09.11.13: AIANY Committee on the Environment Co-chairs Pat Sapinsley, AIA, LEED AP, and Ilana Judah, Intl. Assoc. AIA, organized “Integration Series – Succeeding at Nothing: Achieving Net Zero”, featuring speakers Jeffrey Rios, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Engineer, Possee/AKF, and Anna Serra, Associate Sustainability Consultant, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers.
Continue reading “Sighted”
This year, Oculus, AIANY’s quarterly magazine exploring issues relevant to architectural discourse and practice in the city, turns 75. On 09.03.13, attendees – including contributors, Oculus Committee members, and current and past editors of Oculus and its digital sister publication e-Oculus – gathered to celebrate the magazine’s long trajectory during the opening of the exhibition “Coverage: Seventy-Five Years of Oculus.”
Continue reading “All Eyes on Oculus”
“Everything is political,” a wise person once said, “but politics isn’t everything.” In the first explicitly campaign-oriented event to be held at the Center for Architecture, three Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President (all of the major aspirants to succeed BP Scott Stringer except Council Member Jessica Lappin, who had a scheduling conflict) sparred over master plans, housing policy, rezoning, and more, finding certain areas of agreement but offering sharply contrasting profiles. The AIANY’s Platform for the Future of the City suggests that the local architectural community is ready not only to offer expertise, but to pose challenging questions about design, infrastructure, and social policy. If this lively one-hour conversation is any indication, elected officials are eager to reach out to New York’s architects –- at least to put their own positions forward.
Continue reading “Would-BPs Tangle Over Policies on Built Environment”
Vishaan Chakrabarti’s A Country of Cities is more cultural artifact than text. With 100-plus pages of argument, balanced with 100-plus pages of graphs, data, and illustrations, the book is a manifesto for the visual age. Chakrabarti proclaims smart urban growth as a way to overcome many of society’s ills. In most of the book he preaches to a happy urbanite choir – I found myself saying “yes, yes, yes” to much of the discourse. Chakrabarti guides us through the somewhat “hackneyed” (his word, not mine) arguments of the sustainable landscape: the car equals bad, density equals good, suburbs equal bad. He uses cues from other great texts from the sustainability movement: a good-looking book design and easy handling from Cradle to Cradle, fashionable and epic imagery from An Inconvenient Truth, and an attempt to make graphs sexy from Bruce Mau’s Massive Change. The book works – and pushes the argument farther into the American mindset than any other text to date, but its potential is in the things that I think Chakrabarti “slips in” rather than the obvious arguments.
Continue reading “Oculus Book Review: “A Country of Cities” by Vishaan Chakrabarti, Assoc. AIA”
The AIANY Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) Committee’s 2014 biennial design ideas competition, QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm, supports Friends of the QueensWay and the Trust for Public Land in their efforts to transform the QueensWay into a greenway. Abandoned since 1962, the QueensWay is a 3-1/2 mile elevated railway running between Rego Park and Ozone Park. ENYA’s competition program challenges young designers to program and design access points to the proposed linear park that extend street activity onto the railway above.
Continue reading “Designing to Elevate the Public Realm: ENYA Launches the QueensWay Connection Design Competition”
When public officials implement Active Design principles in the built environment, they’re not making an arbitrary top-down decision (no matter how often that complaint has arisen from NIMBYs, smokers, the internal-combustion-engine-über-alles faction, and others); they’re responding to expressions of political will. At the most recent FitNation panel, amid an overview of Transportation Alternatives’ (TA) effective campaigns to reclaim street space for human-powered movement and transit, TA spokesperson Jennifer So Godzeno drew a distinction between activists like Jane Jacobs, who create and amplify that political will, and officials like Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who translate it into policy decisions and constructed forms. Both are indispensable. Citizen activism is an integral aspect of Active Design, the counterweight to all the interests whose inertia supports a pathogenic status quo in built space. The case studies offered here added up to an encouraging pattern of individual initiative driving democratic action to enhance public health.
Continue reading “Behind Every Sadik-Khan, a Streetful of Jacobses”
Attendees donned hard hats to peek behind the scenes at the new park and public spaces under development at the center of Governors Island before meandering through the FIGMENT “Head in the Clouds” pavilion. Jamie Maslyn Larson, principal-in-charge of West 8’s Governors Island Park and Public Space Project, discussed the multi-phase Governors Island Park Master Plan while guiding attendees through portions of the Liggett Terrace and Hammock Grove construction sites. The future four-acre Liggett Terrace public space is framed by the wings of Liggett Hall, a massive Neo-Georgian structure designed by McKim, Mead & White in the 1930s for military use. Liggett Terrace’s interactive water features will encourage kids to play, while the Hammock Grove’s seven-acre grove will offer a shady relaxation area. In homage to Governors Island’s former name of “Nooten Eylandt,” or “Nut Island,” the 55 species of Hammock Grove’s 300 new trees will feature nut-producing varieties.
Continue reading “Behind the Scenes on Governors Island”