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Luminary Landscapes

The Cultural Landscape Foundation launches major international design prize
A major landscape architecture scholarship has just hit the scene—one that’s been in the works for the past five years. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) announced today that it will establish an international prize, offered up biennially, in which recipients will enjoy a $100,000 award and two full years of public engagement opportunities. Landscape architects, artists, and architects, as well as urban planners and designers, are encouraged to apply for the inaugural prize, set to be chosen in 2021.  “Landscape architecture is one of the most complex and, arguably, the least understood art forms,” said TCLF founder, president, and CEO Charles A. Birnbaum in a statement. “It challenges practitioners to be design innovators often while spanning the arts and sciences in addressing many of the most pressing social, environmental, and cultural issues in contemporary society.”  Unlike the vast world of architectural prizes that cater to both emerging and seasoned practitioners, there aren’t many programs honoring the work of great landscape architects. As Birnbaum points out above, designing a park or tree-filled plaza in a major urban area is a huge undertaking that involves deep knowledge of many intricate systems, both manmade and natural. Many of the most successful parks in the United States were completed only after an extensive community engagement process and serious research on the surrounding region With a goal of becoming as relevant as the Pritzker Prize or the Nasher Sculpture Prize, The Cultural Landscape Foundation aims to use the prize to elevate the field and promote “informed stewardship among landscape architects, and the arts and design communities more broadly.” The Washington, D.C.-based education and advocacy nonprofit has been working on setting up the program since 2014 and recently secured a $1 million donation by TCLF co-chair Joan Safran and her husband Rob Haimes. The rest of the board collectively matched their gift to set up a $4.5 million endowment.  In addition to offering the profession a prestigious new prize, TCLF also wants to enhance critical discussion on the subject of landscape architecture, so that the public can better understand the role of design. According to the website, the prize will also support a “biennial examination of the state of landscape architecture through the lens of a specific practitioner or team.” Therefore, the individual or group chosen will represent the best of the industry today.  A number of big-name landscape architects advised on the creation of the prize including Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE Landscape Architecture DPC, Adriaan Geuze, founding partner and design director of West 8, as well as Gary Hilderbrand of Reed Hilderbrand, and Laurie Olin of OLIN. Submissions will be reviewed by a high-profile set of designers, educators, critics, and historians, though no jurors have been chosen as of yet. Five members of the Prize Advisory Committee will be selected each cycle to determine the winner while an independent curator will oversee the program. 
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Come As You Are

AMAA embraces industrial decay with its own factory-to-office conversion
Over time, everything is romanticized and appropriated as nostalgic pastiche. Whether it be pastoralism—the idealization of rural life by a privileged elite in search of perceived simplicity and retreat—or the age-old bourgeois aspiration of emulating bohemian culture. For contemporary Europe, this sentiment comes with the mitigation of its manufacturing past. While, the glamorization of rustic life is indulgent, ignoring the harsh realities, the desire to rhapsodize the aesthetic qualities of machine-age architecture comes out of necessity: what does a society do with vast swathes of a crumbling postindustrial landscape. For some, the answer has been to convert old factories into sprawling cultural complexes. For others, it has been to raze these depilated zones and develop new architecture. A handful of historical industrial buildings, throughout Europe, have received a listed or heritage status in recent decades. Strict governmental regulations determine how these landmark-sites are renovated and adapted for new use. But what should happen to the rest of Europe’s less-glamorous industrial architecture? And what have studios, such as AMAA, done to adapt them? Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Business Amphitheater

