Last month, I attended the opening of an exhibition by the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter (AIANY) at the Center for Architecture, showcasing photographs of ancient Syrian architecture and civilization. The exhibition, titled Syria Before the Deluge, was by far the most disappointing and superficial work I’ve seen displayed at AIANY. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly was bothering me so much about this elegant display of black and white photographs of ancient Syrian landmarks. After all, I’m a Syrian architect and I should be thrilled for an event that is calling attention to Syria’s ancient civilization and architecture, especially when delivered by a renowned architectural photographer, Peter Aaron. But the truth of the matter is that this exhibition failed to inform the audience of anything of value about the history of present of Syria, a country whose history, like its architecture, has been shaped and reshaped by the rule of a totalitarian barbaric regime that systematically plundered and reduced Syria’s history over the past six decades to what we see today, and what Aaron photographed in his 2009 visit. The photographs showcase Aleppo and Palmyra, two of Syria’s most iconic jewels. Yet nowhere on the walls of the exhibition is there a mention of the residents of Aleppo, or Palmyra, or Damascus, whose ancestors built these ruins. All that is shown are pictures of ancient structures with sympathy-provoking captions like “this structure was destroyed during the civil war in 2015.” Nowhere does it say who bombed the iconic Umayyad Mosque’s minaret in Aleppo, burned the city’s historic Souk, turned the Citadel of Aleppo into a military barrack, and caused the displacement of half of Syria’s population. These issues were simply left out of the exhibit narrative. The exhibit also fails to mention those who systematically looted Palmyra’s treasures since the 1950s and turned the very name of Palmyra into a symbol of terror for millions of Syrians due to the infamous Palmyra prison. A high-security prison in the middle of the desert that allegedly witnessed the most gruesome massacres against political activists among countless other violations of human rights during the Assad ruling. None of that was in the exhibit. Just an orientalist, romanticized narrative about a beautiful civilization that once was but is no more. Occasionally, Isis is cited as the force of evil that ruined what is portrayed as ancient oriental heaven of architecture and civilization. In the abstract introduction to the event, Aaron writes: “[Syria’s] tolerant atmosphere has quickly disintegrated due to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism,” a statement that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Syrian society was ravaged by the Ba’ath regime's tactics of planting fear and mistrust between minorities and the Muslim majority over decades of an authoritarian ruling. In one corner of the exhibit, the curators reach peak tone-deafness with a picture that shows a young man riding a horse with a massive picture of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, in the background, with the caption reading: “Portrait of President Bashar al-Assad at a private riding club in the Damascus suburbs.” No mention of the 500,000 that this president is accused of killing over the past eight years. Throughout the event, the war is referred to as the “Syrian Civil War.” I personally find that term lacking in nuance and indicative of ignorance in the Syrian cause. Anyone who’s done any amount of reading about Syria would know that this naming is both factually and morally wrong. Factually, because when Russian air fighters are bombing rebelling neighborhoods with the support of Iranian ground troops, it’s not so much of a civil war as a proxy war involving two of the world’s most notorious armies spending billions of dollars to preserve the ruling of their puppet in Damascus. It’s also morally wrong to equal a rebelling people, that was bombarded, displaced, and starved for eight years after demanding freedom and democracy, with a regime that unapologetically used chemical weapons against that same people. When I raised these issues to a Syrian friend, she wondered about why I would raise political issues in an architectural event. A few months back, I attended an event at AIANY where my former Columbia professor, Michael Murphy, talked with Michael Sorkin about the political aspect of architecture. The event was titled Architecture is Never Neutral and it portrayed a very different narrative from the one I saw last week. That event explored in depth how being “apolitical” is the most political act anyone can take in situations of injustice. Syria is far from being an exception to that rule. This exhibit not only failed Syrians by failing to tell the true story of their country, but also failed the visitors who will leave knowing little about the current status of a 4,000-year-old civilization, and the ancestors who built that civilization. AIANY can take steps to make the remainder of this exhibit a more nuanced representation of Syria’s recent history by recaptioning the photographs to be more reflective of Syria’s current state, starting with the picture of Syria’s ruthless tyrant, Bashar al-Assad.
