NY New Visions & Port Authority Talk Progress at WTC

Event: World Trade Center: Update/Timetable/Issues
Center for Architecture, 12.09.10
Quentin Brathwaite, AIA, AICP — Assistant Director, Office of Program Logistics, WTC Construction, Port Authority of NY and NJ; Carla Bonacci, AIA, PP — Assistant Director, WTC Construction, Port Authority of NY and NJ
Respondents: Jordan Gruzen, FAIA — Co-chair, NYNV; Allen Swerdlowe, AIA — NYNV; William Schacht, AIA — NYNV
Moderator: Ernie Hutton, FAICP, Assoc. AIA — Co-chair, NYNV
Introduction: Ernie Hutton, FAICP, Assoc. AIA — Co-chair, New York New Visions (NYNV); Jack Nyman, AIA — Director, The Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute, Baruch College, CUNY
Organizer: New York New Visions; AIANY Planning & Urban Design Committee; APA New York Metro Chapter; Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute (Baruch College, CUNY)

More than nine years have passed since the 9/11 attacks and the rebuilding process has seemed slow. However, during the past 18-24 months, decisions were made, infrastructure installed, and construction has progressed both below and above grade. Panelists close to the action from New York New Visions (NYNV) and the Port Authority of NY and NJ (PANYNJ) recently convened to discuss what has been accomplished and what is to come.

Quentin Brathwaite, AIA, AICP, assistant director of the Office of Program Logistics at PANYNJ, communicated the complexity of the project. Nine programs must fit on 11 acres, which involves coordinating multiple construction schedules while remaining mindful of commuters and visitors. The Memorial plaza is slated to open on the 10th anniversary of 9/11; the Memorial Museum beneath its surface is well underway; and of the four tall towers, steel has been erected up to the 52nd floor of 1 World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower), and progress on Tower 4 is visible.

Meanwhile, planning on a smaller scale includes projects such as the Streetscape program, featuring sidewalk patterns and new bollard designs. It is intended to “create a unified vision for the site,” according to Carla Bonacci, AIA, PP, assistant director at PANYNJ, “integrating the Trade Center back into the fabric of the city.” Designers have currently completed several mock-ups.

Safety and security is an obvious concern, and Jordan Gruzen, FAIA, co-chair of NYNV and resident of neighboring Battery Park City, expressed the importance that measures being taken will not make experiencing the site feel oppressive. Although Brathwaite acknowledged that “there is an intense energy building” toward the opening of the site and the buildings, he believes the planners are well prepared for the momentous occasion. To follow the progress of the WTC, visit http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/index.html.

From São Houses to Our House

Event: The Architecture of Social Investment
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.10.10
Speakers: Jörg Stollmann & Rainer Hehl — Founders, urbaninform (Zürich); Fabienne Hoelzel — Project Coordinator, SEHAB (Secretary of Habitat) (São Paulo)
Andres Lepik — Curator, Museum of Modern Art
Introductions: Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — 2011 AIANY President; Catherine Scharf — Consul, Head of the Cultural Department, Consulate General of Switzerland; Ann Marie Baranowski, AIA — Co-chair, AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee
Organizers: ThinkSwiss program, Swiss Confederation; Center for Architecture; AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee
Sponsors: Noah Foundation; Good Growth Fund; Global Exchange for Social Investment; Genisis Institute

Morumbi district’s Paraisópolis favela.

Courtesy Google Earth

Urbaninform, a nonprofit sustainable-investment association, is one of three web-based projects included in MoMA’s current exhibition “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement.” Curator Andres Lepik’s introduction to “The Architecture of Social Investment” panel emphasized how the social ideals that were integral to 1920s Modern architecture, but later became subordinated to formal, theoretical, and other considerations, are currently being rediscovered by a generation of younger architects.

A statistical milestone that’s been mentioned in numerous contexts lately — that the world’s population has just passed the threshold of being 50% urban, probably an irreversible tipping point — lent context and urgency to this discussion of the relations among housing design, economics, and governance. By 2030, noted Rainer Hehl, founder of Zürich-based urbaninform, that percentage is likely to reach 61% by leading estimates, with half the urban population living in slums. To create adequate housing conditions by then, the world needs to produce 4,000 new units each hour. Inadequate housing and infrastructure are not limited to distant places, Hehl added, quoting Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) on how the financial system’s cluster of failures (underwater mortgages, foreclosures, and evictions) make many Americans “squatters in [their] own homes.”

