Search results for "Manhattan"

Placeholder Alt Text

Diamonds are Forever

ODA's 10 Jay Street in DUMBO shines with a faceted facade
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Over the last two decades, Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood has undergone a significant degree of development, including the restoration of historic warehouses that dominated the neighborhood for centuries and plenty of new construction. ODA, which has a number of projects across the borough, recently completed the restoration and partial recladding of a decrepit 19th-century refinery and warehouse with a lively, iridescent glass curtainwall. The 130,000-square-foot development, which reaches a height of 10 stories, was originally built in 1898 as a sugar refinery for the Arbuckle Brothers and relied on a steel structural system with the brick elevations largely serving as curtainwall. Similar to other structures throughout the neighborhood, the building has undergone significant changes since construction; in 1925 it was converted to a winery, with the west elevation shorn off a decade later. The site was left vacant and in a state of continual decline from the middle of the 20th century until 1991.
  • Facade Manufacturer KPA Studio Hankuk Glass Industries
  • Architect ODA
  • Facade Installer KPA Studio
  • Facade Consultant SURFACE DESIGN GROUP
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion April 2019
  • System Custom KPA Studio unitized curtainwall
  • Products Hankuk Glass custom Low-E glass
The design from ODA draws from this history with a crystalline western elevation which shimmers and reflects the skyline of Lower Manhattan and the East River. According to ODA communications director Juan Roque Urrutia, "besides the construction challenges of dealing with an old structure, one of the main challenges was to actually convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission about the values of the original building and how a modern incorporation of a kaleidoscopic facade was not only respectful but also appeals to heritage stories." The glass modules are split between rectangular and triangular units, which rise perpendicular to the floor plate or inflect inward to effectively create concave bay windows. Minor segments of brick are interspersed throughout the western elevation and are located adjacent to the branch-like mullions. The average dimensions of the glass modules are approximately 11-by-5 feet, and each module was treated with a low-e coating to boost their reflectivity. Each panel spans from floor-to-floor and is held to the top of each floor slab with an aluminum anchor plate and hook. Grafting an entirely new skin onto a historic structure is a remarkably complex procedure, and ODA turned to facade consultant SURFACE DESIGN GROUP (SDG), who have established a particular expertise in facade retrofit and historic preservation. The retrofit uses a unitized glass and aluminum curtain wall system with angular facets and spandrel panels located at the slab edge. "As part of the north façade retrofit, the existing historic brick and terra cotta arched floors were extended with reinforced concrete to meet the new profile of the faceted facade," said the SDG team. "Given the complexity of both the curtain wall panel and edge of slab geometry, which is also faceted to mirror the form of the panels, standardizing the anchoring method aided in the efficiency of panel installation." Standing derelict for decades, the former sugar refinery also required an extensive degree of restorative work. First, stucco coating from the 1990s, and layers of old paint which hastened the decay of the brick masonry, had to be peeled away. The east elevation suffered the worst of the building's deterioration and required the complete reconstruction of the brick facade and the underlying steel structure. The remainder of the restorative work entailed brick replacement—nearly a third of them recycled, steel spandrel repairs, mortar repointing, and the application of a new weather resistant coating. The project is located in the DUMBO Historic District and required the input and approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission throughout the design and construction process.
 
Placeholder Alt Text

ADFF

Design nerds, rejoice! Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York this October
It's back: The 11th edition of New York's Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is set to bring interesting buildings and the people who design them to the silver screen this October. The five-day event is the largest design-focused film fest in the U.S., with almost 30 films that explore the structures and people who shape space. The kickoff event is an October 2 walk through SoHo centered on short films. The main event, meanwhile, will begin on October 16, halfway through Archtober, the all-things-buildings celebration hosted by the Center for Architecture. All of the films will be screened at Cinépolis Chelsea on West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue. This year, festivalgoers will get to see City Dreamers, a documentary on four pioneering woman architects: Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Center for Architecture; Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the landscape architect behind Expo 67's Children’s Creative Center; and Denise Scott Brown, the queen of pomo. The architect and planner Blanche Lemco van Ginkel will also get her due. Ginkel was the first woman dean of a North American architecture school (the University of Toronto) and designed the roof of Le Corbusier's Unité d’Habitation housing complex in Marseille. She and her husband Sandy van Ginkel also worked on an ahead-of-its-time scheme for a car-free Midtown Manhattan that included an orange electric mini-bus (the Ginklevan) that would transport passengers around the area. Another notable doc will make its U.S. debut: The New Bauhaus, a film on Hungarian émigré László Moholy-Nagy, the Hungarian artist who helped spread Bauhaus ideas through Chicago's IIT. PUSH, a documentary about the commodification of housing around the world and the role of global financing in fueling the affordable housing crisis, will give viewers a taste of global urbanism, as opposed to straight design. Panels, Q&As, and books for sale will round out the programming. If you're looking to cop tickets, they'll be on sale on September 16, while a full program will be released on September 5.
Placeholder Alt Text

