05.30.07

05.30.07

AIANY has lost two of its former presidents: Giorgio Cavaglieri, FAIA, and Denis Kuhn, FAIA. See the Around the AIA + Center for Architecture section for tributes submitted by AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, and other colleagues in the architecture community. If you would like to submit your memories, please e-mail e-oculus.
– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Note: In last issue’s New Yorkers Set Example at AIA Convention, The Architect’s Newspaper was omitted from the “New Practices New York” exhibition description. They were co-organizers and sponsors of the program, the exhibition, and the party.

Architecture Awards Look Outward

Event: AIA New York Chapter 2007 Design Awards Winners Symposium: Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.01.07
Speakers: Timothy Bade, Martin Cox — Steven Holl Architects; Peter Gluck — Peter L. Gluck and Partners; Scott Oliver, AIA — noroof architects; Nazila Shabestari, AIA — Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Flavio Stigliano — Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Yehre Suh, Todd Hoehn — Weiss/Manfredi; John Woell — Steven Harris Architects; Michael Wurzel — Foster + Partners
Moderator: Dan Hanganu — AIANY 2007 Design Awards jury member
Organizer: AIANY Design Awards Committee

AIANY 2007 Design Awards

Courtesy AIANY

When the jury decided on the AIANY 2007 Design Awards, they were looking for new trends that are novel yet have a message, according to jury member and Canadian architect Dan Hanganu. What’s this year’s trend? Regardless of size or type, site and location played a major part in the design of all the award winners.

The New Residence at the Swiss Embassy in D.C., designed by Steven Holl Architects and receiving an Honor Award, has a cruciform plan that not only references Switzerland’s flag, but also allows for a spiraling sequence of spaces that culminate in a view of the Washington Monument. Because the architects were required to abide by Swiss engineering standards, orientation was key to abide by sustainability requirements.

Affordable Housing in Aspen, CO, by Peter L. Gluck and Partners, the only design-build project to win a Merit Award, is sited at the edge of the city grid creating a transition between the city and mountains. Instead of designing a skyscraper to provide the 17 units with 44 bedrooms, Peter Gluck designed a dense cluster of residences that allow for views of the mountains between.

Two inward-looking residential projects are oriented around existing site conditions. Honor Award-winning 92 Jane Street, designed by Steven Harris Architects, appears to be a typical West Village townhouse from the street, but opens up to the 750-square-foot garden (or “outdoor room”) in the back. The rear façade is transparent and all of the floor plans are oriented toward the garden. Noroof architects decided to preserve and design a vertical loft around the large maple tree on the small site for their Merit Award-winning Slot House in Brooklyn. The tree can always be seen from inside because of the “slot” window along the front of the house, and, because of its size, it is a passive solar feature for the 1,200-square-foot house.

The tight site at Pratt Institute for Honor Award-winning Higgins Hall presented a challenge to Steven Holl Architects. As an infill project, in order to negotiate between two existing buildings with different floor plate heights, ramps connect floors between buildings. Labeled a “dissonant zone,” the project is mainly a social connector space, accentuated by a translucent façade where students passing through can be seen day or night.

At the University of Iowa, the Merit Award-winning School of Art and Art History, also by Steven Holl Architects, sited the building so it connects directly to the existing art building — reaching toward it with cantilevers.

Two Honor Award-winning arts projects focus on the public realm in the urban environment. Weiss/Manfredi’s Olympic Sculpture Park creates a ‘Z’-shaped topographic transformation from the water’s edge to downtown Seattle. Along the outdoor park, museum visitors view sculpture and the skyline while traversing over three main arteries to the city, blending landscape, art, and architecture. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston animates the harbor front by incorporating a public walk. Outside space wraps into the interior core where an “outdoor room” can be used as an auditorium or gathering space.

The largest building among the Merit Award winners is the U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, MD, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Reaching 1,000 feet end to end, the building is sited on natural woodland. To obtain a LEED Silver rating and stay true to natural surroundings, a wood screen makes up the enormous façade. Made from local laminated white oak, it provides sun shading and lessens the visual impact of the building. Ivy veils the parking garage to camouflage it as well as filters the air.

Finally, the Merit Award-winning Hearst Tower takes advantage of city views in a non-traditional way. By programming conference rooms instead of executive offices at the corners, Foster + Partners took a less hierarchical approach to commercial interiors.

