Search results for "jane jacobs"

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Plaza City

Talking public space with Jan Gehl in Mexico City
Mexico City is the largest city in North America and has been around since the 14th century, when the Aztecs settled the area. Many layers of history, culture, and development both private and public can be seen in its rich architecture and urbanism. Crumbles of pyramids abut Spanish cathedrals and huge modernist housing blocks, foregrounded by spectacular parks, statues, and fountains from the various periods in the history of the region. However, along with the complex history comes a complex city. The organizers of CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016, a two-day summit of experts from the development, policy, design, and transportation sectors, cited this complexity and a perceived lack of leadership among the Mexico City's many stakeholders as the impetus for getting together and addressing its multi-faceted challenges. The main initiator of the conference was Kaluz, "a diversified conglomerate of companies active in the following sectors: industry, construction materials, and financial services." They worked with the Planning Commission of Mexico City and the Delegacion Cuauhtmoc (the local borough government) to realize the forum, which is organized into four panels: Mobility, Public Space, Citizenship and Responsibility, and Zoning and Diverse City. It was not structured as lectures or talks, but more of a series of roundtable discussions that were aimed directly at the problems of Mexico City, and how each can be addressed with real solutions. This is part two of our series, "Urbanism in Mexico City," reported live from the discussion.  Mexico City has an abundance of public space and is a leader in this way. For residents and the government, it is an important part of the city and includes parks, plazas, fountain squares, or large sidewalks along the boulevards. The city even has a Public Space Authority and a Program for Neighborhoods and Community Involvement. Architect and author of Cities for People Jan Gehl, in his keynote, railed against the excesses of modernist planning, including its out-of-scale urban developments such as Brasilia, and its lack of human-scale interaction at street level. He showed images of cold, haunting modernist schemes and juxtaposed them with their supposed goals, such as the creation of erotic space. He also pointed out that the car had an adverse impact on cities, "totally overwhelming" them. He cited Jane Jacobs as a prominent voice in criticizing this era. In 1961, she published her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, only one year after Gehl graduated from architecture school. Gehl said that over the last 50 years we have finally learned how to design cities. However, he cites the Piazza del Campo Siena in Tuscany as the best public space in the world, which was made over 700 years ago. But it has the 12 human-scale, people-oriented qualities that Gehl seeks, which bring protection, comfort, and enjoyment. Today, Gehl says that we need a lively, livable, sustainable, and healthy city. Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces said that public spaces were included on the Habitat III New Urban Agenda, the document that sets forth a path for thinking about the 21st-century city and how it will be formed. He noted that a place is best when it has ten or more uses. "There is more support for public spaces here than anywhere else I have been," Kent said. He explained his theory of place-led development that comes from engagement with the users to define the program at the outset. Architect Tatiana Bilbao is interested in designing not only for those coming to shop or pass through an area, but those who live nearby. These intended publics, says Muller Garcia, secretary of environment for Mexico City, must be properly programmed, but also cared for by those who feel ownership in them, in order to make sure the targeted publics are the ones who end up enjoying them. Francisco (Pakiko) Paillie Perez of derive LAB noted that while we need rules and regulations to assure access for all people, those laws come with many territorial designations that are dangerous, especially because it is not always clear who makes these rules and what ends they may serve. As for the private sector, developer Guillermo Buitano pointed out that while it is possible to make private places public, developers should look past their own projects to determine their sphere of influence. Amy Kaufman of AK Cultural Planning suggested that the strength of public space is that it can gather a range of people into one vibrant place that reflects the culture of the community through the engagement of artists who can enliven spaces through a process-oriented approach, much like Kent's place-led development that starts with program. For Mexico City, the public space needs to be safe, says Perez, and that means cutting down on attacks on women, and also on moving the informal vendors into the street and off of the sidewalk. All in all, Mexico City is in good shape for public space, and with people focused on keeping them that way as the waves of change inevitably alter the city.
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Citizen Jane

New documentary delves into the history and legacy of Jane Jacobs
This is a story about our global urban future… It’s also a story about America’s recent urban past, in which bureaucratic, “top down” approaches to building cities… with little or no input from those who inhabit them…. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City shows that anti-democratic approaches to city planning and building are fundamentally unsustainable; a grassroots, “bottom up” approach is imperative to the social, economic, and ecological success of tomorrow’s global cities. …Jane Jacobs… single-handedly undercuts her era’s orthodox model of city planning, exemplified by the massive Urban Renewal projects of New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses.
So reads the official website for the new film, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City which opened the DOC NYC film festival on November 10. It clearly sides with Jacobs’s David rather than the Moses’s Goliath. As Paul Goldberger says, “They were famously at odds with each other. It really did become a war between opposing forces. Today, we’re still fighting these battles across the world.” It’s a great story with large implications for our world. There is compelling archival footage and photos, and a panoply of talking heads including Mary Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Roberta Gratz, Thomas Campanella, Ed Koch, Alex Garvin, and Goldberger. Jacobs’s rich lore is more than just a face-off with Moses (Rowe told me that in the 10 years she worked with Jacobs in Toronto, she never mentioned Robert Moses once). Jacobs saw shades of gray, used her powers of observation to spot “un-average clues” or exceptions, and was unencumbered by the theory and doctrines of the planning practice. The irony is that Jacobs's analysis of what she saw in front of her has now been codified into a gospel to be followed slavishly (Citizen Jane is very different from the imperious Charles Foster Kane, the fictional Citizen Kane). It reminds me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, a parody on the Messiah (Brian was born on the same day as his next-door-neighbor, Jesus Christ) who exasperatingly says to his adoring followers, “You must all think for yourselves!” to which they parrot back "WE MUST ALL THINK FOR OURSELVES!” Jacobs was nimble and inventive, a listener and watcher, and then a doer. Jacobs’ lessons are enormous. Although I applaud the filmmaker taking a point-of-view and championing Jacobs, what concerns me is an oversimplification of the story and the facts. Understanding that films can only give broad strokes and focused arguments, we still need to be mindful that there are many factors at work. (The terms “single-handedly” and “undemocratic” in the citation above are clues.) Moses came out of the Progressive Movement in the 1930s and created public spaces such as parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, and beaches to make life better for all. Post-War, he expanded his purview to “construction coordinator” (in all, he held twelve titles such as NYC Parks Commissioner, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Chairman, Head of the State Power Commission—all unelected) which gave him powers over public housing. He declared a war on slums, calling them a cancer, and his solution to the urban blight was to tear down and rebuild. With ample federal funds available, the aim was to erect an “expressway tower city,” in Jacob’s words. Goldberger cites this was a commonly-held belief at the time, but there was a price to be paid, and Jacobs was the lightening rod that pointed this out in stark relief. The light bulb for Jacobs was East Harlem. The neighborhood contains the highest geographical concentration of low-income public housing projects in the United States, 1.54 square miles with 24 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Also known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, in the un-renovated areas Jacobs observed an ecosystem, not chaos, with a vibrant underlying order, rhythms and complexity, and density as beauty. And she observed that the intentions of the planners in urban renewal developments like this were unmet (when she asked Philadelphia developers why their new structures in Society Hill weren’t working the way they were billed, she says she was told it was because people were stupid and not using the spaces in the right way.) To the filmmakers, the contrast in planner rhetoric and Jacob’s common-sense observation is epitomized by the god-like, birds-eye view from the sky looking down (Moses) vs. the view from the street (Jacobs). Moses’s heartlessness and disregard are shown when he says of the people who had to be displaced to make way for his construction, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs” (attributed to Vladimir Lenin, among others). And he smashed many dozens of eggs to make his plans real. Referring to Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Campanella says “When Death and Life comes out in the '60s, it’s a clarion call. It’s Martin Luther nailing those 95 theses to the cathedral door. The book is really the first cogent, accessible articulation of a whole set of ideas that questions the mainstream thinking about our cities.” We are shown proof of the insurmountable folly of “urban removal,” evidenced by the blowing up of Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis. In film footage, we are shown that this was not an isolated example; we see the implosion of the Murphy Homes in Baltimore, Lakefront Homes in Chicago, and Mill Creek in Philadelphia dynamited into oblivion, admitting they were colossal mistakes. It’s a complicated picture. Let us not forget that this East Harlem was not the desirable neighborhood it is today. El Barrio was one of the hardest hit areas in the 1960s and 1970s as New York City struggled with drug abuse, race riots, urban flight, gang warfare, the highest jobless rate in New York City, teenage pregnancy, crime and poverty, and a food desert. Tenements were crowded, poorly maintained, and frequent targets for arson. Public housing projects may not have been the ideal solution, but the problems were manifold and many were hungry for modern, clean alternatives. The other big building issue is car traffic. The film shows the 1939 Worlds Fair General Motors Futurama, showcasing highways and pristine cities and suburbs. As the NYC Parks Commissioner, Moses was deeply involved with the fair, so might this be where he became enamored of the highway as the solution to the city’s ills? Is this when he transformed from the pre-war “angel” Moses who built public amenities for the common man to post-war “devil” Moses who destroyed the fabric of the city that is presented here? There is no question that the automobile was given priority by Moses over the street ballet, but the situation is not always that simple. (In New York City, there is no alternative to surface delivery of goods throughout the city, even if you are able to transport by rail or boat to a depot.) The Cross-Bronx Expressway did bifurcate the Bronx and destroy neighborhoods, but can we really blame it for turning the South Bronx into Ft. Apache? No doubt it was a factor, but there was also the crack epidemic, white flight, abandoned buildings, gangs, redlining, arson (remember “the Bronx is Burning”?) and other social, economic, and political forces. With a collective sigh, we are still relieved that the Lower Manhattan Expressway was never built, however the drawings shown to illustrate Moses’s plan are in fact an inventive, futuristic post-Moses scheme by Paul Rudolph funded by the Ford Foundation between 1967-1972 (Moses was out of power by 1968) which featured monorails, people movers, and a surreal Lego-like vertical expanse of housing lining the expressway. Also more complex is the Moses Washington Square plan to extend Fifth Avenue so traffic could go through the park. The opposition by Jacobs in 1958 does not tell the whole story. In the film, there’s a provocative photo from that year sporting a banner that reads “Last Car Through Washington Square” indicating that traffic already traversed the park. In fact, Moses had been trying to revamp traffic plans around the square since the 1930s, first with a circle around the square nicknamed the “Bathmat Plan,” then the “Rogers Plan” in 1947 which also rerouted traffic around the square and removed the fountain. There was opposition each time. As for other uses of documentary materials to bolster an argument rather than being accurate journalistically, this one is personal: I saw my apartment complex, East River Housing, clearly labeled, in a series of shots throughout the film, and used as an example of Moses’s public housing that destroyed neighborhoods; however East River was built as socialist housing by the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGWU) and never part of the pubic housing system. No distinction was made, and it is a tower in the park design that actually works. What Jacobs did was right for her neighborhoods, her time, and many axioms are universally true, but they have been taken to be gospel, much the way that modernism was perverted by developers to make easy, cheap, boring buildings rather than a gem like the Seagram Building. The film is as much about the future of cities as it is about the past, but there are few suggestions about how to cope, except to go back to Jacob’s observations and let the old survive. It’s not about finding new solutions or even a new Jane Jacobs. It’s about codifying and simplifying her efforts.  See what you think for yourself—it’s worth a look. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. Directed by Matt Tyrnauer Other architecture and arts films of interest at DOC NYC (November 10 - 17):
  • Ballad of Fred Hersch
  • California Typewriter
  • Chasing Trane
  • David Lynch: The Art of Life
  • Finding Kukan
  • Ken Dewey – This is a Test
  • The Incomparable Rose Hartman
  • L7: Pretend We’re Dead
  • Long Live Benjamin
  • Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
  • Miss Sharon Jones
  • The Nine
  • The Pulitizer at 100
  • Raving Iran
  • Sacred
  • SCORE: A Film Music Documentary
  • Serenade for Haiti
Shorts:
  • I NY
  • L-O-V-E
  • The Artist is Present
  • The Creative Spark
  • The Sixth Beatle
  • To Be Heard
  • Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present
  • Winter at Westbeth
  • Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev
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Straight-Up

