All posts in East
The city of Philadelphia is moving forward with plans to demolish the beloved modernist stone pavilion in Columbus Square, affectionately referred to as the 'Roundhouse' (not to be confused with the Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 8th and Race Streets, also colloquially known as the 'Roundhouse'). The building gained notoriety earlier this year when The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron attributed the building's design to the late Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher, the first woman architect in Philadelphia and one of the first in Pennsylvania. However, the Department of Parks and Recreation has expressed its doubt of Saffron’s claim, attributing the project to Fleisher’s partner Gabriel Roth instead. Some claim that the Roundhouse lacks historical significance without direct attachment to Fleisher, making it an easy target for demolition in the wake of a $2.8 million renovation of Columbus Square. In a recent article for her column in the Inquirer, Saffron bluntly addressed the following questions: “Who’s right? And why should it matter at this late date?” Regardless of the architect’s identity, Saffron claims that the structure, which has been vacant since the city opened a larger recreational facility in 2005, deserves another chance. The whimsical modernist roof and hefty stone walls make it a unique time capsule from a bygone era, drawing parallels to Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel, which has long been praised as a treasure of mid-century modernism. Since its completion in the 1960s, the Roundhouse served as an important center of community life for the surrounding neighborhood of Passyunk Square. Its single doorway opened into a small but inviting space in which park-goers could stop to rest, grab sporting equipment, and hold meetings. Even after years of vacancy, Passyunk Square residents have not forgotten the legacy of the Roundhouse; Philadelphia resident Jay Farrell launched a change.org petition to save the beloved pavilion, stating that “the Columbus Square Fleisher Pavilion is clearly a much-loved and familiar landmark in the Passyunk Square neighborhood of South Philadelphia and there is a strong desire among local residents to see it preserved and adaptively reused.” The petition has garnered over 2,500 signatures thus far. While the future of the building remains unclear, the story of the Roundhouse has sparked important conversations about the unsung contributions of women architects and how we determine the historical significance of buildings.
This year, New York’s Pride celebrations revolved around a single bar: The Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street. In the late 1960s—before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 made the site historic—the windows would’ve been blacked out, the doors kept closed, the inside kept dark and smoky until bright lights flashed on as a warning for an impending police raid. Now the bar is dressed in dozens of rainbow flags and sponsorship banners from Brooklyn Lager and Sky Blue, and in 2016, it became the first LGBTQ site to be designated a National Monument. As the jewel in New York’s queer history crown, the Stonewall Inn shows how the visibility of LGBTQ venues has changed over the past fifty years. “Bars have long been a key social aspect of gay life,” said Andrew Dolkart, cofounder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that documents significant buildings from New York’s queer history. “At a time when it was very difficult for gay people to find each other, bars served that purpose. There weren’t really alternative places where people could congregate and meet each other.” Many of the sites documented by the LGBT Historic Sites Project are no longer extant; the buildings remain but the inhabitants and businesses that gave them their character have since moved on. Any and every kind of building has the potential to transform, if temporarily, into a queer space: The Gay Activist’s Alliance, formed in the aftermath of Stonewall, hosted meetings and parties in an old firehouse at 99 Wooster Street in SoHo before an arsonist’s fire evicted the group in 1974. In 1983, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Sixth Avenue was transformed into the Limelight, a disco club, before becoming a David Barton gym. In the late ’70s, the disused buildings at the Christopher Street Piers permitted men the privacy to sunbath naked or seek sex in the crumbling buildings, before the area was redeveloped in the mid-’80s right as AIDS was ravaging the city and performing an erasure of gay history and memory. “One of my favorites was the Starlite Lounge in Brooklyn,” Dolkart said. “It was a black-owned gay and lesbian bar that saw itself as the oldest nondiscriminating bar in New York, and when it was closing there was a little demonstration in front.” Patrons felt the closing of the Starlite to be a particularly hard loss, because, as Dolkart pointed out, “People have this tendency to think that gay bars and gay culture are white culture.” A lifelong resident of New York, Dolkart has witnessed first-hand the evolution of LGBTQ nightlife and the venues that accommodate it, “from places that were closed or enclosed, where you couldn’t tell what was going on inside unless you were gay.” Around the ’80s is when he noticed a change, with “bars with large windows that