2015 New York State Council on the Arts League-sponsored Independent Projects Grantees

The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in its Independent Projects category annually awards $10,000 project grants to professionals in the architecture, design, and historic preservation fields. Individuals must apply through a nonprofit sponsor. This year NYSCA awarded ten grants throughout New York state to individuals, of whom eight were sponsored by the League.

Look for information on the 2016 cycle of Grants this spring. More information on the program, including a complete list of past League-sponsored projects and grantees, is available on the NYSCA competition page and in our ongoing series of Project Reports by past winners.

2015 League-sponsored grantees:

NASA Langley Simulator by General Dynamics, 1960 Below: Speculative drawing of capturing and harvesting the pollutants in the simulator by Lydia Kallipoliti and Tope Olujobi, 2014

Lydia Kallipoliti — “Closed Worlds”
Closed Worlds is an exhibition assembling an unexplored genealogy of closed resource regeneration systems, which migrated from the space program to countercultural architectural groups experimenting with autonomous living. The project documents a larger disciplinary transformation in the postwar period and the rise of a new environmental
consensus in the form of a synthetic naturalism, where the laws of nature and metabolism are displaced from the domain of wilderness to the domain of cities and buildings.”

Lydia Kallipoliti is an architect, engineer, and scholar whose research spans building technology with the history and theory of technology, cybernetics, and ecology. She holds a PhD from Princeton University and a SMArchs from MIT. She has taught at The Cooper Union and Columbia University and is currently an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University.

First Deputy Premier Frol R. Kozlov and President Eisenhower at the opening of the Soviet National Exhibition in New York

Arianne Kouri — “1959 Soviet Show in New York”
“The USA and USSR held major national exhibitions in the summer of 1959 to reduce tension between the two countries through a cultural exchange agreement —the Soviet exhibition was shown in New York City; the American exhibition in Moscow. The American Exhibition quickly became (and arguably still is) one of the most studied exhibitions of architecture, film, product, and graphic design. Its Soviet counterpart in New York, however, remains largely unknown. This research project aims to explore the less studied 1959 Soviet National Exhibition in New York.”

Arianne Kouri focuses on alternative platforms of architecture, specifically exhibitions and events, with a special interest in the connection between architecture and cultural diplomacy practices. She is a researcher at Robert A. M. Stern Architects.

Simeon DeWitt, Central New York Military Tract map, 1793 | courtesy of the New York State Library

Aleksandr Mergold — “Sural Atlas of Central New York”
“The project’s ambition is to re-document the area of the New York Military Tract (now 2 million acres in Central New York state) first drawn up in 1792 by Simeon DeWitt. The proposal is to produce an atlas containing maps, diagrams, and drawings describing the current condition of land use and its evolution over the last two centuries in Central NY – the ‘sural’ condition, a blurring of the local rural, urban, and suburban patterns of inhabitation.”

Aleksandr Mergold is a partner at Austin+Mergold (A+M), an architecture, landscape, and design practice. Prior to A+M, Mergold worked at Pentagram in New York on a variety of architectural and design projects. He was trained in architecture at Cornell and Princeton. Mergold is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Architecture at Cornell.

Playboy Townhouse, 1962, designed by R. Donald Jaye

Christopher Rawlins — “Bachelor Pad: An Illustrated History”
“Why would a responsible state agency fund the study of patriarchal spaces designed for the serial seduction and disposal of women? Because a closer look reveals an architectural and cultural phenomenon with surprising reach and diversity. Bachelor Pad contemplates postwar design culture through the lens of bachelor lairs–both real and imagined–that celebrated masculinity while surreptitiously goading men into traditionally feminine modes of consumption.”

Christopher Rawlins is a licensed architect and the principal of Rawlins Design. In 2013, he published Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction (Metropolis Books/Gordon DeVries Studio).

Feature in House Beautiful, November 1971 | courtesy of the Tillett Family Archive

Phyllis Ross — “The Design Works of Bedford Stuyvesant”
“This project is a book on the history of The Design Works of Bedford Stuyvesant. It will recover the story of a unique minority-owned craft workshop that achieved national recognition during its decade-long existence from 1969 to 1979. During those ten years Design Works was recognized for its distinctive, contemporary, silk-screened designs, showcased in museums, widely publicized in the press, and sold through upscale department stores nationwide. Central to the aesthetic program of Design Works was the idea that all designs would be inspired by African art, flora, and fauna.”

Phyllis Ross has worked for twenty years as an independent scholar in the field of design history and has published peer-reviewed articles and a monograph, Gilbert Rohde: Modern Design for Modern Living (Yale 2009). Her research for this project began in 2012, when she co-curated The World of DD and Leslie Tillett, an exhibition organized by The Museum of the City of New York.

Prototype Zero Energy Adaptive Façade (ZEAF)

Jin Young Song — “Z-E-A-F (Zero Energy Adaptive Façade)”
“This proposal imagines a prototype Zero Energy Adaptive Façade (ZEAF). The ZEAF integrates photochemical responsive polymer sheet into a building facade through an origami inspired folding pattern. It aims to emulate the dappled and diffused light produced by deciduous trees under natural daylight. In its material and formal assembly, ZEAF explores a dynamic facade for sustainability and artistry through building envelope design.”

Jin Young Song is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and founding principal at DIOINNO Architecture.

Working The Insides Out: Mitchell Lama Housing, River Park Towers, The Bronx, A Drawing

Ife Vanable — “Working the Middle — A Revival”
“Working the Middle – A Revival” is a systematic, elemental inventory, and analysis of low-moderate income housing erected in New York under the Mitchell-Lama housing scheme. A form of invisible architecture, the nearly 300 works are herein rendered visible, worthy of scrutiny, as an architectural accounting of the stock on hand. It is an unprecedented, retroactive act of design, documenting and drawing out purpose, potential, and intent; unearthing complex relationships between design, finance, program, and family composition, carving out critical terrain for speculation on future development and design.”

Ife Vanable is an architect, thinker, writer, designer, and maker trained as an architect at Cornell University. She is a recent graduate of the Princeton University School of Architecture, where she was awarded the History and Theory Prize.

Adventure Playground in Central Park, soon after it was built in 1966 | courtesy New York City Parks Photo Archive

Marie Warsh — “Design Play and Preservation in Central Park”
“This project will result in an illustrated book on the history, design, and preservation of the playgrounds built in New York City between 1965 and 1975, focusing on those created in Central Park. The book will be part of a series called Modern Landscapes: Transition and Transformation, edited by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, which focuses on historically significant mid-century works of design that have undergone transformation.”

Marie Warsh is a landscape historian and the Director of Preservation Planning for the Central Park Conservancy.

Architecture + Design Program Independent Project grants are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.