While ABC has conspicuously begun to celebrate the early jet age, the Port Authority has begun to tear it down.
Terminal 6 at Kennedy International Airport — a crisp island of aesthetic tranquillity by the master architect I. M. Pei — is being demolished. The boarding gates are already piles of rubble. The main pavilion, whose white steel roof seems to float ethereally over cascades of diaphanous green glass, is expected to come down by the end of October.
Though the demolition has long been planned, the timing now is unintentionally paradoxical. With the recent debut of the ABC drama “Pan Am,” it seems safe to say there has never been so much popular interest in the jet-set era of the 1960s and early ’70s. National Airlines, perhaps best remembered for christening its jetliners with women’s names and inviting the public to “fly me,” opened Terminal 6 in 1969 as the Sundrome.
Within it, Mr. Pei tried to create an environment for travelers that was serene, generous, clear, spacious, simple and dignified, said Henry N. Cobb, a colleague at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in New York. To an extent that remains discernible today, he succeeded. And by its horizontality, Terminal 6 still keeps open a welcome segment of sky in the ever-more-congested central terminal area at Kennedy.
“It’s very sad,” Mr. Cobb said on Tuesday about the demolition. “The whole thing is very sad.”
Many architects speak of creating transparent spaces. Mr. Pei pulled it off.
Sophisticated, subtle engineering made this transparency possible. The main pavilion of Terminal 6 has a deep roof truss that rests on 16 enormous cylindrical concrete columns. That eliminated the need for load-bearing walls, which allowed Mr. Pei to design a pioneering all-glass enclosure. One can look straight through the building and out the other side. Rain is drained off the roof through the columns, eliminating the need for any visible ductwork.
In its classical restraint, Mr. Cobb said, Terminal 6 splendidly complements the expressionistic bravura of Eero Saarinen’s landmark Trans World Airlines Flight Center next door, which has been preserved and rehabilitated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, at a cost of more than $20 million, and is to be incorporated into a hotel and conference center planned on the site.
Mr. Cobb said the Terminal 6 pavilion is “structurally sound and has proved highly adaptable to changing demands throughout four decades of use” by National, which was acquired in 1980 by Pan American World Airways; by T.W.A., as an annex to the Saarinen terminal; and, finally, by JetBlue Airways, which moved into its own terminal in 2008.
Nine months ago, Mr. Cobb pleaded for a “reversal of this death sentence” from David Barger, the president and chief executive of JetBlue. “Conserved and reanimated, the Terminal 6 pavilion would further strengthen the distinctive identity of JetBlue as a sponsor of design excellence and an effective advocate for a sustainable future,” Mr. Cobb wrote. “I. M. Pei joins me in thanking you for your consideration of this request.”
No reprieve was forthcoming. “While I share your passion for classic terminal designs, I have concluded the time has passed for the pavilion building to serve any functional purpose,” Mr. Barger wrote back. He thanked Pei Cobb Freed “for your influence on JetBlue’s first decade” and promised to champion a “permanent display of the pavilion photographs and other architectural artifacts so future generations can continue to appreciate the beauty of Terminal 6.”
National took out a full-page ad in The New York Times of Dec. 2, 1969 to announce the opening of the terminal.
The Port Authority said the Terminal 6 site must be cleared to make room for “improvements that will better serve travelers and help reduce delays,” meaning additional boarding gates and aircraft parking spots for JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the authority, said that maintaining a vacant Terminal 6 was costing the authority $600,000 a year.
Given Mr.Pei’s stature — he is perhaps best known for the pyramid-crowned addition to the Louvre — the demolition of Terminal 6 may rank as the most significant loss of a transportation building in New York since Pennsylvania Station was razed in the 1960s.
Source: The NYT
Hat tip to CNN Living
This article focusses on the job market as well. Give it a read.
Aqua Building, Chicago, IL.
Some stunning buildings have appeared in American cities the past four years — buildings, like the Aqua skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois, that attest to the creativity of 21st-century architecture.
But there might be fewer of them in the near future, because the recession has forced many architects to tone down their ambition.
“A lot of projects have been delayed, a lot of projects have been scaled back, a lot of projects have been scrapped. … It’s not a time to see a lot of architectural masterpieces being created,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects.
Baker said the emphasis today is on value.
“I think most buildings that are being built are very much focused on managing cost,” he said. “So you tend to see less creativity in that environment, less exciting designs, less upscale materials being used in them.”
At Aqua, the curved terraces vary slightly from floor to floor, giving the 82-story tower a soft, billowy look — as though Chicago’s celebrated winds are ruffling its façade. It’s an award-winning structure that stands out for its innovative design by Studio Gang Architects. But its construction was well under way before the recession.
Now “we are hearing that there’s more renovation work than construction work — kind of retrofitting existing buildings rather than building new ones,” Baker said.
It’s really difficult … for students coming out of school to find appropriate positions … we’re afraid that we’re going to lose a generation of architects.
–George Miller, president of the American Institute of Architects
It might not be the most stimulating work for innovative minds, but at least it’s work in what industry experts say has become an intensely competitive market. Where there were once two or three firms competing for a small project, now there are 20 or 30 as larger firms move in to take whatever jobs they can get.
The larger firms might “rather do a skyscraper, but if they can get a much smaller job they will, to keep the firm going and to keep people employed,” said Robert Campbell, a free-lance architecture critic for The Boston Globe. “And that drives people out of the field at the bottom who would otherwise have been getting those small jobs.”
Many firms have had to lay off employees to stay afloat. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed architects have dropped from an average of 233,000 in the first quarter of 2008 to 217,000 in the first quarter of 2009 and 198,000 in the first quarter of 2010.
George Miller, the president of the AIA and a partner at world-renowned architecture firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, worries about the long-term effects this job shortage will have on the industry.
“It’s really difficult, of course in these last several years, for students coming out of school to find appropriate positions in the field,” he said. “That really concerns all of us because we’re afraid that we’re going to lose a generation of architects.
… There are going to be fewer of us around to do the work that really needs to be done in the future.”
What will be the architectural work of the future? Miller says it will likely be energy-efficient design and a renewed focus on infrastructure, especially in urban areas.
“We’re going to be considering not only the individual building solution, but also the way in which our buildings fit in neighborhoods and communities and regions,” he said. “We really have to have a plan now that considers the infrastructure of our communities. … I think if we’re smarter in terms of designing our urban centers, we’ll be more efficient in terms of the utilization of our natural and physical resources.”
Experts agree that architecture is a cyclical industry and that the market will eventually rebound. The question is when.
“It’s always been highs and lows, highs and lows,” said Campbell, who is also a registered architect. “I remember in 1975 I was working for a prominent firm in Harvard Square, and we dropped from 68 [employees] to 20. And that was the oil embargo, ’74, and that led to an extremely steep recession but a short one — not like this one that’s lasted so long.”
Some architects think recovery might be around the corner.
“We are seeing the private sector picking up,” said Thomas Fridstein, head of global architecture for AECOM, a provider of technical and management support services. “I feel like we’ve been through the worst, we’ve sort of hit the trough of the recession and things are on the upturn. We’ve had some major commercial clients contacting us about projects potentially starting up again, so that’s a very positive sign.”
It’s a positive sign for the nation, too, because busy architects are a bellwether of economic stability.
“If you don’t design it, you can’t build it,” Baker said. “So [architects] are really the first step in the process toward seeing a recovery.”
aia, architect, architects, architecture, buildings, construction, Hiring trends, jobs, new buildings, skyscraper, unemployed architects
AECOM, aia, Aqua Building, Chicago, George Miller, Kyle Almond, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Students, Thomas Fridstein, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics