in the Public Realm
Want to receive the CultureNOW newsletter in your e-mail inbox? Click here to sign up for our mailing list!

Previous Newsletters Vol. 2 Issue 10 - October, 2012
ARCHTOBER 2.0: More is More

Could it be barely a year ago that we were thrilled to be invited to be one of the 31 cultural organizations participating in Archtober, the Inaugural month-long Festival of Architecture in New York City. We are party animals, but by November we were completely fried by all that celebration as we galloped around the city madly commemorating everything conceivable. There are now 44 partners (and counting) who are holding (when we last looked) 458 events in 31 days that we’re trying to post on our calendar as fast as our not very nimble fingers can type, which may, alas, be a losing battle.

As a founding partner, we at cultureNOW have obligations. We had to step up to the plate, be role models and set an example. One of the highlights of Archtober is the ‘Building of the Day’. The architect gives a lunchtime tour of the building to the handful of lucky people who registered early. For those of you with day jobs and other scheduling conflicts there is fortunately, our version. All you have to do is turn on our app on your smartphone and it opens with iconic images of each of the chosen buildings and best, you can listen to the architect on your own time.

But, wait, there's more. Initiative Number 2 is The Podcast Project launching, naturally in Archtober. For several years we have been enthusiastically shoving microphones in front of every artist and architect who we wanted to meet and begging them to share their visions about their projects. We decided to formalize it officially and have set a goal, since goals are important, of listening to 50 artists and 50 architects, all New Yorkers (so that we can use our metrocards). With Archtober, we jumpstarted the project and we're well on our way. We also thought it would be fun to put faces to the voices, so on Saturday we hosted the first of our four Archtober events ‘Meet the Podcasters’ at the Center for Architecture in the Archtober Lounge.

Which brings us to Initiative Number 3. Not content to let a day go by unacknowledged, we decided to co-host three historical walking tours this month, starting last Sunday with our annual tour of Harlem: The Capital of Black America for openhousenewyork. Even though we dressed a tad optimistically for the weather, you will be pleased to know that we are successfully self-medicating and expect to be fully recovered by the 21st when you will find us recording the placing of a plaque on the unmarked grave of General Horatio Gates at Trinity Cemetery (with Fraunces Tavern and the Daughters of the American Revolution, no less). Turning to the newsletter at hand, in the spirit of the season, we had great fun selecting every building, artwork, and collection to showcase from the menu of opportunities available during Archtober without even resorting to all six degrees of separation. More is More!

Abby Suckle, President

Cities everywhere have been decorating their blighted buildings with murals. We turned to Harlem this month because the neighborhood is peppered with paintings depicting all subjects on all surfaces including the usual suspects: public schools, underused buildings and parks, blank walls, and the less usual such as the glass facade of Harlem Hospital, and the now endangered gates painted by Frank Gaskin aka ‘Franco the Great’.

We’ve been partnering with the Creative Arts Workshop for Kids. Initially begun as a pregnancy prevention program for at risk teenagers in Harlem under the auspices of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (the idea was that if they were painting they couldn’t be having sex), a concept that must have worked as there are a lot of murals and Columbia is still a funder.

The themes depicted in the murals are both community based and inspirational. Harlem Projections for instance is an homage to the Harlem Community showing some famous Harlem Residents such as Ella Fitzgerald. Peace Place looks at the world through the 80 homeless young painters' eyes. And 1285 Avenue of the Americas was actually painted by young juvenile offenders in a pre release program (it's their first foray south into Midtown).

Harlem Projections (2009)
Photo courtesy of CAW

1285 Avenue of the Americas (2011)
Photo courtesy of CAW

The Flowers of the Past are Gardens of the Future (2010)
Photo courtesy of CAW

Peace Place (1995)
Photo courtesy of CAW

We thought you might want to take a tour of the 'Buildings of the Day'. This year some of the buildings are historical icons of New York like Seagrams, Grand Central and TWA and new icons of New York like FDR Four Freedoms Park opening next week.
Grand Central Terminal
Building of the Day: Oct. 24th
© the New York Transit Museum

Eldridge Street Synagogue
Building of the Day: Oct. 28th
Peter Aaron © Esto

TWA Flight Center
Building of the Day: Oct. 4th
Photo courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP /
Port Authority of NY/NJ

Whitney Studio
Building of the Day: Oct. 25th
© Danny Bright

Seagram Building
Building of the Day: Oct. 14th
© Jesse Harris

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park
Building of the Day: Oct. 19th
Photo Courtesy of FDR Four Freedoms Park

