Posts tagged with "Van Alen Institute":

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Flatiron holiday installation provides festive respite from the city

If you’re craving holiday cheer in Manhattan, Brooklyn-based Future Expansion’s festive seasonal installation in the Flatiron is now open. Urbanist nonprofit and installation co-sponsor Van Alen Institute unveiled the winning design in October, and it recently released images of Flatiron Reflection, the final design by winner Future Expansion, comprised of shimmering semi enclosure of metal tubes and sited across from the Flatiron building. The installation resembles a public pipe organ, with a white base that floats above the ground. Niches on the outside are meant for close huddles, while the interior allows for quieter contemplation of the busy 23rd Street intersection near Madison Square Park. “We’re excited to be working with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute to temporarily transform this spectacular site,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, principals of Future Expansion, in prepared remarks. “The installation is designed for three scales of experience: The deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza. We hope that the installation opens new possibilities for interaction and experiences while reinforcing the pure public essence of the site.” Future Expansion’s installation is the fourth in the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, an annual event produced in collaboration with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, the neighborhood’s Business Improvement District (BID). The project is permitted through New York City Department of Transportation’s DOT Art program, and is free and open to the public daily through January 1, 2018, weather permitting.
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Van Alen competition on Miami’s sea level rise comes with $850,000 budget

Recognizing how vulnerable southern Florida is in the face of climate change, the Van Alen Institute has launched Keeping Current: A Sea-Level Rise Challenge for Greater Miami. Targeting the Greater Miami Area, Keeping Current is a multi-disciplinary design challenge that is not only looking for answers about how to build a more resilient coastal city, but also offers sites ready to turn the winning plans into reality, with an $850,000 budget to implement them. Hurricane Irma’s near-miss this past summer only served to underscore just how vulnerable Miami really is, in a city already under threat from rising sea levels, where saltwater bubbles up through the porous limestone bedrock below. Recognizing the problem’s urgency, Van Alen has teamed up with the Greater Miami Area municipalities’ resilience, procurement, and budget teams to evaluate resilient infrastructure projects that both adapt to climate change as well as safeguard the investment that local municipalities will put into the project. The contest itself is spread out over three challenges across two sites, scheduled for the winter, spring and fall of 2018. Working with local elected officials, stakeholders, academics and business leaders, design teams will propose resilient solutions for a variety of sites facing different climate change-related problems. Winning entries will focus on addressing “economy, ecology and equity” or balancing budget concerns with community input, and will be given a total of $850,000 to realize their designs in real life. Ultimately, the goal is that the winning designs be scalable and replicable across all of Florida. Keeping Current is about more than safeguarding existing infrastructure. What Van Alen and the municipalities want from this contest is to turn Miami into a leader in urban coastal resilience, while encouraging growth in an area that would be devastated by only a three-foot rise in sea levels. With everything from drinking water, to agriculture, to billions of dollars’ worth of residential and commercial buildings at risk, interdisciplanary solutions are needed now more than ever. Keeping Current is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, The Miami Foundation, and Target. The full design and community engagement guides will be made available by the Van Alen Institute in February of 2018.
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Van Alen Institute reveals winner of Flatiron holiday installation contest

The Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of its annual competition to design a festive holiday folly in the Flatiron. This year the architecture nonprofit, in collaboration with a local BID, tapped Brooklyn's Future Expansion to design a temporary installation on a traffic island right off of Madison Square Park. This year's installation is shiny. For Flatiron Reflection, Future Expansion used bright tubes to create closed spaces for quiet contemplation, with a central stage that opens out onto the plaza. The interior massing freezes the famous Flatiron Building in a romantic tableaux. Flatiron Reflection is fourth iteration of the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, a seasonal initiative sponsored by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID). The project is sanctioned by NYC DOT Art, and will remain on view through January 1, 2018. “We’re excited to be working with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute to temporarily transform this spectacular site,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, principals of Future Expansion, in a prepared statement. “The installation is designed for three scales of experience: the deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza. We hope that the installation opens new possibilities for interaction and experiences while reinforcing the pure public essence of the site.” When the competition opened this summer, Van Alen invited ten firms—Future ExpansionHive Public SpaceKyle May, ArchitectPracticeSchaum/Shieh; The Principals; and BAS; FIRM a.d. with Marman and Borins—to submit proposals for the installation. Last year, LOT illuminated the same plaza with bright white arches. There were hammocks for lounging, too. Planning a visit? Van Alen and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership are encouraging visitors to tag their Twitter and Instagram posts with #FlatironReflection to win prizes from area businesses.
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Sweden comes to New York for a series on democratic architecture

