All posts in East

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Hancock Brethren

Pei Cobb Freed's One Dalton joins the Boston skyline with curved glass curtainwall
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Rising from a triangular lot in Boston’s Back Bay, One Dalton is a 61-story, 706,000-square-foot residential tower designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Its gently curving triangular floorplan—a direct product of the unique site—is extruded vertically to create the building’s clean but dynamic glass form. The slightly bulging facades and the sheer size of the glass units presented some major challenges when it came to developing the cladding. The glass panels are some of the largest the firm had ever worked with, with a typical unit spanning 12-feet-tall by almost 6-feet-wide with a 30-degree curve. The firm set ambitious goals for the glass beyond the unusual size and shape with specific targets for deflection and distortion, solar and thermal transmission, color rendering, transparency, UV filtration, glare and reflectance, and noise suppression.
  • Facade Manufacturer Guardian Glass Oldcastle Building Envelope Sobotec Kenneth Castellucci & Associates
  • Architect Pei Cobb Freed & Partners CambridgeSeven (Collaborating Architect)
  • Facade Installer Metro Glass & Metal Cheviot Corporation Kenneth Castellucci & Associates
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom glass and aluminum curtain wal
  • Products Guardian SunGuard SN 70/41
To find the perfect glass, the architects tested many different assemblies using full- scale mock-ups. They ultimately decided on a hybrid design that incorporated laminated, tinted glass with a mild, Low-E coated solar control product (Guardian SunGuard SN 70/41), a low-iron substrate, and argon-filled airspace. Testing also showed that the curving glass produced funhouse mirror-like reflections at night, so an interior anti-reflective coating was added as well. Much like the individual panes of glass, the overall facade is more complicated than it at first appears. Subtle incisions break up the massing of the upper 40 floors, creating protected spaces for operable casements while formally suggesting large bay windows that distinguish the condominium units from the hotel rooms below. “I’m a great believer that, especially in a city, it’s important to bring out the different uses that are taking place [in a tower],” Henry Cobb told the audience in June at AN’s Facades+ conference in Boston. One Dalton wouldn’t be possible without the rapid evolution of architectural glass driven by ambitious designs and new technologies. Commenting on these changes, Roy Barris, associate partner at Pei Cobb Freed, noted that despite the firm’s exhaustive pursuit of the perfect material, “If we were to start this project again today, we’d have to start from scratch.”
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Divine Design

Harlem church wants to rezone above Central Park for tower and cultural center
Harlem’s La Hermosa Christian Church is proposing a major building move to save its congregation. Earlier this summer, it submitted an application to the New York City Planning Commission asking to rezone part of Central Park North to make way for a 410-foot-tall residential tower and community center run by the church. This week it unveiled further plans to integrate a fin-covered music school and cultural center into the structure, all designed by FXCollaborative Located at 5 West 110th Street, the existing three-story building that houses the La Hermosa Christian community is in poor condition and the congregation, which has been in the area since 1960, hopes that building vertically on the church-owned land will allow the institution to secure its future permanence in the neighborhood. As the oldest Latino church on the East Coast, many residents see it as a mainstay resource in Central Harlem. FXCollaborative has designed a striated, 160-unit tower rising 33 stories above the corner of Central Park North that would be built on the church's current site. It would include 50 units of affordable housing and 38,000 square feet of mixed-use space. According to 6sqft, La Hermosa aims to use the money it earns from the building’s tenants to fund its new sanctuary space, a music school, and an art school. The Manhattan School of Music has already offered to partner with the church and host free classes for local children at the site.  The low-lying community center, as envisioned by FXCollaborative, features a curved facade (similar in concept to the studio's Circa Central Park) made of crystal-like glass and a narrow, horizontal cutout spanning from one corner of the building to the opposite edge. If built, it would stand in stark contrast to La Hermosa’s current church building, a red- and creme-colored cement block structure that's slated to be demolished. Though the designs have already been released, no developer has signed on for the project yet and the City Planning Commission says it won’t vote yes on a rezoning decision until that happens. Until then, the La Hermosa community must keep waiting, but the future looks fairly bright given its ample support in the neighborhood and the fact that the church is already neighbored by other high-rise buildings. Not only that, but since Central Park South and a few streets below have been building higher and higher for the past few years, the proposed project may face less criticism than similar projects, given that it's much smaller than any of the supertall skyscrapers ringing Central Park's borders.
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Pratt-ice Makes Perfect

AN interviews Frances Bronet, the Pratt Institute’s new president
Pratt Institute began in 1887 in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood as an affordable college accessible to the working class of New York. Founded by industrialist Charles Pratt, whose company, Astral Oil Works, was absorbed into John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust in 1874, it was run as a charity for many years. It still had a Pratt family member, Richardson Pratt Jr., as president in 1990, the fifth family member to serve in that position. Its ninth president, Henry Saltzman, who served from 1970 to 1972, was an urban studies specialist, but other non–Pratt family leaders came from the fields of education and academia. Now for the first time, the school has selected a president, Frances Bronet, who has degrees in architecture and civil (structural) engineering. This, in itself, is a unique background for someone leading a design institute, but of course, she was also selected for her accomplishments in and out of design academia. In this interview, we questioned Bronet about her design background, what it brings to the school, and how it informs what she hopes to accomplish as the institute’s 12th president. William Menking: You’ve had a distinguished 20-year career as an educator before becoming Pratt Institute’s 12th president. You have degrees in architecture and civil engineering, and a diploma in management. This is not a common degree path to becoming a college president. How did it happen that you went from being a designer to a president? Frances Bronet: I have always imagined what it would be like to be the head of a think tank, from the time I was 17. I may not have known exactly what that meant, but at this moment we can all agree that leading a college would qualify. In Montreal, I worked in prominent, faculty-led architectural offices, and ultimately in a partnership with two colleagues. After graduating from McGill, I began teaching at McGill, Vanier, and Montreal Technical College in the evenings after working in practice during the day. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to continue in the academy, and I came to New York City to study at Columbia University for grad school. As an engineer and an architect with solid experience as a teacher, I was offered a few jobs, from the University of Texas to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), as a tenure-related faculty member. It’s hard to believe when looking back, but I taught for almost 30 years. In my experience, the academy, somewhat like an ambitious office, offers an amazing amount of freedom. As a faculty member, you have an incredible bandwidth for experimentation, new ideas, and collaboration. In many ways, it is both an entrepreneurial environment and one that has manageable boundaries. As soon as I was tenured, I became associate dean (I was also a new parent!). This was a great experience. I love building relationships and brokering genius—and being in an administrative position lets me do that. There are certainly many architects who would avoid administration, but it can be unbelievably creative. And where else do you get to engage this extraordinary amount of intelligence and aspiration? I then left RPI to become dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (now the College of Design) at the University of Oregon. Being dean across domains—from painting to architecture to public policy—gave me access to understanding the big picture. When an even larger university-wide landscape was made available to me as acting provost at Oregon, I couldn’t resist. The ability to take opportunities across disciplines and connect remarkable people, projects, and places was key, as was designing teams where the unexpected can unfold. From there, I went on to be provost at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and now have the honor of being the president of Pratt Institute. The school has a massive external face, leading through design—and as an extreme extrovert, this position is perfect. WM: The next logical question is how did an architecture and engineering degree prepare you for your academic career? Did it give you particular and unique insights into design education? FB: Absolutely. Studying and working in these environments exposed me to various ways of thinking and unique modes of defining complex problems and solving them. I was impressed by how distinct expertise came together to make it all work. We all have different modes of learning and teaching, and people self-select these disciplines. For me, architecture, although tough, resonated with how I experienced and performed in the world; engineering put me in a place that was unfamiliar, so that very precariousness opened up a new universe. WM: Your resume highlights your publishing career “on multidisciplinary design curricula connecting architecture, engineering, STS (science, technology, and society), dance, and fine electronic art.” You’re now the president of an art and design institution of higher education. How will you expand or develop interdisciplinarity between schools at Pratt? FB: Ah! That would be the provost’s gig. And now that we have a strategic plan developed with all our constituencies, this very recommendation is central. I could guide, advise, and listen, but the provost is the chief academic officer. My work is how what is going on in the world impacts our strategic vision and how we share this beyond our own gates, building broad constituencies of support. We have 1,200 faculty members—many of whom have their own practices—already connected to the world at large and bringing the world here when they teach. How can these connections be magnified and supported? Many educational enterprises are building experiential, embodied, problem-based, and practice-oriented courses. Pratt has been doing this for more than 130 years. That is where we should take a leadership role. WM: What are the challenges of directing an art and architecture and design academy in 2019? How do you hope to change or expand the institute? FB: Some challenges transcend the institute—preparing students for careers that don’t yet exist, accessibility, including cost, and wellness, to name a few. But for us, it is that excellence will be measured by how a private institution works for the public good, from social and environmental to cultural metrics. We are part of the economic and social engine that has transformed our neighborhood into a new, creative economy. And we must do more to create an academic institution that can collaborate to make a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable community. WM: What are the challenges and advantages of directing an institution of higher education for creative thinkers and makers in New York City? FB: The world’s best and brightest are here or are coming to New York City. It is also important to be aware that some great talent is outside of New York City, too. When thinking about the great diversity of this city, we ask ourselves, how do we represent the communities in which we sit? How do we collaborate with all this extraordinary talent and get out of institutional silos? How can we leverage our practice-based faculty, who bring both new ideas to their students and their students’ ideas to bear on their practices? There is an incredible opportunity to ask what are the key projects, and how do we partner and get involved? How are we part of a larger ecosystem? Climate change, rapid urbanization, ethical practice, and so forth impacting our world will require research, working across many disciplines, universities, and other organizations. This infrastructure can serve as a frame for true participatory democratic practice. Pratt is uniquely poised to do this type of engaged work and be part of this ecosystem. Our goal is to equip our students as cultural, environmental, urban, design, and education contributors and leaders. We are sitting next to one of the great new emerging developments at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That’s where you’ll find our Consortium for Research and Robotics. It’s clear to me now that I was on the right track envisioning myself at a think tank. But in today’s world—with so much possible through technology and collaboration—we work in think-make tanks. There is so much possibility for partnership that, indeed, it will be the only way to address some of the most difficult issues confronting us. Designers are optimists. As Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon said, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”
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Foto Finish