Op-Ed

Letter to the editor: Now is the time to close the Rikers jails
The United States incarcerates more people, at a much higher rate, than any other country on the planet. Five times as many people are locked up in America today, per capita, than 50 years ago, with devastating consequences for families and communities. In New York City, the eight sprawling jails on Rikers Island are symbols of this half-century of mass incarceration. They are notorious for violence and inhumane treatment. They are emblematic of racial disparities in our society: almost 90 percent of the people on Rikers are black or Latinx. Like mass incarceration itself, Rikers is largely hidden from whiter and wealthier communities. There is a once-in-a-generation chance to end this injustice. After a hard-fought campaign led by formerly incarcerated people and the findings of a commission led by the state’s former chief judge, New York City has embarked on a far-reaching effort to close the Rikers jails. The City aims to halve the number of people in jail and move those who remain incarcerated to a smaller system of facilities located closer to the borough courthouses. The plan would reduce the number of jails from eleven (the eight jails on Rikers plus three in the boroughs) to four and reduce the number of people in jail from 7,300 today to 4,000 or fewer. When the City committed to closing Rikers in 2017, it already had the lowest incarceration rate of any major American city (though much higher than any comparable international city). Since then, the number of people in jail on any given day has already dropped by more than 2,000, thanks to hard work from community organizations, pressure from advocates, and changes to the ways that police, prosecutors, and courts are doing their jobs. There is much farther to go, but the goal is within reach. With the progress achieved so far, New York City remains as safe as it’s ever been, proving that there are better ways to fight crime than mass incarceration. The question that remains is whether a smaller, redesigned borough system can put an end to the problems of Rikers. There are good reasons to believe it will. First, location matters. Three of the proposed facilities are on the sites of operating or decommissioned jails next to courthouses in civic centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The fourth is on an NYPD tow pound in the Bronx that is not adjacent to the local court, but which is closer than Rikers or the current City jail in the Bronx, a barge that would be closed along with Rikers. Proximity to courts would help ensure that people arrive to court on time, avoiding case delays that unfairly lengthen incarceration. Better access to public transportation would enable family members to visit more frequently, fostering connections that are demonstrated to improve behavior within jails and improve chances for success on the outside. Nonprofit service providers would be able to see their clients much more frequently, bolstering people’s chances of successful community re-entry. Lawyers would be able to visit clients to prepare their defense, which very rarely occurs at Rikers. Community locations would also increase accountability. No longer would people be hidden on an isolated island, invisible to the public and virtually impervious to oversight. Gone would be the sprawling jail system that exponentially increases the Department of Correction’s management challenges, providing the best chance to break the dysfunctional status quo and change correctional practices. Second, design matters. Unlike today’s jails, these facilities can and should be designed to be places of rehabilitation, not of punishment. Hospitable visiting areas would encourage connections to family and support networks. Sufficient spaces for programming, education, health care, and recreation would mean people could access important services. Improved sightlines and other security features would enhance safety for all. Decent breakrooms and facilities for officers can boost well-being and morale, rippling out to improve conditions for everyone inside. These design principles are incorporated in the City’s initial plans. It is these improved designs that drive the size and height of the proposed facilities, which is one of the main concerns of their opponents. Thanks to recent bail reform legislation, the City has lowered the planned capacity by 1,000 people. This should significantly reduce the buildings’ bulk without compromising much-needed space and services. The City should also move people with serious mental illness to hospital-based treatment facilities, which would further reduce the scale of the borough jails. Building vastly improved facilities will not come cheap. But without them, there is no closing Rikers. And to put the construction costs in context, today’s Rikers-based system of eleven jails costs more than $2.6 billion each year to operate—a stunning $300,000 per incarcerated person per year. A smaller proposed system in the boroughs would slash that operating spending by more than half, savings billions over time and far eclipsing the money spent on construction. Much of the freed-up money should be invested in the communities most impacted by mass incarceration. Reformers have to enter this process with their eyes open. We have to ensure that the initial design principles are not compromised in the final outcome. And as long as anyone is locked up, advocacy and oversight will always be needed so that post-Rikers facilities are operated in a way that keeps people safe and gives them a fair shot at success when they return home. Controversies over land use are inevitable in our crowded city. Concerns about whether the promise of a new system can truly break with the past have to be taken seriously. But those who call for this plan to be defeated should know that the result would be continuing the unacceptable status quo of the Rikers penal colony. This is not the first attempt to shutter that awful island. Prior closure efforts as far back as the late 1970s were defeated for many of the same reasons opponents raise today, perpetuating this decades-long crisis in the jails. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. As the land use review process moves forward this fall, New York City has a momentous choice: approve a much smaller system of borough facilities as we work to end mass incarceration, or endure the traumas of Rikers for generations to come. Tyler U. Nims is the executive director of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform Dan Gallagher is an architect practicing in New York City. In collaboration with the Van Alen Institute, he lead Justice in Design, focusing on design innovation in spaces of detention in New York City. He is currently a member of the Design Working Group for the Mayors Office of Criminal Justice, establishing the Guiding Principles for Design in the borough-based jail proposals.
Placeholder Alt Text