Posts tagged with "Center for Architecture":
Last month, AIA New York and the Center for Architecture launched “Discover Architecture!”, a 4-day-long pilot program designed to familiarize a wider audience, particularly sophomores and juniors attending New York City public high schools, with the practice of architecture. The trial career discovery program evolved from AIA New York’s 2019 theme, “Building Community,” proposed by President Hayes Slade, which highlights how the architectural profession positively impacts communities while serving as a legitimate means to social and cultural development. Within the past few years, architects have become increasingly aware of their field’s issues regarding access and transparency, and how its training process impacts diversity and equity in the field. The architecture industry is complex, and not everyone understands the various roles, functions, and responsibilities that exist within the profession, especially young children. By giving students the opportunity to work in an office with experienced architects, the program provides them with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore the profession up-close, as well as a way to gain vital insight regarding possible career paths in the architecture, construction, and design industries. Targeting sophomores and juniors, the program paired 24 high school students from 15 different schools with 19 local architecture firms, where the students spent their February winter break experiencing firsthand what it’s like to be an architect. The students spent three days at the firms, where they toured the offices, interacted with staff, attended meetings, learned software, and went on site visits. On the last day of the program, students were sent to the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village, where they shared their various experiences with one another and participated in design challenges orchestrated by Center for Architecture educators. By culminating the program with a collaborative experience, students were able to become part of a network of people who can navigate challenges together. This was just the pilot year for the free program, but it may be continued annually due to its success and popularity, according to organizers. “We have been working very hard on getting this going for nearly a year now and are excited to see it moving forward…Personally, I did not study architecture because I didn’t understand the various roles within the building industry. I think there is no substitute for first-hand one-on-one experience for young people to make informed decisions,” said Hayes Slade, president of AIA New York.
From January 10 to March 30, visitors to New York's Center for Architecture can check out an exhibition that explores how urban communities can be empowered to create more resilient and sustainable futures. Design and the Just City raises awareness about urban inequality by exploring generations of flawed policy and systematic injustices, and the psychological effects of undesirable architecture and weak urban design. The exhibition was curated by the Just City Lab of the Harvard Graduate School of Design under the leadership of its director, Professor Toni L. Griffin. The first encounter visitors have with the exhibition is a labeled map of New York City. To the right of the map are rolls of stickers with words like "Aspiration," "Fairness," "Power," "Identity," and "Resilience." The piece asks visitors to take a single sticker that references the most significant attribute of their neighborhood and put it on the map. From a step back, the conglomeration of multi-colored stickers could be interpreted as a pointillism piece, but the experience is meant to reveal what residents actually value about their environs. The exhibition focuses on five videos that each look at one of the many challenges combatted by the Just City Lab. The first focuses on the uncomfortable spaces made by transportation infrastructure, particularly subway overpasses common to neighborhoods in Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens. The video shows the many ways in which landscape architecture, lighting design, and low-cost public structures can encourage these once-unsafe areas to become places where people meet or engage with wildlife. Another project also discusses transportation, but as a remedy instead of a malady. To combat the severe racial and class-based segregation among Brooklyn's 15 intermediate-level schools, the video proposes free family and student transportation, community workshops to encourage a stronger integration between parents and students, easier access to information and technology, and equitable admissions. The final product is a well-produced piece describing the difficulties and challenges faced by constituents and designers, and the subsequent final designs and approaches. Griffin founded the Just City Lab in 2011 and has established herself as one of the most influential explorers of the relationships between spatial and racial justice in urban environments. Throughout her two decades in the urban design field, she has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City University of New York.
It’s October, and that can only mean one thing: New York–based architecture teams congregating to carve pumpkins at the Center for Architecture. During this year’s Pumpkitecture! competition, 20 teams battled it out for a chance to take home the coveted Pritzkerpumpkin and People’s Pumpkin Award. Of course, despite the full range of talent on display, not every team could take home 2018’s top honors. The jury, consisting of Laila Gohar, chef and conceptual artist, Jing Liu, principal and co-founder of SO-IL, Harry Parr, director of Bompas & Parr Studio, and Omar Sosa, founder of Apartamento Magazine, ultimately awarded the Pritzkerpumpkin to Alloy for their high-concept “Jack-in-the-box”, and the People’s Pumpkin to SITU’s “Pretentioulicious desiccated pumpkin strands.” Teams entered pumpkins that ranged from high-brow—see SOFTlab’s quartered and reflected pumpkin, or SITU’s aforementioned popular vote-winning spiralized vegetable strings—to more classic takes on the jack o’lantern typology. Much like the first Hat Party on the High Line earlier this year, each firm brought a taste of their distinctive design philosophy to their entry.