Considering the MoMA show’s subtitle, the shift in that final term is significant. An emphasis on investment in several senses (beginning but not ending with the financial) distinguishes “social business,” which returns the proceeds of investments locally, from either pro bono activities (i.e., traditional charitable work) or profit extraction to external corporate ownership. Hehl, co-founder Jörg Stollmann, and their colleagues view favelas (slums) as not only sites of informal construction, haphazard infrastructure, and concentrated poverty; they are a market that can develop and gain value over time through creatively structured enterprises, from the microfinance mechanisms of Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus to a movable toilet that converts waste from a health hazard to a useful energy resource.

Swiss architect/urbanist Fabienne Hoelzel provided an overview of social housing and neighborhood regularization in São Paulo, where nearly a third of the population lives in “precarious circumstances” and luxury developments commonly bump elbows with improvised habitations (as in the Morumbi district’s Paraisópolis favela). Brazil’s largest city is “a tropical New York” marked by enormous diversity and a tendency for occupation to precede any form of planning. The municipal government is striving to reverse that sequence and supply badly needed sanitation and other services, but some of the social-housing forms replacing slums in massive, hasty urban-renewal endeavors — the “Brasilia blocks” or mid-rise “cingapuras” — struck Hehl as scarcely an improvement. The assumption that European-derived expertise is always appropriate, Lepik suggested, requires critique; Brazil’s unique Modernist tradition offers models that cities in China and Africa might usefully consider, and a cluster of approaching “mega-events” such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will focus attention on a nation growing rapidly enough to be a global design and development laboratory.

Sowing the Seeds of Learning

Event: The New Kid on the Block: The Edible School
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.06.10
Speakers: Dana Jenkins — Principal, Gensler; Frank Mentesana — Director of EcoSPACES at St. Philips Academy; Jason Anderson — Project Architect, WORKac; Vera Fabian — Garden Manager and Teacher, Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 216
Introduction: Lazar Kesic, AIA — Co-chair, AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education
Organizer: AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education

Renderings of P.S. 216’s Edible Schoolyard in summer and winter.


Parents might be astonished to hear that their kids enthusiastically stuffed themselves with salad in the school cafeteria, but that’s what happened at P.S. 216 in Brooklyn this year, when the menu featured fresh vegetables the kids had helped grow in a new garden designed by WORKac. That day, “Not only did they eat school lunch and not complain about it, they loved it,” said Vera Fabian, garden manager and teacher at the school’s Edible Schoolyard. Fostering that kind of delight and expertise in natural foods is exactly the point of school gardens and teaching kitchens in schools such as P.S. 216 and St. Philip’s Academy by Gensler in Newark.

Teaching gardens are a hot trend in schools these days, tying in well with curricula on healthy, sustainable lifestyles. The idea isn’t new, though. More than 150 years ago, kindergarten inventor Friedrich Froebel promoted the concept of gardening as an educational tool, AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education Co-chair Lazar Kesic, AIA, remarked as he introduced the panel.

WORKac designed a new iteration of the “Edible Schoolyard,” a concept pioneered by sustainable-food advocate Alice Waters in the mid-1990s. She built her first Edible Schoolyard — a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom — at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, CA. Adapting the concept to the much-smaller Brooklyn site, which also has harsher climate extremes, WORKac developed a “moving greenhouse,” with a sliding enclosure that expands in winter, to protect plans from subfreezing temperature. In summer, it can be retracted, which frees up more open space, said Jason Anderson, WORKac’s project architect for the Edible Schoolyard at the pre-K-5 public school.

For Gensler’s design of St. Philip’s Academy (a K-8 independent school), Head of School Miguel Brito wanted a sustainable building in which the space would be a teaching tool in itself, said Gensler Principal Dana Jenkins. A new rooftop garden and teaching kitchen provide ways to teach kids about nature and the food cycle, but the teachers also find ways to integrate the garden into all sorts of other topics in their curricula. “Examples could be as simple as bringing math — like volume and measurement and area and so on — out of the classroom setting with a typical desk, and actually onto to the rooftop, measuring and understanding in a very practical way,” said Frank Mentesana, the school’s director of EcoSPACES. “Through this hands-on learning, kids are getting much more excited about the curriculum, and they’re retaining the information much better.”

Leong Leong’s Reflective Fields for Retail

Event: New Practices New York 2010 Winner Presentation: Leong Leong
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.15.10
Speakers: Christopher Leong, Assoc. AIA & Dominic Leong — Principals, Leong Leong
Sponsors: Lead Sponsors: Dornbracht, MG & Company; Valiant Technology; Sponsors: Espasso; Hafele; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper

Philip Lim Seoul Flagship Store.