Soulcycle for Your Life

What do architects think about Related Companies' Stephen Ross fundraiser for Trump?
Ahead of today’s planned fundraiser for President Donald Trump in Southhampton, organized by the billionaire CEO and chairman of The Related Companies Stephen Ross, people have taken to Twitter to denounce their support of any and all things that Related owns, including Hudson Yards. Even celebrity chef José Andres, who has a new food hall inside the mega-development, took to the social media platform asking Ross to cancel the event. As this conversation grows louder and louder—and people continue to boycott companies like Equinox, SoulCycle, and Bluestone Lane Coffee (the two former fitness groups have facilities in 33 and 35 Hudson Yards respectively), it's fair to ask: Will architects join in the discussion? And if so, when? Related owns a slew of properties in the United States, from New York to Miami, as well as in London and Abu Dhabi. Phase one of Hudson Yards on the far west side of Manhattan’s opened earlier this spring to mixed reviews and is successfully attracting throngs of people who are spending countless hours and dollars shopping around the $25 billion site. The Shed, the transformative arts venue designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, was built on city-owned property and is not directly affiliated with Hudson Yards, but no doubt the recent news may rock its fall season of already-planned performances. In fact, one fashion designer, Prabal Gurung, announced he's canceling a show that was in talks to be located at the Vessel after hearing about Ross's ties to Trump. New York Fashion Week was supposed to be hosted at Hudson Yards in the coming years.  Buildings aren’t necessarily something one can boycott or at least totally ignore. They are a basic human necessity and provide tangible shelter. But the towering monoliths at Hudson Yards weren’t conceived to shelter your average New Yorker. What’s done is done and Hudson Yards is here, and a number of prominent firms contributed to the project's first phase, including Kohn Pederson Fox, Skidmore Owings & Merill, Elkus Manfredi Architects, and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects The next few years of construction, set to start late next year, will see the build-out of designs by Gehry Partners, Santiago Calatrava, Robert A.M. Stern, and more by Heatherwick Studio. So this leads us to ask: Like Jose Andres, artist Jerry Saltz, and other figures who've laid bare their frustrations with Ross in the last 24 hours, will architects vocalize their political views and become part of this conversation? AN has reached out to a number of firms who’ve worked on Hudson Yards and will update this story when we hear back. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Open Call

Architects invited to submit designs for New York's Hurricane Maria Memorial
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission have put out a call for architects and artists to submit memorial ideas that honor the victims and survivors of the deadly hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Upon selection, the winning design will be placed in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City neighborhood along the Hudson River waterfront.  “Hurricane Maria claimed thousands of lives and destroyed countless homes in Puerto Rico, yet the resilience of the Puerto Rican community has shown the world anything can be overcome when we stand together in solidarity,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “We want this spirit of strength and community to be reflected in the Hurricane Maria Memorial, and we look forward to seeing how the experts capture it in their designs.”  Interested architects and artists are invited to submit a response to the RFP online by Monday, September 9, 2019, before 11:59 p.m. EST. Designers can submit one design for either proposed sites (the Esplanade and Chamber’s Street Overlook in Battery Park), but only one will be chosen. All submissions will be reviewed by the memorial commission, a 10-person group formed late last summer on the one-year anniversary of the hurricane’s landfall, and led by Congress members Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7) and Jose E. Serrano (D-NY 15), Assemblymembers Marcos Crespo and Maritza Davila, and New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Members include local leaders of Puerto Rican descent such as Edwin Meléndez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College; Casimiro D. Rodriguez, Sr. president of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western NY; Hilda Rosario Escher; Former president & CEO of Ibero American Action League; Brenda Torres, executive director of Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary; and Elizabeth Velez, president of The Velez Organization and resident of Battery Park City.  Per Governor Cuomo, the memorial will serve as a physical reminder of the love and respect Americans have for Puerto Rico and will be part of the state’s ongoing support efforts both locally and abroad. In the last two years, New York State has dedicated $13 million toward 11,000 displaced victims living in New York and service organizations that can help them regain their footing.  According to the Pew Research Center, New York boasts the most amount of people of Puerto Rican origin of any state, with over 1.1 million residents—that’s 21 percent of the total 5.1 million living in the mainland U.S. It’s the second-largest Hispanic population in the U.S. with just over half of people concentrated in the northeast region, while 31 percent reside in the South and 19 percent are located in Florida.  Due to the recent political and economic turmoil in the territory, the mainland U.S. now has more Puerto Ricans than the island does itself, at 3.2 million residents. Recent migration patterns reveal that people are moving away due to lack of basic resources and frustration with systemic government corruption. The memorial solicitation opens just after weeks of protests resulted in the resignation of Puerto Rico’s former governor Ricardo Rosselló. But the fight to overturn the powerful Puerto Rican government isn’t over: the territory's Supreme Court just took up a lawsuit this week which aims to take down Pedro Pierluisi, who was sworn in as governor last Friday without proper consent from the Senate. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Tanked

Contested oil tanks in Bushwick Inlet Park are being demolished to make way for open space
The Tanks are tanked. The City of New York has nailed the coffin shut on one group's idea to turn massive abandoned oil tanks on the Brooklyn waterfront into a postindustrial playground. Instead, the parcel is being cleared of its industrial relics, cleaned up, and returned as an extension to Bushwick Inlet Park, the green space on the East River at the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The demolition of the tanks marks a victory for area residents who want a park with ample wide-open space. For a newer group of designers and real estate professionals, however, the demolition represents a missed opportunity for a creative reuse of distinctive industrial infrastructure. For years, Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents fought for a park on the East River waterfront as the area transitioned away from its industrial roots. Many saw the future green space as a counterpoint to decades of pollution. In 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a deal with residents and area stakeholders to rezone the waterfront for residential uses in exchange for a 28-acre park. One prominent stakeholder, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, pushed for a park with ballfields, wide-open lawns, and the spectacular view of Manhattan that goes with it. Since the groundbreaking a decade ago, the city has acquired land piecemeal and at great expense. The current controversy centers on a seven-acre parcel that supported the Bayside Oil Depot, a petrol storage facility distinguished by ten five-story tanks that loom over the south side of Bushwick Inlet. The city bought that piece of land in March 2016 for $53 million. For those who want the oil tanks to go, the infrastructure is an ugly reminder of the environmental degradation brought on my heavy industry. For others, the tanks are a canvas for postindustrial regeneration that would draw on north Brooklyn's creative reputation. Three years ago, professionals in architecture, design, and real estate banded together to propose repurposing the tanks as galleries, gardens, and an oyster farm. Group leaders Stacey Anderson and Karen Zabarsky assembled a team that includes architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture and landscape architect Ken Smith of Ken Smith Workshop. Together, they put forth a vision called The Tanks (formerly Maker Park) that pushed back on the idea that the industrial relics needed to be eliminated for the park to be a success. Ward Dennis, a member of the Friends group and a partner at New York's Higgins Quasebarth, dismissed The Tanks as a non-starter from the get-go. "The alternative proposal has never really gotten a lot of traction in the community. Open space was the priority," said Dennis. Another issue at play in the tanks debate centers on public safety; the ground around and underneath the tanks is toxic and needs remediation. The Tanks group hired an outside environmental consultant who determined that remediation can be accomplished with the tanks in-situ, but the city contends that the tanks must be removed for a full clean-up. A NYC Parks Department spokesperson told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that demolition work began in July.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cycling in NYC

