Public Effect

Olafur Eliasson and Peter Zumthor, In Conversation


I'm sure many of you knew about the dialogue between Peter Zumthor and Olafur Eliasson last Monday. And, given your hectic holiday party schedule, you knew about it and missed it anyway. Like us.

Fear not, Tropolism Special Correspondant Saharat Surattanont was there to capture the goods. His copious notes, after the jump. It promised to be a lively exchange, given Olafur's massive and gorgous reworking of Zumthor's Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2001. According to Sah, it was, except not in the synergetic way we all thought. Olafur apparently lumped Zumthor in to the category every other architect is in (including me, yo), that is, someone who mediates reality. And Olafur wants to undo that. Read on...

Breaking: High Line Railbanked, Construction Begins 2006


The High Line has been donated by CSX to New York, clearing the way for construction to begin in 2006, and the first sections to be open in 2008. Click here for the breaking Press Release.

Janette Kim Vocal


We've mentioned before how much we admire Janette Kim. Now's your chance to catch up on what she's up to: she has a show and a lecture at Barnard (it's above 23rd street). Her talk is November 28, 6.30, Barnard Hall room 304.

Julliard Gets The Knife


We've all known about Diller Scofidio+Renfro's Lincoln Center sliding and dicing for a while now. And the idea of cutting into our second favorite NYC building, Pietro Belluschi's gorgeously brutalist travertine wonder, The Julliard School, has presented the question of the limits of preservation. After all, we have an emotional attachment to a building that looks great, and functions like an iceberg in a public pool.

What this new puff piece from the NY Times gives up is what the plans are for the interior of Alice Tully Hall, our second-favorite concert space in New York. Of course, there are resin panels that light up. What else? While we will be a little sad to see the wood and bushhammered concerete interior get trashed, we are intrigued by a glowing wood concert hall. Yet another example of how a radical transformation of a historical building can make for a better city. Cough.

2 Columbus Circle Camera


2 Columbus Circle now has its own webcam. Except they're trying to create shame. Of course, I see it as a wonderfully useful tool to check the progress on a great renovation, so it just goes to show that public protest works both ways: to reinforce arguments on both sides. Here's a snippet of a hugely persuasive argument from the people-without-an-alternative-solution:

"Welcome to the 2 Columbus Circle SHAME CAM, a live webstream keeping a round-the-clock eye on this world-famous, imminently endangered building designed by Edward Durell Stone and completed in 1964."

Useless adjectives abound. This side of a run-on. No thought. Save it all!

Via Curbed.

Parsons Students Take Out Corporate Space


Parsons Students, true to form, have taken on the LMCC's Swing Space program with brilliant ease. The LMCC program is designed to use underutilized real estate in Lower Manhattan. It's gentrification with a built-in obselesence: the LMCC secures temporary space and they get someone to put art in it for a while. Hey, whatever works! In this case, the early 90s bank lobby at the Equitable Building has been brutally appropriated with a system of heavy conduit designed for flexibile exhibitions. It definitely has the hand of David Lewis of LTL behind it, and it's gorgeous anyway.

WTC Memorial Chat


Peter Walker, the landscape architect working with Michael Arad on the World Trade Center Memorial, will chat live with visitors to website next Tuesday, November 8th at 12pm EST.

Tipped off by the evergreen Pruned. We're with them: where's Arad?

Ground Zero Museum Workshop


While travelling toward a meeting last week, in a speeding cab, I glanced over to the building that houses Friends of The High Line. A new sign was up, for the Ground Zero Museum Workshop. It is a space devoted to a single photographer, Gary Marlon Suson, with unique access to Ground Zero: he was the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association (FDNY). He became friendly with many of the people working down there, and his photographs reflect that.

With the master planning process at WTC 2.0 gone, perhaps it is time for us to create our own, makeshift memorials again, throughout the city.

Weekend Reading: Omotesando Hills Debate


While we here in New York talk about really important stuff, our peers in Tokyo are having an interesting, and elevated, debate about preservation on Omotedando. The editor of Tokyo's Metropolis told us how he really feels, while iMomus contributes a much more nuanced piece on the matter.

Omotesando Hills is another of Minuro Mori's Developments designed, of course, by Tadao Ando. The building is not yet completed. It was a hole in the ground a year ago, when I was there.

Tropolism Voting: Foster Inspiration Winner


Tropolism's graphic editor was out for a bit, and so we're just now posting this. By a whopping 1 vote margin, my diligent readers have voted for the Louis Kahn tower, and not the obscure (but totally rockin!) MoMA sculpture from 1962. Please note that about one third of voters chose to send alternate sources of inspiration (a testament to the wealth of visual similarities in the artistic world) instead of choosing from our simplifications. Also note that because of our stringent rules of integrity around here, I was not allowed to cast a vote in favor of either scheme. But you already know what I think. Thanks for sharing!

