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S K Y L I N E | Wringing in the New Year
... with a look at the old one
Issue 96. We have our first event of the year this coming Wednesday at Head Hi bookstore (and on Zoom) with Eva Hagberg and Liz Kubany. Register here. Or enter this cute URL into your browser: nyra.nyc/book.
Hello NYRA faithful!
In many ways, 2022 marked a return to a semblance of normality. It was also a year of highs and lows, in the world of architecture and beyond, and NYRA was there almost every week to report on it all. In this issue, we look back at some of our favorite moments from the past twelve months.
— Palmyra Geraki
THE YEAR IN … SKYLINE
Below, we select some of our favorite SKYLINE dispatches and editorials of 2022.
For SKYLINE 54, Marianela D’Aprile and Keefer Dunn identified a new style — Sketchup Contemporary — and invited contributors (and implicitly readers) to participate in their own architectural neighborhood watch.
“Feeling the housing crunch?” asked Matthew Allen in SKYLINE 56. He joked: “I just saw an ad for a garage in an alleyway here in Toronto for sale for a million dollars, with a warning that it’s suitable only to be torn down to build an accessory dwelling unit—but ‘think of the possibilities!’ Paul Krugman thinks it’s not a bubble.”
Just days after the unionization effort at SHoP fell apart, Mai Okimoto dropped in on a lecture given by firm principal Christopher Sharples where “big issues were raised, a cause was championed, and solutions were proposed…but the elephant remained in the room.” (SKYLINE 57)
Published the day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, SKYLINE 58 saw Jack Murphy forget about architecture for a little bit.
A few weeks later in SKYLINE 62, Anna Talley wondered “What is the point of writing about architecture now?” and came up with a hopeful answer. “The practice and purpose of architectural discourse,” she wrote, “is an attempt to understand how [buildings] represent and shape ourselves and, at its best, proposes how design can evolve to better society, an aim that should be pursued in times of both peace and war.”
In SKYLINE 64, Sebastián López Cardozo had this to say about SCI-Arc’s infamous “Base Camp: How to be in an Office” roundtable: “Regardless of what kind of radicalism you practice—whether in an atelier, an office, or the academy—one thing is certain: The work won’t love you back.”
For SKYLINE 66, Rami Abou-Khalil visited Coachella and examined the music festival’s pavilion architecture.
“Let’s focus on dealing with the gun. Leave architecture out of it,” wrote Nicholas Raap in SKYLINE 71 in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting. Reacting to commentary that pointed to the school's design as a culprit for the incident, Raap argued that the kind of design we often see in embassies and military bases is a “securitized parti, one that society has become increasingly familiar with since 9/11, and one it seems we are poised to repeat endlessly if the focus remains exclusively on prevention through design.”
With his lithe prose in “The Empire of Light” for SKYLINE 75, Lauren Phillips painted the “fairy-tale landscape of heroes and monsters” that was Dallas’s Oak Lawn neighborhood in the early 2000s.
Michael Nicholas described the John Portman–designed Times Square Marriott Marquis as an “analeptic oasis with power outlets, climate control, clean bathrooms, commodious seats, and a perfectly inoffensive hotel bar.” In another contribution to SKYLINE 80’s “Archi-tourist travelogs for the discerning reader,” Sus Labowitz lamented the imminent demolition of the former Neponsit Beach Hospital complex and the probable erasure of the “idyllic queer space” in this stretch of Jacob Riis Beach.
For SKYLINE 81, against the backdrop of a mounting student debt crisis and Biden’s proposed loan forgiveness program, Osvaldo Delbrey Ortiz questioned the cost of entry into the field of architecture.
“Buildings and infrastructure can be weaponized to make claims on a land, or against a people,” wrote Sebastián López Cardozo in his editorial “How Can Someone Own the Land?” for SKYLINE 87.
In SKYLINE 89, “Searching for a Good Crisis,” AJ Artemel called out architects and designers for their “ambulance chasing” ways, or what Kate Wagner dubbed “coronagrifting.” This desire to prove architecture’s relevance—whether a function of careerism or deep-seated insecurity— isn’t necessarily all bad. But as Artemel argued, architects should focus on the “everyday crises in front of us,” becoming “decision-makers through solidarity: working with others, often locally, and often without a spotlight.”
For SKYLINE 93, Nicolas Kemper reported on a trio of hot-button issues—Cornell’s silence over the burglary of professor Samia Henni’s office, the beginnings of the New School adjunct strike, and the controversy sparked by a SO-IL job listing.
12/16: Designing for Post-Incarceration
GREENWICH VILLAGE — “Designing for Post-Incarceration,” as a recent symposium at the Center for Architecture put it, means investing in people today to make incarceration obsolete tomorrow. It means recasting housing and mental healthcare as public safety concerns. It means breaking a very profitable economic circuit for good. But though those assembled on the night—academics and activists in the fields of social and criminal justice, architects and developers, as well as elected officials and policymakers—agreed on some or most of this, they were less sure about the first half of the panel title.
