Event: From Maps to Apps: cultureNOW’s Museum without Walls Project
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.12.11
Speakers: Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED AP — AIANY VP of Public Outreach & President, cultureNOW & Design Principal, Abby Suckle Architect; Anne Lewison, AIA, RAIC — Board of Directors, cultureNOW & Senior Architect, Snøhetta
Introduction: Paul Seletsky, Assoc. AIA — Co-chair, AIANY Technology Committee
Organizer: AIANY Technology Committee
Sponsors: ABC-Imaging; Partners: Betaville-Brooklyn Experimental Media Center; Center for Urban Research — City University of New York; Google; New York Public Library; Spatial Information Design Lab — Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation at Columbia University; Wildlife Conservation Society; Tauranac Maps; The Environmental Simulation Center; Special Thanks: Dattner Architects; The Mohawk Group; Karastan
For a committee that usually concerns itself with tech tools the likes of parametric modeling, structural analysis, and BIM, the subject of cultural mapping might appear to be, slightly off-topic. Not so! According to AIANY Technology Committee co-chair Paul Seletsky, Assoc. AIA, “as architects we are story tellers, and this is a new tool we can use to convey our design intent in a rich, vibrant way.”
CultureNOW created its first map, DowntownNOW, in 2002 as an outgrowth of the Cultural and Historical Committee of New York/New Visions, a coalition of architecture, design, planning, and civic groups (including AIANY) that banded together in response to 9/11. Hugh Hardy, FAIA, suggested a map as a way to encourage people to visit the 16 acres of Lower Manhattan and beyond. Abby Suckle, FAIA, picked up the reins and researched, designed, and printed a foldout map that was distributed throughout the city. The organization subsequently documented and produced other NYC-centric cultural maps, including the eight-foot-long ManhattanArtNow, a compendium of public art.
Outgrowing the confines of print, cultureNOW developed a website that would allow the organization to easily update the maps and expand content with text, images, audio, and video. Then it created an iPhone app to put public art and architecture in the palm of one’s hand (this year it was a winner in the NYC Big Apps 2.0 contest). The app works via GPS, which locates one’s whereabouts in the city and directs him/her to places of cultural interest nearby. What gives the app depth is its multi-media platform. If you are facing Father Duffy Square, for example, you can listen to a podcast of Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, a principal at Pasanella, Klein, Stolzman, Berg, Architects and 2009 AIANY president, talk about her firm’s role in the revitalization of Times Square. Walk downtown and Stephen Cassell, AIA, a principal at Architecture Research Office (ARO), discusses his firm’s design for the Armed Forces Recruiting Center. “When the public is looking at architecture and listening to a podcast, they can see how hard our job is and gain an appreciation for what we do,” said Suckle.
Thus began cultureNOW’s Museum Without Walls, which contains not only NYC collections, but those of 38 other cities in North America. “We’re not MoMA,” claimed Suckle, “but we are a museum outside of a museum for public art and architecture. We have an eclectic collection contained in one app that travels with you across the country.”