Brooklyn Museum Exhibits a Fantastical Situ-ation

“reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio” at the Brooklyn Museum.

Jessica Sheridan

Over the weekend, I visited the Brooklyn Museum to hear Situ Studio discuss its recent installation, “reOrder: An Architectural Environment by Situ Studio.” The site-specific work sheaths the columns in the Great Hall, recently redesigned by Ennead Architects, with fabric and solid surfacing in a way that emulates either spinning hoop skirts or exaggerated parametric manipulation.

It was interesting to listen to the design team talk about the installation — an extremely collaborative process that was both meticulously deliberate and improvisational. Through large- and small-scale mock-ups, they developed a flexible system to pressure-fit collars around the columns with suspended hoops from which fabric reams are wrapped and tailored. The bases of the columns consist of a wood framework on which solid surfacing was heat-formed to create seating and tables. Although the process was pre-determined, the actual construction was intuitive. It wasn’t until they were able to get into the space and start the installation that they decided how each column was going to be wrapped.

reOrder works on many levels. The composition in the space references twirling dancers in a ballroom, a propos for the Great Hall. The design plays off of the columns themselves by blowing their Classical forms out of proportion. During the talk, Situ Studio Partner Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny mentioned that the structure of the Great Hall consists of thin, steel-framed members encased in plaster. The thick column-and-beam enclosures are not structural at all; rather, they are plaster encasements that cover the structure, similar to the fabric wrapping the installation’s substructure. Overall, the installation is whimsical and ironic and it energizes the entire surrounding space. I highly recommend taking a trip to see the piece.

Three of the AIA New York Chapter 2011 Design Award winners are featured in the “Best in Show” showcase exhibition at the Center for Architecture: the Hypar Pavilion Lawn and Restaurant by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXFOWLE Architects (Architecture, Honor); the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (Interiors, Honor); and the Lincoln Center Public Spaces by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXFOWLE Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (Urban Design, honor)…

The American Academy in Rome has chosen the 2011/12 Rome Prize winners, including Lonn Combs, AIA, principal of EASTON + COMBS (Gorham P. Stevens Rome Prize), and Jiminie Ha, Creative Director and Founder of W/– — — Project Space (Rolland Rome Prize); Hugh Hardy, FAIA, founding partner of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, will spend the spring of 2011 as the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence…

The NYC Department of Buildings First Deputy Commissioner Fatma Amer, P.E., has retired after nearly 30 years of public service, and Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Thomas Fariello, RA, has been appointed as Acting First Deputy Commissioner… A Retirement Celebration for Amer will take place at the Center for Architecture, hosted by ACEC New York, AIANY, and REBNY, at 6:00pm, 04.20.11. All are welcome!

Aedas has established an office in Toronto, Canada… Thornton Tomasetti appointed Thomas Z. Scarangello, P.E., Chairman and CEO; Aine Brazil, P.E., LEED AP, Vice Chairman; Dennis C.K. Poon, P.E., Vice Chairman; and Robert P. DeScenza, P.E., LEED AP, President… Jan Lakin, Assoc. AIA, has been named Editor-in-Chief of the IIDA publication Perspective…

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: kristen@ArchNewsNow.com.

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

Summer: AIANY Design Awards 2011
[Closed]

Fall: Interior Activity
— Sustainable interior architecture/design.
— Interiors as laboratories for small firms.
— Changes in Practice: Diversity out of necessity; multi-disciplinary cross-overs; architectural firms establishing quasi- or totally independent design studios for products, graphics, etc.
— Pro-bono policies: we’d like to hear from firms participating in established programs such as The 1%, Architecture for Humanity, etc. — and from firms who have an established in-house pro-bono program and/or policy.
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: kristen@ArchNewsNow.com.

04.27.11 Call for Applications: SMPS 2011 Ron Garikes Student Scholarship

05.01.11 Call for Submissions: Passive House for New Orleans

05.18.11 Call for Entries: ARCHITECT Magazine R+D Awards

05.27.11 Call for Entries: BSA Sustainable Design

06.01.11 Call for Entries: Architectural Record — Record Interiors

08.02.11 Call for Entries: 2011 James Dyson Award

04.12.11: More than 600 members of the architectural and related communities convened at Cipriani Wall Street to honor the 2011 Design Awards at the annual Design Awards Luncheon. The Luncheon also serves as a benefit for the Center for Architecture and its ongoing mission to promote design excellence.

Robert A. Ivy, FAIA, EVP/Chief Executive Officer, American Institute of Architects, gave the keynote address.

Sam Lahoz

Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President, and Keynote Speaker Robert A. Ivy, FAIA.

Sam Lahoz

Luncheon Chair Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, 2010 AIANY President and Chairman of Mancini Duffy (left) with Tod Williams, AIA, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

Sam Lahoz

(L-R): Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, AIA and Charles Renfro, AIA.

Sam Lahoz

(L-R): Ed Farrell, AIANYS Executive Director; Kenneth Levien, AIA, Levien & Company; Hannah O’Grady, Deputy Director, ACEC; Thomas Fariello, RA, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner; Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director; Gail Rothstein, Vice President, NYC EDC.

Sam Lahoz

04.14.11: The 2011 Design Awards Exhibition opening at the Center for Architecture celebrated the unveiling of the work of award recipients.

(L-R): Michael Quinlan, Trespa; Rose Markov, AIANY Global Dialogues Committee; 2011 AIANY President Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP; Herb Larsen, Trespa.

Sam Lahoz

Guests viewing the exhibition.

Sam Lahoz

Architect Manuel Ferreyra, of the Colegio de Arquitectos Del Peru — Regional Lima, visited the Center for Architecture on 04.19.11.

Ferreyra met with AIA New York Chapter Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, to review the terms of the Institutional Cooperation Agreement between CAP-LIMA and AIANY.

Laura Trimble

(L-R): Cynthia Kracauer, AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Managing Director; Henry Zachary, AIANY Finance Director; Ferreyra; and Bell in the Helfand Gallery.

Laura Trimble

04.06.11: FIGMENT hosted its annual fundraiser, “Groundbreaking,” to support its summer-long programs on Governors Island, including a sculpture garden, mini-golf course, and the City of Dreams Pavilion, which was the result of a competition hosted in partnership with the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). At the event, the winner of the competition was announced: Brooklyn-based Bittertang will create “Burble Bup,” an installation made with earthen walls and inflatables. Click here to read more about the project and to see the runners-up.

Bittertang’s Claire Vitto and Michael Loverich with their model of Burble Bup.

Tes Rivera

(L-R): Kristin LaBuz of the Design Trust for Public Space; Brynnemarie Lanciotti, Assoc. AIA, AIANY ENYA co-chair; and Claire Vitto of Bittertang.

Jessica Sheridan

03.15.11: In celebration of Women’s History Month, the New York Commercial Real Estate Women (NYCREW) Network hosted a Leading Ladies’ panel event discussing the critical role Emily Warren Roebling played in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the work of women today in building bridges around the city and beyond.

Speakers (l-r): Moderator Wanda Bubriski, Beverly Willis Architecture; Clare Weisz, AIA, WXY Architecture + Urban Design and The Design Trust for Public Space; Courtney Clark, Weidlinger Associates; Andrea Woodner, The Design Trust for Public Space; and Emily Warren Roebling’s great-great grandson Kristian Roebling, Roebling Museum.

NYCREW

04.11.11: As part of the OCULUS Book Talk monthly series, architecture critic and author Witold Rybczynski, AIA, presented his new book, Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities. He examined current approaches and the future of urban planning through the lens of historical examples, such as the City Beautiful movement. “If you make a list of the great buildings that we admire, 90% of them were built between 1900 and 1929,” said Rybczynski.

(L-R): Anna Torriani, AIA, Co-chair, AIANY Public Architecture Committee; Miguel Baltierra, Assoc. AIA, AIANY Oculus Committee; Witold Rybczynski, AIA; Maxinne Leighton, Assoc. AIA, AIANY Oculus Committee; Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, Chair, Oculus Committee, and AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA.

