Forget for a moment that President Obama bumped the New York Times’ Jill Abramson from the dais to deliver this year’s commencement address at Barnard and not his alma mater, Columbia College. Tonight, the Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman will be delivering a lecture at Barnard’s Diana Center, titled Public Space and Public Consciousness. However, a busy Kimmelman also appeared last night at GSAPP, for a conversation with Columbia Professor Gwendolyn Wright.
The Storefront for Art and Architecture launched Ingredients of Reality: Dismantling of New York City last Tuesday night. The show features work by Lan Tuazon, whose bio reads that she was born in the Philippine Islands and “lives and works in New York whether she likes it or not.” It would seem from the show, that she likes it–but with reservations. Through a series of seemingly disparate works, Tuazon calls attention to how real estate decisions have the ability to divide the New Yorkers economically and socially.
The 12th annual IESNYC Student Lighting Competition, “Fraction/Refraction”, was held Wednesday night at the appropriately well-lit Helen Mills Event Space in Chelsea. The competition was open to all interested students in New York City and included entries from designers at Pratt Institute, Parsons/New School, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham, and New York School of Interior Design. Over 100 entries created a luminous one-night exhibition of over 100 light-sourced objects, each with a different take on this year’s theme of “how light plays with textures, flows through materials and creates layers of contrast.”
Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate since 2009, has been appointed a partner at SHoP Architects effective immediately. The seventh partner (and only the second not related to the firm’s founders by blood or marriage), Chakrabarti will focus on large-scale urban projects, drawing on his years of expertise through such on-going endeavors as Related Companies’ involvement with the Moynihan Station project and development at Hudson Yards. (While he will remain director of the Columbia real estate program, he will forgo his consultancy with Related.)
Even in these recessionary times, there are still big buyers who can afford to expand when the market is low. In Seattle, Amazon is in the preliminary stages of purchasing three city blocks in the Denny Triangle neighborhood north of the business district from developer Clise Properties, The Seattle Times reports. The properties are bounded by Westlake Avenue to the east, 6th Avenue to the south, and Blanchard Street to the west.
Amazon is going big: intending to convert what are now parking lots into three office towers measuring one million square feet each. The total space will double the size of the largest skyscraper in Seattle, the Columbia Center.
Amazon’s current office space—over a million square feet distributed over several locations—is rented. This will mark Amazon’s first office ownership. An agreement with Clise will give Amazon the option to buy more of their holdings, which are part of a larger 13-acre site in Denny Triangle.
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California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium updates its million-gallon Open Sea exhibit
Located on the former site of a sardine cannery overlooking the Pacific, the Monterey Bay Aquarium pumps 2,000 gallons of seawater into its more than 100 exhibit tanks every minute. When its Outer Bay exhibit opened in 1996, it had the world’s largest single-pane window, measuring 56 feet long and 17 feet high. But turbulence created by the sea creatures inside unexpectedly damaged the aquarium’s liner, which flexed and loosened the grout that held its blue glass tiles in place. Large, fast-swimming tunas housed in the tank also caused damage by occasionally colliding with the lining. In 2010 the aquarium hired architectural composite consultant and fabricator Bill Kreysler, founder of Kreysler & Associates (K&A), to create a new Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) liner for the exhibit, which recently reopened as the Open Sea galleries.
When the attention of real estate speculators diverts, sometimes old neighborhoods have time to acquire a majestic patina. The Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan has been neglected for some time, but is now getting a fair share of spillover interest from Columbia’s Manhattanville project and the university’s nearby hospital campus. In 2009, the Audubon Park Historic District was created to protect the area just behind Audubon Terrace, home to the Hispanic Society and the Academy of Arts and Letters. But just north of the district, years of landlord neglect has unwittingly preserved row after row of early 20th century apartment buildings festooned with ornate cornices. But the cornices are now in danger of disappearing.