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Welcome to New York Metroblog
Sharon McHugh

As the first in a series of Metroblogs, WAN’s New York Metro endeavors to bring its readers up close and personal with the architecture scene in New York City. Here you will find news of forthcoming events, talks, and building projects in the New York Metropolitan region along with book reviews, building reviews, and interviews with the architects, designers, tastemakers and heads of institutions that shape the architecture dialogue in this great city.

In reporting these events, I endeavor to frame these stories in fresh ways. For example, while we all know the results of the fiercely competitive design competition for the World Trade Center site, did anyone take notice that among the nine finalist teams, there was a large contingency of architects with strong ties to Princeton’s School of Architecture? Well I did and this precisely the kind of story you will get here. A fresh take on today’s news.

Fast forward to today where the architecture scene is quite different. While once you earned a reputation in this industry for the quality of work you did, today you can capture the

 

imagination of the world and the headlines for slick renderings alone. Case in point: 15 Union Square. When I first laid eyes on the renderings for this building it appeared the architect did the building proud. But once constructed the building was utterly disappointing. Its new glass skin did not translate well from concept to reality. The glass is too green and too reflective, thus rendering the magnificent cast iron structure behind it, the former Tiffany building, with its elaborate detailing and tripartite organization, invisible from the street where it matters most, given the importance of the Union Square as a urban space and this building’s role in shaping the streetscape. In this space I will cut through the ‘marketing hype’ and look at buildings with a critical eye.

At the same time that some people are getting all the attention, there are those getting none. This space will be a forum for showcasing emerging architects and designers as well as seasoned talents. On the immediate agenda, I will be revisiting the past winners of two of the city’s top talent contests: MoMA PS 1’s Young Architects Program and the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects, formerly the Young Architects Forum. Both are widely recognized as discovery venues for rising stars. Full disclosure...I was part of a team that won the League’s prize in 1995.

Looking back my role then was much the same as it will be here, which is to frame architecture in the context of the current dialogue. These highly competitive competitions have created an important place for emerging voices. But what happens to the winners after they make their big stage debut? As we shall find out some have gone on to become household names while others have faded far into the background, with some entirely out of the

 

profession.

Lastly I feel a great responsibility to make this space a place for advocacy. Recently I saw an online listing of award winners for AIA NJ’s 2011 Design Awards Program. Among the winners was the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory at Princeton. Everyone on the planet knows that Hopkins Architects designed the building. But strangely Hopkins was not credited. Instead, the building was credited to Payette Associates, which served as executive architect for the project.

As it turned out, the oversight was due to an administrative error on Payette’s part when they entered the project in the awards program. It credited Hopkins on the project boards it submitted for judging but omitted the firm’s name on the entry form. I made a pest of myself trying to correct the record and was deemed a ‘busybody’ by one of the board members there who told me ‘the matter was none of my business’. I think such matters are the business of all architects. And I will continue to be an advocate for the profession at large both in my own pursuits and here at this blog.

So in summary, New York Metroblog is a space for telling New York stories with a twist, with a backbone, and from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about the profession and this great city.

Editorial , New York


 
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