Stark Realism from a Seasoned Troubleshooter

Event: 2010 Samuel Ratensky Lecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.15.10
Speakers: Richard Ravitch — Lt. Governor, State of New York
Introduction: Herbert Oppenheimer, FAIA — Past President, AIANY (1974)
Organizers: AIANY Housing Committee
Sponsor: Jonathan Rose Companies


50,000 diesel trucks cross the George Washington Bridge every day — the equivalent of 34 trucks per minute.

Dave Frieder

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch minced no words in his sobering overview of the current state of housing and infrastructure, two components of the built environment that he treats as interdependent and inseparable. During the life of architect/city planner Samuel Ratensky (1910-1972), housing was a central political question and an unquestioned public responsibility. Now, Ravitch and his colleagues lamented, housing makes headlines only when toxic mortgages spread instability through the financial system. The prospect that state governments will invest adequately to accommodate the new Americans expected over the next half-century — at least 40 million, by conservative estimates — appears slim to none.

In the days when Ratensky worked with Ravitch’s HRH Construction and Davis Brody (precursor of today’s Davis Brody Bond Aedas) to strengthen the city’s affordable-housing stock by building Riverbend, Waterside, and other mixed-income developments, achievements against long odds were occasionally realistic. But today’s policy challenges, as he describes, them, are formidable.

“We have a society that’s broke,” he observed, rattling off disturbing facts and statistics: a $1.6 trillion federal deficit, a $10 billion state deficit, 12-14% unemployment, 41 million people on food stamps, more millions functioning below the poverty level, and “China and India beating our pants off” in productivity and global market share. Under these conditions, just catching up on minimal bridge and road maintenance seems beyond us, let alone forward-thinking investments, particularly in housing and transit. Freight infrastructure is particularly fragile: in 1900, he said, there was one rail crossing over the Hudson, at Selkirk, NY; 110 years later Selkirk’s is still the only functioning trans-Hudson rail bridge. Meanwhile, he said, “there are 50,000 diesel trucks that cross the George Washington Bridge every day,” bringing essential goods to the region but also giving the South Bronx the nation’s highest incidence of respiratory disease.

These and other physical manifestations of a crippled political will, Ravitch said, call for a revived public-service ethos like the one that motivated Ratensky, a Frank Lloyd Wright trainee with a lifelong respect for high-quality design. Most politicians respond to public opinion, and Ravitch believes architects, carrying more intellectual prestige than they might realize, have a special capacity for influencing that critical variable. The public needs a clearer understanding of how civic investment brings benefits in the future, and of how any serious approach to these problems begins with a mature understanding of taxation (it has to rise; the belief that “efficiencies” in public finance can overcome resource limits, he said, is a political myth). The architectural profession is a critical center of expertise; Ravitch called for a greater visibility for that expertise in public debates about what kind of society we intend to build.

J. Max Bond Jr. Inspires Reflections on Travel

Event: J. Max Bond Jr. Memorial Lecture: Conversations/Travel
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.06.10
Speakers: Peter Cook, AIA — Principal, Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Billie Tsien, AIA — Principal, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; Quilian Riano — Founding Principal DSGN AGNC; Ralph Appelbaum — Principal, Ralph Appelbaum Associates; Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP — Mentoring Chair, New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NYCOBA/NOMA)
Introduction: Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY
Sponsors: NYCOBA/NOMA; AIANY; Center for Architecture; Design 360; City College of New York, The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture


Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Davis Brody Bond Aedas

At the inaugural J. Max Bond Jr. Memorial Lecture, several designers paid tribute to the legacy of the architect, educator, and community activist by celebrating one of the things he loved: travel.

Accordingly, Peter Cook, AIA, principal at Davis Brody Bond Aedas, began his presentation by describing not only his own travels and his work on the Benning Library in Washington, DC, but also the life and journey of J. Max Bond Jr., FAIA, his mentor. Bond grew up in New Orleans, graduated from the Harvard GSD, traveled to Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship, and, after working several years in Ghana, moved to NYC. As a partner at Davis Brody Bond Aedas, he designed buildings including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. At the time of his death, he was working on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero.

