In Sandy’s Wake, Experts Strategize Relief from the Superstorm

Michael Kimmelman led a lively, thought-provoking discussion. (l-r) Michael Kimmelman; Stephen Cassell, AIA, LEED AP; Howard Slatkin; Cynthia Barton; Dr. Klaus Jacob; Donna Walcavage, FASLA, LEED AP; and Rob Rogers, FAIA.

Daniel Fox

Event: Designing the City after Superstorm Sandy
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.15.12
Organizers: Center for Architecture Foundation; AIANY
Supporters: AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR); AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE)
Speakers: Cynthia Barton, Housing Recovery Plan Manager, NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM); Howard Slatkin, Director of Sustainability & Deputy Director of Strategic Planning, NYC Department of City Planning; Dr. Klaus Jacob, Geophysicist, Professor of Disaster Risk Management, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, & Special Research Scientist, Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Stephen Cassell, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Architecture Research Office; Donna Walcavage, FASLA, LEED AP, Principal/Vice President, AECOM; Robert Rogers, FAIA, Founding Partner, Rogers Marvel Architects
Moderator: Michael Kimmelman, Architecture Critic, The New York Times

“We have been in denial about climate change up to this point,” said Donna Walcavage, FASLA, LEED AP, principal and vice president at AECOM. But now, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we need to take advantage of this watershed moment and move toward productive solutions. Just a couple of weeks after the hurricane, AIANY and the Center for Architecture Foundation brought together experts in the field of risk analysis and reconstruction to discuss relief efforts and raise funds for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

Panelists agreed that recovery efforts in the city will require a layering of solutions. Stephen Cassell, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Architecture Research Office (ARO) believes the edge of the city should be fungible and flexible. Referencing ARO and dlandstudio’s project for the “Rising Currents” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Cassell discussed porous streets, below-grade waterproof vaults, and introducing a graduated edge at Manhattan’s waterfront. Robert Rogers, FAIA, of Rogers Marvel Architects, presented subway grates designed in association with di Domenico & Partners to help prevent subway flooding, as well as his firm’s design with West 8 for Governors Island that incorporates measures to mitigate storm surges, including wetlands at the perimeter and the careful placement of new trees.

While some panelists envision the proposal to add a levee system around New York Harbor as one of the potential precautionary measures, geophysicist Dr. Klaus Jacob believes this strategy will be ineffective in the near future, pointing to the failure of New Orleans’s levees during Hurricane Katrina. Even worse, Walcavage is concerned that storm-surge barriers could harm the delicate ecosystem in the rivers surrounding Manhattan.

Beyond design-specific solutions, NYC Department of City Planning’s Howard Slatkin discussed the city’s efforts to look at flood resistance and infrastructure within and among the many communities affected by the storm. He emphasized the importance of dialogue between communities and agencies to develop recovery strategies, acknowledging that an effective solution for one area may not be successful in another. Cynthia Barton, Housing Recovery Plan Manager for the NYC Office of Emergency Management, expressed the need to engage all types of entities, pairing the public sector with non-profits and private businesses with local communities. Both Jacob and Walcavage called for regional collaboration that crosses state and international boundaries. “Nature does not respect political boundaries,” said Walcavage.

“We need to be smart and cheap in the interim, but durable in the long run,” said Jacob. Whether it is through implementing strategies incrementally, or reassessing and rewriting regulations to “build back smarter,” panelists agreed that the conversation must take place now to set the framework to moderate future catastrophes.

The most difficult assessment, however, centers on the decision whether or not to allow certain communities to rebuild in the same location in the same way – or even at all. Moderator Michael Kimmelman voiced concern that this decision could be left in the hands of elected officials only, and questioned who or what will be in charge of leading the efforts. “We have to face the fact that it is a challenge to our democracy to determine what parts of the city are or are not salvageable.” (See “Vetoing Business as Usual After the Storm,” The New York Times, 11.19.12).

