01.26.10

01.26.10 Editor’s Note: On 01.21.10, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Young Hwan Choi, Andrés Cortés, AIA, and Sarrah Khan, PE, LEED AP, had the winning design for the urbanSHED competition. Click here to read my Editor’s Soapbox about the design, and click here to read the official press release.

Also, next week launches the first annual Oculus Lecture on Design. Moshe Safdie, FAIA, will speak about his work, the ideas behind it, how it fits into the contemporary practice of architecture, and its implications beyond the field. Click here to RSVP.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

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

Chutes and Ladders: Deciphering Codes and Laws for Multiple Dwellings

Event: Multiple Dwelling Law and the New New York City Building Code
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.19.10
Speaker: James Colgate, RA, Esq. — Assistant Commissioner for Technical Affairs and Code Development, NYC Department of Buildings
Organizer: AIANY Building Codes Committee

Navigating between the Multiple Dwelling Law and the NYC Building Code is like playing Chutes and Ladders. These days, that means more headaches due to the number of renovations, which often includes tenements and other multiple dwellings. While many architects hire code consultants to decipher the myriad requirements, James Colgate, RA, Esq., described the differences between these codes and laws, although he admitted that it “confuses everyone I’ve spoken to, including my examiners.”

Most are familiar with the NYC Building Code and its various incarnations, ranging from 1939 to 1968, and the newest version enacted in 2008. The new Building Code is very similar to the New York State Building Code, which was modeled after the International Building Code (IBC). However, building in NYC presents special challenges, and our code must make allowances. For this reason, the 2008 code did not adopt elements of the International Residential Code (IRC), which primarily concerns one- and two- family dwellings of three stories or less and is “deficient for dense urban environments,” according to Colgate.

Enter the Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL). It is a state law and therefore trumps all city codes. Under this law, buildings are classified depending on when they were built, which determines the requirements for alterations. The aim is to maintain safety and quality of life by governing the details, from penthouse additions to the dimensions and materials of stair treads and fire stairs. In some cases, however, the requirements of the NYC Building Code exceed those of the MDL and must be applied.

Lack of familiarity with the NYC Building Code results in incorrect forms and re-filings. For example, when indicating the classification for converted dwellings on a Certificate of Occupancy form, respondents often check the wrong Building Code for review of compliance. This selection alters other components in the electronic form, creating a domino effect.

Colgate stressed the importance of understanding all prior Building Codes. He suggests designers start with the 1938 Building Code and then “work your way up to the 2008 code.” At the same time, you must carefully check the Multiple Dwelling Law for instances where it is more stringent and must be followed. Through this process of analysis, and sometimes trial and error, the architect can determine which requirements are best suited for the project.

Mayne Challenges Performative Notions

Event: The Happold Trust Presents: Thom Mayne on Performalism — Fundraising Event for Engineers Without Borders
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.20.10
Keynote Speaker: Thom Mayne, FAIA — Founder, Morphosis
Organizer: The Happold Trust
Sponsors: AIANY; AHSRAE NY Chapter; Buro Happold Consulting Engineers; Bentley Systems; Rias Baixas

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The Federal Building in San Francisco.

Morphosis

Observers of debates about aesthetics and sustainability could pick up some useful perspective from Thom Mayne, FAIA. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he recalled, in debates over what might replace an exhausted Modernist consensus, performance-oriented functionalism struck him as offputtingly self-righteous, and a concern with formal innovation seemed more congenial — yet today he frequently finds himself addressing green conferences. Performance concerns and formal explorations appear to be fusing, he finds, with the old conflict fading under the combined pressure of new digital tools and radical rethinkings of design procedures.

This event served several purposes: fundraising and publicity for the humanitarian work of Engineers Without Borders, a detailed tour through several major Morphosis projects, and a witty, provocative immersion in a set of 21st-century design strategies that transcend 20th-century categories. Mayne is not the only architectural thinker to use the portmanteau word performalism, and he steered clear of ambitious claims about the term itself; in fact, he barely used it. Yet the impact and implications of Morphosis’s work, as admirers of the Cooper Union Academic Building will attest, stretch the boundaries of any descriptive vocabulary, established or new.