were very public. I think that has been an enormous change, that gay bars aren’t hidden anymore.” The changing character of New York’s architecture has accommodated this increased visibility, as vast sheets of glass have become the skin of the city. Take two of the city’s most visible hotel monoliths: The Standard East Village on Cooper Square (upon its opening, the building received nicknames including the Giant Shampoo Bottle and the Dubai Dildo), and its West Side counterpart, The Standard High Line in the Meatpacking District, with its wall of windows through which pedestrians can watch hoteliers having sex against the glass. This February, Angela Dimayuga opened the queer-friendly spot No Bar under the East Village Standard, a windowed venue with the option of opening up to the street front. At The High Line Standard, the rooftop bar and club Le Bain invites queer Meatpackers to dance in the open air. As queer spaces become more publicly visible, they also blend more homogeneously into the city’s landscape. “Gentrification is the removal of the dynamic mix that defines urbanity,” Sarah Schulman wrote in The Gentrification of the Mind, her book chronicling the erasure of gay life during the AIDS epidemic and the concurrent development of New York. During that time, New Yorkers saw Time Square’s adult cinemas and stores cleared away, health authorities began padlocking New York’s gay saunas as a preventative measure at the height of the AIDS crisis, while the Meatpacking District—where clubs like The Anvil and The Manhole turned the neighborhood’s industrial grunge into a fetish aesthetic—began its transition to a luxury address. While the glass and steel of contemporary New York favors transparency over privacy, there are those for whom queer nightlife will always be sought in shadowy spaces that offer obscurity, secrecy, and (hopefully) debauchery. Ladyfag, the queer party organizer who is responsible for many of New York’s most popular queer events, including Battle Hymn and Ladyland, is less interested in these new, glitzy venues. “I prefer a dirty basement with a low ceiling,” she said. “You want to go to some plush hotel and sit on a banquette? Go ahead.”
Part of the appeal of Ladyfag’s parties is their transient nature, appearing in previously undiscovered spaces and always moving. “I like to create my own connection with a space, with my crowd,” she said. “That way, when they come there, they think of it as that party or that space that I created as opposed to something in a bigger picture.” Holy Mountain, which Ladyfag held at Slake on 30th Street for four years, exemplified her parties’ punk, trashy experience: The narrow staircases were always gridlocked, the air-conditioning regularly failed, and the lighting was mercifully low. “Everybody told me it will never work because it’s on 30th Street and nobody wants to go to Midtown,” she said. “And they’re right. But it worked, everybody loved it.” The party eventually moved to Brooklyn when Slake was bought for redevelopment. Queer nightlife has a knack for finding such disused venues, bringing them to filthy life for a year or two, and then slinking off as the development teams approach. Being so short-lived, such parties and venues become instantly mythologized. Andrew Durbin’s 2017 novel MacArthur Park reads as a nostalgic ode to the Bushwick nightclub Spectrum at 59 Montrose Street, which had only closed one year prior to the book’s release. Spectrum—where coats were checked into garbage bags and thrown onto a pile in a corner while sweat dripped from the so-low-I-can-touch-it ceiling; where you were discouraged from lingering on the street out front because the venue wasn’t, strictly speaking, legal—instantly became the epitome of the grungy, DIY sensibility of Brooklyn’s queer nightlife, a sensibility which welcomed a nostalgia for itself even as it was happening. For Ladyfag, who got started when no one wanted to come to Brooklyn to party, the tables have turned. “Now everyone’s in Brooklyn,” she said, “and I’m like, I’m going to go back to Manhattan.” In the past ten years, nothing has affected queer nightlife more than social media. When Ladyfag first moved to New York in 2005, social media hadn’t yet dominated our lives. “We had the internet, but we didn’t have that constant knowing where everyone is at all times,” she said. “If you didn’t go out, you were alone. It was a totally different New York.” The rise of social media—specifically dating and hookup apps—significantly changed queer people’s reliance on bars and parties to find each other. “People don’t have the need to go to bars as much,” Dolkart said. “Like other commercial places, the internet has really taken over. Bars were not only social spaces, they were spaces where people met for sex, and then on to meet people to go home with. That’s kind of petered out.” As bars could no longer solely rely on the promise of sex to entice patrons, the rise of drag culture offered an alternative drawcard. Drag has always been a fixture of LGBTQ venues, but as RuPaul’s Drag Race jump-started a resurgence of the art form, it underwent its own Brooklyn renaissance. The drag performer Untitled Queen discovered Brooklyn’s drag scene in 2012. “All of these creatives descended into this nightlife scene,” Untitled said. “I think we romanticize ourselves as dirty punk, but there really were a lot of people experimenting and trying new stuff out. At the time, the bar scene became really hungry for drag.”View this post on Instagram
