Search results for "Far West Side"

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How The Far West Side Will Be Won

What will it take to develop Far West Midtown? All sides agree on the need for more residential and commercial development, as well as improved transportation and open space. But how the pieces come together is the stuff of political brinkmanship. Laura Wolf-Powers puzzles it all together.

Here are the indispensable pieces of the Far West Side development puzzle: an expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; the westward extension of the midtown business district; the new residential development the market is craving; usable open spaces that connect the city with Hudson River Park; the vitality and scalar integrity of the South Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

Here's the piece with the uncomfortable fit: a stadium facility that anchors the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics, linked to a major transit investment, the extension of the #7 subway line. The Bloomberg administration, digging in its heels, says plans to transform the Far West Side will go nowhere without it. Its opponents argue that a stadium-free solution, one that relies on zoning changes and the Javits expansion to spur phased growth in the area, will promote better development at lower cost to taxpayers and with far less disruption to the existing city fabric.

This is the backdrop for the jigsaw of design and politics that is Far West Midtown. Three solutionssone by Cooper-Robertson Architects on behalf of the Department of City Planning, one by Meta Brunzema Architects endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4 and a neighborhood-based coalition, the Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance (HKHYA), and a third by Robert Geddes, which is sponsored by the Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch Collegeewould produce different urban environments for those who live and work in the district. Because of the fiscal as well as the design ramifications of the city's proposal, which may go forward as early as this month, the debate over Hudson Yards has mushroomed into a super- issue that engages elected officials and citywide planning groups as well as local residents, developers, and property owners. A season of political brinksmanship awaits them all.

The city's Hudson Yards Plan is ambitious and monumental, full of large buildings and sweeping gestures that embody City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden's vow to get ahead of the curvee in anticipating and shaping new large-scale development. But this monumentality has also run the city's plan into trouble. Though it makes sense to place a large-footprint structure in what is already a super-block corridor from 30th to 34th streets between 7th Avenue and the river, the proposed stadium is so overwhelming as to diminish the quality of the streets and spaces that surround it, according to Rob Lane, director of design programs at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). [Though the plan does] a really good job of animating the base of the stadium,, he said, there is still a question of whether people can be comfortable in these spaces given their sheer walls.. The RPA dealt the city a blow in a report last week opposing the stadium on both design and fiscal grounds.>

The city's proposal to expand the Javits Center northward, blocking view corridors and waterfront access at 39th, 40th and 41st streets, has also drawn fire. But neighborhood groups are most upset about a rezoning of 10th and 11th avenues in the 30s, a move that would pave the way for a north-south wall of office towers that, with FARs of 24 or more, could result in buildings with as much as 2 million square feet, as high as 90 stories. The proposed rezoning is already a compromise: Under pressure, the city agreed to increase density only moderately in Hell's Kitchen east of 10th Avenue and maintain residential zoning in that part of the neighborhood.

 

Still, for the grassroots community group Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA), the Cooper Robertson plan amounts to a template for uniform building mass, type, and program that would leave the community without the waterfront connection it has sought for so long, and choke out the residential and industrial uses that give the neighborhood its mixed, gutsy character.

Community responses to these concerns are expressed in Brunzema's scheme, a collaboration with planner Daniel Gutman. Brunzema, who lives and works in a five-story townhouse on West 35th Street, asserted, We see the neighborhood as a place with its own rhythm of scales and building programssnot a tabula rasa.. The plan adds only moderate density above 34th Street, putting most new bulk on the 34th Street east-west superblock, including the rail yards. (Both HKHYA and the city allow for about 40 million square feet of new development, though the community would prefer less).

To accomplish this, the HKHYA alternative excises the stadium from the western rail yards and expands the Javits Center southward in its stead. The plan accommodates desired development by allowing for residential and commercial towers atop the convention center extension, perched on the periphery of the building. A public park, on the rooftop amid the towers, provides a connection from the blocks to the east (also fully built-out commercially) through to the Hudson River. Critics have praised the plan's move to concentrate bulky new development on an east-west corridor that is already large in scale, and applauded its transformation of odd-shaped publicly owned sites into innovative, organic open spaces (including several abutting Lincoln Tunnel on-ramps). However, the idea of a 10-acre park on the roof of the south-expanding Javits has drawn skepticism. You would have these enormous towers meeting a vast open space without much relief in terms of massing,, said the RPA's Lane, who also points out that park users would have to ascend 32 feet from 11th Avenueeand 60 feet from Hudson River Parkkin order to access the space.

