Search results for "waggonner "
The New & Old in New Orleans: Ten years after Katrina, architects still figuring out how to rebuild housing in the city
- Storage space is limited, so there is a lower propensity to over consume and due to the size of the plot.
- The building is relatively simple and easy to maintain (a chore no city dweller wants to labor over).
This year we welcomed foreign firms to US shores, marked memorial milestones, tracked the reinvention of abandoned infrastructure, and reported on universities as key players in urban development. Here are a few of our favorite articles from AN's East Coast edition that offer a snapshot of the issues and voices that made news in 2011.
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Foster + Partners brings neo-modern seriousness to museum addition, but is it enough? Fame isn’t always glory. That’s one lesson of the career of I.M. Pei, that most underrated of overexposed architects. Though best known for later baubles like the Louvre’s glass entrance pyramid, in the ‘70s and ‘80s he produced buildings of remarkable (yet all-too-often unremarked) competence and diligence. Many of these are to be found in Boston, a city whose small size, long history, and hub-of-the-universe aspirations complemented Pei’s sense of scale and proportion, his balance of deference and showbiz, and his capacity to complement old sites with new interventions. His works in that city, such as the 1974 Christian Science complex and 1971 Harbor Towers, evince monumentality without grandiosity, modernity without brutality, and the acknowledgement of historical neighbors without maudlin imitation of their forms.
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Danish architect ready to leave his footprints in Manhattan and beyond: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, principal of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has set his sights on the Big Apple. Since September, he has been jet-setting back and forth between his Copenhagen headquarters and his new Manhattan office in preparation for a closely-watched mystery debut. Already an established member of the young architectural vanguard (with an icon of his own in the shape of a figure-eight-shaped housing complex in Copenhagen), Ingels told AN that he is prepared to take American real-estate development head-on: “Everyone has been warning us that it’s impossible to work with American developers—that they’re too profit-driven,” Ingels said. “But it’s really exactly the same with developers everywhere.”
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Thomas Leeser's intricately-paneled architecture recalls the experience of film itself: Oh, to live in the unbuilt world of Thomas Leeser! While most architects have by mid-career accumulated a village of unrealized projects, all offering glimpses of unbuildable wonders or cancelled near-misses, Leeser’s exceptional collection features unbuilt buildings that seem at once otherworldly and down-to-earth. With a long-refined vocabulary of tessellated-panel cladding, continuous-curve surfacing, laconically sculptural massing, knife-sharp edging, and a certain icy taste for sparkle, his practice has produced an evanescent architecture for a counterfactual world, more exciting and exacting than our own: For Yakutsk, Russia, a wooly mammoth museum whose facade tessellations extrude into leggy permafrost-foundation piles, all with the irresistible creaturely charisma of the animal it exhibits; for Abu Dhabi, a hotel whose voluptuous curves manifest as Wright’s Guggenheim in full ballroom spin; for Heidelberg, Germany, there’s a solid-looking museum that, at least seemingly, melts into air.
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Landscape architecture continues to experience a professional flowering based on the growing significance of sustainability and ecological issues as they relate to planning the broader built environment. But awareness is also growing among architects that they are no longer kings of the mountain. Gwen Webber scouts the perimeter of a possible turf war in the making.
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Vera Sacchetti discusses the 2011 Pritzker laureate: In Porto, a small, gray city in the north of Portugal, you grow accustomed to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century weathered granite buildings that seem to rise from the ground as naturally as mountains. This is the foggy, damp place that has shaped the life and work of Eduardo Souto de Moura, the 2011 Pritzker Prize laureate, and he, in turn, has helped bring the city into modernity over the past thirty years. “In Porto, you have the beautiful historical city,” the architect has said, “the monuments and buildings trying to find—like cats when they go to sleep—their natural place and positioning, and then they become almost natural, all made with the same stone… And that gives them an immense serenity.”
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Today cities are putting people before cars, replacing highways with green boulevards: Remember highways, those ribbons of concrete that in the 1940s and 50s looped together cities, states, and regions in much the same way as ocean liners connected America to Europe in the 20s and 30s? Once highways represented the country’s proudest infrastructure. Those days are over, as are the urban policies that allowed New York’s ultimate powerbroker Robert Moses, late in his heyday in the 60s, to ram roads (the bigger, the wider, the busier the better) through fragile communities, ripping the urban fabric to shreds for decades to come. Today’s urban thinking puts pedestrians before cars.
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Mapping higher education as a potent force of development across the city, now and in the future. Essay by Mitchell Moss: In spite of the recent economic slowdown, New York City’s colleges and universities are on a building spree, providing planners, land use lawyers, architects, and construction workers with well-paying and stable employment. Once a sleeping giant, the city’s colleges and universities have long been active in acquiring individual parcels, modernizing outmoded structures, and building “as-of-right” by taking advantage of the city’s permissive zoning that falls under the heading of “community facilities.” But today, the city’s higher education industry is playing hardball as it seeks to build classrooms, labs, residence halls, student centers, and administrative palaces in order to attract students and faculty in the 21st century. And the leaders of the city’s colleges and universities are anything but shy when it comes to expanding their campuses. In fact, they are using every possible planning and zoning tool: eminent domain, rezoning, leasing, trading air rights, public-private partnerships, strategic acquisitions, and, of course, contributing space for public purposes, as they negotiate the treacherous minefield of land use planning in New York City.
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Drawn largely from stories in our own pages, this selective timeline recalls key design moments, revisions, and decisions leading up to the tenth anniversary opening of the 9/11 Memorial.
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The director of Helvetica and Objectified talks about his new film on cities, Urbanized: This month Urbanized, the latest film by Gary Hustwit, premieres in selected cities around the U.S. after making its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Coming on the heels of his odes to typography (Helvetica, 2007) and product design (Objectifed, 2009), Hustwit has now turned his lens on the design of cities. AN met up with the filmmaker to talk about how the key players in urban planning and design and make their ideas comprehensible to a wider public.
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Dattner Grimshaw Bronx partnership yields model sustainable housing: Via Verde, the affordable housing complex designed by Dattner Architects in partnership with Grimshaw, would fit with any of the sexy newcomers on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Built atop a former rail yard in the Melrose section of the South Bronx, the triangular site sits directly across from some featureless low-income housing in uninspiring old-school red brick.
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Occupying Wall Street at the public-private frontier: In future years, people will remember 2011 as the year in which physical public space reclaimed its lofty status in the public sphere thanks to the audacious actions of engaged individuals. From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, physical public space has aggressively reminded the world of its centrality in accommodating and nurturing political debate and protest. Public spaces come in many flavors. They include city-owned streets, sidewalks, and parks. In New York and other cities, they also include a zoning-created variety known as privately owned public space. Through a technique known as incentive zoning, New York since 1961 has encouraged developers of office and residential skyscrapers to provide a now-substantial array of more than 500 plazas, arcades, and indoor spaces in return for valuable zoning concessions. The most valuable concession of all has been bonus floor area, and the City has thus granted more than 20 million square feet of extra building area for developers. Although the spaces differ in terms of the legal specifics that created them, the signature requirement is that they be usable by the public.
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High on Metabolism, Rem talks about his latest book Project Japan: Sounding weary with focusing on his own positions and prominence and energized by researching Japan in the 60s and 70s, Rem Koolhaas came down for coffee at the Carlyle Hotel to talk to AN about his new book Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (Taschen), a six-year project undertaken with Swiss critic and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist to interview the founders and thinkers of what the architect calls “the first non-Western avant-garde movement in architecture” and the Dutch architect’s search for a more meaningful engagement between architecture and societies.
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What does it mean when museums position themselves as engines of social change...powered by luxury car companies? Stephen Zacks considers new claims on the urban environment: This fall, BMW funded a Guggenheim lab on the Lower East Side that will travel—along with a lot of forward-thinking programs and events—to nine cities around the world for the next six years. Earlier this year, Audi funded the New Museum’s Festival Ideas for the New City on the Bowery which the museum plans on staging every other year. And in May, Volkswagen announced a two-year partnership with MoMA to fund online educational programming, on-site “labs,” and an exhibition of socially conscious international work at PS1.