None of the jury members are from the U.S., pointed out Hanganu. He claims that in Europe good design is defined by expression and detail. Acknowledging the amount of red tape involved in building in the U.S., the jury respected the extraordinary effort when subtlety and materiality are preserved in the design process. Obviously there is more to each project than its site, but when analyzing threads that tie all of the projects together, it is evident that location is key to the success of all of the award-winning buildings.

Architect Numbers Dwindle at American Academy Honors

Event: American Academy of Arts and Letters 2007 Awards Ceremony
Location: American Academy of Arts and Letters, 05.15.07
Organizers: American Academy of Arts and Letters

American Academy of Arts and Letters

Courtesy American Academy of Arts and Letters

While sparsely represented in the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ membership and awards in general, architects were even further under-represented at this year’s awards ceremony. Every year, architectural achievement is celebrated at the Academy along with figures in literature, fine arts, and musical composition.

Among the nine inductees to the Academy membership this year (a number determined by those of the fixed membership who are no longer with us), the sole architect was Billie Tsien, AIA, who has been producing remarkable buildings with her partner-husband Tod Williams, FAIA. We all know their American Folk Art Museum on West 53rd Street, and some of us have had the pleasure of experiencing their Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla and Phoenix Art Museum. All their work has been joint, but Academy memberships can only be held by individuals, and Tsien is certainly a deserving individual.

Receiving the Academy’s annual Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize for Architecture was Eric Owen Moss, FAIA, known mainly for his idiosyncratic adaptations of old industrial buildings in the L.A. suburb of Culver City for the use of high-tech and otherwise hip companies. His adventurous scheme for renovating the Queens Museum of Art was dropped two years ago, and Grimshaw/Ammann and Whitney commissioned for a more modest redo.

Among this year’s 20 winners of Academy Awards (any academy has a right to this phrase) were three architects. Wes Jones of L.A. was cited for works that “celebrate the materials and methods of industrialized production while transforming them into performative instruments that illuminate and give meaning to the human condition.” (How’s that for archi-speak?) Thomas Kundig, FAIA, of Seattle was honored for elegant reinterpretation of Northwest materials, details, and forms (to freely interpret the official jargon). Lebbeus Woods, “an architect-visionary” (says his citation) has long been producing images that are essentially art works on architectural themes.

Among visual artists recognized this year by the Academy was one who has carried out remarkably successful collaborations with architects, Martin Puryear. Recipient of this year’s Gold Medal for Sculpture, Puryear has worked beautifully with Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh on the lobby and courtyard of the New School for Social Research and on the lighting pylons for the Battery Park City waterfront. His work in the current Academy show is in itself worth the trip to 156 Street.

While the membership roster includes such names as Pei, Cobb, Meier, Eisenman, Gwathmey, Gehry, Pelli, and Polshek among its 16 architects, the only ones visible were the new inductee Tsien, the ever-energized Hugh Hardy, FAIA, and Steven Holl, AIA, the Academy member who very effectively presented this year’s architectural honors. If architects want to maintain their standing in this “arts and letters” organization, more of them ought to be visibly involved.

All architects recognized this year have mounted exhibitions at the Academy’s annual show, on view at 633 West 155 Street through June 10 (Thu-Sun, 1-4pm).

From Doghouse to High Fashion: WORK AC Prevails in Style

Event: New Practices New York: WORK AC
Location: Häfele Showroom, 05.10.07
Speakers: Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, AIA — principals, WORK AC
Organizers: AIANY, in association with The Architect’s Newspaper and Häfele America Co.
Sponsor: Häfele America Co.

WORK AC partners Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, AIA, have maintained a sense of humor in their approach to running a young practice. Andraos joked that many of their early projects were either “competitions or cancelled,” including a residential tower in Beirut and a large housing project in Los Angeles. When they founded the firm in 2002, “we didn’t start with big ideas about form,” explained Andraos. “Our biggest rule was to say yes to everything.” Their first project was a design for an urban doghouse that integrated a treadmill surrounded by three flat screens that play videos, allowing the urban dog to experience chasing cars or butterflies.

These days they can afford to break their own rule and say no, as they now have completed high-profile projects such as the new headquarters for Diane von Furstenberg Studio in the Meatpacking District. The design combines two historic buildings, preserving their landmarked façades. The design approach, Andraos explained, was to be “highly specific about one element and generic about others.” To bring light through the depth of the buildings to the offices, they designed a “Stairdelier” — a cross between a stair and chandelier. A heliostat mirror focuses sunlight on guardrails laced with Swarovski crystals, distributing light throughout the building and providing a unifying focal point for the design.