BIG's copper-and-glass-clad Isenberg School Expansion falls into place
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Located on the outskirts of Amherst, Massachusetts is a new expansion for the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Isenberg School of Management. The building, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in collaboration with architect-of-record Goody Clancy, adds a new 70,000-square-foot study and social space for approximately 150 faculty members and 5,000 students. The massing of the extension resembles the imposing circular layout of an ancient amphitheater, swapping out the Roman arch or Greek pillar for facade-height strips of copper cladding and glass curtain. For the bulk of the enclosure, the copper-clad concrete piers rise perpendicular to the ground level, but ultimately stagger and fall atop each other in a domino-like effect.
  • Facade Manufacturer National Enclosure Company Alucoil Viracon
  • Architect BIG Goody Clancy (architect-of-record)
  • Facade Installer National Enclosure Company
  • Facade Consultant Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Amherst, MA
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System EVO by Ace Panel Worx
  • Products Alucoil Larson copper composite panels Viracon VNE-53 & 24-53
UMass Amherst is the flagship campus of Massachusett's state university system, and as a result, possesses a broad range of architectural styles and building scales. The Isenberg School of Management moved to its current site in 1964, a rectilinear three-story building defined by concrete and red brick. An extension was added to the southern elevation of the original building in 2003, and BIG's design effectively continues this trend of growth along the north elevation. According to BIG project leaders Yu Inamoto and Hung Kai Liao, "the conceptual move to create the building massing and space inside the Isenberg Business Innovation Hub was actually a rather simple one—a loop originating from, and connecting to, the existing building then stretching one point of that volume to create a multi-story space." Across the facade, each individual copper module is two-feet in width and the glass curtain three-and-a-half feet wide. In comparison to the rest of the extension where the copper panels are placed one atop the other, the far more visible eastern elevation is laid out in a diagonally pitched stretcher bond format. The panels themselves are clipped to aluminum rails fastened to a sheathing clad cold-formed framing structure produced by Ace Panel Worx. The primary stylistic flourish of the project is the domino-like effect found at the entrance of the building, a remarkably complex structural feature that remains visually consistent. "Even before they start to pitch, the depth of the pillars from the glass gradually increases," said Goody Clancy Senior Associate George Perkins. "The first few pitched pillars are framed with steel studs, but then structural steel tubes are introduced, and eventually steel trusses. The metal panels and joint locations had to negotiate this changing structural condition." For Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, who collaborated as facade consultant for the project, a detail of particular importance were the many of transitions present in the envelope. The copper, which only functions as cladding, is backed by an air and water barrier that is integrated into the glass system.
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A Ring of Green

West 8 will redesign 11 miles of South Baltimore's waterfront
Dutch firm West 8 has beat out James Corner Field Operations and Hargreaves Jones for the chance to create an 11-mile-long stretch of parkland in South Baltimore. The winning proposal from the studio's New York office was chosen as part of the Middle Branch Waterfront Revitalization Competition, a city-backed plan to reengage locals with an underutilized section of the Patapsco River shoreline.  Located east of Westport and south of Port Covington across the river, the waterfront spanning from the existing Middle Branch Park will be expanded in the surrounding bay into a landscaped linear strip for recreational activities and observing wildlife. West 8 will partner with local teams from Mahan Rykiel and Moffat & Nichol on the multi-phase project, and figure out the best strategies to build a new green ring around the waterfront filled with piers, boardwalks, and other structures for performances and group gatherings.  Per the proposal, future phases will include converting the 103-year-old, Beaux Arts-style Hanover Street Bridge, which connects Middle Branch to Port Covington, into parkland as well. A new car-centric bridge will be built stretching from the planned Under Armour campus to Brooklyn, instead of Cherry Hill where Middle Branch Park is located. An artificial island will be built underneath it in the middle of the bay.  SouthBmore.com reported that in order to create this large ring of land, West 8 will redistribute dredge from a port nearby and place it further up the bay where it will eventually help form marshlands and other wetland ecologies. This move, according to Brad Rogers, executive director of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, will help build an attractive waterfront for the South Baltimore community—one that could boost its economy like the other built-out improvements at Inner Harbor and Fells Point.  West 8 also aims to build a trail system that loops from Middle Branch Park to Westport Meadows and across Ridgeley’s Cove. A decrepit bridge there could possibly be made into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare as well, providing access to Swan Park in Port Covington.  For further context, the entire site sits south of M&T Bank Stadium and is close to the core of downtown Baltimore. A masterplan to revamp the Middle Branch area has been in the works since 2007, and the competition to redesign the waterfront started last summer, under the helm of the city-supported Parks and People Foundation.
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Same building, New purpose

Atlanta City Detention Center could become mixed-use community development

Atlanta could be poised to convert its now-defunct Atlanta City Detention Center into a mixed-use development catering to the formerly incarcerated and the community at large. The Reimagining Atlanta City Detention Center Task Force, which was convened at City Hall by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for the first time last week, is in charge of determining how the 17-story jail facility will be used. With a whopping 471,000 square feet of available floor space, the building will likely serve numerous needs in the neighborhood.