Utopia to just-in-time production: a new book on the history of urban factories

This compendious, extensively illustrated slab of a book tackles, among other things, the development of the factory system, working conditions and working class resistance, utopian planning and modernist architectural design, the effects of suburbanization of industry, just-in-time production and containerization, fashion, urbanism, gentrification, and craft through such an onrush of dense information that it is often hard to ascertain exactly what the book is about. The nearest thing to a common thread—other than chronology—is an exploration of the factory in the city. That is, the role of industry in urbanism, what it means for a city to be a place of material production, how that production is housed and how its workers live and work, and, crucially, whether or not there is a future for urban manufacturing after 70 years of decentralization and inner-urban de-industrialization in Europe and the United States.

This central thread is so interesting that much of the rest of the book—basically a history of design and factories, familiar from the likes of Gillian Darley’s Factory—could have been cut away to make the book more lean. The eclecticism of the source material could do with major pruning, and the editing is often careless: Robert Owen’s Clydeside Utopia was New Lanark, not New Harmony, the account of Chicago slaughterhouses in The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair, not Sinclair Lewis, to name two of several slips. Nonetheless, this excess might be the point—an appropriately daunting mesh of interlinked processes and stories. The question of why the factory left the city is put down to wartime paranoia and social planning; Rappaport takes the Jane Jacobs line that zoning industry out of inner cities was unnecessary and damaging to urban economies, which may have been true, but as recent histories like John Grindrod’s Concretopia might remind us, urban industry in dense 19th century cities like Glasgow was often extremely toxic and unsafe to the working class communities who had to live next door to it. However, her case here draws also on more radical sources, such as French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s assertion of the “right to the city,” and especially the inner city, being cleared of undesirables in Lefebvre’s 1960s Paris. The end result of “the removal of industries  away from public view” was also the removal of certain groups of people. As counter-examples, she traces a history of integrated factory settlements, like Berlin’s modernist Siemensstadt, to suggest that there were other possible approaches than zoning and suburbanization.

Beginning with the wartime U.S.—with its vast, single-story complexes like Willow Run—and continuing even through socially experimental factories like Volvo’s more democratic, collaborative factory at Kalmar, the factory left the city and settled into sprawling, off-motorway sites, expansive of land and elusive of view. Perhaps the most exciting parts of the book are Rappaport’s studies of some “vertical urban factories,” as opposed to the flat, hidden, exurban factories where most things get made—in the west, at any rate. These go from 1820s Manchester, where, in Schinkel’s words, “the life of the city runs along the massive houses of the cotton mills, to Manhattan’s astonishing, multifunctional Starrett-Lehigh Building, where a train could enter the building from West 27th Street and proceed to the elevators located in the central core, load or unload onto trucks and the exit onto 28th Street,” and to more recent examples like Zaha Hadid’s BMW Leipzig, where workers walk past the souvenir shop on their way to work. These genuinely do feel like a better way of designing production into cities than placing “pancakes” on the edge of motorways—a means of planning that makes production and distribution networks (and their workers) visible, and by implication, changeable.

However, many cities outside of the U.S. and Europe really are made up of vertical urban factories even today—Shenzhen and Dhaka being a particular case in point. The 400,000-strong Foxconn factory, integrated with eight-to-a-room dormitories is one she describes at length, while the multi-story textile factories of Dhaka are sketched out more lightly, though the fact that the worst industrial accident in decades, at Rana Plaza, took place in a vertical urban factory would seem to temper its validity as a means to create fairer cities. Although Rappaport never loses sight of the consequences of design and industrial processes on actual workers’working conditions, the emphasis falls too much on best practices. These include the new vertical urban factories that exist in the west—craft beer breweries in Canada, bike factories in Detroit, American Apparel in the U.S.—which use a seductive combination of adaptive re-use, renewed craft traditions, and inner city sites, which somewhat masksthe fact that they’re just as much part of the process of inner-city gentrification as Willow Run was part of post-war suburbanization. None of them can even begin to offer the quantity of jobs once offered to the cities they stand in that the motor industry or textile industry once did; she points here to a gap between celebrated middle class “makers” and invisible proletarian“‘workers.” The last quarter of the book features many examples of beautifully designed, sustainable, semi-automated actories integrated into the city; but whether these could ever have the role in most people’s lives that the factory once did is a very different matter.

