S K Y L I N E | What’s Next for Our Practice?
Green New Deal Working Group, Architectural Workers United, Citizen Architects, Tbilisi Architecture Biennial
Issue 88. Temperatures are dropping fast. Get toasty with NYRA and start a subscription today.
From geopolitics to economics, it seems that everywhere we look we encounter crises. Within architecture, reactionary or merely unhelpful mores retain a menacing grip. But there are signs that things are slowly changing—or at least that change is possible. I for one am excited by those designers, curators, educators, and students fighting for a dignified practice capable of renegotiating the terms of architectural labor, structuring community, and meeting the challenges posed by climate change. In this issue of Skyline, writers ventured as far as Tbilisi to bring back a glimpse of a hopeful future.
— Osvaldo Delbrey Ortiz
10/17: High Stakes
ASTOR PLACE — Everything was on the table at a recent conclave involving members of The Architecture Lobby’s Green New Deal Working Group and the Cooper Climate Coalition—not least the future of the architectural profession itself. Presentations (one from each group) were wide-ranging and spanned themes of pedagogy, ecological justice, labor, and class struggle. A remark by the Working Group’s RYAN LUDWIG about the agency of architects summed up the stakes: “We need to reimagine our role as architects more along the lines of being political actors.” His colleague ELISA ITURBE drew out some of the implications of this realignment. For one, architects might develop a better understanding of the precarity that characterizes their work. Iturbe then moved from precarity to sustainability, sounding an existential note: “The climate crisis makes our work within the building industry untenable.”
10/14: Gaining Leverage
ZOOM — In September, Brooklyn’s Bernheimer Architects became the nation’s first organized architectural workplace in recent memory. At a panel talk hosted by Architectural Workers United and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Bernheimer employees ANN LE and CHRIS BECK spoke about their motivations for launching their union campaign, which lasted two years. “Architecture offices typically prioritize projects, not the workplace,” Le said. “A union helps balance that out and center workers’ voices.” DAVID DIMARIA and ANDREW DALEY from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, were also on hand to field questions about organizing a privately owned design office. While their responses often dug into the technical, DiMaria and Daley reiterated the economic bigger picture. “The building trades have leverage. Construction firms have leverage. The only people in the building industry that don’t have leverage are the ones who design the buildings,” DiMaria said. “If architects don’t set those standards, there won’t be a floor. There has to be a cost for your work.”
10/11: Citizen Architect
CAMBRIDGE, MA — When MILTON S.F. CURRY stepped before an audience at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he admitted to feeling a tad bit nervous about returning to his alma mater. “The anxious butterflies hit me just as I walked into the lobby,” he said. Curry, who until recently served as the dean of USC Architecture (he has since assumed the title of professor), argued that race and Blackness are necessary “theoretical vehicles” for training “citizen architects.” More adequate frameworks for learning—for instance, a race-integrated course track and an expanded canon—are needed at the university level, but also earlier than that, Curry suggested. He discussed models for secondary education he developed as an associate dean at the University of Michigan and subsequently at USC that aimed at exposing students to both architecture and critical race theory. On the latter subject, he expressed concern about the censoring of books in public schools across the country and what it augurs for institutions of higher learning: “They’re coming for us, they’re coming for universities.”
NYRA ON THE OTHER TOWN
10/6: What’s Next?
At the 2022 Tbilisi Architecture Biennial
TBILISI—Set against the backdrop of war across the region, the third edition of the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial is a visceral reckoning with the uncertainty—and openness—of the present. Organized by TINATIN GURGENDIZE, GIGI SHUKAKIDZE, and OTAR NEMSADZE, What’s Next? compels with site-specific interventions and installations scattered across the Georgian capital and beyond. I encountered these impressive works within the biennial’s ambit, where I also made sure to sample from the extensive list of complementary programs ranging from satellite exhibitions and symposia to tours and film screenings. Taken as a whole, the biennial had the feeling of a big festival, exuding both urgency and ambition.