From October 24 to 28, the Center for Architecture and Van Alen Institute will host Swedish Design Moves New York, a program exploring Swedish innovation in architecture and design. In addition to a series of public panels, an exhibition of Swedish architecture projects called Aiming for Democratic Architecture will be on view at the Van Alen Institute from October 26 to 28, curated by Architects Sweden and the Swedish Institute. This program is part of the Center for Architecture's Archtober 2017. The program, curated by an international nonprofit called STHLMNYC, will focus on the concept of democratic architecture using Sweden as a progressive touchpoint. According to the series' press release, "Sweden's egalitarian society and intimate relation to nature have generated great examples of balanced architectural solutions that accommodate both community and environmental needs." Through multidisciplinary panels that bring together architects, planners, and designers from the U.S. and Sweden, Swedish Design Moves will look at the application of these principles worldwide. Previous iterations have been hosted in Stockholm, Milan, London, and Paris. The four-day program will open with The Process of Democratic Architecture, a panel that will include Christer Larsson from the Department of City Planning in Malmö, Sweden, Alexandra Hagen from White Arkitekter, Per Franson from the KTH School of Architecture, David Burney from Pratt Institute, Claudia Herasme from the New York Department of City Planning, and Chris Sharples from SHoP Architects. The series will also include a conversation on nature and well-being with panelists from Wingårdhs, Urbio, Marge, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and RAAD STUDIO, a conversation on culture and people with panelists from GoDown Arts Centre, White Arkitekter, Mandaworks, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and a conversation on innovative solutions with panelists from CFMoller, Färgfabriken, Stockholm City, ORE Design, and HPD Architecture. Along with the panels, several workshops will also offer an in-depth look at questions of a "new urban agenda" and the potential of self-built housing. Equity in design will be a central topic at each panel. "One of the largest challenges we face when it comes to the built environment is affordability," said Chris Sharples, Principal at SHoP Architects. "Our role as architects and planners is to come up with new material systems and design/building processes that allow us to address the cost constraints." Swedish Design Moves New York was organized through a partnership between Visit Sweden, STHLMNYC, Architects Sweden, The Swedish Institute, and the Consulate General of Sweden in New York. The full program for Swedish Design Moves New York (October 24 - 28) at the Center for Architecture and Van Alen Institute is available here.
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This design team has ideas for a better, more humane jail system

