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The Hornet's Nest

Facades+ Charlotte will explore the growing dynamism of the Queen City
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Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, aided in part by the city's status as the nation's second-largest financial center after New York City. Thanks in part to a continually expanding light-rail system, entire corridors of the city have seemingly sprouted overnight, delivering thousands of residential units and dozens of significant commercial developments. On March 19, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing Facades+ to Charlotte for the first time to discuss the development and facade research being conducted in the city. Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, a local firm with an international presence, is co-chairing the event. Participants for the conference's symposium include Duda|Paine Architects, UNC Charlotte, NC State College of Design, MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY, Northwood Ravin, BB+M Architecture, Perkins+Will, Crescent Communities, and Cousins Properties. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, Little Principal Eddie Portis, the conference co-chair, discusses the trends reshaping Charlotte and the work of Little within and outside the city. The Architect's Newspaper: Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing construction markets in the country. How is the current boom in development reshaping the Queen City?

Eddie Portis: Charlotte has been evolving toward an 18-hour city for several years and the current boom is accelerating this evolution. The improvements occurring within the Stonewall corridor are great examples of this. Over 4 million new square feet of office, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, including a Whole Foods grocery store, and countless new dwelling units are changing the fabric of our city.

AN: Can you expand on the above and focus on Uptown and corridors of transit-oriented development?

EP: We are experiencing the era of "convenience" as a result of the densification of our city’s core and the linear growth created by rail. When combined with our busing network, Uber, and even scooters, how we move through the city has undergone a massive, positive transformation. The way we can now move through the city is changing the way we shop, dine, work, and play. AN: What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends, be it in facade design or urbanistically, of this era of development? EP: I see a very positive trend in the downtown area as it relates to the public realm. There is a renewed focus on the ground plane and the involvement of buildings in our community. Large expansive office lobbies are giving way to more modestly-scaled lobbies so that more space can be created for retail of all shapes and sizes. The other factor we see, at least in office development, that is not a current trend but rather a constant pursuit, is daylight and views. The "fifth" facade—that from the view of the building occupant—has an incredible impact on our city. It creates eyes on the street and absorbs the energy of the city; it improves worker performance and enlightens our lives. AN: Little is one of the largest firms in the city. How are you embracing this moment and what novel enclosure practices are being used by your firm? EP: At Little, we encourage exploration and seek to implement breakthrough ideas. One way we do this is through our internal "ReThink" initiative. In this initiative, a team seeks to explore the latest thoughts in the industry and overlay those with design intent. This is demonstrated through a recent, winning design competition project where we worked with San Francisco State University to create a skin concept designed to capture water from the prevalent fog that helped allow for a net positive student housing facility. Another example is a design competition we recently completed through Metals magazine. Our "Living in the Wall" study demonstrated how the curtain wall can become more than a “line on a page," and instead become a multi-dimensional blur between people and the environment, technology, and humanity. Further information regarding Facades+ Charlotte may be found here.
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Open secret

Open House New York opens 20 downtown Brooklyn sites during AIA weekend
People can roam about in the Brooklyn Point Sales + Design Gallery designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn by JDS Development, the Ashland by FXCollaborative Architects and SPAN Architecture, and many more old and new landmarks in Making Place: Downtown Brooklyn, organized by Open House New York. More than twenty sites are participating in the Open House event happening on June 23. A discussion about the change and transformation in the region featuring Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer, FXCollaborative Design Director Gustavo Rodriguez and other industry leaders will take place at the ISSUE Project Room at 10:30 a.m., kicking off the day-long events. Downtown Brooklyn has undergone dramatic changes in the past two decades. It has now emerged as a new area for real estate and commercial development. The neighborhood is flooded with commercial creativity and upscale living. This event will offer an insider look at the transformed, up-and-coming district. Other participating sites include Brooklyn Strand Action Plan by WXY architecture + urban design, the New York Transit Museum, Polonsky Shakespeare Center and the Schermerhorn. The general public can purchase tickets to attend tours and panel discussions in those private buildings. Tickets can be purchased at this link.
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Demo Day

