Two of the more challenging texts, at least for the profession of architecture, to appear in the last year will be presented and debated at the AIA New York's Center on February 4. The Architect as Worker by Peggy Deamer and The Politics of Parametricism edited by Manuel Shvartzberg both challenge and confront contemporary assumptions about practice and cultural production. Deamer and Shvartzberg will be on hand to discuss the texts with Reinhold Martin. Deamer, for her part, takes on issues central to architectural labor and the acceptance of seductive images of digital production. Shvartzberg's book debates issues beyond—or hidden from—the seductive images of parametricism. No word if Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher will be in attendance. The event takes place from 6:00–8:00p.m. on Thursday, February 4 at The Center for Architecture
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The AIA New York has named Architizer co-founder and minority owner Benjamin Prosky as its new Executive Director. He will step away from his role as Assistant Dean for Communications at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Prosky has been overseeing events, publications, multimedia content and special projects since 2011. He will begin his duties at the AIA in early 2016. “It is a tremendous honor to serve as Executive Director of the AIANY and the Center for Architecture,” Prosky said in a statement. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to expand the scope of both organizations—I look forward to engaging with the professional architects who are the backbone of the constituency, and also cultivating the broader public which, in the context of New York, recognizes the profound impact that design and the built environment have on the vitality of the city and all aspects of our lives."
The Times Square Alliance takes "I ♥ New York" quite literally. For the past eight years, the nonprofit organization has invited architecture and design firms to create public art that responds to a Valentine's Day theme. This year the Times Square Alliance partnered with the Center for Architecture to administer the competition. Collective-LOK stole the hearts of jurists to win the 2016 Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition. Collective-LOK's submission, Heart of Hearts, is a circle of nine, ten-foot-tall golden hearts that reflect the lights and the goings-on of Times Square. The installation will be on view at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets, from February 29 through March 6. The sculpture is interactive, balancing private and public space in one of the world's busiest pedestrian plazas. Within each heart is a "kissing booth" that encourages intimate but performative affection. “[We] are thrilled to create the Heart of Hearts for Valentine’s Day, an engagement ring for our love affair with the spectacle of Times Square," Collective-LOK declared in a statement. "It’s truly a special opportunity to provide a space for intimacy and performance in the heart of the city, one we hope visitors will love.” The featured rendering certainly captures the ballet of a good city sidewalk—a llama stares contentedly at its reflection, a lonely man flouting blue laws drinks champagne from the bottle, while the Naked Cowboy jams on, stage left. Why is that man staring into that woman's white skirt? It's all part of the spectacle, apparently. For more heartwarming displays of public art, see AN's coverage of past competition winners here.
Tonight, Monday, November 9, at New York's AIANY/Center for Architecture, AN Senior Editor Matt Shaw will be moderating a book talk between Janette Kim and Erik Carver, the authors of The Underdome Guide to Energy Reform, a new book released by Princeton Architectural Press. Stop by at 6:00p.m. tonight for light refreshments and beautiful drawings alongside a discussion about the future of ecologically minded architecture and urbanism. The Underdome Guide to Energy Reform is equal parts architect's handbook and toolbox for effecting environmental change with the built environment. The book maps different approaches to energy management and performance to examine their implications for collective life. Underdome catalogs a spectrum of positions argued for by a diverse cast including economists, environmentalists, community advocates, political scientists, and designers. In turn, it highlights in architecture questions of professional agency, the contemporary city, and collective priorities in the face of uncertain energy futures. Check it out on our events page here.