Rikers Island, New York City's notorious jail complex, is set to close within the next decade. For some activists, the pace of change is too slow, but, if the city is taken at its word, ten years is a solid chunk of time to rethink justice in 21st century New York. A design team, convened by Van Alen in collaboration with NADAAA, has set out to do exactly that. Justice in Design, a new report from the Van Alen Institute, a design advocacy organization, gives broad guidelines on how New York's criminal justice system should look, feel, and function. Notably, it centers the urban condition but aims to enhance life for those behind bars, as well as those outside the justice system, by elevating both the city and the jail's livability with public programming, dense service networks, and lots of light and greenery. The project was deeply collaborative. To produce Justice in Design, Van Alen partnered with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the legal experts, politicians, developers, and prison reform advocates she convened last year to address the Rikers closure. That group, sometimes called the Lippman Commission but known formally as the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, issued its recommendations this past March: Closing Rikers Island, it said, is a "moral imperative," and it advocated for reducing the city's overall jail population and creating a network of neighborhood-based jails. To that end, Van Alen convened architects, environmental psychologists, prison reformers, and nonprofit leaders for the project team. Dan Gallagher and Nader Tehrani, principals at New York– and Boston-based NADAAA, partnered with urbanist Karen Kubey; Susan Opotow and Jayne Mooney, a psychologist and associate professor of sociology, respectively, who work at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, CUNY; as well as Susan Gottesfeld of the Osborne Association, a nonprofit that works with justice-involved individuals and their families. (The team is credited in the commission's report with providing "additional support" to the study.) The group hosted workshops in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens with law enforcement, reformers, academics, and formerly incarcerated individuals to get an idea of what jail is like inside, and after. The workshops, Gallagher said, helped the designers better understand both day-to-day life in Rikers and incarceration's impact on housing choice, employment, and mental health long after release. From there, the team developed its design guidelines. Instead of producing a strictly carceral space, the designers envisioned a networked jail system spread throughout the city and meant to serve the wider community, not just prisoners. Called Justice Hubs, the mini-neighborhoods are intended to confront re-entry dilemmas—despite new rules, for example, many industries still discriminate against people with backgrounds—while addressing day-to-day challenges faced by those who work in the criminal justice system. In the Brooklyn forum, residents said they weren't concerned about safety if a jail were to open in their neighborhood. Instead, Gahllager said, people were worried the building would be ugly: a grey concrete Hulk surrounded by razor wire. That prompted the team to think not only about the design of the jail itself, but its relationship to the city and its people. "The building has to become more than a big wall with something else going on inside," said Gallagher, a partner at NADAAA. "It has to be an active tool of civic engagement." NADAAA's conceptual designs try to make life on the inside as normal ("more conventional," per Gallagher) as possible. The report emphasizes access to natural light and ventilation not only in outdoor areas, but in visitor rooms, activity spaces, and (especially) cells. Instead of monolithic cinder blocks and concrete finished, the architects advocated for softer, natural finishes to add visual variety and reduce background noise, a significant stressor in close quarters. The layout is supposed to make it easier to move within the jail, and the facilities would be placed near courts and social services. There would be ample but unobtrusive parking for corrections officers, too. The team didn't want to reproduce the spatial segregation that Rikers—a literal island in the East River, near Laguardia Airport—embodied. As a result, community facilities like public outdoor space, gardens, art studios, and libraries are part of the program and are open to detainee's friends and family, as well as residents who have no personal involvement with the jail. This is the first time NADAAA has done a project like this. Van Alen approached the firm both for their design sense and for their ability to analyze and rethink troubled systems. "It was one of those situations where we said, 'okay let's jump in with both feet,'" Gallagher explained. He gave full credit to the team's non-architects, whose research and work experience brought a local and highly international perspective to the project. They read up on Denmark, for example, which lets inmates wear street clothing and cook with sharp knives (but even their relatively progressive prison system is far from perfect). The design team's role going forward is unclear, Gallagher and Van Alen confirmed, but both parties want to stay involved. The general recommendations, summarized on the last few pages of the report, are just that. The concepts don't specify designs, as Justice Hubs will adjust to local zoning: A 200-bed facility in densely developed Downtown Brooklyn might look very different from a similar-sized jail in St. George, Staten Island. With a mandate to envision a system that at its core features many jails, there wasn't much room for questioning the fundamentals of the carceral state or challenging the culture of surveillance. But the guidelines are a cautious step in the right direction to end a traumatic system where detainees suffer degrading and abusive treatment, visitors lose hours on the bus to see family, and guards are hurt by inmates who themselves may struggle with poor mental health. Although Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the closing of Rikers, he hasn't been totally clear on whether he supports community-based jails. Given how quickly NIMBYs mobilized against the mayor's new homeless shelters, it's unclear how residents may react to neighborhood jails. Still, the design team is optimistic about the recommendations. "As a society we have a responsibility to facilitate best outcomes," said David van der Leer, Van Alen's executive director. And architects, he hopes, will keep a seat at the table.