From early school and residential projects in Los Angeles through transformative commissions in Austria, Korea, Denmark, China, France, and elsewhere, Mayne and colleagues have placed the precision of digital abstraction at the service of a new type of organic architecture, consistent with that of biology and complexity. The juxtapositions in the firm’s buildings represent embodiments of pragmatic solutions to problems. “Our projects start digitally,” he proclaims; Morphosis engages deeply with BIM tools to “build the thing itself,” thinking through the computer rather than using computation for secondary representation. At times, he pursues certain ideas for the sake of wit or daring — he spoke of a gung-ho Shanghai client who encouraged Morphosis to extend a cantilever as far as 150 feet over a lake, rendering it even more vertiginous with glass flooring — but there is nothing gratuitous in the process; even this “pterodactyl” building, the Giant Group headquarters, responds to the site’s conditions and potentials.

In some ways, Mayne’s cognitive acrobatics are variations on the concept of freedom: from expectations, from the generic, and from technical limits, but never from coherence, no matter how he redefines that concept. As information technology allowed precise 3-D anatomization of the “Hippocampus” competition project in Copenhagen, resembling serial slices of computed axial tomographic imaging in medicine, Mayne says he came to realize that “plan and section are no longer valuable words”: the concept of a plan falls away, and “they’re all sections.” The building/ground distinction likewise dissolves among the mounds and planes of the Pudong Cultural Park; at the University of Cincinnati, a multi-use recreation center interweaves so that “everything that touches everything only happens once” and the building is more a network of connective tissues than a discrete object.

Mayne offered a critique of value engineering, a practice that Morphosis’s integration of construction methods with thought processes not only renders unnecessary but shows to be hopelessly counterproductive: “Value engineering,” he commented, “is about taking value out of a building.” Working in San Francisco, he determined that most residents, while politically liberal, were “beyond conservative” about aesthetics and preservation, even “fundamentalists,” so Morphosis used a simple operating principle for the Federal Building: “no aesthetics,” just a thorough extension of performance efficiency into the realms of human health and workplace social organization; the result is a building whose complex site-specific geometries and “living skin” make air conditioning unnecessary on the higher floors. LEED, too, strikes him as “secondary to solving the problem” of energy efficiency, since “Americans won’t touch the real solution: changing the shape of the building.” Perhaps the visible synergies between performance and aesthetics will help the broader culture catch up to the high standards that Morphosis continues to set, challenge, and redefine.

Social Media Experts Share Their Stories

Event: Why to Blog, Text and Tweet Redux: Tips and Tricks
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.21.10
Speakers: Mike Plotnick — Vice President & Corporate Communications Manager, HOK; Kimberly Dowdell, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED AP — Public Relations & Business Development, HOK; Winka Dubbeldam — Principal, Archi-Tectonics; Benjamin Prosky — Director of Communications, Architizer; Marc Kushner, AIA — Co-Founder, Architizer
Organizer: AIANY Marketing & PR Committee

As the use of social media in the professional design community becomes less of a trend and more of a standard, firms of all sizes are seeking advice on which mediums to pursue, the effectiveness of the tools, and what it will mean for business. At the second such event hosted by the AIANY Marketing & PR Committee, representatives from HOK, Archi-Tectonics, and Architizer offered a cross section of experience with social media. While each firm has delved into the world of alternative marketing techniques for different reasons, the panel unanimously advocated the myriad benefits that blogging, texting, and tweeting bring to the table.

Mike Plotnick, vice president and corporate communications manager for HOK, shared a list of reasons why the firm actively engages in its social media website, Life at HOK . He believes that social media is the future in professional industries. It offers an inexpensive medium to market the firm with an intimate insight into its culture. Winka Dubbeldam, principal at Archi-Tectonics, who has an active presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Architizer, founded her company blog to develop a current events feed on her work in response to heavy web traffic on her firm’s website. Benjamin Prosky and Marc Kushner, AIA, founders of Architizer, recently launched their website, which is a tool aimed at connecting the design community, establishing a database of architects, and allowing architects to easily publicize their work. Only three months old, the site has 4,500 members, and nearly 1,000 firm profiles posted.

