Friday, December 16, 2011

Manhattan Grid 1811-2011 - Conceptual Urbanism - Grids, Words & Twitter Feeds

“The most courageous act of prediction 
in Western civilization: 
the land it divides, unoccupied; 
the population it describes, conjectural; 
the buildings it locates, phantoms; 
the activities it frames, nonexistent.”  

Rem Koolhaas 

"...The 1811 plan has demonstrated remarkable longevity as well as the flexibility to adapt to two centuries of unforeseeable change...”

Susan Henshaw Jones
Ronay Menschel Museum Director

In a separate gallery from the main show,
another section to the exhibition focuses on the Call for Ideas organized around seven themes. Manhattan Grid as a Template for Words was among those chosen to exemplify the grid's capacity to serve as a conceptual framework for more theoretical art and architecture.

Shan Jayakumar (concept + text + schematic design)
Barbra Tolentino (graphic design)

"The invention of writing is a profound legacy of the first cities that sprang up in the fertile delta of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of ancient Mesopotamia. Little else is left of this ancient civilization, Sumer, other than mounds in the desert and scattered artifacts. Yet we still have the texts that these early authors composed on clay tablets. Most famously, The Epic of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, continues to resonate with readers today.

Like the cuneiform grids of the tablets that recount the story of Gilgamesh, so too the Manhattan grid evokes a landscape lush with text. From novels and poems along with essays and reportage to advertising, blogs, and Twitter feeds, we are enveloped by the glyphic, now often in digital form. The conceptual rendering in this exhibition presents the city as a multidimensional hub of expression, extending into virtual space..."
Shan Jayakumar, Design Statement 
Shan is currently co-project lead for Architecture for Humanity's 
Under the BQE project to evolve a safety plan with the community

Develop Audacity!
Saturday December 17 at 2pm 
Creating the Grid-Family Workshop
 is being held in conjunction with the exhibition 
The  Museum of the City of New York 
1220 5th Avenue
New York, NY  10029


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Design Different - Center for Architecture - Buildings=Energy

Front window - NYC Electricity & Gas use from Buildings

"Understanding energy use and how to change it, is an enormous challenge to the buildings construction and maintenance industries..." 

Fiona Cousins, PE, FCIBSE, LEED AP BD+C
Principal ARUP

Front Window - Comparison of Building Materials
“We wanted to bring the role of energy in the built environment and key energy principles, to the forefront in a way that engineers, architects, students, and everyday New Yorkers could relate to these concepts.
Donna Zimmerman, Curator

Energy Efficient Discussion Panels 

“.. You can change the market...because developers could build offices with energy and cost  efficiency that is totally integral to the process for a whole new wave of development  more like in Europe...which generates income for the city and jobs …” 
Robert W. Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP, Perkins+Will
Perkins Will Office Design for 30th St.,10th Ave Site

“…BIM.(building information modeling) utilizes photographic and accounting software that now allows teams to identify conflicts previously discovered on the site.  By identifying energy efficiency opportunities in advance, costs are reduced." 
R. Anthony Fieldman, AIA, LEED AP, 
Principal, Perkins+Will
Along with the exciting Perkins+Will office design, Buildings=Energy features nearly 30 case studies of active sustainable projects underway in New York City.  For a look at how energy use in buildings is now being quantified in real time, AIANY's Managing Director Cynthia Phifer Kracauer suggested the Energy Lab downstairs on view with other community and family programming exhibits throughout Archtober.  

For more information about Center for Architecture, contact Nicole Friedman, Communications Director at:

*Archtober - Architecture and Design Month at the Center for Architecture - The inaugural month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions in New York City

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back to School - Health Alert - FitCity 6

"Diabetes Type 2 under age 10, we never saw it before"
 Carlos Santos-Burgoa, MD, FitCity6

"Environmental design can play a crucial role in improving public health"
 Dr. Thomas Farley NYC Health Commissioner

Currently, 1 in 3 people born in the US will develop obesity, 33% of the adult population.   Childhood obesity is so rapidly growing, it’s epidemic. At the annual FitCity conference at the Center for Architecture, somewhat ironically, designers from elsewhere shared tips for New York to keep moving

For New York, Never Stop Moving"
Rosan Bosch, jumpUP, jumpDOWN, jumpZONE  

Interior use of natural light and open space demonstrates how local DNA supports its ever-moving dance community:

"Build for common activity, not just the individual one" 
Carlos Santos-Burgoa, MD  FitCity 6
We need to make the healthy choice easy by changing the physical environment” FitCity 6

Under-the-BQE  AFHNY 

According to the World Health Organization, at the time of this writing, incidence of obesity in the world is: 33,768,188 and US expenditures due to obesity related diseases in the USA are $1,117,237.  You can check the clock daily to see if it is slowing down:
 http: // 

Active design is green design, for Active Design Guidelines:
Amy Green, Associate AIA, LEED AP
LEED and Green Development Coordinator
Center for Active Design
30-30 Thompson Ave. LIC, NY  11101

UnderBQE following site survey (left)
AFHny project meeting at Van Alen Institute (right)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother Nature Mentors - Biomimicry

Seeing nature at work kindles our capacity to learn, to situate ourselves, to do more, better”    Randall R. Anway, New Tapestry, LLC

Time in nature brings clarity, as if our feelings and thoughts have been read in the way only a mother can.  With just a couple of weeks till the 80th birthday of the best Mom in the whole universe, thanks are due to Mother Nature.   How does she do it?

