City Council approves East Side flood protection

New York City Council approves controversial East Side flood protection plan, Architect's Newspaper, November 15, 2019.

The project has experienced strong ongoing opposition from organized community groups, civic associations, and neighborhood parks advocates, who voiced opposition to the extended loss of play areas, removal of trees, and lack of consultation during the design process. A coalition of community groups had drafted an alternative People’s Plan, which the final project considered as a part of its community engagement, along with the EDC’s Waterfront Esplanade plan and XYZ Studio’s East River Blueway Plan. The city responded with a plan to phase work over a longer period to ensure the availability of parks during the construction.Others, like architect William Rockwell, who lives in an Amalgamated Dwellings Cooperative building and experienced severe flooding and loss of power during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, voiced support. Among the notable benefits of the design, apart from potentially live-saving flood protection, will be vastly improved pedestrian connections to the East River across on grade bridges spanning FDR Drive.

Is Torkwase Dyson's abstract recount of racial violence a missed opportunity? in the Architect's Newspaper

Is Torkwase Dyson's abstract recount of racial violence a missed opportunity? Architect's Newspaper, October 21, 2019.

“These systems also consider infrastructure and the environment to create a visual amalgamation that recognizes the ways that black people move through, inhabit, cleave and form space,” Dyson is cited as saying the catalog, describing her nomenclature of representation as “black compositional thought.” Often Dyson uses dancers accompanying installations to animate them with exuberant gestures, and the presence of performers might make this rhetoric seem less overblown. If these works constitute a kind of expressive freedom grounded in black narrative and experience, they operate within the exclusive prison-house of the institutional contemporary art and academic architecture world, its markets, nonprofits, grants, and formalist language games.

It’s a project worthy of poststructural critique to seek liberation even within the most repressive situations. As with the collapse of the New Museum’s Ideas City program in the Bronx, it can be challenging to reconcile the sustained intellectual discourse with the urgent, viscerally felt problems of the world: lack of control over space and governance, being unable to afford a place to live or to find adequately paid work, and abstract financial forces determining the fate of your community.

Inclusivity and Economic Development at Detroit Month of Design in Metropolis Magazine

Inclusivity and Economic Development Emerge as Top Themes at Detroit Month of Design: In looking beyond the city’s central business district, the annual design festival staked out new ground for architecture and design., September 30, 2019

The height of cool in Detroit at the moment is equitable distribution of resources for economic development. Residential and commercial projects are pushing further into high-vacancy areas like Woodbridge, North Corktown, and McDougall-Hunt. The planning department has asked the city to issue bonds for $250 million to demolish all of Detroit’s remaining abandoned property within five years, clearing the way for a series of interwoven neighborhood parks.

Cultural capital: the ongoing regeneration of Algiers' Casbah in the Architectural Review

Cultural capital: the ongoing regeneration of Algiers' Casbah, Architectural Review, September, 2019. 

Concerns about who benefits from revitalisation and for whom the city is made, expressed forcefully by Lambert’s letter, are central questions for Algiers, as its popular uprising pushes for more change in the governing power. With policies that encourage investment from the private sector while protecting residents’ interests, the Casbah can be a model for how a country that led the era of postcolonial revolution can be equally ambitious in a time of authoritarian retrenchment, creating an open city that resonates with local customs and shares the benefits of revitalisation throughout society. Some are confident that Algerian culture can withstand the onrush of capital; it’s important to engage residents and ensure that guarantees and policy protection are put in place.

Beyond the Croton Aqueduct: A Story of New York City Water in Brownstoner

Beyond the Croton Aqueduct: A Story of New York City Water,, August 16, 2019.

It was an incredible power grab by the city extending well over 100 miles beyond its boundaries. The land acquisition required it to purchase hundreds of thousands of acres, systematically depriving those communities of their sources of economic livelihood. The property would be permanently unavailable for commercial development, limiting potential sources of employment for workers, prohibiting spreading of manure, and stifling sources of taxation to support local schools and roads.

Design Cities 2019: Algiers, Algeria in Metropolis Magazine

Design Cities 2019: Algiers, Algeria: Amid political turmoil both past and present, the Algerian capital is ready for a new start. Metropolis, July 2019. 