Vertical Urban Factory Nina Rappaport, Actar Publishing, $64.95

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Quito, Ecuador

AN reports on UN-Habitat’s new agenda to change global urban development
It's a dazzling bright afternoon as my plane flies over Quito, Ecuador. The pilot does a loop to come into land and we get a sweeping view of the Andes mountain range and the valley within which this city of 1.6 million dwellers rests, 9,350 feet above sea level. On my taxi ride from the airport I ask the driver, in my terrible Spanish, if he knows what Habitat III is and whether it's of any interest to him. 'Si...', he responds resoundingly. It's been all over the TV apparently and—of course, it's of interest, it means more business for him—he chuckles. As we drive along the motorway, with every lamppost we pass bearing the Habitat III branding and slogans of welcome in every possible language, I begin to realize how silly a question that was. Quito as a city has a clear and tangible relationship with the UN, perhaps more than most. Its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, one of the UN-Habitat’s success stories, are everywhere and, crucially, Quito was also the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site. In the taxi, there's a palpable sense of civic pride coming from the driver as we get closer to the city. Later in the week, I will get to see this pride played out on a grand scale. Simultaneous to the Habitat III conference, which is located around Casa de la Cultural at the center of the town, a Festival of Lights is running to the northeast in the historic town center, which has been organized with support from the city of Lyon. Quiteños have turned out in droves on the streets to promenade with their families. The festival lights look good highlighting the features of the historic buildings but what's really great is the experience of being among the throng of people easing along the gradient of the street. Fathers lead the informal parade, often with their youngest child in arms sound asleep, (a stroller would be useless with Quito's steep slopes), there are locals of the quarter out supplying the crowds with grilled corn and plantain, and at the rear teenagers are hanging back passing furtive glances as different families cross paths with each other. The whole scene recalls images I'm used to seeing in town centers in Southern European cultures during summer festivals: It's a feeling of being connected at once to everyone in the bosom of the city. The taxi driver wakes me from my daydream induced by the winding mountain road, 'Alli es Quito...' he's pointing straight ahead. We're near the valley floor when I peer upwards through the windscreen from the back seat of the car to see rising from the hill top, a series of terracotta apartment blocks, like sentinels guarding over the city, which our road will soon climb up towards. When I arrive at the apartment, I realize that Quito is high up indeed. Higher than I'd accounted, I can feel it in my chest that the air is thinner. In fact, Quito is one of the highest cities in the world—it takes time to acclimatize. I wonder how the thousands of delegates from around the world are coping. The Habitat III conference ran from the 17th to 20th October and explored and discussed the New Urban Agenda, a document composed of 175 paragraphs on 23 pages. It lays out a vision for using the potential of the city, in the context of accelerating urbanization, to improve the wellbeing of everyone on the planet. The program for Habitat III was huge and there are hundreds of open events split into the categories of High-Level Roundtables, Stakeholder Roundtables, Special Sessions, Dialogues, Side Events, and much more. Some of the highlights were the headlining evening Urban Talks in which the current curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale, Alejandro Aravena gave the opening keynote. In his speech, Aravena fleshed out his belief in the ideas of Dr. Joan Clos, executive director of the conference: we need to invert our notion that good cities only come about after the creation of wealth and prosperity to one where good cities lead by setting the context for economic development—this is a critical principle underpinning the New Urban Agenda. Aravena compliments this concept with a detailed financial plan for building homes at scale through a relationship where the state and market are accompanied by a third element, the capacity of the people themselves—a dynamic which is exemplified in his half house model. Another of the Urban Talk treats was hearing Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennet, and Dr. Joan Clos in conversation, chaired by the Director of LSE Cities Richard Burdett. Sennet spoke on the importance of Open Cities, Sassen cautioned against the influence of private interests in the development of the city, and Clos stressed his point that the urban age must be planned and not left to instinctive development. A memorable moment came when, in a welcome aside to the gravity of their well-rehearsed speeches, we learn from Sennet that the late great Jane Jacobs was an accomplished Scotch drinker and could drink him under the table anytime. Unexpectedly, more than the talk of the New Urban Agenda is the talk of the vast queues and long waiting times to get through the venue security. This has been the greatest-attended Habitat conference with over 45,000 participants and it seems that the organizers somewhat underestimated the level of public interest. Judging by my unscientific survey of the crowds it appeared that many of the participants are local Quiteños from the general public, easily outnumbering the delegates from abroad—their civic pride in evidence once more. It's difficult to tell how much those who attended the conference were able to understand the New Urban Agenda—or indeed how much of it will actually be achieved over the next 20 years. However, the conference has highlighted key global urban trends such as the facts that cities are expanding faster geographically than their populations, as highlighted by the Atlas of Urban Expansion, and investment into urban development is going to have to increase by a magnitude several times greater in order to meet the demand of growing populations. Outside of Quito, this week at Habitat III might not have been the biggest news story, yet the emerging consensus around the global community's response to the challenges highlighted above—and their prioritization of the city in tackling them—are going to have profound implications for architecture and urban development over the next generation. A full review of Habitat III will appear in our December issue, then online as well.
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Death of Louis XIV to Karl Marx City

We recap the best architectural offerings from the 54th New York Film Festival
Tantalizing uses of physical space and the built environment were integral to a wide range of the 44 films from around the world presented at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 54th New York Film Festival. From those that introduce or immerse you in their locales to those where architecture is at the heart of the story, there was a lot to see. In the category of films with distinctive locates, check out:
  • Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is set in New York’s Chinatown.
  • Neruda follows the poet and politician’s exile in 1948 Chile.
  • I, Daniel Blake takes place in bleak, brutalist Newcastle, United Kingdom.
  • Moonlight is located in Liberty City, the poor, 95% black community in central Miami.
  • Karl Marx City is set Chemnitz (renamed Karl Marx City by East German from 1953 to 1990) and features Soviet-style factories, office buildings, and tower blocks.
  • Certain Women is mostly set in rural Livingston, Montana, a small, central casting Western town with only human-scale buildings and no chain stores.
  • The Human Surge, where viewers walk behind a character traversing Buenos Aires, Argentina through flooded streets and into houses, supermarkets, and tower blocks before flipping to Mozambique and then an ant colony.
  • A Quiet Passion, where poet Emily Dickinson is confined to her 18th century home in Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • 20th Century Women is centered in a 1906 Mission-style Santa Barbara house under constant renovation—the ceiling is taken down to its substructure, there's talk about plaster and woodwork, sanding the balustrade, repairing the green tile fireplace.
  • The Settlers, which graphically shows, from a drones-eye-view, how the West Bank settlements are deeply—and permanently—entrenched in the infrastructure.
  • My Journey Through French Cinema, whose director and producer Bertrand Tavernier shows us clips of his favorites, including The Things of Life (Les Choses de la vie, directed by Claude Sautet) where Michel Piccoli plays a Paris-based architect.
Other films use architecture more centrally, almost as characters: Paterson, where a bus driver (Adam Driver) navigates his route and walks his dog through this manufacturing town (complete with waterfalls) that was the home of poet William Carlos Williams, artist Robert Smithson, and comedian Lou Costello, half of Abbott and Costello. All the Cities of the North, an elegy to lost utopias, features abandoned government buildings laid out in star-shaped constellations. They were once a Yugoslav resort complex in Lagos, Nigeria that was transformed by residents for their own use. Then, there is a story about Brasilia, where a second, parallel city was built by the workers for their use during construction and unplanned by architects. When the Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa-designed city was completed, the workers’ city was destroyed by flooding the area to form a lake. The ruins are now under water. My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea is an animated feature showing blueprints of Tides High School, perched on a bluff on the Pacific Ocean, with designated floors by year: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Permits were falsified—discovered by a journalism student while in detention—so an extension could be built on a fault line. An earthquake causes the sinking disaster as students try to climb to the top of the building to escape. In the Death of Louis XIV, where we are claustrophobically held in the bedchamber of the dying Sun King during his last days, we feel like real-time witnesses. Louis says to his great-grandson and heir, the future Louis XV, “Don’t imitate me in … the love for the buildings … Instead, make peace with your neighbors.” The candlelit room is decked with gold brocade walls and red silk, and all who are present are festooned with gigantic wigs in elaborate coiffures, even the dying king. The film started as a performance commissioned by the Pompidou Centre. And then there are those films where place is a primary element. Dawson City: Frozen Time is an extraordinary film from the maker of Decasia that employs filmmaker Bill Morrison’s trademark use of decomposing archival footage. Here it is used to tell the story of this Gold Rush town in the Yukon, and how the history of early cinema is intimately intertwined with its fortunes. We get to know the town—its business district burned down and was rebuilt each year for its first nine years, with the population swelling and shrinking along with the gold rush like a fever dream. Its hotels, dance halls, casinos, and restaurants, have names like the Palace Grand, Savoy, and the Auditorium. The personalities connected to Dawson City would make you think it was a vital nexus: Donald Trump's grandfather, Friedrich Trump, ran hotels and brothels, and formed the foundation of the family fortune. Sid Grauman, who went on to own cinemas including Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, was a newsboy; Alex Pantages, a bartender, got the idea for his movie palace empire here. The Guggenheim fortune was made extracting minerals and brothers Daniel and Solomon started the Yukon Gold Company, which came to dominate the field here. The Dawson City of this era was represented in many films, including Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, 1925. Dawson City was the end of the line for cinemas, and distributors were unwilling to pay return carriage for film prints after screening. Many reels were disposed like all garbage, i.e., dumped in the Yukon River, but others were buried and were unintentionally preserved in the permafrost. During excavation of a site for the construction of a new recreation center in 1978, 1,500 reels of silent-era nitrate footage were unearthed, and through a series of lucky breaks, their importance was recognized and transferred to Canada’s National Film, Television, and Sound Archives, in Ottawa where 522 reels totaling 500,000 feet were deemed salvageable. Morrison weaves together these factual stories using the fictional silent films for a remarkable portrait of a town. In Aquarius, Clara (Sonia Braga) lives in a small 1940s apartment building directly across the street from the beach in Recife, Brazil. A former music critic, she is the only remaining resident, whereas everyone else has been bought out by a developer that intends to tear it down and build a high-rise. The one thing they will keep is the name, Aquarius. Clara is under intense pressure to move from her children, relatives of those who have sold but can’t yet collect, and from the new owners. Rather than tactics employed by New York City landlords like cutting off electricity or water, the developers throw a wild party, complete with porn-shoot orgy in the apartment directly above, leave feces on the staircase, hold a religious event with queues of people entering the site, and most dramatically, infest the empty apartments with termites who make dramatic patterns across the walls as they destroy the integrity of the building structure. At the Cannes Film Festival, Braga and writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho drew a parallel between the film and the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, which they say was a coup, demonstrating the rampant cronyism and corruption of then country. There was one film shown that is directly about architecture. Jean Nouvel: Reflections, emphasizes the architect’s use of light and geometry, the bold and the delicate, nostalgia and interpretation. We are taken to the Institute du Monde Arabe, the Philharmonie de Paris, National Museum of Qatar, Muse du Quai Branly, Jane’s Carousel, 40 Mercer St., 53 W. 53 St., Louvre Abu Dhabi, Doha Tower, and the Cartier Foundation, each responding to locale. Nouvel talks about the game he plays between framing and height to allow discovery of the city beyond. The film is directed by Matt Tyrnauer, whose Citizen Jane: Battle Cry for the City on Jane Jacobs will open the DocNYC film festival next month. ------------------------------------- Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, director Aquarius, Kleber Mendonça Filho, director All the Cities of the North, Dane Komljen, director Certain Women, Kelly Reichardt, director Dawson City: Frozen Time, Bill Morrison, director The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, director The Human Surge, Eduardo Williams, director I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach, director Jean Nouvel: Reflections Moonlight, Matt Tyrnauer, director Karl Marx City, Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker, directors My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, Dash Shaw, director My Journey Through French Cinema, Bertrand Tavernier, director Neruda, Pablo Larraín, director A Quiet Passion, Terence Davies, director The Settlers, Shimon Dotan, director 20th Century Women, Mike Mills, director For more on the festival, which ran September 16 to October 30, see their website.
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Q&A