Innovators interested in the ways of nature find their way to the Biomimicry Guild for natural models to apply to today's  challenges in "commerce, governance, science, art, religion and the cosmos".   Randall Anway, Sustainable Building Advisor and Architect of New Tapestry LLC, focuses on these principals.

 “Life’s patterns works without us, we need to learn from it.”    

For those of us interested in “doing more with less, handling change and uncertainty, dealing with persistent limitations, using what is readily available and creating abundance”, the mentor is Mother Nature.

Part of the challenge of teaching biomimicry is discussing it.   It needs a new language.  So much is riding on language now.  A recent article on preventative care for Alzheimers describes a void in the language of preventative treatment.  In legislatures, we are tripping over legal and religious language referring to natural human behavior.  All of this is being added to a system trying to educate, govern and heal in multiple tongues undergoing massive budget cuts.   

So what are we to do with this set of limitations?  Recently, I have been learning ways to recall musical rhythms.  This deals with the part of the brain that looks for patterns, the left brain.  Its favorite pattern is the list.  Rattling off a list is easy in your own tongue. Doing so in a new one, not so easy. We know the more languages you learn, the faster you pick them up.  Presumably this contributes to a faster absorption rate of patterns of all kinds.  

Replicating immersion helps language learning.   Once, despite broken French at the time,  I surprisingly recalled a poem from a new Arab friend met on the TGV.   Later, by forcing myself to sit in the front of class, I got an A in what I had anticipated to be a boring pre-Renaissance style class.  The same immersion was applied to grasping vocabulary of synthetic financial instruments, international tax, and computer coding.  
No need to wait on Washington here either, we can begin by again moving to the front, where new language is urgently needed and activate our pattern makers - "using information instead of energy" like mother and nature. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"You don't know the power you have" Ed Mazria

Ed Mazria, Founder and CEO of Architecture 2030

“The building industry is responsible for 49% of the current carbon consumption; it is both the problem and the solution. ”

Ed Mazria's Architecture on the Brink, at the Cooper Union this past week, detailed how "with the stroke of their designers' pen", New York architects could redirect the tide of current global events tied to energy, economics and climate change.

When dubious, he told them "you don't know the power you have with suppliers and services in the marketplace, not just in New York, but throughout the world." By way of encouragement, over 70 percent of the industrialized world was built before computerized three dimensional drawing.

The International Style architects that shunned climate controlled structures of the Renaissance and transformed pre-industrial Europe in the 20th century used French curves.

Today‘s computer technology offers designers abundant freedom to create, “amazing structures like the Beijing Opera House, but at what cost ?”

AIANY's Committee on the Environment is to thank for organizing this event.  For more information about this and  other award-winning programming   
Join Ed Mazria's industry challenge to bring the building industry to carbon neutral by 2030 visit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring - Making Change Now

The solution is not going to drop from the moon with a 20b dollar price tag….we need to get busy with what we  have now…”
Kate Orff, NY landscape architect, TEDWomen
 According to her design manifesto,Oyster-tecture the "albeit, small, modest" Eastern Oyster, could be our mythic hero if returned to New York Harbor to do what he does naturally - filter 50 gallons of water a day. Oh and the resources needed..fuzzy rope available at the convenience store. She suggests even using the proceeds from a "bake sale" . See below exhibit from MOMA's Rising Currents

Such handmade solutions don’t thrill investors.  Finance models promised at Urban Green Council’s  Expo are slow to take root.  Now, 2 years later, how would you value a “more sustainable, livable and delicious future"?

Health/Tech/Food hosted by Luminary Labs at the Paley Center during Social Media Week offered their wish list for a healthier New York:

One favorite would bring open source to broad health education -TED in the Park. With fuzzy rope balls at each screening, we could do the knitting ourselves at the movies.

Uptown, next to the Bronx museum, AFHny Studio designed, installed and planted ARTfarm last year for less than $10,000. A contest will bring a new mural.

Its tough to get attention for what they (Architecture for Humanity) do - make a plan, get to work and get it done”

Kickstarter is receiving donations for the new planting of ARTfarm which is requesting merely $1500.

“Keep your attention on the game….” Little League Dad

Strolling Carl Schurz Park, signs of new growth abound. A first day of Spring, following so many blizzards, I’ve new insight into baseball’s power to build concentration, despite Spring fever and compelling earthly chores.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Top Ten - National Parks of NY Harbor


“….in the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer…”
Albert Camus

It’s here, January and already the flood of new year, new you suggestions. Destination spas, gyms, personal trainers and getaways promising deliverance to greater fitness. Before you sign up for stair mastering, consider the “fun, beauty and challenge of paddling in New York Harbor with local organizations and outfitters."*

If paddling seems too daunting, how about taking the stepometer to the 10 National Parks comprising 23 unique destinations found in and around NY Harbor including N. New Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Westchester County.  All offer opportunity for you to relish your own island life right here:

St Paul’s Church
Hamilton Grange
General Grant Memorial
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
African Burial Ground

Federal Hall
Castle Clinton
Governors Island
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty

Floyd Bennett Field
Canarsie Pier
Jamaica Bay

Jacob Riis Park
Fort Tilden
Breezy Point
Fort Wadsworth
Miller Field
Great Kills Park
Fort Handcock
Sandy Hook

The National Park Service preserved unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.
National Park Service Mission

For information on how you can get on the NYNJ Harbor water in 2011:
Local organizations: