Search results for "Downtown Brooklyn"

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Top Unveiled Projects
Studio Gang/Tishman Speyer

Here are ten of the most noteworthy new projects unveiled this year—from Studio Gang's supertall in Chicago to a five-story condo project in San Francisco. We covered them all, big and small.

Do the Twist

Studio Gang tower in San Francisco bolsters downtown boom.

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Philly Flying High

Foster + Partners tower will be the tallest between New York and Chicago. 

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Swiss Suite

Shrager taps Herzog & de Meuron and John Pawson for Lower East Side hotel.

 
 

 

Palladium Residences

Los Angeles struggles to mold its emerging arts district.

 

 

Dream Revised

Washington, D.C. picks team to revamp Mies van der Rohe's Martin Luther King Memorial Library.

 
 

 

Mystery Tower

Chinese developer releases plans for massive skyscraper, but questions remain.

 

 
 

 

M2 Mixed Building

nARCHITECTS designs a stepped office building for Calgary's new East Village neighborhood.

 

 

Not In My Park

Fourteen designs unveiled for two controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park towers.

 

 
 

 

Estrel Tower

Barkow Leibinger's Berlin skyscraper is reshaping the city's skyline.

 

 
 

 

SF 400 Grove

Fougeron Architecture designs an condo building in San Francisco where a highway once stood.

 

 

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This beautiful photo of Lower Manhattan won SOM's World Trade Center photo contest
While the critics sure don't like it, many other casual observers are big fans of Lower Manhattan's World Trade Center. This morning, SOM announced the winner its #WelcomeOneWTC photography contest it held to mark the grand opening of New York City's latest controversy-laden skyscraper. Of about 350 entries, New York–based photographer Gerry Padden took the top honor and will receive a "one-of-a-kind scale model of the tower, handcrafted by the firm's model shop in Manhattan, as well as a limited-edition print of One World Trade Center, taken by renowned photographer James Ewing." Ewing was among the contest judges, which also included top officials at SOM. According to SOM:
One World Trade Center has long captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike, who have watched the building materialize from drawings to a 104-story, crystalline skyscraper that stands boldly in Lower Manhattan. More than 13 years in the making, the 1,776-foot office tower—the tallest in the Western Hemisphere—recaptures the New York skyline, reasserts downtown Manhattan's preeminence as a global business center, and establishes a new civic icon for the country.
The photo was taken over the summer from a rooftop in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood.
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The Golden Ticket
Denver's expanded Union Station.
robert polidori

In cities around the U.S., train stations are being converted to multi-modal transit hubs anchoring impressive new neighborhoods, and private developers are cashing in. John Gendall rides the rails to skyrocketing real estate prices.

One of great rites of passage for most Americans, from baby boomers to Generation Y, was the trip, often on a sixteenth birthday, to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the first driver’s license. But research from automotive data company Polk shows the share of car purchases made by young adults (ages 18–34) plummeted by 30 percent between 2007 and 2011, while the share for adults aged 35–44 fell by 25 percent. Younger Americans, it would seem, are not as eager to get licensed up at the soonest opportunity. Not only has this sent carmakers scrambling to render the driver’s seat with all the trappings of a smartphone—the commodity that young adults actually do covet—but it has also instigated a series of land use trends that are reshaping American cities, and train stations are taking center stage.

“Teenagers and young adults aren’t even getting driver’s licenses,” said Amtrak chief of corridor development Bob LaCroix, “These trends are making our stations very interesting to the real estate community.” ‘Interesting’ would be one way to put it. ‘Potentially very lucrative’ would be another.

 
Opened this summer, Denver’s revitalized Union Station has stimulated urban development in its surrounding areas as well as along the transit lines that feed into it. Real estate prices near the station have jumped from around $435 per square foot to $600 per square foot.
robert polidori
 