To be sure, there was much talk of designing “more humane environments.” TOPEKA SAM of The Ladies of Hope Ministries shared an impression from a young woman who told her, “Colors in NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] remind me of the colors I saw visiting my baby's father in Rikers. Even the smells at NYCHA are the same as the smells in prison.” HERNANDEZ STROUD from the Brennan Center for Justice relayed a terrifying story of a prisoner who was literally “baked to death” in an Alabama prison. And as is often the case when architecture and the justice system are brought up in the same breath, the conversation swung to the Norway’s IKEA-inspired dorm-like prisons, where, Sam recounted, “prisoners had keys to their doors, windows that open, private showers, and prisoners and officers alike dress in casual clothes.” In 2019 the DeBlasio administration even sent a delegation to Norway to do precedent research for the Borough-Based Jails initiative.
But such calls for improving the physical environment of jails and prisons belie systemic problems associated with the punitive nature of the US justice system and the lack of a social safety net. ZELLNOR MYRIE, a New York state senator, pointed out the irony of the term “correctional facilities,” when recidivism—as opposed to rehabilitation—is more likely the outcome. In a recorded address, NYC Public Advocate JUMAANE WILLIAMS went as far as to argue that “prisons are not failing because they are not working, but rather because they are working exactly as designed.” STANLEY RICHARDS of the Fortune Society expanded on Williams’s observation: “We’re investing in punishment, but not the things that allow people to build lives.”
Much of the abolitionist agenda lies in the hands of policy-makers, i.e. putting more public funds into the social supports needed to address the precursors to crime and incarceration. Still, is there really nothing architects can do? Can they not leverage their connections to the networks of influence and private wealth that shape our cities? In the humble opinion of this writer, we can. We should actively question a client’s brief and their program, so that they not turn their backs on neighborhoods where they build. We should second-guess hermetic projects full of underutilized luxury amenities. We should advocate for policies that further inclusive development, affordable housing, and funding for, as Vera Institute’s INSHA RAHMAN put it, “spaces that recognize humanity and dignity.”
— Darrick Borowski
(MORE) EYES ON SKYLINE
In Skyline 95, readers were most interested in Jacobin’s architecture podcast.
Our most-read Skyline issues of 2022 were (in order of popularity):
SKYLINE 93: “Pandora’s Box Dumpster Fire” edited by Nicolas Kemper
SKYLINE 76: “Organizing Movements” edited by Nicholas Raap
SKYLINE 87: “How Can Someone Own the Land?” edited by Sebastián López Cardozo
SKYLINE 79: “School’s in Session” edited by Palmyra Geraki
SKYLINE 95: “Closure” edited by Nicolas Kemper
Our most-read print articles of 2022 (of the ones that appeared on Substack, anyway) were (again in order of popularity):
“Organizing SHoP” by Dan Roche
“Institutional Rot” by Harris Chowdhary
“Olé?” by Leijia Hanrahan
“When the City Went Still” by Martin C. Pedersen
And finally, our most-read print articles of 2022 (of the ones that appeared on our website) were:
“Organizing SHoP” by Dan Roche
“Antitrust and Architecture: Coordination not Domination” by Nicolas Kemper
“Queer Enough” by Kate Wagner
“Climate Change Blues” by Signe Ferguson
“An Ouster at the Institute” by Zach Mortice
IN THE NEWS
Arata Isozaki died aged 91. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2019 at age 87.
Together with Ihor Terekhov, mayor of Kharkiv, Norman Foster revealed details of a reconstruction master plan for the bombarded Ukrainian city, developed alongside the Kharkiv Group of Architects. Does this count as ambulance chasing?
Welcome to the Magentaverse! With that pun, Pantone announced its 2023 Color of the Year, Viva Magenta.
2023 AIANY Design Awards Announcement with Jen Krichels
6:00 PM EST | AIA New York Center for Architecture
When Eero Met His Publicist with Eva Hagberg and Elizabeth Kubany
6:30 PM EST | New York Review of Architecture & Head Hi
Can We Forget? A Memorial to Enslaved Laborers with Mabel Wilson
6:30 PM EST | Yale School of Architecture
New Practices New York with Brandt Knapp and Jerome Haferd
6:30 PM EST | AIA New York Center for Architecture
Designing Peace Curator Tour with Cynthia Smith
1:30 PM EST | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
First Friday with Buro Happold
6:00 PM EST | The Architectural League of New York
Found in Translation with Ken Tadashi Oshima, Momoyo Kaijima, and Sunil Bald
6:30 PM EST | Yale 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
Write us a letter! We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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.
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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