The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced its 2013 architecture awards recipients. The winners were chosen from a group of 32 individuals and practices nominated by Academy members. An exhibition of their work will be on display at the Audubon Terrace in New York City from May 16 to June 9, 2013. The Academy’s architecture awards program was established in conjunction with the 1955 inauguration of the annual Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, which is presented to a leading architect from any country who has made a noteworthy contribution to architecture as an art. Alberto Campo Baeza from Madrid, Spain won the $5000 prize this year. He has practiced and taught architecture for over 35 years at prominent universities in the U.S. and abroad. He turns architecture into art through utilizing timeless forms. Campo Baeza received the 2013 Heinrich Tessenow Gold Metal. Two Arts and Letters Awards of $7500 recognizing American architects whose work holds a strong personal bearing were presented to Teddy Cruz of San Diego, California and Thomas Phifer of New York. Teddy Cruz is an architect, academic, and activist who investigates the politics and economics that compel urban conflict. Thomas Phifer, who has led his own New York City practice since 1996, blends the beauty and simplicity of Modernism with awareness of the natural environment. Barry Bergdoll and Sanford Kwinter of New York each won an Arts and Letters Award of $7500 given to Americans exploring ideas in architecture using any method of expression. Barry Bergdoll, a 19th- and 20th-century architectural history scholar, is the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. Sanford Kwinter is a witer, editor, and Professor of Architectural Theory and Criticism at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he co-directs the Master in Design Studies program.
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What do you do if a building is slated for demolition? If you’re the artist Doug Aitken and the building is your gallery, you devise a “time-based destruction installation.” Which is precisely what Aitken, who is known for wrapping the facade of the Hirschhorn Museum in with a 360-degree video installation to the tune of “I Only Have Eyes For You,” installing a video "land art" installation on the Seattle Art Museum, and the video “Sleepwalkers” projected on the facades of MoMA, “a cinematic art experience that directly integrates with the architectural fabric of the city while simultaneously enhancing and challenging viewers’ perceptions of public space” did. Aitken’s latest exhibition, which wrapped up at the end of March, entitled 100 YRS at Gallery 303 on West 21st Street was filled with word-based artworks such Plexiglas letters spelling “Art” with chocolate milk-like slurry cascading over the letters, black textured rock spelling “Sunset” and “Magic” featuring rear-lit images of the blowing up of Pruitt-Igo on each letter. Visitors were greeted by “Sonic Fountain” which is a round hole jackhammered out of the galley floor (since it was going to be destroyed anyway), filled with water from dripping pipes on the ceiling, and equipped with underwater microphones to amplify the dribbling sounds. The gallery walls and floors were gradually being destroyed around these artworks over the last week, not by construction workers, but by musicians. Three percussionists gently deconstructed the space climbing onto drywall, hacking away at rubble, and rising on scissor-lifts, making a music of sorts as they worked. The one-story building has been sold, and word from the gallery director Cristian Alexa is that Norman Foster has been retained to build a tower on the site.
Brooklyn-based Associated Fabrication realized all the merchandise displays, benching, shelving, and cash wraps for Melissa Shoes in Pearl Gray Corian.Before Kinky Boots came to Broadway, Melissa Shoes opened shop in SoHo. The Brazilian shoe brand, known for its use of brightly colored, recycled PVC material and collaborations with designers like Jason Wu, Vivienne Westwood, and Gareth Pugh, opened its first U.S. boutique in the states last year. With the help of local architecture firm Eight Inc. and Brooklyn-based Associated Fabrication, a distinguished aesthetic was achieved that supports the original Sao Paulo shop's rotating art theme, but with a much cleaner slate of epoxy floors and Pearl Gray Corian bollard-like merchandise displays. Working from two-dimensional drawings provided by the architects, Jeffrey Taras of Associated Fabrication used Rhino to model the 34 display platforms. Taras grouped the displays, which resemble blunted stalagmites, into categories of varying heights and configurations—single columns in four different heights, double columns in two groupings, and one cluster of three columns. "A lot of this [project] was production engineering and breaking down the pieces into as few parts as possible to ease assembly," explained Taras. "We also had to figure out how to break the pieces down to form the Corian the way it had to be done." Each stand is hollow and constructed from five different parts of thermal-formed Corian. The base radius is made from two pieces, the shell extrusion is also two pieces, and a single portion at the top completes the unit. Since a seamless connection between the pieces was necessary to achieve the aesthetic, there was almost not tolerance for error in the fabrication process. After each stand was modeled in Rhino, the fabricators used a CNC milling machine to cut molds from plywood and medium density fiberboard. Taras created a single mold for the base ring components of all 34 stands and another uniform mold was created for the shell extrusions. Varying heights were achieved by trimming the extrusions. The caps, vary by diameter; the taller ones are smaller because of a more tapered extrusion, and the shorter ones are wider. Thus Taras created different molds for the top pieces of the varying heights. As each of the components was assembled, it was run through a trim jig to exactly meet the other seams. "The most challenging units were the double units, and the combination of three stands spliced together," Taras said. "We created a full piece assembly, created a custom jig for the CNC mill, and then cut out matching surfaces for each of the pieces that formed the units." The jig was also designed in Rhino, and cut on the CNC mill. The completed units were finely sanded and were placed as freestanding displays in the boutique. Associated Fabrication was also responsible for 18 small and six large shelves—affixed to the walls with a stainless steel pin and silicone—six mirror bases, 11 benches, and two cash wraps, all made from Corian. A new table is also currently being made for the space.
