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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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
“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.
Best Of: Multi-Family Residential: Honorable Mention
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.
Best Of: Multi-Family Residential: Honorable Mention
New York, New York
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.
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.
Foster + Partners tower will be the tallest between New York and Chicago.
Shrager taps Herzog & de Meuron and John Pawson for Lower East Side hotel.
Los Angeles struggles to mold its emerging arts district.
Washington, D.C. picks team to revamp Mies van der Rohe's Martin Luther King Memorial Library.
Chinese developer releases plans for massive skyscraper, but questions remain.
nARCHITECTS designs a stepped office building for Calgary's new East Village neighborhood.
Fourteen designs unveiled for two controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park towers.
Barkow Leibinger's Berlin skyscraper is reshaping the city's skyline.
Fougeron Architecture designs an condo building in San Francisco where a highway once stood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.