Editor’s Note: Over the next couple of issues you will see changes to e-Oculus that are a result of the recent survey submissions and our town hall discussion. The issues will focus more on AIANY, Chapter events, and the Center for Architecture. The sections are being reordered to reflect what is important to members, and, in an effort to shorten the length of the e-mails, some sections will be condensed and others not included. But don’t worry; readers’ favorite sections like “In the News” won’t be going away. I look forward to getting your feedback at eoculus@aiany.org.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

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And check out the latest Podcasts produced by AIANY.

Biennale Curators Build a Future from Russia’s Industrial Past

Event: Factory Russia: Russian Pavilion Exhibition at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.09.10
Speakers: Sergei Tchoban — Partner, NPS Tchoban Voss, & Principal, SPEECH
Moderator: Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY
Introduction: Vladimir Belogolovsky — Founder, Intercontinental Curatorial Project
Organizers: AIANY

Vyshny Volochyok_Photo-Yuri Palmin_300

The Paris Commune Factory, one of several industrial sites in Vyshny Volochyok proposed for renewal under the Factory Russia plan.

Yuri Palmin

“Our future is in a respectful dialogue with the past,” claimed St. Petersburg-born, Germany-based architect Sergei Tchoban, in a preview presentation of Russia’s contribution to this year’s Venice Biennale. For the Biennale, that dialogue is about a former industrial town of 60,000, halfway between St. Petersburg and Moscow called Vyshyny Volochyok.

Tchoban set the stage by discussing the historic renovations carried out by his firm, NPS Tchoban Voss. Photographs of Berolinahaus, for example, an art-deco office building designed by Peter Behrens on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, depicted restored façades and recreated period details. (Tchoban noted the environmental benefits of preserving the “embedded energy” that goes into a building’s initial construction.) He illustrated how these considerations — of history and human-scale architectural details — appear in Russian buildings and master plans developed by SPEECH, his collaboration with Moscow-based architect Sergei Kuznetsov.

For the Venice Biennale, he and his co-curators invited several Russian architects to re-imagine new programs for shuttered industrial sites scattered throughout Vyshny Volochyok. Though “everybody knows this town doesn’t need a Museum of Modern Art,” Tchoban said, he presented plans for cultural programs that would be contextually appropriate: a theater and institute dedicated to preserving local folk music, and a museum of industrial technology. A waterfront site would become a water recreation area. Historic buildings would be repurposed. And one site would return to active industrial use as a textile factory anchoring a fashion district. New programs and buildings are essential to renew interest in this and similar small towns, he said, if they are to compete with the major metropolises like Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In summarizing the curators’ primary concern, Tchoban explained, “The problem with our occupation in past years was that we began to be spectacular, and more spectacular, and much more spectacular. We’ve lost our imagination of ‘town,’ our imagination of human scale, and I think that’s the most important point of what we’ve worked out [in the Russian pavilion].”

Three-Dimensional Portfolio: NPNY Exhibition

Event: New Practices New York Exhibition Opening
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.15.10
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee
Sponsors: Lead Sponsor:Dornbracht, MG & Company; Valiant Technology; Sponsor: Espasso, Häfele and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper; Friend: Benjamin Moore


Members of the 2010 New Practices.

Alex Welsh

Winners of the AIANY New Practices Committee’s portfolio-based competition for emerging firms in NYC include: EASTON+COMBS (highest honor); Archipelagos; Leong Leong; Manifold; SOFTlab; SO-IL; and Tacklebox. Examples of their work are now side-by-side in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture. Designed by Leven Betts Studio, the exhibition is organized by media type — drawings, models, and video — so viewers can draw comparisons. An entire gallery is devoted to models, more than any previous NPNY exhibition, ranging from foam-core study models to carefully crafted final versions.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the exhibition is the video component. Each winning firm was asked to create a short film about their practice. These films, which loop on small flat-screens, feature interviews with firm principals, shots of firm members at work, and, in some cases, edgy music. The personalities of the firms are intimately revealed, and adjacent larger flat-screens feature a scrolling portfolio of their work.

