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Are Postmodern Buildings Worth Saving?

New York City is home to a plethora of Postmodernist designs — from the impressive Sony Tower to the diminuative Central Park Ballplayers' House — but most remain unprotected by traditional heritage registries. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is at the threshold of its 50th anniversary but has yet to recognize the architectural successes of 1970 up to the most recent eligible year for landmarking, 1984. The commission has been unnecessarily slow to recognize Postmodernist structures in New York City, say Paul Makovsky and Michael Gotkin writing for Metropolis Magazine, who argue that the absence of historical recognition for Postmodernism has come at a high cost, citing the recladding of Takashimaya Building on Fifth Avenue as a "wake-up call" for the Commission. 

The Other "Green Way": Why Can't New York Build More Quality Affordable Housing?

This article originally appeared on uncube magazine as "An Affordable Housing Complex in the Bronx Revisited."

Two years after the completion of Grimshaw and Dattner's acclaimed Via Verde ("Green Way"), no successors have even been proposed for this supposed model for the design and construction of new affordable housing. In this article, David Bench returns to the site, finding that the sustainable project's lack of impact is caused by a completely different type of "green."

Affordable housing is the quest of every New Yorker. The routes to finding it are mysterious and widely misunderstood, as they are made up of a myriad of buildings, programmes, and rules that have failed to keep pace with the production of luxury housing and gentrification of middle class neighbourhoods in the city. This apartment anxiety has led to such amusing and fateful reactions as the creation of the Rent is Too Damn High political party – whose name speaks for itself – and an economic narrative that propelled Bill de Blasio from a long-shot mayoral candidacy to an overwhelming majority on election day in 2013. Soon after taking office, de Blasio unveiled the most ambitious affordable housing program in generations, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units in the next decade.

Video: Daniel Libeskind on Masterplanning Ground Zero

"Its an adventure, because it's a highly political, highly emotional, highly complicated process, to get something built on the site which is about memory," explains Daniel Libeskind. "It's a day that changed the world… and architecture responds in constructing something that has sense for people, that has spirit."

Images of SOM's Completed One World Trade Center in New York

The first tenant has moved into the One World Trade Center, making Monday, November 3, the official opening of the (arguably) tallest building in the Western hemisphere 13 years after the tragedy of 9/11. The “extraordinary moment was passed in the most ordinary of ways,” described the New York Times, as employees of Conde Nast entered into the white marble lobby (taken from the same quarry that produced marble for the original twin towers) and headed straight to the elevators to start their work day.

To celebrate its completion, renowned architectural photographers Iwan Baan and James Ewing took it to the sky to capture the One World Trade Center in all its glory. The images, after the break.

Drawing and Reinventing Landscape: A Conversation with Diana Balmori and Barry Bergdoll

On Wednesday, November 5, Diana Balmori will visit the Strand to chat about Drawing and Reinventing Landscape with the MoMA's architecture curator, Barry Bergdoll. Diana's book examines digital, analog and hybrid methods of representing landscape and places the contemporary landscape architecture within its fascinating historical context. This exclusive Strand chat will investigate crucial aspects of the design process. Join as these two experts discuss this important design topic at a moment of increasing global environmental change. More information here

Santiago Calatrava Breaks Ground on Church at 9/11 Memorial Site

Construction has begun on Santiago Calatrava’s Saint Nicholas National Shrine on the World Trade Center site in New York. A “tiny jewel” for lower Manhattan, as referred by Calatrava, the white Vermont marble shrine will be based around a translucent central Cupola that illuminates from within. 

More images and an updated construction image of Calatrava's neighboring transportation hub, after the break.

Woods Bagot's Alternative Penn Station Solution Would Keep Madison Square Garden

Invited by the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) and the Regional Plan Association (RPA), Woods Bagot has created an alternative design for the future of New York's  Penn Station which would allow Madison Square Garden to remain in its current location above the station's entrance. The design, produced as part of MAS and RPA's report into the future of the station, the design was unveiled yesterday at Penn 2023: Where will the Garden Go?, the first session of the Municipal Arts Society's 2014 Summit for New York City, which discussed the possible options for the site at the end of Madison Square Garden's current 10-year permit.

