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Who Runs the World

How city terrain affects runners at the world’s major marathon sites
Looking ahead to this Sunday’s New York City Marathon where over 50,000 runners will traverse the city’s five boroughs, we’re thinking about the roles that topography and urbanism play in the world’s longest running courses. The Abbott World Marathon Majors is composed of six races in four countries, including three in the United States. Though all the host cities are highly-populated metropolitan areas, they vary in size and density and all feature distinct geographies that change the way runners battle through the race. TCS New York City Marathon In New York, runners cross three major bridges and power through the city’s undulating terrain, some of it flat and some of it extremely hilly due to the Manhattan schist that elevates the northernmost parts of the Big Apple. One of the features of this race, and every race within the World Marathon Majors, is that it gives people—not cars—the chance to take over streets and other major pieces of infrastructure. Now in its 48th year, the marathon starts at the edge of Staten Island. Runners get an initial high over the 13,700-foot-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, a Robert Moses-backed project, and run north up 4th Avenue from southern Brooklyn to Greenpoint. After a brief stint in Long Island City, Queens dotted with shiny, new towering residential properties, runners cross the Queensboro Bridge and begin a six-mile jaunt through Manhattan, the Bronx, and back into Manhattan to the end in Central Park. As one of the world’s most walkable cities, runners will have plenty architectural distractions along the 26-mile route. But with a total ascent of nearly 853 feet and a maximum elevation of 195 above sea level, the long and swelling course in New York is not for the faint of heart.  Tokyo Marathon The youngest race in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon has existed since 2007 and features little change in elevation due to the city’s location on the coast of Japan. Rising to just 134 feet above sea level, but largely maintaining an average of 5 feet above grade, the extensive course zigzags through the heart of the city and across the Sumida River.   The race begins at the Kenzo Tange-designed Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, a 48-story tower that, though surrounded by other gray-toned architecture, still maintains its identity as a landmark in Tokyo. The building resembles a giant, cathedral-shaped computer chip. The course heads directly east toward downtown Tokyo past the 19th-century Imperial Palace, then loops through Asakusa, home of the famous Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, down to Koto, through Ginza, and the Shinagawa business district in Tokyo Bay. Runners will end the race by cutting through Hibiya Park and hitting Tokyo Station. It’s the only course in the competition where participants double loop the parts of the route. The Boston Marathon As the world’s oldest annual marathon dating back to 1897, the Boston Marathon is also New England’s largest sporting event, attracting over 50,000 spectators and 30,000 participants. The historic course runs straight through eight cities and towns in the Boston metropolitan area, starting on East Main Street in Hopkinton and following Routes 35, 16, and 30. Finishers cross into downtown Boston and end near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square after largely descending in elevation from the top of the course. The long route allows runners to explore Boston’s Middlesex County and race by the scenery between each colonial town. Overall, the race is very hilly. The course begins at 450 feet above sea level and drops drastically, eventually resting around the 150- to 200-foot mark from miles 3.5 to 15. From Newtown to Brookline at mile 19, runners will climb the infamous Heartbreak Hill before descending to sea level in the last two miles. Bank of America Chicago Marathon Beginning and ending in Chicago’s own front yard, Grant Park, runners go through 29 neighborhoods in one large loop, with each of the city’s main stadiums set as turning points. As one of the most architecturally revered cities in the U.S., runners have the opportunity to pass by some of Chicago's stand-out structures and get a feel for its physical and cultural diversity. The 45,000 participants start the flat race in downtown Chicago, catching glimpses of Millennium Park, the mid-century Prudential Building, and the Loop. After crossing north up LaSalle Street to Lincoln Park, they’ll hit Wrigley Field at mile 8 before heading south to Old Town, which sports Chicago’s Victorian-era homes, as well as St. Michael’s Church, one of the only buildings still standing from before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the industrial River North neighborhood, runners will fly by Merchandise Mart, home to galleries, as well as residential and design showrooms. On the West Side of Chicago, participants pass by the famous Union Station and St. Patrick’s Church, the city’s oldest public building, before hitting Little Italy, Pilsen, and all its wall murals, as well as Chinatown. Before heading back up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, runners go by the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is next to Bronzeville, a place called the “Birthplace of the Blues.” In the historic Gap section of the neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright built a set of rowhouses. BMW Berlin Marathon Established in 1974, today’s course for the Berlin Marathon hasn’t always been in place. Before 1990, the race was held solely on the city’s west side. Just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall that June, participants were able to run through East Berlin with tears in their eyes. The course today is configured in a large loop. It starts at 38 meters above sea level and never rises above 53 meters. It’s largely flat and features very few sharp corners, making it one of the fastest long-distance routes in the world.   