Glocal | Lobal: Multinational Architecture and Building Locally Across the Globe

On 09.15. 14, lead partners and principals of four diverse firms, Jamie von Klemperer, FAIA, of Kohn Pedersen Fox/KPF; Sunil Bald of Studio SUMO; Craig Dykers, AIA, MNAL, FRIBA, FRSA, LEED AP, and Elaine Molinar, AIA, MNAL, LEED AP, of Snøhetta; and Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, gathered to talk about the influences of global and (or, vs.) local in their architecture practices. Moderator, Clifford Pearson, Architectural Record deputy editor, started the program with a reference to Ancient Rome – a point that resurfaced at various points during the evening: while the tools are new and the speed and local engagement is greater, global architecture has been present for millennia.

Many of the speakers began with an interpretation of what it means to be local today. Dykers presented a diagram of his own various nationalities. Although he is German, his parents have relatives from all over Europe, he has lived the longest in Denmark, his first name is Scottish, and his last name, Dutch. He argued that when you look closely (or when you pull back, looking at the globe at large), specificity becomes difficult to identify. This multinationality extends to Snøhetta itself, an office made of 16 different nationalities, with two primary offices in Oslo and New York and a few small offices across the globe. For an international firm such as KPF, with offices in six countries and with largely international projects over the last 10 to 25 years, what is simply local or simply foreign is also difficult to identify. Are KPF architects who live and work in Seoul local, foreign, international, or global architects? Global capitalism blurs these lines. For example, in New York, Michael Kors has offices two floors above KPF, while there is a Michael Kors store down the street from KPF’s temporary Kerry Centre office in Jing An, Shanghai. Continue reading “Glocal | Lobal: Multinational Architecture and Building Locally Across the Globe”

Energy Efficiency’s Human Dimension

People are the key to energy-efficient buildings. As revealed in the 07.16.14 “Shifting Behavior” event, organized by the AIANY Committee on the Environment (COTE), a truly energy-efficient building actively engages its occupants. North Americans now spend 90% or more of their time indoors, and much of the remaining travelling between buildings. The built environment is thus crucial to limiting humanity’s negative environmental impact, but also presents a number of economic opportunities.

Energy conservation can benefit a building’s bottom line through reduced energy expenditure and promote an ethic of environmental conservation through reduced demand for fossil fuels. The technologies and passive design strategies employed in certification systems, such as Passive House, have brought energy-efficient structures into the mainstream at prices that rival conventional construction; however, people will always be instrumental in a building’s success. Some estimates suggest that occupant behavior can influence energy usage by as much as 30 to 50% of overall consumption. As a result, strategies that encourage occupant-driven energy conservation are among the best tools designers have in ensuring buildings and communities remain productive, sustainable, and resilient. Continue reading “Energy Efficiency’s Human Dimension”

Streetscapes in the Seaport

On a Saturday in mid-September, a group of architecture and history enthusiasts joined the Lead Design Educator of the Center for Architecture Foundation on a walk through portions of the South Street Seaport Historic District. The ramble introduced the group to ways of “reading the streetscape” through conversation and a guided look at the mercantile structures in this once vital waterfront. The district preserves early building practices including the handsome Schermerhorn Row, a warehouse that was essentially the World Trade Center of 1811. Constructed of robust load-bearing brick walls, closely spaced wooden floor joists, and relatively small windows, the structure was not terribly sophisticated considering what the rest of that century would bring regarding architectural technology. Built on trash and soil excavated from hills further upland, Peter Schermerhorn hastily built the Row on landfill as a speculative development. The crooked lintels over the windows are the result of his haste – he did not allow the landfill to settle properly. The elements of a storyline began to appear in the details that the group was discovering and reading together. Continue reading “Streetscapes in the Seaport”

Names in the News

The American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2014 Professional Design Awards winners include NYC-based firms Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates for Segment 5 of Hudson River Park, Monk’s Garden: A Visual Record of Design Thinking and Landscape Making, and Exhuming the Modern: The Lost Bench of James C. Rose; Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi for Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park; and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects for Garden, Park, Community, Farm, …The finalists for the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s 2015 Fuller Challenge include “Living Breakwaters” by SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE…The 2014 North American Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction honored David Benjamin, The Living for Hy-Fi (Bronze Medal); BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group for the firm’s Rebuild by Design entry, the Big U (Silver Medal); and Debbie Chen for her project Trash for Use: Harvesting Utility from Waste (Next Generation 1st Prize). Continue reading “Names in the News”

New Deadlines

2015 Oculus Editorial Calendar
The Oculus 2015 Editorial Calendar has been set. If you are an architect in practice or by training, or see yourself as an astute observer of New York’s architectural and planning scene, Oculus wants to hear from you! You may submit projects/topics from anywhere, but architects must be New York-based. Please submit story ideas/projects by the deadlines indicated below to Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA:

Spring 2015: President’s Theme: “Dialogues from the Edge of Practice” A look at how innovative practices are boldly enlarging the purview of the architect, expanding beyond the traditional scope of practice with new services and revenue models, new modes of collaboration with other disciplines, designing new computational tools to better create design, etc.
Deadline for story ideas, projects: 11.07.14

Summer 2015: AIANY 2015 Design Awards
Submission deadline: 02.06.15

Fall 2015: “Home” (In conjunction with the Housing Exhibition + Archtober)
Housing progress report/report card: whether market rate or affordable, is it living up to our expectations for design, community integration, environmental responsiveness? For affordable and low-income housing, is innovation helping us hit the number of units New York City needs? Continuing controversy about “inclusionary” housing (80/20 and such). Off-site/modular construction. BSA Housing Awards. (To include input from social scientists, urban anthropologists, psychologists, etc.)
Deadline for story ideas, projects: 05.22.15

Winter 2015: “Makers in a Digital World” or “Architecture & the Digital World”
How we present and build what we do: 21st-century visual representation, mapping, big data. Life-cycle of a building: an idea, draw it, digitize for CNC milling machines, construct, share via Instagram, etc. Cooper-Hewitt tech “pencils”; etc.
Deadline for story ideas, projects: 08.14.15 Continue reading “New Deadlines”

On View: At the Center for Architecture + About Town

At the Center for Architecture

On View

The Swiss Touch in Landscape Architecture
Through 10.31.14

QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm
Through 10.31.14

ABC Stone Presents “Live Your Life in Stone
Opening 10.31.14

Archtober Lounge
Opening 10.31.14

New Practices New York 2014
Opening 10.01.14


New York New Design
Opening 10.09.14 Continue reading “On View: At the Center for Architecture + About Town”