An Inter-European, Interwar Modernity

Professor Vladimír Šlapeta’s brilliant 45-minute survey was a crash course in Czechoslovakian Modernism. More than an introduction, but admittedly not an in-depth analysis. Šlapeta took the audience on a whirlwind architectural tour from the 1920s until 1938. This fecund interwar period resulted from a heightened national spirit and cross-fertilization with French Cubists and the Amsterdam School. Additionally, in 1923, Le Corbusier’s L’Esprit Nouveau was introduced to Czechoslovakia with “enormous impact.” This combination of influences led the way from form-follows-function to a more Cubist architecture. According to Šlapeta, when Le Corbusier visited Prague he was shocked that these Modernist ideas were implemented at such a large scale, though he simultaneously criticized the work for falling short of “architecture” by not including ramps. Continue reading “An Inter-European, Interwar Modernity”

Conversing About Kiley

There’s an old joke among architects (based on a Frank Lloyd Wright quip) that if a client doesn’t like the building, they can plant ivy. This may, in part, explain architects’ apparent hesitancy to work with landscape architects until relatively recently. However, M. Paul Friedberg, FASLA, explained that Dan Kiley’s relationships with architects showed that landscaping could enhance a building’s setting and extend its presence. Continue reading “Conversing About Kiley”

Risky Business

“New Modes of Profit” brought together four practitioners who have diversified their architectural business practices to reap more rewards, or was it risk?

In the third of the series “Dialogues from the Edge of Practice,” AIANY 2015 President Tomas Rossant, AIA, provoked the speakers and audience by comparing Alberti “the delineator” (theory) to Brunelleschi “the maker” (practice). Both expanded the field of architecture, one by showing what could be done and the other by doing it. Their innovations in practice, Rossant claimed, show that “business should be seen as a design problem.” Continue reading “Risky Business”

Lina Bo Bardi’s Popular Rise

It was a coincidental night – the first day of spring, five inches of snow, the 100th anniversary of Lina Bo Bardi’s birth, and, to the day, the 23rd anniversary of her death – that brought together some who knew her well to share tales of Bo Bardi’s life and legacy.

To supplement his own education, Dr. Zeuler Lima began investigating Bo Bardi to uncover how one could design as she did. The results show in numerous exhibitions, a film, and a biography that he has produced. Because her interests were so eclectic, Lima devised a timeline that charted her polymath activities; what he found supports Bo Bardi’s conviction of “life as a work of art.” Zeuler showed his documentary film, which focuses on Bo Bardi’s exhibition and curatorial activities and reveals her democratic views on art, artifact, and craft. Continue reading “Lina Bo Bardi’s Popular Rise”

Infrastructure IQ

Each city uniquely defines what “smart” means depending on its own characteristics. David Klingberg, CEO of David Lock Associates, presented six guiding aspects: governance, economy, people, environment, living, and mobility. Klingberg and Ian Stott, principal consultant of Integrated Transportation Planning, addressed issues and challenges of planning for “better cities using a smart cities framework.” Continue reading “Infrastructure IQ”

Tap into Digital Space

Building on his previous presentations in the Transforming Architectural Practice (TAP) series, Campbell Hyers, CEO and co-founder of Control Group, returned to the Center for Architecture to further reveal how digital infrastructure is disappearing, to paraphrase Google CEO Eric Schmitt. Hyers presented a number of projects and, more importantly, processes that show how the Internet is “being absorbed in the world around us.” This vanishing digital infrastructure will help people navigate, shop, and communicate – and also maintain the civic realm. Continue reading “Tap into Digital Space”

Build Me a Story

The evening’s lecture, occasioned by the book release of What If…?: The Architecture and Design of David Rockwell, brought together stage director Jack O’Brien and director of space David Rockwell, AIA. Moderator and monograph editor Chee Pearlman noted that they “collaborate in theater and create worlds.”

Discussing the campfire story origins of theater, O’Brien explained the need to exceed previous versions, noting that theater “will always need a ‘where,’ and nobody gives better ‘wheres’ than David.” While Rockwell admitted that he started as a fan of “live experience in a place with a story,” one aspect keeping his interest is that theater is an early adopter of technology, from Walter Gropius and Josef Urban to Robert Lepage’s recent Ring Cycle, and lighting to lasers to overly complicated robotics. Continue reading “Build Me a Story”

Two Cools for School

New schools are often touted as being built for the communities in which they are built; however, many merely provide seats for increasing populations. Two recent schools show what it takes to become community resources. The New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx resulted from a design collaboration between Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects and Dattner Architects; each was appointed by New Settlement and the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA), respectively. The Henderson-Hopkins School by Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers is an early step in revitalizing an East Baltimore neighborhood. By engaging the community from the start, they became the community schools they are. Continue reading “Two Cools for School”

Infinite Diversities

Characterized by various viewpoints, approaches, and processes, Kaleidoscope, an all-female Norwegian-Finnish architecture collective, synthesizes architecture and art through inter- and cross-disciplinary practices. Kati Laakso, cultural attaché at Consulate General of Finland in New York, introduced the group as one that deftly approaches the debate of architecture, urbanism, and city planning, a debate she finds particularly acute in Finland, as recently highlighted by the Guggenheim Helsinki competition.

The group introduced its approach to the standing-room-only audience with its winning entry for Europan 12. The master plan provides a framework for a national heritage site in Asker, Norway, containing an abandoned psychiatric hospital. The collaborative devised seven strategies and programs that would create a framework to revitalize the area. From landscaping and open spaces to a university outpost, permanent dwellings, and tourist lodging, the variety of uses and populations would support a self-sustaining town reminiscent of mixed-use cultural districts. Continue reading “Infinite Diversities”

Melting Pot

Searching for what defines “milieu” and “identity,” the program “Fondue Pot Stickers: Divergent Voices” tackled a number of academic and philosophical issues in architectural processes and works. Hashim Sarkis, the evening’s moderator, inquired into whether geographic, institutional, or professional environments and situations define one’s practice. The introduction set the tone that resonated between proclamation and inquiry, an ambiguity that pervaded the evening. Continue reading “Melting Pot”