Buro Ehring envisions a bike path network that would span all of NYC
There is a cultural aversion to cycling in New York City At least, that’s the belief of one Lower Manhattan-based engineering firm with a plan to upgrade the network of biking opportunities in the city. Though recent news has reminded New Yorkers that cycling here is dangerous, there seems to be a less-than-friendly approach to changing the inefficient system despite it. Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for Vision Zero since he took office in 2013 and continues to push for net-zero carbon emissions across all five boroughs, yet the build-out of safe bike lanes has been incredibly slow and not very innovative. Buro Ehring, a local studio that specializes in structures, facades, and fabrication, has envisioned a world where all this is different: New Yorkers can cycle underneath the Brooklyn Bridge instead of on top of it; an elevated bikeway lined with trees runs above Canal Street; 31st Street is completely and solely dedicated to pedestrians—no cars allowed. These speculative improvements, created under a masterplan called CycleNYC, would decrease commuting times, separate cyclists from vehicles, enhance air quality, and in turn, add joy to the art of bicycling in a major metropolis.  It’s not a far-reaching proposal. In fact, some of want they want to actualize is very doable. "CycleNYC at its core simply seeks to repurpose last century infrastructure and elevate it to meet the growing needs of New Yorkers," said Andres De La Paz, a designer at Buro Ehring.  But in order to make a series of infrastructural, cultural, and formal moves that turns that aversion upside down—as the team at Buro Ehring aims to, it will take the help of city agencies, local community boards, alternative transit advocates, other design professionals, and maybe even CitiBike Here’s what they propose:  Greenways Arguably the most construction-heavy part of CycleNYC, greenways would require the build-out of elevated bike infrastructure above the city’s busiest east-to-west corridors. In a study, Buro Ehring found that the bike network running north to south in New York is much stronger than its perpendicular counterpart. To fix this problem, those busy axes would be relieved with an above-the-street cycling track. Remember Foster + Partners’ raised bike path for London? It’s like that, but possibly with less glass. Buro Ehring reimagines New York’s most traffic-ridden (and most deadly) thoroughfares with this unique infrastructure. For context, Canal Street’s cycling track would span 5,843 feet starting from the Manhattan Bridge, Delancy Street's path would stretch 9931 feet from the Williamsburg Bridge westward, and there would be similar structures on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Houston Street in Manhattan, as well as Myrtle Avenue and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. By calculating the exact measurements of these potential bike highways, Buro Ehring outlined the amount of material needed to build these greenways as well.  One of the biggest benefits to this idea—besides the increased safety of cycling out of sight from cars—would be the advanced purification of the surrounding atmosphere. Buro Ehring proposes that the sustainable materials used to build these greenways include titanium-painted panels that absorb respiratory pollutants, as well as self-cleaning protective rain screens. Artificial LED lights also installed along the way could help grow the tree screens that envelope the legs and walls of the tracks.  Pathways Just as buildings get expanded and retrofitted to accommodate new programming, so can New York’s bridges and elevated subway lines, according to CycleNYC. The goal is to increase interborough connectivity and remediate air pollution that cyclists experience when they cross the East River next to idle cars and their heart rate rises due to the gradual incline. Buro Ehring proposes using existing pieces of infrastructure and building cycling tracks underneath them in order to provide healthier links. Think: Manhattan Bridge with a bike path hanging below the highway instead of structured on its northern side as it is now.  In another example, the Queensborough Bridge could feature a pathway that’s 6561 feet long and creates a smoother connection to Roosevelt Island and Cornell Tech. The bike path would spiral down onto the small island and stop commuters from having to cross into Queens before taking the pedestrian bridge or the tram from Manhattan. Pedestrian Walkways  This idea doesn’t include building anything, but instead, paving over everything. Buro Ehring sees some of New York’s most packed streets as pedestrian- and cycling-friendly only. A 14,540-foot-long, green-covered walkway on 30th Street could increase the desire to be in Midtown, while a similar car-free space across 61 Street and through Central Park could be a new east-to-west axis.  With all these solutions, Buro Ehring also sees the construction of cycling-specific hubs placed on the edges of the boroughs for commuters and advocates to join forces, and create solidarity. Not only that, but there could be a serious placemaking effect from the integration of these healthier cycling options. Just as the High Line spurred both high-design and community-based development along it and underneath, so too could these greener, cycling-centric spaces help influence growth throughout New York. "A simple idea like improving the bicycle network can have a domino effect of positive impacts on the city," said Ryan Cramer, a project manager. "The infrastructure is all in place. It's now just a matter of implementing the solutions."
Placeholder Alt Text

