Search results for "Downtown Brooklyn"

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NYC DOT's "Great Streets" vision for Atlantic Avenue lacks any bicycle infrastructure
As part of Mayor de Blasio’s mission to eliminate traffic deaths in New York City, his administration has committed $250 million toward its “Great Streets” initiative to redesign four of the city’s most dangerous arterial roadways: 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens, Queens Boulevard, and  Grand Concourse in the Bronx. On 4th Avenue in Brooklyn—which is known as “the canyon of mediocrity” for its lackluster architecture—the Department of Transportation is making permanent a temporary road diet it put in place in recent years. Street adjustments like wider medians and banning left turns at certain intersections have paid huge dividends: On a 15-block stretch of the remade roadway, pedestrian injuries decreased 61 percent. The DOT did not include bike lanes in its road diet, instead opting for 13-foot-wide parking lanes. Construction has also just begun on the DOT's "Great Streets" remake of Queens Boulevard, a harrowing roadway dubbed the “Boulevard of Death." This transformation has been widely lauded in transportation circles for its inclusion of pedestrian pathways and protected bike lanes. But now the DOT has unveiled its $60 million plan to remake two miles of Atlantic Avenue, and like many recent street-calming measures undertaken by the department (Queens Boulevard excluded) it does little—if anything—to protect the city’s cyclists. On the dangerous section of Atlantic, most of which is in East New York—a neighborhood de Blasio wants to rezone to create affordable housing—the DOT plans to replace existing medians with longer and raised medians that have space for plantings and benches. The design would also implement left turn bays, high-visibility crosswalks, ban left turns at some intersections, and create mid-block crossings. The DOT says these strategies will calm traffic and reduce speeding. “The design proposed by DOT will make Atlantic look nicer and probably yield a marginal improvement in safety,” wrote StreetsBlog, “but it does not fundamentally alter the geometry of the street.” As part of its Vision Zero rollout, the DOT had previously re-timed traffic lights on Atlantic Avenue, and stepped-up traffic enforcement. It was also one of the first streets to have its speed limit dropped from 30 miles per hour to 25. The absence of any bike infrastructure in this “Great Streets” project is especially notable given the fatal bicycle crash that recently occurred just off Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. After the cyclist was killed, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a press conference at the intersection calling on the city to fast-track a redesign of the dangerous intersection. Adams also brought reporters on a bike ride along Flatbush Avenue to underscore the harrowing conditions cyclists have to contend with on many city streets. Last year, pedestrian fatalities in New York City fell to their lowest level in over a century, but cyclists' deaths rose from 12 in 2013 to 20. The DOT says it will finalize this plan with the Department of Design an Construction by August 2016 and start construction the following spring. It remains to be seen what the department has planned for the Grand Concourse.  
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No longer endangered: Greenpoint's Sgt. William Dougherty Playground will be revamped after facing threat of closure
Space-starved Greenpoint is about to receive a welcome overhaul of its Sgt. William Dougherty Playground, a compact park at the corner of Cherry Street and Vandervoort Avenue. Once threatened with a four-year closure to facilitate completion of the Kosciuszko Bridge in 2013, the park will now receive some extra real estate—with a modest expansion from 0.76 to 0.83 acres—and a perimeter fringed with trees. Officials from the NYS Department of Transportation announced plans for a new rectangular design and a children’s playground with all-new equipment on a rubber safety surface. One of the main attractions will be a skate park designed by “mayor of NYC skateboarding” Steve Rodriguez of 5Boro with its own viewing area and skate fixtures, including a bank to bank, double-mound, hubba (skate wall), flat bank with a ride wall, and a 3-inch ramp. For cooling off on hot summer days, the playground will have spray showers for kids to run through. The plans were spurred by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway construction, in which led to buildings being demolished, longtime businesses relocated, and the park downsized. According to the proposal, the existing basketball and handball courts will be relocated to a more central position in the park, while the three entrances—two off Anthony Street and one on the corner of Vandervoort Avenue and Cherry Street—will be outfitted with new gates. At the community board meeting, residents requested a basketball court that could be converted into a skating rink in the winter, however, this idea was rejected by Jim Lau of the NYC Department of Transportation, who said: "We found it to be too much of a liability. It would not be feasible." While the existing park offers no restroom facilities, its new iteration will have a comfort station installed on the Anthony Street side of the playground between the spray shower and skate park. The park honors US Marine William Dougherty of the 155th infantry, who fought and died in World War II.
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Bike to work without the smog: the Clean Ride Mapper helps Canadian cyclists find quieter, less polluted bike routes
In urban canyons where tall buildings on both sides occlude sunlight, pollution, too, is prevented from dispersing. The Clean Ride Mapper is an interactive map that allows cyclists to choose quieter cycling routes with reduced traffic and pollution levels. After inputting starting point and destination, users are shown three color-coded routes—green being the cleanest (as measured by cumulative exposure to nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particles from fuel combustion), blue the most direct, and red the quietest as gauged by average traffic density the cyclist is likely to encounter. The map is powered by a dataset of air quality indices acquired over four years using $60,000 air-quality sensors attached to bicycles ridden by Montreal residents. While the routes occasionally overlap, there are times where cyclists must choose between an expedient journey or a roundabout ride for the sake of reducing pollutant deposits in the lungs. Maria Hatzopoulou, the creator of Clean Map Rider, claims that these detours are rarely longer than one kilometer (0.6 miles). Assistant professor of civil engineering at McGill University, Hatzopoulou created the online tool for cyclists in Toronto and Montreal as a project for the Transportation and Air Quality Research Group. “On certain days, some of Montreal’s most popular cycling paths, such as the one along the Lachine Canal, are also the most polluted because of wind patterns and proximity to highways,” a news release from the university stated. Considering its on-the-go user base, an obvious shortcoming of the fledgling tool is that there is no smartphone app, and users must click around—with repeated zooming in and out—to approximate their origin and destination rather than inputting an exact address. However, the map’s finer points are in the social pressure it exerts on cyclists to contemplate the smog they inhale every day. Clean Ride Mapper’s news release further cautions that traffic intersections fraught with idling cars also tend to be epicenters of pollution in cities. A similar project led by Columbia University in partnership with New York’s local NPR station, is being executed in New York City, whereby dozens of cyclists will be recruited to don air-quality sensors to accumulate data on bikers’ exposure to air pollution.
