Foundation Tours East Side Access

CFAF tour guests making their way through the East Side Access construction site.

Catherine Teegarden and Tim Hayduk

The Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) tour series, New Buildings New York, recently took visitors underground for a first-hand look at the East Side Access, led by the MTA. Donning hardhats, the signature MTA orange-and-yellow vest, and muck boots, CFAF staff and guests traveled 120 feet beneath Manhattan streets to view the excavated caverns and tunnels. Tour guide Mark Rhodes of Hatchmott Macdonald, lead quality engineer for the project, informed guests about the blasting and construction techniques used on the project. Ultimately, the East Side Access will connect the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Main and Port Washington lines in Queens to a brand new LIRR terminal, currently under construction beneath Grand Central Terminal.

The tour was sold out and raised approximately $5,000 to help support the Foundation’s Programs@theCenter — interactive gallery tours and hands-on workshops designed to engage youth and families in contemporary topics about the built environment.

The Foundation extends a huge thank you to Rhodes for volunteering his time to lead the tour, as well as to Jeff Eustace for coordinating such a fantastic event on behalf of the Foundation. More New Buildings New York tours are planned for 2011. Visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website for information, or e-mail info@cfafoundation.org and request to be added to the mailing list.

Delegates to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention in New Orleans elected Mickey Jacob, FAIA (AIA Tampa Bay), to serve as the 2012 AIA First Vice President/President-elect and 2013 Institute President; Russell A. Davidson, AIA (AIA Westchester Hudson Valley), and Debra S. Kunce, FAIA (AIA Indianapolis), each to serve as Vice President from 2012-13; and Gabriel Durand-Hollis, FAIA (AIA San Antonio), as the Institute’s Treasurer from 2012-13…

The AIA is the winner of the 2011 Webby Award in the Associations category for its AIA.org website…

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and its Real Estate & Development Committee announced the Building Brooklyn Awards winners, which include: 184 Kent Avenue by SLCE Architects and SLADE Architecture (Adaptive Reuse); Newtown Creek by Ennead Architects (Civic and Institutional); Pratt Institute’s Myrtle Hall by WASA/Studio A (Education); Erasmus Hall High School by BJLJ Engineers & Architects (Historic Preservation); Brooklyn Brewery Plant Expansion by Fradkin and McAlpin Architects (Industrial); 28 Old Fulton Street by Nandinee Phookan Architects (Interior Renovation); Brooklyn Ecopolis by Semino Architects (Mixed Use); Phoenix Beverages by Barlo & Associates Architects (National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency); Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers 1 & 6 by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Open Space); Wyckoff Exchange by Andre Kikoski Architect (Retail); The Domenech by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects (Residential: Affordable Housing); Clinton Rising by CBA (Residential: Low Rise); and Mason Fisk, owned and developed by Meshberg Group/72 Berry (Residential: Multi-Family)…

Student teams from NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) earned three of the six first-place awards, four of the six second-place awards, and two of six third-place awards at the annual Cal Poly Design Village competition in San Luis Obispo…

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) has presented its annual Grassroots Preservation Awards to the Cedar Grove Beach Club; Central Queens Historical Society; Mary Kay Gallagher; Prospect Cemetery Association; Friend in High Places — State Senator Bill Perkins, 30th District, Manhattan; Friend from the Media — The Architect’s Newspaper; and Mickey Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement — Bronson Binger and Ann Walker Gaffney

Winners of SPECSIMPLE.COM’S Save A Sample! include, from first-sixth place, Mallory Ortman of daSilva Architects; Nicole Moudis of Ted Moudis Associates; Lauren Haber of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Aiko Tanabe of Francis Cauffman Architects; Donna Schragis of Robert A.M. Stern Architects; and Susan Pavlovsky for Eileen Ragsdale/TPG Architects…

Davis Brody Bond Aedas and Spacesmith have officially partnered and Spacesmith’s staff will relocate to David Brody Bond Aedas’ offices, though each practice will maintain its current brand identity within the partnership…

Michael Bonomo was appointed Director of Corporate Interior Design for Francis Cauffman Architect’s NY office… W.J. Patrick Curley, AIA, was appointed principal of Fletcher Thompson’s College and University Practice Group…

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
[Closed]

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.

06.02.11 Registration Deadline: AIA|LA 2011 Design Awards

06.10.11 Registration Deadline: Europan 11

06.15.11 Concept Deadline: Spark Design & Architecture Awards

07.28.11 Submission Deadline: AIA New England Design Awards and Livable Communities Exhibit

07.29.11 Submission Deadline: BSA Unbuilt Architecture and Design Awards

08.05.11 Submission Deadline: BSA Women in Design Award of Excellence

08.26.11 Submission Deadline: BSA Honor Awards for Design Excellence

09.01.11 Call for Entries: CLOSE THE GAP: New York East River Greenway Competition

05.12.11 – 05.14.11: The 2011 AIA National Convention was held in New Orleans.

AIA Host Party at the National World War II Museum by NY-based Voorsanger Architects with New Orleans-based Mathes Brierre.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

(L-R): Cynthia Kracauer, AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Managing Director; Debra S. Kunce, FAIA, 2012-13 AIA Vice President; Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

(L-R): Venesa Alicea, AIA, LEED AP; Misael Rojas, Assoc. AIA; and Nicolette Feldser, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, masquerade at the Host Party.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Harry Gaveras, AIA, with the USO girls at the Host Chapter Party.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Ernest W. Hutton, Jr., Assoc. AIA, FAICP, received the 2011 Associate Award in recognition of his service to the Chapter, and OCULUS Editor Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, was named an AIA Honorary Member.

Rick Bell, FAIA

Former AIANY Chapter President Susan Chin, FAIA (left) “pins” OCULUS Editor Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, with the token of her Honorary Membership as Rick Bell, FAIA, looks on.

Courtesy AIA.

OCULUS Publisher Tom Schell with Editor-in-Chief Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA.

Michael J. Crosbie, AIA

AIA New York State Party, (L-R): Joe Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY Vice President; Megan Chusid, Assoc. AIA, AIANY Director of Educational Affairs; AIANY ENYA Co-chair Brynnemarie Lanciotti, Assoc. AIA.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

NY-based emerging professionals gathered to discuss the future of the profession (L-R): Serena Chen; Nicolette Feldser, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, National Associates Committee (NAC) Associate Director; Venesa Alicea, AIA, LEED AP, NAC Regional Associate Director for NY & Co-chair, AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA); Misael Rojas, Assoc. AIA; Brynnemarie Lanciotti, Assoc. AIA, Co-chair, ENYA; Mark Behm, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Associate Director & Co-chair, AIANY Professional Practice Committee; Megan Chusid, Assoc. AIA, AIANY Director of Educational Affairs; Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

(L) Architect Barbies; (R) Kelly Hayes McAlonie, AIA, LEED AP, President-Elect, AIA New York State, talks to future emerging professionals about being an architect at the Architect Barbie booth at the AIA Expo.

Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Architectural Record threw a grand fete to welcome newly-named Editor-in-Chief Cathleen McGuigan (far right), greeted warmly by Architectural Record Publisher Laura Viscusi (left), and Audrey Matlock, FAIA (center).

Kirsten Richards

Photos from New Orleans

The Make It Right Foundation has completed nearly 50 houses in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward neighborhood, including houses by Atelier Hitoshi Abe (left) and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (right).

Lisa Delgado

Houses by Graft (left) and Morphosis (right).

Lisa Delgado

05.12.11: The New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion opened on Peter Minuit Plaza, The Battery.

(L-R): Dutch Counselor for Cultural Affairs USA Ferdinand Dorsman; Consul General Gajus Scheltema; UN Studio Senior Architect Wouter de Jonge; UN Studio’s founder Ben van Berkel; and Dutch Director for Visual Arts, Architecture & Design Robert Kloos.

Richard Koek (www.richardkoek.com)

(L-R): Battery Conservancy President Warrie Price; Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu; Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan; Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Dutch Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Margriet Leemhuis; State Senator Daniel Squadron; City Council Member Margaret Chin; Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin.

Richard Koek (www.richardkoek.com)

05.14.11: Fit Nation New Orleans brought together city officials, health professionals, and designers from around the country and the globe.

David Burney, FAIA, Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction (left), and Richard Jackson, MD, MPH, University of California Los Angeles, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences.

Randi Rosenblum

05.17.2011: Fit City 6 filled the Center for Architecture.

