Posts tagged with "Toshiko Mori":

Toshiko Mori: Transforming Communities through Architecture

Talk Wednesday, May 1, 6:30 PM Good design can have a profound impact on local art and communities, as exemplified by the Setouchi region of Japan. In the post-World War II period, there was significant patronage of modern art and architecture in this region. In 1958, Kenzo Tange, whose work combines modern architecture with traditional Japanese techniques and symbolism, designed Kagawa Prefecture's governmental office building. This sparked an artistic renaissance, and the area has become an internationally acclaimed creative hub centered around the Setouchi Art Triennale. At this talk, Prof. Toshiko Mori, founder of Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC and Professor of Architecture at Harvard University, examines this unique artistic and architectural phenomenon. She will also touch on her two projects in villages in Senegal that share a similar ambition to create peace and stability by integrating contemporary architecture with vernacular buildings and local culture. Moderated by Prof. Nader Tehrani, Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union and Principal of NADAAA. Followed by a reception. Tickets: $15/$12 members, seniors & students Special Offer: Show your ticket for this event to our Welcome Desk and receive 50% off admission to our exhibition, Radicalism in the Wilderness: Japanese Artists in the Global 1960s. Valid through May 31, 2019. This program is part of our Japan in the Global 1960s series.
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Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas contemplate the emotions behind architecture at Facades+ New York

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As two of the foremost contemporary Italian architects, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas know a thing or two about the trends reshaping international architecture today. As the day-one morning keynote speakers at AN’s Facades+ New York conference on April 4, the veteran design duo spoke about their four decades of experience creating boundary-breaking projects across the globe, why the right materials help evoke positive emotions in their buildings, and why they reject the term “facade.” Over 500 AEC practitioners gathered inside the Metropolitan Pavilion to hear the Fuksases, founders of Studio Fuksas, present the details behind 20 structures that for them, define the firm’s design sensibilities and best demonstrate its vast portfolio of building typologies and structural forms. “What is a facade for us?” Massimiliano Fuksas asked the crowd. “We don’t like the name ‘facade.’ We’ve never done a facade in our lives, much less just a plan.” Fuksas explained that a building’s exterior is simply something that the architect discovers as the project concept develops with the design. He said a piece of architecture is like a sculpture that is drawn from a mass and is formed through research, trial, and error until a final work of art is realized. To Massimiliano Fuksas, the end result is something mysterious. One thing that the architects do aim to have control over is emotion. In the case of Studio Fuksas’s projects located in dense urban environments, such as the 2010 Admirant Entrance Building in the Netherlands or the 2010 Rome-EUR Convention Center, the light and surrounding contexts reflected through the glass curtain walls project a happy tone for visitors both outside and inside the buildings. They expose the buildings’ skeletal envelopes, which allow people to clearly see the structures’ raw materials. “For the convention center, we built a container using a steel structure and a double glass facade that encloses the cloud, which you can see from the outside,” said Massimiliano. Studio Fuksas’s 2009 St. Paolo Parish Complex in Foligno, Italy, though a concrete cube, still utilizes light through unique cutouts that don’t fully brighten the entire interior, but instead create a thoughtful, soft environment for reflection. Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas noted that the facade of the chapel is sliced at the bottom with a glass entrance. A visitor’s gaze moves from one side to the other side of the building in an effort to understand the windows across the various faces. Prior to designing the church in Central Italy, the Fuksases completed the massive, New Milan Trade Fair of Rho-Pero, which features pavilions of glass and mirrored stainless steel. The "veil," an undulating spinal column that covers 505,000 square feet atop the elongated building, is reminiscent of natural landscapes like waves, dunes, and hills. “Here we used a different kind of facade on the central axis,” said Massimiliano Fuksas. “When you pass through the stainless steel parts of the building to the glass, you feel happy. This is like sunshine.”   One of the most important components of Studio Fuksas’s work is sustainability. Details are designed to boost energy savings and reduce carbon emissions throughout buildings' lifetimes. Of course, this is a key aspect of designing advanced facades, and one that all of the Facades+ New York speakers showcased through their work. The Gensler team behind the recently completed renovation of Manhattan’s Ford Foundation building, along with Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, spoke about how to best maintain and improve the envelopes of mid-century icons. Representatives from Columbia University, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Permasteelisa Group discussed the newest additions to the university’s Manhattanville campus, all which have vitreous skins. Toshiko Mori, who gave the day-one afternoon keynote speech, challenged the crowd by expanding the topic of facades to the greater building envelope and the importance of the fifth facade, the roof. All these exterior elements, she explained, have a monumental impact on the performance and identity of a piece of architecture. Other symposium talks featured experts in net-zero building enclosures, climate responsive facades, and the changing international regulations in envelope construction. Juergen Riehm, founding principal of 1100 Architect, served as the co-chair of Facades+ New York and moderator for every panel.
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Facades+ New York will explore trends reshaping international architecture