Mayor Bottoms ordered the closure of the jail earlier this year, due primarily to rising costs and a lack of inmates. She emphasized the need for any revisioning or adaptive re-use project to be of benefit to locals, and especially to those who have already been involved in the city’s justice system. Several justice-oriented organizations, including the Racial Justice Action Center (RJAC) and the Oakland-based agency Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, have been tapped to guide the planning process. RJAC director Xochitl Bervera encouraged people to think big when contributing ideas. So far, informal proposals have included spaces for a daycare center, a food service training restaurant, a skate park, recording studios, and a legal clinic with an attached coffee shop. So long as the new development is not cost-prohibitive and is accessible to diverse swaths of the local populous, Bervera says it has serious potential to be successful.

In terms of the detention center’s physical makeover, concerns that entering the building could be triggering or unsettling to some former inmates have prompted planners to adopt a more transformative approach. The task force and RJAC have asked Designing Justice + Designing Spaces to reimagine the menacing structure with a more transparent and open form. With a glass curtain wall and a far greater number of windows than the jailhouse, initial renderings of the project offer a glimpse of how RJAC and the Atlanta city government will create the proposed Atlanta Center for Wellness and Freedom.

Overall, the effort is reminiscent of similar adaptive reuse projects executed in New York and other cities across the country. In 2016, two years after a film company announced plans to purchase Staten Island’s Arthur Kill Correctional Facility and convert it into the borough’s first movie studio, Deborah Berke Partners won a competition to turn Manhattan’s former Bayview Correctional Facility into The Women’s Building. Elsewhere in the country, detention facilities have been transformed into everything from luxury hotels to apartment buildings. But while the potential for an upscale development certainly exists at the Atlanta City Detention Center, there are concerns that such a proposal could exacerbate changes already seen in one of America’s fastest gentrifying cities.

