Big Dreams: The Master Plan in Architecture

A developer, an architect, an urban planner, and a professor of urban planning were rounded up by architect Diane Lewis on 03.18.15 for a mash-up of diverse takes on what the city ought to look like.

Lewis began with discomfort over the term “master plan” as it connotes Modernist carte blanche planning, which nevertheless constituted many of the master plans in Lewis’s survey of 20th-century plans. Her taxonomy included nine discreet types. Continue reading “Big Dreams: The Master Plan in Architecture”

Culture Mapping: Space and Practice

On 06.24.14, Beatrice Galilee, the newly-appointed associate curator of architecture and design in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, moderated a discussion about the relationship between the production of architecture and art. The three invited speakers included two architects and one graphic designer; these three are also two painters and one sculptor. Continue reading “Culture Mapping: Space and Practice”

Smart Cities, Smart Citizens

Two mayors and a university professor met at the Center for Architecture on 12.12.13 to discuss the changing nature of cities in the wake of technological advances. The theme of the evening was simple: cell phones, their ubiquity, the opportunities they present, and the demands they place on cities to respond. AIANY 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, commenced with a statistic on the world population of 7.13 billion, citing the number of cell phones in the world as a close second to that number. In fact, the number of cell phones is expected to exceed the world’s population by next year (Silicon India). Continue reading “Smart Cities, Smart Citizens”

Nimble and Flexible, Small Firms Go Global

Nine New York-based architects got together at the Center for Architecture to talk about the intersection of their small practices with work that takes them around the globe. Often it’s their smaller size that allows them to work more flexibly within unexpected constraints and conditions. From conversations about how small firms can market themselves globally, to discussions about sourcing labor and materials, each experience was a unique take on navigating uncharted territories. Continue reading “Nimble and Flexible, Small Firms Go Global”

One Year Out: A Progress Check on Sandy

Nearing the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the AIA New York Chapter, Architecture for Humanity, and Cooper Union organized a symposium to report on and measure programs in place and steps still to be taken in the wake of the 2012 storms. The focus was resiliency, with the speakers presenting work done so far – and work still to do – in exploring approaches for future resiliency. Continue reading “One Year Out: A Progress Check on Sandy”

Road Map for the Future of the City: Jill Lerner and Lance Jay Brown in Conversation

Each chair at the 05.03.13 “Future of the City” exhibition preview at the Center for Architecture – presented as a part of the IDEAS CITY Festival – was loaded with publications. A jam-packed schedule for the festival lay in between copies of AIANY’s Post-Sandy Initiative Report, along with its A Platform for the Future of the City. Continue reading “Road Map for the Future of the City: Jill Lerner and Lance Jay Brown in Conversation”

Cocktails & Conversations: “The Ones that Got Away” with Audrey Matlock, FAIA, Jason Sheftell, and Toby Cecchini

Toby Cecchini continued his investigation of the relationship between alcohol and architecture at the fourth Cocktails and Conversation event with a trick of the senses. “One of my duties as a bartender is to open up people’s eyes, he said, and when he found out that architect Audrey Matlock, FAIA, had a distaste for Scotch, he decided to dedicate a drink to her with a particularly peaty variety. Because Matlock prefers more dainty beverages, Cecchini mixed a dark and stormy with a twist classic lime cordial (which, he said, can only be made from scratch) with Plantation Barbados Rum, Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum, fresh ginger, limes, simple syrup, and a touch of soda. The trick he played was in aromatics: he added a few drops of Laphroaig Scotch, a heavy island malt that smells more than any other Scotch I’ve tried, much like delicious rotting earth. The result was quite a ruse: a cocktail that smelled like a Scotch and tasted like a lime cordial. Continue reading “Cocktails & Conversations: “The Ones that Got Away” with Audrey Matlock, FAIA, Jason Sheftell, and Toby Cecchini”