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Bernheimer and Dattner start work on BAM building as construction in Brooklyn's art district kicks up a notch
As Downtown Brooklyn's skyline grows taller, denser, and a bit more interesting, construction is whirring along in the BAM Cultural District just across Flatbush Avenue. The latest project to break ground within the area is bringing the borough new cultural institutions, affordable housing, and well, architecture. It's the Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments. The 115,000-square-foot structure was designed by Bernheimer Architecture and Dattner Architects with some landscaping accoutrement by SCAPE. The mixed-use building includes a restaurant along with the Center for Fiction and space for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Above the building's cultural podium are 109 apartments, 40 percent of which are below market-rate. "Extensive glazing at the lower floors highlights the cultural components and activates the pedestrian experience," Dattner explained on its website. "In-set balconies and double-height terraces articulate the upper base and tower." The Brooklyn Cultural District Apartments is intended to flow into the collection of high-design buildings and public spaces that are appearing one after the other on numerous sites around it. The building's restaurant, for instance, flows into Ken Smith's Arts Plaza which itself flows into the slightly cantilevering Theatre For a New Audience by Hugh Hardy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Between the new apartment building and the existing theater and plaza is yet another planned building—a 200-room hotel with a jagged facade by Leeser Architecture. There's one more big project to mention on the block: FXFOWLE's 52-story mixed-income residential tower that is quickly ascending into Brooklyn's skyline. On the other side of Fulton Street from the tower is the BRIC Arts Media House, another Leeser project. Adjacent to all of this is the site of Francis Cauffman's very artsy and wavy medical center that is currently under-construction. And across Lafayette Avenue is TEN Arquitectos' 32-story, mixed-use residential tower that is beginning to make its ascent.
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Step inside COOKFOX's new Brooklyn tower complex
Prolific construction watcher Field Condition recently toured phase two of COOKFOX's under-construction City Point development in Downtown Brooklyn. The firm's new pair of towers are already standing out in Brooklyn's bummer of a skyline with their non-glass facades and series of setbacks. The shorter of the pair—standing 19 stories tall—is 100 percent affordable and clad in grey-blue metallic panels. It stands next to the 30-story market-rate tower that has a primarily terracotta facade. The two buildings are scheduled to be completed next year, but why not take a look at where things stand now.
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This virtual pong game at NYU aims to restore social interaction to gaming and activate an abandoned storefront
While abandoned storefronts normally signal dereliction, Brooklyn-based design studio Urban Matter Inc. is using them to recreate the '80s arcade experience prior to personal gaming consoles—at least on the pilot test level. The Play Array pop-up storefront activation is a larger-than-life virtual pong game made of a 6-by-8-pixel grid. Passersby can play the game by using their smartphone to control the “ball” using steering wheel-like maneuvers, hosted on website Playpong.me. The ball’s path is indicated by the lighting up of the interactive LEDs housed in 46 disc-like connected pixels manufactured using a rotomolding process. Behind each polyethylene pixel are ultra-bright LED neopixels arranged in a 1.5-inch circle. Each horizontal row is embedded with a brain pixel which controls the LEDs in itself and the other seven pixels in the row. The pixels are then affixed to low-budget milk crates and then mounted in the window. The large-scale participatory game board is currently on display at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress in Brooklyn. “[Play Array] takes gaming out of our phones and computers and places it in the public venue for people to enjoy, and in turn create conversations and connections,” Urban Matter Inc. wrote on its website. Developed over six months, the installation focuses more on play and participation instead of the bare-bones game itself, which draws inspiration from the classic Pong video game. The installation will remain for a number of weeks not only to facilitate unforeseen friendships between players on the street—which Urban Matter’s website nostalgically attributes to the arcades of yesteryear—but to create awareness for urban and citizen science and innovation. https://vimeo.com/126839859
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SHoP Architects' twisting skyscraper in Miami includes two acres of glowing digital billboards
Even in a city like Miami, this twisting, LED-emblazoned tower seems a bit over the top. The curious 633-foot structure, called the Miami Innovation Tower, is the work of SHoP Architects, a firm known for adventurous designs, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to skinny supertall skyscrapers in Manhattan. But even with that reputation, this one takes us by surprise. The Miami Herald reported that the tower is part of developer Michael Simkins' plan for a four-block scheme to be called the "Miami Innovation District." The massive complex would sit between Miami's booming downtown and Overtown, which the Herald noted is one of the poorest parts of the city. Last week, SHoP reportedly submitted plans to the city for the Innovation District. But let's circle back to that twisting tower for a second. The basics: it has three sides, each of which can sport a digital sign up to 30,000 square feet. These massive walls will be put to good use, flashing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also two more billboards on the tower's podium. So, to recap, in total, the Miami Innovation Tower is poised to include two acres of advertisements. Along with this advertising acreage, the tower will also have lounges, restaurants, gardens, plazas, and observation decks. In a statement to the Herald, Simkins said: “The iconic tower will elevate the city’s brand on a global level, enhance the city skyline, and complement and enhance the surrounding community." That could be true, if by "enhance the surrounding community" you mean flash glowing ads around the clock. The tower definitely has some hurdles to pass before its billboards are switched on, but Simkins' vision might actually happen. "Miami’s zoning administrator gave [Simkin's] Miami Innovation Tower plans a nod in March 2014, and in December the developer signed a covenant with the executive director of the redevelopment agency, which has to sign off on his sign application because it lies within the agency’s boundaries," reported the Herald.  While the project will surely be controversial (the non-profit Scenic Miami has already said it is "appalled, truly appalled" by the plans), large-scale digital ads are not new to Miami. Just ask the dancing LED woman on the side of the Intercontinental Hotel (below). https://youtu.be/ic7mJtOQLr4
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Strolling the Strand
Among the recommendations of the Brooklyn Strand concept is a market beneath the Brooklyn Bridge viaduct.
Courtesy WXY