Like Cook, Billie Tsien, AIA, principal of Tod Williams Billie Tsien, used her travels to illuminate the design process, as she showed personal photographs from her excursions throughout India. Color-saturated images of textiles, flora, step-wells, and traditional architecture alternated with projects by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. When she ended her presentation with construction shots of her firm’s Banyan Park in Mumbai, an IT campus of Modern concrete buildings rooted in the local culture and climate, the distillation of influences was unmistakable.

Quilian Riano, founding principal of DSGN AGNC, demonstrated two projects for economically disadvantaged residents of the Colombian cities Buenaventura and Facatativa. At stake was the question: How can architects design for a culture of which they are not a part? “It’s about really listening,” he said, “and a dialogue back and forth.” He sees architecture as a mediator to change unjust situations and empower the users.

Ralph Appelbaum, of Ralph Appelbaum Associates, approached the theme through his own work in exhibition design: whereas artifacts once “traveled” from their native cultures to the museums of the colonial powers which seized them, he said, today the travel is more likely to come from the tourist interested in learning about the place he/she is visiting. He cited the Royal Museum of Scotland, which “went from ‘showing the world to Scotland’ to ‘showing Scotland to the world.'”

Panelists frequently returned to the theme of finding oneself while traveling. “You really can’t gain a perspective on where you’ve been until you’ve left it,” said Cook, relating his own journey from Washington, DC, to Detroit, to points abroad, then back to DC. Tsien agreed: “Traveling teaches you humility,” she said. “You think you’re the center of the universe… but when you go to another country, you’re nothing.”

Community Space is the Heart of Supportive Housing

Event: Homeless Housing: LA and NY
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.12.10
Speakers: Michael Maltzan, FAIA — Principal, Michael Maltzan Architecture; Jonathan Kirschenfeld — Principal, Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architect; Rosanne Haggerty — President, Common Ground
Introduction: Andres Lepik — Curator, MoMA Department of Architecture and Design
Moderator: Michael Bell — Director, Housing Studios, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, & Michael Bell Architecture
Organizer: Museum of Modern Art; Center for Architecture


Carver Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

Image ©Iwan Baan

New York and Los Angeles both face high rates of homelessness. To address this issue, several architects and non-profits in the two cities have created new housing models. In conjunction with the “Small Scale, Big Change” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, a panel — comprised of architects Michael Maltzan, FAIA, and Jonathan Kirschenfeld, along with Rosanne Haggerty, founder and president of Common Ground — discussed their housing projects.

Maltzan approaches homeless housing as “architecture from a therapeutic standpoint.” His first project for the Skidrow Housing Trust in downtown LA was the 89-unit Rainbow Apartments. The façade features sunshades lined with cheerful red paint, and the building’s U-shaped configuration defines a safe and secure central courtyard. He approached the 97-unit Carver Apartments in a similar way. The round volume with sharp serrations allows the building to capture light and views of downtown while blocking sound from the nearby freeway and creating a secure environment. The form encapsulates a central courtyard, which is the “social heart of the building,” according to Maltzan.

Kirschenfeld designed The Domenech in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a new 72-unit supportive housing complex for Common Ground (see OCULUS Fall 2010, “Common Sense”). Kirschenfeld articulated the exterior of the LEED-Silver building with inexpensive shading devices to lower energy consumption, and incorporated tile donated from Daltile at the base. The building’s narrow courtyard functions as an “outdoor room,” and its walls are lined with energy-efficient Kalwal that diffuses light into the units.

Rosanne Haggerty believes that “supportive housing works,” citing other successful Common Ground projects such as The Schermerhorn by Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership Architects), adjacent to a range of other building types and includes attractive common spaces. She also cited the expansion of The Andrews on the Bowery by OCV Architects, which follows the model of the traditional lodging house. Haggerty pointed out that supportive housing costs less than prisons, shelters, and hospitals, and though she admitted that, “we can’t build our way out of homelessness,” she feels that “these projects fire the imagination.”

