Search results for "James Wines"

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Chicago's Biennial
Chicago photographed by Iwan Baan.
Iwan Baan

In what is set to be the biggest architecture event in Chicago since the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, notable for Daniel Burnham’s White City, the Chicago Biennale will attract over 100 architects and artists from more than 30 countries. Titled, “The State of the Art of Architecture,” the architecture extravaganza’s co-artistic directors Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima have brought together international and local talent to spark a dialogue about the context of Chicago as a stage for the contemporary global discourse.

As part of a robust architectural scene, Chicago practices of late have quietly begun to influence their global contemporary counterparts. The current architectural scene in Chicago is “remarkably vibrant” Grant Gibson of CAMESgibson said. “An ambitious group of (yet to be truly established) designers, educators, writers, and curators are coalescing into an identifiable (but loose) collective,” Gibson went on to say. “Most were initially drawn here by institutions like The Graham Foundation, Art Institute of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the other schools of architecture”.

Building on this thought is Stanley Tigerman, the quintessential gadfly of Chicago’s architecture community: “Chicago is more than a city at the center of the United States; it is a city at the center of ideas, within and without architecture.”

The Big Shift by PORT Urbanism.
Courtesy PORT Urbanism
 

It will not be the everyday Arsenale. “This place will be packed to the gills,” said a Biennial organizer when describing the curatorial process. Nooks and crannies, ramps, staircases, and windows will all have installations, but there will be moments of respite, most notably in the event spaces that will continue to house public events and weddings.

The lavish interior space of the Chicago Cultural Center will fittingly be used to hold the events main exhibition. Once a public library, the space has cleverly been altered to serve as a popular public gathering area. Its decorative interiors include two stained-glass domes and several marble-coated spaces that play host to weddings, events, films, and exhibitions. Programming will continue through the Biennial, offering an opportunity for many people to see the architecture on display.

Promising to be a memorable multitude of international biennale culture washed ashore on Lake Michigan, the sheer breadth of the experiments is astounding. Ranging from performance to collages to full-scale homes, the event will tackling issues from housing to ramps to construction and representation.

Chicago’s talent will be on full display across several venues, and the projects are breathtaking in their range: PORT Urbanism will debut their conceptual project “The Big Shift,” a vision of a future where a 1.5-mile stretch of Lake Shore Drive along Grant Park is shifted eastward to create roughly 225 acres of new lakefront real estate and an expanded public realm along the water’s edge. It will be accompanied by an in situ installation of the proposed water line.

A photo from “Reckoning with Vacancy” by photographer David Schalliol.
David Schalliol
 

In a curatorial twist, the small but mighty CAMESgibson will collaborate with corporate goliath SOM on a proposal called “The High Life,” a tower with a set of novel domestic living arrangements that address pressing problems of city life in Chicago with bold compositions and surreal occurrences that attempt to enliven everyday urban life.

Stanley Tigerman will showcase new housing designs for the disabled, showing his way of “giving back to society,” while Margaret McCurry will also address the issue of shelter. Her work, titled “Circle the Wagons,” is a city block of affordable container housing that will place the aesthetics of architecture above all other ideologies.

On the 65 windows of the Cultural Center’s Michigan Avenue facade will be “Chicago, What Do You See?” by Norman Kelley (an architecture and design collaborative not to be confused with the operatic tenor). White matte vinyl drawings of window treatments are layered with single-point perspectival views of Chicago streets, iconic buildings, and neighborhoods, inviting passersby to stop and look twice.

So what does this Biennial have to offer Chicago and the world? Gibson leaves the question open. “There are so many exceptional architects participating—a wide range of the discipline—that I expect there won’t be one discussion, but many varied conversations. Maybe that is ‘The State of the Art’ of our discipline? There is not one, but many ‘Architectures.’”

The Available City by David Brown.
Courtesy David Brown
 

However, there is also a host of off-site programming that will complement the large show in the Cultural Center. It will be more Chicago-centric and look at some of the racial and social particularities that make Chicago such fertile ground for a Biennial. Some would argue that this is the most important part. “There is little question that the city as a cultural idea is ascendant,” said Christoper Marcinkoski of PORT Urbanism, “However, for all the talk of skylines, cultural icons, and architectural spectacle, the thing that ultimately defines a city is its public realm—its ground-plane. The public realm isn’t just the space between buildings; it’s the thing that ultimately makes a city what it is. Everything else is just background.”

The Rebuild Foundation, founded by Theaster Gates, will open in a partially restored 1923 bank at 68th Street and Stony Island Avenue on the Southside. It will be “a hybrid gallery, media archive and library, and community center,” according to Gates. It will open October 3 to the public and will house a host of black cultural archives, including Jet, Ebony, and Negro Digest, as well as the vinyl collection of Chicago house music legend Frankie Knuckles.

There will be ongoing exhibitions that open in conjunction with the Biennial, including photographer Barbara Kasten at the Graham Foundation, architect Ania Jaworska at MCA Chicago, David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a James Wines/SITE drawing exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

The context of the Windy City should be interesting both globally and locally as Chicago’s Biennial is approaching that of Venice in scale and prominence, thanks in part to massive corporate and state sponsorship. It remains to be seen how these global and local dialogues will interface in this context, but Thomas Kelley of Norman Kelley is excited about the context of Chicago. “It’s well understood that Chicago has a rich legacy of privileged architectural craft. It’s probably the only American city that values these offerings among their greatest urban amenities. The people are real nice, too.”

