Fit City 6: Active Design Fights Obesity, Diabetes

Event: Fit City 6: Promoting Physical Activity through Design
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.17.11
Speakers: Health Keynote: Karen Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC (Introduction) — Director, Built Environment Program, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH); Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH — Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity & Arkansas Surgeon General; Commissioners’ Panel 1: Active Design in the City: Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY (Introduction & Moderator); Adrian Benepe — Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation; Amanda Burden, FAICP, Hon. AIANY — Commissioner, NYC City Planning Department; David Burney, FAIA — Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction; Andrew Goodman, MD, MPH — Deputy Commissioner, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, NYC DOHMH; Wendy Feuer — Assistant Commissioner for Art and Urban Desing, NYC Department of Transportation; Fit World: Designing Active Communities Across the Globe: Skye Duncan (Introduction & Moderator) — Associate Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning; Carlos Santos-Burgoa, MD, MPH, Ph.D — Senior Advisor on Violence, Injury and Human Security, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); Louise Cox, LFRAIA, RIBA, Intl. Assoc. AIA — President, International Union of Architects; Rosan Bosch — Managing Director, Rosan Bosch Ltd; Fitness Break: Sarah Gluck, Urban Movement Design Design Keynote: Joyce Lee, AIA, LEED AP (Introduction) — Director of Active Design Program, NYC Department of Design + Construction; Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, RIBA, MAA, LEED AP — Associate Partner, Director Business Development, Bjarke Ingels Group; Commissioners’ Panel 2: Active Design in the City: Suzanne Nienaber (Introduction & Moderator) — Training Coordinator, NYC Active Design Program; E. Bruce Barrett, RA, LEED AP BC+D — Vice President, Architecture & Engineering, NYC School Construction Authority; Ira Gluckman, AIA — Queens Borough Commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings; Edna Wells Handy — Commissioner, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services; Laurie Kerr, AIA — Senior Policy Advisor, NYC Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability; Matthew P. Sapolin — Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; Private Sector & Community Leadership: Desiging Spaces for Active and Healthy Children: Kate Rube (Introduction & Moderator) — Active Design National Training Manager; Abraham Jelin, MD — President, New York Chapter 2 of American Academy of Pediatrics; Elena Madison — Assistant Vice President, Project for Public Spaces, Inc.; Charles Renfro, AIA — Principal, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Yvonne Isaac — Vice President of Operations, Full Spectrum of NY
Welcome: Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — President, AIA New York Chapter & Principal, Helpern Architects
Organizer: AIANY; NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Courtesy Center for Architecture

More than 275 people gathered at the Center for Architecture for Fit City 6, the sixth annual summit on how design of the built environment impacts physical activity and health issues. A collaboration between AIANY and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Fit City events have led to the publication of the award-winning Active Design Guidelines, which provides strategies for architects, planners, and policy makers on how to design communities, streets, and buildings to encourage physical activity and access to healthy food choices.

With 23% of NYC’s population confronting obesity, and one in eight adults suffering with diabetes, the social and medical costs of the city’s design decisions are dramatic. Fit City 6 featured speakers from 10 city agencies, including the Commissioners of the NYC Departments of Parks and Recreation, City Planning, Design + Construction, and Citywide Administrative Services. From the redevelopment of the city’s waterfront as a recreation destination, to numerous zoning changes that support walking and bicycling, and the closure of city streets for events like Summer Streets and PlayStreets, the city has embraced active design as a means to a healthier and sustainable future.

The conference also benefitted from innovative international design examples. Rosan Bosch, a Copenhagen-based artist, showcased her designs of libraries and schools that encourage physical activity for children, such as low-cost strategies to make stairs more prominent. Her presentation was complemented with “jumpUP, jumpDOWN, jumpZONE,” an exhibition at the Center for Architecture, which featured activity “zones” she designed to encourage physical exercise in public spaces, including zones for jumping jacks and shopping bag lifting. Charles Renfro, AIA, principal at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, presented several projects inspired by the idea of applying lessons learned from horizontal design to vertical design, such as a vertical “campus green” and staircases that become rooms or resting places. And Sarah Gluck of Urban Movement Design provided fitness breaks throughout the day.

For Fresh Thinking, Look South

Event: BETTER CITY/BETTER Life: South-North Initiative
Location: United Nations Headquarters, 05.18.11
Speakers: Plenary Session: Cecilia Martinez (Welcome & Opening Statement) — Director, UN Habitat New York Office; Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP (Welcome) — President, AIA New York Chapter; Aliye Celik, Ph.D. (Welcome) — Co-Chair, Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization; Ambassador Francis Lorenzo — President, South-South News; H.E. Ron Sims (Keynote) — Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Housing & Urban Development; Dialogue Session 1: The South-North Initiative: H.E. Sirodjidin Aslov (Chair) — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations; Prof. Urs P. Gauchat, AIA (Moderator) — Dean, School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Robert Buckley — Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation; Marc A. Weiss, Ph.D. — Chairman and CEO, Global Urban Development; Jonathan Clyne — Associate Director, The Halcrow Group; Alven Lam — Director, International Research, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Dialogue Session 2: The Role of Information Communication Technology as Agents for Change: H.E. Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen (Chair) — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the U.S.; James McCullar, FAIA (Moderator) — Co-Chair, Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization & Past President, AIA New York Chapter; Matthew Chandy — Senior Urban Advisor, CHF Intern; Theresa Williamson — Executive Director, Catalytic Communities; John A. Kent — Philos Health; Dialogue Session 3: Leapfrog Innovations as Agents for Change: H.E. Josephine Ojiambo (Chair) — Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations; Professor Lance Jay Brown, FAIA (Moderator) — Chancellor, ACSA College of Distinguished Professors; Kanu Agrawal — Architect, New Delhi, India & Curator, “Jugaad Urbanism: Resourceful Strategies for Indian Cities” exhibition, Center for Architecture; Susan Zielinski — Managing Director, SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), University of Michigan; Teddy Cruz — Architect, Professor of Public Culture, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego; Conclusions: Applicability of Best Practices to the Developed World: Yamina Djacta (Introduction) — Deputy Director UN-Habitat New York Office; H.E. Vince Henderson (Chair) — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Dominica to the United Nations; Cecilia Martinez (Moderator) — Director, UN Habitat New York Office
Organizers: Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization; UN-Habitat; AIANY; South-South News
Partners: City College of New York — CUNY Spitzer School of Architecture; NJIT New Jersey’s Science & Technology University College of Architecture & Design

Until recently, relations between developed and developing nations have assumed a top-down model where both aid and ideas flowed from the industrialized North to the impoverished South. Among the many things wrong with this neocolonial assumption is that it overlooks the useful ideas percolating up from South to North, from the “green capitalism” hailed by Global Urban Development chairman Marc A. Weiss, Ph.D., to the concept of jugaad, or design improvisation deriving useful results from inexpensive materials, embodied in the Center’s recent “Jugaad Urbanism” exhibition. UN-Habitat and partners assembled leaders from both hemispheres to share ideas in the critical space between two senses of sustainable urbanism: as a futurist ideal and as actually existing practices. HUD’s Ron Sims offered inspiring linkages between today’s global changes and the forms of progress his own family has witnessed in the U.S.

Some of the South’s achievements are well known, such as Jamie Lerner, Hon. FAIA’s transportation reforms in Curitiba and similar systems in Bogotá (not just bus rapid transit, SMART’s Susan Zielinski pointed out, but BRT introduced in the wider context creating socially equitable multi-modal systems). Some are on the brink of gaining global recognition as game-changers, such as rail lines in China, Brazil, and elsewhere: the first true high-speed system in the Americas, said Halcrow Group rail consultant Jonathan Clyne, will be the Trem de Alta Velocidade (TAV) connecting Rio de Janeiro and Campinas via Sao Paulo (construction is expected to begin next year), and China’s system has expanded from 649 km in 2008 to 8,400 km now, expected to reach 19,000 km by 2014. Speeding inter-urban travel, particularly between intermediately spaced cities, has historically led to sustained prosperity. Rail, BRT, mobile phones, and reuse of waste materials are the kinds of “leapfrogging” technologies that help developing countries overcome infrastructure deficiencies relatively quickly — faster, sometimes, than wealthier countries whose older, slower, more wasteful systems (e.g., highways, hardwired phone networks, landfills) are locked in by past investment.

For rapidly expanding cities, speakers noted, economic and demographic acceleration exacerbate questions of equity. Teddy Cruz’s work on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana border illuminates sharp contrasts between the “urbanism of fear” seen in gated communities and the “creative acts of citizenship” of ad-hoc infill projects and flexible communal construction. Brazilian nonprofit group Catalytic Communities, said Executive Director Theresa Williamson, is promulgating accessible information technology to help organize favela residents, threatened with forcible eviction as Rio’s pre-Olympic real estate boom gains momentum.

