Search results for "east"

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History, erased

Large section of Berlin Wall demolished to make way for condos
Just several short months after the 30th anniversary marking the fall of the Berlin Wall, a nearly 200-foot remaining section of the concrete blockade was razed to make way for a luxury condo development in the northeastern borough of Pankow. While not particularly touristy compared to wall remnants found in central Berlin such as the East Side Gallery, this particular stretch of graffiti-clad wall embankment, hidden away in suburban Pankow, was one of the largest surviving sections of the 96-mile-long Berlin Wall and one of the last pieces of the Hinterlandmauer, or inner wall, remaining in the once-divided German capital. As Artnet notes, the Hinterlandmauer was built in the 1970s, a decade after the main wall, as a reinforcement barrier with the Pankow section running parallel to a now-shuttered railroad line that connected Berlin to the Polish border city of Szczecin. While not protected as a historical site, Smithsonian Magazine noted that the Berlin Wall Foundation did reveal plans to preserve part of Pankow’s overlooked inner wall—which stood about 11 feet high and was erected roughly 1,600 feet from the main wall—last fall ahead of the city’s reunification anniversary celebrations. An October article published in weekly magazine Berliner Woche directly mentions the potential preservation scheme, while also noting proposed plans to turn the disused stretch of railway tracks adjacent to the inner wall into a “cycling highway.”
“Today the hinterland wall is surrounded by trees and bushes. This part of the former border security system is only known to residents and obviously a number of graffiti sprayers. The Berlin Wall Foundation and the DDR Museum are currently working to ensure that this section is maintained. The chances are pretty good because the property is already owned by the state.”
As Der Tagesspiegel reported, the Berlin Wall Foundation and other historical groups were unaware of plans to demolish the 196-foot-long section of inner wall. Upon learning the news, they were left “horrified.” “The partial demolition of the continuous piece of hinterland wall on the Dolomitenstraße is a clear loss of original wall remains,” Manfred Wichmann, a curator with the Berlin Wall Foundation, explained to German daily Der Tagesspiegel. “This was a testimony to how deeply the border regime of the GDR intervened in the everyday life of the people in East Berlin.” City officials, however, seemed largely unsympathetic to the outrage of historians and preservationists. “No protected status was determined by the monument authorities; the foundation had obviously campaigned too late to preserve it,” City Building Councilor Vollrad Kuhn told Tagesspiegel. Der Tagesspiegel also noted that just months earlier Wichmann and others had stressed the vital importance of preserving more obscure remaining sections of the wall. Sören Marotz, exhibition director of the DDR Museum, also played up how the upcoming bike path could help to meaningfully increase exposure to Pankow’s inner wall. “This shows that such historical locations and new usage concepts go well together,” he said. Wichmann noted that just under a mile-and-a-half of original Berlin Wall segments are still standing in Berlin proper and although the demolished stretch in Pankow was not part of the main wall, it was a significant loss nevertheless. “They are disappearing more and more,” said Wichmann. As noted by ABC News, a plan to demolish the famed East Gallery in 2013 to make way for a luxury high-rise development along the Spree River was “met with outrage and public protest.” Still, some segments of the East Gallery were ultimately removed.
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Brit and Determination

Completed in nine days, massive NHS Nightingale hospital opens in London
NHS Nightingale Hospital London, an emergency medical facility dedicated to treating patients infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), opened late last week within the normally conventioneer-stuffed halls of the ExCeL London exhibition center following a super-expeditious retrofit. Thanks to a herculean collaborative effort carried out by the National Health Service (NHS), the British Armed Forces, the Royal Engineers, the facilities management team at ExCeL London, private contractors, and international architecture firm BDP, the 1-million-square-foot convention center in the docklands of East London has been transformed in just over a week into what’s not only the largest hospital in the United Kingdom but, per CNBC, the largest critical care unit in the world. BDP project leads Paul Johnson, architect director, and James Hepburn, engineering principal, described the process in a statement as “a monumental team effort which has been intense and exhausting.” The makeshift facility has room for 4,000- to-5,000 ventilator-equipped beds spread out between 78 different wards, each named after a famed British healthcare figure, as well as two morgues according to The Evening Standard. The hospital is currently operating with 500 beds and will expand as needed. “It’s nothing short of extraordinary that this new hospital in London has been established from scratch in less than a fortnight, said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, in a press statement. “The NHS, working with the military, has done in a matter of days what usually takes years.” Prince Charles, who is currently in Scotland recovering after he tested positive for COVID -19 at the end of March, opened the NHS Nightingale London via Skype on April 3. He noted: “In this dark time, this place will be a shining light.” At the time of writing, there have been 48,440 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom and 4,934 known deaths. In addition to Prince Charles, other prominent British figures who have contracted the virus include Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a growing handful of film and television personalities, athletes, and beloved cultural icons. London's makeshift mega-hospital is the first of what are to be several NHS field hospitals spread out across England with others soon to open in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Harrogate, Yorkshire. All will uniformly carry the Nightingale name in honor of trailblazing hygiene evangelist and Crimean War nurse extraordinaire, Florence Nightingale. Outside of England, NHS-operated pop-up hospitals are also in the works for Glasgow, Belfast, and Cardiff. ExCeL London’s Abu Dhabi-based owner was originally set to charge the NHS a hefty monthly sum for use of the space but has since reconsidered. While ExCel London certainly isn’t the first convention center or arena in Europe or elsewhere to be repurposed into a temporary hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, the staggering size of the conversion and the speed at which it was completed are, as noted by Prince Charles, remarkable. Also remarkable is the all-hands-on-deck approach instituted at Nightingale London and future NHS field hospitals. In addition to helping to build-out the facilities, military personnel have been enlisted by the NHS to join civilian first responders in ferrying patients via ambulance to the hospitals. Furloughed cabin crew members with airlines easyJet and Virgin Atlantic—many of them first aid-trained and security-cleared—have also been summoned by their employers to change beds and perform non-clinical support tasks at NHS Nightingale London and other NHS field hospitals. As for the conversion of ExCeL London into the world’s largest critical care facility, Manchester-headquartered BDP has been eager to share its adaptive design approach in hopes that it can be replicated elsewhere if need be. To help illustrate how it was done, the firm has published a poster-sized, IKEA-esque instruction manual. “Delivering emergency hospital facilities in conference and exhibition centres is unprecedented, so we have been drawing on our previous experience of designing large-scale healthcare facilities including very large intensive-care units in super-speciality tertiary hospitals like Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham,” said BDP's Hepburn in a statement. “However, it is the scale, timeframe and purpose of this emergency facility that distinguishes it from any previous healthcare projects.” The firm elaborates on the nuts and bolts of the rapidly implemented design its website:
“The bed heads and service corridors were constructed from a component system that is usually used to construct exhibition stands and there was some simple reinforcement to allow services to be fitted to the walls. Minimal building intervention enabled maximum use of the building's assets. “Clinical flows determined the circulation strategy within the building. The wards are linked with a temporary tunnel across a boulevard which allows connection to the diagnostics area. Staff move from the boulevard to and from the ICU wards via the don and doff rooms, allowing PPE to be donned and doffed, which is key to infection control.”
Per the NHS, 33,000 beds in existing hospitals have been freed up to accommodate an influx of COVID-stricken patients. This is the equivalent of opening 50 new hospitals, although this comparison, as some have pointed out, is a bit weak. “These measures mean that capacity still exists in hospitals to deal with coronavirus, with the Nightingales standing ready if local services need them beyond that,” explained the NHS.
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AN Book Club