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Gallery Girls

See new exhibitions of large-scale art at the New Museum this summer
The New Museum’s multiple summer exhibitions has work that could intrigue architects. Starting with Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid, the exhibition title Work from Underneath refers to health and safety manuals that offer instructions for survival (the artist cites the Great Fire of London “that burned down half of the city in a single day…a fear of things collapsing on top of you”). She shows new work, including the large-scale painting Three Architects (2019) that depicts three female practitioners working on buildings of refuge. Models are placed throughout the red-walled room, which looks out onto the sea. A series of smaller-scale paintings, Metal Handkerchief (all 2019), depict tools that are stuck in a wall. Meanwhile, Old Boat / New Money (2019) is an installation of 32 leaning planks that invoke a ghost ship stuck in the building to suggest that history is embedded in contemporary spaces.  Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded presents the iconic 1965 work, La Menesunda (slang for a confusing situation), an intricate labyrinth that confronts visitors with consumer culture, mass media, and urban life. Alongside works by her friends, who were other famous artists, Minujín made big art rooms, early precursors to the Instagram museums and retail pop-ups of today. La Menesunda is eleven rooms. Visitors ascend stairs, walk through neon signs in a tiny hallway, and visit a salon in the shape of a woman’s head with makeup artists and masseuses ready to offer their services, among other fun experiences. The Rotating Basket with walls woven from vinyl strips, The Swamp, a corridor covered from floor to ceiling in foam, The Forest of Shapes and Textures with a plethora of materials, and an octagonal mirrored room with a transparent booth whose platform activates ultraviolet lights and fans that blow confetti when stepped on. This work was part of a wave of contemporary art after the overthrow of dictator Juan Perón in 1955, during Argentina’s brief period of democracy in the 1960s that was ended by a military coup in 1966.  Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces (the title is taken from Six Easy Pieces, physicist Richard Feynman’s 1994 book on the fundamentals of physics for non-scientists) is set within sculptural installations that expand on her videos’ narratives. Rottenberg’s exhibition ponders humans’ interaction with nature. At the entrance, viewers encounter AC and Plant (2018), a sculpture of a window AC unit that goes drip-drip-drip into a plant pot and a hallway installed with electric fans, Ceiling Fan Composition (2016) that activate the space. Her videos combine documentary and fiction, and people who work in factories. Cosmic Generator was filmed in two locations at opposite ends of the world: A Chinese restaurant in a US/Mexico border town, and a wholesale market in Yiwu, China. In the installation, viewers enter through a tunnel, much like the one seen in the video, and exit through a curtain of tacky, multicolored plastic garlands. A border wall is seen separating Mexicali from its US counterpart, Calexico. In fact, under this site is a network of underground tunnels called “La Chinesca,” where the Chinese immigrant population, originally brought to Mexico as workers by the Colorado River Company at the turn of the last century, housed casinos, brothels, bars, and opium dens. Abandoned in the 1970s, the tunnels nonetheless remain a hub for Chinese culture in Mexico. Rottenberg says, “Here is a plethora of Chinese restaurants adorned with imported plastic glitz [from China] and catered by bored waitresses devoid of customers. And then, inevitably, there is the wall, apparently unassailable as it marches across desolate sands to obstruct the mobility of human beings.” She goes on, “I created my work in the empty store right at the onset of Trump’s trade war with China. I wondered what would happen if world trade just stopped: How would that look? I never meant for that piece to be so topical, but somehow it is.” Lubaina Himid: Work from Underneath runs until October 6, 2019, Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded runs until September 29, 2019, and Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces runs until September 15, 2019.
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Survive and Thrive

Akoaki is blending design disciplines in Detroit
Upon their arrival to Detroit, partners Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges took four years to understand the complex landscapes and narratives that co-exist within the city. At the time, Detroit was fully entrenched in “ruin porn” and the design interest of the city followed a fascination with degradation or a re-imagination to building new. Cultural assets (like the industrial design of cars and jazz music) once thrived in the city and continue to have national and international range. Often though, the direct impact upon the residents is nonexistent. Akoaki [pronounced ak-o-ak-i] is compelled to research fields of architecture and art and their relationships to equitable redevelopment. By embracing the power of aesthetics and form-making, the couple peels away normative tropes of social practice. Beginning with aspirations to include aesthetics, beauty, and pomp creates pieces that do not comply with age. Often feeling burdened by good taste, Akoaki’s aesthetic quality tries to be bigger and badder. Imaging Detroit Supported by a Research on the City grant from the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, Imaging Detroit is, in a nutshell, an international film festival and pop-up agora. The project investigates the many ways Detroit has been portrayed over the last decade, be it film or publications. Sirota and Farges, along with a suite of collaborators, researched the way people construct narratives around the city and responses to those narratives. A major challenge of the project was how to stage an event in this context without contributing to a proliferation of ruin porn and social degradation. The goal was to create true conversation and a positive impact while staging a public debate and open speculation. The 36-hour event transformed Perrien Park into a civic space with screenings, conversations, exhibitions, food, and leisure—a true ephemeral urbanization. Detroit Cultivator In collaboration with the six-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (OAUF), Akoaki is designing a master plan that combines agriculture, culture, business, and ecology to envision a landscape that is both economically and ecologically sustainable. The project required navigating through major issues regarding land ownership, pressure from developers, and water access. After working with the University of Michigan Law School and a team of “moral investors” to secure the land, a business plan was created with volunteers from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The plan prioritizes the farm’s productivity to create a source of income and a flexible space for neighborhood entrepreneurs. As a result, the master plan features existing structures that will eventually become public amenity spaces; for example, a shoe-shine parlor will reopen as a multi-tenant commercial space and performance venue. Rather than keeping the farm purely agricultural, Sirota and Farges sought to activate other existing uses through building and site interventions. The project is an experimental urban prototype, though Akoaki is working to ensure the farm can become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. Jackson, Mississippi Sirota and Farges’s experience working on Detroit Cultivator has set them up to discover a similar food-related project, this time in Mississippi. Supported by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists with chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions. Ultimately, the project aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created. While Mississippi is known for its agriculture, a majority of the food grown in the state leaves, and Jackson is full of “food swamps”—a plethora of fast food options as opposed to fresh food. Rather than return to the “idyllic” past of farming (an image that is not necessarily representationally positive to everyone), Akoaki has formulated a “neo-rural” environment that deserves an aesthetic value and brings together aspirations of the city. Midtown Cultural Center Detroit’s Midtown Cultural Connections organized a year-long competition in an effort to connect Detroit’s most significant cultural institutions. The winning entry includes Akoaki and their assembled team of landscape architects, urban planners, and technology-experts. The announcement of the winning proposal displays how Detroit’s participating institutions and stakeholders carry a willingness in allowing an open-ended framework a chance to succeed. The plan that Akoaki and team are working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Overall, the project requires a sensitivity to placemaking in order to avoid displaced cultural queues and gentrification. When finished, the project will create a unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections between the Cultural Center and the Midtown neighborhood.
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Cash Cab

