, and now the addition has reportedly won the support of 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly. 601W has enlisted the help of Chicago’s Solomon Cordwell Buenz to design the additions, which include a “sky summit,” a glassy pod that would dangle visitors off of the roof’s edge, the aforementioned external elevators at the rectilinear building’s northwest corner, a cantilevering entrance hall at the base of the tower’s southeast corner, and an observatory on the 82nd and 83rd floors. The HVAC system at the top of the building has already been moved to elsewhere in the tower, and 601W will be removing two-thirds of the exterior columns on the top floors to open up the views. Alderman Reilly’s support was far from guaranteed, and he recently rejected Related Midwest’s plan for two forked skyscrapers at the Chicago Spire site. Still, according to Crain’s, a spokesperson for Reilly has confirmed that the alderman is allowing the Aon Center to proceed. If the additions pass muster with Chicago’s Plan Commission and City Council, then the Aon Center will grow from 1,136 feet to 1,184 feet tall on account of the elevator addition on the roof. That’s quite close to the nearby Vista Tower, which will be 1,191 feet tall, but not enough to keep the Aon Center from falling to Chicago’s fourth tallest building when the Vista Tower is complete. 601W, also the owner of the massive Chicago Post Office (which is undergoing its own modernization initiative), estimates that the additions to the Aon Center will lure in an additional two million tourists per year. If approved, this would be the first tourist attraction at the Aon Center in the building’s 45-year history, and 601W has indicated that it will begin the two-year construction process immediately following a successful City Council vote.
Placeholder Alt Text

Amazon Prime Real Estate

Governor Cuomo proposes rezoning in Long Island City as Amazon confirms HQ2 locations
Now that Amazon has officially confirmed that it will split its second headquarters between Long Island City, Queens, and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, each city is gearing up to address the logistical concerns of dropping in 25,000 new tech employees. To that end, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly planning to rezone the 20-acre Anable Basin site in Long Island City (LIC) using a General Project Plan (GPP) to accommodate the online retail giant. Though the area is currently zoned as a light manufacturing district, its owner, the plastic container company Plaxall, had previously tapped WXY for a master plan that would redevelop the industrial zone into a mixed-use redevelopment. Using a GPP, the same process used to rezone Brooklyn’s Pacific Park (neé Atlantic Yards), the state would potentially be able to initiate a rezoning of Anable Basin without the approval of New York’s City Council. As a result, the basin and two adjacent city-owned sites that Amazon has been eyeing could potentially become a mixed-use campus and series of office buildings, zoned at a much higher density than New York’s zoning code would typically allow. The Plaxall draft plan had previously angled to build 5,000 residential units, but as Crain’s noted, the GPP would allow for millions of square feet of office, residential, and mixed-use space. Although the GPP would still require an environmental review and is subject to community input during that phase, all of the recommendations received from the local community board and City Planning Commission would be non-binding. The pushback from New Yorkers against Amazon’s decision was nearly immediate. The backlash was built on a number of factors, including concerns over affordable housing in Queens, transportation issues, fears that Amazon’s influence would price out the borough’s diverse residents, and anger over the amount of state and city money being handed to the company. In Amazon’s official HQ2 press release this morning, the company disclosed that New York State would be giving away $1.525 billion in tax credits. Most of that, $1.2 billion, would be returned through New York State’s Excelsior Program over 10 years, subsidizing each employee to the tune of $48,000. The remaining $325 million will be given to Amazon in the form of a direct grant from Empire State Development, based on the amount of square footage it’s expected to occupy. In return, Amazon has pledged to invest $2.5 billion in each portion of its dual headquarters. A portion of the property taxes from the new Amazon campus will go toward funding transportation improvements in Long Island City, and the tech company has also promised to carve out space for a tech incubator and public primary school. Still, those concessions haven’t mollified critics. As soon as Amazon’s decision to settle in Queens was leaked last week, New York’s incoming, newly-democrat controlled state senate and assembly pledged to stop the flow of taxpayer money to Amazon. Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told Capital & Main that he would look into rerouting the state’s economic development money (mainly corporate subsidies) into student debt relief, and called the correlation between tax breaks and corporate incentives unhealthy. On Twitter, western Queens representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez let loose with a thread blasting Albany for giving away over a billion dollars in tax breaks when Amazon hasn’t initiated hiring quotas, protection for workers, or any promise to avoid displacing long-time LIC residents. State Senator Michael Gianaris and Queens Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer also released a joint statement outlining their problems with what they described as a “massive corporate welfare” giveaway. In the release, both offices went on record as calling the Amazon deal a giveaway from the 99 percent to prop up the 1 percent. It remains to be seen how effective these protests will be, or whether state-level legislators will be able to wring any concessions out of either Amazon or the Cuomo administration. In related news, Amazon also announced their intention to bring an “East Coast hub” to Nashville that would employ up to 5,000. The company will be building out one million square feet of energy-efficient efficient office space while investing $230 million in the city and expects to pay $1 billion in taxes over the next ten years. In return, Nashville has promised up to $102 million in tax incentives depending on whether Amazon hits its hiring targets. Amazon will begin hiring for all three of the newly revealed locations sometime in 2019, though it may take up to 15 years for the LIC and Crystal City locations to fully integrate their 25,000 employees.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fertile Turf

