Daily digest: Remembering Mike Davis, New-York Historical Society archives Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, and more

The Long Road to Recovery

Daily digest: Remembering Mike Davis, New-York Historical Society archives Hurricane Sandy Design Competition, and more

The Living Breakwaters construction kickoff event on September 13, 2021, in the Tottenville section of Staten Island. The SCAPE-led project was initiated as part of the Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Happy Friday! It’s been another busy week in the news, so AN’s editors have rounded up a few assorted items that you may have missed. For those living in the Northeast, this weekend, as you’ve probably heard, marks the 10th anniversary of the date when hurricane-turned-superstorm Sandy pummeled the region with high winds and catastrophic storm surge. A decade later, many coastal communities, New York City included, are continuing the recovery and rebuilding process. In New York, the lead-up to the Sandy 10-year has been filled with special public programming focused on how far we’ve come since the storm and how much farther we need to go as climate change–exacerbated natural disasters continue to pose a threat to vulnerable communities.

Have a safe weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.

New-York Historic Society announces archiving of Hurricane Sandy Design Competition

The New-York Historical Society is publicly releasing the archives of the Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition in observation of the 10th anniversary of an extreme weather event that ravaged America’s most-populous city (along with large swaths of the coastal Northeast), forcing leaders to take a long hard look at how resiliency-focused design can be deployed to safeguard its citizens from future storms. Two projects stemming from the competition that are now being implemented include SCAPE’s Living Breakwaters and Bjarke Ingels Group’s BIG U.

Launched by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, the multi-stage competition “coupled innovation and global expertise with community insight to develop implementable solutions to the region’s most complex needs,” per the New-York Historical Society. The catalytic competition, which led to the formation of Rebuild by Design as a standalone organization, was led in partnership by a range of organization including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Municipal Art Society, Regional Plan Association, NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, and The Van Alen Institute, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropic partners.

The archive itself, acquired as part of the New Amsterdam Project, contains a trove of records from 2013-2014 that according to the New-York Historical Society are related “to competition planning, press releases, and interim and final Design Team deliverables.” In total, more than 8,000 files, including internal and external documents, videos and photos, have now been made public.

“By making this information public, researchers, government officials and climate adaptation practitioners will be able to understand the process behind some of the most innovative climate infrastructure in the world,” said Amy Chester, managing director of Rebuild by Design. “As communities face more severe weather, governments will need examples of collaborative processes with the communities who are the most physically and socially vulnerable.”

Another Miami area condo building has been evacuated due to structural concerns

In the weeks and months following the tragic partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo complex in Surfside, Florida, on June 24, 2021, multiple other residential buildings in and around the greater Miami area were deemed unsafe during building inspections and subsequently evacuated. Late yesterday afternoon, residents of a 164-unit Port Royale Condominium at 6969 Collins Avenue—just a little over a mile south of the Champlain Towers South site, also on Collins Avenue—were also ordered to vacate the property immediately by the City of Miami Beach. The mandatory evacuation came after a team of engineers discovered “significant damage” to a structural beam in the 14-story building’s parking garage.

As reported by the Miami Herald, the engineering team, who discovered the damage while performing a 50-year recertification process, has recommended that the beam in question be immediately reinforced, a process that can take as long as 10 days. It’s unclear, however, when residents will be allowed to return to their homes.

H/t to the Miami Herald

Remembering the late, great Mike Davis

Tributes to Mike Davis have been disseminated far and wide after the celebrated writer, urban theorist, historian, and devout Marxist passed away on October 25 at the age of 76 following a prolonged battle with esophageal cancer. Although he was a prolific scribe, Davis is best known for City of Quartz, a bestselling tour de force first released in 1990 (and later expanded). Although subject to criticism upon its release for its noir-baked approach to investigative journalism, the book is considered today as one of the preeminent social histories of the calamity-prone, corruption-gripped patchwork of urbanity that is Los Angeles. (Davis himself was a longtime San Diego resident.)

In addition to his nonfiction writing, Davis was also an esteemed educator and mentor teaching subjects including history, creative writing, and urban theory at institutions including SCI-Arc, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of California, Irvine.

AN is in the process of gathering remembrances of Davis, a peerless academic and activist that helped shape the way we think about the formation and evolution of cities, particularly sunny ol’ L.A. These tributes will be published in the coming days.

Suchi Reddy partners with Lexus for major installation at ICA Miami

Suchi Reddy, the New York–based artist, architect, and founder of the award-winning studio Reddymade Architecture and Design, has been commissioned to design a new installation entitled Shaped by Air that will be on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami’s sculpture garden in conjunction with Miami Art & Design Week. The commission marks her first public project in the city.

Lexus has a significant role in the effort as the installation will illuminate the automaker and designer’s shared commitment to “sustainability, high-quality craftmanship, and human-centric design,” per a press release. Reddy’s design will envision the Lexus Electrified Sport as being “shaped by mist and light while illustrating its harmony with its environment.”

“Lexus’s long commitment to the arts, to excellence in craftsmanship, and particularly their dedication to the Takumi masters on their team has been a great source of inspiration to me,” said Reddy in a statement. “Their environmental mission through electrification of the fleet reflects responsible leadership and I am honored to interpret their ethos this year in our installation at the ICA in Miami during Art and Design Week. Our collaboration will blur the boundaries between art and design, and continue their tradition of always being committed to the best idea.”

World Monuments Fund and Magnum Foundation launch grant program documenting at-risk heritage sites

Global cultural heritage organization the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the Magnum Foundation, a New York–based photographic and visual storytelling nonprofit, have teamed to launch a new grant program that supports the work of emerging documentary photographers across the globe. The year-long, $120,000 initiative supports twelve local photographers as they document imperiled and in-need-of-protection heritage sites that appeared on the WMF’s 2022 World Monuments Watch List. (Twenty-five sites appeared in total)

Per the WMF, the program sets out to “create an unparalleled look at each heritage site through visual storytelling that evokes the voices of participants often absent in site narratives—among them builders, caretakers, and everyday residents in the community. The collaboration relies not only on the local photographer’s creative approaches to their work but also their intimacy with and first-hand experience of the places they are photographing.”

Four of the 12 grantees, each of whom will receive $10,000 in support, have been identified. They are listed below along with the respective Watch Site site that they will be documenting:

Prasiit Sthapit | Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
Victor Diaz | Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape (Peru)
Elsie Haddad | Watch Site: Heritage Buildings of Beirut (Lebanon)
Pete Pin | Cultural Landscape of the Bunong Peoples (Cambodia)