Ost Und oder West [East and West], Klaus Wittkugel P! Gallery Ended February 21 How does one do good work for bad people? This oversimplified question is especially relevant for architects, and one that the recent exhibition of work by East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel at P! Gallery asked us to consider, while simultaneously while treating us to some modernist visual pleasure. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall we have been taught that capitalism is the end-all-be-all system to structure our society, and consumption is the answer to our desires, overwhelmingly influencing our aesthetics and our ethics. But looking at the oeuvre of this little-known figure, Klaus Wittkugel, who was the head designer of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Ministry of Information, we find an alternate reality: a sense of aesthetic purpose that, while firmly modernist, shows a softer, more figurative and less abstract approach to design. And yet at times it can be reminiscent of Socialist Realism propaganda, today usually met with finger wagging and dismissals of kitsch: the prefered visuals of dictators, with smiles beaming sunshine and 150 percent worker productivity embodied in a visual image. Yet what this show, Ost Und oder West [East and West], revealed is a more complex relationship between design and power, and the extent of artistic freedom under Soviet Communism in postwar Germany. The exhibition is not only impressive for the work it contains, but also for how it was assembled. P! founder and director, Prem Krishnamurthy, spent more than seven years assembling Wittkugel’s work into a thorough survey of books, posters, exhibitions, and signage, found in auspicious moments at used bookstores and by scouring eBay. The work of Wittkugel displayed in the gallery was in a visual style that positions him as an heir to the legacies of early 20th Century design legends El Lissitzky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, like a long-lost East German cousin of the earlier German Bauhaus and Russian Constructivist diasporas. The judicious use of mis-en-abyme—the graphic technique of creating an infinity mirror, a recursive visual trick of an image containing a smaller version of itself in a window in a window in a window in a…—we might describe today as being very “meta.” Krishnamurthy acknowledges that “one of the things that really attracted me to his work is there’s a strain of self-reflexivity about the production of graphic design. So you have a poster, for an exhibition of posters, that is a freshly-postered poster column,” which the P! exhibition continued, recreating the poster column on the gallery facade. All of this is juxtaposed with a companion exhibition at OSMOS Gallery on the work of Anton Stankowski, a former classmate of Wittkugel’s from the Folkwangschule Essen, who went on to work in West Germany and Zurich, designing many corporate logos, most notably the minimal Deutsche Bank slash-in-square, still in use today. While Stankowski designed symbols of Western capital, Wittkugel designed the visual manifestation of the political and cultural ambitions of Soviet East Germany in the form of an elegantly embellished cursive visual identity, dinnerware, and signage for the now-demolished Palast der Republik. While works like Wittkugel’s signage for the Kino International relate more literally to architecture, the conceptual lessons the exhibition has for architectural practice speak more to architecture’s inevitable collaborations with people whose values may not align with one’s own. You can refrain from designing prisons if you object to incarceration, but it doesn’t mean some architect somewhere won’t design that prison, so why not engage and attempt to design a more humane prison? The importance of critical engagement is shown in Wittkugel’s 1957 exhibition Militarism without Masks, a polemical, anti-West German exhibition featuring former Nazis who became part of the West German government, displayed on a cleverly designed rotating vertical triangular louvered wall, just one example of very compelling exhibition design. Any serious international cultural institution would be remiss not to consider exhibiting, or even adopting, this collection of thought-provoking work from a precarious moment in design history.
Posts tagged with "Manhattan":
The City of New York has selected AECOM to lead the design and build of coastal resiliency measures for Manhattan, formerly known as the Dryline (and before that, BIG U). The project team includes Dewberry, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and ONE Architecture. BIG and ONE provided the original vision for the 10-mile-long project, and are working on the project's Lower East Side component (Phase 1). That phase, which should be complete by 2017, runs from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street. That (fully funded) $335 million initiative incorporates parkland and recreational space into and over berms and heavy-duty flood barriers in the East River. Starr Whitehouse collaborated with the firms on the landscape design. AECOM and Dewberry New York–based firms responded to a request for proposals issued by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The duo's design will encircle the lower Manhattan waterfront for around 3.5 miles, from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side, around the island's southern tip, to Harrison Street in Tribeca. The project is expected to cost more than $1 billion, Crain's reports. New York State Senator Chuck Schumer secured $176 million in federal funds for the project, while the City has set aside $100 million in capital funds last year, on top of an earlier $15 million contribution. There's no renderings yet available of AECOM and Dewberry's design, but AN will keep you updated as the project progresses.
With all the attention focused on the impossible height of New York's new crop of supertalls, it's easy to forget that even skyscrapers have a tether to earth. Renderings were recently revealed for the base of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill's 1,550-foot-tower, which, when complete, will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Most mere mortals will never ascend to Central Park Tower's 95th floor, let alone live in one of its 182 condominium units, but it will be possible to go shopping at its base. The anchor tenant, Seattle–based Nordstrom, will occupy 363,000 square feet over eight floors: Three below and five aboveground. James Carpenter Design Associates created the undulating glass facade that runs up seven stories from the sidewalk. The sprawling department store will be Nordstrom's first Manhattan flagship, but it won't be contained to 217 West 57th Street, The Seattle Times reports. As seen in the two renderings below, the retail footprint will blend new and old by extending into three adjacent prewar buildings. Nordstrom's, along with the rest of the building, is expected to open in 2019.
Voyager Espresso, a 550-square-foot coffee bar, brings the perks of artisanal coffee to New York’s perpetually caffeine craving Financial District in the new Fulton Center. The bar opened in January and was crafted by New York–based design practice Only If, a team of five architects and designers founded in 2013. The clients, a pair of Australians, wanted the space to look distinctly different from the ubiquitous white tile, reclaimed wood, and Edison bulb coffee shop aesthetic and had ambitious plans despite their tight budget. With this in mind, Adam Frampton, principal at Only If, opted for an “inexpensive but futuristic” material palette of aluminum enamel painted oriented strand board, black marble, perforated aluminum and copper, and black rubber. “In such a small and constrained space, our first intuition was to be very pragmatic with the layout and articulate the design through the materials and details. However, we didn’t want to simply decorate the space,” Frampton said. “It soon became apparent that a more figural gesture—albeit less efficient in terms of quantity of seating—improved ergonomics within the service area and produced a greater identity and hierarchy.” Frampton also devised a layout based on two circles: The positive volume, a barista station, allows two baristas to work simultaneously and a negative volume, the "grotto," a seating space carved out of the surrounding walls. Frampton and his team worked through many iterations before landing on this clever configuration. “The method of exhausting all possibilities until the best fit emerges is probably something that came from my experience working at OMA,” said Frampton. “What’s really interesting about the layout is how it activates different social settings and creates different types of seating.” The careful planning paid off: After seven weeks of preparing the design and obtaining the correct permit, drawing, and construction documents, the space was built in about eight weeks. It is now open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 110 William Street through the John Street subway entrance.
[Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to an op-ed from the City Club of New York. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] There is a pressing need for new public open space and programming along the Lower Manhattan waterfront. When Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 closed in 2011, New York City lost vital parkland that had served both local community and citywide residents. The problem was that there was never enough public funding to support a new pier at that site. Pier55 will revitalize that waterfront space with nearly three acres of new public parkland, a unique design and new arts, educational and community programming. A public-private partnership between the Diller - von Furstenberg family and the Hudson River Park Trust will ensure Pier55 will remain sustainable for generations to come. As former City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has written, this use of a public-private partnership follows a long tradition that has supported other public parks across New York City, such as the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as public arts spaces like Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell and the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. That is all part of why Pier55 has received an overwhelmingly positive response from local families and park advocates who are excited about the future of the Hudson River Park. The project has also been through a rigorous and transparent environmental review process and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. Unfortunately, the City Club of New York disagrees. Instead of engaging the community — as the Hudson River Park Trust and Pier55, Inc. have done over the past year — the City Club continues to make false claims about Pier55 and its public process. The fact is that Pier55 underwent a comprehensive Environmental Assessment which found that the park would have no significantly adverse impact on fish and other aquatic wildlife. The Environmental Assessment remains publicly posted on the HRPT website to this day, and it was distributed publicly for a two-month comment period that went well beyond what is required by state law. Additionally, it has already been stated that pile driving for Pier55 will not occur between November and April, when wildlife like winter flounder and striped bass are found in higher densities in the area. The City Club has provided no actual evidence refuting the Environmental Assessment or proving why any further environmental review would be required. Pier55 will provide a diverse array of programming, but it should be noted that boating activities are already found at numerous other piers along Hudson River Park. Contrary to opposition claims, as determined by the United States Coastguard, Pier55 will not obstruct navigation in the Hudson River because that particular area has never been used for boating activities. Pier55’s commitment to public programming is also based on a commitment to public access. The park will remain open to the public all year round and the vast majority of events at Pier55 will be offered for free or at low cost. It must also be noted that Pier55’s 2.7-acre size is within the scope of what is allowed based on a 2013 law amending the state’s Hudson River Park Act. This amendment, crafted based on input from the local community board and other stakeholders, allowed HRPT to rebuild the former pier outside its original footprint. Aside from all that, it is odd to see the City Club argue that Pier55 — one pier among many at Hudson River Park — will block views of the river. The pier will provide park visitors with new and unique views of the Hudson River, and it will replace a fenced-off site that currently provides no public benefit. Overall, Pier55 is a public benefit that is being funded by necessity through a public-private partnership. Pier55, Inc. is not a corporation — it is a nonprofit organization. It will not reap profits from any events held at Pier55, and all programming revenue will go back into funding the park and serving the public. As New Yorkers for Parks and other supporters have noted, this public-private model will ensure that the new pier remains sustainable for generations, even in the absence of public funding. The City Club’s arguments against Pier55 may be numerous, but they are without merit and do not reflect the overwhelming community support for the project, which has only grown as more local residents hear what the new park will provide for their neighborhood. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders on making Pier55 a success for the community and the city. We hope the City Club will reconsider its inaccurate claims and join us in that effort. —Pier55 Development Team
In a new Manhattan skyscraper, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) reinterprets the tower-in-the-park by bringing the park up into the tower. https://vimeo.com/154626810 Today, the New York–based firm unveiled The Spiral, a 65-story skyscraper at Hudson Yards. The tower, programmed for offices and 27,000 square feet of retail, is located along the High Line, with a front entrance facing under-construction Hudson Park and Hudson Boulevard East. For those tracking the recent explosion of supertalls, The Spiral, at 1,005 feet, is eye-level with 1,004-foot One57. The prevailing visual element is a stepped group of terraces and hanging gardens, connected to double height atria, that wrap around the side of the building. For tenants renting out multiple floors, the atria can be programmed to connect to other floors, a tweak that could reduce reliance on elevators. Storytelling plays a strong role BIG's practice. The firm has a knack for delivering chronicles that distill the complexity of urban space and the ambiguities of history into a straightforward narrative that situates a project in time and place just so. “The Spiral will punctuate the northern end of the High Line, and the linear park will appear to carry through into the tower, forming an ascending ribbon of lively green spaces, extending the High Line to the skyline," asserted BIG founding principal Bjarke Ingels, in a statement. "The Spiral combines the classic Ziggurat silhouette of the premodern skyscraper with the slender proportions and efficient layouts of the modern high-rise. Designed for the people that occupy it, The Spiral ensures that every floor of the tower opens up to the outdoors creating hanging gardens and cascading atria that connect the open floor plates from the ground floor to the summit into a single uninterrupted work space. The string of terraces wrapping around the building expand the daily life of the tenants to the outside air and light.” In a video accompanying today's announcement, Ingels nails down the appeal of the swirl with pretty motifs from science and nature: "The spiral's immaculate geometry, and its suggestion of the infinite, that has mesmerized us in all cultures, and across time and place." The Spiral, he posits, will be "a new tower that stands out among its neighbors, yet feels completely at home." As buildings should? With BIG's unveil, Phase 1 development is continuing apace at Hudson Yards. When complete, the new neighborhood will allow for 26 million square feet of office space, 20,000 units of new housing, three million square feet for hotels, and two million square feet of retail. Hudson Yards first skyscraper, KPF's 10 Hudson Yards, topped out last October, with construction on 15, 30, 35, 50, and 55 Hudson Yards well underway.