For most of the last century, Downtown Brooklyn’s streets have formed a tangled knot that has confounded urban planners. Urban renewal beginning in the 1930s ripped out vast swaths of the borough’s urban fabric, putting back disconnected parks and plazas. Highway building campaigns tore at the street grid and ramps to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges complicate access to and from the waterfront.

In the summer of 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined a series of initiatives aimed at positioning the borough’s civic core as a technology hub called the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. Part of that plan—redeveloping a 21-acre expanse of parkland called the Brooklyn Strand—has come into focus with a new concept plan by WXY Architecture + Urban Design that gives shape to the community’s recommendations from more than 40 stakeholder groups and nearly a year’s worth of public input.

 
A parking lot at Borough Hall would be replaced by a retail pavilion with a park-like green roof (left). Existing structures in Cadman Plaza would be repurposed for education and retail (right).
 

The Strand links together a series of disconnected and underutilized green spaces to form two unified corridors—the Cadman Connector and the BQE Connector—between Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront in DUMBO, creating safe and visually appealing streetscapes and parks from the heavy-handed planning mistakes of the 20th century.

“We want to rectify the mistakes of urban renewal,” WXY principal Claire Weisz told Curbed after a recent community board meeting. “We want to create a sense of identity for the Strand so it doesn’t feel like no man’s land. There are many opportunities to reimagine streets… And that would become the brand of the Brooklyn Strand.”

Redesigning streets around Borough Hall would bolster pedestrian and cyclist safety while adding new park space. One idea calls for burying a parking lot to create new park space on the surface. The ground plane rises up to form a retail space with an occupiable roof above. The design pedestrianizes the narrow Cadman Plaza West, bringing in a new streetscape and porous edges to the Korean War Memorial Plaza and the new Brooklyn Public Library designed by Marvel Architects.

The Brooklyn Strand concept calls for better connectivity between Downtown Brooklyn beginning at Borough Hall and the DUMBO waterfront.
 

In Cadman Plaza, significant renovations to another War Memorial creates a glassy learning center, overcoming accessibility challenges with a carved out entry plane incorporated into the landscape. At the tip of Cadman Plaza, dramatic earthworks create the “Brooklyn Eye” overlook space with dramatic vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge.

   
Left to right: The Brooklyn Strand would provide a unified landscape plan for a number of disconnected green spaces; An elevated berm would provide vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge; new streetscapes in Downtown Brooklyn would make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly.
 

Where the grid erodes at the foot of the bridge, the Strand improves pedestrian flow to and from the waterfront with lighting and new retail at underpasses. A signature open market occupies space beneath the bridge viaduct’s enormous stone archways. These pedestrian corridors weave through small remnant spaces to create a legible path between the bridges. Five major new bike lanes are proposed, including implementing key portions of the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Area Plan to remake bike lanes along Tillary Street.

In April, the plan’s BQE Connector portion will begin a round of community engagement initiatives with arts group Superflex, including public art installations. Before the larger plan can be implemented, however, the Strand must run a gauntlet of approvals from various city agencies and raise significant funds.

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Did Norman Foster design this New York City skyscraper?
A 900-foot tower is coming to Manhattan’s high-end Sutton Place and it looks like Norman Foster is the architect behind the geometric tower punctuated by inset terraces and gardens. New York Press reported that the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield created a sales brochure for the project which it described as an “ultra-luxury, as of right, ground up, opportunity which will reach over 900 feet tall and feature unparalleled 360 degree views of Midtown, Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan, Central Park and the East River.” While no permits for the project have been filed, the publication reported that the Bauhaus Group has assembled the necessary air rights for the 95-unit tower. While Foster’s named has not been officially attached to the new drawing, in March Curbed reported that Bauhaus had hired Lord Foster for a major tower in the area. This should all become clearer in the near future as Bauhaus is expected to release more information on the project.
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Breathe easy: Louisville art installation tracks air pollution in real time
Save for the extreme examples—Beijing's “airpocalypse,” for exampleair pollution is often an invisible problem. For at least a brief period, designers from Brooklyn and data scientists from San Francisco hope to change that in Louisville, Kentucky. Across the city 25 sensors gather data on air quality, including the concentrations of particulate matter and carbon monoxide, transmitting the data to a colorful, interactive kiosk on the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets in Downtown Louisville. Designers at Brooklyn-based Urban Matter, Inc. dubbed their project Air Bare. As the downtown screen displays real-time air quality data, they invite passersby to engage with the installation. Encased in bright orange, powder-coated steel, a video screen fills with bubbles representing particles of air pollution. Poke your head into the display and you can pop the bubbles, earning points and taking air quality quizzes. Urban Matter's Rick Lin told WFPL the playfulness is meant to inspire action:
A big part of the component of this piece is educational, so once we grab people’s attention, we want—without being too preachy—to give them some information to help them make better decisions every day.
Urban Matter conceived the short-term piece with the Office of Civic Innovation, Louisville Metro Government, and San Francisco's Creative Commons. On their website, the firm said they hope the project “creates awareness, identifies sources of pollution and propels the public to take action.” Open in time for a health symposium attended by Prince Charles, the piece will be up for six to eight months.
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Governor Cuomo proposes AirTrain to LaGuardia, but would it actually help?
Day One: New Yorkers rejoice as their governor,  Andrew Cuomo, announces his intent to bring AirTran service to LaGuardia Airport. Day Two: Well-respected transportation blog The Transport Politic digs into the $450 million plan and shreds apart some of its ambitious goals, namely the time savings it takes to get to the airport. Using the LaGuardia AirTran would actually be a less convenient way to get to the airport than the slow and unreliable options that currently exist. The plan, which is in its early stages, would mean building an AirTran station by Citi Field, between an existing Long Island Rail Road stations and a 7 line subway station; the elevated train would then connect to LaGuardia via the Grand Central Parkway. The Cuomo Administration says the distance traveled is 1.5 miles, but Transport Politics puts it closer to 2.3. Since the new rail line would travel alongside a highway, it would cause minimal disruptions for existing neighborhoods, making this whole thing a much easier pitch for Cuomo, at least politically and financially. Cuomo says the state has the money to pay for the plan through existing funds. But if the LaGuardia AirTran is built as currently proposed, it would actually mean a longer ride to the airport from many major population centers. Travelers heading to LaGuardia from Midtown, Downtown Brooklyn, Central, Queens, and the South Bronx would be better off taking one of the bad public transit options that already exist. The new AirTran would, of course, be faster for anyone living near Citi Field, and would shave a few minutes off the ride from Penn Station for those taking the Long Island Rail Road. This is not the first time that the city has looked into ways to make New York City’s closest airport not feel so far, far away. A 1990's plan, for example, would have extended the N subway line from Astoria, Queens right to LaGuardia. But as Transport Politic noted, the extension was squashed by neighborhood opposition because people apparently didn't want an elevated rail line cutting through their neighborhood. Check out Transport Politic's handy chart below that compares travel times of that 90's plan, Cuomo's plan, and an alternate plan for a connector from Jackson Heights, Queens.  
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Multi-Family Residential
Richard Barnes / Courtesy of Alloy

