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Preservation Promises

Another modernist New Canaan icon gains full historic protections
A 72-year-old modernist icon in New Canaan, Connecticut, will live on with its original look. Last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation signed off on a preservation and conservation easement that will protect the Landis and Pamela Gores House from demolition or subdivision forever.  The residence, burrowed in the hilly landscape of southwestern Connecticut, is the work of architect Landis Gores (1919-1991), one of the “Harvard Five” group of New Canaan architects. Currently owned by the Gores family, the easement requires them and future owners to gain the approval of the National Trust for any planned changes to the house, additional constructions, or alterations to the surrounding landscape.  Ainslie Gores Gillian, the daughter of Gores, said she considered her family home more satisfying than other houses she visited as a child. “It was as solid as a monument yet it had freedom and grace,” she said in a statement.
"The giant glass walls of the living room felt suspended in space; I could sit warm by the fireplace and watch a snowstorm outside. Out or in, I had expanses for play. And when my sister wed, the house was entertainment space—scores of guests dined on the terrace as I ran to greet Philip Johnson, striding across the meadow, an Andy Warhol array of Marylin Monres dangling under his arm.” 
The picturesque vision of the Gores House still exists today, largely thanks to the family’s commitment to its preservation. In 2002, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. But it was long-deemed an architectural marvel well before that—in 1964, the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave Gores an Award of Merit for the project. Even though it was “planned and built more than a decade ago,” they said, “this house has become a classic example of the Wright tradition adapted to the environment of New England.” 
 
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The Gores House may resemble a landlocked version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which was built over 10 years earlier, but many have come to see it as a perfect combination of the international-style work done by Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Marcel Breuer. A single-story home with wood framing, the building stretches 130 feet long on a 4-acre landscape. It features a flat roof, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and a stone base in places. In some ways, the Gores House even mimics the Glass House, which Gores worked on with Johnson, and was built around the same time in the late 1940s.  This isn’t the first time this year that the National Trust has granted a conservation easement to a modernist New Canaan residence. In June, the “design intent” of Noyes II by Eliot Noyes was put under protection by the preservation organization. 
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Must-See Not-TV

Here are fall's hottest architecture, sustainability, and social theory events on the East Coast
AN has assembled another collection of exhibitions, lectures, and conferences in the coming week that feature artists, architects, policymakers, and thinkers reflecting on aesthetic, social, ecological, and design strategies for the modern world. If you're in or around New York City, stop by and enrich yourself. Check out the events below: Rashid Johnson, The Hikers at Hauser + Wirth Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street Opening reception: November 12, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. November 12 through January 25, 2020 Rashid Johnson's The Hikers show includes ceramic tile mosaics, collaged paintings, a large-scale bronze sculpture sprouting plants, and an installation of his latest film shot in Colorado, using the combination of mountain landscapes and body movement to express the psychological consequences and challenges of the modern world and its injustices. Johnson asks: "What are the movements like when a black man is walking past a police officer? Or when a black man is suffering from agoraphobia?" Urban Thinkers Campus: Accelerating the SDGs in Cities Kellogg Center, Columbia University, SIPA 15th Floor November 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. GSAPP, Wood Auditorium, 1st Floor 420 West 118th Street, Room 1501 November 14, 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The Urban Thinkers Campus is a UN Habitat framework for critical exchange between stakeholders and partners to promote sustainable urbanization. Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Urban Development is hosting Accelerating the SDGs in Cities, promoting the Paris Climate Agreement's Sustainable Development Goals as a tool to evaluate projects on the basis of the 193-nation agreement. Emphasizing the urgency of meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it shepherds academics, professionals, and participants of civil society to generate ideas for action and methodologies to expedite action on the SDGs. The event will also include a complementary gallery of 100 local projects from more than 30 countries, considered according to how they meet the goals.