The Center for Architecture is collaborating with the Swiss Consulate in New York City, ETH Zurich, and ETH's Singapore outpost to put on a two-day Responsive Cities conference. The first day will focus on “citizen engagement,” that is, how smart cities can be developed with input from their inhabitants from the very beginning of the planning process. Speakers based in New York and Singapore, including Fabien Clavier, Kubi Ackerman, and Mike Aziz, will speak on how technology, data science, and fields like cognitive psychology can be leveraged in making future cities that adapt to the demands of individuals and communities. The second day will be dedicated to the increasingly important problem of rising urban temperatures being brought on by densification, population growth, and global climate change, among other factors. Speakers with backgrounds in everything from urban ecology to policy and law will discuss ways to cool warming cities for a livable future. The conference is free and begins tonight at the Center for Architecture and will continue tomorrow evening at the New School’s John L. Tishman Auditorium.
At an awards ceremony at Manhattan’s Center for Architecture on October 8, representatives from AIA New York (AIANY) and the New York chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLANY) gathered for the first annual Transportation + Infrastructure Design Excellence Awards (T+I Awards). The winners, winnowed down from a pool of 67 entrants, showed excellence in both built and unrealized projects related to transportation and infrastructure, with a heavy emphasis on work that integrated sustainability and engaged with the public. Outstanding greenways, esplanades, and transit improvement plans were lauded for their civic contributions. A variety of merit awards were handed out to speculative projects, and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) was honored a number of times for the studies it had commissioned as part of the Fourth Regional Plan; it was noted that many of the solutions proposed in past Regional Plans had eventually come to pass. The jury was just as varied as the entrants: Donald Fram, FAIA, a principal of Donald Fram Architecture & Planning; Doug Hocking, AIA, a principal at KPF; Marilyn Taylor, FAIA, professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania; David van der Leer, executive director of the Van Alen Institute; and Donna Walcavage, FASLA, a principal at Stantec. Meet the winners below:
Best in CompetitionThe Brooklyn Greenway Location: Brooklyn, N.Y. Designers: Marvel Architects, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, WE Design Landscape Architecture, eDesign Dynamics, Horticultural Society of New York, and Larry Weaner Landscape Associates Now six miles long and growing, the waterfront Brooklyn Greenway project kicked off in 2004 with a planning phase as a joint venture between the nonprofit Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and the RPA. The 14-mile-long series of linear parks has been broken into 23 ongoing capital projects under the New York City Department of Transportation’s purview—hence the lengthy list of T+I Award winners. Funding is still being raised to complete the entire Greenway, but the BGI has been hosting events and getting community members involved to keep the momentum going.
HonorHunter's Point South Park Location: Queens, N.Y. Park Designers: SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi Prime Consultant and Infrastructure Designer: Arup Client: New York City Economic Development Corporation With: Arup The second phase of Hunter’s Point South Park opened in June of this year and brought 5.5 new acres of parkland to the southern tip of Long Island City. What was previously undeveloped has been converted into a unique park-cum-tidal wetland meant to absorb and slow the encroachment of stormwater while rejuvenating the native ecosystem. Hunter’s Point South Park blends stormwater resiliency infrastructure with public amenities, including a curved riverwalk, a hovering viewing platform, and a beach—all atop infill sourced from New York’s tunnel waste.
