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.
Posts tagged with "Center for Architecture":
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
Can better design save lives? That question is at the center of a proposal by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects (OPA) to transform crosswalks along San Francisco’s Divisadero Street. The project, Sous Les Paves, originated in a GOOD design challenge by the Center for Architecture and Design. With help from AIA San Francisco, OPA partnered with local advocacy organization Walk San Francisco in a bid to improve pedestrian safety at street crossings. The proposal couldn’t be more timely. According to Walk San Francisco, at least three pedestrians have died in city crosswalks since New Year’s Eve alone. OPA began its design with a rudimentary pedestrian-safety tool: the bulb-out, which projects the sidewalk into the street. But while bulb-outs increase visibility, they also make pedestrians more vulnerable. OPA Principal Zoë Prillinger explained: “Our first thought was, when we looked at the curb extension, was that it should be modified to protect the pedestrian.” The designers elected to build protective ridges along the edge of each bulb-out. This led to a second thought. “If you’re building up the curb extension, what else can it do? If you’re creating a kind of public space, what can we do to augment that public space?” OPA hit upon the idea of treating the protective ridges as planters, creating a new kind of green space at pedestrian crossings. At an urban scale, these mini-parks would connect to median plantings and, eventually, city parks. The designers chose Divisadero Street for their project in part because its traffic lanes are separated by a median. “Median strips [create] a kind of link between intersections, a language of green space: median strips, curb extensions,” Prillinger said. “[You] start to see streets stitched together by these green moments.” As for the architectural language of the crosswalks themselves, OPA employed a variation on the black-and-white zebra crossing. The diagonal hatch extends into the sidewalk as well as the street. “The hatch implies a dual condition,” Prillinger explained. “It’s kind of a hybrid condition. We’re thinking of streets as a place where both cars and pedestrians belong.” OPA’s relatively simple design, comprising the hatch pattern, curb ridges, and median ridges, is a kit of parts designed for flexible use around the city. The firm “created a language that’s modular, that can fit different situations, to create a kind of new public space,” Prillinger said. That language, moreover, could be used to help define an area, like Divisadero Street, that doesn’t yet have a distinct aesthetic identity. “San Francisco is conservative, it’s very hard for planners even to think about doing anything that has a real presence,” Prillinger said. At the same time, “There are real opportunities [to do things] that are more consciousness-raising.” OPA worked with the city Planning Department late last year to outline some of the obstacles to implementing Sous Les Paves. Next, the designers will meet with the Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), representatives of the Fire Department, and other stakeholders to explore opportunities to realize the design. “I really would like some element of this project to get off the ground,” Prillinger said. “It would be lovely for San Francisco to do something that’s not just progressive environmentally, but also combines progressive architectural language.”
At Cosentino’s launch of Dekton, AN had an opportunity to sit down with Daniel Libeskind. The world-renowned architect designed an outdoor sculpture, Off the Wall, made from the new material that weathers like stone but has manufactured advantages of specialized color, texture, and form, thanks to Cosentino’s particle sintering technology (PST) that simulates metamorphic rock formation at a highly accelerated rate. It originally debuted this spring at Salone del Mobile in Milan. AN: You studied music in Israel. Do you find any of your classical music training to inform your design and architecture work? Daniel Libeskind: Totally. Even though I was a virtuoso performer I continue to use that sense of my relationship to music very deeply in my work. Architecture and music are closely related in many ways. They’re both very precise: In music, even a vibration cannot be off by a single half note. And it’s the same with architecture; the geometry, the spatial character of a building must be accurate. And in the end, they’re very similar in the sense that despite their scientific basis and precision, they have to register emotionally. In other words, we don’t think about the music, or an atmosphere that affects us spiritually. From the way a score is written and has to be performed by an orchestra, an architect doesn’t build his building. Sometimes he is not apparently there; the architect is more like a conductor of a concerto. It’s full of closeness for me. To continue the musical analogy, would you say the style of your work is more traditional and evenly phrased like Mozart, or neoclassically experimental like Stravinsky? Music to me is not really in categories of classical or rap or rock or medieval or Gregorian. Really, it’s a universal language of rhythm, sound, and tempo. I would say each of my projects has its own musical quality. Acoustics themselves are so important in my work. In the Jewish Museum in Berlin, I designed an entire void for the acoustics. And let’s not also forget that our sense of balance isn’t in our eye but in our inner ear. All of these things converge on my set of interests. What are your impressions of the acoustic and/or technical