12.22.09

12.22.09 Editor’s Note: This is the last issue of 2009. Happy Holidays, and look forward to e-Oculus next year. The first issue of 2010 will be published Tuesday, 01.12.09.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Correction: In the last issue, “Architects Travel to Cuba for Global Dialogues,” should have stated that Judith DiMaio, AIA, is the dean, and Frank Mruk, AIA, RIBA, is the associate dean of the School of Architecture and Design at New York Institute of Technology. We apologize for the error.

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

Architects Take the Lead

Note: The following speech was presented at the 2010 AIA New York Board Inaugural that took place 12.08.09 at the Center for Architecture. Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA, is the 2010 AIANY President.

Past AIA New York presidential themes have celebrated the work that architects do. And that work, the final, finished project, is all that most of the general public knows of us. Now it’s time to celebrate and elevate the “complete” architect — the designer, planner, innovator, and leader. As we begin to emerge in 2010 from one of the worst recessions of our lifetime, architects will have the opportunity not just for more work, but for designing projects that will lead our industry, this city, and the nation on the road to recovery and growth. We will be asked to show the way in designing sustainable buildings, to help communities plan for a healthy and viable future, and to lend the full breadth of our knowledge and skill to policy decisions — local and global — in this increasingly interdependent and integrated world.

I have established as the 2010 theme “Architect as Leader.” We will explore the role of the architect in the leadership of projects and firms, in communities, and the political arena.

Through this theme, we will explore the following topics:
· Leadership in Sustainable Design will highlight the ways in which architects contribute to building a sustainable world. We are, after all, the designers of energy-efficient, cost-effective, smart buildings. The USGBC, LEED, Green Globes, and Energy Star — all the standards and rules in the world — are only pieces of paper until we interpret them and bring them to life. But our role goes far beyond design: it is our responsibility to teach people how to use sustainable buildings, how our buildings can be catalysts for sustainable communities, and how design and behavior are interdependent.

· Not Business as Usual will continue to provide the necessary resources and support to our members during the recession. Through the series we will enhance job skills, training, and provide new opportunities for professional development to all members of the design community.

· Leadership Training in partnership with a major university will explore methods and challenges of running a successful business today. Our architectural education does not include a thorough exploration and study of the business of architectural practice; it is expected that we will learn what we need through on-the-job experience. That may have been adequate in the past; today the world is far too complex for ad hoc, on-the-fly learning. We need a higher level of knowledge and skill, gained through a more formal, integrated education in the business of managing people — especially a younger, mobile, and more diverse generation of professionals — in developing and implementing a strategic business plan. We also must train for today’s challenges, like preparing for a smooth ownership transition, and maintaining a healthy practice no matter the economic conditions.

Continues…

East Side Access Story

Event: East Side Access: Bringing the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.11.09
Speakers: Elton Elperin, AIA — Chief Architect, East Side Access; Maria Tarczynska, AIA — Senior Project Architect, East Side Access

EastSideAccess-cosssectn

Cross-section of the East Side Access.

Courtesy MTA

Good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) estimates that Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuters will save 40 minutes a day in travel time to Midtown and the East Side when the East Side Access (ESA), connecting the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal (GCT), is completed. The MTA projects that, by 2020, there will be a 50/50 split between ridership to Penn Station and GCT via the ESA.

The idea of linking the LIRR with GCT has been gestating for more than 40 years. The ESA is an enormous MTA capital project — the largest construction project ever undertaken by the authority. Seven miles of new tunnels are being built 100 feet below the surface and through the bedrock of Manhattan. The new tunnels, completely independent of those traveling to Penn Station, will eventually join the existing 63rd Street Tunnel and new tunnels originating in Sunnyside, Queens.

“GCT was designed as a complex,” said Elton Elperin, AIA, of AECOM, who has been working on the ESA since 2001, “and this project extends the GCT complex.” The AECOM team, which is being led by Elton and senior project architect Maria Tarczynska, AIA, is a member of the General Engineering Consultant (GEC) team that is designing the estimated $7.2-billion ESA, which will sit 90 feet below GCT and will include: new entrances; a 300,000-square-foot concourse’ eight tracks on four platforms that lie beneath the existing Metro-North lower level tracks; eight linked mezzanines; and ticketing and waiting areas, retail, and exhibit space. “Aesthetic features keep changing,” Elperin said, but the project is on track and the design of the ESA is expected to be complete by August 2010.

