Posts tagged with "Kate Orff":

Placeholder Alt Text

Damon Rich and Kate Orff are awarded 2017 MacArthur “genius” grants

Damon Rich, founder of the Center of Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and co-founder of design studio Hector, and Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE, have been honored with 2017 MacArthur Fellowships. Awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals across a range of fields, the award gifts its fellows a no-strings-attached $625,000 stipend over five years. Unlike other awards, its fellows aren't selected based on an existing body of work so much as "extraordinary originality" and "a marked capacity for self-direction," according to the Foundation's website. Rich certainly demonstrates both. Trained as an architect at Columbia University, in 1997 Rich founded CUP, a New York City-based nonprofit that develops programs to help community development organizations and public school students address public policy and social justice issues  like zoning, tenants' rights, infrastructure design, and more. From 2008 to 2015, Rich served as the chief urban designer and director of planning for the City of Newark, New Jersey. During his tenure, he worked with local advocacy groups to redevelop the city's waterfront as an accessible urban parkway dotted with environmental installations, a process still embroiled in city politics. He also formed a coalition of city-wide organizations to revamp Newark's obsolete zoning and land-use regulations for the first time in over fifty years. In 2015, Rich co-founded the design studio Hector with Jae Shin. The firm is currently involved in the redesign of Mifflin Square Park in Philadelphia in addition to ongoing work in Newark and San Francisco. As part of the Philadelphia project, Hector has formed a coalition of local advocacy groups and city agencies to inform the final design, which may incorporate a Buddhist temple, a number of public eateries, and ongoing community programming. Forming these kinds of coalitions has become the backbone of Rich's work. "This is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Bhutanese residents, and many more from a range of backgrounds," Rich told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Design groups need to have the cultural competence to treat people like they're people, and bring the spirit and identity of the place into physical form." Rich also serves as an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP program, where he teaches architecture and urban design. While he didn't specify how he would use the award, Rich reflected on what it might mean to the next generation. "In public sector work, I'd hope to be one voice standing up for our often beleaguered municipal planners, and encourage youth that this is a career path they might want to be a part of," Rich said. "I hope this award points to the fact that even though planning departments are very old technologies, there's still a fundamentally exciting and engrossing potential in any forum where we come together and shape the places we live in." Kate Orff is the first landscape architect to ever be awarded the MacArthur prize. Her work at SCAPE has risen to great prominence, with upcoming commissions including participation in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her emphasis on ecological stewardship, however, sets her apart from peers. Orff cares deeply about the effects of climate change on the urban fabric, as well as the long-term effects design can have on biodiversity and ecosystem wellness. Her approach also puts some of this responsibility on the users of public spaces, encouraging park-goers and community members to participate in environmental stewardship. One cornerstone project that helped put Orff's work on the map was a collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach. In 2012, the two set out to document and quantify the outfall of industrial sites along a chemical corridor known as the "American Ruhr" in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The resulting book, Petrochemical America, examines the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of pollution in southeastern Louisiana. SCAPE's project for President Obama's Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy proposed a series of oyster reefs on Staten Island's North Shore that would act as wave breakers and water filters, as well as serve as an outdoor classroom to educate youth on marine and coastal ecology. Most recently, SCAPE has completed a design for Lexington, Kentucky's Town Branch Commons. Their design highlighted the site's underlying porous limestone in a linear park that stretched through the city. "I really feel we need to mobilize and understand the best available science, apply it to the built environment, and to anticipate the next 50 years or the next 100 years," Orff said in her feature on the MacArthur Foundation's website. "I think we have a huge role to play, not just to beautify but literally to reset ecosystems, to reconnect people to each other through these social spaces that also can perform ecological services."
Placeholder Alt Text

GSAPP is taking its students out of New York and up the river for innovative urban design

Many New Yorkers know the Hudson Valley from weekend trips to Hudson or Beacon, but the urban designers at Columbia University want to introduce new ways of thinking about the diverse and complex region. Famous for rolling hills immortalized by the Hudson River School, the mostly rural five-state region is home to prisons, 19th-century asylums, back-to-the-land hipsters, art museums, and 13 cities, too. Tomorrow, students and faculty from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University will join community leaders in Poughkeepsie to celebrate the opening of a pop-up exhibition featuring urban design proposals for a more resilient and just Hudson Valley. Justice in Place is the culmination of student projects that explore how equity and justice can be fostered spatially. Student projects explored these themes through incarceration and education; health; historic preservation; landscape; and food systems. The work will be on display through January 31 at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center. The projects are part of GSAPP's Hudson Valley Initiative (HVI), a research platform and archive that combines the strengths of GSAPP's programs to build partnerships and projects in the region, as well as facilitate inquiry into the American landscape more broadly. "Central to the whole urban story of the region is the story of the river itself. Thinking about water as the economic driver provides rich ground in which to think about urban design," said landscape architect and HVI director Kate Orff. "The Hudson Valley is extraordinarily beautiful, but there's also this dramatic inequality," added HVI assistant director David Smiley. "This is out backyard, and we need to take the research here to another level." Through the HVI, GSAPP has extended and deepened its relationship to the region. The projects, Orff and Smiley said, aim to benefit both students and the community: Using an applied research framework, students incorporate community feedback with what they've learned in class into activist proposals for the study area. In building longstanding regional ties, the HVI also counteracts a common problem with ostensibly community-engaged projects—students parachute in for a semester, create a project with little follow-up, and leave the community once they've earned their credits. In contrast to this method, work through the HVI from previous semesters informs current projects. Since the end of World War II, the once-prosperous region has experienced a slow and steady slide in its economic fortunes. Although recent migrants and investment have revived towns like Cold Spring and Hudson, but left others behind. The videos here showcase work from past urban design studios centered on Newburgh and Beacon. Orff and Smiley said GSAPP is adding an optional fourth semester onto the three-semester urban design program, so the "same projects hit the ground running," said Orff. "We need to dig deeper in these places." The Justice in Place: Design for Equity & Regional Currents opening party is tomorrow, January 28, at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. More information can be found here.
Placeholder Alt Text

