Amidst the event saturated month of Archtober and the holiday hubbub that followed, the Center for Architecture's fall show, Buildings = Energy, got a bit lost in the shuffle. But there's still time to check it out through January 12. Earlier this month Margaret O. Castillo took AN on a tour of the exhibit, the last under her tenure as AIANY chapter president. The show drives home several green points that Castillo has been hammering at all year, primarily the fact that buildings consume energy--a lot of it. Eighty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and in New York City alone they use 94 percent of the power. The exhibit takes a holistic approach focusing on the amount of energy needed to extract and make materials, to the energy used to build, and the energy consumed by the completed structure. The story begins in the front window with calculations of how much oil it takes to produce a typical building material. Suspended from the ceiling are aluminum, cinder blocks, lumber, bricks, and sheetrock. Each material has a barrel ring floating around it with figures printed on them, such as: "1 gallon of oil = 3.33 CU. FT. of hardwood." The calculation includes the energy to fell the tree, transport it, and cut it to size. The Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, ARUP, and Dattner Architects lent their expertise to arrive at the various figures found throughout the exhibit, lending the heft of real world numbers to the theoretical aspects of the show. The main theoretical voice comes from Perkins+Will in a section of the exhibit called One Building = Many Choices. Through a series of renderings the firm explores key factors from building concept to completion that include: Site Choices, Program Choices, Passive Systems Choices, Active Systems Choices, Materials Choices, Construction Choices, Operational Choices. Each section is deserving of in depth analysis, but the Passive System attracted our attention because of the design of the building's envelope, about which the team from Perkins+Will had the luxury of dreaming big without a client screaming "How much?!" Thus an elaborate customized photovoltaic facade zigzags down the face of the building. It may cost upfront, but the returns are obvious. “I’m imagining the day when buildings will produce energy, not use energy,” said Castillo. Anthony Fieldman, design principal at P+W, noted that the curtain wall is "the only membrane between you and an uncontrolled environment. So if you use it intelligently you can temper nature's forces before they become problems you have to deal with in the interior." Fieldman added that the geometry of the facade was designed to maximize light, minimize solar heat gain, and maximize energy though the PVs. The photovoltaic facade drew questions of customized photovoltaics vs. mass produced ones. To which Castillo argues that architects should be pushing for the industry to create more choice. "We should be pushing for better looking photovoltaics, instead of just the flat black photovoltaics on the roof," she said. Elsewhere in the exhibit, plenty of real world projects illustrate the show's values. An air circulation animation produced by Buro Happold Consulting Engineers of Pelli Clark Pelli's Transbay Center in San Francisco demonstrates both passive and active systems working together for temperature control and air flow (see below). A model of City College's entry for the Solar Decathlon, the so-called Rooftop Pod, is also on display. And there are several examples of adaptive reuse, including a project that Castillo worked on with Helpern Architects for Columbia's Knox Hall. To avoid rooftop disruption, the school drilled 1,800 feet into the ground for geothermal heating and cooling. It all adds up to a message that Castillo delivers with nearly evangelical fervor: "If we can reduce the energy use in buildings you wouldn’t have to build new power plants, we wouldn't need transmission lines that are loosing electricity. It we got rid of fossil fuels, we wouldn’t be shipping it around the world, we wouldn’t be polluting the gulf with oil spills. So much could be solved at building level if we really concentrated."
