We can only wish.
Yesterday a coworker sent me a link to this New York Observer article describing mayor Bloomber’s desire for 10 additional buildings by Frank Gehry by the end of his term.Â Bloomberg is out of office in two years.
By the mayor’s own estimation, that means Gehry has 70 days to crank out each project – which we know isn’t really how things work, but is still a crazy thing to think about. But even crazier, I’d argue, is the idea of 10 more buildings by America’s favorite “hey, I know that guy” starchitect, pseudo-commissioned by the mayor. It’s strange.
Now it would be easy to take the hater route and complain about how NYC would look like a pile ofÂ misshapen, curvy metal panels – but that’s getting tired. Besides, Gehry seems increasingly interesting when given some room to move now that the 2000’s are done and people aren’t throwing absurd amounts of cash at him while demanding another Bilbao.Â You could complain – and I’d agree to some extent on this – that Gehry is famous for being famous at this point, like a Kardashian of architecture. “Oh, I don’t know jack shit about architecture – but to sound cultured I’ll say I just loooove Frankie G.” His popularity hasÂ diminishedÂ his popularity – which is both kind of meta, and kind of stupid. But none of the typical complaints about Gehry are important this time around, because we have an incredible opportunity here.
We could get more giant binoculars.
Let’s face it – Gehry recycles ideas, just like everyone else. I’m not criticizing – I’m saying I hope he’s finally done rehashing the ideas of the last decade and jumps in the way-back machine to the late 80’s and brings backÂ Oldenburg and van Bruggen for some more oversized optics. I’m thinking a giant telescope-shaped building of some sort. It’s a slight shift from the binoculars, but is pretty much the same – like Bilbao and Disney! – while also being slightly phallic shaped, thus referencing NYC’s most famous architectural element. Boom -and that’s how architecture gets made people.
There’s no time for debate – he’s only got 699 days to go.
My wife keeps showing me these “Shit so-and-sos Say” videos, which is an amusing if not maybe already tired trending meme – but how can you dislike “Shit Architecture Students Say” – unless you’re not an architect?
“What? CAD for Mac?”
Somehow I managed to sleep on theÂ existence of I am a beautiful building!,Â Â a website devoted to, well, what you’re looking at. Hilarious and somewhat weirdly demented, the site captions photos of past US presidents and their interactions with law makers, etc, as if they were buildings / architectural movements… or something. I’m not really going to try and explain what’s going on here – I just now you need to do yourself a favor and check it out.
Here’s the site’s author info, which is also killing it:
I am Cedric!
I am a beautiful building!
I am better than Bauhaus!
I have functional interiors!
You*d go nuts if I told you!
I am a hyperbuilding!
Bow to my infrastructure!
Join the beautiful buildings club!
Just thought this was pretty dope. Continue about your day.
(photo by Paul Clemence, via)
“One of the hallmarks of American polity is the increasing pervasiveness of so-called â€œpublic-private partnershipsâ€ and with them the idea that public space must pay for itself directly, that a park must have a cafÃ© or a condo in it to cover its costs. At Ground Zero, the melding of memory and profit will, in fact, be the â€œthemeâ€ of the site. As the disproportion between the gigantic exclusionary skyscrapers, the hemmed-in memorial, the pay-to-enter museum, and the upmarket shops in Towers 2, 3, and 4 makes legible, it will be a record of much that is wrong, ungenerous, and crass about American culture today. And I keep wondering when the pious rage that thwarted the proposed Islamic center nearby will turn on the cadre of halal kebab carts that dot the periphery of the site.”
Michael Sorkin in the September 2011 issue of Architectural Record. Punches aren’t held, as one can expect from Sorkin – and it’s much appreciated, in the midst of the love-fest that’s going on due to the 10th anniversary. While we take the time to reflect on the meaning of 9/11 ten years later – what has changed, what (maybe unfortunately) hasn’t – I think it’s important to recognize that opportunities were missed when it comes to the redevelopment of the site. Unlike Sorkin I never hoped for the site to be left empty – that seems both unrealistic and defeatist, not to mention anti-urban – but I had hoped for something to be excited about. I understand that this is the real world, not a fantasy, and developers have money in mind before much else – as they should, I suppose – but these are special circumstances, and we aren’t receiving particularly ‘special’ buildings in return. If these towers were placed on another site, in another city (which they easily could be), we wouldn’t be discussing them as great additions to global skyscraper design. Might not be discussing them at all.