Can you capture a portrait of a city with a taxi-mounted sensor?
Big data and its purported utility comes with the attendant need to actually collect that data in the first place, meaning an increase of sensing devices being attached to all manner of things. That includes treating many everyday things, from skyscrapers to human beings, as sensors themselves. When it comes to the urban environment, data on air quality, weather, traffic, and other metrics, is becoming more important than ever. However, in general, the sensors that collect this data are fixed, attached to buildings or found in other stable spots. “They’re good in time, but not in space,” said Kevin O’Keeffe, a postdoc in MIT’s Senseable City Lab, in a release from the university. Airborne sensors such as drones, on the other hand, explained O'Keefe,  work well in space, but not in time. To collect greater data that more accurately reflects an entire city—in both space and time—mobile sensors would be needed at street level. Cities already have fleets of mobile devices close to the ground: vehicles. While private cars operate only sporadically, and buses run fixed routes, taxis spend all day and night traversing large swaths of cities. Incidentally, the lab also tried using garbage trucks, but they did not collect as much data as they predicted cabs could. Inexpensive sensors could be attached to taxis to provide researchers and others important data on the on-the-ground status of urban environments. However, to see the viability of this concept, the Senseable City Lab had to first find out just exactly how much ground taxis actually cover. And then, how many sensor-enabled taxis would it take to create an accurate picture of a city's terrain and air quality? By analyzing taxi routes in New York City, researchers discovered that a relatively small number of cars covered a pretty wide territory. It took just ten cabs to cover a third of Manhattan in a single day. And, while one might expect this to be particular to Manhattan and its orderly grid, the researchers also discovered that similar patterns occurred in cities across the world, from Vienna to Singapore. That said, because many taxis travel to similar areas and along high-traffic routes, the number of cabs it takes to cover even greater ground grows quite rapidly. In the case of Manhattan, it takes 30 taxis to cover half the island and over 1,000 to reach 85 percent. To realize the full potential of car-borne sensors, which can reach popular areas as well as underserved ones, O’Keeffe suggested a hybrid approach: placing sensors on taxis along with a few dedicated vehicles, à la Google Street View. The research team hopes that this data will help planners and politicians put together a more realistic idea about how mobile sensing could work in their city, its cost, and potential impacts. The data will also hopefully help cities tailor any mobile sensing projects to their particular needs, and the Senseable City Lab believes that these mobile sensors would be less expensive than traditional options. This research also appears in a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was co-authored, along with O’Keeffe, by Amin Anjomshoaa, a researcher at the Senseable City Lab; Steven Strogatz, a professor of mathematics at Cornell University; Paolo Santi, a research scientist at the Senseable City Lab and the Institute of Informatics and Telematics of CNR in Pisa, Italy; and Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab and professor of the practice in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Curious urbanites can check out the accompanying maps and infographics on the lab’s website.
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Shake It Up