The sixth and final lecture and exhibition showcasing the winners of the 2006 AIANY New Practices Showcase with Zakrzewski Hyde Architects will be 07.12.07 at 6:00pm.

Foster Locks Lips with Modern History

Event: Building with History: How the Old and the New Can Co-exist in the Modern World
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 04.24.07
Speaker: Lord Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA
Organizer: World Monument’s Fund

Hearst Tower

The Hearst Tower represents two eras embracing each other, says Lord Foster.

Kristen Richards

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful courtyard park,” said Sir Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, referring to the Great Court at the British Museum, one of London’s long lost public spaces. After the museum was completed in the mid 19th century, the space was filled in with a reading room, and later was used for storage. In 2000, Foster + Partners “reinvented” the space, restoring the reading room and adding a glazed canopy, making it the largest enclosed public space in Europe.

Not quite a year ago, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) launched Modernism at Risk program to address the fact that less than a century after their design and construction, Modern buildings are routinely abandoned, disfigured, or demolished, in many instances because of public indifference. This series of lectures is part of the advocacy program for the initiative and Lord Foster, a champion for preservation and reuse of historic buildings, was the first speaker.

Foster + Partners has designed many projects that illustrate how to extend the life of significant historic buildings, monuments, and public spaces. Speaking of the Reichstag, completed in 1999, he spoke of peeling back every historic layer to uncover the building’s intention and preserve time’s imprint, such as mason’s marks, graffiti left by the conquering Russians, and other war scars. The building has since become a living museum of German history as well as a realization of a modern parliament.

Recalling when he began designing the Hearst Tower, Foster’s idea to hollow out its historic shell was met with opposition. He was not only told it was impossible, but accused of “façadism.” The result, as seen the following night at a reception in Hearst Tower lobby for architects and designers in support of the WMF Modernism at Risk initiative and with Lord Foster in attendance, was an example of his belief that each age makes its own mark. There can be a dialogue between the old and the new — and in the words of Lord Foster speaking about the Hearst Tower’s era-jumping components, “one kisses the other.”

Energy Neutrality Proves to be Sponge-Worthy

Event: Mixed Greens lecture:”Zero-Energy Tower, Guangzhou”
Location: New York Academy of Sciences, 05.08.07
Speakers: Roger Frechette, PE, LEED-AP — Director of MEP Engineering, & Russell Gilchrist, RIBA, — Director of Technical Architecture, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Carol Willis — Director, Skyscraper Museum (introduction)
Organizer: Skyscraper Museum

Pearl River Tower

The Pearl River Tower aims for energy neutrality by taking cue from sponges.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The two complementary professions of engineering and architecture gain immeasurably from hearing each other’s languages and concerns. Anatomizing a single building (the Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China, scheduled for completion in mid-2009) allows a view into the interlinked processes behind high-performance design. The Skyscraper Museum’s Mixed Greens series concluded with a Skidmore, Owings & Merrill engineer/architect tag-team presentation.

Roger Frechette, PE, LEED AP, began by walking through some of the facts that make sustainable design a priority, particularly the shares of total energy and electricity that buildings consume nationally (40% of the former and 71% of the latter). Overall, because buildings generate as much carbon as transportation and industry combined, Frechette says, “form for the sake of form is no longer good enough.” Borrowing biomimicry principles from Janine Benyus’s work and applying them to new designs, Frechette described four levels of energy processing developed by SOM’s engineers: reduction in consumption; reclamation of lost energy for reuse; passive absorption of natural energy flows such as wind, sun, and water; and generation of power. Sponges, which conduct moisture efficiently, provide habitats for thousands of other species, and channel light through fiber-optic-like microfilaments in their external spicula, offer natural models of structures that can help a building meet the environmental challenges of hot, muggy, heavily-polluted Guangzhou.

To reduce dependency on external power, the Pearl River Tower uses many tricks in the book: 32 different conservation systems, including underfloor air, German-style chilled ceilings, double walls to create ventilation cavities, and non-symmetrically arrayed photovoltaics — a feature that the engineers preferred but the architects had to warm up to (“To achieve optimum performance,” Frechette commented, “you don’t often end up with a symmetric answer”). The building’s orientation defies aerodynamic orthodoxy, turning its wide side to the prevailing southern wind and channeling air into turbines. Since turbine power is a cube function of air velocity, the high winds that typically surround a skyscraper become an energy asset instead of a problem. Placing the turbines on mechanical floors also frees up rentable square footage, as does a compressed floor-to-floor height, allowing five extra stories without sacrificing floor-to-ceiling space.