MeritRoberto Clemente State Park Esplanade Location: Bronx, N.Y. Landscape Architect: NV5 with Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Client: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation With: AKRF, CH2M Hill
CitationSpring Garden Connector Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Landscape Architect: NV5 Client: Delaware River Waterfront Corporation With: Cloud Gehshan, The Lighting Practice
MeritThe QueensWay Location: Queens, N.Y. Architect: DLANDstudio Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and WXY Architecture + Urban Design Client: The Trust for Public Land Could a High Line ever land in Queens? That’s what The Trust for Public Land set out to discover, tapping DLAND and WXY to imagine what it would look like if a 3.5-mile-long stretch of unused rail line were converted into a linear park. The project completed the first phase of schematic design in 2017 using input from local Queens residents, but fundraising, and push-and-pull with community groups who want to reactivate the rail line as, well, rail, has put the project on hold.
MeritNexus/EWR Location: Newark, N.J. Architect: Gensler Client: Regional Plan Association With: Ahasic Aviation Advisors, Arup, Landrum & Brown
MeritThe Triboro Corridor Location: The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, N.Y. Architect: One Architecture & Urbanism (ONE) and Only If Client: Regional Plan Association Commissioned as part of the Fourth Regional Plan, Only If and ONE imagined connecting the outer boroughs through a Brooklyn-Bronx-Queens rail line using existing freight tracks. Rather than a hub-and-spoke system with Manhattan, the Triboro Corridor would spur development around the new train stations and create a vibrant transit corridor throughout the entire city.
HonorFulton Center Location: New York, N.Y. Design Architect: Grimshaw Architect of Record: Page Ayres Cowley Architects Client: NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority With: Arup, HDR Daniel Frankfurt, James Carpenter Design Associates Fulton Center was first announced in 2002 as part of an effort to revive downtown Manhattan’s moribund economy by improving transit availability. Construction was on and off for years until the transit hub and shopping center’s completion in 2014, and now the building connects the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, and Z lines all under one roof (the N, R, and W trains are accessible through an underground passage to Cortlandt Street). Through the use of a large, metal-clad oculus that protrudes from the roof of the center, and the building’s glazed walls, the center, which spirals down from street level, is splashed with natural light.
MeritNumber 7 Subway Line Extension & 34th Street-Hudson Yards Station Location: New York, N.Y. Architect: Dattner Architects Engineer of Record: WSP Client: MTA Capital Construction With: HLH7 a joint venture of Hill International, HDR, and LiRo; Ostergaard Acoustical Associates; STV
MeritMississauga Transitway Location: Ontario, Canada Architect: IBI Group Client: City of Mississauga, Transportation & Works Department With: DesignABLE Environments, Dufferin Construction, Entro Communications, HH Angus, WSP
MeritDenver Union Station Location: Denver, Colorado Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Landscape Architect: Hargreaves Associates Client: Denver Union Station Project Authority (DUSPA) With: AECOM, Clanton & Associates, Kiewit Western, Tamara Kudrycki Design, Union Station Neighborhood Company
StudentTurnpike Metabolism: Reconstituting National Infrastructure Through Landscape Student: Ernest Haines Academic Institution: MLA| 2018, Harvard Graduate School of Design Anyone’s who’s ever cruised down a highway knows that equal weight isn’t necessarily given to the surrounding landscape. But what if that weren't the case? In Turnpike Metabolism, Ernest Haines imagines how the federal government can both give deference to the natural landscapes surrounding transportation infrastructure and change the design process to allow nature to define routes and structures.