Why doesn't the U.S. design buildings to survive earthquakes?
Earthquakes have been in the news lately with increasing regularity: Southern California recently experienced a July 4th quake registering 6.4 on the Richter scale followed by one just a day later at 7.1. It's predicted that within the week there's an 11 percent chance that a major quake could follow, and, of course, there's the looming specter of the so-called Big One. But despite the relative frequency of seismic activity on the West coast and in other parts of the United States, in general, the U.S. lags behind other earthquake-prone countries, especially Japan, in terms of earthquake readiness. A recent New York Times investigation asked why, when buildings can be designed to stand up to earthquakes, the United States has so few of them. Though there are notable exceptions—like older retrofits such as Los Angeles’s city hall, and luxurious new construction like Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed headquarters, a ring that floats on base isolators rather than being fixed to a traditional foundation—most buildings in the States feature concrete cores, relatively un-rigid construction, and no seismic shock absorbers or isolation systems. Even those that do, the Times reports, are of varying quality of construction, with many failing basic preparedness tests. Simply put, while Japanese buildings are, in general, designed to sway in an earthquake and minimize damage (and use a steel grid to make up their core), American buildings are designed primarily to fail and collapse in a way that will hopefully minimize loss of life. This can mostly be chalked up to not only weak regulations, but to economics. It’s more costly to build an earthquake-ready building, though obviously only in the short run. A federal study demonstrated that rebuilding after a quake in urban centers will cost billions of dollars, and is four times as expensive as simply building a structure that can stand up to an earthquake in the first place. However, with lax laws and a real estate and development market that prioritizes short term ownership and thinking, building owners and developers remain wary of spending the extra cash up front; estimated to only add approximately 13–15 percent in cost in a seven-story building, according to the Japanese construction company Nice Corporation. Though, per the Times, engineer Ian Aiken says that some systems “can cost as little as 5% more.” Tokyo, which experiences more than 1,000 seismic events each year, is also anticipating its own big quake in the next 30 years, a follow up to the devastating 1923 earthquake. while predictions of the potential damage remain calamitous, there is perhaps no city more ready to take the hit. Not only are high rises, skyscrapers, and smaller buildings all designed to withstand significant seismic activity, but, as The Guardian reports, “parks feature hidden emergency toilets and benches that turn into cooking stoves, and the city has the world’s largest fire brigade, specifically trained to prevent the kind of flash blazes that spread after earthquakes.” The city is not only a world population and business center, but also a major tourist destination, something that's likely to become only more true with events like the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. But even new construction for the Olympics is getting the high tech treatment. Seismic isolation bearings are being placed inside the new Tokyo Aquatics Center and the Ariake Arena, which will be home to Olympic volleyball and wheelchair basketball games. The aquatics center and arena are using Bridgestone Seismic Isolation Systems, an update to older methods that relied on increasing the rigidity of buildings or adding additional framing. Instead of adding greater rigidity, base isolation systems use rubber bearings ranging in size between approximately 23 inches and 70 inches to allow structures to sway slowly and cause only minor disturbances, if any at all, on the floors above, instead of allowing the whole structure to shake violently. Similar such bearings can be found in buildings like Tokyo Station and Los Angeles's City Hall. While the isolators are often placed in the foundations of buildings, for the new arenas, they’ve been located in the roofs, a common approach for buildings with large open spaces that helps decrease the stress on the roof’s support elements. Still, all the technology in the world only goes so far if the community isn’t prepared. As Tokyo-based disaster preparedness specialist Ronin Takashi Lewis told The Guardian, even all this tech, “If you look around the Tokyo skyscrapers it’s incredible how advanced a lot of technology here is, especially seismic resistance – but my concern is preparedness at the community and individual level.” As per usual, technology alone won’t save us. Still, hopefully the United States can learn from Tokyo and invest in resilient buildings for safer cities and communities.
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Go Long

