In this issue:
·SAVE THE DATES: 2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations
·New AIA Website Launches
·Shadows Play at the Center

SAVE THE DATES: 2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

04.11.07 Design Awards Luncheon for Award Recipients and their clients
04.12.07 Design Awards Exhibition Opening at the Center for Architecture

New AIA Website Launches
To help consumers understand the architectural design process, and issues involved in selecting and working with an architect, the AIA has launched a new online resource, How Design Works for You. The site incorporates streaming videos that depict the full design process, both institutional and residential, with tips about the most important questions to ask when starting a project. To ensure that homeowners’ best interests are protected, the site also includes information about selecting the AIA Contract Documents best suited for residential projects. How Design Works for You also addresses sustainable building practices.

“Hiring an architect shouldn’t be an overwhelming process, but there are a number of important issues for clients to consider,” said Christine McEntee, AIA, Executive Vice-President and CEO of the AIA. “Whether someone is renovating their home and incorporating design elements that save electricity, or building a first home, our goal is to clearly outline how working with an architect from the first stages of a project is essential.”

Shadows Play at the Center

Maggie Jacobstein

One participant displays her Palladio-inspired shadowbox theater.

Maggie Jacobstein

With shoeboxes in hand, families arrived at the Center for Architecture to build shadowbox theaters. Inspired by images of Andrea Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico and New York’s own Broadway theaters, families developed stories to be staged in their model-sized buildings. A proscenium was cut into each box and a piece of vellum was then affixed to the inside so participants could test lighting effects with flashlights. Some left the vellum plain, allowing it to become a scrim upon which shadows were cast; others created drawings on the vellum that came to life when illuminated. Families found ways to cast colors onto the vellum and make objects move inside the “theaters” as well. The finale took place in the Center’s darkened workshop, where the theaters came to life highlighting the nature of theatrical lighting. With shifting scales and exaggerated movements, the result was a dynamic play of shadows.

Thank you to Randy Sabedra, Section President of the Illuminating Engineering Society New York (IESNY), who assisted the families as they constructed their theaters, and the IESNY for supporting this FamilyDay@theCenter program.



Thank you for all of the positive feedback about the new eOCULUS design. I received many comments, coming from as far as Scotland! I am continuing to make adjustments as each issue is published (notice the larger font size!), so please send me an e-mail with any comments/ suggestions and I will do my best to address them.
– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Architect, Musician Battle for Resonating Frequency

Event: Resonating Frequencies
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.23.07
Speakers: David Byrne – former leader, Talking Heads & star, “Stop Making Sense”; Elizabeth Diller – partner, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Moderator: Christopher Janney – artist, designer, author, Architecture of the Air: The Sound and Light Environments
Organizers: AIA New York Chapter
Sponsors: The Center for Architecture; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Conceptual rendering of Alice Tully Hall lobby, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with FXFOWLE Architects. Bravo Lincoln Center Redevelopment.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

“Does the venue shape the music or does the music shape the venue?” posed moderator Christopher Janney, designer and author of Architecture of the Air: The Sound and Light Environments. In a dialogue between musician David Byrne (arguing the former), and Elizabeth Diller, partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (arguing the latter), it was agreed that the question is cyclical.

To demonstrate how the venue shapes music, Byrne discussed how musicians often write music with a specific venue in mind. A punk band aiming to play at a club like CBGB’s, for example, would not write music that can be performed in an opera house. In the 1970s, composers Steve Reich and Meredith Monk began their careers performing at The Kitchen, which was a small loft space in Chelsea at that time. The repetition in their music reverberated off of the walls and tangibly washed over audiences, according to Byrne. This effect is not possible in larger concert halls.

The future of music is unpredictable, as the current venues of choice seem to exist in extremes, from arenas – where music is secondary to the communal mass experience – to the very individual iPod or automobiles. Since there have not been any venues designed specifically for popular music, Byrne wonders how the genre would change if there were.

Diller, on the other hand, argued that a venue is an extension of the performers and performances. Using the Diller Scofidio + Renfro with FXFOWLE Architects-designed Alice Tully Hall renovation as an example, she discussed the challenges of designing a music hall specifically aimed at becoming world-renowned for chamber music. Since there were strict rules – do not harm the acoustics, retain the structure of the existing hall, and keep all 1,100 seats – the project is 18 inches thick around the perimeter.

