Posts tagged with "public space":

Placeholder Alt Text

Talking public space with Jan Gehl in Mexico City

Mexico City is the largest city in North America and has been around since the 14th century, when the Aztecs settled the area. Many layers of history, culture, and development both private and public can be seen in its rich architecture and urbanism. Crumbles of pyramids abut Spanish cathedrals and huge modernist housing blocks, foregrounded by spectacular parks, statues, and fountains from the various periods in the history of the region. However, along with the complex history comes a complex city. The organizers of CoRe Foro Urbano CDMX 2016, a two-day summit of experts from the development, policy, design, and transportation sectors, cited this complexity and a perceived lack of leadership among the Mexico City's many stakeholders as the impetus for getting together and addressing its multi-faceted challenges. The main initiator of the conference was Kaluz, "a diversified conglomerate of companies active in the following sectors: industry, construction materials, and financial services." They worked with the Planning Commission of Mexico City and the Delegacion Cuauhtmoc (the local borough government) to realize the forum, which is organized into four panels: Mobility, Public Space, Citizenship and Responsibility, and Zoning and Diverse City. It was not structured as lectures or talks, but more of a series of roundtable discussions that were aimed directly at the problems of Mexico City, and how each can be addressed with real solutions. This is part two of our series, "Urbanism in Mexico City," reported live from the discussion.  Mexico City has an abundance of public space and is a leader in this way. For residents and the government, it is an important part of the city and includes parks, plazas, fountain squares, or large sidewalks along the boulevards. The city even has a Public Space Authority and a Program for Neighborhoods and Community Involvement. Architect and author of Cities for People Jan Gehl, in his keynote, railed against the excesses of modernist planning, including its out-of-scale urban developments such as Brasilia, and its lack of human-scale interaction at street level. He showed images of cold, haunting modernist schemes and juxtaposed them with their supposed goals, such as the creation of erotic space. He also pointed out that the car had an adverse impact on cities, "totally overwhelming" them. He cited Jane Jacobs as a prominent voice in criticizing this era. In 1961, she published her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, only one year after Gehl graduated from architecture school. Gehl said that over the last 50 years we have finally learned how to design cities. However, he cites the Piazza del Campo Siena in Tuscany as the best public space in the world, which was made over 700 years ago. But it has the 12 human-scale, people-oriented qualities that Gehl seeks, which bring protection, comfort, and enjoyment. Today, Gehl says that we need a lively, livable, sustainable, and healthy city. Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces said that public spaces were included on the Habitat III New Urban Agenda, the document that sets forth a path for thinking about the 21st-century city and how it will be formed. He noted that a place is best when it has ten or more uses. "There is more support for public spaces here than anywhere else I have been," Kent said. He explained his theory of place-led development that comes from engagement with the users to define the program at the outset. Architect Tatiana Bilbao is interested in designing not only for those coming to shop or pass through an area, but those who live nearby. These intended publics, says Muller Garcia, secretary of environment for Mexico City, must be properly programmed, but also cared for by those who feel ownership in them, in order to make sure the targeted publics are the ones who end up enjoying them. Francisco (Pakiko) Paillie Perez of derive LAB noted that while we need rules and regulations to assure access for all people, those laws come with many territorial designations that are dangerous, especially because it is not always clear who makes these rules and what ends they may serve. As for the private sector, developer Guillermo Buitano pointed out that while it is possible to make private places public, developers should look past their own projects to determine their sphere of influence. Amy Kaufman of AK Cultural Planning suggested that the strength of public space is that it can gather a range of people into one vibrant place that reflects the culture of the community through the engagement of artists who can enliven spaces through a process-oriented approach, much like Kent's place-led development that starts with program. For Mexico City, the public space needs to be safe, says Perez, and that means cutting down on attacks on women, and also on moving the informal vendors into the street and off of the sidewalk. All in all, Mexico City is in good shape for public space, and with people focused on keeping them that way as the waves of change inevitably alter the city.
Placeholder Alt Text

Zaha Hadid Architects and Patrik Schumacher openly feud over public housing and privatizing public space