New Yorkers will be familiar with this effect from Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards, where the Related Companies and Forest City Ratner are, respectively, developing on the formerly uncovered rail yards of Penn Station, in Midtown, and Atlantic Terminal, in Brooklyn. But in cities across the country—Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles—developers and municipalities are making serious investment in transit and transit-oriented develompents. “Every major metro area in the country, really, is doing a pretty substantial build out of its transit systems,” said Rachel MacCleery, Senior Vice President at the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Since developing suburbs by the swath is becoming less tenable for economic and environmental reasons, municipalities and developers are more tactically considering land use within city centers. In Philadelphia, for example, the main train station, 30th Street Station (which happens to be the third busiest station in Amtrak’s system) is ringed with significant real estate anchors: the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and, just across the Schuylkill River, City Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Center City district. Though the station itself is an impressive historic structure and though it has this orbit of vibrant neighborhoods, its immediate context leaves something to be desired. One local architect, who wished to remain unnamed, called it “the hole in the middle of the donut.” Amtrak, which owns the station and over 80 acres of rail yards, including—and this is important—the air rights over them, is teaming up with neighbors Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust to develop a comprehensive master plan for the station and its context. To do this, Amtrak tapped SOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors in May 2014 to undertake the two-year planning process.

Plan for a new Los Angeles Union Station.
Courtesy Gruen Associates
 

Real estate professionals and transportation advocates point to Washington DC’s NoMa district as a particularly compelling precedent. Close to Union Station, the area, once dominated by parking lots and warehouses, had long suffered from high vacancy rates. In 2004, though, an infill transit stop was added to the Washington Metro commuter rail line, instigating a surge of real estate activity. Now, Washington is looking to build on that success with a redevelopment of its Union Station. Working with the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Amtrak engaged Parsons Brinckerhoff and HOK to author a 15-to-20-year master plan that will triple the passenger capacity in the station, double the train service, and plan for real estate development on and around the station.

For Washington D.C.’s Union Station, Amtrak hired Parsons Brinckerhoff and HOK to author a master plan that will tripple passenger capacity, double train service, and plan for real estate development around the station.
courtesy hok
 

The Washington project highlights one of the challenges of working with historic train stations in urban contexts: they come with what LaCroix called “serious constraints.” Unlike the suburbs, which, for the most part, can be transformed into buildable lots with the sweep of an earthmover, train stations typically demand greater finesse. “There tends to be more complexity to transit-related developments,” said Eric Rothman, president and transportation expert at HR&A Advisors. “There are always very important operational concerns.” As a simple case-in-point, LaCroix explained, “we can’t expand south because there is a little something called the U.S. Capitol.” Each of the other cardinal directions come with their own inviolable obstacles, so the Parsons Brinckerhoff/HOK plan goes below grade, but, LaCroix is quick to point out, “in an elegant way—not a Penn Station way.”

 
courtesy hok
 

In Seattle, where ZGF Architects completed a restoration of King Street Station in 2013, Daniels Real Estate is undertaking the so-called North Lot Development, a four-acre, 1.5 million-square-foot mixed-use project directly adjacent to the station. Though he identified the transit hub as the catalyst for the project, Daniels president Kevin Daniels conceded, “working with transit is a challenge,” citing the intricacies of moving people through infrastructure, between heavy rail and light rail, rail and bus, regional busses and local busses. “Developers can tend to get very myopic from our side, and transit folks can get very myopic from their side,” he said. “While it might be easiest to line up busses in front of restaurants, that doesn’t work from the development side. The design has to find common ground with what works for them and what works for us.”

Amtrak has partnered with Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust to develop a master plan for the area immediately surrounding Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.
Courtesy SOM
 

Cases abound of historically preserved train stations that contribute little to community and economic development. What these cases demonstrate is that architectural attention on the station itself needs to be coupled with a serious commitment to the underlying transportation infrastructure. While the historic restoration of Seattle King Street Station was a critical element for the success of the project, that alone was not sufficient to anchor the neighborhood. The city and its transit agencies have committed to investing in transit and undertaking the gritty, long-term work of transforming the historic building into a multi-modal hub, orchestrating heavy rail, light rail, and local and regional buses.

Courtesy SOM
 

Cutting the ribbon on its transit hub this summer, Denver Union Station has become an important model for other transit-related developments. Having effectively reshaped the metropolitan experience in Denver, the project has stimulated urban development both at and around the station itself, but also along the network of transit routes that the station catalyzes. The Denver Union Station Neighborhood Development Company, a joint entity between developers East West Partners and Continuum Partners, has essentially shifted the city’s center of gravity toward the train station, which, for decades, had been dangling on the margins of Denver’s downtown area. The project included the historic preservation of the station itself, a robust public investment in transit, but also a real commitment to neighborhood building. Where Amtrak passengers once looked out onto acres of dusty landscape is now in the midst of becoming over five million square feet of commercial, residential, and civic space spread over nearly 20 acres. Several restaurants and a new hotel opened this summer. A Whole Foods is on the way. “It’s an incredibly complex station, but we’ve created a neighborhood, not just a transit station,” said Chris Frampton, a managing partner at East West Partners. Private developers play a fundamental role in realizing these transformations. “We typically seek developers through competitive processes,” said LaCroix, acknowledging that Amtrak is not in the best position to build neighborhoods. “When transportation agencies do the developing, they do it wonderfully, but they do it for trains,” said Frampton, making the case for private development to help in making neighborhoods.