The hidden power of community gardens
As a follow-up to my conversation with Commissioner Silver, I contacted Deborah Marton to speak with her about the New York Restoration Project’s work with under-served communities in New York. The group's mission states:
New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is a non-profit organization driven by the conviction that all New Yorkers deserve beautiful, high-quality public space within ready walking distance of their homes. Since our founding in 1995 by Bette Midler, NYRP has planted trees, renovated gardens, restored parks, and transformed open space for communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs. As New York’s only citywide conservancy, we bring private resources to spaces that lack adequate municipal support, fortifying the City’s aging infrastructure and creating a healthier environment for those who live in the most densely populated and least green neighborhoods.
Their work with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was the focus of the discussion. The Architect's Newspaper: What is New York Restoration Project doing to address borders? Deborah Marton: Borders we deal with are perceptual.  Systems of management can impose socioeconomic borders on space. An example from our experience is that some people in certain groups don’t go to Central Park because they don’t feel comfortable there. These are people who live within walking distance of the park but don’t feel that it belongs to them as public space. AN: Can you tell me more about NYRP’s work on public housing sites in New York? DM: Public housing with the Corbusian tower in the park model is a failed paradigm in its insistence that the green space be green poche. These spaces became a no-man’s land that invited crime. New York City, New York State codified the standard of having fences everywhere making green space unusable and inaccessible. Fences were not just about maintenance. They presented an idea of control and policing. AN: How did NYRP get involved with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)? DM: NYRP got involved with NYCHA beginning in 2008 because of the Bloomberg administration ‘Million Trees Initiative’. The Department of Parks and Recreation can only plant trees in parks and along streets. They cannot plant trees in space that is not parkland. The Bloomberg Administration invited NYRP to be its private sector partner because they could work across jurisdictions, including on NYCHA property where there is more open space for planting trees. AN: Can you explain how your involvement with NYCHA evolved? DM: Residents of NYCHA started applying to our program “Garden in the City.” The program provides resources to groups in high need areas who apply for support to make public gardens. NYRP supports groups that show the organizational capacity with stewardship and funding for their efforts. As we received more and more requests, the program led to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NYCHA and NYRP to do more projects. We are currently working on 50 or 60 NYCHA sites mostly to develop urban agriculture. AN: How did you engage the larger community? DM: We hold workshops that are open to the public where we provide education about how to develop, maintain, and manage community gardens. The gardens are also self-governing, managed outside of city structure. People in the neighborhoods around NYCHA projects as well as within can participate. AN: Beyond breaking down the visual and physical space, how did this change the community? DM: There are few spaces where people of different socio-economic and racial backgrounds can merge and collaborate. Community gardens create these kinds of places. Community gardens on NYCHA land have a geographic catchment beyond NYCHA property extending to broader neighborhood. We are working not only on gardens in NYCHA property but also have 52 gardens that we developed independently. Latest social science thinking suggests that social isolation is an ongoing contributing factor in lack of social mobility and advancement, poverty, mental health problems, and violence. Expanding community gardens is one of the most effective and least expensive poverty measures, reducing crime, improving public health. In a 2011 study the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and University of Pennsylvania Medical School conducted a study about the reuse of vacant lots in Philadelphia. One was control where they did nothing, a second looked group, they cleaned the trash, and in a third they added a simple lawn and fence and maybe a tree. They studied the area from 2011-14 and found that crime went down in groups 2 and 3 with the biggest impact on group 3 where people in the neighborhood reported a reduces feeling of helplessness and depression. You can read more about the project in a Fast Company article that came out earlier this summer entitled The case for building $1,500 parks. AN: How does NYRP work in New York City compare to the work in Philadelphia? DM: NYRP has been doing similar work for over 20 years and understood the value qualitatively which is now proven by more quantitative studies. Among the places where NYRP has made significant investment, East Harlem has experienced 150 less felonies/40,000 residents. Crime has dropped in general on the blocks where we built gardens. The community has stronger ties to the garden and to each other. Social capital and presence led to drops in crime.
