Archiculture: Documentary Receives 2010 Brunner Grant


David Krantz (left) and Ian Harris; Pratt architecture studio.

Courtesy of Archiculture

The Center for Architecture Foundation is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2010 Arnold W. Brunner Grant is the documentary film Archiculture, co-produced and co-directed by Ian Harris and David Krantz. The film explores contemporary issues surrounding the profession of architecture by following five college students from the conception through completion of their senior thesis projects. Glenda Reed, operations manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF), spoke with Ian Harris about Archiculture.

Glenda Reed: Can you tell me about Archiculture?
Ian Harris: Archiculture is a film that gives those who have never entered a design studio a chance to peer into the process of becoming an architect. The five student projects presented in the film address real-life issues concerning sustainability, technology, and environmental psychology. Our goal is to create an engaging story that allows viewers to learn a bit more about the dramatic shifts occurring within our built environment while walking away from the theater with a new perspective on their surroundings.

GR: Can you tell me about David Krantz, your co-producer and co-director?
IH: David studied landscape architecture at Clemson University. He conceived of this film as a student there. The project existed as a pipe dream until we met at our first jobs, post-school. After long hours of working across from each other, we would recall memories and hysterical events from our days back in school.

GR: How did your experiences in architecture school affect your vision for this film?
IH: I was the type of student who loved the intensity, creativity, and process of the design studio. Leaving this culture of creativity for the stricture of the profession was a drastic awakening to the reality of what value the field has in our society.

GR: You’ve mentioned architecture school and working in a design office. Tell me about your background in architecture.
IH: I was an engineering student at Ohio State University who wandered into architecture as a creative outlet. Once I made the switch from the left to right side of my brain, there was no turning back. I was immediately addicted to design. After graduating with a degree in architecture, I moved to San Francisco where I worked for a variety of design firms. I found myself in an insular profession that lacked the open dialogue and engagement that I had expected of it as a student.

GR: What has receiving the Brunner Grant meant to you personally and professionally?
IH: Until now, the film has been funded by our meager savings and whatever we could scrape together from our friends, families, and gracious architecture firms. Receiving the Brunner Grant is a mark of acceptance from the architectural establishment. It is great to see the profession open itself up to public debate regarding the problems we face as a society and how the built environment can offer solutions.

GR: How can readers see Archiculture?
IH: We are discussing multiple strategies for distribution including a global 24-hour simulcasted premiere, a mobile theatrical school tour, and a variety of outreach events through the many existing national and global architectural organizations like the Center for Architecture.

The Arnold W. Brunner Grant is an annual award that supports advanced study in any area of architectural investigation, which will effectively contribute to the knowledge, teaching, or practice of the art and science of architecture. Architects throughout the U.S. are encouraged to apply. Recipients are awarded up to $15,000. For more information visit For more information about Archiculture visit

Aspiring Architect Interns at CFAF


CFAF students (left) and CFAF Intern Irene Li.

Glenda Reed

Glenda Reed, operations manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF), spoke with Irene Li, an urban planning student at NYU, about her experiences interning at CFAF.

Glenda Reed: Everyone at the CFAF calls you Irene, but you also have another name. Can you tell me about that?
Irene Li: Haoning Li is my Chinese name. I was born in Taipei and lived in Shanghai for six years before coming to the U.S. to study urban planning at NYU. Shanghai is the city that inspired me to want to be an architect. Everyone there is focused on the possibilities of the future. The way that this optimism manifests itself in Shanghai’s architecture is really interesting to me.

GR: What made you want to intern at CFAF?
IL: I want to become an architect. I thought the Foundation would be a good place to get work experience and learn more about the field of architecture. I started volunteering at Family Days [monthly Saturday hands-on design workshops for parents and children] and now intern in the office twice a week.

GR: What are some of the rewarding aspects of your internship?
IL: I enjoyed helping organize grant submissions. This helped me to understand the professional standards expected of architects presenting their work. I also enjoyed interacting with the kids in youth programs. It feels great coming to the Center for Architecture to work and be connected to the profession.