During the height of rush hour this morning, a construction crane collapsed on Worth Street between Church Street and West Broadway in Tribeca, mere blocks from AN's New York headquarters. One person is dead and three others are injured in a collapse that occurred around 8:25 AM, the FDNY reports. The collapsed crane also damaged surrounding buildings and crushed cars parked on the street. As firefighters, police, and personnel from the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) assess the scene, there is no 1 train service at Franklin and Chambers streets until further notice. The OEM notes that there will be significant gridlock surrounding the affected block. https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/695622838988963840 Sadly, the accident today is not the first New York crane collapse in recent memory. Bay Crane, the Queens–based company that owns the crane, was also implicated in a 2015 crane collapse that injured ten people in Midtown, The New York Post reports. New York Crane and Equipment Corporation's crane collapsed on a Long Island City job in 2013, injuring seven.
Kohn Pedersen Fox plays Jenga with this Madison Avenue building, pulling mass away and stacking it on top
It's addition by subtraction on Madison Avenue, where Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) is playing real-life Jenga with a 24-story office building between East 46th and 47th streets in Midtown Manhattan. The architects are removing select floors of 380 Madison Avenue, and stacking them on top of each other to make a taller building. In all, 18 percent of the building will be removed and re-stacked, nudging the building up to 32 stories from its original 24. Amazingly, the rearranged tower, to be renamed 390 Madison Avenue, will have the same amount of square footage as its squatter self, YIMBY reports. Construction is expected to be complete by early 2017. There will be 663,419 square feet of commercial space (mostly for offices), and the first two floors will be double-height, for retailers looking for a swanky address on one of the city's most prestigious shopping streets. The current facade, 1980s dark glass, will be replaced by floor-to-ceiling clear glass panels. The video below, fashioned after an action movie trailer, shows exactly how the building gets taller and leaner. https://vimeo.com/110394303 390 Madison Avenue is not the only recent tower to get Jenga'd. Last June, Büro Ole Scheeren released plans for a residential tower in Vancouver with boxy massing. Two months later, Pritzker Prize–winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura unveiled plans for a mixed-use tower in Washington, D.C. with a similar profile, while NBBJ's tower, announced last September, promises to topple expectations for Cleveland's skyline. Though AN did not make the comparison initially, BIG's new police station in the Bronx could fall under this emerging typology.
Although step-streets—pedestrian corridors that replace auto-centric streets in hilly neighborhoods—are more often associated with San Francisco, New York City has 94 step-streets of its own. WXY Architecture + Urban Design partnered with AECOM to revamp a full-block step-street in Inwood, Manhattan's northernmost neighborhood. The so-called "step-stair" connects busy Broadway with a residential complex, Park Terrace East. The New York City Department of Design & Construction (DDC) chose Brooklyn–based WXY to rehabilitate the 215th Street right-of-way's crumbling surfaces and worn planted areas. The passage, which officially opens to the public on February 3rd, hews closely to the original design. In addition to improving the stair condition, WXY encircled newly planted trees between the two staircases with cobblestone pavers. Historic lampposts that flank the landings remain intact, though the fixtures are swapped out for more original-looking globes, as in the 1915 photograph below. A bike channel on both sides eases the schlep up and down the 50 foot incline. "The Inwood community deserves a safe stair path," said Claire Weisz, founding principal at WXY, in a statement. "But they also deserve a beautiful public space they can feel proud of, where neighbors can greet one another as they pass on their daily commute." The step-street was on the city's repair radar for years. In April 2012, The Daily News reported that Inwood residents had been petitioning for spruced-up stairs since 1999. The rendering in that piece is identical to the one re-released today, though there's no word on what's held up the project for almost four years.