FDNY Marine Company 01
Building of the Day: Oct. 12th
© John Muggenborg/muggphoto 2012

Meet the Podcasters
New Yorker Abe Wohl meets Molaundo Jones, Director, Creative Arts Workshop for Kids in the Archtober Lounge



When we were selecting an artist to highlight this month, we couldn’t turn very far since this is Archtober and on the 26th the Building of the Day will be the Irish Hunger Memorial which is really more an artwork than a building. The first great migration of the Irish to America occurred as a result of the potato famine; many of the refugees ended up in the notorious slums of the Five Points neighborhood a few blocks away from the site of the memorial in Battery Park City. The memorial itself is a half acre sculpture which reshaped the landscape with a full-scale replica of a hillside Irish farm including a hut. The construction of the memorial dovetailed with the destruction of the World Trade Center; the concrete was scheduled to be poured on September 12, 2001.

As an ‘environmental’ sculptor, Tolle's works are developed out of the historical and cultural contexts of their settings. In Miami Beach, it was the waves that inspired Tempest, in Caerphilly it was the formerly industrial landscape that provided the inspiration for Twisted Chimney, and in front of the Los Cerritos Mall, the inspiration was Walter J. Deubner, the inventor of the Shopping Bag.

Irish Hunger Memorial (2002) New York, NY
Peter Aaron © Esto

Simnai Dirdro (Twisted Chimney) (2008) Bute Town, Wales
Photo courtesy of the Artist

Tempest (2010), Miami, FL
Photo courtesy of the Artist

Remembering Walter H. Deubner... (2010), Los Cerritos, CA
Photo courtesy of the Artist


This month we decided to feature the work of Cesar Pelli and the firm he founded Pelli Clarke Pelli named after its three principals: Cesar Pelli, Fred Clarke and Rafael Pelli. Originally from Argentina, Cesar Pelli first came to the US to apprentice for Saarinen and had the opportunity to work on the design of the column at the TWA Terminal. He practiced in Los Angeles before moving east to New Haven when he became the Dean at the Yale School of Architecture and received the commission to renovate the Museum of Modern Art. Rafael Pelli designed the Brooklyn Courthouse, one of the Buildings of the Day. Because the firm's work is so extensive that we thought it would be more interesting to share the range of projects focusing on a few of the milestones.

Probably the first building that brought him to national attention was the Pacific Design Center, affectionately nicknamed the Blue Whale by Angelenos since it weighed in at 1.2 million sf, dwarfing much of its West Hollywood neighborhood. Because the design showrooms didn't need windows. the architects came up with a back painted blue glass, itself technically innovative for the time and gave the blue cast to the building. Center Green was added in 1988 and Center Red in 2006. Other buildings are equally iconic. The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur was the tallest building in the world for 6 years from 1998 - 2004 when it was eclipsed by Taipei 101. The shape of the skyscraper was inspired by the traditional 8-sided Islamic Star pattern. Recently completed cultural icons include the Arscht Center, Florida’s largest performing Arts Center, and the Minneapolis Central Library both finished in 2006.

Petronas Twin Towers (1998), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jeff Goldberg © Esto

Pacific Design Center (1975), Los Angeles, CA
Photo courtesy of the Architect

Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (2006), Miami, FL
Jeff Goldberg © Esto

Minneapolis Central Library Minneapolis (2006), MN
Jeff Goldberg © Esto


In the past few years the field of Landscape Architecture has exploded and has grown from the traditional design of open spaces to sustainability, urban farming and even a new discipline called ‘landscape urbanism’. We’ve added a an areas feature to the website we have decided to feature the work of a Landscape Architect in our newsletters.

On the leading edge of the profession is Ken Smith. We picked two of his projects (on opposite coasts). The East River Waterfront Esplanade (a ‘Building of the Day’ on October 8th) addresses animating the space under the FDR highway. On the opposite coast, halfway between LA and San Diego is the Great Park at Orange County, 1300 acres being designed on a former military air base destined to be finished possibly in 2022. The winner of a design competition, the park also preserves Orange County’s agricultural heritage. Fittingly, the first phase features a giant orange helium balloon visible from I-5.

East River Waterfront Esplanade (2011), New York, NY
Peter Mauss © Esto

The Great Park at Orange County (2022), Irvine, CA
Photo © Forde & Mollrich
cultureNOW is a 501c3