For all the panelists, the benefit of using social media as a marketing tactic is the ability to be proactive about reaching an audience. Plotnick stated that as traditional media continues to struggle, blogging, texting, and tweeting allows designers to self-promote without relying on editors or writers. Rather than waiting for potential clients to come to her website, Dubbeldam sends out e-mail blasts to her mailing list each time her blog is updated. Prosky and Kushner developed Architizer so that when a project is uploaded, the user is prompted to input a broad range of information and project details along with countless images, resulting in an informal press release.

Those considering social media as an addition to their marketing and communications efforts may find the task daunting with so many outlets available and may be skeptical about the risks involved, time required, and ambiguous return on investment. Dubbeldam asserts that contributing to her blog is quick and efficient, while Plotnick, Prosky, and Kushner agree that their sites are only as strong as the frequent efforts of their contributors. Intrinsically void of censorship, all panelists advised that an overly conservative office culture is not the ideal setting for this endeavor. Plotnick stated, “Thankfully I work for a firm that lets us do our job and gives us the tools to play as well.”

While social media has yet to yield quantifiable business development results, it does enhance relationships that open doors to projects. For firms that lack a communications staff, such as Archi-Tectonics, the addition of a blog site expands web presence and multiplies a firm’s Google search hits with little effort. The synergy of social media sites has largely benefited the movement as well, since it provides users with a simple way to populate multiple outlets at once. Prosky and Kushner attribute Architizer’s swift popularity, in part, to Twitter, which quickly spread the word in the design community that a new tool was available. While company executives may be reluctant converts to the social media frenzy, once a successful social media presence is established, it is hard to imagine a marketing strategy without it. As Plotnick said, “I don’t think anyone from top to bottom [at HOK] would consider pulling the plug at this point.”

Exhibition Goes Beyond ABCs of Eero Saarinen

Event: Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future — AIANY Member Night
Location: Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), 01.11.10
Speaker/Tour Guide: Donald Albrecht — Curator of Architecture and Design, MCNY; Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA — Exhibition Designer
Organizer: AIANY; MCNY
Sponsor: Benjamin Moore

“‘Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future’ at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) is remarkable because the impact of the work on NYC and its environs leaps off the walls,” said AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, at a special after-hours tour of the exhibition for AIANY members led by its curator, Donald Albrecht and exhibition designer, Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA.

Called the “Architect of the American Century,” Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) was widely acknowledged as a leader of the second generation of Modernists who rose to prominence after World War II. “With Saarinen, it was all about ‘the search’ — the search for new ideas, the search for new building types,” according to Albrecht. “Saarinen said that architects of his generation had to go beyond the measly ABC’s of the first generation of Modernists, and his search was to add letters to the alphabet.”

Much of Saarinen’s most recognizable work — TWA Terminal at JFK, Dulles Airport, Vivian Beaumont Theater, F.B. Morse and Ezra Stiles College at Yale, CBS Headquarters (aka Blackrock), John Deere Headquarters, IBM Watson Research Labs, the Gateway National Arch, and Bell Labs — were completed after he died. As Saarinen was reaching the peak of his fame,” observed Stanley Stark, FAIA, “the consensus in support of strict, rigorous modernism was beginning to fracture. Architects like Paul Rudolph, John Johansen, and Philip Johnson, tiring of a style they found to be increasingly sterile and limiting, began to peel off in other directions and were soon to be followed by a new generation of post-war architects who turned their backs on the Bauhaus style with the same abruptness that an earlier generation had spurned the Beaux Arts. But Saarinen seemed to be among the first who embarked upon a new style or stylistic synthesis.”

