Finally! A Website for Designers Who Read

A new website, Designers & Books, is devoted to publishing lists of books recommended by “esteemed members of the design community.” Contributors include architects and interior designers, in addition to fashion designers, graphic designers, and product designers, each having been asked to submit a list of books that everyone in their field should read. Currently, there are 54 designers who have recommended 726 books. Needless to say, one could get lost clicking through the links and discovering or remembering important and meaningful books.

Designers in the architecture field range from Denise Scott Brown to Calvin Tsao, FAIA, Billie Tsien, AIA, to Andrés Duany, FAIA. Some recommendations are to be expected (Peter Eisenman, FAIA, suggests Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology), while others are less predictable (Richard Meier, FAIA, FRIBA, recommends Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom). And who knew so many architects were into Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce?

I imagine that Designers & Books will grow as more designers participate. I look forward to seeing recommendations from a younger group of architects. Hopefully, it will also develop into a more interactive website. There is potential as links such as a blog and a way to save books to a reading list already exist. However, like many social networking sites, its success will depend on updating information regularly.

Ernest W. Hutton, Jr., FAICP, Assoc. AIA, was awarded an AIA Associates Award…

The 2011 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence committee has selected five finalists, including the Santa Fe Railyard Redevelopment by Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Frederic Schwartz Architects, Surroundings Studio, and public art by Mary Miss of New York; and the Brooklyn Bridge Park by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Winners for the 58th Annual Progressive Architecture Awards presented by Architect magazine include the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Seasonal Expansion by Diller Scofidio + Renfro; and Taichung InfoBox by Stan Allen Architect

Winners of the Queens Chamber of Commerce Building Awards include Frank Briguglio, lifetime achievement award. In the category of New Construction: D’Angelo Center by Gensler; D’Amico Residence by Frank Petruso Architect; Moda by FXFOWLE Architects; New York Hospital Queens — West Building by Perkins Eastman; Arista 35 Condominiums by Grasso — Menziuso Architects; Stage K @Kaufman Astoria by Janson Design Group; Three-Seven Plaza Condominium by Gina O. Longo; Con Edison Newtown Substation by the Consolidated Edison Company of NY; 27-17 Crescent Street., Astoria by John Carusone Architect; Shinhan Bank America, Flushing Branch by Kyu Lee Architects; Marvin Residence by JLS Designs; Maspeth Gardens by Arnold S. Montag, Architect AM/PM Design & Consulting; 159-16 Union Turnpike by Gerald J. Caliendo; Kui Mei Ling Residence by John C. Chen Architect

… In the category of Rehab, Cafaro Residence by JLS Designs; Remsen Hall, Renovation and Addition by Mitchell Giurgola Architects; The Ransaw Building by Christopher Pappa Architect; Q-Care Affordable Medical Care by Laura Heim Architect; Kwok Po Lam Residence by John C. Chen Architect; The Summit School by Raymond Irrera & Associates Architects; Yu Art Studio And Gallery and Matsikas Residence by John Carusone Architect; Valentino’s on the Green by Jack L. Gordon Architects; Whitestone Community Library by Marpillero Pollak, Architects; Bay Terrace Country Club by Victor Familari Architect; and Harald Mission Center by Lin & Associates Architects

The 15th Annual SMPS-NY Honor Awards Dinner will recognize NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Public Sector Award; Nos Quedamos Community Development Association, Melrose Associates Partner Petr Stand, APA, and President of MJM Construction Services Emanuel (Manny) Kanaris, Developer Award; and Managing Partner Marc Kushner, AIA, Media Award

ENR New York announced its “Top 20 Under 40” picks, including Tom Abraham, AIA; Babak Bryan, AIA; Virginia Castillo; Marcos Diaz-Gonzalez; David Malott; Brian Tolman, AIA; Monica Larsen Wetherll; and C. Scott Wood

Ralph Appelbaum Associates has been selected as exhibition designer for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC…

Jennifer Busch is resigning as Editor-in-Chief of Contract magazine to become Vice President of Marketing A&D for InterfaceFLOR…

The Board of Trustees of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art elected Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, Provost and Senior Vice President of Tufts University, to serve as its 12th President, effective 07.01.11…

Stephan Jaklitsch, AIA, and Mark Gardner, AIA, announced that Stephan Jaklitsch Architects has become Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects

Callison announced the promotion of Steven Derwoed, David Kepron, AIA, LEED AP, and Kenneth Lill, AIA, as Principals…