One of the world's top architecture firms has entered a public row with one of its partners. On November 17, Patrik Schumacher, a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and renowned proponent of parametricism, took the stage at the World Architecture Forum in Berlin to deliver a speech that shocked some: Attacking government regulation and bureaucracy, he described an eight-point plan that called for the privatization of public space, the elimination of government-issued land use policies, and the abolishment of all social, affordable, and public housing, among other similar goals. In the speech, he decried how such laws, regulations, and practices stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. "All top-down bureaucratic attempts to order the built environment via land use plans are pragmatically and intellectually bankrupt," he said, according to Dezeen. Schumacher has made similar statements in the past, though with less forcefulness. Last August, he told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that "We at ZHA see society’s development differently and I’m willing to talk about my optimism for more market-based organization processes and entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems. Solutions to maybe what we can perceive to be certain economic statements and stagnation in recent years." Earlier this morning, ZHA published this letter, which AN has reproduced below:
Open letter from Zaha Hadid Architects November 29, 2016 Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future. Zaha Hadid did not write manifestos. She built them. Zaha Hadid Architects has delivered 56 projects for all members of the community in 45 cities around the world. Refusing to be confined by limitations or boundaries, Zaha did not reserve her ideology for the lecture hall. She lived it. She deeply believed in the strongest international collaboration and we are very proud to have a hugely talented team of 50 different nationalities in our London office, including those from almost every EU country. 43% of architects at ZHA are of an ethnic minority and 40% of our architects are women. Zaha Hadid didn’t just break glass ceilings and pull down barriers; she shattered them—inviting everyone of any race, gender, creed or orientation to join her on the journey. Embedding a collective research culture into every aspect of our work, Zaha has built a team of many diverse talents and disciplines—and we will continue to innovate towards an architecture of inclusivity. Architects around the world are calling for the profession to become more inclusive. The national and international press have also done a very good job highlighting the critical issues of housing and the threats to vital public spaces. Through determination and sheer hard work, Zaha showed us all that architecture can be diverse and democratic. She inspired a whole new generation around the world to engage with their environment, to never stop questioning and never—ever—stop imagining. Collaborating with clients, communities and specialists around the world who share this vision, everyone at Zaha Hadid Architects is dedicated to honouring Zaha’s legacy, working with passion and commitment to design and deliver the most transformational projects for all. Zaha Hadid Architects  (Copyright © Zaha Hadid Architects)
It remains unclear exactly who authored the piece, or who among the firm's members, trustees, partners, etc. pushed for its publication. AN  will continue to cover this story as it evolves. UPDATE: Oliver Wainwright of the The Guardian has tweeted this:   UPDATE: “Come out Patrik, come out from under that table!” cry protesters at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office
Placeholder Alt Text

SO-IL wants you to remember that interiors used to be public

The following essay is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Solid Objectives... Order, Edge, Aura, to be published in early 2017 by Lars Muller Publishers. For more on the The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, see here.

The design of interiors has come to embody a line of egocentric thoughts. It purports to put our body—and possibly even our soul and individualistic existence—at its center. Womb-like sensations arise, promising warmth, safety, and other prenatal comforts. How do we sufficiently swaddle or cushion the self for it to survive our savage reality? The interior becomes a pure haven for the spirit, something that seems increasingly public. We create mobile cocoons, shielding ourselves with screens, headsets, and blank stares. We eschew or minimize contact with others. Absurdly, even though technology has seemingly brought the outside world in, our devices have diminished points of contact with it. The public realm is contained, compressed, and trapped behind thinner and thinner layers of glass. The exterior is powered up or down with the swipe of a finger. While this notion of interior design evokes thoughts of monastic disconnection, of dwelling in a shielded totality, we would like to consider its opposite: the interior as a locus for a new collective condition, an inside that fosters exchange. After all, it is mostly in the perceived comfort of our interiors that we let our guards down and allow for connections to occur. Up until modernity, humanity experienced its interiors—even those of the dwelling—as a public domain. The living room was a place for conflict and exchange. Even our beds were shared. Given this, let us regard the interior not as a space created by protective surfaces and moods, but rather as a porous field defined by realms and structures. Otherness will trickle in and a productive contamination will ensue. Beyond mere spatial definition, a new exchange must be fueled by content. This collective interior demands activation by things: Volumes and objects, elements that supersede their functional obligations to play suggestive and symbolic roles—think of the Kaaba, the Butsudan, the kitchen table, and the parliamentary mace. We see this as the vivid place that sociologist Bruno Latour depicts wherein “each object gathers around itself a different assembly of relevant parties. Each object triggers new occasions to passionately differ and dispute. Each object may also offer new ways of achieving closure without having to agree on much else.” In the place of comfort, the new interior instead offers devices of contestation and the promise of an active public. In order to accommodate differences, an architecture of the interior will be assembled with character-filled structures and objects that trigger discursiveness, to fuel the fire, the textures taking on qualities of the outside, rupturing and destabilizing. Think of sublime volumes, endless depths, infinity pools, and fillets. Think of Andrei Tarkovsky, the rain inside, cobblestones in the living room, and sand in the bathtub. The interior as a space of contestation might recoup some of the scope architecture has forfeited to the creators of soothing mood boards and Pinterest boards. As layered and fleeting realities of the exterior return indoors, condensed and redirected, they might unsettle the insulated, comfortable individual in pursuit of a more vital collective interiority.
Placeholder Alt Text