Runners begin at the neoclassical Brandenburg Gate in the historic Pariser Platz. They then head west through Grober Tiergarten Park before crossing the river Spree. Heading into East Berlin, participants loop through Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Schoneberg, and Steglitz, eventually going into Charlottenburg, and downtown Berlin. Because of the city’s stark past, Berlin is relatively young and many major developments are less than 30 years old. Runners will start in an iconic and old part of the city, but eventually stumble upon newer structures such as Norman Foster’s Reichstag building and Potsdamer Platz, the city’s main square with a masterplan by Hilmer & Sattler, and designs by Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn. Virgin Money London Marathon Following the flow of the River Thames, the relatively flat London Marathon attracts amateurs, charity fundraisers, and serious runners from around the world. It started in 1981 and the slithery course—which begins in Blackheath, passes through Greenwich, and ends in St. James near Buckingham Palace—has barely been altered since the original race 37 years ago. Participants travel through two of London’s major parks, visit dockyards, the Royal Artillery Barracks, and file through the neighborhoods of Deptford, Surrey Quay, and Wapping after crossing Tower Bridge. While the Tube is arguably the fastest way to get around London’s sprawling metropolis, running this annual race gives visitors a chance to see the city at their own pace. Some of the city’s most notable developments are directly on or near the River Thames, such as the near-complete London Bridge Station that’s been in the works for eight years.
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The Future of Retail?

Amazon is bringing its seamless automated grocery store to New York
Imagine a world where artificial intelligence tracks your every movement. A world where buildings have minds of their own, learning your behaviors, and collecting data from you as you come and go. While existing technology has not yet reached sci-fi levels, a visit to an Amazon Go grocery store can offer you a peek into this possible future of retail design. This week Amazon announced its plans to open a new store in New York, the first of its kind on the East Coast, before opening nearly 3,000 more nationwide by 2021. The company has already built out six Amazon Go stores in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. The cutting-edge stores, as shown within its first locations, are characterized by visual simplicity, clarity, and hyper-functionality. Through the stores' structural elements, including minimalistic facades, geometric configurations, and exposed raw materials, such as wood veneer and polished concrete, the interiors assume an industrial feel. They feature muted colors and black merchandise racks that give the stores a clean appearance as well. Meanwhile, ceiling cameras monitor shoppers as they wander through the aisles. The stores are unique in that they are void of cashiers, cash registers, and self-service checkout stands. Customers only need to walk in, take what they need, and leave. As they swing through the turnstiles on their way out, Amazon automatically bills their credit cards. Within minutes, a receipt is sent to the Amazon app, giving customers a summary of what they bought, what they paid, and the exact amount of time they spent in the store. The stores, which depend on highly sophisticated image recognition software and artificial intelligence to function, are expected to drastically transform the retail experience in unexpected ways. Amazon began working on retail stores five years ago with the goal of eliminating consumer criticisms and complaints, such as struggling to find products and waiting in long lines. Since the first Amazon Go store opened last January in Seattle, it has received tremendous praise and success. According to CNN, highly automated retail stores like Amazon Go are expected to become the norm within as little as 10 to 15 years. Research has shown that up to 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk of automation in the next decade, which will save retailers money on labor, as well as boost profits, but obviously cost retail workers their livelihood. Automated stores can facilitate the ordering and restocking process as cameras and AI track inventory in real-time. The removal of cash registers provides more space for inventory. Customer data can also be uploaded to the servers of each building, where retailers can present them with personalized discounts, offers, and other incentives. While Amazon has confirmed plans to open an Amazon Go store in New York, its location has yet to be determined.
