The City in Transition: The Bowery

(L-R): Bowery Poetry Club, New Museum, Fruit Stand at Bowery and Grand.

Fran Leadon

On Sunday, May 10, I set out to photograph the Bowery for the upcoming fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010). I had just re-read Low Life, Luc Sante’s 1991 social history of 19th-century Manhattan and was curious to walk the Bowery’s length, from Chatham Square in Chinatown north to Cooper Square, and see what had changed since the Guide‘s last edition in 2000. I knew that the infamous old McGurk’s Suicide Hall had been torn down in favor of a new project by Arquitectonica, but I was curious to see what else was still there from the old days, and what was being built that was new and interesting.

De Bouwerie had originally been an Indian trail, then a bucolic lane winding through the farms, but it had become virtually synonymous with skid row by the 1850s, mythologized in comics and dime novels (and later in films) as a seedy district of flop houses, brothels, vaudeville theaters, and pawn shops. Today, little of the old skid row Bowery remains. The southern end of the Bowery is mostly discount jewelry outlets, Chinese jitneys (Fung Wah Bus at 139 Canal), and electronics stores. I passed a vacant lot at the corner of Hester Street, where the Music Palace Theater, reportedly designed by McKim, Mead & White, was recently demolished. Known in its later years as the Chuan Kung Theater, it was the last of the neighborhood’s Chinese language cinemas. Covered with sheet metal and murals, who knew a McKim, Mead & White building lurked underneath?

The Lighting District starts as the Bowery crosses Grand Street, and the Restaurant Supply District begins in earnest just north of Kenmare Street (Chairs! Tables! Stools! Dishes! Pots! Pans!). Colorful, wordy signs are the main feature here, but there are some architectural treasures as well, notably two landmark banks: Stanford White’s 1895 Bowery Savings Bank, just north of Grand, and Robert Maynicke’s 1898 Germania Bank, at Spring Street.

I began noticing more and more hipsters as I walked north, and new modern buildings began appearing in quick succession: Keith Strand’s skinny condo at 195 Bowery, SANAA’s stacked mesh New Museum, and the shiny glass boxes of Arquitectonica’s Avalon development on both sides of East Houston Street. In the midst of all the new glass and steel, I noticed the Bowery Mission, at 227, still soldiering on, helping the homeless since 1879.

Just to the east of Bowery and East 1st Street, surrounded by the Avalon development, I peeked into Extra Place, a notorious little alley, formerly cobble-stoned and garbage-strewn, now paved and cleaned up (but still empty). Extra Place is just outside the back door of what used to be CBGB’s, at 315 Bowery. That renowned club closed in 2006, and while the building is still there the energy is not. Across the street is the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in Henry Engelbert’s old Bond Street Savings Bank at 330 Bowery. (Much recent building behind the theater on Bond Street, but that is another story.)

Further north at East 3rd Street is the fritted-glass and steel Cooper Square Hotel, swelling at its middle, by Carlos Zapata, and finally the buildings of Cooper Union, including the main 1859 building by Frederick A. Peterson facing Cooper Square, and an exciting new building behind it by Morphosis, all peeling steel scrims, just nearing completion. At Cooper Square the Bowery disappears, splitting into Third and Fourth Avenues, so I caught the IRT at the Astor Place station, crowned by Rolf Ohlhausen, FAIA’s replica cast-iron kiosk.

On Broadway… Literally

This past weekend marked a major decongestion experiment in the city. Times Square and Herald Square opened Broadway to pedestrians, re-routing all traffic. As I could only imagine as kid, I went to Times Square to see what it felt like to stand in the middle of the avenue. Maybe because it was Memorial Day, what I found was that it did not feel much different from a weekend street festival.

Lounge chairs were strewn about, street performers tap danced and played instruments, and throngs of people moved through in a lazy daze. All in all, the experience was novel, but it seemed temporary. If the city is going to determine the experiment’s staying power, more needs to be done to make it feel permanent.

Despite the chairs and performers, the street still felt like a street. Painting it green, like other pedestrian-designated lanes carved out of the city’s avenues, is not enough. I think there should be a design competition for street furniture; artists should be commissioned to paint or tile the street. Broadway is so wide it should be divided into paths designated for different speeds of movement. There could be zones designated for slow shoppers, halted loungers, flexible space for performers, and express lanes for people passing through.