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Friday> See how architecture measures up at the Storefront for Art & Architecture's new exhibit
Architecture today often gives shape through design to art, fashion, and real estate. But most of the most compelling architecture also gives form to thought, and, in the process, creates edifices that “houses social, political, and spatial relations.” The idea that architects make visible the functions of society in operational and aspirational terms is the theme of Measure, a new exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. The exhibition features drawings by 30 architects that “seek to find measures, resist measurement, and measure the immeasurable by presenting from the real to the fictional and from the functional to the symbolic.” Further, Measure positions the medium and the act of drawing as a process by which we seek coherence in data and representation, and shows that it is the making of facts that is the basis for the production of futurity beyond existing norms.” The architects featured in the exhibit include: The Architecture Lobby Barozzi / Veiga Víctor Enrich Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (Urtzi Grau, Cristina Goberna) and Georgia Jamieson FIG Projects FleaFollyArchitects Formlessfinder Michelle Fornabai Grimshaw Architects Steven Holl Bernard Khoury Kohn Pedersen Fox Assoc. KUTONOTUK (Matthew Jull + Leena Cho) Erika Loana Jon Lott / PARA Project MAIO m-a-u-s-e-r (Mona Mahall + Asli Serbest) MILLIØNS (John May + Zeina Koreitem) Nicholas de Monchaux Anna Neimark and Andrew Atwood / First Office (Cathryn Dwyre + Chris Perry) pneumastudio + POOL James Ramsey, RAAD Studio Reiser + Umemoto Mark Robbins Selldorf Architects Malkit Shoshan Nader Tehrani / NADAAA Urban-Think Tank Anthony Titus Ross Wimer James Wines Measure opens August 14, 2015 and runs through  September 12, 2015. The gallery is located at 97 Kenmare Street in Manhattan.
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All Shook Up
James Wines at the renovated Shake Shack
Edward Gunts

Sour Wine
When owners of the Shake Shack restaurant chain reopened their flagship location in New York’s Madison Square Park this spring after a seven-month renovation, they posted a reassuring message to patrons on a company website: “The new and improved Shake Shack,” it read, “has the exact same look and feel guests around the world have known and loved for 10 years—now carefully rebuilt to last for many years to come.”

But to James Wines, lead designer of the original Madison Square Park Shake Shack, it is not the same at all. And Wines, who was not consulted about the renovation, is more than a little shaken up about the “new and improved” version. “The results are an aesthetic disaster,” he said. “The enlargement of the shack has totally destroyed all of the original proportions, and the roof design looks like the product of a high school vocational training class. Needless to say, I am really depressed that all artistic value of this internationally famous icon has been wiped out. So much for art."
COURTESY JAMES WINES/SITE

The new version does not have the same details as the one that has been universally appreciated, Wines contends. “There was something about that shape and that visual vocabulary,” he said. Now, “everything is sort of slightly off… I don’t know what to say except that, artistically, they just ruined it.“
 
Based in New York City, Wines is an internationally known artist, architectural designer, environmentalist, and educator who heads the studio known as SITE, which stands for Sculpture in the Environment. He has designed more than 150 art, architecture, landscape, interior, and exhibition projects in 11 countries and has been a pioneer in the “green architecture” movement. In 2013, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum gave Wines its Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Shake Shack near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street—a collaboration with Pentagram graphic designer Paula Scher and structural engineering firm Weidlinger Associates—opened in 2004 and was one of Wines’ best known projects, a small building that became a powerful symbol of New York City. Its “approachable modernness,” as a Fast Company writer once put it, helped establish the design language for a multinational food giant. The latest AIA Guide to New York calls it “one of the best new buildings in recent memory.”
 
At 83, Wines said he knows how it feels to outlive a building he designed, having lost eight of the nine retail showrooms he created for the Best Products Company. He said projects such as the Shake Shack makeover represent a different and equally agonizing sort of loss for a designer—a case where “the building aesthetic… is totally wiped out by insensitive renovation, while the architect has to painfully witness this kind of aberration.”

Wines is not alone in watching a building that he designed undergo changes without his consent. In Cincinnati, Ohio, the main lobby of Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center was renovated earlier this year without her involvement; the arts center hired FRCH Design Worldwide of Cincinnati instead. In France, Jean Nouvel boycotted the opening of the Philharmonie de Paris and went to court to ask that his name and image be disassociated from the building because 26 areas were “non-compliant” with his original design. “Robert Venturi once said, ‘You want to photograph your building 15 minutes after it’s finished,’ ” said Wines, “because after that, they’re going to start changing it. “

The Way It Was
Edwin Bragg, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Shake Shack, said in an email message that the kiosk was renovated after 10 years because “we wanted to ensure that our guests and visitors to the park enjoy the restaurant for years to come.” He said the company’s goal in terms of design was to make the building look as close as possible to the way it did before the renovations.

“The design of the Madison Square Park [Shake Shack] is iconic for us and our company, and has inspired the design and architecture of every other Shack since,” he wrote. “The integrity of the design was not compromised, and it’s essentially the same Shack that our guests [have] known and loved over the years.”

During a recent visit to the reopened Shake Shack, Wines spelled out the reasons he’s troubled by the new version. He noted that the design was relatively simple—a glass and metal structure with a pitched roof, distinctive graphics, and a generous canopy to shelter people placing and waiting for orders. That basic design, he said, was inspired by “a fusion of imagery drawn from Madison Square Park, pop culture of the American highway, and Daniel Burnham’s Flatiron Building” one block away. One particular source of ideas was roadside diners and burger joints from the 1950s and 60s. What makes the Shake Shack unexpected, he said, is that while it takes cues from the car culture, it is set in a park where cars are not allowed.

As part of his effort to give this urban building a roadway vibe, Wines said, he made it slightly unfinished-looking, “rough and tumble.” The exterior was clad with corrugated zinc panels, so it had an exposed metallic surface like the siding of 1950s diners and the cars parked in front of them. The windows were one continuous band of glass, so patrons could see through to the park beyond and the top of the building would appear to float above the windows. The roof peak was a sharp edge.

Wines also incorporated a number of architectural details that were intended to convey what the building is and help it fit into the urban park. He called for English ivy to be planted on the roof surfaces as a way of letting some of the park “bleed” into the building. He specified deep ridges in the corrugated metal sides in a nod to the ”rib-like” banding on Daniel Burnham’s Flatiron Building. Around the edge of the canopy, he and Scher mounted letters forming a frieze that also spells out the food choices inside, creating a “menu as the building.” He used I beams to hold up the letters, so there would be a play of light and shadow on the words and that, along with the distinctive Neutra font, would help them stand out.

It’s those carefully considered details, said Wines, that are missing from Shake Shack 2.0. After the remodeling, he said, the building is taller and deeper and the surface, to him, does not have the same “metallic” feel. Framing around the windows is more pronounced, and the bands of glass no longer run the length of each side, making it less of a see-through structure and negating the intended lightweight and floating effect. The peak of the roof has been chamfered. The I beams that framed the canopy have been replaced with flatter bars that provide less depth and shadow for the letters, reducing their visual impact.

Wines said each of the original details was important to the integrity of the design, and when they disappeared or were altered in the new version, that undermined the original design and affected the building’s character. As a result, he said, the remodeled building appears to be the product of “slick and orthodox commercial design,” as if it’s a “once-removed copy” or caricature of the original. “They say God is in the details,” he said. "These are subtle nuances, but all these little things add up. The details are not the same. It doesn't look the same. The ensemble effect is totally different. It's blanded out. It’s slick-ified. It’s dee-signed without any feeling or sensibility. They sucked the flavor out of it.”

Wines also thinks the building has lost much of what made it iconic before, with additions such as hanging pennants that partially obscure the frieze. “It’s very weird,” he said, “to take an icon and do everything you can to make it not an icon.”

Flagship

Wines’ work with Shake Shack began in 2003, when he joined with Scher to create a permanent food stand in Madison Square Park. The business had started as a hot dog cart but obtained approval to build a 457-square-foot structure, at a reported cost of $750,000, with a portion of the proceeds going to maintain the park. Its operators even got permission to serve beer and wine.

From day one it was a hit. Lines formed early and extended throughout the day. People waited for their orders in the park, where they could mingle with other “guests.” Its success led to more Shake Shacks and a billion dollar stock offering. The company, part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, now has locations in Moscow, Istanbul, and Dubai, and others in the planning stages. The building in Madison Square Park received widespread attention too, including press coverage in foreign countries and a design award from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It ranks as one of the “most Instagrammed” restaurants in New York City.

The heavy use eventually took a toll. The building had many more visitors than expected. Last year, Shake Shack representatives announced that they would be closing the location temporarily for renovations. On the company website, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti explained that when the company renewed its lease for the city-owned site, it “committed to a complete renovation to restore the original Shack and prepare for the decade to come.” Plans included expanding the food preparation area, repairing weather damage, installing a new service window system and adding basement space. It reopened on May 20.

Bragg said in an email that the principal consulting designer for the renovated Shake Shack was Denise Lee, who worked on the original building with Wines at SITE and now is affiliated with Studio SSMC. “Denise Lee played a significant role in designing the original Madison Square Park Shack’s design, as a colleague of James Wines,” he wrote.

Bragg said the new building is approximately 18 inches higher than the original and a 4-foot extension was added to the back, but the roof’s pitch is the same and ivy and other plants will grow all over the roof as before. The building’s footprint increased from 457 square feet to 499 square feet, and much of the work took place underground, he noted. “We reused the original prefabricated structure and enhanced it,” he wrote. “A majority of the construction focused on the basement for both Shake Shack and Madison Square Park Conservancy facilities.”

Bragg said the windows are different because “a better system was put in place for durability and insulation.” He said the horizontal bars that hold up the ‘menu’ letters are different because “a new structural attachment was necessary” with “a slightly different profile.”

He said the outer wall surface is still “corrugated zinc paneling,” but “we took this opportunity to replace all of the old, rusting and corroded panels.” He said the profile of the corrugated paneling, including the depth of the ridges, is the same as before. He added that the “Shack Cam,” which provides photos from the roof, has been updated with “a higher quality picture” that allows people to see the line online at shakeshack.com.

Bragg said the design was closely coordinated with the city’s parks department, the Madison Square Park Conservancy, and the Public Design Commission, and Shake Shack is happy with the result. “We are thrilled with the Madison Square Park Shack renovation and being able to give it back to the people who come to the park,” he wrote. “It now provides a new and improved facility for our employees, which we hope will translate to a better experience for our guests, and most importantly allow the flagship Shake Shack to be a part of Madison Square Park and its community for years to come."

The Architectural Condition
Asked whether he said anything to Shake Shack or Union Square representatives to express his feelings about the remodeled building, Wines replied that he has not. “What am I going to say?”

Wines said he is not surprised that company officials are happy with the reconstructed building because it still draws long lines. “The byword is, ‘What difference does it make?’… Art gets lost in the shuffle.”

Wines noted that works of visual art generally tend to get more protection from insensitive changes than works of architecture, unless the architecture is protected by landmark designation and proposed changes are subject to a public review process. “Art is protected, but there’s nothing you can do with architecture,” he said. “Developers can do whatever they want. They own it.”

Wines does not deny that he is miffed that Shake Shack did not contact him about the renovation. “The bothersome aspect,” he said, “is that there is a total lack of respect in not being asked.”

But he said his complaints are about more than just a bruised ego and not getting a commission. He said they are motivated by wanting to protect and maintain a successful work of design. He said the original lead designer typically is in the best position to know the intent behind a project and make sure future changes do not weaken it. He said any design compromises could have been avoided if Shake Shack representatives had let him know what they were planning to do.

"It's like redoing a painting or a sculpture or any art piece," he said. "If it needs to be repaired, do you go to just anybody? If you can, you go back to the original artist... Why didn’t they just call me and say, ‘James, we’re going to change it and we want your input’? All they had to do was call me.”

Wines said that he probably would have worked on the renovation for free if he had been asked. “The principle argument of the whole thing is: To what degree is the integrity of the original creation respected?” he said. “I can guarantee you that if I had been contacted, it wouldn’t have cost any more and we would have figured out a way to make it work. I would have had very good suggestions for them.”

Ultimately, Wines said, he believes every designer who works on a successful project hopes the client will consult him or her about future changes. “It’s an important issue,” he said. “Why wouldn’t a client come back to the original designer and say, ‘I want to fix it and do it the right way’? Architects have instant respect for anybody who does that … I can’t think of an architect in the world who wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to save the day.”

