S K Y L I N E | It’s Getting Warm Outside
Forensic adaptive reuse, the future of preservation, and How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Issue 110. Wouldn’t you rather be reading a copy of NYRA in the park right now? Subscribe today
I’m editing this issue of SKYLINE on an 85-degree April evening in Brooklyn, or what might be New York City’s earliest spring on record. Nearby basketball courts that were barren a week ago are now teeming with players. I met a friend in the park on Wednesday only to realize as we searched for a place to sit that everyone had the same idea. On my morning office commute, I heard a higher-than-normal amount of sneezes. But, after an unseasonably warm winter, it all feels a little…ominous.
I’m grateful for the contributors to this issue, who in some cases decided to spend one of these balmy evenings inside lecture halls and galleries to hear about the strange and, yes, ominous effects of climate change, among other subjects. Speaking of which, Failed Architecture (where I’m an editor) just put out a call for articles on the changing climate, if you’re suddenly feeling inspired.
I hope you’re reading this from somewhere nice outside before what’s surely going to be a hot summer.
— Michael Nicholas
4/7: RECORDAR Exhibition Opening Performance
CAMBRIDGE — The buzz of a lively department happy hour met its droning response last Friday at the opening of DEBORAH GARCIA’s multimedia Recordar project that brought together three years of pedagogy and research by the designer and curator as a Belluschi fellow at MIT. To inaugurate the nine-foot-tall installation, Garcia and collaborator NICOLE L’HUILLIER broadcast a duet to a captivated hall sipping margaritas from Capri-Sun pouches. Images melted into one another, cut through by vocal extemporizations:
the SYSTEM! –––––
to join solitary PEOP–––––––
because the system is one to forgeeeeeeet.
Garcia’s lecture the evening before referenced her relationship to unwieldy sound objects that tower over and occlude the speakers they amplify and project. Sound already leaks through architecture—one thinks of fast-food drive-throughs—but what if it gushed? Through this unwieldy sonic apparatus, maybe it could; louder, faster, stranger, venturing into new publics. All the better if it’s clad in all black.
4/10: GSAPP Historic Preservation Theses
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — A few years after the Architecture Lobby launched its Just Transition manifesto, a core imperative of which was to “Maintain!”, an emerging generation of preservationists are now joining the call. This past week, students from GSAPP’s historic preservation class of 2023 defended their thesis projects by demanding practices of care, resilience, and reuse that reimagine architecture as social justice environmental stewardship.
SCHUYLER DANIEL described her “Maintenance Theory” project in the terms of a manifesto, highlighting architecture’s care-takers and revealing fresh understandings of what we mean by concepts like agency and ritual. MIMI VAUGHAN made an original case for rethinking the representational role of the body in the design professions. She unpacked big questions like, why does a building have a skin? And should we see demolition as a death? And HONGYE WANG bridged the gap between preservation practice and emergent computer science using social media posts as data to collect site-specific memories within the historic district of Greenwich Village. His research helps paint a fuller picture of New York’s LGBTQ legacy.
Perhaps preservation is way past plaques and landmark tours, entering confidently into a proactive praxis. One can hope.
4/11: How to Not Demolish a Building
ASTOR PLACE — Speaking to a packed hall at the Cooper Union, OLIVIER CAVENS and DIETER LEYSSEN described their interest not in construction—though as principals of the Brussels-based design studio 514NE, they do plenty of that—but in demolition. “We see the building as a mine,” Cavens said, as photographs documenting various salvaging strategies cycled on the screen behind the pair. A couple memorable examples: chunks of concrete floors being pulverized for use as aggregate in new slabs and the careful inventorying of recovered roof tiles.
The Wednesday night talk was a preview of 51N4E’s new book, How to Not Demolish a Building (Ruby Press), which details the “forensic adaptive reuse” approach Cavens, Leyssen, and their collaborators developed as part of their project to transform a pair of late-modern Brussels skyscrapers slated for dismantlement into a “metropolitan hybrid.” They compiled numerous studies for the vacant towers, imagining novel uses for every phase of the demolition process, currently underway. The endgame, the architects said, was to conserve as much of the vanished buildings’ mass as possible (upwards of 62 percent, by their calculations) by turning the site into a “marketplace” of materials for future use. Long after they’ve disappeared from the skyline, the structures would enjoy a long afterlife of sorts. You could almost call it romantic.
— Angie Door
4/12: Hybrid Factory, Hybrid City
CHINATOWN — “No one discussing the fifteen-minute city talks about factories—they talk about the workplace, but not factories…. We need the sixteen-minute city,” said NINA RAPPAPORT at a Wednesday night book launch NYRA put together with Citygroup. About thirty people crowded into the basement Chinatown gallery to hear Rappaport discuss her new book, Hybrid Factory, Hybrid City (Actar), about the need for reincorporating light industry into residential urban fabric. Dieter Leyssen, who contributed a text to the volume, was also on hand to present a project by his firm 51N4E that mostly met Rappaport’s requirements: Brussel’s circularium, a sprawling maker space that retrofits an old urban automobile factory (Leyssen described its original incarnation as “a modernist dream of production and consumption.”) The basement setting and jury-rigged screen struck a contrast with the Cooper Union’s Great Hall, but the set-up had its advantages: a real conversation developed among those in the room. DAVID SMILEY wrestled with how “hybrid factories” relate to the “Jane Jacobs Debate,” by which he meant the general public's distrust toward urban planners and policy solutions. For if big ideas about citymaking are to move forward, it is not the right design, but the right policy, brought about by politics, that will make them happen.