Placeholder Alt Text

"An Exotic Place"

The new director of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture and Interior Design talks the future and Ohio
Ed Mitchell began his role as the new director of the University of Cincinnati's School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID) one year ago. Notable for its innovative century-old cooperative education platform, the school's rankings have dipped in the past decades out of the country's elite programs. In this interview, Mitchell—whose resume includes an energetic mix of professional practice and academic positions at Columbia, Pratt, Yale, IIT, and more—explains his vision for the school and the move from the east coast to the midwest. The Architect's Newspaper: At the time you took the role of SAID director, you were in charge of the post-professional program at Yale and an Associate Professor there. Ed Mitchell: There were things we were doing in studios at Yale that I thought had the mission of a "school." What I liked about the students at Yale—especially the post-professional students—was that they were international. Their perspective on issues was very different from the standard American East Coast background that Yale typically gets. We were doing studios where the problem was wide open—but it was real. It wasn't a problem of program or constructional limitations. What was important was a real evaluation of the aesthetics and formal control of architecture to other disciplines. There were physical aspects of city-making that compelled me. People would come to both of us with questions like: "We've got 1,600 acres. What should we do? We need an answer in three weeks." That was the problem. As a result, our students would get involved in the actual project—meet with state officials, local politicians, developers, fishermen, industry workers, local immigrant communities—and actually stage the city they wanted to have happen. AN: Why did you apply for the job in Cincinnati? EM: Cincinnati, if you've never come out here, is an exotic place. Everything was new here for me. It was like being in a foreign country. As an architect, this is one of the most beautiful architectural cities I've been too, bar (almost) none. Cincinnati is the westernmost eastern city, the southernmost northern city, and the northernmost southern city in the country. Nothing is resolved here! The city has an incredible history that you feel around you all the time. This is the subculture that makes a place interesting. It's the kind of place that I always gravitated to—I lived in Providence as an undergraduate. I moved to New York and San Francisco in the '80's which were both like that. If you were talented and had energy, then people would find out about you, and they might just invite you to collaborate with them. It wasn't like you had to pay dues to gain access. What's interesting about a city like Cincinnati is that it's relatively easy to get into the community to do work. The cost of the education is relatively low—when high tuition cost prohibits at a point of entry from certain economic classes that isn't right. If you are eliminating talent based on income, you're not doing anything important anymore. This was the right school with the right kind of potential. AN: What are you most excited about in your new position as director of SAID? EM: $2 beers and cheap bowling. An exciting art scene of young people in the city. Adjunct faculty who looked like they might have the kind of energy to take this to the next level. I sensed people wanted somebody to push the energy level up—to keep it up and stay positive about it. A lot of people forgot about the University of Cincinnati. On the east coast, it had a reputation as a great school. The midwestern schools safeguarded and championed the discipline of architecture for several decades. I still think of it that way, but admittedly many students are not familiar with the place and its mission. People are a little intimidated about taking risks, and this might be a risky place to be. It's not New York or L.A. or London. But it's a place where culture arises from.