This experimental drag scene congregated in warehouses in Greenpoint and Bushwick, bars such as Metropolitan, Tandem, and Sugarland, and parties like Bath Salts at Don Pedro, a venue that Untitled remembered being “disgusting. There was old carpet and all the performers did lots of stuff with food and blood and alcohol. It was a very liquidy, gross show, and it was awesome.” In 2012, Untitled Queen performed at the first Bushwig, a drag festival cofounded by drag performer Horrorchata. Bushwig initially took place at Secret Project Robot, another Bushwick venue that has since disappeared. “That was an art gallery space, very DIY,” Horrorchata said. “I don’t even know how we did three years there because by the second year it was just so big.” Now in its eighth year, Bushwig takes place at the Knockdown Center, the festival’s home for the past four years, an immense converted warehouse space with huge windows and masses of outdoor space. “I think for some people they imagined it would lose its edge, and it has not at all,” Untitled said. “The family and the door opens wider, and people still feel the same energy.” To define a space as queer comes, more than anything else, from those who inhabit and transform it. “I think a queer space for me is if the promoter is queer, the event is queer,” Horrorchata said. “For example, at Knockdown, whenever we have Bushwig, we have a meeting with security and make sure there’s no gendering, no ‘Mrs.,’ no ‘Ma’am.’ It’s super nonbinary. We try to educate them and let them know this is going to be a queer space for the next weekend, and these are the rules.” Ladyfag’s events invite the same openness. “Queer to me is still this radical kind of gayness,” she said, “and in a queer space, if you call it a queer space, you’re making a statement of inclusivity.” In 1994, on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, Dolkart took part in a conference on gay space. “There was an interesting conclusion that was reached at the end of the day, that there were no gay spaces, with the exception of bathhouses. There were no gay spaces, there were spaces that gay people put to use. And I like that. I think that our site is very much about that. It’s about places that gay people have made their own, and with nothing unique about the design of those places—whether it’s a bar or a theater or an apartment—they’re the types of spaces that you find in New York but that gay people have made their own.”
A social club for nonprofits dedicated to tackling women’s equality issues was slated for Manhattan’s West Side inside a former women’s prison, but now it appears the long-awaited conversion has been canceled. The redesign by Deborah Berke Partners, a conversion of the Bayview Correctional Facility into The Women’s Building by the NoVo Foundation, had been the talk of the town since 2014, but the nonprofit group spearheading the much-anticipated project abruptly announced its cancellation last week. Instead of using the $50 million raised to repurpose the Chelsea prison as originally intended, the NoVo Foundation has instead decided to put that money directly into the pockets of organizations and minority communities doing the work it hoped the hub would serve. The City reported that The Women’s Building released a letter last Friday explaining that the timelines and budgets for the project “far exceeded original estimates,” and that the development plan was not a responsible use of these resources.
“At NoVo, we hold a very deep and continuous responsibility to examine how we are distributing resources in a world where needs are urgent and growing,” the letter read. “This country is in a time of great upheaval, with the most marginalized communities, including girls and women, facing daily and deepening attacks. In these profoundly unstable times, we know how important it is for NoVo to be nimble and responsive. We must move quickly, shifting resources to the communities facing injustice every day.”Originally set to be built inside the shuttered women’s prison—which permanently evacuated its incarcerated ahead of Superstorm Sandy—the project had gained major traction and was backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, local Community Board 4, and Gloria Steinem, among other activists. The design team was chosen in 2016 after a request for proposals went out through the state government, and 43 teams applied. A lot of work was needed to update the facility before tenants could move in, as it suffered extensive damage during the 2012 hurricane. Berke’s team, which included Rhoda Kennedy and Arthi Krishnamoorthy, along with the Lela Goren Group, had been aiming to make the 100,000-square-foot building an inclusive “place of hope and action.” It was to going to allow natural light to reach the building's core, feature ample wellness and co-working spaces, and would have boasted expansive views of the Hudson River. In an email to AN, Deborah Berke Partners said it will continue to support The Women’s Building and the group's efforts to build community. “We are inspired by The Women’s Building community, and we share their values. We will continue to support the work of The Women’s Building community in any way we can, and we applaud the NoVo Foundation’s $50 million commitment to advancing that work on behalf of women and girls around the world."