Municipal Art Society’s “Public Assets” summit explores who truly owns public space

This year's Municipal Art Society Public Assets summit (taking place November 15) focuses on the most important issue facing New York City in 2016: Who owns and controls public space? But unlike past MAS summits, which were little more than sound bites on the glory of the city and pay-to-play advertorials, this one begins with a provocative and on-point statement:
A healthy, dynamic, and inclusive city depends on the protection and promotion of what is collectively ours—parks, open space, libraries, museums, streetscapes, infrastructure, views, and other intangible resources—upon which our quality of life depends. We will be asking the questions: “What are public assets? Why do they matter? Who decides?”
The day-long event, which is open to all MAS members, features several of the city’s most important urban thinkers including Adam Gopnik, Michael Sorkin, Fran Lebowitz, architecture professor Diane Lewis, and many more. This the first major initiative of the Society’s new director Gina Pollara and as she strives to make it once again a relevant public voice for the city.
Placeholder Alt Text

Giant pooing pigeon and design by Zaha Hadid to be part of crazy golf course in London

A pop-up crazy golf course for London's Trafalgar Square has been proposed by a group of artists and designers. Curated by Paul Smith, the project is part of this year's London Design Festival. Each hole offers a unique take on the theme of “Cities of the future” and will feature designs from the late Zaha Hadid, Paul Smith, Mark Wallinger, and London-based practice Ordinary Architecture. Permission from the Mayor’s office to use Trafalgar Square has already been secured, however, the project is currently in the process of gathering funds ($175,000 is the target figure) via its Kickstarter page. If achieved, the golf course will stay in London from 16-22 September, coinciding with the Festival itself while being "futuristic, functional, fun and free for the public to play." https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2414867/video-660215-h264_high.mp4 The golf course will reside on the steps from the National Gallery overlaying them with colored stripes, topped by a neo-classical clubhouse that reflects the museum, while also having a turf roof and putters for columns. Prizes and gifts for those who fund the project are also on offer. For $100 you can receive a limited edition scarf designed by Paul Smith, while for $36, you can the chance to name the giant "pigeonhole" designed by Charles Holland and Elly Ward of Ordinary Architecture as well as a mug with the pigeon on it. Speaking of naming the pigeon, Holland told AN that he would name it "Pigeon McPigeonface" if given the chance. His and Ward's oversized pecking pigeon will swallow the golf ball (if putters can successfully time their shots) and eject it out over the hole after it travels through the pigeon's digestive system. According to Holland, designers were given free reign when creating their crazy golf hole and said that inspiration for his design came from the "giant anthropomorphic structures often seen at world fairs." "We looked at giant figurative pop objects, symbolism and the idea of creating retrospective symbols," he said. "We wanted to create a fantastic creature/sculpture, something that was contextual to the square. When you think of pigeons, you think of Trafalgar Square and them being gritty, urban vermin.... So I think the fact that ours has got one leg is pretty appropriate!" "It’s educational and scatological," continued Holland. "I always quite like scatological art... I enjoy [its] crudeness. It could also be seen as an egg, from a distance it's quite ambiguous." As for the scale, Holland said the pigeon was befitting to the "realm of crazy golf" that contains "surreal versions of things, an undersized windmill for example." Festival director Ben Evans said: “If you do a project in Trafalgar Square it’s quite a challenging public space and you need to find something that engages a wide group of people because there are a million people passing by each week. We want them to stop and say ‘Wow, what’s that?’ Speaking of Hadid's design, Evans added “It will be poignant because of Zaha’s death but I think what she’s done is stunning." “She’s done a number of things for the festival over the years and the company are keen to ensure all of the projects that were in development go ahead. For us, this is an opportunity to celebrate and honor her.”

