2011 AIA Convention: Sustainability, Livability, and Political Will

Two programs offered two sides of the same coin with a message about what design professionals, government and civic leaders, and citizens need to focus on to create livable, sustainable communities. From the design/planning side Hillary A. Brown, FAIA, LEED AP, principal of NYC-based New Civic Works, and James S. Russell, FAIA, architecture critic for Bloomberg News, presented “Next Generation Green: Sustainable Communities and Infrastructure.” On the political side, former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, Salt Lake City Council Member Søren D. Simonsen, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, and Colorado State Representative Cheri Gerou, FAIA, discussed “Transitioning Iconic Urban Centers through Political, Community, and Design Leadership.”

Brown’s report focused on research directions and emerging trends for post-industrial infrastructure, and offered principles and guidelines for the next generation. She blamed the current (sad) state of infrastructure on “siloed thinking” that makes it “vulnerable” to politics and “locks us into long-term, carbon-intensive conventional public and private investments.” It was a whirlwind presentation, replete with numerous case studies, of what will be detailed in her forthcoming book from Island Press (2012), Infrastructural Ecologies: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works (a preview of the book, much of it included in her presentation, can be read here). Russell (whose latest book, The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change, made its debut at the convention), highlighted transportation, describing it as being “a bit primitive in the U.S.” His presentation was rich with examples of projects — mostly overseas — that are “diverse, layered, multi-modal, and multi-functional.” He pondered: “Why can’t America build this way?” It’s our “one-size-fits-all mentality” with agencies that don’t work together and their failure to recognize the benefits that come with “shared landscapes” involving transportation and water, power, and land use management as urban amenities. “The whole can be more than the sum of its parts,” he said. If architects are to expand their role in infrastructure projects, “we need to change the status quo — advocate, envision, participate in the political process.”

A very similar message was delivered by Jeremy Harris, the former mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, who said that “our land use policies are flawed.” The main culprit: “Our cities have been built around cars instead of people because we base decisions on engineering instead of design.” He called for new design leadership to not force but encourage the political will to mandate sustainable strategies with a systems approach. He filled his own cabinet with architects instead of engineers, and described how architects in the private sector led to the revitalization of Waikiki’s urban core by promoting citizen empowerment and developing urban design and green guidelines and energy codes. He urged architects to “get on the radar screens of politicians.” A few concrete tactics: set up a Mayor’s Awards Program or a Mayor’s Design Charrette or Community Visioning Sessions. This makes the architect a mayor’s advocate rather than adversary. “Let the mayor take the credit. Then he or she will start to understand that you are valuable.” Unfortunately, the program got off to a late start, and the two architect/politicians on the panel got short shrift: yours truly had to bow out just as Salt Lake City Council Member Søren D. Simonsen, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, started explaining the mission and accomplishments of the Envision Utah initiative, “an unprecedented public effort” launched in 1997. Sadly, we cannot report on what pearls of wisdom Colorado State Representative Cheri Gerou, FAIA, may have proffered.

So Says… Bill Moggridge

Cover image by Iwan Baan (left); Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum (right)

British-born Bill Moggridge is into his second year as director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. As an industrial designer, he is considered a pioneer in the discipline he coined “interaction design.” Among his many achievements since founding his own industrial design firm in London in the late 1960s, he is credited with designing the GRiD Compass, the first laptop computer, in 1982, and co-founding the Paolo Alto, CA-based international (and influential) multidisciplinary design consultancy IDEO in 1991. Moggridge received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Awards at the White House in 2009, and the U.K.’s 2010 Prince Philip Designers Prize. OCULUS Editor Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, recently caught up with the very busy man — via e-mail — to find out what’s on the horizon for him, the Cooper-Hewitt, and design in general.

Kristen Richards: You served as a trustee of the Design Museum in London in the early 1990s, and now you’re the first practitioner to head the Cooper-Hewitt. Did you ever imagine yourself as a museum director?