According to Joseph, the exhibition is like a kit-of-parts, and her team created the environment for the parts in the museum. The core exhibition has been traveling in Europe and the U.S since 2006, and features sketches, working drawings, models, photographs, furnishings, films, and other ephemera from the architect’s career from the 1930s through the early 1960s. One feature distinct to the New York exhibition is the room-within-a-room for Saarinen’s residential projects — most notably, the Miller House in Columbus, IN. Due to its expansive budget, the project allowed Saarinen to work on a grand scale and collaborate with landscape architects and interior designers. While standing in the “room.” Joseph admitted her favorite Saarinen work is the Miller House and commented, “Saarinen reinforced that you have to think about things from concept to detail. It’s so obvious in his work. He wasn’t afraid to work with an interior designer. He wanted to invent something new for each project, whether it was a material or a thickness, to find that one thing everything else can work around.”

“Looking at the fantastic photos of TWA when it was newly open indicates not only what we have lost from daily use, but the expectation that we will soon see aviation-related activity — real activity — return to that wonderful space and see its cocoon-like hibernation spring forth, newly transformed,” concluded Bell. When the exhibition closes on 01.31.10, it will travel to Yale University from 02.19-05.02.10.

Schwendinger Sheds Light on Bryant Park

Event: Light Walk in Bryant Park
Location: Bryant Pakr, 01.12.10
Speaker/Tour Guide: Leni Schwendinger — Principal, Leni Schwendinger Light Projects
Organizer: Leni Schwendinger Light Projects

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The brightly lit New York Times building framed by darker buildings to either side. In the foreground, to the left is the Pond skating rink at Bryant Park; the space with the blue light to the right is the Celsius Bar, a temporary pop-up restaurant.

Bill Millard

If you saw someone peering around at the pavings of Bryant Park, you might assume they’d lost something. In Leni Schwendinger’s case, she’d found something instead — an intricate network of shadows whose beauty drew her to drop to her knees for a close-up view during a recent walking tour devoted to the park’s public lighting. Thanks to the illumination of multiple bright floodlights shining from atop the nearby Verizon building, the park trees were casting a “cacophony of shadows,” she explained, comparing the effect to a Jackson Pollock painting.

The acclaimed designer first began her Light Walks as a tool for teaching her Parsons students about public lighting in various areas; the walk in Bryant Park was one of her first to be offered to the public. “My Light Walk is about any and all lights in public space,” she said as she began the tour at the northeast end of the park, taking a moment to point out the halo effect the floodlights caused in one woman’s white hair. Reaching all the way across the park, the lights’ illumination was still intense enough that the group could see each other clearly.

How brightly public spaces are lit can be a delicate balancing act between the demands of energy efficiency and the desire to keep spaces bright enough to make people feel safe, she explained during the walk. Adding the floodlights in December had made the park four times brighter, while still being a fairly energy-efficient, pragmatic solution. “It brings all the lights together; you can take care of them and maintain them very nicely. They’re very high, and they make a huge, broad swath of light like the moon,” she said. Other sustainable lights in the park include some of Schwendinger’s design — LED-encrusted round lights called “Jewel-Light Luminaires,” which help illuminate the skating rink.

The intensity of the floodlights creates some lovely if surreal effects: along the northern promenade, the backlight throws the forms of London plane trees into stark relief against the night sky. “Look at these absolutely gorgeous trees that are outlined and filigreed with the light,” Schwendinger said. “It’s like a beautiful stage set — it’s a stage set for urban living. It’s a gorgeous sight that you wouldn’t really have if these lights were a whole lot dimmer.”

Beyond the park, the lighting of the surrounding architecture also caught her eye, such as the Cook + Fox and Gensler-designed Bank of America building on 42nd Street. Contrasting warm and cool-hued lights on the façade help emphasize its faceted form, she observed.

As the group explored the dimmer southeastern sides of the park, she noted the changing ambience. Away from the floodlights, smaller, warmer lights from traditional globe lanterns, a carousel, and the windows of the Bryant Park Grill punctuated our surroundings. “These things are glowing out of the darkness, and it gives this beautiful romantic feel,” Schwendinger said.

At one point, she paused to draw our attention to some gray paving stones that glowed with a subtle gradient of color cast by lights on either side. “Now look carefully at the amber light being cast by the lantern and the bluish light by the [floodlights],” she said. “The sheen of the stone is like a satin, and that careful, careful nuanced relationship between the bluer light and the soft gold lights — it’s there! And now you will always see it.”

