New Buildings in Historic Districts Produce Contrast in Context

Event: ContextContrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts Inaugural Forum
Location: Cooper Union Great Hall
Speakers: Hugh Hardy, FAIA — Principal, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; Richard Meier, FAIA — Principal, Richard Meier & Partners; Peter Pennoyer, AIA — Principal, Peter Pennoyer Architects; Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA — Principal, Selldorf Architects
Moderator: Suzanne Stephens — Deputy Editor, Architectural Record
Introduction: Robert B. Tierney — Chairman, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
Organizers: New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation; AIANY; NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
Sponsors: New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation


Langworthy Residence, 18 West 11th Street, 1972, Hardy Holzman Pffiefer Architects, in the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Norman McGrath

Building in historic districts is a challenge for every generation of architect. “Even if you are an architect with a good reputation, you can’t necessarily design an appropriate building in the center of New York City,” exclaimed Suzanne Stephens, deputy editor of Architectural Record. This inaugural forum on building in New York’s historic districts, hosted by the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation in conjunction with the “ContextContrast” exhibition at the Center for Architecture, brought together a range of architects to illuminate the discussion, including Richard Meier, FAIA, Hugh Hardy, FAIA, Peter Pennoyer, AIA, and Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA.

Each architect discussed projects that had encountered issues involving building in traditional surroundings. Meier’s examples were mainly drawn from overseas, emphasizing the importance of place-making over simply the buildings themselves. For example, his Stadhaus in Ulm, Germany, a cylindrical civic center completed in 1993, was built to complement its urban context in scale, but was a radical departure in form. Even so, said Meier, it was the creation of a public space on a former car park that provoked more consternation from local authorities. “Making the square around the building was probably more important than the building itself,” he said.

Hardy spoke about 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, a reconstruction of an 1840s townhouse blown up in 1970 by American terrorists the Weathermen. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture rebuilt it in 1978 with its façade partially angled at 45 degrees, a design which he said pleased neither “the Modernists,” who wanted it to be “steel and glass,” nor the “Traditionalists,” who wanted a recreation of the historic houses alongside. He said the surrounding massing inspired the design rather than any idea of what it had looked like before.

Pennoyer gave a visual tour of various townhouses his firm had restored, including a home at 91st Street whose cornices and window frames had been renovated through extensive architectural research of the era when the house was first built. His message was not to ignore history. “Tradition is more than just a set of rules,” he said. “It’s something we live in every day.”

Selldorf focused on the Neue Galerie and the difficulties of modernizing the Beaux Arts-era building for public use. While the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had few problems with the restoration work, the air-conditioning system was the subject of four years of negotiation. There are three steps to carrying out the successful restoration of such a building, said Selldorf: restoring the existing elements; designing new elements how they would have been built originally; and acknowledging interventions that could never have been part of the building. “No matter how well we designed the lift,” she stated, “it would still have been a dramatic intervention because the building was never designed to have a lift.”

During the group discussion, Meier said NYC should not be set in stone. “The excitement of living and working in New York is change.” Added Hardy: “New York has dramatic juxtapositions of scale, which is what makes it such an exciting place to be, but it makes this subject very difficult to have rules.” Stephens asked Hardy about his controversial design for a 23-story extension to the New York Historical Society, turned down by the LPC in 1984. Hardy replied that he didn’t know if the “rhetoric” of preservation for preservation’s sake would stand if the scheme were put forward today. But Stephens reminded the audience that Foster + Partners had a similar problem at 980 Madison Avenue. The design for a 30-story extension was recently chopped down to four before receiving LCP approval. Pennoyer was in support of the LPC’s move. “I think a building on top of a building like this… would alter the scale of the entire neighborhood and be a looming presence on Central Park.” Selldorf countered that as long as it was “good architecture,” such a building would not in and of itself be a problem. “Just because it can be seen from Central Park doesn’t make it bad.”

