The New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the lease and operation of a cultural facility adjacent the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Building 11, one of several buildings that housed the Coast Guard’s lighthouse operations from 1836 to 1966, was recently renovated by the city as part of a campaign to revitalize Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront.
With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. “Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward.”
Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.
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The artist’s first major U.S. commission lands at the Met
On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a preview of the latest installation to take root in its Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Designed by Tomás Saraceno, the installation is the largest of the artist’s Cloud Cities/Airport Cities series, and his first major commission in the United States. Under overcast skies and a sprinkling of rain, the installation’s first visitors—or at least those wearing rubber-soled shoes—clamored through its 16 interconnected modules. Some paused to sit or lie in the structure’s uppermost areas, while others were content to view the constellation of mirrored acrylic forms and nylon webs from the ground. The experience of boarding the structure is disorienting, and the piece gives visitors the impression that it would float away from the rooftop and over Central Park if not tethered to the Met by steel cables.
EVOL: Repeat Offender
Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 9th floor
Through May 5
While his artwork might be hanging on the walls of a gallery in Chelsea, Berlin-based street artist Evol adds a distinct element of urban grit to his used-cardboard and spray-paint stencil works now on display as part of his Repeat Offender exhibition. The incredibly detailed views capture the abandonment of low-income German neighborhoods, using the texture of the cardboard base to enhance the paintings’ architectural qualities. “Clean surfaces don’t speak to me, so recording these marks is a process of visually remembering the charm of a place that will soon be painted over,” Evol said in a statement. Besides his cardboard paintings, Evol is also showing paintings on metal and photographs on his 2009 installation from a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany.
Newly Drawn: Emerging Finnish Architects
The Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
Through April 30
A shift is occurring in Finnish architecture as a new generation of firms is emboldened by a unique competition culture that allows anonymous submissions from young and established architects alike. Helsinki is undergoing a major process of renewal with the transformation of former industrial and harbor areas to new uses; as such, large-scale commissions are available to otherwise inexperienced practices with new approaches to the city, such as Kilden Performing Arts Center by ALA Architects (above) and Kuokkala Church by Lassila Hirvilammi (below).
ONE Lab, New York School for Design + Science is a non-profit research and education collaborative that plans to begin year-round programming when the historic renovation of Building 128 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is complete in 2014. This innovative, interdisciplinary school currently operates out of the Metropolitan Exchange, a professional cooperative at 33 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. The co-chairs, Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim of urban ecology thinktank Terreform ONE, seek to promote “research and education at the intersection of design and science.”
For your afternoon enjoyment, check out this silent film from 1921 we spotted at the Urbanophile called Manhatta. The short film by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler documents city life in Lower Manhattan during a typical day, from the arrival of a ferry at the Battery Maritime Building to construction of skyscrapers to a Manhattan sunset. Our favorite scenes, however, are the chaotic streets (“Where the city’s ceaseless crowd moves on, the live long day.”) filled with people, cars, buggies, trolleys, elevated rail lines, and bikes all moving in the same shared space. Take a look.