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Philly's elevated railway is struggling to become a High Line: The Reading Viaduct, a grass and tree-covered stretch of historically rich yet defunct industrial rail line in Philadelphia, has opened up a lively dialogue about its potential as an urban connector. With a location ripe for redevelopment, the mile-long viaduct runs north from the edge of Center City to Callowhill, a former manufacturing neighborhood. However, as in most public projects where budgets are tight, the realization of an elevated park has a long way to go.
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The National Building Museum presents the nation's capital as it might have been: More and more, the National Mall is living up to its moniker “America’s front yard”: patchy turf, puddles, and cracked sidewalks give it an air of foreclosure. The National Mall Design Competition, now under way, will surely produce ambitious proposals to mend the Mall, but getting them approved and funded could take years and is far from guaranteed.
Remember highways, those ribbons of concrete that in the 1940s and 50s looped together cities, states, and regions in much the same way as ocean liners connected America to Europe in the 20s and 30s? Once highways represented the country’s proudest infrastructure. Those days are over, as are the urban policies that allowed New York’s ultimate powerbroker Robert Moses, late in his heyday in the 60s, to ram roads (the bigger, the wider, the busier the better) through fragile communities, ripping the urban fabric to shreds for decades to come. Today’s urban thinking puts pedestrians before cars.
For Robert Moses, a mastermind in the dawning age of the car, four-wheel travel promised the world and then some. Highways were supposed to be the “lungs of the city”—and those concrete behemoths, once thought to be permanent fixtures in cities, would preserve his legacy. But what would Moses say today if he knew that major cities across the country now see highways as a root of blight and are considering taking down his creations? Half a century after the height of urban renewal, a national movement is set to try a new road to urban growth, reintegrating communities through dismantling the highways that were the focus of Moses’ life’s work.
“It’s about rebalancing now,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “We’re looking for ways to reconsider highways to maximize their highest and best uses in light of today’s intensely urban settings, which are different from uses in earlier parts of the 20th century.”
Syracuse and Buffalo on the East Coast, Seattle on the West Coast, and Louisville, Dallas, and Cleveland in between, are among the cities talking about removing highways from their downtowns. The convergence of all these campaigns is no coincidence. As the National Interstate Highway turns 55 this month, many highways are reaching the end of their design lives. Cities now face the option of investing billions in maintenance or getting rid of them altogether. It makes perfect sense in the current economic climate, says John Norquist, the Milwaukee mayor who presided over the 2003 removal of Park East Freeway—a highway whose annual maintenance between $50 and $80 million would have cost twice as much as its demolition. But for Norquist, the current president of the Congress for New Urbanism, the end of the highway’s useful life was just an opportunity to end its damaging effects on pedestrian life and downtown real estate values. “If you look at the real estate near a freeway, almost always it’s degraded,” he said. “You get surface parking lots or buildings with high vacancy rates, no walking.”
Anti-highway sentiment is nothing new. In fact, the country is dotted with unfinished highway projects, from New York’s Sheridan Expressway to an extension of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, that were halted by public opposition. One of the watershed moments in the movement against highways was the campaign against one of Robert Moses’ most controversial proposals: the Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York, a ten-lane highway that would have razed the present-day neighborhoods of TriBeCa, Soho and Chinatown. Activist Jane Jacobs and local residents lobbied to defeat his proposal, ushering in what some would consider a new school of thought that emphasized neighborhood life and community input in urban planning.
Courtesy Waggonner & Ball Architects/Smart Mobility
The recent buzz about highway removal projects is another powerful testament to the reversal of Robert Moses and what post-war America accepted as good urban planning. Local officials are looking to demolish highways to end the blight they brought to the neighborhoods they run through, 60 years after cities first started putting them up in the name of progress and modernity. In New Orleans, community groups believe that replacing the stretch of Interstate 10 that runs above Claiborne Avenue—a once-thriving commercial corridor in the Treme neighborhood—with a boulevard would rid the city of an eyesore and promote economic development. The proposal has become central to rebuilding the city, included in both the Unified New Orleans Plan created for post-Katrina recovery and the city’s new master plan. Decades before the hurricane, the construction of I-10 in the 1950s precipitated Treme’s decline from one of the city’s wealthiest African-American neighborhoods to an area with high poverty and vacancy rates. The number of businesses on Claiborne Avenue fell 75 percent between 1960 and 2000, says the community organization Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition who commissioned the study from architects Waggonner & Ball working with Smart Mobility.
In New Orleans and elsewhere, removing highways is providing an opportunity to redress the racist urban renewal policies of the 20th century that impacted communities inhabited largely by minorities. In 1974, construction of Route 40 in West Baltimore demolished 700 homes and displaced 2,000 residents in a middle-class African American neighborhood. Demolition of Route 40, otherwise known as the infamous 1.4 mile “Highway to Nowhere,” began last fall. “Tearing down every last remnant of that ill-fated road will help heal the communities that have long been split by the portion of highway that we couldn't stop,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski, who launched her decades-long political career rallying against the highway. Now, demolition will restore a street connection between two neighborhoods and make way for expanded station parking for an existing commuter rail line and a future light rail line for the city. “It’s not just a good land use solution or transportation solution, but it rights many past wrongs done to the communities that the highway runs through,” said Joan Byron, the policy director at the Pratt Center for Community Development in New York.
Byron also credits the re-emergence of cities for the growing movement against urban highways. The United Nations reported that more than half the world’s population lived in cities for the first time in history in 2007. “Affluent middle class people are moving back to cities,” Byron explained, “So land blighted by highways is now being valued differently.” In New York, pressure to cap the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which forms a below-grade trench through Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Williamsburg, is mounting as more people move to the west side of the highway. Residents near the highway, which was built in the 1950s and 60s to connect the city’s boroughs, have contended with high asthma rates and noise pollution. Now, the city is exploring ways to make life near the highway less onerous, including covering the trench with a “green canopy” of acoustic and photovoltaic panels to reduce noise and generate electricity.
Courtesy Courtesy Starr Whitehouse/Kiss+Cathcart Architects
The most telling sign of the times was funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for three highway removal projects last fall. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $600 million for 75 infrastructure projects through TIGER II, a competitive grant program designed to promote livability and sustainability. The conversion of Route 34 in New Haven, Connecticut into a boulevard received $16 million. New Haven officials have long blamed the highway for stifling foot traffic downtown and choking downtown off from the rest of the city. Now, its removal will open up 11 acres to new real estate development for the city’s biotech boom and is part of larger efforts to create a pedestrian-friendly city, according to Bruce Alexander, vice president for New Haven and State Affairs. New Orleans and New York also received grants to study the potential teardowns of the Claiborne Expressway and the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx.
Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation
A $1.5 million TIGER II grant will fund New York’s first study of alternative uses for the Sheridan. Opened in 1962, the 11⁄4 mile highway was originally intended to connect New York to New England, but it was never finished and now merely connects Bruckner Expressway and the Cross Bronx Expressway, which already intersect to the east. Local residents count the highway as one of numerous environmental injustices in the South Bronx, responsible for higher asthma rates, traffic congestion, and blocking access to the Bronx riverfront. It is a thoroughfare for truck drivers to Hunts Point, a major food distribution center for supermarkets in New York and New Jersey, but advocates of removal insist that the Sheridan’s low traffic volume—which amounts to 50,000 vehicles a day—justifies getting rid of it.
“The design is dysfunctional for drivers, and it’s harmful for the community because it sits at the hub of retail and transportation for Amtrak and Metro North,” argued Byron, who has been working with neighborhood groups to campaign for the Sheridan’s removal for over 10 years. “There’s no rationale for keeping it.” In 1997, the New York Department of Transportation’s proposal to expand the Sheridan spurred local residents to action. Working with the Pratt Center and other community organizations, they developed an alternative plan that would remove the Sheridan, build access ramps to Hunts Point off the Bruckner Expressway to accommodate truck traffic, free up 13 acres for 1,500 units of housing, and connect 15 acres of open space to the Bronx River Greenway.
Sojung You (top) and Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance
Byron called the TIGER grant for the city’s study “huge,” because states typically run their highways with little input from municipal governments and local communities. The study will integrate the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Department of Parks, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation into the planning process, a decision that Byron predicts will make the state much more likely to favor the alternative plan.