Receiving a more unanimous reaction from the panel was Atelier Jean Nouvel’s 75-story tower planned for a site adjacent to MoMA on West 53rd Street. Hardy acknowledged that although he admired the “sculptural” form of the tower, he was “startled” by its height. Meier put it more concretely: “I happen to think it is too tall. It is out of scale with everything that will be in that neighborhood. It just doesn’t look right.” Pennoyer agreed that it was “dynamic,” but added: “It’s a bit too Spiderman for my liking.”

Social Media Is the New Strategy for Design Firms

Event: Why to Blog, Text + Tweet: Strategic Social Media for Design Firms
Location: Haworth Showroom, 10.14.09
Speakers: Dorian Benkoil — Founder, Teeming Media; Adam Lutz — Facilities Manager, Google, Inc.; Mike Plotnick — Media Relations Manager, HOK; Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP — Editor-in-Chief, e-Oculus
Moderator: Judy Schriener — Former Managing Editor, McGraw-Hill Construction website
Organizer: AIANY Marketing + Public Relations Committee
Sponsors: Haworth; Hausman Communications; Stone Source; Dagher Engineering

As “social media” becomes a phrase that is heard more frequently in professional circles, the design industry has begun to explore this new age of corporate communications, one in which the traditional boundaries of marketing and public relations are transformed to encompass a broad range of staff and voices. Often cautious recruits to this ever evolving realm of digital media, the A/E/C industry has begun to populate Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blog sites with varying degrees of activity. Dorian Benkoil, founder of the strategic digital media business firm Teeming Media, believes that firms should ultimately be concerned with reaching their target audience and choosing an appropriate medium through which to do so, if possible directly applying the principles of marketing to social media.

Employing social media as a platform to share values — design, sustainability, public space, etc. — can help clients identify with the personality of design firms, fostering a long-term commitment and understanding. Mike Plotnick, media relations manager at HOK, has successfully led a social media campaign at his firm establishing it as a pioneer within the design community. Originally launched as a recruitment strategy, Life at HOK is a public blog authored by 35 designers at all experience levels in various offices within the practice. Celebrating its one-year anniversary with an average of 600 visitors per week, the platform has allowed HOK, according to Plotnick, “to live out our brand through our people in our own voice in our own time.” This evolution of communication and content delivery has given way to a raw, unedited style eradicating the corporate filter and vastly reducing editorial reviews. HOK’s bloggers are not censored and Plotnick admittedly has released control in what has become one of the most well known social media “experiments” in the design community.

The benefits of exposure are not limited to design firms, as evidenced by the many journalists that engage in Twitter and the like. Jessica Sheridan, editor-in-chief of e-Oculus, has established a professional presence on Twitter, which has given her access to individuals and firms serving as resources for news. While social media can be an outlet for editorial, the distinction remains between bloggers and journalists, the former being associated with frequency and subjectivity and the latter with research and objective reporting.

Although social media has yet to be linked to business development benefits, each panelist contributed an anecdote of sequential events that stemmed from their digital presence and indirectly resulted in a client connection, PR opportunity, or profile elevation. Many continue to understandably inquire: Is it worth sacrificing staff time and hourly rates to explore a new approach to marketing and business development without quantifiable results? Benkoil challenges that it is impossible to know what a tool can do for you unless you try it, and although clients may not be currently living in the world of social media, when they arrive wouldn’t we want to be there in full force?

Desai Tells Architects to “Go East” for Work

Event: 2009 Annual Arthur Rosenblatt, FAIA, Memorial Lecture with Vishakha Desai: “The Role of Museums in 21st-Century Asia”
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.15.09
Speaker: Vishakha Desai — President, Asia Society
Organizers: AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee
Sponsors: Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates Architects; Stone Source; Albieri Sebor Weber; Charles J. Rose; Devrouax & Pumell; Edison Price; Fisher Marantz Stone; Pilkington Glass; RKKG Architects; SPRINGBOARD Architecture Communication Design


Asia Society Hong Kong, by Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates.

