Happy Archtober!

Archtober 2014 is finally here! The AIA New York Chapter and 48 partner organizations have been hard at work to bring you a jam-packed month of architecture and design activities. From weekend walking tours, to summits and conferences, children’s programs, and exhibitions, there is something for everyone in Archtober.

Tonight, we kick off the festival with the opening of “New Practices New York 2014,” an exhibition that presents the work of six young NYC-based architecture and design firms. If you couldn’t make it, be sure to stop by the Center for Architecture and check out their site-specific installations in our double height storefront and learn about their unique approaches to the field. While you’re here, don’t forget to head to the Pentagram-designed Archtober lounge to pick up your favorite Building of the Day postcards.

If you don’t know where to start, follow Archtober on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn about what’s coming up. We hope to see you celebrating New York City’s architecture and design!

Editor’s Note

On 05.27.14, just a few weeks after Massimo Vignelli’s son invited designers who were influenced by the graphic designer to send him a letter of support and gratitude, Vignelli passed away at the age of 83. The design world, and our city, is deeply indebted to the work of the Italian-born, NYC-based designer. Vignelli’s famed 1972 subway map of New York City still lives on the MTA’s The Weekender website. His design for NYC’s subway system signage has been extended to other elements of the city, including the city’s website and pedestrian way-finding maps. So this week, as you ride the subway, take a minute to think about, and thank, Massimo Vignelli.

Guess-A-Sketch 2014

The Center for Architecture Foundation hosted its Third Annual Guess-A-Sketch benefit on 05.20.14 at Scholastic’s headquarters in SoHo. The view of the city from the rooftop terrace was stupendous, but the view inside was equally wonderful as Honoree Sketchers Brian Berry, AIA; Dean Maltz, AIA; Tomas Rossant, AIA; and Paula Scher created one-of-a-kind charcoal sketches of buildings and sites from around the world in this Pictionary-style drawing competition. Continue reading “Guess-A-Sketch 2014”

On View: At the Center for Architecture + About Town

On View

2014 Design Awards
Through 06.17.14

Polis: 7 Lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space [2000-2012]
Through 06.21.14

The Swiss Touch in Landscape Architecture
Through 07.19.14

Upcoming

Open to the Public: Civic Space Now
Opening 06.12.14 Continue reading “On View: At the Center for Architecture + About Town”

Why Compete

The first P(RE)Think panel discussed competitions from the architect’s point of view: portfolio building, exploring ideas, media attention, and that pipedream of winning a commission. Version two-point-oh brought together city agencies, academia, and a cultural institution to examine why clients offer competitions. From theoretical exploration to developers’ bottom lines, competitions can bring together ideas and economy. Introducing the symposium, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, targeted the ability of competitions to identify the heart of a problem, which could be completely different than first considered, and their ability to “make things happen.” Continue reading “Why Compete”

Editor’s Note

Friday 05.09.14 marks the beginning of NYCxDESIGN 2014, a citywide event showcasing all disciplines of design, from graphics and fashion, to architecture and urban planning. It offers a platform for cultural and commercial opportunities, elevates established and emerging practices, and increases awareness of and appreciation for design. The Center for Architecture will kick off the design celebration with the opening of “ENCOUNTERS,” an exhibition featuring the work of the Spanish practice luis vidal + architects. For a full list of NYCxDESIGN events, which run through 05.20.14, click here.

Additionally, don’t miss out on your chance to participate in Archtober 2014 as the architect of a Building of the Day! The deadline for submissions has been extended to 05.08.14. Submit one photo with credit and a brief (225 word) description of your built project to archtober@aiany.org. We are looking for buildings located in all five boroughs.