Leong Leong

Brothers Christopher Leong, Assoc. AIA, and Dominic Leong always knew they would work together, and, after stints with other firms, they formed Leong Leong in 2009. While designing interiors for retailers, they’ve explored using diagrams to organize and define space. When applied to a different site conditions, this strategy produces very different outcomes.

For the 3.1 Phillip Lim store in Los Angeles, Leong Leong transformed a former auto-body shop by articulating the interior with curving walls constructed of acoustic foam covered with spiky pyramids. The curves organize the space by creating enclaves, each with a different atmosphere as they are lined with lush wall-coverings like leather herringbone. In the fashion flagship typology, Christopher explained, “design becomes part of the brand itself.” To establish a cohesive look for Lim, the brothers adapted the figure from the L.A. store and cropped it to fit the smaller floorplate for the Seoul flagship. They installed mirrors along the perimeter walls to create a reflective field and visually extend the space. Instead of pyramids, the foam walls are textured with cones.

The Leongs also applied this evolving diagram to a tiny 6-foot-by-10-foot W/ storefront in Chinatown for the installation Turning Pink. Utilizing a stereographic technique, they created a reflective field by constructing a figure from rigid pink insulation, cutting voids into each surface, and setting them against mirror-lined walls. Another experiment in temporary architecture was the Siki Im Concept Store for the Building Fashion competition. Leong Leong designed a pop-up store within the former sales trailer for Neil M. Denari Architects’ HL23 on the High Line. With a budget of only $5,000, they chose spray foam insulation as the main material, since it has both an organic and industrial quality, according to Dominic. Foam coats a ramp within the trailer, creating an experience for visitors, rather than highlighting the clothing — an opposite approach from typical retail designs.

Currently, Leong Leong is designing a winery in California, a historic townhouse renovation in Chelsea, and collaborating with Phillip Lim on more retail interiors. They hope to continually explore the “field potential” of their organizational diagrams and take them beyond interior spaces.

Deputy Mayor Steel Girds for the Future

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel (left) with Tony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, 2010 AIANY President.

Rick Bell.

In a speech at Google’s space on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea on 12.16.10, Robert K. Steel, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, outlined four themes for NYC’s future, concentrating on what the Bloomberg Administration could do during its remaining 1,111 days. The broad concepts were cost savings, business assistance, physical infrastructure, and new industry.

Steel was introduced by documentary filmmaker Ric Burns, known particularly for his New York: A Documentary Film. Burns noted that these were “not the easiest of times in our city, in our country, or in our world,” but praised Mayor Bloomberg for bringing together “the greatest body of talent ever assembled to run a city — anywhere, anytime.” He stated that New York’s entrepreneurial spirit is “inscribed in, and emerges from, its very geography” and the “soaring wonder of the buildings.” Harking back to our city’s founding as a commercial outpost he spoke of NYC’s “unique culture of transformation — always open to the future”; a place that was adept at “pioneering the problems, pioneering the possibilities, pioneering the solutions — pioneering the future itself.” With a comparison to the unparalleled foresight of the 1780s economic planning — “a blueprint for America’s future” — done in NYC by Alexander Hamilton, he brought Deputy Mayor Steel to the lectern.

Of the four interconnected ideas for the future that were at the heart of Steel’s remarks, the architects in the audience, including 2010 Chapter President Tony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, and 2011 AIANY President Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, were particularly enthusiastic about the description of the impact of public investment on the city’s infrastructure. Municipal stimulation of private investment included projects from Hunters Point South and its 5,000 housing units in Queens, to Hudson Yards in Manhattan, and Staten Island’s Stapleton. Steel noted that the New Housing Marketplace Plan’s goal of 165,000 units, announced in 2003, is two-thirds of the way to completion and vowed that the goal would be achieved.

Equally important was his mention of upcoming publicly-supported projects, including new work at the Hub in the Bronx, and the expansion of the New York Container Terminal. “From the harbor to the Hudson to the Erie Canal,” Steel noted, “the history of our city is inextricably linked to the water — with over 500 miles of shoreline, we have more waterfront than any other American city.” He said that the administration would soon announce a series of initiatives to further revitalize the waterfront, augment waterborne transportation, and reinforce waterfront parks.