WTC Integrates Innovative Technologies

Event: Innovation by Necessity, Exhibition Symposium
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.17.10
Speakers: Carl Galioto, FAIA — Senior Principal, HOK; Frank Sciame, Hon. AIANY — CEO, F.J. Sciame Construction; Robert Harvey — Executive Director, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
Moderator: Charles Bagli — New York Times
Introduction: Tony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA — 2010 AIANY President
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Lead Sponsors: ABC Imaging; Competition Architectural Metals; Coreslab Structures; Ductal; Gensler; Digital Fabrication Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology; Kammetal; Lutron; Mancini Duffy; MechoShade Sytstems; Oldcastle Building Envelope; PA.RFR; Permasteel USA; Plaza Construction; Sciame; Structuretone; Syska Hennessy; Turner Construction; Zetlin & De Chiara; Sponsors: Aerotech Manufacturing; Francis Cauffman Architects; Polytek; HeliOptix; STUDIOS Architecture; Trespa North America; Supporters: AKF Group; db3; Forest City Ratner Companies; Hugo S. Subotovsky Architects; Levien & Company; National Institute of Building Sciences; Pennoni Engineering and Surveying of New York; Peter Pennoyer Architects; SMART; Steelcase; Stephan Jaklitsch Architects; Thornton Tomasetti; WB Wood; Friends: Benjamin Moore; Brenda Levin; Matthews Coatings; New York Building Congress; Presentation Products; Theo. David Architects TDA/KAL; Weidlinger Associates


Construction projects and street impacts on 11.22.10 in Lower Manhattan.

Courtesy Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center

Charles Bagli of the New York Times began the panel discussion about innovative technology in Lower Manhattan by stating his frustration with how little recognition is given to how much has developed at the World Trade Center site. With 19 public agencies, two private corporations, 101 contractors, and 33 designers, he said, professionals are questioning how to design both for energy efficiency and the new reality of security and safety. And there is no shortage in innovation and progress.

Robert Harvey, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (LMCCC), provided an overview of the LMCCC website, which will soon incorporate interactive BIM-based “4-D analysis” — time is the fourth dimension — of the one square mile south of Canal Street.

Frank Sciame, Hon. AIANY, CEO of F.J. Sciame Construction, demonstrated how both money and time were saved by rethinking the development of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. By making the argument that the land would need to be leveled whether or not a building was to be constructed, for example, the Port Authority of NY & NJ had no choice but to pay for part of the construction, he claimed. Also, an economy of space was created by combining the entry to the cultural center with the entry to the memorial pools.

Carl Galioto, FAIA, posited that the problem with current security design is that it focuses on contraptions invented to help people escape a building. “This reinforces the idea that buildings are inherently unsafe,” he said. Now a senior principal at HOK, but having worked on the design for 7WTC when he was a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, he presented his take on security in the design of 1WTC. Galioto discussed a different approach to security design, explaining his theory of creating multiple lines of defense, or rings of protection, within a building. Components include: site perimeter protection, such as bollards; a hardened core; enhanced stair design, wide enough to provide comfortable egress; an “emergency access core” dedicated to emergency personnel; and redundancy of structure. While these measures cost money and increase space dedicated to support them, he contended that the design is the result of many hours of conversations with emergency workers. All of the measures may not be necessary for all buildings — he is not suggesting a change in building codes — but 1WTC is a customized design based on an understanding of the future tenants.

Harvey asserted that it is important to learn from mistakes and not be ambivalent to past tragedies. With vigorous research and creative thinking, design can be at the forefront of safety and “innovations can be evolutionary,” said Galioto.

Passive House Design Keeps it Simple

Event: NY Passive House presents: The Hudson Passive Project by Dennis Wedlick & PH 101
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.16.10
Speakers: Dennis Wedlick, AIA — Principal, Dennis Wedlick Architect
Introduction: Ken Levenson, AIA — Assistant Organizer, NY Passive House
Organizer: NY Passive House; Center for Architecture
Sponsor: Dennis Wedlick Architect, LLC


The Hudson Passive Project.