Lead Us Not Into Penn Station…

There may be only one proposition that every sentient being in the tri-state region would agree on: Penn Station, as we know, it has to go. As Margaret Newman, FAIA, noted at the “Transportation as Cultural Identifier: Penn 2023” on 04.19.14, the station was built under the twin erroneous assumptions that New York City and rail travel were both in conditions of irreversible decline. Penn Station is slightly smaller than Bryant Park – about 8½ acres, or 368,000 vs. 418,000 square feet – yet the number of people passing through it daily, reported Newman, is roughly equivalent to the population of Denver, some half a million. And pass through it is all most of them do: it is no place to linger, the opposite of a welcoming space, disliked as widely as its lamented predecessor was admired. As Chris Sharples, AIA, hardly needed to remind this audience, it is a place where “we use the word ‘flee’; Vincent Scully probably would use the word ‘scurry.’” “If you think it’s bad now,” added Thomas Wright of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), “you ain’t seen nothing yet,” considering the rising numbers of users at this confluence of multiple transit systems. (Some 80% of Manhattan’s entering commuters now come from west of the Hudson, feeding New Jersey Transit’s growth over the past two decades, with the Long Island Rail Road holding steady, and true high-speed rail for the Northeast Corridor a possibility.) Endure it though we all do, the situation is critical. Continue reading “Lead Us Not Into Penn Station…”

Henk Ovink: A Dutch Resiliency Perspective

On Earth Day, 4.22.14, AIANY and the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) hosted Henk Ovink, former Acting Director-General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs for the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and current senior advisor to U.S. Housing and Urban Design Secretary Shaun Donovan, Hon. AIANY. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Ovink emerged as a central figure in shaping the future of the entire region affected by the storm by leading the HUD Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce. As a nation, the Netherlands has formally addressed issues of flood prevention and protection for more than 900 years. Through Water Boards, a system of regional water authorities introduced in the 13th century, formerly separated communities have worked together to address regionalized environmental issues associated with water management. Today, nearly 300 Water Boards actively continue their ancestors’ work by crafting collaborative strategies for water management and extreme weather adaptation throughout the Netherlands. While “resilient” design strategies have become increasingly significant in the wake of Sandy, Ovink has leveraged his experience to introduce a new era of holistic and collaborative responses to extreme water events intensified by climate change. Continue reading “Henk Ovink: A Dutch Resiliency Perspective”

Bring Them as Eagles

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to the Great Hall of Cooper Union’s landmark Foundation Building on Thursday, 04.10.14, to deliver a speech that catalogued some of the specific initiatives of his first 100 days in office, and which anticipated the path that his administration will pursue. Particular areas of focus of his speech were education, affordable housing, pedestrian safety, and equal opportunity. The broader theme was a description of the attributes of a progressive city. New York, the mayor asserted, has been a model for other cities across the nation and can be so again. What follows are excerpts transcribed in place that may be of particular interest to architects and others in the design community. In the superb setting of the Great Hall, with its history and volumetric quality, it was hard not to be impressed, as well, by the speechwriting skill and oratory of our new mayor. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy, and James Russell Lowell (“fate loves the fearless”), Mayor de Blasio’s central theme – “the Progressive City” – in many ways resonated with Lowell’s new world Voyage to Vinland, from which the famous line was taken:

Strong from self-helping;
Eyes for the present
Bring them as eagles’,
Blind to the Past.
They shall make over
Creed, law, and custom…
Fate loves the fearless;
Fools, when their roof-tree
Falls think it doomsday;
Firm stands the sky.
Over the ruin
See I the promise.

(from Voyage to Vinland; started 1851, completed 1869)

Mayor de Blasio’s remarks:

“I would like to thank all of the friends who are with us today as we mark this special occasion. We have a lot to celebrate, a lot to be thankful for. I want to thank everyone here at Cooper Union, this extraordinary treasure. This stage is renowned for over a century and a half as a place where people come together to think and to dream. An extraordinary education is offered here. Curious minds have come here over the generations, people seeking truth. It is the perfect setting to discuss all that our city is capable of. Abraham Lincoln said right here on this stage, ‘Let us have faith that right makes might.’ Continue reading “Bring Them as Eagles”

Learning from Copenhagen

As the clamoring to address climate change grows louder – just last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a straightforward, dire warning – it’s striking to compare how cities are either choosing to become greener, or not. Copenhagen has become the model of a city that’s embraced large-scale, civic green design that permeates almost every aspect of public infrastructure.

The Center for Architecture’s exhibition “Copenhagen Solutions” explores how Copenhagen came to be the world’s greenest city, and its plans to become CO2 neutral by 2025. While the city’s success has been mostly localized, it hopes that its model will trigger designs in other cities; because it is the first to take on so much, success can only be improved upon. Singapore and Hamburg, for instance, are capitalizing on Copenhagen’s bold pioneering. Continue reading “Learning from Copenhagen”