Bill Moggridge: Since Tim Brown took over as CEO of IDEO in 2000, my management responsibilities were greatly reduced, because he and the other younger people on his team were doing such a great job! I found myself with the time to develop my interest in trying to explain design, writing books, giving conference presentations, teaching, and so on. When I heard that the position was open at Cooper-Hewitt, it occurred to me that this might give me the chance to explain design to a broader audience, so I applied for the position. I’m glad they accepted me!

KR: How will Cooper-Hewitt continue to function when it closes to the public for renovations (by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners), from the late summer of 2011 to mid 2013?

BM: We are thinking of ourselves as “on the move,” with the RE:DESIGN program for the Carnegie Mansion giving us the chance to spread our wings and expand our activities outside the campus, both virtually and physically. The renovation of the two townhouses that are connected to the Mansion will be complete before work starts on the mansion. All of our staff, including our educational department, will move into them this summer, along with the National Design Library and the MA Program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design, so that we can all continue to serve our public during the renovation.

We are planning some major shows in other venues, the first of which will be “Design with the Other 90%: Cities,” opening on 10.15.11, at the United Nations. We are also exploring possibilities for a downtown location for programming and retail.


So Says… Bill Moggridge (continued)

KR: What are the difficulties caused by operating out of a building designed originally for a different purpose, a different time, a different world? How does the renovation address these problems?

BM: When Charles Eames was interviewed by Mme. Amic [in 1972], she asked: “Does the creation of design admit constraint?” He replied, “Design depends largely on constraints.” In response to the constraints, our building helps us solve design problems with a little more rigor than a modern alternative might.

The renovation will give us more flexibility, with 60% more space for exhibitions, and a new “white-space” gallery on the third floor, providing a large open area for major shows without altering the fabric of the building.

KR: What are your plans for expanding the audience of the Cooper-Hewitt? In a 2010 New York Times Museums supplement, Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, suggested that it is good to build upon one’s core constituency, but necessary to go beyond it. Do you agree, and if so, what are you doing about it?

BM: Our core constituency includes the professional design community, design educators, and students, as well as all the people who are interested in our collections and the mansion. As we develop as more of a national design resource and international design authority, we will expand our audience to include leaders from both companies and organizations and a greater percentage of the general public.

KR: Last year, when Jason Schupbach was new to his role as Design Director at the National Endowment for the Arts, you convened the leaders of all the architecture and design organizations in NYC. Was there a purpose to the meeting, other than introducing Jason to colleagues? What, if anything, was achieved during the discussion?

BM: We have established a collaborative partnership with Jason at the NEA, as we can help to explain design in different ways. The NEA can support projects through funding and we can help with content and expertise.

KR: I’d like your take on three questions posed to architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Hon. AIA, in a recent interview in The Atlantic. First, what new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on the design world?

BM: Increasing connectivity due to the Internet and cell phone networks. The world seems much smaller as we are so much more connected to each other.

KR: Second: what’s an emerging trend that you think will shake up the architecture world?

BM: The context for architectural practice is expanding from the design of the built environment to the design of social innovation.

KR: And third: what is an architecture or design trend pushing designers to change?

BM: Our solution space is getting more and more complicated, leading to increasing specialism. This in turn tends to isolate designers from the full scope of problems and solutions. This trend can be balanced by more collaboration across specialties and disciplines.

KR: IDEO.ORG is launching in fall — are you involved? How important is socially responsible design — in architecture and products — in your book? Do you think there’s too much “lip-service” about it, or is it being taken seriously?

BM: This initiative was put in place after I moved to NY, but IDEO was working in the social innovation space before that. See for example the “Human Centered Design Toolkit,” a free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs worldwide, sponsored by the Gates Foundation. There is a lot of talk about social innovation, but as with most ideas that are recently popular, there are not so many successful practitioners yet. Let’s hope that the expertise grows over time.

KR: What is your favorite work of architecture — and why?

