Shipping Container Homes in Delhi Region for Dwell+


A Pair of Shipping Container Homes Trace the Edges of a Nature Preserve in India, Dwell, Oct. 31, 2022.

As the couple lived on the land, they got to know their neighbors—shepherds, gardeners, and dairy farmers with whom they shared the jungle village. "For people who come from the city, the jungle is an unknown—it was really cool that we could spend the pandemic getting to know the place," Mary says. 

Kumar paid Mary and Kundan a visit to familiarize himself with the place and develop a site plan. "We spent a lot of time planning the location of the containers, down to the last angle," Kumar says. "It was beautiful to stand on the site and see what you’re going to see when you wake up—all of the angles of the ridge behind you. That’s when the entire project took shape." 


 The completed project strikes a balance between contemporary and vernacular design and immerses the family in the landscape without being too obtrusive. "We don’t have paintings on the wall, because how can you beat the view," Mary says. "It’s just so green—you open those huge doors, and it’s like living in a treehouse."

Marsha P. Johnson Park by Starr Whitehouse for Landscape Architecture Magazine

A Park in Progress: Marsha P. Johnson was a hero in the Black trans community. Will the park designed in her honor earn the same admiration? Landscape Architecture Magazine, Oct. 28, 2022.

A subtle shift has taken place in the park at the end of North 7th Street in Brooklyn, New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Recently renamed for the late Black trans LGBTQ+ civil rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, the redesigned park has retained the relatively ad hoc feeling of its previous iteration as East River State Park. It still has swaths of concrete embankments scattered around the site, remnants of the place’s industrial history as a rail and marine terminal. The main entrance has been repaved with cobblestones, mirroring the crumbling remains of the original entry. New seating is fabricated from rough-cut logs.

Beyond, a winding path of porous concrete passes through gardens of perennial flowers, bioswales to retain stormwater, and a hill that will eventually grow into a lush landscape. Didactic panels along the path recount the formation of trans identity and the history of that community’s civil rights struggle. The sandy shoreline is bordered with granite blocks and a pebbly intertidal zone. A large sign at the entrance dedicated to Marsha P. Johnson is not yet installed, nor is a planned monument to Johnson.

For some, namely the trans constituents meant to be most honored by the park, it hasn’t been a dramatic enough turnaround. As the visibility of trans people has increased, the community is demanding more cultural ownership and agency over the spaces that define their legacy and role in the public discourse. And this demand is complicating what New York civic officials viewed as an acknowledgment of trans people’s role in securing a more just, egalitarian, and humane world.

New York Philharmonic for Metropolis

David Geffen Hall Fixes Decades of Architectural Missteps, Metropolis, Oct. 11, 2022. 

A visually arresting space originally designed by Max Abramovitz, the home of the New York Philharmonic has always been impressive. In her New York Times review, Ada Louise Huxtable celebrated how its tapered travertine-faced columns and delicate curves express the structural forces of their concrete loads to form elegant arcades. With the caveat that it needed to perform acoustically—and the jury was still out—Huxtable appreciated how the interior came to life during intermissions, with audiences visible through the glass-walled foyer and tiered promenades, bringing a “stream of animation and color” to the city.

It was a civic monument, for sure. In 1962, the philharmonic was the first building to open to the public at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, comprising the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and Juilliard School of Music. But Huxtable’s caveat about the acoustics was either a premonition or an already whispered rumor. Its sound quality was poor, and it remained infamously troubled through a series of renovations, including a reconfiguration of the balconies and dampers in 1970, a reconstruction of the entire hall in 1976, and another minor effort in 1992.

This time the demolition went even further, carving back the walls within the former Avery Fisher Hall and practically building a new structure inside its footprint. Judging by the orchestra’s exquisite preview rehearsals and its opening day performance, they finally got it right. Principally designed by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt—responsible, most notably, for a center for the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto in 2006, the Maison Symphonique de Montréal in 2011, and the Mariinsky II opera house in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2013—with Tod Williams Billie Tsien as public space subconsultants, and ultimately, close collaborators, the philharmonic now named for record-and-film magnate David Geffen was extensively tested in advance by acoustic engineer Paul Scarbrough of Akustiks using the latest sound modeling technology.