The project meanwhile states that: "It is one of the few opportunities to use this prime location for cultural activity, and we are confident that there will be enough people who share Paul Smith and the London Design Festival's enthusiasm to enable its success."

Placeholder Alt Text

P.R.O. Public Practice exhibit at the NYIT Old Westbury campus closes this weekend

For design and architecture enthusiasts in the New York City area and Long Island, it’s your last chance to see the architecture exhibition Public Practice at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) Old Westbury campus before it closes after May 1. The solo show features models and drawings by Brooklyn-based architecture firm, Peterson Rich Office, also known as P.R.O. The exhibit is hosted in the NYIT architecture gallery and holds six P.R.O. conceptual projects that the firm created over the past four years. P.R.O. co-founders Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich are visiting professors at the university. The school invited them to produce both an exhibit as well as a lecture under the theme of public practice. The projects address design in the context of small public spaces and propose temporary and adaptable installations for parks, sidewalks, plazas, and more. The concepts are “experiments in public space: quick, small-scale design exercises that engage issues related to the public realm in and around New York City,” explained Nathan Rich. “Each proposal is adaptable to multiple sites, and intended to generate dialogue about public space within its built context. They address specific urban conditions, but could be installed in a wide variety of spaces.” The six P.R.O. projects all feature two renderings as well as a ¼ scale 3D printed model. The models rest on mirrored tables “that reflect the public space around our designs, inviting viewers to consider how they might be a part of the work,” said Rich. There’s Stoop (2016) that considers the stoop as means of transition between public and private space along New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) fences. “The stoop, a common space for interaction, is precisely the mediator between the public and private realms that is lacking in NYCHA campus planning,” Rich said. “At a time when affordable housing is very much in the public discourse, we decided to use this familiar form to think about how we can chip away at the edges of public housing superblocks, and start to think about integrating them back into the urban fabric.” There’s also Brooklyn Cloud (2012), conceived as a temporary traveling exhibit for downtown Brooklyn spaces that cannot be developed. “As a reaction against the static, sculptural designs that are more typical of architectural installations in public spaces, we conceived of this installation as a series of white air dancers: nylon tubes powered by high velocity fans.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Pinkwashing Zion Square