Indeed, it’s the kind of detail that’s easy to overlook, unless one is trained to notice it. Schwendinger hopes to offer more Light Walks in the future, helping city residents become more attuned to the ways lighting designers bring safety, sustainability, and beauty to public spaces.

From Norway to Guatemala: Art, Infrastructure Pave the Way

Event: Detour: Art, Architecture, Cities, and Landscapes Symposium
Location: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 01.19.10
Keynote Speaker: Peter Zumthor — Principal, Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner (Haldenstein)
Panelists: Craig Dykers, AIA — Principal, Snøhetta (NYC); Einar Jarmund — Partner, Jarmund/Vigsnæs (Oslo); Svein Rønning — Artist & Head, Arts Council for the National Tourist Routes Project (Bergen); Nader Tehrani — Partner, Office dA (Boston)
Moderator: David van der Leer — Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Conversation: Jerry Gorovoy — Artist’s Assistant, Louise Bourgeois Studio; Nancy Spector — Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Organizers: Architectural League of New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; in conjunction with the “Detour” exhibition at Parsons, The New School for Design
Sponsors: The Royal Norwegian Consulate General

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Landscape/Pavilion in Eggum, Norway, by Snøhetta.

Snøhetta

The designers and artists commissioned by Norway’s National Tourist Routes program face an enviable challenge: beauty overload management. To prevent visitors on its driving tours from growing bored by hours of dramatic scenery, the government seeks out creative talent from Norway and beyond to punctuate the experience and focus attention on specific features of the landscape. By hiring innovative architects and artists to work on infrastructure projects, such as bathrooms and picnic shelters, the project simultaneously provides key services and inserts what program director Svein Rønning referred to as “question marks,” or unexpected, playful, and sometimes destabilizing cultural experiences that serve as both complement and counterpoint to the spectacular natural surroundings.

The Guggenheim symposium, scheduled to coincide with the closing of a Parsons exhibition celebrating the National Tourist Routes program, used the Norwegian example as a jumping-off point for a broader discussion about design, infrastructure, and community. Snøhetta’s Craig Dykers, AIA, discussed a pro-bono project in Guatemala City in which the firm, approached about the possibility of creating a signature building to raise the city’s profile, recommended that the municipality instead focus its attention on a project that would have a far greater impact on its residents: fixing its dilapidated sidewalks. The design team drew up initial sketches for new sidewalks and street furniture, developed ideas about ways to incorporate the work of local artists and craftsmen, and then turned the project over to the city to implement.

Dykers expressed admiration for the National Tourist Routes and similar government initiatives but said that it was ultimately up to designers to take on socially relevant work, with or without external incentives. “As an architect, I think it’s important that you think about ways you can do it without the help of government… that you initiate things on your own, that you take on tasks that might not be well-paid, that have the kind of integrity to move a city forward, on the smaller scale as well as the very large scale.”

Urban Umbrella Will Brighten Dark Construction Sites

The “Urban Umbrella” entry to the UrbanSHED competition stood out to me at a recent discussion with the three finalist teams at the Center for Architecture (See “Sidewalk Sheds With Better Design Cred,” by Lisa Delgado, e-Oculus, 01.12.10). So I was excited when Mayor Bloomberg announced last Thursday that the entry won the competition, and that a prototype will be constructed this summer (See Around the AIA).

The design, as the name implies, took inspiration from umbrellas. By using circular geometry, the platform will be constructed with pie-shaped, translucent, fiberglass panels that can be assembled in different configurations. The panels themselves will allow natural light to penetrate to the sidewalk, and can be comprised of various colors, patterns, or designs that can be personalized to the needs of the owner of the building being protected. Of the finalists, this was the only proposal that would make a restaurant desire a construction canopy over its outdoor café.

