Trading Parking Lots for Affordable Housing

9×18 Scheme © Credit Peterson Rich Office/Sagi Golan via the NYTimes

The cost of living in New York has skyrocketed over the years, causing one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest challenges to be the integration of affordable housing. Considering this, architecture critic has spotlighted a plan that suggests trading parking lots for micro housing units. Envisioned by three young architects at the Institute for Public Architecture, the “9×18” scheme has the potential to transform the city by capitalizing on outdated zoning regulations that would unleash more than 20.3 million square feet of usable space. Read more here on the New York Times.

Are the Palisades Too Pure for LG’s Headquarters?

Courtesy of Michael Kimmelman’s Twitter Feed (@kimmelman)

Responding to the bevy of critics slamming LG Electronics for building their new headquarters in the Palisades in (half an hour north from NYC), Lee Rosenbaum, the Palisades-resident and architecture blogger known as CultureGrrl, maintains that “When it comes to preserving the ‘pristine Palisades,’ the boat has already sailed.” Since LG’s planned strip will be located on what is, according to Rosenbaum, already “a very commercial strip,” she suggests that “that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades [...] haven’t actually set eyes on them.” Check out the images of her neighborhood as well as her very interesting Twitter tussles with The New York Times’ Michael KimmelmanVanity Fair’s and New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson at her blog, and let us know what you think of the debate in the comments below.

Unpublished / CLOG

Courtesy of

Each edition of CLOG poses a particular challenge to the reader: by showcasing such a variety of distinct view points, teasing out the central, connective themes is far from an easy task. It requires analysis, thought, and most of all time – which is, of course, entirely the point. CLOG seeks to “slow things down” so that the greater issues of architectural discourse are mulled over and explored.

The latest CLOG, however, Unpublished, has two central points that quickly, easily emerge. Pick up CLOG: Unpublished if you want to learn two things: (1) about how and why certain publications choose the architecture they publish (ArchDaily included); or (2) about works that have, for their geographical location or problematic nature, been forgotten from the “idealized narratives” of architecture

Michael Kimmelman Wins 2014 Brendan Gill Prize

Penn Station, Re-Imagined. Image © Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has announced New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman as winner of the 2014 , a cash award presented annually to the creator of a specific work that “best captures the spirit and energy of New York City.” Kimmelman is being recognized, as President Vin Cipolla described, for his “insightful candor and continuous scrutiny of New York’s architectural environment” that is “journalism at its finest.” See why they singled out his coverage on the challenges of Penn Station, here.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Design Ice Rink for NYC

Courtesy of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects / Dbox

After sitting derelict for years, the Kate Wollman Memorial Rink in ’s Prospect Park is poised for something of a rebirth. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s plans for a sports complex, known as Lakeside, is expected to restore the rink’s role as the park’s chief attraction. recently stopped by the site to explore the project as it nears completion – click here to read his thoughts on what he calls one of the last “parting gifts of the Bloomberg era to the city.”

Could Libraries Offer More in the Aftermath of Storms?

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath. Image © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

Zadie Smith recently suggested that libraries are “the only thing left on the high street that doesn’t want either your soul or your wallet.” has put forward the argument in the Times that local libraries could be far more important than we think in the aftermath of large storms, suggesting that “places that serve us well every day serve us best when disaster strikes” by fostering congregational activity and offering well-needed warmth, power and friendly faces. You can read the full article here.

Kimmelman Drafts To-Do List for Next NYC Mayor

© Richard Perry/The Times, via “Building a Better City”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year reign has left an undeniable impression on the built environment, which transformed “whole swaths of the city” but also made it “increasingly unaffordable to many.” According to architectural critic , “The next mayor can keep architecture and planning front and center or risk taking the city backward.” Understanding that “the social welfare of all cities is inextricable from their physical fabric,” Kimmelman has laid out a comprehensive, mayoral “to-do list” to “building a better city.” Read it here on the New York Times.

Foster Responds to Kimmelman’s “Offensive” Diatribe Regarding the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for , as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect.

More on Kimmelman’s critique and Foster’s response after the break…

Jeanne Gang and Michael Kimmelman’s proposal to save Prentice Women’s Hospital

Image courtesy of ; Illustration, Jay Hoffman

The battle continues over the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1970’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital. As we reported in July, an ever-growing community of prominent architects – such as Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien – have joined preservationists in the fight to save the late modernist structure that is at risk of being replaced by a new biomedical research facility for Northwestern University.

The seven-story concrete cloverleaf, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core and floating atop a glass and steel box, is an engineering feat ahead of it’s time as well as an important icon within the Chicago skyline. As architecture critic Michael Kimmelman argues, “Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and, increasingly, careful custody. Prentice is a good example.” However, it is not suited for 21st-century research labs and many Chicagoans hate it. Currently, Northwestern University is leading the debate by arguing that a new building would “bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives”.

Could there be a compromise? Solutions are rarely black-and-white. Kimmelman has consulted Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to envision a proposal that would satisfy both opposing sides. Continue reading to learn more.

Was the Biennale Very Political? Or Not Political Enough?

The Torre de David Café by Urban Think Tank + Justin McGuirk + Iwan Baan. According to Kimmelman, the Biennale’s “coup de théâtre.” According to us, a flawed and yet important exhibit. © Nico Saieh

Yesterday, Michael Kimmelman, the architecture critic for The New York Timesunleashed his anticipated take on this year’s Biennale. Usually, we find ourselves almost perfectly aligned with Kimmelman’s socially-oriented perspective (in fact, we lauded his approach in “The Architect Critic is Dead“); this time, however, we found ourselves almost entirely at his opposite.

In our Editorial, “The Most Political Biennale Yet,” we contend that “Common Ground” represented a stepping stone in the Biennale’s evolution: it revealed an unprecedented engagement with reality and reflected, for the first time in any substantial way, architecture’s movement away from “starchitecture” and towards urbanist solutions. Was it perfect? No. But it was engaged.

However, Kimmelman’s take suggests that all that progress simply wasn’t enough. In fact, the exhibits we cite as evidence of the Biennale’s progress, Kimmelman cites as exceptions in a festival still overly obsessed with architecture’s big names.

What do you think? Was this Biennale very political, or not political enough? Was Kimmelman too harsh? Were we too forgiving? Or are we both off-base? Read on for a few select quotes from our Op-Eds, and give us your opinion in the comments below.