Also on view are the physical portfolios, which viewers are invited to flip through. Since the competition was based on these portfolio designs, they stand as examples of successful layouts. The exhibition will be on view through 10.23.10 at the Center for Architecture, and then it will travel to São Paolo in 2011. To learn more about the seven winning firms, attend the Winner’s Symposium on 07.29.10, when they will present their work and discuss the organization of their practices. Tours of the studios will also be part of openhousenewyork, 10.09-10.10.10.

Active Design Goes Public

Event: Active Design Planning Workshop: Design Professionals
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.08.10
Speakers: Ernest Hutton, Assoc. AIA, FAICP — Principal, Hutton Associates; Suzanne Nienaber — Training Coordinator, NYC Active Design Program; Karen K. Lee, MD, MHSc — Director, Built Environment Program, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Reena Agarwal — Design Policy Analyst; Joseph Sopiak — Senior Design Liaison, NYC Department of Design and Construction; Charles McKinney, Assoc. AIA, ASLA — Principal Urban Designer, NYC Department of Parks; Donald Burns — President, APA New York Metro Chapter; Lauren Yarmuth, LEED AP — Principal, YRG / Urban Green; Tricia Martin — President, American Society of Landscape Architects, New York, & Principal, WE Design; Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY
Organizers: AIANY; NYC Active Design Guidelines Team

Through the combined efforts of five city agencies, a group of academic advisors, AIANY, and a host of editors and consultants, the Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design (ADG) was launched in January. This document combines research about the relation of the built environment to public health with practical recommendations for constructing urban spaces that respect the human body. The ADG team is now taking steps to make sure this volume moves off the shelves of architects, planners, and civic officials and into the public discourse.

The first in a series of outreach workshops — first addressing design professionals, with further meetings planned for educators and the real estate industry — gathered a small interdisciplinary group to brainstorm about ways to increase awareness of the ADG’s potential to reshape urban space. Karen Lee, MD, MHSc, reprised the case she has made at the Fit City panel series, describing the sea change from design strategies aimed at infectious disease to a new priority, the “diseases of energy,” a category of clinical conditions resulting from the societal-scale substitution of motorized movement for human activity.

If the designers of 21st-century public space can implement epidemiologic knowledge as effectively as their early-Modernist predecessors did, history offers reasons for encouragement. Thanks to aqueducts, sanitation, and construction standards that brought light and air into dank urban spaces, the city’s infectious-disease mortality statistics from 1880 to 1940 improved dramatically — predating the discovery of penicillin (1939) and the antibiotic era, one should note. America’s most significant health victories have more to do with spatial design and public health measures than with medical technologies, applied one patient at a time. For a comparable re-engineering of built space to encourage better use of human energy, the design professions have the tools at hand already: e.g., replacing mechanical transport with inviting, prominently-placed stair designs, augmented by skip-stop elevators where possible. (Where it isn’t, slowing the elevators down is an effective way to encourage people to take the stairs.)

Charles McKinney, Assoc. AIA, ASLA, observed that no one disagrees that the ADG’s measures are worthwhile. The challenge is one of rhetoric, memetics, and motivation, weaving the ADG principles into city policies and everyday practices. Discussion recurrently touched on the synergies between environmental and public-health progress: architect and sustainability consultant Lauren Yarmuth cited the experience of the U.S. Green Building Council in promulgating the LEED system, noting that these standards became far more effective once they were linked not just with honorable intentions, but with measurable incentives, such as the marketing advantage developers could claim once a building earned its precious-metal plaque.

Through a broad range of mechanisms, from social media to sponsored events to incorporation into RFPs, codes, and awards criteria, the ADG message will soon be spreading through the professional and local communities most directly affected by the bodily consequences of design.

Panel Gives Road Map to Greener, Cheaper Housing

Event: High Performance Strategies for Affordable Housing
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.12.10
Speakers: Christine Hunter, AIA, LEED AP — Principal, Magnusson Architecture and Planning; Paul Freitag, LEED AP — Development Director, Jonathan Rose Companies; Shillpa Singh — Sustainability Manager, YRG Sustainability; Yianice Hernandez — Green Communities Senior Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners; Jonathan Braman, LEED AP — Energy Performance Analyst and Project Manager for Multi-Family Developments, Bright Power
Moderator: Esther Yang — Project Design and Management, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation
Organizer: AIANY Committee on the Environment


Joyce and David Dinkins Gardens on West 153rd Street.

Jonathan Rose Companies

A recent panel on green affordable housing featured quite a diverse group, not only architects but also people working in development, certification, and energy analysis. “The aim is to get us all out of our respective bubbles and really talk about how we can use our mutual insights to move forward,” said moderator Esther Yang, an Enterprise Rose fellow, as she introduced the panel.

Yianice Hernandez of Enterprise Community Partners discussed how her organization’s Green Communities Initiative supports the development of sustainable affordable housing through funding and education. At the heart of the initiative is the Green Communities Criteria , which is designed as a “cost-effective road map” to guide people through the design and construction principles for this type of housing, she said, adding that following the criteria helps reduce utility costs, conserve resources, and improve indoor air quality. Since they offer the possibility of funding, similar programs are often more attractive than LEED for affordable housing projects, added Yang, who is currently working on project design and management for the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization that develops and manages affordable housing in the Bronx.

Jonathan Braman, LEED AP, emphasized the importance of benchmarking to get a sense of a building’s strengths and weaknesses in energy performance, before embarking on a renovation. Various benchmarking technologies are available, including EnergyScoreCards, an online tool offered by his energy-consulting company Bright Power, which can be used to translate the raw, hard-to-decipher data from utility bills into a format that can be easily understood, he explained. A grading system of A to D rates a building’s performance in areas such as heating, cooling, water usage, and carbon footprint.

In collaboration with Dattner Architects, Jonathan Rose Companies has used some affordable housing projects in NYC as experiments to push the limits of what’s possible, explained Development Director Paul Freitag, LEED AP. One project involved renovating 10 identical affordable housing buildings on West 135th Street to make them dramatically more sustainable. The challenge in another project, Joyce and David Dinkins Gardens on West 153rd Street, was to take an existing building type — the block-and-plank midrise affordable housing building — and figure out how to greatly boost the sustainability at no additional cost to the company. With the help of grant funding, it turned out to be possible, Freitag said.

From her recent experience in property management, Yang emphasized that, generally, the best bang for the buck comes not through technologies like photovoltaics but through improving performance by analyzing the fundamental qualities of the building: its orientation on the site, the energy-efficiency of the building envelope, and systems such as HVAC and water conservation. “From a property manager standpoint, I’m looking for the largest expenditures that I’m going to have in operating this building, and trying to reduce those — so having bamboo flooring may not come before adding an additional layer of insulation to the building,” she said. Thinking in those terms helps keep rents low for the tenants and, for a property manager, ensures enough money for running the building.

Meanwhile, aesthetics can’t be ignored. A lot of affordable housing projects look boxy and blandly similar, which can lead to the inhabitants feeling stigmatized, Yang said. She praised the design of the façade of Joyce and David Dinkins Gardens for its multiple materials and different colors of brick. For designers on a tight budget, the challenge is to “add interest and not insert sterilization,” she said.

Designing the Details: 2 Firms Expand into Product Design

Event: Beyond Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.07.10
Speakers: Alexander Lamis, AIA — Partner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Lisa Green — Partner, Selldorf Architects
Moderator: Donald Albrecht — Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of the City of New York


Patterned glass from the Robert A. M. Stern collection for Bendheim, Merletto (left); 90 degree coffee table from the Vica Collection by Selldorf Architects.

Courtesy Robert A.M. Stern (left); Selldorf Architects

Contemporary architects are increasingly drawing upon the legacies of designers such as Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames by exploring product design and creating holistic environments in which all elements exist cohesively. Firms such as Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Selldorf Architects have established branches of their practice devoted to furniture, product, and textile design, which not only serve to enhance the buildings and interiors they design, but are also independently marketable.

Lisa Green, a partner at Selldorf Architects, describes the furniture in the Vica collection — a name coined from a furniture and interior design firm of Selldorf’s grandmother in Cologne — as “only as big as it needs to be.” The simple lines, proportions, and crafted details of the furniture are constantly revisited. The collection is designed to be formal yet comfortable. The Vica collection also includes light fixtures, door pulls, and tabletop accessories originally designed for the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. While Green says that the majority of orders from the collection are for interiors designed by Selldorf Architects, the firm is planning to open a showroom in NYC.

