Sharon is an architect, planner and design educator. Based in Princeton, N.J. and New York, she divides her time between professional design pursuits and writing about architecture. She currently serves as the US Correspondent for World Architecture News and is a regular contributor to Competitions magazine and Abitare. Sharon holds degrees in City Planning and Historic Preservation (Architecture) from the University of Pennsylvania and has received numerous awards for her work including an AIA Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture (2004) for a pavilion for Cornell West, an AIA Smart Growth Award (2005), and an AIA NJ Design Award (1991). Email:email@example.com Twitter page - click here to follow Facebook page - click here
- 400m Imperial Tower designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill
- Interview: Jenni Reuter
- Q&A(rchitect): A discussion on how emerging architects see the future of our profession
- Souta de Moura defies critics and accepts Israel’s Wolf Prize
- Israel and the Architectural Narrative
- High-Performance Facades: Performance Attributes – What to Consider & Measure
- Interview: Peter Rich
- The Face of the Future: Façade Engineering and Environmental Performance
Just arrived in Israel today for a week long architectural bloggers tour courtesy Vibe Israel. Tonight’s dinner conversation held at the rooftop restaurant of the Mamilla Hotel overlooking the Old City of Jerusaelm, kept circling back to architecture and how it tells a storey. A colleague from ArchDaily commented on how the Holocaust Museum in Berlin by Daniel Libeskind and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem by Moshe Safdie have completely different narratives. And indeed they do. This week we’ll be touring various architectural sites in Israel, mainly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to uncover that narrative. Tomorrow and the next day, we’ll be visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, including getting an exclusive tour of Yad Vashem led by insider and long time Moshe Safdie Associate Irit Kochavi and attending the Wolf Prize Ceremony at the Israeli Parliament, where Portuguese architect Eduardo Soto de Mora will be awarded the 2013 Wolf Prize in Architecture and join a prestigious group of laureates in the field including Frank Gehry, Jorn Utzon Denys Lasdun, Frei Otto, Aldo Van Eyck, Alvaro Siza, Jean Nouvel, David Chipperfield, Peter Eisenmann, Fumihiko Maki, Giancarlo De Carlo, and Ralph Erskine.
Now in his third and final term as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg delivered what will be his last state of the city address to New Yorkers. The take away was to further green the city, with more recycling plans and similar such initiatives, but the big news was the mayor’s sweeping endorsement of electric cars, with plans to make taxis all electric and to add electric car charging parking spaces throughout the boroughs.
“We’ll work with the City Council to amend the Building Code so that up to 20 percent of all new public parking spaces in private developments will be wired and ready for electric vehicles, creating up to 10,000 parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years, said Bloomberg. The goal is aspirational and, if implemented as envisioned, New York City will have the most progressive programme in the country for electric vehicles.
Critics of the plan say it is too much too soon, pointing out that the plan assumes everyone will want an electric vehicle and be able to afford it. Also questioned is the long term future investment in electric cars, which is now in the nascent stage. Many electric vehicles can travel only 70 miles or so before needing to be charged. So unless major improvements are made on this end, the program most assuredly favours in town travel rather than long distance trips which, for many New Yorkers, is the main reason to keep a car in the city.
MoMA is asking artists, architects, designers and urban planners to present ideas for creating social spaces, new housing models, urban interventions and other ideas related to rebuilding and protecting the shoreline of the Rockaways, an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
Submissions, which are due by 15 March, will judged by a jury led by MoMA director Klaus Bisenbach and including Barry Bergdoll, Peter Eleey, Pedro Gadanho, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Niklas Maak, and others. 25 entries will be selected and presented in April 2013 in the geodesic dome MoMA is building in the Rockaways to serve as a site for culture and community gathering.
All information, including submission details and an impressive filmic portrayal of the Rockaways and the effects of Sandy can be found here: http://momaps1.org/news/view/89
Practice makes perfect as they say. But for those starting out in architecture, practice isn’t so much about perfection as it is about transformative ideas. That was the message of the young architects premiated in this year’s AIA NY’s New Practices New York progamme, which recognizes emerging talent and, in doing so, gives us all a lot to think about with regards the practice of architecture in the future.
Last week at Axor’s New York headquarters in the Meatpacking District, the last in the series of talks from this year’s NPNY winners was presented to a room packed crowd of architects and interested others. The speakers were David Benjamin of the Living and Jonathan Lee of Google. Benjamin presented four projects that illustrated how an individual project might connect to collaborators. Benjamin, who also teaches at Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning, is interested in the intersection of new digital technologies and information. One project he presented, which looks at air quality, engages digital facade technologies to convey real time information about temperature and air quality in a city by district. Passersby can look at a building facade and determine what the air quality is today, relative to what it was yesterday and whether it has improved or worsened and how their neighborhood fares relative to other neighborhoods. The project is intended to illustrate the possibilities of digital facades to convey important information to a large group of people that was previously invisible to the human eye.