You have opportunities here that you wouldn't have elsewhere. This week was incredible. The first year graduate studio built a pavilion on the main campus in two and a half weeks that's pretty incredible; we have five books coming out next month after one year. We have a new dean incoming from Hong Kong who is bringing a global perspective to the college. AN: What plans do you have for the school? What's your vision for it? EM: A lot of people don't realize Cincinnati has a 100-year old co-op program where a portion of the curriculum is dedicated to students working in offices around the world. The idea of the cooperative was a radical political agenda in the midwest. It would be an exciting mission for the school to take it dead seriously. Not just as a service to professional offices—there's nothing wrong with that—but what the cooperative project really is. Whether that's questioning our urban futures, or taking a group of new students and in three weeks building a community structure to host events, or organizing the junior faculty in a three-city exhibition. There's an attitude here: an "all hands on deck" approach. Everyone pitches in to get things accomplished. I think this is fantastic—something you don't get in a lot of places. People here are competitive and want to do excellent work, but they're supportive and cooperative towards a larger cultural effort. AN: Explain the issues facing the school. EM: The school's reputation was in the accredited B.Arch program. I think we need to define what a Masters program is. The real question is what do we do different here than other schools? It's a relatively small program in size with a "down home" work ethic about what it does. However, that shouldn't stop it from being creative and original. Ohio is full of great subcultures in the arts and music from its utopian past to the birth of punk in Cleveland and Akron. We need to keep that spirit in architecture. There's too much focus on program and not enough critique of architecture. The good intentions of the students and faculty sometimes backfire: the moral is a way of dodging the physique. Some of our students travel internationally through co-op, but historically we haven't had strong enough partnerships with international academic programs. For example, our students will work in Beijing on a co-op, but they haven't actually done studio work there or looked at larger international problems that they'll probably be involved in within offices. So I'm trying to find a way that we can do research-based work within the school. Not only as a studio imperative but as an extended research project in a developing post-doc program or the existing doctoral programs. These projects can become longer-term sustained revisitation of a series of problems. In this way, international studies become less episodic and more engaged with a broader mission statement. AN: Since you were at Eisenman's office in the mid-'90s during the design of the school addition, what insights can you share about the building? Can you tell us how it operates? EM: The building has a legacy as one of the last buildings during the peak of a critical, theoretical approach in formalism. When I got out of school, I thought this was the only thing architecture would be left to do. It's an important legacy to retain, but not one to continually emulate to the point of exhaustion. It's like a medieval city—you have to learn it's internal routes. There are ways of moving about the building that inspire conspiracies, gang organizations, and new collectives. The main space in the building exists as a great gallery of work. SAID tends to occupy this space as much as it can. You can sit there, eat a sandwich, roll around on the floor, look at your work. People are in discussions there. It's a really active space and didactive for our students and faculty. AN: While SAID is one of four broader schools within DAAP, it contains two disciplines: architecture and interior design. Culturally, these programs feel like two different worlds, each with their own academic agendas and representational toolsets. EM: I'd like for the two disciplines to interplay more. There are things that each does better. Something is fascinating about how, in the 18th century, things like color couldn't be described scientifically. Issues like color and shape that weren't normative or relative to a platonic solid fell out of the discourse of architecture because they couldn't be documented, written, and transcribed. Interiors, as a discipline, didn't really emerge until the 19th century when "identity" became an issue. This led to a wide range of proto-formations of architecture and spatial matrices. Cincinnati is full of that because it emerged as a great city during this time of a shifting cultural spectrum. The result is that it's a place where you can invent stuff—there is great high modernism here, there's incredible Victorian architecture, and the landscape and river have its own unique presence. I think you can tap into that variety of circumstances, ecologies, and histories.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Roundup

Weekend Edition: D.C.’s newest museum, election analysis, and more