Digital rendering by Neil Benjamin

Passive house design draws on traditional building methods and common sense, with the intention of drastically reducing energy use while establishing high interior air quality. Ken Levenson, AIA, who practices in Brooklyn and serves as founding director of NY Passive House, a trade organization that promotes the Passive House building energy standard in NY State, explained that “Passive House is about broad objectives,” including health, comfort, energy, affordability, and predictability. The certification program was founded in Germany and is gaining popularity in the U.S., resulting in buildings that boast a 90% reduction in heating loads, according to the Passive House Institute U.S. Two years ago, Dennis Wedlick, AIA, created The Hudson Passive Project, a home that is designed as a variation of a traditional timber frame house. The frame was raised in June and it recently became one of first houses in NY State to achieve Passive House certification.

Wedlick explained that passive homes should be compact and simple in form, like a cardboard coffee cup: the size and shape minimize surface area and heat loss, a sleeve serves as a thermal break, and the act of stacking multiple cups provides extra insulation. In fact, Wedlick added one foot of insulation beneath his passive house — six times more than the typical home. Passive design is more of a philosophy than an exact science, but a blower door test should be conducted to confirm air-tightness. Wedlick emphasized that failure is not the end of the world: “If testing fails, you just size the equipment larger.” Air-tightness might seem counterintuitive to a healthy interior, but it allows the home to maintain a consistent temperature, and a heat recovery ventilator filters the air to keep it fresh.

Levenson noted that NY Passive House is not in competition with other green movements. The point is to “get rid of the bells and whistles and simplify.” An airtight envelope is achieved through bulked-up versions of traditional materials, like triple-paned windows, thicker-than-average insulation, and thermal breaks; energy efficient building systems merely provide a back-up. Wedlick agreed that passive design is not about reinventing the wheel, but rather “using materials that are readily available in a different way.”

Brazilian Design Teams Discuss 2014 World Cup Stadiums

Event: Brazil + 2014 World Cup Architectural Summit
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.18-19.10
Speakers: Laura Penna de Castro — (Belo Horizonte); Eduardo de Castro Mello — (Brasilia); Sergio Coelho — (Cuiabá); Carlos Arcos — Arena de Baixada (Curitiba); Carlos Vilecca — Stadium Castelão (Fortaleza); Ralf Amann — (Manaus); Christopher Lee — Arena das Dunas (Natal); Fernando Balvedi — (Porto Alegre); Daniel Fernandes — Arena Capibaribe (Recife); Catia Castro — (Rio de Janeiro); Marc Duwe — (Salvador); Ruy Ohtake — (São Paulo)
Moderators: Leon Myssior — Vice President, National Union of Architecture & Engineering, SINAENCO (Brazil); Noushin Ehsan, AIA — Chair, AIANY Global Dialogue Committee & Principal, 2nd Opinion Design; Michael Sorkin — Director of Graduate Urban Design, City College of New York & Principal, Michael Sorkin Studio & President, Terreform; Illya Azaroff, AIA — Principal, +LAB & Assistant Professor, CUNY; Matthew Bremer, AIA — Chair, AIANY New Practices Committee & Principal, Architecture In Formation; Jean Ergas — Global Finances Consulting & Macro Economic Strategic Advisor, GC Group Cap
Organizers: AIANY Global Dialogue Committee
Sponsors: AIANY; General Consulate of Brazil in NY; Lead Sponsor: Banco do Brasil, SA; Sponsors: Gerdau; All Tasks; Masisa + Schattdecor; Seal Telecom; Vitacoco; Support: Wonderful Ethic — Miolo Wine; Mandarim Comunicação; Portal 2014; SINAENCO; XY2; LANC Comunicação; Future Pace Design Inc.; Design Factor Solution


Twelve designs for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. (L-R, top row): Belo Horizonte; Brazilia; Cuiabá; Curitiba; (middle row): Fortaleza; Manaus; Natal; Porto Alegre; Recife; Rio de Janeiro; Salvador; São Paulo.