Benjamin did much the same for water quality with a project that puts sensors deep in the Hudson River that light up in different colors at the surface level, with each color representing a different type and level of pollutant as well as indicating the presence of fish. It was one interesting and inspiring evening that left us all clamoring for more and Benjamin did not disappoint as he told the crowd about a project he was working on now involving living bacteria and forecast that new building materials, like light weight and flexible concrete, that is sheet thin and stronger than an ox, could be made in a petrie dish in the future.
We got more of same out of the box thinking from Jonathan Lee, the second act of this dynamic duo. In addition to talking about his collaborations with Benjamin, Lee briefed us on Google products and what was in the offing. He spoke to the future of smartphones and other devices saying that digital devices will work more effortlessly in the future so users won’t have to think so much about what it is they want their devices to do but rather have smarter devices that can anticipate our every move and needs for information. Lee is currently working on Google Project Glass which you may have seen on You Tube but if you missed it here it is for your viewing pleasure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4.
Kudos to AIANY and the Center for Architecture for the good work it does bringing inspiring and thoughtful voices like Benjamin and the six others honoured in the NPNY programme into public view.
New York architect Pei Partnership is suing the developer of Celebrate Virgina for $6 million in unpaid fees for its design of The National Slavery Museum, a project spearheaded by former Virginia Governor, Doug Wilder, that is mired in financial difficulties. The project is as yet built and the slavery museum organization now owes the city of Fredericksburg $300,000 in delinquent taxes. The city plans to sell the 38 acre parcel on which the museum was to sit and the architect is hoping the sale will lead to its getting paid. One has to wonder how the firm got so far out in its billings and why it continued to work when it was not being paid. This is one for the lawyers but it seems to me there was a lapse in the common sense department at the Pei firm.
It is somewhat fitting that someone who receives an award for lifetime achievement says he’s got more work to do. That was the sentiment expressed by the legendary architect Michael Graves as he accepted Contract’s magazine’s Legend Award last Friday at the publication’s annual design awards breakfast held at New York’s Cipriani restaurant. No sooner than he took the stage, Graves let us in on what he has been up to, including designing a new line of products for retailer J. C. Penny that will launch early this year.
While the deal between Penny’s and Graves has long been known it wasn’t until last Friday that anyone got a peek at the new line, which includes over 300 products to be housed in ‘shops-in-shops’ in 700 J.C. Penny stores located throughout the U.S. The always gracious Graves gave one of the products, a silver picture frame that can be positioned both horizontally or vertically, to all who attended the event. Like much of Graves work, it is classically inspired .
In addition to the Penny’s collaboration, the energetic, 78 year young architect expressed that he has a newfound passion designing for people like himself, who are wheelchair bound or dealing with debilitating and challenging health issues. Readers will recall that Graves’ world was turned upside down in 2003 when he developed an infection that left him paralyzed from the waist down. But he quickly turned that tragic experience into a positive, applying his talents to such things as designing accessible housing for wounded war veterans and a new line of products for Stryker medical. As Graves said at the event, “I am not only an architect I am also a patient”.
It is from the perspective of a patient that Graves is approaching his work afresh and scooping high profile commissions in the healthcare market, a a sector, where prior to his injury, his voice was all but absent. The goal says Graves is “to create a more humane and dignified environment for people dealing with challenges”. And of course beauty is high on the list.
Today NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the team of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS was selected as the winner of the adAPT NYC Competition. The pilot program, launched in July 2012, charged competitors with the task of designing the city’s first micro-unit apartment building, which will be built on City-owned land at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan.
The winning proposal called “My Micro NY’ will create 55 new micro-units measuring between 250-370 square feet, 40 percent of which will be affordable beyond the competitive market rents, designed to optimize space and maximize the sense of openness. The winning scheme edged out competitors, excelling in the criteria of layout and design with desirable features like 9’-10” floor-to-ceiling heights and Juliette balconies that provide an abundance of access to light and air. Notably, the project will also be the first multi-unit building in Manhattan to be built using modular construction, with the modules prefabricated locally by Capsys at the Brooklyn Naval Yard.
The competition was judged by an all star cast of of designers, journalists, artists and business people and drew a robust response. The winning proposal, My Micro NY and four other notable entries will be featured in a upcoming exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York called Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers.
The adAPT NYC Competition was created to introduce additional choices within New York City’s housing market to accommodate the city’s growing population of one- and two-person households. Currently New York City has 1.8 million one- and two-person households, but only one million studios and one-bedrooms. The City’s housing codes have not kept up with its changing population, and currently do not allow an entire building of micro-units. Under this pilot program, Mayor Bloomberg will waive certain zoning regulations at a City-owned site at 335 East 27TH Street to test the market for this new housing model. The adAPT NYC RFP was downloaded more than 1,600 times in hundreds of cities domestically and abroad, and generated 33 proposals by the submission deadline – making this the largest response received by HPD for a housing project. It is expected that the project will complete the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for disposition of City-owned land in the fall and break ground on construction at the end of 2013.