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The Center for Architecture is known for programming variety, but last Thursday night's premier of Architect: a chamber opera was a first. Granted, the film premier benefiting the CFA Foundation wasn’t live opera, but it was the first time the public got to hear the piece by Lewis Spratlan. The Pulitzer Prize winning composer's music was paired with electroacoustical music by John Downey and Jenny Kallick, whose process involved "sound sampling" spaces designed by Kahn, such as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Spratlan's music was then electronically "placed" within the various spaces. For all the electronic bells and whistles, the piece is fairly traditional, albeit inflected with modernist leanings. Classic operatic devices could be found throughout, particularly in the character of a trickster god called Momus, a minor deity thrown off Olympus. The trickster morphs into the Guide, the Engineer, and the Healer, all of who conspire to get the architect away from the Woman, in order to create buildings that flatter the gods. Given Kahn's unconventional personal life--various children from various lovers and a tragic demise at New York's Penn Station--playing off the personal drama would seem an obvious choice. Instead, the team obliquely focused on the architect's struggle to realize his vision, opting for a universal theme that transcended the medium and artist. The film intersperses relatively few images of Kahn’s buildings with watercolors by artist Michiko Theurer. and photographs of Rome’s crumbling ruins, partly inspired by Edgar Alan Poe's poem, "The Coliseum". Even images of Gaudi's "La Sagrada Familia" find their way into the cross fades. The creators traveled to Eternal City, to several Kahn buildings, and worked together at Yale where the architect’s Art Gallery and Center for British Art loomed over the process. For opera designer John Conklin the work evoked Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Kallick's libretto eschewed archi-speak in favor of conversations between Kahn and his collaborators, such as this statement to the Engineer: "Dear August [Komendant] why does everyon pull me down?" "You are a dreamer not a fighter," replies the engineer. This kicks off an ode to concrete duet, that's clearly the opera's show-stopper: "Mix and cure it with the right vibration," goes the oft repeated refrain. And finally, the words every engineer wants to hear from an architect: "Your genius has made my buildings your buildings." Part of what makes Architect intriguing is the colaborators cross polinization into other fields. Spratlan wanted to be an architect before becoming a composer, Theurer is trained as a violinist, and Downey is studying radiology at Stanford. Later during the panel discussion, Kahn’s daughter Sue-Ann Kahn, said that the piece was an allegory for any artist’s struggle. “Either the gods are helping them or crushing them,” she said. Having Conklin on hand turned the post-screening panel into a virtual workshop. Conklin, having seen the video before, simply listened to the piece apart from the imagery. He said that while the ethereal images worked well on video, live opera was another matter. He thought much of the abstraction could be retained, but he envisioned scenes between the Architect and the Woman played in a banal kitchen. He also suggested bringing the small orchestra, there are only seven players, onto to stage to become part of the action. The video will be released with the CD in Spring 2012 and the creators hope to perform the production live at a Kahn-designed site. The idea intrigued AN's editors, who suggested Dacca, the more cost and acoustically effective auditorium at the Yale Center for British Art, or at the new Four Freedoms Park performed by the homeless City Opera. As Sue-Ann Kahn pointed out during the panel discussion, the delayed memorial exemplifies the artist's struggle to see their work realized.
It’s hard to imagine that the cool and suave young architect who launched Minimalism on Park Avenue with the Jil Sander Store in 1983 is the same man who brought us the modern apotheosis of Art Deco at Top of the Rock. Is it a space? Is it a ride? It certainly has a chandelier! Michael Gabellini, FAIA, a principal of Gabellini Sheppard Associates, a RISD grad, and a Kohn Pedersen Fox alum, waxed poetic at the Archtober preview: "Top of the Rock epitomizes Archtober’s mission of raising awareness of architecture and design. By restoring public access, the project celebrates and embraces the ongoing life and vitality of Rockefeller Center." As I’ve been saying for months, almost 50 million people don’t come to New York every year to enjoy purple mountains' majesty. They come for a different view…and from the Top of the Rock, 70 stories above Rockefeller Plaza, they get it. Jaded New Yorkers may stay away from this tourist destination, but they shouldn’t. Gabellini has created an extravaganza of sparkle that will cheer one and all on even the gloomiest day. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
At the intersection of trade and art, practice and expression, between Bleecker and West Third Streets, in the middle of a unique three-block stretch, aptly named a “Place,” fronting grand superblocks of New York University, with its descending jutting voids the opposite of Breuer’s overhead solids at the Whitney, lies the Center for Architecture. The Center is home to the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) and the Center for Architecture Foundation. The 12,000 square feet of galleries-as-meeting-spaces (and meeting-spaces-as-galleries) burrow two stories underground from the sidewalk level. A cut-away section lets the speakers at the podium the lowest-level Tafel Hall, the centerpiece of the ensemble, look up from their notes and see passers-by looking back. The life of the city, connected, to the discourse on architecture. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the next 30 days—Archtober—we will write here about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. This is a personal account. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
In New York City, buildings account for almost 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 95 percent of electricity use. It was these facts like these that prompted the Center for Architecture to further investigate the urban energy crisis and display the findings--and potential solutions--in an exhibit entitled Buildings=Energy. The exhibit, which opens on the evening of October 1st, explores how important choices made by designers, planners, architects, and building occupants can positively affect energy consumption in our cities. One such example featured in the exhibition is a model building designed by the firm Perkins+Will, whose proposal demonstrates the significance of site planning, materials, programs and their affects on energy costs. For instance, as firm principal Anthony Fieldman explains, tilting the exterior glass by only 10 degrees towards the street prevents a substantial amount of solar heat gains, saving the building on cooling costs throughout the summer months. Other highlights of the exhibit can be viewed from the sidewalk. The attention of passersby on LaGuardia Place will be caught by a display of nine building materials suspended in the Center's window, each representing the embodied energy of one gallon of oil--just a preview of the striking visuals on view inside. The Center for Architecture's kick off-event is presented as part of Archtober, the inaugural month-long festival of architecture activities, programs, and exhibitions in New York City.