“Transit investments are important, but they are only one part of making a neighborhood,” said Rothman. “The stations should be as inviting a place as possible to non-transit riders and transit riders alike. It needs to be a civic asset, not just a transit asset,” said Rothman. “Transit itself is not going to make a neighborhood.”

This is not just an act of civic altruism. “The marketplace is paying,” said MacCleery. In Denver, where the property leases had peaked at $435 per square foot, East West and Continuum recently leased One Union Station at $600 per square foot.

With this arrangement between transit agencies, private developers, and architects, everyone stands to profit. “We don’t have to own the real estate to get value out of it,” said LaCroix. “Smart, good development works for us. We can develop a very symbiotic relationship with private developers.”

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Pacifying Brooklyn
Courtesy COOKFOX

Even with the SHoP-designed Barclays Center open and a modular tower (also by SHoP) slowly climbing to 32 stories alongside it, the details surrounding the Atlantic Yards redevelopment are still frustratingly difficult to nail down. Eleven years after Frank Gehry unveiled his master plan for the 22-acre site, it is still not clear what exactly will fill most of it in.

That changed slightly this week as Curbed reported that COOKFOX is designing two residential towers that will rise on the site’s eastern edge: 535 Carlton, an 18-story, brick tower that has 298 affordable units, and 550 Vanderbilt, a market-rate condo tower, which is still in the design phase. An eight-acre park, designed by Thomas Balsley Associates, is being planned between the buildings on what is currently a surface-level parking lot. The affordable tower is scheduled to break ground in December and 550 Vanderbilt is expected to follow shortly after.

 
 

Before going into COOKFOX’s design approach, it should be noted that Forest City Ratner has scrapped the name “Atlantic Yards” for the development. From this point on, the project will be known as “Pacific Park Brooklyn.” The new name plays into the site’s southern border (Pacific Street) and the Balsley-design park. It could also be an attempt by Forest City Ratner to detach itself from a name that has been surrounded by controversy since day one.

There are only a few blocks separating SHoP’s rising tower and 535 Carlton, but the two sites are entirely distinct—one crowded with Brooklyn Nets fans and concertgoers and the other quiet, residential, and lined with brownstones. This marked difference is reflected in each tower’s design: SHoP went with bright panels and stacked boxy masses, COOKFOX opted for more modest massing and a stately brick facade.

Rick Cook, a founder of COOKFOX, told AN that he views the two sites “as totally different” and that he wanted to create a building that fits more within a neighborhood than a master plan. To do that, the firm modeled the building’s massing so that it does not loom over the homes of Prospect Heights. Setbacks at 60 feet and 85 feet create rooftop terraces that will contain community gardening plots.

To further contextualize the building, Cook said it was immediately clear that they should use masonry (both 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt will be masonry). “I don’t know of a better tool than an eight-inch brick to make a scale transition,” he said.

For added dimension on 535 Carlton’s facade, COOKFOX placed the building’s windows within pronounced metal frames—this technique has recently appeared on multiple high-end projects in New York City, but is fairly unexpected for an affordable housing building.

 

“After looking at a lot of affordable housing projects, something that is really missing is depth,” said Cook. “A masonry skin with no-depth just does not feel right; it feels like wallpaper.” The metal frames, he explained, play-off light and shadow and “accent the architectural intent” of the structure.

This building is still rental—and affordable rental at that—so air conditioners are tucked beneath each window. Instead of covering the AC units with standard metal-grids, COOKFOX employed a laser-cut screen that resembles a dragonfly’s wing.

The other key aspect of the newly branded Pacific Park is the park itself. While there are no full renderings yet, the two COOKFOX buildings are designed to create a connection between the open space and the street. That is partially done through the buildings’ lobbies, which provide “open vistas” onto the park, according to a press release from Forest City Ratner.