On September 17th, New York artists, architects, and designers gathered in lower Manhattan to celebrate the newly anointed South Street Seaport Culture District. Conceived by The Howard Hughes Corporation (the Seaport's primary developer), exhibitions by the AIANY's Center for Architecture, the Guggenheim, No Longer Empty, and Eyebeam, among others, created programming in spaces damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The installations were complemented by live music, and food by Smorgasburg. James Sanders (of JS + A Studio) curated the event. Often maligned by New Yorkers for its tourist sensibilities, The Howard Hughes Corporation counters this perception by positioning the Seaport as a "cultural incubator," a destination for the arts that draws on the area's singular role in the city's economic and maritime history. At 181 Front Street, AIANY curated Sea Level: Five Boroughs at Water's Edge. The exhibition featured Elizabeth Fellicela's panoramic photographs taken on the riverfronts, inlets, and coastlines of New York City. Select images are paired with essays by urbanist and author Robert Sullivan. AIGA/NY curated an exhibition at 192 Front Street that focuses on the iterative nature of design across disciplines. No Longer Empty, a public art organization that curates temporary, site-specific installations in vacant spaces, commissioned Teresa Diehl: Breathing Waters, an immersive installation that draws on the Seaport's location near the confluence of the East and Hudson rivers. Visitors meander through curtains of water droplets fashioned from clear resin, lulled into a meditative state by the projections and sounds meant to simulate submergence. The South Street Culture District is part of The Howard Hughes Corporation's larger development vision for the area. The developers will invest approximately $1.5 billion to build up the South Street Seaport, and adjacent Pier 17, for residential and commercial use. Plans have met with fierce opposition from community groups and preservationists who claim the proposed developments are out of scale with the neighborhood. The events and exhibitions may not mollify opponents of the redevelopment, but they do provide a valuable public platform for the art and architecture in lower Manhattan. Programming at the Seaport runs through December 31st, 2015.
We saw your editorial on design organizations (“Design Organizations Need to Meet the Street”) and were thrilled to see the positive things you had to say about the Center for Architecture. After repositioning the Center as a 501(c)3, we are more committed than ever to public outreach and really promoting the idea that design matters to a general audience. We’re very proud of our storefront and we’re happy to hear you are too. Camila Schaulsohn AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture
After his sudden departure from his post as executive director of the AIA New York and the Center for Architecture in late March, Rick Bell is joining the city's Department of Design and Construction (DDC), according to a recent report by Crains. Bell, who helmed the two organizations for over a decade, will return to the public sector where he previously served as the chief architect and assistant commissioner at the DDC. His position at the agency has yet to be revealed. In a strange turn of events, à la musical chairs, David Burney, who is an associate professor of planning at Pratt Institute's School of Architecture, stepped into Bell's former role as the interim executive director in April after leading the DDC as commissioner from 2004 until 2014.
A number of advocacy organizations questioning the ethics of architecture practice in the United States have received a flurry of attention recently. The New York Times commented recently on the San Francisco–based Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility’s petition to revise the AIA’s stance on solitary confinement and torture. The New York–based Architecture Lobby made waves in 2014 with protests denouncing the continued prevalence of unpaid labor among architects. Before that, Harvard’s Women in Design provoked top figures in the field to take a stance on the failure of the industry’s awards to adequately acknowledge collaboration in 2013. That last issue, centered around a petition to retroactively award the Pritzker Prize to Denise Scott-Brown, is just one example of an action by one of several recently formed groups in the U.S. principally devoted to addressing architecture’s gender gap. In this new climate of restlessness, Rosa Sheng, founder and figurehead of The Missing 32% Project, has emerged as a particularly salient voice calling for gender equity in architecture at a pivotal moment for the profession. Founded as a committee of the San Francisco AIA in 2011, Sheng’s project has become exemplary in its reliance on data as a crucial tactic in the fight for equality. The name of the project is already a reminder of the estimated attrition rate of women architects from the workforce after relative gender parity in school. After rolling out studies and workshops locally within the Bay Area, The Missing 32% Project embarked on a campaign to “establish metrics and highlight best practices for achieving gender equity in architectural practice” through a nationwide survey of practicing architects, both male and female. On Friday, February 27, 2015 at the AIA’s Center for Architecture in New York, Sheng will present the early results of The Missing 32% Project's survey, and report lessons gleaned from a symposium she organized in the fall, aptly titled Equity by Design. Based on preliminary analysis, Sheng’s findings will highlight important distinctions in how male and female architects are hired and retained differently by employers, negotiate major life events, navigate career development, and perceive their own influence overall. Her talk will be followed by an open discussion, which will be a welcome opportunity to reflect on how efforts towards gender equity in architecture can be rolled out on a more unified national scale in 2015.