The 16-story, 675,000-square-foot Dock 72, the S9 Architecture-designed addition to the Brooklyn Navy Yard has officially opened after construction began back in 2016 and the zig-zagging complex topped out in 2017. WeWork, the once fast-growing co-working company that reportedly may run out of cash as soon as next month, will anchor the building by taking over 220,000 square feet of office space. The coworking company will employ its signature open-plan office designs and, and tapped the local Fogarty Finger Architecture and Interiors to design the building's slew of community amenities—such as a health center, basketball court, juice bar, and a roof deck. In addition, the firm commissioned four artists to create murals throughout. With a stacked massing that references boat hulls, Dock 72 is part of the largest edition to the Navy Yard since World War 2 and the first ground-up office development in Brooklyn in 30 years. The Class-A office project is also expected to help the Navy Yard add 10,000 additional jobs by 2021, according to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Boston Properties, Rudin Development, and WeWork. The focus of the Navy Yard development has been on tech, and the partners in the building are hoping to invite a variety of startups, software developers, and hardware manufacturers to the Navy Yard. The building features 14-foot windows with a stepped, staircase-reminiscent pattern across the facade meant to express the internal circulation to onlookers outside. It was also designed above the predicted 100-year floodplain—especially important given Dock 72's waterside location—and has various energy-saving features, such as efficient insulation and HVAC systems, which the owners and developers claim will reduce its energy costs by as much as 14% compared to LEED baseline. In addition, Dock 72 features its own app which will allow tenants to order food, reserve their spot for amenities, and enter the building. Dock 72 is part of a $1 billion expansion to the Navy Yard which includes various design and manufacturing businesses, film and TV studios, grocery shops, and a new ferry stop. The Navy Yard also announced a $2.5 billion expansion master plan to spruce up transit access and street-level functionality for pedestrians and cyclists.
After four months of work behind closed doors, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is finally ready to reopen its main Manhattan museum to the public on Monday. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with Gensler, the multi-phased renovation and expansion adds one-third more gallery space to the institution’s 80-year-old complex on West 53rd Street and integrates it more seamlessly with the public realm. Since MoMA’s debut in its iconic, Philip L. Goodwin- and Edward Durell Stone-designed home, the museum has been physically inching closer and closer towards Sixth Avenue. Three individual extensions by Philip Johnson (1964), Cesar Pelli (1984), and Yoshio Taniguchi (2005) attempted to modernize the museum and keep it competitive, while also giving it increased room to display its permanent collection and rotating exhibitions. But these changes—in sheer size—pale in comparison to the massive new addition by DS+R and Gensler. The MoMA’s new David Geffen Wing came into existence following the demolition of the American Folk Art Museum and the construction of Jean Nouvel’s 53 West 53 in its place. The 950-foot-tall apartment tower next door now houses three levels of gallery space that adds an additional 11,500 square feet per floor to the older, eastern galleries—all of which are now connected and configured in a single loop. A central blade stair, visible from the street below, reveals activity and circulation within the building while signaling the separation between old and new. According to Charles Renfro, a partner at DS+R, the minimal and spacious design wasn’t meant to be a big, heroic gesture but help expand the museum naturally. “In order to make MoMA’s curatorial vision possible, our architectural intervention had to be quite stealthy in a lot of ways,” Renfro told AN. “We knew we couldn’t overwhelm those different building projects that have happened over the past almost 100 years, so we tried to work within the DNA of MoMA to advance a new concept of detail that reflects the 21st century.” Built out over the last three years, the $50 million renovations and $400 million expansion increased the museum's total footprint to 708,000 square feet. Approximately 165,000 square feet of that space is brand