Brunzema's plan has a much simpler flaw in the eyes of the city: It rejects the stadium and the #7 extension, the official sine qua non for a new Far West Side. The city also maintains that, under the HKHYA-endorsed design, the Javits would lack needed contiguous floor space. The design is nonetheless a powerful statement of how Far West Midtown development could be more flexible and sensitive to context if City Hall's obsessionnthe stadiummwere removed from the mix.

A third alternative, a study sponsored by Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College, claims to let disputants have it all. This so-called dream scheme,, spearheaded by Robert Geddes, dean emeritus of the Princeton University School of Architecture, would demolish the existing Javits Center, reconnect the street grid to the river from 34th Street northward, and build an entirely new convention center on the superblock corridor, where it would cover both the eastern and western rail yards. According to architect Chuck Lauster, the newly appointed director of the Pergolis Gallery at the Newman Institute, both a sports stadium and up to 10 million square feet of office space could be built on the roof of the convention center. Advocates say that if city and state officials would jettison the Javitssa young building in good structural condition but an admitted eyesoreeNew York could have a waterfront greenway, high-density development potential, and a stadium all at once. Many view the Javits flipp as an outrageously expensive nonstarter, and the proposal does not prevent monolithic office development on 10th and 11th avenues. Nevertheless, stranger compromises have been struck in this town.

Far West Midtown's fate depends on the interface of design solutions with fiscal and political ones. RPA's opposition to the stadium has been damaging. Neighborhood activists now have powerful allies in West Side property owners, including Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan. But the city claims that if activists defeat the stadiummby persuading the State Assembly to block it or through litigationnthere will be no redevelopment, not even a rezoning of the area. A political observer close to the issue predicts a complete reshuffling of the deckk on the West Side if the city stops campaigning for a Manhattan stadium and sets its Olympic sights on Queens. In the aftermath of such a reshuffle, could former combatants sit across from one another and discuss the distribution of density, the role of east-west connectivity, the relationship of a city to a river? We may yet find out.  LAURA WOLF-POWERS teaches city and regional planning at Pratt.

The Far (West) Side

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Obama Comma

Obama Presidential Center takes a step forward, yet obstacles remain
On October 31, the Obama Presidential Center Ordinance cleared the Chicago City Council, giving the city the authorization to put into motion several key components to begin construction on the center. While this is a step forward for the Obama Foundation (OF) towards building the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects–designed campus that includes a plaza, landscaped open space, and four buildings, the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is still a long way away from breaking ground. Construction will not begin until the Section 106 review is complete and the federal lawsuit brought on by Protect our Parks is settled or dismissed. While the lawsuit and the federal review still impede construction, the ordinance passed by the City Council clears the remaining municipal hurdles, including several volleys between the OF, the Chicago Park District, and the City. Included in this authorization is the transfer of the land needed for the OPC from the Chicago Park District to the City, then to the OF, one of the most integral components to the project being the right of use granted to the Obama Foundation. The city will then allow the Obama Foundation control of 19.3 acres in Jackson Park for 99 years in exchange for a $10 payment. Also included in the ordinance is the approval of the closure of Cornell Drive, a move that many residents feel will lead to additional infrastructure improvements, and a revision of the 2015 site footprint to accommodate the newest plan outlined by the Obama Foundation released in May of 2017. Additionally, the ordinance calls for an advisory committee of community stakeholders to address the needs of the OPC once it is constructed and that no political fundraisers be held at the site. While the OPC will not be a federal presidential library, the ordinance implies that collection items from the National Archives and Records Administration may be displayed on the OPC site in the future. The ordinance includes a city resident construction worker employment requirement as well as other stipulations on what pools the OPC can hire from, but it does not address a community benefits agreement directly, something that several organizations, many of them consulting parties in the Section 106 process, have called for. Provisions were added to the ordinance saying that when local or state funds are used, 26 percent of contracts must go to black and latino-owned firms, and six percent for firms owned by women. Firms must hire Chicago residents for at least half of the work hours and “project area residents” for an additional 15 percent. On September 28 the Obama Foundation was subpoenaed for documents relating to the bid process per the court case brought on by Protect our Parks, which has accused the OF of pulling an “institutional bait and switch” via the divestiture of the Obama Foundation from the National Archives and Records Administration and the federal presidential library program. As a part of that subpoena, the OF released bids by The University of Hawaii, Columbia University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago. Among some of the most substantial reveals of this release were concept drawings offered by the University of Chicago for each of the three sites in their original bid. Charles Renfro, David Adjaye, and Jeanne Gang all presented concepts presented by the University of Chicago. No date has been set for the next Section 106 meeting, which will focus on the potential adverse effects of the OPC on Jackson Park as a historic resource. The National Park Service (NPS) has taken over as the lead agency for the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review. Over concerns that the removal of trees would be considered a connected action as far as NEPA, the Chicago Park District halted efforts to relocate a track and field in Jackson Park hours before a public meeting on NEPA September 17. The OPC is still anticipated to break ground next year and will open in 2022.
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West Side Wonderland