Tonight, at the Hafele Showroom in Manhattan, you can see the architecture and design firm, form-ula—one of the winning teams from this year's New Practices New York—present its work titled "Dormant Arousal." New Practices is a biennial competition that was created in 2006 by the AIA New York Chapter to recognize innovative architects and designers throughout the city. This evening's presentation is being led by Richard Sarrach, Tamaki Uchikawa, and Ajmal Aqtash from form-ula. "The world is full of things more powerful than us that are hiding in plain sight and if you know how to reveal them you can do amazing things," said the designers in a statement. "By harnessing these invisible forces and directing them into a material practice, we are finding new ways to think about the interface of architecture. Our interests lay in the aesthetics of these performances and how they can change the way we occupy and engage with space." For more information on tonight's event, visit the Center for Architecture's website.
The fields of urban planning and interiors rarely interface with each other except by chance or coincidence. But the AIA New York Interiors and Urban Planning committees are co-sponsoring Art and Architecture in the Public Realm, a discussion next Tuesday, November 4 that will take on the zone between interior and exterior public space. The evening will feature three teams of speakers who all ‘curate’ the discourse between the public and the urban fabric as well as the role that art plays in that—through their curatorial decisions. These include: —Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Art in Motion program who will speak with Jamie Carpenter and Vincent Chang, Grimshaw's architects of the soon-to-open Fulton Transit Center. —Susan Chin, director of Design Trust for Public Space, who will discuss her collaboration with Situ Architects on the Heartwalk project in Times Square. —Sara Reisman, director of Percent for Art at the Department of Cultural Affairs, who will talk about her department's projects around the city. I will moderate the panel and hope that, after voting, you will come join the discussion at the AIA Center for Architecture at 526 LaGuardia Place starting at 6:00p.m.
The Center for Architecture is kicking off Archtober with an exhibition from New Practices New York. The biennial New Practices competition was started in 2006 as a way to “recognize and promote new and innovative architecture and design firms.” The 2014 competition winners are The Bittertang Farm, dlandstudio architecture + landscape, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, form-ula, NAMELESS Architecture, PARA-Project. To be eligible for the competition, firms had to be founded after 2004 and located within New York City. The New Practices event will also include the “Live Your Life in Stone” exhibition presented by ABC Stone. Both events will be held from 6-8pm on October 1st at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan. More information on the events can be found on the Center's website.
The Oculus book talk on the new book, How to Study Public Life, at the Center for Architecture with Jan Gehl and his co-author Birgitte Svarre was like seeing the documentary The Human Scale come to life—only with a sense of humor. Gehl’s urban theories have gained a lot of traction, not least in New York City. Jeanette Sadik-Khan went to Gehl's native Copenhagen two weeks into her job as commissioner of NYC's Department of Transportation (along with fellow commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden) and experienced the city's pedestrian-over-cars public plazas, rode bicycles on protected bike lanes, and absorbed the lessons of the city that is repeatedly named the most livable in the world. The 77-year-old Gehl traces his crusade back to a New York antecedent, Jane Jacobs' 1961 Death and Life of Great American Cities, published one year after he graduated from architecture school. He was trained to make free-standing buildings that “look nice from an airplane,” but married a psychologist who challenged him: why aren’t you interested in people? Gehl began to observe the behavior of people in cities (people like to cluster near the edges, not stand in the open, for example) and came up with measurable statistics in a series of studies that began to influence policy. In 1962, Copenhagen pedestrianized its first street, Stroeget Street, which began its transformation from a car to a biking and walking city. Today, Copenhagen has seven times more people space than in the 1960s, and all taxis and public transportation are legislated to have bike racks to widen the reach of this preferred mode of transport. I was reminded of the new film, Copenhagen, winner at the Slamdance Film Festival, where the human-scaled city traversed by bike is a main character. Gehl noted that the “Brasilia Syndrome” of cities that look good from the air but not from the ground, is still rampant in China, Dubai, and even in Brooklyn. He calls this birds-eye-view building “birdshit architecture.” His twin devils are the two M’s: modernism and motorists, and he’d prefer to have a Department of Pedestrians to a Department of Transportation (no city yet has taken on the challenge). Perhaps the proof that Gehl’s theories work is that in 2012, New York City was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize recognizing the transformation of the city during the Bloomberg administration. Books by Jan Gehl available from Island Press: How to Study Public Life, 2013 Cities for People, 2010 Life Between Buildings, 2008