new, 40,000 square feet of which is used for galleries. Renfro said the design team was charged with making a more consolidated, borderless exhibition space that would help create a clear narrative within the museum and allow the curators to showcase various art disciplines. “The vision was to dissolve the media divisions that have guided the curatorial position since the beginning, merging up painting and sculpture with photography, film, design, and architecture,” he said. “We’re not service architects by any stretch of the imagination, but with MoMA what we’re trying to do is breathe a new kind of life of possibility into its curatorial direction.” These ideas of mixing and mingling materials—just like the art—extend down into MoMA’s new main lobby space as well. Its formerly dark and crowded front door on 53rd Street received a much-needed makeover by the design team in an effort to make it more welcoming and less confusing for visitors. DS+R and Gensler added a thin, stainless steel entrance canopy (supported by only a few cables, giving it a cantilevering appearance) to the facade to signal its presence on the street. They also introduced a glass curtain wall to make for a broad, light-filled lobby. As patrons walk by, they’ll be able to see the installations hanging from the double-height interior or on the walls of the adjacent street-level galleries. From the exterior, people will also get a new perspective of the 5,950-square-foot flagship museum store, which was sunken one level and is now accessible via a grand staircase. The floorplate cutout is a design move that adds new dimensions of depth to the museum’s public-facing spaces. Apart from any crowds inside, passersby should be able to see right through the lobby to 54th Street. The new ground-level galleries, like the lobby itself, will be free to the public.
Pittsburgh's Green Streets
Pittsburgh launches its own International Center of Excellence on High Performance Buildings
Last month on September 12, the United Nations Economic Council on Europe (UNECE) and the Green Building Alliance (GBA) signed an agreement launching the Greater Pittsburgh International Center of Excellence on High Performance Buildings. Pittsburgh is the second city in the world to participate in the program following New York City’s Building Energy Exchange, and will join a network of sustainability experts in an effort to reduce the effects of climate change and “distill best practices in design, construction, training, and policy into scalable solutions.” As one out of five commissions of the United Nations, UNECE works to improve access to clean energy and help reduce greenhouse emissions in order to meet Sustainable Development Goals as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Founded in 1993, GBA works to advance innovation in the built environment by “empowering people to create environmentally, economically, and socially vibrant places.” “Of all the approaches to addressing the world’s climate challenge, improving the energy performance of buildings stands out. Beyond reducing our carbon footprint, this action will enhance quality of life, reduce energy bills, improve health, create jobs and encourage innovation,” said Scott Foster, UNECE director of Sustainable Energy, at the launch ceremony. The Center will follow the UNECE’s Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings and will be a collaboration between regional partners, including the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. In following the framework, the Center will conduct training programs for design professionals, host discussions, and advocate for local and state policy changes regarding building codes and energy regulations. Pittsburgh has been well on its way to meeting these goals already. In early September, Pittsburgh's Mayor Bill Peduto introduced legislation that would require all government buildings to be net-zero energy efficient, just weeks after the city released its first energy benchmarking report. Pittsburgh also has the world’s largest 2030 District, which strives toward 50 percent reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 2030. "The International Centers transform how we build cities, from the materials we use to building design and construction, to the policies that set new standards for the future," said GBA executive director Jenna Cramer in a statement. Both GBA and UNECE hopes the Center will unite the area’s most influential developers, business leaders, and policymakers to “dramatically advance sustainable solutions.”