When the Freedom of Information Act became law, many of my comrades from the struggles of the sixties sent away for their files. For a number there was a terrible outcome: The files were empty. How terrible to think of yourself as a dangerous enemy of the state only to discover you’d been completely beneath its notice! Slightly similar feelings arose when I received a note from the director of media affairs at the Israeli Consulate General wondering if I would be interested in covering a just-announced architectural competition for the redesign of Jerusalem’s Zion Square, a Mandate-era public space in West Jerusalem that has, since the 1930s, been a commercial center (the eponymous Zion was a cinema) and the go-to site for a wide variety of demonstrations, including mass rallies by both right and left. The competition is intended to refresh the site as well as to rebrand and repurpose it, “From Protest Square to Tolerance Square.” As the press release elaborates this false—even invidious—antithesis, “Zion Square, which drew demonstrations and protests, will become a square of tolerance and mutual respect.” Apparently my old pieces denouncing the fraudulent “Museum of Tolerance” (currently under construction on the site of an historic Arab cemetery not far away) and originally to have been designed by Frank Gehry (who wisely backed out) hadn’t made it to my dossier! Perhaps I have no dossier! Let one be opened and let my protest against this grotesque undertaking be the first page! This isn’t the first time there’s been an effort to reconsider the square. In 2006, the Jerusalem Foundation proposed to rebuild it and to rename it Rapoport Plaza, “in honor,” according to the Jerusalem Post, “of the Waco, Texas, tycoon who pledged two million for urban improvements,” including a colossal Cor-ten sculpture by Ron Arad. Although this scheme disappeared quickly, the funkiness and formal incoherence of the time-altered place has been an enduring source of dismay to bien pensant planners, concerned with its failures as a streetscape. The design brief for the new effort at transformation is couched in anodyne architectural language and calls for an “innovative, creative, and sustainable” solution to create a “beating heart of the city” that will become the “focal point of the city’s cultural activity,” supporting a “heterogeneous” “target audience” of “residents, tourists, and visitors” while attentive “to the needs of a diverse population, including children, seniors, and those with disabilities.” Concealed behind these “universal” categories is the more salient fact that this transformation will further ratify and reify steps already taken to shut down the square as a political space. In 2012, after the opening of Jerusalem’s light rail, the municipality signed a contract with CityPass, the system operator, which “prohibits the train being stopped by a roadblock.” This smooth-sailing clause has been enabled by, among other things, the government’s ongoing denial of any permits for demonstrations by anyone in Zion Square, through which the tram passes. In formulation and practice, here, tolerance is equated with prohibition and silence, with restrictions on speech rather than its encouragement. The competition organizers attempt to divert attention from this effective intolerance by a vaguely formulated dedication of the project “in memory of the 16-year-old stabbed during last year’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.” As a further marker of the particular species of exclusionary tolerance hovering over the affair, the adjudicating jury is made up entirely of Jewish Israelis, including the Likudnik mayor of Jerusalem, three highly placed municipal officials (two current, one former), four architects, and the mother of Shira Banki, the girl murdered by an unrepentant, settlement-dwelling, Haredi homophobe, who killed her shortly after his release from a 10-year prison term for having stabbed five people at the 2005 Pride march (he knifed another six in 2015). What a sad exploitation of grief to serve such a cravenly elastic idea of tolerance. But the self-congratulatory propaganda that seeks to use one form of ostensible liberality to mask a far more endemic repression is, alas, an old story. For many years, Israeli officialdom has been working hard to celebrate its welcoming attitude toward gay tourists. According to a  much cited op-ed by Sarah Schulman in the New York Times in 2011, the government launched “Brand Israel” in 2004, a marketing campaign aimed at men aged 18 to 24 (posters galore of buff boys on the beach), which was expanded a few years later in a $90 million ad blitz to brand Tel Aviv as “an international gay vacation destination.” The strategy has been widely described as “pinkwashing” for the calculating effort to universalize gay “solidarity” in order to obscure Israel’s attitude towards more intolerable forms of identity. As Jasbir Puar and Maya Mikdashi wrote in the e-zine Jadaliyya in 2012, pinkwashing functions to help the Israeli state “gloss over the ongoing settler colonialism of historic Palestine by redirecting international attention toward a comparison between the supposedly stellar record of gay rights in Israel and the supposedly dismal state of life for LGBTQ Palestinians  in Occupied Palestine.” The ploy is even more fundamentally invidious: Makdsashi argued in an earlier piece, that this focus on gay rights—or women’s rights—serves to displace attention from the larger question of political rights and calls out the canny, if racist, Israeli self-promotion as advertising “a safe haven for Palestinian queers from ‘their culture.’” Conspicuously absent in the PR announcing the architectural competition is any acknowledgement of an earlier attack in Zion Square, the attempted lynching (a word widely used in the Israeli media) of four Palestinian teenagers by a Jewish mob in 2012, which resulted in the near death of 17-year-old Jamal Julani. The incident was itself marked by its own particular version of “tolerance”: As a headline in Haaretz put it, “Hundreds Watched Attempt to Lynch Palestinians in Jerusalem, Did Not Interfere.” That the organizers of this competition have chosen, in effect, to so narrowly celebrate a particular form of intolerance with the commemorative dignity of a refreshed architecture only demonstrates—like the opposition it offers between “protests” and “mutual respect”—that intolerance will not be protested here.

