It’s been a while since we did the once around the super block that is the World Trade Center site. We held off on WTC Updates until the Tenth Anniversary news fest subsided. Now that all eyes are on the Zuccotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, we figured it’d be a good time to take another walkabout. From an urban planning standpoint, the Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) status of Zuccotti Park has stirred up quite a bit of interest.
As the 9/11 Memorial opened only last month—and remains a highly controlled space—the only way to navigate around the site is to walk through a series of interior and exterior POPS. Right now Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of the Brookfield-owned park is getting the lion’s share of attention, but elsewhere there are little known gatherings in other POPS around Lower Manhattan that happen every day.
550 West 18th Street
New York, NY
The IAC Headquarters is Frank Gehry’s first building in New York. Neither a symphony hall nor an art gallery clad in riveting titanium that creates its own economic system, it is rather a diminutive swell of faceted glass with a graded white frit. Compared to most big-name office buildings, the IAC is built at a much more personal scale. Built as-of-right and opened to little in the way of the usual starchitect fanfare, some might notice it’s hard to find the front door. What you may not know, however, is how bird friendly the building is.
Let’s face it, outside of Central Park, Manhattan isn’t known for its abundance of open space. This is beginning to change, however, as in this increasingly innovative architectural age, people are looking to odd, underutilized remnants in the city, from abandoned rail lines to decrepit industrial buildings and toxic waterfronts to create the next amazing public space. One such space sits just beneath the Manhattan Bridge, where Architecture for Humanity has secured a grant and invited nine design firms to take on Coleman Oval Skate Park. Holm Architecture Office (HAO) with Niklas Thormark has taken on the challenge and revealed their program-driven proposal.
As we all know, Jane Jacobs was a visionary urban activist and author, whose 1961 publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous impact on how we think about cities and urban planning today. She challenged prevailing assumptions in urban planning at a time when slum-clearing was the norm and emphasized the intricacies and sensitivities of an urban fabric. In 2007, the year after Jacobs died, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Jane Jacobs Medal, an annual award given to those who stand by Jacobs’ principles and whose “creative uses of the urban environment” renders New York City “more diverse, dynamic and equitable.”
Ten Sukkahs—small temporary structures built for the Jewish festival of Sukkot—will be on display at Washington University in St. Louis. The ten winning projects, by architects and designers from across the country, were chosen out of a group of 40 competition entries. Sukkot recognizes the struggle of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and Sukkahs recall the fragile structures they inhabited.
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Ductal concrete technology used for the architect’s shapely “icebergs” in Paris
Frank Gehry has referred to his design for the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a new home for the contemporary art collection of LVMH mogul Bernard Arnaud, as “a veritable ship amongst trees.” The project, located at the northern entrance of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne near the Jardin d’Acclimatation, hasn’t been without its share of controversy and delays, but the nearly 130,000-square-foot, 150-foot-tall building is moving ahead and is slated for completion in 2012. Though a hovering glass carapace will enshroud the museum, models of the design show the sails parting at various points to reveal concrete “icebergs” that form the building’s core. Since 2006, building material manufacturer Lafarge has been working with the building’s project team, prototype designer Cogitech Design, and precast concrete manufacturer Bonna Sabla to realize the design with Lafarge’s Ductal ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC).
959 8th Avenue
New York, NY
As written in the AIANY Design Awards issue of Oculus, Summer 2007:
With its efficient use of resources, abundant natural daylight and fresh air, and modern technologies, this 856,000-square-foot building designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2006 is the first in New York City to receive a LEED Gold rating for its core, shell, and interiors. Most notably, it was constructed using more than 80% recycled steel. The diagrid framing uses 20% less steel than conventionally framed towers, and it was designed to consume 25% less energy than most Manhattan towers.
Ireland is known for lots of things, but contemporary architecture isn’t necessarily one of them. Irish Architecture Now, the first-ever showcase of Irish architecture to tour the U.S., aims to change that. Curated by Raymund Ryan, co-curator of the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Irish Architecture Now program features six of Ireland’s leading architecture practices and will travel to architectural schools and institutions to highlight top contemporary Irish architecture, which the organizers state, has “over the past two decades firmly established itself with flair on the European scene.”
Not so Clean. White brick buildings, once favored in the 50s and 60s for their shiny glaze and supposed waterproofing and self-cleaning benefits, are now a costly headache for New York City, reported the NY Times. The glaze, it turns out, actually traps moisture and causes cracks and deterioration, with repairs climbing into the millions of dollars.
Back to Basics. While architects nowadays can get away with their shaky doodles (of the physically impossible buildings and cartoonish people with disproportionate heads) as long as they prove their CAD proficiency, the just-launched Beaux-Arts Atelier feels differently– only when you master the basics can you be freer to do crazier, modern things with more creative control. More on The Wall Street Journal.
The Digitals. Architecture historian and journalist critic Alexandra Lange critically compares the content and design of four new digital interior design magazines and discusses the merits of blogs. Read her thoughts on Arch Record.
Juried Judge. The NY Times ran a story about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s selection to join the Pritzker Prize jury, citing AN‘s report from September. The move looks to be a good one for architecture, as Breyer, a fan of Gothic and Beaux-Arts architecture, has pushed for better design of federal buildings.