Editor’s Note

As Archtober comes to an end, I would like to thank all of you who participated in this year’s festivities. Archtober 2014 brought together 50 partnering organizations who celebrated architecture and design in NYC in more than 200 different ways. The hard work of organizers and the enthusiasm of tour-goers, lecture attendees, and architecture lovers are the reasons why our month-long festival has been a success year after year.

And don’t forget! There are still two days left until the end of the month. Check out the Archtober calendar and squeeze in some final Archtivities! You can also follow our partner organizations all year long to hear about other exciting events. To see photos of Building of the Day tours this year, add us on Instagram at @Archtober and @CenterforArch.

Heritage Ball 2014: Talkin’ to the Architects

On 10.23.14, more than 1,100 members of New York City’s design community gathered at Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty for the AIANY Heritage Ball, our largest fundraising event of the year. Thanks to everyone’s help, this year we surpassed our fundraising record, raising $1,553,700 to support the Center for Architecture as a vibrant and vital resource for New York City’s design community.

The Heritage Ball is a great opportunity to mingle and network with architecture and design professionals, but the black-tie event also honors excellence in our built environment. This year’s honorees were actor and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro (Center for Architecture Award); Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of the New York Tri-State Region of CBRE (AIA New York Chapter Award); Marilyn Jordan Taylor, FAIA, Dean of the School of Design and Paley Professor at the University of Pennsylvania (2014 President’s Award); and Adam Weinstein, President and CEO of Phipps Houses (Center for Architecture Foundation Award). Continue reading “Heritage Ball 2014: Talkin’ to the Architects”

Hawkish about LaGuardia

On Tuesday, 10.21.14, our local neighborhood association, the Friends of LaGuardia, held its annual dinner at the NoHo Star on Bleecker and Lafayette Streets. The LaGuardia Medallion was presented to Lois Rakoff, described as a “long-time friend of LaGuardia Park & the Village Community,” and to Randy Mastro and Jim Walden of the Gibson Dunn law firm, who were called “attorneys fighting for our park and open space in the Village.” A special shout-out was given to red-tailed hawks, known to be frequent visitors to LaGuardia Park. In fact guests were instructed to “wear a flash of red in honor of the red-tailed hawks.”

The president of the Friends of LaGuardia, Lawrence Goldberg, who served as master of ceremonies, brought elected officials to the lectern, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman.

A common refrain of the short speeches was the importance of open space, and the particular value of community participation in the creation, maintenance, and safeguarding of neighborhood parks. Friends of LaGuardia has been a co-sponsor of many Center for Architecture initiatives, including the Civic Space presentation of Christopher Janney’s Sonic Forest in September. Among other Center for Architecture stalwarts present were Mary Burke, FAIA, a vice president of the AIA New York State Board, architect Natalia Valencia, and Amy Stroud of HM White Site Architects.

The LaGuardia gala, the 19th annual iteration of the event, was called “A Soaring Success” on the invitation, and was organized by volunteer members of the Friends of LaGuardia Board of Directors, including Bertha Chase, Terri Cude, Barbara Devaney, Anne Hearn, Judy Magida, Connie Masullo, and Ellen Peterson-Lewis. Board member Peter DeLuca sang “God Bless America,” and was said to be our block’s answer to Tony Bennett. By the end of the festive evening celebrating parks and community, Peter’s strong voice was supplemented by the strains of a remarkable violinist. As is said, a good time was had by all.


New York City: Open for Building

On 10.23.14, the New York Building Congress released the New York City Construction Outlook 2014-2016, the organization’s annual forecast. According to the report, the industry should expect more than $100 billion in construction spending over the next three years. This upturn is the result of an increase in high-end residential construction and strong commercial and government sectors.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz opened the program with an enthusiastic embrace of the building industry. She informed the crowd that Queens is open for building and welcomes good development. The Borough of Queens is home to more than 2.3 million residents, representing more than 120 countries and speaking more than 135 languages. As the diverse population continues to grow, zoning can help create necessary housing throughout the borough, including in commercial centers like Long Island City, Downtown Jamaica, and Downtown Flushing, reflecting the latest development trends and projected future needs in those areas. Development, however, must match the built character of neighborhoods and prepare them for growth. The borough president is working to contextually rezone neighborhoods. Katz also addressed the shortage of senior housing in the borough. Continue reading “New York City: Open for Building”

NOMA: For the LOVE of it

Mayor Michael Nutter welcomed architects from around the nation to Philadelphia for the 42nd Annual National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) International Conference and Exhibition held 10.02-04.14. William Stanley, FAIA, chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows, and 2016 AIA President-elect Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, participanted in the conference at the historic 1932 PSFS Building, designed by William Lescaze and George Howe, now restored and known as Loews Philadelphia Hotel. The conference theme was “For the LOVE of it,” appropriate for the City of Brotherly Love.

Pre-conference activities on Wednesday included a full-day Community Legacy Project at the Lighthouse on Lehigh Avenue and the presentation of entries in the NOMA Student Design Competition. Friday’s General Session featured keynote speaker Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, co-principal and partner of the Washington, DC-based architectural firm Marshall Moya Design. She inspired the audience of professionals and students with an account of her professional journey in which she made a career shift from law to architecture. “A Tale of Two Cities” seminar was led by AIANY Chapter members Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, and Venesa Alicea, AIA, NOMA, and featured Via Verde in the Bronx and Paseo Verde in Philadelphia, two community-based projects developed by Jonathan Rose Companies. The most talked-about tour on Saturday was “Illustrious Shadows,” highlighting the life and works of Julian Francis Abele, Philadelphia’s first African-American architect. He was chief designer of more than 200 buildings, including The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Weidner Building, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Continue reading “NOMA: For the LOVE of it”

To the Finland Website: To Get an Icon, Don’t Strive for One

The 1,715 submissions to the open, anonymous Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition went online on 10.22.14. The chance to design the next iteration of the most widely recognized modern art museum on Earth, the institution forever linked (however reductively) with contemporary urbanism’s Bilbao Effect, has unsurprisingly drawn a crowd. The jurors now face the formidable task of sifting out a six-proposal shortlist from that enormous mass of images and texts. A week before the avalanche went public, members of the jury and other prominent architects and academics met with an animated Archtober crowd to preview the project’s potentials and pitfalls. They considered what a new Guggenheim might accomplish in bringing Finland’s impressive design tradition to wider world attention, connecting the international art scene with the Finnish public, and carrying forward the complex cultural and economic endeavors that former director Thomas Krens set in motion by moving the Guggenheim brand beyond New York in 1997. Continue reading “To the Finland Website: To Get an Icon, Don’t Strive for One”

Allied in Architecture and Arts

Having completed a number of museums, most recently in Denver, Brad Cloepfil, AIA, of Allied Works Architecture, delivered this year’s annual Arthur M. Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture organized by the AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee. Cloepfil walked the audience through several projects spanning the firm’s practice from residential to academic and institutional, to museums, fashion boutiques, and a concert hall. The unifying thread is inspiration in the arts and an exploration of material. Cloepfil explained that initial ideas and concepts are tested in model and material at each step of the project’s development, a kind of sounding to ensure conceptual integrity.

The title of the lecture, “Amplifiers,” references a museum’s ability to project the content within and the community from without. To set the tone for his lecture, Cloepfil showed a slide of artist Christian Marclay’s “Guitar Drag,” an amplified guitar being dragged along a road – each project that followed started with a slide of an artistic or landscape reference. Whether a video installation by Doug Aitken projected on the Dutchess County Residence Main House, or Clyfford Still paintings in the eponymous museum with a Paul Ruldolph-eque concrete exterior finish (corrugated with broken ridges – initially specified as obsidian before the financial crash), Cloepfil approaches architecture as a material structure created by, or in search of, a situation or phenomenon. Continue reading “Allied in Architecture and Arts”

Sculpting the Center

The Big Apple always has a couple worms, such as stalled trains on your way to work, meetings, and architectural tours, and Archtober has offered many. But then, you get hidden pearls like my destination, the SculptureCenter, tucked neatly away in Long Island City’s former light industrial and manufacturing area, which is quickly succumbing to the glass residential towers popping up all around.

The AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee tour coincided with the reopening of the ScuptureCenter, a New York institution since 1928. In 2001, it relocated from Manhattan to Queens, where it took over a former trolley repair shop built in 1907. In 2007, Andrew Berman, FAIA, responded to a NYC Department of Design + Construction (DDC) Design Excellence RFP…for a fire stair with a budget of $400,000. Once Berman started working with Mary Ceruti, executive director of SculptureCenter, they both quickly realized the facility could use so much more to make the renovation truly effective and meaningful. And that they did. Continue reading “Sculpting the Center”

Sustainable Innovation in Urban Planning: Jaime Lerner’s Visionary Success

Kicking off a North American book tour for his new publication, Urban Acupuncture: Celebrating Pinpricks of Change That Enrich City Life, Jaime Lerner recently spoke at the Museum of the City of New York, joined by former NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Hon. AIANY and journalist and urban critic Roberta Brandes Gratz. Released by Island Press, a nonprofit organization with a focus on issues in the environmental field, Urban Acupuncture is a smart, quick read that urges urban residents to take a closer look at their everyday surroundings and find small but significant ways to improve the urban landscape, “a pinprick that provides a new energy in the process of planning, said Lerner.”

Referencing a subject discussed earlier that morning on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, Lerner began his monologue by highlighting bits of recent urban acupuncture he thought made an impact in New York City: the High Line, which has influenced his ideas for plans in São Paulo, and the new bike lanes complemented by the arrival of Citi Bikes, which have transformed both the individual and public realms of transportation. He believes another pinprick lies in the revamping of the city’s ferries and urges us not to be afraid of using water as a means of everyday transport, citing the vaporetto used in Venice as an example of a popular waterbus. One could imagine how much less congested the L train would be if only there was a ferry running from Williamsburg to the East Village, not to mention how much better it would be to start a workday with a view down the river! Continue reading “Sustainable Innovation in Urban Planning: Jaime Lerner’s Visionary Success”

Assessing MTA’s East Side Access

Beneath our feet, water is flowing, electricity is circulating, freight is being hauled, subways are barreling by, and one mile of rock, thousands of feet deep, is being excavated out of Manhattan, carted through Queens to Pennsylvania, to make way for MTA’s East Side Access. The $10.2 billion infrastructure project, slated to open between 2019 and 2022, will connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to a concourse underneath Grand Central Terminal. When the LIRR connected to Manhattan for the first time in 1910, development on Long Island was flourishing. The engineers, planners, and architects behind the East Side Access are braced for a second transformation. “This changes everything,” said LIRR Chief Planning Officer Elissa Picca. It’s a “time machine,” said MTA Associate Director of Planning Jack Dean, anticipating “unbridled bliss” as hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders commute to work in less time, in smaller crowds, and with fewer operational hiccups.

On 10.06.2014, the minds behind MTA’s East Side Access gathered at the Museum of the City of New York for the sold-out presentation, “A New Terminal Under Grand Central: The East Side Access Project,” co-sponsored by AIANY. With 11 branches and 124 stations, the LIRR currently serves 3.2 million riders annually; every day, 287,000 people ride on 741 different trains. For decades now, the second largest commuter train in the country has been overtaxed, outgrowing Penn Station. East Side Access, originally planned in the 1960s, is the first expansion of the LIRR in more than 100 years. It will alleviate congestion on the train, in Penn Station, and on the 2/3, 7, and E subway lines, and will shorten the commute to the East Side. Continue reading “Assessing MTA’s East Side Access”