Both North and South can look to these kinds of force-multiplying efforts for potential answers to the critical question raised by Urs Gauchat: “How do you get the taxpayer enthused about paying for somebody else’s benefits?” No one pretends there are easy answers for today’s “curious inversion” whereby the developed world is convinced it lacks the resources to pay for progress while the economies of China, India, Brazil, and other nations are roaring full blast, but Cecilia Martinez recommended attention to cultural variables, particularly assumptions about privacy and density. As Weiss suggested, “There’s no ‘Us vs. Them,’ because there’s no Them. It’s all us.”

Teddy Cruz Lobbies for Change in Urban Planning Process

Event: “Design for a Change” Presidential Lecture Series: Teddy Cruz on the Politics of Affordable Housing
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.19.11
Speakers: Teddy Cruz — Principal, Estudio Teddy Cruz & Professor, Public Culture, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego; Cristiana Fragola — Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives, Office of Strategic Planning & Change Management, NYCHA; Ron Shiffman, FAICP — Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
Moderator: William Morrish — Dean, Parsons School of Constructed Environments
Introduction: Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — 2011 AIANY President
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Underwriter: Arup; Buro Happold; Consolidated Edison; Lead Sponsor: STUDIOS Architecture; Sponsors: MechoShade Systems, Inc.; Trespa; Supporters: Acheson Doyle Partners Architects; DeLaCour Family Foundation; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Syska Hennessy Group, Inc.; Friends: 1100 Architect; Bleecker Area Merchants & Residents Association (BAMRA); Brenda Levin; Capsys Corp.; Community Environmental Center, Inc.; Helpern Architects; Hugo S. Subotovsky AIA Architects; Levien & Company; New York Building Congress, Inc.; Oppenheimer Brady Vogelstein; P.W. Grosser Consulting, Inc.; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Viridian Energy & Environmental

Casa Familiar.

Estudio Teddy Cruz

Teddy Cruz believes that the “American Dream” of individual home ownership is an unsustainable myth. Furthermore, he contends that the dream has driven American municipalities to draft economic and planning policies that promote urban sprawl, monogamous neighborhoods, and unhealthy populations. However, he asserts that with sufficient education, energy, creativity, and patience, citizens can circumvent the standard planning procedures to craft vibrant communities.

The San Diego-Tijuana border area, straddling the U.S. and Mexico, serves as the laboratory for Estudio Teddy Cruz’s urban planning experiments. Here, with projects such as Casa Familiar, Cruz’s firm has explored unorthodox funding and formal solutions for multi-family developments, often while in the employ of non-profits. Cruz likens the non-profit to an informal city hall or a think tank, and he believes that these organizations bridge the widening gap between the needs of communities and those of local governments. Thus, non-profits mediate between top-down and bottom-up planning solutions.

Non-profits are also positioned to directly aid communities in the micro-development of individual parcels of land. This sort of small-scale, incremental change is central to Cruz’s philosophy because it allows designers to exercise more control over the process while also providing greater flexibility. In many cases, micro-development can foster a different social composition than in larger-scaled projects, and it can promote alternate means of economic production.

Cruz gave an example: imagine a residential community develops a plot by constructing small artist studios, and then offers to subsidize artists’ rent in exchange for social services. Their presence and economic activity would directly enrich the community. Cruz posits that this kind of development, so counter to modern zoning codes, has stabilized cities for millennia.

In spite of his theoretical tenets, Cruz is committed to the practical application of his ideas. He wants to implement pilot projects in low-risk areas and then apply the lessons learned to larger-scale planning. If most civic-minded thinkers present design professionals with food for thought, Cruz has laid out a banquet of ideas.