The most visible change to pedestrians will be a new open public space on 50th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. EDAW, a subsidiary of AECOM, is designing the public space that will feature a landscaped plaza with seating and a water feature designed by Waterline Studios of Fort Collins, CO.

Four townhouses had to be demolished to create a new ventilation building, but due to public input, the team reduced its height and relocated more of the functions underground. Another ventilation structure is being constructed on 44th Street. Its neighbor, the Yale Club, was adamantly against having a “ventilation monstrosity” nearby, so the team designed a low-rise structure to camouflage the system and it is illuminated to appear as if people are at work inside.

One of the greatest challenges, according to Elperin, is the weaving of the space through the numerous obstacles set by Metro North, the buildings, and infrastructure in the area. He admitted that the project has “suffered the loss of additional entrances to the street, but those can be phased in later — it’s simply a question of money.” When asked if there was any analysis done to connect the new tracks to the Second Avenue Subway, for which AECOM served as the prime consultant for the engineering and design, he said that he didn’t know, “but there’s got to be a feasibility of it somewhere.”

For more information on the ESA visit http://www.mta.info/capconstr.

Modernizing Modernism: UN Headquarters for the 21st Century

Event: Lunch at the United Nations Headquarters
Location: United Nations Headquarters, 12.08.09
Speakers: John Hanna, Jr. — Chair, Archives Partnership Trust; Ramu Damodaran — Deputy Director, UN Outreach Division; Stephen Schlesinger — Historian & Author; John Clarkson — Deputy to the Executive Director, Capital Master Plan; David Fixler, FAIA — Principal, EYP Architecture & Engineering

UN

United Nations Headquarters.

Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering

The headquarters of the United Nations is a prime example of Modernism with a capital M. However, time has taken its toll on the early 1950s complex that bears the signatures of internationally renowned architects including Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer. Recently, leaders from the Archives Partnership Trust, the UN Outreach Division and Capital Master Plan team, along with designers from EYP Architecture & Engineering, gathered to discuss the progress of the revitalization of the buildings for 21st-century use.

Ramu Damodaran, deputy director of the UN Outreach Division, is often asked why it’s taking so long to complete the renovations. “The Lord had the great advantage of working alone,” he replies, referring to the multitude of committees and teams involved in the planning process. The design team alone includes EYP with Helpern Architects, HLW, R.A. Heintges & Associates, and Syska & Hennessy Group. However, the process is moving forward in earnest, with an ambitious projected completion date at the end of 2013 on a budget just under $2 million.

Although the original complex included six buildings with around 2.7 million square feet of space, the UN has experienced vast growth in the past 60 years. While there were initially 70 member states, now there are 192. When the complex was constructed, only 1,500 meetings were held per year, but now it struggles to accommodate 5,800. Space planning is a major issue. Instead of new expansions, subtle tweaks will make room for modern technologies and result in uncluttered, open space, which the designers hope will foster teamwork.

Mainly, the renovation project involves infrastructure upgrades. The UN lacks modern security devices, and, according to John Clarkson, deputy to the executive director of the Capital Master Plan, the “level of risk is unacceptable.” The buildings are in dire need of upgrades to fire alarm systems and sprinklers as well as inefficient heating and cooling systems. Roof leaks, fire separation issues, and asbestos must also be addressed to comply with the NYC Building Code.

David Fixler, FAIA, a principal of EYP, stated that the design team’s primary goal is to “preserve and enhance the symbol and history” of the complex. Guided by a collective “moral consciousness,” the team faces the challenge of integrating modern technologies within the original design. The preservation of industrial products is also important, including lighting and diffusers. Audio components necessary to translate speeches into many languages are integrated directly into new stations for delegates to minimize unsightly wiring. Instead of using surface-mounted plasma screens, the designers specified built-in electronic signs that will blend better with the architecture, and the font from the original signage throughout the UN is being replicated.

Fixler realizes that it is impossible to exactly preserve some spaces, and the team has established a language for necessary interventions such as ADA ramps. The designers also carved new conference rooms out of a basement.