Missed some of our articles, tweets, or Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! D.C.’s newest museum goes underground to explore the American police system The new National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C., opened to the public in mid-October and teaches civilians what it's like to be police officer. Florida residents demand border wall around Habitat for Humanity housing Habitat for Humanity announced that an upcoming affordable housing development in East Naples, Florida, will have to be built with a concrete border wall. Amazon to split HQ2 between New York and Virginia, but can they handle it? News of a Crystal City Amazon headquarters may have been premature; it now seems the tech giant is looking at Long Island City as well. What did the 2018 midterms mean for East Coast architects? Let out a sigh of relief; the 2018 midterm elections are over, and voters passed judgment up and down the Eastern Seaboard on a wave of measures. West Coast sees big wins (and losses) in architecture and urbanism ballot initiatives As Democratic voters retook the House of Representatives and key gubernatorial seats, a series of initiatives saw mixed results in western states. That's all. See you Monday.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Tune In

New York architect launches guerrilla radio station about community uplift and food
Earlier this year, when architect Dong-Ping Wong branched out to start his own firm, he found himself going through name after name but none seemed to have the right ring. Finally, the word “food” occurred to him. Ridiculous at first, it wouldn’t leave his head, and so it stuck. Food, the firm, was born. Food, said Wong, is “something that everyone has an association with and a relationship to.” It is something people “can come together around.” Food as an architecture firm name, he points out, is unfortunately also very hard to Google. But that hasn't stopped them from working on projects for clients ranging from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. But it's their most recent project, Office Hours, where the name's magnanimous universalism really shines through. For Office Hours, Food has taken over a storefront on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown for three weeks of programming centered around an online radio station (to be distributed in more permanent format later) as well as various community projects and events. All manner of creative people, like chef Angela Dimayuga, artist Jon Wang, designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams, SO-IL partner Jing Liu, DJ Venus X, and creative director Heron Preston have come through and spoken on the air. As the website for Office Hours notes, the events, like actual office hours, also serve as an “open invitation.” People can come in and listen, and youth are particularly encouraged. In fact, Food members have stopped by the public library on more than one occasion to invite kids and teens in and people have come in off the street to do work or check out the "reading room." Office Hours is committed to promoting people of color and those who live in the largely-immigrant neighborhood. As the project description notes, “In New York City, one in four Asian Americans live below the poverty line…Unsurprisingly, many young people that grow up in this environment self-limit what they see themselves being able to do.” The purpose of Office Hours, in part, is to expand this range of vision and imagination by introducing youth to the whole array of future possibilities for themselves. The space, which is laid out with some wiggly custom-made gray plywood tables held up by Ikea desk legs, has hosted happenings for all ages—from drawing lessons to impromptu happy hours. Office Hours continues through November 16 and all are invited to intend. The schedule and the live stream are available on Food's website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Irreversible Destiny

Arakawa and Gins’ legendary Bioscleave House faces the wrecking ball
The Bioscleave House, designed by the late Japanese architect Arakawa and his late wife Madeline Gins, is currently listed for sale for $2,495,000 in East Hampton, New York. The experimental home is known for its peculiar design that aims to reverse the effects of aging and transform the personal well-being and longevity of its inhabitants. If purchased by a developer, the Bioscleave House, also known as Reversible Destiny, could be destroyed and replaced with a standard spec house, which could sell for up to $4,000,000 in the current market. Recently, Professors Group LLC, the anonymously-owned proprietor of the home, along with the Reversible Destiny Foundation, a nonprofit that preserves the work of Arakawa and Gins, started a campaign to save the home from demolition by devising a series of rescue plans moving forward. The current owners lack the funds to maintain the home and are being forced to sell the property. One plan involves finding a creative investor to invest in 25 to 33 percent of Professors Group to help fund the home. The firm is also looking for collectors or investors to work with them in taking apart the home and then moving it to a nearby public venue, like the LongHouse Reserve or the Parrish Art Museum. Professors Group would also sell the house to a buyer who understands and cares about its legacy and value so that they could either work with them in caring for the property or renovate and maintain the house close to its original condition. The Bioscleave House is only 50 percent built out in F.A.R., so more additions can be made on the one-acre site. If none of the rescue attempts prevail by January 2019, the house will be sold to a local developer who would likely demolish it and rebuild an entirely new structure.