Joel Sanders on the past and future of gender issues in architecture

Architecture anchors a cultural obsession with gendered space. As debate around bathroom access for trans and gender-nonconforming people continues, architects have an opportunity—an obligation—to shape the discourse by creating truly gender-inclusive spaces. On the 20th anniversary of Stud, architect Joel Sanders’s iconic book on queer male spaces, The Architect's Newspaper invited Sanders and Alessandro Bava, of the London-based collective åyr, to discuss how gender informs the architecture of everyday life.

Alessandro Bava: What prompted you to put Stud together 20 years ago?

Joel Sanders: I would say that Stud was an outgrowth of two converging forces. Stud, you know, arose as a result of the urgent social issues that were prompted by the age of AIDS. I was especially influenced by a group of friends of mine who were part of a collective called Gran Fury. They were a group of artists and graphic designers who emerged out of ACT UP and were making these agitprops and were using visual culture to address an urgent issue. And I found myself wanting to think about how I could—as an architect—make a contribution to that cause.

The second overlapping force was the emergence of gender studies and queer theory in the 1980s and ’90s. Stud was very much influenced by work that had been done by queer theorists, in particular Judith Butler and her notion of performativity. Performing an identity is sort of enabled by architecture. Butler frequently referred to drag queens and drag kings, talking about their exaggerated gestures, makeup, their costumes, not as innate but performed. I took that one step further and looked at scenography, architecture, and ultimately the built environment as a stage that enabled the performance of various gender roles.

In the introduction to Stud, you say that anything that threatens the supposed “masculinity” of buildings is to be erased and put to the side. For example, decoration has always been described as this feminine component to architecture. My interpretation is that architecture has been traditionally impermeable to any queer theory discourse. Do you feel the same way?

What was beginning to happen back then was that a first generation of architectural theorists was exploring issues of feminism as they impacted women. Architecture often belatedly absorbs larger academic trends. Many women critics were emerging—including a colleague of mine at Princeton, Beatriz Colomina, who would later come out with Sexuality & Space, as well as one of my teachers, Mary McLeod, and also others like Dolores Hayden and Catherine Ingraham, for example.

But at that time as far as I can tell, none of my colleagues were looking at the impact of masculinity or queer theory at that time. Queer theory was a younger discourse, and I was looking at how this new, emerging field of queer studies could impact and reshape how I was thinking as an architect.

You mentioned architectural theory. The emergence of queer theory also overlaps with deconstructivist architecture and Mark Wigley’s important show at MoMA [Deconstructivist Architecture]. Princeton was kind of unique in that I think there was a group of us who were decidedly interested in cultural studies and how they could impact architecture.

Books like Sexuality & Space are still quite iconic for this area of architecture theory. What other publications are of consequence in the discussion today?

Around this time we saw the rise of journals like Assemblage and October, and I think that history and cultural studies were gaining currency in the American architectural schools. I see it as a kind of short-lived Golden Age. Shortly after, American architectural culture became refocused on mostly formal issues that had to do with the impact of the computer for architecture, which is also important.

I think other academic disciplines like literature and history began to assume that cultural analysis involves thinking about the intersection of gender, race, and class as they’ve historically impacted different cultural discourses. And it became almost a matter of course that to be a responsible historian or a responsible literary critic, it meant that, almost as a point of departure, you were obligated to consider those issues. That has not happened in the same way in architecture. I don’t know if you agree.

I completely agree. I think nowadays, 20 years later, there is a completely new window that is opening that has to do with the fact that certain issues have reached the cultural mainstream.

Yes. I think the time is right for the kind of reemergence of what I hope is a healthy and active discourse around national-politics issues of feminism, of Hillary Clinton, of transgender issues like the anti-discrimination laws. And also Black Lives Matter. I mean there’s so much happening. Open up any newspaper and there’s going to be at least 20 articles that deal with the intersection of race, class, and gender. Now, reframed 20 years later, the culture seems to be obsessed with these questions. I’m hoping architectural culture will become part of that discourse. Ten years ago my students seemed relatively uninterested in questions of gender. Now my students at Yale are actively interested in these topics from a historical perspective, but also from the perspective of their daily lives.

You said something in your recent writings about how the new technologies entering homes and buildings are changing space and are actually tied to a discourse of queer and social relationships, and therefore space and spatial relationships.

At that time I became pretty preoccupied with the subject of bachelor pads. I think the domestic and the interior have always been marginalized. And I became interested in thinking about what some would have considered a contradiction in terms, the idea of masculine domesticity. I explored this interest in bachelor pads and single-sex environments in a chapter of Stud. We were one of the first publications that I know of to look at the phenomena of Playboy and Playboy bachelor pads.

My own theoretical and academic interests began to converge with my fledgling practice where, as a New York architect, I was getting small residential projects. I became interested in a series of bachelor pad projects. One house for a bachelor was included in a show that Terry Riley did at MoMA.

Nowadays, I think we are beyond that problem of the formal issue and we’re actually looking at things like the internet and its impact on architecture. That is an idea that is not really talked about. The convergence of information technology and its impact on architecture overlaps completely with the possibility of queering space, especially domestic space. Certain strategies that were enabled by the computer were limited to the scope of formalism. But they now also have the capacity to question certain norms about domestic space and obliterate the assumptions we have about them.

I certainly agree with you. At that time, that’s how my work and my teaching were absorbing the impact of digital technologies, to, as you say, apply them in a way that responded to cultural questions and performativity. And I think there were other architects who were likewise interested to varying degrees.

