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May 12, 2009
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Ranch Commons in Bulverde, TX, by Architecture In Formation.

Architecture In Formation

At the “Focus on Design and Global Practice” session, Amale Andraos, principal of WORKac in NYC, discussed the need to always look for new ways of working in the world. Her firm tries to transform the way it works and lives as they encounter new audiences and new clients. With Public Farm 1, infrastructure and gardening were mixed with the urban context of P.S. 1 to create an interactive installation that served as a party space and vegetable garden throughout the summer. Now, WORKac is collaborating with Alice Waters for Public Farm 2 to create edible gardens at P.S. 216.

Young architects are no longer settling for traditional paths of practice; when they are faced with road blocks, they adjust the rules to their needs, as was proven at the “2009 Young Architects Award Recipient’s Discussion.” “Good design should be accessible, especially for those who can’t afford it,” stated Angela Brooks, AIA, LEED AP, principal at CA-based Pugh + Scarpa Architects. If good design is not feasible because of policy, she continued, then make friends in the government and change the policy. When she faced 15 variances for a market-rate, affordable housing project in Los Angeles, she co-founded Livable Places, a non-profit organization aimed at changing policy in LA.

Jinhee Park, AIA, principal of SsD in Cambridge, MA, developed a housing prototype that could be built by highway construction workers. When the Big Dig was developing, SsD’s proposal was to recycle the highway and the skilled labor to create both new housing and an opportunity for the construction workers to stay in one city longer than usual. Matthew Bremer, AIA, principal of NY-based Architecture In Formation and co-chair of the AIANY New Practices Committee, faced the challenge of developing housing in an area suffering from suburban sprawl in Bulverde, TX. His solution was to propose a development that looks like a cattle ranch, so the community would welcome it, yet it will be the densest development in the area, making it much more efficient than the surrounding neighborhoods.

During “Queer Space: Designing for the GLBT Community,” social sustainability took on a slightly different meaning. Creating a space for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations, architects are faced with designing a building that embraces all lifestyles, provides privacy for those who need it, enables individuals to celebrate their identity, and links people within and without the community. Belmont Freeman, FAIA, of Belmont Freeman Architects in NY, presented his firm’s LGBT Carriage House at the University of Pennsylvania. While the design incorporates a private back entrance in addition to the front entry and a Modern interior to counter the traditional architecture on campus, the meeting spaces and multi-purpose lounge are now some of the most popular spaces for all student groups on campus. For Freeman, the building is successful because the spaces are inviting to all, and its users do not segregate themselves into separate groups.


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