Seven finalists for Intersections: Grand Concourse Beyond 100 include Christina Belton, Taewook Cha, Brenda Curtis, Lia Kelerchian, Gentry Lock, Erika Matthias and Shachi Pandey of EDAW/AECOM (Agricultural Urbanism); Matthieu Laverge, Vincent Lavergne, Remi Mendes and Jeremy Nadau of Nadau Lavergne Architects (FROM SPEEDWAY TO MAIN STREET); Angus McCullough (Live Wired); Dongsei Kim and Jamieson Fajardo of Columbia University (p.U.M.p. [Purifying Urban Modular Parasite]); Christopher Ryan of Harvard University (Point by Point Development for the Grand Concourse); Alejandra Diaz, Megan Gibbons, Laura Keller, Emily Osgood, and Lisa Woodley of MISI Company with Itir Sonuparlak of Columbia University (Re-vision-ing the Bronx Grand Concourse: A Community-Centered Approach); and Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold, AIA (Austin+Mergold The Grand Resource). View all proposals online

The Canadian Copper & Brass Development Association (CCBDA) announced the recipients of the 2009 North American Copper in Architecture Awards program, which includes the Hoboken Terminal by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners… The 2009/10 Fellows and Residents of the American Academy in Rome include Friends of the High Line co-founder Robert Hammond (Garden Club of America Rome Prize), and Calvin Tsao, FAIA, (William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence)…

Sarah Whiting, a principal of WW Architecture, will be leaving the Princeton University School of Architecture faculty to serve as dean of Rice University School of Architecture… Chrisine Cerqueira Gaspar, Assoc. AIA, has been appointed the new Executive Director of Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)…

08.13.09: The Downtown Alliance threw a party to kick off the urbanSHED competition and the Re:Construction 2009 program at Cipriani’s Wall Street.


(L-R) Susanna Sirefman, president of Dovetail Design Strategists and urbanSHED competition advisor; Ada Tolla, principal of LOT-EK; Frank Sciame, principal at F. J. Sciame Construction Co.; Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, 2009 AIANY President; and Robert Limandri, commissioner of the NYC Department of Buildings.

Sy Bram

2010 Oculus Editorial Calendar
Coming soon!

08.17.09 Call for Entries: Canstruction

08.22.09 Call for Entries: Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition

08.31.09 Call for Entries: Design Journal 2009 New Projects Issue

09.15.09 Call for Participants: The New New York Photography Corps

09.18.09 Call for Entries: urbanSHED

09.31.09 Call for Presentations: THE Marketing Event 2009 – pdf

11.15.09 Call for Papers: 48th International Making Cities Livable Conference on True Urbanism: Planning Healthy, and Child-Friendly Communities

Center for Architecture Gallery Hours and Location
Monday-Friday: 9:00am-8:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: CLOSED
536 LaGuardia Place, Between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets in Greenwich Village, NYC


A Space Within: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum

June 25 – September 14, 2009

On September 11th, 2001, what had been one of the world’s most densely developed business districts became, for many, hallowed ground. Soon after, questions emerged. What comes next? How could one site serve the needs of victims’ families, survivors of the attacks, members of the surrounding communities, business interests, and visitors?

The answer required a clear separation of the sacred and the secular; a defined, eight-acre space, serving as a tribute, would be created within the larger development. A Space Within is a public showcase of the memorial and museum that are now taking shape at the heart of the World Trade Center site.

Memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker
Museum design by Davis Brody Bond Aedas
Museum pavilion design by Snøhetta

Exhibition curator:
Thomas Mellins
Exhibition design: Incorporated Architecture & Design

Exhibition and related programs are organized by the AIA New York Chapter in partnership with the Center for Architecture Foundation and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors:

National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Leading Sponsor: Digital Plus
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Associated Fabrication
Supporter: Adamson Associates
Fisher Marantz Stone
Guy Nordenson and Associates Structural Engineers
Horizon Engineering Associates
Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
WSP Cantor Seinuk

New Practices San Francisco

June 04 – September 19, 2009

New Practices San Francisco is the 2009, West Coast premiere of AIA New York’s annual portfolio competition and exhibition. New Practices San Francisco is a platform for recognizing and promoting new and emerging architecture firms within San Francisco that have undertaken innovative strategies — both in projects and practice. The New Practices program was launched in 2005 by AIA New York to showcase promising new architectural firms.