Courtesy AIANY

It is often said that the 21st century will be known as the Asia Pacific Century, stated Vishakha Desai, president of the Asia Society. While 20th-century museum culture may have focused on cross-Atlantic relationships, the 21st century will center on cross-Pacific connections, she believes. The role of museums in Asia is drastically changing with the explosion of new cultural facilities in countries like China and India. The context of museums, how they function, and what is the meaning of this development are points of dramatic debate among curatorial circles.

Culture is always related to economics and politics, Desai contends. Counter to the economic situation in the U.S., China is experiencing 8.5% economic growth and India is close behind at 7%. In the next decade, China will build 1,000 new museums. It is the world’s fastest growing market for museums. But what effect will the new role of museums have in a market that is “leapfrogging,” as Desai put it, achieving a market growth in 10 years what the U.S. has done in 100?

In the 20th century, most of the museums in Asia were designed in a colonial style that represented empirical power to those who controlled the governments in the various countries. Similar to the Louvre, expressing the height of the French Empire, or NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, symbolizing an aspiration of U.S. power, museums like the National Museum of Singapore expressed an interest in Western notions of power through its design. Chang Kai Shek was one of the first to counter the trend, establishing a museum of national pride in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. With its vernacular Chinese form, the museum preserved Chinese culture and national treasures that were being destroyed by the Communist Party.

Now, in the 21st century, countries like China and India are grappling with their pasts in a way that is bringing local traditions into contemporary architectural practices. The Crafts Museum in New Delhi, designed by Charles Correa, celebrates the crafts tradition of India. The museum is a village housing practicing artisans, and it is comprised of re-adapted buildings preserved both with traditional and contemporary technologies. The Asia Society Hong Kong, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates, is located in a park in the center of Hong Kong in a building where the British once stored explosives. The goal of this museum is for Hong Kong to project an Asian connection beyond being a Chinese city, Desai stated. Hong Kong is “China’s gateway to Asia,” and the Asia Society hopes to help prove this.

While museums in Asia are beginning to express nationalistic pride in their designs, rather than western ideas of dominance and authority, Desai sees warning signs that point to a new source of empiricism — individual wealth. Since the 1980s, public/private ownership of museums has generally created a win-win situation: museums are privately funded for the benefit of the public. However, recently a handful of Asian tycoons, and wives of wealthy businessmen, have begun funding museums as public displays of their riches. Museums like the Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi or the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing are examples of museums being developed with little collaboration among the museum network throughout their respective countries. Part of the reason 1,000 museums are being built in China is that wealthy people want to create their own imprint on society, regardless of a need for space to display artwork, Desai argues. There may not be enough art to go around.

Ultimately, Desai is optimistic. She sees governments deciding that museums are crucial as centers of social interaction, not just repositories of objects. They have the potential to put countries on the international cultural map. She is seeing a monetary commitment to art and cultural facilities being integrated as part of urban development strategies that she has not witnessed before. Once these museums are completed over the next century, all they need is people and artwork to give them the weight they deserve.

Art and Architecture: A Marriage Made in Heaven

Location: Center for Architecture, 10.21.09
Speakers: Anita Glesta — Artist; Keith Sonnier — Artist; Craig Dykers, AIA — Senior Partner, Snøhetta; Roger Duffy, FAIA — Design Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Moderator: Christian Bjone, AIA — Architect, SBLM Architects & author Art and Architecture: Strategies for Collaboration (Springer Verlag, 2009)
Organizer: AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee


Oslo Opera House, designed by Snøhetta.

Courtesy Oslo Opera House,

While many artists are attracted to the spatial presence of architecture and its language and scale, contemporary architects also seek the inspiration of art in their designs. Great works have resulted from collaborations between artists and architects, and Christian Bjone, AIA, showcases some of the successes in the recently published Art and Architecture: Strategies for Collaboration (Springer Verlag, 2009). Bjone breaks down the collaborations into seven different themes: art as framed by architecture; art in contrast to architecture; art and architecture with common motif; architecture appropriates form from art; art duplicating the scale of architecture; art singular in its temple; and art in conflict with architecture. These themes were recently discussed at a panel moderated by Bjone.

