Mark Lamster | Essays

Lady Di of 117th Street


My first encounter with the work of Manfredi/Weiss came more than a decade ago, at a lecture at the Architectural League of NY attendant with their winning the League's Emerging Voices award. They didn't have a large catalog of built work — they were, indeed, emerging — but you could tell right away they were comers, and when I returned to Princeton Architectural Press the next morning, I suggested they'd be a good monograph subject.

Eventually that happened, and so I've always felt an admittedly preposterous connection to the firm, though I never actually worked on their book, which was covered by another editor. One of the things that's struck me about the two partners, over the years, is how they've always managed to play an active, progressive and positive role in the life of the city and the profession without getting too caught up (at least so far as I know) in polemical and dogmatic michegas. And this attitude is pretty much reflected in their work, which fits so nicely into the city, while also being materially smart, a bit playful, and attuned to the lives of its users. Their new Diana Center up at Barnard may not be the next Ronchamp or Fallingwater, but on my first visit it seemed a welcome addition to the campus and the city. For what it's worth, the new Moneo science center across the street (and peeking out to the right in the photo above) also looks like it's going to be a winner.

Posted in: Architecture

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