Courtesy AIANY Global Dialogue Committee

The AIANY Global Dialogue Committee hosted a two-day summit exploring the 12 designs of the stadiums for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This was the first time the designs were presented in North America, and representatives from the design teams spoke on the following relevant themes: stadiums and urban planning; sustainability and the “Green World Cup”; design and technology; and stadiums and their cultural impact. Additionally, roundtable dialogues addressed how the investment in architecture for sports can impact practice and tourism.

In this issue:
· Design for Spring Street Salt Shed is Approved
· Times Square Bowls a Strike
· St. Ann’s Will Move into Historic Tobacco Warehouse
· Theater & Dance Perform Together Under One Roof at Kent State
· Jewels Adorn Hotel in India

Design for Spring Street Salt Shed is Approved


Spring Street Salt Shed (l-r): Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage, Salt Shed, Vent Shaft.

Dattner Architects

After more than two years of discussions among Dattner Architects, the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), and the NYC Public Design Commission, the design for the Spring Street Salt Shed has won approval. Also called the Hudson Square Salt Shed, the structure, which can hold up to 5,000 tons of rock salt to use on the roads in winter, is a fully enclosed, mechanically ventilated wedge-shaped structure. The shed’s form is a series of crystalline, faceted planes, ranging from 43 to 67 feet tall, that taper at the bottom to lighten the perceived mass while expanding the sidewalk. The structure will be illuminated at night by a glowing glass moat beneath the sidewalk. Located on a 7,700-square-foot site at the terminus of Canal Street and the Hudson River, the shed adjoins the Art Deco Holland Tunnel Vent Shaft. To its north is the DSNY’s multi-story Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage, with its diaphanous, scrim-like façade designed by Dattner Architects with WXY Architecture. At the commission’s December meeting, it will review construction plans for the salt shed and issue a final decision on the project.

Times Square Bowls a Strike


Bowlmor Lanes Art Deco Lanes.

Courtesy CMS Architecture & Design

Bowlmor Lanes will open a 90,000-square-foot, multi-floor venue this week in the former New York Times Building on West 44th Street. Designed by CMS Architecture & Design, Bowlmor’s second NYC location features 50 lanes in seven NYC-themed bowling lounges: the mod Warhol Room; the Times Square Room recalling the pre-Disney era; the Central Park Room with Boathouse Bar and Tavern on the Green memorabilia; and “Subway” and “Prohibition” lanes inspired by historic speakeasies. The facility also contains the Stadium Grill Restaurant and Sports Bar, Tribeca Loft nightclub, and New York Salon, a private banquet room. The downtown and uptown floors are joined by a stair inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge. Blu3 Development collaborated on the project as theming consultant.

St. Ann’s Will Move into Historic Tobacco Warehouse


St. Ann’s Warehouse rehabilitation.

H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

St. Ann’s Warehouse is designated to become the primary tenant of the Tobacco Warehouse, a Civil War-era structure located in the Empire Fulton Ferry section of Brooklyn Bridge Park. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture plans to rehabilitate and adaptively re-use the building as a year-round cultural facility, proposing to construct a flexible cultural space within the historic structure. For 30 years St. Ann’s Warehouse has commissioned, produced, and presented an eclectic body of events that meet at the intersection between theater and rock-and-roll. Since 2000, the organization has helped revitalize the Brooklyn Waterfront in DUMBO. The project features two performance spaces, including a 10,000-square-foot theater to accommodate 300 to 700 visitors, and a 2,100-square-foot space for a 125-set space. The remainder of the facility includes a 2,500-square-foot lobby, public restrooms, and performance support spaces. The firm will also create a walled public garden in an uncovered 7,600-square-foot triangular space.

Theater & Dance Perform Together Under One Roof at Kent State


Lobby (left) and dance studio at the Roe Green Center for the School or Theatre and Dance at Kent State University.