Sustainability has been a major driver in design decisions; the team is aiming for a LEED Silver equivalent. The curtain wall of the Secretariat building is being restored to its original clear glazing in place of the current blue-tinted Mylar film, the result of an earlier renovation. The new double-glazed skin will help cut heating and cooling costs. While not currently in the scope, sustainable strategies such as recycling rainwater and installation of renewable energy sources are being considered for the future, which is only appropriate for a 21st-century global institution.

Krier Dismisses Modernity

Event: The Architecture of Community
Location: Urban Center, 12.09.09
Speakers: Léon Krier — Visiting Professor, Yale School of Architecture
Organizers: Congress for the New Urbanism; Municipal Art Society

Where would civilization be without extremists? Its progress may depend on some of them — sometimes even the ones who don’t believe in progress. An internally coherent and uncompromising position that rejects mainstream core assumptions may never see its ideals realized in the literal form its adherents envision, but such a stance can shift the center of gravity of debate; at the very least, it forces opponents to clarify their ideas. Such may be the ultimate effect of Léon Krier’s advocacy of neotraditional town planning and architectural forms adhering to a classical/vernacular continuum. Though American New Urbanism, British Windsorism, and related movements have translated some of his ideas into practical planning and construction, his direct and undiluted message comes as a shock even to those familiar enough with his writings to expect one.

By “looking at cities in non-sentimental ways,” Krier dismissed not just architectural modernism but modernity itself as a petroleum-gulping, civility-eroding abomination. His argument, he stressed, is not about subjective style preferences but about the technologies that make communities possible and the kinds of communities that might endure if current technologies fail, as he believes they inevitably will. Krier is an unabashed radical, not a fashionable one — but a real one.

Krier addressed a New York audience at the end of his book tour. Apparently prepared to encounter defenses of a city that he said passed its prime around 1910, he seemed at times surprised at the respectful reception he received. He has seen enough of the U.S. in recent months to be appalled not only at its horizontal sprawl but at the skyscraping cities he calls “vertical sprawl,” comprising overdeveloped clusters of “vertical cul-de-sacs.” He minces no words about what we need: “This country has to be entirely reorganized.”

We are headed, Krier warned, for a societal collapse as described in James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, Jeremy Rifkin’s Entropy, and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, among several sources he recommends. The consequences are likely to be asymmetrical: the decline in fossil-fuel production may be much steeper than its recent rise, he noted, and the Corbusian building forms that correlated with that rise strike him as ill-suited to the days ahead. He advocates dismantling the modern city and building only historically familiar forms on biologically based scales: a ten-minute walking radius, plus a height limit low enough to define his vision of “mature urbanity” as more village than city. Even bicycles and elevators apparently fail to meet his sustainability criteria. “If I was President of the United States,” he said, “…I would impose constitutionally that no one should in the future ever build anything more than three stories.” He quickly dismissed arguments linking urban density with sustainability on the grounds that skyscrapers “are buildings which need enormous empires to maintain.” There is essentially nothing about the modern city that he finds beautiful or useful enough to keep.

Krier sees civilization on the brink of collapse. Those tempted to dismiss him over ideas like the three-story limit also need to reckon with ideas of his that they might welcome from a less alarmist source: polycentric mixed-use layouts, unstigmatized affordable housing, the priority of pedestrian life, and the critical civic role of public squares — preferably, he says, organic European-style piazzas. His proposal that some entity buy up four-block areas in American cities and build regularly spaced urban piazzas, varying the artificial geometry of our Jeffersonian grid along with providing natural congregation points, could do a great deal to relieve the anti-communitarian effects of our built environment.

“Unfortunately, architectural education has lobotomized most people who are of common intelligence and sensitivity,” he is convinced, but when the concept of progress strikes him wholesale as illogical and unsupported by evidence, one looks in vain for reciprocal sensitivity to nuance. In dismissing all technologically based visions of the sustainable metropolis, he sometimes relies more on assertion than actual refutation. At times Krier appears to go out of his way to provoke opponents into ignoring his warnings; this ill serves a set of ideas whose gravity calls for serious scrutiny. And, if we are lucky, for the refinement that comes through head-on debate with the champions of the modern city’s capacities for exuberance and resilience.