The scaffolding just came off of Carmel Place, the 10-story, 55-unit micro-apartment building designed by Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS. The project, formerly known as My Micro NY, has diminutive units designed to serve the "small household population." The project sits at One Mount Carmel Place, a looping side street boxed in between 28th Street, First Avenue, 27th Street, and Second Avenue in Kips Bay, Manhattan. The towers are vertically striped in four shades of grey brick (as seen in the renderings below), though in some of Field Condition's photographs the brick takes on a brownish hue. The tower is constructed of 92 modular units, which were themselves built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The massing somewhat reference's BIG's Two World Trade Center, whose irregularly stacked upper stores are smaller-but-wider to accommodate terraces. The interiors are meant to make the Lilliputian apartments feel as spacious as possible. The ceilings are nine-and-a-half feet tall, and exterior doors slide, rather than swing. Seventy cubic feet of storage spaces over the bathrooms and 70-square-foot kitchens with extra fold-out counter space reduce clutter and allow for full scale movement in the space. Juliet balconies, with a comparatively generous 63 square feet of floor area, allow access to the outdoors. Each of the six different types of units, ranging in size from 273 to 360 square feet, come equipped with interior furnishings. The architects collaborated with New York–based Resource Furniture on the built-ins (like the bed-couch), and other furnishings from Stage 3 Properties through Ollie. Ollie decorates rental apartments, organizes community events in-building, and offers amenities packages that include housekeeping and wifi. Carmel Place offers a standard range of amenities: bike storage, lounge, fitness room, public roof terrace, and community room. 525 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus the glassed-in, street-facing gym, anchors the development to the outside. Here as everywhere, competition for the building's affordable units is intense, with 60,000 applications submitted for the 14 apartments. All tenants could be moving in as early as March 2016.
Love it or not, Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park makes a statement on the New York City skyline. The 88-story, 1,396-foot-tall skyscraper will be home to some of the world's richest people (and/or their faceless LLCs). One soon-to-be-resident is bringing the public's prying eyes inward by bucking the less-is-more aesthetic of contemporary interior design for a maximalist, marble-on-marble pad designed by Brooklyn–based Atelier & Co. Atelier & Co. went for baroque with the design of a 4,000-square-foot residence on the tower's 40th floor. The building's structural tube design allows for open, no-column layouts, allowing residents to configure the space freely from a standard skyscraper layout. Atelier & Co.'s plan removes the sitting room to create a combined dining and living area, divided only by a bookcase lifted from the set of Downton Abbey. Meanwhile, the size of the master bathroom is doubled, presumably to accommodate the owner's collection of marble busts, vases, or anachronistic glass globes. The colonnaded entryways, ornate wood floors, and coffered ceilings do right by Joan Rivers and Louis XIV. Atelier & Co. notes that the design was influenced by 19th century Prussian architect and painter Karl Friedrich Schinkel as well as Leo von Klenze, the German painter, writer, and architect. The designers do recognize that their creation is inside a supertall, not Versaillies. They claim that the aesthetic draws on Viñoly's geometry, perhaps in the patterning of the living room's coffered ceiling. As this monumental throwback interior takes shape, it's a good time to note that the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the organization in charge of keeping tabs on the world's supertalls, recently recognized 432 Park as the world's 100th supertall. The tower clocks in as the second tallest building completed in 2015, per the organization's numbers. While living in this apartment may cause irreparable damage to your taste, that's not the only danger it poses. A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that living on a building's upper floors increases the risk of dying from cardiac arrest.
New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.