Public Rec Centers Reimagined for Metropolis


The Rec Center Reimagined: How Cities are Designing for Wellness, Metropolis, Oct. 10, 2022. 


We’ve come to think of fitness and wellness as luxuries to be enjoyed only by members of private clubs or participants in yoga retreats. But two new public recreation centers shift this assumption, updating stale municipal models for a new era and a much wider audience.

The decision for cities to invest in new facilities that nurture public health and well-being should be intuitive: The benefits of physical activity for educational outcomes and the prevention of illness have been well established by the scientific community for more than a century. But local spending on such resources has been steadily falling, while private fitness has become a $30 billion industry in the United States, essentially filling this void. Luxury fitness clubs like Equinox and pricey training classes like SoulCycle have exploded, while corporate offices have begun to push fitness amenities and the rhetoric of well-being to attract workers back to the office.

But some public facilities are smartly incorporating attributes of the wellness world. By paying close attention to the desires of their neighborhoods and leveraging municipal funding, Baltimore’s Cahill Fitness and Wellness Center and El Paso’s Eastside Regional Recreation Center—both begun before the pandemic made public health a primary concern—deliver something equally tied to the health benefits of fitness: a sense of community belonging.


This shift toward the language of wellness shouldn’t be such a surprise in a public recreational facility. Many rec centers originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when social reformers advocated for public bathhouses and playgrounds as ways of improving the hygiene and development of poor children and the population in general. Hundreds of parks and recreation departments established during that time continue to operate, along with school sports facilities. But the defunding of the public sector in the past half century has tended to leave these facilities feeling outdated and a little depressing. 

DS+R Prior Performing Arts Center for Wallpaper


DS+R Prior Performing Arts Center is designed as a public commons, Wallpaper, Oct. 5, 2022.

The interaction of concrete and steel, mirroring the brick and limestone of Holy Cross’ historic campus, plays with ideas of backstage and public presentation, merging expressiveness and function, one of the hallmarks of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro office. The designers analysed the college’s needs and the building’s anticipated uses and devised a site plan that inadvertently, they claim, happens to form a cross. ‘We love doing academic work,’ says Charles Renfro, the lead principal designer. ‘We know that they want a pedagogical tool that also demonstrates the pedagogy.’

Last year, Vincent D Rougeau became the school’s first non-ordained president. He says liberal arts education is a natural extension of the Jesuit order, which since its origins has been known for intellectual inquiry and embrace of the arts. ‘Since our earliest days, we’ve been focused on humanities, arts, and science, and we see all of those coming together as a path to wisdom,’ he says. ‘This centre is going to help us elevate all of those pieces in a stunning new space and communicate to the world all of the aspects of what makes a liberal arts education great.’

Lesley Lokko in L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui


Lesley Lokko and the African Futures Institute, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, Sep. 2022.

A Laboratory for Contemporary Spatial Identity: Lesley Lokko and the African Futures Institute 

Scottish-Ghanaian author and educator Lesley Lokko founded the African Futures Institute last year in Accra, Ghana as a way to position Africa and the diaspora at the center of a transformative vision of the relationships between identity, the environment, social justice, and architecture. A widely published novelist and architectural educator, Lokko founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in 2014. In 2019, she became dean at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture but left the following year in what she described as a profound act of self-preservation and returned to Ghana. This year, the Venice Architecture Biennale selected her to curate its 2023 edition, The Laboratory of the Future.
AA: What is the project of the African Futures Institute? 

The best way I can describe it is to say that in 2014, I started a school of architecture in Johannesburg, the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA). The GSA was a really interesting experiment. It came on the back of student protests about decolonization and access to tertiary education. Taking a curriculum that had originally been developed at the Architectural Association in London and transplanting it to South Africa was actually fairly revolutionary, and the students responded to the curriculum in really interesting ways. 