With all the NYU real estate hubbub going on around LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, it’s refreshing to hear of a quiet transaction between two locals. This week, the AIANY signed the lease for 532 LaGuardia, an empty retail space owned by local lumber magnate Guy Apicella just one door south of the AIANY's current home, the Center for Architecture at 536 LaGuardia. AIYNY will take occupancy as of August 1, and plans are already afoot to nail down design concepts. “We’ll benefit from the best design advice in the city,” said AIANY executive director Rick Bell. Rogers Marvel has been hired as the architect and Mary Burke will head up AIANY's Premises Committee. The floor plate of the new building is about 1,200 square feet with about another 800 square feet available in the basement. All three levels at the Center’s current space net about 12,000 square feet, so the extra 2,000 will add about 10 percent more space, helping ease the strain of hosting more than a thousand programs each year. Also included in the deal is small garden space out back, on which the director hopes the Horticulture Society of New York will leave their green thumbprint. Bell jokingly compared the growing horizontal street presence to that of Uptown's Zabar's or Downtown’s J&R Music, both of which expanded storefront by storefront, eventually claiming an entire block. Perhaps NYU's gallery space at 528 LaGuardia will be next? An architects' row perhaps? But for all the extra sidewalk frontage, Bell said that the organization has no intention of bringing in any retail. “If Olympia (Kazi) were to get out of the business, maybe we’d reopen the discussion, but we don’t have plans for any,” he said, reiterating AIANY's steadfast support of VanAlen’s recently opened architecture bookstore. This is not to say that the Center will eschew commercial endeavors altogether, quite the opposite, actually. Bell said the “robust conference center” would be very attractive for corporate rentals—to say nothing of weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs.
Glimpses of New York and Amsterdam in 2040 at the Center for Architecture (through September 10) is a clarion call for designers to redefine sustainability in architecture. Though it didn’t start with this intention, the visions of 10 young architecture firms imagining future landscapes of New York and Amsterdam raise questions about what changes are imminent for urban development and what part architects can play. The projects suggest both practical and fantastical interventions to improve the prospect of urban growth in the face of ecological, geographic, and demographic shifts. The program comes hot on the heels of the announcements of Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the similar strategy-based Structural Vision: Amsterdam 2040. Curators Luc Vrolijks, Rosamond Fletcher, and Marlies Buurman’s collective ambition has been to use design and debate to link the two cities in the context of these new directives. This month, the Center for Architecture hosted a series of talks and presentations of the work by the architects and the exhibit is also at the ARCAM site in Amsterdam until August 13, which will raise new questions about potential futures. The projects responded to one of five headings: Breathing, Eating, Making, Moving, Dwelling. Breathing: Both Delva with Dingeman Deijs and W Architecture and Landscape Architecture take water as their starting point. While Delva takes the IJ estuary as a generator for energy, W Architecture’s Hudson archepelagos, made using dredge from the port, provide habitats as well as landing banks. Eating: Here, WORKac focuses on the ‘food desert’ in the Bed-Stuy and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn and maps the potentially resourceful ways of re-appropriating the streets to harvest food, from future transportation (gondola-type links) to a hybrid fish farm and greenhouse-grown plants (Aquaponics). Van Bergen Kolpa Architects imagines a Landscape Supermarket, where varieties of food can be grown and sourced in park-like environments run by city dwellers. Making: In The Refinery, Solid Objectives-Idenburg Liu (SO-IL) imagined a floating market place where robotic arms compartmentalise waste materials to mend a broken landscape. Barcode Architects on the other hand has developed a contained mega science park from which to export knowledge - “the most valuable commodity of The Netherlands in 2040” said Caro van der Venne of Barcode. Moving: Dlandstudio responds to the future need for water transportation and how this can be an opportunity to also positively affect public wellbeing as well as environmental health. Fabric’s interpretation considers a new urban fabric based on mixing uses to produce “a more complete urban program, so that our daily needs are always near.” Dwelling: The Newark Visionary Museum by Interboro Partners and Space & Matter’s We is the New I both approached the idea of sustainability as social concerns. Interboro’s projection showed a colourful scene of failed plans and possible future solutions to Broad Street’s transportation, entertainment, sports and communication demands. Similarly practical was Space & Matter’s solution to increasing diversity and social cohesion by harnessing and building around common interests.
