For school alumni, solicitation emails from the alumni office usually elicit groans, not checks. University of Pennsylvania School of Design alum Lori Kanter Tritsch (M.Arch. '85) took a slightly different approach, pledging $1.25 million to her alma mater to establish two prizes for architects. It is the largest single donation for fellowships the school has ever received. Kanter Tritsch is a career architect who sits on the school's Board of Overseers. She made the pledge with her longtime partner, William P. Lauder, the executive chairman of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder, who is also a University of Pennsylvania alum. Part of Kanter Tritsch's gift will establish a $50,000 fellowship for "the most promising graduate architecture student at PennDesign." This fellowship, dubbed the Kanter Tritsch Prize in Energy and Architectural Innovation, will be awarded yearly to a second-year M.Arch. student who demonstrates a thoughtful approach to the issues of "energy, ecology, and/or social equity." The gift will also establish the Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design, an award for practicing architects whose work has been under-recognized but who "changed the course of design history," particularly in their approach to energy, environment, and diversity. Current PennDesign faculty aren't eligible. Juries for the fellowship and medal will be led by Winka Dubbeldam, professor and chair in school's Department of Architecture as well as the founder of Archi-Tectonics. In a prepared statement, Dubbeldam complimented the gift's role in highlighting under-appreciated work: "The architecture profession can be slow to recognize young talent. At the same time, many established architects never receive the public recognition they deserve." The juries will be announced this fall, and the first set of winners will be announced in the fall of 2018.
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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 Penn Design and OLIN's plan for the South Bronx. Penn Design and OLIN propose the "Hunts Point Lifelines" plan to increase resiliency and boost economic activity in the country's poorest congressional district. Their plan focuses on the South Bronx's Hunts Point, a regional hub for food distribution critical to keeping New York City running. The plan includes four key strategies: flood protection, job training and opportunities, cleanways, and planning to maintain food supply chains during emergencies. New infrastructure projects are designed to provide new jobs while greenways, piers, and landscaping would improve access to the water. "Despite severe environmental and economic hardship, Hunts Point also has significant capacity for demonstrating local, community-driven resilience building," explained the team. "An investment in resilience at Hunts Point will be felt throughout the region, providing food security during crisis and serving as a model for working waterfronts located in floodplains everywhere." The team includes HR&A Advisors, eDesign Dynamics, Level Infrastructure, Barretto Bay Strategies, McLaren Engineering Group, Philip Habib & Associates, and Buro Happold.
A year ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through the East coast—destroying thousands of homes, shutting down infrastructure, and knocking out substations—which resulted in $68 billion in damage. Yesterday, a day before the anniversary of the super storm, ten finalists in the Rebuild by Design competition unveiled their proposals to remake a more resilient coastline. The competition—launched by Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), among other participating organizations—called on the final teams to provide ideas for making the affected coastal areas more resilient to withstand future storms and climate change. After spending three months investigating and identifying the region's challenges, the teams have have honed in on specific areas—from Red Hook and Newtown Creek to Hoboken and the Rockaways—and come up with a number of strategies to protect coastal communities, including improving communication channels, mapping out new community micro-grids, reconfiguring vulnerable neighborhoods, and implementing hard and soft ecological infrastructure. In the next stage of the process, the finalists will be granted $100,000 to collaborate with communities and government entities to further develop site-specific strategies. In March, design solutions from a winning design team (or teams) will be selected, and then later implemented. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. Team statement: "Our unique team combines the best of Dutch land-use planning, environmental and coastal engineering, and urban water management with the best of American urban design, participatory planning, community development, engineering, and economic analysis and financial engineering. The Dutch contingent, which consists of design professionals who have extensive experience working together to adaptively plan coastal regions around the world, have envisioned, designed, and implemented some of the most important flood mitigation and management strategies worldwide." PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics Team statement: "The PennDesign/OLIN team combines the strength of PennDesign in cross-disciplinary research, design, and communication; experience across the Northeast region; and institutional capacity to sustain long campaigns for change with a core team of high-capacity, strategic design practices: OLIN for landscape and urban design, and design and research integration; HR&A Advisors for market and financing strategies; and eDesign Dynamics for hydrology and ecosystems. The core team, led by Marilyn Taylor, John Landis for research, and Ellen