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On the way to a sustainable Weston?  No more free architectural educationWar Against Suburbia?
21st century D.C. restoration...news here.


Her New York

November 9, 2008

ADA LOUISE HUXTABLE is, hands down, the dean of American architectural criticism. In her many books and columns for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and The Wall Street Journal (where she continues to serve as architecture critic), Ms. Huxtable has brought a sharp, skeptical, receptive eye and a nuanced writing style to the task.

Her latest book, “On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change,” being published this month by Walker & Company, is a hefty collection of keepers from the past five decades of criticism. It tells the story of revolutionary upheavals in taste, from the triumph of an austere modernism to an often frivolous postmodernism to the menu of choices that exist today.

Ten days ago, in her sunny penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side, Ms. Huxtable talked about the changing face of the city, the state of its architecture, why Times Square dazzles and why an economic downturn may not be the worst thing to happen to New York...

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Le Corbusier’s Architecture and His Politics Are Revisited
JULY 12, 2015

PARIS — Was the paradigm-changing architect known as Le Corbusier a fascist-leaning ideologue whose plans for garden cities were inspired by totalitarian ideals, or a humanist who wanted to improve people’s living conditions — a political naïf who, like many architects, was eager to work with almost any regime that would let him build?

Story in full:  http://iht-retrospective.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/27/looking-back-on-le-corbusiers-legacy/?ref=topics

There is a connection between natural happenings and the painful public hearings on Sandy Hook - the 90 bills proposed cover much but miss this major point:
Architecture is like planning - think counter intuitively, be flexible.  "Tools For Schools" cited as an excellent, voluntary example of how to inculcate good design into CT schools.  Could work for security, too.  Creative solutions best.  Natural design and natural disasters fit together to make a better world.

Architects warn Sandy Hook panel of security limits
Michael Gambina, CT MIRROR
February 15, 2013

School architects gave the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission a blunt lesson Friday in the limits of physical security measures, warning that the best architecture can do against an attacker like Adam Lanza would be to slow him until law enforcement can arrive.

"We can mitigate risk, we can delay risk, we can control risk, but there really is nothing we can do to guarantee a risk-free environment," said James LaPosta Jr., principal and chief architectural officer with JCJ Architecture in Hartford.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the commission to recommend public policy changes, including looking at school building standards, in response to Lanza's assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he shattered a locked door with rifle fire, then killed 20 children and six educators.

Putting school violence in context, LaPosta emphasized that incidents like the one in Newtown, although horrific, are a rarity and not the only threat faced in school environments.

"We run the risk of responding to the last event and not anticipating the next," LaPosta said.

He was one of four building designers from the American Institute of Architects, and other security experts, who addressed commission members at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The architects stressed that all buildings are different, their designs depending on location and needs. A school building in the Midwest may be designed to protect against tornadoes, for example, while one in an urban center may be designed to protect against gang violence.

Either way, they said, a school should be built to delay a threat, ensuring the safety of students and faculty until first responders arrive.

Sandy Hook panel members heard variations on this theme Friday, as well as a number of more specific concepts and suggestions:

* Technology, LaPosta said, "often becomes a forensic tool as opposed to a preventative tool," but he noted that voice communication via radios, cell phones, public address and converged networks with law enforcement can be helpful.

* Richard Munday, of New Haven-based Newman Architects, likened his firm's concepts of creating a safer school to a neighborhood watch principle: a building with large windows that allow those in the front office to have a view of the parking lot and front entrance; glass instead of walls on the interior of the building to permit visibility from room to room.  In one photo example, glass walls allowed faculty on a building's second floor to easily see down into the cafeteria on the first floor.

* Glen Golenberg, principal architect at The S/L/A/M Collaborative in Glastonbury, suggested schools could install doors that alert people when they are breached. He also suggested window glazes, like a laminate, which he said are effective and far less costly than ballistic glass, which can range from $3,000 to $4,000 per classroom.

The architects said if a school district wanted to make immediate changes, there are very low-tech things to be done, including enforcing traffic and parking rules; removing obstructions from sight lines; reviewing exterior exit pathways; checking the condition of window shades and blinds and of keying and door security; and partnering with responders.

U.S. Capitol dome readied for $60 million in repairs

Article published Dec 26, 2013

Washington - A world-famous symbol of democracy is going under cover, as workers start a two-year, $60 million renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome.
Curved rows of scaffolds, like Saturn's rings, will encircle it next spring, enabling contractors to strip multiple layers of paint and repair more than 1,000 cracks and broken pieces. The dome will remain illuminated at night and partly visible through the scaffolding and paint-capturing cloths. But the Washington icon - and portions of the Rotunda's painted ceiling that lies below - will be significantly obscured for many months.

The project is beginning just as the nearby Washington Monument sheds scaffolding that was used to repair damage from a 2011 earthquake.
Half-completed when Abraham Lincoln stood beneath it to summon "the better angels of our nature" in 1861, the Capitol dome has since towered over Washington, which limits building heights to 130 feet. Time, however, has let water seep through hundreds of cracks. The water attacks cast iron, which "continues to rust and rust and rust," said Stephen T. Ayers, architect of the Capitol.