Murrye Bernard

So Says… Bill Moggridge (continued)

KR: What are the difficulties caused by operating out of a building designed originally for a different purpose, a different time, a different world? How does the renovation address these problems?

BM: When Charles Eames was interviewed by Mme. Amic [in 1972], she asked: “Does the creation of design admit constraint?” He replied, “Design depends largely on constraints.” In response to the constraints, our building helps us solve design problems with a little more rigor than a modern alternative might.

The renovation will give us more flexibility, with 60% more space for exhibitions, and a new “white-space” gallery on the third floor, providing a large open area for major shows without altering the fabric of the building.

KR: What are your plans for expanding the audience of the Cooper-Hewitt? In a 2010 New York Times Museums supplement, Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, suggested that it is good to build upon one’s core constituency, but necessary to go beyond it. Do you agree, and if so, what are you doing about it?

BM: Our core constituency includes the professional design community, design educators, and students, as well as all the people who are interested in our collections and the mansion. As we develop as more of a national design resource and international design authority, we will expand our audience to include leaders from both companies and organizations and a greater percentage of the general public.

KR: Last year, when Jason Schupbach was new to his role as Design Director at the National Endowment for the Arts, you convened the leaders of all the architecture and design organizations in NYC. Was there a purpose to the meeting, other than introducing Jason to colleagues? What, if anything, was achieved during the discussion?

BM: We have established a collaborative partnership with Jason at the NEA, as we can help to explain design in different ways. The NEA can support projects through funding and we can help with content and expertise.

KR: I’d like your take on three questions posed to architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Hon. AIA, in a recent interview in The Atlantic. First, what new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on the design world?

BM: Increasing connectivity due to the Internet and cell phone networks. The world seems much smaller as we are so much more connected to each other.

KR: Second: what’s an emerging trend that you think will shake up the architecture world?

BM: The context for architectural practice is expanding from the design of the built environment to the design of social innovation.

KR: And third: what is an architecture or design trend pushing designers to change?

BM: Our solution space is getting more and more complicated, leading to increasing specialism. This in turn tends to isolate designers from the full scope of problems and solutions. This trend can be balanced by more collaboration across specialties and disciplines.

KR: IDEO.ORG is launching in fall — are you involved? How important is socially responsible design — in architecture and products — in your book? Do you think there’s too much “lip-service” about it, or is it being taken seriously?

BM: This initiative was put in place after I moved to NY, but IDEO was working in the social innovation space before that. See for example the “Human Centered Design Toolkit,” a free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs worldwide, sponsored by the Gates Foundation. There is a lot of talk about social innovation, but as with most ideas that are recently popular, there are not so many successful practitioners yet. Let’s hope that the expertise grows over time.

KR: What is your favorite work of architecture — and why?

BM: When arriving in London after an overnight flight, I usually go straight to the Tate Modern, approaching the building by crossing the delicate and elegant Millennium Footbridge, designed by Foster + Partners, Arup, and Sir Anthony Caro. As you walk across, the grand simplicity of the original power-station architecture gradually looms higher, with the subtle glass rectangles of the renovation designed by Herzog & de Meuron complimenting the brick. It is worth entering down the pedestrian ramp from the ground level, to fully enjoy the expansive atrium and treatments of the windows of the gallery floors, followed by the long escalator ride up to explore the art. This combination of the engineering design of the bridge, the scale and power of the original building, and the delicate but also strong detailing of the conversion add up to my favorite work.

KR: What is your favorite product design — and why?

BM: The spoons designed by Ettore Sottsass for Alessi. You can enjoy the appearance of the voluptuous curves as you see the spoon on a surface. As you pick it up, the arch of the handle presents itself as if waiting for you, and the balance is perfect between bowl and handle. The details of the shaping are smoothly rounded, with none of those harsh edges so common in flatware. As your lips touch the leading edge and you smell the contents, you realize that the design of this spoon enhances multi-sensory pleasures.

