MoMA’s renowned Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden will be open and free to the public from 9:00 to 10:15 am, beginning September 9. Designed by Philip Johnson—and preserved during the recent Yoshio Taniguchi expansion—the sculpture garden is one of the great modern landscapes in the U.S., and currently features sculpture by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Tony Smith, and others. With coffee and beverages available for purchase, the garden is sure to become a destination for quick business meetings and quiet moments of cultural immersion amid the hubbub of Midtown mornings.
David Ehrenberg has been appointed president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre, former ship-building base turned city-owned industrial park. Ehrenberg is currently an executive vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Over the last decade the Navy Yard has emerged as an essential zone for preserving and growing New York’s manufacturing sector, especially small businesses. The Yard currently includes 4.5 million square feet of leasable space, with an occupancy rate of 99 percent.
Last May New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new initiative, NYC X Design, to promote New York’s design community, an economic sector that includes more than 40,000 designers of various disciplines, according to official figures. As an outgrowth of NYC X Design, today the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) launched a new pilot project called Built/NYC, which provides $400,000 in capital funding for custom furniture, lighting, or textile designs in up to 20 city building projects. Council Speaker Quinn’s office provided the funding for the project, and at a press conference today held at the NoHo design store, The Future Perfect, Speaker Quinn argued that the initiative would support both local designers and local manufacturers and help maintain a diverse economy. Interested designers can respond to an new RFQ, which would place them on a pre-qualified list to be considered for custom pieces for projects like new libraries, community centers, or fire houses (architects for the building projects sit on the selection committee). Read More
In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to develop strategies to increase the resiliency of urban and coastal areas in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. According to HUD’s website, the goal of the competition is “to promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition also represents a policy innovation by committing to set aside HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals. Examples of design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale—from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits.”
The shortlist of 10 teams—including architects, landscape architects, university groups, developers, engineers and others—has been announced.
After a decade at the helm, Paul Gunther is stepping down as the president of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA). Under Gunther’s leadership the ICAA expanded to include 15 national chapters, and grew into a 14 person organization. In addition to holding lectures and symposia throughout the year, the Institute publishes the journal The Classicist, and it awards a summer fellowship for landscape painting. Last year the Institute held a provocative symposium reexamining postmodernism’s relationship to classicism, which drew a wide audience including senior members of the architectural community who rose to prominence in the pomo heyday of the 1980s as well as young designers drawn to the playful iconography of the period.
Barry Bergdoll is stepping down as Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, a position he has held since 2007. He will return to teaching at Columbia University and will take up an endowed chair in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. He will stay on part-time at MoMA to continue working on a major exhibition on Latin American architecture currently scheduled for 2015. He will also advise on the use and development of the Frank Lloyd Wright archive, which is jointly owned by Columbia and MoMA.
While at the Modern, Bergdoll has curated a wide variety of shows, addressing topics ranging from prefabricated housing to the Bauhaus to rising sea levels. His recent exhibitions have included a widely praised show on the french architect Henri LaBrouste, and Le Courbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes (co-curated with Jean-Louis Cohen), which is currently on view.
Bergdoll’s tenure as chair has been marked both by a deepening of the historical and scholarly quality of the exhibitions and programming as well as greater engagement with social issues, such as affordable housing and climate change. In an email to AN, Bergdoll wrote, “I look forward to…continuing to be associated not only with the world’s oldest curatorial department of architecture and design, but I think its most vibrant and finest.”
MoMA will begin a search for his successor at the end of August.
Robert Venturi won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991. His wife and professional collaborator Denise Scott Brown was not recognized, sparking a controversy that has raged ever since. Following a recent round of petitions and editorials calling for a retroactive prize–or some form of recognition—the current Pritzker jury chair, Lord Peter Palumbo, sent a letter on the matter to two current students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James, organizers of the most prominent of the recent petitions.
Palumbo made it clear that no retroactive prize was possible: “Insofar as you have in mind a retroactive award of the prize to Ms. Scott Brown, the present jury cannot do so. Pritzker juries, over time, are made up of different individuals, each of whom does his or her best to find the most highly qualified candidate.” Palumbo left open the possibility of recognition for Scott Brown. “Let us assure you, however, that Ms. Scott Brown remains eligible for the Pritzker Award. That award is given on the basis of an architect’s total body of built work.” Palumbo further acknowledged the context of the controversy: “We should like to thank you for calling directly to our attention a more general problem, namely that assuring women and fair and equal place in the profession.”
Underscoring the fragility of the economic recovery, the April AIA’s Architecture Billings Index dipped into negative territory for the first time in nine months. The slump to 48.6 was significant, down from 51.9 in March (any score above 50 indicates positive growth).
“Project approval delays are having an adverse effect on the design and construction industry, but again and again we are hearing that it is extremely difficult to obtain financing to move forward on real estate projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “There are other challenges that have prevented a broader recovery that we will examine in the coming months if this negative trajectory continues. However, given that inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip.”
Mergers and consolidations continue in the A/E/C industry. The four legacy firms that make up the US division of engineering firm WSP—WSP Flack + Kurtz, WSP Cantor Seinuk, WSP Environmental & Energy, and WSP SELLS—are consolidating under the WSP name.
Herman Miller is acquiring the renowned textile firm, Maharam, bringing together two of America’s most design-centric companies. Founded in 1902 in New York, Maharam has gained a reputation in recent decades for commissioning textile designs by leading contemporary designers like Hella Jongerius, Tord Boontje, and Paul Smith, and reissuing classic designs by Verner Panton, Gio Ponti, Alexander Girard, and many others. Led by Michael and Stephen Maraham, the company has cultivated a strong connection to the design community and developed products guided by the taste and vision of the brothers. According to a release by Herman Miller, both Maharam brothers will stay involved in the company for at least the next two years. Senior executives with the company will also stay in place.
As the chorus of criticism swells against MoMA’s plan to demolish the former home of the American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, a pair of petitions have been posted urging the Modern to reconsider its demolition plans. Also, a crowd-sourced tumblr, #FolkMoMA, is soliciting ideas for reuse of Williams and Tsien’s building. With all the action online, will anyone be taking to the streets for some old fashioned picketing? Will anyone chain themselves to the bronze facade? Has all this worry actually left the bubble of the architecture community?