Van Alen presents: Crossroads Conversations

From the Van Alen Institute:
Today we are pleased to announce with Times Square Alliance Crossroads Conversations, a public program series hosted at the base of the Red Steps in Times Square that invites passersby from all walks of life and political convictions to engage in thoughtful dialogue on some of the most pressing issues of our time in an iconic public space at “The Crossroads of the World.” The first event in the series will focus on immigration, and take place on Monday, March 20 from 6–7 PM. The program invites passersby to participate in 10-minute conversations with a fellow stranger facilitated by journalists at the base of the Red Steps, encouraging people from across the nation and around the globe to reveal multifaceted personal beliefs, provoke robust debate, and find common ground with those who may share differing viewpoints. A pilot Crossroads Conversations event was hosted in December 2016 in immediate response to the divisions evidenced following the 2016 national election. The pilot event fostered compelling discussions and unforeseen viewpoints, inspiring Van Alen Institute and Times Square Alliance to organize future events within a multi-month series hosted at the base of the Red Steps.
More information about the event can be found here.
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Van Alen to host public conversation on immigration between New Yorkers and visitors in Times Square

Compared to the online comments section—that domain of the keyboard warrior and the realm of dumb trolls—public, in-person conversations are still the gold standard for constructive dialogue, because it's harder to be rude to someone when you're staring right at them. That's why, to combat toxic discourse, the Van Alen Institute and Times Square Alliance are hosting a friendly discussion series on hot-button issues in the middle of New York's busiest public space. Crossroads Conversations pairs perfect strangers to talk—without animus—about the divisive topics that dominate the headlines. This evening, in front of the Red Steps in Times Square, New Yorkers and visitors passing through the "Crossroads of the World” will be matched up for one-on-one conversations about immigration, facilitated by journalists. Participants at tonight's discussion will be speaking with Quartz's design reporter Anne Quito and The Architect's Newspaper's very own associate editor, Audrey Wachs. Rather than digging into the nitty-gritty of the border wall RFP or Presidents Trump's travel ban, the 10-minute conversations are meant to reveal personal stories, inspire sharing, and find common ground within divergent viewpoints. Van Alen held a pilot Crossroads last December in response to the current political climate and the strong feelings it provokes on the Left and Right. Future conversations will center on health, sexuality, the environment, and infrastructure, and, to wrap up the series, Van Alen will aggregate key ideas from the conversations into “Word on the Street” reports that add another dimension to the issues of the day. Crossroads Conversations' first discussion runs tonight from 6–7 p.m. in front of the Red Steps. The talks are free and public—no RSVP required.
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Delve into Bo Bardi’s archives, take a VIP tour with Robert A.M. Stern, and more, with Van Alen’s Auction of Art + Design Experiences