New Practices San Francisco will be on view at the Center for Architecture from June 4, 2009 through September 19, 2009. It will then be on view at the Center for Architecture & Design, San Francisco, from November 12, 2009 through January 29, 2010. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of programs organized by the AIA New York Chapter in collaboration with the New Practices Committee and AIA San Francisco.

Congratulations to our 2009 New Practices San Francisco Winners:

* CMG Landscape Architecture
* Edmonds + Lee Architects
* Faulders Studio
* Kennerly Architecture & Planning
* Min|Day
* Public Architecture

Exhibition Design:

Matter Practice, 2008 New Practices New York winning firm.

Graphic Design:
Anyspace Studio

Organized By:
AIA New York/ Center for Architecture, AIA San Francisco/ Center for Architecture + Design, and the New Practices Committee

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors:

Lead Sponsor:

Presenting Sponsor: Hafele
Sponsor: MG & Company
Supporter: Hawa
Friends: diamondLife, Specialty Finishes, Trespa and Yarde Metals – Hauppauge, NY, and Hotel Carlton San Francisco
Media Partner: The Architect’s Newspaper

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


Lead Sponsor:

Consulate General of The Netherlands

Times Square Alliance

Through 08.29.09
constant variable — Thomas Navin Architect


Constantly variable.

Thomas Navin Architect

This landscape installation attempts to reflect on the notion of layering, confluence, and interplay. The work gives the illusion that the building has been lifted on pilotis so the front lobby becomes an extension of the outside. Plants will grow and markings on the sidewalk will begin to erode as foot traffic and natural forces cause them to fade, and then disappear.

common room 2
465 Grand Street, NYC

Through 10.09
Julie Farris and Sarah Wayland-Smith: A Clearing in the Streets


Public Art Fund

A 10-sided plywood structure houses a meadow 15 feet in diameter offset by a panoramic interior mural of a vast blue sky. Eight-inch gaps spaced throughout the structure permit controlled visual access — the limited viewing opportunities magnify the natural cyclical processes of the ecology that, over a four-month period, will evolve from seeds and seedlings to a landscape of flowering native plants and grasses.

Collect Pond Park
Leonard Street between Centre and Lafayette Streets, NYC

Through 09.02.09



This group show features an array of computationally experimental art, architecture, and design involving the latest undertakings in digital and algorithmic computing and advanced fabrication. Participants come from both coasts, evoking an east vs. west showdown.

98 Orchard Street, NYC

Con Ed Puts Wrench in Powerhouse Landmark Efforts

Event: Preserving the IRT Powerhouse
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.28.09
Speaker: Paul Kelterborn — Co-founder, Hudson River Powerhouse Group, Inc.
Moderator: Michael Samuelian — Co-chair, AIANY Planning & Urban Design Committee
Organizer: AIANY Planning & Urban Design Committee; AIANY Historic Buildings Committee


Hudson River Powerhouse Group continues efforts to make IRT Powerhouse a landmark.

Historic image courtesy Paul Kelterborn; interior photo by Paul Kelterborn

The High Line has given industrial architecture conservationists a fresh example of how a well-managed preservation project can produce an aesthetic and economic success. A preservation group is seeking to replicate the feat for the Hudson River Powerhouse, a 1904 McKim, Mead & White design that fills the block between 11th and 12th Avenues and 58th and 59th Streets. Hudson River Powerhouse Group Co-founder Paul Kelterborn presented his group’s efforts to have the building protected as a landmark.

