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Building Stories

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

In collaboration with The Real Deal, Treasures of New York: Building Stories reveals the private life and the creative process of Costas Kondylis, an architect who has arguably done more to directly influence the city’s skyline than any other person currently active in New York —business tycoons, major developers and mayors included. The film follows Kondylis’ career and shows the battle between artistic expression and the bottom line, and gives a critical examination of what it takes to design a building and gain its approval in the high-powered world of New York City real estate.

The film features development moguls Donald Trump, Larry Silverstein, and Aby Rosen; founding editor of Dwell magazine, Karrie Jacobs; architecture critics and historians, James Gardner, Francis Morrone, and Kenneth Frampton; and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier.

Building Stories is produced by Amir Korangy, directed by Toni Comas, and written by Stuart Elliott of The Real Deal magazine.

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Producer Amir Korangy on Building Stories

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

'The Real Deal' publisher Amir Korangy. Photo by Derek Zahedi.

THIRTEEN recently spoke with Building Stories producer and publisher of The Real Deal, Amir Korangy, who explains architect Costas Kondylis’ impact on the New York City skyline and how he earned the reputation of being the “developer’s architect.”

Treasures of New York: Building Stories premieres Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, May 6 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

How did New York City influence Costas Kondylis’ work ­ in terms of factors like limited space and the grid layout?

Every building that you see built today is a result of a thousand compromises. Developers need approval from customers, city and community boards, and the best designs are not necessarily the ones that get approved.  There is little room for experimentation, but creative architects try to express themselves in the details. The way the building is angled and how the light comes in to the space and how the rooms are connected, etc. Those limitations also happen to define the architect.

How much do you think Kondylis’ career and designs were a product of the time he was working in? Would his designs be different were he starting out today?

Would Picasso’s paintings be different if he were working today? Hard to say, but probably. Costas’ designs have evolved over the years as has the discipline around him.  If you see a range of his work, you can identify every style within that spectrum. Costas’ designs from 20 years ago are selling today, with very little modifications, in China, South America and Europe. In the movie Larry Silverstein says, “Costas is capable of creating any design that the development calls for.” That’s a sign of a disciplined and skillful architect.

Actor Rodin Hamidi (Young Costas) with director Toni Comas. Photo courtesy of Toni Comas.

How did you decide on the format of the film – ­ to feature reenactments with actors and voiceover, and to incorporate Donald Trump and Kondylis himself?

We were exceptionally lucky in that all the major players – Donald Trump, Larry Silverstein, Joseph Rose and of course Kondylis – in our story still happened to be alive and in New York. They were never interviewed together, yet they recalled the stories as  though they were reading a script in the same room. It worked out perfectly. The director Toni Comas believed that the reenactments would only add to the dramatic arc, and clearly, he was right.

Kondylis is known as the “developer’s architect” because he utilized space so efficiently in his designs.  How do you think Kondylis and his work evolved over his career? Do you think he took charge of his designs to a greater degree later in his career?

Developers hired Costas because he has seen more buildings go up than the most seasoned ones. He was responsible for 65 high-rises in New York City in the 2000s alone. That’s more than Rosario Candela’s entire career. That’s a testament to his ability to be able to work and design in the toughest city in the world. His developers trusted him as Trump did with the Trump World Tower, which also happened to be the largest residential tower in the world at the time it went up.

What do you think Kondylis will be most remembered for?

Trump World Tower for it’s design and engineering accomplishment and the Riverside West development, for it’s sheer size and impact on the skyline, for better or worse.

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Building Stories Preview

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

In collaboration with The Real Deal, Treasures of New York: Building Stories reveals the private life and the creative process of Costas Kondylis, an architect who has arguably done more to directly influence the city’s skyline than any other person currently active in New York.

The film features development moguls Donald Trump, Larry Silverstein, and Aby Rosen; founding editor of Dwell magazine, Karrie Jacobs; architecture critics and historians, James Gardner, Francis Morrone, and Kenneth Frampton; and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier.

Treasures of New York: Building Stories premieres Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, May 6 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

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Hearst Tower

Friday, March 9th, 2012

In its latest production, Treasures of New York goes on a private tour inside Hearst’s world headquarters to explore New York City’s first completed “green” office building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Norman Foster.  Standing in Midtown Manhattan on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 57th Street, the tower is a recent iconic addition to the City’s famed skyline.  The glass-and-steel high-rise soars from the original six-story landmark structure built in 1928, conceived by Joseph Urban.

Hearst Tower redefined the modern skyscraper and pioneered a sustainable architectural vision for the 21st century. Timed with Hearst Corporation’s 125th anniversary, the film also highlights Hearst’s history and growth into one of the America’s largest diversified media and information companies.