You know, it’s an interesting conversation because in my brain I’m seeing the Venn diagram of all of these different converging cultural forces and influences intersecting. And so I would say here, it was a way in which issues of digital technology impacted architecture and enabled new kinds of more complex curvilinear geometries to emerge, which I think had to do also with the interest in the body, in the human body.

So in the second era, I applied some of the insights gleaned from feminist and queer theory and applied them to a broader constituency. I was interested in how one could create flexible, multipurpose spaces that permitted not only gay men, but all of us, to assume multiple roles, both personal and professional.

We did speculative projects, the 24/7 Hotel Room at the Cooper Hewitt, for example. It coincided with the emergence of the boutique hotel. The hotel became the interesting typology. There was an interest in prefabrication, there was an interest in digital technologies. So the idea was to come up with a flexible, multipurpose domestic space that would allow the occupant of that hotel to assume a variety of roles, again from personal to professional. This was very much enabled by new technologies and a trend at that time to transform domestic spaces into multipurpose live-work spaces.

In a way, the typology of the gay bar or the gay club can be read as a prototype of a safe space for these different identities to come together, or to be able to perform in the same space but with different determinations, especially when it comes to the restroom and the moment in which we perform our gender in a more intimate way. Recently, such a space has made the news all over the world for this tragic shooting that happened in a gay club [in Orlando]. It was an attack on people, but also an attack on the idea of this safe space existing. There has been basically nothing said from the architectural community about this shooting.

Well, two things come to mind. The first is this whole question of safety. It is highlighted by the tragedy that occurred in Orlando and also speaks to a much broader disease in America that has to do with the reluctance to do anything about gun control, but that’s a whole other issue.

We live in a world that’s preoccupied by this question of trying to make borders—whether between countries or the border of bathrooms—somehow safe by erecting boundaries and morals at different scales. And it’s really clear that where there’s a will there’s a way, and walls are largely symbolic and can be breached and can never make us safe.

I’ve come back to thinking in a more explicit way about gender and architecture, which was a theme that was much more just percolating as just one of a constellation of issues in the work. I think that has to do with the changes in the culture.

Could you tell me more about your more recent work on the idea of gendered restrooms and trans rights?

My most recent project is a collaboration with Susan Stryker, who is a transgender theorist and historian. And like all of my work, what led me to become interested in this is the convergence of cultural concerns and also architectural commissions.

In the same way I was getting bachelor pads when I was a young architect, we got a commission to do the New York headquarters for a nonprofit group called Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). It’s an important organization that’s about making schools safe for students from K through 12. It was very important to our client to have a gender-neutral bathroom, meaning eradicating the binary and having one consolidated bathroom with “European style” private stalls.

We immediately were met with resistance. We were unable to accomplish that because of the building’s owner and the nature of the building codes in New York. At the same time, shows like Transparent were happening and Vanity Fair had stoked a discourse about Caitlyn Jenner. Unfortunately, what really kind of spurred this project was the series of controversies that have been triggered by giving transgendered people access to public space. So out of that, Susan and I came together to write a piece.

We are now working on a research project called “Stalled.” We are hoping to get the support to come up with an alternative bathroom prototype that would meet not only the needs of the transgender community but would make a space where a diverse range of bodies of different genders, ages, abilities, and disabilities can come together in a safe and inclusive public space.

There is one point I do hope comes across in this interview: Since Stud I’ve always been interested in using queer issues as a lens, or an alternative perspective through which you think through broader cultural issues that affect a larger constituency. We need to use this as a point of departure to talk about a much broader issue of accessible public space for all embodied human subjects. That’s what I think is important.

Both sides—those for and against—frame the question as one of safety. The radical right has overthrown nondiscrimination clauses by scaring people about the idea of predatory men in women’s clothing who are going to harm innocent women and children. We know that statistically that the ones who are really unsafe in bathrooms are transgender people, particularly transgender people of color who are wary of bathrooms because they’re the site of taunting and violence. But I think what we’re trying to argue is that the question needs to be looked at from an architectural perspective and it is not yet.

Architects need to step in and sort of say that there’s an architectural dimension for this and that we need to step up to the plate and be part of the solution. What Susan and I are advocating is that when the architecture of bathrooms is spoken about, it’s about erecting walls and boundaries in a kind of neo-functionalist approach. We think that the answer is a paradigm that’s about maybe more of a kind of agora and that it’s really about mixing people together and eliminating the gender binary, which is very, very problematic. But the idea is to eliminate male and female bathrooms and to create you know, single occupancy spaces. That solution is also the safest. Why? It is like Jane Jacobs’s idea of “eyes on the street” to monitor and police. By consolidating numbers, it would make these places safer as well.

All the books that have been published about this are amazing in terms of bringing the queer theory angle and the feminist angle, but they’re not necessarily linear books of history. They are theory books, of course, but I think there needs to be a complete architecture history and architectural methodology from this different perspective.

I think you’re right, sure. I think the thread that ties my work from Stud to today is human identity as performance going back to Judith Butler, in a way.

I’m interested in trans right now not just because it’s a hot-button, socially urgent issue, but “trans” from a theoretical point of view is really relevant for architecture today. Trans people and genderqueer people are problematizing and calling into question the fixity of identity, architecture, surgery, technology, and pharmaceuticals to redesign who we are. I think it’s people who are refusing to conform to traditional notions of gender expression and are really wanting to reinvent themselves, and using technology in the process, who to me are at the cutting edge and are paradigmatic of what we as architects need to do. That’s what I hope comes out of this work.

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Down Under

Archtober’s Building of the Day: Turnstyle
This is the fifth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! Today’s Building of the Day brought us underground at Columbus Circle to tour Architecture Outfit (AO)’s Turnstyle. Our guides, Marta Sanders, AIA, and Eva Lynch from AO, led us through this unprecedented project. Turnstyle is the first fully privately funded public space in New York City. The MTA decided to turn the long-derelict and unused space in the Columbus Circle subway station into retail roughly ten years ago, but at the time, they were wholly unprepared to design an attractive space in the corridor. Architecture Outfit took over three years ago and set out to design a space that looked and felt like a public sidewalk. Evoking Jane Jacobs, Sanders and the AO team decided to break up the long space into many smaller retail spaces with low rent obligations, helping bring an interesting and fresh mix of stores into the space. From the beginning, the project was fraught with design difficulties. As the first project of its kind, AO had to work closely with the MTA to ensure everything was up to their code. This process, however, helped forge a path for future developments of this kind. Being underground, the site lacks fresh air and natural light. To combat this, AO used warm LEDs and brought in fresh air from sidewalk vents above the retail spaces. The floor, a mix of porcelain tiles, had to be sufficiently slip-resistant and durable enough to endure the “mini-earthquake” of arriving trains every few minutes. AO’s design harkens back to older subway designs. To that effect, the floor resembles Guastavino tile work one would find in Grand Central or the now-abandoned City Hall station. AO hid pipes, conduits, speakers, and other building systems found in the ceiling by installing a screen fabricated in a Red Hook metal shop. This design, too, was inspired by old subway styles. Also hidden behind mirrors in the ceiling are various HVAC units that keep the space comfortable all year long. The mirrors help amplify kiosks and activity on the ground. The kiosks in the middle of the corridor animate the entire space while breaking up the retail options. Tables and chairs throughout Turnstyle offer both commuters and those visiting the stores an opportunity to relax, sit down with food, or chat with friends. AO allowed individual retailers the liberty to design their own space, a move that added color to the site and went a long way to make it livelier. According to Sanders, MTA leadership is excited about the possibilities a project like this brings, both as a way to attract those who might try and avoid the subway and make the station more enjoyable for subway users as a whole. It’s easy to see how this space could make a morning commute a little more enjoyable for everyone. Join us tomorrow as we venture out to Queens to tour Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair. About the author: Jacob Fredi is the Public Programs and Exhibitions Coordinator at the Center for Architecture. When he’s not on Building of the Day tours, you can find him playing board games (Pandemic!) and brewing his own beer.
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The Marty Walsh Reader

