Examining the Gauntlet

AIANY past president Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, responds to Justin Shubow’s article “Architecture Continues to Implode: More Insiders Admit the Profession is Failing,” published in Forbes.

I doubt that anyone wants a world without a Fabergé egg or a Gehry fish. Nobody wants a world without the old Penn Station or the new New York Times Building. Nobody wants a world without Butterfield House or Via Verde. The complex layering of cultural artifacts, from eggs to exhibition pavilions, is evidence of our cultural richness, creating new challenges and opportunities, stimulating research, generating insights and epiphanies, and encouraging our use of new processes, new methods, new materials, and new technologies. Changing contexts, circumstances, environments, and evolving cultures are all part of the wonder we encounter as a species. Continue reading “Examining the Gauntlet”

Message from the President

On the Ides of December I welcomed visitors to the Center for Architecture and introduced the ”Inclusionary/Integrated Housing: Building Development” event, a program organized collaboratively by the AIANY Planning and Urban Design Committee, the AIANY Housing Committee, the AIANY Codes Committee, and the APA Metro Chapter. I hope to open yet another program before year’s end concerned with sustainability – the two, in combination, speak volumes about the challenges and opportunities we face as we enter 2015. The new mayoral administration has begun to tally its affordable housing achievements to date, 16,000 units by 12.31.14, and we have been having conversations with Chapter members and city officials about implementing sustainability and resilience measures. Continue reading “Message from the President”

Ethics and the Road to Convention: Durban and Chicago

As we prepare for the next meeting of the International Union of Architects (UIA) in Durban, South Africa, this August, we are confronted with a proposal that demands we take an immediate position. Reporter Harriet Sherwood wrote about the proposal on 03.20.14 in London’s The Guardian. Since the matter surfaced, there have been endless articles, e-mails, and calls. While some think it may all blow over, we cannot allow it to be floated without immediate objection.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) plans to bring a proposal to the floor of the upcoming 2014 bi-annual meeting of the UIA. The RIBA has demanded the suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the UIA, saying it is complicit in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and other violations of international law. While former RIBA President Angela Brady told a meeting of its council how important the proposal was, other council members pointed to human rights violations in other parts of the world, such as North Korea, which is a member of the UIA, asking why they should not be held to similar standards. Notable architects and members of AIANY have spoken out or written against the RIBA proposal, including Richard Meier, FAIA, and Daniel Libeskind, AIA.

AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, and I drafted a letter denouncing the RIBA proposal. The grounds upon which our draft was based centered on inclusion and dialogue, as opposed to exclusion and highly prejudicial, selective condemnation. The letter was put before the AIANY Board at its last meeting on 04.22.14. While certain details and some personalization were criticized, the general sense of the letter was approved. All thought it inappropriate for the RIBA to exclude an entire country’s architects – both Israeli and Palestinian – because the RIBA takes issue with the politics of that country. As the mission statement of the UIA is “to unite the architects of the world without any form of discrimination,” it should be obvious that excluding one country’s architects defeats the purpose. Continue reading “Ethics and the Road to Convention: Durban and Chicago”

Journey to Medellín: WUF7

Conversations with Dr. Joan Clos, the executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), started and ended my visit to Medellín. I was presenting at the World Urban Forum 7 (WUF) with the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU), an emerging non-governmental organization (NGO) that was formalized in 2008. CSU is co-chaired by James McCullar, FAIA, past AIANY president, and Aliye Celik; other board members include Margaret Castillo, FAIA, past AIANY president, and myself. The CSU partners with and is sponsored by the AIANY, NJIT, and CCNY/CUNY, among others. Detailed information can be found on its website at www.consortiumforsustainableurbanization.org, and information on the UN Habitat World Urban Forum can be found at wuf7.unhabitat.org.

”With sessions held every two years, the World Urban Forum examines rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, and policies. This year’s session of the Forum, with the theme ‘Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life,’ drew more than 22,000 participants from more than 140 countries representing governments, UN agencies, NGOs, urban professionals, local authorities, and academics. The WUF, convened by UN-Habitat, is a non-legislative technical forum.” So starts the UN Summary of the WUF7 event. In large part, the activities were in service of formulating the agenda for HABITAT III, to be held in 2016, when the previous agenda from the last Habitat meeting in Istanbul 20 years ago will be assessed, and new goals will be set for our common global future. Continue reading “Journey to Medellín: WUF7”

Grassroots 2014

It is my pleasure to send you the following report on our recent visit to Washington, DC, for the annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference.

The AIA New York Chapter delegation included Lance Jay Brown, FAIA; Abby Suckle, FAIA; Illya Azaroff, AIA; Jessica Sheridan, AIA; Venesa Alicea, AIA; Rick Bell, FAIA; and Emma Pattiz. Additional AIANY members involved in legislative efforts at the conference included Susan Chin, FAIA, and Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA. We were also joined by AIA New York State President Raymond L. Beeler, AIA, and Burton L. Roslyn, FAIA, 2012-2015 Regional Director, among others. Continue reading “Grassroots 2014”

Board Inaugural: 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA

What follows are adapted remarks from the 2013 Inaugural.

Being President of the AIA New York Chapter is an honor, a challenge, a responsibility, and, truly, a great opportunity. My many stellar predecessors, leaders on whose shoulders I stand, have accomplished so much for this institution and profession, and I want to match their service and achievements with my own.

Architecture is a great profession – but for it to be effective in its time, we must work at the intersection of design and urban policy. As we conclude 12 years of exemplary mayoral leadership of Michael R. Bloomberg, we welcome a new mayor, elected with a landslide mandate. Bill de Blasio inherits exceptional improvements and results from the Bloomberg years. Although there will be continued focus on the issues raised in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and on Mayor Bloomberg’s broadly successful PlaNYC initiative, does anyone doubt that we have an opportunity to look afresh at how our city, our beloved city, will grow and change? Continue reading “Board Inaugural: 2014 President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA”