EINHORN YAFFEE PRESCOTT, ARCHITECTURE & ENGINEERING

THE NASDAD stock exchange cannot be found on Wall Street, nor on any other street. The company’s corporate offices are near the government regulators in Washington, while its computers hum in a cool, dim facility in Connecticut. But as a stock market without a trading floor, Nasdaq wanted a three-dimensional ad for its tech-friendly brand, a space the public would recognize as the exchange’s home. In an age when financial news is both information and entertainment, “we had two audiences,” says Jorge Szendiuch, design principal on the project for Einhorn Yaffee Prescott. “One was the broadcast audience” that follows the market on TV, he explains. “The other was the audience on the street.”

And not just any street. Nasdaq found a home for its MarketSite–the hint of Internet-speak is surely intentional–in a prominent corner of Times Square, the urban crossroads where edifice and information meet. There, in the fall of 1998, it leased the first two floors of the corner drum of the Conde Nast building, then under construction, as well as the titanic sign above. New York–based EYP was hired to carve a broadcast studio, public exhibition space, and corporate facilities from the 25,000 square feet below what would become an instantly iconic billboard: a virtual home for a virtual stock exchange.

In late 1998, EYP embarked on the design-build project with a drop-dead deadline of New Year’s Eve, 1999. The initial budget was around $20 million, but that amount was contingent on the vagaries of the budget for the whole building. “We could not be rigid,” says Szendiuch. “We had to have a clear idea, but we had to be able to improvise as we went along.”

In fact, EYP’s design, created in collaboration with Harout Dedeyan, designer of Nasdaq’s original broadcast facilities in downtown Manhattan, was guided by two clear ideas. The first was to exploit Nasdaq’s real estate at the “Crossroads of the World.” To that end, EYP rejected the initial design for an exterior of columns with glass-filled openings. For maximum transparency, the designers opted instead for the Pilkington system of glass panels held in place by invisible cables. The manic streetscape seems to pour into the interior, while from the street, nothing obscures the 20-foot-tall stock-tracking video wall that backs Nasdaq’s ground-floor TV studio. “It’s not unlike a sign in Times Square,” says Szendiuch. “It’s just inside.”

The second idea was to work off the strong form of the exterior drum. The designers did this in part by removing a portion of the second floor and adding a circular mezzanine to creat a multitiered glass donut. Upon entering the space, visitors walk past the security desk and around the curved back wall, which is sheathed in translucent glass. The cylinder’s milky surface is broken by two clear openings, one of which reveals the broadcast control booth. The other, a transparent ribbon at mezzanine level, exposes the banks of computers that control the video wall. “We weren’t interested in hiding the equipment,” Szendiuch says. “We wanted to highlight the technology, because that is what gives Nasdaq an identity different from the New York Stock Exchange.” MarketSite certainly accomplishes this objective, playing on the contemporary culture surrounding the Nasdaq brand and the neighborhood surrounding the building. The project not only blurs the line between inside and out, but confounds the differences betwe en information, entertainment, technology, and commerce–like Times Square itself.

Debra Goldman is a New York-based writer specializing in consumer culture.

USER’S COMMENTS

ZRCH SMITH I Tourist, Los Angeles, CA

What do you like best about the Nasdaq interior? It’s visually captivating.

Would you want to work there? Sure.

You wouldn’t feel overloaded being there all day? Doesn’t look like overload; it looks like command control.

What would you change about it? I’d have it hooked up to VR goggles so I could just sit there and! wouldn’t have to look anywhere; I could just stare straight ahead.

Do you play the stock market? Yeah, I do. But you said it just right: play the game. It’s a game.

Does this make you want to invest more in the stock market? No, but it definitely makes me want to look at it. It’s more interactive.

Do you think the interior meshes with the outside of the building, with the new Times Square? Sure, and it shows where you are on the outside of the building [through a closed-circuit TV]. It’s beautiful. It makes me want to come back tomorrow and go in when it’s running.

THANHAUSER – ESTERSON ARCHITECTS

IF DESIGN EVER revived a lifeless building, it would be hard to find a better example than Venture House. This rehabilitation and recovery facility for the mentally ill has occupied a former funeral home in Jamaica, New York, since the fall of 1999. Once a forbidding place where souls rested en route to the next world, it now bustles with people eager to advance their lot in this one.

Venture House hired the New York architectural firm Thanhauser + Esterson to transform the site into a welcoming environment where patrons acquire vocational skills after receiving medical treatment offsite. The organization is modeled on a “clubhouse” concept developed about 50 years ago by Fountain House, a pioneering facility in Manhattan that helps people from all social strata learn to lead more productive lives. Venture House associate executive director Ray Schwartz explains that the design goal was “to create a space that mirrors the work setting outside and promotes a sense of belonging to the community.”

Venture House chose to gut the building, an amalgam of three small structures, and restore the exterior. Devoid of any original details, the interior had become an impossibly dark and convoluted warren of small spaces. Outside, the 1920s Romanesque facade–obscured by graffiti, canopies, and cinderblocked windows–retained little of its original dignity, rising alone on a broad avenue of car lots.

Schwartz notes that the “membership,” about 250 strong, responds best to an upbeat, easy-to-navigate setting that provides a social outlet away from home. To this end, the architects spruced up the entrance and reorganized the interior around a new centralized two-story stair hall capped by a large skylight. The hall not only increases a sense of space, but also floods the building with light and serves as an impromptu gathering spot for patients and visitors.