1917–2019

In Memoriam: I. M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei—everyone knows him as “I. M.”—is a name that will live on in the annals of great people, talented architects, conceivers, gentlemen, and good friends. I see him through eyes that were always critical… and always respectful, admiring, and loving. I might start with his family. I. M. and his wonderful wife, Eileen, created a family of talented children who grew to be stalwarts in their own ways. When I visited their home in Manhattan, Eileen would often pull me into her kitchen, where she taught me to shuck oysters, peel potatoes, and the like. These personal relationships were a defining quality of working with I. M. But, of course, I. M. earned his position as one of the world’s leading architects through a dedication to his work, and by tackling that work with creativity, an inborn curiosity, eyes that perceived beyond what was known to the rest of us, and skills as a communicator. Preferring direct communication, he was not one to peruse a three-page letter. Indeed, I. M. and I exchanged countless sketches, but not writings; I have not a single piece of paper with his written thoughts. As a part of his early university education, he studied engineering, so it was easier for me to explain to him what I wanted to do in ways other than words. It was well into his career, around 1975, when I. M. called me regarding the Kapsad Development in Tehran. Before departing for Tehran, I read all that I could about the earthquake risk in the area and learned that the British had conducted a significant survey. As we drove north out of the city, we passed a construction site burdened with a vertical seismic fault, perhaps 60 feet exposed—and with new buildings to be constructed across it. I. M. understood perfectly that our construction could not be built across such a fault. In any event, we continued our journey and were able to hike into the area of our proposed site. There, I discovered a small hole in the ground; dropping a stone inside revealed that the area below our feet was deep and hollow and contained standing water. It was a remnant of Tehran’s aging water tunnels. Believing it prudent, I suggested that we return to the car, but discovered a pack of wild dogs glaring at us. We beat a hasty retreat—without I. M. being aware of either the cistern or the dogs. On returning to New York, we were able to develop a construction system that incorporated the fault, but the time and cost parameters were just too strict. I collaborated on several projects with I. M. Pei & Partners in the years that followed. In 1980, I. M. called regarding the Center for Arts & Media Technology at MIT, and in 1982, about the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. For BOC, I. M. asked that I come to his offices to discuss a very tall building. While I had worked on buildings in Hong Kong, none were tall. Armed with my careful research into the city’s high winds, I met with I. M., who presented a large model demonstrating the shape of the proposed building, which later withstood proposed changes. We discussed the reality of the winds of Hong Kong, with I. M. completely cognizant of their impact on the design of the building. I proposed the use of large-scale diagonal bracing, which he accepted with knowledge and enthusiasm. In short, we were off down an uncharted path allowing I. M. to create a new aesthetic in very tall buildings. His BOC design set the stage for a series of tall buildings by other architects and engineers. Indeed, in my view, BOC is outstanding in the vast field of high-rise buildings. Afterward, I. M. produced incredible designs for a one-room studio (in the United Kingdom), for the Joy of Angels Bell Tower (in Japan), for schools, modest laboratory facilities, research centers, museums (in both the United States and abroad), high-rises, and so much more. I. M. came to us often with “his last project”; knowing full well that Eileen Pei was pushing for his retirement, we accepted each one as “the last.” But it was the Miho Institute of Aesthetics chapel in Shigaraki, Japan, that finally proved to be. He called for a luncheon meeting for the two of us to discuss the project. For the overall shape of the chapel, he proposed a kind of extruded ellipse, but with a top rim that is offset rather than concentric. I. M. described its corrugated form as taken from a Japanese fan. Softly, I suggested to him that, to reduce costs, the roof could be changed to a smooth curving surface… a suggestion that, by the following morning, he had adopted. I’m attempting to show by example that beyond his incredible talent, I. M. was an informed architect, willing and able to alter his designs as the project developed. For a party celebrating the opening of the chapel, SawTeen See, my wife and professional partner, and I found I. M. and Eileen sitting by themselves. Of course, it is difficult for younger folks to approach a person as exalted as was I. M., a fact accounting for the dearth of others at their table. In front of each of them was an untouched glass of red wine. We knew instantly that the wine was of inferior quality. We suggested to them that the Japanese whiskey was very good, indeed, and we were able to con the bartender into pouring from a bottle of ultra-fine and ultra-expensive Japanese whiskey—which was consumed by the four of us. The other side of this coin came at Christmas, when we nodded to Eileen’s “suggestion” that a bottle of that wonderful and very expensive whiskey would make a fine gift for I. M. I’m just not able to explain the full extent of this imaginative architect’s outstanding talents and meaningful human relationships. His soft smile, his firm control over his own designs, his communication skills… all that made up this incredible person just escapes my ability to capture on paper.
Placeholder Alt Text

Gateway to Criticism

Proposed Chinatown sculpture stirs controversy in New York

A sculpture proposed for a traffic triangle in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood is being criticized by some members of the community for its "stack of tin can"-like appearance. The art piece is a product of the Gateways to Chinatown project, a collaborative effort by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), local development corporation Chinatown Partnership, and the Van Alen Institute to “engender pride of place, foster connectivity, and reinforce cultural and social identity within Manhattan’s Chinatown.” Focusing on the plaza where Canal Street forks and Walker Street begins, organizers oversaw an open competition to select which artist would work with the project’s $1 million budget.

While the primary purpose of the project was, according to director of communications at Van Alen Alisha Levin, to “foster connectivity and better enable way-finding with a new public landmark,” selectors also sought a proposal that “responded to the site’s history and context.” Out of 80 total submissions, an installation by Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee was ultimately chosen. Lee partnered with two New York-based companies—architecture firm Levenbetts and public art fabrication studio UAP (Urban Art Projects)—to facilitate the structural design and installation of the project.

As renderings released last month indicate, the piece consists of a series of perforated cylinders stacked irregularly above the sidewalk. Inspired by traditional Chinese drum towers, the form of each component is reflective of both drums and the cylindrical rooftop water towers that have come to represent New York City. Titled The Dragon’s Roar, the proposal maintains a level of flexibility through its minimal impact on the traffic triangle’s ground plane. Even with the sculpture installed, the space would still be able to accommodate a small kiosk or seating for social gatherings.

As with most contemporary art that is proposed for urban public space, The Dragon’s Roar has received plenty of criticism from some members of the community. Certain residents have argued that its overall form, which makes only abstract reference to Chinese culture, has nothing to do with the local neighborhood and its heritage. Others have compared the drum-like cylinders to tin cans, complaining that the installation is unsightly and should not become a neighborhood landmark. While organizers of this year’s competition did engage with local community members at various stages in the process to determine what should be placed on the traffic triangle, many insist that outreach efforts were inadequate. The controversy is reminiscent of a similar incident from one year earlier, when residents of Chinese descent called a "Dog-Man" sculpture proposed for Chatham Square demonic and whitewashed. Protests over that piece eventually forced the city to relocate it to Foley Square.

As for The Dragon’s Roar, Levin told AN that Van Alen will “take all feedback in earnest” and will continue working with DOT, community boards, and neighborhood stakeholders to make certain that the final product reflects its cultural and social context. Before Community Board 3 weighs whether to approve the sculpture in September, detractors have promised to make their voices heard.

Placeholder Alt Text

Permanent Collections

Museum of Modern Art receives massive gift of African contemporary artwork

French-Italian art collector Jean Pigozzi has gifted New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a substantial collection of contemporary artwork from across Africa. The 45 pieces included in the donation feature work by Sierra Leonean artist Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Malian photographer Seydou Keïta, and Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, whose fantastical models of cityscapes formed the retrospective exhibition Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA last year. According to MoMA, Pigozzi’s is the largest single gift of African art that the museum has ever received and will contribute significantly to future displays of its permanent collection.

Born in Paris to Italian businessman and Simca-founder Henri Pigozzi, Jean Pigozzi amassed his fortune through inheritance and a variety of enterprises, including photography and fashion design. He jumpstarted his collection of African contemporary art in 1989, soon after seeing the exhibit Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Curator André Magnin lent considerable guidance as Pigozzi accumulated upwards of 10,000 pieces, now widely recognized as one of the largest collections of African contemporary art in the world. Pigozzi has maintained his holdings as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) in Geneva, which has no permanent galleries for exhibition. Pieces from the CAAC have been lent to museums and galleries across Africa, Europe, and North America for a range of temporary exhibits.

The move by Pigozzi sheds light on a broader effort by MoMA to overcome its longstanding focus on American and European modernism. The museum’s leaders have been appealing to donors with collections that highlight other regions of the world, including Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, who has given Latin American artwork to the institution twice since 2016. For MoMA, the acquisition may represent an opportunity for both redemption and growth. Between 1984 and 1985, the museum held an exhibit titled ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, which many have excoriated for promoting reductive, racist, and deeply ingrained notions of African inferiority. The Pompidou show that catalyzed Pigozzi’s collection was largely considered a rebuttal to MoMA’s own curatorial efforts, prompting Pigozzi himself to spend much of his life advocating for African contemporary art as on-par with, and often more interesting than, Western examples.

The growing stature of African contemporary art on the global stage extends well beyond MoMA’s walls. Earlier this year, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair made its Manhattan debut at New York’s Industria, six years after its founding in London and four years after popping up in Brooklyn. In 2016, the international auction house Sotheby’s opened a department dedicated to African art in London, which has been frequented not only by Europeans but also by wealthy collectors from Nigeria, Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa. MoMA is likely looking to get in on the action, and Pigozzi’s gift presents the institution with its best opening yet.

While it is still unclear exactly how curators will incorporate Pigozzi’s pieces into the MoMA’s permanent collection displays, they are sure to play a role in the museum’s continuing growth. MoMA’s newly expanded facility, including its reconfigured permanent collection galleries, will open to the public on October 21, 2019.