21st Century Lincoln Center — More Lincoln Center than Lincoln Center

Event: Best in Show: A Conversation with the Designers of 21st Century Lincoln Center
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.04.11
Speakers: Elizabeth Diller — Principal, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Sylvia Smith, FAIA, LEED AP — Principal, FXFOWLE Architects; Larry Gutterman, AIA, LEED AP — Associate Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners; Billie Tsien, AIA — Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; Signe Nielsen, Hon. AIANY, FASLA — Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Benefactor: Vanguard Construction & Development Co.; Patron: Diller Scofidio + Renfro; FXFOWLE Architects; Trespa; Sponsors: Arup; Buro Happold; Ennead Architects; F.J. Sciame Construction Co.; Gensler; Halcrow Yolles; Ibex Construction; Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti; Jaros, Baum & Bolles; Knoll/Lane Office; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Mancini Duffy; MechoShade Systems, Inc.; New York University; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Roger Ferris + Partners; Rudin Management Company, Inc.; Sage and Coombe Architects; Stalco Construction, Inc.; Structure Tone Inc.; Studio Daniel Libeskind; STUDIOS Architecture; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Syska Hennessy Group; Turner Construction Company; Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Lincoln Center Public Spaces, NY, NY, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, FXFOWLE Architects, and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners.

Photo by Iwan Baan

Frank Gehry, FAIA, cautioned Elizabeth Diller about accepting the project to rejuvenate the public spaces at Lincoln Center. “If we knew then, what we know now,” said Diller, “we probably wouldn’t have.” Despite the challenges, the outcome was exactly what the client wanted — “to make Lincoln Center more Lincoln Center than Lincoln Center.” Nodding in agreement were Diller’s co-panelists from FXFOWLE Architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, who all contributed to the realization of a Lincoln Center for the 21st century.

Diller learned first-hand exactly what George Balanchine, co-founder of the NYC Ballet, meant when he said the only thing the constituents at Lincoln Center have in common is the campus. The 13 disparate cultural entities that occupy the campus did not share a concern for the public spaces and did not see how improving the campus would be good for their individual box offices. It was the responsibility of the design team to convince them of this.

When Lincoln Center was originally built, many felt the mega-block represented elitism, turning its back to the city. To access the plaza, patrons had to traverse a driveway and a series of steps, and more recently, a sidewalk with Jersey barriers (a post 9/11 addition). The design team sought to remedy the situation by burying the roadway under a monumental stair with deeper treads and LED signage embedded in the risers. The stair is flanked by canopied walkways leading to the performance halls. The fountain remains in its original location as the center of attention, but the team lowered the water level to meet the plaza and added a floating rim for sitting and people watching. Water patterns were choreographed to celebrate the exuberance of the cultural campus.

The Hypar Pavilion, which, according to the panel, was a leap of faith on the part of Lincoln Center, serves a dual purpose without consuming much space on campus. A large, parabolic-shaped lawn is the roof of a glass-walled restaurant. According to Sylvia Smith, FAIA, of FXFOWLE, who collaborated with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Hypar Pavilion “counters the rectilinear shape of the other buildings.”

Nearby, Tod Williams Bille Tsien Architects transformed privately owned public space that acts as a connector from the street to the campus. The atrium contains one of the largest green walls in the city, a box office for ticketing, a place for live and on-screen performances, and plenty of seating. According to Billie Tsien, AIA, it is now “a place to stop by and have a drink before the show, and a place where you can come by when you have no place to be or do.”

Arts Take Over Real, Imaginative Spaces

Event: Festival of Ideas for the New City
Location: New Museum for Contemporary Art; NYU Kimmel Pavilion; Cooper Union Great Hall; Center for Architecture; Openhouse Gallery, and others, 05.04-08.2011 (plus 05.09.2011 panel to close Audi Urban Future Initiative)
Speakers: Rem Koolhaas — Principal, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (Opening Keynote); Jaron Lanier — Scholar at Large & Partner Architect, Microsoft (Keynote); Antanas Mockus — Former Mayor, Bogotá, Colombia (keynote); Click here for the full list of speakers and events
Organizers: New Museum for Contemporary Art (Founder); Architectural League; Bowery Poetry Club; C-Lab/Columbia University; Center for Architecture; Cooper Union; Drawing Center; NYU Wagner; PARC Foundation; Storefront for Art and Architecture; Swiss Institute; Architizer (Media Sponsor, Audi Urvan Future Initiative)
Sponsors: Founding Supporter: Goldman Sachs Gives; Lead Sponsor: Audi Urban Future Initiative; Lead Supporter: Rockefeller Foundation; Producing Sponsors: American Express; Brookfield Lonti Ebers; Supporting Sponsors: Toby Devan Lewis; John S. Wotowicz; and Virginia D. Lebermann

Rosan Bosch jumps UP and DOWN in her jumpZONES.

Courtesy Center for Architecture

Combining academic talks, art events, and a community-oriented Streetfest, the first Festival of Ideas for the New City turned lower Manhattan into a speculative smörgåsbord. Tomorrow’s cities, speakers suggested, will be biophilic, wirelessly networked, troubling, and exhilarating.

Rem Koolhaas’s keynote addressed preservation historically and theoretically, arguing that contemporary conditions (resource constraints, worldwide “radical stasis” maintained by institutional imperatives, and pervasive anti-utopianism) call for rational criteria regarding preservation and demolition. The “Cronocaos” exhibition’s form embodied the tension between new construction and the built history it replaces: hanging explanatory boards in a New Museum annex, OMA/AMO left half the space “unrenovated,” a revealing palimpsest of Lower East Sides old and new.

AIANY’s “jumpUP, jumpDOWN, jumpZONE” made practical contributions to the quality of urban life: ExpoTENtial’s Par Corps lab, tours of the Center’s geothermal system, and Rosan Bosch’s exercise space and workshop, an outgrowth of her “Free Zone” intervention promoting physical activity using streets and urban infrastructure.

In the Audi Urban Future Initiative (curated by Stylepark at Openhouse Gallery), the winning entry by Jürgen Mayer H. was techno-optimistic, envisioning driverless navigation within a post-petroleum smart-grid environment. The related “Draw/Think/Tank” panel in Raumlabor’s Spacebuster bubble featured debate over personal mobility and its discontents. A post-Festival panel presented further scenarios resulting from pairings of five New York firms (Abruzzo Bodziak, Leong Leong, Marc Fornes and THEVERYMANY, Matter Practice, and Peter Macapia/labDORA) with the Urban Future finalists.

Between rigorous attention to the past and fanciful approaches to the future, participants on the Networked City, Heterogeneous City, Reconfigured City, and Sustainable City panels envisioned cities becoming not only greener and healthier but better-prepared to handle the social implications of their physical forms. Among the many constructive remarks were Elizabeth Diller’s meditation on architecture’s boundaries and purposes: “The idea of a profession isn’t about exclusion. It’s about developing a body of knowledge collectively that is powerfully influential in society.” Mayors from Bogotá, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Braddock, PA, accordingly, described experiments applying creative expertise to civic problems, from mitigating climatic effects of development to inculcating a culture of citizenship through absurdist spectacle (Bogotá’s Antanas Mockus, borrowing Russian Formalist “estrangement” strategies, hired mimes to ridicule inept drivers, and distributed behavioral approval/disapproval cards for citizens to hand each other). The arts rarely invade the political realm so directly, but success stories highlighted throughout the Festival — local examples include the High Line, Lincoln Center’s renovations, Natalie Jeremijenko’s investigations of technology, and Common Ground’s affordable-housing achievements at Andrews House and the Schermerhorn — imply this sort of border-crossing should happen more often.

Global Forces Take Root in Indian Cities

Event: Designing in Context: Ideas for 21st Century Indian Cities
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.07.11
Speakers: Christopher Charles Benninger, Assoc. AIA — Principal, Christopher Charles Benninger Architects; Arjun Appadurai — Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Kenneth Frampton — Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Moderator: Victoria Marshall — Assistant Professor of Urban Design, Parsons the New School for Design & 2010-2012 Fellow, India China Institute
Welcome: Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — President, AIA New York Chapter
Introduction: Umberto Dindo, AIA — Secretary, AIA New York Chapter
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

The contemporary tendency is to view urbanism as a “saleable product” to be “bought, with the hope of profit from resale,” according to Christopher Charles Benninger, Assoc. AIA, principal of Pune, India-based Christopher Charles Benninger Architects. In particular, he bemoans the import of western-style suburban development to India, which he believes is not urban, rejects variety, and “tells 80% of the population to please get lost!” In response, he has proposed “Ten Principles of Intelligent Urbanism,” a set of guiding axioms meant to facilitate public participation and refocus urban development as process, not product.

In his plan for Thimphu, Bhutan, for example, Benninger emphasized balancing nature and tradition with the needs for new development. His firm focused on promoting regional integration while maintaining human scale. The development of the plan began with an extensive mapping of natural resources, ecosystems, infrastructure, and heritage sites to define the character of and opportunities for the community. Once the framework was established, “neighborhood plans” were created through participatory workshops.

Recounting his efforts to understand the “cataclysmically changing urban space” of Mumbai over the last decades, Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, concluded that there is “no way to think of Mumbai outside of its spatial predicament.” To Appadurai, Mumbai demonstrates three broad themes that unite the growing roster of global mega-cities: its remarkable density; radical inequalities; and the strong presence of global capital, finance, and urban real estate development. Faced with this “lethal mixture” of forces, he questioned how Benninger’s principles of building upon culture and history may be applied in places where much underlying history and culture is erased daily by massive construction. Additionally, while acknowledging the economic interdependencies between informal settlements and the larger, formal economies of Indian cities, he sees the need to democratically integrate slum dwellers into the larger process of urbanization.

In response to this call for public participation, and as Appadurai put it, a “widening of who is allowed at the table,” Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University, added the importance of “knowing who owns the table” in the first place. It is important to connect the divide and interdependence between the global economy and the so-called “surplus people,” to the death of the welfare state in the West, and worldwide struggles between corporate capitalism and democracy. Frampton emphasized the “spontaneous space of appearance” where democratic politics can be played out, as recently demonstrated in Cairo’s Tahir Square. Amidst the global forces at work in Indian cities, planning must “take its point of departure in the current situation as it is,” Appadurai said, and endeavor to “intervene in situ in very messy conditions.”

Note: This event was followed by a book release and talk given by Christopher Charles Benninger about his book Letters to a Young Architect (CCBA Pvt. Ltd., April 2011), a collection of autobiographical narratives and ideas reflecting his spiritual journey from America to India, and the philosophical considerations that matured from his experiences.

One Word for Future Architects: Composites

Event: Oculus Book Talk: Mark Foster Gage presents Composites, Surfaces, and Software — High Performance Architecture
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.18.11
Speaker: Mark Foster Gage — Founding Partner, Gage/Clemenceau Architects & Co-editor, Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture (Yale School of Architecture Books/W.W. Norton, March, 2011)
Organizer: AIANY Oculus Committee

Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture (WW Norton, March, 2011).


While computer technologies and digital fabrication techniques have had an increasingly powerful impact on the architectural profession, many have debated just how well these new tools are being used to integrate beauty with efficiency. Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture, by the Yale School of Architecture and edited by Greg Lynn, Mark Foster Gage, AIA, and Nina Rappaport (series editor), delves into these issues and explores, through a beautifully curated compendium of voices, the development of design, performance, and aesthetics through cross-disciplinary collaboration. Examples of boat, airplane, and automobile design tools and software applied to architectural projects are illustrated using, for example, robotics and high-strength, low-weight, carbon fiber composites.

Greg Lynn’s studio and Mark Foster Gage’s seminar at Yale — with participants Frank Gehry, FAIA, Lise Ann Couture, Chris Bangle, Bill Kreysler, Adriana Monk, William Pearson, and Greg Foley — generate a dialogue invigorating the future of design. I will leave you to ponder the question posed by Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, in his preface to the book: “Will these explorations do more for architecture today than the engagement with advanced technology did for Modernist architecture in the early twentieth century? Or will it prove a diversion, taking architects away from age-old responsibilities to physical place-making?”

Note about Oculus Book Talks: Each month, the AIANY Oculus Committee hosts a Book Talk at the Center for Architecture. Each talk highlights a recent publication on architecture, design, or the built environment — presented by the author. The Book Talks are a forum for dialogue and discussion, and copies of the publications are available for purchase and signing. The next talk will take place on 06.22.11, featuring New York Dozen: Gen X Architects, by Michael J. Crosbie, AIA, with a forward by Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA (Images Publishing Dist Ac, 2011). Click here to RSVP.

In this issue:
· Housing for the Homeless Takes a New PATH
· Whitney Returns to Downtown Roots
· Pharma Company Opens Space for Collaboration
· Haiti Health Clinic Rebuilds from the Ground Up
· FNH Interlocks Neo-Classical, Contemporary Architecture

Housing for the Homeless Takes a New PATH

Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing.

Photos by Jeff Goldberg/Esto

A new 76,823-square-foot intake center for homeless families seeking shelter recently opened in the Bronx. Designed by Ennead Architects, the facility, known as Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH), was commissioned by the NYC Department of Design + Construction (DDC) for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) as part of its Design and Construction Excellence program. The north and south façades relate to the surrounding neighborhoods; terra cotta references local residential buildings; zinc and metal trim evoke the nearby manufacturing district; and glass reinforces the desire for visibility and transparency. The program is organized in two distinct zones. The first and second concourse levels accommodate intake and screening, while administrative workspaces, client waiting areas, and interview rooms are located in loft-like spaces above. Sustainable features, designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, include green roof technology, rainwater collection, a rainscreen façade, demolition and construction waste management.