Graphisoft’s BIMx for iPad and iPhone – interaction with your project’s BIM model on an Apple mobile device of your choosing. Not exactly a new concept – Autodesk has had AutoCAD WS out for some time now – but I’ve recently become more interested in how team coordination is handled from a technological standpoint. Eliminating the need to find a computer or print something in order to react to what might be a straightforward question/comment seems incredibly useful to me. While BIMx as shown in the videos seems more like a way to get a 3d walk-through of a project, I imagine it can also function similarly in some ways to AutoCAD WS – which shares actual CAD files and allows for viewing & (very) simple editing.
Unfortunately, none of this is ever going to free us from being tethered to a desk & computer screen most of the time – drafting is drafting. It’ll be interesting to see how these new technologies are integrated into the construction industry, and whether they develop into something more impactful.
With September 11th, ten years later, quickly approaching, the discussion of the World Trade Center site is once again at the forefront of our collective consciousness â€“ and not just as architects, but as US citizens (note: stop saying â€œAmericans,â€ people â€“ you make us look ignorant). With that in mind, I thought Iâ€™d post today on what one architecture critic -Ada Louise Huxtable – was saying immediately after the attack (and some years later, in the case of the video). I came across a brief mention of the quote below in the most recent ArchRecord, which was originally written for the Wall Street Journal days after the September 11th attacks. It can also be found in Huxtableâ€™s book â€˜On Architectureâ€˜ (pages 378-379).
There will be, and should be, passionate disagreement about replacing them at all. Rebuilding on this site requires serious consideration. There will be, and should be, calls for a memorial park, a public open space to serve as a permanent reminder of one of the cityâ€™s, and historyâ€™s, worst catastrophes â€“ a detestable man-made, as opposed to natural, disaster â€“ and for a tribute to those who died needlessly and tragically in an act of unredeemed horror.
And yet, one can almost predict what the New York process will be. This city can show its compassion, and its resolve, as it is doing now, but it is also a city incapable of the large, appropriate gesture in the public interest if it costs too much. That, too, is something that can be debated. What are our values? How do we count the cost of those lives? Under these extraordinary circumstances, does â€œthe highest and best use of the land,â€ the gospel according to real estate, really hold? Traditionally, that has meant filling the land to the maximum permitted by law, for the greatest return, while ignoring every social or human factor.
If the usual scenario is followed, the debate will lead to a â€œsolutionâ€ in which principle is lost and an epic opportunity squandered. With the best intentions the Municipal Art Society, a conscientious watchdog of the cityâ€™s urban quality, will announce a competition to determine what should be done with the site. The results will make a nice little exhibition, and discussions and lectures will be held. All this will be ignored by the movers and shakers making big building plans under the expedient banner of physical and symbolic reconstruction. There will be a fuss in the press, with letters to the editor, pro and con. City Hall in a split political decision between greed and glory, will come out for the builders and a memorial â€“ a monument or a small park, something financially inoffensive in the larger scheme of things. This is the Compromise. Or the trade-off, to put it more bluntly. A properly pious, meaningless gesture that everyone can buy without loss of face or obvious shame.
There will be another call for a competition â€“ this time for the big building â€“ it will be specified that this is to be a â€œworld-classâ€ work of architecture. The most conservative design will be chosen by a consortium of potential investors. No one will pay much attention to the token park, which will be a blank spot on the plans, eventually done in a faux retro style for brown-bag lunchers. There will be world-class nothing.
It didnâ€™t exactly take a crystal ball or special powers to make these predictions, but I do think they warrant some thought now, as we mark 10 years having passed since the attacks. While the memorial park appears to be coming together as something more than Huxtableâ€™s â€œtoken parkâ€, it seems unfair to judge it until the site as a whole has been completed. The tower, on the other hand, is coming off as a big let-down â€“ but thatâ€™s another post.
Bilbao-based BABELstudio have been selected to move on to the second round of an international competition to design new entrances to the subway for the city of San Sebastian, Spain. Current finalists in the competition also include Richard Rogers, Morphosis, and Snohetta â€“ whoâ€™s entries I have yet to see â€“ putting the young BABELstudio in good company.
The design calls for a fairly minimalist approach, inspired by the cartoon The Pink Panther â€“ where the main character would lift up the ground plane like the end of a rug, creating a means of escape (see the diagram below). For the competition BABELstudio proposes a similar tactic â€“ giving the impression that the ground plane has been lifted at a single point, creating and elegant drape-like enclosure for the subway entrances.
The structure would be reinforced concrete, which (when combined with the shape) will allow for a very thin cross section of about 5 inches. The concrete will be expressed on the interior, creating a bright white contrast to the darker, tiled surface of the exterior of the entrance.
Looks pretty dope, if you ask me â€“ teenagers and skateboarders will love it. That said, I havenâ€™t seen what the other entrants have come up with â€“ Iâ€™ll be sure to have more on this as the competition progresses.