It is about time that something is being done to alleviate overcrowding in Times Square and Herald Square. Pedestrians no longer have to fight with taxis over space. I hope that traffic patterns adjust as Mayor Bloomberg predicts — a 30% reduction in congestion. And I hope this experiment endures so its potential can be fully realized.

In this issue:
· Broadway Will Be Green With Envy
· Justice — and a New Office — for All
· Westchester School Adds Classrooms, New Sports Field
· Korea Will Have a Park Dedicated to Taekwondo

Broadway Will Be Green With Envy

Henry Miller Theater.

Cook + Fox

The Henry Miller Theater will open its doors to the public in September with a revival of “Bye Bye Birdie.” The theater, which is incorporated into the Cook + Fox-designed Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, is the first newly built Broadway house in more than 20 years, as well as the first to be LEED certified. The approximately 50,000-square-foot, 1,055-seat theater, also designed by the firm, preserves Henry Miller’s vision for a new American theater in its intimate scale and emphasis on the direct relationship between audience and actors. The building’s landmarked 1918 Neo-Georgian façade by Allen, Ingalls & Hoffman was fully restored, and the new theater was constructed behind it. The theater now meets technical requirements of modern Broadway productions, with a fully functional fly-tower, deeper stage, and updated stage lighting. In addition, the theater is structurally separated from office tower above and below to maintain acoustic isolation. The theater was designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, and with its use of sustainable materials, water conservation measures, and energy efficiency, provide the best possible environmental quality for patrons and staff.

Justice — and a New Office — for All

New space for The Bronx Defenders.

Levien & Company

Project management firm Levien & Company has completed a 20,000-square-foot renovation project for The Bronx Defenders, a group of not-for-profit attorneys, social workers, investigators, parent advocates, and support staff. Designer Alta Indleman designed a new office space in what was once a restaurant, including the installation of a spiral staircase and the integration of glass blocks throughout to create better lighting. The lobby features murals painted by elementary school students from nearby P.S. 29, a participant in The Bronx Defenders’ Community Arts Exchange program. The artwork reflects the perspectives of neighborhood youth on the richness and diversity of their community, embodying the long-time motto of the organization’s youth programs: “In defense of justice in our community.” Jack Green & Associates, engineer, and Excel Contracting completed the team.

Westchester School Adds Classrooms, New Sports Field

Tuckahoe Middle and High School.

Peter Gisolfi Associates

Construction was recently completed on a new addition to the Tuckahoe Middle and High School in Westchester County, NY. The three-story addition, designed by Peter Gisolfi Associates, blends with the existing building to reflect the structure’s Art Deco exterior. The new interior space and renovations maintain the building’s original stylistic language. The 21,000-square-foot addition contains 10 new classrooms and a lobby entrance with an elevator, and connects to the three wings of the existing building, enclosing two new exterior courtyards. A series of changes to the existing structure aims to clarify the organization of the entire building. Also included in the project is a new sports field with bleacher seating, synthetic turf, a press box, and a sub-surface drainage system to retain storm water on the site.

Korea Will Have a Park Dedicated to Taekwondo

Taekwondo Park World Headquarters.

Samoo Architecture

NY-based Samoo Architecture with project lead Samsung C & T and Samoo Architects & Engineers in Seoul, Korea, has won the commission to construct the new Taekwondo Park World Headquarters in Muju, Korea. Located on 570 acres of mature woodlands, natural streams, and valleys, the park and associated building complexes will become a world cultural heritage site emphasizing the spirit, beauty, and sport of Taekwondo. In addition to housing the headquarters of various Taekwondo organizations, the park will contain a sports arena, visitor and exhibition centers, and training and lodging facilities.