Barry Bergdoll showcases a new wave of modern architecture on Long Island
The “North Fork” of Long Island, from the town of Riverhead to Orient Point at the eastern tip, is one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the New York region. A peninsula jutting out into Long Island Sound, it is the last place where one can still find open space devoted to farming, alongside fresh and saltwater inlets, bays, and ponds in the state. It also has a unique regional style of cedar shingled “Cape” homes and handsome pine potato barns that date back to the 18th century. But North Fork is also home to a handful of modernist post-World War II summer homes, that have remained largely unknown in comparison to those in the Hamptons, it’s more glamorous neighbor across the Peconic Bay. Now, thanks to Columbia Art History Professor and ex-MoMA architecture curator Barry Bergdoll, the story of modern architecture on the peninsula will be better known. Somehow Bergdoll found the time last year to stage A New Wave of Modern Architecture, a small but alluring exhibition on the region’s post-war modern architectural history. Now, the exhibit has moved six miles east to the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, New York, and Bergdoll has added to the show’s survey of contemporary housing and expanded our understanding of the region’s architectural uniqueness. He begins with the area’s fascinating early history of artists who gathered around the legendary art dealer, Betty Parsons, who came to the area in the 1950s. Parsons commissioned the architect-slash-sculptor Tony Smith to build a guest house and studio above the Long Island Sound. He designed a pavilion fronting the sound out of large railroad ties. He then designed and built a house for Abstract Expressionist painter Theodoros Stamos in 1951. For Stamos, Bergdoll writes, “Smith designed a dramatically innovative variant on the American timber frame house, elevating a single-story space sandwiched between two trusses, one upside down to create a large open floor plan. Elevated off the ground, the house’s living space afforded sweeping views over Long Island Sound from its bluff-top site.” Finally, he points to the double pavilion house Charles Moore designed for Simone Swan in 1975, a few houses away from Parson’s home, as an influence to newer designs. This second exhibition highlights a number of new houses, including a modest but beautiful wood-shingled Peconic bayside house by Toshiko Mori, and a TTC passive house designed by Wayne Turett on a back lot in Greenport, New York. But Bergdoll’s most insightful addition to the show is his description of what makes the area’s modern houses unique. He points to the North Fork’s environmentally sensitive farm and wetland landscape as an influence in the innovative new houses being constructed “with structural openness” and elevated platforms capable of capturing views of the landscape. This modest little show identifies a singular new style evolving just a few hours east of New York. The exhibit is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, as well as Saturdays from 11:00 am through 5:00 pm. Admission is free.
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Laser Mies at the Planetarium

The Farnsworth House will get an x-ray makeover for the Chicago Architecture Biennial
All eyes will be on Plano, Illinois, the small town nearly 60 miles west of the city that’s home to the Miesian masterpiece Farnsworth House, for the upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial. Artists Iker Gil and Luftwerk duo, Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, are teaming up to shed new light on the pioneering international style house, lining its underlying geometries with beams of neon laser light. The laser installation, Geometry of Light, will be open to the public from October 11th to 13th for an evening walk-through like no other.  Fitted out for a tech- and social media-savvy audience, the neon-saturated installation is sure to bring attention to the Fox River site, as the home will become the next in a series of architectural icons to get the Luftwerk treatment. In 2011, the collective brought a prototype of Geometry of Light to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for its 75th anniversary. That installation was named INsite, and the artists collaborated with video designer Liviu Pasare and composer Owen Clayton Condon to create an audiovisual study of the house. INsite focused on outlining the building's geometric components and the experience of moving through the lines of the space. An INsite-style study was also conducted independently for the Farnsworth house in 2014 However, the latest iteration of Luftwerk’s fluorescent vision debuted this past February as Geometry of Light was applied to another famous Mies project, the Barcelona Pavilion. Both the Pavilion and the Farnsworth House, with their open, overtly modernist massings, appear to be viewed through an x-ray after Luftwerk's illumination, exposing the bones of the building from a fresh new perspective. The 2019 Farnsworth exhibit will also be enhanced by sound, as a “minimalist” soundtrack will be pumped through the home in sync with the visuals.  The installation is a notable part of a wave of recent publicity for the Farnsworth House, as effort mounts to attract attention towards its preservation. Situated on the Fox River floodplain, the property of the modernist monument has been inundated by water several times since 2013, and a debate has erupted amongst preservationists and the home’s current owner over whether to protect the house or to take more drastic measures: relocation. Even though the house sits on stilts, the swampy site presents structural dangers and the stilts may not prove high enough as the flooding is predicted to worsen.  “Such are the choices in an era when disastrous '100-year floods' seem to occur every few years,” a spokesperson for The National Trust for Historic Preservation, who have owned and operated the structure since 2003, told the Chicago Tribune. The group even suggested the installation of hydraulic jacks programmed to physically elevate the base of the house when floodwaters rise.  Though the Mies-designed home is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the Chicago Biennial's core, Luftwerk’s eye-catching installation is sure to saturate the social media airwaves come this fall.
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Form and Function