URBAN-X’s latest startups bring AI to urban roads, floating cameras to the skies
At URBAN-X’s latest demo day, held at the nARCHITECTS-designed ADO creative hub in Greenpoint, Brooklyn yesterday, the incubator's third batch of cohorts presented technological solutions to urban problems, ranging from a “smart crane” to collaborative retail for small stores. URBAN-X, a startup accelerator and partnership between MINI and Urban Us, takes on up to 10 companies every six months, invests up to $100,000 in each, and connects them with business and design expertise. The most recent group, with nine companies, debuted products and services that were designed to change the way we live in cities, with a focus on the human-centric experience. Qucit (Quantified Cities) is attempting to improve not only urban mobility, but happiness, through artificial intelligence. While other companies have focused on monitoring narrow bands of things such as transit ridership, street usage, bike docking and other urban information, Qucit wants to integrate all of this information vertically into a cohesive model. By aggregating usage data, Qucit has already helped redesign a dangerous roundabout in Paris, and will be bringing its machine learning services to Downtown Brooklyn for a pilot project in early March. Swiftera is approaching similar problems from the air. By using a balloon and floating a camera above what drones can reach, but below satellites, the company is promising high-resolution imagery at specific locations with a short turnaround. By selling actionable geospatial data to planners, developers, architects and municipalities, Swiftera would be able to help monitor traffic and accessibility, as well as things such as roof conditions. Blueprint Power is addressing the disconnect between the energy grid and buildings by creating a market for the surplus energy that buildings are capable of producing. When the grid is stressed, buildings with co-gen plants or solar panels should be able to transfer their extra electricity back to the larger network, benefiting both the building owner as well as the general public and utility companies. This transformation of buildings into “intelligent energy nodes” would ultimately see the buildings’ energy systems automated and managed by an AI system. The complete list of cohorts and their pitch videos can be found here, as well as a video of their evening conference. While most of the group has already begun working with real-world companies, they will also be seeking venture capital funding in the near future. Keep an eye out for URBAN-X’s fourth cohort, which will be announced in May of this year.
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From the Archives

Instead of ads and porn, LinkNYC kiosks will now show photos of old New York

Beginning last Friday, select wifi kiosks in New York now feature scintillating pictures of the city from decades past. It's LinkNYC porn, but for buildings.

In partnership with LinkNYC, the city's wifi kiosk system, the Department of Records and Information Services is displaying dozens of historic photos on LinkNYC screens in the five boroughs. The images correspond to the blocks where they're displayed, so a person at Henry and Clark streets, for example, would see a black-and-white picture of the port in what is now Brooklyn Bridge Park. The New York Times reports that most of the photographs on display date from the 1890s through the 1970s, and the project will be up through the end of the year.

LinkNYC is taking residents' suggestions for where the archival images should be displayed; readers can tweet @LinkNYC to have their voices heard.

The program is the latest in a slate of apps and maps that disseminate New York City history online. This year, Urban Archive geotagged and released over 2,500 images of old New York that users can access on the go. Built in collaboration with Brooklyn Historical Society, the New York Public Library (NYPL), and the Museum of the City of New York, the app pings users with archival images when they're near a historic site in the database, prompting reflection on the changing city. Separately, the NYPL launched the NYC Space/Time Directory, a “'digital time-travel service' that combines the library’s map collection with geospatial tools to illuminate the city’s messy and beautiful development over more than a century." Downtown, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) debuted its Civil Rights & Social Justice Map, an interactive tool that reveals key downtown sites where marginalized people have fought for equity, dignity, and representation.

Beyond the archive, urbanists can now access maps to prepare for L-mageddondiscover the city’s noisiest neighborhoods, learn about future skyscrapers, and find the internet's favorite kind of architecture.