Working with a constrained budget of $1.1 million, the designers exploited paint treatments and sculptural forms in lieu of expensive materials. They saturated the core and circulation areas with color planes, from the golden glow of the stair hall to brightly accented banisters and doorways, then muted the hues in the surrounding workspaces. While the furniture is limited to off-the-shelf selections, custom touches such as eccentric niches and windows enliven the building and keep sight lines open into remote corners.

Open views and clear circulation promote the idea that no space is off limits. “This project did not offer great opportunity for extensive plan manipulation,” explains architect Jack Esterson. “Curves, angles, or skews would not have been appropriate. The idea was to bring in light, make sure there were very obvious pathways, and end every corridor with a window, door, or some moment of color.”

Members help with upkeep by cooking, cleaning, manning the phones, and assisting administration, so they work all over the building, not just in training rooms. Following a standard clubhouse motif, Venture House features recreational areas including a den-like lounge with sofas and a dining hall whose picture window looks out to a soon-to-be-completed garden.

Such careful design considerations have succeeded in making both members and visitors feel confident. In keeping with similar facilities around the country, the enterprise enables people with long-term illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to achieve fulfilling lives. What might seem like just another high-minded design actually advances this goal by engaging those it serves in a productive yet protected world, an attractive microcosm from which to brave the leap to the outside.

Contributing editor Juanita Dugdale wrote about edu.com’s Boston offices for the October 2000 Interiors.

USERS’ COMMENTS

EUCHARIA MUODERE I Case Worker

PRISCR EUEE I Administrative Assistant

What is your favorite part of the space?

EM: My unit, the clerical unit, upstairs, on the second floor.

PB: We have a lovely skylight. With all the light, the building is so friendly. The colors are so warm, so inviting…so everything!

Is there anything about the space you would change? PB: Actually, it’s pretty close to perfect. We have little bits to complete, but it’s pretty livable.

What do other people say about the space?

EM: They make comments about the size, the freshness, and how everything matches. And about the skylight.

How does it compare to other facilities you’ve worked in? PB: No comparison at all.

PASANELLA, KLEIN STOLZMAN, BERG ARCHITECTS

In 1996, Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg’s renovation of West 55th Street’s Shoreham Hotel turned a once-dowdy property into one of New York’s first boutique-style lodgings. The change was so successful — aesthetically and financially — that The Boutique Hotel Group, the hotel’s owners, bought an adjacent 10-story office building with the goal of more than doubling the number of guest rooms and expanding Shoreham’s public areas to include a conference room and a restaurant.

Principal Henry Stolzman wanted to retain the intimate, luminous elegance of Shoreham 1 despite Shoreham 2’s tight demands: fewer square feet per guestroom upstairs and more amenity spaces required downstairs. There was also the functional problem of fusing the two buildings into one unified structure. PKSB’s solution was to transform the ground floor into a single winding, contiguous space, with guest rooms accessible via two separate elevator banks. The second building’s street-level interiors now progress in what Stolzman calls “a sequence of light boxes,” a series of minimally lit volumes with constantly changing colors along the circulation path.

One of the highlights of the newly-expanded ground floor is the hotel’s restaurant, which anchors the 55th Street facade and blends feelings of vertical compression (from its unusually low ceiling) and horizontal openness (full-length pivoting windows open to lend the entire room an alfresco effect). Then, at the north end of the east wing’s lobby-level marble-floored corridor is the hotel’s new breakfast area and skylit meeting room. The room’s severely modernist banquet table makes a stark contrast to the textured, mirror-backed glass rear wall –a vertical “slab of ice,” as the architect describes it, which changes dramatically in varying light conditions.

Upstairs, the 94 new guest rooms provided their own logistical trials: to obtain the required number of guest rooms per floor, says Stolzman, the spaces had to be unusually constrained. While there’s no getting around– or around in –the average room’s tight dimensions, PKSB succeeded in turning the overly cozy quarters into a stylish place to crash. In cases where the mom’s square footage was under 150, including the bathroom, Stolzman turned his full attention to the bed. He calls the result his “opium bed.” Indeed, the queen-size sleepers–with built-in custom cabinetry and an Ultrasuede headboard/canopy combination that covers most of the wall space–evoke the womb-like languidity of an opium den. A supermagnified black-and-white floral photograph ornaments each headboard, adding a tonal counterpoint to the tan-and-taupe palette.

With the bathrooms, too, “we fought for every inch,” Stolzman says. Rather than drywall, translucent glass separates the bathroom from the bedroom, admitting some natural light and conserving a few precious inches of floor space. Other touches, including custom-designed stainless sinks, trimmed of excess counter space inches, and ubiquitous mirrors, fight the good fight against claustrophobia.

USER’S COMMENTS

JEFF BURGESS / Concierge

What is your favorite aspect of the hotel?

I like the lobby because of the intimate feeling, because of the way they lit it, the shapes. The lighting has subtlety; it gives you a warm feeling. The light that changes color kind of pulls you back to the bar and around.

What part of the design helps you do your job better?

The public spaces. Also, my desk is set back in the corner with a top that curves down over me. It lends itself to humor. Guests tell me, “Don’t hit your head.”

What would you change about the hotel?

I wish when they did the other side they’d done the art and lighting differently. I thin k it’s a little more bland.

What do guest comment on most?

We get complimented on the artwork, the bar, the back area. One guest, he loves our sheets. That’s why he comes here.

If you were travelling would you want to stay in a hotel like this?

I like small hotels like this one because of the personalized service and design.