New renderings revealed for western expansion of Hudson Yards park
Finally, we have a visual of what the rest of the rail yards at New York City's Hudson Yards will become. CityRealty reported that new renderings have been revealed of the expansion of the 17-million-square-foot megaproject, detailing how the development will take over the entirety of the Amtrak railyard. Phase two of construction on Hudson Yards’ intertwining parkland will add winding stone paths, a lush open lawn, food kiosks, and a bright children’s playground overlooking the Hudson River next to the High Line. Manhattan-based landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz (NBWLA)—which also designed the currently-under-construction Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards—will bring more, much-needed green space to the West Side enclave that’s recently gotten flack for its record-breaking price tag The expansion also includes the final build-out of Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)’s Hudson Boulevard Park that runs directly through the site from 33rd to 36th Streets. Once complete, the extension will bring it up to 39th Street. MVVA finished the first phase of the elongated greenway in 2015, which included the MTA’s 7 train extension in what’s known as Eastern Yards. Together with the boulevard and far West Side parkland, the long-awaited landscape at Hudson Yards will cover a total of 12 acres. NBWLA’s renderings show that the park will sit on the same level as the adjacent High Line, meaning the team will likely use the same engineering to construct a ventilation cover for the rail yard below and a deck to support the landscape. Officials say groundbreaking on the second phase of parkland at Hudson Yards will begin in late 2020 and is slated to open in winter 2023. Once complete, Hudson Yards Development Corporation, which is building out the plan, will transfer care of the parkland over to the city’s parks and transportation departments.
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Be Heard, Be Seen!