Alexander Lamis, AIA, a partner at Robert A. M. Stern Architects who also manages Robert A.M. Stern Interiors and Robert A.M. Stern Design, which licenses the firm’s product designs, describes the practice’s oeuvre as “spoons to cities.” Its “spoons” include product design such as candlesticks, bowls, ice buckets, and place settings dating back to 1985. The practice’s furniture design includes lounge furniture, and furniture for healthcare, hospitality, and residential settings. While designing the Nashville Public Library, the building inspired a line of furniture called The Library Collection comprised of reading chairs, tables, and study carrels. The firm focuses its product design on the contract market place and has established partnerships with multiple manufacturers for which it designs furniture, textiles, and landscape accessories. Expanding beyond the design of products and furniture, the practice collaborates with its product partners, such as Bendheim glass and Bentley Prince Street Carpet, to develop marketing and ad campaigns. By doing so, both the practice and the manufacturer gain brand exposure.

Goldsmith at Crain’s Breakfast


Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.

Rick Bell

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg on 04.30.10 to serve as Deputy Mayor for Operations, overseeing, among other municipal agencies, the NYC Department of Buildings, the NYC Department of Transportation, and the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability — where PlaNYC is authored. Yesterday he gave the first major speech of his tenure at a breakfast hosted by Crain’s New York Business. After a glowing introduction by Kathyrn Wilde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, who highlighted his prior career as Mayor of Indianapolis, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith started by saying, “I had been writing a book and the research for it always led me back to NYC and the things that are happening here: innovation combined with a set of methods to make things better.”

Goldsmith spoke about how leaders can cut through bureaucracy to serve constituents: “If you want to do transformational change, you have to elbow your way through to it — it’s not a question of doing more efficiently the things that we shouldn’t be doing at all.” In talking about unused desk space, redundant city garages, and the 80 municipal data centers, he said that “modernization is not just about cost savings, but improving the conditions of work. We need to transform how we do our work.” Responding to questions from Erik Enquist of Crain’s and Michael Scotto from NY1, the Deputy Mayor addressed how he had tried to reform the building permit process in Indianapolis, criticizing sequential review by multiple entities. “Near the end of the process someone can say, ‘change something,’ that requires you to start over.” After praising DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and talking about how congestion pricing would have raised money while changing behavior, he concluded with: “change is what makes NYC a great place.”

In this issue:
· Culture Shed Nests Into High Line
· It’s Blue Skies for the Azure
· Times Square Redux, Part Deux
· Affordable Chelsea
· Ever Timeless Israel Museum Reopens
· Automobiles Stop at New Home in The Hague

Culture Shed Nests Into High Line


Northwest view of Culture Shed at High Line and Eastern Rail Yards platform level.

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro/The Rockwell Group

As part of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded the Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC) $100,000 to develop plans for Culture Shed, a collaborative design effort by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and The Rockwell Group. Located north of the High Line, the five-story building will be on a 22,000-square-foot site. Two deployable outer sheds will nest over the base and can be rolled out on tracks to form an exhibition hall of more than 55,000 square feet. The grant is one of 21 totaling $3 million.

It’s Blue Skies for the Azure


The Azure.

SLCE Architects

The Azure, a luxury residential condo on the Upper East Side that suffered a deadly crane collapse in 2008, has opened for occupancy. Designed by SLCE Architects with interiors by Studio Morsa, the 34-story glass tower contains 128 residences ranging from studios to four-bedroom units. The project offers more than 6,300 square feet of amenity space, including a kids’ playroom, game room, lounge and event space, private dining facility, fitness center, and two landscaped rooftop terraces. In addition, two glass panels by Weil Art Studios depicts the “Poet’s Walk” in Central Park. They are backlit with a responsive lighting system that adjusts to the time of day and season. A public school was demolished to make way for the condo, so the completed project includes a new red-brick middle school designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects for the NYC Department of Education.

Times Square Redux, Part Deux


Times Square.

Courtesy NYC Department of Transportation

The New York office of Snøhetta, one of the eight firms in the NYC Design and Construction Excellence program, has been selected to lead a team of NYC-based designers, engineers, and event infrastructure specialists to create a plan for the permanent redesign of Times Square. The scope includes the design of plazas with ample seating, new paving, and underground infrastructure to accommodate events. The project also includes the complete reconstruction of the roadways, including water mains and sewers, as necessary. The design team includes: WXY architecture + urban design; Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects; Billings Jackson Design; Leni Schwendinger Light Projects; Pure + Applied; Weidlinger; Buro Happold; BEXEL; Wesler Cohen; and Ducibella Venter and Santore. Construction is expected to begin in 2012.

Affordable Chelsea


The Elliott-Chelsea.


GF55 Partners has completed the design for the Elliott-Chelsea, a 22-story, 165,000-square-foot housing development in West Chelsea. The project will contain 168 affordable units, retail space on the ground level, and an underground parking garage. The development is in response to an RFP issued by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development and NYC Housing Authority in 2007, which called for the redevelopment of underutilized land to build mixed-income communities and providing safe, quality housing for working families.

Ever Timeless Israel Museum Reopens


“Turning The World Upside Down, Jerusalem” (2010), a new site-specific sculpture by Anish Kapoor created for the Israel Museum’s Crown Plaza, the highest point of its renewed campus.

© Tim Hursley, courtesy of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Originally opened in 1965, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, designed by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad, is set to reopen with new galleries, public spaces, and two new large-scale, site-specific commissions on its renewed 20-acre campus. Led by New York’s James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, the $100-million project includes the comprehensive renovation and reconfiguration of the museum’s three collection wings, and reinstallation of its holdings in the fine arts, archaeology, and Jewish art and life. Echoing the Modernist geometry of the original buildings, the pavilions are shaded within terra-cotta louver housings, designed to soften and diffuse the bright light and create a dialogue between the interior and exterior spaces across the campus. Continuing the tradition of site-specific collaborations, with contemporary artists the museum commissioned Olafur Eliasson’s “Whenever the rainbow appears,” a 44-foot-long work consisting of 360 paintings installed at the end of the museum’s newly designed Route of Passage, and Anish Kapoor’s “Turning The World Upside Down, Jerusalem,” a 15-foot-high sculpture of polished stainless steel at the highest outdoor point on the museum campus.

Automobiles Stop at New Home in The Hague


The Louwman Museum.

Michael Graves & Associates

One of the world’s largest collections of historic automobiles and automotive art has found a home at the new Louwman Museum, also known as the National Automobile Museum, in The Hague. Designed by Michael Graves & Associates, the museum contains more than 230 pioneering automobiles from the late 19th century, racing cars, sports cars, and luxury limousines, and the world’s largest collection of automotive art. The three-story, 185,000-square-foot museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of the collection, with temporary and permanent exhibition galleries, a reception hall, auditorium, food service, and workshops for the conservation and repair of cars in the collection.

In this issue:
· MADE IN NEW YORK Submissions Now Open
· New Design Fellow for Haiti

MADE IN NEW YORK Submissions Now Open
Registration and submissions are now open for AIANY’s annual subway show, “MADE IN NEW YORK.” Building on the huge success of last year’s exhibition, “New York Now,” this exhibition will also showcase AIANY members’ work. This year, the Chapter is soliciting member designs of projects built around the globe. The worldwide focus will show the diversity of work being generated in NYC, and reinforce NYC as a truly global city. The exhibition will open on 10.06.10, during AIANY’s Architecture Week, and be on view for a month. Read more here.

Read the call for entries here. Submissions are open until 08.18.10. The cost per submission is $300, and members are able to submit up to four projects, (each $300). This price helps cover the costs of commissioning the registration software, exhibition design, printing, and renting all the advertising space (“station domination”) in the West Fourth Street Station.

New Design Fellow for Haiti

Last week, the AIA, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Architecture for Humanity (AFH) announced that Stacey McMahan, AIA, LEED AP, has been named the organizations’ Architecture for Humanity Sustainable Design Fellow for Haiti. Working from AFH’s Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince, McMahan will work on sustainable rebuilding efforts. Currently, McMahan is a partner/principal at Koch Hazard Architects in Sioux Falls, SD, where she is the Green Studio Director. Her position is a yearlong appointment, and she will focus on helping Haitian communities use safe and sustainable construction methods to build stronger, more sustainable buildings for the future of Haiti.

In a release issued by AIA National, AIA President George Miller, FAIA, said, “Stacey brings the best the architecture profession has to offer to this new assignment. Her talent, skill, and compassion — combined with her intense dedication to the design process — will help the people of Haiti rebuild their nation in a way that prevents a tragedy of this magnitude from ever happening again.”