Creative Time Speaking Truth | Summit X

The Great Hall, Cooper Union November 14 through 16, various times Kickoff Event: November 14, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. LOLA, 169 Avenue A, New York The tenth Creative Time Summit, Speaking Truth, continues the public art organization's discussion of social, political, and aesthetic questions through keynote presentations, group discussions, workshops, and performances. Traveling to DC, Toronto, and Miami in recent years, it returns to New York City to the Great Hall at Cooper Union and sites around the East Village, asking whether the long-time activist cliche of "speaking truth to power" can rescue us from disillusionment. Maybe not, but some of the usual suspects of socially engaged art will be mixed with new faces to challenge whether art can be more than another sideshow of collapsing civic life, politics, and media culture. Francis Kéré: Work Report Yale Architecture Hastings Hall, 180 York Street, Basement Level, New Haven, CT November 14, 6:30 p.m. Kéré's lecture at Yale promises an update on his recent projects, with an emphasis on his communal approach to design and commitment to sustainable materials and modes of construction, drawing on the social and physical particularities of localities. Based in Berlin, Kéré Architecture's current work includes the Burkina Faso National Assembly, the Lycée Schorge Secondary School, the Léo Surgical Clinic & Health Centre, the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, and Xylem, the recently opened pavilion for Tippet Rise Art Center. The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly Queens Museum New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens November 17, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Advocates, organizers, and elected officials—including a rumored appearance by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her district—will gather for this conference jointly organized by the Buell Center at Columbia GSAPP with the Queens Museum, AIA New York, the Architecture Lobby, Francisco J. Casablanca (¿Quién Nos Representa?), and Green New Deal organizer and architect Gabriel Hernández Solano. Following the drafting of a set of general principles for how to equitably redress climate crisis in House Resolution 109 and Senate Resolution 59, The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly includes morning workshops and an afternoon series of discussions to encourage invited guests and the public to think systemically and across scales. Alphonso Lingis, "Irrevocable" The New School GIDEST Lab at 63 Fifth Avenue, Room 411 November 22, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. The philosopher Alphonso Lingis lectures on the "irrevocable" at the GIDEST Seminar, the New School's weekly discussion at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought. Author of a series of books on places of alterity and social cohesion, including The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common, The Imperative, Dangerous Emotions, Trust, and Violence and Splendor, Lingis's work draws from continental philosophy, phenomenology, and engages in philosophical-ethnographic travel meditations, often focused on bodily experience.
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Blinded Me With Science

Projeto Chernobyl captures a post-human landscape on radiographic film
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has been devoid of human habitation for over three decades. Radiation from the 1986 nuclear accident continues to saturate the borderlands of Ukraine and Belarus, rendering thousands of square miles effectively nature preserves. The landscape has been immortalized through countless photographic projects and television series, capturing a post-human ecosystem of abandoned tower blocks and industrial facilities. Artist Alice Miceli's Projeto Chernobyl, on display at the Americas Society and curated by Gabriela Rangel and Diana Flatto, stands out from the standard documentation approach with a series of 30 radiographic negatives that map gamma-ray exposure across multiple sites within the exclusion zone. Projeto Chernobyl began in 2006 and concluded in 2010. The location of the 12-by-16-inch radiographs was determined by extensive mapping conducting by Miceli and her team, as the sheets were placed in differing proximities to the failed Reactor No. 4 and exposed for two to eight months. Each, accordingly, was subject to a unique degree of radioactive exposure. The result is a series of haunting abstracts of manmade catastrophe and a post-human landscape. Considering the distinct approach to the project and the particularities of the location, it is no surprise that Miceli depended on a unique photographic technique. The initial choice was a pinhole-like device; inside of a lead-covered steel box, there would have been a smaller two-inch by two-inch lead square with a minuscule pinhole to expose the radiographic film. Although this process succeeded in a lab-controlled environment in Rio de Janeiro, it failed within the full-scale contamination of the Exclusion zone. The second approach, what was ultimately used for the project, involved placing the autoradiographic film directly onto radioactive matter, such as open fields, walls, windows, and trees. "An autoradiograph, or autoradiogram, is an image imprinted on to a radiographic film that is produced by the decay emissions (the gamma rays) from radioactive matter," said Miceli. "The radiographic film is placed in juxtaposition to, or in direct contact with, the contaminated matter, which in this case has become a radioactive source (like most if not all contaminated matter in the Zone), thus producing life-size images of the invisible contamination." The primary exhibition space has been designed as a void; Near pitch-black and accessed through a pair of blackout curtains. The 30 radiograph negatives are mounted on five walls and backlit by LED screens and are the only form of illumination within the room. Each of the negatives has a distinct mix of markings which provide broad contours of the subject matter, and their geography of radiation contamination. Natural phenomena such as rainfall and wear and tear resulted in further representational erratic, lending a watercolor-like effect or abrasions to individual negatives. The exhibition also includes a brief introduction to Miceli's larger body of work, including In Depth, a photographic series of active minefields in Bosnia, Angola, Cambodia, and Colombia. Black-and-white film photography covering her travels from Germany to the Exclusion Zone is an additional supplement to contextualize the exhibition. Projeto Chernobyl Americas Society 680 Park Avenue New York, New York Through January 25, 2020
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Middle With a View

