S K Y L I N E | Back to School
Notes from campus and beyond
Issue 82. While NYRA may not be required reading on all your syllabi (yet), we like to think our print edition is just as vital as any tome you’ll read this semester—and more fun. Start a subscription today.
Well readers, it’s that time of year again. Time to shut down the summer vibes and get ready for nine months of some of the hardest work you’ll ever do in your life. Thankfully, coffee is plentiful, and so is our content.
With the start of the new school year, our Events Page is filling up with lectures, gallery openings, site visits, walking tours, and even a few parties. Later on in the semester, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from studio, so why not make the most of these early weeks? Get out there, learn, and contribute to The Discourse. (Or just lurk. No shame here.) And, if you feel like sharing, raise your hand and send us a dispatch.
This week, we bring you dispatches from a few different places of learning: Yale, New York’s Center For Architecture, and the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. We’ve also collected some whispers and shout(out)s from campuses around the country, and we toured a building. There’s a lot going on, so let’s not drag this intro out.
— Anna Gibertini
NYRA ISSUE #31
We just sent issue #31 of NYRA to the printer, with a reworked design and lots more words (and rats). Are you as psyched as we are? Then come to our party!
We asked students and faculty to share their observations and doings from the first week of the fall semester with us. On Twitter, many of you told us that DALLE-2, Midjourney, and light-wash jeans are the hot new trends. Here’s what else is going on.
I began my second year at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation by submitting an open letter of protest to the historic preservation faculty. I wanted to speak out against the preferential treatment shown to students with design backgrounds versus those of us with non-design, but equally valid, backgrounds in a supposedly interdisciplinary program. So much of being a student is about the push-and-pull between hope and disappointment before the work is even started. But at least there is room for that sort of emotional vulnerability in academia—design offices don’t seem to tolerate too much pushback.—Emily Conklin
MIT’s hallowed halls seem less stuffy now that we’re no longer required to wear face masks. The mood has lifted, as can be seen in all the fun new outfits. When asked, most students described their dress as “comfortable,” “all-black,” or “the usual,” but I’ve noticed many idiosyncratic Nikes, exuberantly painted nails (across genders), piercings, and tattoos galore. We’re delighting in the ability to laugh, smile, and hug freely again. Even so, doubts about the profession raised by the pandemic persist. To sum up: We commit to the fold even while embracing the notion that we should make the most of our fleeting time here.—Alissa Carolyn Lopez Serfozo
Overheard on campus: “New York Review of Architecture is a great source to find emerging voices in architecture.” — ANA MILJAČKI, in her M.Arch Introduction to Architecture Theory seminar. Thanks for the shoutout, Ana!
9/1: Dancing With Power: The Architect’s Dilemma
NEW HAVEN—The doors to the lecture room in Rudolph Hall had to be locked after maximum occupancy was reached for Thursday night’s opening lecture at the Yale School of Architecture. In his talk about architecture and power, critic DEYAN SUDJIC flipped through images, low and high quality, offering sketchbook xeroxes from Soviet architect Boris Iophan as an opportunity to see into the brain of a power-squirmer more clearly: “There is something about an architect’s sketchbook that is irresistible. You can hide behind typing and words but the sketchbooks reveal everything.” Midway through his talk, Sudjic made the well-worn analogy between the production of films and that of buildings. “The director and the architect have certain things in common,” he said. Both wrangle personal visions into objective reality, yet in order to do this, they must rely on the expertise of collaborators and, perhaps regrettably, must genuflect to the whims of clients—be it the Hollywood studio execs or the Politburo. Through this process, boundaries become blurred, intentions get mixed up, and content “gets rewritten until it is meaningless.” In the case of Iofan, whose work and life Sudjic recounts in his book Stalin’s Architect: Power and Survival in Moscow, his proximity to power led to great success, but at an incredible cost. It was his vision that shaped the course of Soviet architecture for close to two decades. All the while, he remained silent as his patron lethally purged his friends, peers, and neighbors. This is the most extreme and poignant example of what Sudjic identified as the “troubled relationship all successful architects have with power.” —Signe Ferguson
9/7: Exactitude: On Precision and Play in Contemporary Architecture
AIANY CENTER FOR ARCHITECTURE—It’s a well-documented fact that architects have a thing for Italo Calvino. At Wednesday’s panel discussion, architect PARI RIAHI admitted to a fondness for Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, its third chapter in particular. Reading it prompted her to examine how “architecture reconciles the demand for exactitude at the phenomenal, formal, spatial, and tectonic levels while meeting its ethical obligations and exercising its imaginative capacities”—and find others interested in doing the same. Her search turned into a collection of essays, whose release the CFA event was meant to celebrate. Guest speaker MARK WIGLEY identified plaster as a material veiling inexactitude. ERIC HÖWELER highlighted the precision in construction drawings, albeit with a “verify in field” disclaimer. ADA TOLLA and GIUSEPPE LIGNANO of design firm LOT-EK walked the audience through a series of projects to demonstrate how play can lead to the “enactment of the exact.” The constrained framing produced a surprising number of variations, but labor, the human means and cost of enacting exactitude, was curiously absent from the conversation. —Kavyashri Cherala
9/8: Material Worlds: Solar
ROTTERDAM—All this back-to-school talk coincided with the launch of the world’s first Solar Biennale. In anticipation of the event, I kept thinking of a line from an enlightening pop song—They Might Be Giants’ “Why Does the Sun Shine?”—I first heard from my sixth-grade science teacher: “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas. A gigantic, nuclear furnace!”
