It’ll Take a Team to Design a Sustainable Future

Event: Multidisciplinary Innovation
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.04.09
Speakers: Phillip Anzalone — Assistant Director of Avery Fabrication and Material Conservation Laboratory, Columbia University; Craig Schwitter, PE — Principal, Buro Happold; Chuck Hoberman — Founder & President, Hoberman Associates; Tristan d’Estree Sterk — Founder, Office for Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau for Responsive Architecture (ORAMBRA)
Moderator: Nina Rappaport — Publications Director, Yale University School of Architecture
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Underwriter: The Center for Architecture Foundation; Patron: Con Edison; Lead American Council of Engineering Companies; Josef Gartner USA; Weidlinger Associates; Friend: Grimshaw

“Trusset Structural System” by Philip Anzalone, Cory Clarke, and aa64 (left); ORAMBRA’s “Actuated Tensegrity Structures” (right).

Courtesy AIANY

“I think that architecture students are hungry to learn more about sustainability,” stated Phillip Anzalone, assistant director of the Avery Fabrication and Material Conservation Laboratory at Columbia University. But, “today’s students don’t have a feeling for sustainability. They create sustainable projects; however, in reality, these projects don’t work,” added Craig Schwitter, PE, principal at Buro Happold. It is practicing designers and engineers who are collaborating to pave the way for a sustainable future with technological innovation.

Currently, Anzalone is researching how to incorporate greenhouse spaces into building systems in urban environments. He developed a “Trusset Structural System” at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation with Cory Clarke, director of electronic publishing at Columbia University, and aa64 in collaboration with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This lightweight structure can span distances with a high degree of flexibility.

After much technical training, integrated research, and experimentation, Buro Happold’s master plan of the City of Justice at Valdebebas Park in Madrid, expected to be complete in 2011, takes advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine by incorporating photovoltaics to harness solar energy. A collaboration with Hoberman Associates, the responsive façade maximizes translucency and natural shading to minimize solar gain. “Portability, instantaneous openings, and intelligent responsiveness” are other functions of the system’s ability to fold, retract, and shape-shift, Hoberman said.

Similar to Hoberman, Tristan d’Estree Sterk, founder of the Office for Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau for Responsive Architecture (ORAMBRA), is “interested in challenging the notion of structure and skin by using unlikely materials.” With a focus on the connection between engineering and architectural media, his “Actuated Tensegrity Structures” explore the limit of rigid structures in relation to dead loads. He developed prototypes that change shape in response to the weather and building occupants to have a minimum impact on the natural environment.

Guggenheim Receives Face Lift… From the Inside

Event: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Structural Evaluation and Repairs
Location: The Center for Architecture, NYC; 12.16.08
Speakers: Nancy Hudson — Robert Silman Associates
Organizers: Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum during renovation. With the paint removed, the cracks in the concrete are visible.

Jessica Sheridan

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright recently completed an extensive, three-year renovation. Conducted by Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers (RSA), the comprehensive structural assessment focused on the cantilevered ramps supported by radial walls that define the museum’s Main Rotunda. As an expression of reinforced concrete structural elements, restoring the cast-in-place concrete and sprayed gunite was no small feat — especially when attempting to stay true to Wright’s vision.

RSA’s analysis included $20 million-worth of structural analysis, repair, reconfigured mechanical work, and restored glazing and skylights. To preserve the building, the investigation involved laser scanning, non-destructive evaluation, probes, material testing by ICR (a coating evaluation program) and structural monitoring. A “Shell Model System” was constructed from laser scan data to investigate the museum’s as-built conditions. This finite elemental model mathematically examined existing geometry and material properties to analyze the structure under dead and live loads, as well as wind and temperature loads.

Results from the testing revealed deficiencies created by the original construction, such as voids in web walls and cracking. Because it was required that the museum stay open during the entire renovation process, and to stay as true as possible to Wright’s design intention, exterior repairs were limited. Carbon fiber reinforcing, steel brackets, and dampers were installed in the interior walls to allow the building to move more freely while maintaining the exterior’s smooth finish.

Architect, Computer Design Fantastical Buildings

Event: Current Work: Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix
Location: The Cooper Union, 11.20.08
Speakers: Wolf D. Prix, Hon. FAIA, FRIBA — Co-founder, Coop Himmelb(l)au
Moderator: Thom Mayne, FAIA — Principal, Morphosis
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

BMW Delivery Center, Munich, Germany.

Image by Ari Marcopoulos; courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

Practice is “not a color but an idea, of creating architecture with fantasy, as buoyant and variable as clouds,” reflected Wolf Prix, Hon. FAIA, FRIBA, of Coop Himmelb(l)au. During the last 40 years, the Vienna-based firm, founded by Prix with Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer, has tried to create an architecture with a “psychic” ground plan, not a physical one, characterized by walls that “no longer exist” and spaces that “are pulsating balloons.” With designs intended to expand the horizons of architecture and urbanism, Coop Himmelb(l)au’s projects are a result of the relationship between designers and computers. Prix explained, “During design development, we use modern technology as the main tool to create models, which are consequently dismantled and re-crafted with human energy [that then] projects back into the computer.”

Prix continued, “Coop Himmelb(l)au separates itself from other architecture firms because we don’t base our work on systems of measurement on the scale of human proportions. We create buildings from our fantasy that are often radically unconventional.” For the BMW Welt (BMW Delivery Center) in Munich, a glass-and-stainless steel structure has suspended bridges interconnecting components Prix calls “Forum, Tower, Double Cone, Lounge, Premiere, and Marina.” The design process involved re-crafting computer models over and over again to compensate for potential human fault. He described the building: “Our heartbeat becomes space; our face is the façade. Simply psychic.”

Studio Libeskind Designs with Global Perspective

Event: An Evening with Studio Daniel Libeskind; 2008 President’s Award Recipient
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.29.08
Speakers: James McCullar, FAIA — 2008 AIANY President; Rick Bell, FAIA — AIANY Executive Director; Nina Libeskind & Daniel Libeskind, AIA — Studio Daniel Libeskind, President’s Award Winner 2008
Organizers: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Kramer Levin

WTC site plan as of 01.29.08.

Image by Foster + Partners, courtesy of Silverstein Properties

Studio Daniel Libeskind received this year’s AIANY President’s Award for its significant contributions to the design of major international cultural buildings and urban projects. With this year’s Architecture Week theme in mind, “Architecture and Design: How to Create Sustainable Cities,” Nina and Daniel Libeskind, AIA, shared their thoughts on the development and importance of design across the globe.

With designs intended to expand the horizons of architecture and urbanism, the Libeskinds believe buildings and urban projects are crafted with human energy to speak to the larger cultural community. The public will see the symbolism of the WTC site once it is complete, he claimed. He regards the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, and his role in it, as a grand success with its global vision.

In general, the clients the firm chooses to work with share their goals; therefore, Nina, who is chief operating officer and partner, prefers working with clients in democratic states. The office itself is “full of passionate designers and a fun place to work.” Married and working together, the Libeskinds “are like a yin and yang — we always disagree with each other, but this is essential to develop new inspirations and push boundaries,” they said.

NYC Firms Design for Ordos with Global Concerns in Mind

Event: Ordos 13 — in conjunction with exhibition 13:100 | Thirteen New York Architects Design for Ordos
Location: The Urban Center, 10.17.08
Speakers: Gregory Wessner — Digital Programs & Exhibitions Director, The Architectural League of New York; Lyn Rice, AIA — Founder, Lyn Rice Architects; Pablo Castro — OBRA Architects; Daniel Holguin & Issei Suma — Multiplicities; Hayes Slade & James Slade, AIA — Principals & Founders, Slade Architecture; Alexandra Barker, AIA — Principal, Barker Freeman Design Office; Keller Easterling — Keller Easterling; Josh Uhl, AIA — Associate, Toshiko Mori Architect; Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss — Founder & Partner, Normal Architecture Office; Rodrigo Vidal — rsvp architects; Eric Bunge, AIA — Partner, nARCHITECTS; Jinhee Park, AIA, & John Hong, AIA — Principals, SINGLE speed DESIGN; Paul Lewis, AIA, Marc Tsurumaki, AIA, David Lewis — Partners, Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis; Dan Wood, AIA — Principal, WORKac
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

13 NY-based firms’ designs for Ordos are on view at the Urban Center.

Courtesy The Architectural League of New York

The design phase has come to end in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, where 100 international firms are each designing 1,000-square-meter villas within 100 days without constraints of a client. In 13:100 | Thirteen New York Architects Design for Ordos, designed by Project_ at the Urban Center, the 13 NY-based architects participating in the project have been given 1/100 of the gallery to present their villas in images, texts, drawings, and a 1:100 scale model. Recently, they were given more restraints: each firm could present 15 slides shown for 15 seconds.

Every presentation was different, emblematic of the various styles of the firms (perhaps most unique was Slade Architecture, who planted staff in the audience to shout words timed with the slides), but what one could take away from the presentation was a sense that, regardless of the size of the homes, Ordos amplifies contemporary concerns about ecology, economy, inequity, celebrity, and cultural hegemony. For example, Eight Towers by SINGLE speed DESIGN features energy-efficient design. As the title implies, the villa consists of eight towers that connect at different points, each symbolizing a different use. The idea is that when one tower is occupied, the others do not need to be consuming energy.

Lyn Rice Architects is focusing on one of Ordo’s environmental issues — trying to control regional erosion. The design of Villa 007, on what used to be a meadow, consists of three landscaped courts that shape the glazed-concrete villa.

The Villa-Villa, or “a House in a House” as described by Eric Bunge, AIA, of nARCHITECTS, responds to Ordos’ extreme climate by expanding and contracting with the temperature. In inclement weather, the “Inner House” compactly holds the essentials of living while the “Outer House” provides an extra layer of shelter. In temperate weather, the residents can expand their dwelling to the “Outer House,” an outdoor-like environment.