Worrell Yeung anchors a sprawling loft with two inserted volumes
New Yorkers are accustomed to living and working in tight quarters. Yet, the city has an ample offering of former industrial buildings that have been adapted into residences and offices. But as in any historic SoHo or Tribeca loft, the challenge has always been to make the best use of expansive floor plates and double-height ceilings. Introducing split-levels, rooms-within-rooms, and even segmenting these massive spaces into separate units has often done the trick, alleviating the ebbs and flows of economic pressure but also achieving a level of domestic harmony. Tasked with the renovation of a sprawling 3,200 square-foot loft in DUMBO, Brooklyn's landmarked Clocktower Building, emerging practice Worrell Yeung devised a scheme that makes use of two central volumes. Delineating open-plan rooms on either side of the full-floor apartment, these two wooden-clad inserts contain most of the apartment's amenities: bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and a wet bar. As a hub for the space, these two Russian Doll-eques elements help frame open living space and four panoramic exposures. Opening up like a cabinet, the two white oak-paneled, vertical raked-pattern volumes conceal and reveal various elements including a "moment of pause" elevator foyer, cast in dark minimal materials and taut details. Marble accents found in this alcove carry through to the second volume's kitchen counter insert, which is extended by a perfectly flush and monolith island. The vastly more private volumes reveal intimate chambers with clever details like a semi-translucent shower wall visible in one of the bedrooms. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Mon Chair(ie) Amour

Pierre Yovanovitch explores the theme of love at New York gallery R & Company
Pierre Yovanivitch summoned a sea of red textiles, upholstery, and whimsical graphics at R & Company's White Street location in Manhattan for an exhibition that debuts his latest lighting and furniture collection. From November 6, 2019, to January 4, 2020, the gallery space will be taken with LOVE, a showcase of over twenty new works fashioned by ceramists, woodworkers, glassmakers, and iron artists. LOVE draws from Yovanovitch's iconic aesthetic vocabulary, referencing contemporary and historic French decorative arts, peppered with his hallmark handmade touches and humor. As told by the French interior designer, the exhibition unfolds in as a story that runs through reoccurring motifs like fantastical hands, lips, and Jean Arp-like shapes. Sprinkled throughout, these visual throughlines are seen in upholstered stitching, sconces, chair silhouettes, and so on. As one passes through each space, there's a deliberate intimacy to the scale, textures, and material palette—one that is soft to the touch and perfect for the smallest of gatherings. Furniture pieces featured in the exhibition include a number of chairs and luminaires adorned with body part motifs. These works carry flirtatious names. Two big and small bear-shaped armchairs—complete with hand-stitched hands embroidered by Lesage Intérieur—are aptly dubbed Daydream Mama Bear and Daydream Papa Bear. In a somewhat lewd tone, the bed frame is titled Take Off, as if alluding to salacious uses of this furniture typology. Even better, a suite of textiles called Lust with lip and hand patterns includes a bedspread, embroidered with a face, two eyes, and luscious lips. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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In the Triangle

Snøhetta reveals its $100 million Charlotte, North Carolina, library
Civic leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, unveiled renderings yesterday for a $100 million “library of the future” designed by Snøhetta and partners, which is intended to be an anchor for revitalization efforts in uptown Charlotte. The unveiling marked the culmination of a two-year effort to design a new Main Library for the Charlotte Mecklenburg system, on the site of its current building at 310 North Tryon Street. In 2017 the library system selected Snøhetta to serve as the design architect, with Clark Nexsen of Charlotte as the architect of record and brightspot strategy to lead community engagement and space planning efforts. Plans call for a 115,000-square-foot building with five levels above ground, and one below. The above-ground portion will be a curving structure (the firm is no stranger to designing swooping libraries), clad in glass and ceramic, that frames an entrance plaza and provides views to the activity inside. At one end, the library will anchor the corner with a translucent “prow” that cantilevers over the sidewalk. Once inside the timber-clad interior space, a soaring atrium with a spiraling stair will help visitors get their bearings and draw them upwards through the building. There has been a library on the North Tryon Street site since 1903. Library representatives say they hope the new structure, which will replace the current one, will become a major destination for the region. “The new main library will be an architecturally-distinctive, state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced knowledge center and public commons, where everyone in our community can access the resources of a 21st-century library,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO Lee Keesler, in a statement. It also will be a “gateway to a re-imagined North Tryon Street corridor and a catalyst for additional redevelopment.” “This will be the jewel of the cultural neighborhood,” Snøhetta senior architect Nick Anderson told The Charlotte Observer. “The library will be unique, but we want it to be of this place.” The renderings show that the building will contain a variety of spaces that are intended to accommodate public gatherings, events, and various employment-oriented services, as well as reading rooms providing access to print and digital materials. There will be a large lobby, cafe, two “immersive” theaters, flexible meeting rooms, and two outdoor terraces. The lower levels will contain most of the pre-function and event spaces, along with a job training center, counseling services, and maker space offerings, including a technology center, computer lab, and recording studios. Levels three and four will house the bulk of the collections, while the top floor will have a large reading room, writer’s studio and porch, administrative offices, and a terrace with views of uptown Charlotte. When Snøhetta was selected to lead the design effort, founding partner Craig Dykers indicated it would be a model in demonstrating how many ways a 21st-century library can serve the public. “Libraries are more popular today than they have ever been, serving a wider range of needs than access to books only,” he said. “The architecture of libraries is also changing, and Charlotte’s new library will lead the way in showing how a city and its core of knowledge can be open, welcoming and intriguing for decades to come.” Funding will come from both public and private sources, with Mecklenburg County committing $65 million to build the main library and an offsite “support services center.” The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation, through its newly announced CommonSpark campaign, is raising $50 million for the new library plus another $20 million for the library system. The Knight Foundation also announced a $10 million donation to the project yesterday. Public and private funding for the project is currently totaled at $135 million. Assuming its fund drive is successful, the library plans to break ground in early 2021 and open the new library in early 2024. This is the second time Snøhetta, Clark Nexsen, and brightspot have collaborated on a library project, after the 2013 James B. Hunt Jr. Library on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University. Other Snøhetta libraries include the Ryerson University Student Learning Center in Toronto; the New Central Library in Calgary; the recently-opened Charles Library at Temple University in Philadelphia; and the Far Rockaway public library in Queens, New York.
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Coated Candor