Let’s Make Some Money: Rethinking the Architect as Entrepreneur

Dedicated to exposing new and evolving forms of architecture, the AIANY New Practices Committee organized the panel discussion “RE:THINK Profit” to do just that. Speakers’ firm sizes ranged from a two-person practice to a 600-person global architecture firm. Chris Leong, director of the firm Leong Leong and New Practices co-chair introduced the event and posed the question “How can young architects approach the market?” to a panel made up of both architects and non-architects, all of whom were self-described entrepreneurs. The responses, though various, all touched on the issue of branding. Continue reading “Let’s Make Some Money: Rethinking the Architect as Entrepreneur”

Architectural Niceties: Cocktails & Conversations with Craig Dykers, William Menking, and Toby Cecchini

How do you design a cocktail based on architecture? For cultureNOW and AIANY Architecture Dialogue Committee’s second session of Cocktails & Conversations, Toby Cecchini attempted just that, using the work of the Snøhetta as inspiration. Cecchini juxtaposed the architecture firm’s Norwegian origins with love of beer (its Lower Manhattan office has a permanent beer tap). The Norwegian element was also represented by a classic aquavit sour (the traditional Scandinavian spirit made by Portland-based House Spirits, along with lemon juice, Golden Harvest honey syrup, and fresh ginger juice). The addition of beer created a piquant, complex taste, rimmed with salt, spice, and orange zest. Continue reading “Architectural Niceties: Cocktails & Conversations with Craig Dykers, William Menking, and Toby Cecchini”

Raise a Glass to New York

Davidson and Renfro discuss architecture in New York while a full house looks on.

Greta Hansen

Event: Cocktails & Conversations
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.16.12
Speakers: Charles Renfro, AIA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Justin Davidson, New York Magazine
Cocktails by: Toby Cecchini, Bartender & Author
Organizer: cultureNOW and the AIANY Architectural Dialogues Committee
Sponsors: MechoSystems and Porcelanosa

Cocktails & Conversations, a new series at the Center for Architecture, encourages especially-pointed architectural discussion by pairing architects with journalists. The lubricant? A custom-concocted cocktail at each Friday evening event.

For the inaugural discussion, Charles Renfro, AIA, a partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), joined Justin Davidson, classical music and architecture critic for New York Magazine, for a discussion over a mystery whiskey drink. After an introduction to the yet-to-be-named cocktail of the evening by bartender and author Toby Cecchini, Renfro presented a few well-known and some unseen projects by his firm.

When Davidson asked whether or not it is true that architects don’t often do their best work in the city, Renfro agreed – in the case of non-New York architects. But, he said, “New York has benefited from a really enlightened city government” – the best design here is made by locals (such as DS+R, of course, a decidedly New York firm).

In a discussion about New York architecture, the word “contextualism” definitely found its place. Agreeing that the city seems to call out for “provocative juxtaposition,” Davidson and Renfro added that thoughtful risk-taking should take place even within the order of New York’s contextual fabric. But what about a designing in a contextual void, as in DS+R’s upcoming projects for the last phase of the High Line, which will wrap around the new Hudson Yards development and their “Culture Shed,” a new museum, exhibition, and performance space within the development? “We have to anticipate how our buildings will interact. And not just with brick contexts: 80 new condominium projects are going up around the High Line.”

Davidson continued by naming a contextual epidemic of city rebuilding: glass. “It’s a given that every time you demolish a building you’re going to get a glass building instead.” Renfro admitted that glass is often “a cheap shot,” but mused over the possibilities of a more profound take on the material: “Hopefully we can look forward to an enlightened view of glass. You can see through it, you can make it opaque, you can turn its opacity off and on, you can still break it… and you can drink from it.” Cheers!

But what, exactly, was the name of the cocktail we were sipping? Audience suggestions included: “The Skin Job,” “The Reverse Mullet,” and “The Architect’s Demise,” all contextually relevant to the conversation. “High Line Grass,” however, was my favorite – a nod to the local ingredient of the cocktail taken directly from the park’s gardens.