There’s a fine essay by Herbert Marcuse—written in 1965 as part of the volume A Critique of Pure Tolerance—on the subject of “repressive tolerance,” in which he describes how the idea of tolerance acquires a particular valence depending on the circumstances of its promotion. Marcuse elucidates the conundrum of the ideal of tolerance in an environment of violence and “total administration” in which the exercise of nominal democratic liberties (voting, demonstrations, letters to the editor) serve to reinforce the ability of the system  to pursue its own bad ends.  In effect, tolerance—the enlargement “of the range and content of freedom,” something devoutly desired as an ultimate good—is made the instrument by which all it strives for is ignored. “Tolerance” becomes a fig-leaf for intolerance. Such unquestioning is used to make dissent meaningless, purging truth-seeking by offering effective equality to any value at all under the guise of an impartiality that reinforces the status quo. The Jerusalem government—through this competition—seeks to create an advertisement for its own warped idea of tolerance rather than to enable the thing itself. As Marcuse put it, “When tolerance mainly serves the protection and preservation of a repressive society, when it serves to neutralize opposition and to render men immune against other and better forms of life, then tolerance has been perverted.” No designer of conscience should participate in this awful sham, which only insults the memory of the victims—and the heroes—of Zion Square.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fordham Plaza, one of New York’s busiest transit hubs, is now one of the city’s most pedestrian-friendly

The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) recently unveiled the redesigned, ultra pedestrian-friendly Fordham Plaza. Vision Zero's mandate to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities guided the $34 million renovation of the north Bronx transit hub. Bounded by Webster Avenue, East Fordham Road, and East 189th Street, the Grimshaw Architects–designed Fordham Plaza now boasts fresh plantings, as well as stationary and movable seating elements to provide a respite for the nearly 80,000 pedestrians per day that travel along Fordham Road. True to the plan released in 2014, the plaza features a new market canopy, kiosks, a cafe, and—rare for New York—a public toilet. The redesign was carried out in collaboration with the NYC Plaza Program, a NYC DOT program that has spearheaded the creation of 69 plazas, 16 of which are in development or currently under construction. A 40 percent reduction in asphalt created more space, and more safety, for pedestrians at Fordham Plaza. The plaza now sports shorter pedestrian crosswalks, "direct" crosswalks that discourage jaywalking, and a 25 percent increase in pedestrian-only space. These interventions should improve access to Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus, right across the street. Fordham Plaza primary program is transit: 12 local and express bus lines, as well as the fourth-busiest Metro-North station. Bus stops were redesigned to improve pick up, drop off, and the loop-around, especially around East 189th Street and Webster Avenue, that guides buses off towards Westchester County, Manhattan, and all over the Bronx. OneNYC Plaza Equity Program will provide the Fordham Road BID with funding to maintain the plaza. $10 million came from a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant, and $2 million from the state Department of Transportation.
Placeholder Alt Text

LAN Architecture’s Euravenir Tower fills the open last site in OMA’s Euralille master plan

In 1989, OMA was commissioned by Euralille to masterplan 8,611,100 square feet of urban activities in the urban quarter of Lille, France. Approximately 27 years later, the last free parcel of Phase One is filled. The project, Euravenir Tower, was designed by Paris-based architecture firm, LAN Architecture, at the foot of Avenue Le Corbusier. The site "occupies a strategic position at the intersection of major axes and close to well-known landmarks of Lille’s infrastructure, such as the Lille-Europe train station and the ring road, among others," LAN said in a statement. "This location inspired us to view the project as a way to articulate and make a heterogeneous ensemble of architectural and urban elements work together." The building is wrapped in large, clear, glass windows, giving a 360 degree view of Euralille. A copper facade varies in perforation patterns and is either smooth or corrugated, depending on the neighboring condition. "The perforations give depth to the facade, while the corrugation provides a sense of movement," LAN claimed in a statement. The ground level of the tower provides public space. Because LAN was prohibited to build to the edge of the parcel, the firm designed a portico that "provides a sense of porosity as well as protection from inclement weather," says LAN, "It is a lively outdoor space where people who live and work in the building can mingle with passers-by and shop customers." For more information, visit LAN's project page here.
Placeholder Alt Text

See how a pipe organ played by waves transformed Zadar’s concrete shoreline into a popular public space