KRUECK & SEXTON ARCHITECTS

THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT of tomorrow can be glimpsed in Herman Miller’s recently completed showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago–and it’s a far cry from the boxy, cramped, ineptly furnished cubicles found in many offices today. Instead, shimmering screens tethered to steel poles cleave the room’s wide-open spaces into honeycomb-shaped cells, furnished with workstations that future inhabitants can easily reconfigure. This is the company’s new Resolve system, and the showroom was designed to accommodate it. “Everything is so integrated,” says Rick Duffy, vice-president of Herman Miller’s Genesis design team, “that it’s hard to separate our product from the architecture of the space.”

Like the company’s furniture, the showroom is sleek, inventive, flexible, and multifunctional. Slim floor-to-ceiling glass panes form the zigzagging picture window that divides the showroom from the Mart’s prosaic hallway. As Mark Sexton, principal at Krueck & Sexton Architects and the job’s project architect, says, “It’s completely clear and doesn’t distort the furniture, yet it manipulates light and color to add a sense of activity and energy to the space.”

Alongside this wall are a built-in freestanding reception desk, clusters of Herman Miller furniture–including celebrated Eames pieces as well as the Resolve system–and a gleaming, spacious kitchen for use by employees and customers. The area is backed by another riveting expanse of glass, a series of partitions that nearly span the showroom’s 200-foot width. These walls, each made of three large panels of etched glass shingled together with pins and posts of stainless steel, enclose four conference rooms that occupy the showroom’s middle zone. Inside, the ceilings are equipped with recessed colored lights that wash the glass walls in subtle, shifting hues.

Beyond the conference rooms is a third area, open except for support columns, which makes up half of the showroom’s total square footage. Here, the company shows its contract and residential offerings. A three-dimensional geometric grid clings to the ceiling; edged at the bottom with soft curves, it resembles an undulating sea. Along two exterior walls, the Mart’s old-fashioned casement windows are equipped with translucent floor-to-ceiling pivoting glass panels which, like giant Levelor blinds, can be adjusted to modify the amount and angle of incoming natural light.

In addition to the arresting use of glass to orchestrate space, Krueck & Sexton’s innovations include the showroom’s lighting system; in the conference area and beyond, it employs colored lenses, bulbs, and gels, and can be programmed to change hues at various rates throughout the day. In another notable move, the architects constructed the space largely with recycled materials, a nod to the company’s modus operandi regarding its furniture, which incorporate recycled and “green” materials whenever possible.

Despite such bravura flourishes, the showroom is, ultimately, utilitarian–the perfect venue to present what Duffy describes as “our vision of what the future holds.”

Lisa Skolnik’s recent books include Retro Modern (Friedman Fairfax, 2000) and The Right Light (Rockport Publishers, 2000). Her feature on the Chicago restaurant Mod appeared in the August 2000 Interiors.

USER’S COMMENTS

SUSAN HALAS I Universal Studios Director of Design and Planning, Global Real Estate

As a furniture buyer, how effective do you think the showroom really is? I have 12 million square feet of space to manage in virtually every region of the world, so I’m always trying to find multifunctional office products that I can use globally. This showroom really lets you see how their furniture can do that.

How so? They stage many different functions there, and for each one the space seems to be so perfectly tailored to the event it’s as if they created it just for that particular presentation or party. But they didn’t, and in fact don’t really change the space at all–it takes on different characteristics by virtue of its lighting and the way the furniture is organized. Yet it always seems to remain a viable working environment.

And that’s your bottom line? Realistically, yes. Their product line is full of workplace solutions, and the showroom allows the company to reveal how their furniture can be used in almost any context.

DAVIS BRODY BOND

FOR NEARLY A CENTURY, the main reading room at the New York Public Library has been the literary heart of a bookish city. A Beaux-Arts landmark designed by John Merven Carrere and Thomas Hastings that opened in 1911, the room exudes both civic grandeur–for a time it was the country’s largest uncolumned interior–and a warm, oaky intimacy. One feels impressed, enlightened, and uplifted here, but never over whelmed. It is also a truly public space, welcoming everyone from intellectuals to schoolchildren in a (usually) hushed harmony.

Over the years, however, the room had grown tarnished, and dusty. Nearly one quarter of the 23,000-Square foot space was obscured by an unsightly warren of microfilm readers. And the long, golden tables, with their vintage green-glass lights, had dulled with age and overuse. One of the greatest detractions from the room’s beauty came about when the magnificent windows on its north and south sides were blackened out as a precaution against World War II bombing; post-war, they remained gallingly dark to make microfilm reading easier.

Tourists now flock simply to stand and marvel at the restored reading room. Davis Brody Bond’s $15 million project has returned the space to a glory that few may remember, but none will soon forget. The focal point is the 55-foot-high ceiling, a celestial football field of plaster molded to resemble carved wood, highlighted with copper-and gold-leaf, and supported by neoclassical Caen limestone walls. Three trompe l’oeil rectangles reveal the pinkish clouds and soft blue light ofan appropriately literary rosy-fingered dawn. These atmospheric murals replace artist James Wall Finn’s originals, which were too ravaged by time to be restored or even accurately reproduced. The new ones, by Yohannes Aynalem of Evergreene Painting, are all “meant to give the impression of looking through the ceiling directly up at the sky,” says Lewis Davis, a founding partner of Davis Brody Bond.

A number of the room’s new features are, like the ceiling murals, creative interpretations rather than historic copies. For example, two new reference centers, large stations made from carved oak, and based on Carrere and Hastings’s designs, “blend so harmoniously,” says Davis, “visitors think that they’ve always been there.”