Artists Break Out of the Gallery and Reinvent Architecture

Event: Toward ANARCHITECTURE: A Conversation between Architects and Artists
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.16.09
Speakers: Vito Acconci — Artist, Designer, Acconci Studio; Dan Graham — Artist; James Wines — Founder & President, SITE
Moderator: Beatriz Colomina — Professor of Architecture & Founding Director, Program in Media and Modernity, Princeton University
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee

MurIsland-Elvira-Klamminger

Mur Island, Graz, 2003, by Acconci Studio.

Elvira Klamminger

Gordon Matta-Clark defined “anarchitecture” as “an attempt at clarifying ideas about space which are personal insights and reactions rather than socio-political statements.” Matta-Clark was not anti-architecture; he re-interpreted the discipline’s formal definition. In the fourth and final panel discussion of the series “Toward Anarchitecture,” a collection of designers whose portfolios reflect Matta-Clark’s school of thought discussed their work and trajectory of thought throughout their careers.

James Wines, founder and president of SITE and author of several books on the fusion of art and architecture, cited Le Corbusier as an innovator in cross-disciplinary context and hybrid design. His chapel in Ronchamp is exemplary of an “edifice as a piece of sculpture,” rather than sculpture being applied to a building as art, Wines claimed. In his own work, he found that by revisiting formal strategies he could uncover “a way of dissecting and transforming prejudices about buildings.” His work is sensitive to art and ecology, and operates in a domain that Wines described as “high risk,” explaining that its indefinable character causes architecture to be threatened by it and art to lack an understanding of it.

The works of artist Dan Graham and artist and designer Vito Acconci similarly cross borders. Graham creates habitable spaces and employs materiality and texture to create detailed interiors. He believes that all artistic work should be quasi-functional, breaking out of the confines of a gallery and creating site-specific work that is both spatial and sensory. “Everything I’ve done has been a hybrid,” he said.

Acconci’s career, stemming from an interest in writing, integrates multi-disciplinary thought, from fashion to industrial design. Acconci’s revelation that art is a field without inherent characteristics allowed him to use other disciplines in his work. Throughout his career, he slowly removed both himself and the envelope in which he worked, allowing his art to create its own spatial definitions through public participation. “I don’t think I wanted viewers, I wanted inhabitants, participants. The thing that drew me to architecture and design is that you can deal with all the everyday occasions of everyday life,” he reflected.

The Space between Art and Architecture

Event: Toward ANARCHITECTURE: A Conversation between Architects and Artists
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.19.09
Speakers: Joseph Grima — Director, Storefront for Art & Architecture; Alanna Heiss — Founder, Art Radio WPS1.org; Katrin Sigurdardottir — Artist; Didier Faustino — Architect; Chris Perry — Partner, Servo; James Angus — Artist
Moderator: Farnaz Mansuri, Assoc. AIA — Principal, De-Spec
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee

Storefront

Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Courtesy Storefront for Art and Architecture

The synthesis of creative disciplines often results in an experience that defies tradition and probes curiosity. A growing collective of artists and architects are re-examining their mediums to invent a new hybrid discipline.

The Storefront for Art & Architecture continues to embody the spirit of cross-disciplinary intervention under the leadership of Joseph Grima, who views architecture as “a channel for political agency, a metaphor for society, and a platform for intervention.” This open ended view of architecture is literally present in Storefront’s façade — designed by Vito Acconci and Steven Holl in 1993 — which opens the length of the gallery to the street, blurring the boundary between indoor and outdoor space. Alanna Heiss, director of P.S.1 from 1976-2008, provided insight into the days of Gordon Matta-Clark, who parlayed his architectural background into art. Contemporary artist, Katrin Sigurdardottir continues to be inspired by Matta-Clark in her work, which resides between perceived and embodied space, encouraging a new participatory relationship between viewers and art.

Matta-Clark’s innovative perception of traditional disciplines has engendered a community of anarchitects who continue to mold and translate the creative box within which they design. The presence of public art in architecture is recognized as a vital complement to many contemporary buildings. Similarly, many artists are exploring 3-dimensional multi-media works that focus on creating objects and space rather than the interpretation of them.

