Jun 18, 2010

A Call for New Vision for Urban Development at the Domino Sugar Site

I had planned to write about the "poisonous cocktail of vanity and self-delusion" that is New York architecture criticism this week, the violent contradiction between its wild celebration of genius and its fire-and-brimstone condemnation of the economic system that generates the architecture being valorized, due to its utter lack of a framework for understanding urban economics. Then I got side-tracked by events and writing architecture criticism, or architecture reporting, at any rate. I was also going to write about the fun mushroom-hunting adventure in the New Cavalry Cemetery in Sunset Park with the very cool Janette Kim and Chris Kennedy as part of the Safari 7 project and the Queens Art Express, which began as a part of a project examining the city's landscape against the backdrop of the 7 train's path, a fantastic look at a slice of the communities and ecologies of New York.

I was also going to take that opportunity to talk about what a state of disarray the Columbia graduate architecture program otherwise remains in after years of inattention and institutional inertia, with a lot of the same faddish people who seem better equipped to train young fops than practicing architects still there--despite great new hires like Vishaan Chakrabarti and the emerging landscape architecture program--but maybe this has changed since I last spoke with some of the graduates and great people nonetheless teaching there. (I never totally understood who Mark Wigley was but he seems more politically connected with the architect establishment than intellectually engaged in the world. From what I gather his main credential is having curated the largely discredited Deconstructivist Architecture show more than 20 years ago. What does Columbia GSAPP have to say and what is it doing in relation to this enormous, dynamic, evolving city we live in? Producing more speculative studios? I love theory but the intellectual tradition that his framework for architecture criticism is grounded in is extremely outdated and useless for making anything happen. Columbia needs to take its great housing studio program led by Michael Bell and use it to start contributing to a vision for New York City affordable housing development that can be made into a reality. Bell ran a wonderful studio last year on Hunters Point South, the site on the edge of Long Island City that is being developed into a massive complex of 5,000 units of affordable housing by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, but without the studios being eventually gauged against to the economic feasibility of the designs, they cannot contribute to a new model for housing in the city. However, Rafael Vinoly's design for New Domino would not have made it past the first week in Bell's studio. It is a massing diagram, not a design much less a concept.)

Instead I ended up embroiled in discussions with a group of North Brooklyn natives and long-time residents who are kind of disappointed by the results of the rezoned waterfront so far. Though I had been arguing with them in defense of condo development for many months, I had to agree that it was merely OK, and the design, planning, programming, and overall vision could be so much better. I wrote a letter in support of their call for a new model of development in the plan for the New Domino project currently seeking approvals from the City Council, posted it as a note on Facebook, and invited people to sign on to it. I added a statement that in a very provisional way assembles some ideas to suggest another "vision" for the site and the neighborhood, inspired by my friends whose Domino University provocation started the conversation. I blame them. I intend to read whatever part of it is readable in 3 minutes to the City Council on Monday. There will also be a rally against the project at 10 AM led by some local pols, Steve Levin, Joe Lentol, and Vito Lopez, the head of the local Democratic machine, and one in favor of it at 9:30 led by district Council member Diana Reyna. (None of them even mention it on their websites.) If you would like to join me, read a part of the rest, or contribute your own new vision, please join us, or sign on to this statement:

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Dear Honorable Members of the New York City Council:

As a part of the New York City community of architects, designers, and urbanists, we recognize that condo developments in upzoned areas have brought enormous benefits to the public through new tax revenues, high-quality architecture, affordable housing, waterfront parks, and remediation of brownfield sites. But as the market has seemed to have been over-saturated by condos and the rental vacancy rate remains unaffected by the inclusionary rezoning process, we are inviting you to consider a new model of development for the Domino Sugar site, one of the great icons of manufacturing in the area of North Brooklyn and, indeed, the United States.

As you may know, Domino was the first sugar company to use branding to sell its products, and it remains one of the most recognizable brands in the country. We believe that the current plan to preserve the landmarked buildings and provide open space, affordable housing, waterfront access, and generous community space is a good start, but we think there can be a more ambitious and visionary approach to this site—and to waterfront development in general—which embraces the history of Domino and uses the site to prove that there is another way.