LGBTQ History Month
Six LGBT historic sites declared NYC landmarks
Just in time for LGBT History Month, the New York City Council announced at the end of September that six sites have been designated Individual Landmarks for their significance to LGBTQ+ history. While the six sites were selected during Pride Month this past June, they were required to go through a few more rounds of confirmations by the full 51-person City Council, the City Council’s subcommittee on Landmarks, and the Land Use Committee. While there are always naysayers in Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) public hearings, these significant landmarks have officially made it. This is great news for both the LGBTQ community and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, an educational resource that began in 2015 with the goal of broadening people’s knowledge of LGBT history and geography “beyond Stonewall.” Sites are added to the project’s interactive map, which can be navigated through filters including “Cultural Significance,” “Neighborhood,” or “Era,” all of which aim to make “an invisible history visible.” "I am very proud of these designations, which recognize that despite the obstacles they faced, the LGBT community has thrived in New York City," said Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll in an earlier press release. Below are the six newly-landmarked buildings: Audre Lorde Residence (1898) Location: 207 St. Paul’s Avenue, Staten Island Architect: Otto Loeffler Audre Lorde (1934-1992), an American writer, feminist, and civil rights activist lived in this Staten Island home with her two children and partner Frances Clayton from 1972 to 1987. Born in Harlem, Lorde noted in an interview with Louise Chawla that this home was a perfect balance between nature and her commitment to raising her children in the city. While living there, Lorde was the Thomas Hunter Chair of Literature at Hunter College and spoke at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Caffe Cino (1877) Location: 21 Cornelia Street, Manhattan Architect: Benjamin Warner Caffe Cino was designated for its significance as New York City’s first gay theater, as well as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway. The Greenwich Village Italianate-style building was occupied by Caffe Cino from 1958 to 1968 (closing a year before the Stonewall uprising) and currently houses a bar called The Drunken Monkey. The four-story tenement and store was constructed by Benjamin Warner in 1877 and features Philadelphia brick walls with iron and wood elements. LGBT Community Center (1845) Location: 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan Architect: Amnon Macvey The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has been an indispensable resource to hundreds of thousands of queer city dwellers since its opening in 1984. Colloquially known as “The Center,” the Italianate-style hub serves the community through health and wellness programs, political action, and social events. In 2001, the center brought on Françoise Bollack Architects to restore the facade and transform the former high school into its present-day program. James Baldwin Residence (Remodeled 1961) Location: 137 West 71st Street, Manhattan Architect: H. Russell Kenyon This building is “the most significant surviving building in the United States associated with the celebrated novelist, essayist, poet, and civil rights advocate James Baldwin,” claims the LPC designation report. Born in Harlem, Baldwin made this his Upper West Side residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. H. Russell Kenyon expanded an existing row house from 1890 into a modern five-story apartment house in 1961. While here, Baldwin participated in events including a meeting at Carnegie Hall with Dr. Martin Luther King shortly before his death, and where he wrote Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), and No Name in the Street (1972). Women’s Liberation Center (1866) Location: 243 West 20th Street, Manhattan Architect: Charles E. Hartshorn From 1972 to 1987, this former Chelsea firehouse was known as the Women’s Liberation Center and was the home to many lesbian and feminist organizations, which broke away from the male-dominated LGBTQ organizations of the time. The space was run by volunteers and organized as a collective, serving as the primary meeting area for women fighting for LGBT rights through social service groups and political committees. Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse (1881) Location: 99 Wooster Street, Manhattan Architect: Napoleon LeBrun Another firehouse, this one in SoHo, was also designated. The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) used the building as headquarters from 1971 to 1974, making it one of the most important LGBT political and cultural centers during these years prior to the opening of the LGBT Center (number three on this list). The GAA lobbied for local civil rights laws, worked against police harassment, and aimed for the creation of fair housing legislation and employment. Located in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District, the building features neo-Grecian and Queen Anne-style ornamentation including terra-cotta reliefs and stained-glass windows.