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Move the Vote

Los Angeles approves free public transit on election day
As the contentious U.S. midterm elections taking place on Tuesday, November 6, fast approach amid numerous accusations of voter suppression and disenfranchisement often along lines of race and class, at least one city is proactively making it easier to vote. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority has just approved free public transit on election day to help encourage people to turn out to the polls. This is especially important in California, which has a number of ballot initiatives impacting housing and the environment. Ballot initiatives in California this November include Proposition 1, which would expand resources for veteran housing; Proposition 2, which would implement a 1 percent millionaire’s tax to help support mental health services, housing initiatives, and other resources for homeless people; Proposition 3 which would authorize nearly $9 billion in bonds for spending on water infrastructure and other environmental initiatives; and Proposition 10 which would allow local governments to implement rent control. The decision to expand voter accessibility in Los Angeles comes at a time where various forms of voter suppression and disenfranchisement are being brought to light across the country, including the intentional disenfranchisement of certain people who have served jail time, voter roll purges in states like Georgia, and gerrymandering districts to turn them red, such as in North Carolina’s 13th district. Some sources have also spread misinformation on the day the elections take place, such as in Suffolk County, New York, where a mailer from Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin featured the wrong deadline for absentee ballots (it’s November 5). Voter ID laws in many states have been accused of preventing lower income and minority voters from being able to enact their right to vote. In North Dakota new ID and residence rules, upheld by the Supreme Court, have been argued to be systematically targeting Native Americans. Relocating where people go to vote is another method that has been accused of attempting to prevent voter turnout. The ACLU has been brought a federal lawsuit over the choice to move a polling station for Dodge City, Kansas, whose population is majority Latinx, to a difficult-to-access location outside of the city limits. Similar moves to make voting hard to access, especially for people without flexible work schedules or easy transportation access, have been seen across the country, particularly in areas that have larger populations of people of color, as well as urban centers that tend to be more diverse and liberal-leaning. Los Angeles's announcement came as New York's Citibike announced that their bikes would be free to use for all on election day. Motivate, Citibike's parent company has announced that services in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Jersey City,  Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. would all be free on November 6 as well.
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Intellectual Appetite

Art platform e-flux opens bar and restaurant in Brooklyn
e-flux, the New York–based orgnaization best known for its criticism and theory in art and architecture, has branched out in a rather unexpected direction: a bar and restaurant. Situated in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, not far from the Pratt Institute, Bar Laika extends e-flux’s ability to do programming beyond their small Lower East Side main location and in more hangout friendly digs. The new space also has some design pedigree: Alvar Aalto lighting adorns the space and seating was provided in part by Artek and Vitra. The name Laika means “barker” in Russian and is a common dog name, much like Spot or Rover in the U.S. It also happens to be the name of the first dog in space. Bar Laika’s local seafood-heavy menu was developed in collaboration with artist and chef Hsiao Chen and the cocktail list was put together by another artist, Danna Vajda. Wines were selected by Florence Barth. The bar will also be pairing screenings and other programming with special set menus, some put together by participating artists. Like their downtown space, Bar Laika will be used for screenings, talks, musical performances, and readings which are being organized by Lily Lewis and Anton Vidokle, along with curator and chef Ingrid Erstad. Bar Laika launched earlier this month with dinner and a screening of Anri Sala’s 1998 film Intervista.