Now that Congress has passed the $51 billion emergency aid package, Mayor Bloomberg is forging ahead with the recovery plans. The City will set aside $1.77 billion in federal funds dedicated to rebuilding homes, businesses, public housing and infrastructure that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Bloomberg did, however, warn that it could likely take a few months for the programs “to be approved and implemented.” Since the storm, the city, in conjunction with FEMA, has helped homeowners in New York through its Rapid Repairs Program. In a press conference last week, Bloomberg announced that the city will create a $350 grant program to help owners of single-family homes rebuild residences that bore the brunt of the storm, and another $250 million dedicated to “enhance the resiliency” of multi-family housing units. New York City’s public housing sustained considerable damage during the storm, which resulted in up to $785 million in damage to 257 buildings in 32 housing developments. NYCHA will receive $120 million in aid to repair and prepare buildings for future storms by taking measures such as purchasing permanent emergency generators. The city will also provide $100 million in grants to over 1,000 businesses affected by the storm. Businesses will be able to obtain loans of up to $150,000 and grants as large as $60,000. An additional $140 million will be spent on efforts to help build infrastructure for utilities and to jumpstart economic activity in the five business zones that are located in vulnerable areas.
As New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central's Centennial, many might have forgotten, or perhaps never even knew, that the train terminal almost suffered the same fate as Penn Station and was nearly demolished in the late 1960s. This controversy made historic preservation a critical part of the conversation about development and the future of New York City. Grand Central "was a gift to preservation and left a legacy. By its influence, it will save other buildings in the future," said Frank Prial, Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the firm responsible for the restoration of Grand Central. "It is our poster child for preservation." Prial mentions that the effort to save Grand Central Terminal "grew from great community service" and with the help of city leaders such as former Mayor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, there have been renovations and updates to the building. Prial was part of the team at Beyer Blinder Belle to work on the restoration, and recalls a significant decision—to construct a new staircase on the east side, which was included in the original designs by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, but was ultimately cut because the project was "running out of money and there was no place to go on east side because they filled with tenements and slaughter houses." While some of the more conservative preservationists doubted the necessity of the new staircase, Prial says that "there was more than just an architectural need for it, not only to uphold the architects’ original intent, but also to create access to this great space below and also to encourage ciruculation and in times of emergency." Few commuters might realize that this stairwell was only built in 1998—it fits naturally within the space, and as Prial points out, is in keeping with Beaux-Arts tradition. "People are simply not aware that this stair didn’t exist. It is simpler, cleaner and more modern than original on the west side."
Manhattan's newest neighborhood at Hudson Yards broke ground one week ago today, but the West Side area can be tricky to get to using the city's existing subway system. In 2014, however, the rumbling of trains far beneath the city's streets will stretch west from Times Square, extending the 7 Line subway a mile and a half over to 34th Street and 11th Avenue where Hudson Yards' first tower will be rapidly climbing at 30th Street and 10th Avenue. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has now shared a series of photos of the $2.4 billion, city-funded project, showing quite a bit of progress since AN toured the site one year ago this month. Most notable are the web of miles of conduit lining the walls and ceilings of the tunnels and the nearly complete ventilation towers rising near the Javits Center. Eventually, interior fit-ups will finish off the station's sleek interior with curving walls designed by Dattner Architects.