Now in its fourth incarnation, the Van Alen Institute's Auction of Art + Design Experiences is back, with truly global offerings that range from Miami ("Soak up the sun" with Terry Riley at sea and a spa) to Tokyo (hang with Metabolist Kayoko Ota or designer Go Hasegawa) to Lyon (tour the Musée des Confluences with its architect, Wolf D. Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au). This year's experiences were put together by leading figures in the architecture and design world, including: photographer Iwan Baan, Barry Bergdoll (Columbia University, formerly Museum of Modern Art), Jing Liu (SO–IL), architectural historian Victoria Newhouse, design consultant Marc Norman, Alexandra Polier (DNA brand agency), and writer Mayer Rus. See the list below and make your bids here! Verdant Vidro: Disappear into the rainforests surrounding São Paulo with Renato Anelli and Sol Camacho to the Casa de Vidro, the former home of Brazilian modernist architect, Lina Bo Bardi (1914 – 1992). Enjoy lunch amid the tropical foliage with a menu inspired by Bo Bardi, followed by a dive into the designer’s archives, which are typically off-limits. McKim, Piano, and Wright. Oh My! Follow architectural historian Barry Bergdoll as he shares his knowledge of gems by McKim Mead and White on Columbia University’s campus and brings you north to Renzo Piano’s new Jerome L. Greene Science Center in the gentrifying Upper Manhattan neighborhood. Top off the afternoon with a rare visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Broadacre City model. Party with NMDA: Be the toast of Hollywood as you and seven members of your entourage are invited to dinner with architect Neil Denari at the NMDA-designed Alan-Voo House in Los Angeles, a 21st-century high-tech bungalow. Altered States with Winka: Leave the world behind at the New York City meditation studio Inscape with its designer, Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics, then join her for celebratory drinks – two nights at The Standard High Line included. Peru Perspectives: Fly over Lima’s Brutalist revival university complex by the 2018 Venice Biennial curators, Grafton Architects, and speak with UTEC’s Carlos Hereen about how the structure is helping revitalize this district of the vibrant coastal capital. Glamp Ground: Heard of glamping? Well, this is on an altogether different level. Spend the night at minimalist lifestyle guru Megan Griswolds luxury, marble-countered yurt under the wide-open skies just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ride the Sakura Wave: From the canal-side rooftop of designer Go Hasegawas Tokyo office, enjoy the peak of cherry blossom season with your friends amid the city’s ancient castles and modern skyscrapers. Meet Me in the Stacks: Browse the back of house of the New York Public Library on a private tour with a world-renowned master of archival design, Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten, then book it to her apartment for a meal. Can You Handle the Heat of Kundigs Kitchen?: Come to worship at the “gastronomical temple” of Seattle’s Mistral Kitchen, designed by architect-cowboy Tom Kundig, then visit the 12th Avenue Iron forge, leaving with a special piece selected just for you. Photo Flâneur: See New York City anew as you prowl the streets with acclaimed architectural photographer Yueqi JazzyLi on a personalized photoshoot. Waterhouse Down: Visit Shanghai in enviable style at its hippest hotel, the Waterhouse, with its designers Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu. Bring a friend and indulge at the tapas bar in this retrofitted 1930s structure. Lindo Lido Laps: Escape winter with famed Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti while getting a personal tour of his Coliseum in Medellín. Leave physically and mentally refreshed following a dip in the Olympic swimming pool and whirl around the complex’s five gymnasia and public gardens. Urbanists and Architects Take Flight: Soar over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and microclimates of Marin County in a seaplane with urban designer Marc Norman while learning about the challenges of building affordable housing in an increasingly unaffordable city. Metabolist Boost: Meander through Tokyo with AMO’s Kayoko Ota while she discusses the groundswell effects of the Metabolist movement that Kenzo Tange envisioned across the fabric of this dense metropolis. Southern Dystopia: Architect Jack C. Portman, III invites you for a night and a few sumptuous meals at the new Hotel Indigo in Atlanta as well as a tour of the futuristic additions to the cityscape by his father, John C. Portman, Jr. A studio visit with the elder Portman might even be in the cards during your visit to the Peach State Capital. Chat and Chew: Join world-renowned architect Wolf D. Prix at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, as you tour its fascinating exhibits on how the environment has impacted the evolution of humankind, finally situating yourselves in front of some fine French fare. Seven Deadly Sins Escape: Expatriate just off the coast of Miami to a collection of stilted houses with K/R Architects’ Terry Riley with four of your friends. Soak up the sun – before climate change raises the tides too high – then pamper yourselves at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach for two nights. The Genius of John Lautner and Tony Duquette: Join design editor Mayer Rus for a visit to two of famous designs by John Lautner (1911–1994), the backdrop of multiple films and star-studded Hollywood parties. Next, hit the home of designer Hutton Wilkinson, who has preserved Dawnridge, the house created by Tony Duquette (1914–1999), for a meal in this collector's paradise. Ivy League of Your Own: Meet lionized architect Robert A.M. Stern for a VIP preview of Yale’s new residential college, the first building of the type to arrive on campus in over six decades. Catch a glimpse of Stern's yellow socks while he unravels the architecture’s embedded symbolism. Parrish the Thought: Head to Long Island’s Parrish Museum with director Terrie Sultan as you tour the Herzog & de Meuron-designed campus set in the East End landscape that fostered such minds as Fairfield Porter, Jackson Pollock, and Cindy Sherman. Wonder Dome: Hit the field of the vacant “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Houston’s Astrodome, with Rice University and WW Architects’ Sarah Whiting and architectural historian Stephen Fox as you explore the embattled history of this otherwise inaccessible midcentury modern marvel – then adjourn to Whiting’s home for a memorable meal. Tea Time Travel in Shanghai: Meet Atelier Deshaus founder Liu Yichun for tea at Shanghai’s serene Fangta Park, which is crowned by a nine-tiered pagoda and ringed with tranquil gardens, as you discuss the architecture and natural environment of this expanding city.
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See the glowing winner of this year’s Flatiron holiday design competition

