Is drawing dead? That was the burning question (and title) of last weekend’s symposium at the Yale School of Architecture, which assessed the contemporary state of drawing through three days of lectures and panels, with pen-and-paper proponents from across the architectural spectrum. This convergence of many great drawers past and present coincided with the recently opened exhibition Massimo Scolari: The Representation of Architecture, a largely drawing-based show on view through May 4 in the School of Architecture Gallery.
Tour New York’s design hot spots! Open House New York (OHNY) opens up scores of the city’s most important building for public tours every year, and now it’s doing the same for architect’s offices. OHNY will open a variety of offices for self-guided public tours in four of the city’s most creative design centers: DUMBO, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Varick Street, and Red Hook.
The first tour of Dumbo (also sponsored by Two Trees Development, the DUMBO Improvement District, and The Architect’s Newspaper) is schedule for Saturday, February 25 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. You will gain unprecedented access to some of the most creative design firms in New York, but you must sign up on the OHNY website. The day will end with a reception at a Dumbo design space with the participating architects. To see a full list of participating firms and to register, click here.
The hullabaloo over Brooklyn bike lanes at Prospect Park subsided continues as strong as ever, but a new bike controversy has been brewing up in the Bronx over the past few months. The drama centers on Parks Department plans to pave over Van Cortlandt Park‘s Putnam Trail, a path that was originally cleared for a rail line more than a century ago. The new plan was spurred by the “Rails to Trails” movement. The path, much beloved by the runners, has spurred some mudslinging by the pro-dirt contingent against “an elite, mostly out-of-borough handful,” as trail lover Michael Burke put it in an Op-ed piece for The Riverdale Press back in December.
The runners have been fighting back by gathering over a thousand letters and nearly 600 signatures through their Save the Putnam Trail Facebook page. The group argues that a stone dust surface would be far more eco-friendly than the proposed asphalt and would cut the projected $2.4 million budget for the project in half. The group says its not anti-bike, just anti-asphalt and a stone dust path would suit wheels just fine. For their part, Parks said that the their plan would open the trail to all users by providing a dirt path for runners, creating a lane for bikers and making the path ADA accessible. The new trail would be a contiguous path connecting to a paved path in Westchester County and the citywide greenways. Van Cortlandt park administrator Margot Perron said in a statement that stone dust is much more difficult for wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles to navigate than a hard surface and requires much more maintenance.
UPDATE 2/15: On the Save the Putnam Trail site yesterday, Meg Riordan reports that she spotted machinery preparing the trail for the paving. “From an ecological view, I am also confounded as to ‘how’ adding more impervious surfaces – to replace dirt – benefits the natural wooded habitat,” she writes. A spokesperson from Parks pointed out that new drainage will carry runoff. Also, four hundred saplings and 42 young trees will be added and invasive species will be cleared away. The project will last one year.
We here at The Architect’s Newspaper always appreciate unfettered access when it comes our way, but today we’re unwitting holders of the hottest ticket in town. This morning you couldn’t get any where near City Hall without a business card that says you work nearby. Turns out we landed front row seats to the ticker tape parade and City Hall ceremony celebrating the NY Giants Superbowl victory. Now, how do we relate this to urban planning and architecture…
Last Friday night, AN‘s William Menking and Aaron Levy launched their new book Four Conversations on the Architecture of Discourse at the Van Alen Bookstore in Chelsea. The book’s publisher, Thomas Weaver of the Architectural Association in London, and the Van Alen’s Olympia Kazi we on hand to help frame the evening’s discourse on discourse.
The new book springs from an earlier effort called Architecture on Display: the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, aka “the white book.” In true manifesto fashion, the group sidestepped the official Biennale promo machine by publishing the white book outside of the established Biennale channels and then blanketed the 2010 festival with more than 600 copies. That book transcribed interviews with former Biennale directors and recovered an important history of the forum. From that quick and dirty approach emerged a longer term plot for the “black book” of Four Conversations, which focused architectural display and its relationship to the public.
Jan Staller: Heavy Duty Landscapes
ISE Cultural Foundation
Through March 2
Jan Staller: Heavy Duty Landscapes, an exhibition curated by Marc Freidus, at the ISE Cultural Foundation, features sixteen large format photographs selected from series completed by Staller during the past seven years. Roadsides, recycling plants, and construction sites like the one featured in Pilings, Flushing, Queens (above) are the types of overlooked landscapes Staller addresses in his work. Through his lens we see the unexpected beauty of harsh, chaotic industrial sites and objects softened by their natural surroundings, as in Tank Car In Snow, Port Reading, New Jersey (below).
Last year, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) got their heart broken by the Times Square Alliance, which chose a hula-hoop happy design by Freecell Studio for its annual Times Square Valentine’s installation. Now a spokesperson from the Alliance admits that they always “loved” BIG’s design and were willing to give it a second chance. This year, the Alliance didn’t go online looking for love. Instead, they went back to a former flirtation, and chose BIG’s entry from last year, shunning the possibility of outside suitors.
BIG calls its 10-foot high glowing heart sculpture “BIG♥NYC.” The design affair was something of a ménage à quatre, with Flatcut (the fabricator), Local Projects (the interaction designers), and Zumtobel (the lighting designers) pitching in on the effort. Four-hundred LED-lit acrylic tubes wrap a cube that bounds a suspended heart. Not surprisingly, when touched the heart grows brighter.
To hell with what Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil says about there being six more weeks of winter; if you want a true harbinger of spring, head over the Center for Architecture for a last chance to check out the “Two Wheel Transit” show mounted by the DEP for their bike share program that going to be launched in the spring. The show teases out some of the details of the plan that will add rentable public bikes to the New York City’s transit options. The exhibit closes this Saturday, but if you don’t make it over in time, you can go to one of the community bike share workshops that begin on Monday. The first meeting will be held at 25 Carmine Street. The workshops will give New Yorkers a chance to comment on where to put the 600 bike stations.