Calling All Designers: Get a Piece of Your PIE

The AIANY Chapter has finally taken the next step toward becoming a “Center for Architecture” with this week’s launch of the Public Information Exchange (PIE). Designed to create an archive of NYC projects, proposals, programs, and exhibitions, it aims to foster discussion among those in and outside of design professions. Many times I have longed for a resource that presents the latest building projects in the city, and PIE shows great potential — on the condition that architects, planners, and developers become actively involved in its maintenance, as described below.

PIE allows design professionals to post their projects. Each project page is interactive, complete with photographs, historic images, drawings, and plans. There are links to published articles, external resources, government documents, alternate submissions if the project was part of a competition, and sometimes fly-through animations. Google Maps show the location of each project, so anyone can compile a private walking tour of current projects throughout the city (something I can’t wait to do as the site grows). Most important is space for public comment. With an RSS feed, you can keep updated on the latest developments, responses, and upcoming events. This October, an information booth, designed by Grimshaw and housed at the Center for Architecture, will serve as a physical manifestation of PIE.

Dialogues will continue as the website expands and more information is added. Currently, the featured projects are Governors Island Redevelopment (Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation), the winning entry of New Housing New York competition (Phipps Rose Dattner Grimshaw), and the New York Times Building (Renzo Piano/FX FOWLE Architects). These major projects are important, but I hope projects that are lesser known will soon be added. The only way the website will succeed is if design professionals take ownership of the site and become proactive in updating the site with their latest projects.

As the website expands, I anticipate additional features. At the moment, the only public interaction is through the comments. I hope that the site will soon allow anyone to upload images (I have some nice photographs of the New York Times Building that I would like to post), or link to articles (I could post a link to this issue’s article on the New Housing New York discussion). As much as the site depends on public contributions, it also must evolve to spur the level of participation. PIE could become as useful for the design profession as Flickr is for photography or the Lonely Planet is for tourists.

AIANY and Local Projects (of StoryCorps fame) developed PIE, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Carnegie Corporation, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, The City Council of New York, and the Center for Architecture Foundation.