In this issue:
· AIA Supports National Transportation Program Authorization
· AIA Supports Legislation for Schools, Green Housing
· NCARB BOD Takes Action Against ARE Violators

AIA Supports National Transportation Program Authorization
The AIA is part of Transportation of America, a coalition calling for the renewal of the national transportation program for the 21st century. While seeking to align national, state, and local transportation policies with numerous national priorities, the coalition’s shared goal is the development of a modernized infrastructure to support a thriving economy and healthy communities. Goals of the Transportation for America platform include:

· Establish accountability for transportation agencies for investments that deliver safe, efficient, and economical transportation.
· Make infrastructure investments that will enable the U.S. to compete economically in the 21st century.
· Address investment for multiple payoffs to solve energy, air quality, and climate challenges.
· Reward and support smart local land use planning.
· Set health and safety targets of the National Transportation Objectives.
· Develop new funding strategies for transportation and infrastructure projects.

AIA Supports Legislation for Schools, Green Housing
21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would provide $6.4 billion in grants to state and local school districts to renovate, repair, and modernize schools. The 21st Century High-Performing Public Schools Act (H.R. 2187) directs funding to projects nationwide that will improve health, safety, energy efficiency, and the overall learning climate of schools. The AIA has long-supported a federal commitment to school modernization and the AIA actively lobbied for this legislation, which the House approved by a vote of 275-155. Under the bill, each state would receive funding that would then disperse those funds to local school districts for modernization projects. Eligible projects include replacing building systems, lighting, doors, and other modifications that would improve the teaching and learning environment. The bill has been referred to the Senate; however, it is unknown how quickly they will move to advance the legislation. To contact your Senator and urge them to take up the bill, please follow the link to the AIA’s Memorial Day Recess page.

The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act
Recently, sweeping legislation designed to promote energy efficiency in our nation’s residential buildings was introduced. The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act (The GREEN Act, H.R. 2336) will provide incentives to lenders and financial institutions to offer lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel their homes to make them more energy efficient. The bill also will expand the uses of Energy Efficient and Location Efficient Mortgages and, for the first time, require state and local housing agencies to assess the impact of transportation planning on housing as a condition of receiving HUD funding — proposals advocated by the AIA. The legislation, already with 14 co-sponsors, is Congress’s most far-reaching attempt to promote energy efficiency in the residential sector. The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee, and Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has indicated that the committee will hold a hearing on the bill in the coming weeks. To learn more about the bill or find out how it could potentially affect you and your business, e-mail the AIA Government Affairs team.

Change Proposed to Make Retainage Optional
Federal procurement officials have proposed a regulatory change that would affect how federal agencies pay architects and engineers who contract with them. Currently, the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires contracting officers to withhold 10% of the payment for architecture and engineering contracts until they determine the performance as satisfactory, at which time, they may pay the full amount. The proposal, from the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, would allow contracting officers to judge the appropriate amount of the retainage, up to 10%, to “protect the Government’s interests.” The AIA has made reforming the retainage clause a top advocacy priority, and the Federal Relations team is still analyzing this proposed rule.

NCARB BOD Takes Action Against ARE Violators
Recently, eight Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) candidates — four of whom are from New York — had their testing privileges suspended and scores canceled by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) for posting exam content and/or questions on the Internet. The actions taken by the NCARB Board of Directors against the candidates included: a five-year suspension of exam testing privileges; two three-year suspensions of exam testing privileges; and one one-year suspension of exam testing privileges and two exam score cancelations. All disciplinary actions become a part of each individual’s permanent NCARB Record.

When candidates disclose exam content, NCARB works with its test development consultant to determine the impact on the exam. If NCARB finds that it is necessary to turn off substantial amounts of content, their ability to continuously deliver the ARE is jeopardized. The Council also faces significant financial ramifications because of the need to replace the exposed content and retain attorneys to defend the exam’s copyright and integrity.

Due to the actions of several of the candidates noted above, NCARB has turned off selected content in one division of the ARE. Should additional content be disclosed, NCARB will need to evaluate the impact and will consider extending the mandatory six-month waiting period between failed divisions until the content can be replaced.

May is for Preservation

In celebration of National Preservation Month, which is in May, the U.S. General Services Administration has launched a new website and poster series highlighting its historically and architecturally significant inventory of federal buildings. The site features interactive exhibits on the history, geography, and architectural style of GSA public buildings in the U.S. Virtual visitors can also browse through images, films, and architectural descriptions for more than 200 GSA buildings. GSA also offers the 2009 Historic Building Poster and Brochure Series online. The series highlights more than 100 of GSA’s most significant historic buildings.

