in the Public Realm
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Previous Newsletters Vol. 3 Issue 7 - July, 2013

No matter how much we try to deny it, we are continually being reminded that we are getting old. We need only to enter a subway car and no matter how crowded it is, we find ourselves offered seats by our fellow riders who somehow think that we will never make it to 72nd st standing. Our colorist has started sending us the same cheerful reminder postcards that our dental hygenist does. The nearest ‘ old folks home’ has invited us to tour their adult day care facilities. We understand when AARP endlessly solicits our membership with an ever increasing and depressing regularity. Even Vogue, a magazine whose pages are filled with models closer to puberty than menopause has dedicated its August issue to Aging.

In New York we pride ourselves on Aging in Place. We tell people that we are a NORC, a Naturally Occuring Retirement Community. Services abound. Everything can be delivered. Even Costco bundles you (and all that toilet paper) home in a cab. We thought, in this issue we should choose collections, artists and architects considered among the most cutting edge when they began their careers in the 60’s and 70’s and see what happens over time and how they have matured.

Battery Park City was conceived as a vision of what cities could be in the future. Incorporated into the 1979 Cooper Eckstut master plan were many of Jane Jacob’s ideas about New York City neighborhoods. It was one of the first planned communities to include funding for public art. It’s curator, Sidney Druckman has managed the collection for 27 years. She retired last month. On her very last day, we found ourselves in her office in the World Financial Center looking down on her art collection which was, by any metric highly innovative for its time. One of the artists, Mary Miss who created an artwork for South Cove happens to still live and work in the neighborhood. We wanted to feature her. Since we often get accused of being too New York centric, we are also highlighting Seattle Artist Norie Sato’s work. Turning to architecture, we looked for two firms who have been in business a long time. The Moore of Moore Ruble Yudell in Los Angeles was Charles Moore. In Boston, we reached out to all of this year’s BSA Design Award winners and one of them was Payette Associates which began practicing in the mid- sixties. On paper, the idea of listening to architects share their design visions about lab buildings (which is what Payette has always been noted for) promised to be a tedious afternoon. Boy, were we wrong. Our afternoon lasted through 20 projects. What we found was a firm that had slowly built on their strengths and had grown into one of the most interesting firms in the city.

We pay lip service to cutting edge ideas without thinking about what it means. When Battery Park City began trying to create a truly green community in the 70’s many people rolled their eyes. When Mary Miss started exploring creating art from urban wetlands, people yawned. But, it turns out that continually plugging away and being open to change while keeping your core vision may be one of the secrets to aging in place.

Abby Suckle, President


Battery Park City Is fully built out now. Parcels of land was leased to developers who built in accordance with the Authority's guidelines, which also incorporating green provisions mandating state of the art environmental specifications to maximize energy efficiency and minimize water usage. It started the green revolution in Architecture featuring the first LEED Gold and then LEED Platinum Residential buildings making it today the largest green neighborhood in the world. The landscaping remains highly sustainable.

Every notable artist of the day was commissioned to design a work including Andrew Goldsworthy, Ann Hamilton, Jim Dine and Tom Otterness. Other noteworthy pieces include Teardrop Park by Ann Hamilton and Ben Rubin and the Irish Hunger Memorial by Brian Tolle. Temporary installations began during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the site hosted Creative Time’s landmark Art on the Beach sculpture exhibitions. These complemented the 20 works of commissioned art.

In 2002, the Conservancy received the Doris C. Freedman Award named after the city’s first Director of Cultural Affairs. It was the first presentation since 1992 of the award established ten years earlier for a contribution to the people of the City of New York that greatly enriches the public environment.”

Resonating Bodies (1996) Tony Cragg
Photo courtesy of cultureNOW

Loopy Doopy (1997) Sol LeWitt
Photo Courtesy of the Battery Park City Conservancy

Pylons (1995) Martin Puryear
Photo Courtesy of the Battery Park City Conservancy


Rector Gate (1988) R.M. Fisher
Photo Courtesy of the Battery Park City Conservancy


We have spent the summer together with 11 students reaching out to many of the architects, artists, historians, and critics who shape New York, Boston, and Los Angeles to create our Museum Without Walls. For one night, in partnership with the three AIA Chapters, cultureNOW is bringing some of the most interesting and provocative people we have listened to this summer to the Center for Architecture (NY), the Boston Society of Architects Space (Boston) and LA's AIA at the Haas Audio Showroom. Center to Center, City to City, and Coast to Coast for a simultaneous pecha kucha. Each presenter will show a single project in 10 slides for 3 minutes. Reduce your carbon footprint and travel coast to coast. Because of the time change, we will be starting at 4:00 in LA and 7:00 in NY & Boston .


Occupying the boundary between sculpture and landscape design, Mary Miss has long been interested in drawing from the site itself to create her art. Her work is large in scale. She is interested in how artists can play a more central role in addressing the complex issues of our times—making environmental and social sustainability into tangible experiences is a primary goal. Greenwood Pond - Double Site at the Des Moines Art Museum was the first urban wetlands project in the nation. More recently her current project for Broadway: 1000 Steps for 20 sites along the Street uses the City as a Living Laboratory and is supposed to foster public understanding of the natural systems and infrastructure that supports life in the city.

Field Rotation (1995) Governors State University Park Forest,Il Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Santa Fe Railroad Yard (2002) with Frederick Schwartz &
Ken Smith Santa Fe, NM Photo © Peter Mauss/ ESTO

Greenwood Pond: Double Site (1996)Des Moines, IA Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Moving Perimeter: A Wreath for Ground Zero (2002) with Elliot Maltby & Victoria Marshall New York, NY courtesy of the Artist

Jason Sheftell:

It’s very sad when someone you know passes away suddenly. We were shaken to find that Jason Sheftell died a few weeks ago, not very long after he spoke at our Cocktail Series.

We began the series because we thought that people needed a place to go on Friday night, we needed more dialogue on design and we were promoting the architects. These are true, of course, but really we started it for people like Jason. Conversation is a two way street. The evenings are equally as much to let the architects know how what they do is being perceived and to have a discourse about that. This is why we have critics and curators, historians and journalists folded in the mix.

Jason wrote for ‘the other paper’ the Daily News. His beat was real estate, not design which kept him a bit under the radar stream. But he really knew and loved New York. He understood what made it tick and the role that real estate plays in our urban landscape and how the environment got shaped. Every time we met him we were totally impressed.

We wanted people to get to know how wonderful and insightful he was. We are very glad we did.


Cocktails & Conversations

Friday, July 26th
6:30 pm

The Pairing:
Rob Rogers,
Rogers Marvel Architects
Susan Szenasy
Metropolis Magazine

Photo cultureNOW - July 4th

July 4th
Revolutionary War Walking Tour
Time: 3am - 7am
This year for the first time, the tour ended at Trinity Cemetary with a ceremony to lay wreaths on the tombstones of Alexander Hamilton, Marius Willett, and the marker for General Horatio Gates who is buried there in an unmarked grave.

Photo cultureNOW - July 4th



3 Saturdays: Aug 3, 10 & 17
Time: 7am - 1pm

We are collaborating with the NY Dept of Transportation on Summer Streets. On 3 consecutive Saturdays, nearly 7 miles of New York’s streets are closed to cars. We are creating a physical map for the event and a self-guided tour of the architectural highlights on the iPhone.



Seattle Artist Norie Sato’s work has been a collaboration with architects and integration with the site or context. She works from site and context-driven ideas first, then finds the appropriate form and materials. She strives to add meaning and human touch to the built environment and to consider edges, transitions, culture and connections to the environment. Air Over Under at the San Francisco Airport is a glass piece inspired by our relationship to clouds and flight. Specifically, her work delves into some of flight’s inherent qualities: ephemeral, abstract, pictoral, natural, man-made, symmetrical and changeable. The artwork depicts the dual experience of being under or over clouds when flying in a plane. According to the artist, “Air Over Under is about perception, relativity and how our position and situations are never static.”

Desert Tracery (2007) Scottsdale Public Art Program West Scottsdale, AZ Photo Courtesy of the Artist

E+L+E+M+E+N+T+A+L (2010) Iowa State University Ames, IA
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Air Over Under (2011) San Francisco Arts Commission San Francisco, CA Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Windswept Air (2010) Norie Sato West Portland, OR
Photo Courtesy of Port of Portland


We run a lot of internships at cultureNOW. Most of the interns are architecture students. They wonder if anything leads to a job and if so, what happens. The firm’s roots in healthcare date back to a design studio Tom Payette took while studying architecture at Harvard in the 60’s in hospital design. He was hired by the design critic and began working at his office which eventually became Payette Associates. Since then, the firm has deepened its focus on designing technologically complex buildings in a research or academic setting. They also try to use these buildings to enhance the larger campus. At MIT, for example, many of the departments are leaving the famous corridor and building new facilities as it’s often much more cost effective to build new technical facilities than to upgrade existing spaces. Here the Physics, Materials, and Spectroscopy project tries to work with the existing campus and adds the Sol LeWitt terrazzo carpet to tie the buildings together.

Physics, Materials, Spectroscopy & Infrastructure MIT(2007) Cambridge, MA Photo © Peter Vanderwarker

Research and Education Greenhouse (2011) Amherst, MA
Payette Photo © Warren Jagger

Broadway Research Building (2003)Baltimore, MD
Johns Hopkins Photo © Peter Mauss/ ESTO

Frick Chemistry Laboratory (2011) Princeton University
Princeton, NJ Photo © Warren Jagger


Buzz Yudell and John Ruble joined Charles Moore when he moved to Los Angeles to found Moore Ruble Yudell. Before moving to Los Angeles to join the architecture faculty at UCLA in early 1970s, Moore had served on the faculty at both Yale and UC-Berkeley. Moore was particularly interested in creating places, by using color, graphics and bold forms. Moore Ruble Yudell explore the parameters of our built environment and heritage, and have produced award-winning projects, both locally and internationally. Buildings such as the Berlin Embassy (shown below) relate to its German context while sensitively addressing the challenges of security requirements that are so critical to the project .

They are currently in the process of renovating one of their early signature projects, the Faculty Club at UC Santa Barbara which is a wonderful opportunity to update and reimagine it over time.

MIT Sloan School of Management (2010) Cambridge, MA
Moore Ruble Yudell with Bruner/Cott Photo © Alan Karchmer

Robert E. Coyle US Courthouse (2005) Fresno, CA
Moore Ruble Yudell with Gruen Photo © Tim Griffith

United States Embassy Berlin (2008) Berlin, Germany
Moore Ruble Yudell with Gruen Photo © Werner Huthmacher

Santa Monica Public Library (2005) Santa Monica, CA
Moore Ruble Yudell Photo © John Edward Linden
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