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Islands in the Stream

Freeman Plaza West creates islands of green amid torrents of New York traffic
Hugging the looped entrance to the Holland Tunnel on Broome Street, Freeman Plaza West is a “found” public space in Manhattan that’s been reimagined as a peaceful parkland for area workers to remove themselves from the car-ridden bustle of the surrounding streetscape. The two-acre green space is the talk of the surrounding Hudson Square, and not just because its the newest non-desk place to eat lunch in the post-industrial Manhattan neighborhood. The project was conceived by the Hudson Square Business Improvement District (BID) and designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA). Freeman Plaza is spread out over three adjacent landscapes—a west, east, and north plaza (the former two are finished). The spaces feature simple interventions such as tables, chairs, decking, solar-powered charging stations, turf lawn, book lending kiosks, public art, and programming, all input gradually over a period of several years. Because of the plaza’s close connection to the Holland Tunnel, where 12 lanes of traffic merge into two, the architects aimed to make a quiet place where congestion and noise were nearly imperceptible. Signe Nielsen, MNLA’s founding principal, said the firm was led by the question: “How can we make a true public space in the middle of 45,000 cars?” “It has truly been an adventure in tactical urbanism,” Nielsen said. “Although this is a somewhat overwrought term, we’ve been implementing opportune interventions on a fairly unlikely site slowly and steadily, and at low-cost.”
 
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Over 40,000 people work in Hudson Square. The majority of them, due to the types of companies the area attracts, are young, mobile workers under 35 who are tech-savvy, transient, and seek time away from the office during the day. Freeman Plaza, Nielsen said, isn’t in a typical location for a park, but it offers the same respite a park might, while being somewhat of a shock to the local population—simply because it’s an actual green space with already mature trees in a non-green area. “Most people don’t think of Freeman Plaza as a destination; it’s a surprise,” Nielsen said. “We virtually created a complete buffer from the outside world so psychologically it feels like you’re not in the middle of traffic.” Freeman Plaza is the third “found” space in Hudson Square, identified as part of an initiative to amplify public space and rebrand the district. Hudson Square BID and MNLA released an award-winning masterplan in 2012 called “Hudson Square is Now” that gave way to a more sustainable streetscape with 250 newly-planted or retrofitted trees and a stormwater management system. Nielsen sees this type of casual, gradual landscape design as a way to help beautify and reclaim urban spaces in any city, especially areas that are walkable but also dependent on cars. She notes that observing the city with an eagle eye is key when siting underutilized areas located directly off of major pieces of transportation infrastructure. “You’ve got to look around in a very greedy kind of way,” she said. “Ask, where can I grab land for people? What would it take to allow the public into this space? Sometimes the most unlikely places appear.” Freeman Plaza West opened to the public earlier this spring, following the initial build-out of Freeman Plaza East in 2014. MNLA’s design for the new Spring Street Park, located one block from Freeman Plaza, unofficially opened to the public last month.
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Big Changes

Latest renderings unveiled for San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza
New York–based architects Perkins Eastman and engineers Arup have unveiled the latest batch of renderings for San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza. The updated designs were submitted to city agencies this week in an effort to begin the formal approval process for the renovations envisioned for the plaza and its associated Muni subway station. The extensive renovations come as the city works to perform required Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades for both facilities, including the addition of an elevator that will connect the street level to the subway platform. Backers for the project also seek to boost the plaza’s function as a memorial to Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, and to create a new gateway into the city’s Castro neighborhood. Perkins Eastman was selected in 2016 as part of an international design competition held by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP), the volunteer group with business connections in the neighborhood. The latest renderings for Harvey Milk Plaza come after a previously-released iteration of the design was met with community opposition. Perkins Eastman revised the plans following four community workshops over the summer. The initial designs featured red paving and a uni-directional “stramp” (stair-ramp) that crossed the site going toward the west to create an elevated community amphitheater with the subway entrance located below. The new plans have flipped the arrangement by rotating the amphitheater and subway entrance 180 degrees so that they are located at the easternmost corner of the site, where it is expected that foot traffic would be greatest. The center of the plaza is now marked by a new elevator with the western edge of the plaza populated by low-slung benches and a grove of trees. The plaza bearing Milk’s name was planned before his death and was not named in his honor until 1985—Milk was assassinated in 1978— and according to FHMP, “the public has longed to see [the plaza] transformed into a place that captures [Milk’s] spirit; a place that embodies [Milk’s] passion to bring people together and see that all are treated with dignity and given voice at the tables of influence.” The plaza redesign is more-or-less the product of community input, Hoodline reports, a delicate dance the designers and organizers have played with local residents as they seek to win on-the-street approval for the project. The designs, however, are relatively unloved by San Francisco Chronicle urbanism critic John King, who has lamented that the plaza would weaken the vitality of the district’s street life by pulling pedestrians away from its key attractions. King added that the proposal’s function as a true memorial to Milk’s legacy could better be suited by other means, as well. King said:
If the desire is to celebrate Milk’s life and legacy, it might be easier to freshen up the current plaza and create an ongoing fund for its maintenance. Then, install plaques or informative artwork along the bridge-like walkway to Collingwood Street, a path that has serenity despite its surroundings.
