For this issue, we took advantage of August’s light event schedule to go to the museums and view the many architecture-related shows. Most of the exhibitions close at the end of the month, so be sure to check them out now.
– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Note: Unfortunately, in the last issue, one of the In the News items was misrepresented by its title. Please note that the title for item about the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has been changed to “Medical University Breaks Ground With IBC.” MUSC has been nationally recognized for patient service and provides support to all patients — even those uninsured. We regret any misunderstanding that the old title might have caused.

How Many Scientists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? Read On

Event: Light and Health: Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water!
Location: Center for Architecture, 08.16.07
Speaker: Joan E. Roberts, Ph.D. — Professor of Chemistry & Chair, Fordham University Natural Science Department
Organizer: Illuminating Engineering Society of New York

Light and Health

Nothing beats real sunlight.

Jessica Sheridan

Want to see the lighting community light up? Just mention the pending legislation to “ban the bulb.” An acknowledged energy hog, 5% of the electricity a light bulb uses goes to light the bulb while 95% is heat. If we follow in the footsteps of countries like Australia, which plans to phase out incandescent bulb use in favor of energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) by 2010, the warm, reflected light we’ve become accustomed to since Thomas Edison might be a thing of the past here as well. But the concern of some scientists and lighting designers has more to do with health than just aesthetics. Researchers like Fordham University’s Joan E. Roberts, Ph.D., Chair of the Natural Science Department, and her colleagues have produced fresh data proving that new “green” energy efficient sources such as CFLs and LEDs do not give humans their required “dosage” of spectral requirements — particularly the spectrum provided by incandescent lights.

Roberts has studied the positive and negative effects of light on the human eye. Humans evolved being exposed to different spectrums of daylight in the morning and afternoon, and darkness in the evening, so it is important that artificial lighting mimics the natural spectrum. Ocular light serves two functions: vision, and control of circadian rhythm. The incorrect spectrum at the wrong time of day will affect sleep/wake cycles, blood pressure, stress, metabolism, and the immune system (think of jet lag or the afternoon headache you get from working under fluorescent lighting). If you happen to be reading this article in late afternoon or evening, Roberts suggests you get a screen for your computer to block out blue light. If that doesn’t help your headache, turn off your florescent light and bask in the red spectrum light your body needs from your trusty incandescent bulb.

“It’s not just about designing well-lit spaces,” says lighting designer Randy Sabedra, past president of the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York (IESNY) and the event’s moderator. “It’s about designing healthy spaces. And it’s not about banning one source of light for the sake of saving energy; it’s about insuring that the performance of all sources is improved for our health.”

David and Goliath: Two Projects Test Green Limits

Event: Green Building Case Studies
Location: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 08.15.07
Speakers: Tony Daniels, AIA, LEED AP — Director of Sustainable Design, Studio A/WASA; Sarah Beatty — Co-founder, Green Depot; Rolf Grimsted — Owner & Manager, R&E Brooklyn; Serge Appel, AIA, LEED AP — Associate Partner, Cook+Fox Architects
Moderator: Joe Franza — GreenHomeNYC
Organizers: GreenHomeNYC

One Bryant Park

One Bryant Park will “outgreen” its neighbors when complete.

© dBox for Cook+Fox Architects

The two-unit house at 93 Nevins/453 Pacific, Brooklyn, and the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park, Manhattan, have little in common to the naked eye, but at opposite ends of the budget spectrum they both evince their developers’ and architects’ commitment to resource responsibility. When completed, One Bryant Park will be a midtown landmark, and the Nevins/Pacific building may be an eye-catcher only to its neighbors (and readers of Natural Home magazine, which has designated it a Show House), but both offer valuable messages to the evolving sustainable building movement.

A forum in GreenHomeNYC’s monthly series explored the challenges of sustainable urban construction under way at two radically different sites: a small residential adaptive-reuse project and a skyline-defining corporate tower.

The 1920s-vintage Nevins/Pacific building has spent most of its life as a commercial structure (successively a pharmacy, a laundromat, and a deli/grocery with second-floor residences). Decades of structural neglect and a 1980 fire did their worst, and neighbors came to view the building as a “very dangerous and toxic” blight on the community. But developers Rolf Grimsted and Emily Fisher of R&E Brooklyn saw it as reclaimable. “This is our engineer,” said Grimsted, introducing one photo of a gentleman surrounded with rubble, “telling us how crazy we’d been to buy this building.” The project is proving successful anyway, in large part because the partners assembled a like-minded team, including green materials marketing specialist Sarah Beatty, experienced green architect Tony Daniels, AIA, LEED AP, of StudioA/WASA (the trio’s chief technical presenter), contractor Robert Politzer of Green Street Construction, the Boerum Hill Association, and other local consultants. It takes a village — at least in a residential neighborhood — to give new life to a much abused building.