That it is. But as the launch—a three-part hybrid event supported by the Het Nieuwe Instituut—showed, the sun is also an endless font of inspiration. “In ancient times, humanity worshiped the sun,” explained MATYLDA KRZYKOWSKI, curator of The Energy Show, one of several exhibits that features in the biennale’s programming. “It informed and inspired everything—art, religion, geometry, astronomy, architecture. We still find it galvanizing today, but for different reasons.” Later on, LINDSEY WIKSTROM, a cofounder of the design/research practice Mattaforma, moderated a panel of designers, artists, and researchers, who detailed their imagined futures of solar-powered objects and structures. As the event was nearing its end, artist ALICE WONG shared a six-minute video collage of sunny pop-culture images, which she paired with interviews conducted with several leading solar experts. “I want people to realize that solar energy is not an emergency exit,” Wong said. “The problem lies within society. It’s not a crisis for only experts to fix—we can all contribute to the solution.”—Anna Gibertini
NYRA ABOVE THE TOWN
On Wednesday I joined a press tour of Greenpoint Landing, a pair of towers on the Brooklyn waterfront that are locked in a cantilevered dance with one another. Ever since SHOP’s American Copper Buildings opened in Kips Bay in 2017, twinning towers have become a regular feature on the skyline. BIG’s XI towers fence across the High Line. Renzo Piano’s stately 565 Broome promenades across SoHo. And in Williamsburg, COOKFOX’s Domino oblongs are doing…what are they doing? But seriously, why all the funny shapes? Could it be that the latest in tower design prescribes irregular silhouettes that break up wind loads? But why did everyone bring a friend? Maybe because they are so wildly taller and bigger than their neighbors, having a partner helps establish their own context.
Greenpoint Landing, which is designed by OMA New York with Beyer Blinder Belle as the executive architect, includes a few questionable features. The series of private pools (including one, à la the American Copper Buildings, in a bridge connecting the two towers). An interior plan built around windowless double-loaded corridors. That said, these are features that plague all of the city’s new crop of housing, rooted in forces larger than those within the architect’s control. The firm played its hand well. Jason Long, the OMA partner who led our tour, explained that the design team wanted to avoid a curtain wall, and the textured facade of pre-cast panels, each with its own human-ish sized window, at least lets you count how many floors there are (forty). The public park at the base of the complex, designed by James Corner Field Operations, is thoughtful, spectacular, and larger than it would be otherwise, because OMA made the taller tower narrowest at the bottom.—Nicolas Kemper
EYES ON SKYLINE
IN THE NEWS
…Philadelphia’s Museum Mile will gain a new institution in 2024 with the Calder Gardens, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Piet Oudolf…
…Dezeen revealed the shortlist for its 2022 design awards…
...Sixteen deans from prominent design schools across the country say “no thanks” to the annual DesignIntelligence survey…
…among them was not Cooper Union, as its dean search committee settles into its second year of searching, announcing on Wednesday the appointment of architect Hayley Eber as acting dean for the 2022–23 academic year…
…Photographer, architect, designer, and DJ Wolfgang Tillmans shared his archive of exhibition mockup models in anticipation of his first retrospective at MoMA this fall…
…and, in keeping with the issue’s theme, we’re revisiting Eva Hagberg’s extremely helpful letter to parents of architecture students…
OUR NEBOMETER FUNDRAISER
Just over half our edition of Nebometers, designed by Outpost Office with NYRA Editions, has been claimed. Support the Kharkiv School of Architecture by purchasing one here.
In the week ahead…
The Reconstruction of Ukraine: A Symposium of Ideas and Strategies
7:00 AM | Lviv Center for Urban History, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Re-Start Ukraine, University College London, Urban Forms Center, Yale University, Visual Culture Research Center
From Artificial to Synthetic: Architecture as a Work of Massive Co-authorship and Other Implications of AI Design with Daniel Koehler
1:00 PM | UT Austin School of Architecture
In Conversation with Sumayya Vally
6:15 PM | Cornell Architecture Art Planning
First Friday: WXY architecture + urban design
6:30 PM | The Architectural League of New York
Saturday, 9/10 and Sunday, 9/11
The Reconstruction of Ukraine: A Symposium of Ideas and Strategies
8:00 AM | Lviv Center for Urban History, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Re-Start Ukraine, University College London, Urban Forms Center, Yale University, Visual Culture Research Center
Gallery Remarks: At the Intersection of Ideas and Material Conditions with Anne Romme
6:30 PM | Cooper Union
Cloud Studies with Eyal Weizman
6:30 PM | Columbia GSAPP
New York Reviews Architecture
7:00 PM | DSK Brooklyn
Our listings are constantly being updated. Check the events page regularly for up-to-date listings and submit events through this link.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Have a take of global importance to share withNYRA? Write us a letter!
NYRA is a team effort. Our Editor is Samuel Medina, our Deputy Editor is Marianela D’Aprile, and our Editors-at-Large are Carolyn Bailey, Phillip Denny, and Alex Klimoski. Our Publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
To pitch us an article or ask us a question, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For their support, we would like to thank the Graham Foundation and our issue sponsors, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Thomas Phifer.
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