Night, weekend work

This first major renovation in more than 50 years should add decades of structural integrity to the dome, which Ayers calls perhaps "the most recognizable symbol across the globe." The $60 million undertaking will heal inner wounds, he said, without changing the way the dome looks from the ground.

Much of the work will be done at night and on weekends. It won't be as flashy as the 1993 helicopter removal and return of the 19-foot Statue of Freedom from the dome's top....The architect's office will update the renovation's progress at www.aoc.gov/dome.

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Oscar Niemeyer, Architect Who Gave Brasília Its Flair, Dies at 104
December 5, 2012

Oscar Niemeyer, the celebrated Brazilian architect whose flowing designs infused Modernism with a new sensuality and captured the imaginations of generations of architects around the world, died on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro. He was 104.

The medical staff at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio, where he was being treated, said on national television that he died of a respiratory infection. Mr. Niemeyer was among the last of a long line of Modernist true believers who stretch from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to the architects who defined the postwar architecture of the late 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. He is best known for designing the government buildings of Brasília, a sprawling new capital carved out of the Brazilian savanna that became an emblem both of Latin America’s leap into modernity and, later, of the limits of Modernism’s utopian aspirations.

His curvaceous, lyrical, hedonistic forms helped shape a distinct national architecture and a modern identity for Brazil that broke with its colonial and baroque past. Yet his influence extended far beyond his country. Even his lesser works were a counterpoint to reductive notions of Modernist architecture as blandly functional.

“Brazil lost today one of its geniuses,” Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, said in a statement issued Wednesday night...

The timing was ideal. Costa was then designing the Ministry of Education and Health’s headquarters in Rio, and he invited Mr. Niemeyer to join his firm as a draftsman. In 1936, the ministry hired the Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier to contribute ideas for the design. Le Corbusier was already a legend in architecture, and the building would become the first major public project by a Modernist architect in Latin America.

Mr. Niemeyer, one of several draftsmen assigned to the project, absorbed Le Corbusier’s vision of a modern world shaped by the myth of the machine, and drew on the master’s belief in an architecture of abstract forms enlivened by a sensitive use of light and air...

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There are ways to respectfully reuse and add onto some buildings of brutalist architecture style...if you have a cool  and talented Building Committee!
In 2001, Weston, CT designed a "skirt" for the 1960's auditorium (c) and a new entrance, library and science wing became the focus (r) doubling the size of Weston High School.

Weighing Costs of Demolition or Preservation
When questions of aesthetics can't be resolved, creative solutions are needed.
Raksha Vasudevan (Sustaininability Associate at the National League of Cities’ Center for Research and Innovation. She blogs a t citiesspeak.org)
Updated April 9, 2012, 8:15 AM

...If not beauty, what criterion should we use to determine the ultimate fate of a building? In a society dominated by overconsumption and wastefulness, we automatically look for a quick fix in matters of architectural preservation — demolish or preserve exactly as is.

What is needed is an acknowledgement of the multiple and hidden costs of our choices...

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Atrocities Should Be Eliminated
Preserving stark, modernist buildings denies their crimes against humanity.
Anthony M. Daniels (Anthony M. Daniels is a frequent contributor to New Criterion, a monthly journal of culture and ideas)
April 8, 2012

Buildings should be preserved for one of two reasons: they were the site of events of great historic importance, or they are of aesthetic merit. Buildings in the Brutalist style — which uses raw concrete or other materials to make art galleries look like fallout shelters — are certainly aesthetically outstanding: unfortunately, in an entirely negative sense. A single such building can ruin an entire townscape, and it is often difficult to believe that such ruination was not the intention of the architect...

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How Cooper Union’s Endowment Failed in Its Mission
May 10, 2013

Since Peter Cooper’s heirs gave the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art the land under the Chrysler Building in 1902, the school’s endowment has enabled it to offer students a high-quality, tuition-free education through two world wars, the Great Depression and multiple stock market crashes and financial crises.

So why does Cooper Union now find itself forced to charge tuition of an estimated $20,000 a year, abandoning what many consider its most important legacy?

This week, angry students were occupying the president’s office in protest. They might be even angrier to learn that some of their future tuition dollars could be going to support wealthy hedge fund managers who oversee some of the school’s $666.7 million endowment.

Cooper Union may be an extreme example...

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Cooper Union’s Free Tuition Tradition May Be Near Its End
Published: February 15, 2013

The new academic building was glamorous, its perforated metal skin shooting up dramatically from the streets of the East Village, then swerving around a daring gash of glass. It made a statement about just how far the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art had come, from its 19th-century origins as a charity for the poor to one of the most selective colleges in the nation.

But that was before market convulsions shook the school’s finances, and before the truth about its dire budgetary situation came to light. Now the audacious building, at 41 Cooper Square, completed in 2009, has become the most visible symbol of a debate about the future of Cooper Union on the eve of what could be the most important decision in its history....