Hospitality Design Awards (HD Awards) winners include — in the following categories — Luxury/Upscale Hotel Finalist, Morgans Hotel by R Wade Johnson Design; Luxury Guestrooms or Suites Winner, Miraval by Clodagh Design (with Mithun); Luxury Public Spaces Winner Smyth Tribeca by Brennan Beer Gorman / Architects; Fine Dining Restaurant Winner, Corton by Stephanie Goto, and Finalists, Scarpetta by S. Russell Groves, and Adour Alain Ducasse by Rockwell Group; Casual/Quickservice Restaurant Finalist Delicatessen by RKT&B with NEMA Workshop; Hotel or Day Spa, Sense Spa at the Carlyle Hotel by Zeff Design; and Nightclub, Bar, or Lounge Finalist, Greenhouse by bluearch architecture + interiors

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected the 20 recipients of the 2009 Small Project Awards, including Mobile Chaplet by Moorhead & MoorheadACE New York City “Team 8” won first place for its entry, Cullian III London 2012 Olympic Stadium, in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program’s 3rd Design Competition…The Access to the Region’s Core trans-Hudson tunnel project and NYC Design & Construction chief David Burney, FAIA, are this year’s award recipients of the Professional Engineers in Construction, a division of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers…

Steven Holl Architects with JM Architects has been shortlisted with 6 other finalists in the competition to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art…The New York chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council has a new look and a new name: Urban Green Council

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced that Evan Douglis, chair of the Undergraduate Department in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute and principal of the contemporary architecture and design firm Evan Douglis Studio, will join Rensselaer as dean of the School of Architecture…

05.12.09: The Center for Architecture hosted an exhibition opening and reception honoring the life and work of J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA, organized by Davis Brody Bond Aedas and the Center for Architecture.

A view into the Center for Architecture at the reception.

Sam Lahoz

(L-R): Richard Franklin, AIA, Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Jean Bond, wife of the late J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA; and Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY executive director.

Sam Lahoz

(L-R): Philip Freelon, FAIA, principal of The Freelon Group: Architects, with Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, 2009 AIANY President.

Sam Lahoz

05.09.09: Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Vice President of Public Outreach, presented Gov. Paterson with a pre-publication copy of the cultureNOW map of Harlem at the launch of AmeriCorps Week. During the day, AIANY and the AIANY Emerging NY Architects committee hosted a design charrette to make the Thomas Jefferson Park Recreation Center carbon neutral and take it off-the-grid. See “Architects Get in the Green Game,” this issue.

Brandon Cook

05.18.09: At this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Pratt Institute received the Editors Award for best Design School exhibiting at the Javits Center.

Jessica Sheridan

05.08.09: Fifth graders from P.S. 50 partnered with the non-profit organization PENCIL and Radhi Majmudar Aziz, a principal at engineering firm ISSE and adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, on a structural engineering project to help enhance the school curriculum and increase interest in the field. Almost 100 students worked in small groups on proposals for a sculpture or climbing structure to be built at the school.

(From rear, left) Radhi Majmudar Aziz; Honorable James Oddo, Councilman, Staten Island; Michael Haberman, President, PENCIL; P.S. 50 Principal Sharon Fine; and (front) two fifth-grade students.

Courtesy PENCIL

2009 Oculus Editorial Calendar
If you are an architect by training or see yourself as an astute observer of New York’s architectural and planning scene, note that OCULUS editors want to hear from you! Projects/topics may be anywhere, but architects must be New York-based. The themes:

Fall Issue: Carbon Neutral Now. The new green frontier, carbon neutrality, researched, explored, planned, and designed at all scales by New York architects.
06.01.09: Suggestion Deadline

Winter Issue: Health & Architecture. Architecture designed to promote fitness, health, and wellness will be profiled. Projects selected from within this growing field will demonstrate sensitivity to generational and demographic issues, sustainability, and technology.
08.01.09: Suggestion Deadline

If you have suggestions, please contact OCULUS editor-in-chief Kristen Richards.