The morning Commissioners’ Panel brought together (L-R) Deputy Commissioner Andrew Goodman, MD, MPH, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene; Commissioner Adrian Benepe, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation; Commissioner David Burney, FAIA, NYC Department of Design + Construction; Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Art and Urban Design, NYC Department of Transportation; Commissioner Amanda Burden, FAICP, NYC City Planning Department; and Moderator Rick Bell, FAIA, Executive Director, AIA New York.

Randi Rosenblum

Attendees participated in a fitness break.

Randi Rosenblum

05.07.11: The Center for Architecture hosted a symposium on 21st Century Indian Cities.

Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President, with Indian architect Christopher Benninger, Assoc. AIA.

Emily Nemens

05.16.11: The Center for Architecture hosted a workshop by Danish artist Rosan Bosch and the opening of the “jumpZONE” exhibition.

Rosan Bosch.

Emily Nemens

Rick Bell, FAIA, with exhibition organizers (l-r) Sarah Gluck, Robyne Kassen, Assoc. AIA, Tucker Viemeister, Laetitia Wolff, and Shonquis Moreno.

Emily Nemens

05.18.11: AIANY co-organized a conference at the UN on sustainable urbanization, focusing on the South-North Initiative.

(L-R) Yamina Djacta, Deputy Director UN-Habitat New York Office; Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President; H.E. Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development; and Aliye Celik, Ph.D., Co-Chair Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization.

Jay Bond

05.19.2011: Teddy Cruz kicked of a series of Presidential Lectures around the theme of “Design for a Change.”

Cristiana Fragola, Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives, NYCHA; Ron Shiffman, FAICP, Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment; Teddy Cruz, Professor, University of California, San Diego; Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, 2011 AIANY President; and William Morrish, Dean, Parsons School of Constructed Environments.

Emily Nemens

05.04.11

05.04.11: Going to the 2011 AIA Convention in New Orleans? Check out the Around the AIA + Center for Architecture section to read about AIA NY Chapter members giving talks, tours, and hosting events! And if you can’t make it, be sure to look for the next issue of e-Oculus, which will be published 05.25.11, for full convention coverage.

After the Convention is over, the Chapter is not slowing down! Check out the AIANY Calendar for upcoming events, including the next Oculus Book Talk on 05.18.11 with Mark Foster Gage discussing Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture (WW Norton, March 2011).

Also, the digital edition of OCULUS magazine is online now! Click here to read.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

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

Architecture in 2030: A Reason to be Cheerful

Event: Architecture: On the Brink
Location: Cooper Union Great Hall, 04.20.11
Speakers: Edward Mazria, AIA — Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Architecture 2030
Introduction: Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — 2011 AIANY President; Ilana Judah, Int’l Assoc. AIA, OAQ, LEED AP — Director of Sustainability, FXFOWLE Architects; Pat Sapinsley, AIA, LEED AP — Senior Associate, Good Energies
Organizers: AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE)
Sole Sponsor: Con Edison Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

Courtesy Architecture 2030

By the end of the presentation by Edward Mazria, AIA, there was something in the air besides excessive carbon dioxide: a surprising amount of optimism. Crises in energy, the environment, and economics are converging. Today’s architects have not only the knowledge about what needs doing but the power to do it, Mazria noted. Industrial society is at a tipping point between destructive and restorative practices, he declared, and “the most powerful instrument for change on the planet today is… the stroke of a designer’s pen.”

Mazria recalled his freshman year at Pratt, when Louis Kahn opened a lecture by drawing “Silence” and “Light” on the chalkboard, then noted that “at the threshold of this crossing is Design (calling on nature).” Between those two entities lie space, time, and environment. Mazria proceeded to run through architectural history before and after the Industrial Revolution, arguing that successive technologies have largely “taken time and the environment out of the equation.” The gradual rise of Modern architecture meant increasing disconnection of the built environment from natural limits, all at the cost of increasing dependence on energy based on fossil fuel extraction.