The plan was to try and do something similar in New York, which didn’t work out. When I left Spitzer, I thought, if I don’t go back to home now—back to Ghana, to West Africa—I probably will never do it. The idea was to set up an institute very much like the GSA. The mandate is really simple: it’s to provide world-class architectural education here on the continent, but also to take the more experimental, radical space that Africa offers to think about architectural education differently, not just for Africa, but globally as well. 

AA: Do you have some intuitions about the role of architecture in imagining identity on the African continent and what the process might yield? 

For me architecture has always been very narrative driven. The physical artifact, the building, is always trying to tell some kind of story. Particularly in—let’s call it the Global North, it’s assumed that story is a universal one. But actually it’s quite culturally specific. If you come from locations outside of that canon, you don’t see yourself, your cultural values, your beliefs reflected in the environment. You don’t see the school as a space where you can explore how to translate different narratives into form. 

The school really ought to be the protected space where you can grapple with these really difficult questions of identity, of language, of history, of occupation, of settlement. Africa is the youngest continent; the average age is 20. There’s an incredible energy here at the moment, with very little infrastructure to be a platform or a catalyst for that energy. What I’m seeing in the creative industries—music, fashion, film, photography, art—is almost an explosion of a pent up desire to say something, and architecture has been very lax in taking up that challenge. Those of us who are in our late 50s/ early 60s have the possibility to put those structures in place, which is what the AFI is. 

AA: In Issa Diabaté’s lecture last year at AFI, he talks about passive techniques for mediating climate at a domestic and institution scale. It’s an incredibly hopeful vision from a purely technical point of view to moderate climate on a human scale through architecture.

The power of the imagination to suggest ways of thinking, working, seeing, for me, is the real draw in education. The university’s draw is a place where you construct new knowledge. There’s a tendency in architectural education to think of it as training. You perfect something that’s already there. On this continent, students understand that somehow architecture has failed them. They’re not afraid to go beyond it. There’s a curiosity about other disciplines and a willingness to work across fields that I don’t encounter in the Global North. 

The relationship between climate and landscape, for example, or between landscape and narrative, or between narrative and emotion, those distinctions here are quite blurred, and it produces really interesting, thought-provoking work. And it’s too early to say what the translation into architectural form will look like—we’re still in the process of figuring that out—but if you think of architecture as being about the building of knowledge almost as much as the building of buildings, there’s an appetite here to build new knowledge that for me is unparalleled. 

AA: Olalekum Jeyifous, who lectured at AFI recently, also does work along these lines, in which he’s scripting an alternative set of conditions through which a space is created. 

Absolutely. Jeyifous is a good example. I think, if there were 100 more like him, we would have 100 times the power of that imaginative courage. Lek would describe himself as somewhere between a filmmaker, an artist, an architect, and an activist. That boldness in slipping in between categories is really compelling right now. A school like the AFI should be a place that incubates that confidence. 

AA: Can you talk about the AFI’s ambition to engage architecture in rethinking the relationships among African governments and between them and international powers?

I remember distinctly as a student that my culture—Africa, blackness—had very little to offer architecture. I felt like a supplicant coming to this very well-established discipline with a few concerns and ideas of my own, almost begging for an audience. Architecture had no use for anything African, anything black, anything other. It was seen as an affront to architecture. Those of us with those sorts of concerns were always agitating at its edges. The feeling that I got then was that we were lacking—by we, I mean the diaspora, otherness—and that we were too chaotic, too disorganized, too corrupt, too inferior, and that we had nothing to give architecture. 

After 30 years, I swear I have come full circle and I understand now that it’s actually architecture that’s lacking. It’s not able to deal with the complexity and the contradictions that a context like Africa throws up. If you think about hybrid or diasporic identities that are multiple, made in more than one location, people who speak more than one language or have more than one home, fundamentally architecture is about the opposite of that. It’s about grounding something, making something solid and in place, and here we’re talking about cultures that are very much out of place. 

The next five or ten years are going to be very exciting ones for architecture as a discipline because climate change has suddenly forced the issues of climate and climate justice onto the table. In the same way that Black Lives Matter put questions of race and identity back on the table, architecture, finally, after so long, has an opportunity to respond. These questions of decolonization are a gift to the canon. They enrich it. They don’t destabilize it or diminish it. 

AA: As you were saying, you can see it in these Afrofuturist fashion gestures and in art and visual culture. We’re already living in a future that hasn’t quite appreciated the changes already in place. Our selves are partly merged with machines in many ways, and we’re multiple in terms of cultural exposure in ways that people have probably never been, ever. 

One hundred percent. Even though the AFI curriculum focuses especially on Africa, we are all African. The conditions that operate here, conditions of translation, of movement, the African diaspora, the fact that the official languages are English, French, and Portuguese, but everyone speaks another language behind closed doors. All of those questions many people around the world resonate with, it’s not just Africans. If you think about what we’re trying to do with architecture as an analogy for what’s happening to many, many people—in terms of sexuality, identity, location—it’s all here. My hope is that by focusing very specifically on a place, you’re able to tell a story that resonates far beyond these borders and gives some kind of—maybe hope is too strong a word—it gives a push, an impetus to students and practitioners and activists who have the same questions. 

One of the reasons why it was possible to implement something so different in South Africa was precisely because the level of anger that was brewing in the student population anyway. I thought after George Floyd and after the pandemic that there would be similar levels of anger in the Global North, but that anger has been translated into a kind of fear, and fear for me is often not a productive place to start from. It’s defensive. It’s insular. It’s often quite reactionary. Anger, by definition, is outward facing. It’s about change. I’m not saying that students have to be angry, but in a climate where anger is palpable, you can get an incredible amount done. In a climate where people are fearful, my experience is that you get almost nothing done. The amazing thing about educational projects is that you plant a seed and suddenly it sprouts somewhere. The group of young students in Johannesburg who became tutors and young practitioners did things you could not possibly have predicted. 

AA: Is there a resonance between the African Futures Institute and plans for the Venice Architecture Biennale?

It’s an unusual curatorial position because on one level, I am the African Futures Institute: the separation between it and myself is very blurred. It’s unusual that something so young and fresh—the AFI is a year old—would have such an opportunity for such a global presence. On the other hand, I’m a fiction writer as well as an educator, and it very much is the same story that I’ve been talking about for the last 30 years. It feels almost surreal to have thought about my work as very marginal, and suddenly, after the pandemic, George Floyd, and all of the upheavals of the last two years, to find that it’s of interest to a wider audience. The college project of the Biennale could be very interesting, because for the first time we will have an educational project that runs alongside the Biennale. 

AA: I love the fact that you’re emphasizing a humanities and social science education. 

I inherited those terms like humanities, social sciences, sciences, and physical sciences, and for a long time I thought of them as sacrosanct. But when you come here to the African continent and you’re confronted with a knowledge system that’s very different, it makes me question all of those assumptions about the separation of knowledge. For me life—as far as I understand it—is narrative driven, it’s about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. 

Detroit's Marquette Building Office Design for Metropolis

BDG Redesigns a Detroit Power Plant for the World’s Largest Ad Agency, Metropolis, Aug. 15, 2022.

British advertising agency WPP, the largest firm of its kind in the world, has been on a mission to refresh its image and consolidate its offices across the globe. The latest of these projects gathers an assortment of WPP-owned agencies and companies in Detroit and its suburbs under one roof in the downtown Detroit neighborhood of Greektown. For a new home WPP selected the ten-story Marquette Building, which was designed in 1905 by Rogers & MacFarlane in what was then Detroit’s Financial District as a steam-heat-generating plant. To modernize the looming brick building, WPP tapped the New York office of London-based architecture firm BDG architecture + design, which developed a plan to revamp the building’s interior and transform it into an office that could accommodate all 1,200 of WPP’s employees in the Detroit area. 

WPP took on its sprawling multinational form through the acquisition of dozens of smaller companies, including ad agencies J. Walter Thompson and the Ogilvy Group in the late 1980s. It now employs 130,000 creatives in more than 100 countries. In recent years, it accumulated so many marketing, branding, PR, tech, and commercial entities spread among countless offices that it had begun to identify itself more as a holding company than a unified brand. As part of an ongoing mission to streamline operations and clean up its own image—partially a response to questions about the ethics of working for oil corporations and lawsuits against some of their fossil fuel clients like Chevron for misrepresenting themselves as sustainable—WPP has been purchasing older buildings and adapting them for use as energy-efficient, “on-brand” headquarters. 