As a city, we have progressed far beyond the point when we had to beg developers to invest in New York. We are in the unique position of having investors compete for the right to put billions of dollars into complicated sites that require hundreds of millions in infrastructure, even during the worst recession in decades. The Domino site presents an absolutely unparalleled opportunity, and we ask whether its redevelopment according to the same model befits its enormous significance. While we have made great progress, this model still has not lived up to the standards for design and urbanism that the city must aspire to for the next century. The Domino Sugar site is Williamsburg’s High Line. It is clear that the market is still supporting well-designed, high-quality architecture and urbanism. These unique sites are opportunities to generate new forms of urbanism and orders of magnitude greater revenue, instead of producing the high volumes of similar units that are now languishing on the market. We believe that Rafael Vinoly is a superb architect capable of great work, but this inclusionary condo model does not permit the creativity and dynamism that could be supported by this architect, this community, this site, or this city. We ask you to send this plan back for revision, to incorporate the care and attention to detail in site planning and land use that it deserves.

As a body empowered with the ability to accept or reject this plan but not, perhaps, to propose a new model of development, we ask you to embrace a new vision. We all remember the terrible plight of New York during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, and we never want to go back to a time when burning buildings was more profitable than designing new ones. Rejecting a 1.5 billion dollar investment in our city, especially one that is loaded with community benefits, is an ambitious step. It’s a vote of confidence in New York City: that we can do better, that we can begin to create a city and an architecture, and a model of urban development that is fitting for a world-class city, a city that embraces its immigrant communities, a city that is in constant transformation as every generation takes hold of it and reshapes it for itself. We ask you to consider the Domino site an example for what can be accomplished in every neighborhood and every district in the city with more attention to detail, more care, more originality, and a greater level of inclusion, not represented by percentages of units, but by a vision that connects to the history of the place and the future of the city. The Domino University plan is the beginning of a process that can begin to impact the core problem that we still face after decades of redevelopment: a rental vacancy rate that remains below three percent. We need new housing in New York City, but not of this kind. It's time to explore a new way, and the Domino site is the place where it can begin to happen.


James Andrews, artist and teacher
Magda Biernat-Webster, photographer
Kristi Cameron, editor
Cameron Campbell, designer
Daniel D'Oca, architect, planner and professor
Dennis Farr, community activist
Deborah Gans, architect and professor
Christoph Gielen, photographer
Lisa Kahane, photographer
Nadya Karyo, design talent headhunter
Olympia Kazi, director of the Van Alen Institute
Janette Kim, landscape architect and professor
Cedomir Kovacev, designer
Sara Kraushaar, filmmaker
Ryan Gabrielle Kuonen, community organizer
Garret Linn, artist
William Menking, architect, founder and editor of The Architect's Newspaper
Alan W. Moore, artist, activist, and co-founder of ABC No Rio
Amber G. Myers, activist
Thaddeus Pawlowski, architect
Ethan Pettit, urbanist
Arleen Schloss, performance artist and video pioneer
Jesse Seegers, Masters of Architecture candidate 2013, Princeton School of Architecture
Astrid Smitham, architecture graduate student, ETH Zurich
Amy Stringer-Mowatt, architect
Eva Schicker, photographer
James Trimarco, writer
Stephen Zacks, writer and reporter

A Vision for the Future

As architects, designers, urbanists, and city leaders we are constantly volunteering and being asked to imagine new ways of creating spaces and adapting old spaces to new uses. We participate in competitions and design studios, we engage in discussions and write reviews, we look at plans and proposals and give them our approval or disapproval. We are rarely agents of urban development and site programming. But now, with New York City having achieved a unique status as a “superstar” city, we are in a position to create a new model that corresponds to our idea of what a great city should be. A $150 million dollar investment in the High Line produced billions of dollars of value-added real estate investment around it; for a comparable investment in historic preservation and environmental remediation on the Williamsburg waterfront, we can transform Domino into a social, educational, economic, and commercial center for one of the most creative and diverse communities in the world.

The Domino Sugar factory is situated at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge, which connects north Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan. The area is home to many of the city’s immigrant communities and a foothold for young migrants from the rest of the country and the world. It is a community filled with entrepreneurs busy inventing software, designing spaces, opening shops, crafting objects, making clothing, producing magazines and newspapers and websites, working in and starting some of the best restaurants, fashion houses, and design firms in the city. They’re college graduates turning rooftops into farms, and kitchens into start-up companies selling organic food and creating beautiful and unheard of fusions of ethnic cuisines. They’re milling the interiors and industrial designed products and modeling the high-design spaces of Manhattan and the rest of the city and country. They’re teaching in the city’s expanding universities, creating new musical genres, writing movies, books, and dramas for television. They’re performing scientific and medical research, curing diseases, and transforming our ability to live healthy lives.