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On View> Pittsburgh's Heinz Architectural Center tackles architecture from "Sketch to Structure"
Sketch to Structure Heinz Architectural Center Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh Through May 20, 2015 The concept and visual for Sketch to Structure, an exhibition that has just opened at Pittsburg's Heinz Architectural Center, is so cogent and well thought out it's a wonder no other museum hasn't already staged such a show. The exhibit is curated by Alyssum Skjeie of the Heinz Center and takes the architectural design process and divides it into four discrete sections—concept, collaboration, communication, case studies—each with drawings and renderings taken from the center's own collection.   "Concept" begins with loose hand drawings like Richard Neutra's for the Los Angeles County Hall of Records and attempts to highlight how architects think through drawing implements—whether sketching, constructing a rough model, a quick watercolor, or increasingly, using computer models. Then, perhaps the most socially constructed section, "Collaboration," makes clear that architects work in office teams with other designers and with engineers, etc.—a process not recognized enough in exhibitions on architecture. This process is highlighted with drawings from Winold Reiss' four schemes for the Savarin Restaurant at Penn Station in New York City. The third part of the exhibit, "Communication," uses drawings, renderings, and models from the early 20th century to convey, as the curator claims, "a nearly final design." This is a large jump from Collaboration, but perhaps the final section, "Case Studies," clarifies, or brings together, what communication in an architectural practice means in a practical working condition. Case studies, the exhibit asserts, "pieces the parts of this process together, with groupings of models, renderings, drawings, and elevations on seven separate projects, illustrating how the other three exhibition sections work together in the larger design process." It might be argued that this chronological presentation is too linear and that architectural design moves back and forth across these sections, but the exhibition stakes a claim for this process and attempts to highlight it through strong visual examples. The exhibit will feature drawings by Lorcan O'Herlihy, James Wines, and the French firm Jakob + MacFarlane. If only this show were in New York, closer to my home! If your anywhere near the Steel City, go see this exhibition and let us know what you think of the sections.
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On View> Exhibit in Tribeca Brings Back the 20th Century Suburb (Extended!)
Its hard to drive past a Target roadside box today without remembering James Wines/SITE Architects' magical 1970's Best Store projects—and everything they revealed about consumerism in America. These designs are also remembered for their formal invention and early support of environmental thinking, but Carriage Trade, the tiny but always smart art gallery on Tribeca's Walker Street, reminds us in their exhibit, Cutting Through the Suburbs, how radical they were at the time of their design. Peter Scott, the director of Carriage Trade, pairs the Best Store's with a Bill Owens' 1970s photographs of a California suburb "from within" his own community. Owens is able to visually describe his neighbors without the  disdain many artists had for suburbanites at the time, and together these two works present a moment that Scott believes American car oriented suburban life was at its most confident peak. Both artists, he reminds us, were "part of a moment when conformity and the established order were being called into question on a mass scale" by the counter culture movement of the sixties. The Best Stores are also featured-along with the fabricators and workers of the projects in a revealing film of the period by Howard Silver. Stay long enough in the gallery to watch the entire film and be transported back the counter culture of the 1960s. The exhibit closes this Sunday, May 25 and the gallery is located at 62 Walker Street.
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Want an Original Steven Holl On Your Wall? Drawing Center Hosting Architecture Auction
The Drawing Center, along with the online auction house, Paddle 8, is hosting an auction of architectural drawings in conjunction with its current exhibition, Lebbeus Woods, Architect. The auction is meant to support future exhibitions of drawings at the center, including ones on architecture and by architects. The auction ends on May 9th, so place your bids right away. Up for bid are drawings by Thom Mayne, Michael Bell, Steven Holl, Stan Allen, WXY/Claire Weisz & Mark Yoes, Neil Denari, Eric Owen Moss, Brad Cloepfil, Michael Maltzan, Annabelle Selldorf, Pablo Castro/OBRA, and James Newton Wines. The drawings all represent important architecture projects and ideas.
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Michael Sorkin Salutes Lebbeus Woods, Marshall Berman at National Design Awards
In AN's recent article on the winners of this year's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, we mentioned that Michael Sorkin accepted his award for “Design Mind” with a powerful tribute—as only he can—to his late friends and intellectual mentors, Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Sorkin, like the other awardees, was only allowed a 2 minute acceptance speech, which he has shared with AN. Read the statement in full below.
I’d like to thank Harvey Weinstein, Sue Mengers, our truly incredible cast and crew…..oops. A paraphrased platitude: knowledge is everywhere and we meld productively with the minds of giants, dwarves, and those of average size. Among those to whom I am indebted: Kallikrates and Iktinos. Sinan. My mother, for giving me a copy of Lewis Mumford when I was fourteen. My father, for agreeing with my mother to buy that modernist house with no basement. My long-suffering, severely underpaid, amazingly supportive collaborators. Michael De Klerk. Alvar Aalto. Bruce Goff, the more so for putting up with all that bullshit from Frank Lloyd Wright. Lawrence Sterne for the funniest book ever written. Guarino Guarini. James Wines, for nominating me 28 times for this. Michelle Obama, for the fabulous lunch. My dear wife Joan, for her loving dissatisfaction, uncompromising mind and spirit, and inspirational good looks. But, I’d like to dedicate this award to two authentic mental titans we’ve lost this year, comrades in arms, dear friends, great teachers, more deserving than I of this tribute: Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Leb taught me the true reality of genius, creative fearlessness, the leagues-long distance form can go, and the way in which ideas of the deepest profundity can live in architecture. He inspired me with design’s power of resistance to constraint and with an ever unfolding and questioning dream of what building might be in both mind and place. Marshall taught me about the bottomless meaning that inhabits the city, the infinitely nuanced relations of thought and passion, the way in which politics can be a conduit for kindness and joy, and the pleasure and the contiguity of the astonishing urban poetries to be found from Aristotle’s agora to hip-hop’s Bronx. My great gratitude to the Cooper Hewitt and the NDA jury for conducing the sweetness and duty of thinking about what it means to have been alive among such minds as these.
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Wines, Gang, Sorkin Among Honorees at 2013 National Design Awards
When an artist begins,      they try to bury him with neglect. When he gains a small foothold,      they try to bury him with criticism. When he becomes more established,      they try to bury him with covetous disdain. When he becomes exceptionally successful,      they try to bury him with dismissals as irrelevant. And finally, all else failing      they try to bury him with honors! This is how James Wines of SITE, quoting Jean Cocteau, accepted his 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum at their National Design Awards. Wines joined a 'Lifetime Achievement' group that includes Richard Saul Wurman, Bill Moggridge, Paolo Solari, the Vignelli's, Dan Kiley, and Frank Gehry. Last night's awards program was a special one as the Museum—led by its new director, Caroline Baumann, and an indefatigable team—worked throughout the government shutdown of the least two weeks to put on a spatular gala that gave awards to designers that included Janette Sadik-Khan, Michael Sorkin, Studio Gang Architects, Paula Scher, Aidlin Darling Design, and Margie Ruddick. These figures each asked a special commentator to introduce them. Theaster Gates presented Jeanne Gang from Chicago and Michael Kimmelman said that Michael Sorkin was the first person he spoke to when he decided to be the New York Times architecture critic. Sorkin accepted his award for "Design Mind" with a powerful tribute—as only he can—to his late friends and intellectual mentors, Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Al Gore presented the TED Talks with an award and finally it was left to Tom Wolfe to introduce James Wines, who he said had created the "first really new architecture after modernism" in his famous Best Stores which "added nothing to the architecture" only re-arranged what was already" as in his Best 'Notch' project in suburban Sacramento, California. Wolfe claimed that Wines wanted to replace "plop art" like formal plaza sculptures by Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi with a new form that put the art onto the architecture. Its about time that Sorkin, who is our greatest living architecture critic to not have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and Wines, who is not a registered architect, to be given an award as a great architect.  
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The Mind in Hand
Beijing New World Plaza, 2008.
James Wines

A Line Around an Idea
City University of New York
Anne and Bernard Spitzer School of Architecture
141 Convent Avenue
Ended April 5