The move is another step in a moment of extraordinary change for downtown Detroit. A flood of 1,000 new office workers will utterly transform the environment of that corner of the city, yet the public transportation infrastructure lags far behind, bringing a daily onrush of automobiles and customers for local businesses that have survived. If the city can keep up, adapt, and spread the wealth, WPP’s new headquarters may turn out to be much more than a simple rebranding exercise. 

Accessory Dwelling Unit in LA's Hancock Park for Dwell


This Azure ADU Is an L.A. Teen’s Home (Slightly) Away From Home, Dwell, July 25, 2022. 

David Thompson, a founding principal of Assembledge+, had recently participated in a Los Angeles Magazine project to imagine solutions for those who lack housing in the city. Their notion was for public agencies to subsidize building ADUs in backyards along alleyways, dovetailing with existing alley revitalization initiatives. 

That concept, titled Rear Projections, became a jumping-off point for other types of ADUs, and it ultimately informed the design of the Vernetti’s Hancock Park project, which replaced a detached backyard garage and extended the rear of the old house to create a new main bedroom, with French doors that lead out to a new deck. 

Brotherhood Sister Sol in Oculus


Brotherhood Sister Sol: In West Harlem, Urban Architectural Initiatives makes architecture for social change, Oculus, Summer 2022.

The young, fashionably dressed Black and brown teens hanging out on the front benches of Brotherhood Sister Sol (BroSis) in West Harlem give its new headquarters a particular power and resonance. Designed by Urban Architectural Initiatives, a minority-owned office co-founded by Tony Shitemi in 1996, the five-story structure is built for Black and Latinx youth. That alone is extremely telling, and it shows. The members of the youth mentoring, organizing, and training organization radiate a sense of ease and belonging.

“Their mission is to provide a space that fosters good health, good mental health, and good sense of well-being,” Shitemi says. “We took that up as the building being a tool to promote well-being and positive selfhood.”

The headquarters, which opened in May on 143th Street near Hamilton Place, replaced a three-story brownstone that had served the organization for roughly 20 years. As it grew, BroSis acquired the neighboring lot with plans to expand. With help from city and state funds along with foundations and private donors, it combined the lots into a single structure. The front façade’s formalistic skin syncopates opaque and translucent glass and tan limestone-colored panels to reference the fingers of a hand—reaching out to the community, giving a hand—offering a mixture of privacy and public visibility in daylit rooms.

On Architecture Schools and Professional Practice for Oculus


The Pipeline: Are Employers' Needs Being Met by Architecture Schools? Oculus, Summer 2022. 

The work culture and technological needs of the architecture office have noticeably changed in recent years, and it’s worth asking if architectural education has kept up with the profession. It’s not just the rupture of the pandemic, which gave greater credibility to concerns about the health and well-being of everyone, shifting the ground under architecture’s traditionally exigent office culture and requiring increased sensitivity on the part of bosses. And it’s not just office workers, interns, and recent graduates whose labor environments have been affected. The value of living happily, protecting a healthy work/life balance, promoting diversity and equity in the workplace, and limiting the potential harm caused by the stereotypically competitive, sometimes cutthroat field: these points of contention, consciousness-raising, and demand on the part of students and labor organizers have spilled over into a more general reassessment of the limits of professional ambition in the business of architecture.

Gone, to a large extent, is the assumption that all-nighters, endless workweeks, unpaid internships, and uncompensated overtime are normal occupational hazards one must inevitably endure to prove one’s love, passion, and desire for advancement. The real scandal of architectural historian and theorist Marrikka Trotter’s statements during a SCI-Arc panel in March about the exploitative work environment students can expect is that she was describing an accepted norm, up until very recently, and one that still persists widely. To borrow a phrase from the journalist Michael Kinsley, a gaffe is what we call it when someone accidentally tells the truth.