Though the report by MAS and RPA favors the idea of moving Madison Square Garden - identifying Farley Post Office’s Western Annex and the Morgan Postal Facility and Annex as potential new sites - it also says that "there needs to be a Plan B... In the event a deal between the state, city, railroads and Madison Square Garden does not get done in the next eight years, there needs to be a plan for improving Penn Station and the surrounding district with the Garden still in place." This is where Woods Bagot's designs come in.

Read on after the break for more on Woods Bagot's proposal

Judith Edelman, A “Firebrand for Women in Architecture, Dies at 91

Judith Edelman, FAIA, an American architect and feminist who hoped to rid architecture of its “gentleman’s club” status, has passed away at 91. Starting her career in an era when hiring “girls” wasn’t the norm, Edelman’s work to elevate women in architecture has paved the way for many of today’s leading architects; She was the first woman ever elected to the executive committee of the AIA’s New York chapter and she helped co-found the Alliance of Women in Architecture in 1972. Edelman’s built work, also highly admired, ranged from affordable housing to schools and health clinics, mostly in the New York City area. You can read Edelman’s obituary here

The Windows of New York and São Paulo

New York City-based graphic designer José Guizar’s captures the city’s eclectic array of windows through his weekly illustrations. Image Courtesy of José Guizar
New York City-based graphic designer José Guizar’s captures the city’s eclectic array of windows through his weekly illustrations. Image Courtesy of José Guizar

A little over a year ago, New York City-based graphic designer José Guizar started illustrating an obsession of his that had quickly grown since moving into the city: New York’s varied and eclectic windows. “A product of countless steps of journey through the city streets, this is a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city,” Guizar writes on his website. “This project is part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.”

Others have since been inspired by Guizar’s colorful and captivating homage to the windows of NYC, and earlier this year São Paulo-based Nara Rosetto began her own weekly illustrations of windows in South America’s largest city.

Ranging from Victorian and porthole windows to windows with security bars, planting boxes and the occasional cat, the windows are as varied as the cities and buildings they occupy. 

Read on after the break for a journey through the windows of New York and São Paulo.

In Progress: West 57th Street / BIG

The southeast corner from West 57th Street. Image © Field Condition
The southeast corner from West 57th Street. Image © Field Condition
  • Architects: BIG
  • Location: West 57th Street, New York, NY, USA
  • Partners In Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen
  • Project Leader: Beat Schenk
  • Project Architect: David Brown
  • Project Team: Alessandro Ronfini, Sören Grünert, Maya Shopova, Lauren Turner, Tiago Barros, Tyler Polich, Ivy Hume, Yi Li, Daniel Sundlin, Thomas Fagan, Aaron Hales, Hongyi Jin, Mina Rafiee, Tara Hagan, Rakel Karlsdottir, Celine Jeanne, Aleksander Tokarz, Alessio Valmori, Alvaro Garcia Mendive, Felicia Guldberg, Gabrielle Nadeau, Ho Kyung Lee, Julian Liang, Julianne Gola, Lucian Racovitan, Marcella Martinez, Dominyka Mineikyte, Eivor Davidsen, Gul Ertekin, Maria Nikolova, Minjae Kim, Mitesh Dixit, Nicklas Rasch, Riccardo Mariano, Stanley Lung, Steffan Heath, Thilani Rajarathna, Xu Li, Christoffer Gotfredsen
  • Architect Of Record: SLCE Architects
  • Landscape Architects: Starr Whitehouse
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Field Condition

The southwest corner from the Hudson River Greenway. Image © Field Condition Detail of the curtain wall on the north façade. Image © Field Condition The northwest corner from 12th Avenue. Image © Field Condition Detail of the interior courtyard façade. Image © Field Condition

Daniel Libeskind Reflects On Designing Buildings With 'Emotional Weight'

In an interview with Shaunacy Ferro for FastCo DesignDaniel Libeskind looks back over his built works and discusses the significant 'emotional weight' imbued in many of his projects, from the Jewish Museum in Berlin to his masterplan for Ground Zero in New York City. When asked why he continually returns to projects such as Holocaust memorials - with the Canadian National Holocaust Memorial currently underway in Ottawa - Libeskind stated: "It’s not something that I choose very lightly, because it’s very difficult, but I believe that it’s very important." For him, creating these monuments is part of the act of doing "something that moves us beyond just the darkness and gives us something positive. [...] Even when it comes to the memory, you can’t just dwell on the irreversibility of the tragedy. You have to have something hopeful."