For Craig Dykers, AIA, of Snøhetta, close collaboration with artists has always been an important part of his firm’s projects. He avoids using art as decoration for the architecture, preferring to allow an open dialogue among artists, artisans, and architects. As early as the competition stage for the Oslo Opera House, artists were invited to collaborate. Artists were involved in the design of the building’s stone roof, which consists of a non-repetitive pattern with integrated raised areas, special cuts, and various surface textures. Textile artists helped design metal cladding elements, which were derived from old weaving techniques. American artist Pae White worked with digital images of aluminum foil transferred on to a computer-driven loom to create a stage curtain for the auditorium. Artisans who make musical instruments were consulted for the design of the auditorium. And Olafur Eliasson designed an installation in the entry foyer.

Roger Duffy, FAIA, senior partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, does not formalize the collaboration process with artists, yet his work with light artist James Turrell is central to the designs of the Greenwich Academy’s Upper School in Greenwich, CT, and the Koch Center for Science, Math & Technology at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. For the latter, he recruited an interdisciplinary team of scientists and artists, including Turrell, to offer input on the building’s design.

With a long list of successful partnerships, artist Keith Sonnier says, “It’s great to work with great architecture,” referring specifically to his lighting work in 1990-91 for the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) in Berlin, designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1968. Other notable commissions include “Route Zenith,” a neon installation in the atrium of the Pei Cobb Freed-designed Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, and the permanent outdoor neon installation that simulates the movement of highways at the Cal Trans Building in Los Angeles, designed by Morphosis. According to Sonnier, “dialogue with the architect is the reason the installation got made.”

Artist Anita Glesta produced a body of work in the U.S. and Australia engaging the public sphere. She began as a painter and sculptor but as her pieces grew larger, she expanded her reach. “Census,” a seven-acre intervention at the Federal Census Bureau Building in Suitland, MD, commissioned by the GSA Art in Architecture Program, was a collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Turf Landscape Architects. It uses a variety of numerical systems imprinted on walls, benches, and sculptural mounds. According to Glesta, “for over 2,000 years artists have been working with architects. There exists artist envy and architect envy. They attract and repel, like a couple in a marriage.”

Architects, Artists Debate Who’s In the Now

Event: TOWARD “ANARCHITECTURE”: A Conversation between Architects and Artists
Location: Center for Architecture, 09.16.09
Speakers: David Ruy — Co-Director, Ruy Klein; Ferda Kolatan — Director, su11 architecture + design; Oscar Tuazon — Artist; William Menking — Founder & Editor-in-Chief, The Architect’s Newspaper
Moderator: Farnaz Mansuri, Assoc. AIA — Principal, De-Spec
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee


Biaxial Bouquet.


“Architecture doesn’t start with function; it starts with an idea. It’s something you have to live with, and that takes a commitment,” stated artist Oscar Tuazon at the second of a multi-part series of discussions about the gray area between art and architecture. Moderator Farnaz Mansuri, Assoc. AIA, principal of De-Spec, contemplated whether contemporary artists and architects are too comfortable in niches, which didn’t exist prior to the Renaissance when architect and artist were often one in the same. It’s hard for architects to say they are artists, she claimed, and pondered whether artists are more “in the now,” while architects are “in the future and disengaged from the present.” Ferda Kolatan, director of su11 architecture + design, disagreed, explaining that his firm is interested in the past, present, and future: “It’s crucial to go beyond the systematic in order to explore current ideas and technologies.”

Kolatan, who founded su11 with Erich Schoenenberger, AIA, defines his firm’s work by “features, expressions, and character.” In su11’s work, underlying systems guide surface conditions and spatial relationships. “Our work is based on experimentation, but I wouldn’t really call it research,” Kolatan explained. Rather, like sculptors, they carve out a project from an initial condition. Digital renderings of projects included Chromazon, su11’s finalist courtyard design for MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program in 2008 that transformed floral and faunal forms into digital hybrid modules that combine into a canopy, and Scaled Skins, a prototype roof structure comprised of a skin and armature derived from the cellular structure of armadillo skin and dragonfly wings.