City Windows, a series of 15 works of enamel on cut film and rice paper laminated in glass by Brooklyn-based artist Lane Twitchell, was commissioned for the building as part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program.

Whitney Returns to Downtown Roots

Whitney Museum of American Art

Image courtesy Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper, Robertson & Partners.

Ground was recently broken on the new Whitney Museum of American Art, adjacent to the southern terminus of the High Line. The location of the 200,000-square-foot building is expected to engage with the local community of artists, gallerists, and educators. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the museum features a cantilevered entrance that will shelter a public plaza for art near the entrance to the High Line. The new building will contain 50,000 square feet of interior galleries, and 13,000 square feet of outdoor galleries sited on four levels of rooftops. An 18,000-square-foot third-floor special exhibition gallery will be the largest column-free museum gallery in the city. Gallery space for ground-floor exhibitions, the permanent collection on the fourth and fifth floors, and long-term projects on the top floor, will total approximately 32,000 square feet. The new building is expected to open in 2015, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art will take over the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building for exhibitions and programming.

Pharma Company Opens Space for Collaboration

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Photo by Albert Vercerka/Esto

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, an integrated biopharmaceutical company based in Tarrytown, NY, has expanded into a new three-story, 130,000-square-foot facility with interiors designed by BAM Architecture Studio. Through the use of glass, open spaces, and a palette of 29 colors, the space supports collaboration among scientists and other members of the discovery and development teams. In addition to a first-floor conference center, labs, and administrative spaces, the project features a 3,500-square-foot connector bridge that also serves as a gathering space. The glass-walled bridge contains seating areas with contemporary furnishings. Concurrently, BAM designed a 500-seat café and 7,500-square-foot fitness center in another building occupied by Regeneron.

Haiti Health Clinic Rebuilds from the Ground Up


Renderings by Tonetti Associates Architects

More than 70% of the buildings on the campus of the GHESKIO clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, were destroyed or rendered unusable in theJanuary 2010 earthquake. Rebuilding is still underway, and currently in design phase is NY-based Tonetti Associates Architects’ 21,000-square-foot Family Health and Nutrition Center. GHESKIO, an organization affiliated with the Cornell Global Health Initiative, has been providing free medical care for HIV/AIDS and TB patients. The center, composed of a main two-story building with four pavilions behind, will provide nutritional guidance to new mothers, and integrate obstetrics, pediatrics, adolescent care, family planning, and research within a single complex. Climate, environment, social conditions, and lack of resources and skilled labor were taken into account, prompting the design to be organized around an open-air pedestrian street. This takes advantage of natural ventilation and the latest technology for building in hurricane and earthquake zones. Since the city lacks in infrastructure, an onsite sewage treatment plant will be constructed in the future.

FNH Interlocks Neo-Classical, Contemporary Architecture

Felix Nussbaum House.

© Bitter Bredt

Studio Daniel Libeskind has completed a 5,468-square-foot extension to the Felix Nussbaum House (FNH). The museum, constructed in 1998 and located in Osnabrück, in Lower Saxony, Germany, is an addition to the circa 1889 Neo-classical Culture and History Museum. The FNH, consisting of three interlocking volumes composed of oak, concrete, and metal, exhibits the graphics and paintings by Nussbaum, a native son killed by the Nazis. The new extension provides an entrance hall with a museum shop, as well as a learning center on the upper floor. Attached to the older part of the museum and connected to the house by a glass bridge, it transforms the existing buildings into a cohesive complex, with the new extension acting as a gateway. As part of the transformation, the lower floor of the culture and history museum has been redesigned to include a flexible lecture hall and event space, catering facilities, cloakrooms, and restrooms for both buildings.

In this issue:
· 05.03.2011 — Lobby Day Report
· 2011 AIANY Slate Announced
· Passing: Peter Nolasco daSilva
· e-Calendar

05.03.2011 — Lobby Day Report

By Jay Bond, AIANY Policy Director

(L-R): Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP; Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP; Anthony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA; Mary A. Burke, AIA, IIDA; Terrence O’Neal, AIA; and Jay Bond.

