ARCHIPRIX Capital of your world

The first leg of a week full with programs at the AIA Center for Architecture starts for me at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge. Around eighty of the best young architects have worked here on proposals for Manhattan and the future of New York. They are all Archiprix nominees, and from this group a select jury selects the best graduation work in architecture, landscape and urbanism. The prize ceremony will be held at the Guggenheim on Thursday, but on Friday the teams will present their New York ideas to a panel of city experts at the AIA Center of Architecture within the frame of the Glimpses program.

Monday marks the final day of a weeklong workshop at MIT. Ten groups presented their results at the Media Lab. The presentations show a glimpse into ideas on urbanism and the city. Radical speculations mostly, with titles as ‘Empire Port’, ‘In Grid we Trust’ and ‘NYC Vice’ and ideas to match them, including a canal through the length of Manhattan, radical levels of sea rise and a race track/parking lot at Randall Island. But there were also smaller interventions by ‘the Department of Benign Violations’, the team that proposed geothermal street furniture and dust-catching taxis. ‘Malibu Manhattan’ proposed a new type of skyscraper – one that could inflate in times of economic prosperity and that would provide on-street homeless housing in times of despair.

The presentations were smashing, with moving images, beautiful views and sharp statement. Some of us thought it was a relief that even the MIT Media Lab would have problems with projector presentations, but that was only an aside. The presentations were reviewed by an impressive line-up of Deans of architecture schools from the US and the Netherlands. They offered thoughtful comments, sharp observations and praise. The general feeling was that it was quite incredible that groups of young graduates, all from different countries and talking different languages, were able to come up with these though provoking observations and well presented ideas in such a short period of time.

The ideas will be presented at the AIA Center for Architecture on Friday from 4.30 – 8.00 pm. There we will ask a panel, moderated by Olympia Kazi of the Van Alen Institute, to reflect on these ideas. They will have a lot to chew on, and I look forward to that discussion.

Luc Vrolijks

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