When the powerhouse was built, the New York Times wrote of its Beaux Arts design: “But for its stacks, it might suggest an art museum or a library rather than a powerhouse.” “If this building were 800 feet tall rather than 800 feet long, it would be a landmark already,” said Michael Samuelian, co-chair of the Planning and Urban Design committee and moderator of the talk.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is currently considering the group’s application for landmark status. At a public hearing on 07.14.09, “there was a lot of really favorable testimony — in fact it was almost all favorable. The only negative testimony came from Con Ed,” Kelterborn stated. One contrarian voice, Joseph Bresnan, FAIA, suggested that Con Ed remain, if more efficiently, sharing the space with potential new uses.

Con Edison, which has owned the building since 1959, opposes the landmark effort. No representative of Con Edison was present at the lecture, but the utility has reportedly claimed that landmark status would create extra costs and put an onerous burden on the utility company if structural changes were needed. According to Kelterborn, they also charge that the involvement of McKim, Mead & White partner Stanford White in the building’s design has been overstated. Also, the company has made a number of structural changes since purchasing the building, including the removal of its cornice and all of the original smokestacks.

Although no longer generating electricity, the powerhouse is still in service as a steam plant, generating 10% of the steam in the city’s system. There are ideas on the table for how the powerhouse could be used if Con Edison were to move its steam operations out of the building, including “a publicly accessible cultural space — in an ideal world,” according to Kelterborn.

The LPC has considered landmark status for the powerhouse twice before, in 1979 and 1991, reaching no decision either time. Con Edison opposed both applications. Kelterborn hopes that the Center for Architecture event’s high attendance reflects a growing interest in the preservation effort following extensive local coverage.

Schools “Scaffold” Way to Education

Event: The Global Polis, Workshop 3: Education Infrastructures
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.22.09
Speakers: Urshula Barbour — Co-principal, Pure + Applied; Gavin Browning — Programming Coordinator, Studio X Design Group; Pablo Helguera — Director of Adult and Academic Programs, Education Department, Museum of Modern Art; Prem Krishnamurthy — Project Projects; Damon Rich — Urban Designer, City of Newark, & Founder, Center for Urban Pedagogy; Catherine Teegarden — Director of Programs@theCenter, Center for Architecture Foundation; Rosten Woo — Executive Director, Center for Urban Pedagogy
Respondent: Adam Kleinman — Curator, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Sponsors: Center for Architecture Foundation (Underwriter); The Austrian Cultural Forum (Lead Sponsor); Consulate General of The Netherlands (Supporter); Times Square Alliance (Friend)


“The Global Polis: Interactive Infrastructures.”

Bjorn Wallander

“People learn in different ways,” said Pablo Helguera, director of adult and academic programs in the Museum of Modern Art’s education department. He believes that educational spaces should be both physical and social. In the final of three workshops, two groups of architects, graphic designers, planners, and community leaders debated and sketched their thoughts on how cities can engage their citizens by building publicly accessible educational institutions. The drawings will become part of an evolving exhibition, “The Global Polis: Interactive Infrastructures,” on view at the Center for Architecture through 08.29.09.

Education is not something of worth but something of value, asserted Adam Kleinman of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Rosten Woo, executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), noted that government plays a large role in learning, and the educational system is an “incredibly hierarchical one.” Urshula Barbour, co-principal of Pure + Applied added, “People expect to be lectured to. They aren’t as flexible as one would expect.” Helguera suggests a combination of open-ended and regimented structures as a way to build community and identity among students.

Damon Rich, founder of CUP and an urban designer for the City of Newark, shared his experience observing a class at Harvard Business School. It was, essentially, a class on how to take classes at the university. Surprisingly, this structured environment in which students learned what to expect from their courses and how best to manage their time resulted in a lot of interaction, both socially and academically. To foster a better learning and social experience for students, he proposes that designers should hold such “institutional critiques” of educational spaces and how they are programmmed.

“Scaffolding,” a metaphor for supporting students as they learn, is a technique used in education, Rich explained. The design of educational spaces should accomplish the same in more literal terms; the workshop participants agreed.

Arup Explains the Bird’s Nest

Event: What Does This Button Do? Technology and the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.20.09
Speaker: Steve Burrows — Director, Arup Sport
Organizer: AIANY Technology Committee


Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium.