Most clients aren’t willing to pay architects to experiment, said David Ruy of Ruy Klein. In between real-world projects, his firm, which defines itself as “an experimental design practice,” indulges in research to hone their creative skills. The partners also moonlight as artists creating sculptures for a gallery in Washington, DC. They hide that they are architectural designers, as the gallery feels that buyers might be less interested in their work.

Tuazon, the only artist and non-architect of the group, began: “I want to live, somehow… I want to survive.” His work reflects primitive needs, and many of his installations focus on the simple concept of shelter. He described an art piece where he and his brother traveled to a remote island near Kodiak, AK, with only a chainsaw and guns in tow. “We tried to live and build something from what was there.” While he prefers to build into the earth, Tuazon typically creates installations in stark white gallery spaces, which, because of the pre-defined space, he criticized as “hard to create function or necessity.”

William Menking, editor-in-chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, served as commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale. He worked with 16 architects to create the exhibition, which was challenging in such a historically significant venue for art. “Venice is a spectacular show all the time,” he said. Showcasing designs for underprivileged populations, which was the theme of his show, seemed out of place in a city known for decadence. Perhaps architects could learn something from artists. And they may have the chance — next year, AIANY New Practices New York, which is hosting this series, will be open to non-licensed architects and other designers, including artists.

Vernacular, With a Twist

Event: Time Based Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.19.09
Speaker: Hilary Sample, AIA — Principal, MOS
Organizer: AIANY Technology Committee
Sponsor: ABC Imaging


Afterparty, designed by MOS for this year’s MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program.

Jessica Sheridan

If you attended Warm-Up at P.S. 1 this summer, you lounged in the shade of furry, cone-like structures. The courtyard installation was designed by MoMA/P.S. I Young Architects Program winner MOS, a New Haven/Cambridge-based firm founded in 2003 by Michael Meredith, AIA, and Hilary Sample, AIA. Sample recently discussed the firm’s projects at the Center for Architecture.

Thanks to a wrong number, MOS was commissioned to build a family retreat on a small island in Lake Huron. Inspired by the vernacular architecture, the designers clad the home with cedar siding, creating both privacy and a rain screen. The simple box form is capped with a sloped, double layer wood roof. But the tradition ends there: the home floats on the water, supported by a system of pontoons. The Floating House adjusts to the ever-changing levels of the lake and absorbs energy from the water to keep the home warm or cool.

With a gently sloping roof and exterior walls clad in zinc panels, the Winters Studio blends with the countryside of upstate New York. However, the design brings a little of the city to the country: “It’s an expanded NYC loft typology,” Sample explained. A parallelogram in plan, the structure is stabilized by moment frames at each end to allow for open studio space divided by a central core. The roof is constructed of prefabricated wood trusses, and the ceiling is smoothed and rounded on the interior, reflecting the abundance of natural light that emanates from large windows at each end.

MOS was invited to design a house in the middle of the Mongolian desert as part of Ordos 100. For Lot 06 they designed a triangular courtyard house with a 10,000-square-foot footprint. As a passive cooling strategy in an extreme climate, they developed vertically extruded cone shapes to create a “solar chimney effect.” The cones’ construction is based on vernacular building methods: cast-in-place concrete covered with brick.

After entering — and losing — the MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program a couple of times, MOS finally won this year. They applied lessons learned from their Ordos design to turn the hot concrete courtyards of P.S. 1 into a comfortable, festive environment. The cone shapes made sense contextually, Sample stated, as they reference the surrounding factories in Long Island City. MOS intentionally limited the number of parts required to build the installation so it would be more affordable. The name Afterparty was also a commentary on the state of world at the time it was designed.

Sample describes MOS’s work as “time based architecture” because each project takes cues from its site and local construction methods, but is implemented with modern construction and technologies. MOS posts everything on its website even as projects are being developed, which is an effective way for the partners to communicate since they teach at Harvard and Yale Universities. For several projects, MOS produces “time based films” that speculate on how the spaces will be used, especially when they don’t know the client.