 
 

As for the rest of Pacific Park, construction is starting to finally pick up. As the New York Times reported in June, Forest City Ratner and New York State struck a deal to speed-up construction at the site—specifically the construction of affordable units. Now, all 2,250 affordable units at Pacific Park must completed by 2025, a decade ahead of schedule. And if the developer does not break ground on the first 600 affordable units—split evenly between 535 Carlton Avenue and SHoP’s second tower, 30 Sixth Avenue—within the next year, it will have to pay a $5 million fine. To that end, 30 Sixth Avenue is scheduled to break ground next summer.

As these new towers start to rise, though, they only represent a small piece of the six-million-square-foot site. In order for more towers to follow the actual rail yards have to be capped, which, according to Curbed, must be finalized by 2017.

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Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn
In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn't slowing down—it's just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That's because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions. These investments could be transformative in their own right, but are especially notable given Mayor de Blasio’s hesitancy to talk about the importance of urban design. To be clear, New York City’s commitment to safe, livable streets did not die when Mayor Bloomberg walked out the door. In de Blasio's New York, there have been new bike lanes and the like, but the mayor doesn't speak about these issues with the force of his predecessor. That seemed to change today as this plan goes all in on urbanism. “This is one of the city’s great success stories, and we have an incredible opportunity to take these stunning communities, parks, and institutions and knit them together,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “The investments we are making will help Downtown Brooklyn continue its rise, generate good jobs, and make this a more dynamic neighborhood to live and work.” The plan starts where Downtown Brooklyn starts—at the mouth of the Brooklyn Bridge. The City plans to transform the 21-acre patchwork of underused parks and public plazas between the bridge and Borough Hall into a “great promenade and gateway into Brooklyn.” The renovated space, known as the "Brooklyn Strand," will be designed to better connect with the area's transit hubs and the celebrated Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. This strategy follows a study commissioned by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle - a cluster of tech companies in Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and DUMBO. It was led by WXY. While not mentioned explicitly, Vision Zero factors into this plan though the City's strategies to make certain corridors more bike and pedestrian friendly. This includes a multi-million dollar transformation of the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge—a plan that was conceived under Bloomberg and is slated to break ground next year. Over on Willoughby Street, the City will "explore non-traditional roadway design that recognizes and accommodates the heavy use of the area by pedestrians." ARUP is working with the city on that redesign. The City has also pledged to build a new one-acre public park in Downtown Brooklyn and refurbish two others—Fox Square and BAM Park. The latter has been closed to the public for decades, but will be spruced up by WXY. Fox Square will be renewed by AKRF, with Mathews Nielsen. To boost business in Downtown Brooklyn, the City will offer-up some of its own ground-floor space to retail tenants. It may also consolidate its 1.4 million square feet to provide affordable office space for businesses. And there are plans to launch a consortium between Downtown Brooklyn’s 11 colleges to “better connect the tech, creative, and academic communities.” This is intended to best prepare students for jobs at Brooklyn’s Tech Triangle. The Economic Development Corporation will provide $200,000 in seed funding to kickstart that initiative. As part of this plan, the emerging Brooklyn Cultural District, which straddles the blurry border between Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, could get its very own Businesses Improvement District (BID). The City said it will work with the over 60 cultural groups in the district to market the area as a preeminent cultural hub. Of course, at this point, these are all fairly vague proposals—just ideas on paper unbound by hard deadlines. But this announcement shows that as Downtown Brooklyn builds toward the sky, the City will refocus on the people walking, biking, studying, and working on the streets below.
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SHoP Architects Designing Brooklyn's Newest, Tallest Tower
SHoP Architects has racked up another major project in Brooklyn. The firm behind the Barclays Center and the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, is designing Brooklyn’s newest, tallest tower. NY YIMBY spotted building permits for 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn, where the firm’s 775-foot-tall, 495-unit building will rise. SHoP's high-rise will top Brooklyn's current tallest tower—388 Bridge Street—by about 200 feet, but its reign at the top could be brief. In June, the New York Times reported that enough air rights could be picked up on the same block as the SHoP tower—at the site of Junior's Cheesecake—to build a 1,000-foot-tall tower. There are no renderings for SHoP’s project just yet, but it will likely be a major improvement for Downtown Brooklyn's skyline, which is quickly filling-up with generic glass towers.
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Junior's Grows Up: 1,000-Foot-Tall Tower Could Rise at Site of Famous Brooklyn Eatery