Placeholder Alt Text

Two Bridges to Nowhere

The Dubaification of New York
The residents of the Two Bridges neighborhood in the Lower East Side find themselves in a predicament. Throughout the city, developers have targeted expired urban renewal areas originally governed by land-use controls that have ensured housing affordability for decades. The Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development is one such target. Exploiting the site’s underlying high-bulk zoning allowances, a group of developers is proposing to build four new predominantly market-rate skyscrapers, ranging in height from 62 to 80 stories—four gleaming luxury megatowers that portend a storm of gentrification and displacement. The proposal needs approval by the city administration. Many argue that the development requires a “Special Permit,” which would call for a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). In 2016, Carl Weisbrod, then Chair of the City Planning Commission, declared the project a “Minor Modification” requiring no ULURP. After public outcry, the Department of City Planning requested the developers to undertake an unprecedented joint Environmental Review. On October 17, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing regarding the proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The room was packed. About 100 people testified. The vast majority (myself included) raised serious objections to the project and the approval process. Only five were in favor: two members of a union advocating for 50 permanent building service jobs promised for the site; an advocate for the disabled, who supports all projects that add elevators to subway stops; the current Two Bridges commercial tenant, who is promised a long-term lease in the new complex; and the executive director of Settlement Housing Fund, who is selling air rights to the 80-story tower. At the public hearing, questions about the appropriateness of the project’s scale were addressed by Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP, the firm responsible for the 80-story tower, who showed examples of recent large-scale waterfront projects and said that the city has consistently approved this kind of development. In his presentation, Pasquarelli glossed over substantive issues of urban context. The audience was baffled if not offended. When Pasquarelli claimed that the project “will create a vibrant, beautiful, equitable, and appropriate skyline for the city and its residents,” the room actually burst into laughter. Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin pointed out that the projects of “tremendous scale” that Pasquarelli used to make his case were in manufacturing areas transitioning to a new use, while this expired urban renewal area was planned for, and still is, a low- and moderate-income residential development. Pasquarelli, showing what was at best was ignorance and at worst callousness, did not really respond and brought up the example of the American Copper Buildings, a SHoP-designed 800-unit residential development in an already affluent neighborhood, with nowhere close to the same risks of gentrification and displacement impending at Two Bridges. Laughter also greeted Pasquarelli’s closing sentence: “the city is in a housing crisis, and this provides a huge amount of affordable housing for the neighborhood.” Indeed, a quarter of the new apartments (694 out of 2,775 units) will have a degree of affordability. But for whom? Surely not the current residents of Two Bridges, whose households’ median income ($30K) is below the threshold for renting in the new ‘affordable’ units ($37K). City-wide trends and the advent of Essex Crossing have already resulted in the loss of rent-regulated units as well as higher eviction rates in the area. The influx of 2,081 market-rate apartments cannot but exacerbate the situation and lead to residential and business displacement. Whose neighborhood will this be once bodegas are replaced by cafés selling five-dollar lattes? The Environmental Review was meant to identify any adverse impact from the proposed development in 19 areas of analysis as defined by the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual guidelines. The review found negative impact in five areas—Transportation, Shadows, Open Space, Construction, and Community Facilities & Services—for which the developers are proposing some mitigation. No adverse impact was found in 14 areas, among them Socioeconomic Conditions and Neighborhood Character. How is this possible? The CEQR guidelines are notoriously flawed. For instance, per the guidelines, no resident of a building with even one rent-regulated unit is vulnerable to indirect displacement. Even more troubling: the guidelines call for a “No Action” scenario to be used as a comparison when evaluating indirect displacement. The DEIS defines “No Action” as a condition “in which projects are expected to continue the trend towards market-rate development and rising residential rents in the study area. In accordance with the CEQR Technical Manual guidelines, since the vast majority of the study area has already experienced a readily observable trend toward increasing rents and new market rate development, further analysis is not necessary.” The “No Action” scenario is one of several critical factors that make possible and seemingly inevitable what we might call the ‘dubaification’ of New York City. It is not a loophole: the developers and their compliant architects are going by the book, following the law to the letter. The problem is written in the law itself: once you accept the premise that the market is already conquering the city—that increasing rents and luxury developments are already the norm—no new project, no matter how big or in which urban context, can ever be held responsible for negatively affecting the socio-economic fabric of any area. The question, in assessing this proposal as well as the spate of massive developments popping up all over the city, is not solely about scale. To be sure, height is a major concern. (I find it ironic that the tallest of the existing six housing complexes at Two Bridges is a 21-story building that everyone calls “The Tower.”) But what these megatowers portend is something more ominous: an ever more homogeneous and generic skyline; the disappearance of neighborhoods and their communities; apartments becoming phantom residencies for absentee investors; dwelling valued only as an investment, a commodity; a city of resplendent buildings towering over dead streets. There is still time to do the right thing for Two Bridges. The City Planning Commission will be voting as early as November 14 on the “Minor Modification.” They must deny it. A ULURP must be granted, to allow the public and elected officials to negotiate for more significant community benefits, including greater and deeper affordability as well as height caps to truly tackle the adverse impact of the megatowers. More important, the Two Bridges debate is an opportunity to start imagining alternative visions for our city. The City administration must close zoning loopholes and fix the CEQR guidelines. Let’s build a city in which housing is not treated as a commodity but as a fundamental right.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pokemon Go to the Polls

What did the 2018 midterms mean for East Coast architects?