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Hot BODs

AN will bring you a building every day for Archtober 2017
Get ready New York City, the month of Archtober is almost upon us. While October heralds the return of chunky knits and PSLs, New York City's architecture and design community knows that the tenth month of the year is really Archtober, AIA New York's celebration of the built environment. In collaboration with the city's cultural institutions, Archtober (also known as Architecture and Design Month) fosters awareness of architecture's role in everyday life through exhibitions, conferences, films, lectures, and the Building of the Day tours – architect-led visits to the city's best-loved structures and landscapes. The first site this year is the Woolworth Tower Residences, apartments by SLCE Architects in Cass Gilbert's classic neo-Gothic skyscraper. In partnership with AIA New York, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) is pleased to be the one-and-only source for Building of the Day blogs. For all of October, we'll bring you on-the-ground stories and tour highlights, so you can ride on WXY's SeaGlass Carousel, step inside LOT-EK's shipping container Carroll House, or explore Paul Rudolph's Modulightor Building, all without leaving your office. But if you do decide to leave (and you should), tickets for all tours are now available at the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule:
Oct. 1 The Woolworth Tower Residences Architect: Cass Gilbert (the Woolworth Building's original architect); SLCE Architects (Woolworth Tower Residences architect of record): SLCE Architects; The Office of Thierry W. Despont (interior design) Oct. 2 Empire Stores Architect: S9Architecture Oct. 3 Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm Architect: Bromley Caldari Architects Oct. 4 The Noguchi Museum Architect: Isamu Noguchi and Shoji Sadao (original architects); Sage and Coombe Architects (rneovation architect) Oct. 5 SeaGlass Carousel Architect: WXY architecture + urban design Oct. 6 Modulightor Building Architect: Paul Rudolph Oct. 7 Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning Architect: GLUCK+ Oct. 8 Project Farmhouse Architect: ORE Design Oct. 9 The Residences at PS186 & Boys and Girls Club of Harlem Architect: Dattner Architects Oct. 10 Naval Cemetery Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Oct. 11 Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine Architect: Heins & LaFarge/Cram & Ferguson (1899) Oct. 12 Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Architect: Cass Gilbert Oct. 13 New Lab, Brooklyn Navy Yard Architect: Marvel Architects Oct. 14 Open House New York Weekend Oct. 15 Open House New York Weekend Oct. 16 iHeartMedia Architect: A+I with Beneville Studios Oct. 17 56 Leonard Street Architect: Herzog & De Meuron Oct. 18 Staten Island Courthouse, St. George Architect: Ennead Architects Oct. 19 Carroll House Architect: LOT-EK Oct. 20 Columbia University – Lenfest Center for the Arts Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (design architect); Davis Brody Bond (executive architect); Body-Lawson Associates (associate architect) Oct. 21 Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Architect: Maya Lin Studio (Designer); Bialosky + Partners Architects Oct. 22 Freshkills Park Architect: NYC Parks/James Corner Field Operations Oct. 23 The George Washington Bridge Bus Station Architect: STV – Program Architect/Architect of Record/Design Architect for Retail Development; PANYNJ Architectural Unit – Design Architect for Bus Station Oct. 24 Governors Island – The Hills Architect: West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture Oct. 25 Bronx River House Architect: Kiss + Cathcart, Architects Oct. 26 ISSUE Project Room Architect: McKim, Mead & White (original architect); Conversion to ISSUE Project Room: WORKac in collaboration with ARUP (ongoing) Oct. 27 Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District Architect: TEN Arquitectos Oct. 28 Morris Jumel Mansion Architect: Original Architect Unknown Oct. 29 Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler Oct. 30 Cornell Tech Architect: Handel Architects; Morphosis; WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Oct. 31 The William Vale Hotel Architect: Albo Liberis
If your number-one-can't-miss tour is sold out, don't despair: There are more than enough events for everyone. Archtober has a new series called Workplace Wednesdays where firms like SHoP, Snøhetta, and others will open up their offices to ticketed members of the public for workshops, presentations, and talks. On October 29, AN Contributing Editor Sam Lubell will give a talk on Never Built New York, the exhibition he co-curated at the Queens Museum.
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Ta-Dah