GR: What are your plans after graduation?
IL: I will be graduating this coming fall and will need to find a job. I want to intern or work for a few years, hopefully in an architecture firm, and then apply to graduate school in architecture.

There are many ways to get involved with CFAF including volunteering and interning. Currently, there are two openings for an Exhibition Assistant and a Programs@theCenter Summer Assistant. For more information visit and

The Next Generation of Urban Designers

Event: Studio@theCenter — City Design; 3-D Digital Design with Google Sketch-Up
Location: Center for Architecture, 2.16.10-2.18.10
Educators: Catherine Teegarden; Erik Ratkowski


Studio@theCenter takes on urban design and 3-D skyscraper design.

Inge Hoonte, Skyscraper designed by Dean Sadik

Does growing up in an urban setting give kids insights into city planning? One would think so, judging from the work of the 17 young people who took part in the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Studio@theCenter program, “City Design,” during the public school vacation week last month. Over the course of three days, these budding designers in 2nd-5th grade created their own 3-D model of an ideal city. As inspiration, the group looked at plans of cities and visited the Panorama Model of NYC at the Queens Museum of Art. Once the group had determined the features, layout, scale, and buildings to include in their city, they got to work. They created mixed-use zoning so residents wouldn’t have to go across town to get to services and places used every day, a feature they appreciated about NYC. Each student developed his or her own block and collaborated with others to create city-wide elements, like a riverside park, a beach front, sky trams, subways, and elevated trains. The developers toured their parents through CFA City at the end of the session and took their little pieces of it home to roost.

Meanwhile, students in 6th-12th grade were creating their own skyscraper designs in the IBEX Learning Center, the Center for Architecture’s computer lab, using Google Sketch-Up. They learned the basics of the program and created 3-D renderings of their skyscrapers’ exteriors, as well as close-up views of interior spaces. They made cardboard models of famous skyscrapers and structural models using toothpicks and marshmallows. Parents were treated to a PowerPoint presentation of their projects at the end of the three-day session.

The Center for Architecture Foundation is offering two more Studio@theCenter sessions this spring. During 03.23-25.10, the independent schools’ break, students can choose to design The House of the Future (2-5 grades) or to learn 3-D drafting and design in our Digital Design class (6-12 grades). Theater Design (2-5 grades) and our final Digital Design class (6-12 grades) will be offered 03.30-04.01.10, during public and private school vacations. The 3-day programs run 9 AM-4 PM at the Center for Architecture.

The Center for Architecture Foundation’s innovative programming continues over the summer with Summer@theCenter workshops for 3rd-12th graders. Programs include a two-week architectural design studio for high school students and week-long programs focusing on the design of Waterfront Parks, Bridges, Playgrounds, and A Room of One’s Own for elementary and middle school students. Details and registration forms for all programs are at

Brunner Grant Pushes Project to Next Level


Arnold & Sheila Aronson Gallery.


Glenda Reed, Operations Manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF), spoke with Alice Min Soo Chun, 2008 Brunner Grant Recipient, about the high-tech architectural fabric she is developing with her partner, Laura Briggs:

Glenda Reed: Briefly describe your 2008 Brunner Grant project.
Alice Min Soo Chun: The “3rd Skin” is an adaptable building system that both saves and generates energy. Each “3rd Skin” structure functions as an accessory to existing buildings. The profile and form is calibrated to optimally shade the building and reduce energy load during “over-heating” periods while maintaining view-shed access. The skin is also shaped to simultaneously harvest solar energy to provide electricity to the urban streetscape. The project taps into the emerging flux of clean-technology and interactive sensory experience by engaging the burgeoning field of technical textiles and thin film photovoltaics. We are using high-strength fabric as sub-straight, and fashioning methods to create this lightweight structure that will be easily manufactured. The system could play an important role in building retrofits.