Cactus develops a demystified look for skincare brand Ever/body
Brooklyn and Rio-based Cactus has gained a reputation for developing interiors that strategically blend its expertise in architecture and software engineering. Whether developing a dramatic scheme for an interactive cycle-gym or a bold concept for immersive pop-up exhibition Color Factory, the firm imbues each project with a sense of experiential enhancement. For its latest project, the outfitting of skincare brand Ever/body's first New York "studio" locale, Cactus translated this same meticulous attention to detail to create a scheme that helps embolden the company's image. Amidst the saturated dermatological market, in which conflicting advice often confuses consumers, Ever/body seeks to destigmatize high-performance beauty. Simplifying the cause and effect of skin-born ailments and desired results, the young brand offers clear solutions. This no-nonsense approach to product and service development informed Cactus's intervention and in turn, informed the brand's visual identity. The firm conceived a design that injects modernity into a relaxing haven; soothing clients as if they were entering a spa or traditional Japanese Onsen. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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The Ole Two-Step

Hunter’s Point South Park completes a Queens coastline years in the making
What goes into a park? We dug into the parts and pieces of landscape design to explore and illustrate the forces, material histories, and narratives that hide beneath the surface. This article is the first of three such deep dives, which includes Tongva Park in Santa Monica, California, and The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All illustrations were done by Adam Paul Susaneck.

The transformation of Hunter’s Point South in two phases from a contaminated strip of coast in Long Island City, Queens, to an ecologically sensitive 11-acre park was 11 years in the making. Stretching along the East River south of Gantry Plaza State Park and Steven Holl’s Hunter’s Point Community Library (see page 16), Hunter’s Point South Park sits on a conveniently sited piece of land that was neglected for decades before the park opened at the end of last year.

The park was designed by Thomas Balsley Associates (TBA; the firm became SWA/Balsley in 2016) and WEISS/MANFREDI to be a sustainable storm buffer and public green space for the new Hunter’s Point South development, a 5,000-unit housing complex on the southern shore of Long Island City.

The idea for Hunter’s Point South Park had been percolating long before plans for it officially started coming together in 2007. Thomas Balsley told AN that back in 1990, when Gantry Plaza State Park was being planned, he envisioned a whole-coast master plan that would stretch from Anable Basin in Long Island City (the site of Amazon’s failed HQ2 bid) all the way down to Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (now home to a wastewater treatment plant known for its iconic “biodigester” eggs). To Balsley, Gantry Plaza State Park was supposed to be the start of a line of parks running down the Queens–Brooklyn shore. Design on Hunter’s Point South Park began in 2009, and Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi’s early sketches are remarkably close to what would be built nine years later.

The linear park provides views of the Manhattan skyline and has an amphitheater-like arrangement that also blocks noise from the busy Queens streets to the east. Because of tight siting requirements, budget constraints, and the harsh microclimate that the park has to endure, SWA/Balsley filled the site with resilient native salt-marsh plants. Besides acting as a natural flood buffer, the plants don’t require active irrigation, meaning none was built into the site. The plants also filter and clean the river, a job that Balsley likened to “acting as the park’s liver.”

Lighting

Arup was also responsible for specifying the park’s lighting fixtures. Most of the fixtures used were New York City Department of Transportation/Parks Department–standard pedestrian- and street-lighting poles and Holophane helm fixtures. Linear lighting by Wagner was used to illuminate the benches and overlook handrails and as uplighting. Step lights by Bega were integrated into the wooden furnishings and concrete walls. The nonstandard lighting features were all intended to be as minimal and unobtrusive as possible, so as not to detract from the landscape and views.