Four projects are at the heart of the biennial: Shorisdebuli, a pencil tower of scaffolding situated in between two buildings in the center of the city that highlights the legacies of outdated planning systems; Tumbleweed Rodeo, a performative reflection on the plant’s tendency to break boundaries by bringing it back to where it originally came from—Caucasia—and letting it roll; Threshold Landscape, a meditative installation in a dry lake that formally evokes the foundation piles of real estate developments to come; and Totem of Temporality, a material intervention into the municipal dump and landfill that speaks about the transitory nature and value of waste.
Also worthy of note were a symposium and exhibition at Sanatorium Kartli, a dilapidated building on Tbilisi’s outskirts that has been occupied for nearly thirty years by internally displaced people (IDPs) from the Abkhazian war. Members and researchers of the Georgian IDP community delivered moving presentations. In its keynote, MetaLab details its work adaptations of abandoned buildings in and around Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, to provide residence and community to people fleeing war. The solidarity between the two countries was further asserted by Checkpoint ‘Protected Lands’, which, through a precise and haunting assemblage of concrete defensive fortifications, emphasizes the familiarity and proximity of the war in Ukraine. It served as an uncomfortable reminder that the same could happen here at any moment.
EYES ON SKYLINE
IN THE NEWS
… architecture business is booming despite inflation…
…Selldorf Architects revises plans for the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing in London after facing criticism…
…migrant workers still facing labor abuses in Qatar ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup…
…Saudi Arabia might actually go through with the construction of the Line Megacity, according to new drone footage…
In the week ahead…
Frontier of Life: Ukrainian Wartime Posters
9:00 AM | Student Union Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
The History of Carnegie Hill with Keith Taillon
1:00 PM EDT | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Revisiting Organic Architecture with Go Hasegawa
5:30 PM CDT | UIC School of Architecture
The New Bauhaus with Petter Ringbom
6:00 PM EDT | Neue Galerie New York
Open House New York 2022 Weekend
7:00 AM EDT | Open House New York
African Burial Ground National Monument Project Tour with Nicole Hollant-Denis
10:00 AM EDT | Archtober, AIA New York | Center for Architecture
Architecture Tour at Art Omi with Julia van den Hout
1:00 PM EDT | Art Omi
Architectural Puzzles: The Hidden Complexity of Renovating Cultural Spaces
4:00 PM EDT | 1014 | Space for Ideas
Furniture from Casa Malaparte with Curzio Malaparte
6:00 PM EDT | Gagosian
Open House New York 2022 Weekend
7:00 AM EDT | Open House New York
Steven Holl’s Ex of In House Tour with Dimitra Tsachrelia
2:00 PM EDT | 'T' Space Rhinebeck
ACADIA 2022 Conference (October 24–29) with J. Meejin Yoon, Antoine Picon
9:00 AM EDT | University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design
SOS Brutalism: Tools for Preservation Activism and a Theory for the Monsters with Oliver Elser
6:30 PM EDT | Yale University School of Architecture
Affordable Housing and Community at Siler Yard with Garron Yepa
1:00 PM EDT | Archtober, AIA New York | Center for Architecture, Indigenous Society of Architecture, Planning, and Design
The Aesthetic of Transience
6:00 p.m. CDT | Mas Context
Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation *and what it means for landscape architects with Rosetta Elkin
1:30 PM EDT | University of Texas Austin School of Architecture
Walking, Storytelling, Mapping: How to Incorporate Community Engagement in Processes of Landscape Planning with Henrik Schultz
4:00 PM EDT | Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Neighborhoods Now Summit with Ifeoma N. Ebo
6:00 PM EDT | Urban Design Forum, Van Alen Institute
Nueva Vivienda—New Housing Paradigms in Mexico with Jesús Vassallo, Sebastián López Cardozo
6:30 PM EDT | Rice University School of Architecture
Common Bond: The Center for Architecture Gala with Benjamin Prosky
6:00 PM EDT | AIA New York | Center for Architecture
Moving Beauty: Rethinking Architecture’s Forgotten Mandate with William Brinkman-Clark
6:00 PM EDT | City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture
Intoxication, Disability, and the Question of Indistinction with Mel Y. Chen
6:30 PM EDT | Harvard University Graduate School of Design
To Build for Art: Peter Zumthor
6:30 p.m. EDT | Yale Center for British Art
Common Bond After Party with Benjamin Prosky
9:00 PM EDT | AIA New York | Center for 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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