Instead of taking the profits from market-rate condos and using it to pay investors and fund other market-rate developments, Domino Art City would be a self-sustaining development that nourishes creative and immigrant communities in the city. We propose to redevelop the site in such a way that 70 percent of the 2,200 housing units will be raw live/ work rent-stabilized units freely adaptable by tenants and maintained by a private nonprofit management company. These units would be rented on a preferential basis through a special lottery system to second-generation neighborhood residents unable to afford market-rate rents, past area residents displaced by development, and new under 35-year-old migrants to New York who will apply for artist and immigrant residencies. Another 30 percent of the units will be devoted to supportive housing for at-risk youth aging out of foster care, low-income tenants from other areas of the city, and other groups in need of supportive services, with the help of state and federal funds. The cost of site preparation and historic preservation will be funded by grants, matching funds, and the sale of tax-exempt bonds.

The 140,000 square feet of community space already allocated within the plan will be designed to accommodate the Domino Educational Community, including an elementary school, kitchens for entrepreneurial start-up food companies, an urbanism think-tank and development company that conceives and produces community-based projects, expandable annexes for educational workshops, green urbanism research and training, pilot schools such as Domino University, the School of the Future, and Public School New York, and a large open raw warehouse space for ad hoc musical and performance events, flea markets, exhibitions, art installations, and other large-scale indoor gatherings.

The area facing the waterfront esplanade would be rented to small-scale businesses and revenue generating recreational facilities, including a large beer-garden, a foodie village, and an amusement park. A part of the facility would be specifically programmed by stakeholders from the Eastern European, Puerto Rican, Italian, and Jewish communities that have made the area their home, along with the West Indian communities to the southeast whose historical relationship to sugar plantations and Domino sugar is particularly important.

This growing, vibrant community would be a part of a new vision for downtown Williamsburg that would extend its benefits to the under-served communities of the JMZ subway line, extending into Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. A new subway stop for the JMZ trains at Broadway and Bedford and a reconfigured route that fluidly links it to the commercial and business centers midtown would ease pressure on the L train and support billions of dollars of new investment extending to the east. The subway stop would be integrated into an urban design plan for the transportation infrastructure of downtown Williamsburg, where automobile traffic from the Williamsburg Bridge and the BQE overpass haplessly intersect with the elevated JMZ train, the bus depot, and the pedestrian overpass. This would be integrated with the new landscape design for the BQE trench currently being undertaken by Susannah Drake of Dland Studio.

A series of public forums and short competitions would be held, including an ideas competition for the programming and overall landscape urbanism scheme for the site, an urban design competition for the downtown Williamsburg transportation infrastructure, and then the Domino site would be divided into separate parts to be designed by several different architecture firms to maintain the fine-grained character and diversity of the city.

ABOVE: An image from Dland Studio's study of a Cobble Hill section of the BQE: RECONNECTION STRATEGIES: BQE TRENCH IN BROWNSTONE BROOKLYN. It has expanded this work to the Williamsburg section of the BQE.
Towards a Greater City

This project if fine. It's OK. You should vote for it if you want New York to be fine. You should vote against it if you think we can make great neighborhoods. Don't just vote no. Let's start a process by which we can make this project great. Let's form a working group within the city's department of design and construction in cooperation with the NYC Economic Development Corporation that actively develops sites like these in neighborhoods everywhere around the city. Let's create special places that we LOVE and think of with affection. The skills and competency are here. We have great architects. They're doing great projects around the world, designing whole neighborhoods and cities. Let's let them work here too.

We'll form a committee composed of appointees from a couple of neighborhood organizations (NAG and OSA), the head of DDC as a representative of the mayor's office (David Burney), representatives from the council (Diana Reyna and Steve Levin), a development expert (Vishaan Chakrabarti), a representative of the city's Economic Development Corporation, a few architecture experts (James Corner, Mark Robbins), and a representative of the MTA.

We'll hold a 6-week competition for ideas for the Domino site and its relation to the transportation infrastructure of downtown Williamsburg that includes two programs, one for downtown Williamsburg, one for the Domino site. We'll have a well-publicized presentation of the ideas in a large warehouse in Williamsburg and take comments from the community. We'll revise the program according to the best ideas for design, development, and urbanism. We'll invite two short lists of architects, one with urban design, planning, engineering and landscape urbanism expertise, the other with architecture and landscape architecture expertise, to create landscape urbanism designs for the sites. Then we'll take that plan, divide it into separate projects for the housing, waterfront, community space, education, transportation, parks, and other components, and issue RFPs for each of them to be designed by separate teams of architects, landscape architects, and engineers.

