Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan
by Lynne B. Sagalyn
One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building
by Judith Dupré
The transformation of the World Trade Center site was hampered to a shameful degree by the intransigent self-interest of both individuals and institutions. Although all major construction schemes face tremendous problems, the rebuilding encapsulates everything that is wrong with urban development in a period when, as in so many other aspects of our public life, the good of the many is sacrificed to the gain of the few.
Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings Around the World
by Christopher Beanland
edited by Julia Gatley and Stuart King
Literature that takes a wistful backward glance at the outmoded manners and mores of the previous forty or fifty years has a direct parallel in architecture. Time and again we have seen reawakened interest in the disdained buildings of two generations earlier, a span still within living memory but not quite yet history.
Although America long ago had a Virginia architect as president—Thomas Jefferson—never until this year had someone reached its highest office from the considerably less elevated realms of New York real-estate development, Atlantic City casinos, and TV reality shows. Grotesque though the rise of Donald Trump has seemed to many, his political ascendance has struck those of us who love architecture as a particularly personal affront, given our familiarity with his forty-year record as the foremost architectural schlockmeister and urban design vulgarian of his generation.
The strong social underpinnings of Alexander Gorlin’s new building, Boston Road Supportive Housing, give it a significance beyond mere good looks. A substantial part of his practice is now devoted to pro-bono collaborations with Breaking Ground—a private organization founded (as Common Ground) in 1990 to help alleviate homelessness with housing that reintegrates residents into the community through social service support rather than simply sheltering them.
Florence Foster Jenkins offers some marvelous set pieces, including Meryl Streep’s hilariously inept version of “The Laughing Song” from Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. Regrettably, the film avoids probing the degree to which money can insulate untalented artists from realizing that they are no good at what they do.
In symbolic terms, the completion of the brilliant architectural transformation of Governors Island could not have come at a more opportune moment. During a season when mindless hatred against immigrants runs rampant in our land, the vista from Outlook Hill offers an instructive panorama. With the view comes an implication of how the lives of the twelve million women, men, and children who passed through Ellis Island were immeasurably improved by American citizenship, to say nothing of those of their hundreds of millions of descendants.
“Arkitektur-Striper: Architecture in Comic-Strip Form,” at Oslo’s National Museum-Architecture proves why a once déclassé graphic genre is able to explain buildings to the general public better than even the most immersive virtual-reality techniques.