Structures

WEISS/MANFREDI was responsible for designing structures for both phases of the park, with Galvin Brothers serving as the general contractors. In Phase 1, that meant the 13,000-square-foot bent-steel pavilion that houses Parks Department offices, restrooms, and a COFFEED cafe at LIC Landing, the park’s ferry dock. Fabrication of the structure and canopies was done by Powell Steel Corporation of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which permanently closed in 2013. Stainless steel cladding came from Westfield Sheet Metal Works in Kenilworth, New Jersey.

For Phase 2, the towering steel overlook structure (below) was fabricated by Newport Industrial Fabrication in Newport, Maine, while the freestanding precast panel walls were fabricated by Bétons Préfabriqués du Lac (BPDL) in Alma, Quebec.

Furniture

The custom wood–slat lounge chairs and banquette seats and custom precast concrete benches were designed in-house by SWA/Balsley and WEISS/MANFREDI, with galvanized steel framing and Kebony USA–provided Kebonized southern yellow pine. Steel benches with aluminum seat dividers were provided by Landscape Forms and manufactured in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with raw materials mined from within 500 miles of the facility to reduce environmental impact.

Transportation

The park is easily accessible despite its coastal locale. It can be reached via the 7 train’s Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue station; by the Q103 bus via the Vernon Boulevard/49 Avenue stop; by the Long Island Rail Road, which stops at 49-13 Vernon Boulevard; by numerous street-level bike paths; by car; and via the Hunter’s Point South ferry landing.

Vegetation

Plant species were selected for their hardiness and nativity and include juniper trees and a variety of shrubs and grasses for the park’s bioswales. Besides cutting down on maintenance costs, the flora used by SWA/Balsley can thrive on the edge of a briny river, and hosts native fauna.  Plants were sourced from nurseries in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Infrastructure

Arup, which was responsible for the structural, civil, and bridge engineering of both phases, oversaw the installation of 7,500 feet of sanitary and storm sewers and 3,700 feet of water main.

Infill and hardscaping

Prior to the park’s construction, the site had been used in the 19th and 20th centuries as a dumping ground for soil excavated from rail-line construction sites around the city, and many portions of the site had since grown wild. To build out and sculpt the shoreline, existing infill was repurposed and moved to the water’s edge. Around the shore, board-formed and precast concrete walls were used to create the harder edges, while Jet Mist and Stony Creek granites mined from Stony Creek, Connecticut, were used for the riprap (below) and to fill in steel gabions.

Art

Because this was a city project, the NYCEDC was tasked with appointing an artistic consultant. After a search, Suzanne Randolph Fine Arts was chosen, which in turn picked Nobuho Nagasawa to create a site-specific installation. Seven photoluminescent sculptures resembling different phases of the moon were installed in 2017 in the winding, peninsula-like amphitheater forming a piece titled Luminescence. Each “moon” in the series was cast from Hydrocal, a mixture of plaster and portland cement.

Funding and Labor

In 2009, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) selected the project’s developer, TF Cornerstone, and TBA, which brought on WEISS/MANFREDI as collaborators. The project was split into two phases from the beginning. Phase 1 broke ground in January 2011 and opened in August 2013, after the NYCEDC spent $66 million for the 5.5-acre park and an accompanying 3,400 feet of linear roadway. Phase 2, which began construction in November 2015, opened at the end of June 2018, at a cost of $99 million. This 5.5-acre section, which came with another 3,500 linear feet of new roadways, was funded through the NYCEDC as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan, as the park fulfilled the green space requirement of the adjoining housing development and is intended to mitigate flood damage there in the event of a storm surge.

The NYCEDC shepherded the project through two mayoral administrations and hired the LiRo Group to act as construction manager for the build-out, which then subcontracted the actual construction to the Great Neck, Long Island–based Galvin Brothers. The standard design-bid-build process was used for both sections. Park maintenance is handled by the NYC Parks Department.