The guiding design theme addresses the psycho-musical experience, according to Diller, rather than acoustics. A high-performance wood veneer over a thin layer of resin sheathes the perimeter in a smooth, curving acoustic skin. Instead of using applied light fixtures, LED’s rest behind the resin creating a red/orange glow as lights are raised or lowered for the performance. The walls are isolated to reduce vibration from the subway. By eliminating visual and audio distractions, the listening experience becomes the focal point of the concert hall, and the music perceptually sounds better.

Both musician and architect agreed that ultimately both music and venue evolve from culture. A venue like Carnegie Hall was built for a specific type of music; it became a true destination for audiences; in turn, musicians began to play music that could be performed there. Patronage and audience determine the future of music and venue, and architects and musicians must please both.

WNYC’s Soundcheck recently invited Christopher Janney, David Byrne, and Ben Gilmartin (a prpject leader at Diller Scofidio + Renfro) to discuss the intersections of music and architecture. Click the link to listen to the show.

Brand Defies Quality in Starchitecture

Event: Brandism Series: Icon as Brand
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.26.07
Speakers: Mustafa Abadan, FAIA – partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; James Biber, FAIA – partner, Pentagram; Mario Natarelli – Chief Brand Experience Officer, FutureBrand; Frank Sciame – President & CEO, F.J. Sciame Construction Company
Moderator: Ned Cramer – Editor-in-Chief, Architect
Organizers: Anna Klingmann, Assoc. AIA; AIA New York Chapter

Kristen Richards

Foster + Partners’ Hearst Headquarters.

Kristen Richards

Kristen Richards

The interior of the Morgan Library & Museum, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Kristen Richards

Architects today receive commissions from more clients who value good design, thanks in part to the efforts of ascendant branding experts. Developers have realized that some buyers and tenants will pay premium rates to occupy space designed by a “name-brand” architect, just as museum directors and city officials have tried to harness the caché of star architects to attract tourists. As a result, a super-crop of signature buildings is surfacing on the streets of major cities. New York’s recent and imminent icons include the Morgan Library & Museum designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners; Hearst Headquarters by Foster + Partners; RPBW/ FXFOWLE Architects’ New York Times Building; Gehry Partners’ IAC Center; the four new towers at the World Trade Center site; and One Bryant Park designed by Cook + Fox Architects. Is the drive to produce signature architecture healthy for the profession and the built environment, or does branding ultimately erase construction quality?

“Icon-branded buildings make connections between culture and commerce by combining design and real estate logic,” according to Anna Klingmann, Assoc. AIA, organizer of the Brandism series hosted by the Center for Architecture. Magazines such as Wallpaper – that fuse fashion, products, and architecture into a chic digest of contemporary visual culture – whet the public’s growing appetite for good design. While Ned Cramer, Editor-in-Chief of Architect, observed that contemporary architecture still lags behind classical and pre-modern design in mainstream popularity (see the AIA’s recent survey of America’s Favorite Architecture), several highly branded, recent projects, including the Apple Store Fifth Avenue by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, made the list shortly following their completion.

If the branding-industrial field has discovered how to create interesting new buildings and travel destinations, it has not solved the problem of how to encourage consistent quality, nor how to preserve the distinct integrity of its successes. Can a designer focus on the programmatic, social, and formal challenges at the site while trying to produce a ready-made icon? Mustafa Abadan, FAIA, a partner at SOM currently working on the totemic Burj Dubai, says it’s not impossible. He described the development of the AOL Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle as an organic process of spatial problem-solving resulting in a striking final product. Yet he warns against a city resembling an overcrowded cosmetics store with opulent bottles jostling for attention.

James Biber, FAIA, an architect with the design and branding firm Pentagram, distinguished between architecture that revealed an “honest” brand identity, and superficial glitz amounting to an “advertising lie.” Mario Natarelli, whose firm FutureBrand is commissioned to strategically define cities, countries, and governments as well as companies and buildings, defines brand as a kind of relationship between seller and buyer. He agreed with an audience member that good branding is not synonymous with good architecture: “You can’t spin a building to be any better than it’s going to be.”

Architects Experiment with Ecology

Event: Experimental Urban Ecology
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.22.07
Speakers: David Ortiz – Project Manager, DMJM Harris/AECOM; Alex Felson – Director of Ecological Design, EDAW/AECOM; Anupama Sharma – Senior Project Architect & Planner, Metcalf & Eddy/AECOM; Amy Garrod – Sustainability Specialist, Faber Maunsell/AECOM
Organizer: AIA NY Committee on the Environment (COTE)

Photo by Jessica Sheridan

Architects are beginning to collaborate with ecologists to improve local ecosystems.

