Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The opening is very serious, but they look like they're having fun.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Archtober & CNU New York: Principles of Urban Design
ONE OF FOUR ARCHTOBER EVENTS AT CNU New York is a walking tour that uses the streets of New York City to illustrate the principles of urbanism and urban design. This will be the newest tour in a series given by John Massengale for the Institute for Classical Art & Architecture (ICAA) and the universities of Miami, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
Massengale is a Board member of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), the founding Board Chair of CNU New York, and a former Board member of the ICAA and Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC). Co-author with Robert A.M. Stern of New York 1900, Metropolitan Architecture & Urbanism 1890-1915 (Rizzoli, 1983), he is writing Street Design, The Art & Practice of Making Complete Streets (J. Wiley & Sons, 2013) with Victor Dover. An architect and urbanist, Massengale has won awards for architecture, urban design, architectural history and historic preservation.
WHEN & WHERE: The tour will meet Saturday, October 27 at 9:15 am on the steps of Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street at the head of Broad Street, and will end at 12:15, with a Dutch Treat lunch at a location to be determined for anyone who wishes to stay.
Tour limited to 20. Please RSVP @ http://bit.ly/cnumass
AIA credits applied for.
Archtober & CNU New York
Left: Graphic showing fiscal return for individual parcels in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Right: Aerial photo showing the existing site and building configuration. Images courtesy of Joe Minicozzi, Urban3.
IN OUR ARCHTOBER SERIES: With the multiple crises of municipal insolvency, climate change and citizen push back against government regulation, it makes sense to consider a new balance sheet approach to granting development approvals. Such an approach will screen for more compact, centrally located, high-value buildings that pay back the municipality’s initial infrastructure investment much more quickly.
This fiscally driven regulatory strategy is simple and nonideological. By “following the money,” it achieves Smart Growth / New Urbanism out-comes without invoking either term. The approach has the potential to reduce and even eliminate cumbersome and highly subjective development processes and regulations.
Peter Katz, author of The New Urbanism (McGraw-Hill 1994), was the founding director of the Congress for the New Urbanism and aco-founder of the Form-Based Codes Institute. He writes and consults on matters of community planning, real estate marketing and development regulation.
WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 pm, in the Mohawk showroom at 71 West 23rd Street, 18th floor, New York, New York 10010. Reception with wine and cheese at 6:30 pm.Download the announcement for Peter Katz's talk
Saturday, May 19, 2012
CNU 20 Redux
And from the floor of the conference:
UPDATE: There's a good series of posts here on different sessions at CNU 20. I'd start with this one. It's about a plenary debate between Dan Solomon and Andréa Duany that Dan called "My Dinner With Andrés."
Friday, February 17, 2012
McKim, Mead & White, Pennsylvania Station, 1910
TIMESMAN MICHAEL KIMMELMAN wrote Restore a Gateway to Dignity about some current ideas for Penn Station and Moynihan Station, the name for the station Senator Patrick Moynihan planned to build in the McKim, Mead & White Post Office across the street from Penn Station, above the same railyards.
I sent a Letter to the Editor, but never heard back from the Times. Here it is:
Senator Moynihan once sent me an email about contemporary Classical architecture, much to my surprise and delight. A friend had forwarded to him an email I had written about Classicism in our time, and he wrote to me about why he wanted a great Classical train station for New York. The Senator would be disappointed by what has happened to the plans for Moynihan Station since his death. We're not getting the Classical monument he wanted.
The primary reason is that the New York architectural establishment acts like Henry Ford: they will give you any architectural style you want, as long as it’s glass and steel and Modernist. That's why the various architects hired for Moynihan Station are only of the type that say you can’t build Classical buildings today, even though New York is home to some of the best contemporary Classicists.
Like Charles McKim, who successfully argued against a commercial tower above the old Penn Station, Senator Moynihan would also oppose real estate deals with the Related Companies to build towers above the station. Moynihan wanted some civic beauty and dignity for our citizens. These real estate deals are for the 1% who want more consumers.