The Pearl River Tower is a proof-of-concept project for a true energy-neutral building. It’s easily the world’s most efficient tall building, cutting power consumption by 58% over the baseline case and reducing carbon dioxide generation from 20 billion pounds to less than 9 billion. But it only suggests the potential for a building to attain that fourth step and return more power to the city grid than it consumes. In a different site with a less harsh climate (and perhaps more cooperative local utilities), Frechette conjectured, results would be even better. Because the tower is classified as commercial rather than industrial, regulators disallowed a set of highly efficient microturbines that could generate power from either natural gas or methane, along with heat for water — cleanly, more reliably, and more efficiently than Guangzhou’s grid. (The design preserved space for the microturbines anyway, in case the officials change their minds.)

Russell Gilchrist, RIBA, breaking down the various performance benchmarks economically, pointed out that the tower’s multiple economies allow recovery of the up-front sustainable-technology premium in 4.8 years, becoming a net revenue generator for at least 20 years beyond that point. With a financial incentive like that, the challenge to achieve a zero-energy skyscraper is squarely on the table.

Young Architects Test Their Boundaries

Event: Young Architects Forum: Proof
Location: The Urban Center, New York City, 05.17.07, 6:30
Speakers: Ivan Hernadez Quintela — ludens productions, Mexico City; Carlos Bedoya & Wonne Ickx & Victor Jaime & Abel Perles — PRODUCTORA, Mexico City
Introduction: Lisa Hseih — Young Architects Committee
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima

PRODUCTORA’s Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru, is buried under the desert sand.

PRODUCTORA

“Architectural practice is a process of persistently testing and reworking hypotheses continually moving toward ‘proof’,” posits Lisa Hsieh of The Architectural League of NY’s Young Architects Committee. Ludens and PRODUCTORA, two of this year’s selected architectural practices for the Young Architects Forum, both from Mexico City, embody this notion of testing through the exploration of boundary and representation in architecture.

Architecture is an “excuse for interaction” for Ivan Hernadez Quintela of ludens productions. Locating this interaction in a “space of friction,” Quintlela attempts to define the boundary between intimate space and the public realm and spur interaction among individuals. Demonstrating that architecture is incomplete without participation, the See-Saw Table alternates the positions of two participants between eating (lower and closer to the table) and talking (higher and away). Likewise, in some of his public furniture, such as a bench shaped like a spinning top, the interaction of multiple users is required to balance the shifts as each additional person gets involved. The result is equilibrium that is constantly recalibrated through a social and physical negotiation of space.

Boundary is more a question of representation than of social interaction in the work of PRODUCTORA. As inhabited and gradated thresholds, boundaries are experiential. In their proposal for the Tsunami Memorial Site in Oslo, Norway, a simple, abstract pathway that cuts into the land and hovers above the water represents the fragile relationship between culture and nature. In a proposal for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru, PRODUCTORA buries the project in its desert site. By organizing the museum as a hypostyle hall of various-sized columns that scale diagonally from one corner to the other — as thin columns to a series of “inhabitable columns,” their proposal re-presents the history of museums as dialogue of spatial typologies.

The testing of boundaries found in the work of both ludens and PRODUCTORA highlights the boundary as a fundamental condition for architecture while simultaneously questioning its very authority. The resultant “Proof” in the work of these practices then, is never final or determinant.

Leslie Koch, President, Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC)

The Park at the Center of the World: Five Visions for Governors Island opens Thursday, May 31, at the Center for Architecture (See On View At the Center for Architecture). e-Oculus had the opportunity to sit down with Leslie Koch, President of (GIPEC) to talk about the five finalist entries, the exhibition, and future development on the island.

There will be a panel discussion about the exhibition at the Center on June 11, 6:00pm; a public forum at the Fashion Institute of Technology June 20, 6:30pm; park tours organized by the Governors Island Alliance take place June 21 and June 27, 5:00pm; and a walking tour and scavenger hunt with the Center for Architecture Foundation will happen August 11, 9:45am. Go the AIANY website for more information on all of these programs.

e-Oculus: How do you see the parks on Governors Island being unique and unlike other city parks? What activities do you see happening on the island? What will attract New Yorkers as well as tourists to the island?
Leslie Koch: The experience of traveling to the island by boat and enjoying its views and green spaces offer a unique “holiday” for New Yorkers and visitors. The parks will be designed for the unique island location at the heart of New York Harbor. We envision many activities for children and families (water play, picnicking, exploring), active recreation (biking, walking, lawn sports) and programming such as water-based and ecological activities, music, performance and public art, and festivals.