Steel stated that “we are at an important juncture in the city’s history,” and he referred to Mayor Bloomberg’s recent speech in which he said that the issues impacting New York are almost always national issues. “At a time of fiscal challenges,” Steel noted, “we will not lose track of the investments that position us for the future.”

In this issue:
· Sustainability Brings Holiday Cheer to Convent
· Roosevelt House Undergoes Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use
· Haiti-Habitat Calls for Prototypes to Help Rebuild
· Colonial Planning Meets Natural Phenomena at University of Guadalajara
· First Prize in the Kaohsiung Port Terminal Competition Goes to RUR

Sustainability Brings Holiday Cheer to Convent

Convent for the Episcopal Sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit.

BKSK Architects

The Episcopal Sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit have another reason to celebrate this Christmas — the completion of their new ground-up, 10,600-square-foot convent in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, designed by BKSK Architects. The decision to build an eco-friendly convent came from the nuns’ desire to connect more profoundly with the natural world and live more sustainably. The four-story building features a chapel, community and silent dining rooms, kitchen, offices, conference room, library, sitting room, art room, 12 bedrooms, and two guest rooms. It also includes two types of green roofs — semi-intensive and extensive — that incorporate a pergola, sitting areas, and shallow-root plant landscaping. Solar power-heated water, rainwater collection, natural light and ventilation, and environmentally sensitive building materials are integral to the design.

Roosevelt House Undergoes Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use

Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.

© Aislinn Weidele for Ennead Architects

After years of deferred maintenance followed by nearly five years of preservation work under the direction of Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), the landmarked Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College officially opened. Commissioned by FDR’s mother and designed by Charles Platt in 1907, the mirror-image townhouses behind a unified neo-Georgian façade have been historically restored. A new open stair leads to the basement-level lobby and lecture hall, which will host conferences and other programs. The former dining and drawing rooms have been combined into multi-functional spaces for meetings and receptions. FDR’s library has been restored as a museum and seminar space. Offices occupy the third, fourth, and fifth floors, and the top floor includes two apartments for visiting scholars with a roof terrace.

Haiti-Habitat Calls for Prototypes to Help Rebuild

Haiti-Habitat proposals by Keith Hayes (left); and Arthur Rabinovich, RA, LEED AP, Alberto Anastasio, Sabine Feil, Omid Balouch, and Paolo Puliga.

Keith Hayes (left); Arthur Rabinovich, RA, LEED AP, Alberto Anastasio, Sabine Feil, Omid Balouch, and Paolo Puliga

Haiti-Habitat, a new subcommittee of the AIANY Global Dialogues Committee, was formed shortly after the earthquake hit Haiti almost one year ago. With the subcommittee’s goal to help rebuild the country, it recently issued a call for collaborative designs for vernacular single-family houses that use local materials and are adaptable to Haiti’s varied geography. From 150 submissions, 12 were selected to continue to the next phase and have the potential to be part of a small community cluster of structures. The 12 participants are: the team of Estela Alvarado, Alexander Díaz, Gaspar Fernández; Timothy Bell; Joshua Doyle; Xiaoxi Feng; Keith Hayes; GCP Arquitetos; the team of Elena Guirao, Victor Brena Calvo, Carlos Torres Perez, and Sara Franco Restrepo; I-beam Design; Corentin Maury; Peerachet Pornsanoe; the team of Arthur Rabinovich, RA, LEED AP, Alberto Anastasio, Sabine Feil, Omid Balouch, and Paolo Puliga; and Tan Choonwah Wallace.

The second stage in the process is a charrette among the finalists and a panel of experts who will collectively review, combine the proposed designs, and select six original or modified designs. The final presentation will take place at the Center for Architecture on 01.12.11, which will include detailed design and construction information; potential sponsors/donors will be given an opportunity to fund any of the winning designs. For more info visit http://www.haiti-habitat.com/.

Colonial Planning Meets Natural Phenomena at University of Guadalajara

University of Guadalajara Museum of Environmental Sciences.


Snøhetta was selected by the University of Guadalajara as the winner of the competition to design a Museum of Environmental Sciences. The museum is part of the university’s Centro Cultural Universitario (CCU), a cultural district adjacent to the main campus and planned wilderness preserves. The building is compact and acts as a bridge over a central promenade that joins the library and auditorium buildings. Large courtyards and gardens punctuate the building and carve out space to allow natural light and fresh air to penetrate the interior. The courtyards are linked to allow for view and passage directly through the building. They are also unusually shaped, carved in eroded forms, and designed to integrate traditional methods of Spanish colonial planning with the natural phenomena found in the sunken pools and ravines of the surrounding area. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and has a budget of $35 million. Snøhetta’s winning design was developed in collaboration with ARUP. Other firms shortlisted for this project were: Shigeru Ban (Japan), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (U.S.), Smiljan Radic (Chile), and Mauricio Rocha (Mexico).