Here are AN’s picks for design reads to enjoy while housebound
With all of AN's staff sheltering in place, we’ve found it an opportune time to catch up on some long-neglected or newly relevant reads. As befits our time of crisis, the following picks thematically converge on the existential, oscillating between the bleak and the restorative. There are fillips to cozy domesticity, incitations toward household intrigue, bleak invocations of abandoned cityscapes, historical reckonings of queasy illness, and implicated in all of them are buildings, interiors, objects. In a word, these are the books we’re reading while stuck at home. Need something more visceral than a book? Don't miss our complementary shut-in's guide to must-see movies and TV! The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition By Don Norman Hachette, 2013 What better time to critically re-examine your collection of household objects than when you’re stuck indoors? In The Design of Everyday Things, the objects you take for granted every day are torn down and put back together again with explanations of how and why the designers made the choices they did. There's a reason this book is required reading in most UI/UX and product design courses. –Jonathan Hilburg, web editor Fewer, Better Things By Glenn Adamson Bloomsbury, 2018 In this somewhat autobiographical book, leading design and craft theorist Glenn Adamson makes the case for paring down our domestic interiors. After all, why would we surround ourselves with things lacking in sentimental or functional value? Through careful recollections of his own experiences, Adamson defends the importance of well-designed, well-made objects, as antidotes to the proliferation of information and services associated with the digital age. –Adrian Madlener, interiors editor The Little House: An Architectural Seduction by Jean-Francois de Bastide (translation by Rodolphe El-Khoury) This out-of-print gem takes the reader on a tantalizing journey through an 18th-century manse, complete with a picturesque garden. From the erotic depths of Jean-Francois de Bastide’s imagination, unfolds the fictitious tale of a woman seduced by the all-encapsulating beauty of the estate. Illustrated with drawings of furnishings and objects, as well as in-detail maps, each scene presents itself in a visually intoxicating aesthetic account. Used copies published by Princeton Architectural Press can still be found via Amazon or Abe Books for your viewing pleasure. –Gabrielle Golenda, products editor The House Next Door By Anne Rivers Siddons Simon & Schuster, 1978 This late 1970s work of character-driven literary horror by Anne Rivers Siddons, a Southern writer best known for beach read-y bestsellers in other genres, garnered renewed attention after her death late last year. Taking place in the affluent Atlanta suburbs (Buckhead is that you?), the Stephen King-beloved book, while not a haunted-house yarn per se, is the most unsettling work of fiction concerning modern residential architecture ever written. Just imagine a Deep South version of John Cheever’s The Swimmer thrown into a blender with Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and a vintage copy of Architectural Digest and you’re somewhat close. –Matt Hickman, associate editor Sun Seekers: The Cure of California By Lyra Kilston Atelier Éditions, 2019 The second volume in Atelier Éditions’ The Illustrated America series is fascinating, fun, and quite topical. Tracing the history of the often quixotic and quack-y tuberculosis-spurred health trends imported from Europe to Southern California during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sun Seekers pays particular mind to the role that modernist architecture played in the rise of clean living. This beautifully produced book truly has it all: heliotherapy, raw foods, German proto-hippies, naturopathic zealotry, experimental sanatorium design, a brief history of granola, and a discussion of Richard Neutra’s musings for Nude Living magazine. –Matt Hickman, associate editor X-Ray Architecture Beatriz Colomina Lars Müller, 2019 In her latest book, historian Beatriz Colomina argues that the cleanly aesthetics associated with modern architecture are, in part, a response to the turn-of-the-century tuberculosis pandemic. In the work of architects such as Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, Richard Neutra, and Friedrich Kiesler, Colomina discovers a medicinal throughline that skillfully challenges preceding histories of modernism. –Shane Reiner-Roth, associate editor Digital Fabrications Galo Canizares Applied Design & Research, 2019 Mixing fiction with applied research, Galo Canizares follows emerging trends in digital design to question our relationship with software, that elusive and often misused term. One of the major pleas found throughout the book is for architecture students to not only learn every software program required to bring their concepts to fruition, but also to consider the impact those programs are quietly having on cultural conventions and the language used for describing architecture itself. –Shane Reiner-Roth, associate editor Map: Exploring the World By John Hessler Phaidon, 2020 (midi format) Take a look at the NYC metro map and you’ll easily get a sense of how you can move from one place to another. Most, if not all, contemporary transit maps are inspired by Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground map (which famously sacrifices geographic location and scale in favor of representing relative locations of stations and lines). For this reason among others, maps help us to see connections we might not otherwise. From the birth of cartography to today’s high-tech digital maps, this new edition surveys a breadth of visual tools made in both analog and digital formats. –Gabrielle Golenda, products editor Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space By Keller Easterling Verso, 2015 Fun fact: Did you know there’s an extra-governmental body that regulates everything from the thickness of credit cards to the height of doorknobs? How much do you know about free trade zones, business-friendly districts found all over the world technically not under the purview of the countries that host them? Keller Easterling’s dig into the non-governmental bodies that influence how much of the world works—often free of oversight—reads a bit dryly but paints a dystopian picture of the systems already guiding our day-to-day lives. –Jonathan Hilburg, web editor Applied Ballardianism: A Memoir from a Parallel Universe By Simon Sellars Urbanomic, 2018 The mood of the day is undoubtedly dystopian, and no remedy of spirits appears forthcoming. In need of a guide for navigating the new bleak normal? Look no further than J.G. Ballard, docent of alienated modernity. And there is perhaps no better guide to Ballard than Simon Sellars. In his involute book—part-memoir, part-literary hall-of-mirrors—Sellars recounts his personal affinity to the famed British novelist, a bond that spans Sellars’s promising graduate school career and the crisis of identity that brought it to an abrupt end. Along the way, he rescues Ballard from the lazy empirical shorthand Ballardian, a fate not afforded to that other master of the uncanny, Kafka. –Samuel Medina, executive editor
Every book on this list was selected independently by AN’s team of editors. If you buy something via the embedded links, AN will earn a commission. 
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Prospective Future

Campaign to save Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage blows past its goal
A small and humble cottage, set on the southeastern English coast in Dungeness, Kent, has been the unlikely subject of an arts crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its goal of $4.28 million (£3.5 million) after receiving more than 7,300 donations from around the world. Prospect Cottage was once a place of refuge for the late Derek Jarman, an English artist, gay rights activist, stage designer, and film director behind notable works including Sebastiane (1976), Caravaggio (1986), and Glitterbug (1994), as well as music videos for the likes of the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and the Smiths. The artist lived in the home until his passing in 1994, after which it was maintained and opened to the public by his long-time companion Keith Collins. Following Collins’ passing in 2018, Prospect Cottage has been at risk of being sold privately and withheld from the public. The fundraising campaign was first launched ten weeks ago by Tilda Swinton, a close friend of Jarman's. “When we first launched this appeal,” the actress told The Guardian, “we were throwing ourselves into the void in the hope and faith that others might feel, as we do, that seeds planted with love make for a resilient and sustaining garden, even one grown amongst stones.” Artist Tacita Dean received word of Swinton's initiative and enlisted support from The Art Fund, a London-based independent charity invested in the acquisition of artworks for the nation. The Art Fund determined a fundraising goal of £3.5 million would be necessary “to purchase Prospect Cottage and to establish a permanently funded programme to conserve and maintain the building, its contents and its garden for the future,” according to a press statement, and developed an innovative partnership with Creative Folkestone and Tate to enable public access to the grounds. “Prospect Cottage is a living, breathing work of art, filled with the creative impulse of Derek Jarman at every turn,” said Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar. “It’s imperative we come together to save the Cottage, its contents and its extraordinary garden as a source of creative inspiration for everyone.” Artists including Michael Craig-Martin, Jeremy Deller, and Wolfgang Tillmans produce limited-edited artworks as rewards for public donations, and David Hockney provided a substantial personal donation that tipped the scales. Additionally, the sale of a single suit, signed by a cadre of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio, fetched an additional $19,600. The success of the campaign ensures that Creative Folkstone will oversee the cottage’s long-tern care and maintain its programming, while Jarman’s belongings will be made available for public access at Tate Britain. Maria Balshaw, the director of Tate, told The Guardian that “the success of the campaign to save Prospect Cottage raises our spirits in these difficult times. It is testament to the profound impact of Derek Jarman’s originality, energy and activism and his influence on generations of artists and actors who came after him.”
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Corona Column