The link below is a sketch of the initial Domino University proposal on the part of long-time Williamsburg residents and colleagues, Dennis Farr, Ethan Pettit, and Eva Schicker. I think it needs to be expanded and revised and could use the help of professional architects, planners, and developers, but it could be the seed perhaps of a new way of thinking about sites like these that could take advantage of the many other ideas and possibilities out there.

William Harvey at Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts has penned an editorial calling for a North Brooklyn creative economy zone that resonates with this project as well.

Jun 7, 2010

Notes on N.O.: On representational architecture, political design, the importance of ideas, social and economic processes, and aesthetic judgment

Several years ago I wrote a slightly unfair article making fun of a vacation house for a Serbian expatriate who emigrated to Ohio that was designed to be built in suburban Belgrade. (Unfair in the sense that he is a young and unrecognized architect, but he submitted it for publication, it landed on my desk, and I thought it was funny.) Now I'm compounding the error by using it as a primary example of the difference between architecture that could conceivably have a real effect in the world and architecture that is emptily representational but has no practical consequences. The house was designed by a one-time student of Peter Eisenman and was intended as a symbolic critique of the NATO bombing campaign of Serbia that helped stop Albanians from being forced out of Kosovo. I bring it up because it reminded me recently of the claim that Jean Nouvel's condo in Chelsea has some representational relationship with an adjacent women's prison that gives it a political significance. This is obviously the kind of nonsense architects spoon feed to critics all the time, and it's part of the responsibility of critics to ridicule them for it, not valorize them. We'll come back to this though.

I've been harping on this a lot lately, but another favorite example of inconsequential political design is the work of Teddy Cruz. Since he continues to appear as a lecturer with a disturbing regularity at any meeting having any vague claim to be about serious issues in architecture and urbanism--one would think that he was the only Latin American architect in the country or the only one talking about immigration issues, and he's so busy lecturing that he usually has to apologetically leave panels early before taking questions to go to his next lecture--I'll take the liberty of criticizing him again in this context. Above is a rendering of a shantytown or series of dwellings designed by Cruz to be built of recycled materials from San Diego exported over the border to Tijuana to build what looks like a flimsy town at the bottom of a future mud-slide. It's a celebration of the ad hoc manner in which people of little means construct their own dwellings and then get crushed by them whenever there's an earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster. (Then Architecture for Humanity can hold a huge competition and architecture schools can go down there and do design studios and build a chicken coop or a soccer field.)

Cruz has been showing this image for probably a decade as part of his broad gloss of the north-south dimension of immigration and the "neo-liberal" economic system that he continually confuses with an imperial system that was destroyed about a half-century ago by two world wars and successive national liberation movements. (What about South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, India, China, South Korea, etc. etc.?) The imperialist critique that he is using is at least a half-century out of date, and there are very real reasons why political scientists don't use these terms any more. They don't work. They don't apply in any useful way to the present organization of the economic and political system. They are not useful for providing more power to disempowered populations. They are not useful for building houses. They are not useful for planning. They don't help explain why the United States has the most open immigration policies of any country in the world and conceives of itself as a nation of immigrants. They have no application except for the purposes of his career lecturing to very politically naive architects with good intentions who have never studied social or political science. This is probably why Cruz has not produced any architecture or changed any zoning regulations or had any useful effect on the lives of the people for whom he claims to work and to speak. He was also written about very uncritically by Ouroussoff--glorified really--relatively early in his Times reign, but that's worthy of its own separate investigation.

Incidentally, Cruz also sees his work as a reaction against the symbolic and representational formal architecture of the previous generation. The problem is that his explicitly political and economic critique of architectural practice, apart from being based on an outdated understanding of contemporary political and economic structures, does not hold itself to a pragmatic standard of trying to achieve real political and economic effects in the world. His critique is so ideological, in fact, that it could not even conceivably have any real consequences. He even admitted in an interview a few years ago, in which he was shocked and angry to be asked implicitly critical questions, that he was against micro-credit regardless of its positive effects and concerned that shantytowns could be "gentrified" if the residents are given title over property! If poor people are granted the ability to buy and sell property and improve their conditions through their own initiative, this is "neo-liberalism."

A few years ago, architect and Columbia professor Michael Bell completed this lovely house in upstate New York, intended as a vacation home for a gay couple, one of them a screenwriter and the other a photo editor and writer. Bell is the kind of architect who cares deeply about ideas and devotes an extraordinary amount of time to coaching and encouraging his students. He committed a huge amount of time and energy to thinking about this house. As a result, it is invested with a lot of ideas, some of which were possible to be realized in it--experiences of visual perception and space that orient the self in relation to other people in the house and produce a very special sense of the natural world--and others that are not really possible--a transformation of consciousness that would extend a political critique of the contemporary social order beyond its practical use as a weekend and summer home for bourgeois intellectuals. That's just to say that I do believe that ideas have consequences and that the unique experiences produced by architectural spaces have the capacity to make us think differently and exist in the world differently, but one has to be very careful about attributing a larger significance to these effects beyond the context in which they are situated.

This addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City by Steven Holl Architects is an extraordinarily beautiful (and expensive, at $550 million) project that takes a similar set of ideas, especially in regard to spatial experience and perception, and applies them to public space (admission is free), so that these effects could have some broader social consequence. As a project partly intended to boost the civic pride, tourism, and international profile of a city still recovering from the decline brought on by suburbanization, I also think it's a kind of work that, when successful, deserves a certain amount of credit for operating in a useful way in relation to its social and economic context.

And finally, I just want to put in a word about Dubai, that much-ridiculed poster-child for the supposed excesses of the Oughts. Here, again, is an architecture that aspires to a larger social and political significance, the building of a modern city-state in a region that has remained crucially at odds with the West and dependent on a single natural resource for its economic relationship with the world. The notion is to build a city that engaged the world and produced a non-petroleum-dependent economy through design, architecture, urban planning, infrastructure, ports, international trade, tourism, new technology, financial markets, and liberal social policies. I don't hesitate to continue to support that project and hope for its recovery from the financial crisis. One could easily ignore the context in which this city is being built and fulminate against "excesses" and conspicuous consumption and "evil paradises," but that would be simply a refusal to try to come to terms with the contemporary world, and not hugely informative or a great service to criticism.

This is an image of a middle-class housing development in Dubai that I found out about by doing the normal research you do as a reporter investigating other aspects of a story that are not being covered. Many many of the master-planned developments are of this non-spectacular nature, built for people working in the technology and financial sectors, which to a large extent has been locating regional headquarters there. This, along with major shipping ports and airports that serve as hubs for the region, is the foundation of the Dubai economy and the basis for the emergence of its tourism sector. This has a slightly tangential relationship to the work we'll be talking about in New York, but it has to do with thinking about the social and economic processes and the extent to which aesthetic judgments bear a relationship with the framework through which their objects are understood to be produced.

Now to the Pentecostalist Criticism of Ouroussoff, a wild celebration of his direct relationship with a few architects possessing a mysterious and extraordinary talent, combined with an equally wild fire-and-brimstone condemnation of the social and economic processes by which their work has been produced in the contemporary world. The bewildering, mesmerizing, delirious, glittering revelations produced by these works and processes may yet have our dear critic speaking in tongues.  - STEPHEN ZACKS

Jun 6, 2010

And Now For a Word about Sewage, er Biosolids

On a recent Saturday afternoon (yesterday), the excellent Radical Cartographer (and friend) Lize Mogel was up in Harlem's Riverbank State Park, an incredible landscape built on top of one of the city's biggest sewage treatment plants, for a picnic and talk sponsored by the Whitney Independent Study program and the Design Trust for Public Space. She baked a (delicious) chocolate cake plotting out the locations of the city's sewerage infrastructure and recounted the exciting and harrowing tale of the movements of the city's emanations--from the private sphere of the individual through the public water treatment system, into the arms of private companies, and from there to the various states that allow the sludge to be spread upon the land as "biosolids" for fertilizer.

I live blocks from the Newtown Creek plant (seen here in a view from George Trakas's blossoming Newtown Creek Nature Walk), and one of my first news stories for Metropolis in 2001 was about the Polshek Partnership's redesign and the accompanying park, educational exhibit, and public art installation by Vito Acconci. (This was also NOT a page, needless to say, that the magazine's advertisers were clamoring to be placed opposite.)

The takeaway from this perhaps is that humans have been living in a terrain composed of recycled biomass since the beginning of time, but we have only been introducing man-made chemicals, heavy metals, biological agents, and manufactured compounds into the water cycle since the modern age. Nobody really knows what the consequences are of combining, concentrating, and growing vegetables in these industrial products. Luckily we have reason to be 100 percent confident that federal regulations and government agencies would never let a man-made catastrophe destroy the ecosystem of an entire region and threaten the sustainability of life on earth.

There's also a story here about the extent to which landscape architects are now theorizing about and beginning to be actively involved in creating large-scale infrastructures that remediate the effects of human activity on the environment, which I will report on in greater detail in another place.  - STEPHEN ZACKS

Jun 5, 2010

Notes on N.O.: Using a Pragmatic Standard to Evaluate Political Design

I started out looking for examples of architecture and design that had had real political effects in the world. Political and social claims should be judged by a strict pragmatic standard: did the work have demonstrable consequences that supported its rhetoric. This was meant as a critique of a previous generation of architecture and architectural criticism that took representational and symbolic formal gestures to be politically significant. I wanted to be as literal as possible about what I meant by politics. Ideally these would be works or projects that could be proven to not only have a social impact (local demonstration projects, for instance) but to effect political systems and governance.

In September 2000, for an article that would appear in the November issue of Metropolis, I wrote about the use of a graphic image of the fist by the Otpor movement in the former Yugoslavia as a symbol of resistance against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. It was a small forgettable news story for a small trade magazine reported from my desk in New York, but it turned out to be hugely consequential as an example. The fist graphic was being spray-painted in graffiti around the country, printed on T-shirts, carried on protest flags, used as banners at rock concerts. Kids were getting arrested and interrogated by the police for wearing the T-shirts, and before long their brothers in the police and army started refusing to arrest them. Protesters occupied the Parliament building on October 5 and the government fell. The New York Times later reported that the graphics campaign had been partly funded by U.S. civil society groups and the CIA, but no matter, they had managed to finally drain popular support from the dying remnants of Socialist party.

In 2002, after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I was frustrated by the hyper-ideological confusion of terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda with Palestinian suicide bombings. One was grounded in a real political struggle over human rights and territorial issues, while the other was grounded in religious fundamentalist ideology. A fantastically vivid journal by Chris Hedges in Harpers in October 2001 and a devastatingly graphic report in the New York Times on the bombing of a nightclub in Tel Aviv in June 2002 got me thinking about how to report on the architecture and planning of the settlement process. That July, I decided to go to Jerusalem to travel around the Palestinian territories and meet with Israeli and Palestinian architects and peace and human rights activists who were doing research and organizing demonstrations about the physical, material, and territorial context of the Israeli colonial occupation. 

One of the people I met with was Eyal Weizman, who was working on his Ph.D. thesis (later published by Verso) on the use of civilian and military architecture and planning to occupy and control territory within the West Bank. I had found his amazing analysis of the vertical segmentation of space within the West Bank while doing some initial online research. Weizman had partnered with the Israeli human rights group B'tselem to obtain maps and planning documents, and created the most extensively detailed map of the West Bank that had ever been produced. Yehezkel Lein of B'tselem was already being consulted by the State Department to discuss its implications for the two-state solution and the shattered peace process--it was the era of a "roadmap to peace" with no coordinates. With his partner Rafi Seigel, Weizman had also been commissioned by the Israel Association of United Architects to produce A Civilian Occupation, an exhibition for the Berlin World Congress of Architecture later that month. By the time I got back to New York and was filing my story for the September issue of Metropolis, the IAUA canceled the Berlin exhibition on the grounds of it being "too political," and it became a big story in the New York Times. My front-of-book news story was bumped to the February 2003 issue and became my first feature for Metropolis. One advertiser later screamed at the sales reps and one of the editors about it, and the February 2003 issue was forever tagged in the magazine stacks with a post-it note that read, "DO NOT SEND TO ADVERTISERS."

Although this work still has not produced any positive political results, the way that it illuminated Israel's relationship to the Palestinian territories has been hugely consequential in terms of making new information publicly available and framing the issue in less abstract and ideological ways. Ouroussoff wrote about Weizman's work relatively early in his tenor at the New York Times, which made me sympathetic to him, though I later questioned whether there wasn't in fact, apart from Weizman's brilliant analysis of territory and planning issues, an ideological dimension to the use of suicide bombings as a tactic of resistance (apart from the disgusting brutality and immorality of killing innocent civilians) that couldn't be ignored. It seems undeniable that some combination of the separation wall, Israeli military action, and a political decision by Hamas and Islamic Jihad were responsible for the decline in successful terrorist attacks. - STEPHEN ZACKS