Prominent figures who were supposed to participate, including Rem Koolhaas, Richard Sennett, and Saskia Sassen, didn’t show up—last-minute changes, the Baghlis announced. One architecture writer ended up on a panel as a substitute, arguing for easing visa restrictions and opening borders to better reflect the present-day public mood of openness. But the point was made, an idea stirred up: Something unanticipated could emerge from civil society. A few weeks later, the country’s infirm four-term president announced he would stand for a fifth term. A popular uprising soon followed.

Phil Freelon: Architect for Social Equity in Metropolis Magazine

Phil Freelon: Architect for Social Equity, The renowned founder of his eponymous studio—which joined Perkins and Will in 2014—passed away July 9th, leaving a major legacy of built works, community engagement, and advocacy within architecture. Metropolis, July 12, 2019. 

Freelon is best known nationally for his museum and cultural work, especially a series of projects dedicated to African American history and culture. In 2010 in Greensboro, he completed the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which preserves the Woolworth lunch counter where, in 1960, four students from North Carolina A & T university staged a series of sit-ins, catalyzing the nonviolent protest movement. His museum projects often employed sculptural form-making to express a building’s meaning and function. The 2014 National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is a curving brown-and-tan panel-clad structure (its skin expressing diversity of skin color) that resembles a Richard Serra bent-steel sculpture with a glass atrium inserted in the center. In Baltimore, his 2005 Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture resembles an Alexander Calder mobile balanced precariously before adversity. In Charlotte, he designed a perforated metal-clad Center for African-American Arts + Culture in 2009 as a metaphor for Jacob’s ladder, symbolizing ascent to a higher, more blessed place.

This Year’s MoMA PS1 YAP Summer Pavilion Takes on Real Estate and the U.S.-Mexico Border: Designed by Mexico City–based Pedro & Juana, Hórama Rama reflects on the rampant real estate development that has enveloped PS1, as well as wider political and environmental issues., July 1, 2019.

By city leaders’ own accounts, for the last half-century, investment in modern and contemporary art was intended to bolster the value of real estate. A critique that views luxury towers as antagonistic to the museum—misconstrued as a neutral public space—misses the role that art (or, at least art associated with college-educated professional classes) has throughout this period tended to play (consciously and not) in reinforcing economic and social stratification. Hórama Rama both exposes and masks these contradictions.

10 Policies to Make Rent Affordable in Oculus

Housing, Not Including: 10 Policies to Make Rent Affordable for Low- to Middle-Income Households, Oculus, Summer 2019. 

New York is experiencing an extreme housing market and policy failure, with the majority of residents fundamentally housing insecure. Almost 63% of New Yorkers are renters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the highest proportion are under 50 years old. The median income for an individual in the city is nearly $58,000, meaning half of New York City adults make less. Few apartments are available for under $1,500 in the open market, yet to rent a $1,500 studio, leaseholders are expected to be earning $60,000, based on the traditional metric of income being 40 times the monthly rent. By this measure, the market is failing to meet the needs of more than half of individual wage earners.

The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in Abitare

A Shed for Everybody, Abitare, June 2019. 

A STORM OF GRIEVANCES HAS BEEN GATHERING AROUND HUDSON YARDS, the $25 billion mega-development on the West Side of Manhattan, threatening to engulf the much-anticipated cultural facility designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group in controversy. Launched in early April on the edge of the High Line, the Shed is a metallic silvery eight-story, 18,500 square-meter, multidisciplinary arts venue sheathed in a rolling steel-and-translucent plastic shell that unfurls in five minutes to effectively double the footprint of the venue. Conceived as a center for interdisciplinary artistic collaboration, the building and its deployable shell have the capacity to host exhibitions of painting, sculpture, and digital media, large-scale multimedia performances of dance, music, and theatre, and, especially, amalgams of all of the above. If it manages to captivate a public beyond the billionaires that funded it, the Shed could be the saving grace of a massive real estate development that has been harshly criticized – perhaps exaggeratedly – as a gated community for the rich.