The design for the proposal is by no means finalized, however. As the bid makes its way through the approval process, changes and new approaches are sure to be recommended. A timeline for final approval and completion of the plaza has not been announced.
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SCAPING up to Boston

Boston taps SCAPE for a resilient harbor vision
The city of Boston has unveiled a new vision for protecting the city’s 47 miles of shoreline and has used New York’s SCAPE Landscape Architecture to visualize the vision plan. The plan, "Resilient Boston Harbor," was presented yesterday by Mayor Martin J. Walsh before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. It builds off of the Climate Ready Boston 2070 flood maps and existing district-level plans, coastal resilience neighborhood studies, and the work done under the Imagine Boston 2030 initiative. The ultimate goal is to reinforce Boston’s public spaces, buildings, and infrastructure against the encroach of rising sea levels, the strengthening of storms that climate change will bring, as well as heat waves, drought, and worsening blizzards. With Boston’s population approaching 700,000 for the first time since the 1960s, catastrophic flooding would affect more residents than ever. “We’re not just planning for the next storm we’ll face, we’re planning for the storms the next generation will face,” said Mayor Walsh. “A resilient, climate-ready Boston Harbor presents an opportunity to protect Boston, connect Boston, and enhance Boston, now and for the future. As we enter a new era in our Harbor’s history, Boston can show the world that resilience is not only the ability to survive adversity, but to emerge even stronger than before. That’s the promise of a Resilient Boston.” To meet that ambitious goal, the city has broken down its plan into separate chunks for each neighborhood. The final goal involves opening up public access to the waterfront by raising portions of the coastal landscape, installing strategic flood walls, elevating infrastructure, and flood-proofing buildings, representing a synthesis and consolodation of the prior resiliency work done in the city. In East Boston and Charlestown, Wood Island and Belle Isle will be reinforced to prevent the loss of Boston’s only remaining salt marsh, and the most important transportation corridors will be elevated. The Schrafft Center waterfront will also be redeveloped to incorporate elevated parks and boosted economically by the addition of new mixed-use buildings. In South Boston and Fort Point, Fort Point Channel is currently a major floodway that will need to be redesigned, and a string of parks, dubbed the “Emerald Necklace,” will sop up excess floodwater along Columbia Road. In North End and Downtown, the Harborwalk and Long Wharf are slated for renovations, and the city is planning to kick off a Climate Ready Downtown study to pinpoint further optimizations. Similarly, Boston will launch Climate Ready Dorchester to study improvements to the Dorchester Waterfront. A redesign of Morrissey Boulevard to buffer it against flooding, and the opening of the waterfront along Columbia Point, have already been singled out as potential strategies. The cost won’t be cheap, but Mayor Walsh rationalized the expense as preventative. “In East Boston, we could invest $160 million in resilience or we could do nothing, and expect damages of $480 million," Walsh told the Chamber. "In Charlestown, we could invest $50 million now or pay over $200 million later. In South Boston, we could invest $1 billion or we could pay $19 billion in citywide damages, when Fort Point Channel and Dorchester Bay meet and flood the heart of our city. “We either invest now, or else we pay a much bigger price later. And we’ll pay that price in more than dollars. We’ll pay it in jobs lost, small businesses that never recover, homes destroyed, and families displaced.” The city will start by investing millions at each of the above sites and ten percent of all future capital funding towards resiliency initiatives. Still, the north-of-a-billion-dollar estimates will require funding from Massachusetts, the federal government, and private, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations. Besides hitting the goals outlined in Resilient Boston Harbor, the city is also committed to going completely carbon neutral by 2030.
