S K Y L I N E | Coalition Building
Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, Anna Bokov, Sean Quinn, Nandini Bagchee, Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration
Issue 92. We have a party! Tonight. You should come.
As the news of a strike by New School and Parsons School of Design adjunct professors broke Wednesday, following on the heels of recent strikes by unionized academic workers across the University of California’s ten campuses, the urgency and efficacy of such collective efforts has highlighted the importance of solidarity.
Each in their own way, this week’s featured events are about solidarity—different flavors of it for sure, but the appetite for it is unmistakable. Filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine foreground the lives of people who occupy architecture and public space; the Soviet revolutionary art school Vkhutemas aims to teach anyone and everyone; transportation experts recognize the importance of coalition building in rethinking bike infrastructure across class divides; NYC-based architects talk about strategies for community building; Aleksandra Jaeschke seeks to reestablish connectedness between humans, animals, and plants; and a broad coalition of architectural historians build an archive of Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration.
— Palmyra Geraki
11/14: Urban entourage
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — “Perfection is a fiction we suffer from,” filmmakers ILA BÊKA and LOUISE LEMOINE remarked in their lecture at Columbia GSAPP this Monday. In contrast to glossy, pre-occupancy PR imagery, Bêka and Lemoine foreground the labor of maintenance, the decay of buildings, the impact of climate, and most importantly, the lives of ordinary people. Presented in their lecture as an ever-growing diagram of interconnected points, the couple’s approach aims to expose the entanglements and dependencies that dominant architectural discourse would rather leave unquestioned. Bêka and Lemoine’s presentation culminated with their latest project, a ten-hour, ten-city, ten-part “cinematographic fresco,” Homo Urbanus. While the duo focus Homo Urbanus on the relation between bodies and public space, Bêka and Lemoine’s own relationship to their cinematographic subjects seemed to become increasingly asymmetrical. In Homo Urbanus the duo no longer speak with the people they film. Each section of the film is given a quasi-scientific name—Homo Urbanus Tokyoitus or Seoulianus—and filled with footage of crowded city streets, stiffly posed portraits of working-class laborers, and a catalog of the indignities suffered by the global urban poor. As a form of architectural representation Homo Urbanus reduces the complex classed, racial, and embodied relationship of people with space to a poetic texture; the people it depicts are nothing more than entourage.
— Tim Cox
11/14: Revolutionary pedagogy for the masses
ASTOR PLACE — Established in 1920 in Moscow following a revolutionary conference on education, Vkhutemas was a radical merger of fine art and technical education. Entrance exams were eliminated, students voted on faculty, and pluralism ruled. Students also demanded free housing, studios, and food. “The pedagogy was designed around this idea that anybody could be taught,” said ANNA BOKOV, curator of the upcoming exhibition at Cooper Union Vkhutemas: Laboratory of the Avant-Garde, 1920–1930, which will run from January 18 to February 24, 2023. Graphic designer and Kharkiv native POLINA GODZ elaborated on the school’s graphics department and allied press, tracing their development and importance to revolution-era communication. Together, Godz and Bokov told a compelling story of collective culture and public interest, quite different from the contemporaneous Bauhaus. As late MoMA curator Alfred H. Barr, Jr. observed: “The Bauhaus aimed to develop an individual, whereas the Moscow workshops focused on the masses.”
— Jenny Tobias
11/15: Biking in NYC
GREENWICH VILLAGE — As part of AIANY’s Civic Leadership Program, seasoned reps from the Department of Transportation (DOT) (SEAN QUINN), Bike New York (JON ORCUTT), and Lyft/Citi Bike (INBAR KISHONI) came together Tuesday evening to discuss the state of bike infrastructure in New York City. While Covid caused more New Yorkers to bike, car use went up, too. At the same time, freight deliveries have shifted to 80 percent residential destinations and micromobility types have multiplied, placing further strain on existing road infrastructures. “New York’s hottest real estate is the curb,” Kishoni said. She described siting Citi Bike docks among fire hydrants, grates, poles, and other sidewalk and road infrastructure like “Operation [the kids game] mixed with Tetris.”
The speakers endorsed big-picture thinking. Rethinking traffic across multiple streets or as part of larger networks can yield better outcomes than surgical interventions, said Quinn, which is why the DOT works closely with traffic engineers and other stakeholders to question longstanding setups like loading spaces or alternate-side parking. The group also touched on the intersection of class and biking, mostly concerning service expansion, subsidies, and the importance of coalition-building, but the audience demographic largely confirmed Melody Hoffman’s adage that “bike lanes are white lanes.” “When you create a safe place to ride a bike,” Orcutt asserted, “all kinds of New Yorkers will use it.”
11/15: Building community
SOHO — “In New York,” said moderator MARIANA MOGILEVICH in her introduction to Tuesday’s event, “implicit in the discourse of community [is] a certain kind of disinvestment and disenfranchisement.” She continued: “When we are talking about an urban community, very often cultural and social solidarity are being summoned to compensate for other material resources.”
How can architecture and design play a part in the process of building communities? That was the question that the assembled panelists attempted to answer through the ten-minute-long Pecha Kucha and the conversation that followed.
The projects presented offered different ways of engaging communities. In some cases, community feedback was incorporated into a more traditional RFP, while in others, architecture’s role was to translate community principles into designs for communal stewardship. During the Q&A, architecture’s purview was discussed in temporal terms as well: while architects should first and foremost listen to what the community’s needs are in the moment, they can also help visualize new ways of building community, trust, and democratic power in the future. Perhaps the most radical comment of the evening was made by NANDINI BAGCHEE, who said that “community engagement has to be led by the community and then you have to figure out if there’s a part for the designer. Sometimes there’s not, and you have to step back.”
— Pedro Cruz Cruz
11/17: Against greenhouses
CAMBRIDGE, MA — “I became more interested in the transformative potentials of greenhouse initiatives, instead of the greenhouses themselves,” confessed ALEKSANDRA JAESCHKE during her Wheelwright Prize lecture, which chronicled how her time touring greenhouses across the globe as part of her fellowship (which included a year-long interruption due to the pandemic) drastically changed the framing of her original proposal. Jaeschke came to see greenhouses as a part of a broader mindset of disconnectedness between humans, animals, and plants. In her words, “enclosures are an emblem of a broken world” and, in the case of greenhouses, they are causing massive issues, including the depletion of soils, microplastic contamination, and the alienation of labor from its natural surroundings. She suggested that the way we treat food and its “lifelines”—pollinators, fertilizer, and seeds—as commercial products is yet another example of such pervasive alienation. But she ended the lecture on a hopeful note: even the smallest balcony can host compost production.
— Kira Clingen
11/17: Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration
TORONTO — Last night, editors and contributors to Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration (a multiyear collaborative publication project between Aggregate, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Architecture Beyond Europe), gathered online and in person at the University of Toronto to reflect on the trajectory of the project and speak about a new collection of articles launched across the three platforms.
Project collaborators ANOORADHA IYER SIDDIQI and RACHEL LEE introduced the event, followed by presentations from authors ARMAGHAN ZIAEE and JUAN DU. (Du is the dean of the University of Toronto’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design since last year, but her engagement with Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration dates back to her time at the University of Hong Kong.)
In the second half of the event, a panel format invited authors and editors to engage together and with the audience. Of the various media the project has engaged with over the years (exemplified by an audiovisual compilation of readings published in Aggregate), Iyer Siddiqi said, “it’s quite a thing [...] to have a body of readers who all in solidarity somehow said that it’s important enough that we all need to gather around this project; it’s not just about [writing] the project but [also about reading] the project.”
Iyer Siddiqi pointed out a broad consensus regarding architectural history: that in the context of the academy, “it has been a colonial discipline, a [...] masculinist discipline” and that “It hasn’t really been about writing about precarious people, precarious lives.” “I think that the authors have to be commended for in many cases finding these histories,” Iyer Siddiqi stressed.
(All articles produced for the Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration project are available for free across the three open access publications, Aggregate, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Architecture Beyond Europe.)
— Sebastián López Cardozo
NYRA ON THE TOWN
Christie’s Visionary Exhibition
Visitors to Visionary at Christie’s last week were not only overwhelmed by the estimated $1.5 billion dollars “worth” of art, but also by the blinding degree of effort that went into selling it. The show was a who’s who from the fifteenth century to the present, from Botticelli and Brueghel to Hopper and Hockney. Amassed over thirty-plus years by the late Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, the works did not have much to tie them together other than the “estimate available upon request” tags and the mega-watt, stadium lighting. Each canvas was lit by a carefully flagged and computer-controlled theatrical light, to mixed results. While Monet glowed and Klimt glistened, Maxfield Parrish resembled a ’70s blacklight poster. The collection was on view for eleven days before the two-day auction, an all-too-brief window for works that likely will never be seen in public again. Yet, with the number of photons blasting the canvases perhaps it's best that they're leaving Christie’s. Any longer and they would all be Lot 18, a pale Agnes Martin.
— Adam Brodheim
EYES ON SKYLINE
In Skyline 91, our readers were curious as to why once-coveted New York City co-op apartments sit on the market for years and sell at a discount.
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Did you see we are having one? Tonight! In Brooklyn. Doors at 7, readings at 8. You should come: nyra.nyc/rsvp
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Christine Williamson of Building Fight Club writes in response to the chart shown with the writeup of John Andrew’s lecture in last week’s edition.