There is no direct English translation for the Indian word ‘jugaad,’ but the gist of it is to “make do.” But simply “making do” does not aptly describe the clever and resourceful strategies on display in Jugaad Urbanism: Resourceful Strategies for Indian Cities, a new exhibit at the Center for Architecture that opens tomorrow night. For the most part the exhibit shirks high design in favor of “design by the people, for the people.” “The concept itself came about when we looked at the cities,” said Kanu Agrawal, the exhibit curator. “There was a tragic narrative that they’re over populated; they’re messy. But somehow things work—not in a banal way but in a creative way. We found that jugaad existed in so many ways.” The exhibit is organized around resources, such as land, water, energy, and transportation and culls the material from communities in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune. Video, photos, graphics, renderings and object displays develop a narrative detailing how NGOs and designers can draw inspiration by observing the everyday survival of the India’s poor. While some of the developed designs are relatively inexpensive, not all are cheap—especially when it comes to dealing with land. A good portion of the exhibit examines proposals for preservation and renovation of chawls, the multistoried tenements endemic of Mumbai. “Land projects are a little more difficult because of the politics and land development,” said Rosamond Fletcher, the Center’s director of exhibitions. “I think that there is some hope for the historic fabric.” The implication is that rather then leveling Mumbai’s chawls, they could be recast and redeveloped as an integral part of the city’s character, as was done with Wapping in London or Lower East Side in New York. A good portion of the exhibit studies waste management, particularly that of humans. One device on display is a porcelain toilette pan with two compartments that separates the waste for better management. Cast off tobacco packages get recycled into corrugated plastic material. Throughout the space, American milk crates get the jugaad treatment with cushions covered in gold satin. When pressed to pick one object on display that really attracted them, Agrawal and Fletcher both said they were drawn to the e-charka, an energy generating spinning machine. Besides the obvious cultural connections, to Gandhi in particular, both said the machine is loaded with symbolism. “It’s such a fascinating little piece. It’s quirky and humorous but at the same time its really serious,” said Agrawal. The energy from the machine powers a transistor radio and a small lamp with a decorative plastic shade. It’s the flourish of the shade that intrigues Fletcher. While lifting it up she points to the shade's curved outline. “Everyone needs that added layer,” she said.
PACKING UP CAMP Now that Donald Fisher’s CAMP project in San Francisco is officially dead, talk is swirling about where the Gap founder’s art collection will go. The whispers have focused on one obvious suspect: SFMOMA, which has already begun planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion that could get even bigger. One rumor has it that the museum is talking to the city about acquiring an adjoining fire station and building a new one elsewhere in return, in order to offer the Fishers their own digs. SFMOMA director Neal Benezra coyly parried questions with the comment: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Fishers to find a home for their collection as part of an expanded SFMOMA campus.” PEARLS BEFORE SCI-ARC Few talking heads can dent an architectural ego like critic, curator, and professor Jeff Kipnis, who moderated a chat at SCI-Arc on July 29 with Eric Owen Moss and Thom Mayne about Moss’ new installation at the school. Among Kipnis’ gems, he praised Moss’ garrulousness with the bon mot that he got paid by the hour for such events, and marveled at Moss and Mayne’s ability to argue with themselves—not among themselves, mind you, but each with his own self! Days later SCI-Arc hosted another panel, this time with Moss, Mayne, Hitoshi Abe, Peter Cook, Wolf Prix, and Peter Noever, among others. The event had the makings of a navel-gazing nightmare, but Eavesdrop promptly fell asleep and can’t recall a thing. Honest. RAISE HIGH THE WINDOW WALLS Everyone adores the Center for Architecture in New York, the storefront space run by the AIA New York chapter that draws more activity than any other such facility. Word has it that AIA Los Angeles is among those green with envy, which could mean a departure from its eighth-floor digs in Mid-Wilshire. The group is said to have hired a real estate consultant to scout locations nearer to Museum Mile. Will Wright, head of legislative affairs at AIA/LA, was semi-mum on the matter: “We have long-range plans to evaluate the opportunity to evolve into an Architecture Center.” Roger that, Will. Easy does it, we always say.