The last point makes sense if you have read Kimmelman's article, but may require a little explanation if you haven't. Since the days of Doctorow (Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff), New York City has considered it good business to sell of development rights in return for having developers build civic buildings, particularly schools. In the view of someone like Senator Moynihan, and me, this is a bad idea.
Moynihan was educated in some of the great New York City public schools designed by Charles B.J. Snyder a hundred years ago, when New York City thought it was important to spend money builiding a great school system, embodied by the schools drawn by Snyder. The buildings are recognizable as city schools, and they are neighborhood centers as well. In a nutshell, they are prime examples of the Civic Art valued by Moynihan.
Today, the city thinks more about how consumers can be used to build city facilities. The school at the base of the Frank Gehry designed tower on Beekman Street is an example. The Related Companies, well connected in the Bloomberg administration, have proposed buying the rights to build three towers in the Moynihan Station block. This might make sense if we lived in a poor rustbelt city. But New York may have never been richer. The number of houses and apartments new and old in Manhattan that only the truly rich can afford is asstounding.
Gehry's Beekman Tower is a case in point. Until a few years ago, no one would have considered building luxury apartments there for the last 100 years. But today it is surrounded by apartments as expensive as any in the history of New York. But it's been almost a hundred years since the city built a great school. Gehry"s can not compare to what we built in 1910, when we had far less money.
McKim opposed a tower over the old Penn Station, because he thought it would diminish the civic character of the privately-built gateway to Manhattan. Kimmelman quotes the famous line about Penn Station from the great architectural historian Vincent Scully: "You used to enter the city like a god. Now you creep in like a rat." If he were here, Senator Moynihan would say the same.
Jane Jacobs & Philip Johnson
PS: A few people have written to me saying that we should simply rebuild the old McKim, Mead & White design for Pennyslvania Station. I've said that before, but didn't bring that up in my Letter to the Times, for two reasons: 1) Letters have to be restricted to 150 words, which doesn't allow room for many points; and 2) most Times readers probably think that's a silly idea. Here are a few counter thoughts.
Twenty years ago, it would have been much more difficult to rebuild the old station then it would be today. Few architects understood the practice of Classical architecture well enough then, but that is no longer the case. And the same advances in computer modeling and robotization that have made the construction of buildings like the Guggenheim Bilbao possible can also be used for Classical construction, making it easier and cheaper to build.
Modernism objects to historical construction and says it's not "authentic," but when visiting Central Europe we go to visit buildings bombed in World War II without realizing that they are reproductions built from scratch. I've put a picture of one below, below an historic photo of another McKim, Mead & White masterpiece, the old Madision Square Garden, which stood on Madison Square before it was moved into the suburban-style structure above the new Penn Station.
Stanford White's Madison Square Garden and Charles McKim's Pennsylvania Station are the two greatest buildings New York has lost. We would be a better city if we rebuilt them.
PPS: Kimmelman himself wrote about about the reconstruction of an old building before he became the Times architecture critic, in an article called Rebuilding a Palace May Become a Grand Blunder, about West German plans to rebuild an 18th century palace in Berlin. He called it a "fake Baroque palace," and wrote, "It’s hard to find a thinking Berliner these days who actually likes the Schloss idea," even though polls show a majority of Berliners support the plan. At the same time, he brought up enough complaints specific to the old building that it's not clear if he would oppose the reconstruction of the old Penn Station.
McKim, Mead & White, Madison Square Garden, 1890
Frauenkirche, Dresden, destroyed 1945, reconstruction 2005
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Modernism is the Old New
pass it on
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Words to live by, from Woody Allen
"The only thing standing between greatness and me is me," Woody Allen
From the PBS American Masters series, Woody Allen: A Documentary Part 2. There's more at the end of the documentary:
When I look back on my life I've been very lucky that I've lived out all these childhood dreams. I wanted to be a movie actor and I became one. I wanted to be a movie director, and a comedian, and I became one. I wanted to play jazz in New Orleans and I played in street parades and joints in New Orleans and played in opera houses concerts all over the world. There was nothing in my life that I aspired toward that hasn't come through for me. But despite all these lucky breaks, why do I still feel like I got screwed somehow?