Mayor Walsh releases top-shelf urbanism reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030
The City of Boston has put together a rigorous, Boston-centric reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030, the city's first full-scale plan since the 1960s. If urban planner heaven is a bookshelf, it might live here. As Imagine Boston 2030 creates a plan to preserve and grow the city, the readings (12 for adults adults and 8 for children three-plus) ground Boston's cultures and social history in a distinctly American urban framework of prosperity and poverty; integration and isolation; weak policy and smart growth. The reading list grew from conversations between staff at the Mayor Marty Walsh's office on books and thinkers that shaped their understanding of Boston. After some lively debate, they developed a list of books to share with the public. The books—which range from Cities 101 classics like Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro's The Power Brokerto Boston-based fiction (Rishi Reddi's Karma and Other Stories) and nonfiction (J. Anthony Lukas's Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground), and praiseworthy new titles like Matthew Desmond's Evictedwill be available at all Boston Public Library branches. But that's not the end of the story. The city is asking its citizens to vote on three more books that should be added to the list. The suggested titles explore similar themes to illuminate the urban experience, but are more international than the core 12. Up for consideration: Alan Grostephan's Bogotá, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, among others. Check out the full list below and follow the project @ImagineBoston @BPLBoston and with the tags #ImagineBoston  #IB2030bookworm. Adult reading list: Evicted by Matthew Desmond The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development by Mel King The Given Day by Dennis Lehane Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald The Power Broker by Robert Caro Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong by Judith Rodin Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz Youth reading list: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge What’s the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston by Stephen Krensky Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald Beneath the Streets of Boston by Joe McKendry On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) by Sage Stossel
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New Ideas

New Museum and NEON announce IdeasCity Athens speakers and fellows
The New Museum is partnering with the contemporary art non-profit NEON to present IdeasCity Athens, a five-day residency program culminating in a public conference at the Athens Conservatory in Greece. Forty fellows will live and work at the conservatory to observe the state of the city and work towards addressing the problems it faces. The fellows' work culminates in a free conference on September 24. The Architect's Newspaper was on the ground this spring for IdeasCity Detroit (see our comprehensive coverage here.) Programs have also been held in New York, Istanbul, and Sao Paulo. The platform was started by Lisa Phillips and Karen Wong, director and deputy director of The New Museum. John Akomfrah, Tania Bruguera, dream hampton, George Prevelakis, Nick Srnicek, and Hito Steyerl are among the speakers at the conference. Check out the IdeasCity website for more information about the Athens fellows and upcoming programs. The full list of fellow and speakers, taken from a recent press release, follows below. IdeasCity Athens Speakers Yaşar Adanalı is an urbanist, researcher, and lecturer based in Istanbul. He is a cofounder of Center for Spatial Justice Beyond Istanbul, a cross-disciplinary urban institute that works on issues of spatial justice in Turkey. Additionally, Adanalı teaches courses in participatory planning at Technical University of Darmstadt and in urban political ecology at Koç University in Istanbul. John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker based in London. His work has been exhibited at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Tate Britain, the Museum of Modern Art, the Hayward Gallery, the 2015 Venice Biennale, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial, among other venues. Additionally, Akomfrah’s films have been featured in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Tania Bruguera is a performance artist based in New York and Havana. Bruguera has exhibited her work at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Tate Modern, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among other places. Since 2015, she has been the artist in residence in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Additionally, Bruguera is the initiator of Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt in Havana. Thomas Doxiadis is an architect and landscape designer based in Athens. He is the founder of doxiadis+, an architecture office that works on urban interventions, landscape restoration, and policy. Currently Doxiadis is Chair of the Natural Environment Council of the Greek Society for Natural and Cultural Preservation. Rosanne Haggerty is a community development leader based in New York. Haggerty is the founder of Common Ground, a not-for-profit organization that works with cities to design new approaches to health, housing, and community challenges. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Award and was awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism from the Rockefeller Foundation. dream hampton is a filmmaker, writer, and organizer from Detroit. Point Supreme Architects is a design studio based in Athens. It was founded in Rotterdam by Konstantinos Pantazis and Marianna Rentzou in 2007. Their work integrates research, architecture, urbanism, landscape, and urban design. The studio’s work has been exhibited at the 2015 Chicago Biennial, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. George Prevelakis is a political scientist and geographer based in Paris. Prevelakis is Professor of Geopolitics and Cultural Geography at the Sorbonne University, Paris. Previously, he has served as the Greek Permanent Representative at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is Codirector of the French journal Anatoli and a regular contributor to the Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini. Nick Srnicek is a writer and educator based in London. Srnicek is Lecturer in International Political Economy at City University London and the author of Platform Capitalism and, with Alex Williams,Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, a new manifesto for a high-tech future free from work. Currently, he is writing After Work: What’s Left and Who Cares? Hito Steyerl is a writer and filmmaker based in Berlin. She is Professor of New Media Art at the Berlin University of the Arts. Steyerl’s work has been exhibited at Artists Space, Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other places. Additionally, Steyerl contributes regularly to the online arts journal e-flux. Pelin Tan is a historian and sociologist based in Turkey. Tan is Associate Professor in Architecture at Mardin Artuklu University in Istanbul. In 2015, she curated “Adhocracy – Athens” for the Onassis Cultural Center and was a board member of the Greek Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Additionally, Tan co-runs the project Autonomous Infrastructure for the 2017 Oslo Architecture Triennial. IdeasCity Athens Fellows Kafilat Adeola Aderemi is an activist and researcher based in Athens. She is a research assistant at Yale University and works as a yoga therapist for Melissa Network, an organization for migrant women that drives integration and capacity building in Athens. Antonia Alampi is an art historian, curator, and writer based in Berlin. Her work has been published inart-agenda, Arte e Critica, and Flash Art International, among other magazines. Alampi previously worked at Beirut, an art initiative and exhibition space in Cairo. Elina Axioti is an artist and researcher based in Berlin. She is a current PhD candidate at Humboldt University and previously worked as Assistant Curator for the exhibition “Heaven Live” at the 2009 Athens Biennial. Haris Biskos is an architect based in Athens. He is the founder of Traces of Commerce, an initiative that repurposes the vacant storefronts of Athens, and Program Coordinator at synAthina, a social innovation platform. Sasha Bonét is a writer and activist based in New York. Her writing has appeared in Guernica magazine,AFAR magazine, and the Feminist Wire, among other publications. Bonét is currently working on a collection of essays on radical black feminism. James Bridle is an artist and writer based in Athens. Bridle’s work focuses on the impact of technology on culture and society. He contributes to the Guardian, Frieze magazine, the Atlantic, Vice, and Domus, and has lectured internationally. Maria-Thalia Carras is a curator and cultural producer based in Athens. She is a cofounder of the nonprofit contemporary arts organization Locus Athens. Previously, Carras was Assistant Curator of “Outlook: International Art Exhibition” in Athens. Dario Calmese is a photographer and artist based in New York. He is a regular writer on style and culture for the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. Calmese currently sits on the advisory board of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Amy Chester is a civic organizer based in New York. She is Managing Director of Rebuild by Design, where she focuses on design and community engagement. Previously, she worked for the New York City Housing Authority and the Office of the Mayor in New York. Manolis Daskalakis-Lemos is an artist based in Athens. Currently, he is in residence at the Palais de Tokyo’s Pavillon Neuflize OBC. His work has been exhibited at the Benaki Museum, LUMA Westbau, the Serpentine Galleries, and the Athens Biennial, among other venues. Stamatia Dimitrakopoulos is a curator and writer based in Athens. She is Curator of the Breeder residency program. Previously, Dimitrakopoulos worked for the Greek Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale and the 2017 Athens Biennial. Sofia Dona is an architect and artist based in Athens and Munich. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Thessaly in Greece and has participated in the Athens Biennial, the São Paulo Biennial of Architecture, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. iLiana Fokianaki is an art critic and curator based in Athens. She is the founder of State of Concept, a nonprofit gallery in Athens. Fokianaki has written for LEAP, ART PAPERS, and Monocle, among other publications. Ayasha Guerin is an artist and scholar based in New York. She is a PhD candidate at New York University, where she is focusing on urban environmental studies. Currently, she is also a Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. Olga Hatzidaki is a curator and cultural producer based in Athens. She is a cofounder of the nonprofit contemporary arts organization Locus Athens. In 2007, Hatzidaki was a curatorial assistant at the Athens Biennial. Zoe Hatziyannaki is an artist based in Athens. She is a member of the collective Depression Era and the artist-led studio and project space A-Dash. Hatziyannaki’s work has been published and exhibited globally. Victoria Ivanova is a curator and writer based in London. She is a cofounder of Real Flow, a platform for art and finance in New York, and IZOLYATSIA, a cultural center in Donetsk, Ukraine. Previously, she was Assistant Curator for Public Programmes at Tate Modern. Stefan Jovanovic is a designer and artist based in London. He is currently in residence at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and is working at ImPulsTanz in Vienna with Tino Sehgal. Jovanovic has performed at Musée de la danse at Tate Modern, among other places. Mathias Klenner is an architect and university lecturer based in Santiago, Chile. He is a cofounder of the architecture collective TOMA. Klenner’s work has been exhibited in various venues, including the 2015 Chicago Biennial. Marily Konstantinopoulou is an arts professional based in New York. She currently works in the Museum of Modern Art’s R&D Department. Previously, she was a consultant at the Hellenic Parliament for the Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs. Ben Landau is an artist and designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Landau lectures at RMIT University in Melbourne and has exhibited his work in the Biennial of Design Ljubljana, the Istanbul Design Biennial, Bureau Europa, and the Lisbon Architecture Triennial. Jimenez Lai is an architect based in Los Angeles. He is the founder of Bureau Spectacular, an architecture group that focuses on cartoons, storytelling, and communication. Lai designed the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014. Constantine Lemos is an architect based in London. He has worked on design projects in Dubai and Istanbul for Anouska Hempel, construction projects in Abu Dhabi, and shipbuilding in Greece. Fei Liu is a designer and artist based in New York. She is a 2016–17 member of the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, NEW INC. Liu curates a podcast and music show at Bel-Air, an artist-run online radio station in Brooklyn. Juan López-Aranguren is an architect and civic designer based in Madrid. He is a cofounder of the artist and architecture collective Basurama. López-Aranguren has exhibited and built projects internationally. Marcelo López-Dinardi is an architect and educator based in New York. He is a partner of A(n) Office, a design and curatorial practice that was selected to represent the United States at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Kosmas Nikolaou is an artist based in Athens. He is a cofounder of 3 137, an artist-run space in Athens. His work has been exhibited at the Benaki Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Enterprise Projects, and Rebecca Camhi Gallery in Athens, among other venues. Michael MacGarry is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Johannesburg. He is a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand and has exhibited his work at Tate Modern, Guggenheim Bilbao, Kiasma Museum, and Iziko South African National Gallery. Tiff Massey is an artist and activist based in Detroit. Her work explores class, race, and contemporary culture through the lens of African adornment. Massey is a 2015 Kresge Visual Arts Fellowship awardee and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant recipient. Shawn McLearen is a community real estate developer based in New York. He is the founder and President of Placeful, a nonprofit organization that focuses on socially responsible partnerships. Sean Monahan is an artist and writer based in New York and Los Angeles. He is a cofounder of the trend-forecasting group K-HOLE. Monahan has worked with Virgin Group, MTV, the New Museum, MoMA P.S.1, Casper, and the 2016 Berlin Biennial, among other organizations. Ilias Papageorgiou is an architect based in New York. He is a partner at SO – IL, an architecture studio that envisions spaces for culture, learning, and innovation. Papageorgiou has taught at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Fortuné Penniman is an architect based in Dubai. He is a cofounder of the design and research practice A Hypothetical Office. In 2016 he graduated with honors from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Eduardo Pérez is an architect and manufacturer based in Santiago, Chile. He is a cofounder of the architecture collective TOMA. Pérez has exhibited his work at the 2015 Chicago Biennial, among other venues. Danielle Rosales is a graphic designer and sociologist based in Paris. She is Design Researcher at Civic City and a cofounder of Spatial Codes. Rosales’s work was featured in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Maria Stanisheva is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. She is the founder of FINDING HOME, an online storytelling platform for displaced communities. Stanisheva’s work has been featured on Euronews and in the New York Times and the Independent. Hakan Topal is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He is Assistant Professor of New Media and Art+Design at SUNY Purchase College, and his work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennial, the Istanbul Biennial, the Venice Biennale, and MoMA P.S.1. Francis Tseng is a designer and software engineer based in New York. He is a 2016–17 member of the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, NEW INC. Previously, Tseng worked for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Jonida Turani is an architect and curator based in Venice and Tirana, Albania. She is Codirector of Beyond Entropy Balkans, a nonprofit platform for art, architecture, and geopolitics. In 2014 she co-curated the Albanian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Rebecca Bucky Willis is an architectural designer based in Detroit. She is the founder of Bleeding Heart Design, a nonprofit organization that sets out to inspire altruism. Previously, she worked at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.
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World Heritage City