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Like Chilean Miners...

AN interviews six emerging designers to watch
Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. ­­–Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” ­–Drew Zieba
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The Future is Green

Major investment coming to Detroit and Buffalo’s waterfront park projects
As Detroit and Buffalo get set to take on two transformative park projects along their respective waterfronts, both cities have been generously backed by a philanthropic organization aiming to enhance green space and bolster community engagement. Today, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced its pledge to invest over $1.2 billion in the cities by 2035 in honor of its founder, the Buffalo Bills’ late owner, and his centennial birthday. The Foundation is making a sizable donation to Western New York and Southeast Michigan—the two areas Wilson loved most—by committing a combined $200 million for upgraded parks and 250 miles of trails in the regions. A large chunk of that change will go directly to revitalizing LaSalle Park in Buffalo and West Riverfront Park in Detroit. With a design already envisioned by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and David Adjaye, the latter parkland will give Michiganites long-desired, tangible access to the Detroit River. Though the 77-acre LaSalle Park has stretched across Lake Erie’s edge since the 1930s, it’s massive potential for further beautification and elevated programming could increase the quality of life for Buffalo residents and beyond. Dave Enger, president of the Foundation, stressed that community involvement is the key to taking on these monumental landscape goals. “Foundations don’t build parks, communities do,” he said. “Our vision is really to support these wonderful projects and the people that have the vision.” The design process is well underway for West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit. Situated atop a former industrial piece of land, the 22-acre parkland will be a year-round destination for fishing, skating or swimming, sports, entertainment, and family gatherings. MVVA’s proposal was chosen over 80 other submissions in an international design competition to reimagine the park, which was transferred from private ownership to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in 2014. Since their master plan was selected earlier this spring, MVVA has worked alongside the Conservancy and the Detroit Mayor’s office to garner feedback from locals and find out their personal ambitions for the park. The firm’s principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh, said his team especially loved talking to people aged 60 and older about their childhoods in Detroit—the places they loved and why. For many, the secluded Belle Isle was the only locale they could go to enjoy green space and the river at the same time. But that’s about to change thanks to these new ideas for downtown. “Not every place in Detroit has what New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park offers—a way to touch the water and put your toes in,” said Van Valkenburgh. “Because Detroit is so vast horizontally, we knew needed to add shock and awe to the design to get Detroiters who were far away to come to the water. Michiganders feel defined by and proud that the state is surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes. We thought giving access to the water, through this cove and beach creation, would be a big draw.” A construction start date hasn’t yet been announced for West Riverfront Park, but officials estimate it will be complete by 2022. Van Valkenburgh is sure the master plan will go through many design iterations before ground is broken and he’s excited about more community input. “I’ve been going to public meetings since 1990,” he said. “These have been the most uplifting public meetings I’ve ever been a part of. People come with a real sense that this park is going to be a big lift for the city. They really want it.” At the other end of Lake Erie is LaSalle Park in Buffalo. Though it’s a long-loved and well-utilized community treasure, city stakeholders agree that it could use significant improvements. In 1998, the city conducted a planning review to overhaul the expansive parkland and identify priorities for a new design and upgraded programming. That vision was never realized until the Regional Institute at the University of Buffalo began researching its history and surveying people through a project called Imagine LaSalle. A focus group even spent this summer exploring the park and visiting other famous green spaces in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York for inspiration. “The feedback has been tremendous so far,” said Brendan Mehaffey, executive director for the city’s Office of Strategic Planning. “Part of the mayoral administration’s core values is inclusion so we’ve talked to people from all backgrounds including low-income individuals, young professionals, business owners, and more.” Community engagement is at the heart of both efforts in Buffalo and Detroit. Much like Imagine LaSalle, MVVA also transported a busload of teenagers to visit their Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and other groups went to New York and Philadelphia. Mehaffey sees the connection between the two waterfront park projects, and the two cities in general, as vital to their respective successes. “The Detroit team is much further into the design process than we are, so we’re delving into their research to try and discover best practices for building our own LaSalle Park,” he said. “I think that commonality between us is part of what the Wilson Foundation’s statement is going to make to the country.” Enger also believes the two cities are inextricably important to one another—that’s why his organization has zeroed in on their combined futures. He emphasized that spurring economic development through green space is a key way to democratize the municipalities on a greater level. “Where else in the United States are you going to find world-class parks in post-industrial cities that overlook international border crossings and feature some of the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets?" he said. "We think the total leverage of this project will be far greater than what our investment will bring.”