Led by Davis, the firm–feted for a previous renovation of New York University’s Center for the Humanities–faced not only the challenge of bringing back the space’s historical luster, but also that of ensuring its continued vitality with the addition of Information Age accouterments. Thus, the 22-foot tables, with their Carrere and Hastings chairs, were not only meticulously sanded and refinished, but retrofitted with electrical grommets and conduits for power and data.

The wonders of technology can hardly compete with the room’s classical elements, though. Its full floor area once again devoted to reading tables, the layers of grime removed, and lighting added to play up ceiling arches and illuminate bookshelves, the room is newly replete with light and air–a hothouse for learning, its lofty spaces open to all.

Tom Vanderbilt is a contributing editor to Interiors.

MICHAEL LEVINE I Freelance Writer and Editor

What’s your favorite part of this room? The ceiling.

How often do you come to the reading room? I come here on average three times a week.

How many hours do you spend? Anywhere from four to seven.

Do you find this room is a pretty encouraging place to work? I’ve been coming here so long, feel at home.

Is there anything you would change about this room? When you sit at those desks to write, some of the seats don’t get very good light. I was hoping they would improve that.

What’s the best thing about the restoration? The ceiling.

ROGERS MARVEL ARCHITECTS

Twelve years ago, fire coursed through Higgins Hall, home of Pratt Institute’s architecture school. The flames destroyed the Victorian building’s central wing, and severely damaged the north section. New York-based architects Rogers Marvel were commissioned to quickly rehabilitate the damaged area, while the school raised money to replace the lost part. The firm opted to leave a patch of charred rubble between the wings, and to preserve other vestiges of fire damage throughout the renovated hails–that is, to remind students, who don’t yet know, and the faculty, who may have forgotten, that buildings are always vulnerable.

Robert Rogers, a principal in the firm, was on the Brooklyn-based school’s faculty at the time of the disaster. “The firemen hosed the building from eight trucks for six hours,” he recalls. The water damage exposed a kind of sedimentary archaeological site of 19th- and 20th-century construction methods: load-bearing masonry, iron columns, concrete-block in fill, rubble-filled concrete-and-masonry walls. (Built in 1868 as a boys’ academy, the edifice had been expanded four times before Pratt acquired it in 1965.) “We let the layers become the material quality of the building,” Rogers says. From that point, he adds, the design became a matter of “selective insertion of the things you need in a school, like studios and pin-up space.”

In most rooms, the new insertions frame just a few original details: a cast-iron capital here, a line of brick archways there. The firm cut new arches into existing brick walls in some classrooms, and lined brick halls with white canvas-wrapped Homasote display boards. But the memory of smoke still gets in your eyes: some openings are filled temporarily with panes of translucent Kalwall, and a few panes have been left clear for peeks at the rubble next door.

There’s also one space whose new configuration was entirely defined by fire: a two-story jury room, formed by a street-front gable that had been left dangerously unsupported after the roof burned off. To keep the gable from falling into the street, firemen hosed it heavily, pushing it into the building; its collapse destroyed several floors and created an accidental atrium. Another roof-level space that still reflects its fire trauma is a formerly unused attic, which has become a light-flooded undergraduate studio. Its new roof rests on steel trusses rather than the original wood, and the ceiling planes shift as they dodge around the beams: a contemporary, fractured environment has been born within the familiar restrictions of a 19th-century garret.

Victoria Milne is a New York-based desinger, curator, and writer. She is currently working on a book about natural forms in design.

DAMAN VAN HORNE I Third-year Undergraduate Architecture Student

What works best for you in the renovated North Wing? I admire the respect shown the irregularities of the existing structure. There are many areas in which bad spacing in brick, or sections that would be considered bad masonry, have been left uncorrected. Looking from the attic studio onto the remnants of the gutted courtyard has really affected my work in a positive way.

ALEX PORTER I Assistant Visting Professor

And what works best for you? The way the openings look onto that central space-some are translucent and some transparent. I’m interested in seeing how that will relate to the new building [design, awarded to Steven Holland Rogers Marvel]. Also, I like the warmth of the found materials versus the metal and

new materials, and some interesting stuff is going on with the moving partitions in the offices. They function in terms of a whole, dynamic space.

JORDAN PARNASS DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE & MESH ARCHITECTURES

WHEN OSCAR EOND left an executive post at Aveda to start his own beauty salon in Manhattan, he knew he wanted to distinguish his place with something other than the uptown-ladies-who-lunch look. So when Jordan Parnass and Eric Liftin –friends from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, each of whom is the principal of his own design firm–pitched Bond a high-concept scheme, he was receptive. “They came up with one sentence: ‘The Jetsons meets Barbarella,'” says Bond. “That sold me.”

Within a drum-tight $200,000 budget, Bond remained open to whatever the young team wanted to try in his basement-level, 3,500-square-foot space in Soho. “It was really good that they’d never done a hair salon,” says Bond, “or it would have looked like a hair salon.”

To dispel the former storage space’s dank, dark feel, Liftin and Parnass installed a long processional staircase that deposits customers in the middle of the room — a feature that’s evocative, appropriately enough, of a fashion runway. The space around the steps accommodates the salon’s merchandising of Aveda products, which can bring in as much revenue as its styling services.

Along the walls, the team draped nylon parachute material, backlighting it slightly so that it glows. Compared to drywall, notes Parnass, the nylon “feels a little more generous and makes the whole space read less subterranean.” The fabric was also cheaper than drywall and is more easily replaceable; it also affords Bond storage space behind the curtains.

The network of exposed ducts and pipes overhead, which at first glance didn’t exactly bespeak the elegance associated with a high-end salon, became another case in which virtue was made of necessity. With neither the budget nor the inclination to conceal the space’s infrastructure, Parnass and Liftin incorporated the tube and wires into their design. Liftin used plumbing materials to build what look like mutant chandeliers. The fixtures encapsulate the Bond salon’s core aesthetic: a mix of heavy, industrial materials (plumbing, exposed concrete) and sleek, light, colorful ones (vinyl upholstery, backlit Panelite walls).

Parnass and Liftin saved their most unusual move for the waiting area, turning what’s often a salon’s dead-zone into its centerpiece. They created an elevated stage with inviting orange benches set smack in the middle of the salon, which offers views of the entire space. The architects also installed two tangerine-colored iMacs, complete with high-bandwidth Internet connections. Here, tiny video cameras panning the salon send images to the Bond homepage, and waiting customers can surf, check email, or just admire the setting. According to Liftin, “The idea is to expand the space beyond its physical confines.” And, as it turns out, the orange vinyl benches make good mouse pads.

Parnass and Liftin’s work proves that, given the right client, even confined parameters can leave plenty of room for creativity; that cheap, inventive solutions are often the best ones; and that unconventional thinking can provide a lot of marketing value. As Bond says, “We’ve got more press for those two iMacs than any good haircut.”

Steve Bodow is a New York-based freelance writer. His feature on a dotcom office designed by award-winner Jordan Parnass appeared in the October 2000 Interiors.

ORLANDO QUINTERD/Stylist

What’s your favorite part of the space? The lights, and this whole cutting area.

Why do you like the lights so much? They’re a different design and I’ve never seen anything like it. Unfortunately it’s not really ideal for seeing lines and what-have-you in a haircut, but it’s just the mood that it sets; it’s very nice.

What about this design makes doing your job easier? It’s very open. You can see the whole space from every angle and you can get inspiration from everyone and everything around you. I like that there’s nothing closed off.

If you could change anything about the salon, what would you change? I wouldn’t change a thing.

That’s a diplomatic answer. No, when I first walked in here to apply for a job, I was like, “This is it.”

SHIGERU BAN

Though he was only 43–almost a stripling architect years-Shigeru Ban has made Time magazine’s list of “100 Innovators” and Architectural Review’s list of “Six to Watch.” His placid, broad features appear regularly on global TV networks and in popular magazines. His work has turned up in design sanctums such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art and in frenzied attractions including London’s Millennium Dome and Hannover, Germany’s 2000 World’s Fair.

Many visionaries are best known for building on paper. But Ban’s reputation largely rests on building with paper. The Tokyo-based Japanese architect has elevated the lowly papertube into a structural element for beautiful, durable houses, public buildings, and furniture. He’s also employed it as a pragmatic solution forquickly erecting and then neatly disposing of temporary quarters. A man whose humility approaches self-denigration, he is dismissive about ingeniously transforming this humble material into shelter: “Once you hear of it, you think, ‘Oh, it is very possible– nothing special,'” he claims. In truth, Ban’s paper buildings have opened up radical new possibilities for greening architecture, housing refugees, injecting warmth into minimalist spaces, and eliminating barriers between interior and exterior.

Ban loves to contrive cheap solutions for elegant constructions. Mud, sand, and cardboard are his staples, along with beer crates, storage containers, and polycarbonate forms filled with Styrofoam beads. Even conventional building materials adopt new roles in his hands: precast concrete piles make their way above grade, and scaffolding, bookshelf supports, and cabinets become structure.

Born in Tokyo, in 1957, and educated in Japan and the U.S., Ban began dabbling with materials shortly after he graduated from Cooper Union in the ’80s. His experiments increased in size and complexity as he grew more confident. He first used precast pilings in 1992 on an overscaled wall separating a residential building from an adjacent train line, and later employed them as strong, slender columns for the 1997 Tazawako Rail Station. His foray into temporary storage containers began in 1996 with –what else?– a traveling exhibition. Used as vitrines, the containers were rented at each exhibit site from afreight company with offices throughout Japan, saving considerably on transportation costs. Similarly, Ban introduced prefabricated steel boxes at the Japanese pavilion in Hannover, which he displayed under an enormous vault of papertubes designed in partnership with the esteemed German architect Frei Otto.

Ban’s paper-tube structures are his most evolved experiments. The series began in 1989 as simple scaffolds of fat cardboard shafts, which were soon joined by dainty chairs of the same material. (Cappellini now produces these chairs as well as a bench, a chaise longue, and a wall screen of Ban’s design.) In 1995, he employed the tubes as vertical cantilevers in shelters for people left homeless by the earthquake that leveled Kobe, Japan, and in a gracefully unfurling nautilus-like chamber, designed in collaboration with Gumuchdjian+Spence, in the Millennium Dome. More recently, Ban devised paper barrel vaults: the 46,000-square-foot pavilion at Hannover was the largest cardboard structure ever made. A smaller vault, which floated delicately over the Sculpture Garden at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in the summer of 2000, incorporated a set of paper arches as its primary structure.

“I have tried to be very careful about using paper,” Ban notes, “because I don’t want to be considered the ‘paper architect.’ If I have an opportunity to develop paper structure further, I do it.” Such chances turn up: he is working again with Philip Gumuchdjian on a paper space frame for Kew Gardens, outside London.

