Life at the Speed of Rail winners announced on June 24 in D.C. Plus, Van Alen Books' Brown Bag Reading Series kicks off on Wednesdays in June. See more upcoming events inside.VAN ALEN INSTITUTE
June 2011 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • Life at the Speed of Rail: Winners Announced June 24
  • Brown Bag Reading Series at Van Alen Books
  • 2011 National Design Award Accolades
  • In the Field: Upcoming Programs and Opportunities
  • Support Public Architecture at Van Alen



Thanks to everyone who submitted their visions to Life at the Speed of Rail. The call for entries is now closed, but we're launching the next phase of our project to imagine the future of high-speed rail in America: a series of regional events using the images and ideas created by competition entrants as the springboard for a wide-ranging discussion about design and transportation.

Our first conversation takes place on Friday, June 24 at 12:00 p.m., when the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. hosts the announcement of the winning entries. We'll be joined by competition participants—as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts, our generous project sponsor—as we present the top-honored entries and launch the cross-country debate with a panel discussion including competition advisers Christopher Hawthorne (Los Angeles Times), Michael Lejeune (L.A. Metro), and Petra Todorovich (America 2050).

Three regional events will follow in St. Louis (June 28), Houston (July 7), and Los Angeles (July 12), where VAI's high-speed rail advisers will join in debating what a new transportation system would mean for each megaregion’s future. We'll look forward to reporting back on the conversations—and to seeing you there! In the meantime, don’t miss the editorial in Grist from our project fellows on the art of campaigning for high-speed rail.


Life at the Speed of Rail


It has been an incredible first month at Van Alen Books. We're grateful for the amazing outpouring of support we've seen from readers far and wide: more than 3,000 of you have stopped by to browse our bookshelves, climb the yellow steps, and be a part of public architecture. We've also had great interest from our friends in the media—be sure to catch the recent feature in The Wall Street Journal. And come see us soon during the store's summer hours: Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

We’re kicking off our second month with a Brown Bag Reading Series of lunchtime events, to be held at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in June. Join us for our first event on June 8 as we present At Water’s Edge, the inaugural volume in the School of Visual Arts’ series of D-Crit Chapbooks. Participating students from the SVA’s MFA in Design Criticism program will discuss their short essays on the subject of New York’s waterfront, which grew out of instructor Akiko Busch’s first-year course called “Reading Design.” Writers take note: the SVA’s Design Criticism program is accepting applications for this fall, and new scholarship funding is available. So if you care about design, and want to write, curate, blog, or podcast about it, apply today.


At Water's Edge


Congratulations to VAI Trustee Stephen Cassell and longtime Van Alen friend Michael Manfredi, both of whom were featured in the 2011 National Design Awards announced by the Cooper-Hewitt on May 26. Cassell and colleagues at Architecture Research Office won the National Design Award for Architecture, with the jury commending the firm's use of research and analysis to drive a strong design vision. Weiss/Manfredi were named a finalist in the architecture category, along with Kansas-based architect Dan Rockhill. Among other awards, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol won in Landscape Architecture, and Shelton, Mindel & Associates were honored for Interior Design. The winners will be celebrated on October 20 at Pier Sixty in New York, during this fall’s National Design Week.

ARO's Union Square Park
ARO collaborated on Union Square Park’s expansion.

In The Field


On Monday, June 6 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the National Building Museum will host government officials, design professionals and scholars, and the public for the Intelligent Cities Forum on technology and the urban realm. The event delves into smart-city topics including regional transportation, healthier cities, and collaborative design, and features panelists such as urban designer Maurice Cox; Anne Altman, general manager of IBM's Global Public Sector; and Christine G. Green, the strategic partnership manager for the National Complete Streets Coalition. The forum takes place at the museum’s Great Hall in Washington, D.C., but will also be broadcasted live. Prepaid registration is available until Friday, June 3; find full details here.


Intelligent Cities


The biannual Archiprix International competition asks universities around the world to submit their best graduation projects from programs in architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture. The winners will be announced at the Guggenheim on June 9, but first, 100 of the best recent grads will participate in the design workshop “The Capital of Your World” at MIT to rethink Manhattan through architectural and urban design. The teams present their projects at New York's Center for Architecture on June 10 from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. The event concludes with a debate moderated by VAI's Olympia Kazi and including Andy Wiley-Schwartz of the NYC Department of Transportation, the RPA's Robert Yaro, Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Abby Suckle of cultureNOW, and VAI Trustee Susan Fine of OasesRE. RSVP here.




The international landscape urbanism event known as the Bat-Yam Biennale: Urban Action is calling for architects, artists, designers, residents, and social researchers to contribute ideas for urban social improvement. The third biennale, set to take place in October 2012, transforms the Israeli city into an open workspace for urban planning and sustainable design. This round of investigations, under the theme Metamorphosis, explores Bat-Yam’s northern areas and ways that unexpected mutations can have long-lasting effects upon urban residents and the city around them. The municipality will execute selected proposals for urban interventions; the submission deadline is June 15.


Bat-Yam Biennale


The New York City Department of Transportation is launching the spring round of the pARTners’ track of the agency’s Urban Art Program. Under the program, not-for-profit organizations are eligible to receive up to $5,000 to commission artwork for DOT-owned sites such as plazas, fences, medians, triangles, sidewalks, and jersey barriers in all five boroughs. DOT assists with production, installation, and de-installation of the artwork, which may be installed for up to 11 months. Submit your application by Friday, June 17.



ARTfarm, a pARTners project in the Bronx


Following the inaugural 2010 Re-Skinning Awards in Rio de Janeiro, the Zerofootprint Foundation offers this year’s awards in partnership with the John H. Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. The Re-Skinning Awards reflect the nonprofit’s dedication to sustainable architectural excellence, and focus on projects that improve older buildings’ use of water, carbon, and other resources. Awards are given in four categories: multi-residential; commercial/industrial; institutional; and the future of re-skinning. Submissions for the program, which is open to architects, developers, engineers, and building owners, are due August 31.


The 2010 Re-Skinning Award winner from LAVA

Join Us


We're looking forward to a new season of readings, events, and more at Van Alen Institute, and we invite you to be a part of it all as a Van Alen member. We know you'll enjoy the 10% members’ discount at Van Alen Books, along with complimentary VAI publications, invitations to members-only events, and more when you support projects in public architecture. Join us today by signing up here

As always, it’s easy to keep in touch with Van Alen: Browse our home page at, find us in your in-box via our monthly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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Van Alen Institute’s ongoing programs are made possible through the generous assistance of our individual contributors and partners, and are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund. We gratefully appreciate their assistance, and acknowledge the generous support of the following organizations:


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