In addition to revealing Hearst Tower’s engineering marvel, WNET gets exclusive access inside all of the Tower’s state-of-the-art spaces, including its digital photo studio, 165-seat theater, Cafe57, health club and the renowned Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

Development began right after 9/11 and Hearst Tower opened in 2006 with an innovative diagrid (diagonal grid) formed by interlocking triangles as a contemporary response and completion to the existing art deco base. The sturdy diagrid design allowed it to be the first New York City skyscraper without vertical beams. Designed by Foster, the Tower balances modernity and tradition, while looking to the future by adhering to environmental ethics. It was the first New York City office building to receive the coveted Gold rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

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Hearst Corporation’s Lou Nowikas on the Architecture of Hearst Tower

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Lou Nowikas, Senior Director of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Planning at Hearst Corporation

THIRTEEN spoke with Lou Nowikas, Senior Director of Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Planning at Hearst Corporation, to learn more about Hearst Tower’s unique design and history. The Tower is profiled in the fourth episode of Treasures of New York, airing Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, and Thursday, March 8 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Why was the 57th Street location chosen for Hearst Tower?

This was the site of the original Hearst headquarters, the International Magazine Building, built by W.R. Hearst in the late 1920s. Hearst owned the air rights above the landmarked building, so it made perfect sense to erect the Tower above the original base, a place that has been Hearst’s home for nearly 100 years.

What’s your favorite green feature of the Tower?

While this might be considered a cop out, I don’t have a “favorite.” The fact that Hearst Tower has achieved both LEED Gold for New Construction and LEED Platinum for Existing Buildings speaks to the overall commitment to sustainability. My favorite aspect of the Hearst building is that our culture is to continually raise the bar. We are always asking, “what’s next?”

Nowikas provides a look at one of Hearst Tower’s greenest features, its storm water tank:

What was the most challenging aspect of building Hearst Tower?

The most challenging aspect of building the Tower was the actual construction. The logistics of demolishing the interior of the old building and constructing a modern skyscraper within the footprint of the original building, all while painstakingly restoring the landmark façade, was very challenging for all involved.

Besides Hearst Tower, what other skyscrapers in the world do you like?

There are too many to list. I most admire those buildings that focus on the sustainability and health of the environment they both create and are surrounded by.  That said, for only the huge scale alone, I have to like the Burj Dubai – it just pushes the envelope beyond what seems reasonable.

What to you makes Hearst Tower a treasure of New York?

Hearst Tower is a metaphor for Hearst Corporation—based in a legacy rich with culture and built by William Randolph himself. Hearst is a forward thinking, progressive company that not only cares for the health and well-being of its employees, but also for the environment in which it exists. In addition, not only has Hearst been based in NYC for almost a century, but the renewed commitment to the city to build the Tower in the immediate wake of the tragic events of 9/11 speaks volumes to why Hearst Tower is a true treasure of NYC. I am proud to be a part of a company that had such courage in a time when the masses were fleeing.

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Hearst Tower: Marie Claire’s Joanna Coles

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, discusses the magnificent views from Marie Claire’s offices in Hearst Tower.

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Hearst Tower Preview

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

This March, Treasures of New York takes viewers on a private tour of Hearst Tower, the Hearst Corporation’s world headquarters, located on Eighth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan. Timed with Hearst Corporation’s 125th anniversary, the film also highlights Hearst’s history and growth into one of America’s largest media and information companies.

Treasures of New York: Hearst Tower premieres Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21 and Thursday, March 8 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.


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New-York Historical Society’s Conservation Lab

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Treasures of New York visits the New-York Historical Society’s conservation lab to get a closer look at the conservation process for some of their collections.

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The New-York Historical Society

Friday, December 16th, 2011

On November 11, 2011, the New-York Historical Society “reinvented” history when it unveiled a $70 million dollar transformation complete with state-of-the-art installations to connect visitors to history in more ways than ever before imagined. The 207-year-old museum joined the renaissance of cultural institutions that have recently completed full-on renovations. Treasures of New York goes behind-the-scenes for an inside look at the days leading up to the grand reopening to reveal the dramatic renovation of its landmark building on Central Park West. Viewers are invited for a tour of the museum’s latest additions including the original ceiling of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop in SoHo and to watch the New-York Historical’s staff collect “history in the making” ephemera from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Hosted and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, the film details the history and mission of one of the nation’s foremost research libraries and the transformation of New York’s first museum.

The New-York Historical contains an astounding collection of historical artifacts and art pertaining to American history, collected since its founding in 1804. Their art holdings comprise more than 1.6 million works including all 435 of John James Audubon’s extant preparatory watercolors for Birds of America. Their library contains three million books and a wide range of documents and photographs. The film interviews leaders from the New-York Historical Society, including Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, Jean W. Ashton, Executive Vice President and Director of the Library Division, and Linda S. Ferber, Vice President and Senior Art Historian, and Roger Hertog, Chairman. The program also follows conservators as they repair, digitize, and prepare the New-York Historical Society’s works for the reopening.

Highlights include the Keith Haring ceiling, the Lansing Notebooks, a collection of notes taken by John Lansing Jr. during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and a specially-restored masterpiece, Louis Lang’s Return of the 69th Regiment, which will serve as the centerpiece of the new exhibit Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy.

The New-York Historical Society also debuted the DiMenna Children’s History Museum and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, which “make history matter” and fun for the young generation. The new facilities are devoted to teaching New York history through interactive and engaging stories and artifacts of children to show kids that they are part of history.

Major support for Treasures of New York: The New-York Historical Society is provided by Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, and the Metropolitan Media Fund.

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Q&A with Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical Society

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical Society

THIRTEEN recently spoke with Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical Society, which is highlighted in the third episode of Treasures of New York, airing this Thursday, December 15 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN. The program also airs on Monday, December 19 at 10 p.m. on NJTV and Tuesday, December 20 at 10:30 p.m. on WLIW21.

Here, Ms. Mirrer discusses the society’s transformation, from its beginnings over 200 years ago to the innovative modern space that it is today, and explains what sets New-York Historical Society apart as a genuine treasure of New York.

Enter to win passes to New-York Historical Society, and learn more about upcoming events at the society on NYC ARTS.

Can you discuss how New-York Historical Society has transformed over the years — particularly how the recent renovation has opened the space up to new visitors and more interactive exhibits?

The New-York Historical Society has re-imagined its landmark building as an engaging and enjoyable space where visitors can learn about the ideals of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded, while understanding that it would take many years and a civil war before these ideals were fully realized.

As I walk through the dazzling, new spaces of our landmark building, past clusters of children looking for clues to the past in our brand-new DiMenna Children’s History Museum, and electronically turning the pages of nineteenth-century children’s books in our Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, I think back over 207 years of institutional history and am amazed at the changes that have taken place since a small group of historically-minded citizens gathered at New York’s old City Hall on November 20, 1804 to found the New-York Historical Society, which became New York’s first museum.

We have reintroduced ourselves to the public as New York’s home for American history, where treasures and resources are available to people of all ages who engage in and enjoy the stories of the past told by our more than ten million objects, paintings, documents, photographs, books and maps, now magically enhanced by the power of new technologies.

Why did New-York Historical Society decide to keep the hyphen in its name?

The placement of a hyphen between “New” and York” was common usage during our founding in 1804. Even as this custom began to abate in the decades that followed, hyphens were routinely maintained on title pages of books and mastheads of newspapers into the 1840s, while The New York Times held on to its hyphen until 1896. The organization used and has retained the hyphenated version of the city’s name that was common at the time. In vigilantly fighting for its hyphen, The New-York Historical Society highlights the continuity of its role in the cultural and educational life of the city.

What materials in the New-York Historical Society’s collection do you think best represent New York and its rich history?

Our collections represent American history through the lens of New York. The New-York Historical Society holds a vast collection of objects and images that encompass the long history and diverse artistic voices of New York’s population. The Museum holds nearly five hundred of John James Audubon’s watercolors, one of the nation’s preeminent collections of Hudson River School landscapes, and decorative arts holdings that include rare and iconic examples of Tiffany lamps. Many of these are on view in our new Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History. They range in time from an Indian arrowhead from 1500-1650 that was excavated at Revolutionary War barracks to the ceiling from Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which opened in SoHo in 1986.

What makes New-York Historical Society so different from other institutions and museums with American History collections?

N-YHS Conservator Alan Balicki digitizing the Lansing Notebooks. (Photo by Michael Pruitt-Bruun)

Our goal is to make history matter. We change the people who come to us, whether they’re schoolchildren or scholars, by giving them fresh, profound, meaningful connections to the past. We help our visitors make sense of the changes happening in their own times, by illuminating the processes of change that ran through earlier eras. Our collections allow us to serve in this way.

We have one of the great libraries of the world, with holdings such as John Lansing’s Constitutional Convention Notebooks as well as other documents related to the founding of the country. These documents enrich our knowledge of the debates and compromises that helped forge the foundational document of the United States. To remind you, John Lansing, Jr. served as a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention. His detailed notes from the convention, taken surreptitiously, are on view here for the public to see.

What do you think makes New-York Historical Society a treasure of New York?

The New-York Historical Society really epitomizes the American dream and all the possibilities that the New World has offered from the earliest times to the present. This is evidenced in our public programs, our exhibitions and our education initiatives.

Our vibrant Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series improves our ability to confront the challenges of today. We have featured such luminaries as Clyde Haberman, E.L. Doctorow, James O. Horton, Toni Morrison, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Antonin Scalia, former Mayor Ed Koch, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Walter Isaacson, Gloria Steinem, Josiah Bunting III, Niall Ferguson and many, many others.

Our new DiMenna Children’s History Museum is certainly a treasure. We have created a resource unlike any other. Here our youngest visitors can discover their connection to the past, and the thrill of discovery is at the heart of the practice of history.

Our new installations in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History  shows the city as central to the American struggle for freedom and equality from the start, beginning with New Amsterdam’s respect for religious difference and continuing through to the present day, with the United Nations headquarters, for example.

New York Story, our panoramic orientation film narrated by native New Yorker Liev Schreiber, gives you this history in eighteen minutes. This is a treasure every New Yorker and tourist should see.

What does the future hold for New-York Historical Society?

Everything we do here—our exhibitions, installations, public programs—shows history as exciting, dynamic and consequential to our present.  What we want to convey to our visitors going forward is that we are an institution which seeks to engage our visitors in difficult, complex and sometimes unresolved issues, provoking them to think differently about the past.

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