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Well Lived

Denise Scott Brown memorializes Robert Venturi
Below is a transcription of Denise Scott Brown's comments at the June 15 memorial service for the late Robert Venturi at the University of Pennsylvania's Fisher Fine Arts Library. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity. It’s lovely to see you all. There are some recent friends and also people I hadn’t seen since 1960. One came up, a planner: I once said to him, “That’s not suitable for high school, it’s not even suitable for elementary school,” and I wondered what he became. He said, “well I have been the ambassador to Burundi.” That makes me so happy. He was wonderful then and obviously is now. Bill, who lived in our basement, has talked about Bob in the studio. We’d hear him say, “This is a terrible idea… but wait, let’s see.” He would rather take it up than say, “oh no, we couldn’t do that.” But he might say, “I haven’t understood the system of the building yet.” Few people knew he thought that way or knew his strong ability to go from analysis to synthesis over and again—to be extremely rigorous. But I respected him for it. I’m happy we are holding this memorial here, because the Furness library has been such an important place for us. Bob and I met here. But he had, in fact, saw Robert Scott Brown and me at a presentation our planning studio made to Lou Kahn in 1959. He was very impressed by Robert, who had stayed up one night until 3 a.m. with Bill Alonso who had taught him rent theory, so Robert could explain how roads influence the design of buildings and cities. I had merely noted that Lou Kahn had with him a young assistant. And then within two weeks Robert was killed. I went back home and returned to Penn in the fall a sad, young widow. But I graduated and started teaching in 1960, and within the first week or so there was a faculty meeting. At the AA you as a student could enter anyone’s jury. I had done this at Penn, and that was another reason Bob knew me slightly. And at the faculty meeting I did it again. “Why are you taking this building down?” I asked. I had seen in London the Horniman Museum and Whitechapel Gallery of the architect Townsend, and the Furness Library, especially its scale jumps, reminded me of them. I was very interested in scale jumps, and the Mannerism they were part of. Seen as aberrant, Mannerism was reappraised in England in the 1940s. Nicholas Pevsner, its rediscoverer, and one of his students, here tonight, and also John Summerson, guided me through Mannerism. I listened two years running to Summerson’s AA lectures on Classicism, travelled in England, France and Italy, with Pevsner’s book and Robin Middleton’s itinerary, and learned a great deal. Bob grew up in Philadelphia. He was a moony little child. His parents took him out of Quaker school when they found his desk in the corridor outside the classroom. He was apparently talking too much. An old teacher friend of his mother said, “send him to a structured and disciplined place,” That was Episcopal Academy. “I went there,” Bob said, “and went underground.” The school was suitable—structured, disciplined, but very kind. And we love Jim Squires, our client for its chapel. But there were only two little Italian boys in the school, and in history class, the teacher said, “immigrants from the North were preferable to those from the South.” Bob and I shared that. I had to put up with anti-Semitism at my prep school in South Africa. But I believe that being different—having skewed views—is useful to creative people. Our wayward eyes quickly joined forces, we shared mannerism and being marginal. This made for a very interesting five years that few knew we had shared. The going story is that Bob went to Rome, discovered Mannerism in the library, came back, and started to do it. Yes, he learned about it in Rome, but 12 days before he left. And can you imagine Bob sitting in the library when the whole of Rome is outside to explore? I’ve seen him in Rome, visited churches with him many times. And all those, they were baroque churches. He went where Giedion sent him. He saw a jillion little towns—hill towns—all over. And he got to Egypt with friends. When was the time to do all that reading? But about twelve days before he left, Jim and Sally Gresham took Bob and Chuck Brickbauer to see the work of Armando Brasini on the outskirts of Rome. He was a fascist, still living in his remarkable palazzo, and Bob visited him. Back in America, he [Bob] had lots to do. His Dad was very ill. He had to run the fruit and produce business, which we later ran together. It was three blocks from the architecture office. Long-haired, egg-head fruit merchant—that’s part of him—Princeton gentleman with a southern Italian opera background. It was these mixtures that we started with. And Dave Crane said, “Denise you should marry Bob Venturi, and I’ll invite you both to dinner.” By the time he did, we had already had dinner. We started by going to his office and seeing his designs, then he took me to a Princeton ball game. Bob went to a “ball game” by going to the library while the ball game was played, and when it was over, his friends wouldn’t tell him who had won. But in the library, I found Lutyens’ four volumes on his houses. I had had two years of lectures on Mannerism with Summerson, and had traveled to Venice using Robin Middleton’s list of buildings and paintings to see on the way to Venice and then on to Rome. And, though we had a lot to share, Bob had not seen those books. I said, “You mean you’re interested in Lutyens and you haven’t seen these?” Well, he went and bought them and within two weeks he knew them better than I did. He was thrilled with what I had learned, and I was equally thrilled with what he learned from two years of lecture with Donald Drew Egbert at Princeton. At Penn, we taught consecutive semesters of a theories course, surveying architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Mine was an overview of them all with selected faculty from each department, introducing their field and their interests. I gave one lecture, but my role was to pull it all together. Although I was a faculty member, Holmes treated me as a TA. I had to give out photographs on boards for students to draw from, because learning to draw was part of this course, as well as learning some modern architectural classics. Soon I was getting killed by my class. “Don’t you see that we’re graduate students!” So I broke the rules and defined my job as linking theory and practice via drawing as Holmes had wanted, but having them choose their examples and analyzing them via the subject matter of the lecture to lead toward studio design problems. We shared them with each other and with Bob. He was running the Spring semester course on theories of architecture. As Holmes said, “You went to Princeton, you know history.” But the underlying message was, you didn’t go to Harvard so you won’t be staying here long, and it applied to both of us. Meanwhile, teaching together, putting our two courses together, was all sorts of fun. And that’s what Bob was mainly doing. The archive here at Penn is full of his notes. Now he sat in this library all the time, working 80 hours a week finding slides and reading on the very wide topics he used to augment the Vitruvian components of architecture from three to fifteen and giving a lecture on one each week, surveying how different eras of architecture, for example, how light was let into buildings. Robert Scott Brown and I had done a great deal of photography while traveling. We spent a month photographing in Venice, seeing what we were doing as making a record to take home to South Africa. But it grew on route to showing ideas through photography. At Penn, I used mine for teaching. Then I said, “Hey Bob, I’ve got slides that you can use for your lecture on scale.” We began sharing photographs and helpful book references. Then Bob, having seen the connections I was making between theory and studio for my course, asked me to devise equivalent work topics for his. Eventually, I did so formally by running the tutorials for both courses during the last semester, we collaborated at Penn. I ran the tutorials, the drawing and research exercises, and the link to studio. And the next place you’ll find that type of work is in the programs for the Learning from Las Vegas studio. Later I learned that when we left Penn, the performance in studio went way down, because research-design connections were no longer made. So that’s the story from one side. On the other were the planners. They were like Rabbinical students jumping up on the tables and arguing, and I argued with them. I also argued with Paul Davidoff, without leaving my seat. We occupied two small rooms across a corridor from each other in a basement studio. We merely leaned over to argue from our seats and across the corridor and groups of students would form around the doors to listen. Then we might go upstairs to the coffee machine and a larger group might form. As far as I could see, that was the only time planners and architects willingly came together. But the strength of the planning school was a wonderful strength for me and the basis for connections between Las Vegas and architecture that Bob and I later made, and things like that. Bob was fascinated by the social planners. His mother was a socialist and a pacifist, so he could hear Paul Davidoff when he said, “Why do you have to go as far as Ville Radieuse, the city isn’t that bad. It’s pretty good. It’s almost all right.” And that’s where Bob got, “Is not main street almost all right?” that comes from Paul. Bob was very open to what was going on in my West Philadelphia studio and the planning school in general. But no one else in architecture was interested at that time. So when I went to Las Vegas, Bob was the only colleague I invited to come with me. And when planning his theories course, delved with my help into urban and planning thought. And I could help with early Modernism. His research files in the archive, contain a note saying “Function and beauty, Denise.” He is not saying I epitomize both. He says, “remember what she had to say about how the early Modern functionalists saw that relationship,” and he included my information in his lecture on function. I’m more than pleased to explain to you what Bob meant and also how I saw my role of linking architecture and planning, as that of a circus horse rider as the horses spread apart. But sadly Nixonism and Reganism separated architecture and planning until connection was almost impossible to make. It still is. Other things happened, so it didn’t work that way, but architects took strongly to these ideas as published in Learning from Las Vegas and turned them creatively to their own talents to something that designers could use and love. I have wanted to show you that our first five years of collaboration were an amazingly happy time. That’s what I was so happy about. And I’m happy about the rest, though our careers were a long, slow, gently sloping motion. And Bob, for much of his career, felt like Milton in his sonnet, “On His Blindness,” where, “that one talent which is death to hide, / Lodg’d with me useless.” Bob was a frustrated young architect because he could design so much more than he was hired to do. But slowly we built up, and eventually one day, after arguing with ourselves, we realized we really had achieved what we wanted to achieve. And sure, thirty of our projects could fit into one of I.M. Pei’s, but I feel I.M., an architect I much respect, would have liked to be the architect of the National Gallery. Just before he died, Bob said to me, “I’m a very, very old man.” And he was. And he thought he would die at the age his father had died, 69. And he was happy indeed at all that had happened despite our problems. You’ve told us how wonderful it’s been having us in your lives. And I’m telling you how terribly important you are to ours.
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It's Alive