On December 12, in New York City, seven jurors convened to evaluate and discuss more than 200 projects submitted to AN's second annual Best Of Design Awards.

The jury included Thomas Balsley, of Thomas Balsley Associates; Winka Dubbeldam, of ARCHI-TECTONICS; Kenneth Drucker, of HOK; Chris McVoy, of Steven Holl Architects; Craig Schwitter, of Buro Happold; Annabelle Selldorf, of Selldorf Architects; and Erik Tietz, of Tietz-Baccon.

This year, the jury reviewed projects submitted in nine categories, including Best Landscape, Best Fabrication Project, Best Single Family House, Best Multi-Family Residential, Best Residential Interior, Best Non-Residential Interior, Best Facade, Best Student Built Work, and Building of the Year.

In some categories the jury selected a winner and honorable mentions, in others just winners, and in one, Single Family House, they selected a tie between two winners. Over the coming days we will be posting all of the jury’s selections.

 

Best Of: Multi-Family Residential

185 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, New York
Alloy

“I like the juxtaposition of the historic facades with the hint that something is happening internally, and the contrast of the punched openings on the historic facades and the transparency of the courtyard is great. It will be a surprise when you come into each of these units.”—Kenneth Drucker

   
 

Acting as both architect and developer, Alloy acquired 185 Plymouth Street in 2012 to convert it to residential apartments. The original building, built in 1900 as a stable for Arbuckle Brothers, was a 200-foot-deep, thru-block building. The deep floor plates were not ideal for residential living.

 

Using the site constraints as an opportunity in a process of subtraction, Alloy carved a courtyard through the center of the building, bringing light and air to the middle of the lot. The excavated volume was reorganized on top of the resulting two buildings as contemporary penthouse additions.

A new curtain wall facade surrounds the interior courtyard, where landscaped bridges and gardens create a tranquil, hidden inner space. The brick and timber structure was thoughtfully restored to expose its historic character, while new elements were carefully inserted.


Courtesy Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
 

Best Of: Multi-Family Residential: Honorable Mention

Cloverdale749
Los Angeles, California
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

Located around the corner from LA’s Miracle Mile, this four-story, six-unit development maximizes its land use potential, fitting 10,500 square feet within the site’s zoning constraints. Interior and exterior spaces are blurred with outdoor circulation, private balconies, and a roof deck. Window, deck, and walkway placement take advantage of views of the Hollywood sign and downtown LA.

 
 

The building’s white metal skin plays with context and contrast, responding to its neutral stucco neighbors while also standing out as a decidedly contemporary expression.


Courtesy CetraRuddy
 

Best Of: Multi-Family Residential: Honorable Mention

One Madison
New York, New York
CetraRuddy

This 50-story residential tower in Manhattan’s Flatiron District takes its design cues from the Metabolist movement of the late 1960s and early 70s with modular plug-in “pods” that cantilever to the north and east of the main tower shaft, which gives residents 360-degree views of the city.

   
 

Earth-toned bronze glass on the tower shaft responds in a modern way to the neighborhood’s predominately masonry context, while the proportions and massing of the building create a dialog with neighboring MetLife tower.

The structural scheme of cruciform reinforced concrete shear walls moves the tower’s lateral bracing to the interior, leaving the perimeter open for views.