e-O: There are three main features to the GIPEC master plan — the Great Promenade, Summer Park, and the restoration of the Historic District. Please describe these aspects.
LK: The 2.2 mile Great Promenade around Governors Island will feature unsurpassed views of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty. The new park on the South Island will be a “Summer Park” oasis in the city full of active recreation choices and activities that appeal to families and children. The northern Historic District is a green, civic space surrounded by historic homes and buildings dating from 1810 shaded by a verdant mature tree canopy. Design teams will rejuvenate these spaces while respecting their historic character.

e-O: What types of infrastructure will be developed to help facilitate getting people to and around the island?
LK: The passenger ferry access to and from the island will be augmented with frequent service from Lower Manhattan and other embarkation points in the harbor. We are exploring the feasibility of an aerial gondola connecting Governors Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

On the island, there will be a fleet of green vehicles providing public shuttle service. GIPEC is considering a special “free” or low-cost bicycle program for transportation and recreation on the Island.

e-O: How does the GIPEC master plan fit in with Mayor Bloomberg’s plaNYC 2030? Were the teams that responded to the RFP and RFQ required to incorporate plaNYC into their proposals?
LK: GIPEC is committed to sustainable development and green design meeting the policies advanced by both the City and the State. Many of GIPEC’s sustainability goals were laid out in the design guidelines given to the competition teams. Sustainable site planning, reduced energy usage, landscape and habitat enhancement, reduction of wastewater treatment, use of environmentally appropriate materials, and solid waste management are all areas GIPEC will develop with the winning design teams. The teams were required to offer innovative, sustainable, and practical park design proposals, and they responded with a wide variety of ideas including ones addressing energy use, carbon emissions, and storm water management.

e-O: What distinguished the five final teams from other entrants?
LK: The five finalist teams exhibited a nuanced understanding of the island’s special circumstances and its design and programming opportunities. Each of these teams has worked on important public projects and done excellent design work in the past.

e-O: Discuss the selection process.
LK: A jury of design professionals, government officials, and citizens will review the design proposals and make a recommendation to GIPEC. GIPEC will select a team, not a scheme, and will work with public input to design the open spaces. The selection criteria were outlined in the RFP and include: Vision, Design Approach, and Quality of Work Product; Methodology; Relevant Past Experience and Expertise; Feasibility and Cost Effectiveness; Fee; Staff/Team; and Compliance.

e-O: What do you want exhibition-viewers to take away from the exhibition?
LK: GIPEC wants them to understand the exciting possibilities of the island coming back to life through a series of great design and programming visions. We’d like the viewers to visit the island to see for themselves what an extraordinary site this is for a once-in-a-lifetime project. And we’d like to hear reactions from viewers on the website.

e-O: Describe the timeline of development. When will a team be selected, when will construction start, when will the master plan be complete?
LK: GIPEC intends to select a park design team this summer and to begin the design process in the fall. The start of construction will be dependant on many factors including public funding and public review of the project. The public open space designs will be incorporated into the overall master planning for the island, which is ongoing.

Conventional Wisdom: Architects Grow Beyond Green

The AIA 2007 National Convention and Design Expo in San Antonio, which drew over 21,000 attendees, was packed with many exciting events and activities. Aside from the chronic humidity and heat that is native to San Antonio, the convention was a great success.

Gore: Architects Are Leaders
Former Vice President Al Gore
‘s sustainability-themed keynote speech on Saturday afternoon was an inspirational call to architects to solve the global climate crisis. He urged us to “find the power to affect the world around us,” and be aware of “the new alignment of forces emerging in our civilization.”

Gore told the crowd of about 5,000: “Society perceives value in the marketplace. Don’t get tired; you’re needed more than ever. We’ve been operating Planet Earth like a business in liquidation; that’s about to come to a stop. Architects will solve this, especially where communities take a more forceful and visible role through affecting change in advocacy. Architects are leaders,” the Oscar-winning ex-pol declared.

