Feminism is Social Justice for All: On Feminist Design Practices

Carol Shapiro, director of the Beverley Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), opened the “Feminist Design Practices” panel at the Center for Architecture on 04.07.15, dedicating the event to the unsung women who have influenced the built environment. “Women in design are often invisible,” Shapiro lamented. The were anything but invisible that evening: six women spoke openly and honestly about their experiences as female professionals in architecture, engineering, construction, and academia on a panel organized by the BWAF and the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee in conjunction with the “Built x Women NYC” exhibition. Continue reading “Feminism is Social Justice for All: On Feminist Design Practices”

Zeitgeist Microclimate: 2015 AIANY Design Awards Jury Symposium

The diversity among the winning projects of the 2015 AIANY Design Awards, announced Monday 03.09.15, represent what AIANY 2015 President Tomas Rossant, AIA, aptly described as a “zeitgeist microclimate.” From a courthouse in Salt Lake City and housing for health care workers in Burundi, to The QueensWay proposal, cultural centers, schools, housing, and urban interventions, the projects highlighted current conversations within the design community, and spoke to how the design profession is engaging with the world at large. Jurors Teddy Cruz; Stan Field, Int’l Assoc. AIA; Simon Frommenwiler; Johanna Hurme; Richard Maimon, FAIA; Hadrian Predock; and Nick Winton sifted through 391 submissions to bestow awards in four categories: Architecture, Interiors, Projects, and Urban Design. After two days of deliberation, the seven jurors gathered for a panel on Monday night, moderated by Beatrice Galilee, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design for the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to discuss how each of the 35 winning entries uniquely contribute to the design conversation. Continue reading “Zeitgeist Microclimate: 2015 AIANY Design Awards Jury Symposium”

Inside “Prague Functionalism”

Zdeněk Lukeš, curator of “Prague Functionalism: Tradition and Contemporary Echoes,” began his tour of the exhibition on 2.13.15, with a discussion of the Tugenhadt House, a famous prototype of Modernism in the present-day Czech Republic. Designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1932, while he was director of the Bauhaus, the Tugenhadt House exemplified the cross-pollination of avant-garde design philosophy across Europe that buttressed the Functionalist movement in Prague. Continue reading “Inside “Prague Functionalism””

Thwarting the Perfect Storm

If New Yorkers were surprised by the breadth of destruction Hurricane Sandy brought, climate scientists are generally in agreement that coastal natural disasters will only increase in severity over the coming years. As many as 50% of Americans presently live in coastal cities, as AIANY President Tomas Rossant, AIA, noted in his introduction to the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee’s event, “Looking Inland: Planning for Protection of At-Risk Coastal Cities,” at the Center on 01.29.15. That staggering number serves to underline the necessity of creating more resilient urban coastlines. Rossant opened the evening by noting that the city government is enacting policy shifts, including Mayor de Blasio’s “80×50” plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Design professionals can (and many certainly have done) work to compound these efforts through self-directed “proactive policy directives,” as Rossant said. The speakers, who included urban designers, civil engineers, and landscape architects, each looked to the water’s edge to understand more fully how water and land interact in order to determine how to build stronger coastal cities. Continue reading “Thwarting the Perfect Storm”

2014 Deans’ Roundtable

Leadership was the theme of the night, as 13 deans from architecture schools around the New York area gathered for the 10th annual Deans’ Roundtable. Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, introduced the panel. Invoking his 2014 presidential theme of “Civic spirit: Civic Vision” as a guidepost for thinking about leadership within architectural education, Brown urged the panelists to think about the role that their institutions play in fostering communities and cities, both locally and internationally. He set the stage for a conversation amongst the deans in which ideas about pedagogy, professionalism, institutional structures, and the role of architectural practice within society unfolded.

Moderator Frances Bronet, senior vice president and provost of the University of Oregon and former dean of the School of Architecture, opened the panel by taking an informal poll of the audience, asking students, educators, and practicing architects to identify themselves by a show of hands. Bronet then acknowledged a particular subset of the audience – future architecture students – setting the stage for a recurring emphasis on the future of architectural education. Continue reading “2014 Deans’ Roundtable”

New York Reinvests in the New: New Practices New York 2014

New York would seem to be the ideal place for young, energetic architects to establish a practice. As a world capital of design, there is no shortage of development here – new skyscrapers are erected, old buildings reimagined, and civil infrastructure projects initiated. But with Goliath architecture firms like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and HOK offering steady and reliable, if not particularly innovative or challenging, designs, it can be difficult for new firms to get a foot in the door. With the pressures of the market economy underlying design decisions, developers and city agencies alike are likely to make a safe choice when it comes to architecture. But what is gained without taking risks? What happens to the cultural fabric of the city if architecture loses and its creative edge becomes relegated to a developer’s afterthought, or gets saddled with political dueling? How can New York combat the trend toward banality and encourage innovative design practices to take root here?

Such were the issues on the table at the panel discussion preceding the opening of “New Practices New York 2014” on 10.01.14. The exhibition, which comes out of a biennial competition hosted by the AIANY New Practices Committee, celebrates emerging New York architects who are swimming against the design tide in the city. Four of six of this year’s winners were on hand the night of the exhibition opening to present on their work and discuss how to make New York more hospitable to innovative design practices. The panel, moderated by Beatrice Galilee, curator of architecture and design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was alternately optimistic and cynical about the opportunities for architects to realize their exciting and experimental projects, but each presenter articulated a unique and definitive role for architects in society, offering insight into the gamut of work going on in New York. Continue reading “New York Reinvests in the New: New Practices New York 2014”