Meanwhile, some architecture firms are asking questions that go against the grain of these cultural trends: Are architecture schools adequately preparing graduates for professional practice? Why are students not trained to be proficient in Revit, for instance, when it has become the standard tool required by design offices—especially large ones with complex projects involving overlapping specializations and contractors? These concerns lead to the long-standing question about the role of architectural education: Should it prepare designers to be attractive hires for practical office work, able to enter into production on building projects immediately? Or should it equip them with a deep, critical knowledge of architecture, its history and possibilities, stimulating them to use their imaginations beyond production of built environments?

“People have complained back and forth since the first departments of architecture were established in the U.S.,” says architectural historian and SCI-Arc head of research Erik Ghenoiu. “William Ware at MIT and then at Columbia fought for intellectual training, and the practices protested, but then later didn’t like it when they got students who were not generally educated. Professional practice is no longer the only solution for architecture education. We graduate many more students than are needed in the industry, and we need people who can move fluidly between scales and types of practice from architecture to startups to gaming to policy. Providing that is a better service to the students, giving them access to a broader way to define their careers.”

For the Birds at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Architect's Newspaper


For the Birds, now on view at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, explores biodiversity through architect-designed follies, The Architect's Newspaper, Jul. 11, 2022. 

For the Birds opens a space for visitors to think about how we can build in a way that enhances the natural world we belong to and on which we depend. Despite its avian theme, For the Birds is really for the people to think about birds, rather than for birds themselves. The distinction matters: While the Environmental Protection Agency protects nature for human use, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces the 1966 Endangered Species Act. Concerns surrounding biodiversity are newcomers to the ongoing conversation on sustainable design. Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring initiated a movement to curb agriculture pollution, but there have been few similar moments of ecological awakening for architects. One product-based example is the campaign to popularize the use of bird-safe glass in tall buildings. The rewilding movement, which pushes for extensive wild spaces within human inhabitations to accommodate other species, is gaining ground in Europe. It’s not much of a stretch to argue that biodiversity should be part of the building code and incorporated into all planning decisions.


Achille Boroli, Between the Mountains and the Sea in L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui


Achille Boroli, Between the Mountains and the Sea, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui: 449, Jun. 2022. 

SZ: During the tasting, you describe the way sunlight impacts the grape on one side of the hill or another, the process of fermentation and malolactic fermentation, aging in casks and in a bottle, and when you open the wine, how the taste changes over 10 or 20 minutes. These are phenomenological things that have to do with how we experience taste and the world around us. 

We have to think about the wine as life. Wine starts to be a baby when it is in the barrel, and then you put it in the bottle, age the bottle, and try to bring it up to when it is ready to drink. Sometimes you say, it is too young. 

Wine has an influence on where you are, how you feel, if are tired, if you are happy. It’s something that is very personal. I had a 2005 bottle of Barolo for a tasting. When I opened the bottle, a client said it was a bit closed, we need time. I said, this bottle is 17 years old. For 15 years, it has been closed in the bottle, and we want it to be ready in five seconds. Think about when you stay closed in a room, open the door, and light comes in. You need a moment to breathe again. And the wine is the same. 

Wine needs oxygen. It’s not a dead object. It’s not immaterial. It’s an object that has a life; it’s made of a material, it’s a fruit, it’s coming from fermentation. You have a million living parts that have a function. We have to understand the best expression of the grape to have the best experience of the wine. It’s a complexity of many details to have the best expression of a bottle of wine, especially the Nebbiolo. 

SZ: When I talk to people working in agriculture, there’s a real clash of culture between cosmopolitan people and folks who live in the countryside. But when you’re working in agriculture, your closeness to nature gives you a concern shared with city folks: care for the well-being of the planet that supports humanity, plants, and animals. 

Of course, there is a difference between people who live in the city and people who live in the vineyard. We work every day under the sky, so we perfectly understand all of the terrible consequences of global warming, the dangers of bad weather and pollution. I was looking at the soil today and saw that there was absolutely no humidity in the fields, and this is a big problem for me. For a guy who works in an office in the city, they cannot realize that. 