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15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

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Inside the Mile

An architect tells the story of his appearance in the Mile Long Opera
It isn’t often that one has the chance to perform in a world premiere. I’ve performed in a few during my forty years as an avocational singer, but never anything like the Mile Long Opera (MLO), which ran in New York City from October 2 to 8, 2018. Because I am also an architect, performing as a singer and actor in the MLO was a special privilege. I was able to see both the dramatic material and the urbanistic setting from an insider’s point of view. I am convinced that David Lang, Liz Diller, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, and the producers of MLO created a modern masterpiece. With the rather enigmatic subtitle, “A Biography of Seven O’Clock,” the MLO’s hype suggested that audience members would get a taste, maybe a big gulp, of what makes New York City so extraordinary, and also so ordinary. The first surprise was that they delivered on that promise. By using choirs from throughout the city’s five boroughs, some professional and/or small, others amateur and/or large, the creative team assembled a cast that resonated with just about everyone. Sprinkling some professional opera singers among the throng of ordinary folks provided just enough weight to please the likes of Renée Fleming, who attended a performance in mid-week, and other cognoscenti. It would have been easy to lose the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural flavor of so many New York singers strung single file along a narrow, mile-and-a-half walkway, especially in the evening hours under varied lighting conditions. Here, the production designers earned their stripes by developing several masterful costume and lighting conceits. The most effective was the duck-like baseball cap worn by the majority of us, which bathed the face in a soft, ethereal aurora. Audience members described the effect of the floating faces as dreamlike—we were instructed to wear only dark so our faces would stand out. By lighting the faces of each performer, MLO designers brought both the wonderful variety and the individuality of New York’s inhabitants into focus on the High Line. As the audience walked by, each singer or speaker could touch passing strangers with a look or an expression, while also declaiming their portions of the libretto (some of it in Spanish). I can say that for me, those brief glances from listeners were unforgettable. I thought of the paintings on the wall of a museum gazing out at amazed art lovers—Magritte would be jealous. Was there music in this opera? Yes and no. David Lang, of Bang on a Can fame, has explored sound in just about every possible way during a long career. Thus one would hardly have expected a conventional piece of musical theater, and indeed those of us singing and speaking our parts were initially rather confused by what we heard. There were no chords, no apparent melody, no key signatures, and apparently no “leitmotifs” to provide a map of the work. Even the first rehearsals were puzzling—where would we stand in relation to our fellow choir members? Was there an alto or bass part? All we knew was that this was a piece for voices and that we would be singing without amplification. There were big risks involved in putting singers of varying abilities out in the midst of a bustling urban environment. How could anyone but an operatic diva be heard above the street noise? When I looked at the first robot camera footage of the “cells” (individual areas with specific parts of the libretto and music) that were posted by the sponsor, Target, I was concerned that many voices were not coming through the texture. After performing for a couple of nights I realized what I had missed, and why our composer had written such unusual “music.” This was an immersive experience. Even more important than seeing the piece on the High Line was listening to every voice along the way. Lang gave the audience an active part in the drama as it unfolded before them. You really had to “lean in” to get the full intellectual and sensory power of the narrative. By lighting the faces of each performer, or group of performers, Lang and his collaborators invited the audience to parse the threads of text, sound, and light, both momentary and temporally continuous. The music and libretto established a repeating theme, marked by phrases and distinctive vocal riffs, that would eventually make sense in the context of a moving, walking perceptual gestalt. There was, first of all, the recurrence of the dining table in the spoken narrative. I did not realize how my version of this little “recollection” would strike audience members as they heard me say “Between us, I love my dining room table.” With a common memory, shared by so many of us, Claudia Rankine established an immediate frame of reference. In the music, themes of