GR: What has receiving the Brunner Grant meant to you personally and professionally?
Laura Briggs and I were honored and excited to receive the Brunner Grant. We have been extremely motivated by our project. It has enabled us to further our ongoing academic research into ecologically sound building practices and new forms of renewable energy. Through the grant we have been able to engage many talented members of the professional design and manufacturing communities. We have used the funding towards the development of an operable prototype that was exhibited in January at the Aronson Gallery at Parsons The New School for Design. The acknowledgment from the Center for Architecture has provided a critical stepping-stone for our creative development and our ability to pursue more significant support for the project’s next phase of development.

The 2010 deadline for the Arnold W Brunner Grant has passed. There is still time, however, to apply for Center for Architecture student scholarships. The Eleanor Allwork Scholarship, the Center for Architecture Design Scholarship, and the Fontainebleau Prize are due Monday, 03.15.10. Visit for more information about the Center’s scholarships and grants program.

CFA Foundation Offers New Scholarship for Summer Abroad


The Fontainebleau Summer Architecture Program.

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Schools

The Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) is pleased to announce the new Fontainebleau Prize for students and recent graduates to attend the school’s summer architecture program. Past AIANY President James McCullar, FAIA, principal of James McCullar & Associates, co-founded the prize with his colleague and long-time friend, Bart Voorsanger, FAIA, principal of Voorsanger Architects. At CFAF’s request, McCullar and Voorsanger described their time as Fontainebleau students and explained what the 2010 program is about:

It was a transforming experience for both of us — our first trip to Europe, exposure to French culture, and students in architecture, fine arts, and music from many places. We still remember the concerts, field trips, studio projects, and exploring Paris whenever we could. Every architect or musician we know who attended remembers feeling the same enthusiasm. In sponsoring the 2010 prize, we want to pass on the same opportunity to a deserving student.

The Fontainebleau Schools offer a unique summer program for both architects and musicians. Set in the historic chateau and town of Fontainebleau, near Paris, the program has a rich tradition since its inception in 1921. Many American architects and musicians have taught and studied there, including Paolo Soleri, Charles Moore, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein.

The 2010 architecture program More of Less begins with an introduction in Paris. It will explore the subject of sustainable design through a series of lectures, workshops, site visits, and hands-on projects, including a performance in collaboration with music students. Architecture and music students live, dine, and attend concerts and field trips together in a creative environment.

The recipient of the Fontainebleau Prize will receive $4,500 to cover tuition, room, board, and school trips to Paris and Strasburg. Advanced undergraduate students, recent graduates, and graduate students are encouraged to apply. The in-office deadline is Monday, 03.15.10 at 5:00pm. The CFAF offers a number of scholarships for architecture and design students, including the Eleanor Allwork Scholarship and the Center for Architecture Design Scholarship. For more information about the Fontainebleau Prize and the CFA Foundation’s award program, visit the website at

Illuminating Society, One Household at a Time


Mom with three children (left); all of the participants with their light fixtures.

Catherine Teegarden (left); Glenda Reed

On 12.12.09 the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) hosted its annual Family Day on Lighting Design. Sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York (IESNY), the program provided more than 30 families with the tools to create their own light fixtures. IESNY Board Member Phil Cialdella, who attended the workshop with his daughter, shared his design knowledge and talked about some of IESNY’s other initiatives.

CFAF Design Educator Catherine Teegarden introduced participants to lighting designs in celebratory traditions from around the world. Many traditions incorporate lights made with regular paper, such as Thai lanterns created for the celebration of Loi Krathong and Mexican farolitos made from brown paper bags for Las Posadas. Teegarden also discussed the symbolism of lights. For example, while the abundance of light and greenery in Christmas decorations literally helps us get through the darker days, symbolically it serves to remind us that spring is right around the corner.

