Oculus - Fall 2011 - (Page 37)

last words LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Off-Center T Bell, left of the Center at 532 LaGuardia Place. Occasion is thus of the greatest importance in regard to every production; indeed, it is this which essentially decides the question regarding its true aesthetic value… A creation is a production from nothing; the occasion is, however, the nothing from which everything comes. —Søren Kierkegaard in Either/Or, 1843 Ecstasy affords the occasion and expediency determines the form. —Marianne Moore in “The Past is the Present,” 1917 That psychedelic doors-of-perceptionstyle illustration, a long-haired man walking a street made patchwork from two different (and spurious) architectural styles, from the shadows of which watched eyes. —China Miéville in The City & The City, 2009 he Center for Architecture opened its doors on October 7, 2003, with a 16-hour-long mara- thon “Design In,” featuring 80 speakers and one microphone. T e space was so new that the lectern was not on hand, and speakers stood behind a beautiful steel sculpture created in the upstate barn of artist Julie Dermansky. T at day we also opened three exhibitions on planning, members’ work, and Olympic Summer Game building types. Since then we have off ered 160 exhibitions and approximately 8,000 events, most for continuingeducation credit. T e AIA New York Chapter’s Center for Architecture is the vehicle by which we promote design excellence through exhibitions, professional development by programs, and political advocacy using our enhanced visibility and civic engagement. T e Center is showcase, classroom, and soapbox. Somewhere along the line, we noticed that the Center, which seemed so large compared with our sixth-fl oor showroom at 200 Lexington Avenue, had gotten smaller. Or perhaps the programming, exhibitions, training, and special events had grown beyond all expectations, as had the activities for children and their parents at the Center for Architecture Foundation. So when the adjacent storefront to the south became available, we rented it. (As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”) T e space at 532 LaGuardia Place is in a fi ve-story 1850s building graced by cast-iron columns and a 9- by 16-foot rear garden. T e expansion is daunting, as the space has become familiar to the NYC design community as well as to visitors from around the world. Do we need more meeting space for members and partner organizations? Do we need a diff erent type of program and exhibition space? Can member/staff interaction be improved and unanticipated needs be addressed? In an organization of almost 5,000 architects and designers, there is no dearth of ideas and no lack of creativity. T e Chapter’s Premises Committee, originally chaired in 2003 by the late Margaret Helfand, FAIA, has been resurrected. Led by Mary Burke, AIA, who also serves on the advi- sory group of the AIA National Interiors Knowledge Community, the Committee has entertained numerous suggestions and reached out to many in the design and construction industries. Comparable spaces have been studied, includ- ing design centers from Anchorage to Lima, and those in Copenhagen, London, and Paris. New AIA Centers for Architecture have opened since 2003 in Austin, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Antonio, and San Francisco. And ideas that animate similar types of space have been considered. My personal favorite was the offi ce space in Tel Aviv, designed by Edit Riſt in, which included a full gymnasium and boxing ring. Do we have room for a gym at the Center for Architecture – or even more interior bicycle parking? Is a bookstore/café in the offi ng, following the lead of Van Alen Books? For the time being, in the lingering economic downturn, frugality and simplicity are the credo. While we may aspire to the enhanced street identity of a multi-building neighborhood anchor such as Zabar’s or J&R Music World, the fact is that we are giving ourselves the same advice that many architects share with their clients: If you build it, they will come – but let’s watch the bottom line, and make sure the HVAC is environmentally appropriate. As Jim Bouton wrote in Foul Ball, “A good plan without money is better than a bad plan with money.” T ere is a logic to the ideal of gradual, incremental extension that, on LaGuardia Place, has been fueled by opportunity. At the Center for Architecture, the balance will shiſt slightly off -center, slightly downtown towards Lower Manhattan. T e growth changes the potential for how the combined space of 536 and 532 LaGuardia Place is used, how it is seen, and, more importantly, what it means. Expansion in tough times is a gesture of optimism, a symbol of not only the importance of the profession, but of its resilience and street smarts. Architects design for the long haul, for the future. T e street front has gotten longer, and the future is now. Rick Bell, FAIA Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter Interior Motives: Activity & Growth Fall 2011 Oculus 37 ©Emily Nemens http://www.naylornetwork.com/arc-nxt

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2011

First Words
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: The New Office Space
Small Spaces, Transforming Results
Redesigned Practice
The Lure of Pop-ups
A Giant, Hardly Sleeping: Pro Bono Sector
In Print
57-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Fall 2011

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