Aside from Sample and Meredith, MOS employs six staff including a programmer, art historian, an accountant-turned-architect, and a mathematician — self-described “state-of-the-art weirdoes.” Sample acknowledges that the extensive research work and the low-budget projects MOS often takes on present “a financially bad model. That’s why we teach full-time. But it’s rewarding.”

Cities Improve with Circuitry

Event: Sentient City Case Studies: New Songdo City and Meixi Lake
Location: Scholastic Auditorium, 10.07.09
Speakers: James von Klemperer, FAIA — Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox; Relina Bulchandani — Director, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group Connected Real Estate Practice
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York


Meixi Lake, in Changsha, China.

Kohn Pederson Fox Associates

What’s your building’s IQ? Chances are it’s not as smart as the ones planned for New Songdo City in South Korea and Meixi Lake in China. Presented in conjunction with the NYC exhibition “Toward the Sentient City,” a recent talk by James von Klemperer, FAIA, of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) and Relina Bulchandani of Cisco revealed the designs and goals of the two high-tech urban areas master planned by KPF for developer Gale International. The event offered insights into the challenges involved in planning a “u-city,” a city with ubiquitous computing.

Many of the challenges lie in figuring out how emerging technologies will change city residents’ behaviors and expectations for their environment, said von Klemperer. The physical and virtual worlds should complement one another, he believes, but technology needn’t necessarily dictate the forms that architecture takes. Still, the relationship between cities and computing is growing closer.

One of the most interesting aspects of the talk was learning how ubiquitous technologies complemented larger architectural goals for sustainability in the two developments. Located within the larger metropolitan area of Changsha, Meixi Lake is designed as a model for eco-friendly design, von Klemperer said. Covering an area about as big as NYC’s Midtown, it encircles a lake. Thus, the street system isn’t a grid; it consists of radial arcs, which he called a “hyper-efficient” design. Other green features include canals that connect outlying areas to the center of town and a pneumatic trash system that automates the sorting of recyclables.

According to Bulchandani, Cisco’s vision for cities of the future involves “smart and connected communities” in which everything from healthcare to education to transportation runs on networked information, with the goal of boosting the city’s economic resiliency and the citizens’ quality of life. Cisco is also focusing on using digital technologies to cut down on waste in water, energy, and other resources. In both Meixi Lake and New Songdo City, a product called EnergyWise will help save energy by tracking whether devices on a network are being used, so unused energy can go back in the grid.

In Meixi Lake, an application called ECOMAP will help promote the public’s engagement in ecological issues, since it lets people see what’s going on in their neighborhood in terms of transportation use, waste, and other factors that affect the environment. ECOMAP has already been tested in San Francisco, Bulchandani added. Scattered throughout business and commercial areas will be Smart Work Centers that promote productivity through technologies that foster collaboration and connectivity. While Bulchandani described them as a way of responding to shifting work patterns, they also hold promise for shortening commutes and therefore boosting sustainability.

Located along Inchon’s waterfront, New Songdo City will be a 1,500-acre free economic zone. It is around one-quarter complete, von Klemperer said. As in Meixi Lake, canals aid in transportation. The urban fabric features ample green space and a design that promotes walkability. A 100-acre park at New Songdo City’s center was partly inspired by NYC’s Central Park. Designed for minimal maintenance, the park is “sentient,” he said, since it has a self-watering system.

Bulchandani emphasized Cisco’s holistic approach at the International School in New Songdo City, where IT will boost everything from safety to productivity to energy efficiency. Virtual offices will close down automatically when teachers and students are not using them. Telepresence will help in “bridging gaps of physical limitations” and expanding educational possibilities, she said, adding that Cisco’s goal is “to merge the physical and virtual and have learning be an anytime, anywhere, any device” activity.

Sprinkled with marketing jargon, Buchandani’s presentation was sometimes vague — more specific details about the technologies would have been welcome. Nevertheless, the event provided a look at the potential for ubiquitous technologies to boost sustainable design and quality of life in cities of the future.

