Tuesday, June 29th at 6pm –Forensic Architecture: The Making of the Tenement Museum
with Nick Leahy, Co-CEO and Executive Director, Perkins Eastman and special guest, Dave Favaloro, Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs and Hebrew Technical Institute Research Fellow, Tenement Museum.
Presented in Partnership with The New York Landmarks Conservancy
This will be an Online Lecture
The tenement holds a special place in the urban and social history of New York City and, indeed, the story of immigration to America. New York’s City’s Tenement Museum, founded in 1988 as a fledgling museum, has evolved over the years into one of the most popular cultural destinations in the city.
Its survival through the devastating impact of COVID-19 and its recent re-opening are testaments to not only the museum’s staff and the grit and the tenacity of its supporters, but also to the importance of this institution, the stories it tells, and the significance of its work for people across America and the globe. This very human story is captured in the buildings, spaces, and artifacts that have been left behind—evidence to the extraordinary lives of the ordinary people who came to the city to start a new life.
In this talk, Nick Leahy of Perkins Eastman will look at the development of the museum into a unique civic resource that preserves the buildings and stories of the historic Lower East Side neighborhood. Focusing on its expansion from 2006 until 2019, the build-out of 97 Orchard Street, as well as its expansion into 103 Orchard Street, it is an intimate window into the neighborhood that was once the nation’s most active immigrant portal.
This lecture will peel back the literal layers of history that comprise the urban campus of the Tenement Museum. Mr. Leahy, describes the approach to the work at the museum as “forensic architecture,” preserving century-old tenements and revealing the stories of nearly 20,000 residents who lived there from the late 1800s through the 1970s.
Through the lens of his experience working alongside the museum as Principal-in-Charge of the project over the course of more than 14 years, Mr. Leahy will explain the techniques and materials used to construct the buildings and neighborhoods of late 19th-century New York City—and how sensitive, modern interventions can help showcase their lessons. He will tour participants through the history of the Museum’s urban campus─from dilapidated, structurally compromised tenement buildings built in the 1860s into the civic resource it is today.
Along the way, Mr. Leahy will explain the process of creating a museum and how evolving building practices and codes impacted inhabitant health and welfare. He also will reveal the significant challenges of safely reproducing the conditions that retain these buildings’ historic significance, responsive to the Museum’s vision and educational goals.
Nick Leahy is Co-CEO and Executive Director at Perkins Eastman, His projects are distinguished by their critical balance of place, program, and craft. Key to his design methodology is to investigate each site’s relationship to its environment, history, and its intended use. His designs for civic buildings, performing arts centers, museums, and institutional facilities can be found across the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition to his work on the Tenement Museum, these projects include the internationally renowned TKTS Booth in the heart of Times Square; the winning international design competition entry for the Shanghai World Expo Public Events Center; the Museum of Natural History Spitzer Hall of Human Origins and Butterfly Conservatory; the Container Globe, a modern interpretation of the famous Globe Theater designed and constructed entirely from shipping containers; and numerous others.
Dave Favaloro is Senior Director of Curatorial Affairs and Hebrew Technical Institute Research Fellow at the Tenement Museum. He is responsible for interpreting the history of the tenements at 97 and 103 Orchard Street, with an emphasis on research and exhibit development. He also oversees the museum’s preservation, conservation, and collections management programs. He holds a Master of Arts in American History and an Advanced Certificate in Public History from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Suggested donation: $15 General Admission; $10 General Society Members and Senior Citizens; $5 Students. Advance registration is required to receive the link to the Zoom Webinar Platform.