Developments like that rarely go over well with students, least of all with art students. Along with their classmates in other programs, and with outspoken alumni and faculty, they have produced some great visuals, including the sight of students barricading themselves inside the school’s historic Foundation Building and YouTube agitprop set to terrible but amusing rap...

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Architecture Review | Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; The Civic Value of a Bold Statement
June 5, 2009

We’ll have to wait to find out exactly what the end of the Age of Excess means for architecture in New York. Yes, the glut of high-concept luxury towers was wearisome. But some great civic works were also commissioned in that era. And given the hard economic times, they may be the last we see for quite some time...

The building occupies a contentious site at Cooper Square, between Sixth and Seventh Streets, in the East Village. The area has experienced a particularly painful process of gentrification in the past decade. First, generic glass boxes began popping up along the Bowery. Then CBGB closed. For me the final straw was the opening in 2005 of Gwathmey Siegel’s undulating glass luxury apartment tower at Astor Place, a vulgar knockoff of Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt Glass Skyscraper project and a symbol of the era’s me-first mentality.

Mr. Mayne’s building does not shy away from this debate by trying to fade into the background. Seen from the old Cooper Union Foundation building across the street, its big concave facade is enveloped in a glittering perforated metal screen, like armor, so that it’s hard at first to get a grip on the building’s scale. A big vertical slot is cut out of the facade’s center, as if it had been ripped open.

Yet the more you look at the building, the more it looks right at home in its surroundings. From certain angles the facade’s concave form seems to exert a magnetic pull, as if it were trying to embrace the neighborhood in front of it. The curve of the corner, which lifts up to invite people inside the lobby, has an unexpected softness. Even the bulky exterior mirrors the proportions of the Foundation building — a friendly nod to its older neighbor.

The effect is tough and sexy at the same time...

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Design:  Typography Fans Say Ikea Should Stick to Furniture
September 5, 2009

Maybe the mistake that the Ikea people made last month when the company released its 2010 catalog was that they didn’t follow their own instructions.

They should have first taken everything out of the carton and made sure nothing was missing and that they weren’t mixing up, say, a Bjursta with a Leksvik or a Muddus. Then they should have taken a look to see how it all would fit together (serifs, strokes and counters), and only then should they have taken the many parts (stems, extenders, legs, spurs and chins) and started to jostle them into place, making sure they had enough help for heavy lifting when anything resembling pressed board was involved.

Instead they violated their aesthetic and their method: they went cheap (O.K., that’s part of Ikea’s appeal) but they also went pre-fab, ready-made. They even jettisoned their own distinctive, Swedish-owned design for something generic, multinational and bland. What good is designing furniture with coy names few outside your country can properly pronounce if you print a catalog describing those items using a font designed by Microsoft?

Yes, it’s fonts that we are talking about here, and as anyone who has seen the documentary “Helvetica” or fiddled with computer programs can tell you, there’s a big difference between Wingdings and Bauhaus. And there are many people who care deeply about the ways letters are given shape, how they descend below the line, where they get thicker or thinner and how elaborately they are ornamented....

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The War Against Suburbia
by Joel Kotkin, NewGeography blob

A year into the Obama administration, America’s dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future...

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This article first appeared at The American.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. He is author of The City: A Global History. His next book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, will be published by Penguin Press February 4th.

ARCHITECT MARCEL BREUR, DESIGNER OF FURNITURE, TOO.  GERTRUDE STEIN PORTRAIT (by Picasso - her quote re:  Picasso's abrupt style changes (Blue Period, Pink Period, etc.) - "And then he emptied himself"

New occupant of this Bauhaus architect's 1966 design to be the collection (which includes some of my favorite paintings and watercolors by American artists) of modern art from the Metropolitan Museum.

From our personal experience, this is the most important question for planners to deal with - streetcorners.  But first you need sidewalks.

NYC's Whitney Museum of American Art to move downtown
Published 05/16/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 05/13/2011 06:22 PM

A Monument to Roosevelt, on the Eve of Dedication, Is Mired in a Dispute With Donors

October 15, 2012

It was supposed to be a moment of triumph: Decades after the architect Louis I. Kahn designed it, a monument to Franklin Delano Roosevelt is scheduled to be dedicated on Wednesday on Roosevelt Island. Among those expected to take part are Tom Brokaw, Bill Clinton, the West Point Band and the singer Audra McDonald...

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City reps pull plug on StamfordLights
Kate King, Stamford ADVOCATE
Updated 10:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, 2012

STAMFORD -- The Board of Representatives cut the power on StamfordLights Monday night after members expressed concerns over spending $150,000 in taxpayer money on the public art display.

The funding request fell four votes short of the two-thirds approval required to authorize additional capital appropriations. The majority of representatives opposing the funding said they liked the proposal to install a colorful outdoor light display at the Stamford Transportation Center, but couldn't justify using money for capital projects to finance it...

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