©Ben McMillan, Courtesy of Arup

Steve Burrows, director of Arup Sport, can attest to the crucial role changing technologies have played in design and construction. When he started his career at Arup in 1982, he programmed the firm’s sole computer. Most recently responsible for the engineering of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, Burrows has come a long way — and so has the technology that makes his work possible.

Terming the stadium “a heroic building,” Burrows attributed the ability to rationalize Herzog & de Meuron’s design to advancements in visualization and modeling technology. Through analysis and prototype testing, the latticework structure was designed for seismic efficiency and aesthetic appeal. While the structure measures 1,000 feet in diameter and is constructed of seemingly random strips of the translucent polymer ETFE supported by leaning columns, the Bird’s Nest embodies a very simple structural model. Due to the identical sizing of the primary, secondary, and tertiary structure of the stadium, the illusion of complexity is coupled with an arbitrary pattern. Construction of the stadium was no easy task, with 7,000 welders on site to erect what is now the world’s largest steel structure. Burrows recognized the impressive achievements of the Chinese construction industry and the “can do” attitude of the design team, as well as the ambition of all to make the project a success.

Burrows is excited by the challenge of finding the necessary means to harness today’s potential to improve the function and capabilities of the built environment. Interdisciplinary collaboration, carbon consciousness, behavioral analysis, and physical infrastructure are all on Burrows’ radar. If the Bird’s Nest is any sign of things to come, it looks like the future will be anything but boring.

Architects Ask if Borders Could Be Something Else

Event: Welcome to the USA: Architecture and Human Rights at the Border
Location: Van Alen Institute, 07.30.09
Speakers: Teddy Cruz — Principal, Estudio Teddy Cruz, & Associate Professor of Public Culture and Urbanism, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego; Thomas Keenan, Ph.D. — Director, Human Rights Project, & Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Bard College
Organizers: Van Alen Institute; Bard College Human Rights Project


“Aesthetics of Crossing: Land Ports of Entry / Citizenship by Design” at Van Alen Institute.

Courtesy Van Alen Institute

For a nation that theoretically welcomes travelers with a lifted torch, the U.S. hasn’t exactly made its border stations a beacon of friendliness lately. With security concerns trumping other values since 9/11, even the efforts by the General Services Administration’s Design Excellence Program to bring progressive architecture to federal facilities have taken a back seat to a caution that borders (pardon the pun) on paranoia. As readers of the New York Times learned this week, the Department of Homeland Security recently ordered the removal of the large yellow lettering reading “United States” on the main building at a new station in Massena, NY, on the grounds that it might invite attack (See “At a Border Crossing, Security Trumps Openness, ” by Nicolai Ouroussoff, 07.26.09). NYC-based firm Smith-Miller + Hawkinson was successful at imbuing the station and grounds with an open, Post-Modern aesthetic, but whatever combination of transparency, functionality, and patriotism the architects strove for, in some eyes a border crossing is just a military checkpoint, its structures inevitably resounding with a carceral clank.

In this context, Estudio Teddy Cruz’s explorations of the complex spaces around the San Diego-Tijuana border, the world’s most heavily trafficked national juncture, offer particular insight into the nature and possibilities of our borders. Teddy Cruz is living proof that architectural thinking extends beyond the formal disciplines of design and construction. Perceiving essential continuities between spatial analyses and social interventions, he has treated the U.S.-Mexico border as a site of contrasting communities, and as a broadly conjoined region, rather than a simple barrier.

While governments on both sides, he says, display the “arbitrariness and stupidity of the nation-state” in imposing political force on the area’s complex economic flows and human energies, Cruz has designed spaces conducive to Tijuana’s informal economy, adapted features of shantytown construction to new uses, worked with community groups to help the underprivileged obtain equity, and advocated re-zonings that would legalize the unfairly deprecated spatial forms associated with Mexican culture, and reduce parcels (notoriously supersized on the San Diego side) to an affordable scale. As a designer, he favors functionality, humility, and exuberance; he laments that in recent years “I saw the whole avant-garde of architecture rushing to Dubai and China,” and he is impatient with debates “hijacked by the politics of style and form.”

