Noticias de Arquitectura


The Architecture Issue
julio 3, 2009, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Crítica | Etiquetas:
Published: July 1, 2009

If an issue “devoted to architecture and infrastructure would be incomplete without architects,” the vision of future infrastructure offered in the June 14 issue is curiously lacking. The most exciting infrastructure advances today are not being developed by architects. Urban designers and landscape architects are creating public spaces that double as water-treatment facilities; new businesses are using cars to transform energy distribution and storage; artists are rethinking municipal waste facilities; product designers are making it possible to aggregate individuals’ choices to create real change; and engineers are inventing transformative technologies right now.

The infrastructures of the 21st century will undoubtedly take on visible form and create public benefits as suggested by Grimshaw Architects et al. But they will do so because they integrate the expertise of planners, designers and engineers. These interdisciplinary teams are already creating new visions of what urban infrastructure can be — visions The New York Times should be celebrating, as they are the future systems we need.

CHARLIE CANNON
Department of Industrial Design
Rhode Island School of Design
Providence, R.I

While thrilled by the Infrastructure issue of The New York Times Magazine, I was struck by a gaping absence. Here in New York City, we are undergoing our own infrastructure revolution, and yet I didn’t see even a cursory mention of it. In our own backyard, we are in the process of gaining bus rapid transit, protected bike lanes (one on Ninth Avenue reduced collisions between bikes and cars by more than 40 percent) and traffic islands’ making street intersections safer for children, the disabled and the elderly. And pedestrianization! Don’t get me started! Locals, tourists and the upper crust are mixing, with laughter and sandwiches, in the middle of new plazas in Madison Square, the Meatpacking District and Times Square. The work and the vision of our own local hero Janette Sadik-Khan [commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation] and her staff deserve praise and a lengthy feature article in the next New York Times Magazine.New York

BARBARA LEITERMAN
New York

In “Bridging the Gap,” Henry Petroskifocused on bridges, the most visible infrastructure. But he ignored the invisible infrastructure: aging underground water and wastewater pipes that are rupturing at an increasing rate. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives these aspects of our underground infrastructure a grade of D-minus. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency there are more than a million miles of underground pipes; many are getting old. Our own utility has had more than 4,000 breaks and leaks among our water pipes in the last two years. Please don’t forget the underground pipeline. Our lives depend on clean water.

TERESA D. DANIELL
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
Laurel, Md.

I applaud Henry Petroski for his timely essay about our need to rethink the way we build infrastructure. With stimulus money providing a fraction of what is needed, the current administration must support a highway reauthorization bill capable of improving our crumbling roads and bridges. In addition to sufficient funding, governments can and should use alternative delivery methods to get “best value” proposals for their projects, as the success of the Interstate 35 W bridge demonstrates. One such alternative is public-private partnerships, through which governments can borrow money from the private sector and pay it back over a longer period of time than is traditionally possible with municipal bonds. This means cash-strapped states can build projects immediately without raising taxes or diving deeper into debt.

With a viable model already working in Canada and elsewhere, the United States should adopt these proven methods to finance and build our much needed public infrastructure.

TOM RADEMACHER
Longmont, Colo.

Thank you for Jim Lewis’s thoughtful piece on humane prison design (“Behind Bars . . . Sort Of”). Our organization has collected the signatures of more than 1,000 architects (and their supporters) who have pledged not to design prisons in the United States — not because we oppose the type of humanism displayed by Josef Hohensinn’s design at Loeben, but because U.S. prisons are failures irrespective of their design. The facts we rely on were thoughtfully and cogently presented in the article, but our conclusion is different from the implication that better architecture cannot reverse the social injustices and policy failures of today’s American criminal-justice system but will only make it larger and capable of warehousing more people. Perhaps when American criminal justice is based on the concept of respect for human dignity in all circumstances, as Hohensinn so eloquently carved into his building, we will be ready for a new generation of prisons. For now, more prisons just expand the space for the racism, violence, antidrug hysteria and contempt for the poor that pervade the “tough on crime” demagoguery of too many American politicians and their supporters. In other words, before American architects can follow Mr. Hohensinn, we must have “clients” who are willing to challenge the current attitudes toward criminal justice. We hope this article will move the conversation in that direction.

RAPHAEL SPERRY
Alternatives to Prison / Prison Design Boycott campaign
Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility
San Francisco

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