Whoa! Look at what that chart says about lighting! It’s not uncommon for lighting loads to be less than 15 percent of a building’s energy use now. To go from about 50 percent to about 15 percent in forty years is pretty great. (And also an indication that perhaps some of the old rules of thumb about energy conservation don’t apply in quite the same way anymore.)
Yesterday was our last day to subscribe and receive a copy of our current print issue, #31. But if you start one using this link this morning, we will extend the offer and send you a copy. Otherwise, you can try to nab one from the architects over at Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, recently spotted reading them in a stainless steel sculpture by sculptor Yuyu Yang at Wall Street Plaza, aka 88 Pine Street—which is not only the firm’s home but also one of its projects, designed by James Ingo Freed and completed in 1973.
IN THE NEWS
News are coming in pairs this week.
Alain Fournier was awarded the 2022 Ernest Cormier Prizer and Rozana Montiel was awarded the 2022 ARVHA International Prize for Women Architects.
Mergers & Acquisitions:
MASS design group has acquired long-time Santa Fe collaborator Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, with the joint entity becoming Santa Fe’s largest architectural office. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s storied and beloved William Stout Architectural Books has been acquired by the Eames Institute.
Demolition (or threats thereof) and (re)construction:
Louis Kahn’s IIM Ahmedabad campus is once again under threat of demolition, reconstruction, and renovation. Meanwhile, the historic Deauville beach resort in Miami Beach was demolished, but voters rejected Related chairman Stephen Ross’s bid to build a Gehry-designed condominium in its place.
In a speech to a conservative think tank, UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations Michael Gove vowed to block new developments the government deems too ugly. “We will use all the powers we have, including call-in powers, in order to make sure that developments which are not aesthetically of high quality don't go ahead,” he said. He added that communities “do not want ugliness to be imposed on them.” As for what Gove finds aesthetically pleasing, we’ll have to wait to see him in action. But he did take the time to praise King Charles III’s pet project, the experimental planned community of Poundbury in Dorset, whose lead architect and planner is known traditionalist Léon Krier. This news nugget from across the pond pairs quite well with Trump’s 2020 “Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture.”
Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Structure of the City of Two Million in Southern California with Edward Dimendberg, Eve Blau, Mark Jarzombek, Alex Krieger
1:30 PM EST | Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Saving the World? Reflections on UNESCO’s Mid Century Mission in Conflict with Lynn Meskell
4:00 PM EST | Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
'Dreaming-on-Hudson: The Politics and Power of Speculation in the Hudson Valley' Opening Reception with Kellen Cooks, Jillian McRae, Samuel North, Joyce Sharrock Cole, Just Places Lab
5:00 PM EST | Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Edible; or, The Architecture of Metabolism Conference with Lydia Kallipoliti, Andrés Jaque, Areti Markopoulou, Sanjana Lahiri, Mitchell Joachim, Andreas Theodoridis, Lola Ben-Alon, Sharon Yavo-Ayalon, Hayley Eber, Sonia Ralston
5:00 PM EST | Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Fusing Human and Artificial Intelligence to Power Better Urban Design and Planning with Paul Waddell
12:30 PM EST | Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Who Is the City For? Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago with Lee Bey, Blair Kamin, Reed Kroloff
4:30 PM CST | Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, AIA Illinois
Communitarian Photography with Bruno Ceschel
6:00 PM EST | Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
“Improve and Reform Them”: Manufacturing Citizenship and Goods in the Vocational School of Late Ottoman Baghdad with Lydia Harrington
6:00 PM EST | Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture + Planning
Unintentionally Perfect: The Philosophy of the Error with Piero Lissoni
6:00 PM EST | AIA New York | Center for Architecture
Under Pressure: Essays on Urban Housing Book Launch with Hina Jamelle, Kutan Ayata, Neil Denari, Georgina Huljich
3:30 PM PST | University of California Los Angeles Architecture and Urban Design
Space and Heritage: On the Generativity of Environing Worlds with Tao Dufour, Andreas Pantazatos, Anthony Steinbock, Ola Uduku, Leslie Hewitt, Tania Sengupta, Maximilian Sternberg, Jean Khalfa, Natalie Melas, Łukasz Stanek, Iulia Statica, Sophie Loidolt, Irit Katz, Felipe Hernández
4:00 PM GMT | University of Cambridge Department of Architecture
Bootleg Poetics, or a retail apocalypse in NYC’s counterfeit epicenter with Canal Street Research Association
3:00 PM EST | Canadian Centre for Architecture
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
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New York Review of Architecture is a team effort. Our editor is Samuel Medina. Our deputy editor is Marianela D’Aprile. Our editors-at-large are Carolyn Bailey, Phillip Denny, and Alex Klimoski, and our publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
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