Event: Oculus Book Talk: Michael Crosbie, New York Dozen
Location: Center for Architecture, 06.22.11
Speaker: Michael J. Crosbie, AIA, Ph.D. — Author, New York Dozen: Gen X Architects (Images Publishing Group, 2011)
Moderator: Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA — Editor-in-Chief, OCULUS and ArchNewsNow.com
Organizer: AIANY Oculus Committee
Sponsor: Bernsohn & Fetner, LLC
The foreshadowing of New York Dozen, by Michael J. Crosbie, AIA, Ph.D., began 40 years ago in another groundbreaking book, Five Architects. Focused on the New York Five (Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, FAIA, Charles Gwathmey, John Heiduk, and Richard Meier, FAIA, FRIBA), the book marked a lot of firsts; perhaps most importantly it provided a more expansive public platform for architectural discourse. Not long after the book’s publication, in an issue of Architectural Forum, architects Romaldo Giurgola, FAIA, Allan Greenberg, Charles Moore, Jaquelin T. Robertson, FAIA, and Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, wrote “Five on Five,” essays that pointedly indicted the pure Modernist aesthetic, resulting in unworkable buildings that were indifferent to site, indifferent to users, and divorced from daily life.
Crosbie’s introduction is not a history lesson. It is a beautifully crafted conversation about how our profession is best served when architects see themselves not just as designers but as artists, thinkers, and agents of change. Part of the gusto and soul of this architect’s journey, as Crosbie unfolds throughout this book, is that it does not end with a generation that has reached a level of prominence that others then try to emulate. Rather, ideas are passed on and with the creative mind can evolve into something that was unimaginable in previous decades. This book in the hands of a less scholarly, creative, and insightful editor, would have probably ended up being a marketing piece for a dozen up-and-coming firms. New York Dozen is a prism that looks carefully into an uncertain future through the lens of another time in our history that, while unpredictable, yielded surprisingly radical and transformative results.
In the energetic foreword to New York Dozen, Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, writes a balanced refection on the past that moves insightfully toward a future filled with some unprecedented challenges/opportunities facing Gen X. “The city is in a very particular place and time. Government agencies, developers, and the citizenry have never been more actively involved (most times collaboratively) in city building that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. I believe 9/11, and the growing awareness of what climate change could do to our streets and shorelines have had much to do with it.” The architecture of the New York Dozen — Andre Kikoski Architect, Architecture in Formation, Arts Corporation, Christoff/Finio Architecture, Della Valle Bernheimer, Leroy Street Studio, Levenbetts, MOS, nARCHITECTS, Studio Sumo, Work Architecture Company (WORKac), and WXY Architecture — is very diverse. Each practice is unique in their vision and in execution. Threads of commonality are found philosophically in a “we” not the “me” style of collaboration.
Five Architects sparked controversial debates. It is my hope that New York Dozen will inspire and provoke a level of discourse about architecture, inspiration, individuation, and collaboration in era of globalization that is truly unprecedented.
Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA, is a member of the AIANY Oculus Committee. At Parsons Brinckerhoff she is in charge of managing the Northeast Region Business Development and Marketing. Maxinne is also working with the New York Transit Museum on a new book on Grand Central Terminal for the centennial in February 2013.
Note about Oculus Book Talks: Each month, the AIANY Oculus Committee hosts a Book Talk at the Center for Architecture. Each talk highlights a recent publication on architecture, design, or the built environment — presented by the author. The Book Talks are a forum for dialogue and discussion, and copies of the publications are available for purchase and signing. The next talk will take place on 07.11.11, featuring The Vertical Farm, by Dickson Despommier. Click here to RSVP.