During World War II, Allied bombing almost entirely destroyed Zadar, Croatia, 3,000-year-old city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Redevelopment introduced a long, concrete shoreline—unpopulated and uninviting, until 2005, when Croatian architect Nikola Bašić installed Sea Organ. The installation includes marble steps that descend into the sea, and narrow channels, carved into the steps, which connect to 35 concealed organ pipes. When waves hit the steps, air pushes through the whistle-holes, tuned to play seven chords of five tones. The Sea Organ, known as “Morske Orgulje” in Croatian, opened to the public on April 15, 2005. It soon became a popular spot for locals and attracts many tourists. In 2006, the Sea Organ jointly won the European Prize for Urban Public Space. "Avoiding the abruptness of the common jetty, understood as a rectilinear platform elevated above the water level, the Zadar steps allow the dissolution of the border between land and water and preserve a dilated transit space between the two." commented Public Space, the prize's administrators. "In that way the jetty is no longer an unexpected barrier that protects but distances man from the sea; it summons, like a beach, the coming and going of the waves." Following the Sea Organ, Bašić installed Greeting to the Sun (Pozdrav suncu) on the Zadar Peninsula promenade. At night, the 77 foot diameter circle of solar panels gives a light show of random colors and patterns. Watch the video below to hear sounds from Bašić's Sea Organ.
Placeholder Alt Text

Under budget pressures, WXY reveals new ideas for long shuttered Brooklyn War Memorial

The band Barenaked Ladies famously speculated on what a million dollars could buy: a little tiny fridge filled with pre-wrapped sausages, K-cars, a woman's eternal, undying love, or fancy ketchups.  Well, this isn't the nineties anymore, and, as community leaders in Brooklyn are learning, seven figures will not be nearly enough to renovate and preserve the Brooklyn War Memorial. New York's WXY, lead consultants on the 2014's Brooklyn Strand and 2013's Brooklyn Tech Triangle master plan, led the design team and facilitated community visioning sessions for the memorial. The memorial renovation is a component of the "Brooklyn Strand," a project to unify the patchwork of parks, plazas, and green spaces between Brooklyn Bridge Park and Borough Hall. This month, the Mayor's Office released The Brooklyn War Memorial Feasibility Study to delineate proposed changes to the area. Spearheaded by the Cadman Park Conservancy, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Borough President Eric Adams, community leaders are looking to raise $11.8 million by 2019 for the renovation. Adams has allocated $1 million to the project, but other politicians, businesses, and foundations will need to come forward with the difference. Though the memorial, in Cadman Plaza Park, sits near eight subway lines, is proximate to a year-round farmer's market, and is often surrounded by lunching office workers, its prime location has not helped with fundraising. So far, the conservancy has received a paltry $4,060 through a May crowdfunding campaign. WXY facilitated workshops with residents and community groups to generate ideas for the memorial and surrounding park space. Designed by New York's Eggers and Higgins and dedicated in 1951, the memorial honors the 300,000 Brooklynites who served in World War II. Due to lack of maintenance funds, the site has been closed to the public for the past quarter century. Currently, the memorial building contains offices and storage on the lower level, while the primary attraction, a Wall of Honor that displays the names of more than 11,500 borough residents killed in battle, occupies the main floor. The renovation of the 33,660-square-foot space would add a visitor's center, exhibition hall, and cafe to the lower level, and a rooftop terrace that can be rented out for events. Gentle slopes will flank the entrance, inviting Strand strollers to linger around the memorial. An ADA compliant entrance ramp at the main level and elevator are planned, as well.
Placeholder Alt Text

Philadelphia’s Bergmann Associates reveal plans for Grays Ferry Triangle pedestrian plaza on South Street

Philadelphia's South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) Grays Ferry Avenue Triangles Committee is making moves on a new plaza at 23rd Street at South Street. This plaza follows the well-trod path of its predecessors, touting amenities like seating and trees, as well as building South Philly's neighborhood identity and civic pride. The Grays Ferry Triangle Project, presented at DesignPhiladelphia this month, will convert the area into a pedestrian plaza with cafe seating, a bike docking station, and benches made of local Wissahickon schist. Concentric cobblestone circles will help manage stormwater runoff. Philadelphia's Bergman Associates drafted the plaza design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPWJRNk1SRA A major feature of this plaza is a seven-foot-wide drinking fountain. Erected by the Women’s Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1901, the fountain provided free drinking water for horses on the top tier and dogs on the lower level. Grays Ferry Avenue Triangles Committee stipulated that in the design there be enough room to sit "campfire style" around the fountain. SOSNA will use the design to solicit funding to implement the project. Consequently, there is no construction timeline in place at this time.