SCAPE turns Lexington, Kentucky’s long-buried water into an asset

Most Lexingtonians don’t know it, but the porous limestone landscape under their feet—called karst—created their bluegrass identity. The basic water that flows through karst reportedly makes their grass grow green, their racehorses grow strong, and their bourbon taste smooth. So when downtown Lexington held a competition to revitalize and re-pedestrianize the concrete, car-driven downtown, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture chose to reveal and celebrate its geology. As SCAPE founder and partner Kate Orff said, the Town Branch Commons Corridor project is “a reinterpretation, a transformation of the karst landscape into public space.”

The ambitious project, which just received a major $14.1 million funding boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation, will carve pedestrian and bike paths through the heart of Lexington, creating new green spaces and linking with regional trails at both ends. To create freshwater pools—SCAPE calls them “karst windows,” in reference to similar naturally occurring formations—the design will tap old culverts (essentially large pipes) that previously kept Lexington’s karst water out of sight.

The trail will be narrow in some areas, but wide for the Karst Commons, a new public plaza and park at the project’s northern end that will feature multiple “habitat rooms,” an amphitheater, and recreation areas. The park can flood safely in a deluge. “There’s no site here, it’s a hybrid project,” said Orff. “Sidewalk here, empty lot there, parking lot there… The thread of water means each entity has to somehow come in contact with it and embrace it.”

The road to realizing the project—now in schematic design—has been long. After winning the 2013 competition, SCAPE worked with the University of Kentucky and the Lexington Downtown Development Authority to foster public support. They created a large model of the city’s hidden Town Branch Creek, paired with self-guided podcast tours, that generated excitement and helped propel the project. The karst, citizens realized, was part of the bluegrass identity they hold dear (and market to tourists). “Here it’s all about finding a unique identity framed around a cultural and geological history of a place,” said Gena Wirth, SCAPE design principal. “What’s replicable is the multipurpose infrastructure that unites the city, its story, and its systems.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Architects confront global warming at Columbia GSAPP’s Climate Change and the Scales of Environment

On Friday, December 4th—while hundreds of officials gathered in Paris for the COP21 UN climate change conference—scholars, historians, scientists, architects, and designers came to Columbia GSAPP’s Avery Hall for a similarly urgent conference, “Climate Change and the Scales of Environment.” The urgency lies in the fact that buildings are accountable for approximately half of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the United States today. At the December 4 conference, the range of experts discussed this issue across multiple scales—ranging from a single molecule to the planet as a whole. At what scale should architects engage? And how do the different scales tie together? Dean Amale Andraos explained to AN that using these disciplinary questions of scale to enter a cross-disciplinary discussion on climate-change kept the conversation focused.

HISTORY

The first topic of the day, History, was moderated by Reinhold Martin (Columbia GSAPP) and included presentations from Daniel A. Barber (University of Pennsylvania, Architecture), Deborah R. Coen (Barnard College, History), Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin, History), and Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London, Visual Cultures). Addressing different moments in history, the speakers collectively unveiled how ecological understandings dictate societal development. 

POLITICS

The second topic, Politics, was moderated by Laura Kurgan (Columbia GSAPP) and included talks from Michael B. Gerrard (Columbia University, Earth Institute and School of Law), Saskia Sassen (Columbia University, Sociology), Richard Seager (Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), and Christian Parenti (New York University, Liberal Studies). Each presentation addressed environmental failures, which Kurgan called “sobering,” and the related risks facing architects, planners, and builders. Before heading to COP21 to represent the Marshall Islands, Gerrard told the audience in Wood Auditorium, “Architects might be legally liable for failure to design for foreseeable climate change.”