On a blustery night this week, local architects and members of the public came out to relax in hammocks in the middle of 5th Avenue for a festive holiday season kick-off. The hammocks, suspended on white powder-coated steel armatures, are part of Flatiron Sky-Line, this year's winning installation in a contest hosted jointly by the Van Alen Institute and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID). The Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, now in its third year, asks architects to design a temporary structure for the traffic island at Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 23rd Street, adjacent to Madison Square and with the famous triangular building at its southern edge. LOT, the New York City– and Greece-based firm founded by Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, won the invited competition to design a temporary interactive installation that anchors the Partnership's holiday programming. Ten connected arches with strategically-placed mesh hammocks, illuminated with inset LED lights, mirror the form of the Flatiron Building. “Flatiron Sky-Line creates a dynamic new social space underneath its illuminated arches. The structure invites visitors to walk within and around it, gaze through it toward the skyline, and experience the Flatiron District’s surroundings through a unique lens,” said Trampoukis. “The simplicity of the design draws in passersby and inspires them to savor this iconic intersection.” The installation is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., as weather permits. See The Architect's Newspaper's coverage of the 2014 and 2015 winners here, and here.
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Van Alen Institute explores how to improve the voting experience

It's election day and The Architect's Newspaper hopes you make (or already made) your trip to your polling place! But as with almost every human activity, design plays a critical role at the ballot box (remember those hanging chads?). In preparation for 58th Presidential election, the Van Alen Institute hosted a competition (dubbed "Open Poll") where interdisciplinary teams explored how to improve the voting experience. Open Poll asked how design could incentivize voting, make it more accessible for all, utilize the streetscape, and bring new energy to the democratic process. The winning team took home $1,000 and the Van Alen Institute will work with them to further refine their proposal. We've included the winning proposal below, along with the two other finalists. For more on the competition, see the Van Alen website. Winning Proposal: Voting at Your Fingertips: A National Celebration of the Democratic Process Team: Racha Daher, Alexandra Gonzalez, and Elena Kapompasopoulou The current voting process is inefficient, strenuous, wasteful, non-inclusive, and prone to human error. This proposal aims to change the way the voting process works, so that it is easier and inclusive, and is accurate, secure and transparent. It aims to change the mindset of the voting experience so that it becomes a national celebration of the democratic process, strengthening social and community ties. To do this, several strategies are to be implemented: 1. Digitalize the voting platform to facilitate the democratic voting experience (multi-step identity verification: SSN number, fingerprints, photo). 2. Increase number of public institutions that serve as polling stations (churches, post offices, libraries, city halls, schools). 3. Change the voting day to Sunday to allow all-day family events. 4. Transform parks and public spaces into event areas, re-engaging in activities, while broadcasting voting results to promote transparency. 5. Utilize street infrastructure for political engagement. 6. Hold national festivities to celebrate the democratic process. Finalist Proposal: In Between the Lines Team: Larissa Begault and Julia Borowicz Most voting in NYC takes place in public schools, which provides an opportunity for civic engagement to occur within these educational institutions. Our proposal offers a curriculum of collective storytelling and cultural archiving. Given the current political rhetoric around national identity we need to reflect on diversity. This curriculum engages parents through excavating their histories while empowering children as the future generation of voters. Students collect their family history, highlighting diverse heritages across the U.S. Once workshopped, the stories become an interactive artifact distributed to voters in line. Showcasing their plurality allows neighbors to find common ground through unexpected conversations around identity and difference. Addressing these themes bridges challenges around belonging and citizenship. This proposal offers an occasion to reflect on what unites us. Finalist Proposal: Re-Thinking Urban Elections Team: Vahhab Aboonour and George Dimos Our proposal examines the importance of public spaces, like parks, plazas or college campuses, as democratic archetypes promoting social interaction and political education. We are re-thinking the poll site, incorporating elements from the ancient Greek agora and the Parisian café scene, as a place where political conversation can spontaneously occur. We propose that Election Day becomes a national holiday that both public and private organizations respect. Voters are therefore given more time to travel to their poll sites and share views with their communities. Furthermore, the private sector can actively participate in the electoral process, with college campuses serving as poll sites, and students working at the polls, getting paid through their workstudy awards. Voting then becomes an educational and celebratory public event.
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Van Alen Institute reveals winner of festive Flatiron holiday installation contest