Neises and Lucinda Sanders for design, and Harris Steinberg for engagement, will draw heavily on an engaged group of advisors in architecture, planning, sciences, geographic information systems, and climate modeling, and Wharton Business School, which will inform an approach on how best to shape alliances to layer buildings, living systems, social fabric, infrastructure, and economies." WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. Team statement: "XY/WEST 8 is framing the benefits of a shared approach to coastal protection. Studying systematic and large-scale issues— market failures in the assessment of risk, provision of insurance, and ecological impact, as well as the disproportionate representation of low-income populations in high-vulnerability areas—allows a fuller understanding of the region and nation. This approach leads to investigations of the outermost conditions of the Northeastern American Coastline (its barrier islands, inlets, shorelines and riparian estuaries) and examines a series of prototype transects that run from the shoreline to hinterland, from nature to culture." OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. Team statement: "With a focus on high-density urban environments, the team’s driving principal is one of integration. The tools of defense should be seen as intrinsic to the urban environment, and serve as a scaffold to enable activity—much in the same way that the dam is the genesis of the city of Amsterdam. This will necessitate an approach that is both holistic and dynamic; one that acknowledges the complexity of systems at play; and one that works with, rather than against, the natural flow." HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. Team statement: "Our team focused on the resiliency challenges of key commercial corridors across the region. We explored solutions that fully integrate design and engineering of buildings and infrastructure with programs, financing tools, and management strategies. Commercial property, including local retail and services, forms the critical backbone of a community, supporting it in everyday conditions and serving as a lifeline for supplies, information, and recovery efforts during storm conditions, including Sandy." SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Team statement: "SCAPE has brought together an energetic, experienced design team that has been both at the forefront of innovative, speculative thinking on resiliency and a key public sector partner in re-building critical infrastructural systems. We have, together as a team and in separate initiatives, mapped, modeled, and studied in depth the Northeast region’s vulnerabilities and developed precise, innovative solutions that tie the regeneration of ecological and water networks directly to economic benefits, community development scenarios, coastal protection solutions, and public space enhancements." Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Team statement: "The team of MIT+ZUS+Urbanisten proposes a grouping of resiliency districts at the edges of the flood zones of the metro area of NY-NJ. Each resiliency district will have its own layered approach that combines emergency infrastructure, evacuation capacity, ecological protection/absorption landscape infrastructure; as well as a development mix of light manufacturing/warehousing with residential. Every dollar of federal investment should help address a wide portfolio of risks – storm surge, rainwater events, and heat islands; and cover a spectrum of vulnerabilities – economic, social, and pollution." Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Team statement: "The Sasaki-led team, with Rutgers University and Arup, leverages the interdisciplinary perspectives of designers, planners, ecologists, social scientists, and engineers to design opportunities and strategies for long-term coastal resilience. Sasaki’s research focuses on the value of “the beach,” a place of special significance to human memory and economy, and a vital component of coastal ecosystems. New Jersey’s northern shore (Ocean and Monmouth counties) is an ideal place to study the identity and function of the beach; it includes the three coastal typologies found across the eastern seaboard of the United States: Barrier Island, Headlands, and Inland Bay." Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. Team statement: "BIG Team brings together significant international experience in Denmark and the Netherlands with a deep understanding of this Sandy region’s economic, political and social environment. Team Leader, BIG, is a group of architects, designers and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development with offices in New York City, Copenhagen and Beijing. For over a decade, BIG has been building a reputation as one of the most creative and intelligent architecture offices in the world. Our projects are also widely recognized as sophisticated responses to the challenges of urban development that create dynamic public spaces and forms that are as programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious." unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Team statement: "There are places that are too valuable to abandon, even in the face of climate change. Such places hold our traditions and memories, our past enterprises and dreams for the future. The design opportunities we chose have demonstrated their value over generations of inhabitation, and are worth continued investment to make the people, structures, and systems more resilient. Resiliency is not a fixed target, but a strategy with technical solutions, such as elevating structures or constructing structural defenses, and adaptive solutions to encourage new behavior. Adaptive resiliency changes human behavior as well as the physical environment."