Here's a secret: we're preparing another little competition. It will be a little more involved than just voting, however. But we cannot say more without violating our non-disclosure agreement.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 2


Jim Conti let us behind the Beacon (I so did not type that) a bit.

Click for many more pictures and the inside story...

Tropolism Voting: What Was Foster's Inspiration?


We love a good meme. We love a good rhyme. We also love a really good joke, of which there are so desperately few in my profession.

However, never let it be said that we don't know our Louis Kahn (om) back projects. (Actually: we don't care). I went to Washington University for architecture, you don't think that the first thing I learned was that Kahn competed (and lost) for a project there? A project that is not unlike the proto-metabolist aspirations you see above, before he saw Light As A Material (om).

And, the Kahn monograph is unfortunately so large it's difficult not to open it occasionally, if only to take the dust off the cover. Sometimes while dusting, it flops to the page showing his diagonally gridded structure. One of the difficulties of my profession (both as an architect and a writer) is having Kahn enthusiasts bring him up like no one else has ever heard of him. Lovely how this meme leads us into a witch hunt: Commies everywhere!

In my view, the tower wasn't visually as similar to Foster's building as the triangular grid in the sculpture I mentioned, so i don't see it as a precedent. Also, my experience with Foster leads me to believe that his inspiration would come from a sculpture, not a klunky Kahn. But that's my opinion, not a fact. And so, we're jumping full-force into the first Tropolism Voting Project. Readers, please vote: which of the two potential sources of inspirations do you believe more closely resembles Foster's Hearst Building (right)? The Kahn project (far left for the non-architect demographic) or the Francisco Sobrino sculpture (middle) I mentioned in my earlier post. You have until Friday 9am to write us with your opinion!. We will duly post when the public has finished deliberating.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 1


Tropolism isn't all about hard-hitting journalism. We like pretty lights as much as the next blogger. We also like talking to our friends. This is why when Jim Conti, the lighting designer for 55 Water Street, told us that there were different programs to the LED lights at The Beacon, we asked him to tell us more.

Part one after the jump...

How To Rebuild 50,000 Homes, Part 1


The challenge is clear: how to rebuild between 30,000 to 50,000 (or is it 80,000?) homes after they've been scraped away from the worst-hit parts of New Orleans.

What is heartening is that there is an active community watching the process closely. Of particular cause for hope is that their message seems to have reached at least a couple of politicians' ears, because they've raised public awareness about the historic house stock.

What I find not as helpful is Mr. Ourousoff's assessment of the situation. His argument never seems to rise above 'don't just do historicist houses', which is simply the opposite of 'rebuild New Orleans in a historic style'. No new solutions have been suggested here. We here are looking for some good ideas ourselves, as you can see. Anyone care to send more our way?

Canal Park: Open For People Caught In Traffic At The Holland Tunnel


We've had a long love affair with this park-to-be. Today was the dedication. It's New Park Week in Manhattan. New parks are like new land, and we love them.

55 Water Street: Open For Administrative Assistant Lunches!


The new park at 55 Water Street was dedicated last night, and declared open.

Read on, and with pics!

55 Is Alive


Waay back in 2002, I directed the design of a competition for 55 Water Street at Rogers Marvel Architects. I'm sure I've said that before. The real heros are the people at The Muncipal Arts Society, who educated the owners of 55 Water Street in good public space, and the building owners, who have pledged to sponsor at least 12 public events, year round, to keep the park alive. We spent a lot of time studying Bryant Park. Tropolism means addicted to density.

So it is not without a little pride that I see this pop up on the ever-seeing, ever-knowing Curbed. Of course, I've known and calendared the dedication ceremony for a few weeks now, but I had no idea such a press junket had emerged. Ken Smith never sleeps.

Here is your opportunity to see a crappy brick plaza, hidden from view, be transformed into a lovely park. It is also an opportunity to compare all our renderings with what actually got built. Budget cutting will do that to you. See you at 55 Water Street at 5pm.

Two end notes. First, we wanted to add to my list of ice rinks with this project. Second, I have no idea how "The Beacon" became "The Beacon of Progress". Progress toward what?

Update bonus add-on: Another (gorgeous) picture of "The Beacon..." after the jump.

Party High, Sweet Chariot


Friday, a friend invited me to go to Creative Time's latest event, an opening for a show inspired by the High Line, after we supped, and I said yes. It was only an 80% yes, these things often turn out to be hideous: a hundred people occupancy but the event-throwers invite 10,000 to see it, creating a fight at the door. Still, the promise to see the one Matta-Clark film I haven't seen yet was exciting enough to get me walking in the rain.

Read about the show by clicking for more...

Tropolism Shopping: P&C In Cologne


Our Cologne correspondant tells us that the P&C (Peek & Cloppenburg in case you didn't know) Department Store is open for business. Renzo Piano's website well-documents the building, and includes some gorgeous photos.

The most interesting retail projects are in Japan and Europe, hands down, because they take as a given that they are defacto public space (even when they aren't really public space). They take pleasure in density and spectacle. And shopping. Ka-ching.