AN picks must-see West Coast lectures for the fall
As the fall semester kicks into gear, institutions across the west coast have begun publishing their event and lecture series offerings.  Generally speaking, west coast schools have a reputation for being more open-minded and accessible than their eastern counterparts, conditions that often allow young and emerging faculty and designers to thrive. This focus on newness carries over to the lectures and events these institutions put on, which often showcase emerging designers as well as rising international firms. This fall is no different. The region will play host to diverse practices from far and wide, including Salvador Macías and Magui Peredo of Guadalajara, Mexico-based Macías Peredo, Walter Hood of Oakland, California-based Hood Design Studio, and Aurélie Hachez of Brussels, Belgium-based Aurelie Hachez Architecte among many others.   Southern California Institute of Architecture  Alisa Andrasek, director, Wonderlab Wednesday, September 19 Michael Meredith, principal, MOS Architects, Wednesday, October 3 Aurélie Hachez, principal, Aurélie Hachez Architecte Wednesday, November 7   University of California, Berkeley Molly Wright Steenson, senior associate dean for research, Carnegie Mellon University Architectural Intelligence Wednesday, September 12 Jack Halberstam, professor of gender studies and English, Columbia University Unbuilding Gender: Trans* Anarchitectures In and Beyond the Work of Gordon Matta-Clark Wednesday, October 3 Takaharu Tezuka, president of Tezuka Architects Nostalgic Future Monday, October 15   University of California, Los Angeles Dana Cuff, urbanist and architectural theorist; Andrea Ghez, astronomer; Rodrigo Valenzuela, artist; Paul Weiss, nanoscientist What is Space? Tuesday, October 2 Susan Foster, choreographer and scholar; Jennifer Jay, environmental engineer; Tracy Johnson, molecular, cellular and developmental biologist; Greg Lynn, architect What is Body? Tuesday, November 6 Catherine Opie, artist; Willem Henri Lucas, designer; Abel Valenzuela, labor and immigration expert; Alfred Osborne, global economy and entrepreneurship expert What is Work? Tuesday, November 20   University of Southern California Andrew Watts and Yasmin Watts, CEO and CFO, Newtecnic Wednesday, October 3 Walter Hood, principal, Hood Design Studio Wednesday, October 10 Amanda Williams, principal, Amanda Williams Studio Wednesday, October 24   University of Washington College of Built Environments, Department of Architecture Salvador Macías and Magui Peredo, principals, Macías Peredo Wednesday, October 10 Anda French, principal, French 2D Wednesday, October 24 Lene Tranberg, partner, Lundgaard & Tranberg Wednesday, November 14   Woodbury University Andrew Kovacs, principal, Office Kovacs Friday, October 5 Carmelia Chiang, principal, Carmelia Chiang Architecture Friday, October 26 Four Ecologies Panel Discussion: Bruce Appleyard, planner; Margaret Noble, artist; Colleen Emmenegger, academic; Hector Perez, architect; Bruna Mori, author; Moderated by Rebecca Webb Sunday, November 11
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Valley Link Up

L.A. Metro unveils plans to link San Fernando Valley with Westwood and eventually LAX
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX).  The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States.  Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1.  Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes.  Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends.  Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years. 
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Cosmic Wonder

Apple Park and Louvre Abu Dhabi have created their own operating systems inside designer circles
In the early 1980s, a new time travel-themed attraction was unveiled at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Like an oversized golf ball pelted straight from outer space to Orlando, Spaceship Earth is a fantastical fabrication. Its monolithic geodesic dome conceals two structures propped up by six steel legs, each driven some 160 feet into soft Floridian swampland below. Designed with the help of Ray Bradbury, Spaceship Earth continues to shuttle eager space tourists through an accelerated history of the world, where animatronic Neanderthals cozy up with ancient Greek charioteers and American astrophysicists under a swirling net of stars. In fifteen short minutes, the ride’s conveyor belt ascends through an abridged history of humanity that urges, after its namesake Buckminster Fuller, for a team effort to save our planet "Spaceship Earth." It culminates in a future utopia that today’s passengers can customize via interactive screens and troubleshoot the world’s woes together in a group exercise. Fast forwarding through a quarter-century of globalization and hyper-capitalist development, the $1.4 billion Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi and Apple’s $5 billion Silicon Valley campus by Foster + Partners have crafted a freakishly similar world of suspended disbelief and alter-reality. While they substitute the comparatively cheap thrill of Spaceship Earth’s 11,300 alucobond tiles with eight layers of steel and aluminum and some four miles of curved glass respectively, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Apple Park are essentially designer circles. In their use of this sacred geometry, both projects become a sort of cosmic architecture, according to Craig Hodgetts, Principle of Hodgetts + Fung Architecture and Design. “Nouvel’s sky-dome and the Apple headquarters rely on geometrically pure forms as a way to consolidate and insure a singularly unified experience,” suggests Hodgetts. “An absolute form, uncompromised, uninflected, unadorned, and too large to comprehend will lend a God-like authority to nearly any enterprise, and these structures assert the primacy of their makers rather than the profane delights of simple existence.” Each “absolute form” depends on its God-like authority to extricate itself from its problematic social and political contexts–whether that’s occupying 175 acres of a California suburb currently suffering from one of the country’s worst housing shortages while refusing to engage with its urban planning efforts, or lodged inside a petrodollar-fueled arms race for global domination among oil-rich nations in the Gulf via Western cultural capital. Concealed beneath the all-consuming designs of Louvre’s bedazzled ceilings and Apple’s infinite rings of glass are both projects’ hidden, delirious desire to remove all context and weave their own origin stories–whether of mankind or Mackind. Such grandiose narratives necessitate some serious cultural capital. Take, for instance, the UAE’s $900 million “loan” of the Louvre’s brand and expertise for the next 30 years, an agreement signed into place in 2007 which also authorized the borrowing of hundreds of French artworks from the collections of the Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and Château de Versailles. Shrouded in mystery, this wholesale purchase included the expertise of a French curatorial committee which has reportedly advised the Emiratis to acquire almost 250 works thus far in assembling its own cultural history of the world, a collection that includes the record-breaking $450 million Da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi, sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie’s last November.   Meanwhile, back in February 2017, Apple rebranded its sober “Campus 2” to “Apple Park"–emphasizing the OLIN-designed gardenscape, home to some 9,000 drought-resistant trees alongside other indigenous and imported flora (including its own apple orchard) that fills over half the site. With its hermetic green haven, Apple’s new campus indulges in a Land Before Time fantasy of Silicon Valley’s pre-tech ecology, intending to mimic California’s natural greenery before it was settled. It is a private garden of paradise viewable by Apple employees from all angles in Godlike omniscience. “It’s not about maximizing the productivity of the office space, it’s about creating a symbolic center for this global company,” said Louise Mozingo, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley. “They are creating an icon.” Even without the figures–the only data most journalists have to work with until Apple lets down its impenetrable forcefield to visitors–it would be hard to make a case for the efficiency or efficacy of Ring’s 2.8-million square footprint. Built to house only 12,000 employees on its 175 acres, with nearly 11,000 commuting from outside Cupertino, the Park is a techno-utopian timewarp of California’s modernist-era abundance. The campus also steers clear of Cupertino’s current public transit and housing shortages (the Bay Area added a reported 640,000 jobs between 2010 and 2015 while 75.8% of houses sold in 2017 for over $800,000). Instead, Apple taps into both collegiate spirit and corporate modernism, fabricating its design from a mix of Stanford’s quadrangles and the factory-like floor plans of the corporate campuses of the 50s and 60s favored by Foster. Apple justifies its inefficient use of 100 acres (offering more parking space than office space) with an origin story that waxes poetic on Steve Jobs’ first summer job at the now-razed Hewlett Packard Campus, which stood on this site in 1976, fresh from a summer picking apples on a commune in Oregon. Apple’s manifest destiny-like design narrative highlights the Park’s out-of-touch attitude towards its own conquest of valuable land in Cupertino, which could otherwise be used for affordable housing. Catering only to its inner circle of Apple acolytes, its “Spaceship” colloquialism feels particularly appropriate. If these buildings are the result of resuscitated megastructure ideologies that superimpose their own fabricated mythology over contemporary geopolitics and ethics, what do their higher lifeforms look like? Childless, apparently, according to Apple Park. Despite a 100,000 square foot allowance for its fitness center, and 2-mile outdoor running track perfectly camouflaged from the roaring I-280 nearby, the workspace of the future miraculously lacks a daycare center for its 12,000 employees. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ideal visitor doesn’t need superhuman smarts or a perfect body: he just needs to love the aesthetics of luxurious shopping malls. Beneath its latticed dome of 7,800 stars, in rooms of exotic marble and leather floors, visitors filter through seemingly endless and unordered rows of captionless artworks. Together, they form a utopian reimagining of human civilization that “turns a blind eye to a long history of human equality and exploitation,” suggests Javier Pes of artnet. But even without fingerprints to trace, the stated mission and ethos of the world’s “first universal museum,” praised by French and Emirati governments alike, has as many holes as its star-studded ceiling. Intended as an “antidote to the poison of hatred and barbarism” of culture wars in the Middle East, according to Louvre President Jean-Luc Martin, its starry-eyed humanitarianism clashes with the mass human rights violations committed against the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s migrant workforce, according to Al Jazeera, quoting French Director Benedicte Jeannerson of Human Rights Watch. These world-structures manifest through the fantasy of a new world order that’s somehow eclipsed all conditions of crisis, operating on their own cultural capital of Instagrammability, as with the Louvre Abu Dhabi, or exclusivity, as with Apple Park, which still remains a highly coveted fortress-cum-tourist mecca over a year after its official press launch. The closest most of us will get to stepping inside the Jobs Mausoleum is a monthly subscription to new Youtube drone footage. But just as Apple Park’s designer landscaping and sprawling carpark can’t curb worldwide species extinction and rampant property inflation, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s petrodollar-primed, marble-encrusted villages of culture can’t white-out the political turmoil surrounding the Gulf and the systemic abuse of its displaced workers. If today’s conditions of global crisis can be considered a type of manmade gravity, then these structures aspire to grow so large that they might break free from this condition or create their own operating systems altogether. While looking to the stars for inspiration is all but human, we must eventually lower our gaze to the real implications of these projects and bring the God complex framing their hermetic existence back down to Earth.
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Neighborhood Ops