UNCERTAINTY

Jesse M. Keenan (Columbia GSAPP and CURE) moderated Uncertainty, which included talks from Radley Horton (Columbia University, Earth Institute and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), Adrian Lahoud (Royal College of Art, London, Architecture), and Kate Orff (Columbia GSAPP and SCAPE). The presentations unveiled each profession’s individual roles and how they overlap. Horton works with quantitative climate science; Lahoud uses the qualitative method of narrative; and Orff works in both realms. Keenan concluded, “Architects and planners are mediators. They are helping make that translation to define values and vulnerabilities and to weigh what that really means.”

VISUALIZATION

The final section, Visualization, was moderated by Mark Wasiuta (Columbia GSAPP) and included presentations from Heather Davis (Pennsylvania State University, Institute for the Arts and Humanities), Laura Kurgan, Emily Eliza Scott (ETH Zurich, Architecture), and Neyran Turan (Rice University, Architecture). Again, the presentations covered a wide spectrum of curation, ranging from Davis’s discussion of subject-object relationships to Kurgan’s video visualization of climate change data, EXIT, currently on display at COP21. Wasiuta, said in the panel discussion, “Laura’s work produces a different type of knowing, or knowability. Fascinating, the idea of curating a dataset: curating as the construction of a political form.” The day’s presentations ended with keynote speaker Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago, History). Chakrabarty’s talk, “The Human Significance of the Anthropocene” was a fitting way to pull together the wide-ranging but interrelated disciplines contributing to the conference. Videos of the conference will appear on Columbia GSAPP’s YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
Placeholder Alt Text

SCAPE’s Kate Orff to take over GSAPP’s Urban Design Program

Kate Orff, the founder of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, will head up the Urban Design Program at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Fast Company reported that Orff will step into her new role in June, succeeding Richard Plunz who has lead the program since 1992. Orff is currently an associate professor at GSAPP and has become well known for her pioneering use of oysters to clean waterways and support coastal resilience. In June, SCAPE's Living Breakwaters plan to protect Staten Island with a reef of oysters was awarded $60 million in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rebuild By Design competition. And then in November, the project won the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
Placeholder Alt Text

American Academy of Arts and Letters announces 2015 architecture awards

A star-studded jury has selected the winners of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' 2015 architecture prizes. Elizabeth Diller (chairman), Henry N. Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Laurie Olin, Cesar Pelli, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams chose the awardees from among 41 nominations. Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey of Dublin's O'Donnell + Tuomey took home the $20,000 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, for which any architect "who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art" is eligible. O'Donnell and Tuomey, who also received the 2015 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects, are the creative team behind projects including the Sean O'Casey Community Centre (Dublin, 2008) and Belfast's Lyric Theatre (2011). The jury also awarded four Arts and Letters Awards in Architecture of $10,000 each. Yolanda Daniels and Sunil Bald, and Kate Orff won the first two awards, reserved for American practitioners "whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction." Of Daniels and Bald's work, which they undertake in New York as Studio SUMO, juror Billie Tsien observed, "There is always a sense of the weight of materials in what they do." Kate Orff founded New York landscape architecture firm SCAPE to combine research and practice on the urban landscape. Her recent projects include Oyster-Tecture for the 2010 MoMA exhibition Rising Currents, and Living Breakwaters for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ongoing since 2014. Kurt W. Forster and Rosalie Genevro secured the second category, for an American "who explores ideas in architecture through any medium of expression." Forster, an architectural historian and founding director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, is currently an emeritus visiting professor at Yale. Genevro heads the Architectural League of New York. "Quiet wisdom as well as consistent and powerful leadership are hallmarks of Rosalie's 30 years as executive director," said juror Tod Williams. Select work by the winners, who will receive their awards at the Academy's annual Ceremonial and may, will be on display in the Academy's galleries on Audubon Terrace from May 21-June 14.
Placeholder Alt Text

Rebuild By Design> SCAPE’s Living Breakwaters Transform Staten Island’s South Shore

In early April, the ten finalists in the Rebuild By Design competition unveiled their proposals to protect the Tri-state region from the next Sandy. And in the near future, a jury will select a winner—or winners—to receive federal funding to pursue their plans. But before that final announcement is made, AN is taking a closer look at each of the final ten proposals. Here’s SCAPE's plan for Staten Island's South Shore. Team SCAPE proposes a series of living breakwaters to protect Staten Island's South Shore, which was absolutely pummeled during Hurricane Sandy. The breakwaters—made partially from oysters—can clean water, reduce storm-surge, provide new habitats, and protect against coastal erosion. The use of oysters would not only protect the South Shore, it would pay homage to the region's history. As Kate Orff of SCAPE noted, the town of Tottenville, which is located in Phase One of her team's project, was once known as "the town the oyster built." This plan would also create a "learning hub" in Tottenville to teach local communities about the benefits of oysters. "This new, layered infrastructure will clean and slow the water, catalyze the regrowth of protected ecosystems, and create an amazing textured environment for marine life, as well as shore-based communities to thrive in," said Orff. The team includes SCAPE/Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Dr. Philip Orton / Stevens Institute of Technology, Ocean & Coastal Consultants, SeArc Ecological Consulting, LOT-EK, MTWTF, The Harbor School and Paul Greenberg.