2011 OCULUS Editorial Calendar
If you are an architect by training or see yourself as an astute observer of New York’s architectural and planning scene, note that OCULUS editors want to hear from you! Projects/topics may be anywhere, but architects must be New York-based. Please submit story ideas by the deadlines indicated below to Kristen Richards:

2011 Themes:
Spring (President’s Theme): Design for a Change: Buildings, People, Energy

Summer: AIANY Design Awards 2011

Fall: Interior Activity
Architects as interior designers; Changes in corporate culture = transformation of the workplace; Architects designing products/Multi-disciplinary cross-overs; Rebranding hospitality, restaurants, retail to attract new audiences; Interiors as laboratories for small firms.
Submit story ideas by 04.22.11

Winter: Up, Down, and Sideways: Density and Transportation

Density enabled by transportation: mass transit, cycling; Moynihan Station; Regional connections; Housing Authority: former purposeful disconnect, now reintegrating back into neighborhoods; How a century of New York skyscrapers has/is/will affect the architecture, planning, and culture of the city and the world.
Submit story ideas by 08.19.11

For further information, contact OCULUS Editor Kristen Richards:

03.11.11 Call for Entries: 2011 AIA UK Chapter Excellence in Design Awards Programme

03.15.11 Call for Nominations: Center for Architecture Foundation Design Scholarship

03.15.11 Call for Nominations: Women’s Auxiliary Eleanor Allwork Scholarship
03.21.11 Call for Submissions: CUP — Making Policy Public

03.21.11 Call for Entries: Copa Arquitectura

04.01.11 Call for Entries: The Gowanus Lowline

04.08.11 Call for Applications: 2011 Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship

05.15.11 Call for Entries: Changing the Face — Moscow/Architizer

02.10.11: “The Juggad Urbanism: Resourceful Strategies for India Cities” exhibition opened at the Center for Architecture. Set in the uneven urban landscapes of Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Pune, India, “Jugaad Urbanism” explores how the energy of citizens “making-do” is translated by architects, urban planners, and governmental and nongovernmental entities into efficient and inventive strategies for sustainable urban growth. The exhibition is on view through 05.21.11.

Nayan Parikh, President-Elect, Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA); Rosamond Fletcher, AIANY Director of Exhibitions; Ravi Shenoy, President, Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA); Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director; Vinod Devgan, Assistant Commissioner, Structures Division, NYC Department of Design and Construction and SIAEA representative on the Jugaad Urbanism Advisory Committee

Sam Lahoz

Jugaad Urbanism Curator Kanu Agrawal, Umberto Dindo, AIA, AIANY Secretary and Jugaad Urbanism Advisory Committee Member, and David Stein, son of architect Joseph Allen Stein.

Sam Lahoz.

A member of Red Baraat, who performed at the opening.

Sam Lahoz

Cynthia Kracauer, AIA, LEED AP, managing director of AIANY, wore a dress by designer Vikram Phadnis.

Kristen Richards.

View from street into the Center.

Kristen Richards

02.12.11: A day-long symposium on Low Income Housing and Informal Settlements in India brought together experts and practitioners from around globe.

Reinhold Martin, Columbia University GSAPP; Vyjayanthi Rao, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research; Kanu Agrawal, Exhibition Curator; Scott Duncan, Senior Designer, SOM; Neera Adarkar, expert on the chawls; Earl Jackson, AIA, Associate Director, Urban Design and Planning; Yamina Djacta, MBA, Deputy Director, New York Office, United Nations Human Settlements Programme; Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson, Urban Nouveau; Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Exectuive Director

Emily Nemens

02.14.11: The Center for Architecture opened a spotlight exhibition featuring the High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC. The Guidelines were co-authored by the NYC Parks Department and the Design Trust for Public Space

Therese Braddick, Deputy Commissioner of Capital Projects, Department of Parks & Recreation; Charles McKinney, Principal Urban Designer, Department of Parks & Recreation; Nette Compton, Senior Project Manager for Design, Department of Parks & Recreation; Deborah Marton, Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space; Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation; Rick Bell, FAIA, Executive Director, AIANY

Emily Nemens

02.17.11: Celebrating the 58th Annual Progressive Architecture Awards at The Modern

Architect Editor-in-Chief Ned Cramer with Charles Renfro, AIA; Diller Scofidio + Renfro won a 2011 P/A Award for a proposed seasonal expansion of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.

Kristen Richards

(L-R): Marion Weiss, AIA, Weiss/Manfredi Architects; Carol Dixon; John Morris Dixon, FAIA (former editor of Progressive Architecture magazine); Michael Manfredi, FAIA, Weiss/Manfredi; and Katie Gerfen, Senior Editor, Architect magazine.