The conversation took place in association with the Van Alen’s two-part exhibition “Aesthetics of Crossing,” combining Smith-Miller + Hawkinson’s “Land Ports of Entry,” a series of designs for two stations on the border with Canada (including the Massena site), with Kadambari Baxi and Irene Cheng’s “Citizenship by Design,” a close reading of the intricate details of different nations’ passports, rules, migration patterns, and identification technologies (including some rather invasive biometrics). Cruz debated with human-rights scholar Thomas Keenan, Ph.D., who offered constructive devil’s advocacy about the beneficial potential of aesthetic concerns and the civil protections that state power can sometimes provide. Shared Mexican and Californian interests in protecting threatened resources like the Tijuana Estuary, Keenan suggested, could give old rhetorics of power imbalance “a chance to get re-inscribed or rethought in environmental terms.” “I see you’re a romantic,” Cruz quipped, “as well as I am.”

For both Keenan and Cruz, as well as audience members (including Henry Smith-Miller, who supplied details on his firm’s tricky balancing act at Massena with Homeland Security, the Canadian government, and the independent Mohawk nation), the obstinacy of officials has not extinguished the optimism that border zones might evolve a few steps closer to what Smith-Miller considers their ideal condition: not being needed at all. Border containment is spectacularly futile. Some 45 tunnels have appeared beneath the southern border in the post-9/11 years alone, and an older site, La Casa del Túnel, is no longer a drug conduit: it’s been repurposed as an international arts center. “All I’m saying” of the border, Cruz summarized, “is, could it be something else? Could it be smarter?”

MAS Boat Tour Sails Down the Hudson

Event: 18th Annual MAS Summer Boat Tour: Along the Historic Hudson
Location: Circle Line Boat, 07.29.09
Speakers: Francis Morrone — Historian, Journalist, Author, Lecturer, Teacher; Firth Haring Fabend — Author
Organizer: Municipal Art Society

Thunder, lightning, torrential rain didn’t stop a Circle Line boatload of architectural enthusiasts from enjoying the Municipal Art Society’s (MAS) 18th annual boat tour and celebration of the Hudson River’s 400th anniversary. “The river and the waterfront are never finished, they are a work in progress,” said Vin Cipolla, MAS president. The boat tour also gave a platform for Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (spawned by the MAS), to talk about continuing efforts to make the waterfront more user-friendly for all New Yorkers.

Architectural historian Francis Morrone took the mic once the tour was underway, noting some of the buildings and infrastructure the city has gained and lost. “I have a thing for power plants,” Morrone said as we passed the Hudson River Powerhouse, designed by McKim, Mead & White to provide current for the IRT, NYC’s first subway line. The Beaux-Arts structure is a symbol of the City Beautiful era. The fledgling MAS was a proponent of that movement then, and is ardently part of the campaign to preserve the powerhouse. Morrone expressed shock that the building wasn’t already a designated landmark, and considers it to be one of the 10 greatest buildings in the city. (See “Con Ed Puts Wrench in Powerhouse Landmark Efforts,” by Matt Frassica, in this issue for more on the efforts to landmark this building).

It was news to most in the audience that John D. Rockefeller bought significant portions of the New Jersey Palisades to preserve the unspoiled views seen from the Cloisters, which he also owned. Passing under the George Washington Bridge with lightning flashing was quite magnificent and perfect time to give homage to bridge engineer Othmar Ammann, who also built the Bayonne, Triborough/RFK, Bronx Whitestone, Throgs Neck, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges — the latter four built under Robert Moses’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. Speaking of Moses, Morrone told a story about Moses, who while on the water in 1914, declared that the shoreline of Manhattan could be one of the most beautiful places in the world. He had his chance to do just that in the 1930 with his “Westside Improvement Project” that included the construction of the Henry Hudson Parkway.