June 8, 2011
by: Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: 2011 Design Awards Panels: Urban Design; Unbuilt Work
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.17.11; 06.02.11
Speakers: Urban Design: Paul Buckhurst, ARIBA — Director, BFJ Planning; Stephen Cassell, AIA, LEED AP — Principal & Founder, Architecture Research Office (ARO); Nicholas Cates, AIA, LEED AP — Project Architect, FXFOWLE Architects; Susannah Drake, AIA, RLA — Principal, dlandstudio; Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA — Senior Associate, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Larry Gutterman, AIA, LEED AP — Senior Architect & Project Manager, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners; Richard Kennedy — Associate Partner, James Corner Field Operations; L. Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP — Founder, Perkins Eastman; Matthew Urbanski — Principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Unbuilt Work: Lonn Combs — Principal, EASTON+COMBS; Jonathan Dreyfous — Partner-in-Charge, CR Studio; Kevin Erickson, Assoc. AIA — Founding principal, KNEstudio; Iannis Kandyliaris — Project Architect, SO-IL; Philip Lee, Assoc. AIA — Philip Lee Workshop; David Leven, AIA — Partner, LEVENBETTS; Jennifer Sage, AIA, LEED AP — Principal, Sage & Coombe Architects; Joel Sanders, AIA — Principal, Joel Sanders Architect; Heidi Werner — Philip Lee Workshop
Moderators: Urban Design: Howard Slatkin — Director of Sustainability & Deputy Director of Strategic Planning, NYC Department of City Planning; Unbuilt Work: Kelsey Keith — Editor-in-Chief, Architizer
Organizers: AIANY
Sponsors: Benefactor: Vanguard Construction and Development; Patron: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, FXFOWLE, Trespa; Sponsors: Arup; Buro Happold; Ennead Architects; F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.; Gensler; Halcrow Yolles; Ibex Construction; Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP; Jaros, Baum & Bolles; Knoll/Lane Office; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Mancini Duffy; MechoShade Systems, Inc.; New York University; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; Roger Ferris + Partners; Sage & Coombe Architects; Stalco Construction, Inc.; Structure Tone Inc.; Studio Daniel Libeskind; STUDIOS Architecture; Swanke Hayden Connell Architects; Syska Hennessy Group; Turner Construction Company; Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Lower Manhattan: A New Urban Ground (Urban Design Honor Award), by Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio (left); Kukje Art Center (Unbuilt Work Honor Award), by SO-IL (right).

Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio (left); SO-IL (right)

The projects that won this year’s AIANY Design Awards “show the vitality of the architecture and design community, and the dedication of AIANY to celebrate its diversity,” said Lonn Combs, principal of EASTON+COMBS, recipient of an Unbuilt Merit Award for Changing Room, at the AIANY Design Awards panel for Unbuilt Work. And while the categories of Urban Design (UD) and Unbuilt Work (UW) may intuitively seem disparate, all of the projects set their sights high with an ambition to improve the world in which we live.

In urban design, water was key to many of the projects. Lower Manhattan: A New Urban Ground (UD Honor), by Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio, focused on creating a fluid edge condition for Lower Manhattan that integrates water more thoroughly into the city’s infrastructure, with a porous street system, under-surface water collection, and wetland distribution. At Brooklyn Bridge Park (UD Honor), by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Maryann Thompson Architects, the design team wanted to create a park where visitors could access the water. The project expands programming on piers, and builds up the on-shore landscape that raises the park above the 100-year flood plain in response to rising sea levels. For the QianHai Water City (UD Merit), James Corner Field Operations proposed smoothing the transition between the urban edge of this port city with “water filtration fingers” to help define mixed-use districts.

Water also played into some of the unbuilt work, as well. At Marine Company 1 (UW Merit), CR Studio Architects aimed to create a morphology between the civic presence of the pier in which it is sited and the eroded past of city’s waterfront history. PhXcaseXcase: Cactus Flower Housing (UW Honor) in Phoenix, AZ, by LEVENBETTS, takes inspiration from a local cactus in that housing units are organized around a central wet core (bathrooms, kitchen) that transitions to a dry, prickly exterior thanks to sun shading. The project is sited along a canal, and the firm chose to orient the complex toward it, making the canal an amenity linking neighboring buildings. Just Add Water: A Proposal for the NYC Shaft Sites (UW Merit), by Philip Lee Workshop, proposed installing fixtures that would tap into the city’s water infrastructure to cool public spaces and help mitigate storm water runoff.

A couple of the projects focused on improving cities by programming to local needs. The Hanoi Master Plan to 2030 and Vision to 2050 project (UD Merit), by BFJ-Perkins Eastman, Posco E&C, JINA, and the Vietnam Institute of Architecture, is a 20-year comprehensive plan for Hanoi’s growth. The plan, which is expected to move forward this month, creates a central urban hub with outlying satellite craft villages, agriculture, and integrated mass transportation to enhance the regional complexity and provide future infrastructure and industrial zones required to make the city an international capital city by 2050. “Hanoi is currently about 25 years behind China. We have an opportunity to learn from its successes and failures, and make better choices for Hanoi’s future,” said Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP, principal of Perkins Eastman.

On a smaller scale, the Kukje Art Center in Seoul (UW Honor) is a gallery on the site of a large development that SO-IL felt was out of scale with the neighboring community. In response, the design sinks much of the program below grade, and sheaths the exterior with a translucent skin and a custom, reflective chain-link façade to blur the boundary between exterior and interior.

Other projects featured small moves that help enhance existing urban spaces. Kevin Erickson, Assoc. AIA, of KNEstudio sees sidewalks as “the most important public space” in NYC, noting that currently the city’s sidewalk sheds would cover half of Central Park if ganged together. For UrbanCLOUD (UW Merit), an entry in the urbanSHED competition, the firm proposed a hexagonal frame suspended by outriggers to create the image of a cloud floating over the sidewalk. Changing Room (UW Merit), by EASTON+COMBS, created an installation in a gallery space in Chicago that aims to provide an intimate space within the public realm. Under extremely tight budget constraints for the Bronx River Art Center (UW Merit), Sage and Coombe Architects sought to take advantage of the building’s oblique shape, its prominent position in the street, and its visibility from the subway. In collaboration with the center’s marketing team, brightly colored paint would make the façade stand out in the community.

Finally, two projects focused on redefining typologies within an urban context. For the Lincoln Center Public Spaces, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, FXFOWLE Architects, and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners (UD Honor) faced the challenge of creating a cohesive work over multiple sites. The team achieved this by reorganizing public spaces, connecting the center to the street (literally and figuratively), and designing spaces for impromptu performances. At the LGBT Retirement Community (UW Merit) in Palm Springs, CA, Joel Sanders Architect sought to integrate independent living with assisted living, two types of retirement communities that are typically segregated. By doing this, and by creating a network of lap pools that both connect and separate units, the firm hoped to reflect the cultural diversity — medically and domestically — for the LGBT community.


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