South Brooklyn's Metabolist-inspired green tower rejected over parking concerns
A 14-story, sustainable, mixed-use tower complete with a senior care facility that's situated just blocks away from a subway station in the low-density, single-family home neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, sounds like a smart, responsible idea. However, community board opposition may shutter that dream due to—of all things—a lack of parking. Last week, Community Board 15 voted unanimously against the development at 1508 Avenue Z created by Citiscape Consulting, citing concerns about parking space and proximity to the elevated subway tracks.  What's more interesting about this proposed project is its design. The tower features a patterned hexagonal facade and exterior greenery that together evoke the Metabolism movement of post-war Japan. Metabolist architects like Fumihiko Maki and Kishō Kurokawa approached constructing high-density urbanism through the forms and systems of living organisms and cells. The design of 1508 Avenue Z  takes their creed quite literally, featuring walls of CO2-capturing plants and pluming that utilizes stormwater stored on the rooftop. The Brooklyn Eagle reported that property owner SB1 Holdings LLC had requested for zoning waivers for the building’s proposed height, floor area, and parking, but were not met favorably from locals. One board member called it “the most ridiculous project I’ve ever heard for this area in my entire life. Period.” A former board member said it was "totally objectionable that you want to put residents with memory problems up against a subway station." Despite the objections, the proposed building wouldn't be unprecedented in the area. Just last year, a 30-story tower at 1 Brooklyn Bay opened a block away from the site and is currently under debate.  The community board's vote hasn't put the nail-in-the-coffin for the project just yet. The building could still get a green light from the Board of Standards and Appeals after further consideration and clarifications from the developers. Lawyers for SB1 Holdings told the Brooklyn Eagle that the already-available street parking spots should relieve the developer from providing the necessary 30 parking spots. The developers will also have to appeal to the city for permission to park ambulances in front of the building, which is currently a bus stop. 
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Open Hearts

