For a long time in the West there has been a common misgiving that aid is about patronage. The Cooper Hewitt’s latest exhibition, Design with the Other 90% : Cities, which opened this weekend at the United Nations Visitor’s Center, rebukes this notion by spotlighting communities in the southern hemisphere who are taking the initiative, harnessing local resources to solve their own problems. In the show, designers and architects are tapping into existing currents of change.
A South London state-funded school is a far cry from an international exhibition center, but in the last two years the annual Stirling Prize, organized by the RIBA, has recognized Zaha Hadid’s designs for both as exceptional examples of British architecture. This year’s winner, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton was the London-based practice’s second consecutive win after last year’s prize for the enigmatic Maxxi Museum in Rome. Hadid’s design was up against a swathe of accomplished competitors including Hopkins’ London Olympics Velodrome, the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in Stratford by Bennetts Associates and Chipperfield’s Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany.
In an extended period of belt-tightening, it is often the arts sector that grapples with some of the harder aspects of fund-raising. With heavy competition from other non-profits clamoring for support from the city’s enlightened wealthy, institutions must be creative and resourceful to attract new and more generous donors. For the Municipal Art Society (MAS), this dedicated support has come in the form of Robert W. Wilson.
A veteran MAS donor, a philanthropist, and a former Wall Street hedge fund manager, Wilson has committed $600,000 over the next three years to match new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more on a one-for-two dollar basis. Effective August 1st, the aim is to help MAS strengthen and sustain its base of unrestricted support, which puts control of distribution into the hands of MAS rather than a targeted program.
Practice makes perfect, and for some Parsons students, the Splash House at Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is a jumping off point for becoming better architects.
Parsons’ Design Workshop, a design-build studio set up 15 years ago to offer practical training to students, has partnered with New York Parks and Recreation Department to instigate a five-year initiative to identify and implement improvements in public spaces across the city. “The architecture students get a more holistic understanding of process,” said Kate McCormick, Press Officer at Parsons. “They actually learn how to make and engage the community, by finding out what it needs.” Although it usually collaborates with public organizations both inside and outside Manhattan, this is the Workshop’s first long-term municipal partnership within New York City. The first assignment: Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center in Upper Manhattan. Read More