The High Line's Final Chapter is Complete; But Don't Close the Book Just Yet

With the opening of the final section of New York's High Line last month, the city can finally take stock on an urban transformation that took a decade and a half from idea to reality - and which in the five years since the first section opened has become one of the great phenomena of 21st century urban planning, inspiring copycat proposals in cities around the globe. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "The High Line's Last Section Plays Up Its Rugged Past," Anthony Paletta reviews the new final piece to the puzzle, and examines what this landmark project has meant for Manhattan's West Side.

The promise of any urban railroad, however dark or congested its start, is the eventual release onto the open frontier, the prospect that those buried tracks could, in time, take you anywhere. For those of us whose only timetable is our walking pace, this is the experience of the newly opened, final phase of the High Line. The park, after snaking in its two initial stages through some 20 dense blocks of Manhattan, widens into a broad promenade that terminates in an epic vista of the Hudson. It’s a grand coda and a satisfying finish to one of the most ambitious park designs in recent memory.

Did the New World Trade Center Live Up to its Expectations?

The USA's tallest building shoulders one of the nation's greatest challenges: paying tribute to lives lost in one of the country's greatest tragedies. One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan has yet to be completed and yet has still recently been condemned by a number of critics, who cite the former "Freedom Tower" as an inspirational failure. Thirteen years after the attacks, the wider site at ground zero also remains plagued by red tape and bureaucratic delays, unfinished and as-yet-unbuilt World Trade Centers, Calatrava's $5B transit hub, and an absence of reverence, according to critics. Read some of the most potent reviews of the new World Trade Center site from the press in our compilation after the break.

Guggenheim Considers Competition for Second NYC Location

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is planning to construct a second location in New York City. As reported on the Art Newspaper, the expansion project, known as the “Collection Center,” aims to “consolidate its staff and art storage into one efficient, multi-use building with a dynamic public programming component.” The news broke with the release of a curatorial job position, seeking personnel to assist in the center’s planning and a possible architecture competition that will ensure the “Guggenheim’s reputation for being a visionary architectural patron” is preserved. Meanwhile, the Guggenheim is expected to narrow its selection to six for its new Helsinki location in November.

New Practices New York: Upcoming Firms in the Big Apple

WHAT: With its fifth biennial competition and exhibition, the AIANY New Practices Committee is proud to recognize six emerging architecture and design firms working in New York City. These firms will be featured in an exhibition opening on October 1 at 6pm at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place. This year, the opening of New Practices New York 2014 will also kick off Archtober 2014, Architecture and Design Month.

Tour a Building a Day Throughout Archtober

If you live in or plan to visit New York City during the month of October, we suggest you set aside some time to participate in one of Archtober’s many events. What is Archtober? Archtober is New York’s official Architecture and Design Month. Hosted by the Center for Architecture and the AIA New York Chapter, the annual festival organizes a plethora of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions to take place throughout city during the month of October. The goal is to raise awareness of the important role design plays in the city, celebrate the richness of New York’s built environment, and simply enjoy some great architecture. 

Archtober highlights include the Architecture & Design Film Festival at Tribeca Cinemas; the Municipal Art Society Summit for New York City, featuring over 100 speakers gathered “to debate the future of our city and spark conversations about planning, design, infrastructure, preservation, culture, and development;” the Pratt Institute’s "City by Numbers: Big Data and the Urban Future” symposium; and 31 architect-led “Building of the Day” tours. 

Preview a selection of building’s on tour after the break and find out how to reserve tickets.

Take a Walk on the High Line with Iwan Baan

View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)
View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)

Sunday marked the completion of the New York City High Line, a three-phased project that transformed the once disused elevated rail tracks on Manhattan’s West Side into one of the world’s most respected public parks. With the first section opening in 2009, architectural photographer Iwan Baan has been documenting the entire process. Now, for the first time we present to you a photographic journey through the completed High Line designed by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Take a look, after the break.

Paul Goldberger on the High Line

This past Sunday, New York celebrated the opening of the High Line’s final section. More playful and untamed than its counterparts, the elevated park’s northernmost segment seems to have pleased the critics. As Paul Goldberger explained, the High Line at the Rail Yards is “stunningly refreshing” and “gives you an altogether new, relaxed, low-key way of being on the High Line.” You can read Goldberger’s take on the new portion of the High Line here on Vanity Fair.