Daniels’ work began with the idea of preserving the brick façade. He designed a new structure that rises up within it, carved out a courtyard that optimizes natural lighting, and incorporated contemporary technologies, including rooftop solar collectors to heat water for radiant flooring. The more Con Edison power a photovoltaic system can replace, or a gas-fired absorption chiller system conserves, the lighter the burden on peak-time summer power consumption and the less fossil fuel is burned. Little of this is news among the green construction afficionados, but demonstrating both the feasibility and the aesthetic appeal of such a house to the community is beneficial, and the Nevins/Pacific house has a high public profile even before it’s complete. It’s the city’s first American Lung Association Health House (for exemplary air quality) and the first accredited under the LEED for Homes program. Whoever ultimately lives there will enjoy low utility bills, though they’ll need to brace themselves for tour group visits.

Cook+Fox Architects’ ice-shard-shaped Bank of America tower is already a well-established paragon of sustainability at the XXXL level. The goal of “outgreening” its neighbor has helped drive an all-systems-go approach to lightening its footprint: One Bryant Park’s power cogeneration, low-emission glass, ice-tank chilling system, recycled blast-furnace-slag concrete, underfloor air, individual thermal controls, waterless urinals, and other conservation strategies are projected to earn it LEED Platinum status. The data-intensive presentation of these features by Serge Appel, AIA, LEED AP, updates the portrait that his firm’s principals presented at the Skyscraper Museum’s Green Teams series last year (see “Biophilia Claims Bryant Park,” by Bill Millard, eOCULUS, 03.21.06 for an earlier view). If height competition is passé (or best left to organizations overseas), could green performance be a better outlet for American architects’ competitive impulses?

Up From Anonymity: the Rise of New York’s Infrastructure

Event: Tour of New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac
Location: Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), 08.15.07
Organizers: AIANY Member Services Committee; AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA); Museum of the City of New York

Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge, exposures made for experiment, February 9, 1910.

Photo by Eugene de Salignac, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York and the New York City Municipal Archives

The current exhibition on view at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) helps celebrate an anonymous NYC by providing a glimpse into how the urban fabric and infrastructure we depend upon today was created. New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac does portray known structures, but the workers and other folks gazing into the camera frequently steal the frame.

Eugene de Salignac, a civil servant who remained largely anonymous himself until a decade ago, is the eye behind the photographs in the exhibition. Beginning in 1903, de Salignac worked for the NYC Department of Bridges/Plant Structures for three decades, capturing thousands of ordinary and extraordinary views of the city. While his photos are overarching (construction shots of the Municipal Building construction in 1912 are archived alongside views of a Depression-era shelter), they are also detailed and poignant. Exhibition curator Tom Mellins stressed that the photographs were organized to impress de Salignac’s unique skills upon visitors, while the accompanying book (also New York Rises) pushes NYC’s massive infrastructure improvements to the forefront.

Mellins’ guided tour and special viewing of the exhibition marked the MCNY’s new reciprocal membership program for AIA members. Available through December, AIA members will receive a 30% discount when they join the MCNY.
AIANY Secretary Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED AP, said that this event was the second in a “series of partnerships with museums and other cultural organizations that is a combination of joint programming and membership swaps.”

Stella’s Passion: from Abstract to Architecture

Event: Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture; Frank Stella on the Roof
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 05.01-07.29.07 and 05.01-10.28.07
Curator: Gary Tinterow — Engelhard Curator in Charge, and Anne L. Strauss — Associate Curator, Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Frank Stella

Highlighting the urban environment, adjoeman (2004), and Chinese Pavilion (2007) are two of Frank Stella’s sculptures on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jessica Sheridan

Painting into Architecture is the second in a series at the Metropolitan to investigate contemporary artists working in the architectural realm. Here, Stella’s paintings are the backdrop to his architecture. Form-driven and pictorial in nature, the models range from his earliest plywood The Broken Jug band shell proposal (1998), to this year’s nylon and acrylic Guest House and Remembering Henry [Geldzahler] mausoleum. Although models display a progression of work, the development is limited to form. You cannot tell whether construction details have been explored and the reality of internal systems has been advanced.

“[Frank] Stella hopes to invigorate architecture with some of the freedom that he has learned to enjoy,” states the description of Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture. Two recent exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art highlight different aspects of Stella’s work — from paintings, wall-reliefs, and full-scale mock-ups to monumental sculpture — each exhibiting the artist’s passion for architecture. In fact, Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge, seems to imply that it is inevitable that Stella’s lifelong work has gradually grown in every direction to culminate in a yet-to-be-realized building.

The link between Painting into Architecture and Frank Stella on the Roof is in the former’s The Ship (2007) , and the latter’s Chinese Pavilion (2007). A proposal in 1989 for an addition to the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, The Ship is still being developed even though it is no longer intended for the museum. Inspired by the veins in leaves, a full-size model made of fiberglass and carbon fiber is installed in the gallery. The carbon epoxy composite Chinese Pavilion, on the roof of the Metropolitan, is a very similar form to The Ship. Not claiming to be anything other than sculpture, the structure is more complete in an exterior setting where it can frame views and reflect the urban environment.

Frank Stella on the Roof consists of three recent monumental works in stainless steel and carbon fiber. Each sculpture takes advantage of its siting, featuring a different aspect of Stella’s admiration for architecture. While the sculptures are massive, they take a back seat to the museum, Upper East Side, and Central Park. As with Chinese Pavilion, adjoeman (2004) and memantra (2005) profit from their surroundings by framing views of the city and reflecting the surrounding architecture.

“Now I find I can’t stop thinking about architecture. I can only blame the pursuit of abstraction,” Stella is quoted in the exhibition. Although none of his building proposals have been constructed, these two exhibitions put forth the argument that the number of years Stella has pursued architecture, and the scale of the sculptures he creates, give him knowledge and expertise in the architecture field. Although Painting into Architecture has closed, a 40-page, illustrated publication with an essay by Paul Goldberger is available at the museum’s bookshops. Frank Stella on the Roof is on view, weather permitting, through October 28.

Nevelson as Architect?

Event: The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend
Location: The Jewish Museum, through 09.16.07
Curator: Brooke Kamin Rapaport — Exhibition Curator, The Jewish Museum

Sky Cathedral Presence

Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral Presence (1951-64).

Courtesy The Jewish Museum

Louise Nevelson (1899-1988), best known for her large monochromatic relief-like sculptures composed of found scraps of wood, was in her heyday considered the “grande dame of contemporary sculpture.” Always ill at ease with the category of sculpture, however, Nevelson claimed, “I don’t want to make sculpture and I don’t want to make paintings; I’m not looking to make anything… It’s almost like you are an architect that’s building through shadow and light and dark.” Restricting herself to the arrangement of found objects, Nevelson avoids “‘making’ in a strict sense, and focuses on the construction of relationships in light, shadow, and above all — meaning.”

In pieces such as Sky Cathedral Presence (1951-64) and Dawn’s Wedding Feast (1959), wood fragments are arranged within an irregular grid of box-like frames and painted to highlight an abstract definition of space through light and form. The meaning of the original found objects is thus subsumed into an abstract topography and open to interpretation. This sublimation is never absolute, however, as traces of narrative rumble below the surface in an elusive and subliminal fashion. For example, in her self-portrait, Silent Music IV (1964), and her Holocaust Memorial, Homage to 6,000,000 (1964), a regular grid structure serves to contain and mediate a series of fragmentary compositions, each of which recede into shadowy spaces. The traces of meaning found within each compartment evoke a collection of memories: the stories of a community, or the multiple aspects of a singular persona.

Through her obsessive endeavors to collect and reassemble fragments, Nevelson strikes a dynamic equilibrium between the tensions of form and content, rational and irrational. Beyond her use of light and shadow to define abstract form, Nevelson’s intuitive sense for structuring and facilitating relationships further aligns her work to that of the architect — but on an the ethical and poetic level, by constructing the frames through which human existence can express meaning.

Serra Seeks to Skew Perspective in MoMA Garden

Event: Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years
Location: Museum of Modern Art, through 09.10.07
Curators: Kynaston McShine — Chief Curator at Large, Museum of Modern Art; Lynne Cooke — Curator, Dia Art Foundation


Sequence (2006) by Richard Serra.

Photo by Lorenz Kienzle, courtesy Museum of Modern Art

Richard Serra’s massive sculptures, curved plates of rusted Cor-ten steel, appear velvety and tactile. Serra’s installations actively engage the viewer, inviting him or her to walk around the sculptures and experience the spaces created within. I resisted the urge to lean against the torqued surfaces (a similar grouping of Serra-created CorTen giants in the newly opened Seattle Sculpture Park by Weiss Manfredi Architects bears the mysterious and dire warning on an adjacent sign on no account to touch the rusty surface for fear of spoiling the alleged impact of those sculptures, according to a Chapter member newly returned from Seattle), but I recommend lying down on the floor in the middle of a sculpture to fully appreciate the undulating outline it creates.

In Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) presents the artist’s 40-year career, from his early experiments with materials such as rubber, neon, and lead, to monumental late-career pieces, including Intersection II (1992) and Torqued Ellipse IV (1999), along with three new works that have never been exhibited before. Serra’s work is often site-specific, and intimately integrated with the landscape, according to some critics and observers. Even though this effect could not be achieved at MoMA, viewing two of the pieces outdoors in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, offers a new perspective. Serra’s other large-scale pieces are on view in the Contemporary Galleries, an expansive, stark space that exaggerates the size of the work.

Sequence, a particularly engaging sculpture, is shaped like a double figure eight. Viewers wander through as if in a maze, unsure exactly where they will emerge. This is literally an exhibition you can get lost in — be sure to bring your cell phone in case you get separated from others in your party.

In the Winter 2005/06 issue of OCULUS magazine, the AIANY quarterly print magazine and sister publication to e-OCULUS, an article called “Epitaph for a Critic” by Sheri Olson, FAIA, described a dispute arising from a critical essay published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The National AIA Ethics Committee has issued a response in an effort to clarify the ethics debate begun by the original article. Click National Ethics Committee to OCULUS to download the AIA’s letter. To read the original article, “On Architecture: Mediocre apartment-retail building misses an opportunity to be a star,” 04/12/04, click the article’s title.

An Answer to Summertime Blues

Water Taxi Beach

The Water Taxi Beach.

Jessica Sheridan

I have just returned from vacation, so I thought I’d stay in my eased frame of mind and recommend a great location to retreat from the city without leaving it completely. The Water Taxi Beach is located in Long Island City across from midtown Manhattan. A short ferry ride from 34th Street, the beach offers sand, cocktails, picnic benches, beach volleyball court, and, most importantly, amazing views of the east side of Manhattan.

When I visited last week, I was surprised to find the beach relatively empty — something that is rare for a NYC beach in August. The sun was setting, music was playing, the neon palm tree was glowing… I could see Manhattan (a place where I find that if I don’t leave occasionally I get swallowed up by the hustle-and-bustle), yet the relaxed atmosphere allowed me to feel removed from the noise. Even so, I could still enjoy the beauty of the skyline as the sun went down and the lights turned on.

The Water Taxi Beach, founded and operated by New York Water Taxi, is open through Columbus Day, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy. If you choose not to take the water taxi, the beach can also be reached by subway, LIRR, bike, walking, or by car. Check the website for days and hours of operation.

In this issue:
·Next Stop: 125th and Harlem Park
·L Train Reaches Crescendo in Brooklyn
·Movement Shapes Bilbao
·Mammoth Chills in Permafrost Museum
·Crocker Triples, and Quadruples too
·Brown’s 1868 Green House is Moved to Make Way for “The Walk”
·A Rose by Another Name

Next Stop: 125th and Harlem Park

Harlem Park

Harlem Park.

Swanke Hayden Connell Architects

Swanke Hayden Connell Architects (SHCA) is designing the first major office project in Harlem in 30 years for Vornado Realty Trust. Harlem Park, a 600,000-square-foot, 21-story office tower at 125th Street and Park Avenue, will be comprised of stacked box forms, the top box to be illuminated at night. Set on an 85-foot podium, the 18-story main shaft of the tower features a unitized aluminum and glass curtainwall system with integrated vertical terra cotta color fins that create an enclosure echoing the predominant masonry construction of surrounding buildings. Adjacent to the Metro North stop, the building will contain approximately 82,000 square feet of retail space fronting both Park Avenue and 125th Street.

L Train Reaches a Crescendo in Brooklyn


Crescendo on the L Train.

Photo by Peter Peirce, courtesy Michael Ingui, AIA

In conjunction with a massive rehabilitation program launched in the 1980s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit program was created to oversee a selection of artists and the installation of permanent artworks throughout subway and commuter rail stations. One of the latest projects to be realized is by artist and architect Michael Ingui, AIA. Crescendo, a site-specific glass installation for the East 105 Street subway station on the L line in Brooklyn. Three flattened two-dimensional panels depict intricate forms, gestures, and colors that capture the three-dimensional characteristics of the subway system. When viewed through one another, the panels accentuate the way commuters and subway trains interact. The panels are composed of two sheets of pigmented, etched, and laminated float glass.

Movement Shapes Bilbao

Campa de los Inglese

Aerial view of Campa de los Inglese park.