After today's announcement of Norman Fosters next project in New York, a luxury condo tower at the United Nations, we just can't get enough of the British starchitect. Luckily, a stash of video renderings and presentations from the firms behind the planned 425 Park tower can provide just the fix. It wasn't too long ago that the starchitect-filled competition for the new Park Avenue tower selected Foster + Partners as its winner. Now after the design presentations at the recent MAS Summit and the release of photo renderings from all players—including runners up Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, and Zaha Hadid—we can indulge in the virtual demonstrations of their designs. For more videos of the MAS summit presentations, click here.
In a unanimous vote today, the New York City Planning Commission approved Jamsestown Properties' plans for expansion at Chelsea Market with few modifications. The building was rezoned to be included in the Special West Chelsea District, thereby allowing developers to increase density after a significant contribution is made to the High Line. Much to the quite literal relief of High Line visitors, this likely means bathrooms will finally find their way to the southern section of the park. The latest designs by Studios Architecture set the massing of the Tenth Avenue addition back away from the park, which Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden expressed concern about during a review session. Jamestown Properties has also agreed provide funds and space for park amenities, like bathrooms, as well funds for affordable housing in Community Board 4 district. "While affordable housing bonuses are not normally associated with commercial buildings, there are special features of the West Chelsea district regulations which make this possible,"said Burden. "I believe this will be a great addition to the West Chelsea neighborhood," she continued. "The additional office space will serve what has become a destination for creative and technology industries, and this new development will provide critical amenities to the High Line." Nevertheless, community activists remain concerned about traffic and congestion from the park and resulting building boom. This was no secret to those attending CB4 meetings, but the controversy roared into the open with Jeremiah Moses' oped piece in Sunday's New York Times under the head, "Disney on the Hudson," which claimed "the park is destroying neighborhoods as it grows." The sound-off got a swift response from the many, including Friends of the High Line founders Joshua David and Mark Hammond who found Moses' claims "an unfortunate simplification of our past and current reality." The current reality for parks is a public/private financing model, thus David and Hammond's support for the Jamestown project and the resulting park amenities it provides. "This is clearly a deal between the Friends, City Planning, and Jamestown," said Save Chelsea's David Holowka. He noted that the majority of the massing will gravitate toward the park rather than the Ninth Avenue. Regardless of where the bulk will land, some will never be appeased with further expansion. "The amenities are cold comfort," said Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "The development will increase traffic and congestion to an area that’s already busting at the seams." Berman added that the West Chelsea Special District already allows for substantial growth for many years to come. The measure will now go before City Council and speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the Chelsea Market. The expansion is considered by some to be a litmus test of where the mayoral candidate's loyalties lie, with the NIMBYs or the development community.
We already knew that DDG Partners could pull together a classy "product," as they say in real estate parlance. But now the group has upped the ante by teaming with Yayoi Kusama, the 83-year-old Japanese show-stopping pop artist. Kusama's blockbuster at the Whitney has already spilled over into cross-marketing at Louis Vuitton with her ubiquitous dots climbing up the facade of their 57th Street Store. Downtown the artist's Yellow Trees will sprawl across protective netting on construction scaffolding at DDGs 345meatpacking, the group's new 14th Street project which could rival their comparatively quiet 41 Bond Street project. 345 promises to make a much splashier entrance, but with a hand laid Danish Kulumba brick facade, it could be Bond Street's equal in craftsmanship. The public won't see the results until September 30th, when the Kusama curtain will fall and the Kulumba will be revealed.