To conclude, Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, co-chair of the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee summed up the discussion: “[The recovery effort] is going to require an enormous act of national will to make changes, and they need to be done compassionately.” With almost $2,500 raised, hopefully the design community is helping the city establish these parameters.

Sandy, the game-changer: more than academic interest

Nina Rappaport moderates the roundtable discussion.

Laura Trimble

Event: Arch Schools 2012 Exhibition Reception and Deans’ Roundtable
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.17.12
Speakers: George Ranalli, AIA, Dean, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, The City College of New York; Elizabeth O’Donnell, Associate Dean, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; Urs P. Gauchat, Hon. AIA, Dean, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Judith DiMaio, AIA, Dean, New York Institute of Technology; Andrew Bernheimer, AIA, NCARB, Director, Master of Architecture Program Parsons, The New School of Design; Tom Hanrahan, Dean, Pratt Institute; Evan Douglis, Dean, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); Robert Shibley, FAIA, Dean, University at Buffalo (SUNY); Marilyn Jordan Taylor, FAIA, Dean, University of Pennsylvania; Joyce Hsiang, Acting Assistant Dean, Yale University; Nina Rappaport (moderator), architectural critic, curator, and educator, and publications director at Yale School of Architecture; Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and First Vice President / President-Elect, AIANY (introduction); Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, ACSA, Distinguished Professor, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, The City College of New York (closing remarks)
Organizers: AIANY in partnership with the Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsors: Swanke Hayden Connell (patron); Beyer Blinder Belle, Forest City Ratner Companies, Mancini Duffy|TSC, NYC School Construction Authority, Perkins Eastman, STV Group, Thornton Tomasetti (sponsors); ASSA ABLOY, Cameron Engineering, Cosentini Associates, DeLaCour & Ferrara Architects, E-J Electric Installation, Ennead Architects, F.J. Sciame Construction, FXFOWLE, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, Jack Resnick & Sons, JAM Consultants, JLS Industries, Knoll, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Lend Lease, Milrose Consultants, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Syska Hennessy Group, Vanguard Construction & Development, Viridian Energy & Environmental / Israel Berger and Associates, World Trade Center Properties (supporters).

The eighth in the series of annual Deans’ Roundtables, held within three weeks of Superstorm Sandy and focused by that event on climatic effects on the built environment, offered chances for leaders of the region’s architecture schools to move, in the words of RPI’s Evan Douglis, “from marketing to messaging.” Representing one’s institution in its best light among colleagues under normal circumstances is one kind of communication; reimagining the wider relation between professional academies and societal needs for architectural expertise amid inexorable climate change is another entirely. As multiple commentators on resilience, ethics, and activism pointed out – and as the summation by Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, energetically and succinctly stressed – “anybody who thinks that we live in an era of unpredictability hasn’t been paying attention… there’s a lot of predictability,” involving both climate change itself and its linkages to economics, technology, and design. “This is the greatest time for architects there ever was,” Brown continued, outlining a new professional paradigm in which crisis and opportunity are fused.

Early institutional reactions to Sandy, noted AIANY President-elect Jill Lerner, FAIA, have been swift. The Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR), launched last year by co-chairs Brown and Illya Azaroff, AIA, received information from more than 300 architect-volunteers within 24 hours to help with building assessments, and an AIANY staff-led “members helping members” effort reached nearly 700 Chapter members in affected areas. (Please visit AIA New York’s Superstorm Sandy Recovery website for information on recovery efforts.) Beyond short-term responses, however, the institutions that shape rising generations of architects also have critical long-range responsibilities.

University of Pennsylvania’s Marilyn Jordan Taylor, FAIA, emphasized how architecture and design schools need to embrace a research mission to be “an equally respected player” with the other components of major universities, and to convince students (from the undergraduate “predisciplinary” state to the “disciplinary moment” and eventually a “postdisciplinary” point of thinking across barriers) that part of their mission, during the current crisis and perhaps over their whole careers, is “to show how design creates value.”