KR: What is your favorite thing about living in NYC? What do you miss most about living in CA?

BM: Everything! NY is so amazing because you can always find something happening here about everything that you can think of. I miss friends, countryside, and climate from California.

KR: How much did the 1982 GRiD Compass weigh?

BM: 11 lbs.

KR: How much does your current laptop weigh?

BM: 5.6 lbs.

04.06.11

04.06.11:The latest AIANY podcast features an interview with Tony Hiss about his book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel. The book was the subject of the most recent Oculus Book Talk (See the book review, “Tony Hiss Travels In Motion,” by Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA, e-Oculus, 03.23.11). Oculus Committee members Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA, and Miguel Baltierra conducted the interview.

Also, Oculus magazine is looking for story ideas for the Fall issue, “Interior Activity.” The deadline for suggestions is 04.22.11. Click here for more information.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

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

And check out the latest Podcasts produced by AIANY.

India Seeks New York Firms for Exotic Designs

Event: Contemporary Design Typologies in India: Housing, Airports, and Mixed-Use Developments
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.31.11
Speakers: Fred Schwartz, FAIA — Partner, Frederic Schwartz Architects; Brian McFarland, AIA — Associate Principal, Cetra/Ruddy Incorporated; Jay Berman, AIA — Partner, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects; Meghan McDermott, AIA — Partner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Moderator: Vinod Devgan, RA — Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction
Introduction: Purnima Kapur — Director of the Brooklyn Office, NYC Department of City Planning
Organizers: AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation; India China Institute at The New School; Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC); Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA)
Sponsors: Grants: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; Underwriter: Duggal Visual Solutions; Lead Sponsors: Hitachi; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Sponsors: Grapevine Merchants; Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects; Supporters: Bittersweet NYC; CetraRuddy; Kingfisher Lager; Friends: Arup; Benjamin Moore; IBEX Construction; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Perkins Eastman; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Special Thanks: Umberto Dindo, AIA; Lutz Konermann; Catherine Scharf

World One Tower at Lodha Place, Mumbai, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects (left); Capital City, Noida, India, by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

Jay L. Berman, Partner, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects (left); Neoscape for Robert A.M. Stern Architects (right)

In her introduction, Purnima Kapur, director of the Brooklyn Office of the NYC Department of City Planning, stated that India has always incorporated foreign influences into its architecture. But, in the 21st century, India’s blossoming economy has resulted in an accelerated dialogue between India and American designers, with novel results. Intriguingly, Indian developers seeking an image of international, iconic Modernism are turning with increasing frequency to New York architects. In return, New York architects are finding their designs to be considered “exotic” to the Indian buyer.

As Brian McFarland, AIA, of Cetra/Ruddy explained, a developer in Cochin wanted to work with the firm because its design of a luxury high-rise apartment tower in New Jersey. The developer appreciated the edifice, and wanted to export a similar experience to India. Luxury, however, takes a dramatically different form in a country where the population cannot count on local utilities to provide consistent power and clean water, McFarland explained.

As a result of this infrastructural deficiency in general, Indian buildings tend to incorporate sustainable design features. Water is a precious commodity, and thus the roof of Frederic Schwartz Architects’ Chennai Airport directs rainwater toward rain gardens, and the design employs green roofs above parking lots. As Meghan McDermott, AIA, of Robert A. M. Stern Architects indicated, their projects in Gurgaon City and Noida use cogeneration plants to supplement the local power grid. And Jay Berman, AIA, of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects, utilized similar strategies in Mumbai for the World One Tower as part of the master plan at Lodha Place.

Surprisingly, according to McFarland, Indian clients often frown upon one of the central sustainable design strategies: use of locally harvested materials. From their perspective, this approach results in more conventional “Indian” buildings not associated with luxury. In addition, developers will sometimes sacrifice timeworn Indian building strategies, such as the use of cross-ventilation (which Berman tried to employ at World One Tower) to satisfy a market that associates luxury with steel-and-glass structures. The panelists agreed that the attitudes of these developers create tension between the contextual response that architects have been trained to employ and the image of international luxury that they are being asked to design.