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On April 4 and 5, Facades+ is returning to New York for the eighth year in a row. Organized by The Architect's Newspaper, the New York conference brings together leading AEC practitioners for a robust full-day symposium with a second day of intensive workshops led by manufacturers, architects, and engineers. Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, and Toshiko Mori are respectively leading the morning and afternoon keynote addresses for the symposium. In between the keynote addresses, representatives from Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Permasteelisa, Cooper Union, Gensler, Heintges, Atelier 10, Transsolar, Walter P. MooreSchüco, Frener & Reifer, and Behnisch Architekten, will be on hand to discuss recently completed innovative projects. New York-and-Frankfurt based practice 1100 Architect is co-chairing the conference. In anticipation of the conference, 1100 Architect's Juergen Riehm sat down with AN to discuss the firm's ongoing work, the conference's program, and trends reshaping New York City's built environment. The Architect's Newspaper: It is safe to say that New York City is undergoing a tremendous period of growth. What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends within the city? Juergen Riehm: You’re right; New York City is undergoing big change and growth. I would say that one of the big drivers of that change—and one of the exciting trends—is the investment in the city’s public spaces. There has been such transformation along the waterfronts and in parks across all five boroughs, and that has really catalyzed growth. We have worked with several city agencies for many years and in different ways, including with the Department of Parks & Recreation, which has been an exciting partnership, contributing to these changes. One of the projects we currently have in design for NYC Parks is a new community center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. There, we are designing a 33,000-square-foot community center. The facade will perform in a number of ways. Since it is a community center, we want it to be as open and transparent as possible, and it also needs to be robust and durable. The building is on track to meet the city’s new sustainability standards LL31/32 and LEED Gold. There has been so much attention on new large-scale developments like Hudson Yards or the supertall towers in Midtown, but one of the other exciting trends right now is the renewed attention on optimizing the performance of existing buildings. It is something we will address during Facades+ NYC, but there is great work happening now on restorations of historic buildings—at the Ford Foundation or the United Nations, for example—that not only addresses decades of wear and tear, but that also brings these structures up to full 21st-century performance standards. AN: 1100 Architect is based in both New York and Frankfurt. What are the greatest benefits of operating a trans-Atlantic practice? JR: Our practice has always been deeply rooted in New York—just as it has also always had an international footprint. From our earliest days, we delivered projects overseas, so it seems like part of 1100 Architect’s DNA to have an ongoing dialogue with other geographies. We launched our Frankfurt office about 15 years ago, and, as you suggest, it does bring benefits. In general, we find that it has a reciprocal sharpening effect, with each location informing the other with different materials, technologies, and delivery methods. AN: Which projects are 1100 Architect currently working on, or recently completed, that demonstrate the firm's longstanding demonstration of sustainable enclosures? JR: Well, the NYC Parks community center in East Flatbush is a good example. It’s an exciting project in many ways—including the fact that we are designing it to the City’s new LL31/32 sustainability standards. In every way, we are really pushing for optimal performance, and the high-performance envelope plays an integral role toward that end. We were recently awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of State, so we are poised to begin working on diplomatic facilities around the world, so the safety and security of facade systems will be a paramount consideration. In Germany, we are renovating a 19,000-seat soccer stadium and adding a new training facility, using an innovative and high-performance channel-glass facade. We recently completed a Passive House–certified kindergarten there, too, which involved a high-performance facade. AN: Are there any techniques and materials used in Germany or the EU that should be adopted in the United States? JR: In Germany, I find that there is a more closely integrated relationship between government, the building industry, and the architectural profession. With environmental standards, for example, the goals set by the government are quite ambitious, and it has resulted in a closely integrated process of meeting those goals. In this moment of deregulation in the U.S., it seems like a good time to consider the value of the government’s role in moving toward energy efficiency. AN: Where do you see the industry heading in the coming years? JR: By necessity, I see it moving toward higher standards of energy performance. Climate science is calling for it and the marketplace is increasingly looking for it, so the architecture and building industry will need to deliver. And as I mentioned at the start of this conversation, I also think there will be a lot of focus on updating existing buildings to enhance performance. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
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Food Radio's conversations about succeeding in creative fields are now online