At-risk teens get critiqued by top architects during Publicolor’s Summer Design Studio
On October 1st, the nonprofit Publicolor hosted its annual Summer Design Studio critique at their Manhattan office. The middle and high school students were tasked with reinventing the hospital experience as their design problem and developed solutions (at a variety of scales) to address the needs of nurses, physicians, patients, and families. The students were joined by a distinguished jury of New York City architects, designers, and artists including Thomas Phifer, Jonathan Marvel, and Kitty Hawks. The Summer Design Studio (SDS) is a seven-week work-study program where at-risk teens focus on literacy and math through the lens of design, while also taking S.A.T. prep classes at Pratt Institute and engaging in community service activities. The goal of the program is to prepare students to return to school in the fall with a head start, as recent research shows that low-income students who don’t have access to organized activities actually lose about two months of reading achievement over the summer. This loss adds up over the course of their education. The projects exhibited ranged from an urban farm to keep patients in the geriatric ward active and healthy, to a fully coded app that free's patients from paperwork by digitally sending your encrypted information ahead of time while you drive to the hospital of your choice. Some proposals were to the scale of an individual body, such as the “the stepper upper,” a pull-out step stool that allows children to step on to reach the sinks in pediatric departments. Others were more at an urban scale, including a medical pop-up in subway stations to aid those who get sick on the train. Eighth-grader Mariana, said of her urban farm design: "We had to do research on incurable diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia and we had found out something called the mind diet, which is basically a bunch of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that have vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that could help prevent the diseases." The group’s project description explains further: the wheelchair-accessible garden allows residents to participate in caring for the garden, feeding the fish, caring for the worms, and making a difference in the lives of all the patients in the hospital. Publicolor’s founder, Ruth Lande Shuman, said of the program’s success, "This was a stellar summer for our 110 struggling students who grew enormously both socially and emotionally, learned a lot of technical and computer skills (including Rhino), and developed the self-confidence to speak with poise about their work." A full list of the critics is as follows:
Thomas Phifer, Architect; Jean Phifer, Architect; Henry Myerberg, Architect; Robert DiMauro, Lifestyle Commentator; Kitty Hawks, Interior Designer; Lily Gunn Townsend, VP Collection, Michael Kors; Michael Shuman, Architect; Tom Geismar, Graphic Designer; Jonathan Marvel, Architect; Tucker Wiemeister, Industrial Designer; Peter Ragonetti, Industrial Designer; Hannah Bruce, Artist; George Ranalli, Architect
High Hole-Y Days
Hou de Sousa is the winner of this year's Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition
The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute have just announced the winners and finalists of the 6th Annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. New York-based architecture, art, and design studio, Hou de Sousa, was chosen by a jury of ten designers, planners, and strategists for their project titled Ziggy, which will be installed in front of the iconic Manhattan skyscraper in time for the holiday season. The installation will be composed of painted rebar and 27,000 feet of iridescent cord shaped into a brightly-colored winding form, resulting in a lightweight structure that frames views of the Flatiron District’s landmarks while doubling as seating for visitors. “Hou de Sousa’s spectacular installation invites us to rethink how we interact with public space, and with one another,” said Deborah Marton, executive director of Van Alen Institute in a recent press release. “Through the clever use of transparent materials and open gateways, their design creates delightful and unexpected ways to connect with others.” Partners Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa have won numerous competitions over the past few years (hosted by Google, Friends of the High Line, Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Architectural League of New York, to name a few) for environmentally responsible work that “fosters public engagement and creativity,” in the words of Van Alen. The team partnered with Schlaich Bergermann Partner for structural engineering, and A05 Studio for steel fabrication. The competition’s runner-up this year was Besler & Sons project Mini City Souvenir Plaza, which would have transformed the Flatiron Public Plaza into a “party scape of iconic buildings and experiences, populating the space with large-scale facades of nearby architecture.” The idea was that the facades surrounding the park would have been fabricated from post-consumer recycled plastics and reproduced in high detail. Other projects that made it to the final round included Holiday Exchange by New Affiliates, Flatiron Portal by Only If, and Collective by Worrell Yeung. Ziggy will be installed on the Flatiron North Public Plaza at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street as a part of the Partnership’s “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming. Weather permitting, it will be open to the public daily from November 18, 2019, through January 1, 2020.