Folio Revisits Klaus Herdeg's Indian Stepwells

Event: Special Release: Klaus Herdeg, Formal Structure in Indian Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.22.11
Speakers: Umberto Dindo, AIA — AIANY Secretary
Introduction: Rick Bell, FAIA — AIANY Executive Director
Organizers: AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation; India China Institute at The New School; Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC); Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA)
Sponsors: Grants: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; Underwriter: Duggal Visual Solutions; Lead Sponsors: Hitachi; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Sponsors: Grapevine Merchants; Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects; Supporters: Bittersweet NYC; CetraRuddy; Kingfisher Lager; Friends: Arup; Benjamin Moore; IBEX Construction; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Perkins Eastman; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Special Thanks: Umberto Dindo, AIA; Lutz Konermann; Catherine Scharf; Donation: folios donated by the Herdeg Family

Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat.

Umberto Dindo, AIA

The indelible legacy of architect and author Klaus Herdeg resonates in the special release to the Center for Architecture of 200 copies of Formal Structure in Indian Architecture, Herdeg’s seminal folio documenting secular and religious monuments in India.

The folio first accompanied Herdeg’s 1967 exhibition that analyzed Indian structures through technical drawings and photographs, bringing neglected Indian stepwells to the attention of practicing Modernists in the age of India’s post independence. During a time of limited travel to India, Herdeg was the first to identify the historic stepwells, utilitarian water collection systems and cultural gathering places, as monuments of architectural significance, according to Umberto Dindo, AIA, a contemporary and friend of Herdeg.

Decades before India became recognized as a global force, Herdeg placed a spotlight on the neglected, albeit paramount, water structures influencing the country’s ritualistic life and culture. Stepwells served a myriad of functions — water collection cisterns, cleansing of bodies and clothing, and places of worship and social gathering. Although many are in ruins today, surviving stepwells in the Indian provinces of Gujarat and Rajasthan still retain magnificence in planning, structure, and ornamentation. Formal Structure in Indian Architecture is permeated with a passion for these structures, and through this special release architects and historians can take a personal tour led by Herdeg himself.

The folio is still on sale while supplies last. Click here to order.

Not Your Typical Parking Garage: 1111 Lincoln Road

Event: AIANY New Practices: Development and Design
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.21.11
Speaker: Robert Wennet — Developer, 1111 Lincoln Road
Introduction: Farnaz Mansuri, Assoc. AIA — Lead Designer, De-Spec, & Member, AIANY New Practices Committee
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee

1111 Lincoln Road, by Herzog & de Meuron.

Cynthia Kracauer, AIA

Developer Robert Wennet is “passionate about learning to become a builder of a certain excellence,” stated Farnaz Mansuri, Assoc. AIA, lead designer at De-Spec, who assisted him in selecting the architect for 1111 Lincoln Road. For this new parking garage in Miami Beach, Wennet ultimately chose Herzog & de Meuron, and their design is far from a typical parking garage.

Wennet purchased the site, which was developed in the 1920s as a retail and entertainment district, to build a structure that would help to re-knit the urban fabric and literally tie in with an existing Brutalist building. Still, maximizing FAR was a priority, so he chose to center the program on parking.

The design creates a new model for the parking garage. Sprinklers and other systems are buried in the concrete slabs, which taper at the edges. Angled, irregular concrete columns support the perimeter of the structure, and a floating staircase turns egressing into an experience. Flat floor-plates, wide parking spaces and drive aisles, indirect lighting, and well-considered signage all contribute to a “pleasant parking experience.”

“1111 Lincoln Road is more civic in nature than a car park,” explained Wennet. “It is a public space.” Aside from parking, the structure accommodates high-end retail, and Wennet’s personal residence is carved beneath the roof. The developer created a public/private partnership with the City of Miami to install native landscaping, seating, and sculptures for the street-level pedestrian plaza in front.