The architecture scene in the New York region is unquestionably the most diverse, creative, and multi-dimensional the country. It has so many components and sub groupings as to be barely comprehensible to those who live here and unfathomable to visitors. The city is called home by the largest amount of big cooperate firms in the country as well as scores of small highly creative studios and workshops and serves as the regular haunt of academic and institutional scholars and curators who range from Princeton in the south to New Haven in the north. In fact, it’s safe to say that New York’s architecture milieu is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

One of its unique strengths for the past thirty years has been a small but influential community of creators who work alone in studios putting their ideas down on paper in powerful images of thought and architectural possibilities. The most important of these figures includes ex-Archigrammer Michael Webb and the late John Hejduk, Raimund Abraham, Lebbeus Woods, Lauretta Vinciarelli, and even the Italian Aldo Rossi who drew Manhattan’s dramatic forms obsessively and merged them into his unique architectural vision. These so-called “paper architects” came, like Hugh Ferris, from other places to live and work in New York and all contributed a unique influence to the rest of the field.

 
Antilia Tower, 2003.
 

The exhibition A Line Around Around an Idea, which featured the hand drawings of James Wines, who is best known as the founding director of SITE studio, makes the case that he too belongs in this group of important New York-based paper architects. Wines, this exhibit pointed out, draws beautifully (with a Montblanc Classic Pen, Windsor Newton brushes, Canson paper, a dwindling supply of Osmiroid ink, and natural charcoal) and his renderings of built and unbuilt projects from the 1970s until the present day makes the case for how important “mind-to-hand” drawing can still be for those who possess the skill and concentration to utilize the form. The pictorial quality of SITE’s best work, like Peeling (Richmond, Virginia), Indeterminate Facade (Houston, Texas), Notch (Sacramento, California), and Tilt (Towson, Maryland), are unimaginable without Wines facile ability to render his thought process in pen and ink.

The exhibition was organized chronologically with a linear panel that discloses the built or unbuilt condition of the rendered building above. The show covers Wines’ long engagement both with landscape merging into architecture and with green environmental conditions or “vegetated” buildings. Finally, the exhibition made the case that Wines is not just a paper architect, but one involved in actual construction, with projects like his splendid Beijing New World Plaza Center. His mind and hand are as convincing in 2013 as they were in 1970.

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Cooper-Hewitt Announces 14th Annual National Design Awards Winners
Acting director Caroline Baumann of The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards. The 14th annual Awards program continues the practice of acknowledging excellence and innovation across an array of disciplines. This year’s winners will be recognized during a gala dinner on Thursday, October 17 at New York’s Pier 60 in conjunction with National Design Week, where they will be presented with trophies created by The Corning Museum of Glass. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award recipient is James Wines, founder and president of New York-based architectural studio SITE, who addresses context and environmental issues in his designs. Another big winner is Michael Sorkin, who claims the Design Mind prize for his work in urbanism and green architecture. TED—the nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading"—has been selected for the Corporate and Institutional Achievement prize. For its site-specific projects that act as responses to contemporary issues, Studio Gang Architects-principal Jeanne Gang wins the Architecture Design award. Petragram principal Paula Scher takes the stage as the Communication Design award recipient. Bloomberg, Citibank, and MoMA are just a few on her impressive list of clients. Fashion Design winner Behnaz Sarafpour implements organically produced pieces in her high-fashion and affordably-priced collection. Media design firm Local Project is the Interaction Design award recipient and the Interior Design award goes to Aidlin Darling Design. Margie Ruddick, who employs an environmental approach to urban landscape design, is the Landscape Architecture category winner. The Product Design award recipient  is NewDealDesign, a San Francisco-based multidisciplinary firm. This year's jury includes Charles Adler, Gail Anderson, Gisue Hariri, Jon Kolko, Thom Mayne, Zoë Ryan, Christine Ten Eyck, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and Gianfranco Zaccai. The 2013 winners "have made a major impact in their respective fields through groundbreaking projects and visionary ideas," Baumann said in a statement. "They have truly transformed the way we live, think, work, and communicate with each other."
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Paper Architecture on the Streets
The new visitors center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Weiss Manfredi.
Courtesy Weiss Manfredi

An English architecture critic wrote me this week asking what he should see on his upcoming trip to New York. Have you seen phase two of the High Line or the careful design incisions into the Lincoln Center public spaces, I responded? Yes, he had seen both so my next recommendation was the new Weiss Manfredi Visitors Center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the newly uncovered DS+R bridge across 65th street at Lincoln Center, and of course SHoP Architect's Barclay's Center. Tell me what you think of the new rusted steel wrapped arena in Brooklyn, I asked, as I am still unsure what to think of this behemoth.

But then I suggested that for visitors to New York, the place to look for the most exciting architectural ideas is not the city streets, but the walls of galleries and museums. The most compelling ideas in architecture are to be found in MoMA’s architecture gallery, where new curator Pedro Gadanho has worked his way through the museum’s collection and brought forward a fresh and thoroughly exciting installation of drawing and models. Then downtown at Copper Union there is a beautiful exhibition of the Venetian architect Massimo Scolari that reminds us of the possibilities of architectural thought and hand drawing when the limits of building are disregarded. A train ride uptown to City College of New York's architecture school is a must to see the compelling exhibition of drawings by SITE’s James Wines. A Line Around an Area brings this important architectural thinker back in the discussion about drawing and design. Finally, it’s worth it to take a Metro-North train ride to New Haven to visit Yale School of Architecture’s exhibition Palladio Virtual, the product of ten years of research by Peter Eisenman on the villas of the Italian master.