Brooklyn’s newest, tallest tower could rise on the site of one of the borough’s—nay the the city’s—most famous restaurants: Junior's. TheNew York Times reported that bidding on the Downtown Brooklyn site, which houses some of the world's best cheesecake and notably hosted President Barack Obama on a recent trip, begins this week. Crunching the numbers, the newspaper found that developers could assemble enough air rights to build a 1,000-foot-tall tower on the lot. This part of Brooklyn has seen a surge in new towers in recent years, but, as of now, the tallest building—388 Bridge—tops out under 600 feet.
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New York City Arts Group Recreates Historic Photo as 75-Foot-Tall Mural
A new, mid-rise, rental building on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn looks like many of the new, mid-rise, rental buildings in the borough—at least from the front. The GF55-designed building’s brick and glass facade is fairly nondescript, but around the corner, on the building's eastern flank, a new 45-foot-wide, 75-foot-tall mural could become one of the most iconic—certainly the most Instagrammed—pieces of public art in the neighborhood. The mural, titled Sign Language, was created by Cre8tive YouTH*nk—an arts-based, youth development collective—and overseen by street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode. The building’s developers, Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners, commissioned the project, which was unveiled at the under-construction building in May. The mural is an adaptation of a 1978 photograph taken by celebrated photojournalist Martha Cooper and depicts a young boy climbing up a street sign to grab a bicycle tire. Cooper worked with the students on the mural and appeared at its unveiling. To take her photo and turn it into a multi-story mural, the young artists essentially broke the image up into about 90 pieces. Those pieces became panels that were individually painted offsite. Putting those panels in place added another challenge because they were installed before the building was actually completed. “Normally with a mural you paint directly to the building, so you adjust your design to the building on-site,” said Mode at the unveiling. “With this, there was a bunch of back-and-forth with the architect. We gathered a lot of information about where windows were going to land, the colors, the cutouts.” The developers said that they commissioned local artists for the mural as a way to add something unique to the project, and to the neighborhood. “They wanted to do something cool that had some aspect of the community,” said Jerry Otero, the founder and director of Cre8tive YouTH*nk. “Not just about it, but that was it somehow.” As new developments continue to rise in Downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding neighborhoods, there will be many opportunities for developers to do something like this—to turn an otherwise blank wall into a canvas. And if at least some of them do, it could go a long way in adding design into an area many believe is being overrun with generic architecture.
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AIA's Committee On The Environment Announces 2014's Top 10 Green Buildings
The AIA's Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.” Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA's National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners. Arizona State University Student Health Services (Pictured at top) Tempe, Arizona Lake|Flato Architects + Orcutt|Winslow According to the AIA: “The Arizona State University (ASU) Health Services Building is an adaptive reuse project that transformed the existing sterile and inefficient clinic into a clearly organized, efficient, and welcoming facility. The design imbues the new facility with a sense of health and wellness that leverages Tempe’s natural environment and contributes to a more cohesive pedestrian oriented campus. The building’s energy performance is 49% below ASHRAE 90.1-2007, exceeding the current target of the 2030 Challenge. The facility achieved LEED Platinum certification and is one of the best energy performers on campus as evidenced by ASU’s Campus Metabolism interactive web-tool tracking real-time resource use.” Bud Clark Commons Portland, Oregon Holst Architecture According to the AIA: “As a centerpiece of Portland’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, this LEED Platinum project provides a continuum of services to help transition homeless individuals toward stable, permanent living arrangements. The architecture helps achieve this goal with a walk-in day center with public courtyard and access to support services; a 90-bed temporary shelter; and a separate and secure entrance to 130 efficient, furnished studio apartments for homeless individuals seeking permanent housing. The building’s design aims to deinstitutionalize services and housing for the most vulnerable in our population. Sustainable features include large-scale graywater recycling, zero stormwater runoff, solar hot water, and a high-performance envelope, resulting in energy savings estimated at $60,000 annually.” Bushwick Inlet Park Brooklyn, New York Kiss + Cathcart, Architects According to the AIA: “This project is the first phase of the transformation of the Greenpoint–Williamsburg waterfront from a decaying industrial strip to a multifaceted public park. The design team integrated a program of playfields, public meeting rooms, classrooms, and park maintenance facilities, into a city-block sized site. The park building becomes a green hill on the west side, making 100% of the site usable to the public, and offering views to Manhattan. Below the green roof is a complex of building systems – ground source heat pump wells, rainwater harvest and storage, and drip irrigation. A solar trellis produces half the total energy used in the building.” Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building Modernization Portland, Oregon SERA Architects in association with Cutler Anderson Architects According to the AIA:  “On track to be one of the lowest energy-use buildings in the U.S., EGWW is a model for U.S. General Services Administration nationwide. The project’s goal was to transform the existing building from an aging, energy hog to one of the premiere environmentally-friendly buildings in the nation. With a unique facade of “reeds”, light shelf /sunshades designed by orientation and a roof canopy that supports a 180 kW photovoltaic array while collecting rainwater, EGWW pushes the boundaries for innovative sustainable deign strategies. In addition to the energy improvements, the design reveals the history of the building, exposing the artifacts of the original builders.” Gateway Center - SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Syracuse, NY Architerra According to the AIA: “The SUNY-ESF College of Environmental Science & Forestry Gateway Center is a striking symbol of environmental stewardship and climate action leadership. This LEED Platinum campus center meets ESF’s goal of reducing the overall carbon footprint of the campus through net positive renewable energy production, while creating a combined heat and power plant and intensive green roof that serve as hands-on teaching and research tools. The double-ended bioclimatic form exemplifies passive solar design. Net positive energy systems integrated with the design serve four adjacent ESF buildings, providing 60% of annual campus heating needs and 20% of annual power needs.” John & Frances Angelos Law Center Baltimore, Maryland Behnisch Architekten and Ayers Saint Gross According to the AIA: “The John and Frances Angelos Law Center is the first large-scale opportunity for the University of Baltimore to demonstrate its intent to pursue strategies that eliminate global warming emissions and achieve climate neutrality. With this in mind, the Law Center is a highly sustainable and innovative structure that strives to reduce reliance on energy and natural resources, minimizing its dependence on mechanical ventilation and artificial lighting of interiors. This is part of a larger comprehensive effort on the part of the A/E team to approach sustainability from a more holistic vantage point from the outset of the project.” Sustainability Treehouse Glen Jean, West Virginia Design Architect: Mithun; Executive Architect/Architect of Record: BNIM According to the AIA: “Situated in the forest at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, this interactive, interpretive and gathering facility serves as a unique icon of scouting adventure, environmental stewardship and high performance building design. Visitors ascend indoor and outdoor platforms to experience the forest from multiple vantages and engage with educational exhibits that explore the site and ecosystem at the levels of ground, tree canopy and sky. Innovative green building systems—including a 6,450-watt photovoltaic array output, two 4,000-watt wind turbines, and a 1,000-gallon cistern and water cleansing system—combine to yield a net-zero energy and net-zero water facility that touches its site lightly.” The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters Los Altos, California EHDD According to the AIA: “The David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters acts as a catalyst for broad organizational sustainability and brings staff, grantees and partners together to solve the world’s most intractable problems. The Foundation's connection to the Los Altos community dates back to its inception in 1964. For the last two decades, as its grant making programs expanded locally and worldwide, staff and operations have been scattered in buildings throughout the city. This project enhances proximity and collaboration while renewing the Foundation’s commitment to the local community by investing in a downtown project intended to last through the end of 21st century.” U.S. Land Port of Entry Warroad, Minnesota Snow Kreilich Architects According to the AIA: “This LEED Gold certified Land Port of Entry is the first to employ a ground source heat pump system. Sustainably harvested cedar was used on the entire exterior envelope, canopies and some interior walls and 98% of all wood on the project is FSC certified. Additionally 22% of the material content came from recycled materials and 91% of all work areas have access to daylight. Rainwater collection, reconstructed wetlands and native plantings address resource and site-specific responses. The facility proudly supports the mission-driven demands of US Customs and Border Protection while addressing the sustainable challenges of our future.” Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse Grand Junction, Colorado Design Architect, Westlake Reed Leskosky and Architect of Record, The Beck Group According to the AIA: “The LEED® Platinum renovation preserves an anchor in Grand Junction, and converts the 1918 landmark into one of the most energy efficient, sustainable historic buildings in the country. The design aims to be GSA’s first Site Net-Zero Energy facility on the National Register. Exemplifying sustainable preservation, it restores and showcases historic volumes and finishes, while sensitively incorporating innovative systems and drastically reducing energy consumption. Features include a roof canopy-mounted 123 kW photovoltaic array, variable-refrigerant flow heating and cooling systems, 32-well passive Geo-Exchange system, a thermally upgraded enclosure, energy recovery, wireless controls, fluorescent and LED lighting, and post-occupancy monitoring.”
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Brooklyn Bridge Crossroads
Improvements will make access safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Courtesy NYCDOT