Times Square Arts reveals the 2020 Valentine Heart Design winner
Brooklyn-based firm MODU with Eric Forman Studio is the winner of the 2020 Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition, hosted annually by Times Square Arts. Heart Squared is a steel-frame sculpture designed to suggest the form of an anatomical heart. Set in the heart are 125 mirrors each revealing fragments of Times Square like individual pixels. Hardly random, each mirror is positioned according to a design generated with custom software. While seemingly "kaleidoscopic" in effect, from a single vantage point the mirrored heart will coalesce into a cohesive reflection of the urban world around it. "Heart Squared represents the collective heart of the city and as such, is an engaging civic statement about celebrating our differences and bringing people together in a fundamentally inclusive way," said MODU in a press release. Eric Forman Studio added that the firms are "using the magic of mirrors and light to remix the urban spectacle into something unexpected." This is the 12th iteration of the Valentine Heart Design competition and this year it is organized in partnership with the Cooper Hewitt. Previous winners have included Reddymade, Aranda\Lasch with Marcelo Coelho, and Bjarke Ingels Group. Heart Squared will be officially unveiled on January 30th and remain on view for the duration of February.
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Flating Stacks

Wolfgang Tschapeller suspends over 100,000 books in new Cornell library
Cornell University’s much-anticipated Mui Ho Fine Arts Library is finally open in Ithaca, New York. Set within a 27,000-square-foot industrial building from 1911, the $16.9 million reading and learning space boasts four levels of floating bookshelves holding over 100,000 volumes.  The project was envisioned by Austrian architect Wolfgang Tschapeller, head of his eponymous Vienna-based firm and a graduate of Cornell’s master’s in architecture program. Alongside New York City studio STV—the architect-of-record, Tscahpeller completely revamped the interior of the historic Rand Hall, a three-story, steel-and-masonry structure primarily used for printing and, in more recent decades, as architecture studios. In order to upgrade the building for the 21st-century, the design team had to secure its exterior envelope, replace the roof, and add thermal insulation. Thanks to these changes, as well as the integration of new double-glazed windows, the project is expected to reduce energy in Rand Hall by 70 percent. On the interior, Wolfgang Tscahpeller Architekt and STV removed the third floor and reinforced its original cross-beam skeleton so they could input the suspended steel mezzanines where all the books would be stacked, according to Metropolis. The entire renovation took a total of 18 months.       An open reading room takes up significant space on the ground-level but beyond the books, the library is also a hub for art and architecture students to create. There is an 8,300-square-foot lab on the first floor with a material practice center featuring a makers space, a small-tool repository, as well as wood, metal, and digital fabrication shops. This dual utility of the library, both as a place where students can read and build, was one of the most important aspects of the renovation.  “Thus, we have two factories in one building,” said Tscahpeller in a statement. “One factory is for the material, and one is the factory for thought and concepts—both wrapped by Rand Hall to one interacting volume.”   Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell’s College of Art, Architecture, and Planning (AAP), said this is also what she loves about the project. “The production of new knowledge, ranging from scholarship to research and fabrication and making, tying those activities together as all forms of new knowledge is exciting.”   The library is seamlessly connected via the second and third floors to Milstein Hall next door, a 2011 project designed by OMA for Cornell’s architecture department. The completion of the state-of-the-art structure spurred a number of improvements for the arts campus over the last decade which concluded this year with the Rand Hall renovation. Like the green roof atop Milstein, the library will activate its roof deck with outdoor installations in the warmer months.