Weiss/Manfredi continues to reinvent its approach at all scales
The realities of contemporary architectural production—site, client, and program—often demand that architects incorporate a combination of open space planning, landscape, and infrastructure into their building projects. The reasons are fairly obvious, given the fraught relationship of daily life to the realities of climate change, digitally mediated landscapes, and the amount of time we spend away from home and in our workplaces. It is unfortunate that these conditions most often appear in contemporary architecture as symbols, tacked on to a facade or plaza, hinted at in a green-walled lobby, or worse still, exist only in the project’s marketing images. However, there are a handful of architecture firms that, as far back as the early 1990s, foresaw the looming urban and environmental crises that we face today. They took climate change and the need for environmentally healthy workplaces seriously and considered how architecture might address these demands. One of the firms that recognized the need to rethink architectural approaches is Weiss/Manfredi. Its formulation of design thinking and form making was best described in a 2008 interview with the designers by the late historian Detlef Mertens. “I am fascinated how you teased out commonalities across scales and disciplines,” Mertens said, “and at the same time, used each to rethink the other—landscape to rethink what a building is, infrastructure to rethink what a landscape is, architecture to rethink landscape—and so on.” The firm’s signature design approach and formal architectural response were developed at its inception, when Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi left Mitchell Giurgola to found their own firm in 1989. Yale Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking The unique, elliptical form of Yale University’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking is centrally positioned in a courtyard of stepped orthogonal structures. Curved glass walls encourage circulation through and around the center and allow the rest of the university to see and participate in the building’s program. The open studio, conference, and cafe spaces create opportunities for spontaneous discussion and provide a link between public areas and adjacent instructional spaces. Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum The firm’s design synthesis was utilized even more powerfully in its 2007 Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Its design for an industrial site on the edge of Elliot Bay creates a continuous constructed landscape for art in the form of an uninterrupted Z-shaped "green" platform, and descends 40 feet from the city to the water, capitalizing on skyline views and rising over the existing infrastructure to reconnect the urban core to the waterfront. An exhibition pavilion that provides spaces for art, performances, and educational programming links three new northwest landscapes: a dense temperate evergreen forest, a deciduous forest, and a shoreline garden. The design not only brings sculpture outside the museum walls but also establishes the park itself within the landscape of the city. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park The firm’s established design aesthetic of merging landscape, infrastructure, and building are no more fully developed than in this new, 11-acre continuous waterfront in Queens designed in tandem with SWA/Balsley. Its design creates places of retreat and invites intimate connections with nature at the water's edge, complementing active recreation spaces. Further, it reestablishes the site's former marshland identity and introduces a resilient, multilayered recreational and cultural destination that brings city dwellers to the park and the park to the waterfront. Museum of the Earth The firm’s approach can already be seen in its 2003 Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, located on an open promontory sloping down toward Cayuga Lake. Weiss/Manfredi carefully modified the site to merge delicately into the museum’s two glass and steel pavilions through processional ramps and out to the view beyond. The site and plan merge without compromising the building’s powerful glass-and-steel form.