These observations set the stage for recurrent self-critiques of architecture schools’ embrace of interdisciplinary scholarship and analysis, reaching out to the physical sciences, environmental activism, and the realms of law, politics, and economics to take on increasingly hard questions: not just the technical details of how to rebuild after catastrophes, for example, but the variables affecting decisions on whether occupying certain sites is advisable at all.

Interdisciplinarity, some participants specified, needs purposeful definition: it’s a matter of appropriate engagements with multiple fields, not expansion of architecture’s concerns so far that it dilutes the discipline. The design fields, observed NJIT’s Urs Gauchat, Hon. AIA, can unite left-brain and right-brain modes of thinking, generating specific problem-solving approaches suitable to the hurricane as a “teaching moment.” Urging colleagues not to “forget everybody else [and] define the world in the way that is useful to us… [which] to me, makes us irrelevant,” Gauchat instead recommended collaborations with other fields’ existing approaches to problems. Since so much of education skews toward left-brain skills that are quantitative, measurable, and “quasi-scientific,” he added, the design disciplines have distinct strengths worth advocating. Engagements with science/technology/engineering/mathematics departments, added Robert Shibley, FAIA, AICP, of the University of Buffalo, face barriers of perception and communication: “We imagine ourselves to be ‘bilingual,’ [but] our STEM colleagues don’t…. What we need is a universal translator in the context of the university.”

Smaller institutions like Cooper Union, noted Elizabeth O’Donnell, have their own cultures, distinct from those of large research universities; their methods may encourage students to “not so much answer questions as to figure out what the right question is to ask.” Noting that in the same year as the hurricane, the Midwest had a summer hot and dry enough to lose 80% of its corn crop, O’Donnell identified these phenomena as “radically different expressions of the same condition,” and finds that architecture schools naturally educate students to address that whole condition rather than the disparate pieces. She also identified the Museum of Modern Art’s 2010 “Rising Currents” exhibition as a useful case of extramural research fostering public recognition of how design can help mitigate damage; that “the media is beginning to search outside the normal locations where they expect scientific research to happen” strikes her as grounds for optimism.

Thomas Hanrahan of Pratt was more guarded about the gap between “what we do pretty well” (ethical applications of multidisciplinary and multi-scalar analyses) and “how you leverage them up politically. How do you broaden the conversation… to get the world to acknowledge these really extraordinary skills?” One practical and overdue step, he suggested, would be to ensure that sustainability is a basic standard component of any curriculum.

Though Columbia’s GSAPP was conspicuous by its absence, one of its recent graduates sparked discussion late in the proceedings with a pointed question about schools’ responsibilities to their students and graduates, who “pay every month for the next 30 years for these institutions.” Comparing some of his peers to the “best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked” in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” he contrasted the nuts-and-bolts knowledge he is now acquiring in practice with the intellectual “muscle that I flexed for seven years.”

Several deans recognized this question as an urgent one and attempted to answer it with honesty and nuance. CCNY’s George Ranalli, AIA, proposed a “significant realignment to the world of architecture, to the practical application of theory,” and acknowledged that the professional conditions his own generation faced – “you would get a job when you got out, and it would be good-paying, so you could spend your time in school, in which you were really pushing the exercises of your imagination, the exploration of tools and principles and so forth… and you were going to get paid to learn the rest of what you had to learn after two to five years in an architectural practice” – have vanished: “That’s just not what the trajectories of the market [are] offering, and frankly, it’s not the trajectories that our students are looking for.”

Though theory/practice disconnections and job-placement challenges are by no means unique to architectural study, restructuring the walls between the academy and its society to be more porous, synergetic, and open to “two-way traffic” will be a critical element of these institutions’ response to the global climate crisis, which increasingly looks like a permanent condition.

ABRUZZO BODZIAK Designs with Light and Color

Abruzzo and Bodziak at Axor NYC.

Matt Shoor

Emily Abruzzo, AIA, LEED AP, presents the firm’s work.

Matt Shoor

Event: Unfinished: Presentation by ABRUZZO BODZIAK Architects
Location: Axor NYC, 11.15.12
Speakers: Emily Abruzzo, AIA, LEED AP, and Gerald Bodziak, AIA, LEED AP, Partners, ABRUZZO BODZIAK Architects
Organizers: AIANY New Practices Committee, AIANY
Underwriters: Axor Hansgrohe; NRI
Patrons: Sure Iron Works; Thornton Tomasetti
Supporter: Samson Rope
Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper

Over the course of millennia, light has been the one constant in the architect’s palette. If illumination defines space, then the nature and quality of that light are what generate powerful psychological associations. In addition, the physical properties of the visible light spectrum allow humans to see color, one of the most sensually pleasurable natural phenomena. In the era of electric illumination, color and light are even more intimately intertwined, since color can now be perceived under wholly unnatural circumstances.

Although ABRUZZO BODZIAK Architects’ body of work displays a dizzying breadth in terms of type, size, and budget, their projects share a keen sensitivity to light. Emily Abruzzo, AIA, LEED AP, and Gerald Bodziak, AIA, LEED AP, seem especially attracted to artificial light, and they utilize it to a significant degree in both constructed and conceptual work.

Among the most concrete examples of Abruzzo and Bodziak’s finely tuned understanding of light is one of their most recent projects. “Landscape (Triptych)” was installed at the Center for Architecture this past summer as part of the “New Practices New York 2012” exhibition. This temporary piece explored the potential of electroluminescent wire hung from a tensile armature. According to the architects, when the wire was illuminated at night, the striated pattern inadvertently took the form of stylized rolling hills. This happy accident recalled the initial title of the installation, and resulted in a striking billboard advertising the innovative work being done by young New York designers.

The primacy of artificial light has also infiltrated a number of other ABRUZZO BODZIAK projects. In “Homeless Projection,” the architects wanted to literally illuminate a perennial problem. According to the designers, homeless shelters are often nondescript buildings that serve a crucial social function, and yet they do not trumpet their presence in neighborhoods for fear of reducing property values. The designers chose to challenge this out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude by projecting the current occupancy of the shelter on the façade of the building in block numerals many feet tall. In this manner, there would be no mistaking how many individuals directly benefit from the work done within.

Color is another important facet of the firm’s work, especially as it relates to natural light. In “Pop-up Farm,” a hydroponic greenhouse on a disused lot in East New York, Brooklyn, the pair elected to paint the steel structure an orange hue in an effort to differentiate the building from the monotone urban fabric surrounding it. During daylight hours, the bright orange is visible through the translucent polycarbonate panels of the edifice. Thus, color is used to draw attention to the primary function of the structure, which is to provide fresh produce to a community lacking access to healthful food.

According to Bodziak, the firm uses light as a material to create a lot with a little. It is certainly true that the firm’s investigations have resulted in a handful of potent projects with formal and political heft, and one hopes that future explorations with light will result in a portfolio of structures with deep social significance. Who knew that illumination, a phenomenon without mass, could be such a weighty tool?

Architecture Goes Viral

(l-r) Stephanie Murg, Jenna McKnight, Alexandra Lange, Susan Szenasy, and Molly Heintz.

Center for Architecture

Event: Evolving Media Platforms (Architecture and the Media #4)
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.08.12
Moderator: Molly Heintz, The Architect’s Newspaper
Panelists: Alexandra Lange, Design Observer; Jenna McKnight, Architizer; Susan Szenasy, Hon. AIANY, Editor, Metropolis; and Stephanie Murg, UnBeige
Organizer: Center for Architecture and the AIANY Oculus Committee and Marketing & PR Committee; co-organized by The Architect’s Newspaper

For the fourth and final event in the “Architecture and the Media” series, a panel of editors and writers discussed the shift in architectural publications from print to primarily digital content. They weighed in on how writing for the web differs from print, the benefits and drawbacks of disseminating information through digital platforms, and offered fresh advice for architects looking to get their work published online.