The workshop was filled with talented, aspiring lighting designers. Some approached the challenge from a technical standpoint and built architecturally sound structures to house their light source. Others quickly discovered that enough glue can hold anything down, which allowed them to creatively combine a variety of materials. A free-standing lamp had a cut-out snowman; a pair of lights represented “ghosts of Christmas” in green and red; and a pine tree-shaped night light was made from stacked ping-pong balls.

Family Day programs are offered once a month at the Center for Architecture. Three-day design programs for kids in grades 2-12 are also offered during the school vacation weeks this spring. Visit theCFAF website for dates and details.

Meet Jean Parker Phifer, FAIA, LEED AP, 2010 President of the Center for Architecture Foundation


Tim Hayduk

The Center for Architecture Foundation’s 2010 President, Jean Parker Phifer, FAIA, LEED AP, specializes in planning, restoration, and sustainable design projects for cultural institutions. She has designed and restored numerous buildings, monuments, public spaces, and landscapes, primarily in New York. Phifer is an adjunct associate professor of Environmental Design at New York University, and served as the President of the NYC Art Commission, now the Public Design Commission, from 1998-2003. She is the author of Public Art New York (Norton, 2009).

Glenda Reed, Operations Manager at the Center for Architecture Foundation, spoke with Phifer about her visions for design education in the coming year.

Glenda Reed: What excites you about the Center for Architecture Foundation?
Jean Parker Phifer: I am delighted that the foundation reaches thousands of children, teenagers, and adults to develop skills in visual literacy, and to broaden their grasp of how design issues can impact their mental and physical well-being. We are helping the citizens of the future to craft their environment in a positive way.

GR: Why do you think design education is important?
JPP: Design education is more important now than ever, since our daily lives are shaped increasingly by the built environment. Helping people of all ages to understand and interpret this environment gives them the tools they need to participate in planning and design efforts to improve their communities in innumerable ways, from enhancing neighborhood vitality to designing new public facilities and parks.

GR: What are your goals as President of the Foundation in 2010?
JPP: In the next year we will partner with the AIANY Chapter to increase funding for programs, lectures, and exhibitions at the Center for Architecture, and we plan to enlarge the reach of our educational programs both in schools and at the Center. We also plan to build a larger membership base for the Center, reaching beyond the architectural community to draw in a larger audience interested in design and planning issues in NYC.

Three New Ways to Connect with the Center for Architecture Foundation


Center for Architecture Foundation.

Catherine Teegarden

With new membership opportunities, a new website, and a new Facebook page, the Center for Architecture is easier to stay in touch with than ever before. The Foundation has launched a series of public membership options that offer many exciting benefits. Individual, Family, and Patron members all receive special invitations and program discounts at the Center, including VIP invitations to exhibition openings, member prices for AIANY lectures, and discounted admission to special events. Patron members have the opportunity to book a child’s birthday party at the Center. All memberships help support youth and family programs as well as scholarships and grants at the Center. For more details visit the new Center for Architecture Foundation website.

The new website is designed to be more user-friendly. We hope that the easy-to-read tabs and clean aesthetic make the site easier to navigate. Scholarship and grant applications will soon be available online as well as online registration and payment for Foundation programs. The website is a great way to keep up-to-date with the Foundation’s vacation camps, Family Days, and new building tours.

In addition to the new website, the Center for Architecture Foundation has a new Facebook page. Become a fan of the Foundation and receive invitations to programs and special events via Facebook. Help the Foundation introduce more young people to architecture and design as well as share an insider’s perspective on innovative new buildings in New York by inviting your friends to become a fan too! Hope to see you on the web or at the Center soon.

Foundation Catches Up With 2009 Brunner Grant Recipient


(L-R): Alysa Nahmias; School of Plastic Arts, National Art Schools (Architect: Ricardo Porro, 1961); School of Ballet, National Art Schools, (Architect: Vittorio Garatti).