The verdict of climate science is clear, Mazria says: get the atmosphere back to 350 ppm CO2. The architectural profession can serve this aim by restoring time and environment to practice, not just spatial form. Political measures to date have been ineffective. The real silver bullet, based on studies of available world reserves of various fuels, addresses not oil and gas, which are too close to exhaustion to drive climate change much further, but coal, which is abundant enough to trigger irreversible change. This is where the building sector is both the problem and the solution: coal causes most U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions from electricity generation, and building operations consume the lion’s share of coal. Since most buildings have a limited lifespan and some 75% of the built environment in 2030 will be new or renovated, phasing out coal use and reaching carbon neutrality is feasible, provided architects make the fundamentals of sustainable design and construction the norm. Many influential major firms (73% of the 30 largest architecture and engineering firms) have adopted the 2030 Challenge (an organization that Mazria founded). A communication tool under development, the 2030 Palette, will organize benchmark information in visual form to spread the principles more widely.

The question of whether rational design leadership can outmaneuver entrenched interests is inevitable, as an audience question noted, but Mazria encourages architects to insist on low-emission materials and processes. “[Architects] don’t really, I don’t believe yet, understand the power that you have.” Mazria predicts that the transformations now needed will occur over about the next three years. It’s not mysterious or utopian, he’s convinced; it’s a matter of following through on things we already know.

India Embarks on Ambitious Energy-Saving Path

Event: Progressive Indian Cities: Moving Towards Near-Zero Energy Development
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.21.11
Speakers: Vatsal Bhatt — Brookhaven National Laboratory; Dr. Omkar Jani — Principal Research Scientist, Solar Energy Research Wing, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute; Radhika Khosla — Welch Environmental Innovation Fellow, NRDC Center for Market Innovation; Sourabh Sen — Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd; Dr. Arun Kumar Tripathi — Director, Solar Cities Program, Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (in absentia; notes read by Bhatt).
Moderator: Shillpa Singh, LEED AP BD+C — Sustainability Manager, YRG Sustainability
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

India looks to a future where every home incorporates solar power.

Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute

At the dawn of the 21st century, as many world powers squabble internally over renewable energy policies, India is embarking on an ambitious and far-reaching clean energy plan. According to Dr. Arun Kumar Tripathi, a key figure in India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the country intends to develop 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power 20 million U.S. homes by a target date of 2022. Additionally, the government has also named 60 existing municipalities “solar cities” to reduce local energy consumption by 10% by 2012.

The Indian definition of “solar” incorporates not just photovoltaics, but also wind, hydroelectric, biomass, and other clean energy systems. Researchers, including Dr. Omkar Jani, of the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI), are working to construct photovoltaic arrays on state buildings in test cities such as Gandhinagar. India hopes that when the public sees these successes occurring at a local level, citizen demand will drive the private sector to provide small-scale PV systems for individual homeowner use.

The panelists agreed that education is key to the success of the government’s plan. For citizens to embrace these energy-saving strategies, they need to comprehend the importance and cost-benefit of such systems. Equally crucial is that technicians properly and effectively implement, operate, and maintain the physical apparatuses. Radhika Khosla, of the NRDC Center for Market Innovation, highlighted India’s understandable technical inexperience, and stressed that both private and public sector employees must be educated. At least in Gandhinahar, professional training will be available at the university level to those interested in careers in solar energy.

According to Sourabh Sen, a private developer of large PV arrays, India currently stands as the world’s fifth largest consumer of energy. Clearly, cooperation and communication among multiple parties will be required to achieve the government’s ambitious energy goals. Vatsal Bhatt, of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, outlined the partnerships already in place between India and the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, India is seeking the input of individuals, like Sen, who provide a private sector perspective on the bankability of such proposals. Regardless, what drives Indian government officials, private developers, planners, and scientists toward the physical implementation of such bold plans is the seductive vision of a nation with photovoltaic panels on the roofs of most houses (as illustrated in the rendering above).

Two Paths Shape Puerto Rico Now

Event: Puerto Rico Now: Practice, Government, and Media
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.27.11
Speakers: Laura Cordero de Agrait, AIA — Architect; Diana Luna — Architect
Moderator: Warren James — Principal, Warren A. James Architects + Planners
Introduction: Rick Bell, FAIA — AIANY Executive Director
Organizers: AIANY Women in Architecture Committee; AIANY Global Dialogues Committees, Puerto Rico Now Steering Team
Sponsors: AIANY Women in Architecture and Global Dialogues Committees; AIA Puerto Rico Chapter; DBC Technologies, Inc.; Shen Milsom & Wilke; SKYed Eco Education and Consulting

San Juan, Puerto Rico, skyline.