Balmori Associates

Bilbao Ria 2000 has awarded Balmori Associates and RTN Architects first prize in an open international competition to design the 6.2 acre Campa de los Inglese park in Abandoibarra. Symbolizing Bilbao’s contemporary urban development and architecture, it is also considered an open air, architectonic museum with buildings designed by Gehry Partners, Cesar Pelli & Associates, Robert A.M. Stern, Arata Isozaki & Associates, among others. The park, situated next to the Guggenheim Bilbao, completes the master plan for Abandoibarra designed by Balmori Associates in collaboration with Pelli Clark Pelli Architects and Aguinaga & Associates Architects.

Movement defines the design for the Campa de los Inglese park with undulating paths and curved terraces. The terraces, ramps, stairs, and walls flow into one another to sculpt a park that is integrated with the surrounding buildings and the water’s edge. Program is inserted in the terrace walls. Elliptical forms follow the terrace splits and act as the metaphoric “eyes” of the park defining activity nodes including a tapas bar, news café, and public restrooms. The park is expected to be complete in 2010.

Mammoth Chills in Permafrost Museum

World Mammoth and Permafrost Museum

World Mammoth and Permafrost Museum.

Leeser Architecture

The world’s second largest producer and exporter of diamonds will soon be home to the World Mammoth and Permafrost Museum designed by NY-based Leeser Architecture. The firm won the international competition for its low-impact, highly insulated design that responds to the extreme climate in Yakutsk, the capital of the Siberian Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. Rising 20 feet off the ground on structural supports, a minimal surface area in contact with the thermally sensitive permafrost enables as little heat transfer as possible. The museum’s translucent skin is patterned by the geometries of the permafrost, and its envelope is constructed of a super-insulated, double-glazed façade with an Aerogel lattice network between the glazing layers that traps gas in its silica pores slowing down heat energy transfer.

Inverted legs on the roof act as light collectors, capturing sunlight from the south and west. Light monitors, positioned to disrupt wind patterning and minimize snow drifting on the roof, regulate shades to prevent heat loss. Wind turbines and solar photovoltaic cells produce electricity reducing the building’s grid dependency. Ultimately, it is a perfect place to house the 18,000-year-old frozen mammoth, recently discovered in the area.

Crocker Triples, and Quadruples too

Crocker Art Museum

The Crocker Art Museum.

Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects

The Crocker Art Museum broke ground on an addition and renovation program that will triple its size to 170,000 square feet and quadruple the size of temporary exhibition space, luring “blockbuster” exhibitions to Sacramento, CA. In the 1980s, Edward Larrabee Barnes, FAIA, revamped the interior of the original Victorian Italianate mansion to create a modern exhibition space by introducing a pavilion link between the mansion and a circa 1969 Brutalist-style building. The Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects design sets off this ensemble with a three-story addition. The addition will introduce a two-story main entrance, museum store, café, and reception area opening onto a courtyard between the old and new structures. Also included are a 300-seat auditorium, public meeting rooms, education galleries and classrooms, art storage space, and offices for administrative, curatorial, and education staff. The grand opening is scheduled for 2010.

Brown’s 1868 Green House is Moved to Make Way for “The Walk”

Brown University Campus

Brown University’s “The Walk.”

R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects

Brown University’s historic Peter Green House, constructed in 1868, has been relocated 450 feet to make room for “The Walk,” part of a campus master plan designed by R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects. In collaboration with Todd Rader + Amy Crews, Architecture Landscape Architecture, The Walk transforms several blocks of parking lots, building support services, and mixed-use facilities into a series of linked green spaces joining the Brown University and Pembroke College campuses. The design approach grew out of an analysis of the existing campus, which is an example of classic American campus planning with buildings organized around open spaces. An extension of the historic campus core links the campuses while staying true to the original master plan. These open greens also are a setting for three proposed new academic buildings and several renovated buildings.

A Rose by Another Name

9-11 logo

Courtesy National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center

The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation has changed its name to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center — and has a new logo to prove it. The change is intended to more fully reflect 9/11 as a national tragedy that changed the course U.S. history. The Memorial & Museum will honor those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC, PA, and at the Pentagon, as well as those killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993, and will continue to emphasize the site-specific nature of building a tribute at the World Trade Center site. The new logo, created by multidisciplinary design studio Number Seventeen, and the organization’s new website have been designed to raise awareness and funds for the creation of the memorial and museum.

As part of the awareness and fund raising efforts, a tribute that tells the story of 9/11 from the perspective of families, responders, survivors, volunteers, will next travel across the country. At each locale, the public will be invited to sign steel beams to be used in the construction of the memorial and museum. The first exhibition opens in Columbia, SC, on September 10, 2007.