Most of Wennet’s income is not actually generated through parking, but rather by renting the upper floor as event space. With sweeping views of Miami Beach, it has provided the backdrop for many weddings, fashion shows, media events, and films (not to mention 2010 AIA Convention parties).

Culture & Nature Dialogue in Seoul

Event: New Design in Seoul
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.22.11
Speakers: Jinsuk Park — Senior Associate Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF); Taeman Kim — Principal, Haeahn Architecture + H Associates; Du Nam Choi — Professor, Seoul National University; James von Klemperer, FAIA — Design Principal, KPF
Moderator: Clifford Pearson — Senior Editor, Architectural Record
Introduction: Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY; Noushin Ehsan, AIA — Chair, AIANY Global Dialogues Committee
Organizer: AIANY Global Dialogues Committee
Sponsors: Kohn Pedersen Fox

Northeast Asia Trade Tower by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

Softjuice

With a strong economy and a proficiency in high-rise construction befitting peaking land values, the Republic of Korea has enjoyed a decades-long architectural boom despite recent decelerations. This AIANY Global Dialogues panel presented many of the distinctive projects and approaches drawing attention, investment, and talent to the southern half of the peninsula.

Seoul’s built environment, noted Moderator Clifford Pearson, like those of Rotterdam and other cities that have gone through cycles of wartime destruction and postwar rebuilding, is almost completely modern. It is largely the result of a post-Korean War building binge designed to serve the rapidly industrializing and urbanizing nation. Korea’s older culture continues to guide certain aspects of the nation’s development, imparting a connection to nature along with a practicality in accommodating social practices and norms. (There is a high prevalence of three-bedroom apartments, for example, in contemporary Korean buildings; this scale preference comes naturally in a society where several generations of a family often live together.)

Jinsuk Park, senior associate principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), provided historical background on the tendency of Korean cities to define themselves in relation to nearby mountains and water. The massive urban influx has developed Seoul into a megacity of 10 million comprising what Park’s colleague James von Klemperer, FAIA, identifies as interconnecting “separate subcities, not exactly villages but basins of built area and dense population, cradled between mountains.” Much early postwar construction — housing towers, megablocks, wide highways, ambitious landfill projects — emphasized regularity, replicability, economy, and speed over architectural distinction. More recent work, however, has blended global greening tendencies with local ideas, an approach that Taeman Kim, principal of Haeahn Architecture + H Associates, described as “Third Nature,” in which a new structure mimics natural features. Tradition and innovation engage in productive dialogue in projects like the Seongbuk district’s Gate Hills (a Haeahn design completed in 2008), 12 terraced, L-shaped private houses whose sedum-covered roofs create a pattern that frames and optimizes natural views, internally and externally, without compromising privacy.

Tomorrow’s Korea should have no shortage of arresting icons. The Northeastern Asian Tower, the nation’s tallest, is one of 10 planned “supertalls” marking separate communities on the skyline, von Klemperer commented, somewhat in the manner of the hill towns of Tuscany or 18th-century London’s church steeples. The Lotte Tower, a double-pointed “celery stalk” rising as a discrete “vertical city” 123 stories above a somewhat undefined area of repetitive slabs; its multiple green atriums and recurrent scalloped forms will be a welcome alternative. The Hyundai Global Business Tower, sited in a forest, cantilevers above the trees and uses a triangular geometry designed along the principles of pungsu (Korea’s version of feng shui).

New Songdo City near Incheon Airport has attracted wide interest as a large-scale green-urbanist venture, incorporating harmonious aesthetic features (e.g., artificial skylines resembling nearby mountains) as well as measures that strengthen its environmental performance, importing American LEED standards and advanced technologies such as pneumatic trash collection and graywater recycling. Like New York, New Songdo City is organized around a Central Park, focusing density and fostering higher levels of pedestrian activity than is seen in most of Korea’s sprawl-era development. KPF and the developers of this unique Korean/American joint venture have taken risks on a vast scale, planning from scratch a city for 300,000 residents, but it’s unlikely to be another Brasilia; its biophilic and cultural roots run deep.