For now, the plan remains the subject of debate between community members and businesses at Hunts Point, who are skeptical that access ramps can replace a highway that carries 15,000 trucks everyday without crippling congestion. “One of the biggest challenges has been explaining the different parts of the plan to business owners and making sure it works for them,” Byron said.
What happens to traffic when a major artery is removed is probably the biggest concern for most drivers, and legitimately so. Intuition would suggest that replacing highways with boulevards with stoplights and lower speed limits would make traffic even worse. But that’s not necessarily the case, says Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do.
“The record seems to show that in many cases, when a highway segment is removed, the subsequent impact on traffic congestion and travel times has not been as dire as many would have predicted,” he said. Planners have consistently found that highway traffic demonstrates so-called “evaporated demand”—just as cars will come if there's a new highway, the reverse is true when highways are removed. “Traffic demand is elastic,” said Vanderbilt.
Courtesy Preservenet and Infrastructurist
One of the most dramatic examples was Seoul’s removal of the Cheonggyecheon Freeway, a major highway that carried 168,000 vehicles a day, in 2002. Despite cries that the highway’s closure would produce chaos, adjustments to the downtown traffic system and the introduction of the city’s first rapid transit bus line were able to absorb excess traffic. Dr. Kee Yeon Hwang, one of the project’s key planners, told the Guardian, “As soon as we destroyed the road, the cars just disappeared and drivers changed their habits. A lot of people just gave up their cars. Others found a different way of driving. In some cases, they kept using their cars but changed their routes." The highway’s removal made room for the restoration of a four-mile stream that had run underneath the highway and an urban park that has become a point of pride for the city.
“This is not to say you can just eliminate any highway and magically ‘cure’ a traffic problem,” Vanderbilt cautions. “But certainly in the case of highways built through major urban centers, with proper planning and given enough travel alternatives, what were once considered vital arteries in cities like Seoul have been removed—and whatever negatives on the travel side may have arisen have arguably been paid back by benefits on the public space and quality of urban life side.” The closure of the elevated West Side Highway in New York City in the 1970s presented a similar case. Sam Schwartz was an engineer at the Department of Traffic, responsible for diverting traffic after the highway collapsed. “What I found out was that the traffic was able to take different paths,” he said in an interview for the website Street Films. “Things didn’t get worse on all the other routes that had to pick up the slack.” A new highway was slated to replace the old one, but public opposition delayed the project for 30 years until then-Governor Cuomo and Mayor Dinkins announced the construction of a surface-level boulevard adjacent to a new waterfront park along the Hudson River.
But even with proper planning, highway removals don’t always turn out the way advocates envision. Though it’s been hailed as one of the country’s first prominent highway removal projects, the demolition of Park East Freeway in 2003 hasn’t spurred downtown development as advocates had hoped. Demolition freed up 24 acres for development, but only the city-owned parcels—about ten percent of the land—have been sold to developers, while the county-owned parcels remain untouched. Norquist points to such new projects as a $54 million apartment tower that recently broke ground and a $175 million residential and retail development near the Milwaukee River as signs of progress. But county politics and strict regulations stand in the way of further transformation.
Indeed, the issue of highways—whether building or demolishing them—is a contentious one. It’s no surprise that Norquist got his start in politics as an anti-highway candidate running for the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1974. “I beat an incumbent who wanted to build a freeway right in the middle of a park designed by Olmstead’s son,” he recalled. The public revolt against highways in Wisconsin in the 1970s and 80s elected a block of anti-highway legislators who stopped plans for three highways.
Elected officials like Norquist and his colleagues aren’t common. Removing a highway is still a political risk in cities where most residents believe it would only slow traffic. Byron points to lack of courage among elected officials as one of the main barriers to highway removal projects. But in Seattle, Mayor Michael McGinn has taken a controversial stand against a proposed bi-level four-lane tunnel slated to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a major highway that must come down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake. The debate has engaged everyone from drivers, who say they need a tunnel, and union workers to environmental groups and budget hawks opposed to the tunnel’s $3 billion price tag. After months of lawsuits and public debate, Seattle’s residents will finally vote on the tunnel this August. Whatever the outcome, the vote will be a powerful statement on the future of highways. And to be sure, other cities will be watching.