Every day, thousands of cyclists and pedestrians jockey for space on a narrow strip along the center of the Brooklyn Bridge. A ballet plays out as cyclists commuting to and from work dodge eager tourists looking for the perfect photo op, as the soft chime of bike bells blending with the din of car traffic below. At the Brooklyn terminus of the bridge, however, the already-chaotic scene devolves into a dangerous confluence of cars, bikes, and pedestrians as the path abruptly ends in the center of a busy intersection at Adams and Tillary streets.

After five years of study, meetings, and schematic designs, however, accessing the Brooklyn Bridge will soon be improved under a plan to revamp the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Area streetscape, encompassing Tillary Street between Cadman Plaza West and Prince Street and several blocks of Adams Street, with widened sidewalks, improved bike lanes, and increased landscaping.

 
Plan of the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway redesign (left). Existing conditions at the Brooklyn terminus of the bridge (right). [Click to enlarge.]
 

A joint effort of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and the Department of Design and Construction, the campaign to improve the bridge entrance began in 2009 with community workshops that identified project goals including improved safety and better aesthetics. At the intersection of Tillary and Adams streets, for example, the crash rate is nearly nine times the New York state average, with 117 crashes between 2008 and 2010. The dialogue resulted in a set of schematic plans presented in 2009 and 2011, but the proposal languished without federal funding until last December, when another update was presented to and unanimously approved by Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 Transportation Committee.

Existing and proposed changes to the bridge terminus at the intersection of Adams and Tillary streets.
 

Last month, the full community board approved NYCDOT’s polished traffic safety and landscape plans showing the revamped Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Area. The first phase of the project reconstructs the entrance to the bridge at Adams and Tillary streets, softening the busy intersection with widened sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, and more landscaping. Pedestrian and cyclist access has been streamlined by converting Adams Street into a tree-lined boulevard with a 30-foot-wide median containing widened and separated paths for pedestrians and cyclists. The design includes place-making amenities such as new benches, wayfinding signage, bollards, and even a water bottle filling station.

Widened sidewalks, improved bike lanes, and new landscaping will transform the public space along Tillary Street.
 

An access road along Adams Street will be reconfigured to accommodate the wider median, including removing a row of parallel parking and adding a bike lane. A group of neighborhood residents have expressed concern about these changes, citing construction noise and pollution from passing cars. The group has asked the city to conduct an environmental review, but NYCDOT has said such a study is not required by law.

Future phases along Tillary Street aim to increase safety and curb problems of motorists parking in bike lanes by replacing concrete jersey barriers along bike paths with extended sidewalks and new landscaping. The plan also streamlines bike access to Downtown Brooklyn. Throughout the target area, curb extensions at intersections—called neckdowns—and widened sidewalks will help slow car traffic, improve visibility, and reduce the length of street crossings. NYCDOT did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The city plans to begin construction on the first phase of the project along Adams Street by the end of the year. Construction is expected to last 18 months. Future phases are contingent on additional funding.

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Showroom
Floto+Warner

In a street-level storefront in Tribeca, furniture designer David Weeks has opened his first, exclusive showroom in Manhattan. Located just two blocks from his first New York apartment circa 1990, the new space was not only a strategic move into retail, but an opportunity to expand his existing Brooklyn manufacturing facility that was quickly squeezing out the administrative branch of his business.

Local architect Solvieg Furnland assisted Weeks with the architectural build-out, rectifying proportional inconsistencies in what the designer called a “cookie cutter retail space for downtown.” The classic, rectangular 2,500-square-foot floor plan with 15-foot-high ceilings was tweaked to accommodate two stairwells in the front and back of the shop, creating two offset parallelograms that still honor the building’s historical composition. The clean white slate is adorned with soft, over-sized graphics by 2x4 that were inspired by Weeks’ lampshade designs. A utilitarian electrical system accommodates Weeks’ lighting collection and product display updates. “The most interesting part of the process is understanding how to activate the retail, gallery, and administrative programs that have to happen in one space,” Weeks told AN.

Weeks also plans to showcase work from other designers.

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Affordability & The Future of New York
Mayor Bloomberg cuts the ribbon to mark the official opening of the Via Verde affordable housing development in the South Bronx.
Edward Reed

The recent conference at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, “Since Now From Then,” celebrated the 30th anniversary of the minuscule but influential space on Kenmare Street. It made clear the far-reaching impact the Storefront has had on the culture of architecture but also how much New York City has changed around the gallery.

The first public exhibition at the original Storefront on September 18, 1982, then at 51 Prince Street, was a month-long series of performances titled A-Z, with a different artist featured each day. Many of these artists in the 1980s lived in the blocks surrounding Prince Street except Tehching Hsieh whose prescient performance was to live “homeless” on the streets of the city for a single year.

Today when the Storefront presents a group of emerging artists it is doubtful that any of them could afford to live anywhere near gentrified Kenmare Street. They are more likely living in Crown Heights or Bushwick, Brooklyn. In fact Kyong Park, one of Storefront’s founders, made an off-hand comment during the conference that if anyone today wanted to do what he did at the Storefront in the 1980s “they should leave New York City.” Park, who hails from Detroit and now lives in L.A., may have been thinking of the particular challenges and opportunities for young urbanites in post-industrial landscapes like Detroit.

But New York City officials would do well to heed Park’s advice and begin thinking about strategies for creating affordable housing, not just for the young creative class, but for all New York residents.

Mayor Bloomberg promised to focus on creating 165,000 units of affordable housing and claims to be meeting this target. He may believe this was enough new affordable units for this enormous city, but the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development analyzed Bloomberg’s housing program and came to another conclusion. Not only did tens of thousand of affordable units go off-line as landlords exited subsidized programs and regulated apartments went market rate, but in Harlem, to pick one neighborhood, property values have jumped 222 percent and in East Harlem, median market rents went from roughly $1200 in 2002 to $1900 in 2011.

Further, “it’s not only that rents are rising; it’s also that a growing part of the population is trying to live in New York City on very modest incomes. According to the city’s own poverty measure, roughly 46 percent of New Yorkers were what is considered “near poor” in 2011. For a family of four, that means earning under $46,000 annually.” Thus the Furman Center says that nearly a third of New Yorkers were what is called “severely rent burdened” in 2011, which means they were spending more than half their monthly income on rent.

The association admits the Mayor’s initiative is on track to meet its housing goal but these units too often do not meet the actual affordability needs of the neighborhoods in which they were built. Further, “one-third of these units have an upper income limit above the actual New York City median income and in half the city’s community districts, the majority of units built are too expensive for a household earning the local median income for the neighborhood.” The association claims that “starting in 2017, New York will be at risk of losing an annual average of 11,000 units built with city subsidy and by 2037, the city could also lose many units as were built by Bloomberg, greatly undermining the value of the City’s efforts.” Bloomberg can point to two recent housing projects that illustrate—if they were replicated ten times over—the kind of new housing that can and should be built in the city. The Lower East Side project called Essex Crossing will replace a forty year old urban renewal site with 1,000 units of new housing which the city claims will be 50 percent “permanently affordable for low, moderate, and middle-income households and senior citizens.” In addition, the project includes a 15,000-square-foot open space, a new and expanded Essex Street Market, a school, a community center run by Grand Street Settlement, a rooftop urban farm, the Andy Warhol Museum, 250,000 square feet of office space, and a diverse mix of retail space. In addition the Mayor recently announced a new housing facility in downtown Brooklyn as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s expanding district that will have 42 units of affordable housings built above a large cultural space and restaurant. It is clear that New York City has run out of easily and cheaply developable land in vacant neighborhoods like the South Bronx and Brownsville, so finding sites for new affordable housing will not be easy.

It is important to point out that in the deeply flawed 2030 Plan for New York City identified vast areas for new housing above open areas over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Sunnyside Yards, but these would require massive public investment in infrastructure and will not likely yield any truly affordable housing.

The next mayor will have an enormous challenge to build enough units to meet the pressing demand for housing that always seems to be part of life in this city. Aside from protecting NYCHA and its 230,000 units of affordable housing and maintaining rent control, which helps thousands of middle income New Yorkers, the next mayor will need a new and different approach if more housing is to be built. This is an absolute necessity if New York is not to become a victim of its own success. Bill de Blasio, the apparent next mayor, claims to be a progressive politician. This will mean nothing unless living here is a possibility for the sort of person who wants to start the next Storefront.