Courtesy PR Now Group

As part of the Puerto Rico Now presentation series, two architects from San Juan discussed their work and the future of design. Though Laura Cordero de Agrait, AIA, and Diana Luna work within the same profession, each has taken her own path through public and private sector work in Puerto Rico.

Cordero de Agrait was the sixth female architect to become licensed in Puerto Rico and has taken an active role in founding Puerto Rico’s Architect’s Association and organizing AIA Puerto Rico Chapter activities. Before establishing her own practice, she worked for firms in Washington, DC, and Austin, TX, where she developed an interest in healthcare design. She has since completed many healthcare projects, as well as resort communities, housing, educational, and institutional buildings in Puerto Rico. Though Cordero de Agrait admitted that “working with doctors is not very easy,” one of her most challenging projects was designing her own home. As an architect aware of her many options, she found it difficult to settle on material selections, but, ultimately, the view of the surrounding rainforest inspired her and became the focus of the design.

Luna’s first project was the restoration of her family home, but these days she designs at the scale of the city. Luna works with municipalities in Puerto Rico to execute historic district master plans. Most notably she has participated in the master plan for Aguirre, a neighborhood in Salinas that was founded as a sugar refinery and is designated as a Blueprint for America project, the flagship program of the AIA 150 initiative that identifies significant areas in need of improvement. Between 40% and 60% of buildings in Puerto Rico’s urban centers are lost due to neglect, according to Luna. She has created public awareness through educational programs and has worked to get local mayors involved in the building of 80 projects in 29 municipalities, including Morovis, Barranquitas, and Guayama. Of course, working with any government can prove challenging, and Luna believes that “a sense of humor is necessary to deal with the government and its policy from the inside.”

Cordero de Agrait and Luna have followed unique paths throughout their architectural careers. However, both women share the accomplishment of shaping the landscape of Puerto Rico today.

Henry Cobb Refutes Modernism

Event: The Skyscraper as Citizen: Reflections on the Public Life of Private Buildings
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.25.11
Speaker: Henry N. Cobb, FAIA — Founding Partner, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects
Introduction: Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — 2011 AIANY President
Organizer: Center for Architecture

John Hancock Tower, Boston.

Peter Vanderwarker

Setting the backdrop for the design of the John Hancock Tower in Boston, Henry N. Cobb, FAIA, a founding partner at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects, discussed the “accidental” history that formed Copley Square and, despite initial mixed reviews, how the tower has made an enduring mark both on the Boston skyline and on his career. The tower was constructed half way through Cobb’s career; at the 2011 AIA Convention, it will receive the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award, an award that recognizes architectural design of enduring significance that has stood the test of time for 25 to 30 years.

As Copley Square “stumbled into shape” due to crossing railroad lines and poor city planning, said Cobb, H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church helped anchor the square with its bold and unambiguous form, flanked by the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts. Boston experienced opposing phenomena as it continued to develop. On the one hand, local residents wanted to preserve their public space and its historic character; however, the neighborhood was one of the only places suited to large-scale development. John Hancock Insurance needed two million square feet of office space, and Cobb saw an opportunity to build a skyscraper at Copley Square. After nine months of debate and political maneuvering (including John Hancock Insurance threatening to leave Boston for Chicago), construction began in 1968.

The goal of the John Hancock Tower, according to Cobb, was to re-establish Trinity Church as the center of Copley Square. The trapezoidal base responds to the site conditions, and the rhomboid tower with its uniform gridded façade sought to “strip the structure of all reference to the third dimension.” The sculptural abstractness was designed to animate the urban scene while always paying homage to the church below. When asked about Modernism, Cobb rejected the idea that the tower falls into the category. The building speaks to both small- and large-scale site conditions — it is not a fragment that stands out in its autonomy, he said.

Since the John Hancock Tower was completed in 1976, Cobb continues to question its impact. He is still unsure as to whether the “gesture justified the act of transgression.” He wonders if the building was appropriate, whether it belongs in Boston. To him, the answer is both yes and no, and he has come to appreciate its faults as well as its successes. Cobb continues to design skyline-impacting structures, from the Palazzo Lombardia in Milan to 200 West Street in Lower Manhattan. Each building has similar goals in mind: responding to site history and conditions, as well as making an impact at a larger scale. Ultimately, Cobb sees most of his projects since 1976 as “descendents” of the John Hancock Tower.