Arata Isozaki, in whose office Ban briefly worked after graduating from Cooper Union, once said that industrial materials in architecture have “bred paradox and wit.” The witty side of Ban’s architecture beguiles; its paradox, namely a resourceful use of rubbish, provides deeper satisfaction, allowing Ban to build virtually anywhere at the drop of a hat. This has resulted in shelters–known as “loghouses,” because they are wrapped in a sturdy wall of vertical paper tubes-for victims of the 1998 earthquake in Turkey and of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake in Japan; more recently, they provided housing for flood victims in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Ban has also developed and deployed tents with paper-tube supports in Rwanda for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and built a lovely church in Kobe to address emergency needs neglected by the Japanese government. With news of disaster, he gathers up donated plastic sheets and cardboard tubes and flies to the site, where local volunteers collect beverage crates and sand. (He prefers local plastic and paper as well, but has thus far found their quality unpredictable.) In other humanitarian endeavors, he designed an AIDS hospice in Uganda in 1999, and recently completed a Japanese museum to exhibit artwork by children with disabilities.

Paradoxes aren’t easy to sell. Because paper is weak and combustible–though in fact it can be strong and fireproof–the bureaucracies in many countries discourage Ban’s experiments. German authorities delayed the Hannover pavilion until Ban and Otto redesigned the foundation to allow for more rapid and orthodox construction. As is typical of Ban, he turns to an everyday item to illustrate the problem: “The authorities are not flexible. You have to put a line on wineglasses to mark how far you pour! That shows their mentality.”

But Ban is slowly eliminating impediments. First with engineers in Japan, and now with the international firm Buro Happold, he has demonstrated the practicality of his ideas. Engineers understand Ban’s clever tinkering and appreciate its breadth. Cristobal Corea, a Buro Happold designer who has collaborated with him, notes that “Ban has confidence when speaking to engineers; he knows what we are talking about.”

Students are also receptive. Ban rallies them to work as volunteers on his shelters by spreading the word at schools and on rock radio stations. He challenges young people in Turkey and Mexico not only to aid him in design and construction, but also to improve on his prototypes. He runs the nonprofit Voluntary Architects’ Network to respond to disasters and hopes to strengthen the role students play in this organization by moving it from his practice to one of Tokyo’s universities.

His willingness to experiment with materials and his humanitarian approach to design show Ban to be a committed interpreter of postwar modernism. He enrolled at Cooper Union to study under the school’s dean of architecture, the late John Hejduk, from whom he learned a highly disciplined approach to organizing buildings. Ban’s work has the careful precision of Hejduk’s better-known “nine square” designs–a set of exercises aimed at finding a minimalist, compositionally perfect plan. The younger architect paid pointed tribute to Hejduk with Nine Square Grids House (1997). There, Ban partitioned a 34-foot-by-34-foot space into nine square sections, using sliding doors that allow users to reconfigure the area. His cylindrical bathrooms (found especially in the early houses, almost invariably in brick) allude to the spatial arrangement in Philip Johnson’s Glass House, a building Ban has long loved from afar, but has felt too shy to tour.

Ban also acknowledges modernism by naming his most experimental residences Case Study Houses, after the mid-century icons in Southern California, where he first studied architecture in the States. (To establish U.S. residency, required for enrollment at Cooper Union, he spent a year at SCI-Arc.) Ban built ten Case Study houses between 1991 and 2000, all in Japan. At first he described his houses in purely formal terms: two parallel walls; two walls and a structural core; three walls, two cores. Apparently to make these systems more graphically legible, he rendered them with contrasting finishes–raw, textured surfaces sandwiched between smooth white floor and ceiling planes. The spatial character of modernism inevitably took hold as well. Horizontal planes slice off flat planes of unbounded space. Without impeding walls, interior and exterior are often linked in a harmonious whole.

The interiors electrify; they have a forceful horizontal quality that pushes beyond the boundaries of Ban’s architecture. The houses, especially those designed for people privileged enough to withdraw to summer quarters, remind residents that their space is part of a larger community. In Ban’s 1997 Walls-less House, the floor turns up to act as a shear plane, and the living space is little more than a sandwich of air compressed between the glossy floor and ceiling. His Curtain Wall House is a tiered stage, a raised, double-height living room concealed behind a long, shimmering curtain that billows as suggestively as a chiffon skirt. When the owner opens this wall, the living room stretches into the street.

Of course not every site, especially in crowded Tokyo, offers this kind of sweep. When faced with cramped conditions, Ban sometimes relies on clever devices to suggest openness. In many of his city residences, greenery covers an outside wall, creating a shallow landscape. More recently, in his 1998 Hanegi Forest apartments (built in the same Tokyo neighborhood as the office he designed for himself in 1988), he used high-clarity mirrors in an open area below the building. These reflect trees that penetrate the structure and create a labyrinthine forest that seems far larger than the site.

Ban takes increasing interest in testing personal boundaries, too: the Walls-less House allows even the bath and toilet to be completely exposed. In Case Study House #10, otherwise known as the Naked House, the family members keep their clothes in a communal space and all dress together. Ban designed the bedrooms as mobile boxes and he feared that if clothes were stored in the units they would make the boxes too heavy to move.

Uniting Ban’s work are clarity, textural richness, and ingenuity. These qualities come together seamlessly in each project, whether it’s a temporary exposition building or a permanent museum, a house designed for people with second homes or for those with no home at all. Ban notes that “even in disaster areas, I want to create beautiful buildings.” And indeed, one of his loghouses made its way into the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou. This breezy breadth is part of Ban’s appeal. He recognizes that architects want to build monuments–he himself admits to this urge. But he also recognizes that public service is part of modernism’s mission.

On the boards are four more paper-tube buildings, in Portugal, plus a history museum in Dijon, France, houses near the Great Wall in China, and a museum of paper art in Mishima, Japan. The last, ironically, will not be made of paper. Ban keeps outmaneuvering most expectations. Though he seems to be asking design professionals to reconsider building materials, what he really wants is a new definition of architecture’s reach. In the introduction to a monograph on his firm forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press, he describes his search to control the conditions of working with paper: “I had been under the impression that some things were simply impossible to build regardless of how logical their structural design seemed.” That impression was fleeting. “Anything is possible,” Shigeru Ban concludes, “if the design is credible and one has the will.”

Form Follows Future

Shoji screens replacing cubicle walls in the design of government offices? It’s happening. Retail designers watching MTV for cues to entertain shoppers? Sure. Starbucks in a retirement community? Who couldn’t use a jolt of companionship with their caffeine?

All of these trends, and many more, were discussed last fall at the IDA’s fourth annual Industry Advisory Council, a forum that brings together interior designers and industry partners to share insight. The IIDA forum directors who participated represented all disciplines–government, healthcare, hospitality, retail, corporate, education, facility management, and residential design. In 2000, the council’s main topic was (and remains) the darling of trend-watchers: the New Economy and the forces that drive it, chiefly technology.

Technology means not only faster communication, but also more efficient systems that offer manufacturers better quality control, quicker production, and more time to develop products and to shop around for complementary partners. (Furniture companies have led the way in uniting under a single umbrella, but now surface companies are following them.) Or as corporate partner Glenn King of KingMahon Design Partnership, put it, “Today, the fast beat the slow–tomorrow, the fast will beat the big.”

Manufacturers who realize a need to integrate products are talking to other manufacturers. For example, the flooring people are beginning to speak to the wheelchair people, and the cart makers, and the bed makers, and the candlestick makers (or rather, the foot-candle makers). It is time for both industry and design to step out of their own spheres and enter others, to follow the lessons of the VW Bug and the PT Cruiser for which design played a crucial role in development. There’s no time to waste. Modernization used to mean 20 to 30 years, but now it means 2 to 3.

In the stalled economy of the late ’80s and early ’90s, companies returned to their core businesses. Now, to stay ahead, both designers and manufacturers have to be not only technology experts, but also business strategists, futurists, regulatory/code experts (especially if they work in today’s global economy), educators of staff and management, marketers, customer service representatives, ethicists, and management consultants.

Technology is a tool and cannot solve problems in and of itself. It requires innovative thought, combined with creative utilization of people, talent, and time. Clients want personal attention, no matter where they are located. And while designers troll the Internet for resources, their relationship with manufacturers’ representatives remains key in securing information and a sale. “Human resources” doesn’t mean the personnel department. It means people. Retaining employees is crucial for both design firms and manufacturers. The new “knowledge worker” doesn’t have the work-till-you-drop mentality of the baby boomer but demands a better quality of life. Respecting employees’ individuality, business has moved from the hierarchy organizational chart (workers in cubicles, management in corner offices) to the parity organizational chart (workers assigned to the same kind of space regardless of what they do) to the pluralism organizational chart (the right space for the right job).

Evolving from the dialogue between industry and design isn’t a business model but an intellectual one: the think tank. Together, we can harness technology and move into a better future. It is time to put out heads together.

Detroit

As Detroit celebrates its 300th birthday this year, visitors will find a city springing back after decades of decline. Take a drive (this is the Motor City, after all) to see pockets of life among downtown’s abandoned skyscrapers, including three recently opened casinos, the restaurants and bakeries of Greektown, and the Tigers’s new baseball stadium. Stroll through Eastern Market and pick up a bag of pistachios at Germack Pistachio Co. or a slice of pate at R. Hirt, Jr. Co. Wander into the Renaissance Center for a look at General Motors’s new world headquarters. Or hop onto the People Mover for a quick loop around downtown and a fine view of the Detroit River. Once you’ve toured the city, consider venturing into Detroit’s leafy suburbs, especially Bloomfield Hills, home of Cranbrook one of the country’s best-designed educational campuses.

THREE MUST-SEES

Detroit Institute of Arts

Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes are among the highlights of this Beaux-Arts building in the city’s cultural center. (Rivera created the works in 1932, after weeks spent touring Ford’s Rouge plant.) Another notable feature is the Kresge Court, where each of four walls resembles a distinct European facade and skylights produce the atmosphere of a continental garden. Among the museum’s most famous artworks are Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold, Bruegel’s Wedding Dance, and Rembrandt’s Visitation. 5200 Woodward Ave.; [313] 833-7900; Wed.–Fri. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., first Fri. of the month 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Orchestra Hall

Designed by C. Howard Crane, this elegant home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was built in 1919 in just 4 months and 23 days. The orchestra moved out in the ’40s, and the building became a jazz club where Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performed, but by 1960 it had fallen into disrepair. The decayed building required 19 years of painstaking renovations before reopening in 1989 with the DSO back in place. Note in particular the ornamental moldings and ceiling frescoes. 3711 Wood ward Ave., [313] 576-5111, concerts every weekend.

Comerica Park

In addition to America’s favorite pastime, diversions at the new Tigers ballpark (inaugurated last April) include larger-than-life statues of hall-of-famers such as Hank Greenberg and Ty Cobb, a tiger carousel, a baseball Ferris wheel, and a fountain that sends up water streams during the home team’s big plays. The entire lower deck is a walking museum of the Tigers and Detroit, with displays of historical artifacts from 1900 through 2000. 2100 Woodward Ave., [313] 962-4000, tours during baseball season.