A Preservation Saga with a Happy Ending

Event: Saving Lieb House (2009): Premiere
Location: NYU Tisch School of the Arts, 12.11.09
Speakers: James Venturi — Director, Light from Light Films
Organizers: Light from Light Films; NYU Tisch School of the Arts

LiebHouse

The Lieb House sailing past the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

Kristen Richards

Lieb House, designed by Robert Venturi, FAIA, and Denise Scott Brown and built in 1969, nearly came to a bad end last winter. Selling the land beneath the fabled “little house with big scale” became a necessity for Sheila and Leroy Ellman, a couple who had owned it and protected it for three decades but faced a medical-expense burden; the new buyer, developer Michael Ziman, wanted only the land, planning to build a larger rental property. Ziman did not relish the prospect of demolishing an icon, but his business interests did not include the beach house with the unmistakable round window, tapering staircase, top-floor family room, and supergraphic numeral 9. He had also taken on commitments requiring a tight construction timetable. To those who knew its history and appreciated its quirks, however, the building that Frederic Schwartz, FAIA, calls “the first Pop house” deserved whatever efforts might be needed to stave off the wrecking ball.

Luckily for the house and its architects, their son Jim Venturi joined with longtime friend and associate Schwartz in assembling and coordinating an inspired group of rescuers to arrange for its relocation — first to a safe parking lot nearby in Barnegat Light, NJ, then, after six weeks, northward by barge along the Jersey shore, up the East River, and into Long Island Sound toward Glen Cove, Long Island. There, thanks to the generosity of new owners Drs. Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin, it joined another Venturi Scott Brown Associates work, the larger Kalpakjian House, as a waterfront guest residence. Its voyage, familiar to readers of this and other publications (see “Lieb House Sets Sail for New Horizons,” e-Oculus, 03.10.09), is now celebrated in a 25-minute documentary directed by Jim Venturi and John Halpern, assisted by writer/producer Nora McDevitt, cameramen Mead Hunt and Todd Sheridan (with a 13-camera crew on moving day), editors Angelo Corrao and Russell Greene, and a host of post-production collaborators. Saving Lieb House tells this happy story.

The house itself is the real star of the film, but quite a few heroes make an appearance and/or made their presence felt behind the scenes. Jim Venturi took the advice of Nathaniel Kahn, director of another filial film, the Louis Kahn biopic My Architect (2003), to override his original inclination and include himself on camera; he comes across as humble, witty, and extraordinarily dedicated. Schwartz invested enormous energy in the project, handling arrangements at the Glen Cove end in parallel with Venturi’s efforts at Barnegat, and offering scene-stealing, colorfully cantankerous commentary throughout the process. Drs. Sarnoff and Gotkin funded the entire move, including rush-job approvals at both ends and special interventions by utility firms. Bit players like a Verizon representative, who promised Venturi his company would not be the reason the project failed, can also share some credit.

One helpful factor was the refreshing absence of obstructionists. Jim Venturi, speaking last winter in the midst of the planning, hastened to credit Barnegat mayor Kirk Larson and landowner Ziman for supporting the move. Once the destination site was identified and the plan in place, Glen Cove mayor Ralph Suozzi and other local and state officials were comparably helpful. At any of hundreds of moments, a single administrative foul-up, overlooked detail, or objection forcing a lengthy environmental review might have derailed the whole endeavor — but, as Venturi described, “we managed in record time by disposing of the concept of dependencies. In any plan, you have a Gantt chart with dependencies: you do this before you do that, because it’s a prerequisite. But another way to do it is just to do everything, assuming that the prerequisites will be met…. Things that would [ordinarily] take months have taken a day.” Even the weather was cooperative: a winter storm might have delayed local utilities’ work ensuring the house’s safe passage under power and phone lines, but the critical days, for both the initial move off its pilings and the final move from storage site to barge to Glen Cove, were clear and bright.

“People seemed to get that they were saving something,” said Venturi after the screening. “There’s something about this house that is moving to people who have no relation to it…. People really cheered this thing on.” Saving Lieb House began as footage for the forthcoming feature Learning from Bob and Denise but gradually assumed its own narrative shape, so that Venturi and colleagues spun it off as a separate film. The cheering is likely to continue when the two films are eventually screened together — and it ought to grow even louder if the Lieb House experience, provided luck and dedication hold out, inspires similar efforts the next time a unique building is threatened.