Jessica Sheridan

The study of ecological systems in urban environments is a relatively new area of research. The methodology used for ecological experiments in natural environments can be adapted for urban conditions – although with some difficulty. The heterogeneity of urban environments and social factors may compromise the scientific method when replicating experiments.

To aid the process, ecologists are forming new partnerships with design professionals to create architecture and urban designs that fuse ecology with design experimentation. Traditional collaborations between ecologists and designers often result in a design that directly mimics nature. In more recent designed experiments, however, the modular, functional, and geometric forms used to conduct the experiment become the basis for a new design expression.

According to statistics, the A/E/C industry invests only .05% of its total budget in research compared with the automotive industry’s 3% or biotech’s 14%. Convincing clients to incorporate design experiments into project budgets requires developing allies who can motivate constituents and mobilize resources. European sustainability metrics, such as the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and other regulatory measures, emphasize the impact of development on larger ecosystems and facilitate the participation of ecologists. The inclusion of ecologists on design teams is still rare in the U.S., however.

Architects are in a unique position to integrate ecological research into the built environment by insisting on working with ecologists throughout design development. Such a perspective will prove increasingly valuable as designers attempt to improve local ecosystems with the built realm.

In this issue:
• SAVE THE DATES: 2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations
• Students Converge for Day in the Field

SAVE THE DATES: 2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

04.11.07 Design Awards Luncheon for Award Recipients and their clients
04.12.07 Design Awards Exhibition Opening at the Center for Architecture

Students Converge for Day in the Field

Event: AIAS Convergence Meet and Greet
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.24.07
Speakers: Winners of the New Practice Showcase, a competition sponsored by the AIA New Practice Roundtable Committee
Organizers: AIAS City College of New York; Cornell University; New York Institute of Technology
Sponsors: AIA NYS; AIANY; Cornell University; City College of New York

Onur Ekmecki

CCNY students celebrate AIAS Convergence: NYC. (l-r): Ruth Romero, Juan Gomez, Eric Scandlon, Yuriy Tkachenko, Mubeen Ahmad, Yuliya Ilizarov, Romell Gordillo, Carolina Cristancho, Johanna Prieto.

Onur Ekmecki

Lisa Wan

Participating in Convergence events, SHoP gives a firm tour.

Lisa Wan

With panel discussions, firm visits, and a party at Thor, students from Cornell University, City College of NY, NY Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Syracuse University convened February 24 to socialize, network, and discover the field of architecture at this year’s Convergence: NYC.

Thirteen firms participated in this event by giving tours, opening doors to the future generation of architects. Firms included: Dattner Architects, REX, Mancini Duffy, Diller Scofidio+Renfro, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Perkins+Will, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, Rafael Viñoly Architects, Grimshaw Architects, FLANK, HOK, SHoP, and FXFOWLE Architects. Representatives presented their firms’ works in detail, answering questions about projects, working environments, and employment.

The panel discussion, “Architecture: The New Practice,” moderated by Nino Hewitt of LEVEL Architecture, featured winners of the New Practices Showcase, a competition sponsored by the New Practice Roundtable. Matthew Bremer, AIA, of Architecture In Formation, Dan Wood, AIA, of Work Architecture Company, and Marc Clemenceau Bailly of Gage/Clemenceau Architects presented their work. Topics at the Q&A session ranged from how they started their practices (all of the panelists started their practices four years ago), and general challenges of their practices, to hiring processes. Questions addressed ideal firm size (all agreed between 15 and 40 employees), and the role of architect versus the developer (all agreed the two roles should remain separate).

The success of the event was not only in the fact that three times the number of students participated this year compared with last, but that students felt they had a new understanding of the field and their peers.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the AIA, e-OCULUS is launching its new design. The website is more interactive and user-friendly, thanks to graphic designer Rachel Schauer and web technician Kevin Skoglund. New sections and features will be added throughout the year, so keep an eye out for more changes. Voice your opinion in The Measure section, or send me an e-mail.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Panel Sizes Up Bloomberg’s PlaNYC

Event: Mayor’s Plan for NYC 2030 New York New Visions: An Evolving Conversation
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.05.07
Speakers: Rohit Aggarwala, PhD – director, Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability; Donald H. Elliot, Esq. – Hollyer, Brady, Barrett & Hines; Frank Fish, FAICP – BFJ Planning; Mark Ginsberg, FAIA – Curtis + Ginsberg; Jerilyn Perine – executive director, Citizens Housing and Planning Council of NY; Joseph Tortorella, PE – vice president, Robert Silman Associates; Thomas K. Wright – executive vice president, Regional Plan Association
Moderator: Ernest Hutton, AICP, Assoc. AIA – Hutton Associates & New York New Visions
Organizers: New York New Visions; AIA New York Chapter Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Courtesy plaNYC 2030