This was also the only proposal that truly considered scale. The structure is created when two “umbrellas” join together to make a three-pin frame, which transfers load to the columns. As Sarrah Khan, PE, LEED AP, principal of the Agencie Group, co-winners of the competition, explained, because of the redundancy of the structure the size of the footings can be smaller and wind loads can easily be distributed through the frame. Lighting is incorporated into the struts, illuminating the sidewalk at night with fan-shaped patterns. And, like an umbrella opens and closes, so does the structure depending on the widths and height requirements of the sidewalks.

By using components that are similar to those in current sidewalk sheds, the umbrellas can be constructed similarly as well, and pieces may be used for both types of construction. Again, out of all the finalists, the Urban Umbrella was the only one that truly considered sustainability, which was one of the main issues outlined in the RFP.

I hope the prototype will live up to my expectations of the design. If it does, this contest is one of many in the history of design competitions that could radically accelerate the careers of its trio of young winners, Young Hwan Choi, an architecture student at the University of Pennsylvania, and Sarrah Khan, PE, and Andrés Cortés, AIA, principals of the Agencie Group.

In this issue:

· Students to Till Soil in Brooklyn
· New Center Will Showcase Korean Culture
· Smart Medical Facility Has Heart
· More Art Pops Up on Construction Sites
· NYC Waterfront Revitalization Receives Funding
· NY-Based Landscape Architects Create New Destinations Nationwide


Students to Till Soil in Brooklyn

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P.S. 216.

WORK Architecture Company

WORK Architecture Company has completed a design for the first Edible Schoolyard New York (ESYNY), founded by chef and organic food activist Alice Waters, which will be located at P.S. 216, in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The goal of the program is to create a space where schoolchildren plant, harvest, cook, and eat together, creating an interdisciplinary curriculum tied into regular academic subjects. At the heart of the project is the kitchen classroom, where up to 30 students can prepare and enjoy meals together. The design is a series of interlinking sustainable systems that produce energy and heat, collect rainwater, process compost, and sort waste with off-grid infrastructure. Part of P.S. 216’s existing asphalt-covered parking lot will be replaced by a quarter-acre organic farm, a kitchen classroom, and a mobile four-season greenhouse, all combined in a newly designed, self-sustaining educational building. The kitchen’s butterfly-shaped roof channels rain water for reclamation.


New Center Will Showcase Korean Culture

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The New York Korea Center.

SAMOO Architecture

SAMOO Architecture, the NY studio of the Seoul-based firm, has won an international competition for the design of The New York Korea Center, a new home for the Korean Cultural Service. Located on 32nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, east of Manhattan’s Korea Town, the eight-story, 33,000-square-foot facility will offer spaces for exhibitions, performances, lectures, and administration. A multi-layered glass façade creates a screen wall that illuminates three sculptural figures within — composed of polished ceramic, rough terracotta, and milled wood, representing heaven, earth, and humanity. Layered behind the screen wall, display panels will convey a changing visual message to passers-by. At street level, exhibitions will focus on current popular trends in Korean culture, including music, movies, food, technology, and TV dramas. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of the year and LEED accreditation will be pursued.


Smart Medical Facility Has Heart

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The Milstein Family Heart Center at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

The six-story, 142,000-square-foot Milstein Family Heart Center at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia recently opened. Designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the $50 million LEED-Gold project features a curved glass curtain wall that acts as a counterpoint to the existing masonry buildings in the hospital complex. Called a “climate wall,” the energy-efficient, double-glazing construction offers views of the Hudson River and the Palisades beyond. Electronically-controlled vertical shades maintain a temperate internal environment and present a constantly changing façade. At night, strategically deployed lighting refracts through the glass envelope, which is suspended from the uppermost floor by a web of stainless-steel cables. The facility provides a full range of medical services including: diagnostics; ambulatory surgery; cardiac catheterization laboratories; medical practice suites; critical care units; and an education/conference center. The new building is connected to its neighbors by a series of inclined glass bridges that traverse the vertical space of the project.


More Art Pops Up on Construction Sites

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“Walking Men 99.”