Gore hit his stride at the end of his speech. “The next generation will ask, ‘Were they paying attention? Didn’t they care? What were they thinking?’ or they will ask another question: ‘How did they find the uncommon moral prerogative and rise to meet that challenge?’ The choice is ours. Civilization is asking you to play a leading role in solving this crisis. The Greatest Generation won World War II, and was transformed by that crisis. They gained the moral authority to take the long view… Darfur, HIV, AIDS, the pillaging of our fisheries and rainforests, these are moral imperatives disguised as problems. We will find our moral authority and vision to get our act together and not to turn a deaf ear, to become the next greatest generation, except for the political will, but that too is a renewable resource,” Gore concluded, to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Designing the Sustainable Workplace in the Civic Environment
I moderated a panel (SA13 on the AIA website) featuring Pritzker Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, FAIA, former GSA Chief Architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Washington D.C. Director Ed Feiner, FAIA, and SOM NY office Senior Design Partner, Gary Haney, AIA, discussing the impact of sustainability and design for federal and public projects. Mayne’s dramatic images of the San Francisco Federal Building and other current work worldwide captivated the audience. Feiner provided context of the goals and constraints faced by a federal client seeking to implement design excellence. Haney presented the U.S. Census Building, with a series of spectacular images (See Architectural Record, March 2007).

Sins of Omission: Unfortunately, Mayne’s presence on this panel was not well publicized, which was a disservice to the membership. I attribute this to the fact that panelist names were not noted with the session descriptions in the convention catalogue or on the session website pages, which also made selecting sessions more challenging. I have indicated to AIA that this should be corrected next year, but received a noncommittal response. I encourage everyone who would like to see speakers included with session descriptions in next year’s catalogue to add this to your online session evaluation comments. Additionally, contact AIA Continuing Education, the 2008 Convention Committee, and our AIANY Regional Directors Leevi Kiil, FAIA, Peter Arsenault, AIA, and Dennis Andrejko, AIA. Perhaps if there is enough member feedback, this will be fixed.

Working the Rooms
Wednesday night, Communities by Design hosted an event at a sprawling private home with the Mayor of San Antonio, 2007 AIA National President RK Stewart, FAIA, and other AIA leaders past and present. Many attendees had been to the Citizen Architect program earlier, highlighting the role of architects in civic organizations and politics. The Architect’s Newspaper party attracted many New York Chapter members, who celebrated the installation of the “New Practices New York” showcase exhibition. Thursday, the AIA New York State party, held at an historic theater downtown, attracted many New Yorkers, as well as all the national AIA candidates.

Friday morning’s Architectural Record breakfast, announcing the best ads of the year, featured a panel that once again included Frederic Schwartz, FAIA. Later, Jeremy Edmunds, Assoc. AIA, PE, LEED AP, moderated an informative session with former congressman and Ambassador Richard N. Swett, FAIA; and President and CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism, former Milwaukee mayor, and AIA National Public Director John Norquist, Hon. AIA. The Fellows Investiture was held outdoors at the Alamo. The backdrop was architecturally significant, and the heat barely put a damper on a very special event for all the new Fellows.

Saturday’s Fellow’s Luncheon was held at a stately former train station not far from the Convention Center. We welcomed 1995 AIA National President Chet Widom, FAIA, of Los Angeles, as the new 2008 College of Fellows Secretary on the COF Executive Committee. There was just enough time to return for Al Gore’s speech, and then get ready for the Fellows Dinner. Aside from being elevated to Fellowship, few experiences are more gratifying than seeing your friends, colleagues, and those you helped, receive their Fellowships, and celebrating their personal milestones at this special event. I had that privilege in San Antonio.

ICFF Cuts Edge of Design

Usually when the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is in town I look forward to the more progressive expositions off-site from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. This year, for example, I was looking forward to Haute Green, an exhibition of “the best in sustainable design for the contemporary home” in Chelsea. Unfortunately, Haute Green fell short of my expectations. With 58 featured designers, I was expecting cutting-edge design that fully considered what it means to be green. Yes, there were a lot of recycled materials and compact fluorescent light bulbs. But overall I felt as if many of the pieces did not thoroughly explore all aspects of sustainability — every part was not necessarily made of green materials, manufacturing processes were not always taken into account, the recyclability of the pieces was seldom investigated.

If organizers are going to arrange for a separate “cutting-edge” exposition, they should be extra selective with the designers they choose. In general, Haute Green included designers who were taking their first stab at green design, and their amateurism showed.

The ICFF, on the other hand, surprised me with its range of designs. Instead of just showcasing high-end “yuppie” furniture, which has been my impression previous years, there was variety in furniture types and designers. There were booths for children and pet furniture; emerging designers were featured in addition to the usual celebrity bigwigs. Designboom, an organization for emerging designers, allowed designers to sell products. Green design was featured at many booths, including the Next Generation award winners’ Metropolis booth. Overall ICFF was a success, and hopefully next year the trend will continue incorporating more diversity in price range and design.