Kristen Richards

(L-R): Karen Fairbanks, AIA, Marble Fairbanks; juror Zoë Ryan, Art Institute of Chicago (and former senior curator at the Van Alen Institute), Giuseppe Lignano, AIA, LOT-EK.

Kristen Richards


02.09.11: This issue features a number of articles about the Grassroots conference. Be sure to read Kate Rube’s article on Fit Nation; Jay Bond’s article about AIANY advocacy at Grassroots; and Rick Bell, FAIA’s Rhetorically Speaking on Amanda Burden, Hon. AIANY, FAICP, who was honored at the Accent on Architecture gala.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

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

And check out the Center for Architecture’s Vimeo page! Recently added videos include the January Oculus book talk by Carl Stein, FAIA.

Fit Nation Draws National Support for Active Design

Event: Fit Nation DC
Location: John A. Wilson building; 02.02.11
Speakers: Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — President, AIA New York Chapter; Lynn Silver, MD, MPH — Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Markku Allison, AIA — Resource Architect, AIA National; Ronald E. Bogle, Hon. AIA — President & CEO, American Architectural Foundation; Yolanda Cole, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP — President, AIA|DC; District of Columbia Councilmember Tommy Wells, MSW; Karen Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC — Director of the Built Environment, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Alex Washburn, AIA — Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning; Wendy Feuer — Assistant Commissioner, Urban Design & Art, NYC Department of Transportation; David Burney, FAIA — Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction; Les Bluestone — Partner, Blue Sea Development Company, NYC; Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA — Design Director & Principal, Interiors, Perkins+Will; Skye Duncan — Associate Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning, Office of the Chief Urban Designer; Shelley Poticha — Director for Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Joyce Lee, AIA, LEED AP — Director of Active Design Program, NYC Department of Design + Construction; LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH — Senior Deputy Director, Washington, D.C. Department of Health; Harriet Tregoning — Director, Washington, D.C. Office of Planning; Carl Elefante, FAIA, LEED AP — Principal & Director of Sustainable Design, Quinn Evans Architects, Washington, D.C.; Jessica Vogel, AIA, LEED AP — Senior Associate, Project Designer, Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM Company, Minneapolis, MN; Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIA New York; Robin Schepper — Executive Director, Let’s Move! Initiative, Office of the First Lady
Organizers: AIANY; NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene in partnership with: NYC Department of Design + Construction; AIA|DC; AIA National; with support from American Architectural Foundation

(l) Capital Bikeshare is one of the expanding bike share programs in DC. (r) Kate Rube, AIANY Active Design Guidelines National Training Manager, welcoming participants to Fit Nation DC.

Laura Trimble

Building on the Fit City conference in NYC held over the past five years, AIA New York co-hosted the first Fit Nation meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss the design of communities, streets, and buildings and how it impacts health — particularly obesity. The conference brought together speakers from NYC who helped develop the Active Design Guidelines, as well as officials from Washington, DC, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

Physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet are the second leading cause of premature death in the U.S. next to tobacco, and a growing body of research indicates that architectural and urban design strategies can help encourage people to walk and bicycle more, use the stairs, and eat healthier food. Over the last several years, NYC’s Departments of Health & Mental Hygiene, Design + Construction, Planning, and Transportation have undertaken an unprecedented collaboration with AIANY to develop and implement the Active Design Guidelines, which detail how to better design and construct our communities and infrastructure to encourage greater physical activity.

Executive Director of Let’s Move! Robin Schepper talked about First Lady Michelle Obama and her own commitment to active design issues, relating a story about how she led a campaign to build sidewalks in her DC neighborhood after finding that her children had no safe way to walk to school. DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, MSW, relayed his lifelong commitment to healthier communities through design, while the head of DC’s Planning Department, Harriet Tregoning, showcased some of the city’s active design initiatives: a new bike sharing system, the redesign of dozens of the city’s streets to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, and the construction of well-designed grocery stores in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods.

Fit Nation DC was the start of a new effort by AIANY and NYC city agencies to build national support for the Active Design Guidelines and the use of a new LEED Innovation Credit for Physical Activity in green buildings and development. The next Fit Nation meeting will take place in New Orleans in relation to the AIA National Convention in May, and the next Fit City event in NYC will occur on 05.17.11.

WTC Circulation: a Bright Spot on the 16 Acres

Event: TWC/Memorial/Lower Manhattan: Coordinating Construction and Accessibility
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.25.11
Speakers: Robert Harvey — Executive Director, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center; Lisa Weiss, RLA — Director, Urban Design, NYS Department of Transportation Route 9a Project; James Conners — Executive VP, Operations, National September 11 Memorial & MuseumOrganizers: New York New Visions; AIANY Planning & Urban Design Committee; APA New York Metro Chapter; Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute (Baruch College, CUNY)

Event: World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.03.11
Speakers: Michael D. Garz, AIA — Senior Vice President, STV Incorporated, & Design Manager, Downtown Design Partnership; Thomas L. Grassi, AIA — Program Manager, Port Authority of NY & NJ
Organizers: AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Whether you believe the estimate that there will be approximately five million visitors per year to the World Trade Center site, there is no question that the 16-acre landscape will need to accommodate throngs of tourists and locals alike once it is open. It will take complex coordination, necessitating the maneuvering of people, trains, tour buses, cars, and infrastructure around, into, and through the site.

The Route 9a Project, which was under construction before 9/11, is adding pedestrian access points and a bikeway to the busy transportation corridor from the Battery to 59th Street. By creating an “urban boulevard,” stated Lisa Weiss, the project’s director of urban design for the NYS Department of Transportation, the project will mitigate the city’s busiest utility corridor with tree-lined passageways, bluestone and granite paving, lighting, benches, and bollards. Access and egress to and from the World Trade Center site is designed to juxtapose a rustic aesthetic with the corporate plaza, according to Weiss.

The 9/11 Memorial is on schedule to open for the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks later this year, stated James Connors, Executive VP of operations for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. According to his records, 124 trees have been planted; 35% of the paving has been installed; and the North pool has had initial testing. Despite this, said Connors, it has been the development of operational management that shows the most progress at the site. An Emergency Egress and Emergency Action Plan is in place. Offsite visitor arrival locations and days/hours of operation are being determined. The southwest corner of the plaza has been designated as the official visitor entry (despite being the farthest entry point from the subways, as pointed out by Rick Bell, FAIA, during the roundtable discussion). A Timed Reservation System will be in place to alleviate large crowds. And tour bus drop off points have been designated to allow for 30-40 buses to drop off tour groups per hour.

No component of the master plan has survived the negotiations without change, but the transportation hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava, FAIA, has arguably stayed most faithful to its original design. Its above-grade component suggests both wings and bones, as if illustrating the unity of aesthetic aspirations and supporting structures. Two architects involved in its construction, Michael Garz, AIA, and Thomas Grassi, AIA, reported jointly on its progress.

The projected completion date (late 2014) may not be set in stone — Garz and Grassi were cautious about predictions — but progress on the tight, complex site is unmistakable. When the permanent hub succeeds the temporary PATH station (the first sign, in November 2003, that “life as we knew it [was] back”), it will connect 13 MTA lines plus the PATH. The marble-and-white retail concourse will be daylit: Calatrava’s operable wings fell afoul of budget cuts, but the basic design remains open, and the steel arch installation has begun. Top-down excavations, temporary pin-pile supports, and permanent construction are complicated by the presence of three active train lines (the PATH loop, the one passing through mid-site, and the R/W line to the east), along with simultaneous work on the memorial, Snøhetta’s museum pavilion, and 1 WTC, plus preliminary preparation for towers 2 through 4. All this activity is being coordinated within Ground Zero’s unique context: a fishbowl of civic visibility along with political pressure for the memorial to open by September 11 of this year, the 10th anniversary of the attack.

Given the density of the site and program, it may be more surprising that interagency and multi-union collaborations have gone this smoothly than that the site’s general pace lags behind overseas standards. As Garz observed, “Every time another stakeholder has an issue, it seems to be the Port Authority that steps up with a solution.”

Risk Management Experts Advise Architects on Best Legal Practices

Event: Keep It Legal, Protected, and Profitable
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.27.11
Speakers: Cynthia Fischer — Partner, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Scott St. Marie — Partner, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Steve Whitehorn — Managing Principal, Whitehorn Financial Group
Organizers: AIANY New Practices Committee; RIBA-USA New York Chapter

In an increasingly litigious business climate, risk, liability, and exposure are integral aspects of practice. It is beneficial for architects at all levels of the profession to have an understanding of exposure, as well as the instruments in place to protect businesses from legal recourse.