Common decency puts a kibosh on Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but New York's Van Alen Institute wants you to think of the holidays extra early this year: Yesterday the group announced the winner of its annual contest that brings temporary architecture to the people of Manhattan. New York– and Greece–based LOT was one of five firms invited to submit designs for the competition. Their winning installation, Flatiron Sky-Line, is a series of 10 arches fabricated from white powder-coated steel tubes and outfitted with LED lights. Hammocks draped on the arches will allow visitors a leisurely resting spot where they can to take in the city around them. For the past three years, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and Van Alen have partnered to bring a festive, holiday-themed installation on the North Flatiron Public Plaza, that concrete triangle at the intersection of Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 23rd Street. Last year, SOFTlab had the honor of activating the plaza with their psychedelic installation, Nova. “Flatiron Sky-Line is an engaging installation, creating a social space underneath the illuminated arched outline, a structure to walk within and around, gaze through it towards the skyline, and experience Flatiron’s surroundings through a certain lens,” said LOT co-founding principal Leonidas Trampoukis, in a statement. “The simplicity of the installation’s design will draw in audiences, and, we expect, produce significant feelings as they stand in one of our country’s most recognizable intersections.” LOT's residential and commercial interiors, as well as its sculptural displays, can be seen all over the globe: Recent work includes a boutique hotel overhaul in Mykonos, Greece, and the New York showroom for Paris-based designer Laure de Sagazan. Flatiron Sky-Line will be officially unveiled on November 21.
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Winner announced for the “Memorials for the Future” competition

The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of the Memorials for the Future ideas competition. Initiated in March this year, the competition has been a six-month process in which participants were encouraged to "reimagine the way we think about, feel, and experience memorials in Washington, D.C., and inspire new memorial approaches around the country." The winning team: Climate Chronograph, comprised Bay Area-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter. The winning pair imagined "a living observatory for the unfolding global story of climate change." Drawing submissions from more than 300 participants, Climate Chronograph triumphed after four finalists were chosen by a jury who looked for "innovative, distinct approaches." In this last stage, finalists were urged to consider practicality, especially within real "technological limitations" and the "current requirements of the commemoration process." Conceived as an "evolving memorial for future conditions," Climate Chronograph is situated in Hains Point, Washington, D.C. Here, the memorial can transform into a new ecosystem as its site—a grove of cherry trees—floods. The memorial is intended to be experienced over a lifetime. In this timeframe, visitors will witness "a legible demonstration of generation-paced change." In doing so, the site memorializes the future and the effects of climate change that come with it. As a result, the memorial can be interpreted as a site that encourages visitors to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the memorial will still remain as a space for the activities such as fishing, picnics, and sports that take place there. During the competition, the Van Alen Institute has documented some "key findings" they observed. The findings, in their words, present "ideas that best push forward our collective notions of memorialization." They are:
  • Engage The Present And Future As Much As The Past
  • Allow For Changing Narratives
  • Universal Experiences In Addition To Places, People And Events
  • Use Local Settings For National Issues
  • Create Memorials With The Public As Well As For The Public
  • Consider Ephemeral, Mobile, And Temporary Forms
  • Memorials Beyond Physical Space
  • Challenges Our Future Memorials Face
This evening, Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter's work will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the four finalist teams will be present from 7:00pm to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition, which also showcases the three other finalists' work, will be free and run through October 20, 2016. The teams will also present their proposals at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. today, which will be live-streamed at www.ncpc.gov/live.
“The National Park Service Centennial challenged us to think about new ways to engage the next generation and tell stories relevant to them. Memorials for the Future challenged us to think about how we will take the imagination displayed in this ideas competition and use it to spark a new generation of national park visitors, supporters and advocates, not to mention artists, architects and philosophers,” National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said in a press release. “We’re committed to continuing this conversation and engaging people in the stories and commemorations that are important to them and to the shared heritage of our nation.”