Let out a sigh of relief (or keep holding your breath); the 2018 midterm elections are over, and voters passed judgment up and down the Eastern Seaboard on a wave of politicians and ballot measures that will impact architects, construction workers, and transportation enthusiasts. Climate change policy was also, though not as explicitly, up for a vote alongside more concrete measures. Although the dust is still settling, AN has put together a primer on what the election results mean from Miami to Maine. New York Democrats now control all three branches of government in New York State and are poised to rewrite the state’s rent stabilization laws…assuming Governor Andrew Cuomo lets them. As Gothamist noted, the 1971 Urstadt Law prevents New York City from usurping Albany’s authority and passing more stringent rent control laws than those at the state level, even as the city spirals deeper into its affordable housing crisis. The new year will bring a vote on all of the laws that oversee the city’s affordable housing stock, meaning that the newly inaugurated state legislators will be in prime position to demand stronger tenant protections. The real estate industry in New York City has historically donated to campaigning Republicans and the reelection of the industry-friendly Cuomo, however, so it’s unclear how far the governor will acquiesce. As the NYPost broke down, tenant activists are amped up at the possibility of tamping down annual rent increases and ending the ability of landlords to raise rents after investing in capital improvements. Cuomo’s reelection also likely locks in the decision to place Amazon’s HQ2 (or 2.5) in Long Island City. The governor had been a huge booster for NYC’s bid for the tech hub, promising hundreds of millions in state subsidies. On the national front, the election of a number of “climate hawks,” including New York 14th District representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the 19th District’s Antonio Delgado, will bring a group of climate-action hardliners to Washington. It’s expected the new crop of progressive voices will press the House on plans to transition toward sustainable energy and curb America’s dependence on fossil fuels. More importantly, 16 Republican House members—more than half—on the 90-person bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus were voted out. On its surface, the collapse of the caucus sounds like a bad thing for environmentalists, but as Earther notes, the group was known for advancing milquetoast, business-friendly proposals that ultimately went nowhere. Although any climate action coming from the House needs to pass the Senate and would land on the President’s desk, where it would presumably wilt, the momentum for change is slowly building. Any climate change–confronting action will likely have an outsized impact on zoning codes in New York and beyond and would require construction teams and architects to implement steeper resiliency measures into their projects. Maine In Maine, voters overwhelmingly passed Question 3 by a measure of 2-to-1, ensuring that the state would issue $106 million in general bonds for transportation projects. Of that, $80 million will be used for roadway and bridge infrastructure construction and repair, $20 million for upgrading airports, ports, harbors, and railroads, and $5 million for upgrading stream-facing drainpipes to lessen the impact on local wildlife. One million will also be spent to improve the pier at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Florida Ron DeSantis is the new governor and Rick Scott is likely to move up to become a senator. During his tenure as governor, Scott, although presiding over a state uniquely vulnerable to flooding and coastal storms, was a staunch climate change denier and banned the phrase from all state documents and discussions. DeSantis appears to be cut from the same cloth, telling crowds during a campaign stop over the summer that climate change, if it exists, can’t be mitigated at the state level. What this likely means will be a continued lack of action to mitigate climate change and its effects on a state level. Soccer lovers can rejoice, though, as 60 percent of voters endorsed allowing David Beckham’s Freedom Park to build on the Melreese Country Culb. The $1 billion Arquitectonica-designed soccer stadium, hotel, “soccer village,” and office, retail, and commercial space will span 73 acres. Michigan Gerrymandering looks like it’s on its way out in Michigan after a 60-40 vote to redraw the state’s districts. Over several decades, the state legislature had used its redistricting power to cram Democrat or Republican constituents (depending on who was in power at the time) into congressional districts where their impact would be marginalized. Now, after the passage of Proposal 2 and the subsequent amending of Michigan’s constitution, a 13-person, bipartisan panel will be established to redraw the state’s internal boundaries. Four Republicans, four Democrats, and five non-party identifying individuals will make up the commission. Barring a court challenge, money for the initiative, including pay for its members, will be allocated from the state budget come December 1, 2019. After that, the commission will draw up the new districts for the 2022 election using data from the 2020 census. The panel will convene every 10 years, in time with the census, and can only be disbanded after the legal challenges to its decisions are completed. Any Michigan citizen who hasn’t held political office in the last six years can apply to become a commissioner.