08.28.09 Call for Entries: 2010 AIA Honor Awards – pdf

09.01.09 Call for Entries: Building Re-Skinning Competition

09.16.09 Call for Submissions: AIA Diversity Recognition Program Issues

09.16.09 Call for Applications: 2009 Fitch Foundation Grant

Center for Architecture Gallery Hours
Monday-Friday: 9:00am-8:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: CLOSED

Join an Architalker for a Hosted Tour of Center for Architecture

Join us for free Architalker-hosted tours of the Center for Architecture exhibitions Fridays at 4:00pm. To join one of these tours, meet in the Public Resource Area on the ground floor of the Center for Architecture.


The Global Polis: Interactive Infrastructures

May 15 – August 29, 2009

What is infrastructure? For much of the twentieth century, the answer to this question was guided by the ideology of functionalist urbanism, a school of thought that said that all healthy cities served four major needs – work, housing, recreation, and transportation. Today, we no longer take this view for granted, for it is a perspective that makes no provisions for community, identity, or history. At the same time, we still lack an alternative model for visualizing the city that can deal adequately with the public health and quality-of-life issues that the early functionalists sought to address. Our capacity to balance urban development with the demands of ecological imperatives and social needs has only worsened in recent decades, and this exhibition asks whether the trend can be reversed.

Global Polis: Interactive Infrastructures documents a series of contemporary experiments in planning, architecture, and design that treat cities and their environments in holistic terms, as a complex social, political, and ecological matrix – not just as an assembly of buildings, roadways, bridges, pipes, and tunnels (although each of these is important). Infrastructure cannot be divorced from the structure of democracy, from the environment at large, and the contributions to this exhibition highlight the important role that community, communication, participation, and the sharing of knowledge can play in informing understanding of the urban fabric.

This spring and summer, a series of workshops and public programs will be held to generate discussion and debate about civic participation, urbanism, and design. Drawings and diagrams produced in the workshops will be incorporated into the exhibition as an evolving presentation of ideas.

Exhibition and related programs organized by AIA New York in partnership with Architecture for Humanity New York (AFHny) , The Austrian Cultural Forum, and the American Institute for Graphic Arts New York (AIGA NY).

Curator: Nader Vossoughian
Exhibition Design: Project Projects



Center for Architecture Foundation

Lead Sponsor:


Consulate General of The Netherlands


Times Square Alliance

Helfand Spotlight Series:
Max Bond 1935 – 2009

May 12 – June 11, 2009

Max Bond: 1935 – 2009 was organized by AIA New York with Davis Brody Bond Aedas to commemorate the life and work of J. Max Bond, Jr., FAIA

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of ABC Printing and Davis Brody Bond Aedas.

Max Bond: 1935 – 2009 is presented as part of the Margaret Helfand Spotlight Series.


ABC Imaging
Davis Brody Bond Aedas

IBEX Construction
The Margaret Helfand Fund

2009 Design Awards and Building Type Awards

April 23 — June 13, 2009

AIA New York’s Annual Design Awards Program is the largest competition held to recognize excellence in architectural design for projects in New York City and by New York City architects worldwide. The 2009 Design Awards Program also includes the Building Type Awards in collaboration with the Boston Society of Architects to honor excellence in architectural design in Housing and Health Facilities.

The thirty-two winners of these awards will be on display at the Center for Architecture beginning April 23 and through June 13.
For the full list of winners, please visit the AIANY Awards Web site.

Exhibition organized by: AIA New York

Exhibition design by: Remake with Corey Yurkovich



Lead Sponsor:


Dagher Engineering
The Durst Organization
Mancini Duffy
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

AKF Group
Building Contractors Association

FXFOWLE Architects
Hopkins Foodservice Specialists
Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti
JFK&M Consulting Group
Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
Mechoshade Systems

New York University
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects
Rogers Marvel Architects
Studio Daniel Libeskind
Tishman Construction Corporation
VJ Associates
Weidlinger Associates

Zumtobel Lighting/International Lights


Associated Fabrication

Through 06.26.09
FROM THE GROUND UP: Innovative Green Homes

Live Work Home by Cook + Fox and Terrapin Bright Green.

Courtesy Van Alen Institute

Based on a design competition of the same name, the exhibition features the winning designs for 1,100-1,500-square-foot single-family homes that can serve as cost efficient, green prototypes for formerly vital, urban residential neighborhoods throughout the United States.

Van Alen Institute
30 W. 22nd Street, 6th Floor, NYC