Photo Montage: OHNY 2009

Event: 2009 openhousenewyork
Dates: 10.10-10.11.09
Organizers: openhousenewyork

The seventh annual openhousenewyork weekend took place 10.10-10.11.09, opening doors to architectural sites not usually open to the public. e-Oculus reporters scattered throughout the city taking advantage of the great weather to visit (and photograph) the sites.


Architects gave tours of their firms and homes. (L-R): Sara Caples, AIA, and Everardo Jefferson, AIA, of Caples Jefferson Architects; Caples Jefferson Architects’ office; tour of Perkins+Will office; and Slot House, designed by and inhabited by noroof architects.

(L-R): Bill Millard; Lisa Delgado; Lisa Delgado; Jessica Sheridan


Grand interiors were on display. (L-R): Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site; Grand Masonic Lodge of New York; St. Vincent de Paul Church; and W New York, designed by BBG-BBGM.

(L-R): Melissa Simonetti; Bill Millard; Bill Millard; Melissa Simonetti


Historic buildings and renovations were open to the public. (L-R): Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house and George Washington’s headquarters in 1776; Old Stone House, a reconstructed Dutch farmhouse built in 1699 and first home of the Brooklyn Dodgers; Sylvan Terrace; and 93 Nevins, a renovated townhouse meeting LEED for Homes and American Lung Association Health House Program standards, designed by Cycle Architecture.

(L-R): Dan Stewart; Jessica Sheridan; Dan Stewart; Jessica Sheridan


And tours were given of parks throughout the five boroughs. (L-R): Little Red Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park; view from High Bridge Water Tower in Harlem; and the Croton Aqueduct from Highbridge Park in the Bronx, tour given by the AIANY Emerging NY Architects committee and site of the committee’s international ideas competition, HB:BX.

(L-R): Dan Stewart; Dan Stewart; Jessica Sheridan

Do New Technologies Hinder Sustainability?

As design becomes more individualized, with technologies such as rapid prototyping and CNC laser cutting gaining in popularity, a recent discussion with James Howard Kunstler made me question the sustainability of technological advances. In KunstlerCast #85, “The last major renovation of Manhattan,” posted 10.22.09, he voices suspicion about what will happen to the new generation of buildings when they reach the end of their “design life.” He claims that high-tech buildings are made of exotic, modular materials fabricated with soon-to-be outdated technology. In the future, components will either be hard to get, unavailable, no longer made, or too expensive to repair. Buildings of this generation will not be able to be subjected to adaptive re-use.

I agree with Kunstler when he says that cities are organisms that renew themselves. It is important for architects to consider how their buildings will be used once their intended client has moved on. Similar issues face big box stores in suburban communities, and surely the architects of buildings that take advantage of new technologies are better than Walmart. But, if a building cannot be maintained, repaired, or renovated for other uses, it becomes moot whether or not it is LEED Platinum.

I suppose the argument in support of employing new technologies in building design is that the technologies themselves are advancing to a point where reproduction and repair will be easier, faster, and more efficient. I hope this is the case, but I also think that long-term sustainability needs to be in the mindset of designers.

In this issue:

· Synagogue Sees the Light at the End of Construction Tunnel
· Philadelphia’s City Center Rises 33 Stories
· Arts Center Melds New Technologies with Industrial Aesthetics
· Allegheny College Advances the Arts
· Super Tower Will Scrape South Korean Sky
· W Hotel Opens in Santiago

Synagogue Sees the Light at the End of Construction Tunnel


Lincoln Square Synagogue.


Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side recently topped out its new synagogue and community center, approximately 100 feet south of its current structure. The three-story, 50,000-square-foot building, designed by CetraRuddy, reinterprets historical spiritual forms and materials in a contemporary way. The façade incorporates five undulating glass ribbons that represent the five books of the Torah, bordered by stone panels that feature a pattern resembling a prayer shawl. The building will house a 450-seat sanctuary, a 75-person prayer space, 10,000 square feet of classrooms, a 500-seat ballroom, and administrative offices. This is the first new synagogue built on the west side of Manhattan since the construction of the original Lincoln Square Synagogue in 1970.

