New York is Weird:


Working in New York is weird. Sometimes during a site visit you see a lion with makeup on a fence, other times you see a contractor trying to dry 100+ year old brick outside with a heater. And then there are the walls built on air. All in the name of preserving this old city. 





by Amanda Mullen


A Cat Sanctuary

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I went to Roosevelt Island because I heard that the abandoned smallpox hospital is currently a cat sanctuary. I did not see one cat! I did however enjoy the beautiful views and a ride on the Tram.   


The Renwick Smallpox Hospital was designed by the architect James Renwick, Jr. Though formally trained as an engineer, he became a self-taught architect by the age of 25.


In 1976, the building was designated a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.




When all of these iterations are collaged together it is hard to notice the small differences, the shifts of spaces, the changes in circulation and the movements of the outside wall. They all look similar, like a repeated idea over and over, but each shift is significant is some way. It moves the design forward or into a new direction, you don’t know exactly where you’re going in each iteration, but it gets you somewhere. Like trial and error, design is a development of iterations, a series of thoughts affecting the next.



-by Alexis Richbart


Highly recommend taking a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard (plus AIA credits people!)

The Navy Yard once employed 70,000 workers, both naval and civilian, building military vessels until 1966. It still operates today as a center for industrial development, and with an added consideration for sustainability (in the design of Building 92, open to the public - a LEED Platinum rated building), in the industries growing there (technology, whiskey distillery, The Grange - the largest rooftop garden in NYC), and engaging with the public to revitalize the idea of industry as a meaningful career path for young adults. 

At the height of its operation, 10,000 women worked at the Navy Yard. Half of those women were welders, the other half worked in administrative positions. Below is a photograph of a group of women leaving the Sand Street exit after their shift (dated from WWII). The woman in the middle is carrying a bottle of milk. Milk was known to dilute the metallic taste welders would get from working. 

Every Friday, all 70,000 workers were paid from the Paymaster’s Building. To alleviate the congestion of that many people filing in to be paid, a trolley car drove around to pay some employees.


Today the building, a distillery, looks like this:





by Alanna Jaworski


Range of View

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As a relative newcomer to the city, I was fascinated by all the things one could see on a day to day basis.  All the people, places and general busy-ness going on in the city provides endless material for observation.  Climbing on to the roof of a building and peering down on the city from above provides one with an even more radical perspective on city life.  Your range of view is wider and what you see increases by 100 fold.  

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Now, what if I lived perched on the parapet of a building since 1977 like this owl?  Imagine what it has seen, and how the city it spends its life observing has changed before its very eyes.


-by Augustus Dane 


Ten Pyramids

Everyone remembered them. Ten angular pyramids, each towering ten feet above the endemic zoning setbacks that define this vertical factory district. Back in 1928, the mechanized Art Deco style contrasted with the soft fur coats manufactured under their guard.


Everyone remembered how they had been ignobly removed in some desperate and impecunious past, their severed stumps cauterized with mastic and sealed with a copper band-aid. They were leaking. It must have been leaks. Six of them had been spared (who knows why?), six halcyon reminders reflecting in the blue glass of cheap hotels. The result is a disappointing farrago; some setbacks with pyramids and some without. It would be easy to replicate the survivors and restore the facade to its original appearance. A wrong would be righted.

But they were never there. Looking closely at Henry Oser’s old, smudgy drawings it is clear that some things have changed, but not the pyramids. He meant to put them on some floors and not others. Was he inspired? Inconsistent? On a budget? There is a reason everyone remembered the pyramids where there are none; they look like they’re missing. Just to be sure, we pried off a copper band-aid. Underneath was glazed terra cotta; it never had another piece on top. 

Everyone wants to remember them. To remember how they were ignobly removed. Had the original drawings been destroyed, the microfiche illegible, or the building records misfiled in a bureaucratic black hole, we would have ‘restored’ the ten ‘missing’ pyramids. We would have congratulated ourselves for a job well done, for completing a building comprised by time. However, thanks to an assiduous archivist and diligent researcher it was hard to convince ourselves that we could put the pyramids back, or rather that we should add new ones where there had never been any. The distinction is important because it defines our intention. In this case, intention transforms the very same materials from historic preservation to historicist imitation. The intention behind design, however, is often invisible. One has to know the story. One has to remember them, the mythical pyramids, to remember how they were ignobly removed, and to remember how they were never there.



-by Adam Kaleb Poole


Hot off the Presses: APRIL


Oscar Season might be old news, but a smashing caftan is never old hat, which is precisely why the gold caftan Meryl Streep wears in Steven Speilberg’s Pentagon Papers newsroom drama The Post will always be newsworthy. You can do endless “Where Are They Now?” pieces about it, because there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t ask myself that very question about that very caftan. Moreover, now that the New York weather is *allegedly* warming up, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll wear to the beach. Just kidding! You already know it’s a caftan, because if you’re anything like me, you burn easily and your beach body is more like beach blobby, so why not take a page from the *other* Divine Miss M and work. That. CAFTAN!  

Speaking of caftans, CTA has been in the news an awful lot lately, so much so that you might say the news has really been flowing…like a caftan! Let’s take a look the latest stories, shall we?


  • First off is an article from the Irish Post, Irish famine memorial in New York reopens after $5 million investment. If this story were a caftan, I imagine it’d be shamrock green with (pot o’) gold embroidery. Since it’s imported all the way from Ireland, you’d probably pay extra, but that’s a price worth paying to sashay about in the sartorial splendor of the luck of the Irish.




  • World Landscape Architect did their own Irish Hunger Memorial story, Renovation of Irish Hunger Memorial complete, and I find this story exciting because it’s *World* Landscape Architect. Much like the perfect combination of comfort, form, and function that is the caftan, CTA is going global, y’all! 


  • And lastly, to paraphrase Dr. Frank N. Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show, if you want something visual, here’s a brief new NBC 4 New York piece featuring our very own Frank Scanlon: Irish Hunger Memorial opens for St. Patrick’s Day. Frank N. Furter was a huge proponent of pearl necklaces and pink surgical gloves, but alas, not caftans, which is a cruel reminder that nobody is perfect.


Well, that’s it for the latest in CTA’s news cycle. When Steven Spielberg makes a movie about it, who do you think will play me? And more importantly, will they wear that caftan?!?