Courtesy plaNYC 2030

The easy take on the mayor’s potentially prescient PlaNYC 2030 process is that it’s an exercise in collective doomsaying, a deep dark pool of worst-case scenarios. Despite some early press coverage boiling down the message to “the city’s going to become a rat-hole again, just as it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” city sustainability director Rohit Aggarwala actually takes a chipper tone. With demographic projections calling for a population of 9.1 million by 2030, the associated problems and risks aren’t hard to identify, whether it’s the chronic affordable-housing crunch, the shortage of trained engineers predicted by Joseph Tortorella, or the surprising fact (raised by Aggarwala in a global-warming context) that NYC ranks second only to Miami in hurricane risk exposure. Major infrastructure here is many decades old; flood lines are likely to rise; the transportation system is already congested enough to cost the city $11.5 billion annually in lost productivity. In this context, preventing trouble by projecting possible versions of it looks prudent, not alarmist.

Having an optimistic outlook while assessing the challenges is constructive initially, but the key term is “initial.“ At this stage, PlaNYC is defining broad targets and gathering data through task-force sessions, not prescribing solutions. Questions of means and accountability will inevitably enliven the debate. Executive vice president of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), Thomas Wright, called on New York New Visions (NYNV) members to serve as “civic cannon fodder,” drawing community leaders’ attention to these priorities. The real fireworks will come when costs and sacrifices have to be specified. The GreeNYC component, for example (the others being OpeNYC and MaintaiNYC), includes an ambitious four-point plan: cutting global-warming emissions by 30%, attaining the nation’s best urban air quality, cleaning up all contaminated land, and opening 90% of the city’s waterways for recreation.

Other stated goals of the overall program include improving park and playground access throughout all boroughs, adding transit capacity, and developing backup systems for the water network. Education, employment, and crime are conspicuously underemphasized in the official brochures distributed, but panelists emphasized the interconnection of those variables with the physical changes under discussion. Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council of NY, urging a renewed effort to secure support for public housing, offered a useful summation of the human bottom line: “If our neighborhoods stop being little factories to manufacture hope of entering the middle class, we’re in real trouble, because the million people who are coming are not all coming with MBAs.”

Bill Millard is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Oculus, Icon, Content, and other publications.

Why Bronx Library Lures Customers

Event: Bronx Library – LEED Silver
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.07.07
Speakers: Daniel Heuberger, AIA, LEED AP – Principal, Dattner Architects; Robin Auchincloss, AIA, LEED AP – Senior Associate, Dattner Architects; James Kilkenny – Project Executive F. J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.; Susan Kent – Director & CEO of The Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library
Moderator: William Stein, AIA – Principal, Dattner Architects
Organizer: AIA NY Committee on the Environment (COTE)

Jeff Goldberg/Esto

The Bronx Library Center’s sloping roof aids its green design.

Jeff Goldberg/Esto

The 78,000-square-foot Bronx Library Center at the New York Public Library, the largest public library in the Bronx, is the first publicly funded building in New York City to receive LEED Silver certification. Its open, light interior contrasts the dark 25,000-square-foot building it replaced creating a transparency that connects with the neighborhood. Since its opening in January 2006, numerous community groups began to use the building. If numbers can indicate success, 527,000 items were checked out and 15,400 library cards were issued last year, compared to a previous 154,000 items and 3,100 library cards.

The design of the Bronx Library Center is specific to the site conditions, particularly its eastern orientation and zoning envelope. The sloped metal roof maximizes the building’s area within the zoning constraints and allows light to penetrate the western side of the building. Cantilevered glass on the east façade also gives a sense of openness and maximum light penetration. The design includes an outdoor reading room on the roof that will be surrounded by a 10-foot hedge. Related energy conservation measures include thermally broken glass, light shelves, and mechanical blinds.

In addition to being an important lesson in sustainable design for the client, designers, and contractor, the library enjoys success as a public resource. The users of the building learn about sustainable architecture on a daily basis as they explore the Center’s new design.

Aaron Slodounik, LEED AP, is a freelance art and architecture writer.


• Communities Benefit from Blueprint
• AIA Presses Congress to Establish New Energy Standards
• NCARB Restructures
• Training Architects to Manage Liability
• Passing: Luisa Kreisberg

SAVE THE DATES: 2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

2007 AIA New York Chapter Design Awards Celebrations

04.11.07 Design Awards Luncheon for Award Recipients and their clients
04.12.07 Design Awards Exhibition Opening at the Center for Architecture


Communities Benefit from Blueprint

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) launched the nationwide community service initiative Blueprint for America to mark the organization’s 150th anniversary. In 156 communities across the country, AIA members are donating their time and expertise in collaborating with citizens to find and implement ways to enhance their communities.

“Architecture cannot exist in a silo,” said David Downey, CAE, Assoc. AIA, Managing Director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design. “Communities thrive when the public is engaged and encouraged to share their vision for the future.”

Over the last six months, the AIA has donated $2 million to community grant projects led by AIA chapters and members. Grant recipients were notified in May and October of 2006. As the projects are completed over the course of this year, the AIA will compile case studies from individual Blueprint projects. The case studies, intended for local officials interested in implementing similar programs, will be accessible through the AIA’s website free of charge. The completed piece, titled “Blueprint for America Mosaic: A Gift to the Nation,” will be presented by the AIA in 2008.


AIA Presses Congress to Establish New Energy Standards

Following The American Institute of Architects annual Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference, 2007 AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, testified before the Subcommittee on Energy of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the issue of energy efficiency in buildings. He explained that buildings play a pivotal role in contributing to climate change, and recommended that Congress pass legislation committing the federal government to meeting aggressive energy efficiency requirements for federal buildings. It is the AIA’s recommendation that all new buildings and major renovations owned or leased by the federal government should immediately meet fossil fuel-generated energy consumption targets that represent a 50% reduction from that of similar federal buildings in 2003. In 2010, this target would increase to a 60% reduction. The targets would increase thereafter at five-year intervals until 2030, when new federal buildings and major renovations would be carbon neutral.

“Because the built environment produces nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, there is an overwhelming need to revolutionize the ways that buildings are designed,” said Stewart. “While state and local governments have taken the lead on encouraging energy-efficient building design, the federal government is in the best position to accelerate adoption of sustainable design principles through a combination of tax incentives, regulations and legislative requirements.”


NCARB Restructures

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) said it would restructure its staff leadership. It hopes the organization will bring a new focus on more integrated programs and improved operations over the next decade. At the core of the change is the establishment of two vice president-level positions that will report directly to Executive Vice President Lenore M. Lucey, FAIA. Long-term NCARB staff members, Mary S. de Sousa and Stephen Nutt, AIA, have been promoted to vice president of operations, and vice president of programs, respectively. Together with the Lucey, the two vice presidents will form the Office of the EVP. The leadership of the Council offered its strong support to this restructuring.


Training Architects to Manage Liability
By Carolyn Sponza, AIA

Speakers Michael S. Zetlin, Esq., and Lori Schwarz, Esq., helped the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) kick off its 2007 Architects in Training series with the talk Contracts, Liability and Construction Law. “When we talk about construction law, it’s not really the truth; it’s about the perception of the truth,” according to Zetlin. The goal of the lecture was to help architects navigate successfully through the contracting phase, drafting an agreement that could help mitigate liability throughout the entire project.

Zetlin outlined potential pitfalls that architects often succumb to when assembling contracts, such as not clearly listing phases of service with tasks, an effort that assures both architect and client have a fixed expectation of project scope. Identifying what comprises an “additional service” is also important, as is identifying a fixed project end date. Other traps to avoid in the contract include using language that implies extremes, such as phrases like “to the highest professional standards” or agreeing to “guarantee” the work. Inclusion of such phrases could ultimately void insurance coverage. Schwarz ended the discussion with an explanation of dispute resolution, saying that despite all of the legalese, “don’t ignore your common sense.”

Architects in Training is a series of six lectures aimed at addressing practical issues not often taught in the workplace. Three lectures still remain in this year’s series:

02.27.07 Zoning: Regulating the Good You Can’t Think Of
03.06.07 Architect’s Financial Management Is Not an Oxymoron
03.13.07 Marketing Panel Discussion

For more information about upcoming events click the link.


Passing: Luisa Kreisberg

Luisa Kreisberg, arts advocate and public relations advisor, has died at age 72 following a long struggle with cancer. She directed the communications office of the Museum of Modern Art during some of its most eventful years, and then went on to establish her own widely influential public relations firm, The Kreisberg Group, through which she advised a host of high-profile clients, from Lincoln Center, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and the Rockefeller Foundation, to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the New York Times Company.