This past fall, Dong-Ping Wong of Food took over a storefront near his firm’s Chinatown office to launch a radical pop-up educational and hangout space he called Office Hours. Along with workshops and other programming, Wong led an audio livestream, Food Radio, where he invited over 50 guests—artists, architects, designers, musicians publishers, and more—for nearly 40 conversations. Now, all the broadcasts have been archived and are ready to be listened to anytime on Food’s website. Office Hours’ mission from the get-go was about inclusion, education, and action across race, class, and age facilitated by an open door policy, workshops throughout the day, and Food designers going out to round up local kids and teens at the library. Hardly recorded in a isolated soundproof room, the Food Radio conversations took place in the back of the pop-up's narrow storefront space, and during the broadcasts you can hear Wong and his guests chatting with people coming in and out who might’ve come to say hi or listen live, or just to see what this new space on the street was all about. By bringing together a broad swath of architects, curators, politicians, and others, Wong wanted to show people, especially younger generations, that making a career out of creative work was possible and to highlight the experiences of creative people who local children might identify with. As New York state assembly member Yuh-Line Niou told Wong, she believes it's necessary to “tell young people not to self-select out,” that just because they haven’t seen people of their background—children of immigrants, people of color, people of various class origins—yet in fields that they might find interesting, or this is “the first time they’re seeing it,” that it remains possible for them to follow these paths, and, perhaps more importantly, make their own. Many of these guests really got their starts by daring to do something that no one else had done, Wong explained. “We've seen a lot of our guests using a lack of familiar model as a springboard to do something totally unique," Wong said. "Sometimes you just have to make stuff when nobody asked you to.” The expansive and radical proposition of Food is to make new possibilities for others. While all of the conversations were original and informative, some standouts include those with architects Toshiko Mori and Tei Carpenter of Agency—Agency, mother and daughter (though with their own, separate firms), for their first family interview; creative director Heron Preston, who has collaborated with Kanye West (Wong has, too) and Virgil Abloh; SO-IL co-founder and principal Jing Liu; Oana Stanescu, who ran Family with Wong; and Christopher Leong and Dominic Leong of Leong Leong. Many of the conversations were both seriously casual and casually serious, much like the whole project. Mori and Carpenter, for example, explored a range of topics: what they did that week; how they each got their start; how to learn from one another as architects across generations; how they’re approaching their careers differently; being Asian women in the field; the responsibility of architects to engage and communicate across disciplinary and political lines; the field’s need for a “diversification of moral practice;" and that perennially impossible problem many of us face: knowing when to say no. Since Office Hours has gone off the street and there’s no chance to drop in any more, these recordings offer an opportunity to connect, listen, and share across disciplines, time, and geography and are an imperative intervention to shift the conversation on architectural practice and, simply, remind everyone to believe in their own power and creative drive.
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AIA announces its 2019 Firm of the Year, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award

Everyone’s been talking about Richard Rogers’s big win as the 2019 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal recipient, but he isn’t the only visionary being honored at next year’s AIA National Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas. Four other firms and leading architects will be recognized by the AIA for their career-long contributions to the fields of architecture, engineering, and design. Check out the boundary-breaking winners below: 2019 AIA Architecture Firm of the Year: Payette This 86-year-old, Boston-based firm paved the way for some of the industry’s biggest technical advancements. Founded in 1932 by industrial engineers Fred Markus and Paul Nocka, the interdisciplinary organization is home to over 160 employees that specialize not only in architecture, but visualization technology, building science, landscape design, interior architecture, fabrication, and data science. Its massive portfolio features large-scale health, science, and academic facilities for global institutions such as Grainger Hall for the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts; and the Biosciences Research Building at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. 2019 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion: Toshiko Mori Toshiko Mori, founder and principal of her namesake firm, has an extensive background teaching architecture. The AIA and the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) will recognize Mori next year for excellence in architectural education. She’s taught at the Cooper Union, Columbia University, Yale University, as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she’d worked for 23 years. She was the first female faculty member there to get tenure, and became chair of the architecture department in 2002, leading the program for six years. Through her New York–based firm, which she established in 1981, Mori most recently designed the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre in Sinthian, Senegal, as well as the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine. 2019 AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award: Karen Braitmayer As founder of the Seattle-based consulting firm Studio Pacifica, Karen Braitmayer advises architects, developers, government and state agencies, as well as schools on accessible design. After starting her organization in 1993, she’s become widely recognized for her leadership in promoting equality, inclusivity, and social sustainability for people living with disabilities. The AIA’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award will be given to Braitmayer for her work in advancing human rights. She’s served on the boards of the Northwest ADA Center, the Northwest Center for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the United States Access Board, which President Barack Obama appointed her to in 2010. Her firm works regularly with Olson Kundig, the city of Seattle, and Starbucks. She’s consulted on projects with Kiernan Timberlake, Oregon State University, REI, Kaiser Permanente, Nike, and Amazon. 2019 Edward C. Kemper Award: Robert Traynham Coles Robert Traynham Coles’s eponymous firm, opened in 1963, is the oldest African-American–owned architecture studio in the Northeast U.S. His work has widely influenced the city of Buffalo, where he was born, raised, and spent most of his 50-year career. Coles will receive the Edward C. Kemper Award for his legacy within the AIA. From 1974-1976, he served as the organization’s Deputy Vice President for Minority Affairs and was appointed to the College of Fellows in 1981. That same year he received the Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award for his commitment to social justice and equality in the industry. In 2016, Coles published his memoir Architecture + Advocacy in which he detailed his career-long effort to design architecture with a social conscience. He has taught at various institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Kansas.
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Women in architecture make their voices heard in Venice

This morning at 11:00 AM, a large crowd of women (and male supporters) met just inside the entrance gates of the Biennale’s garden to protest a lack of recognition of “woman in architecture.” The fan waving crowd cheered as co-organizer Martha Thorne read a prepared statement asking for women to receive more recognition and support from the profession and the media. The event, according to Thorne, Odile Decq, and Toshiko Mori, three of the original organizers, started with this small group but has quickly developed into a network of “hundreds of supporters!” The only slip up was that the protest took place inside the gates of the Biennale and thus many young supporters were denied entrance to participate as they did not have a ticket on this media-only preview day. Still, over 100 people participated, including Francine Houben of Mecanoo, Farshid Moussavi, Jeanne Gang, and curators from The Met and MoMA. The organizers claim that architecture school students are now 60% female, so that today’s "Giardini" protest is only recognizing what will become a reality tomorrow. Below is the prepared statement that the group read: “MANIFESTO We as Voices of Women are building conversations and taking actions to raise awareness to combat pervasive prejudices and disrespectful behavior that appears to be systemic in our culture and discipline. We are united in denouncing discrimination, harassment and aggressions against any member of our community. We will not tolerate it. We will not stand silent. Women are not a minority in the world, but women are still a minority in the architecture field and we want it to better reflect better the world in which we live. The Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 FREESPACE is a crucial moment of awakening to promote equitable and respectful treatment of all members of the architectural community irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexuality and religion. We will join hands with co-workers, students, clients, collaborators, and our male colleagues to create a new path forward toward equitable work and educational environments that promote respectful discourse and open exchange of ideas. Be a fan of voices of women. Make a vow to uphold fairness, transparency, and collaboration in Architecture NOW.”
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Jury is announced for Adelaide Contemporary museum competition

The Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition has announced the jury members selected to judge the competition, which will commission a new contemporary art museum and public sculpture park dedicated to Australian, Aboriginal, Asian and European art in Adelaide, Australia. Last December, the shortlisted firms were announced, and among the 13 firms grouped into six teams were Adjaye Associates, SO-IL and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Australia-based firms BVN, Hassell, Woods Bagot and Durbach Block Jaggers. The nine-person jury is comprised of leaders in the arts, architecture, culture and business, including Walter Hood and Toshiko Mori. The competition jury will be chaired by Michael Lynch and advised by the competition director, Malcolm Reading. The full jury is below:
  • Michael Lynch AO CBE (Chair), Chair, Sydney Community Foundation and Chair, Circa
  • Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Deputy Chair, Australia Council for the Arts, Managing Director, L-AB & Associates and Executive, Aboriginal Strategy, South Australian Film Corporation
  • Beatrice Galilee, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Walter Hood, Creative Director and Founder, Hood Design Studio
  • David Knox, Deputy Chair, Economic Development Board of South Australia and Member, Adelaide Botanic Gardens Foundation Committee
  • Nick Mitzevich, Director, Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Toshiko Mori, Founder and Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect and Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design
  • Sally Smart, Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne and renowned contemporary artist
  • Tracey Whiting, Chair, Art Gallery of South Australia Board