The Center for Architecture’s latest exhibition in New York City, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, combines 20 years of research on a movement that’s barely been covered before and is at the cusp of exploding. Hip-hop architecture, the movement on view, could become the next big design style despite historically being a lesser-known development compared to the global impact of hip-hop culture on music, film, and dance industries. By tackling issues such as hip-hop's role in identity and placemaking, Syracuse University professor Sekou Cooke curated a special exhibition that details the theoretical and physical rise of hip-hop architecture in the built environment and how it can inform a more inclusive design practice for the future. Now showing in New York through January 12, this comprehensive exhibit unveils the work of 21 architects, professors, and students who have imagined architecture as a distinct part of hip-hop’s cultural expression. The show chronicles these figures through history, starting with the “godfather of hip-hop architecture,” Nate Williams, who completed his thesis on the subject at Cornell University in 1993. Also on display is the work of Boris “DELTA” Tellegen of Heren 5, artists Olalekan Jeyifous and Lauren Halsey, and more. Layered behind the images, drawings, and models in the show is extensive tagging done solely in black by pioneering graffiti artist David “Chino” Villorente. Complemented by graphic design from WeShouldDoItAll, the graffiti brings a visual punch to the Center’s main gallery spaces and transforms their walls into a medium for cultural commentary. Repurposed shipping containers painted white are bolted to the walls, providing another layer of backdrop for the framed artwork. Not only is the exhibit eye candy for visitors and passersby, it also includes audio and video components of lectures, podcasts, and hip-hop music reflecting on the built environment. At Monday’s opening reception, Barry Bergdoll, the new board president of the Center, called Close to the Edge a “landmark exhibition” for the movement of hip-hop architecture and compared it to Philip Johnson’s seminal Modern Architecture International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. That exhibition drew wide praise and helped usher in the International Style in the United States—something similar to what Cooke and his team hopes will come out of this effort. The Center will host the Hip-Hop Architecture Symposium on Saturday, October 6 from 1 to 6 p.m., moderated by Cooke, as well as a workshop with BlackSpace that will explore architecture as a tool for Black cultural preservation.
New York City’s eighth annual Archtober, a month-long design festival hosted by the Center for Architecture, will begin Monday, October 1, with Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, an exhibition exploring hip-hop culture’s impact on the built environment. “Over the last five decades, hip-hop’s primary means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti—have become globally recognized creative practices in their own right,” reads the graffiti-tagged press release. “Hip-Hop Architecture produces spaces, buildings, and environments that embody the creative energy evident in these means of hip-hop expression.” Close to the Edge, which was curated by Sekou Cooke, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, is the first exhibition dedicated to the hip-hop architecture movement. It will include projects by a diverse group of architects, academics, and students presented alongside paintings by legendary graffiti artist David “Chino BYI” Villorente. The opening will also feature extended hours with a live DJ performance. According to Cooke, the exhibition is not meant to identify hip-hop architecture as a particular style of building, although he welcomes debate from those who disagree, but it is meant to show how architecture can embrace the culture of hip-hop to become a more inclusive and constructive practice. “I want people to come who may not even know what hip-hop is,” Cooke told The Architect's Newspaper. “When people hear ‘hip-hop architecture’ they imagine buildings that are dancing to a specific genre of music, but hip-hop culture goes much deeper than that. It’s really about having people consider the work that they do in a more humanistic way, so that they’re thinking about the people that their work is affecting, the culture of the people they’re working for, and the ways a typically marginalized group of people sculpt their built environment as architecture.” Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture will be on view through January 12, 2019, at the Center for Architecture in New York City. The exhibition will be accompanied by speaking events, panel discussions, and workshops by BlackSpace and the AIANY.
It’s nearly the most architectural time of the year! Archtober, New York City’s annual architecture and design month organized by the Center for Architecture, is just around the corner, believe it or not, and the lineup of archi-activities this season is not to be missed. Now in its eighth year, Archtober will celebrate the influence of the design industry through exhibitions, films, lectures, conferences, and the architect-led Building of the Day tours, which grant visitors unique access to the city’s coolest projects. The first site this year is One John Street by Alloy, a new 130,000-square-foot residential property on the DUMBO waterfront. Perched next to the Manhattan Bridge, the 12-story building boasts unmatched views. You won’t want to miss your chance to get inside one of these apartments. You can also peruse the freshly-renovated TWA Hotel, or check out the brand new WeWork space inside S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 (the current talk of the town). You can also revel in the engineering feat that is The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. Sales for all tours begin today. You can purchase tickets via the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule of sites to see: Oct. 1 One John Street Architect: Alloy Oct. 2 Lenox Hill Health Greenwich Village Original Architect: Albert Ledner; Renovation Architect: Perkins Eastman Oct. 3 Domino Park Architect: James Corner Field Operations Oct. 4 Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Architect: Polshek Partnership/Ennead Oct. 5 Swiss Institute Architect: Selldorf Architects Oct. 6 TWA Hotel Original Architect: Eero Saarinen; Renovation Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle, Lubrano Ciavarra Architect Oct. 7 BSE Global Architect: TPG Architecture Oct. 8 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library Architect: Marble Fairbanks Oct. 9 Five Manhattan West Architect: REX Oct. 10 Bronx River Arts Center Architect: Sage and Coombe Architects Oct. 11 277 Fifth Avenue Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects Oct. 12 The Marcel Breuer Buildings at Bronx Community College Architect: Marcel Breuer Oct. 15 Hayes Theater Architect: Rockwell Group Oct. 16 R & Company Architect: wHY Architecture Oct. 17 Dock 72 Architect: S9 Architecture Oct. 18 Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO) Oct. 19 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden and Water Conservation Project Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Oct. 20 100 East 53rd Street Architect: Foster + Partners Oct. 21 Kew Gardens Hills Library Architect: WORKac Oct. 22 Spyscape Museum Architect: Adjaye Associates Oct. 23 Manhattanville Campus Plan: Jerome L. Green Science Center (Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute) and The University Forum Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Davis Brody Bond LLP (Jerome L. Green Science Center) Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Dattner Architects (The Forum) Oct. 24 325 Kent Avenue Architect: SHoP Oct. 25 Sculpture Studio Architect: Andrew Berman Architect Oct. 26 The Shed Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group Oct. 26 Alice Austen House Original Architect Unknown Oct. 28 Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Architecture, Exhibition Design, Landscape Architecture: Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects (Architect of Record), the Wildlife Conservation Society - Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department, and The Portico Group Oct. 29 African Burial Ground Monument Architects: Rodney Leon / AARRIS Architects Oct. 30 123 Melrose Architect: ODA New York Oct. 31 Hunters Point South Architect: WEISS/MANFREDI View all programming on Archtober.org.
Interested parties have been left standing around for an extra week while they wait to find out the three finalists of Portland, Oregon's Street Seats: Urban Benches for Vibrant Cities design competition. The announcement ceremony was rescheduled to avoid a potentially violent political protest at the adjacent Tom McCall Waterfront Park and eventually took place on August 9 in downtown Portland. Street Seats was an international competition to design new public benches for the city of Portland. Design Museum Portland organized the competition in partnership with Portland General Electric Company (PGE) and World Trade Center Portland (WTCP), which is also the site where the 15 semi-finalists have been installed. Nestled between the Willamette River and downtown, the contest aims higher than merely bolstering public seating. Juror Kregg Arntson, executive director of the PGE Foundation, hopes the seats "inspire people to come down and enjoy the community." Launched in January, the competition attracted over 200 international entrants, and many referenced the Pacific Northwest's rainy climate and penchant for locally sourced wood construction. In addition to basic physical and safety requirements, the design brief emphasized sustainable materials and innovative processes while requiring a 1/8th scale model and a video. Fifteen shortlisted entrants received $1,000 grants to fabricate and install their prototypes on site. Portland-based Kyle and Alyssa Trulen, a landscape architect and a videographer respectively, took the grand prize with their entry A Quiet Place to Sit and Rest. Inspired by author Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree," the bench reflects the design of a stump and protects the trees it's installed around from soil compaction and bark damage. The thermally treated pine and ash are also insect resistant. "The real purpose of the seat design is not merely protection," said the Trulens, "it's about the relationship of a person with a tree...in hope of a healthier urban environment for both." The runner-up, Fluid Wood, was the result of a collaboration between Portland-based architect Norberto Gliozzi and Axiom Custom Products. Fluid Wood comprises layers of laminated wood cut in an egg-like form. Another finalist by The Tubsters, from Berkeley, California claimed the people's choice award for Tub(Time), a cut-away bathtub containing hardened transparent resin representing the Willamette River and a topographical map of the downtown and central eastside. Passersby are encouraged to climb in and recline. The Design Museum, which hosted a similar Street Seats competition in Boston in 2013, was not the first to sponsor such a challenge in Portland. The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) had developed guidelines in 2012 based on similar programs in New York and San Francisco to convert on-street parking spaces to public use. During a 2014 collaboration with the Center for Architecture, Portland yielded two winning submissions for seating that were installed in the city's northeast quadrant. In the summer of 2015, Portland State University architecture students designed and built a seating structure downtown. PBOT canceled the 2016 competition for an uncharacteristically low response rate; however, PBOT's program still exists outside of the downtown area. This year's Design Museum Portland competition is unrelated to the City's previous efforts and was launched independently. Many passersby spontaneously stopped to try the seats and participate in the announcement ceremony after the unveiling, reaffirming Design Museum Portland's managing director Erica Rife's statement that it is "important to be a good neighbor and inspire this community to be closer"—a much-welcomed change from the previous weekend's police and protester standoff. The 15 seats and over 200 1/8th scale models will remain on view until February. Several seats—Fractal Rock by Holst Architects, B_tween Bench by Gamma Architects, and Fern by Yingjie Liang, in addition to the winner and runners-up—will remain installed at the WTCP while the others will be relocated to sites throughout Portland. An online exhibition and schedule of accompanying programs are hosted at designmuseumportland.org.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Regional Plan Association (RPA) released its Fourth Regional Plan back in 2017, a 400-page prescription for a variety of problems facing the Tri-State New York metropolitan area. Now through November 3, visitors to the Center for Architecture can explore the RPA’s plans for increasing housing affordability, improving the region’s overburdened public transit, and addressing climate change by 2040. The Future of the New York Metropolitan Region: The Fourth Regional Plan exhibition at the Center breaks down The Fourth Regional Plan into four typologies: core urban areas, suburbs, local downtowns, and regional green spaces. Each section is further broken down to address affordability issues, the failure of policymakers to address problems in those regions, how climate change will impact each area, and how to best improve mass transportation. Both the problems themselves, as well as the RPA’s proposed solutions, are on display. The Four Corridors, an RPA-commissioned initiative that tasked four different architectural firms with reimagining different “corridors” throughout the region, is also on display at The Fourth Regional Plan. Rafi A+U + DLANDstudio proposed a “landscape economic zone” to protect the area’s coastal regions from flooding—a softer, living take on the traditional seawall; Only If + One Architecture proposed creating the Triboro Corridor, an accessible route from Brooklyn to Queens to the Bronx; WORKac wants to turn the Tri-State suburbs into denser, greener versions of themselves and create easy access between smaller towns; and PORT + Range proposed reinvigorating the area’s highlands into ecological buffers with varied natural ecosystems. “RPA’s Fourth Plan is a blueprint for creating a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable region, one with more affordable housing, better and expanded public transit, and a closer connection with nature," said RPA Executive Vice President Juliette Michaelson. "This exhibit provides an opportunity for New Yorkers and regional visitors to explore the Fourth Plan and imagine what our future could look like if we are bold enough to reach for it." Other than the show itself, the Center will host two accompanying programs. Creating More Housing without New Construction will take place on September 14 from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM, and Designing the Future of the Tri-State Region will be held on October 29 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Robert Silman, founder of the engineering firm Silman and expert in the structural stabilization of historic structures, passed away on July 31 at the age of 83 after a decades-long battle with cancer. Following his education at Cornell and NYU, Silman started his engineering career working for ARUP in London and Ammann & Whitney in New York. He began his eponymous firm, Silman, in 1966 as a solo practitioner. As reported by Architectural Record, this early phase in Silman’s career established the engineer as an expert in historic preservation of small-scale projects including the rehabilitation of dilapidated or burnt out tenements across New York City. As his firm grew in stature over the last five decades, Silman worked on an impressive roster of preservation projects, including the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island and Carnegie Hall. The engineer had a particular affinity for the projects of Frank Lloyd Wright; he worked on restorations for Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, and Wingspread. Silman received a number of accolades for his preservation work, such as the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Leadership Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and his firm has engineered over 24,000 projects including buildings by 14 Pritzker Prize winners such as SANAA’s Grace Farms and Renzo Piano’s Whitney Museum. As noted by AIA New York, Robert Silman played a key role in the establishment of the Center for Architecture in 2003. In recognition of his continued support of the Manhattan-based architectural forum, Silman was awarded the AIA New York Chapter Award in 2009. Throughout Silman’s battle with cancer, he continued working at the firm’s Boston office and taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He is survived by his wife Roberta, and their children, Miriam, Joshua and Ruth.