In the past when visitors asked what they should see in the city I would always respond that there was not much new and exciting in bricks and mortar on the ground, but the galleries and museums were always exciting. That all changed about ten years ago when, for the first time since the 1950s, architecture began changing the face and functionality of the city. Certainly this can be traced back to the boom in financial services in the city, which created a new class of users or consumers for luxury housing and services, and the transformation in infrastructure that Mayor Bloomberg has encouraged and supported during his mayoralty. The plazas, bikes lanes, and open spaces like the High Line and redesign of Lincoln Center may have been focused in the privileged areas of Manhattan, but they did transform Gotham in a way that had something to teach the rest of the urban world.

With the partial collapse of the financial services industry and the resulting decrease in tax revenues coming into the city, many of these changes seem to have come to a halt. The last ten years were an exciting time for architects (and visitors) in New York when design ideas were brought into the discussion about creating a modern city. Now the most exciting architectural ideas seem to be back on gallery walls and not the streets and our best local architects are not building here but in China and other booming economies. Our architects have no end of ideas about how to keep growing and changing New York for the better—the Low Line and additions to Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island are only a few examples, but will we have the will and money to make them happen? Now more than ever the city needs the creative thinking that architects have to bring to the table, but will the politicians have the political will and tax revenues to make them a reality?  Lets hope we can bring some of the ideas off the walls and onto the streets of the city.

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Contested Ground
Flowing Gardens by GroundLab, the winning master plan in a competition for the International Horticultural Expo, will open this spring.
Courtesy GroundLab

Landscape architecture continues to experience a professional flowering based on the growing significance of sustainability and ecological issues as they relate to planning the broader built environment. But awareness is also growing among architects that they are no longer kings of the mountain. Gwen Webber scouts the perimeter of a possible turf war in the making.

If Ground Zero were up for grabs today would Michael Van Valkenburgh be a more likely candidate for master planner than Daniel Libeskind? It’s plausible. The recent surge in prestigious commissions going to and being completed by landscape architects has fuelled a fiery discourse over the ether as well as in academic circles as to what this means for the way cities will be made in the future. Traditionally, the architect was the master builder with landscape designers as mere ancillaries. Today that relationship is fast being reversed.

“Traditional roles have flipped,” said architect Stephen Cassell of ARO, who believes landscape architects should have equal footing on design projects because of their specialized training. “A lot of these landscape architecture firms have started to think about green spaces in a synthetic way. How landscape architects analyze a problem is very specific; it is about looking at experience within the city.”

Indeed, commissions that might have been won by architect-led teams just a few years ago are now going to landscape firms. And large-scale urban design competitions are going to landscape-led teams who demonstrate the capacity to design creatively with existing ecologies, such as the redevelopment of Seattle's waterfront by Field Operations, or urban regeneration initiatives like Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which aims to reinvigorate Eero Saarinen's iconic landmark through improved public areas by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA).

 
GroundLab's Deep Ground master plan reenvisions the urban fabric of Longgang Municipality in Shenzen, China (left) and a rendering of an overlook structure for Hunters Point South, New York City designed by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi (right).
Courtesy groundlab and Arup / Thomas Balsley Associates / Weiss/Manfredi

MVVA is a case in point. In 2007 the landscape architecture practice won a competition (among the other multidisciplinary contenders were Weiss/Manfredi of New York and Stoss of Boston) to develop Toronto's Lower Don Lands, a long-term phased scheme which will reroute the mouth of the Don River to the city's inner harbour, creating flood protection, new neighborhoods, a river-front park system as well as “humanize the existing infrastructure.”

Charles Waldheim, head of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, cites the Lower Don Lands project as exemplary of a decreasing emphasis on disciplinary boundaries and an increasing appreciation for ecological design, “MVVA assembled a very complex, multidisciplinary team,” he said in an interview. “Landscape urbanists have all the pieces.” As interest in ecological design grows, the need for landscape architects to deal with issues that architects aren't trained for also increases. “Landscape urbanism emerged to fill a void because planning and urban design had not provided an alternative,” said Waldheim, who has been a key proponent in bringing landscape urbanism to the fore and expanding the definitions of landscape architecture. According to Waldheim, the emergence of this faction of ecological designers snapping up high-profile projects is not a coincidence but rather the result of cumulative conditions.

In the late 20th century urban design was committed to recreating the 19th century shape of the city, he argues, in order to reinstate environmental and social values, while urban planners withdrew from physical planning to focus on demographics and social science. The perceived primacy of cars and demands for an expanded transport infrastructure in the 20th century pushed cities further out into sprawl and placed automobiles and traffic control at the center of city design. Later, during the 1990s, architects felt there was no option in which designers could be culturally progressive and simultaneously engaged with environmental or social concerns, leaving a dissatisfied subset of designers keen to reconcile the two.