The COVID-19 pandemic could change the way we make things
For the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, AN will use this column to keep our readers up to date on how the pandemic is affecting architecture and related industries. This weekly article is meant to digest the latest major developments in the crisis and synthesize broader patterns and what they could mean for architecture in the United States. The previous edition of the column can be found here. This week, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to escalate across the United States, and we’re starting to see signs of how the crisis could affect manufacturing and building supply chains in the long term. While construction slows nationally, architects and manufacturers are turning their hands toward producing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, responding to current shortages and anticipating the incredible need expected in the coming weeks as the pandemic peaks. These flexible responses could save lives, and the memory of that could spur the country to rethink how it makes things. Cities, and how residents use them, have already changed quickly. New York and Los Angeles have enacted temporary eviction bans to help people who have lost their jobs because of the economic effects of the pandemic, and state and local governments have repurposed existing structures as healthcare facilities. New York converted the Javits Convention Center into a 1,200-bed emergency hospital, and across the country, parking garages, college dorms, and even parks have been turned into pop-up medical facilities Construction freezes across the country have continued and expanded. New York has responded to the crisis by pausing all nonessential construction. Many construction sites in Los Angeles have temporarily closed, although the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is going ahead with the controversial demolition of its current home as it prepares to build its new Peter Zumthor–designed building.  Even aside from mandated site closures, there are signs that work may slow in the months after the pandemic passes. At a virtual town hall last week, representatives from AIA New York discussed how that city’s Department of Design and Construction was cutting its budget ahead of anticipated shortfalls as a result of the pandemic’s effect on the economy.  On a more upbeat note, the speakers at the AIA New York event also discussed a growing movement among architecture firms to 3D print personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Offices and schools across the country are printing masks and assembling face shields to donate to hospitals. It’s a nice story about how architects can respond to a pressing social need, and it’s also an indication of how much this pandemic is disrupting traditional supply chains. The way the industry heals from these wounds may foster a very different system than the one we are used to. Many of the recent social distancing orders have affected manufacturers as much as construction companies. As a result of Michigan’s policy, many producers there have had to temporarily close their plants and lay off workers. The state has long been a center for furniture production—brands like Steelcase, Herman Miller, and Haworth are based in or around Grand Rapids, aka Furniture City. Katie Woodruff of Steelcase confirmed that that company has been forced to shutter most Michigan production lines for now, but that the company is fabricating critical equipment for healthcare and government needs, as well as maintaining operations in Alabama and Mexico for essential business and elsewhere in the world as possible. Not all manufacturers have had to pause. Scott Melnick, senior vice president of the American Institute of Steel Construction, said that “while the rules vary from state-to-state, many fabricators have been classified as essential businesses by state leadership or through the current CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] guidelines, and are still working, albeit with added precautions to minimize worker exposure.” Some of these heavy industry fabrication plants are difficult to take temporarily offline. Glass manufacturers, for example, will stay open regardless of short-term demand, because float glass is deemed critical to national security, partly because it’s used by the defense industry. Float glass plants can take weeks to stop and a year, as well as millions of dollars, to restart—a story on AN will explore that next week. Some manufacturers, like architecture firms, are radically redirecting their operations to create protective equipment. About two weeks ago, New Jersey-based furniture maker Stylex began producing face masks with their sewing machines and CNC cutting equipment. Sewers are now creating 400 to 500 masks per day for area hospitals. While the masks aren’t equivalent to the much-need N95 masks, Bruce Golden, Stylex co-CEO, said that the masks are being made in accordance with government requirements for donated equipment and CDC guidelines. Stratasys, a major 3D printing and additive manufacturing company, has also pivoted to producing protective equipment. After receiving requests for face shields, the company scrambled to prototype a model that they could partially print and donate to hospitals and nursing homes. The company made their digital model available online so that other businesses and individuals can sign up to print the face shield parts and send them to Stratasys for assembly (the company asks that partners commit to producing parts for at least 100 shields). Since starting in late March, Stratasys has now produced and donated thousands of shields to hospitals and nursing homes. Others interested in printing and producing models may submit their designs for FDA approval here. The crisis has exposed the advantages of 3D printing, which allows for extremely quick responses to demand. A representative from Stratasys said that while the company could switch to injection mold manufacturing to produce the shields in greater numbers, that would require two weeks just to make the initial mold. Printing allowed the company to respond in days, and thanks to a diffused national network of printers, production could still ramp up quickly and locally as needed. These workarounds to the pandemic’s radical disruption of global supply chains could reverberate long after this crisis ends.  “For years, furniture manufacturers, and manufacturers in general, have been compelled to rethink how forces like climate change, geopolitical instability, and supply chain disruptions affect overall organizational resiliency,” Woodruff at Steelcase said. “The COVID-19 global pandemic is very likely to intensify and accelerate efforts to shift operations, and invest in digital technologies to enhance smarter supply chains and create more efficient distribution strategies.” Customers may focus on domestic goods as memories of this shock live on, or the crisis could spur a boom in diffuse, localized 3D printing networks that could nimbly respond to such disasters. Stratasys reported that a hospital in France recently bought 60 of its printers to produce equipment on site. The lingering anxieties borne by this moment could reshape the country’s approach to manufacturing for decades. Finally, if you’re looking for something to distract you while you’re cooped up inside, take a look at this roundup of architecture-related movies and shows selected by AN’s editorial staff. Be well!
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A Call to Arms

Operation PPE creates 3D-printed equipment for the COVID-19 front lines
Things right now are undoubtedly, brutally rough. And when the going gets rough, the architecture and design community gets 3D printing. As part of a sweeping grassroots mobilization effort that expands and evolves daily, architects, designers, makers, and a small army of displaced students have banded together and fired up their 3D printers to produce the personal protective equipment (PPE) so desperately needed in hospitals that are struggling to provide necessary gear to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is, without question, the worst public health crisis of our lifetime. The numbers are truly staggering, and for medical professionals, it is very much like a war, causing casualties and death,” said Dr. James Pacholka MD, a surgeon at Southern Ohio Medical Center, in a statement shared with AN. “No one wants to fight a battle without adequate protection and the PPE’s are our armor, so any help we get in that regard is incredible. And for people using their expertise to help us in any way that they can is honestly beautiful, and serves as a warm reminder of mankind’s goodness and generosity.” In that regard, the architecture and design community has more than risen to the occasion. The Operation PPE effort began in earnest with an SOS of sorts sent via email late on March 24 by Kirstin Petersen, assistant professor at Cornell University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering to fellow professor Jenny Sabin, director of Sabin Lab at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) and principal of the eponymous architectural design studio based in Ithaca, New York. Petersen relayed the dire need for PPE, specifically face shields, at Weill Cornell Medicine, the university’s medical school and biomedical research unit in New York City. The request—initially estimated by Weill Cornell to be 20,000 to 50,000 per day in New York City—rapidly disseminated throughout multiple departments at the university. By 10:00 a.m. the next morning, Sabin, with the blessing of Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell AAP, had reopened the school’s Digital Fabrication Lab, fired up all 10 of its 3D printers, and got to work. At the same time, Sabin spread the word to faculty, staff, and students while providing detailed instructions on the lab website. Petersen and Amy Kuceyeski, associate professor of mathematics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, also started a Slack channel to keep lines of communication open and flowing in a single dedicated space. “We were able to respond to the need right away,” Sabin explained to AN. “And what started out as just a few labs on Cornell’s campus then began to grow.” Sabin and others that have since joined the Operation PPE movement are basing their output, which includes a laser-cut clear plastic shield alongside a 3D-printed visor band that snugly fits across a user’s forehead, on an open-source design file created by Erik Cederberg of Swedish company 3D Verkstan. That design, and that design only without any major modifications, has been verified for use by Weill Cornell. The shields, which can be discarded or sanitized and reused, are made from polyethylene sheets while the visor band component is generally made from PLA or ABS, both standard 3D printing materials. PET or PETG, however, is preferred by the medical community as it’s safer to reuse and longer-lasting. Once the components are distributed, hospital staff sanitizes and assembles the face shields. Ultimately, 3D-printed PPE is meant as a temporary solution, as desperate times call for creative measures. But as far as stopgap measures go at least one medical professional, an emergency room doctor at a major New York City Hospital, gave his approval: “The 3D shields and masks being made may be very useful, and can be designed with comfort, visibility, and re-usability in mind,” he said in a statement provided to AN.