Cynthia Fischer, Scott St. Marie, and Steve Whitehorn have decades of experience in architectural risk management, and each contributed a different facet to the subject of legal liability and exposure. Fischer, a business partner at the law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, as well as Secretary of RIBA-USA, explored the various legal structures and mechanisms available to architectural practices. She discussed the advantages and disadvantages of S-corporations, liability clauses in contract documents, and operating agreements between managing principals. She stressed the importance of proper asset valuation, whether that asset is employees, managing partners, or the company itself.

St. Marie, also a partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, focused his talk on potential exposure during the design and construction process. He covered “changes” to the contract documents, as well as the manner in which changes resulted in “betterment” to the work and, therefore, decreased legal exposure. In addition, he outlined the function of mediation, arbitration, and litigation as methods of resolving disputes between architects and other aggrieved parties.

Whitehorn, managing principal of Whitehorn Financial Group, presented a brief overview of liability insurance. He spoke about practices excluded from insurance policies, recalibration of policies on a regular basis due to revenue changes, and the importance of working with consultants who maintain their own liability policies.

If there were a single concept uniting each of the three lectures, it would be the value of appropriate communication during the design and construction process. Clear dialogue is the most effective method of limiting liability and exposure, whether that communication is between client and architect, contractor and architect, principal and employee, or principal and principal.

A Screen Full of Architects' Angst

Event: Selections from Montreal International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA)
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.29.11
Speakers: Peter Eisenman, FAIA — Founder and Principal, Eisenman Architects; Luc Vrolijks — Founder and Principal, Urban Progress
Organizers: Center for Architecture; MUSE Film and Television
Sponsor: Cultural Services of the Québec Government Office in New York; Sony Electronics, Professional Solutions of America

Berlin Holocaust Memorial by Eisenman Architects.

Courtesy MUSE Film and Television

In a major public project, sometimes an architect’s creative vision emerges relatively unchanged and triumphant, but other times, it’s fraught with compromise and setbacks. Two documentaries explored the different outcomes of two large controversial projects: Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by Eisenman Architects, and the renovation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam by Cruz y Ortiz arquitectos, with Van Hoogevest Architecten as the restoration architect. The films were shown as part of Architecture on Screen, a two-day series of award-winning films from the Montreal International Festival of Films on Art at the Center for Architecture.

In Expansive Grounds, director Gerburg Rohde-Dahl trains her lens on the Holocaust Memorial from 2003 to 2007, during which construction was completed and the memorial opened to the public. The filmmaker interviews Peter Eisenman, FAIA, construction workers, the public, and others, along with exploring her own reactions to the monument, as she’s forced to wrestle with her complex feelings about her father, who was a Nazi during the war.

The design, an undulating field of 2,711 unmarked granite blocks, was plagued with controversy, with many critics complaining that it was too abstract. Even the construction process sparked contention, when one contractor was found to have manufactured poisonous gas for the Nazis.

At first Eisenman hesitated to take on the project, which seemed to present an overwhelming challenge beyond what an architect could achieve. “Architects solve problems, right?” he remarks in the film. In this project, “What is the problem? To solve German guilt?”

Instead of trying to evoke feelings of guilt, Eisenman decided to create an abstract design that could elicit a variety of emotional reactions, he explained in a live discussion after the screening. It creates an “experience of being alone, being in a place that you didn’t understand, being silent.” In that way, he aimed to evoke some of the sensations that Jews experienced in Nazi death camps, but through an architecture that was abstract enough that people could experience and react to it in many different ways. Ultimately, the monument’s tremendous popularity has validated the strength of his concept.

In The New Rijksmuseum, director Oeke Hoogendijk explores the travails faced by the architects and museum staff during an ongoing major renovation and restoration project for The Netherlands’s national museum, originally designed by Pierre Cuypers in the 19th century. Cruz y Ortiz arquitectos’ renovation design won a competition in 2001, but firm heads Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz bemoan the fact that the design that won them the job soon goes under attack, as cyclists successfully agitate to change the design of a bicycle passage that traverses the museum.

Later museum director Ronald de Leeuw pressures the architects into reducing the height of a new addition (jokingly called the “incredible shrinking study center” by some), leading Cruz to worry that his firm might lose enthusiasm for the project. The museum staff’s morale starts to deteriorate, too, as various redesign and bureaucratic delays lead the projected completion date to slip back gradually from around 2008 to 2013. All in all, the film could be seen as a cautionary tale about the problems that can arise when many well-meaning people with different agendas all try to influence the design of a project that, in the end, grows stale and watered down in almost everyone’s eyes.