Maya Barkai/Courtesy ADA Art Consulting & Elinor Milchan

The Alliance for Downtown New York is installing five new works of public art this month at construction sites in Lower Manhattan as part of its “Re:Construction” program. The program, which began in 2007, helps mitigate the impact of construction sites by creating temporary artworks. The organization, with four arts consultants, identified artists to create installations at the sites. on a South Street construction fence, “Fence Embroidery with Embellishment,” by Katherine Daniels features ribbon-like stitches of green and white materials woven in geometric patterns to evoke stems and vines. At 99 Church Street, “Walking Men 99,” by Maya Barkai depicts 99 versions of the international “walk” symbol. Amy Wilson’s “It Takes Time to Turn a Space Around,” on a West Thames Park construction fence, is an ensemble of child-like characters in a storybook world. “The O2 Project,” by Elinor Milchan represents a garden of air bubbles at Fiterman Hall. And “Rendering Leonard,” by Helen Dennis tries to capture the city’s energy and flux at 56 Leonard Street. The Downtown Alliance received a $1.5 million grant in 2008 from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for about 30 projects over three years. Installation is expected to be completed by the end of this month.


NYC Waterfront Revitalization Receives Funding
The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance reports that the New York State Department of State, via the Environmental Protection Fund, has granted $23.8 million for waterfront revitalization projects, $8.9 of which will be directed for projects in NYC. In addition to borough by borough projects, the funds will go to citywide projects, including: the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan: Vision 2020; Urban Park Rangers: Adapting to Climate Change in NYC; Catalyst for Neighborhood Parks: Reclaiming the Waterfront; and Community Eco-Docks. Click here for a synopsis of all the projects.


NY-Based Landscape Architects Create New Destinations Nationwide

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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park BY Thomas Balsley Associates.

Image ©Sneary Architectural Illustration

NYC-based landscape architecture firm Thomas Balsley Associates, has completed the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, FL. Formerly a lifeless riverfront site, the new urban park has performance lawns and gardens, water features and lighting displays, play areas, and a dog run. The park is framed by the new Tampa Museum of Art, designed by San Francisco-based Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects, and the Glazer Children’s Museum, designed by John Curran, AIA.

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects is working on the master plan for Shoelace Park, a one-mile ribbon of parkland along the Bronx River, a project of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Bronx River Alliance. Work will include storm water and erosion control mitigation, streambank stabilization techniques, and control of invasive vegetation; the firm has already hosted a charrette with the local community.

Balmori Associates is working with H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture on the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), an international cultural and scientific center for conservation adjacent to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The firm is transforming a parking lot into more than an asphalt desert with spines of research files, rain gardens, and braided pathways that will operate as an open-air botanical lab.

In this issue:
· UrbanSHED Winner Announced
· Hanley-Wood Wins National AIA Contract


UrbanSHED Winner Announced
On Thursday, 01.21.10, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, AIANY President Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA, NYC Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri, City Planning Chair Amanda Burden, FAICP, Hon. AIANY, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Building Congress President Dick Anderson, and Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth Burger convened at a steel pipe-and-wood sidewalk shed outside Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn. Inside 3 Metrotech, the Mayor announced “Urban Umbrella” as the urbanSHED International Design Competition winner, and congratulated the winning designers. Young Hwan Choi, a first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture program, was one of three Stage I finalists announced in October. He then partnered with engineer Sarrah Khan, PE, and architect Andrés Cortés, AIA, founders of the design firm Agencie Group, to refine the design to the technical specifications required to make it safe and constructable on NYC’s streets. The winners will receive $10,000, and the Downtown Alliance has committed to build a prototype of “Urban Umbrella” on a construction site in downtown Manhattan this summer. View more images of the winning design, and all the entrants online at urbanshed.org, or visit the Center for Architecture’s Helfand Gallery to view models of the three finalists, along with competition boards featuring other notable designs, on view until 02.10.10.


Hanley-Wood Wins National AIA Contract
Starting in 2011, AIA members across the country will start receiving Architect magazine, a publication of Hanley-Wood. Previously, Architectural Record, a McGraw-Hill publication, had been the organization’s magazine, but the 10-year contract expires December 2010. Hanley-Wood will also be responsible for digital media efforts, and discussions are underway about its role in AIA’s national convention.