A ground-up, grassroots movement grows

While Sabin’s Digital Fabrication Lab and other labs within Cornell departments that have access to 3D printers and laser cutters quickly got to work (all with an eye toward social distancing and overall safety), Yoon sent out an all-hands-on-deck email to the school’s vast network of alumni. Within 48 hours of Petersen reaching out to Sabin, a slew of major architecture firms—Terreform, Grimshaw, Bjarke Ingels Group, Handel Associates, Weiss Manfredi, and Kohn Pedersen Fox among them—had joined the effort. Edg, a mid-sized Manhattan-based architecture and engineering firm, also sprung into action. Notably, edg made a slight but critical adjustment to the visor band allowing for a tighter and more protective fit that also enabled production to increase by up to 20 percent. Currently, edg is producing up to 100 face shields per day and plans to launch a website to connect and coordinate those looking to pitch in. “In less than four days we had this massive web of people firing up their machines, dedicating material, and donating their time and effort,” remarked Sabin. As of this writing, Cornell's on-campus labs have donated 5,800 face shields, a number that jumps significantly when also including PPE made and donated by alumni architects and their networks. “Together and in a very short amount of time, we were able to respond to a gap within the supply chain by leveraging 3D printing and a network of digital fabrication labs. On one hand, 3D printing is not the best way to make these parts, and one 3D printer isn’t going to make an impact, but when you have thousands… it’s incredible.” Students and faculty from schools including Parsons, the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon, and Iowa State have since joined Operation PPE. “The power of people coming together is just amazing,” said Sabin. Mitch McEwen, assistant professor at the Princeton School of Architecture and founding director of Black Box Research Group, has also played an active early role on the design and organizational fronts. As noted by McEwen, one area of focus for the team has been on the material supply chain. “How do you widen the stream of materials coming into this, and how do we get ahead of the curve on the next PPE disaster?” she said, adding that the Department of Health and Human Services has mentioned a potential shortage of PPE gowns is on the horizon. “PPE shortages have been cannibalizing the materials they already have.”

Expanding the network

Cornell AAP alumnus Jay Valgora, founder of multidisciplinary design firm STUDIO V, was among the first architects to enlist in Operation PPE and has been instrumental in helping get the word out wide and far. (His son, Jesse, an architecture student at Syracuse University, is also involved in the fabrication and material-sourcing efforts.) “Everyone wants to help and no one knows what to do,” Valgora told AN. “So it’s kind of great to not only do this—to get this equipment into the hands of medical workers who really need it—but it’s also great to give people a vehicle where they can help out and play a positive role.” Noting that his staff is now working from home remotely, Valgora said: “I can still go into the studio, which is empty now, so I went in there with Jesse and we dragged our 3D printers out and brought them home and set them up in our loft and started to print around the clock.” In addition to printing away alongside Jesse at his makeshift home lab, Valgora is teaming with Illya Azaroff, president-elect of AIA New York State, to help consolidate the growing number of different grassroots factions that have joined Operation PPE throughout the state. “We’re trying to create a larger movement to get more people involved,” said Valgora of his team-up with the AIA. “It would be great if the next step were to be to take this national.” While Valgora collaborates with AIA New York State to bolster outreach and involvement within the architecture community, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), acting as a clearinghouse, has also launched a formal intake process to better coordinate with local businesses looking to make and donate crucial medical supplies. The donations will be vetted by the Department of Health to ensure they meet safety protocols, at the scale needed for the city’s COVID-19 response. The NYCEDC has received over 1,700 queries from interested businesses in just several days. Per Shavone Williams, vice president and chief of staff for public affairs at the NYCEDC, the businesses working directly with the city to produce PPE include Makerspace NYC, Adafruit, and Brooklyn-based custom fabrication company Bednark Studios. Between these three enterprises, 127,000 face shield kits were delivered to New York hospitals this past week.

The effort out West

In Southern California, similar PPE-producing efforts are underway including one directly inspired by Sabin Lab's call to arms that's spearheaded by Alvin Huang, an associate professor at the USC School of Architecture and founding principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture. Since putting out an open call last week, Huang has brought together an initial network north of 80 people—largely USC faculty, alumni, and friends—working with 100 3D printers and three laser cutters. Students from other Los Angeles-area schools including SCI-arc and Santa Monica College have also joined the local effort as have firms including KAA Associates, ARUP, CO Architects, Michael Maltzan Architects, RCH Studios, Brooks Scarpa, and others. The gear produced by the Huang-launched campaign is being distributed to, via pickups coordinated by USC's Keck Medicine, to LAC+USC Medical Center, Keck Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and MLK Willowbrook Hospital. “I’m proud to announce we’re mobilizing our architecture, design, and manufacturing communities to utilize 3D-printing technologies,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at daily press briefing held earlier this week in which he discussed the city's larger L.A. Protects initiative. “We're getting this done by tapping into resources in our own backyard—developing prototypes and designs with USC's architecture, engineering, and medical schools. We're working with UCLA and other local universities, design schools, and architecture firms to utilize their materials and to use their expertise.” Like the effort originating at Cornell, Huang’s bourgeoning L.A.-centered network is creating and distributing protective face shields using a new design from Budman that’s been approved by Keck. The primary focus, however, is on producing 3D-printed “pseudo N95 masks,” which are also verified by Keck. N95 masks, which as others involved with the Operation PPE effort have pointed out, are not being produced at the same scale as face shield kits because 3D printers simply cannot replicate their complex design in a way that meets medical standards. “We brought this to the attention of Keck as we were concerned that we might be leading people to think they are safe when they’re not,” Huang told AN. “Keck said they were fully aware and had tested everything [...] they said these masks were not what they are using now, and they’re not a replacement for medical-grade PPE. They’re backups to the backup.” “This might be the scariest thing I’ve heard,” admitted Huang. “But Keck’s response was that this is wartime medicine, and we’re preparing for war, and in wars you need a backup to the backup. And Keck identified this as a backup that’s one level above using homemade cloth masks, bandanas, and socks.” It’s a grim assessment, for sure, but these are extraordinary times. As for Sabin, she’s looking past the bleakness and focusing on the synergetic, humane work being done by a community united by one common objective. “For me, the important thing to get out there is the network of people that have come together. The bridge, in terms of working across disciplines, has very much been the context of emerging technology, especially in digital fabrication and 3D printing,” she said. “There’s a kind of democratic space in that it is informal and bottom-up, and we’ve been able to make a real impact in that way. I think everybody’s been looking for a way to contribute during this difficult and unprecedented time, and I think this is a real and positive way to come together even though we can’t be near each other physically. And every visor, every shield, makes a difference.” For those without a 3D printer or digital fabrication skills, please see #GetUsPPE to explore other ways in which you can help.
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In the Tank

OPEN Architecture transforms an abandoned Shanghai industrial site into a contemporary art park
Along with a vast number of cultural institutions around the globe, Tank Shanghai, a sprawling urban art environment situated along the Huangpu River in China’s most populous city, has been closed to the public and upped its virtual presence in the midst of the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Just a little over a year old, this singular adaptive reuse-centered art space centered around—and located within—a quintet of massive decommissioned fuel waste tanks is back open now, and apparently ready to show off. A newly released series of photos details the transformative project, which was designed by multi-disciplinary design studio OPEN Architecture and spearheaded by karaoke-loving contemporary art collector Qiao Zhibing. Completed over the course of six years (with some significant delay), Tank Shanghai wholly transformed a formerly industrial plot adjacent to Shanghai’s old Longhua Airport while retaining five hulking tank structures that were left standing at the once-blighted 12-acre riverside site in the museum-stuffed West Bund area. Per OPEN, Tank Shanghai is one of the “world’s rare examples of the adaptive reuse of aviation fuel tanks.” Described as a “sanctuary for both people and nature” that aims to “dissolve conventional ideas of site limitations and demarcations,” Tank Shanghai’s open space-meets-contemporary-art-center approach has already proven to be popular with the public. Showing now is Chicago-based installation artist Theaster Gates’ Bad Neon, which transforms one of the tank-bound gallery spaces into a roller skating rink. For most, the art is indeed a main draw but Tank Shanghai’s park setting also attracts joggers, picnickers, and the like. “By introducing new audiences to the traditionally closed-off space of the art center, Tank Shanghai has brought unprecedented energy to the formerly industrial neighborhood and to the southwest banks of the city at large,” explained OPEN. The five tanks are connected by a lushly landscaped “Super Surface” which serves as a natural pedestrian corridor between the different major sections of the park, including an “Urban Forest, a grassy open meadow for large gatherings, and a “stepped waterscape.” By linking the site with busy Longten Avenue, the Super Surface also opens up public access to the revitalized riverfront. As for the tanks themselves, each has been retrofitted to serve a unique purpose and accommodate different programming. The first is home to a two-story nightclub featuring live music and bar; the second is a restaurant complete with an outdoor roof deck; the third is a cavernous, raw space left mostly unchanged in order to mount large installations; the fourth has been converted into a more traditional gallery space spread across three levels, each connected by a spiraling ramp, and the fifth has been converted to include two large, sheltered stages that each face sloping lawns for visitors to congregate for al fresco concerts, performances, and such. “It is an art center without boundaries, and as it continues to assimilate into the life of the city more largely,” wrote New York-founded OPEN. “Tank Shanghai will continue to facilitate and inspire the creation of more inclusive and collective cultural spaces.”
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Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen

This 3D-printed doghouse can hold up to 1,000 tennis balls
The doghouse, that ubiquitous shelter found in backyards across the globe, has seen little in the way of innovation—that is until now. The Fetch House, developed by CallisonRTKL’s Dallas team, is a 3D-printed abode for our canine companions that simultaneously functions as a storage device for at least 1,000 tennis balls. The prototype was awarded Best in Show at the AIA Dallas’s 2019 Texas Bark + Build Design/Build competition. Following the form of a traditional pentagonal post-and-beam structure, the Fetch House is composed of a floor plate, three perpendicular elevations, and a gabled roof. The pattern of the facade is largely based off of the standard dimension of tennis balls, 2.7" by 2.7", which are offset and held in compression by plastic armatures. Once inserted, the tennis balls provide the canine inhabitants shade and ventilation by virtue of the structure’s cellular layout. No two dogs are the same, and the parametric design of the Fetch House allows for owners to customize the dimensions of the doghouse—the digital script used by CallisonRTKL includes plugins for height, weight, and breed. The customizability of the prototype is made simple through the modular fabrication of components, which can be easily snapped together without the aid of any tools or further equipment. For the design team, materiality was one of the greatest challenges of the prototype and they limited the total number to three types of plastic. “Trying to reduce the amount of print material used without compromising the structural integrity of the design was a challenge as the plastic would react differently depending on the print orientation and final orientation within the grid,” said CallisonRTKL vice president Brendan O'Grady. “We also had to make sure the individual pieces didn’t take too long to print so a number of prototypes were made throughout the design process to optimize the design and fine-tune the print settings.”    
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Moss, Mayne, Holl, and more remember the late Michael Sorkin
Michael Sorkin, inimitable scribe of the built environment and leading design mind, passed away in New York at age 71 last Thursday after contracting COVID-19. Survived by his wife Joan Copjec, Sorkin leaves behind an invaluable body of work, as the following tributes—from friends, colleagues, peers—readily acknowledge. This is the first of a two-part series; the second can be read here. Eric Owen Moss, principal, Eric Owen Moss Architects: Michael Sorkin, Where are you? In sight of the invisible. Loyal to that cause. Michael the critic. Michael the urbanist. Michael the politico polemicist. Michael the architect. Michael the sardonic humorist. Homeless and everywhere at home. Educating the educators. Colleague’s definition. Friend’s definition. Redrawing the criticalurbanistpolicoarchitecthumorist’s map. In perpetuity. So those in arrears can follow. If they can. Michael, where are you? Eating at Rosa? Laughing together at the prima ballerina and the qb? Someone once told us, “the sun also ariseth.” Just not today. Love you. Thom Mayne, founding partner, Morphosis Architects: In the eighties when we were all starving, Michael would put me up in his apartment where I would occupy an unforgettable Pesce Feltri chair while we talked late into the night about the subject we both loved—architecture. Exhausted and enfolded in the wings of that chair, I would sleep and then awaken as though no time had passed before we were at it again. His voice, then as it was yesterday, was incisive and fearless and sometimes stinging. He challenged me repeatedly with words I often didn’t want to hear. But I trusted him—his comments were clearly coming from a place of generosity and honesty and commitment to his project which was, finally, about social justice. He spoke of our awesome responsibilities, he spoke relentlessly of the power of architecture to change lives, he never stopped insisting that we must never stop fighting—for what we believed in, for a resistance to the status quo. His prodigious intelligence combined with his obvious love of humanity gave his words a rare gravitas and power. Finally, I ask myself why I am thinking about that room, that chair, that time, and I realize that it’s the gift of connection with people that made Michael so special. I’m thinking about that chair, those hours, that mind, and I, like every single person I’ve spoken with these last few days, am undone, feeling lost in a fog of sadness whose edges I can’t quite find. Steven Holl, principal, Steven Holl Architects: The shocking tragic news that Michael Sorkin was taken out by COVID-19 is unbelievable—tragically surreal. I had known Michael for over forty years. He invited me to an event on New Year’s Eve when I first arrived in New York City. He was a very rare architect of deep intellect and sharp wit. He was a champion of remarkable urban visions, and like our close friend Lebbeus Woods, he had fearless convictions about architecture. Michael was a character like Cervantes’s Don Quixote in the best way. I remember him saying, “I may not achieve all my visions, but I will die fighting for them.” Let’s pay attention to this tragic moment in humanity. As Malebranche said, “attention is the natural prayer of the soul.” Deborah Gans, founding principal, Gans Studio: I have been revisiting Michael’s responses to our troubles, both immediate and looming, Katrina and Jerusalem, climate change and global violence. There is always the razor-sharp text that lays bare difficult truths with their ethical demands and their physical consequences for architecture and planning. But then there is most often a drawn proposal, filled with exuberance, for our way out. He was this binary as a person—as committed to optimism as to confrontation with injustice, as joyful in his being, as devastating in his wit. Through his writing, we understand the precariousness of New Orleans; but then, through his inspired design for a neighborhood of inhabited levees, we are hopeful. In crystalline prose, he dispatches the ethical follies of the Israel-Palestinian impasse, with its competing narratives of suffering, ownership, environmental stewardship, holiness, diaspora, and nationality; but then, in signature pink plans, he imagines a green armature for a new Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and we ask ourselves, “Why not?” We need him now to help us unpack the rhetoric of an urbanism of distance and a city of essential services, and all the political dimensions of the plague that took him. We also need the plan that he would have given us to take back our cities after this deluge. Of that plan, we can be sure of one thing—it would be green, democratic, and joyful. Achva Benzinberg Stein, landscape architect: “Dahling,” Michael often said to me, “stop complaining and get to work.” And that is what he always did. Working at living as well as he could, teaching through mentoring, encouraging, opening our minds to new ideas and new ways to implement them, writing so very eloquently using his special language, laced with nuances, built with rich vocabulary, evidence to his immense knowledge in many fields. When we met once in 1994, most of his work at that time was speculative. But he trusted in the power of a good concept to convince people to act. If money was needed to pay his helpers who depended on him, there was no question of what was to be done. “Dahling, you will see everything will be covered sooner or later. The main thing is not to be afraid." And that was his way in design, playing with objects and forms and never afraid to try or to admit failure, inventing solutions to any problem that entered his mind with incredible humor, with a love of people, with deep concern but strong belief in the potential embedded in the collective, in the City. Farewell, my soul brother. I miss you terribly. Lesley Lokko, dean of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City University of New York: I met Michael Sorkin once, briefly, at a conference in Johannesburg exactly a decade ago. It was at one of those post-event dinners where everybody meets everybody and the conversation was brief. I was a bit starstruck. We didn't exchange contact details and were never in touch again. Nine years later, he put my name into the hat for a new dean at City College's Spitzer School of Architecture. In the three short months since I've been “on seat,” as we say in West Africa, we met a handful of times at faculty meetings or occasionally in the corridor. Three weeks ago, he quickly organized a dinner with the Israeli filmmaker, Amos Gitai, simply because I mentioned, in passing, that I was a huge fan of his work. “I'll get you guys together for dinner.” And he did. It was a brilliant dinner and Michael, although “off the wagon,” was a brilliant host. It was the last time I saw him. Through the tributes that have flooded into my inbox over the past few days, I now understand that generosity, acumen, and the immensely social ability to foster—and retain—the trust, affection, and respect of so many widely dispersed and unrelated people was not only his hallmark, it was the man. It's a cliché but, like most clichés, it's rooted in truth: You don't realize what you have until it's gone. Harriet Harris, dean of Pratt Institute School of Architecture: Thankfully, there are no easy words for a difficult man; one who challenged architects to grow some proverbial ethics, to stand up for others, to even stand up for themselves, and to resist the spatial crimes of unbridled neoliberalism. I will remember Michael because he gave me and others permission to use architecture as a form of poetically charged, social protest. Few educator-practitioners have done this, in truth. I will not forget the debt I owe him. His impatience with the debilitating conventions of the canon super-charged our conversations, disrupted debates, and endeared him to students who were otherwise pressed up against the electric fence that divides practice from academe. Michael insisted that there were 250 things we architects should all know about architecture, but perhaps there is only one thing to know about Michael: we are a much-diminished community without him. Mike Davis, writer, activist, and urban theorist: Michael Sorkin died today of coronavirus in an overcrowded hospital and it is a shattering loss. If some people consider me an “urban theorist” it’s only because in 1992 Michael conscripted me to write a chapter in his volume Variations in a Theme Park. His ideas have had an immense influence in shaping my own. He was by any measure the most important radical theorist of city life and architecture in the last half century. New Yorkers old enough to have been Village Voice readers in the 1980s when he was the paper’s architecture critic will never forget the war he waged against mega-developers and urban rapists like Donald Trump. Or how in Whitmanesque prose he weekly sang the ballad of New York’s unruly, democratic streets. At a time when postmodernists were throwing dirt over the corpse of the twentieth century, Michael was resurrecting the socialist dreams and libertarian utopias that were the original soul of architectural modernism. When the peoples’ city was under attack he was inevitably the first to march to the sound of the guns. And then…his devilish glee, his kindness, his soaring imagination, his 50,000 volts of creative energy…. I’m drowning my keyboard in tears. Michael, you rat, why did you go when we need you most? Dean MacCannell, emeritus professor, Environmental Design & Landscape Architecture, University of California, Davis: Death suddenly snatched Michael Sorkin away from us. But we can’t let him go. He was in our lives in too many ways. There are so many points of attachment no amount of time can undo them. Michael was a teacher to us all—not just those fortunate enough to be enrolled in his seminars and studios. When he asked me to work on problems I knew little about—as he often did—he always overlooked my ignorance and demanded that I work with him. He was an architect beyond architecture. He knew exactly how to create the openings that would draw me fully into his schemes. Michael was enormously learned across many fields and disciplines, but he wore his learning lightly and deployed it strategically with a wicked sense of humor. He wrote beautifully, giving form to our consciousness an instant in advance. Michael left behind his belief in the future promise of urban life together—creatively re-imagined. Unfinished work for the rest of us, and the necessary tools to do it: an unshakable confidence in humanity; in our capacity for self-governance; our ability to realize other enlightenment ideals; and to create a beautiful common ground. Thank you, Michael. We’ll try to do our best, but dammit, it would be so much easier if you were still here to guide us. Eyal Weizman, founding director of Forensic Architecture and professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London: Locked down in stunned, helpless isolation with the exit sign switched off, I heard that Michael had died, without a warning or a goodbye. The contemporary prophet of public space and urban conviviality died in a hospital—one of the last places where physical proximity is still possible, indeed, unavoidable. The virus diagrams the kind of social interaction that Michael championed in a vibrant city that had now nearly totally closed down, the price of human contact having become too high. On the evening when the horrible message arrived, the people of our London neighborhood, seeking some form of communion, stood each at their window to clap for the medical workers like those who were by Michael’s side in his last days, risking their lives to try to save his and ours. Michael was our family friend—Alma, my daughter, was spoiled being his goddaughter—and so we were at our window, simultaneously sobbing, clapping, and hitting pots with wooden spoons, giving Michael the send-off we thought he’d appreciate. The rest of the mourning must be done in isolation—and my heart goes to Joan who cannot benefit from the proximity of those that loved them dearly. Michael was also my architectural godfather. In a number of small but crucially corrective interventions, he put me on my path. He read my books when they were still drafts, giving comments, helping find titles and publishers. Only a few weeks ago he took the time to campaign for me when I was not allowed to travel to the United States, just as he often did for others less privileged. We met in 1994, when, as a young admiring student at the Architectural Association (AA), I was one of those campaigning for him to be the new director of the school. When Michael finally won the vote and got the post, he decided to decline it, opting instead to pursue his own singular path: he set up his studio; founded the research organization Terreform and the publishing imprint UR (Urban Research); and became the Director of Graduate Design at the City College, where he was Distinguished Professor. In short, he constructed on his own a polymorphous entity through which to realize various aspects of his wide urban visions. At the same time, he continued to advocate his ideas in a stream of essays and books, and to sketch them in numerous visionary schemes and drawings. (Many of the latter are still unpublished, but Joan assures me that they will be coming out soon.) Drawing on the vocabulary of 1970s New York activism, he expanded the spectrum of architectural and urban action: sit-ins, town-hall-meetings, petitions, appeals, the writing of codes and bills of rights. Learning from his struggles with the kind of New York developers that now run the United States, he brought his sense of urban justice, and feisty activism to Palestine, Northern-Ireland, and the U.S.-Mexico border. Since architecture was part of the problem, it owed a certain debt, and Michael encouraged architects to pay up by inventing solutions. In 1998, an impish trickster, Michael seduced a group of Palestinian and Israeli architects and other intellectuals to a conference on occupied and segregated Jerusalem at a lake-side villa in Bellagio, Italy. It was here that I first met Suad Amiry, Rashid Khalidi, Omar Yusuf, and Ariella Azoulay. We listened together as Michael insisted, more optimistically than most of us, that we could use architecture to do something about this injustice, although he understood that, by itself, unaccompanied by the fundamental political changes we must all struggle for, architecture could do very little. His subsequent book projects on Palestine—The Next Jerusalem, Against the Wall, and Open Gaza—demonstrate what he meant. He was right, at a time when the grip of architecture tightens all around us, when the builders of walls, towers, and digital surveillance systems are in charge, and when authoritarianism is using the global health emergency to encroach on our civil liberties—we all need to channel something of Michael and continue the fight. He will now bring his to gods and angels. Go on Michael, give them hell! Andrew Ross, professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University: When I moved to New York in the late eighties, I got into the habit of seeing the city through Michael’s eyes, and I suppose I always will. Already a unique kind of critic, he then turned into a doer, which I especially admired. We worked together in various ways, but most memorably on two competition juries. The first was for a Public Space project associated with the Atlanta Olympics. The aggressive charm with which Michael lobbied fellow jury members on behalf of his picks won me over. I became his willing accomplice, and we went all in for the most audacious entries, knowing full well that, in the real world, the odds of them being greenlighted were slim. Many years later, we both had the idea, independently, of mounting an alternative to the competition for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki, and so we joined forces to see it through. In sheer expenditure by firms all over the world, the official competition was the most labor-intensive and costly ever seen. A true bonfire of the vanities. Ours was run on a budget of five thousand euros and operated more like a think tank for ideas for infusing arts and urbanism. The whole thing brought out the best in Michael—his fierce distaste for architectural elitism, his appetite for popular quality, his spontaneous fellow-feeling, and, yes, his legendary sense of mischief, now so sadly extinguished. Daniel Monk, George R. and Myra T. Cooley chair in peace and conflict studies at Colgate University: When Michael Sorkin died last week, he left behind the draft of a work—a soon-to-be published volume of essays in honor of Mike Davis—that we had been editing together. In it, Michael records his own first encounters with the national mall in Washington, D.C. In these memories of “the American agora,” he presents the immanent logic of the mall’s development, amounting to a perpetual betrayal of its promise. If, as so many others have already noted, Michael could always adopt the standpoint of hope, good humor, and mischief in the face of despair, this is because he knew that it is precisely in broken promises that a regulative ideal—the demand for political freedom he always championed—was being kept alive, despite our collective efforts to close our eyes and pretend otherwise. Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving professor of landscape architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design: I was fortunate to know Michael Sorkin as a public intellectual, as a personal role model, and as a friend. His loss leaves an enormous void in the heart of the city and in those of us who have committed our lives to understanding it. Michael brought a journalist’s eye and a critic’s wry wit to writing about the city, describing it as a collective social construct and a set of lived experiences. His insightful prose cut through layers of accumulated capital, both economic and cultural. His wildly imaginative design propositions for intervening in the city double as a form of cultural criticism, revealing the archeology of power structures, class construction, and collective resistance. Most contemporary discourse on the design of the city has atrophied into one of two mutually exclusive and ultimately inadequate narratives. On the one hand, our discussions of the city devolve into an exclusive preoccupation with policy, participation, and governance as disconnected from its spatial and cultural contexts. On the other hand, our accounts are equally often constrained to the description of individual sites, projects, and protagonists as architectural singularities lacking any meaningful connection to the collective. Describing the city as a collective cultural project was Michael Sorkin’s great gift to us. Who among us will take up that project now?
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Tighe-ing the Neighborhood Together

Tighe Architecture designs a steeply arched complex in newly developing portion of Los Angeles
Los Angeles-based firm Tighe Architecture recently received approval for its Barranca, a mixed-use, six-story building in the newly developing western edge of Lincoln Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods on the east side of L.A. The project is across the street from Fuller Lofts, former industrial buildings adaptively reused into loft apartments and retrofitted with a distinctive metal rooftop by local firm Brooks+Scarpa. Developed by 4Site Real Estate, the project will replace 12 existing low-rise structures with a single 200,000-square-foot building that will house a 100-bed hotel, 100 apartment units, and commercial retail on its ground floor intended to revitalize the formerly industrial, underserved stretch into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. To resolve the project’s presence as one of the largest buildings in the area while occupying the entire western end of a city block, Barranca was designed to appear as two distinct yet still connected buildings. The hotel constitutes the southern side of the project, which is distinguished by steep archways rendered in an off-white texture and large windows with metal accents that, together, are reminiscent of a castle wall. According to the firm, the hotel side was designed by taking “classical staples and reintroducing them to an area in need of a fresh new vision for an emerging neighborhood.” The northern portion is relatively demure in a grey and black palette that contains apartment units (five of which will be affordable housing) and corresponding amenities that include two courtyards, shared offices, a lounge, and a swimming pool tucked away on the third level. A wealth of greenery will be added to the perimeter of the site, a much-needed amenity for the predominantly concrete neighborhood. Barranca represents the third mixed-use building Tighe Architecture has designed for 4Site throughout Los Angeles, following 2300 Beverly and 2510 Temple. The firm has also made a name for itself locally by designing other, similarly striking affordable housing projects with limited budgets, including La Brea and Sierra Bonita.
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Van gone

Thieves snatch Van Gogh painting from Dutch museum shuttered during COVID-19 outbreak
A global pandemic, a scenario in which people are ordered to stay home and businesses and institutions are forced to temporarily close, presents itself as an opportunity for bad people to do bad things. And this very much includes the pilfering of invaluable art and artifacts at a time when millions upon millions of people are on lockdown. Singer Laren, a Dutch art museum and concert hall located in the affluent small town of Laren just outside of Amsterdam in North Holland, experienced this phenomenon firsthand when a thief or thieves pulled off a smash-and-grab job in the dead of the night, making off with a painting by Vincent van Gogh—and, even more shamelessly, on the post-impressionist’s 167th birthday. Like many other museums and cultural institutions, Singer Laren is temporarily closed due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Shuttered since March 12, the museum has tentative plans to reopen to guests on June 1. As noted by the Washington Post, the brazen burglary at Singer Laren has likely garnered the uneasy attention of museum directors elsewhere as “the lack of crowds and security potentially compromised by staffing issues during the virus outbreak may present an invitation to opportunistic thieves.” The stolen painting, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884), was not part of the permanent collection at Singer Laren, a museum established in the late 1950s by the window of Pittsburgh-born steel fortune heir-turned-artist William Henry Singer to house the couple’s vast art collection. Rather, the 1884 oil painting, completed by Van Gogh relatively early in his career while living with his parents outside of Eindhoven, was on loan from the larger Groninger Museum as part of an expansive exhibition of 19th-century Dutch paintings and watercolors at Singer Laren titled Mirror of the Soul. Housed in buildings designed by Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini, and Coop Himmelb(l)au, the Groninger Museum is located in the city of Groningen in the far north of the Netherlands. In a statement, the museum said it was “shocked by the news“ and added that the work is the only Van Gogh painting in its own collection. The 10-by-22-inch Van Gogh painting has been valueed at up to $6.6 million as reported by The Guardian. In a press conference, Singer Laren director Jan Rudolph de Lorm described himself as being “unbelievably pissed off” by the overnight art heist. “We are deeply shocked, angry and saddened,” reads a full statement by de Lorm, published on the museum website. “A magnificent and poignant painting by one of our greatest artists has been taken from the community. It is terrible for the Groninger Museum and for Singer Laren, but above all for every one of us. Art exists to be shared, to enjoy, to inspire and offer comfort, particularly in times such as these. Art is vital to our culture.” The thief/thieves gained entry to the museum at 3:15 a.m. on March 30 by smashing in the glass front doors. This immediately triggered a security alarm but the culprits—and the painting—had vanished into the night by the time police arrived on the scene. The statement released by Singer Laren goes on to note that the museum has launched a full investigation “involving experts from several fields, including forensic investigators, detectives and members of the national crime squad specialised in art theft.” As the Associated Press noted, this is not the first time that art has been purloined from Singer Laren. In 2007, thieves made off with several sculptures from the museum’s garden including a bronze cast of Rodin’s The Thinker. That sculpture was ultimately recovered albeit missing a leg.
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Today's Hotel, Tomorrow's Hospital

From parking garages to parks, these are the pop-up medical facilities of the COVID-19 pandemic
As American cities brace for a steep influx of patients suffering from or suspected to be infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the sprint is on to make up for a woeful dearth of available hospital beds. Per American Hospital Association data, there are 924,000 staffed hospital beds in the country, and more than two-thirds of those are usually occupied. And while the total number of additional hospital required during this mounting pandemic varies day by day, place by place, the only conclusion is that an impossible amount of more beds is needed. To make up for the narrowing availability, temporary hospitals have been erected or are in the process of being erected in some unlikely places. These urgent acts of emergency-level adaptive reuse, many of them spearheaded by city agencies, intergovernmental organizations, healthcare providers, the National Guard, and the Army Corps of Engineers, have taken root on fairgrounds, in football stadiums, in motels, and in Central Park. Not all of these converted spaces, however, are being used to treat COVID-19 patients, although many will. Some will provide housing to nurses and doctors, some will act as quarantine units, some will house the homeless, and others will serve as fully functional overflow hospitals dedicated to providing care to patients suffering from ailments that aren’t the coronavirus. To offer assistance in these conversions, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has even formed a special task force which will release a comprehensive report in early April to help guide decision-making. “This is a race against time for healthcare facilities to meet bed surge capacity needs” said AIA Academy of Architecture for Health president Kirsten Waltz, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED, who is the director of facilities, planning, and design at Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts. “This task force will help inform best practices for quickly assessing building inventory and identifying locations that are most appropriate to be adapted for this crisis.” Below are some of the different buildings and facilities being adapted across the country to serve new purposes during the coronavirus outbreak.

Convention centers

Boasting boundless and easily adaptable floor space, robust loading docks for moving in and out a high volume of equipment and gear, high-powered ventilation systems, and more than a few ADA-compliant bathrooms, convention centers are natural places to establish temporary hospitals. Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center, normally one of the busiest convention centers in the United States, was one of the first to undergo the transformation into a sprawling, nearly 3,000-bed capacity overflow hospital operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (The Army Corps of Engineers, the New York National Guard, and a team of civilian staffers can be credited for the rapid turnaround.) A large number of other convention centers across the country are either being eyed as potential makeshift medical hubs or are currently being converted into them including the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Detroit’s TCF Center, McCormick Place in Chicago, the Baltimore Convention Center, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the Santa Clara Convention Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Parking garages

While many hospital parking structures are now home to drive-though coronavirus testing sites, in at least one major medical facility, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, beds are being moved into a parking garage to treat those potentially infected by the novel coronavirus at a safe distance from other patients.

Sports fields/stadiums

Originally and still largely used as a military term, field hospitals get their name from their strategic location on wide-open spaces in close proximity to sites of mass injuries and casualties such as, well, battlefields. Twenty-first-century field hospitals are now being erected on battlefields of a different kind that normally see a different sort of frenzied combat: football. CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks, is being converted into a large temporary treatment center by the Army and will be dedicated to treating patients with ailments not related to the coronavirus so that beds in overwhelmed Seattle area hospitals are freed up for those suffering from the deadly respiratory disease. Elsewhere in hard-hit Western Washington, another 200-bed field hospital will be erected on a turf soccer field in the Seattle suburb of Shoreline. Relatedly, football pitch-bound field makeshift hospitals are now somewhat de rigueur in countries like Brazil. A section of the famed Billie Jean King Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows, Queens–in better times, home to the U.S. Open—will also be covered into a 350-bed auxiliary medical center by New York City Emergency Management.

Decommissioned hospitals

Shuttered hospitals, many of which have never been closed in the first place, are coming back to life due to the coronavirus pandemic. A wide number of bed-equipped, recently closed medical facilities—including the old Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, and Laurel Regional Hospital in Maryland—have already or will potentially reopen to accommodate a surge of COVID-19 patients or patients in need of other types of urgent care in overburdened areas.

Dorms/college campuses

With students at an overwhelming number of colleges and universities dismissed from attending in-person classes for the rest of the academic year, an ample amount of available real estate has suddenly opened up. As COVID-19 first began to spread across New York City, New York University pledged to make available some of its now-vacated dormitories for COVID treatment-related purposes if needed. Student housing at New York’s expansive system SUNY and CUNY public colleges could also be potentially turned into emergency medical facilities, quarantine units, and/or temporary housing for healthcare workers. While dorm rooms can be easily retrofitted into treatment spaces, college and universities are also considering converting or already have converted other on-campus facilities into field hospitals. The McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, are two examples of non-dorm collegiate spaces that will serve a new purpose during the pandemic.

Central Park

Plenty of strange, sometimes disturbing sights can be seen within Central Park. None, however, quite match the surreally sobering heights of witnessing volunteers erect a tent-based respiratory care center in the middle of New York City’s backyard. Said facility, which will have a capacity of 68 hospital beds and also include an on-site morgue, was established this past weekend in Central Park’s East Meadow by humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with Mount Sinai Health System to “provide care for patients seriously ill with COVID-19.”


Generally only used at a very high capacity for a few weeks of the year, fairgrounds over a vast amount of space with the needed infrastructure—electricity, water, various buildings, arenas, parking lots the size of a small town—already in place. The Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, California, for example, will take advantage of this advantageous arrangement and temporarily house members of the region’s sizable, highly vulnerable homeless population during the pandemic. Elsewhere in California, the Orange County Fairgrounds are being mulled as a potential site to accommodate overflow from established medical facilities in the area; it’s a similar story at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. Outside of California, the massive Washington State Fairgrounds are being considered as an emergency medical site about 30 miles south of Seattle in the city of Puyallup. In Florida, where the virus is on the verge of exploding in certain areas, a 250-bed facility is already under construction at the Miami-Dade Fairgrounds. In several states, fairgrounds and their parking lots are already being used to host drive-up coronavirus testing sites.

Hotels and motels

Hotels and motels are perhaps the most versatile and, due in part to low occupancy rates brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, the most readily available spaces to repurpose during a pandemic. Providing privacy, some level of comfort, and isolation, they can be used to treat non-critical patients recovering from the COVID-19-related illnesses, quarantine patients suspected to be infected, house exhausted, high-risk healthcare workers on the frontlines (in sometimes deluxe accommodations), and provide a temporary safe haven to vulnerable populations like the unsheltered. Officials in various cities including New York, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and Oakland, California, have leased hundreds, even thousands, of hotel and motel rooms to be used in various capacities in the coming weeks, with the Army Corps of Engineers working to identify and then convert many of them into fully functional temporary medical facilities. Many, of course, have their own ideas as to which specific hotels should be used.