BM: When arriving in London after an overnight flight, I usually go straight to the Tate Modern, approaching the building by crossing the delicate and elegant Millennium Footbridge, designed by Foster + Partners, Arup, and Sir Anthony Caro. As you walk across, the grand simplicity of the original power-station architecture gradually looms higher, with the subtle glass rectangles of the renovation designed by Herzog & de Meuron complimenting the brick. It is worth entering down the pedestrian ramp from the ground level, to fully enjoy the expansive atrium and treatments of the windows of the gallery floors, followed by the long escalator ride up to explore the art. This combination of the engineering design of the bridge, the scale and power of the original building, and the delicate but also strong detailing of the conversion add up to my favorite work.

KR: What is your favorite product design — and why?

BM: The spoons designed by Ettore Sottsass for Alessi. You can enjoy the appearance of the voluptuous curves as you see the spoon on a surface. As you pick it up, the arch of the handle presents itself as if waiting for you, and the balance is perfect between bowl and handle. The details of the shaping are smoothly rounded, with none of those harsh edges so common in flatware. As your lips touch the leading edge and you smell the contents, you realize that the design of this spoon enhances multi-sensory pleasures.

KR: What is your favorite thing about living in NYC? What do you miss most about living in CA?

BM: Everything! NY is so amazing because you can always find something happening here about everything that you can think of. I miss friends, countryside, and climate from California.

KR: How much did the 1982 GRiD Compass weigh?

BM: 11 lbs.

KR: How much does your current laptop weigh?

BM: 5.6 lbs.

FOUR X FOUR: 4 Architects/4 Regions/4 Visions/4 the Future

Panel: Mark E. Strauss, FAIA, AICP, LEED AP — Sr. Partner in Charge of Planning, FXFOWLE Architects, New York; Martha L. Welborne, FAIA — Principal, ZGF, and Former Managing Director, Grand Avenue Committee, Los Angeles; Betsy del Monte, AIA — Principal, The Beck Group, Dallas; Michael Damore, AIA — Executive Managing Director and President, Epstein, Chicago; William Menking — Editor-in-Chief, The Architect’s Newspaper (moderator)

The second Four by Four forum continued last year’s presentations and conversation. They discussed how they are redefining their practices and themselves in response to the new administration, the new economy, new technologies, and the future of the profession.

Strauss tackled the political realm: “We are not thinking strategically enough about infrastructure. It’s not just about buildings, it’s about urbanity.” We need to re-program our leaders, he said: “We’re not seeing the political will.”

Welborne used the evolution of the Grand Avenue development project in Los Angeles as an example of how developers and architects are making some creative adjustments in light of the current economy (It’s moving ahead!).

Del Monte looked at the macro and micro models of the BIM process. Her definition of Design for a New Decade: “Technology: doing more and more. Sustainability: a given. Integration: The only way to get it done.”

Damore outlined the effect of the economy in the Chicago market (which holds true in most urban markets): “Private sector real estate is dead; the public sector shows signs of improvement; public/private partnerships have potential, but financing is still a problem; forecasts are still ugly — but improving…Follow the money” (GSA, VA, aviation, TOD, infrastructure, etc.). “Look for unconventional opportunities and add new disciplines.”

At least he ended on a positive note: “Maintain a high level of optimism! There is a future so let’s prepare for it!” Added moderator Menking: “Maybe when we come back next year, things will be rosier.”

“The Bilbao Effect” by Oren Safdie: Laugh. Wince. Rinse. Repeat.

Event: “The Bilbao Effect” by Oren Safdie
Location: Center for Architecture, through 06.05.10
Cast: John Bolton, Marc Carver, Anthony Giaimo, Ann Hu, Lorraine Serabian, Joris Stuyck, Jay Sullivan, Joel Van Liew, Tommy Biggiani
Organizers: Brendan Hughes (director); Center for Architecture; Jacqueline Bridgeman; Fritz Michel; Les Gutman; Canada Council for the Arts; Quebec Government Office — New York


(L-R): Ann Hu (Mitsumi Yoshida), Marc Carver (Bill Watertsand), and Joel Van Liew (Alexandre Nusinovitski) in Oren Safdie’s “The Bilbao Effect.”

Carol Rosegg

Playwright Oren Safdie has archibabble and legal-speak down pat — and takes both to task — in “The Bilbao Effect,” a one-act, biting satire that pits starchitecture against the good of the common man. The setting is the Center for Architecture — at the Center for Architecture. The premise is a trial of sorts: the defendant is world-famous architect Erhardt Shlaminger (played by Joris Stuyck with proficient pomposity). The plaintiff is chiropractor and third-generation Staten Islander Paul Balzano (Anthony Giamo), an Every Man and the only non-intellectual in the room. Shlaminger is accused of violating a canon of the AIA Code of Ethics for architects to “thoughtfully consider the social and environmental impact of their professional activities” in his design for the 1,200-acre Staten Island Waterside Urban Renewal Redevelopment project. Any similarity to urban mega-projects, living or dead, is purely intentional.

Ice falling off roofs and heat-repelling curtains figure prominently. As do an outrageous — in a good way — model of the project itself, and a lot of name-dropping (“What’s a Libeskind?”). Balzano claims that two Shlaminger-designed structures, the Museum of Contemporary-Contemporary Art (no, that’s not a typo) and an extremely angular, titanium-clad “toaster-on-steroids” apartment tower caused his wife to commit suicide. The thoroughly ego-centric architect, charged with being a “new breed of urban renewalist” who puts design above human need, calls the hearing a “ridiculous witch-hunt — the likes that haven’t been seen since Galileo.”

The proceedings are overseen by a more than slightly scattered chairman of an AIA Ethics Committee (Marc Carver). The two attorneys (Ann Hu and John Bolton) are architecturally knowledgeable in arguing both sides of the issue at hand: freedom of artistic expression vs. “society’s right to be protected from people who abuse those freedoms.” Witnesses include the architect’s pediatrician-mother (Lorraine Serabian), who has a tendency to over-medicate and lives in a house designed by her son, where nothing is where it’s supposed to be (having the bathroom in the kitchen — “I assure you, it’s all very sanitary” — apparently saved a boy’s life). A snobbish, jittery — and once-notable — critic (Joel Van Liew) has his own odd back-story for why he now denounces starchitecture, verbose and bathetic tirades included. And a Belgian furniture designer (Jay Sullivan), who worked with Shlaminger on the Staten Island project (he hit big at the Venice Biennale with a barbed wire wheelchair), shows up as a surprise witness.

Though the characters are more than a bit exaggerated (never mind the model), and much of the rhetoric is more than familiar, inducing audible groaning giggles from the audience, Safdie clearly has a way with words. The debate concludes with no clear winner, but should spark conversations among professionals and lay people alike. Would that the real discussions and debates that go on at the Center, though often thought-provoking, were as amusingly entertaining. Well… some have been known to be…

Tickets: $18; click here to order.

Lieb House Sets Sail for New Horizons

Anchors Away! Operation Lieb House Sunrise Sail.

Akira Sawa

What better way to end the week than by watching Robert Venturi, FAIA’s 1969 Lieb House sail (by barge) under the Brooklyn Bridge and up the East River at sunrise — on its way to its new home on Long Island. The pier party will begin to gather at Pier 17 (South Street Seaport) at 7:00am on Friday, March 13 (but bundle up — temps predicted to be in the 30s — not counting wind chill factor).

It is the culmination of a three-day event, sponsored by the Storefront for Art and Architecture, celebrating the rescue of the New Jersey beach house from imminent demolition. Things kick off on Wednesday, 03.11.09 at Storefront with the opening of a “micro-exposition” of the house’s history, and a presentation by the indefatigable Fred Schwartz, FAIA, and filmmaker Jim Venturi, who both championed and organized the relocation. Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, FAIA, will be on hand on Thursday evening. (See also The Architect’s Newspaper: “Liebing for New Shores.”)

Summer Walkabouts

In the last few weeks I was fortunate to get sneak-peaks of two projects. First, the recently opened (and oooh-inspiring) “Madagascar!” habitat. FXFOWLE Architects’ transformation of the Bronx Zoo’s 1903 Heins & LaFarge-designed Lion House into a LEED Gold fantasyland of lemurs, crocks (13 feet!), and oh-so-Art Deco-looking (really!) hissing cockroaches. This should be on everyone’s “must-see” list this summer.

Welcome to “Madagascar!” No kidding about the magic — there’s no visible barrier between humans and lemurs.

Kristen Richards

Sustainable features such as geothermal wells and gray water re-use make this the first NYC landmarked building to achieve LEED Gold.

Kristen Richards

The restored 1963 Paul Rudolph Art & Architecture building and the new Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects’ tour-de-force at Yale, is set to open soon. A recent hard-hat tour led by Charles Gwathmey, FAIA, offered a peek at what’s in store.

Abutting Rudolph’s Brutalist concrete and glass, Gwathmey’s contemporary Loria Center clad in limestone, glass, and zinc holds its own very comfortably. Over the years, the Rudolph building had been partitioned into warrens of work spaces; now the light pours in.

Kristen Richards

Stairways have been restored, some floors have been raised, and unobtrusive ramps installed to make all 37 levels in the nine-story building fully accessible; personal experience of the levels: at one point we kept going up and down stairs, but always ended up on the 3rd floor.

Kristen Richards

AIANY Inaugural Celebrates 150 Years; Plans for Future

Event: AIANY 2008 Inaugural
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.04.07
Champion: Studio Daniel Libeskind
Supporters: Gensler; HumanScale; James McCullar & Associates
Friends: Forest City Ratner Companies; Hugo S. Subotovsky Architects; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Trespa North America; Universal Contracting
Contributors: Anchin, Block & Anchin; Cosentini Associates; FXFowle Architects; Levien & Company; Mancini Duffy; Michael Zenreich, AIA; New York Building Congress; Perkins Eastman; Plaza Construction; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Shen Milsom & Wilke; Skanska USA Building; Strategic Development & Construction; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Thornton-Tomasetti; Weildlinger Associates

As she passed the presidential gavel to 2008 AIANY President James McCullar, FAIA, at the AIANY 2008 Innaugural, 2007 AIANY President Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP outlined the many accomplishments that she was “most proud of having been a part of ” with the Chapter and the Center for Architecture. These included continuing to take strong advocacy positions on many topics, such as Columbia’s expansion plans, Moynihan Station, Governors Island, and Coney Island, among others.

In keeping with Blumenfeld’s theme for the year, “Architecture Inside/Out,” she reported that a presentation to the NYC Commissioners and Project Managers about launching an Interior Design Excellence program for city projects has made headway — some antiquated standards have already been revised.

On a bright note, she pointed out that AIANY Chapter membership has grown to over 4,000 and new benefits and initiatives were added during the year. On a sad note, Blumenfeld mourned the passing of “a number of good friends” in 2007: Giorgio Cavaglieri, FAIA; Greg Clement, FAIA; Margaret Helfand, FAIA; Denis Kuhn, FAIA; David Mandl, AIA; and Martin Raab, FAIA.

The Chapter’s AIA150 Champion Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, then reported on the highly successful Sesquicentennial celebrations. He highlighted the New Housing New York Legacy Project and the Public Information Exchange (PIE) installation, and noted that the AIA New York State Convention’s first foray to NYC was a great success. “We hope that the momentum continues; particularly our commitment to improve our City and profession,” he said. With that, he urged members to support a package of Chapter-sponsored zoning changes now going through the ULURP process.

Incoming President James McCullar, FAIA, introduced his theme for 2008: “Architecture: Designs for Living.” He explained it as a “response to Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives for PlaNYC 2030, which requires new sustainable typologies from infrastructure to housing… We are part of an emerging global community — from our PlaNYC neighborhoods to the Northeast Mega-region and urban centers around the world. Our theme supports building relationships for a sustainable global future.”

The evening’s keynote speaker, 2008 AIA National President Marshall Purnell, FAIA, design principal at Washington, DC-based Devrouax+Purnell Architects and Planners, applauded the Chapter’s leadership role in the AIA’s 150th anniversary celebrations: “AIANY truly honored the profession’s past…. The Center for Architecture is a mirror of what the future of the profession could and should look like — a future where design professionals, elected leaders, and the public chart a better future for everyone through the power of design.” Purnell stressed building bridges both within the AIA and as part of an aggressive commitment to public outreach: “We must pursue it not simply as a moral, but a professional imperative.”

The Inaugural followed a moving celebration of the life and work of 2001 Chapter President Margaret Helfand, FAIA, at which it was announced that a generous gift in her honor by her client David Whitcomb and husband Jon Turner would lead to a re-naming of one of the galleries at the Center for Architecture. More about the memorial and memorial matching fund will follow in an upcoming issue of e-Oculus.

ASLA Balances Nature, Design at Annual Meeting

Event: ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO: Designing with Nature: The Art of Balance
Location: San Francisco, 10.05-09.07
Organizer: American Society of Landscape Architects

ASLA Annual Meeting

(Left) Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, in conversation with Charles Birnbaum, FASLA. (Right) San Francisco + ASLA = Perfect!

Sam Brown, courtesy American Society of Landscape Architects; Kristen Richards

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) couldn’t have chosen a better place or time for its annual meeting: San Francisco in early October. Close to 7,000 ASLA members and affiliates were treated to four perfect autumn days filled with inspiring speakers, enlightening continuing education sessions and media panels, eye-opening studio visits, and tours — and a spectacular gala at the recently reopened de Young Museum. (Some of us traipsing between Moscone Center North and South were treated to glimpses of the Blue Angels doing their aerial ballet against the crystal blue sky.)

Among the highlights:
— ASLA launched the Sustainable Sites initiative, a cooperative effort supplement existing green building and landscape guidelines as well as becoming a stand-alone tool for site sustainability.

— Passions ran high even at 8:00am on a Saturday morning at the “Newsmakers Roundtable,” with Walter Hood, ASLA, Laurie D. Olin, FASLA, Martha Schwartz, ASLA, and Ken Smith, ASLA, and moderated by Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times. Olin said, “We need to make landscape political again,” after what he called a “decade of private splendor and public squalor.” Hood emphatically agreed, saying, “We have to do public work! It’s hard to do, but if we don’t do it, it will be done badly or not at all.”

— What could have been a disappointing closing General Session was anything but. Vice President Al Gore, Hon. ASLA, had to cancel his appearance due to a death in the family, but delivered a live telecast congratulating landscape architects for their leadership in combating climate change, saying, “I feel as if a lot of the world is catching up with you and messages you have been delivering for a long time now.” The session also included a previously unscheduled — and very spirited — Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, interviewed by Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, Executive Director of the Cultural Landscape Foundation.

— Among the 33 landscape architects inducted into the ASLA Council of Fellows was David Kamp, FASLA, Founder and President of NYC-based Dirtworks PC Landscape Architecture.

Click LANDonline for links to podcasts and videos from the conference.

Syracuse University Takes the First Amendment Seriously

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

(l-r): Steve Sartori; Kristen Richards

On a sizzling August day, a small group of journalists were treated to a day trip to a much cooler Syracuse for a hard hat tour of Newhouse III, the latest addition to Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications complex. Designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, the $31.6 million, 74,000-square-foot addition is the final step of I.M. Pei, FAIA’s master plan begun with the completion his 1964 building; the second building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, opened in 1974. For James Polshek, FAIA, and Tomas Rossant, AIA, the challenges included respecting the period architecture while creating a vibrant, new face for the campus (the school is located at one of the university’s main entrances). “My belief is that any building with an intellectual purpose has to tell a story,” Polshek said. Newhouse III tells its story with an undulating, fritted glass façade with the words of the First Amendment etched in letters six feet high along the base. Inside, a soaring, skylit atrium fills the interior spaces with natural light.

With the rapid evolution of the digital age, communal spaces in the two older buildings had been cannibalized for computer and media labs. According to Rossant, the new building will become “the missing social heart” of the communications school, with lounges, casual gathering spaces, a 350-seat auditorium, and a Food.com dining area, along with high-tech labs and classrooms that bring together the communications disciplines. Opening celebrations for Newhouse III, made possible by a $15 million grant from the S.I. Newhouse Foundation and the Newhouse family, will kick off on September 19 with a keynote speech by U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.