As the holiday lights come down around New York City, there is one light or rather light show that still shines on. At least for the next month. BuckyBall, an art installation designed by the world renowned artist Leo Villareal, just had it’s run extended due to popular demand and it will remain on view in Madison Square Park until February 15th.
Commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art program, the 30 foot tall light sculpture is inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller. Set against the dramatic backdrop of New York City with the Empire State Building visible in the distance, the work features two nested geodesic sculptural spheres comprised of 180 LED tubes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons referred to as a “Fullerene”.
Individual pixels located every 1.2 inches along the tubes, each capable of displaying 16 million distinct colors and tuned by the artist’s software, create dynamic light sequences that enliven the natural landscape of the park. The result is an exuberant random composition of varied speed, color, opacity, and scale.
Villareal’s light sculpture is surrounded by zero-gravity couches that allow viewers to recline below the artwork to take in the show. The sculpture and the couches are inspired by and reinterpret many of the traditional elements found in the park and do so in a fresh way.
I just finished writing a piece for another publication about two Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that are facing threats. One is the David Wright House in Arizona, a house Wright designed for his son that features a spiral plan, which presages the Guggenheim and is said to have influenced it. The other, The Bachman Wilson House in New Jersey, is a wonderful example of Wright’s Usonian houses. The David Wright house, which was facing demolition, was happily purchased by someone who plans to restore it to its original splendor. But the Bachman Wilson house remains at risk, awaiting a buyer, which, when identified must move the house to another location as its current site is subject to recurring flooding. All of this is leading to a point. Those of us who are privileged to write about architecture for a living, owe a great debt to the buildings we write about. Without them we would have little if nothing to say. But our role is not just to report on buildings that are next the flavor of the week, icons in the making if you will. Rather it is to educate and to elevate the dialogue. As part of this, we need to put on people’s radar buildings that are truly special and worth saving.
With Sandy behind us, I shudder to think what may have become of the marvelous collection of experimental houses that were built on Long Island in the period of 1930-1980. That part of New York was especially hit hard by the storm and many buildings there have been reportedly wiped out. While I don’t know what if anything has happened to these buildings, I do take comfort in the fact that I have a record of this fabulous period of architectural production, thanks, in part, to Caroline Zaleski, who recently penned a book for Norton publishing called Long Island Modernism.
That book is a comprehensive and invaluable survey of the adventuresome architecture that sprung up on Long Island from 1930 to 1980. It is also 333 pages of sheer inspiration and delight. What I like about it are the fascinating tales of how these buildings came to be, the marvelous stories not only about architecture but about the risk-taking patrons who pulled out all the stops in the name of architecture. For mid-century architecture buffs it’s a must read and a must see as the book is generously populated with photographs, many of them original, as sadly some of these structures have been insensitively altrered while others no longer exist. Still, it was here in the sleepy seaside hamlets of Long Island, which then were largely dotted with farmland, that many of the most famous architects of the day got their start or at least did their more experimental work.
Architects working on the Island at that time include such luminaries as Wallace Harrison, Frank Lloyd Wright, Antonin Raymond, Marcel Breuer, Richard Neutra and George Nelson along with lesser known names, such as Shogo Myaida who were no less talented then their more famous colleagues.
Zaleski dug deep into the archives of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities and logged countless miles on her car traipsing Long Island to locate the buildings included and to speak with neighbors and relatives, when the original owners were not available, to compile these marvelous building biographies that unfold with such panache and clearly make the case that this was a great time for architecture!
Next week marks the beginning of Archtober, the second annual month-long celebration of architecture with tons or activities, programs and exhibitions in New York. This year promises not to disappoint with more than 180 architecture and design lectures, conferences and programs happening across the city, many of them free. Guides and tickets are available at the Center for Architecture and will be distributed at the Archtober Visitor Lounge at the Center and at participating institutions during the festival.
Now on the good stuff. Open House New York (OHNY) will host a weekend event beginning Friday October 5th that is chock-filled with an impressive line up of building tours including many buildings that are closed to the public. Among the buildings on this year’s tour are The Pershing Square Signature Theatre (Gehry Partner with H3 hardy Collaboration Architecture), Philip Johnson’s Four Season restaurant in the Seagrams building, which has been magnificently restored by Belmont Freeman, Lakeside at Prospect Park (Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects with landscape architect Christian Zimmerman), and hard hat tours of structures underway, like the New School: University Center by SOM.
More private residences than ever before will be on view, such as One Museum Mile by Robert A.M Stern Architects with interiors by Andre Kikoski, and Paul Rudolph’s Modulightor Building. Last but not least and a definite must see is Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center, which is back by popular demand. Check out the many things going on in the city in October at the Center for Architecture and at other places around New York at the following web sites. www.archtober.org and www.ohny.org.