Barriers or freshwater wetlands? New building codes? What about porous pavements or floating city blocks? These were just a few of the ideas batted around at AIANY’s discussion and fundraiser, “Designing the City after Superstorm Sandy,” at the Center for Architecture last Thursday evening. The panel, moderated by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, consisted of the city’s leading designers, architects, scientists, and government officials. While each panelist came to the conversation with a different approach and set of strategies, all agreed that change is necessary and new solutions urgent.
“There’s a certain consensus about taking steps in the long-run,” said Kimmelman.
Plastics was the key word at the recent Columbia conference “Permanent Change: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering,” which featured some of the best architects working with polymers today. On opening night, Greg Lynn did away with traditional tectonics in favor of total composite design from recycled toys to beautiful racing boats. Several pieces were on display in the lobby, including a beautiful backlit ribbed column cover designed by Columbia associate professor Yoshiko Sato (assisted by Shuning Zhao and John Hooper). Sato, who’s known for her NASA design research and space course at Columbia, also designed the two over-sized plastic inflatable flowers suspended from the lobby ceiling, as shown above. The composite designs will be up and on view at the Morningside Heights campus at least another week.
My In Detail article in the current issue covers Rafael Moneo’s Northwest Corner Building at Columbia University. In addition to filling the final vacancy in the 1890 McKim, Mead & White master plan, the building had to bridge a subterranean recreation center with a 120-foot clear span. In answer, Moneo—along with executive architect Davis Brody Bond Aedas and structural engineer Arup—designed the building’s steel framing system as one big truss, with diagonal members bolstering the perimeter moment frame. The majority of the gravity loads, however, are supported by three gargantuan trusses that run the length of the building four levels above the street. These trusses are so big and heavy that Turner Construction had to assemble them on site, on a shed built above the sidewalk, and then slide them into place. The above stop-action video was also assembled by the construction manager, documenting its elegant solution to this seriously heavy erection.