In eleven weeks, the six teams will present their conceptual designs, with an honorarium of approximately $72,000 dollars (AU $90,000) to complete this stage. In April, these designs will be shown to the public at an exhibition in Adelaide as well as online. Details about that exhibition will be released then. The jury will decide upon the winner in May and the winners will be announced by mid-June of this year. Further updates to the competition can be found at the competition's website.

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Toshiko Mori unifies Breuer home with diaphanous glass "bridge and break" staircase

For a dead architect, Marcel Breuer is blowing up the news this year: After the Whitney decamped to the Meatpacking, the Met annexed Breuer's signature Upper East Side museum building, honoring the architect in a suave rechristening. Virginia's only Breuer building was headed for the wrecking ball, but saved; this year, too, his Atlanta Central Library was scheduled to meet its end, but will not be demolished thanks in part to the dedication of Brutalism preservation activists. Now, Toshiko Mori has revamped a 1951 Breuer project in New Canaan, Connecticut, unifying a two-building complex with a "bridge and break" angular glass staircase that honors Breuer's forms while flooding the home with light. The New York–based architect updated the home's interiors to Breuer's original specifications, save the elimination of a ground-floor bedroom and a skylight she added to the main circulation corridor. "Visually, the skylight connects the original structure to the new addition and connecting stair," Mori told Dezeen. "The massing of the addition takes its cues from the original Breuer house, adhering to the orthogonal lines and modest proportions of the existing site." Like a modernist caterpillar cozying up to a choice leaf, the staircase, diagonally sited between the two original structure, rises gradually from the partially sunken lower level and switches back sharply to take residents to the upper floor. Mori's work adds 3,000 square feet of living space to the original 2,200: Three bedrooms occupy the home's top story, which is clad in transparent glasses and cantilevers out over the lower floor, while a garage, service area, and common rooms round out the program on the ground floor. New York–based Quennell Rothschild & Partners restored and updated the landscape to dialogue with Mori's work.
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Toshiko Mori–designed contemporary art museum to open in seaside Maine town this summer

Each August, hoards of crustacean-aficionados descend on Rockport for the town's famous Maine Lobster Festival. You can do like David Foster Wallace, but why not head north to neighboring Rockland a little earlier to catch the opening of the Toshiko Mori–designed Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA)? The former chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard GSD was tapped to design the CMCA's new home three years ago. Although Mori has designed for museums (including a 7,300-square-foot canopy at the Brooklyn Children's Museum) before, this is her first full-scale museum commission. The 11,500-square-foot building's wall-to-wall glass and corrugated metal exterior is designed to optimize Maine's "legendary light." In addition to 5,500 square feet of gallery space, the structure features an ArtLab and a 2,200-square-foot public courtyard. Currently under construction, the museum is slated to open on June 26, 2016. Founded in 1952 as an artists' cooperative, CMCA eschews a permanent collection in favor of providing a forum for living artists with ties to Maine to display their work. The museum operated out of a downtown fire station livery stable for fifty years as Maine Coast Artists before the museum assumed its current name and program under former director Mildred Cummings. Despite (or in spite of) its distance from major population centers and small size, Rockland is an arts hub: CMCA is across the street from the Farnsworth Art Museum, another art museum dedicated to Maine, and adjacent to the historic venue Strand Theatre.
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Fumihiko Maki says architects who know better should speak up in the public's interest