Courtesy AIANY

On 05.03.11, AIANY sent representatives to AIA New York State’s Architects in Albany Lobby Day. AIANY’s Policy Director Jay Bond organized a group of Chapter leadership and NYC-based practitioners, including: 2011 President Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP; 2010 President Anthony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA; President-elect Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP; Vice President for Public Outreach Mary A. Burke, AIA, IIDA; Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA; and Terrence O’Neal, AIA.

Appointments began with NYS Assembly Majority Leader Ronald Canestrari, the prime sponsor of many of the pieces of legislation important to architects. AIANY also met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick, who, as Chair of the Higher Education Committee, oversees licensing of the professions; NYS Senator Liz Krueger; Assembly Member Richard Gottfried; and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. This was our first meeting with a number of Manhattan legislators, and they were very receptive to our concerns. As a group, we pushed for important issues: statute of repose, and interdisciplinary firm ownership. The lack of both puts NY architects and designers at a competitive disadvantage with colleagues in other states.

The Chapter emphasized its concerns over New York State’s lack of a statute of repose. Currently, 48 states and D.C. have some sort of statute of repose for design professionals, while architects in NY must maintain their insurance into retirement. (Although there is a three-year statute of limitations on actions brought by an owner or client, architects are answerable to third party claims for an indefinite period after project completion). AIANY advocates a 10-year limitation on third-party claims, recognizing that the design professional has no control over a property after construction is complete. We wanted elected officials to understand that there is a point when a building goes from being well-designed to well-maintained, and that is the point when the architect should no longer be liable.

We also addressed interdisciplinary firm ownership — again, not allowing it puts us at a competitive disadvantage — and the Good Samaritan Act, which would allow engineers and architects to provide services in times of emergency without fear of legal action. All of these legislations are in various stages of progress in the Senate and the Assembly, and it’s unclear how far they will get before the session ends in June. Moving forward, the Chapter will keep you up-to-date on our progress and potentially call upon you for help in the effort. If there are particular pieces of legislation of interest to you either before the state legislature or the New York City Council, please feel free to bring them to the attention of Jay Bond at We encourage you to meet with your State Assembly members and/or Senators and ask them to co-sponsor these important laws. More details on these three bills, along with information on bills we oppose, appear here.

2011 AIANY Slate Announced
The AIA New York Chapter has officially announced the slate of candidates to be voted on at the AIA New York Chapter 144th Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, 06.21.11, 6:00-8:00 pm (RSVP). Independent nominations may be submitted to the secretary in accordance with Chapter by-laws. Please click here for the full slate, to RSVP, and to review Chapter by-laws.

Passing: Peter Nolasco daSILVA
Peter Nolasco da Silva, architect and health facility planner, passed away on 04.18.11 at the age of 73. Though afflicted for the last 10 years with Parkinson’s disease, da Silva maintained an active schedule.

He was born in 1938 in Manila and came to the U.S. at the age of 18 to attend Notre Dame University where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree. After college, he moved to NYC, working for Rogers Butler Architects and Charles deBarry. He attended graduate school at Columbia to earn a Master in Health Facility Planning in 1962, after which he worked with Westerman Miller Associates, specializing in Health Facility Design. In 1977, he founded Mason and daSILVA Associates with Larry Mason. When Larry Mason left in 1987, da Silva continued the firm as daSILVA + Associates, where he remained until his retirement. The firm still carries on his name as daSILVA Architects PC, led by Jaques Black, AIA, Charles Calcagni, AIA, and Anton Martinez, AIA.

As a Health Facility architect and planner, da Silva designed many structures at most of the major medical centers in the tri-state area. North Central Bronx Hospital, for the Health and Hospital Corporation, was the first “fast track” hospital built in NYC. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, da Silva was responsible for many new and renovated centers for the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York. His dedication to proper planning for patient care assured that each of these facilities worked both for staff and patients. His insistence on bringing light and air and color into each building was based on his belief that patient care environments should be life affirming and pleasant for all patients and family members.

He is survived by Beth, his wife of 47 years, three daughters, four grandchildren, a brother Noel of Canada, and a sister Rosalie of Australia.

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, open 05.08.11 and 05.15.11, 11:00am-5:00pm
536 LaGuardia Place, Between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets in Greenwich Village, NYC, 212-683-0023


jumpZONE: Rosan Bosch

On view May 7 – May 28, 2011

jumpUP: ExpoTENtial’s Par Corps lab

On view February 10 – May 21, 2011

AIANY Design Awards 2011

On view April 14 – June 25, 2011