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Periphery

Photo: Cameron Blaylock

This fall, Van Alen explored the evolving edges of the city. Through evocative debates, performances, and neighborhood immersions, we gained new insights on the forces shaping the city’s periphery, from gentrification and immigration, to infrastructure and demographic shifts.

Events

VAN ALEN VARIETY SHOW
Thursday, November 5, 7 PM

259 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

Beneath the vaults of a vacant Clinton Hill church, we explored the city’s ever-changing periphery through a fast-paced evening of performance, provocations, and presentations ranging from the realms of design, comedy, art, and activism:

Artist Patrick Coyle delivered a new performance reflecting on historic and geographic associations of “the peripheral”

Erin Markey performed songs about life on the edge accompanied by Dane Terry

DW Gibson, author of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification, in conversation with the book’s interviewees: Dylan Gauthier, visual artist and co-founder, Sunview Luncheonette; Nefertiti Macaulay, New York Communities for Change; and Gita Nandan, principal, Thread Collective

Andy Ross, comedian, storyteller, and host of Real Characters delved into Chicago’s blurred neighborhood borders as defined by real estate brokers and Irish Catholic parishes

Artist Chris Soria presented “The Hidden Treasures of Brownsville” alongside collaborator Vanessa Hadox of Groundswell

This event was designated for AIA CES (1.5 LU) and ASLA CES PDH/HSW (1.5 LU). 

Event venue provided by Splacer.

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CHINATOWN EDGES
Saturday, November 7
12 PM
Photo Tour & Neighborhood Exploration
Presented with Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street, Manhattan

How do a neighborhood’s borders impact its residents? JParticipants joined us for an afternoon exploration in which they traced the shifting boundaries and hidden stories of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown. Accompanied by leaders in the realm of social media documentation, we collectively walked the neighborhood’s perimeters, generating an alternative cartography of Chinatown’s invisible gateways along the themes of housing, food, contemporary art, and more by posting to Instagram with the hashtag #ChinatownEdges.

3 PM

Conversation
The American Legion Lt. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291
191-193 Canal Street, Manhattan

Afterward, we convened for a discussion of the neighborhood’s thresholds and the role of social media in community mapping, accompanied by a projection of the afternoon’s photos as a backdrop.

Participants: Irene Chin, artist and filmmaker of The Lost ArcadeStephen Fan, author and curator of Suburbanisms: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape; Diya Vij, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; and more

This event was designated for AIA CES (1.5 LU). ASLA CES PDH/HSW (1.5 LU) is pending. 

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ESTUARY ESCAPE
Sunday, November 8, 11 AM & 1 PM

Waterway Tour
Presented with HarborLAB
53-21 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City

How does a geographic divider alter our perception of space?In fall 2015, we embarked on a canoe excursion of Newtown Creek, the estuary that forms the boundary between Brooklyn and Queens. Led by writer and environmentalist Erik Baard, the tour revealed ecological challenges and fascinating infrastructure, and shed light on the boroughs’ unseen waterway that precariously flows along the line of industry and gentrification.

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SPATIAL POETICS : VALE OF CASHMERE
Sunday, November 8, 3 PM

Walking Tour & Writing Workshop
Presented with Prospect Park Alliance
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

We spent the afternoon at the Vale of Cashmere, an overgrown Beaux-Arts garden on the northeast fringe of Prospect Park that is slated for future restoration. Following a tour of this lush and storied section of the Park with Prospect Park Alliance chief landscape architect Christian Zimmerman, participants engaged in a writing workshop and discussion exploring disappearing and reemerging landscapes in the Vale and city beyond, led by Wendy S. Walters,author  and New School professor.

This event was designated for AIA CES (1.5 LU). ASLA CES PDH/HSW (1.5 LU) is pending. 

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PERSON PLACE THING : David Adjaye
Sunday, November 8, 6 PM

Radio Show Recording & Live Music Performance
Van Alen Institute

Architect David Adjaye draws from a broad and fascinating range of inspiration, and he shared some of those sources in conversation with former “The Ethicist” columnist for The New York Times Randy Cohen in a live recording of the radio show Person Place Thing. Adjaye told us about a person, a place, and a thing that have shaped his understanding of peripheries, and how that understanding has in turn shaped his work.

The evening was punctuated with a performance by musician J. Walter Hawkes.

This event was designated for AIA CES (1.5 LU). ASLA CES PDH/HSW (1.5 LU) is pending. 

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PERIPHERAL PROPOSALS : MODELS FOR COMMUTING FROM THE MARGINS
Monday, November 9, 7 PM

Conversation
Presented with NYU Rudin Center for Transportation
Van Alen Institute

Subways are the primary mode of transportation in New York, but we need new ideas for atypical travelers: those who live on the city’s geographic and social edges. From off-the-grid dollar vans and mobile apps for commuters with limited accessibility, to ambitious proposals to connect the boroughs’ coastlines along ferry routes, we explored how ad-hoc systems, new technologies, and innovating with antique infrastructure can expand transit equity.

Participants: Eric Goldwyn, journalist; David R. Jones, president & CEO, Community Service Society; Sarah Kaufman, assistant director for technology programming, NYU Rudin Center for Transportation; Joanne Rausen, assistant commissioner, data & technology, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission; Douglas Adams, COO, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

The discussion included new ideas from the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation’s Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellows.

This event was designated for AIA CES (1.5 LU). ASLA CES PDH/HSW (1.5 LU) is pending. 

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VAN ALEN BOOK CLUB: M TRAIN  BY PATTI SMITH
Tuesday, November 10, 7 PM

Discussion
Van Alen Institute

How does life “on the edge” spur creativity and artistic production? National Book Award-winner Patti Smith narrates eighteen “stations” that have defined her life, from a ritual Greenwich Village café to Detroit’s punk rock venues, Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico City, a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin, and finally, a New York neighborhood defined by disaster and demographic, economic, and social shifts: Far Rockaway, where Smith now calls home. Conversation was led by Kathy Iandoli and Legs McNeil.

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ALSO AT OUR SPACE

BOOK LAUNCH : Heroic, Underdome, and Waterproofing New York
Friday, November 6, 6 PM

Van Alen Institute

We celebrated new books by three members of the Van Alen community!

Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston by Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Mark Pasnik

The Underdome by Janette Kim and Erik Carver

Waterproofing New York by Catherine Seavitt and Denise Hoffman-Brandt

Michael Kubo is one of the three architects of Collective–LOK, the designers of Van Alen’s Flatiron street-level space. Janette Kim and Eric Carver, and Denise Hoffman Brandt, were Van Alen New York Prize Fellows in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

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Periphery is part of the multiyear initiative Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape. This program series is made possible through our Program Leadership Council, co-chaired by Stephan Jaklitsch and Mark Gardner (Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects), Joel Sanders (Joel Sanders Architect), and Susanna Sirefman (Dovetail Design Strategists). Council members: Andy Bernheimer, Jerry Caldari, Katherine Chia, Demetrios Comodromos, Koray Duman, Kevin Erickson, Sara Grant, Scott Hughes, Julie Iovine, Emily Lamberty, Drew Lang, Will Laufs, Jon Maass, Michael Manfredi, Ted Porter, Juergen Riehm, Dunja Šimunović, Jane Stageberg, Carol Swedlow, Julie Torres Moskovitz, and Marion Weiss.

These programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.