The MTA says new stops on the Second Ave Subway are coming
Better bus service? A shorter L-mageddon? New Second Avenue Subway stops?? The MTA says yes, you betcha, to all these projects and a few more. Today the MTA Board voted on a number of initiatives it says will improve service and boost turnaround time on major projects, including phase two of the Second Avenue Subway and L train tunnel repairs. The Board also voted to spiffy up train stations and add new buses citywide. “Today’s votes will bring convenience and better service to the millions of New Yorkers who use our system every day,” said interim executive director Ronnie Hakim, in a prepared statement. “Improvements include modernized train stations in Astoria and a shorter closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, which will lessen the impact on L train riders as we undertake these necessary Sandy storm repairs.” Phase two of the Second Avenue Subway, which now ends at 96th Street, will eventually bring Q trains zooming north to 125th Street. In the spirit of git-'er-done, the Board voted to grant a $7.3 million contract for outreach services in advance of two new stations at 106th and 116th streets. A partnership between Spectrum Personal Communications and transportation planners at Sam Schwartz Engineering will bring a community information center to East 125th Street this spring. At the center, English- and Spanish-speaking staff will be on hand to answer questions about the subway; lead educational events; and prepare plans for the Community Boards and elected officials. Be on the lookout for a project schedule once the (already underway) phase two preliminary design and engineering work wraps up. Downtown, the MTA is pushing for L train tunnel work to be completed in 15 months, three fewer than initially projected. The $492 million project was awarded to Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, though Judlau is the same firm behind construction delays on the Second Ave subway (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Over in Queens, $150 million will go towards improving above-ground subway stations on the N and W line in Astoria. Improvements will add security cameras, art, better lighting, and countdown clocks, the commuter's godsend. F0r a preview of what's in store for the borough, look no further than the work being done on the first group of stations in this project, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. Buses were not left out amid the many new things for trains. The city will get 60-foot articulated buses (53 in all) to replace the aging 40-footers in its fleet. These new buses will be suited up with, among other features, turn warnings for pedestrians, wifi, USB charging ports, and passenger counter.
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Lost Man Creek

Take a trip through this redwood forest in downtown Brooklyn tomorrow
Instead of staring out the window into the gloomy morass of this weekend's unrelenting rain, head over to downtown Brooklyn tomorrow for the opening of a real—and really small—public forest. Artist Spencer Finch has set up a 4,000-tree glen in MetroTech Commons for his latest solo exhibition, Lost Man Creek. In partnership with Save the Redwoods League, Finch has recreated a 790-acre chunk of California's Redwood National Park at 1:100 scale. The height and placement of the thousands of scaled-down redwoods, ranging from one to four feet tall, mimic the topography of the real redwood forest (although the trees there reach heights close to 400 feet). “Through both a scientific approach to gathering data—including precise measurements and record keeping—and a poetic sensibility, Finch’s works often inhabit the area between objective investigations of science and the subjectivity of lived experience,” said exhibition organizer and Public Art Fund associate curator Emma Enderby, in a statement. “In a world where climate change is at the core of societal debates, Finch’s installation in the heart of one of the most urbanized neighborhoods of the city presents us with the universal reality of nature’s power to awe and inspire, and the importance to remember and protect such wonders.” Visitors will be able to view the triangular patch of nature from a platform or at ground level. A custom-rigged irrigation system will keep the redwoods alive (although they'll probably get more water here than in their native, water-deficient California). Like the old-growth redwoods, Lost Man Creek will be around for awhile: The exhibition opens tomorrow and remains on view through March 11, 2018. The work is reminiscent of Michael Neff's suspended forest at the Knockdown Center, although Neff prefers his conifers dead.
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Top Shop

SHoP makes the Brooklyn skyline with a “brooding, elegant, and badass” supertall… There goes the neighborhood?

If you zone it, they will build, and they will build tall. New York–based SHoP, in partnership with JDS Development Group, revealed plans earlier this year to build 9 Dekalb Avenue, a 73-story, 1,066-foot-tall residential tower fused to the landmarked Dime Savings Bank in Downtown Brooklyn. Last month, the design cleared a crucial hurdle when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the tower’s design and consequent modifications to the bank.

“There’s a sort of brooding Gotham to it,” noted Gregg Pasquarelli, founding principal of SHoP. “There’s a little bit of badass to it, but it’s quite elegant at the same time. Isn’t that what we all want to be as New Yorkers?” The 417-unit building is clad in bronze, stainless steel, and stone, with view-maximizing interlocking hexagonal exposures. Pasquarelli explained that the facade detailing is such so that when two sides of the hexagon are viewed from an oblique angle, it will resemble one face, a sleeker reference to the grand old New York skyscrapers like Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building.

Michael Stern, founder of JDS Development Group, proclaimed: “The tower will be Brooklyn’s next icon. Brooklyn was really missing that one iconic statement that was worthy of the borough. This building will really put Brooklyn on the map.” Drawing from the landmark on-site, the spacing of the tower’s vertical facade elements mirrors the spacing of the bank’s neoclassical columns. The color and materials palette picks up on the bank’s colorful stone interiors, which will be converted to retail, while parts of the bank’s roof will be used for the building’s private outdoor spaces.

“The downtown rezoning of Brooklyn in 2004 has been very successful. This is a place where the city could handle density. It’s an incredible kudos to the city they upzoned that area, that they thought about tall towers,” said Pasquarelli. At the prow of Flatbush and Dekalb, the building will be visible from all over Brooklyn, and its distinctive facade will reinforce its prominent position on the skyline.

He and Stern enjoy experimenting with exteriors. Referencing the terra-cotta facade on 111 West 57th Street and the cladding on the East River–facing American Copper Buildings, Pasquarelli intimated that developers and architects are obligated to build for the public realm. “Some people get to live in these buildings, but we all have to live with the exterior.”

While preservationists sometimes bristle at the modification of an individual landmark, Gina Pollara, executive director of the preservation advocacy organization Municipal Arts Society (MAS), thinks there’s a larger issue that’s expressed in the development of tall towers like 9 Dekalb. “For us, it’s not really about the towers itself. Most of these supertalls are going up as-of-right. Because they’re not asking for any variance or any change, there’s no opportunity for public comment.” This tower was unusual, she elaborated, because it involved a landmarked structure. “These buildings are so out of context or out of scale with the neighborhood, and there’s no space for public comment until developers release their renderings. There’s no discussion of the cumulative effects these towers are having on public space.”

In an interview with AN, Stern said that he could not react to critiques like MAS’s (which he had not heard about), “but I can tell you that the commissioners had comments ranging from, ‘the best of urbanism’ and ‘flawless,’ and the LPC approved the project unanimously, as did the community board. It’s something we’re quite proud of.”

Pollara would like to see a better conversation around the 100-year-old zoning code, and reform beyond Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, the recently codified zoning text amendments. “It’s time to make zoning much more transparent—not just to the layperson, but to elected official,” Pollara said. “We need to get in front of the issue rather than being at the mercy of what is being built around us. Preservation in the 21st century is not necessarily rallying around a specific building, but looking at open space, light, air—all of the elements we want to preserve. We don’t want to live in a city that’s created by default.”

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Book it to Brooklyn

Claire Weisz on WXY’s reimagining of the Brooklyn Strand

From a pedestrian perspective, Downtown Brooklyn and its waterfront have an odd relationship. Despite the Brooklyn Bridge’s looming (literally) presence in DUMBO, the area’s potential to become an idyllic promenade and an active space has never quite been realized.

Now, however, New York practice WXY architecture + design—who specializes in planning, urban design, and architecture–is proposing to connect DUMBO, Downtown, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. As part of a public-private scheme, in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), WXY’s project, the Strand, sets about creating views within the site, giving it an identity while creating a place that puts pedestrians first.

WXY principal Claire Weisz said that the first thing her practice sought to do was to see what connections needed to be reestablished with a focus on who they should serve. “One of the main priorities of the Strand effort is to privilege pedestrians and cyclists,” said Weisz. “We [looked] at what spaces used to connect and then we sought a way to reimagine and provide resources to the public spaces and places that are valued by the people living, working, and studying in this area.”

Striking a dialogue and creating a “positive sense of journey” was another key aspect of the scheme. Working with Copenhagen artist group Superflex, a responsive and pedestrian friendly scene was established: Here, functional, yet visually inspiring routes were developed, evoking the cultural and historical aspects of the area’s neighborhoods from Fulton to Farragut and the Navy Yard.

Weisz also spoke of new subway connections and the potential to develop sites around infrastructure, adding how the Gateway to Brooklyn action plan concept “demonstrated the importance of approaching access holistically.” In light of this, Weisz proposed connecting Cadman Plaza East with the walkway off the Brooklyn Bridge, thus protecting pedestrians who “have to dodge traffic at Cadman Plaza West.”