Mausolea No More
A+I converts three outdated lobbies in Manhattan’s Hudson Square
Hudson Square is a little pocket on the west side of Lower Manhattan that’s fairly unknown to the average New Yorker. A former printing press district, it’s now home to dozens of prime commercial properties with views of the Hudson River. Thanks to the large floor plates and ample access to daylight in the area’s immense brick buildings, tech start-ups, advertising companies, and media giants are clamoring for space in the neighborhood. Norges Bank and Trinity Real Estate, the real estate arm of New York’s Trinity Church and owner of over a dozen properties in the area, enlisted Architecture Plus Information (A+I) to transform the lobbies of three Hudson Square buildings into an amenity-rich network of informal spaces for local workers. The design team, led by Eliane Maillot, A+I’s associate principal and studio director, sought to make the entrances to buildings at 75 Varick Street, 225 Varick, and 155 Avenue of the Americas as engaging as two other A+I projects in the area: the headquarters of Squarespace and Horizon Media. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Manhattan's Morgan Library & Museum is almost ready to show off its newly renovated McKim, Mead & White facade, the 2019 renovation being the first comprehensive overhaul of the landmarked building since its completion in 1906. But before the scaffolding comes down, principal conservator Glenn Boornazian invited AN to climb the ladders, and see the ceiling and detail work adorning the neoclassical institution up close. The wing under renovation is the historic library itself, originally the mansion of J.P Morgan, which houses the famous Renaissance-inspired loggia, Morgan’s red silk-walled office, and the heart of the museum—the three-tiered reading room that holds rare manuscripts from the original handwritten A Christmas Carol to one of Bob Dylan’s personal notebooks. The museum itself has been evolving rapidly since the 2006 Renzo Piano addition, a glass-box intervention that bridged the annex, library, and brownstone of the Morgan family compound framed by Madison Avenue and 36th and 37th Streets. The addition also created a new entrance for the museum with state-of-the-art amenities for visitors—however, the swap from the original 36th street entrance to the grander ‘museum-grade’ avenue welcome area directed visitors and general street traffic away from the original library's monumental facade. This renovation and cleaning of the Tennessee pink marble exterior is poised to refresh the building’s curb appeal. Up on the scaffolding, it’s impossible to overlook the extraordinary attention to detail in the intricate carving of each stone. One ceiling relief depicts a sailboat, with billowing sails projecting over an inch from its stone base, so prominent that Boornazian was able to wrap his hand around it like a door handle. This craftsmanship was only fully appreciable from where we stood, suspended on a platform two stories high, but granted the same treatment as an eye-level detail. “If there was one crack, the stone was rejected,” said Boornazian, “The contractor almost went bankrupt trying to satisfy the standards of the project.” The joinery was a primary concern of the conservator, as time and settlement had begun to pry some of the expertly set stones in the ceiling program apart. “Today, this amount would have been unacceptable,” he added, pointing to a seam just slightly thicker than a strand of hair. Physical alterations also extend from the facade to the overly-oxidized metal fencing, the prominent lioness sculptures framing the library entrance, the cast-bronze doors, and the lesser-known bluestone public sidewalk pavers. Yet, the marble exterior is only one facet of the regeneration project. When the scaffolding comes down, predicted to occur as early as this week, installation will begin on the landscape and lighting improvements, set to debut in spring 2020. A new garden program by British designer and GSD faculty member Todd Longstaffe-Gowan will enliven the front entrance of the restored structure, and offer a rare strip of green space in the Midtown streetscape. Coming off of commissions like the grounds of Kensington Palace, the scale is relatively modest, but the sensitivity to history is shared. The low-lying planted selections will allow for full viewing of the building from the garden and street, and Renaissance Revival pebble slabs and McKim, Mead & White-inspired parterres will abound throughout the grounds. “This project will reintegrate the monumental facade into the museum’s program,” said Morgan deputy director Jessica Ludwig, “and bring more people closer to the building’s details than ever before.”
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has completed the construction of its North Hall, the first residence hall the school has built in 34 years. Designed by RISD alumn Nader Tehrani of the Boston-based NADAAA, the six-story, 40,790-square-foot dormitory at 60 Waterman Street will house 148 freshman students of the Providence-based art and design school. While construction wrapped up in late summer, the school will celebrate its opening this Saturday, October 12, during its upcoming RISD Weekend. Along with housing a new generation of the school’s students, North Hall was designed to meet RISD’s institutional goals of lessening its environmental impact and energy use. It will use a quarter less energy than a conventional building and almost half the amount of water compared to similar-sized residential structures. The dorm’s furnishings, designed by RISD faculty members John Dunnigan and Lothar Windels, were also fabricated exclusively with sustainable materials such as bamboo plywood and European beech. The building's structure, a cross-laminated timber (CLT) and steel-frame hybrid, is the first of its kind for a residence hall in New England and further reduced the project's carbon footprint. North Hall’s completion marks the first part of a six-phase enhancement project for the school’s Freshman Quad, which will include a complex of dormitories, a dining hall, and a new fitness center. NADAAA was responsible for the 2017 master plan for the quad as well, which will link the various buildings along with the new campus extension into a cohesive space. North Hall's textured brick facade is a nod to the existing Pietro Belluschi design at RISD Beach and the residence will be connected via passageways to the other quad buildings. The residence hall is equipped with amenities for art students including studio and work spaces, galleries, and spray booth.