First Prize in the Kaohsiung Port Terminal Competition Goes to RUR

Kaohsiung Port Terminal.

Reiser + Umemoto

Reiser + Umemoto (RUR) has won first prize in the international competition for a new port and cruise service center in the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. Called the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, RUR proposed a “three-dimensional urbanism” that takes advantage of the site’s lateral position with respect to the city grid. A continuous elevated public boardwalk along the water’s edge will connect to the new Pop Music Center and the arts and shopping districts. Below will be the cruise and ferry functions, kept separate to maintain secure areas for passengers. The main hall splits into three zones, each related to a different travel itinerary, and the concourses are oriented parallel to the waterfront. The structure is a system of nested, long-span shells, which are composed of an underlying steel pipe space-frame sandwiched by cladding panels to create an inhabitable cavity space. RUR will partner with Taipei-based Fei and Cheng and Associates — with whom they are also working on the Taipei Pop Music Center project. The $85 million project is scheduled to start in 2012 and is expected to be in operation by 2014.

In this issue:
· Robert Ivy, FAIA, to Lead AIA National
· Haiti Rebuilding Conference
· Architectural Record Offers Discount to AIANY Members
· eCalendar

Robert Ivy, FAIA, to Lead AIA National
Last week AIA National President George Miller, FAIA, announced that Robert Ivy, FAIA, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Record, will become AIA’s National Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer. On 02.01.11 Ivy will take over the position, previously held by Chris McEntee, who left the position last summer, and interim EVP Paul Welch, FAIA. He will run the Washington, DC, office with 206 employees and a budget of $56 million. The National organization oversees 300 local, state, and regional AIA chapters around the country and overseas. Click here for more details on the appointment. AIA National also recently announced a reorganization of the national staff, making new vice president positions for Design and Practice, and Marketing and Communications. More about the reorganization can be found here.

Haiti Rebuilding Conference

AIA National is organizing a summit on the reconstruction of Haiti. The conference, which will be held on 01.13-14.11 at the Loews Hotel in New Orleans, will include representatives from the American Red Cross, National Urban League — Greater New Orleans, Adecco Group North America, United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Architecture for Humanity (AfH), National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), Public Architecture, and Black Design Network News.

In July the AIA/USGBC announced the Architecture for Humanity Sustainable Design Fellow Stacy McMahan, AIA, LEED AP, would be working at AfH’s Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince. In August, AIA National President George Miller, FAIA, visited Haiti, and in September, the AIA Board of Directors passed a resolution that expressed its support for the Haitian architectural community. The conference will begin one year and a day after the devastating 2010 earthquake, which left much of the capital in ruins. More information on the conference is available here.

Architectural Record Offers Discount to AIANY Members
Since AIA members will no longer receive the magazine as a member benefit at the beginning of 2011, Architectural Record is offering nearly 60% off the newsstand rate to AIANY members. Click here to receive the discount and the digital edition at no extra charge.

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

Design for Decades

On view December 8, 2010 – January 22, 2011

Building Connections 2010


On view November 4 – March 12

Students Explore the Middle Ages At the Center

CFAF students built a model of a town from the Middle Ages.

Catherine Teegarden

This fall, 14 eight-to-10-year-old students were studying the Middle Ages as part of their home school program, and were looking to augment their studies with a hands-on project about the architecture of the time. Since the group does not have a shared classroom, the Center for Architecture served as the home base for an eight-week residency in which students built a scale model of a typical medieval European walled town.

The program began with an introduction to new architectural terms and important elements of medieval building design and structure, as well as an overview of the general layout and organization of a medieval town. Each student then chose trades from the Middle Ages that they adopted and created models of the related house/workshops. Together, the group also built a Gothic church for the town, exploring features such as Gothic arches and the use of buttresses. Through this residency, students learned about architecture, the jobs, and daily life of medieval people, as well as developing skills in scale measurement and model building.

While each member of the group is pursuing their own study of the Middle Ages independently, through the Center for Architecture Foundation they were able to come together. In January, the students will complete the town by building the castle and surrounding walls, adding scaled-to-size people and other appropriate accessories. This new residency program was such a success that plans are underway for a spring program focusing on early Native American life in the NY area.