Chicago sets aside $6 million in developer funding to help South Side businesses
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund is on track to provide over six million dollars from private developers to help grow businesses on the city’s South and West Sides during the program’s third round of funding. Unveiled in February 2016 as part of a new density bonus program, developers who seek approval for zoning bonuses are encouraged to pay into a fund that supports investment in designated underserved neighborhoods’ commercial corridor projects. In order to increase the size of downtown construction projects via a higher floor area ratio (FAR), which reflects the total square footage of a building divided by the area of the lot, developers must pay into the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus. These projects also automatically receive Planned Development status, ensuring public review and cohesive planning. A recent permit application submitted by the Howard Hughes Corporation to begin foundation work at 110 North Wacker Drive will contribute $19.6 million to the fund, with the work under the permit valued at $40 million. Eighty percent of the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus money is banked and made available to grantees to finance projects that support new or expanding business ventures in “qualified investment areas.” With U.S. Census data as a baseline, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development has designated commercial corridors in neighborhoods as far north as Belmont Cragin and as far south as the East Side. The one-time grants, which the business owner does not need to pay back, kick-start and support a variety of activities, including new retail, grocery stores, and cultural establishments, and help maintain existing ones. The other 20 percent is parceled out via the Local Impact Fund and the Adopt-A-Landmark Fund. The Local Impact Fund supports improvements within one mile of the development site, including public transit facilities, streetscapes, and open spaces. The Adopt-A-Landmark Fund supports the rehabilitation of designated Chicago Landmarks, or buildings contributing to a Landmark District. For business owners and entrepreneurs, the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund may be used by the grantee to acquire, rehabilitate, or demolish older and vintage buildings, or build new, with the cost of planning and design also eligible for funding. Other more administrative expenses are covered under the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, including environmental remediation, financing fees, and the costs of business incubation, mentoring, and training. The program has funded diverse projects from barber shops to organizations that provide legal immigration services.
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Flower Power

West 8 reveals plans for Houston’s first botanic garden
West 8 is designing Houston’s first botanic garden, which is set to break ground later this year. Renderings were recently released of the 120-acre park, featuring four discrete areas that incorporate bayous and wetlands, as well as a children’s garden and play area, picnic grove, tree farm, lawn, and walking trails. Called “Botanic Beginnings,” this is the first of several phases that are planned over the next 30 years. “The astonishing array of plant life that can be grown in Houston, combined with this city’s love of gardens will make this one of the most beloved collections in the world. To be involved in the design of a cultural and scientific institution of such great relevance in our nation’s most diverse city is truly a once-in-a-career commission,” Claire Agre, principal of West 8’s New York and Rotterdam–based design team said in a statement. The garden will help educate visitors on local cuisine with the Edible Garden, featuring fruit and vegetable plants as well as pecan and olive trees. A Global Collection Garden will display the Botanic Garden’s horticultural exhibits, including a tropical, subtropical, and arid climate examples. An event lawn along the Sims Bayou is expected to be an event space for performing arts, educational programming, and weddings. For children, the Susan Garver Discovery Garden includes the “wildest and most appealing plants for children,” such as carnivorous and water plants. “We are honored to be working with West 8, a visionary leader in landscape design. With their expertise, we hope to bring Houstonians an urban oasis where they can disconnect and appreciate the beauty of nature—from rare and exotic plants they have never encountered to natural areas reflecting Houston’s ecosystems,” said Claudia Gee Vassar, president and general counsel of the Houston Botanic Garden, in a statement. The botanic garden is slated to be complete in 2020.
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Under/Over

New renderings fly through the future of Manhattan West
Hudson Yards isn’t the only megaproject on Manhattan’s far west side. Developer Brookfield Properties has released a new set of renderings and a fly-through video of what the area will look like once its Manhattan West development is complete. Once complete, the seven-million-square-foot “neighborhood” will link Hudson Yards on the far west side with Penn Station’s renovated Moynihan Train Hall. Hemmed between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and 31st to 33rd Streets, Manhattan West will hold offices, retail, hotels, and residential units, with most of the buildings featuring sleek glass facades. REX’s recent retrofit of 5 Manhattan West; the rising 69 stories of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) One Manhattan West office tower; SLCE’s recently completed The Eugene, a 62-story residential tower and the tallest of its type in Midtown Manhattan; SOM’s Two Manhattan West, a 59-story office tower which recently filed DOB permits and the 13-story “The Loft” are all on track to finish construction by either 2019 or 2020. Fewer details have been released about the more mysterious Four Manhattan West, which will be a 30-story boutique hotel with condo units. A 60,000-square-foot public plaza designed by James Corner Field Operations and 200,000 square feet of ground floor shops and restaurants will round out the public amenities. Now, Brookfield has released a flythrough of the project, starting at a revitalized Empire Station (the forthcoming rebrand of the new Penn Station complex) with stops along each of the campus’s towers. Watch the video below: Brookfield has also created a VR walkthrough of the entire development, including interior views from each of the office towers, as well as street-level shots. Construction on the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall is ongoing, and it may be a number of years before the area comes into its own. That doesn’t seem to be a hurdle for Amazon (who are already renting space in 5 Manhattan West), and reps from the tech giant will soon visit New York to scout out prospective HQ2 office space on the far west side.
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First Stop

Peek inside a model of Gehry’s extreme model railroad museum
Visitors will start in the Berkshires (North Adams's home) and head towards New York City, London, Tokyo, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. Firms the world over are contributing models to the project. Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum Inc. is leading the design and fabrication of the interior exhibitions, with Jarzyniecki as a consultant, while Gehry is in charge of the exterior. The project will anchor the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, one of nine parks Massachusetts established in the 1980s in its former industrial cities and towns to spur tourism. That park is expected to host two other museums and a distillery. The museum, a for-profit enterprise, is expected to be complete in 2021 at a cost of $65 million. Thomas Krens, the man behind MASS MoCA, brought Gehry Partners onto the project, though Krens and Gehry have a longstanding relationship: the pair worked on the Guggenheim Bilbao when Krens directed the museum's New York location.
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Mass House

2017 Best of Design Awards for Residential – Interior
2017 Best of Design Award for Residential – Interior: Chilmark House Architect: Gray Organschi Architecture and Aaron Schiller of Schiller Projects Location: Chilmark, Massachusetts These simple, dark buildings are approached via a farm road that winds through the town’s dense thicket of scrub oak. A broad stair links a large south-facing porch back to the farm road and provides pedestrian access through the field to the beaches beyond. Drawing on a shared love of the dense aggregation of New England’s farm complexes, the firm sited the studio and the house barns tightly together, creating a charged outdoor space between them and providing the approach to the house’s entrance. Colors were carefully chosen to balance with the changing seasons while materials were selected for longevity and their connection to the area’s natural textures. “The views threaten to steal the show here, but for me it’s really about those interior finishes. They’re so rich. There’s a natural beauty and a warmth to these spaces, which manage to be clean and contemporary without feeling severe.
” —Morris Adjmi, principal, Morris Adjmi Architects (juror) Facade: Delta Millworks and Schiller Projects Glass: Bayerwald Landscaping: Contemporary Landscapes Builder: Rosbeck Builders   Honorable Mention Project Name: Capsule Loft Architect: Joel Sanders Architect Location: New York  A “sleeping capsule” inside this 2,500-square-foot West Village apartment accommodates a second level for bedrooms while maintaining the architectural integrity of the industrial loft. The black oak stairs leading up to the cantilevered wood suite divide the dining area and den below into two distinct zones.