The challenge of preserving architectural heritage in Philadelphia

As architects descend for the 2016 AIA National Convention, the City of Brotherly Love will be in the spotlight. Philadelphia was just named a World Heritage City, the first in the United States. Denise Scott Brown (see our interview with her here) and Robert Venturi will be awarded the AIA Gold Medal during the convention and a new mayor is fighting to preserve the city’s landmarks, which include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia City Hall, and a host of modern and postmodern relics—not to mention the urban fabric that composes the neighborhoods. In light of all that is happening, AN dove head first into Philadelphian architecture, both past and present. (Also, our "reader" of past articles can help you get up to speed on Philly, the AIA, and this year's speakers.)

This year Philadelphia—home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Rittenhouse Square—can boast of another historic attribute: It is the first and only city in the United States to be named a World Heritage City, one of 266 around the globe.

Civic leaders, who received word of the recognition last fall, note with pride that it gives Philadelphia a distinction that big-city rivals such as New York and Boston can’t claim. They hope it will make residents more aware of the city’s historic assets and help draw more tourists .

However, a letdown is that the World Heritage City designation doesn’t offer Philadelphia any money to protect or promote historic buildings. It comes from a Canadian group, the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), not the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and it provides no funds for preservation.

Some fear the designation could lull people into a false sense of security about local preservation activity. “There’s been a tremendous amount of confusion,” said architect Kathy Dowdell, principal of Farragut Street Architects. “It’s essentially a marketing campaign. It doesn’t actually protect anything. But if it gets people to think about the need to protect [historic buildings], I don’t care if it is a marketing campaign.”

Despite its recent designation as a World Heritage City, Philadelphia has had a decidedly uneven record and reputation for historic preservation. Architects who come to the AIA convention will find Center City relatively intact. But other areas of the city are losing historically and architecturally significant buildings at a steady rate, largely due to development pressures and lack of landmark protection.

This spring, many residents are smarting from the recent loss of the main auditorium of the Boyd Theater, the city’s last movie palace, and the former Union Baptist Church, where Marian Anderson learned to sing. Compared to its peers, local preservationists say, Philadelphia is doing a poor job of safeguarding its historic assets. More than a few describe the preservation scene as being in a state of crisis.

“There is a real culture of despair, or resignation, when it comes to preservation in this town,” said Aaron Wunsch, assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program of historic preservation, in an interview with PlanPhilly, a website that monitors preservation activity in Philadelphia. “It’s not that people don’t care; it’s either that they assume that the system is working, or have given up on it ever doing so.”

Lack of imagination is one of the city’s problems, Wunsch said.

“Philadelphia has become a real can’t-do kind of place, unwilling or unable to think creatively about preservation and adaptive reuse. We have the architectural resources of a Colonial Williamsburg for the 18th century, and far better than Manhattan for the 19th. But we continue to think like Detroit, treating every development proposal, no matter how shoddy, as our city’s last hope.”

“My feeling is that there are two different stories here,” said Nathaniel Popkin, writer, critic, and editorial director for Hidden City Philadelphia, another organization that pays close attention to preservation in Philadelphia.

“Some people will tell you that there is a crisis. There is certainly a feeling that the regulatory process is not working…On the other hand, there is an enormous amount of preservation work happening —high quality preservation work and high quality adaptive reuse work—and there is opportunity for much more.“

Philadelphia seems to regard preservation differently than other cities do, observes Inga Saffron, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic.

“In most cities, historic designation means a building is protected—forever,” she wrote after the city’s historic commission approved a proposal to tear down the Boyd auditorium. “In Philadelphia, designation is increasingly seen as a temporary state, good until a developer offers a compelling alternative.”

Despite the recent losses and threats to the city’s historic fabric, no one has given up hope. New Mayor James Kenney took office in January, and preservationists are optimistic that he and his administration will put preservation on a better course. They note that Kenney once worked for a local architectural firm that specializes in preservation, Vitetta, and that as a city council member he introduced legislation that would have added landmarks to the Philadelphia register and doubled funding for the historic commission. The legislation never passed, in part because Kenney left the council before it could advance. But it underscored his passion for preservation.