The PoMo aficionados were out in force at yesterday’s Landmarks Preservation hearing for the new proposal for South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. It would seem that just as debate on the value of 1970s Brutalism shifts into high gear, the 1980s PoMo crowd is revving its engines. As preservationists and developers whacked it out, some larger questions about context and neighborhood integration arose. The SHoP-designed tectonic glass response to Ben Thompson’s wood-clad gables of the exiting 1985 Pier 17 building is a clear break from the past, both literally and figuratively. SHoP’s Gregg Pasquarelli didn’t mince words when he told the New York Times “We’re taking away the po-mo and making it a real waterfront market building.” But Thompson, who died in 2002, had plenty of defenders on hand yesterday, including a statement from his wife Jane Thompson, who warned that real estate in the new plan “will inevitably rise to premium rates; privatization will intensify, which forces a turn to luxury retail.” Elise Quasebarth, of the preservation consultancy group Higgins Quasebarth, testified on behalf of Howard Hughes Corporation, the developer, that many of the upland elements planned in conjunction with the 1980s "festival marketplace" are still fundamentally robust. The SHoP worked with James Corner Field Operations to further integrate the street grid through a north-south connection to the East River Waterfront Esplanade and east-west connections to Beekman and Fulton streets. But the deal between NYC Economic Development Corporation and Howard Hughes has a distinct cutoff point at the so-called Tin Building. The empty 1907 structure, which formerly housed a market, sits at the river’s edge where the pier juts into the river. Though the plan has the support of Community Board 1, the board did encourage a master plan that carries through the entire South Street Seaport Historic District. Further complicating matters, the district actually cuts through half of Pier 17. The board resolved the districting by extending the boundary to incorporate the north section of the pier as well. The concern was driven home by local wine merchant Marco Pasanella who testified that the uplands should be considered as part and parcel pier plan and that only a “holistic” approach would work, particularly while the pier is under construction. Pasanella said the big picture should ensure that the plan attract similar tenants and “the right sort of visitors." Speaking on behalf of the Howard Hugh’s Corporation, senior executive vice president Chris Curry said the taking the nearby elements into account, particularly the Tin Building, would require a separate ULURP. He added that the company wants to make an immediate investment, though that wouldn't preclude additional investments down the line. For the time being however, the cutoff point leaves a few of Thompson’s gables left at the back of the pier. Pasquarelli said they would be painted a uniform color to visually drop away. The gables would still function as a mask for mechanical equipment. If all goes as planned, a little slice of PoMo might survive after all.
Forget for a moment that President Obama bumped the New York Times’ Jill Abramson from the dais to deliver this year’s commencement address at Barnard and not his alma mater, Columbia College. Tonight, the Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman will be delivering a lecture at Barnard's Diana Center, titled Public Space and Public Consciousness. However, a busy Kimmelman also appeared last night at GSAPP, for a conversation with Columbia Professor Gwendolyn Wright. Kimmelman addressed growing criticism of his focus on the city as a whole as opposed to addressing architecture as buildings, by reminding the audience that he’s only been at the gig for four months and still had plenty to address. He said he had hoped to create a more porous and fluid forum for debate about the city and architecture, through blogs and reader commentary—but that the resources to edit and filter comments at the newspaper are thin, and there was a concern that the blog could be “taken over by crazy people.” He added that Ada Louise Huxtable remains the model for dealing with citywide and policy issues alongside architecture. “A false dichotomy has been set up; there’s this idea that writing about urban affairs and architecture are separate,” he said. “They’re part of the same world.” He acknowledged the criticism. “When is he going to write about…” he parroted an oft-asked question. “...architecture,” Wright finished—before concurring that the same problem exists in academia where a distinct line is drawn between social history and architectural history. Unsurprising for a former European corespondent, he invoked Rome and suggested that rather than looking at Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI as a sculptural object, he could address its Bilbao-esque intentions. MAXXI may have been positioned as a game changer for an underdeveloped Roman neighborhood, but infrastructural changes needed to be in place to make any real difference. The same thing goes, he contended, at the High Line, whose success now has James Corner getting calls from far flung cities to order up their own High Line that will transform the neighborhood. Kimmelman said such high-profile works of architecture and landscape design are but capstones to what was essentially a very long haul addressing infrastructural and government processes that have little to do with architecture. “It creates the illusion that architecture alone can make a change,” he said said of Gehry's Bilbao. “There was lots of structural and social engineering that preceded the building.” After the event, he spent almost an hour talking with students about sites and projects in New York. Public Space and Public Consciousness will be delivered at 6PM tonight at the Event Oval in the Diana Center.
Neither blizzards, an earthquake, or Hurricane Irene slowed down work here at 21 Murray Street. Nor did any of these disrupt work down the street at the World Trade Center. The demonstrations at Zuccotti Park did not get in the way, nor the spontaneous turn out following the death of Osama bin Laden. Construction only paused for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Some of the year's biggest stories sat at our doorstep, and quite often, we only had to go downstairs to capture their images. Here are a few photos of the news and news-makers taken downtown, as well as a few from uptown, across town, and over the river...