Preservationists Ponder Continued Reuse

Event: Preserving 20th-Century Modernism
Location: Museum of the City of New York, 12.02.09
Speakers: Belmont Freeman, FAIA — Founder, Belmont Freeman Architects; Nina Rappaport — Chair, DOCOMOMO/New York-Tristate & Editor, Constructs; Frank Sanchis — Senior Vice President, Municipal Art Society; Theodore Prudon, FAIA — President, DOCOMOMO/US
Moderator: Andrew S. Dolkart — Urban Architectural Historian, Author, Guide to New York City Landmarks (Wiley & Sons, 1998)
Organizer: Museum of the City of New York

TWA

TWA Terminal, New York International (now John F. Kennedy International) Airport, New York, circa 1962.

Photography by Balthazar Korab, ©Balthazar Korab Ltd., courtesy Museum of the City of New York

“If you had the option,” asks Frank Sanchis, senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society, “wouldn’t you rather travel in and out of Grand Central Terminal, rather than Penn Station?” Sanchis, who passionately advocates for the preservation and re-use of the TWA Terminal for air travel, made his point. “Today,” he continued, airports are like bus stations.” There was no travel experience like flying in or out of the TWA Terminal at JFK.

Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal, a NYC designated landmark, could be called a poster child for the preservation of Modern masterpieces, and its situation is one of the most difficult to remedy. Jet Blue’s new Terminal 5 stands behind it and the iconic flight tubes join the two. Since the demise of TWA, the terminal suffered from benign neglect, until the Port Authority hired Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners to make costly renovations, including repairs to the roof and drainage systems, removal of accretions, and asbestos abatement of the enormous ceilings over the lower and upper lobbies. It will also include restoration of the original flooring, seating areas, the flight information board, and information desk. The Port Authority says it “is expected to begin a process that ultimately will provide a vibrant new life for the structure by adapting it to new airport-related uses, which are yet to be determined.”

Saarinen, and the current exhibition “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future” at the Museum of the City of New York, is a perfect springboard to discuss preservation. He worked during an era when architecture was key to the identity of corporations. Due to corporate mergers and a down economy, Saarinen’s Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ, is not the only modernist white elephant in an empty space. It is, however, high on the list for preservation and adaptive re-use for DoCoMoMo NY/Tri-State. The organization gathered a group of 38 design professionals and architects from NYC to Philadelphia to address the problems that surround the sustainable re-use of Saarinen’s buildings. Ideas such as re-use for healthcare, mixed-use, and education were presented to the building’s current owner, Somerset Development. Unable to secure the necessary approvals from the township, the development company sponsored its own community event to present its own mixed-use proposal to the public.

The panel was asked if adaptive re-use is the answer? Sanchis firmly believes that “it’s best use is its original use,” and that what you want to change a building into and the intensity of the design of the original are both factors. Theo Prudon, FAIA, feels that “9/11 changed the terminology,” especially in terms of the TWA Terminal. He feels adaptive re-use is a 1970s term and “continued re-use” is more appropriate today.

2000s: Decade of Decadence or Decency?

As the decade comes to a close, many stories highlighting the architecture of the “aughts” seem to be focusing on starchitecture and a supposed era of design gluttony. Those stories claim that the 20-teens will bring an end to the big dreams and excessive indulgences of developers riding the coattails of Robert Moses. However, while I agree that there were plenty of large-scale proposals that could prove to change the face of future development — from the World Trade Center to the West Side Rail Yards to Atlantic Yards — many of those proposals have been put on hold, placed aside (temporarily?) and replaced by watered down compromises.

For me, the decade in NYC is defined more by the smaller-scale, community-driven projects that have sizably impacted public space. The projects that immediately come to mind are the High Line Park, by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro (See “High Line Opens With Design Appeal,” Editor’s Soapbox, e-Oculus, 10.23.09), and Times Square with the pedestrian mall and TKTS Booth and Environs, by Choi Ropiha with Perkins Eastman and PKSB (See “NYC’s Answer to the Spanish Steps,” Editor’s Soapbox, e-Oculus, 10.28.08). These projects both garnered enormous public support and continue to draw massive crowds. They exemplify the 2009 AIANY Theme, “Elevating Architecture / Design Literacy for All.” It is because of projects such as these that architecture and design has gained new (and positive!) respect among otherwise pessimistic New Yorkers. I hope 2010 will bring more neighborhood-conscious designs to the streets.