It felt a bit like the Decoration & Design Building at the Architecture and Design Film Festival last night for the U.S. premiere of Lioness Among Lions: The Architect Zaha Hadid, thanks in part to a smattering of East Side stylings in the crowd at the Tribeca Cinemas and the clever addition of Potterton Books to the festival. Waiting for the theater doors to open, we swigged wine provided by event sponsor Resource Furniture and perused shelves filled with a fantastic collection of both old and new books; Loos and Gio Ponti pressed up against Studio Gang. As we raved about Van Alen’s new bookstore, Potterton’s book buyer Beth Daugherty admitted she still mourns the loss of Urban Center Books.
Building of the Day #20: 41 Cooper Square
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
New York, NY
Often “stats” and awards are known well before the public appreciates a new building’s urban role. Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Square, designed by Thom Mayne, FAIA, of Morphosis Architects with Gruzen Samton as Associate Architect, is more than a volume for a multi-disciplinary academic building with a co-generation plant, cooling and heating ceiling panels, low V.O.C. materials, green terraces, and “Fit-City”-worthy vertical circulation. While these stats did help the client claim the first LEED Platinum-certified academic laboratory building, Cooper has also revived a former traffic triangle and extended its identity southwards along the new Bowery. At a time when both NYU and Columbia’s building goals face sharp scrutiny, it pays to have a tough skin. Make that a gritty double skin!
A rainy day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the fourth graders that we met playing hoops in the brightly lit gym of the East Harlem School. It looks to me that there are two geniuses behind this wonderful building: Peter Gluck, the acerbic and seasoned architect/builder and Ivan M. Hageman, co-founder and Head of School.
Gluck led the tour, but Ivan was ever-present—in the cafeteria leading an appreciation of the chef and servers, and in the reception area meeting with parents. He welcomed us into his office, which is perched at the east end of the building with a clear glass open view up 103rd Street to the Public School embedded in the nearby housing project. Jane Jacobs eyes on the street.
Photographs by Andrew Moore
Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) presents the powerful photography of Andrew Moore from his three-month visit to Detroit from 2008 to 2009. Moore’s photographs are a tragic yet beautiful glimpse into the decline of a city that was once the twentieth century industrial heart of America. Michigan Central Station (above) stands empty, the organ screen at the United Artists Theater is crumbling, and bright green moss covers the floor of the former Ford Motor Company Headquarters. “Moore’s exquisitely realized visions of architecture overtaken by vegetation remind contemporary viewers that our own familiar culture is subject to the forces of entropy and the eternal strength of nature,” says a statement from QMA.
Building of the Day #18: 200 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
Beautiful weather continues to make Archtober the best month ever to enjoy great architecture. Madison Square, where 200 Fifth Avenue is located, is a palimpsest of the northward expansion of commerce and civilization in Manhattan. A public space since 1686, it first became a park in 1847. With the construction of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, (Griffith Thomas with William Washburn Architects, 1859) on the site of the current 200 Fifth, the area became the social, cultural, and political hub of elite New York in the years after the Civil War—think Edith Wharton. And it has the monuments to prove it.
Last week, we took a trip around the block from the AN office to go to an open house at 55 Warren hosted by Legrand, the French systems management company. While we were impressed with all the gizmos and glitzy gadgets, it was OCV Architect’s clever renovation of the old cast-iron building that grabbed our attention.
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.
Attention Frank Lloyd Wright fans! You can satisfy two Wright cravings with this one event. Head over the the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to catch a screening of Kenneth Love’s lush new documentary Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterwork with Reflections of Edgar Kaufmann Jr. The film, which was supported by the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, the Estate of Edgar Tafel, and the Laurel Foundation, will be screened in the museum’s New Media Theatre on October 21 and 28 and November 4 and 18 at 1:00 and 3:00 pm. The screenings are free with the price of admission to the museum. It’s the perfect marriage of content and container. Wright would approve.
The Metropolitan Tower is the wedge-shaped, Darth Vader-like all black glass monolith next to Carnegie Hall. Rising a tidy 716 feet in 77 stories of offices in the low-rise portion and residences in the high rise, the AIA Guide to New York City tells us that its developer Harry Macklowe claimed to have designed it himself. Not true! Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron (now SLCE Architects) get the credit for the 1987 tower.
Next time you are in Times Square, don’t be shy when you see a spotlight– no matter how lame your dance moves are, you are guaranteed an explosive roar of applause from an invisible, enthusiastic crowd of people as long as you are moving. (What a refreshing departure from the notorious American Idol jury.) This location-appropriate spotlight installation is an interactive public art work by Adam Frank, an installation artist and a product inventor, whose body of work “represents an ongoing investigation of light and interactivity.” His shadow-casting oil lamp, LUMEN, is one of the MoMA Store’s best-selling items.