Placeholder Alt Text

Posthumous Collaborations

Adam Yarinsky reflects on ARO’s work in spaces originally shaped by Donald Judd and Mark Rothko
Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface. Donald Judd I have made a place. Mark Rothko Architects often say that the best clients are those who are most collaborative, but what if your client died decades ago? I think of our restorations of 101 Spring Street, Donald Judd’s home in New York City, and the Rothko Chapel in Houston as case studies in posthumous collaboration. At these remarkable sites, Judd and Rothko expanded the physical boundaries of sculpture and painting by creating carefully calibrated spatial relationships between art and its context. When we experience these places, we gain greater awareness of ourselves, of our connection to other people and the world around us. Yet the passage of time diminished their qualities, as the conditions needed to appreciate them changed. Sensitively engaging these sites required untangling a web of aesthetic, philosophical, administrative, technical, and constructional questions. Through our research-based methodology, we gathered and analyzed information (including archival documentation), conducted interviews, analyzed historical and existing conditions, and synthesized the work of specialists. This established the basis of a rigorous, iterative design process that aimed to yield a holistic strategy. Ultimately, our challenge as architects was to reconcile the artists’ original intentions with the ongoing missions of the cultural organizations that perpetuate their legacies. Preservation and access The space surrounding my work is crucial to it: As much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. —Donald Judd We first encountered this unusual design problem when we were responsible for the restoration of 101 Spring Street, the five-story 1870 mercantile building that Judd occupied from 1968 to 1994. Here, he made what came to be known as his permanently installed spaces: site-specific installations of his art and that of his peers. He modified the cast-iron building and added new elements to create an unprecedented interaction between art and daily life. In the years following his untimely death, the deterioration of the building compromised Judd’s work and the Judd Foundation’s mission—on top of the fact that the building did not have a certificate of occupancy. Working closely over eight years with representatives of the foundation, we preserved the authentic experience Judd intended. Paradoxically, this required extensive modern technical infrastructure, such as fire suppression and life-safety systems, without which public access would not be possible. Completed in 2013, the painstaking effort touched nearly every part of the building, but the project’s success is measured by the extent to which our presence disappears in service of Judd’s vision. Contemplation and action We have here both a chapel and a monument; a place for worship and a memorial to a great leader. The association of these two remarkable sites should tell us over and over again that spiritual life and active life should remain united. —Dominique de Menil A current project, presently in construction, is the restoration of the Rothko Chapel and new architecture that supports the chapel’s expanded public programming. The Rothko Chapel is both a place and a program, comprising the union of patrons John and Dominique de Menil’s ecumenism and egalitarianism with Mark Rothko’s aspiration to create deep emotional connections through the immersive experience of his art. The chapel building, completed in 1971, is a locus for spiritual enlightenment through meditation in a space Rothko defined through the integration of 14 monumental painted panels with their architectural context. The adjacent reflecting pool and Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., symbolize the chapel’s mission to act as a platform for social justice through its programming, which promotes dialogue between people. The dialectic between contemplation and action, which is integral to the chapel’s institutional and architectural identity, is the basis of our design strategy. In this sense, we engage the de Menils as collaborators, too. Restoring the sense of awe A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. —Mark Rothko Our goal for the chapel restoration is to reinstate a sense of awe in each guest along with a recognition of self, which is the basis of the chapel’s social mission. This self-recognition is constituted from the experience of Rothko’s interior, an octagonal space formed by his paintings, which are portals into voids of fluctuating opacity, color, and reflectivity illuminated by a central skylight. Although he determined all the key attributes of the chapel (prevailing over the wishes of Philip Johnson, who designed the building with Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry), Rothko never visited Houston and died before it was completed. Choosing daylight as the primary source of illumination, he did not anticipate the harsh Texas sun, which immediately began to damage the paintings and weaken the qualities that he had so rigorously studied in his New York studio. During the decades following the opening of the chapel, three attempts to block and filter daylight with baffles did not successfully address the need to control glare and brightness. The most significant element of the restoration is an innovative lighting strategy developed by George Sexton, which opens the interior space as it was originally conceived. This includes a new skylight with an array of angled louvers, each precisely oriented to distribute daylight more evenly to Rothko’s panels. When daylight is lower than needed to see the paintings, such as on a very cloudy day or at dusk, eight digital projectors concealed in a ring around the skylight provide subtle additional illumination. Other changes, including a redesigned entry sequence, will greatly improve the quality of the experience. Mediating between the chapel and the neighborhood …a reconciliation between the ordinary and the extraordinary in a dialectical relationship… —Stephen Fox The new architecture for the chapel is grounded in both the singular power of its building and the unique character of the surrounding early-20th-century residential neighborhood, but does not overwhelm either of these contexts. This maintains the de Menils’ vision—the essence of the chapel’s identity as a program—to situate the sacred within daily life. A new landscape precinct, designed in collaboration with Nelson Byrd Woltz, is created by the removal of adjacent houses occupied by the chapel and the addition of new planting, paths, and plaza pavement. This affirms the chapel’s presence as a freestanding element within the larger open space shared with adjacent Menil Park on a block framed by a necklace of bungalows. Across Sul Ross Street, a new north campus comprises a welcome house, program center, and an administration and archive building that together define a public courtyard, which opens to the street. The scale and massing of these elements echo those of the adjacent residences, further bridging the neighborhood and the chapel. With glass walls shaded by a generous wood trellis, the porchlike welcome house is a resting place along the journey to and from the chapel. The program center, which includes a two-hundred-person meeting room, is pushed to the back of the courtyard to establish a buffer against larger development to the north. The administration and archive building aligns with the width and height of the chapel, which also sets the height of the program center. The architectural expression of the north campus extends the site strategy. The simple building forms echo the chapel’s mass and are clad in gray wood siding that relates to the existing bungalows, which are all painted gray. This vertical and horizontal board-and-batten detailing provides a play of shadows, which integrates the architecture with the dappled light that passes through the tree canopy. A large, shaded glass wall visually connects the program center’s meeting room to the courtyard and the chapel across the street. The meeting room, whose outward-looking public orientation contrasts with the chapel’s inward focus, is defined by simply spanning laminated wood beams, gray plaster walls (which match the chapel), and a wood floor. It is equipped with concealed technical infrastructure to support a variety of events, including lectures, symposia, banquets, and workshops. The north wall of the meeting room is illuminated by a continuous skylight, which brightens the interior and enables views into the space from outside. Unity …one person is a unity, and somehow, after the long complex process, a work of art is a similar unity. —Donald Judd I have created a new kind of unity, a new method of achieving unity. —Mark Rothko The restoration of 101 Spring Street and the restoration and expansion of the Rothko Chapel are deeply informed by our engagement with both posthumous and living collaborators (including the artists’ children). Sometimes our work is invisible; often there are prominent new elements. Ultimately, everything is shaped by our judgment. We seek a reciprocity between existing and new architecture, a complex layering that balances deference and distinction. These projects inform our other current work, including the design of a new visitor center for Olana, the painter Fredric Church’s property in upstate New York, and the Dia Art Foundation’s spaces in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Judd and Rothko used the word “unity” in describing their aspirations for art that encompasses the fullness of humanity’s relationship to the world. Dominique de Menil expressed her conviction that “spiritual life and active life should remain united.” Through these projects, we learned that inquiry and invention, grounded in empathy and humility, unite architecture with its past, present, and future cultural contexts. Adam Yarinsky is a principal at ARO.
Placeholder Alt Text

Time's Running Out

AN rounds up must-see exhibitions to catch this summer

Summer is a great time to explore the world of art and architecture, whether through tours of an exquisitely restored historic house or through online exhibitions that celebrate the cutting-edge work of the Bauhaus. Here are some openings you might have missed:

Just: The Architectural League Prize Exhibit

June 21 - July 31, 2019 66 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011

In an exhibit closing today, The Architectural League of New York has put work by the winners of its 2019 Architectural League Prize on display, a coveted award that has been recognizing promising young architects since 1981. Provocative models, drawings, and installations produced by the six winners have been assembled in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design.

The work selected for display covers a wide range of scales and media. With honorees hailing from cities across the United States and Central America, the exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of perspectives and thematic focuses that relate to architecture, urbanism, and the design world at large.

Big Ideas Small Lots

August 1 - November 2, 2019 526 LaGuardia Place New York, NY 10012

Starting tomorrow, New York’s Center for Architecture will exhibit winning submissions from Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC, a competition jointly organized by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter. The competition asked designers to propose ideas for converting small-scale, difficult-to-develop lots across the city into viable affordable housing. Five finalists, including Palette Architecture and Michael Sorkin Studio, emerged from an initial pool of 444 proposals. The exhibition highlighting their work will be on display from August 1 until November 2.

Changing Signs, Changing Times: A History of Wayfinding in Transit

Through November 6 Grand Central Terminal New York, NY

The New York Transit Museum is hosting an exhibit on wayfinding in its satellite gallery at Grand Central Terminal. On view through November 6, the exhibit includes objects, photographs, and other archival materials exploring the evolution of signage in New York’s transit system. The items, which come primarily from the museum’s own collection, shed light on the changing needs of transit users and the ways in which designers have addressed those needs over time.

The gallery is located just off the Main Concourse in the Shuttle Passage, next to the Station Masters’ Office.

Bauhaus: Building the New Artist

Online

Earlier this summer, the Getty launched an online exhibition as a complement to Bauhaus Beginnings, a gallery exhibit on display at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California. Planned as a centennial celebration of the Bauhaus’ groundbreaking approach to architectural education, the web-based exhibition features historical images from the Getty’s archives and information about the Bauhaus, as well as opportunities for visitors to test exercises crafted by the school’s pioneering luminaries, including Josef Albers and Vassily Kandinsky.

Dilexi: Totems and Phenomenology

June 22 - August 10, 2019 Parrasch Heijnen Gallery 1326 South Boyle Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90023

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery in Los Angeles is displaying counter-cultural works of art from San Francisco’s Dilexi Gallery, including pieces by Arlo Acton, Tony DeLap, Deborah Remington, Charles Ross, and Richard Van Buren. Much of the art featured in the exhibition, which ranges in media from photography to sculpture, uses nontraditional materials and explores the very nature of perception.

Pope.L: Conquest

September 21, 2019

New York's Public Art Fund will present Pope.L’s most ambitious participatory project yet. Pope.L: Conquest will involve over one hundred volunteers, who will relay-crawl 1.5 miles from Manhattan's West Village to Union Square. According to the Public Art Fund, participants will “give up their physical privilege” and “satirize their own social and political advantage, creating a comic scene of struggle and vulnerability to share with the entire community.”

Pope.L has organized more than 30 performance art projects since 1978, but this will be the largest of the bunch. The crawl will take place on September 21, beginning at the Corporal John A Seravalli Playground.

It Might Be a Place (for LLH), as part of Unfoldingobject

June 20 - August 11, 2019 Concord Center for the Visual Arts 37 Lexington Road Concord, Ma 01742

The Concord Center for the Visual Arts in Massachusetts is displaying an installation by James Andrew Scott as part of its ongoing exhibition Unfoldingobject. Curated by Todd Bartel, the exhibit compiles collages by 50 different artists, each of whom has a distinct interpretation of the medium. Scott’s work, which is integrated into a skylight in the gallery building, presents a dramatic series of irregular pyramids that protrude from the ceiling at different angles. The entire exhibition is on view through August 11.