NY Architecture Week

My recent trip to New York’s AIA-sponsored Architecture Week ended in the showroom of premiere retail designer and essential – Goldsmith.  It’s not exactly a designer brand you’d find hanging loose on a tag at Barney’s or Saks Fifth Avenue…but close, very close.

Fashion enthusiast and New York City native Scarlet and I were invited to visit the showroom of Goldsmith President and Creative Director, Dan Evans.  His glossy Chelsea studio was filled with an array of beautiful creatures donning clothes that ranged from Dolce & Gabanna to Ann Taylor.  As we sat with this Hoosier native and Devington resident, I couldn’t help but to be taken aback by the variety of mannequins who seemed to be in our company.

Evans, a retail fashion specialist, started his career at Paul Harris Stores, Inc., an Indianapolis-based specialty retailer for women. He’s been heading up Goldsmith for years directing and sculpting the most influential bodies, stomachs and breasts to showcase works and exquisite pieces of art from the industry.

Goldsmith Studios

We sat relaxed on a white leather couch designed by none other than Evans himself and was continually fascinated by the abstracts around us.  Our conversation touched on the future of the body, fashion-retail, and his involvement with anything from students to fashion week.  It was refreshing to listen to Evans describe his craft across multiple scales and varieties.  With only an olive left in our glasses, we ended with a glimpse into the future. Reaching behind him he shared the work of a Midwestern sculpture, whose representation of the female body was elegant and regal. It became clear that Dan Evans takes his business seriously and suggested his craft means more than placing an idealized head on a well-crafted body.

As all three of us headed out to a Chelsea gallery sneak peak, it marked a perfect end of Architecture Week. Over all I felt NY grew on me or maybe I was growing?  Advancing, I can see how w/purpose will be doing business in the Big Manzana.

Here is a breakdown of the week’s events.

1. What Type of Architect Are We Creating?

The Center for Architecture’s Sixth Annual Architecture Schools Exhibit and Deans Round table was a great place to start a week. First, because it was located in Greenwich Village, near the campus of New York University, and secondly because the event was playing host to 14 of New York’s Architecture Dean’s from local and regional universities.  They were there to discuss the obvious…our current condition and how we move forward into the future.

Participating Deans in round-table discussion:
George Ranalli, AIA, City College of New York
Anthony Vidler, Cooper Union
Urs Gauchat, Hon. AIA, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Judith DiMaio, AIA, New York Institute of Technology
William Morrish, Parsons The New School for Design
Thomas Hanrahan, AIA, Pratt Institute
Stan Allen, AIA, Princeton University
Evan Douglis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Mark Robbins, Syracuse University
Brian Carter, SUNY at Buffalo
Marilyn Jordan Taylor, FAIA, University of Pennsylvania
Mark Foster Gage, AIA, Yale University

Moderated by Ian Harris, Co-Producer/Director, archiCULTURE

Deans Round-Table // Architecture Week 2010

The future of education was of course noted, but did not stop any of them from commenting aggressively on issues of development, ecology, practice, and technology. The deans exchanged multiple ideas about the future of architecture in an otherwise very robust and intellectual world. They emphasized that students will come to learn the practice of architecture and design in such a way that they will expand the design as initiators and collaborators across fields.

I found the comments of Dean Morrish, Allen, and Dimaio as real over reformist, a different kind of honesty was being delivered this evening. I seemed honored to have been part of the discussion. During the second question , Dean Judith DiMaio argued for an architect beyond technician, as she insisted that architects come “from a discipline, not a skill”. DiMaio continued, “I mean, the word technician implies that we have rendered ourselves as technical people. Hopefully there is expertise and creativity involved in that process. That one word is a cause of concern for me.”

Deans Round-Table

The comments of Dean Even Douglis reinforced these new realities, as he noted, “The idea of shaping and reforming traditional ways of practicing architecture has already started. By breaking down the walls between a variety of disciplines, new areas of opportunity have begun to open, thus engendering architecture to not only innovative streams of knowledge but to a group of students more willing to do something profound and far reaching.”

2. Dean William R. Morrish in NY!

I will give special note to one of the panelist, Dean William Rees Morrish. “Bill” as he is often referred, is an enthusiastic human, mentor, and steward for multiple communities. I came to know him not just as a young architecture student at the University of Minnesota, but as a student researcher and McNair scholar under Morrish’s direction.  His work in the Twin Cities at the Design Center for American Urban Landscape (now the Metropolitan Design Center ) was commendable and played a large role both in his growth and in my own. I can see how my thinking and growth have been influenced by his mentor and example.

It was his energy and commitment to not just architecture, but to neighborhoods and action that always impressed me.  This strategy for design has always impressed me about his nature. It was no surprise to see him sit as the new Dean of The New School for Design at Parsons as a panelist. In a featured interview by Shonquis Moreno (Alumni Magazine Sp. 2010) she described Morrish in these words:

“Morrish emphasizes the interplay of disciplines, people, and resources and encourages exchange between the academy and the city. Trained at Berkeley and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Morrish has been researching sustainable cities and community design that responds to local and global conditions, and educational programs that can plug into community-based problem solving anywhere in the world. As the first chair of the combined departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia, Morrish encouraged grad students to become stewards of both the natural and built environments. “

Congratulations Bill. I look forward to visiting you soon.

3. Public Design on the High Line

Located in Manhattan’s stylish Chelsea neighborhood, this once abandoned elevated rail line was high on my list. It was important to visit this year’s AIA New York Honor Award Winner and top drawer example of how an organized community group (Friends of the Highline) hit a grandslam.  Coined an “oasis in the sky”, the one mile urban park of urban woodland, prairies, and wildflowers was led by landscape architecture and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations. The design team included architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf, and a variety of other creative advocates responsible for pioneering our thinking about our country’s aging infrastructure.

New York High Line - Chelsea

Today visitors and residents alike enjoy the culture of not just great design, but great advocacy, which goes perfectly with your $3 coffee and works by international architects Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari, and Gehry Partners.

Our country’s renewed interest in its neighborhoods and infrastructure has local advocates and development groups revisiting hidden assets in our cities. From grain silo’s in Philadelphia to abandoned street car lines in Indianapolis, communities are benefiting first hand from stimulus dollars. The question is who will design it?  And FYI – no dogs allowed – currently.

For more information see:

High Line Architecture Tour PDF

Official Website of the Highline

4. Hoosier Dome heads to New York’s Haptic Lab

When w/purpose got the nod to help the Indianapolis City Market with big picture thinking and design fabrication of their interior space, I realized quickly that the picture I had in my head about craft and re-purposing needed something more.

w/purpose delivers Hoosier DOME material

Enter – The People for Urban Progress or PUP. Famously tagged as the advocates who saved the Hoosier DOME material, their urban agenda towards the social good has evolved into a plethora of urban and public design strategies fixed on moving communities forward with new ideas in urban infrastructure and place making.

Understanding all this, I knew that visiting longtime friend and Michigan colleague Emily Fisher would not be complete without an appropriate gift from the Hoosier state. Located in Tribeca, I stopped in the Haptic Lab to talk about her unique process for creating wonderful large scale urban maps and how the Hoosier DOME might play a role at our Indianapolis City Market?

Now, I know what you are asking, “What is the Haptic Lab”? For Fisher, “Haptic” refers to the sense of touch that includes the entire body, inside and out; it is also the mechanism we employ to situate our bodies in space, feeling the world around us. Haptic designs counter the rapid digitization of our lives by privileging the real, physical world our bodies occupy. Like a cane that safely guides someone down the sidewalk, haptic projects serve as tools for sensation.

Haptic Lab // Map of SoHo NYC (stegosaurus not to scale)

Recently featured in the New York Times , her attention to place making was exactly the type of collaboration w/purpose seeks out to make public spaces tell better stories and engage in the type of creative play necessary in our cities and communities.  Look for Fisher’s interpretation of the DOME material at our Indianapolis City Market soon.

5. Linger Café – Brooklyn

I walked through a lot of gallery’s and installations around town, including an impressive DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area.  For me though, the award for small space that made me look twice was hands down Linger Café in Brooklyn.

Aside from their delicious Bloody Mary was a simple yet eye catching installation by two MIT architects.  Overall,  their menu was better than fresh and with a deep commitment to Brooklyn based artists, I’ll be sure to make a trip back to linger.

Linger Cafe - Brooklyn

  • Anthony Gary


    It’s not hard envisioning huge ideas coming from w.purpose, and I love the concepts described in this text. I’ll be in Indianapolis again this summer. I’d love nothing more than the opportunity to learn more from you…


  • http://www.wpurpose.com wmarquez

    I appreciate your comments. Hopefully work will be a lot more plentiful. Please pass the link on to others so they can learn and take advantage of big ideas