In this issue:
· AIANY, ASHRAE, Urban Green Council Launch Energy Code Training
· AIA Documents Available Online

AIANY, ASHRAE, Urban Green Council Launch Energy Code Training

As the NYC Department of Buildings begins to audit design submissions for energy efficiency, with plans to begin inspecting buildings for energy use in 2010, AIANY, ASHRAE, and Urban Green Council are launching a training series, “Energy Code: It’s the Law.” Organized at the behest of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning, as part of its PlaNYC Greater Greener New York initiative, the training series brings in LEED-accredited professionals to talk about how to design energy efficient buildings, from lighting design to filing applications. The first round, five morning sessions between 10.26 and 11.03, sold out in just a few days, but more sessions in December and January — plus an online, on-demand webinar — are in the works.

AIA Documents Available Online
On 10.20.09, AIA launched the “Contract Documents on Demand” service. Usable with both PCs and Macs, it allows customers to buy, download, electronically fill out and print forms that previously were only available offline. Sixteen of AIA’s most popular documents can be downloaded, but the entire list is still available for sale at the AIANY office, 536 LaGuardia Place.

Fifth Graders Achieve Platinum Rating, Or At Least its Equivalent


P.S. 51 student and Programs@theCenter projects.

Glenda Reed

On the morning of 10.21.09 the main hall of the Center for Architecture was converted into a fifth grade classroom. Students from P.S. 51 clustered around tables covered with brown paper eager to begin their two-hour workshop on sustainable architecture. Director of Programs@theCenter Catherine Teegarden introduced them to the role of the architect in the building process as well as basic green design strategies including passive solar heating and rainwater reclamation. Then, as lead architect, each student planned and built a model of his or her own sustainable structure.

Using an array of recycled supplies donated through Materials for the Arts, Perkins+Will, and other generous sources, students gave form to their ideas. Once their models were complete, the students then used a simplified version of the LEED checklist, SEED (Skills in Energy and Environmental Design), to rate their buildings. The checklist allots one point for each strategy employed. Ten points gets you a Green rating — the fifth grade equivalent of LEED Platinum. At the end of the workshop students presented their new designs to fellow classmates.

The Center for Architecture Foundation hosts K-12 school groups across the five boroughs in two-hour workshops called Student Days that introduce students to architecture and design. “Sustainable Architecture” is a popular program among visiting schools, as is “The Language of Architecture,” in which students learn to “read” the design and function of a building through observational walks and sketching. In “City Design,” students work together to create a model city based on planning and zoning guidelines they develop as a group, and students build a 14-foot dome in “Build a Geodesic Dome.” For more information and a complete list of the youth programs that the Foundation offers, visit

Top 100 Urban Thinkers

From 08.07-09.07.09, Planetizen, a public-interest information exchange focusing on urban planning and design, polled readers on the Top 100 Urban Thinkers in history. Voters were allowed to submit whomever they wished.

The resulting list includes some of the most influential and most controversial figures in the development of cities and places. Several New Yorkers made the list, including Jane Jacobs; Frederick Law Olmsted; Lewis Mumford; and William H. Whyte — all in the top 10 — as well as Robert Moses; Bruce Katz; Janette Sadik-Khan; Fred Kent; Jacob Riis; and Roberta Brandes Gratz.

Although Jane Jacobs ranked number one, there are only nine women in total who made the list. There are some entertaining choices, as well, including Charles, Prince of Wales, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford.

Amanda M. Burden, FAICP, Hon. AIA, chair of the NYC Planning Commission and Director of the NYC Department of Planning, has been chosen as the 2009 laureate of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development… The San Francisco Botanical Garden Gondwana Circle Design Competition winners include NYC-based Michael Overby and Emma Fuller, First Prize; Jeeyong An, AIA, Sang Hwa Lee, and Younjin Park of Ginseng Chicken Architecture, Award of Distinction…

Recipients of the 2009 Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund Awards include Alliance for Downtown New York, for a creative arts district prototype that supports permanent artists’ workspaces and commercial growth; the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island, to redesign and repurpose the North Shore waterfront as a creative sector incubator; Institute for Urban Design, to launch Urban Design Week, an open-air festival celebrating the year’s innovations in architecture and urban design; New York City Ballet, for a convergence of architecture and dance through commissioning new ballets for a set designed by architect Santiago Calatrava; The New School, for a design and public policy partnership to research, promote, and amplify community-based solutions for sustainability; Polytechnic Institute of NYU, for community access to Betaville, an online platform showing proposed urban design and public art projects in 3-D on real streets; and Queens Council on the Arts, to design an interactive cell phone cultural map to transform the #7 train into an art express…

Mancini Duffy, head-quartered in NYC, has merged with two Washington, DC-based architecture practices, Michael Winstanley Architects Planners and Still & Svitchan Associates, which will join Mancini Duffy’s D.C. office…

AECOM has announced that Thomas Fridstein, FAIA, RIBA, LEED AP, has joined the firm as executive vice president and head of global architecture… Stephen McDaniel will serve as the new Science + Technology market sector leader at Perkins+Will… The Switzer Group has named Lloyd G. Ware as president of its newly formed Healthcare Division…

Terence Riley, AIA, has resigned as director of the Miami Art Museum to resume his role as partner at NY-based Keenen/Riley Architects…

10.08.09: As part of Architecture Week 2009, AIANY and the Center for Architecture Foundation hosted the Heritage Ball, the annual black-tie gala at Chelsea Piers. Music, dancing, and drinks continued at the after-party, Party@theCenter.


Heritage Ball at Pier 60.

Sam Lahoz


Student work, made in the Center for Architecture Foundation’s educational programs, adorned the tables.

Stacy Sideris


Heritage Ball Dinner Chair Laurie Beckelman, Hon. AIA.

Sam Lahoz


Honoree NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and AIANY President Sherida Paulsen, FAIA.

Sam Lahoz


Center for Architecture Foundation President Roberta Washington and Honoree Make It Right’s Executive Director, Tom Darden.

Sam Lahoz


Honoree Robert Silman, PE, Hon. AIA.

Stacy Sideris


Honorees Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Stacy Sideris


Rick Bell, FAIA, Executive Director of AIANY, and Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA, AIANY Vice President.

Sam Lahoz



Sam Lahoz

10.17.09: El Museo del Barrio re-opened to the public following a renovation by Gruzen Samton Architects.


(L-R): Julio Marrero, Director of Capital Projects, El Museo del Barrio, Client-user; Susan Chin, FAIA, Assistant Commissioner, Capital Projects; and William M. Singer, AIA, LEED AP, Gruzen Samton Architects.

Gruzen Samton Architects


(L-R): Assistant Commissioner Bogdan Pestka, AIA, NYC Dept. of Design & Construction, Cultural Unit; Michael Patraulea, Gruzen Samton Architects; William M. Singer, AIA, LEED AP, Gruzen Samton Architects; Jordan L. Gruzen, FAIA, Gruzen Samton Architects; and Commissioner David J. Burney, FAIA, NYC Dept. of Design & Construction.

Gruzen Samton Architects

2010 Oculus Editorial Calendar
Coming soon!

10.30.09 Call for Nominations: Design Trust Project Fellows: Made in Midtown

11.15.09 Early Registration Deadline: HB:BX Building Cultural Infrastructure International Ideas Competition

11.20.09 Call for Entries: Exhibit Design Awards

11.27.09 Call for Entries: 2010 IALD International Lighting Design Awards

11.30.09 Call for Entries: Renaat Braem 1910-2010 Ideas Competition

01.15.10 Call for Entries: ICFF Studio: Bernhardt Design and Design Schools

02.19.10 Call for Entries: 2010 Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition

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, 212-683-0023


ContextContrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts, 1967-2009


On view October 6, 2009 — January 23, 2010.

New York Now


On view October 1-31, 2009.

Building Connections 2009


On view September 17, 2009 — January 9, 2010.

Arch Schools: Visions of the Future


On view September 17 — December 12, 2009.

Helfand Spotlight Series: What if


On view October 2 — October 30, 2009.

Through 11.07.09
A Square


Hosang Park, 40″ x 50″, Edition of 5, Digital C-Print.


In 2004, Korea-based artist Hosang Park began taking aerial photographs of the parks often developed alongside luxury apartment buildings, increasingly common in high-density areas of Seoul. The images flatten the spaces into geometric surfaces while referencing the traditions of town squares.

Jen Bekman Gallery
6 Spring Street, NYC

Through 11.14.09
Pike Loop, a Robot-Built Installation


“R-O-B” building Pike Loop.

Architecture and Digital Fabrication, ETH Zurich

Pike Loop claims to be the first architecture project in the U.S. to be digitally fabricated on site. The installation was built by R-O-B, a robotic digital fabrication unit housed in a shipping container. The sculptural form is composed of 7,000 bricks. Also on view is Gramazio & Kohler’s ongoing research into digital fabrication in architecture at ETH Zurich Faculty of Architecture.

Storefront for Art and Architecture
97 Kenmare Street, NYC
Installation location: Pike Street between Division Street and East Broadway, NYC

Through 11.29.09
Architectural Photography: from 1860 to the Present


White Barn, Germantown, NY.

Photo by Martin E. Rich, AIA, 2009

More than 70 works by nearly 36 internationally and regionally renowned photographers are on view, including Julius Shulman, Norman McGrath, James Anderson, Brassai, Eric Lindbloom, Richard Edelman, Martin Rich, AIA, and many others.

Carrie Haddad Gallery
318 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

Through 12.04.09
Architecture at Cooper 1859-2009

Layout 1

Architecture at Cooper 1859-2009.

The Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture

This exhibition traces the transformations of Cooper Union’s architecture, from the Foundation Building, designed by Frederick Petersen and completed in 1859, extensively renovated by Leopold Eidlitz in the 1880s and 90s, and transformed in 1975 by John Hejduk, to the construction of 41 Cooper Square by Morphosis in 2009. The exhibition also examines how the education of architects has been reflected in the design and re-design of the school’s buildings.

Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC


10.14.09 Editor’s Note: Our podcast series continues with four short videos of this year’s Heritage Ball award recipients. Go to the Podcasts page to see videos of Robert Silman, PE, Hon. AIA (AIA New York Chapter Award); Diller Scofidio + Renfro (President’s Award); Commissioner Adrian Benepe (Center for Architecture Award); and Make It Right (Center for Architecture Foundation Award). Also, check out Bill Millard’s interview with Christian de Portzamparc, Hon. FAIA.

As we are just launching podcasts, we want your feedback. Please e-mail me with comments, criticisms, and suggestions at

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Note: Be sure to follow Tweets from e-Oculus and the Center for Architecture.

The Value of Doing Nothing

Event: Parks, Play and People
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.06.09
Speakers: Adrian Benepe — Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Organizers: Center for Architecture as part of Architecture Week 2009
Sponsors: Kohler; Kramer Levin; Solco


The NYC waterfront will be developed for people to use, rather than commerce or industry.

Jessica Sheridan

From the 17th-century Dutch plein to postindustrial reclamation projects, says Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, parks have given New Yorkers something we have always needed: the essential practice of far niente (Italian for “doing nothing”). They are more than undeveloped green areas in an otherwise human-centered environment, he explained; they exist in political contexts, expressing conscious choices to dedicate urban territory to democratic uses. Since his teenage years as a park volunteer and ranger, Benepe has studied what he calls the “pleasure grounds for the common man” that reconnect urbanites with simulacra of a more complete ecosystem. No urban park should be confused with capital-N Nature; they have always been constructed places, in the literal and interpretive sense, and they benefit from conscious public and private action. Benepe’s discussion combined a historical overview, a salute to the many professionals responsible for the department’s recent successes, and some projections about how this critical component of PlaNYC 2030 can evolve to accommodate the demographic, ecological, and economic demands of the coming years.

Every parks commissioner since Robert Moses has operated in his shadow, but Benepe identifies the Moses era as one of three major phases of expansion in the history of New York’s parks. Before Moses, there was the Greensward Plan of 1858, which gave us Olmsted and Vaux’s Central Park through a public competition, ushering in a new model of what an urban park could be. The City Beautiful era, with its fixation on Greco-Roman style, actually produced more monuments than parks, though public municipal playgrounds began arising in that period, largely through the work of social reformers. Benepe embraces the Moses-era complexity and clears certain misconceptions about that pivotal figure, particularly the charge of promulgating cookie-cutter design. While many of the playgrounds built rapidly in the WPA era were generic, the pools and parks reflected the commissioner’s love of eclecticism as well as the less publicized visions of Moses Men like Aymar Embury II (Benepe’s distant relative) and Moses Women among his landscape architects, then known as landscape gardeners, such as Betty Sprout and Marguerite Haynes Embury. Few describe the overall Moses legacy as an unmixed benefit, but Benepe makes a case that his work on parks brought out the best in him.

Even the period of neglect and despair in the 1970s had its bright spots, Benepe noted, such as Richard Dattner, FAIA, and M. Paul Friedberg’s Adventure Playground in Central Park. Both private nonprofit conservancies and government action have spurred a dramatic revival over the past 30 years, despite legal and bureaucratic constraints that Moses never had to face. The city is now in a third great era of parks expansion, Benepe contends, eschewing false modesty about the current administration’s achievements. Having spent $3 billion in capital projects over the past eight years, with another $2 billion in the budget over the next four even amid a fiscal crisis, Parks has far more work than it can handle in-house and is keeping both architects and landscape architects busier than at any time since the 1930s. The Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, Brooklyn, points toward the future: it will be the department’s first LEED Silver building.

Policy directions for the coming years include adapting the city’s heritage, including working creatively within the postindustrial environment, as in the High Line and the Bronx River’s new Barretto Point Park; opening up the waterfront for people’s use after a long history of commercial and industrial uses; designing and building recreational structures such as bike trails, skate parks, Icahn Stadium’s running track, facilities for newly popular worldwide sports such as cricket fields, and even a surfing beach in Queens; and ensuring that children have spaces to play in new ways, as in the Rockwell Group’s Imagination Playground, offering loose objects for unstructured play rather than fixed equipment. While recognizing the risks of profit-driven privatization, Benepe defended expanded concessions to both augment income from nonprofit fundraising, and to help bring 24-hour life into these spaces. Indoor facilities, he said, were one area where the city could improve, particularly pools, despite their high cost; with drowning the second leading cause of death among kids, and even more prevalent in minority communities, he finds swimming lessons a strong priority.

“We often underestimate the intelligence of park users,” he observed, making an investment in beauty not a frill but a public commitment to civility. The horticultural program Greenstreets, initiated by his predecessor Henry Stern, offers a case in point: “I expected a very jaded, cynical response.” But he’s found that people really do respond to beauty: “I’ve never seen a fistfight in front of a flower bed.”

To watch a short video about Benepe, shown at the Heritage Ball, go to the Podcasts website.