Octogenarian Fumihiko Maki shows no signs of slowing down, based on his presentation last night at the Japan Society in New York City. Going back as far as only the mid-1990s, the Pritzker Prize winner showed a handful of projects that, as moderator Toshiko Mori said, eschew a signature style yet are identifiably Maki buildings. From the beautiful Kaze-no-oka Crematorium (1997) in Nakatsu (which Maki reported a townsperson complimentarily said, "Now we can die in peace.") and the equally off the beaten path Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (2006) to international projects in New York, Toronto, and Patna, India, Maki showed a wide range of materials, forms, and conceptual reasoning that went into each, but mostly it comes down to the context. “Architecture must establish a rapport with the people, that’s more important than architectural critique,” professed Maki. Maki explained that his influences were a combination of fellow countryman Kenzo Tange and his professor at Harvard, Josep Luis Sert, of course with a dash of omnipresent Le Corbusier, who Maki noted “was always wearing bowties.” These connections to the Metabolists and CIAM helped launch Maki’s lifelong career as a theorist and commentator, most recently in his highly public opposition to Zaha Hadid’s design for the New National Stadium in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Maki defended his position saying, “An architect who knows better has a responsibility to point out to the public” faults of scale, cost, context and the limited time to develop the design. Also of timing, Mori and Maki discussed the imminent demise of the classic Hotel Okura Tokyo. The mid-century icon designed by Yoshiroo Taniguchi is slated for demolition in September to make way for a new hotel to service Olympic tourists. The pair hope that minimally the lobby could be relocated and preserved.
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Toshiko Mori Comissioned to Redesign Center for Maine Contemporary Art

With strong architectural ties in Maine and an interest in cultural building design throughout her career, New York City–based architect Toshiko Mori has been chosen to redesign the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA). Currently in the same historic Rockport firehouse since 1967, the Mori-designed CMCA will move the arts center to a larger site in the city of Rockland and update it with a building contemporaneous to the art it houses. Work on the project is set to begin as soon as environmental and engineering tests are completed at the museum’s current site. The new center in Rockland plans an opening in time for the 2015 museum season. Of the commission, Mori stated: “I have been associated with mid-coast Maine in the last thirty years, and I am especially excited to make a contribution to promote contemporary arts in Maine."
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With Few Changes City Planning Passes NYU Expansion

In a 12 to 1 vote this morning, City Planning approved NYU’s Core expansion plans for two superblocks in Greenwich Village designed by Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori and Michael Van Valkenburg. In slow and deliberative pace, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden read from a prepared text that included several aesthetic and few programmatic changes to the proposed plan. The new plan will reduced the size of the overall project from 2.47 million square feet to 2.1 million. All four proposed buildings were approved with tweaks here and there. Both of the so-called “Boomerang Buildings” will be reduced in height that will not exceed the slabs of the Washington Square Village buildings that frame them. The “Zipper Building” will not be allowed to include a hotel component as part of its programming. The proposal for a temporary gym was also nixed. Of the changes to the nearly four acres of public space the most significant is that the university will not be permitted to build beneath the green strips on the northern superblock, thus saving the mature trees that are on the site. The proposed light wells that allow natural light to flow to the massive subterranean structure will be reduced on the Mercer Street Boomerang Building so as to create more open space at grade. The creation of the an Open Space Oversight Organization will be set up to insure public oversight, and allow for future modifications, “especially as the space is not to be built until 15 years from now,” said the Commissioner. As the lone commissioner to vote against the proposal Michelle de la Uz praised the university’s “laudable efforts,” but noted that it was done to address the impression that “their growth thus far has been haphazard and insensitive.” She also voiced concern, shared by many in the community, that the programming for the northern superblock is still too vague. She added that a lack of affordable housing and a public school were also troubling. In the end Uz concluded the project’s size has not dramatically changed, as indeed it hasn’t. For their part NYU seemed pleased with the outcome, with NYU’s vice president of government affairs Alicia Hurley finding most of the changes as “not an impediment” to the university’s overall goals. The one building that seemed to get lost in the shuffle was the  building replacing the Morton Williams super market on the southern superblock. That building is supposed to house the public school which sparked Commissioner Uz’s concern. Hurley said that ongoing talks with the Department of Ed are going well. “They are interested,” she said. After the hearing, Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, employed the shoehorning-the-Empire-State-Building-into-the-Village phrase he’s used throughout the process to describe the plan. He did not seem particularly surprised by the outcome, saying that every major development application that went before this commission was approved. Still, he held out hope that the next stop for the application at City Council will put a halt to the project. “Hopefully City Council will show some independence from the mayor,” he said.