Only two publications represented, Metropolis and The Architect’s Newspaper, have print components, which are supplemented by an online presence; the others – Design Observer, Architizer, and UnBeige – are fully digital. Every media outlet is constantly experimenting with new platforms. Alexandra Lange, a regular contributor to Design Observer and self-proclaimed “prolific tweeter,” maintains a blog on Tumblr, and recently published her first eBook. Writing for varied media has allowed her to develop her own voice as a critic while connecting with her audience.

Building connections, particularly between architects and potential clients, is the primary purpose of Architizer. Editor-in-Chief Jenna McKnight, formerly news director at Architectural Record, notes that architecture is often an insular profession that becoming part of a larger community online helps to counteract. Another website that connects architecture with other facets of design is UnBeige, which primarily highlights cultural and institutional projects and draws an international audience.

While many designers are loyal to print, online publishing allows editors to break news quickly and connect with their readers. Panelists agreed, though, that their posts have been receiving less reader comments lately. The reason? They suspect readers are instead sharing links through Twitter or “liking” content on Facebook. Either way, articles published online have the potential to go viral. The ability to link to content also allows editors and writers to use their words more efficiently, explained Stephanie Murg, an editor of Unbeige, by directing readers to other sources to learn basic background on a topic. Susan Szenasy of Metropolis cautioned that too much cross-referencing can be dangerous, and pointed out that we often retain little of the information we scan while surfing the Internet.

The shift towards digital media affects how architects get their work published, and the editors offered some inside advice on how best to reach out to them. They suggest that architects first read through a site and familiarize themselves with the mission of a publication to avoid sending irrelevant information, or worse yet, pitching an idea for a story they’ve already published. Murg suggested that designers keep their project descriptions concise and include a fact sheet. And don’t forget to attach images, which are “like catnip,” according to Molly Heinz of The Architect’s Newspaper. McKnight agreed: “Architecture [in the media] is as much about photography as it is about the building.” The panelists’ best advice for architects? Hire a good photographer.

Learning Outside the Box

Catherine Teegarden discusses a Foundation educational program related to the adAPT NYC micro-unit competition mockup, which was installed at the Center for Architecture for the adAPT NYC press conference in July.

Tim Hayduk

Event: Outside the Classroom: Design for Experiential Learning
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.14.12
Moderator: Hettie Jordan Vilanova, Educator, formerly at Ethical Culture Fieldston School
Panelists: School as Learning Village: R. Anthony Fieldman, AIA, LEED AP, President, RAF|T Architects; Museum as Learning Environment: Marcos Stafne, Director of Education, Brooklyn Children’s Museum; City as Laboratory: Catherine Teegarden, Director of Education, Center for Architecture Foundation, and Eli Smith, Exploration Coordinator, MS 447 Explorations School
Organizer: AIANY in collaboration with the Center for Architecture Foundation

The confines of the traditional classroom, with its four walls and rows of rigid desks, do not exactly excite or inspire most students. “Educational environments often encourage exploration in younger years, but they shift to more traditional modes of learning later,” observed Hettie Jordan Vilanova, who moderated a recent panel on designing opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Programs that nurture the “whole child,” from their emotional to cognitive development and communication skills, provide unique experiences that lay the foundation for life-long learning.

Younger generations can navigate smartphones and computers more proficiently than their parents, yet their schools’ environments have yet to catch up. New models for classrooms place the student at the center of the discussion and seamlessly integrate technology. In Sweden, Vittra schools completely dematerialize the classroom and its walls, allowing students to move around or choose where to lounge with their laptops.

“The school is in the cloud – it’s not only a physical institution anymore,” said R. Anthony Fieldman, AIA, LEED AP, President and founder of RAF|T Architects. While not every classroom can be so fluid, Fieldman anticipates that the incorporation of common spaces will increasingly become standard in school design. An example is Kuwait University’s K-12 Teaching School, a project Fieldman worked on as a design principal at Perkins+Will, that will include 350,000 square feet of intensely programmed rooftop space with outdoor classrooms and gardens to serve as learning laboratories.

