Bouroullec Brothers + Axor Perfect Together at ICFF

Ronan Bouroullec and Phillipe Grohe, Axor's Brand Manager, at ICFF

Axor Bouroullec was the best in show at New York’s ICFF.  Taking home the ICFF Editor’s Choice Award in the Kitchen & Bath category, the collection, which includes more than forty bathroom products – from faucets, accessories and washbasins to the bathtub- is beautiful and remarkably customizable, hence the name “Feel Free to Compose”.   The products are unique in that they are designed to respond to individual needs rather than the other way around, where the individual adapts to the product.  The specially crafted material of the basins, which is softer than typical porcelain and thus not prone to breakage or cracking, allows for after market customization.  A special drill bit comes with the product and little to no experience is required to get it right.  With the Bouroullec’s behind the design, it is sure to become a classic. I went to see the Axor Bouroullec launch not expecting to buy something but I couldn’t resist its simple lines and the fact that it makes such good sense to design a product in this way.     Look for my ICFF picks in the forthcoming issue of World Interiors News, a sister publication of World Architecture News.

Axor Bouroullec "Feel Free to Compose"

Brooklyn Navy Yard Opens for a Day in May


Robert Clark

Our friends at Open House New York (OHNY) are hosting another great event on Saturday, May 12, 2012.  As part of its openstudios series designed to give access to different architecture and design hubs thoughout New York, OHNY will be opening the Brookyn Navy Yard for the day.  The event is a rare opportunity to visit a wide range of creative industries in the sprawling waterfront complex including – architects, artists, custom furtniture designers, light fixture manufacturers, cabinet makers, metal fabricators and glass engravers.

OHNY’s openstudios Brooklyn Navy Yard is designed to be a self-guided tour that begins at the Navy Yard’s new exhibition and visitors center – BLDG 92, a former marine commandant’s house, built in 1857, that was adaptively reused by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners in collaboration with workshop/apd in 2011. Some of the Yard’s most interesting sites include a dry dock that’s been used since before the Civil War, the 24-acre former Navy hospital campus that is virtually frozen in time, and the nation’s first multi-story LEED Gold-certified industrial building, which is used for fine art storage and conservation.

Following the self-guided tour will be a reception at BLDG 92 where participants can also view “Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present and Future,” an exhibit that illustrates the history of the site – from its early use by Native Americans, its role in the American Revolution and its history as a naval ship building facility, to its current transformation into an innovative, green-thinking industrial park.

The self guided tour is available from 12:00 – 5:00 pm with the reception immediately following.  Tickets are $30 in advance/$35 at the door.  Student tickets are $ 20 in advance/$ 25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at

One World Trade Center Tops Empire State Building Today

Today the building known as One World Trade Center, formerly the Freedom Tower, will achieve a major milestone, reaching 105 stories to become the tallest building in NYC.  The announcement was what New York Post reporter Josh Margolin called “an all out business war against its Midtown cousin” the 102 story Empire State Building.  The fanfare generated by the announcement is intended to draw new tenants to the building, including poaching some from the Empire State building, by promoting the building’s new observation decks and winning back broadcasters with its massive antenna.   “We’re looking to maximize revenue and maximize the reputation of 1 World Trade Center”, said Douglas Durst, who is building the tower in partnership with the Port Authority.  The New York Post estimates that the antenna alone could easily generate $10 million in revenue.  While estimates of how much income the building’s amenities will generate – like the gift shop, observation decks and concessions- are yet unknown, they will certainly be an improvement over those at the Empire State Building.  One World Trade Center will open in early 2015.

Way to go, Amanda!

Amanda Burden Receives President's Award

The Architectural League of New York announced today that it has awarded the 2012 President’s Medal to Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York Planning Commission.  The award recognizes extraordinary contribution to the Built Environment of New York City, which in Burden’s case is an exemplary body of work that has raised the bar for design quality in public and private development.   In a press release on the announcement, the League noted that Burden “has championed design excellence for all New Yorkers; shown design to be crucial to economic development; fostered and vigilantly protected New York’s vibrant street life; and helped shepherd some of New York’s most important public spaces, including the High Line, the revitalization of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the East River Waterfront Esplanade, IKEA Erie Basin Park, and the National 911 Memorial.   On a personal note, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Burden for making the city more livable and for putting a capital “D” in design.  

New York’s Taxis get a fresh face

The first impression of a city is often formed in the cab ride in, a point that is not lost on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Under his leadership, the city will be getting a new fleet of taxis.   Unveiled last Tuesday, the “Taxi of Tomorrow”, is a new Nissan NV200 van, which won a competition to replace the yellow cabs.  It has been ‘pimped out’ with the latest digital technologies for web surfacing and charging devices and features has a moon roof, overhead lamps, and antibacterial upholstery.   The new vehicle is not hybrid, although electric vehicles are expected to be phased in later.   The City’s contract with Nissan, which is estimated at more than $1 billion, will last 10 years.  The new cabs will on the streets starting next year and will fully replace the existing yellow cabs by 2018.

Don’t miss Openstudios Hudson Square event March 31, 2012

Architectural Research Office (ARO)

If you’re like me, you’re a big fan of Open House New York (OHNY), that must do event that happens in the fall that is an all-access pass to many noteworthy buildings that are not open to the public, such as last year’s big surprise, a rare tour of the Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport.   OHNY has happily extended its reach and is now hosting openstudios programs, self-guided tours of different neighborhoods in the city that include visits to architects’ offices.   After a resounding success with the first openstudios event, which took place last month in Dumbo, OHNY will be hosting openstudios Hudson Square on March 31, 2012 from 1:00-5:00pm.  Participating design firms include Alexander Gorlin Architects, Andre Kikoski Architect, Architectural Research Office (ARO) (pictured here), Frederic SCHWARTZ Architects (FSA), Gluckman Mayner Architects, Kevin Kennon Architects, Michael Sorkin Studio, Pompei AD, Sarah Jeffreys Design, Superstructures Engineers and Architects, Thomas Phifer and Partners, and West 8.   This is a great opportunity to network, to see how other people run their shops, and to talk to the architects behind many great projects, the later being of great interest to me who is always on the hunt for great projects to publish.    Tickets are $30 in advance/$25 at the door and $20 for students.  Tickets can be purchased at

Snaking along the East River with SO-IL


Brooklyn based SO-IL architects has been selected to design the temporary space that will house Frieze New York 2012, one of London’s leading arts fairs which is coming to New York for the first time this spring on May 4-7.  To be located on the East River waterfront on Randall’s Island, the fair is host to over 180 of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries.   SO-IL’s design acknowledges its waterfront setting while also being mindful of its temporary nature.   “The first challenge was to establish the structure as an icon, beyond being a very large tent”, said Floiran Indenburg and Jing Liu, Principals of Solid Objectives-Indenberg Liu (SO-IL).  “With the ambition to relax and open up what would otherwise be a rigorous system, we devised a slightly mutated pie-shaped tent section, using “wedges’ which we inserted into the structure at five locations”.   The wedges allow the tent to be manipulated into a snakelike configuration.

The selection of SO-IL continues Frieze’s approach of mining young cutting edge architects to design the temporary exhibition space for its art fairs.  Past Frieze Art Fair designers include Camody Groarke (2011), Caruso St John (2008-2010), Jamie Fobert (2006-2007), and David Adjaye (2003-2005).

Sponge Park: Cleaning up the Gowanus

In 2007, the Brooklyn, New York-based multidisciplinary practice dlandstudio, was approached by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to look into managing storm water on the Gowanus.  Tapping into her network to gain grants for the project and enlisting the interest of a bunch of agencies at the local, state, regional and federal level, dlandstudio Principal, Susannah C. Drake was able to grow the project into a comprehensive master plan of the area and its resources, from which Sponge Park™ evolved.    Sponge Park™ works on the principal of using plants to clean water.  Surface run off is diverted and filtered through a series of planted cells that remediate the water.   Funding has been secured to build the first pilot, where both quantity and quality will be tested, and for an education program.   In addition to Sponge Park™,  dlandstudio is engaged in many game-changing projects, most notably the capping of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to create a continuous greenbelt that would support parks and recreational activities.     

Courtesy dlandstudio


Koolhaas inks a deal for Performance Art Museum

Noted performance artist, Marian Abramovic, announced on Tuesday that she has hired Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design her Center for the Preservation of Performance Art in Hudson, New York just two hours from Manhattan.   Abramovic will seek to raise $8 million for the museum, which will be built on the site of a former tennis center and devoted to performance art pieces of “six hours minimum”.     If all goes well Abramovic plans to add a theatre and is meeting with the town Mayor to advocate for the construction of a hotel for art types.

A feel good tale about the architect/patron relationship

Today’s story in the New York Times by Pilar Viladas about the rescue of Robert Venturi’s Lieb House is a feel good story about architecture that makes one proud to be an architect.  And, for those who have a jaded view of the architect and owner relationship as a cantankerous affair, this story will restore your faith by demonstrating that there really are people out there in the world who cherish what we do, value good design and will go to the nth degree to demonstrate it.   

Designed in the early 1970s, the Lieb House began its life as a beach house on the New Jersey shore.  Viladas points out that the modest structure, which Venturi called a “banal box”, caused quite a stir in the community, resulting in a spat between the house’s owner and one of the neighbors that resulted in the the two not speaking together ever again.   Then a couple of years ago in 2009 the owner had to sell the house for financial reasons and reached out to the architect and to New York architect Fred Schwartz, who worked for Venturi for years, for help.  A new owner, Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin of Long Island, New York, who themselves were Venturi patrons, was identified and the three parties , including Venturi’s son Jim, Schwartz, and the couple, banded together to save the house.  A link to this heartneing story is provided here.