That can change your mind, looking at nature, because for me it’s a necessary part of my life. I survive selling wine that is a top level. When you have this in mind, you respect more and more the nature where you live. When you go in the mountains, when you go on the seaside, when you go see a garden, you respect all. I am very proud that I live with my feet in the grass in the vineyard. If I didn’t make wine and lived in the city, maybe I would have less respect for nature than others. 

Steven Holl’s Architectural Archive in Metropolis


Steven Holl’s Architectural Archive Preserves His Firm’s Designs and the Landscape, Metropolis, Jun. 22, 2022. 

Steven Holl can often be found reading poetry and painting watercolors in a tiny cabin overlooking lotus flowers on the edge of a lake in Rhinebeck, New York. The cabin sits on a 28-acre reserve that Holl purchased in 2014 that now hosts Holl’s full-time office, and ‘T’ Space, a nonprofit arts organization offering creative exhibitions, environmental installations, and architectural residencies. Wrapping around several large trees and linking through a passageway to another existing 1959 cabin, the Steven Myron Holl Foundation’s Architectural Archive and Research Library, built in 2019, is the latest building to be carefully situated in the lush landscape.

Holl covered the exterior surface of the 2,700-square-foot archive in an aluminum cladding with narrow corrugated bands that reflect light and diffuse shadows as the structure weaves through the landscape. It is heated and cooled by a 500-foot-deep geothermal well, which produces radiant underfloor heating while consuming almost zero energy. A green roof was installed in May. Local zoning allows Holl to extend the lodge up to 8,000 square feet, so the archive is anticipated to branch farther out as its collection grows. 

Adams Administration Infrastructure Priorities for Architect's Newspaper

The Adams administration promises it will make improvements in New York’s built environment—only it isn’t ready to talk about any of it, Architect's Newspaper, Jun. 2, 2022.

Judging by the halting responses of various press offices within the newly formed mayoral administration of Eric Adams to a basic question about its infrastructure priorities, I fully expect that in a matter of weeks New York City will collapse into a pile of fiery debris: Its bridges will fail; its subways will be permanently inundated by stormwater; and its residents, having taken to homemade rafts, will begin scavenging for food, water, and shelter. More patient, less alarmist observers suggest the mayor’s staff simply don’t know how to answer the question yet.

That said, clues to the intentions of the Adams administration for better governance can be found in a couple of places, including a plan for economic recovery released by the mayor’s office in March, a two-pager shared by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and a trickle of information from other sources.

Suggestions offered by former mayoral staffers, scholars, and expert practitioners could also help guide infrastructure policy toward a more ecological, equitable, and beautiful city (if it’s still standing). We gather from Thaddeus Pawlowski, who worked as an emergency planner for the city in Bill de Blasio’s administration, that the former Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency is being renamed the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice to combine several offices under a single umbrella. Crucially, the office will also be placed under the oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which has substantial capital budgets.

The appointment of top-level officials hailed as smart and competent, such as Rohit T. Aggarwala as DEP commissioner, has also created a sense of optimism among outside observers like Pawlowski. (Initial missteps by the Adams administration, including the hiring of Bernard Adams as director of mayoral security, and the bulking up of police presence on public transit, were deflationary, to say the least.) However, none of these officials were made available to speak to AN after dozens of queries, nor were any current agency staff members, though three deputy mayors and an acting Department of Buildings commissioner spoke at a breakfast sponsored by the New York Building Congress in early April.


Boathouse by Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects for Dwell

A Streamlined Boathouse Perches Above the Water in the San Juan Islands, Dwell, May 27, 2022.

"One of the main goals was to recreate the shore’s edge, so that it’s as natural as possible," says Wickline. "We reduced the amount of in-water structure by 98 or 99 percent by creating these really thin columns. We touch that shoreline as minimally as possible to allow for the natural ecosystem to come back to what it once was." 

Now they can open up the windows and connect with the animals inhabiting the terrain. They share the waterfront with salmon, herring, river otters, crabs, eels, dolphins, and whales—as well as foxes, deer, raccoons, and all kinds of birds (including at least one bald eagle).