Matt Ruskin (left); Ben Murray (center, right)

With the 2010 deadline for the Arnold W. Brunner Grant fast approaching, the Center for Architecture Foundation caught up with 2009 Brunner Grant recipient Alysa Nahmias, co-director (with Ben Murray) of Unfinished Spaces. This feature-length documentary tells the story of the Cuban Revolution through its most significant architectural achievement — the Cuban National Art Schools — and the architects who designed them, Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, and Roberto Gottardi. Their story acts as a touchstone to explore Cuba’s past, present, and future, inviting discussions about art and politics.

In 1961, these three architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create “the world’s most beautiful art school” on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana, Cuba. Construction of their radical designs began, but as the Revolution faded, Castro abruptly halted the construction and the architects were deemed counter-revolutionary. Fifty years later, the schools are in use, but they remain unfinished and decaying. Castro, in an unprecedented change-of-mind, has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream. The architects, like Cuba’s aging leaders, are “not the same boys” they once were, and at 80-years-old, they’ve reconsidered the relevance of Utopian ideals for 21st-century Cuba. The restoration progresses slowly, and the future of the buildings parallels that of the island, hopeful but uncertain.

When asked to comment on receiving the Brunner Grant, Nahmias responded that, “the Brunner Grant represents a special vote of confidence from my colleagues and mentors at AIANY [and Center for Architecture Foundation], as well as critical financial support at an important stage in this project. For the past eight years, the making of Unfinished Spaces has paralleled my own personal and professional development as an architect and filmmaker. I set out to produce my first documentary against many odds, but with the encouragement of other architects, to whom this film also belongs in spirit.” With the support of the Brunner Grant, Unfinished Spaces is scheduled for release in 2011.

The Arnold W. Brunner Grant is one of five scholarships and grants that the Center for Architecture Foundation administers in partnership with AIANY. The Brunner Grant is awarded annually to fund a project that contributes to the knowledge, teaching, or practice of the art and science of architecture. Past projects have included formal papers as well as the design and construction of new work. The 2010 deadline is 02.01.10. For application details as well as information regarding the other awards that the Center for Architecture offers, please visit the Center for Architecture Foundation’s website For further information regarding Unfinished Spaces, visit

Note: To read about the AIANY Global Dialogues Committee-hosted trip to Cuba, see “Architects Travel to Cuba for Global Dialogues,” by Noushin Ehsan, AIA, and “Highlights From Cuba,” by Jeremy Edmunds, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, in this issue.

Children Attach Magnets to SoHo Cast Iron Façades


Participants explore cast iron architecture around town and at the Center.

Inge Hoonte, Patrick Candalla

On 11.14.09 a group of 72 children and adults transformed the streets of SoHo into an architectural playground. Participants of the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Family Day, “Cast Iron Architecture in SoHo,” followed Design Educator Catherine Teegarden from LaGuardia Place to Houston St., Greene St., Prince St., and West Broadway. Along the way, children tried to stick magnets to façades to identify prefabricated cast iron plates.

Attendees learned about the general history and usage of iron in the local architectural landscape of the late 1900s. Teegarden pointed out that glass embedded in iron grates in the sidewalk allow light into basements that historically would otherwise have been dark. Children practiced reading a building by looking at the common rhythm of repeating columns and beams as well as decorative details, which the kids compared to sprinkles on a cupcake.

Upon returning to the Center participants used their newfound knowledge from the street to construct paper façades. They started with a base of horizontal and vertical strips of colored paper echoing the columns and beams that had just observed, then used beads, wooden dots, and fabric rosettes for ornament. One participant drew furniture behind a pop-up screen. Another added narrow strips of bright paper onto a darker shade to replicate a column’s shadow.

The Center for Architecture Foundation presents Family Day programs on the second Saturday of each month. These workshops are designed for children ages five to 13 and their adult companions to work together on a hands-on activity. The next Family Day will explore the role of light in architecture and design. Participants will investigate the traditions of cultures from around the world that celebrate light as well as innovative lighting design strategies. Families will then create their own light fixture to take home. This annual event is sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society of NY (IESNY).