AIANY Honors Winners of the 2012 Design Awards

Event: AIANY Design Awards 2012 Juror Symposium
Speakers: Thomas H. Beeby, FAIA—Principal-in-Charge of Design, Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge; Rand L. Elliott, FAIA—President, Elliott + Associates Architects; Scott Erdy, AIA—Principal, Erdy McHenry Architecture; Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA—Principal, Arquitectonica; Anne Fougeron, FAIA—Principal, Fougeron Architecture; Thomas Hacker, FAIA—Founding Principal, THA; Alice Y. Kimm, FAIA—Partner, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK); Gary L. Lee—Founder and President, Gary Lee Partners; Michael Lehrer, FAIA—Principal, Lehrer Architects; Bruce Lindsey, AIA—Dean, College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University; Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA—Eva Li Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California Berkeley; Carme Pinós, Hon. FAIA—Principal, Estudio Carme Pinós
Moderator: Alexandra Lange
Organizer: AIA New York Chapter
Sponsors: Ennead Architects, Porcelanosa (Patrons)
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.05.12

The full list of winners of the 2012 AIANY Design Awards can be found here.

Last week, on a warm and spring-like day, 12 architects, educators, and designers gathered at the Center for Architecture to decide the winners of the 2012 AIA New York Chapter’s Design Awards. In the evening, following a full day of debate that narrowed the field to the 36 projects chosen for Honor and Merit Awards, the jury joined architecture critic and historian Alexandra Lange for a symposium to announce and discuss the winning designs.

Jurors considered designs in four categories, eventually choosing two Honors Awards in Architecture, three in Interiors, three in Un-Built Work, and two in Urban Design. According to the rules, the submitted projects had to be completed by architects or designers practicing in New York, or be New York City projects designed by architects or designers based elsewhere. This year, the premiated work was drawn from 391 entries, almost half of which were in the Architecture category.

Several of the jurors emphasized the generosity to the public realm, and to the users of the buildings, that the chosen projects exhibited. As juror Carme Pinós, Hon. FAIA, summarized, “We didn’t reward the most spectacular architectural gestures. Rather, in many of the projects, the form results from the users, and from a sense for how people inside might feel.” Jurors also spoke of the importance of architecture in shaping the city. Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA, in discussing Interboro Partners’ Holding Pattern at PS1, described the power of design to contribute to civic life, saying, “Urban design is a process of projecting what the public realm can become, which necessarily includes the initiatives of many people.”

Many of the winning projects retain a sense of modesty, characterized by a subtle negotiation with their contexts, even as they powerfully reshape their sites. Juror Bruce Lindsey, AIA, expressed his appreciation for the Hirshhorn Museum Seasonal Inflatable Pavilion by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and KlingStubbins, noting how it transforms the building without harming it through a simple move that is also temporary. Lange observed that many of the projects selected in the Un-built category, including the Hirshhorn, are provocative but still realizable. Considering the range of projects, she remarked, “The winners are not the most zany of the entries, and are actually very appropriate, for example, in their reuse of existing buildings, or in their approach to the context of their site.”

Nonetheless, the work selected for awards consistently demonstrates a well-resolved aesthetic and conceptual clarity. Discussing an interior by SO-IL and Formactiv, juror Alice Kimm, FAIA, noted, “The projects we chose all do something in a strong way, whether with program, space, light, or material. What interested us in interiors was that there is often more room for invention than in projects that are more purely architectural.” Many of the chosen interiors went beyond superficial treatments to address the organization and circulation of their buildings, and provide new interpretations of the spaces in which they intervened.

Indeed, a commonality in much of the chosen work is a desire to act on its context, and to enliven the city, whether by introducing new programs or by acting on ideas and perceptions. As juror Michael Lehrer, FAIA suggested, “One of the most important things that design can do is to affect how people see things.” In celebrating these projects, the 2012 AIANY Design Awards perhaps reflected a larger cultural shift, recently noted elsewhere, toward considerations of architecture’s role in civic culture.

Benedict Clouette is a writer and the editor of e-Oculus.

Center for Architecture Opens Two Exhibitions on the Middle East

Opening at the Center for Architecture for “CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-present” and “City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982”

Sam Lahoz

Event: Opening for “CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-present” and “City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.22.12
Speakers: AIANY President Joesph J. Aliotta, AIA; AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA; Pedro Azara, curator of City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982; Malwina Łyś-Dobradin, Director for Global Network Programming, Columbia University GSAPP; Craig Konyk, AIA, Principal, KONYK; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture, GSAPP
Performance by: Heather Raffo and Salaam
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Benefactor: A Estéban & Company
Lead Sponsor: Buro Happold
Sponsors: Eytan Kaufman Design and Development; FXFOWLE
Supporters: Arup; Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Dewan Architects & Engineers; GAD; HDR; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; NAGA Architects; Ramla Benaissa Architects; RBSD Architects; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; World Monuments Fund; Zardman

The Center for Architecture welcomed more than 500 guests for the opening of two exhibitions on architecture in the Middle East. The exhibitions—“CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East” and “City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982”—present a variety of work in the region, both historical and contemporary.

“City of Mirages” offers a survey of projects for Baghdad, both built and unbuilt, from the city’s golden era following the discovery of oil in 1952 and prior to the Iran-Iraq War. Baghdad in these years was a cosmopolitan city in the midst of rapid modernization, a boom town that drew the most prestigious international architects of the day. The exhibition features models and drawings of buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto, José Luis Sert, Gio Ponti, Willem Dudok, and Alison and Peter Smithson, among others. Notable surprises include Le Corbusier’s partially realized Saddam Hussein Sports Complex, and a mass housing project by Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown that was constructed without the firm’s knowledge. Built work includes large scale urban projects for the campus of the University of Baghdad by Gropius and The Architects’ Collaborative and the public housing designs by Constantinos Doxiadis that later became the infamous Sadr City. These projects are visible in a six-foot wide site model built by students at the University of Baghdad.

The second exhibition, “CHANGE,” presents a snapshot of contemporary architectural design in the region. The work in the show was submitted in response to an open call by the Center, and includes projects by AIANY members, AIA members across the United States, and architects and engineers practicing in the Middle East. “CHANGE” forms a fitting counterpart to “City of Mirages,” documenting a moment of accelerated transformation marked by ambitious urban projects and a convergence of international architecture and engineering offices, not unlike the earlier era in Baghdad.

The evening closed with musical performances by the group Salaam and Heather Raffo, an Iraqi-American actress and playwright.

In Search of Public Space

Zuccotti Park in October, 2011

Wendi Anabell Photo / Creative Commons

Event: Freedom of Assembly: Public Space Today Redux
Rick Bell, FAIA, Executive Director, AIANY (introduction); Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, ACSA, Distinguished Professor in the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York (moderator); Thomas Balsley, FASLA, Principal, Thomas Balsley Associates; Marshall Berman, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, Division of Social Science, The City College of New York; Paul Broches, FAIA, Partner, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects; Susan Chin, FAIA, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space; Jeffrey Hou, Associate Professor, Chair, Landscape Architecture, University of Washington; Jerold Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, GSD; Jonathan Marvel, FAIA, Rogers Marvel Architects; Paula Z. Segal, law graduate, #whOWNSpace collaborator, founder of; Ron Shiffman, FAICP, Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (closing remarks); Lynne Elizabeth, Director, New Village Press (closing remarks)
Center for Architecture, City College of New York School of Architecture, and Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.
Center for Architecture, 02.04.12

From the Arab Spring to the Spanish indignados and the Greek anti-austerity protests, the past year saw a number of social movements take to the streets (and plazas, parks, and squares). Closer to home, Occupy Wall Street tested the limits of the right to freely and peacefully assemble, and launched Zuccotti Park to the forefront of a debate, in New York and around the world, on the importance of public spaces in the political life of cities.

Prompted by the protests, a recent discussion hosted by the Center posed a series of questions: Where is public space in New York today? What is public space, and what makes it feel public? Can it be designed, or only enacted? How do laws and regulations expand or limit “public-ness,” and how can citizens use these laws to exercise their rights? Continuing the conversation from an earlier panel at the Center, the event brought together architects, landscape architects, political philosophers, and activists to discuss public space and the role of design in democratic society.

Thomas Balsley, FASLA, landscape architect of many New York POPSs (Privately-Owned Public Spaces), asked why New York, unlike most great cities, has no civic arena where large numbers of people can congregate for protest and public discussion, and called on designers to “wade into the morass” of complex stakeholder interests and political intrigues in order to ensure the success of urban public spaces.

The messiness of public spaces, and the conflicts and politics surrounding them, was a theme taken up by several of the speakers. Political philosopher Marshall Berman spoke about the “sloppiness” of the Athenian agora—the cacophony of its street vendors, poets, politicians, and musicians—and how its disorder was perhaps democratic, in that it allowed for a greater freedom of expression, and more vital encounters, than the orderly, planned civic spaces of other Greek cities. Berman noted that the qualities of the Athenian agora happened by accident rather than being designed.

Similarly, several speakers pointed to the difference between public spaces that are officially sanctioned and designed and those that are created by collective actions, such as the occupation of Zuccotti Park. Jeffrey Hou made the distinction between “institutional” public spaces—those that are officially recognized and legally protected—and “insurgent” public spaces created by groups of ordinary citizens appropriating a site, often without the permission of the authorities. Jerold Kayden suggested there was an inherent contradiction in designing spaces for political protest, in that to designate an area for political demonstrations absorbs the subversive act of protest. “One could even make the argument that the more a space is designed to repel public use, the better the opportunity for protest at that space,” Kayden suggested.

Indeed, one of the virtues of the Occupy movement has been to target sites that, in the act of occupation, reveal the ironies of contemporary public space. Zuccotti Park, a POPS owned by Brookfield Properties, became (for some) a symbol of the erosion of a truly public domain through public-private partnerships and real estate interests. In that sense, its choice as a site of protest could not have been better. At the same time, its legal status as a POPS enabled a form of protest that a publicly-owned park would not, thanks to zoning laws that require POPSs to remain open 24 hours a day, despite being private property. The ambiguous “public-ness” of Zuccotti demonstrated an axiom of public space: like the agora, public space exists where people enact it, where they create a public sphere. Public space can be designed, but it must also happen, and when it does, it’s often messy.

Benedict Clouette is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Domus, Volume Magazine, and DAMn. He is the incoming editor of e-Oculus.

BREAKTHROUGH: The Center for Architecture Expands to New Space

Location: Center for Architecture, 01.17.12
Speakers: Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP — 2012 AIANY President; Michael Strauss — President, Center for Architecture Foundation; Jaime Endreny — Executive Director, Center for Architecture Foundation; Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY
Organizers: AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation


A view of LaGuardia Place looking toward the expanded Center for Architecture.

Sam Lahoz

AIANY and the Center for Architecture Foundation welcomed more than 200 guests for the debut of the expanded Center for Architecture. The event, BREAKTHROUGH, celebrated the joining of the original Center with the adjacent storefront at 532 LaGuardia Place.

The new space, designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, will provide an additional 1,200 square feet of ground-floor area for the Center’s activities, including events and receptions, as well as AIANY committee meetings and programs run by the Foundation. Like the Center’s other meeting rooms it will also be available for rent, offering supplementary revenue to support the Center.

At the breakthrough, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, quoted The Doors’ classic “Break on Through” to kick off the party. AIANY President Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP, said that the Center, which hosts more than 1,000 events annually, has outgrown its current home, and that the expansion is an important step for the future of the Chapter and the Foundation. Foundation President Michael Strauss agreed, saying that an expanded Center would help bring together the Foundation and AIANY, and allow them to better serve their constituents and the public.

Author Tony Hiss commented on the significance of the expansion for the Center’s mission. In the guest book he wrote, “Breakthrough — to me — means a permanent increase in understanding — the kind of insights the Center and the Expanded Center have brought and will bring to New York.”

For some of the party’s guests, the extension offers a new quality of space. Noushin Ehsan, AIA, remarked, “It’s a different kind of room, more intimate. It gathers people together, and is a good complement to the original building.”

Since opening, the extension has accommodated several committee meetings and two workshops for schoolchildren run by the Foundation, with more planned in the coming weeks.