In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to develop strategies to increase the resiliency of urban and coastal areas in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. According to HUD's website, the goal of the competition is "to promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition also represents a policy innovation by committing to set aside HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals. Examples of design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale—from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits." The shortlist of 10 teams—including architects, landscape architects, university groups, developers, engineers and others—has been announced. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy.
University of Pennsylvania architecture student Jonathan Dessi-Olive, this year's winner of the Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) Travel Fellowship, and three of his colleagues are taking an ancient building technology to Kenya this summer to demonstrate a sustainable alternative to wood construction, which contributes to the devastating deforestation problem in the region. The project, a hybrid wind- and solar-powered radio station on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria, will introduce local craftspeople to the 600-year-old technique of timbrel vaulting, a system that uses thin clay tiles to create a geometrically-complex and structurally strong building. Dessi-Olive will put his $10,000 RAMSA Travel Fellowship toward the project and is working with three of his PennDesign M.Arch classmates, Kelly Berger, Kordae Henry, and Erik Leach, to research, design, and construct the radio station. Kordae Henry and Kelly Berger were also awarded the the Van Alen Travel Fellowship of $4,500 this year that will also help fund the project. The team is currently crowd-fundraising another $10,000 to help build the radio station. The Students will conduct their research on site this summer from June to August. "The research is centered around an investigation of timbrel (Catalan) tile vaulting, a centuries-old Mediterranean construction technique that has renewed interest due to its formal flexibility and ability to construct geometrically complex surfaces and structures," Dessi-Olive said in a statement. The radio station will be operated by Organic Health Response, an NGO that operates Ekaito Kiona Suba Youth Radio serving the 20,000 inhabitants of Mfangano Island. The station, powered by a hybrid wind- and solar-powered 500 watt FM transmitter, broadcasts health information to the rural community. Track the students' progress on their blog or contribute to the project on Indiegogo.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Design sought to bring social equity back into architectural discourse last weekend with a conference called “Unspoken Borders: The Ecologies of Inequality,” hosted by the Black Student Alliance. Architects have been skittish about addressing large-scale social issues ever since the profession’s notorious Pruitt-Igoe-style failures in the 1960’s, said presenter Craig Wilkins. Since then, he added, the predominant attitude among architects has been, “‘We’re not doing that again. They got mad at us the last time we did that!’” One of the most impassioned exceptions to that rule is architect Teddy Cruz, who gave the conference’s keynote speech on April 4th. Cruz described how the flows of people and goods across the US-Mexico border manifest the stark inequities between the two countries: people go north into San Diego; garbage goes south to Tijuana. His firm, Estudio Teddy Cruz, is turning those flows from signs of the problem into solutions to it, by finding ways to re-use building waste. So leftover garage doors from California, for example, become the walls of cheap housing for the Mexican poor. To institutionalize this kind of recycling, he has started convincing foreign factories in Tijuana to tweak their systems of production so that their byproducts can be re-used as scaffolding. Participants at design conferences often call for more “interdisciplinary collaboration,” but it is rare for such talk to yield anything other than more talk. So it was especially refreshing to hear Maurice Cox, director of the National Endowment for the Arts, present some actual collaborative approaches to pressing social problems. “One in every 13 houses in Cleveland is vacant and they’re being vandalized,” he said. Pointing out that foreclosures have ripple effects for the communities they’re in, Cox asked, “What can design do for communities that have been devastated by high foreclosure?” In search of an answer, he’s putting together a team of architects, landscape architects, public artists, preservationists, land use attorneys, and developers. Instead of dealing individually with each foreclosed house, they’ll be looking for solutions at the block and district-scale, and ultimately convening with policy makers to put those solutions into action. Amidst the discussion of what designers can do about social inequities, a related question emerged: should design education address the root causes of those inequities? “There’s no lack of design-build studios going out to poor neighborhoods to build houses, but there’s no discussion [in architecture school] of why those neighborhoods exist,” said architect Kian Goh. But isn’t there a trade-off between expertise and generalism? Some participants thought so, and urban designer Felipe Correa countered: “It is important that we not overextend the net, that we bring it back to what we know how to do best,” he argued. “Allow sociologists to deal with the sociology.”