Photos by Tom Kessler

The $13 million, 73,500-square-foot Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University, in Kent, OH, was recently dedicated. Designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, the project incorporates both renovation and new construction of the 196- Music and Speech Building. It features a new glass lobby entrance, a 200-seat black box experimental theater, and three dance studios ranging in size from 1,900 to 2,400 square feet, accented by sloping 18- to 20-foot-tall ceilings. Located under a continuous canopy, the high-performance glass façade uses daylight harvesting to maximize natural light while providing views out to the surrounding campus. Connecting to existing circulation paths within the surrounding building, the lobby features a café, lounge, and an informal exhibition area. Among the sustainable materials incorporated throughout are low-E glazing, high efficiency lighting, carpet tiles made from rubber tires, recycled glass countertops, low VOC paints, and bamboo benches.

Jewels Adorn Hotel in India


Park Hotel Hyderabad.

SOM ©Pallon Daruwala (left); ©Bharath Ramamrutham (right)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), has completed the nine-story, 270-room Park Hotel Hyderabad, the flagship hotel for The Park Hotel Group in Hyderabad, India. The 531,550-square-foot hotel infuses a Modern, sustainable design with local craft traditions, inspired by the region’s local gemstone and textile industries. Solar studies influenced the site orientation and building massing, with program spaces concentrated in the north and south sides, and service circulation on the west side to reduce heat gain. The guest rooms, situated on top of a podium of retail spaces, art galleries, and banquet halls are raised to allow expansive views. An elevated central courtyard features a private dining court and a swimming pool with moving patterns formed by light passing through the water. The façade provides a range of transparency relative to the interior spaces. The shape of the façade’s openings and three-dimensional patterns on its screens were inspired by the forms of the metalwork of the crown jewels of the city’s historic ruling dynasty. SOM designed the interiors to continue the jewelry concept, as well, using silver, gold, and gemstones throughout. The project is the first LEED Gold certification for a hotel in India.

In this issue:
· Procrastinators’ Days 12.09-11.10
· AIA, AIANY Host Webinar Opportunities
· eCalendar

Procrastinators’ Days 12.09-11.10
Procastinators’ Days will take place at the Center for Architecture 12.09-11.10.10. Thirty-five credits will be available over the three-day event, with programs by Abet Inc, Assa Abloy, Bradley Corp, Bradley Corp, Brick Industry Association, Custom Building Products, Custom Building Products, Decorating with Fabric, DSA-Ceramics, Enviroshake, Fit City, Graphisoft, Green Logic, Honeywell, Hoover Treated Wood, ILVA, Kinetics Noise Control, Miller Edge, Mitsubishi Electric, Polycor, Price Industries, Re:Source NJ, Saniguard Alliance, Seieffe, Smart Vent, Spec Mix, Stone Peak Ceramics, Venco, Versatex Trimboards, Viracon, Viridian Systems, and Wedi Corp. To view course offerings and sign up for classes, visit Space fills up quickly, and courses cost more at the door, so sign up today!

AIA, AIANY Host Webinar Opportunities
Both AIA National and AIANY have new opportunities for online learning. The AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community is producing a series on business development. On 12.15.10, 1:00-2:00pm, the topic will be “Tax Deductions for Architects and Engineers.” Registration is free, but required. Go to to sign up.

AIANY has also been expanding its webinar offerings. Available “on demand” are recordings of the five-part Integration 101 series, organized by the AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE), and the eight-part Architects Fast Track Leadership Series organized by the AIANY New Practices Committee. Learn more, and download webinars here.

eCalendar includes an interactive listing of architectural events around NYC. Click the link to go to to eCalendar on the Web.

Center for Architecture Gallery Hours and Location
Monday-Friday: 9:00am-8:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: CLOSED
536 LaGuardia Place, Between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets in Greenwich Village, NYC, 212-683-0023


Innovate:Integrate – Building Better Together


On view October 6 – January 15

Sukkah City


On view September 22 – November 30

Building Connections 2010


On view November 4 – March 12