ALSO WORTH A LOOK

Guardian Building

Nicknamed the Cathedral of Finance when it opened in 1929, this Wirt C. Rowland–designed building, is the epitome of Art Deco style and one of Detroit’s greatest landmarks. Stroll inside its lobby and gaze at the vaulted tilework ceiling. Visitors may also peek into what was once the main banking room, with its Aztec-style design, painted ceilings, and a mural of Michigan on the south wall. 500 Griswold Ave., [313] 965-2430, lobby open weekdays 8 a.m.–5 p.m..

Detroit People Mover Stations

Hop on the People Mover to get a bird’s-eye view Detroit–and to see art featured in each of the 13 stations scattered throughout downtown. The elevated trains stop every three to five minutes; a round trip takes just a quarter of an hour and the fare is just 50 cents. [313] 224-2160 for a list of stations; Mon.–Thurs. 7 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m.–midnight, Sat. 7 a.m.–midnight, Sun. noon–8 p.m.

Cranbrook Educational Community

Newspaper publisher George Gough Booth and his wife, Ellen Scripps Booth, spent 30 years in the early 20th century developing Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, 35–40 minutes northwest of Detroit by car. The masterwork of chief architect Eliel Saarinen, the campus comprises Cranbrook’s Academy of Art, Art Museum, Institute of Science, and elementary and high schools. Recent constructions include a national AIA award–winning natatorium designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Other highlights: Cranbrook House, built in 1908 as the Booth’s residence, is the oldest surviving manor home in metropolitan Detroit. Designed by Albert Kahn, the house is furnished with many original pieces, including tapestries and fine and decorative art collections influenced by Booth’s loyalty to the Arts and Crafts movement. Surrounding the mansion are 40 acres of landscaped gardens with fountains, terraces, and sculpture. (380 Lone Pine Rd.; [248] 645-3147; tours June 15–Oct. 30, Thurs. 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. , Sun. 3 p.m.) \ Saarinen House was Eliel Saarinen’s family home and his studio from the time he built it, in 1930, until his death in 1950. The house retains its dazzling Art Deco and Finnish-inspired furnishings, and textiles woven by Saarinen’s wife, Loja. (39221 Woodward Ave.; [2483 645-3361; tours May–Oct., Tues–Sun. 1 p.m., also Sat, and Sun. 3 p.m.) \ Designed by Oscar Murray, Christ Church Cranbrook has one of the most lavishly ornamented ecclesiastical interiors in North America. While its woodcarvings, stained glass, and mosaics are contemporary with the 1920S construction of the Episcopal church, primarily English gothic in style, many of the objects are centuries-old treasures found by the Booths in their travels. (470 Church Rd., [248] 644-5210; weekdays 9 a.m.–5 p.m. unless services are underway).

WHERE TO STAY

Located in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood, former home of General Motors’s world headquarters, the Hotel St. Regis, which has just become a Holiday Inn, once catered to the GM crowd. Now that GM has moved downtown, the Holiday Inn’s 224 rooms are open to other corporate travelers and tourists. Renovated last year, the hotel has all-new furniture and is convenient to many of the city’s attractions (3071 W. Grand Blvd., [313] 873-3000, doubles from $125). \ For an upscale experience, the Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn, has the ambience of a turn-of-the century English manor house, with marble, crystal chandeliers, custom fabrics and china, and works by European artists from the 18th through early 20th centuries (300 Town Center Dr., [313] 441-2000, singles from $295). \ After exploring the boutiques and galleries of suburban Birmingham, visit the 150-room Townsend Hotel, which offers four-poster beds, marble baths, and Aveda amenities. High tea is served in the lobby Tuesday through Saturday (100 Townsend, [248] 642 -7900, doubles from $295).

WHERETO EAT

For a corned-beef sandwich, check out Eph McNally’s in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood (1300 Porter St., [313] 963-8833). The deli seats 27 and is known for its quirky displays of metal lunch boxes and board games from the 1960s and ’70s. \ For more lavish dining and a wonderful view of the Detroit River and skyline, chow down at the Rattlesnake Club (300 River Place Dr., [313] 567-4400). Housed in an old pharmaceutical factory, the restaurant is known for freshwater lake perch sauteed with lemon caper sauce, rack of Michigan lamb with yellow corn polenta, and white chocolate ravioli dessert. The who’s who of Detroit can be spotted at Intermezzo (1435 Randolph, [313] 961-0707). Located in the Harmonie Park neighborhood, Intermezzo serves Italian dishes with American flair in a Soho-style atmosphere. Try the lamb chops, beef tenderloin, or broiled salmon.

STOCKING UP

The shops of downtown’s Broadway-Randolph district are the place to find cutting-edge designer clothes. Check out Serman’s collection of men’s suits in shades of lime, tangerine, cherry red, or royal blue, with shoes to match (1238 Randolph St., [313] 964-1335). \ For a uniquely Detroit shopping experience, head to Pewabic Pottery (10125 E. Jefferson, [313] 822-0954). Operating out of a Tudor-revival residence since 1907, Pewabic is one of only three Arts and Crafts-era potteries still open nationwide; you can watch the artists at work before buying their wares. \ Browse through the Detroit Antiques Mall (828W. Fisher Freeway, [313] 963-5252), located in a converted buggy factory, where visitors can find architectural items such as glass and brass doorknobs or light fixtures from the 1880s to the 1920s.