As the new mayor settles in, Philadelphia’s preservation scene is a study in contrasts. On the plus side, Philadelphia has one of the richest collections of historic buildings in the country and a sophisticated citizenry that understands the importance of preservation. The Philadelphia Historical Commission was formed in 1955, making it one of the country’s preservation pioneers. Philadelphia has excellent architecture and preservation schools, first-rate architects and builders; strong philanthropic organizations, and a longtime preservation advocacy group, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

But the city faces an uphill battle in protecting its assets for a variety of reasons. The historic commission has one of the lowest budgets of any big city preservation agency in the country—less than $500,000 a year. With the limited budget, commission staffers devote much of their time to processing building permit applications rather than preparing reports recommending new landmark designations. Only about two percent of the city’s buildings have any sort of local landmark protection.

Designated landmarks aren’t necessarily safe from the wrecking ball either. Over the years, the historic commission has approved a number of requests to demolish buildings after owners argued it would be a financial hardship to maintain them. The city has few tax incentives for preservation.

Much of the problem, said Popkin, can be traced to the city’s loss of manufacturing jobs in recent decades and its subsequent budget woes. In addition, Popkin said, Philadelphia never had the sort of overheated real estate market New York City has. As a result, he said, the historic commission has been perennially understaffed, underfunded, and ill equipped to cope with the sort of development pressures it’s facing now.

In awakening from its real estate doldrums and embracing urban revitalization, the city sometimes acts as if it never learned the lessons of the past 50 years about preservation and urbanism, Wunsch said. “It’s almost as if Jane Jacobs never existed.”

The city’s lead public official in charge of preservation efforts, Historical Commission executive director Jonathan Farnham, offered no comment for this article. In other interviews, Farnham has defended his commission, saying he thinks it does well given its budget and staff size. He disagrees with those who complain that the commission isn’t recommending enough buildings for landmark status. He denies that it sides with developers too frequently.

How can the situation be improved? In an op-ed for the Inquirer, Wunsch and Preservation Alliance executive director Caroline Boyce urged the city to increase funding for the historic commission; undertake a comprehensive survey of Philadelphia’s historic resources, and provide tax incentives for preservation, among other suggestions.

Another key to any turnaround would be for elected officials to demonstrate the political will to make preservation a higher civic priority, and that’s where Mayor Kenney comes in.

Carl Dress, principal of Heritage Design Collaborative of Media and chairman of AIA Philadelphia’s Historical Preservation Committee, said he’s encouraged that Kenney wants to rehab and reopen older libraries and recreation centers. In addition, he said, the city is moving its police headquarters from one older building, the Roundhouse by GBQC, to the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance building in West Philadelphia. It also hired Kieran Timberlake to refurbish the “Saucer” welcome center at LOVE Park.

“There are great hopes that he will help take preservation in the right direction,” Dress said of Kenney. During last year’s campaign for mayor, “Kenney was the first person to talk positively about preservation in as long as anyone can remember,” Popkin said. “He understands it. He gets it…Hopes are very high.” 

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Bjarke+Thom

Bjarke Ingels and Thom Mayne discuss architecture, cities, and public space
At a forum hosted by the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation on May 5, Bjarke Ingels and Thom Mayne discussed the theme “Public Works” with architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. Ingels and Mayne approached the topic from disparate perspectives: At 41, Danish architect Ingels is on a career high and bursting with projects on a variety of scales that he hopes will greatly impact their cities; Pritzker Prize­–winning Mayne, at 72, has an additional 30 years of experience that seems to have left him weary of making overarching, glowing promises. Mayne spoke first, discussing the trajectory of architecture over the course of his career: “Twenty years went by [in the industry] and the series of questions I was engaged with on large scale of public projects and the criteria changed: I was now allowed to operate in a world where the project had social, cultural, political, ecological, and infrastructural consequences,” he said. “It moved from thinking as a designer to thinking in terms of thought leadership and moving toward something more strategic.” However, Mayne concluded later in the lecture, current projects have been reduced back to an architectural scale rather than a civic one. He lamented the loss of his “client,” the public, and the ability of the city and developers to understand the public in terms of city making. Mayne, in particular, slammed the One World Trade Center, “What was ultimately built there was absolutely tragic, it was an embarrassment. The opportunities for rethinking what that space could be were enormous. [The Port Authority] never even looked at the all of the ideas that were available to them,” he said. Instead, Mayne turns to Europe for inspiration in the public space, the piazza concept in particular, and cites Dallas and Los Angeles as examples of modern American cities in terms of broadening work sites to connect with their surroundings and considering public spaces. He focused on fostering the “connective tissues” of a community and replacing starchitect-designed “disconnected icons” with continuous, thoughtful architecture. By contrast, Ingels discussed his U.S. public works in the greater context of contemporary architecture in a more positive light. “Social infrastructure was a term from the 70s that mostly referred to kindergarten, but now we mean it much more literally in terms of positive social side effects,” said Ingels. He discussed incorporating a Copenhagen-style courtyard into his W57 tower to introduce a much-needed oasis in Hell’s Kitchen and researching the Dry Line (A concept he likens to the “love child of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs”), which will be 12 miles of contiguous waterfront protection to protect New York from storm damage while remaining “in close dialogue with community.” “The fact that privately-funded buildings and projects [in the U.S.] are taking responsibility is not a bad thing,” Ingels mused in response to Mayne's critique of the lack of city support for public works. Abroad, Ingels frequently referred to his Amager Bakke Copenhagen power plant, with its ability to transform waste into power, as one of his most socially oriented projects—not to mention the fact that it will also moonlight as a ski slope and emit non-toxic rings of smoke to raise awareness of carbon dioxide emissions. “If we can’t make a difference with our vote, then what we can do is move the world forward to something we believe in with what we do,” Ingels said. “Of course, I would love to only have philanthropic clients or well-funded states, but we can try to tackle the problems that we have through other means.”
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Money Graham

The Graham Foundation announces 2016 grants for individuals
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has announced their 2016 grants for individuals. This year 59 projects by 94 individuals received a total of $490,000 in support for research and production projects by architects, designers, curators, filmmakers, visual artists, musicians, and writers. The new grantees join over 4,000 individuals and institutions that have been supported by the Graham Foundation in the past 60 years. The 59 projects where culled from 640 submissions from around the world. Projects from this year’s grantees include: an opera by director, animator, and visual artist Joshua Frankel about the conflict between urban activist Jane Jacobs and New York City Planner Robert Moses, a series of large scale public installations throughout Mexico City dealing with the legacy of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games, and an ongoing research project by Athens-based Point Supreme looking at the “Post-Crisis” city. Other projects range from performances, publications, installations, films, events, and more. The 2016 Graham Foundation Individual Grantees by category: Exhibition Chelsea Culprit, Ben Foch, Jaffer Kolb, Ian Quate & Colleen Tuite François Dallegret Rear View (Projects): Jennifer L. Davis & Su-Ying Lee José Esparza Chong Cuy & Guillermo Ruiz De Teresa Adelita Husni-Bey Farzin Lotfi-Jam & V. Mitch McEwen Anders Ruhwald Quynh Vantu Fo (Folayemi) Wilson Film/Video/New Media Sebastian Alvarez, Andrew Benz, Yoni Goldstein & Meredith Zielke Esther Figueroa & Mimi Sheller LoVid: Tali Hinkis & Kyle Lapidus Prudence Katze & William Lehman Andrea Lewis & Maura Lucking Rob Mazurek & Lee Anne Schmitt Masha Panteleyeva, Svetlana Strelnikova & Nazli Kaya Juan Alfonso Zapata Public Program Joshua Frankel Aaron Landsman, Mallory Catlett & Jim Findlay Publication Michael Abel & Mina Hanna Mai Abu ElDahab & Benjamin Seror Zeynep Çelik Alexander Daniel A. Barber Pierre Bélanger & Nina-Marie Lister Michael Boyd Neil Brenner & Nikos Katsikis Maristella Casciato Benedict Clouette & Marlisa Wise Beatriz Colomina John Comazzi Dale Allen Gyure Leslie Hewitt & Bradford Young Sean Keller Léopold Lambert Alexandra Lange Amanda Reeser Lawrence & Ana Miljački Jennifer Mack Julian Raxworthy Gabriel Ruiz-Larrea Martino Stierli James Trainor Lori Waxman Allan Wexler Mary N. Woods De Peter Yi Jon Yoder Research Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Tatiana Bilbao, Gabriela Álvarez, Nuria Benítez, & Alba Cortés Isabelle Doucet Charlie Hailey & Donovan Wylie Simon Herron & Mark Morris Heinrich Jaeger & Dan Peterman Parsa Khalili & Shima Mohajeri Azadeh Mashayekhi Mariana Mogilevich Yasufumi Nakamori Point Supreme: Konstantinos Pantazis & Marianna Rentzou Damon Rich & Jae Shin Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi Filip Tejchman