Philadelphia’s City Center Rises 33 Stories


10 Rittenhouse Square.

Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Rising 33 stories above the park, 10 Rittenhouse Square, a new 135-unit luxury building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is the last new building that will be built on the historic square. The building’s red brick and limestone façades recall early 20th-century Philadelphia buildings. The lobby has two entrances — one through the preserved façade of the adjoining Rittenhouse Building and another facing a garden courtyard. Nearly all of the residential units feature high ceilings, large bay windows, and balconies or terraces. Other amenities include a shared roof garden with adjacent pool, spa, and fitness center, business center, a marquee restaurant, guest suites, and valet parking; a Barney’s Coop has already moved into the new Rittenhouse Club.

Arts Center Melds New Technologies with Industrial Aesthetics


Bryants Art Center.

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

The art department at Denison University in Granville, OH, is now united under one roof with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners’ renovation and expansion of an existing neoclassical building. Originally built in 1904 as a gymnasium, the redesigned 45,000-square-foot Bryants Art Center includes expanded classrooms, studio and gallery space, faculty offices, and common areas, all specially-designed to support the department’s interdisciplinary pedagogy and culture. A 15,000-square-foot studio addition rises above an existing one-story base on the east wing; a north addition provides new space for offices, archives, and research facilities; and a small foundry rises from the hillside on the northeast corner. The scale and massing respects the original aesthetic, while a reinterpretation of traditional materials such as brick and zinc give the building contemporary character. The existing timber-frame interior was replaced with a steel structure, allowing upgrades to circulation, lighting, ventilation, and technology. A four-story central atrium is open to skylights above and directly connects the students and faculty working on different floors. At the center of the atrium, the wooden floor of the original painting studio was salvaged to create a colorful canvas.

Allegheny College Advances the Arts


Vukovich Center for Communication Arts.

Polshek Partnership Architects

The new $23 million Vukovich Center for Communication Arts, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, is a space dedicated to teaching theater, television, and related communication arts at Allegheny College, in Meadville, PA. The 40,000-square-foot facility completes a quadrangle creating an arts precinct on campus. The building’s scale and use of zinc, glass, and red and dark gray iron-spot brick respond to that of the surrounding older buildings and signal the school’s progressive arts program. The center contains a 250-seat black box theater, rehearsal and instructional spaces, technologically advanced video production facilities, scene and costume shops, dressing rooms, a green room, and faculty offices. A roof garden provides space for study and relaxation and also makes the building more energy efficient.

Super Tower Will Scrape South Korean Sky


Lotte Super Tower 123.

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has completed the conceptual design for Lotte Super Tower 123, a mixed-use project in Seoul, South Korea. The firm was selected earlier this year after an international design competition organized by owner/developer Lotte Group for its corporate headquarters. The design for the light-toned glass structure, accented with a metal filigree, is a blend of modern aesthetic with historic Korean art forms, including ceramics, porcelain, and calligraphy. The building’s first six floors will contain retail; offices will occupy floors 7 through 60, followed by 25 floors of residential, and a 7-star hotel above. The top four stories have been earmarked for extensive public use and entertainment facilities including an observation deck. When completed in 2014, the 555-meter (1,821 feet), 123-story tower will be the world’s second tallest building after the Burj Dubai, and the tallest in Asia.

W Hotel Opens in Santiago


W Santiago.

Handel Architects

Starwood’s W Hotel brand is set to launch in South America with the opening of the W Santiago Hotel and Residences, part of the mixed-use project called Isidora 3000 designed by Handel Architects. The 31-story project makes it one of the city’s tallest buildings, containing 196 hotel rooms and suites with 46 condominiums above. In addition to the 243,000-square-foot five-star hotel and convention center and 86,000 square feet of residential condominiums, the project contains 93,000 square feet of retail and 134,000 square feet of office space. The project is located downtown on a half city block facing a major public square where the residential fabric of the city meets a shopping and business district.