This video shows an interview with Elizabeth Diller from New York City-based interdisciplinary design studio Diller, Scofigio + Renfro. Her architectural practice is well known for its interdisciplinary approach to architecture, the visual art and the performing arts. In 1979 Diller graduated from Cooper Union School of Architecture and up to 1990 she worked there as an assistant professor. Next she become a director of graduate studies at Princeton University. She is a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her architectural studio received many prestigious awards, among others the National Design Award from the Smithsonian, the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of the Arts and Letters; an Obie for an off-Broadway theater production; the AIA President’s Award; the AIA Medal of Honor; and AIA Design Awards for numerous projects. During the interview, Diller tells us how her studio has reinvented public spaces in New York, transforming the High Line tracks into a new city park.
Diller explains that as an architect from New York she has never even dreamed to do architectural work in order to change the city. She thinks that it was possible because she was at the right moment, in the right place to get this commission. In her opinion, New York is really real estate oriented city and every meter is very valuable. It is dominated by developers and the logic of money and commerce. She regrets that only occasionally there is an inspiration to look at the public spaces and cultural institutions in a more intense way. She and her architectural studio have an opportunity to rethink a new life for Lincoln Center and this was one of the major project of Diller, Scofigio + Renfro Studio in recent seven years.
She explains that this part of city was built in the fifties by lot of men and it has a lot of testosterone in it. It was a part of a big urban development project in which thousands of families and businesses were displaced in the purpose to create major cultural institutions. Because of that the project was criticized and many people did not like the place. In her vision, she wanted to break down those bad memories and turn Lincoln Center inside out. She wanted to bring its energy into the city and the city energy back to the building. She adds that her vision included renovations, expansions and additions and the project was really complicated because there were 12 organizations involved within the project. Each of those organizations had individual board of directors and each of those organizations worked differently.
Another project in which her studio had an opportunity to participate was “Highline” which is an elevated railway that is 30 feet above the ground on the west side of New York in the Chelsea District. The highland was designed to distribute industrial goods from the rail stops to the port and industrial builds, light manufactures and storage facilities in this area. In the 1980′s it felt to disuse and there was a kind of ruin which started overgrowing with green which is highly unusual in New York. The area was not opened to the public, nevertheless because of the plants more and more people came up with the idea to create a park as a catalyst to this part of the city. Diller, Scofigio + Renfro Studio won the competition to put those ideas into life and the major one that they wanted to implement was oriented around creating a sidewalk which will not collide with the existing green area. They came up with the system which allows the greenery to grow up. From this industrial area the studio created a public space and the viewing area. The architect convinces that the essence of this project was to create something really useful from something that was already ruined.
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