Weisz noted how the dominance of car travel has led to the emergence of “unappealing leftover public space.” Here, she explained, a “continuous city fabric where walkable, bike-able, active streets connect Downtown Brooklyn to the Waterfront” is a necessity from an infrastructure perspective.

While improved circulation is a priority, visual connectivity is also on the agenda. Weisz plans to give landmarks visual precedence to celebrate Brooklyn’s history and improve wayfinding throughout the Strand. As a result, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are allocated framed views from within the Cadman Plaza Park, Anchorage Plaza, and Trinity Park, in order to reaffirm the sense of place throughout the Strand.

“The Strand’s identity is linked to not losing the layers of history that made Brooklyn what it is today but adapting them for today’s needs,” said Weisz, who added that creating a “cohesive” identity was discussed with stakeholders.

“The main challenge of the Strand has been demonstrating the potential of spaces that are currently invisible to the public,” said Weisz. “Whether it be spaces around, over, or under highways [or] a new vantage for accessing and experiencing the Brooklyn Bridge, residents can look forward to a rejuvenated place that realizes the potential for the Strand to better connect downtown Brooklyn.”

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Propose Your Plaza

City of Baltimore to open design competition for McKeldin Plaza

The City of Baltimore is hosting a citywide design competition to seek proposals for the redevelopment of McKeldin Plaza in downtown Baltimore. The call follows plans to demolish the existing McKeldin Fountain later this year and the Department of Planning will supervise the open competition.

This follows years of talk about redesigning the plaza, which is currently dominated by the 1982 Brutalist concrete McKeldin Fountain. The fountain stands adjacent to the Inner Harbor area and memorializes former Baltimore mayor Theodore McKeldin, who was instrumental in  revitalizing the harbor area in the 1960s.

The Waterfront Partnership recently released plans for “Inner Harbor 2.0,” which will improve the area with new green spaces and pedestrian connections using Brooklyn Bridge Park and Waterfront Seattle as precedents.

 

McKeldin Plaza is an important fixture of Downtown Baltimore, and a designated free speech zone that was the focal point for the city’s Occupy and Black Lives Matter protests. In addition, the fountain is a historically significant holdout from the Brutalist movement, and its design attracts tourists and office workers from the surrounding area.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore supports redevelopment of the plaza into an open space, while many local artists, designers, and architects support its preservation as a public art piece.

The fountain itself has fallen into disrepair, and according to the Downtown Partnership its mechanics are prone to expensive breakdowns that leave it non-functional for months at a time. However, maintenance and enhancements could also go a long way toward revitalizing the plaza while preserving the fountain.

Up until recently the Brutalist design of the fountain matched the nearby Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, which was demolished in 2015. The theater was designed by John M. Johansen and opened in 1967, remaining in use until 2004. After its owners chose not to renew the lease on the building in favor of the newly reopened Hippodrome Theatre, the building fell into disrepair. A new high-rise residential and commercial space is now under construction on the site. Since the demolition of the Mechanic, McKeldin fountain is the only example of Brutalist architecture in Baltimore.

The fountain has its share of defenders, including Baltimore’s City Council president, who introduced a bill to block the demolition last year.

A Change.org petition calls for the postponement of demolition until a new design is approved. Others—including the fountain’s designer—are against the demolition entirely and want to preserve the site.

The Downtown Partnership plans to move forward with the demolition in Summer 2016 pending approval of permits. The fountain and the skywalk across Light Street were recently closed to pedestrians.

The architecture firms Ayers Saint Gross, Mahan Rykiel, and Ziger/Snead will oversee the project and finalize designs. Details about the public competition are still taking shape. 

 
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Strand Plan

New renderings, community vision revealed for WXY–designed Brooklyn Strand
Today, 40 stakeholders released the Brooklyn Strand Community Vision Plan, a set of recommendations for developing almost 50 acres of public space that links the Brooklyn Bridge to Downtown Brooklyn. The plan focuses on broadening connectivity along the corridor by making the space more attractive and pedestrian-friendly, and improving access to the waterfront between the Navy Yard, DUMBO, and Downtown Brooklyn. In 2014, Mayor de Blasio announced a set of plans to further catalyze the growth of downtown Brooklyn. One of these plans was the Brooklyn Strand, now a disjointed set of parks, greenways, and plazas bisected by highway feeder ramps that present wayfinding challenges even to seasoned New Yorkers. Since then, New York–based WXY Architecture + Urban Design has led not-for-profit local development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and over 250 community stakeholders through an intensive planning process to re-vision the Strand. Recommendations from the just-released community vision include enhancing non-car links between Borough Hall Park, Columbus Park, Korean War Veterans Memorial Plaza, Cadman Plaza, Commodore Barry Park, the Bridge Parks, and Trinity Park; a "Gateway to Brooklyn" adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Park with a viewing platform; creating a permanent market at Anchorage Plaza; reopening the long-shuttered Brooklyn War Memorial to the public; broadening access to Commodore Barry Park; widening sidewalks; installing public art to animate under-utilized public space; realign Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) ramps to make the pedestrian experience less alienating. “The Brooklyn Strand Community Vision Plan is an exciting and ambitious effort to reconnect Downtown Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods to each other, reinvigorate open space and improve access to the waterfront,” proclaimed New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) president Maria Torres-Springer. “The Plan is the result of an extensive and collaborative community engagement process, and it provides a promising roadmap to the future for this historic business district. At NYCEDC, we look forward to continuing our work with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, community stakeholders and elected leaders, and to making the reinvigoration of the Brooklyn Strand a reality.”
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Downtown Brooklyn Partnership releases new report on robust development in Downtown Brooklyn
On its tenth anniversary, the local nonprofit development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has released a report that details just how well the development of downtown Brooklyn is going. Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development demonstrates how, since its 2004 rezoning, private investors have put more than $10 billion into Downtown Brooklyn. The report was commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and produced by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy at NYU. “Downtown Brooklyn has harnessed its determined capacity for creative change to undergo a true rebirth over the past decade,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership. “This report demonstrates just how far strong civic leadership can go when it’s bolstered by smart public investment, and provides the first definitive account of how we came so far, so fast—and where we need to go from here.” At a panel hosted at NYU and moderated by Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Mitchell L. Moss last week, Reed, Joe Chan (executive vice president, Empire State Development Corporation), Regina Myer (president, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Hugh O'Neill (president of economic consulting firm Appleseed) discussed the report and next steps for downtown Brooklyn. Since the creation of a central business district in the Group of 35 report, Downtown Brooklyn has transformed itself into a tech hub, a center of arts and culture, a nexus of higher education. Between 2000 and 2013, the district's population grew by 17 percent. The number of residents with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled, and median household income grew by 22 percent. Reed mentioned that, as part of its community development goals, the Partnership "is working on workforce development" to close a skills and opportunity gap among residents without a college degree. The report has five recommendations for continued growth which center on clearing barriers for development through incentives and flexible zoning, as well as greater investment in transportation, the arts, and public space:
  1. Downtown Brooklyn and the city should ensure that innovative new companies have room to grow through increased—and targeted—commercial office space investment.
  2. The city should learn from the 2004 rezoning of the area, which allowed flexible permissive zoning and land use policies and resulted in a surge in development. The city should avoid trying to achieve narrowly defined policy objectives by enacting overly detailed zoning restrictions and prescriptions.
  3. The city should continue to invest in innovative public space improvements, such as the Brooklyn Strand initiative and completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that make Downtown Brooklyn a more attractive place to live, work, invest, do business, and visit.
  4. Developers and property owners, non-profit organizations, and the city need to work together to ensure that cultural institutions, arts organizations, and individual artists can continue to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn.
  5. The city needs to address long-standing gaps in the area’s transportation networks, including lack of transit access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, difficulties in getting between the core of Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront, and the scarcity of good options for travel between existing and new waterfront neighborhoods and growing concentrations of jobs along the East River.
What do you think: Will these strategies keep the neighborhood on its upward development trajectory, or is the celebratory document failing to consider downsides like the loss of affordable housing and the decimation of independent retail on Fulton Street?