qualities of Dekton? I think Dekton is a great material. First, it’s not just reusing old materials. It brings qualities of porcelain, glass, and quartz together through a new technique of creating the material. Which I think has a lot of incredible characteristics, both acoustical, visual, and also tactile. The sculpture you designed in Dekton for Cosentino has a spiral quality with intersecting corners that suggest an indoor/outdoor application. It’s a spiral, that organically grows but also uses the tectonic means of planes to ascend through movement toward light. Each face has a different quality of light and movement because of where it’s placed, so it is a sculpture but its also an architectural microcosm that suggests an ability to create spaces that are really fluid and very tectonic. Any ideal applications for Dekton, not just for your practice but for architects in general? I think in large-scale walls—because, you know, architecture contains walls—to create a beautiful sense of light and resilience with the material. It has great technical qualities—rigidity and imperviousness to water—and also aesthetically in terms of color, texture, and materiality. And for exteriors, because I’m working on buildings in mega scales, I think it’s a very good material because if you think of other cladding materials, you can’t really compete with this technical ability. The interior/exterior possibilities are also exceptional. Most of my buildings have a sculptural form. They’re never just a box; they’re spatial forms that most often have never been seen before. In that sense, the question of inside/outside is very important because in my work there’s no division like a cube where its very clear. Those buildings, like that spiral I’ve created for Cosentino, are both inside and outside simultaneously. It can be used in floors that merge into walls that merge into soffits and Dekton can achieve that seamlessly in large scales. Do you foresee Dekton playing a role in any of your future projects? Oh definitely. We’re working on a number of large-scale building projects around the world and I’m determined to use it because I love the material. For example we have a very large project in Sao Paolo that hasn’t been made public yet. We also have some creative opportunities in China and Singapore. Back to music, do you have a favorite band or album you’re currently listening to? I’m from the era of CDs—not records!—but not yet MP3s. On my table lays music that spans millennia: ancient Greece, the latest rap recordings, Helmut Lachenmann, one of the great composers from Germany. Music is always fantastic. A model of Libeskind's Off the Wall is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York, as part of the Surface Innovation exhibition that runs through the end of October.
A new exhibition helps a New York-based firm explore indoor and outdoor applications of a new building material.Cosentino is celebrating Architecture Month with Surface Innovation, a multi-media exhibition at the Center for Architecture in New York that presents innovative applications of its new Dekton material. A combination of raw, inorganic materials found in glass, porcelain, and natural quartz, the new indoor/outdoor surfacing material is made with particle sintering technology (PST) that recreates the natural process of stone formation. The company invited six local architecture firms to design unique projects featuring the material, including SOFTlab, a design/build firm known for its mix of research, craft, and technology in large-scale installations and building projects. For SOFTlab, working with a product that could be used for both interiors and exterior applications was an opportunity to reconcile the growing inverse relationship between the skin and volume of large buildings. “We came up with the idea of building something a little more dense than a single story or residentially scaled building, where Dekton may be used,” said Michael Svivos, founder and director of SOFTlab. “We went to a larger scale building, that blurs the inside and outside.” Starting with the idea of a vertical atrium, which often includes biophilic elements like water features and indoor gardens, the SOFTlab design team envisioned an ATRIUn, a uniquely shaped building feature that uses the durability of Dekton’s stone-like properties to bring the outdoors in. ATRIUn is sponge shaped, and breaches the structure’s exterior at various points. “It forms an interior plaza in a building, not as something that’s flat, but spans the height, width, and depth of the building,” Szivos said. The form was generated in Maya. After inserting the apertures along the quadrilinear volume, the physics simulation plug-in generated the smooth, sinuous surface across various levels. For its larger projects, Szivos says the firm typically solves engineering challenges with Arup through an advanced finite software analysis software program. Those optimized, large designs are then sent to Tietz-Baccon, their long-time local fabricator. However for smaller projects where SOFTlab fabricates its own models and project components, the physics tool provides a close approximation of Arup’s services. To generate a model of ATRIUn’s design for the exhibition, the designers translated the Maya drawing into Rhino with Grasshopper to feed to their in-house laser cutter. Since the design was modeled in paper, four sided shapes were fabricated. If the design was realized in Dekton, triangular shapes would be necessary to achieve the complex curvature of the ATRIUn skin. The set volume was 24 by 24 by 36 inches, scalable for a building between 10 and 12 stories. ATRIUn and Surface Innovation is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York through October 31.
Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the "Waterfront of Tomorrow Act," to protect and fortify New York City's 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city's needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses. "I think the part [of the bill] that was the most exciting was about protecting New York City from future floods, and most importantly talked about hard and soft solutions. Different parts of NYC will need different solutions," said Rick Bell, Executive Director for AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture. "This whole announcement talked about multifaceted approach." The bill is divided into four sections that propose flood protection and resiliency measures, a national freight policy, and "Green Port" designations and a grant program to promote the environmental sustainability of the shipping ports. The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be charged with coming up with a strategy to protect the waterfront from severe weather patterns and rising tides, including tide gates, oyster reef restoration, and wetland restoration. "Whether it is commerce, recreation, transportation, or our local environment, New Yorkers' lives are inextricably linked to the water that surrounds us," Velázquez said at the announcement. "Investing in our ports, coasts and waterfronts can improve our City and local communities." The timing of this bill is up in the air, but it will likely enter the conversation in September when Congress returns from the August District Work Period to discuss new legislation aimed at enhancing the nation's waterways.
Colombia: Transformed/Architecture=Politics Center for Architecture 536 Laguardia Place New York, NY Through October 26 Colombia: Transformed/Architecture=Politics, on view at the Center for Architecture through October 26, examines 11 recently built, socially-mindful developments designed by six leaders in contemporary Colombian architecture: Daniel Bonilla and Giancarlo Mazzanti from Bogotá, and Felipe Mesa, Juan Manuel Pelaez, Felipe Uribe and Orlando Garcia from Medellín. The projects in the show embody the change occurring in Latin America today and reveal themes of social inclusion in addition to inventive architectural forms and spaces. They include daycare centers, schools, a sport complex, and library, among others. Through photographs, slides, drawings, models, and film footage, the works commemorate how the public uses these projects and how lifestyles have been improved and uplifted as a result. The exhibition was curated by Vladimir Belogolovsky, founder of the New York City–based Intercontinental Curatorial Project, and Fernando Villa, associate principal of Magnusson Architecture & Planning.
The English architectural editor, author, and founder of the London Festival of Architecture, Peter Murray, is also a devoted urban bicycle activist. Murray always arrives at events in London with a bicycle helmut under his arm because it's the only way he moves around the city. He believe's that "cyclised cities are civilised cities" and has organized group rides around Britain and Europe to publicize the need for cities to become more bicycle friendly. To demonstrate that commitment and to promote cycling, Murray and a group of peers are taking a 4,347 mile ride. But starting on April 27th, Murray will lead a group of 15 architects, designers, and urbanists (including for a time Richard Rogers; Norman Foster—as his diary permits—and, in New York, Bill Pedersen) on a bicycle trip from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and then to Portland Place in London—home to RIBA. They plan to link up with the architectural community en route and learn from what American cities are doing—or not doing—to accommodate cyclists. They will present their findings at the Center for Architecture in New York on July 1 and on August 2 at the London Cycling Summit. The group is encouraging people to join them for parts or their ride and their website lists where they will be on a daily basis. The Architect's Newspaper will be a media sponsor for the trip and we'll be posting regular dispatches from the group as they pedal across the country from West to East and newspaper staff will join them from Princeton, New Jersey to New York City.