Beyond classrooms’ and schools’ walls, New York offers a myriad of opportunities for learning. Founded in 1899, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights holds the distinction as the world’s first children’s museum (there are now more than 300 in the U.S.). Marcos Stafne, director of education at the museum, explained that collections there are no longer mounted traditionally, but designed to engage kids so that learning happens while they are being entertained. “The museum is an idea of what childhood exploration needs to be,” he said.

Catherine Teegarden, director of education at the Center for Architecture Foundation, aims to infuse New York City schools’ curricula with the city’s built environment. The Center hosts monthly workshops as well as Learning By Design:NY residency programs to teach children about architecture and the urban form. At Chinatown’s P.S. 42, 2nd-graders studied bridges, including the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and built models to learn about their structures before designing their own bridges. Another program that encourages hands-on learning and critical thinking through real-world applications is the MS 447 Explorations School. Eli Smith, the program coordinator, frequently takes students on field trips, such as walking tours of brownfields, visits to the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art, and urban planning workshops at the Center.

Until classrooms better reflect schools’ ever-evolving curriculums, educational programs can fill the gap and encourage students to explore, building their confidence while developing a stronger sense of community. What better place to learn than the streets of our city?

See examples of 21st-century schools that are pushing the envelope in the exhibition “The Edgeless School: Design for Learning,” on view at the Center for Architecture through 01.19.13.

Oculus Book Review: African Metropolitan Architecture

David Adjaye at the Center for Architecture.

Daniel Fox

African Metropolitan Architecture
By David Adjaye; edited by Peter Allison

First published in the United States in 2011 by Rizzoli International Publications; originally published in the United Kingdom in 2011 by Thames & Hudson Ltd.

African Metropolitan Architecture is a commanding series of architectural journeys through 53 cities in Africa that integrates personal narrative with the prevailing power of architecture. Documented with urban history, fact files, maps, satellite imagery, and groundbreaking photographs by architect David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, RIBA, each image, much as John Berger wrote in his classic 1972 Ways of Seeing, portrays that “the way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe […] We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.”

In each of the seven lush volumes, the first of which is filled with essays by leading scholars and critics, you experience how varied the concept of metropolitan is as you make the passage through Maghreb (northwest Africa), the Sahel (the semi-arid fringe south of the Sahara), Savannah and Grassland, and Mountain and Highveld Desert and Forest.

“The concept of the ‘metropolitan’ has had a different history and trajectory from other continents and carries a distinct meaning,” writes Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, RIBA. Although the “histories of the cities may have much in common, the character of each city is unique to its location.” (Listen to Adjaye’s “Oculus Quick Take” podcast interview with Miguel Angel Baltierra, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP.)

In reflecting on this decade-long project at the Center for Architecture on 10.15.12, Adjaye spoke about the particular challenges facing those African cities that were transforming from local to national significance.

Conversations about how to reconcile the traditional with new approaches to architecture often became explosive. When asked how he was able to tackle so many cities with this level of intensity, depth, and understanding, his response was indicative of his voice as a writer and his passion as an architect: “My father was a diplomat and we moved every two-and-a-half years. I absorbed cities. It’s how I negotiated change and learned about how you make one’s personal perception visible to other people.” African Metropolitan Architecture accomplishes that and so much more – it removes the veils of mystery and misconception that have existed for far too long about this great continent and its approach to the built environment.

In this issue:
• Head in the Clouds – Footprint on Governors Island
• Foster’s Fifth
• SUNY School Steps Up
• The Bronx Boasts a New Community Center
• Building for Biotech
• Building for Bling

Head in the Clouds – Footprint on Governors Island

Courtesy Studio Klimoski Chang

Courtesy Studio Klimoski Chang

Courtesy Studio Klimoski Chang

From nearly 200 submissions, Studio Klimoski Chang Architects’ (StudioKca) design – “Head in the Clouds” – is the winner of FIGMENT’s third annual City of Dreams Pavilion competition. FIGMENT teamed with the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) to host the competition. The winning project, which offers visitors the chance to walk into the clouds and experience them from inside-out, will be assembled on Governors Island this coming spring and open to the public during the 2013 summer season. With sustainability in mind, all materials used are recyclable. The structure’s armature is made of 1.5-inch aluminum tubes, which use less material and afford easier transport than more traditional materials such as wood. Around 13,780 milk and water jugs will be collected with the help of schools and local organizations; 120 jugs will be used as “pillows” to give the cloud a bumpy, organic shape. The bottles will be filled with organic food coloring and water to create the interior’s blue hue. FIGMENT is accepting donations (‐page/donate/) to support the fabrication, installation, and maintenance of the pavilion.

Foster’s Fifth

Courtesy Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners’ first residential project in the U.S. is here in New York City. 50 UN Plaza, a 44-story condo, is characterized by deep bay windows, unified by a delicate horizontal grid of stainless-steel tubes that wrap around the building. The project will include 87 apartments and approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space. Apartments range from one- to three-bedroom untis, to 6,000-square-foot, full-floor homes. There is also a 10,000-square-foot, two-floor penthouse that boasts floor-to-ceiling bay windows and 10- to 16-foot ceilings. The project, which is developed by Zeckendorf Development with Global Holdings, is expected to be completed in late 2014. After the Hearst Tower, the Sperone Westwater Gallery, 2 WTC, and 425 Park, this is the firm’s fifth project in the city.

SUNY School Steps Up

Courtesy Urbahn Architects

Courtesy Urbahn Architects

Right before Hurricane Sandy struck, ground was broken on the 42,000-square-foot School of Business at SUNY’s Farmingdale State College. Designed by Urbahn Architects, the focal point of the three-story, rectangular-bar building is a lobby atrium featuring a tiered seating/gathering space flanked by a multi-dimensional bamboo wall and a staircase that wends its way up the atrium. The exterior of the atrium at the rear of the building is an expansive glass curtain wall intersected by a free-standing elevator enclosed in charcoal gray-colored aluminum composite panels. Facing the mall, the front of the building is clad in ivory-colored vertical GFRC rainscreen panels, with irregularly staggered vertical windows expressing the individual offices within. The entire building is managed by a Direct Digital Control (DDC) Building Energy Management System, which optimizes energy use based on occupancy, air quality, and natural lighting levels, among other factors. The project, whose general contractor is Islandia, NY-based Stalco Construction, is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

The Bronx Boasts a New Community Center

David Sundberg

Roof garden shared by the school and community.

David Sundberg

The New Settlement Community Campus in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx recently celebrated the ribbon cutting of its community center. Through a partnership between the NYC Department of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority, New Visions, and the Settlement Housing Fund, a new mixed-use campus with two new schools and a community center has been created on a former brownfield site. Designed by Dattner Architects with Edelman Sultan Knox Wood/Architects, the 172,000-square-foot project offers a new model of integrated community and school programming. The community center features a 25-yard pool, dance studio, multi-function rooms, and an outdoor teaching classroom with gardens. The previously completed school portion of the campus serves pre-K–12 grades, and includes 56 classrooms, a 350-seat auditorium, competition gymnasium, cafeteria, library/technology hub, landscaped amphitheater, and play yards. The entire complex, managed by the Settlement Housing Fund, allows the gymnasium complex, play yards, and other large spaces within the school to be open for off-hour use by the local community.

Building for Biotech

Courtesy Francis Cauffman

Francis Cauffman

Francis Cauffman has gotten the green light from the City of Newark for its design for the North American headquarters of Biotrial, a French contract research organization that supports pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Located in the city’s University Heights Science Park, the first phase of the project, which is expected to break ground in spring 2013, consists of a five-story, 70,000-square-foot building. The design features metal panels that rise on two sides of the glass building and transform and flow through the lobby, becoming a ribbon that unifies the various elements. A second phase includes a small public plaza and another building that is expected to double the headquarters’ size. When both phases are completed, the Biotrial facility will span an entire city block.

Building for Bling

Michael Weschler Photography

Michael Weschler Photography

With her handcrafted jewelry sold in high-end stores world-wide, Ippolita Rostagno, a New York City-based fine jewelry designer, recently opened her company’s first-ever flagship store on Madison Avenue. Designed by Jeffrey Hutchison & Associates (JHA), the 500-square-foot store uses elements from the jeweler’s creations as a basis for the store’s interior, and draws inspiration from organic elements and precious gems. The store features carved, dark bronze tubing for the display cases, hand-smoothed plaster wall, wide-plank oak floors laid in a herringbone pattern, and a custom chandelier by artist Jess LaRotanda. JHA has designed multiple store-in-store projects for Ippolita, as well as retail spaces for other fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Nautica, Barneys New York, Façonnable, and Ann Taylor.

This Just In
While at its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the USGBC announced a $3 million grant from Google to enable the organization to broaden its efforts in the materials industry as they prepare for the LEED v4.

In the first step in a new global initiative, Parsons The New School for Design will establish a new academic center in Paris scheduled to open in fall 2013. Located in the 1st arrondissement near many of the city’s cultural destinations, Parsons Paris will offer undergraduate, graduate, and study-abroad programs.

The Historic Districts Council is holding a “coffee talk” with NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri on 12.03.12. The program is free, but space is limited and reservations are required; RSVP to

The Yale School of Architecture celebrates alumnus George Nelson (1928–1986) in the first retrospective exhibition devoted to his life and work. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the exhibition comes to Yale following an international tour; this is its final destination and only East Coast venue. The exhibition is free and open to the public now through 01.26.13.

The Design and Urban Ecologies program at Parsons The New School for Design and other groups such as the CUNY Graduate Center’s Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, is holding a Urban Uprising, a two-day conference on 11.30.12 and 12.01.12 that brings together architects, activists, urban designers and planners from around the country to re-imagine the city for the next hundred years.

Teachers Learn About Their School’s History

P.S. 1 staff on their first trip to the school’s roof.

Catherine Teegarden

Teachers at P.S. 1 enjoy learning about their school’s history.

Catherine Teegarden

Teachers and staff at P.S. 1 in Chinatown had a fascinating history lesson at a Center for Architecture Foundation workshop on 11.06.12. The focus of the program was the design of their own 1899 school building, one of 400 schools designed by Charles B.J. Snyder, Superintendent of School Buildings for New York City from 1891 – 1923.

C.B.J. Snyder expert Jean Arrington began the program with a slide talk familiarizing teachers with Snyder’s design ideas and the transformative effect his work had on the city’s school system. Snyder’s schools are typically elegant buildings with spacious, well-lit classrooms, good ventilation, and ample space for student recreation. He believed that students of every income level and background deserved dignified schools that would elevate the learning experience and improve the unhealthy conditions in which many New Yorkers lived. He developed innovative ways of fire proofing and maximizing the use of space through his signature “H-plan” layout, double stair halls, and rooftop playgrounds.

P.S. 1 teachers were amazed to see historic photographs of students using the rooftop play space and specialty classrooms on the building’s top floor. They lamented the boarding up of the once-operable transom windows that let light and air flow from classrooms to hallways, creating cooling breezes and brightening the school’s interior spaces. The teachers then took a tour of the building, starting at the roof and ending in the basement, identifying some of the design features they had just learned about. It was a fun way to kick off CFAF’s architecture program on local landmarks with P.S. 1’s second-graders, sponsored in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and to give the staff a fresh perspective on their old school building.

Student design work from P.S. 1’s landmark program will be featured in CFAF’s annual “Building Connections” exhibit, opening Friday, 11.30.12, 4–7 pm at the Center. Historic schools will be the focus of the panel discussion “Adapting Historic Schools for 21st Century Learning” at the Center 01.17.13, 6–8 pm.