community, loss, loneliness, love, and deprivation played out in vignettes sung by recognizable characters from the city: a Vietnamese nail salon technician, a construction worker, an eight-year-old walking with his aunt, lovers at the movies, a hotel maid, a window washer. One thousand voices, each distinct, would finally create a “cloud” of meaning, at least in theory. Before each performance, we heard our directors describe the “miracle” that was occurring each night. Press notices were positive, but it was the audience that gave us the best feedback on the piece. They were spellbound, amazed, and entirely engaged. Friends invariably would ask if tickets were available—they had heard the hype. Alas, anyone who failed to get a pass would miss one of the cultural events of the new century. I thought of how pissed I was to have missed Einstein On The Beach. It was like you had to see MLO in order to be a hip New Yorker in 2018, at least among choral geeks. For architects, the allure was just as strong. The tapestry sound would not have been so striking without the incredible setting of the High Line. One should always mention James Corner and the community activists who fought to save the elevated tracks from Gansevoort to 34th Street, because this was adaptive re-use at its best. Architect Liz Diller and her staff saw the potential of the linear park as a performance space and helped to design the enhancements to the setting that made the piece ring so beautifully, in a visual sense. Indeed, it was the synesthetic character of the Mile Long Opera that I believe signaled its importance as a new kind of performance piece. The Mile Long Opera was an intense distillation of the things that make New York the greatest city in the world. It brought us the city of the imagination, the city of technology, the city of skyscrapers, the city of world theater, the city of music, the city of strangers, the city of magic, the city of poverty, the city of transport, the city of wealth, and above all the place that we call New York. At the end of the performance, Anne Carson’s poetry captured everything in a few trenchant, Whitmanesque lines: “Whatever can happen in a city can happen in this city, whatever can happen to anyone can happen to us. Onward rolls the bright current.”
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Uncertain Fate

Madeline Gins and Arakawa’s surreal Lifespan Extending Villa faces wrecking ball
The Bioscleave House, or Lifespan Extending Villa, was designed by the late Japanese architect Arakawa and his late wife, artist Madeline Gins, in their quest to develop an architecture that could reverse the effects of aging and ward off death. The experimental home is located in East Hampton, New York, and is currently listed for sale for $2,495,000. Although the four-bedroom structure appears to be a work of International Style modernism that has been subjected to a riotous 52-color paint job, it was actually designed in accordance with the couple’s own theory of aging and design, which they called Reversible Destiny. Like many of the home’s unusual features, the bold color-blocking, in keeping with their theory, is intended to keep occupants mentally stimulated. The interior, which guests must sign a waiver before entering, is an architectural obstacle course that transforms daily life into a perpetual workout. The rammed earth flooring is undulating and bumpy, challenging occupants to constantly watch their footing as they navigate between brightly colored metal poles. Every element, from the awkwardly positioned light switches to the precariously sunken kitchen, was designed to heighten body awareness and discourage complacency. Arakawa and Gins were protégés of the avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp. They were commissioned to build the house in the late 1990s by art collector Angela Gallmann, but it was not completed until 2007 when the property was purchased by Professor Group LLC, an anonymously owned corporation. It was the couple’s first built work in the United States and the only to be completed while both were living—Arakawa passed away in 2010 and Gins four years later. Jose B. DosSantos, the home’s listing agent, has been searching for a buyer who appreciates its unconventional style. “I’ve been working hard to save it,” he told The Architect’s Newspaper. “I have contacted art dealers, I have been in touch with the Japanese government, I even had an actress from abroad who wanted to buy the house and have architecture students from around the world come there to do a residency, to learn from masters like Arakawa and Gins, but she backed out at the last minute.” If purchased by a developer, DosSantos says, the Bioscleave House will most likely be demolished and replaced with a typical 5,000-square-foot spec house, which would sell for three or four million dollars in the current market. The Reversible Destiny Foundation, a nonprofit organization tasked with preserving the work of Arakawa and Gins, declined to comment on the matter.