Oculus - Spring 2015 - (Page 47)

last words Letter from tHe exeCutive direCtor ©Kent Kunstner Eve of Construction Bell in Brooklyn. You may leave here for four days in space But when you return it's the same old place... And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction. -P.F. Sloan in "Eve of Destruction," 1965 Because every people in search of itself thinks about where to locate the margin between its own home and the rest of the world.... -Milan Kundera in Encounter, 2010 We must think not as individuals but as a species. We must confront the reality of interstellar travel. -Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan in Interstellar, 2014 Am I wrong for thinking out the box from where I stay? Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way? I ain't tryna do what everybody else doing Just cause everybody doing what they all do. -Kahouly Nicolay Sereba & Vincent Dery (Nico & Vinz) in "Am I Wrong," 2014 T he unknown can seem fearsome and far. During the Age of Discovery, European navigators used portolan charts illustrating harbor positions and city profiles. Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library has a collection of such maps, where "monsters people the chart's sea." The New York Public Library's Hunt-Lenox Globe, purchased by AIA founder Richard Morris Hunt in Paris in 1855, famously has "HC SVNT DRACONES" or "here be dragons" inscribed off the coast of East Asia. More recently in Paris, Gehry Partners and STUDIOS Architecture created a vessel for the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Situated in the 846-hectare Bois de Boulogne, which also dates to 1855, the new "ark" is at the limit of the city, as was Central Park, commissioned at the same time and equally remote from settlement. The Bois, three times the size of its New York cousin, incorporated two ponds and a river and was thought of as a green lung for an increasingly dense metropolis. Its interdisciplinary design benefitted from the engineering skill of Jean-Charles Alphand and the landscape flair of 31-year-old Jean-Pierre BarilletDeschamps. Appropriate to the site, Gehry's distended sail-like forms float over a water feature that also surrounds crystalline shapes described as icebergs, creating remarkable inside-outside spaces suggesting a shipwreck. The software allowing for the Fondation Louis Vuitton's structural design is still au point, and the collaborative effort to achieve the romantic naufrage quite remarkable. Closer to home, Brooklyn-based sculptor Tom Fruin has an installation along the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park, adjacent to Jean Nouvel's carousel pavilion. Called Kolonihavehus, the colorful acrylic casita symbolizes the small Danish escape-hatch garden houses that beckon Copenhagen residents out of town on weekends. Fruin worked with lighting designers, performance artists, a sound artist, and concrete poet Vagn Steen. "The city's greatest competitive edge is its cultural depth and sophistication," wrote Ray Gastil in Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront, "and the waterfront is the greatest stage to show that edge." Dialogues from the Edge of Practice In his 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, Joel Garreau quotes a description by Charles Dickens of London in 1848: "There were a hundred thousand shapes and substances of incompleteness, wildly mingled out of their places, upside down, burrowing in the earth, aspiring in the earth, moldering in the water, and unintelligible as in any dream." The ethereal qualities of the Gehry and Fruin works are not at all accidental: they are carefully designed and intentional. What they have in common, more than a remote park location, is a distance from traditional expectation and the interaction of structural form with colorenhanced imagery. Not for nothing at the Gehry building is there bespoke art by Ellsworth Kelly and Olafur Eliasson. Broad splashes of color added to monochromatic museums or courthouses can hone their edge and engender reveries, as with the Robert Rauschenberg House sculpture at Richard Meier's High Museum in Atlanta, and the Boston Panels by Ellsworth Kelly at the Pei Cobb Freed-designed John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston's Fan Pier. Was Christopher Nolan thinking of Henry Cobb when he cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine as Paris-based architects in Inception, filmed at 31 locations on four continents in 2010? In this movie about how architects can implant dreams while continually second-guessing reality, DiCaprio's character, "Cobb," says to his father, an architecture professor played by Caine, "You told me that in the real world I'd be building attic conversions and gas stations. You said that if I mastered the dream-share I'd have a whole new way of creating and showing people my creations. You told me it would free me." And he enlists Cotillard's "Ariadne" by saying that his design proposition is not about money, but "the chance to build cathedrals, entire cities - things that have never existed." Whether what we design and build is on the perimeter of our cities - or our universe - the trans-sectorial aspiration is an evocation of the impossible made real, the transformation of void into meaning. Rick Bell, FAIA Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter Spring 2015 Oculus 47

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2015

First Words Letter from the President Repositioning All Around By Tomas Rossant, AIA
Letter from the Editor The Edge of New By Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA
Center for Architecture Center Highlights
One Block Over Rough Waters: Squalls continue over the redevelopment of South Street Seaport By Claire Wilson
Opener: Thinking Into Other Boxes By David Zach
Mars in the Bronx CASE gets new environmental technologies out of labs and into buildings at (relative) warp speed By Jonathan Lerner
Spinning Research Into Practice Intense experimentation with digital technologies is yielding remarkable designs and products by ARO By Lisa Delgado
A Results-Oriented Think Tank Defining architectural practice broadly enough to include research, theory, and public discourse, Grimshaw’s Urban Research Unit is a full-circle activity leading to a richer built environment By Bill Millard
The Resilience Factor Perkins+Will is making resilience design and planning a growing area of practice and income By Richard Staub
Socrates at the Drafting Table REX champions a slow thinktank architecture of methodical problem-solving By Janet Adams Strong
Architecture in the Social Data Era Transforming our practice to engage new data sources and design intents By Melissa Marsh
Museum as Incubator The New Museum hatches a multidisciplinary workspace to nurture creative entrepreneurs By Julia van den Hout
When Bottom-up Meets Top-down The benefits of community engagement in post-disaster rebuilding plans By Deborah Gans, FAIA
In Print Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made By Tom Wilkinson Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Birth of the Modern City By Jonathan Conlin Visionaries in Urban Development: 15 Years of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize Winners By Trisha Riggs, et al. American Urban Form: A Representative History By Sam Bass Warner and Andrew H. Whittemore Preservation is Overtaking Us By Rem Koolhaas, with a supplement by Jorge Otero-Pailos Reviews by Stanley Stark, FAIA
31-Year Watch Architectural practice once embraced dinner plates and candlesticks produced by Swid Powell By John Morris Dixon, FAIA
Last Words Eve of Construction By Rick Bell, FAIA
Index to Advertisers Alphabetical & Categorical Index

Oculus - Spring 2015

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