New Committee Promotes Design for Risk and Reconstruction

Event: Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) Inaugural Meeting
Location: Center for Architecture, 08.24.11
Organizers: AIANY DfRR Committee

Map of NYC hurricane evacuation zones.

Courtesy www.nyc.gov

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Mudslides. Meltdowns. Floods. Earthquakes! Oil Spills. Blackouts. Conflicts. Revolutions. War. Greensburg, Sri Lanka, New Orleans, Tokyo, Gibbelina, Baghdad, Beirut, Haiti, the list is too long.

We are all too aware of the occurrence of disasters, some fast, some slow, some natural, and some manmade. We can no longer afford to ignore these events. It is time to become more engaged in dealing with this aspect of our changing world. What role does design play in a world ever more aware of risks to its inhabitants and environment? How can we acknowledge risk so that we can live with fewer crises? The most recent disasters are perhaps a prelude to what is to come and may not be the most severe. There is much to learn from these past events. And there is much to be done based on what we are learning now.

New words and phrases have been coined that characterize our developing awareness of the roles and responsibilities we, as design professionals, have in this arena. Standard parlance Disaster Preparedness is extended to design for Resilience, Disaster Mitigation, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Anticipatory Design (an oxymoron but useful),

The new AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) identifies and clarifies a new mission for the design community. The committee was established to evaluate, communicate, and expand the role of the design profession in this time of dramatic climate, energy, economic, and social changes. With its inaugural meeting on 08.24.11, the committee will be convening every third Wednesday of each month at the Center for Architecture.

While New York has had its fair share of disasters before the tragic attack on the World Trade Center, that terrorist attack was a clear wake up call. 9/11 was not only a loss of innocence, but has illuminated our need to recognize the potential for disasters. It prompts us to ask how design can do its part in mitigating, anticipating, and, in general, accepting the challenge of risk as positive opportunities for designing a better, richer, more meaningful, and certainly safer world.

In fulfilling its mission, the DfRR will foster awareness within the profession and the public of the necessity to anticipate risk to the built environment and integrate risk management and post-disaster strategies from the scale of a building to comprehensive regional planning.

Urban Design, Sustainability, Education Facility Design: Joint AIANY/BSA Awards Program Posts Winners

Event: AIANY Biennial Building Type Awards jury
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.15.08
Urban Design Jury: Martha Lampkin Welborne, FAIA — Managing Director, Grand Avenue Committee (Los Angeles); M. David Lee, FAIA — Vice President, Stull and Lee (Boston); Thomas Fisher, Assoc. AIA — Dean & Professor, College of Design, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
Sustainable Design Jury: Craig A. Curtis, Assoc. AIA — Partner, The Miller Hull Partnership (Seattle); Stephen J. Kieran, FAIA — Principal, Kieran Timberlake Associates (Philadelphia); Meredith Elbaum, AIA, LEED AP — Director of Sustainable Design, Sasaki Associates (Watertown, MA)
Educational Facility Design Jury: Jane H. Weinzapfel, FAIA — Principal, Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects (Boston); John Weekes, AIA — Principal, Dull Olson Weekes Architects (DOWA) (Portland, OR); John Comazzi — W+C Willkins + Comazzi (Ann Arbor)
Organizers: AIANY; Boston Society of Architects

2008 marks the first AIA New York Chapter Building Type Design Awards (BTA), hosted by AIANY and co-sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). The program recognizes excellence and innovation in the design of selected building types and design-related disciplines, and to honor their architects, clients, and consultants. This year’s awards are for Urban Design, Sustainable Design, and Educational Facility Design. 2009 will feature Health and Housing Facilities.

For a full list of winning entries, go to the Names in the News section.

Urban Design: 1+1 = 3

The BTA program for urban design is slated to advance the discussion about design in the city. Creative approaches will tackle the challenges and opportunities in cities facing diminished resources.

The jury stressed that small scale can play a big role in the urban fabric, and that the design of cities does not have to be about big gestures. Honor Awards went to a pair of designs that carve meaningful public space and make key urban connections out of marginal opportunities. At 55 Water Street Plaza, Rogers Marvel Architects addressed the increasingly common problem of creating successful public space on urban rooftops. This project not only created a vital new public space out of a barren and underutilized elevated plaza, but also used architecture to ensure visibility and accessibility.

Zakrzewski + Hyde Architects’ ambitious Hudson Square RISE (which also won a 2008 AIANY Project Design Merit Award), exploited the rooftop of a NYC maintenance garage to create new open space, a mix of residential and institutional development, and pedestrian connections to Hudson River Park.

The jury also gave a Merit Award to the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access and 50th Street Ventilation Facility, designed by DMJM Harris as a sub-consultant to the joint venture group of PB, STV, and Parsons Transportation Group. The project shows how to sensitively integrate monumental infrastructure into the city and introduce new neighborhood-scaled public spaces.

Three additional Merit Awards dealt with rebuilding in the aftermath of global climate change-driven catastrophe (Frederic Schwartz Architects’ Unified Plan for New Orleans District 3 and 4), using the redevelopment of obsolete industrial sites to repair the fabric of an historic European city (Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ Musiskwartier), and devising new ways to approach security in the post 9/11 world (Rogers Marvel Architects and Ritter Architects’ Pentagon Reservation: Perimeter Security & Pedestrian Plaza).

Viewing Architectural Excellence Through a Sustainability Lens

Winning entries in the Sustainable Design category offered a marriage of art and science. From a field of 34 entries, jurors sought criteria that included: beauty; measurable environmental performance; best practices; and ability to become case studies for the future. “Projects need to have both substance and art,” stated juror Stephen J. Kieran, FAIA. “It may be a beautiful building but it needs to have verifiable performance.” Juror Meredith Elbaum, AIA, LEED AP, noted,

Honor Award winners reflect best practices that take the greening process to the next level. The jury felt that BKSK Architects’ Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Center’s working roofs with water reclamation and integrated photovoltaic systems exemplify how sustainability can drive the design process. A complete retrofit with fully responsive building systems, the Inland Steel Building Restoration, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, demonstrates a unique, high performance approach to renovating existing buildings. Both projects stood out to the jury as potential industry case studies showcasing strategies and processes. Setting a precedent in energy efficient design, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates’ 100 VE — Unilever London Headquarters renovation resulted in a 25% reduction in carbon emissions, while the heat load reduction and daylighting techniques employed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in association with FXFOWLE Architects in The New York Times Building is slated to reduce annual energy use by 20-30%.

The jury felt Polshek Partnership Architects’ Sarah Lawrence College Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Visual Arts Center’s use of solar orientation and material selection for its site-informed design warranted a Merit Award. Also, Harvard University’s Library Services Building, designed by, Leers Weinzapfel Associates and Samuel Anderson Architects, showed integrated daylighting energy solutions in a program adapted to get the most from its urban site.

Jurors agreed that to move to the next level, sustainability needed a market transformation and rethinking of the process. Juror Craig A. Curtis, Assoc. AIA, concluded, “A balance is needed between beautiful architecture and sustainable design that is appropriate and integrated. Sustainability as an integral part of design needs to be discussed.”