NYRA AT THE MOVIES
For better or worse, ANDREAS MALM’s 2021 book How to Blow Up a Pipeline did not offer its readers a step-by-step guide to propagate the titular deed. It merely suggested that direct action, sabotage, and even violence were logical tactics for beginning to dismantle the carbon-spewing capitalist system that has led to the current crisis. The film of the same name, directed by DANIEL GOLDHABER, reorients this focus. We follow a ragtag group of activists as they drive through barren West Texas, dotted with oil infrastructure; they map the facility and build and lob bombs, sustaining some pretty gruesome injuries in the process.
Propelled by a synth-driven score by GAVIN BRIVIK, the film moves efficiently through the logistics of pipeline sabotage. Occasionally, the action is interrupted by glimpses into character backstories — one activist contracts cancer from living near polluted areas, while another experiences how their agricultural community becomes threatened by oil companies — but quickly returns to scenes of the group strapping impossibly heavy fertilizer-filled barrels to pipelines. The nearly relentless pacing may make it difficult for audiences to parse the underlying ideology of sabotage as climate praxis, but it certainly is fun to be swept along.
IN THE NEWS
University of Pennsylvania has a new architecture chair. Snubbed applicants can still apply for the program chair at Taubman College at the University of Michigan, where this week a judge denied a request for an injunction to stop the graduate student strike.
Speaking of which, the custodians, groundkeepers, and movers at RISD are also on strike, to the approval of the architecture faculty there.
The affordable units in Mordor Tower, Brooklyn, are available to residents with six-figure incomes.
Along with making his private jet available for Thursday evening trips to New Haven for a certain Supreme Court justice, Harlan Crow built a $300 million traditionalist office park outside Dallas.
Kate Wagner proposes that architecture is for everyone.
IN RAT NEWS
We have diligently posted to Mastodon as a matter of principle, though it is pretty quiet over there. Substack has just launched a Substack Notes, a pretty near clone of Twitter, and their inclusion of the quote-tweet button (err, “restack with a note”) may very well make it more lively.
That said, our favorite platform is still the table. You can join us around one of those if you sign up for our next event, a book talk about planning, gentrification, and the struggle over Harlem, this Tuesday at Spitzer College.
SPONSORED: M.Arch Merch.
High-quality prints and products of seminal buildings from all over the world with specific collections for Brutalism, Postmodernism, New York, London, LA, Chicago, and insalubrious slogans.
Spatial Structure and Travel Patterns of the Post-Pandemic City Symposium with Amanda Blomberg Stathopoulos, Luis A. Lopez, Lyndsey Rolheiser, Stephan Whitaker, Genevieve Giuliano, & Deborah Salon
8:30 AM | Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Between Urbanism and Zoomorphism in the Mongol Empire’s Northwest: Constructing Nomadic Antiquity with Petya Andreeva
12:00 PM | Parsons School of Design
First Friday Distance Edition: Leers Weinzapfel Associates with Andrea P. Leers, Jane Weinzapfel, & Mark Lamster
12:00 PM | The Architectural League of New York
The Constant Future: A Century of the Regional Plan with James Sanders
7:30 PM | National Arts Club
Barbara Kasten: Architecture & Film (2015–2020) Book Launch with Barbara Kasten & Stephanie Cristello
3:00 PM CDT | Graham Foundation
Climate as Praxis: Marking the launch of the M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design Excellence with Chris Cornelius, Billie Faircloth, Kate Orff, & Boonserm Premthada
1:00 PM PDT | California College of the Arts Architecture Division
Beyond the Biennial with Tizziana Baldenebro, Lauren Leving, Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, & avery r. young
3:30 PM CDT | EXPO Chicago & School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Lecture with Imani Jacqueline Brown
6:30 PM | Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Lunchtime Lecture: Madame Architect with Julia Gamolina
12:00 PM PDT | University of California Los Angeles Architecture and Urban Design
Lost and Found with Carrie Norman
6:00 PM | Syracuse University School of Architecture, NYC
And The Worlds That Surround Film Screening
6:30 PM | Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School
New York Talks Architecture: The Roots of Urban Renaissance with Brian D. Goldstein, Shawn Rickenbacker, & Jerome Haferd
6:30 PM | New York Review of Architecture & City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture
Tribal Community Planning: A Ho-Chunk Nation Perspective and Lessons for Practitioners with Bill Quackenbush
4:00 PM CDT | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture
Centering Safe Experiences with Azure Thompson, Isabel Saffon, & Kelli Peterman
6:00 PM | Urban Design Forum
IRL with Florian Idenburg & Florencia Rodriguez
5:00 PM CDT | University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture
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
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New York Review of Architecture reviews architecture in New York. Our Editor is Samuel Medina, our Deputy Editor is Marianela D’Aprile, and our Publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
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