Enter landscape urbanism, a term attributed by many to Waldheim, and certainly propagated by him. In any case, landscape urbanists are being recognized as key choreographers of urban space and they are beginning to subsume many of the roles once held by architects, planners, and urban designers. One such practice is London-based landscape architects GroundLab whose project Deep Ground recently won a competition to master plan a 4.6-square-mile area of Longgang in Shenzhen, China, drawing on urban design, planning, and environmental remediation to make a comprehensive, connected urban scene.

 
James Corner Field Operations' scheme for Seattle's waterfront redevelopment covers nine acres.
Courtesy Waterfront Seattle  [Click to enlarge.]
 

That's not to say that architects will be rendered powerless, but it does mean that they may have to cede total control, shedding the idea of sole authorship and autobiographical building and instead re-cognizing those others with more skill sets relevant to a given project.

Robert Balder, a director of planning and urban design at Gensler, observes that developers still tend to turn to big architecture firms for large-scale projects. But he notes that within many of these firms, landscape architects don’t have an equal place at the table. Balder, who also serves on the Urban Land Institute’s Council for Sustainable Development, predicts that as developers become more knowledgeable about sustainability requirements, cost, and functionality, the expertise of landscape architects will inevitably become more important earlier in the life of projects. “LEED can’t come at the end,” he said. “Landscape architects are often brought in when it’s too late.”

The 21st century is the Era of Ecology, according to James Wines of SITE a long-time proponent of ecologically-driven architecture, who says “the era of monument-building is coming to a close,” and with it ends the architect's pole position. “Architects who want to build a sculpture in the middle of space live in an antiquated world of endless resources,” he said. “Urban agriculture is the way forward. You can turn a place around based on a vegetated environment.”


In Toronto, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) won a competition to reimagine the relationship of the Don River to the city (top). MVVA is also leading a team in the redesign of the park surrounding the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (above).
Courtesy MVVA [Click to enlarge.]
 
 

As designers across the profession are increasingly faced with challenges that don't have a precedent and don’t correspond to traditional disciplinary boundaries, such as rising water levels, post-industrial cityscapes, waste, and a crippled climate, practices are repackaging and restructuring themselves in response. But the prospect of another professional group— particularly landscape architects—ascending to a decision-making role in the built environment still makes some squirm.

In a Wall Street Journal interview earlier this year, British architect Will Alsop accused landscape architecture of institutionalizing public space. And last fall at a New Urbanism symposium in New Orleans, the constant pot-stirrer Andres Duany announced in a provocation that quickly exploded on the blogosphere, “It’s not cool to be an architect. It’s cool to be a landscape architect. That’s the next cool thing.”

Deborah Marton, executive director at Design Trust for Public Space, believes it's a substantive shift rather than a trend. “It is about professional maturity,” said Marton, who believes the hierarchical structure of traditional design practice is redundant. “Each discipline brings something to a project...it should be about which team is working well together and doing the best job of seeing the whole picture.”

For MoMA's 2010 Rising Currents show, nArchitects' New Aqueous City proposed a series of man-made islands (top) and floating piers (above).
Courtesy nArchitects
 

Indeed, the rise of landscape urbanism hasn't escaped public interest with interviews and articles in the national papers as well as on blogs. This kind of attention has propelled it from an academic discussion into a wider discourse, which, says Marton, is important to changing the very structure of design practice and ultimately municipal authority processes as well. Though the change is slow, there are solid examples of it happening. Philadelphia's long-awaited waterfront redesign recently shifted gears as it dropped plans for multi-story blocks and moved away from using a signature project to jump-start the city's master plan. Instead, the massive plan focuses on a string of parks as a stimulus for continued development.

Landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations is fitting his practice to the new mold. And while he had to struggle to get credit from architects on the immensely popular re-imagining of the High Line in New York, he is now leading a $569 million project to reconnect Seattle to Elliott Bay and create nine acres of new public space, a kind of prototypical antidote to the narrow commercialized waterfronts so common to many other U.S. cities. “There is a desperate need for a different kind of professional who is capable of seeing a bigger picture and choreographing a bigger team,” Corner told Metropolis in 2008.

Meanwhile at the GSD, Waldheim's newly appointed staff in the Landscape Architecture department is dedicated to building a trans-disciplinary faculty including ARO architect Cassell, who will be teaching this year alongside Susannah Drake of dlandstudio.

 
ARO and DLANDSTUDIO's proposal for MoMA's Rising Currents exhibition. The project for New York's Waterfront creates a New Urban Ground of marshes and wetlands to protect against storm surges.
Courtesy ARO/DLANDSTUDIO [Click to enlarge.]
 

Cassell and Drake have partnered before at the “Rising Currents” exhibition last year at the Museum of Modern Art. That path-breaking exhibition challenged architects to respond to an environmental catastrophe and called for “soft” infrastructures and ecological design solutions, bringing architects and specialists in ecological design together in close and productive collaborative efforts that attracted the close attention of developers and city officials alike.

For his Rising Currents project, Eric Bunge of nArchitects composed his team of designers with various skill sets including Mathur/da Cunha as water specialist. Like the other collaborative teams that were formed for the exhibition, his suggests that in the future it won’t take a constructed disaster scenario to make architects realize the value of landscape designers.

Bunge said that he still sees landscape architecture and architecture as having different trajectories that need one another at points in the design process. But whether or not they are complete equals on the job, Bunge possibly speaks for many architects today when he said, “It is too early to say.”