New York's Fotografiska gears up for its winter opening
The 2019 fall season will open with what promises to be an exciting new photography venue in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Fotografiska New York—a collaboration between the brothers Jan and Per Broman and the architects of CetraRuddy—intends to offer a unique kind of exhibition hall for the city. It will not function as a commercial gallery depending on market fluctuations, nor museum/institution like the International Center of Photography (ICP), but rather its stated goal is to become a center or “community” for photographers and the viewing public in general. This project reprises the first apparently wildly successful Fotografiska in Stockholm, established in 2010, with another under construction in London and a completed outpost in Tallinn, Estonia. The global approach, according to the founders, is essential to their notion of a venue dedicated to focusing on major themes that touch upon “human” issues and aspects of cultures worldwide. This large, encompassing, and admirable goal will be better understood when the roster of inaugural exhibitions finally open as well as the building into which the works will be placed. The opening shows, which begin this winter (originally October 18), will include well-known photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Israeli Adi Nes, who is better known regionally, and will include fashion, landscape, and more conceptual works. The following November exhibition will be a retrospective of the iconic Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk, followed by three solo exhibitions by Nick Brandt, Julie Blackmon, and Man Ray. The institution seems to have done their research to identify artists representative of a wide range of cultures and seem to be covering all the bases, albeit with a rather traditional or unsurprising set of works. The photographs in the first show, however, are by genuinely accomplished artists and well worth the visit. Other artists who have been previously exhibited in the Stockholm location include well-known auteurs David la Chapelle, Annie Liebowitz, Sally Mann, and Irving Penn. Because the very definition of what constitutes “photography” today is in constant flux, it will be heartening to see what Fotografiska offers as a broad definition of the medium or media. The exhibitions will be curated by Jan Broman himself in conjunction with a staff of curators headed by Amanda Hajjar, the director of exhibitions who trained at the Courtauld and had a stint at Gagosian Gallery. Unlike many photo venues, this group doesn’t seem to have funding issues, and they certainly have the means to fulfill their intended program. The choice of the landmarked building at 281 Park Ave South for the New York Fotografiska outpost has proven to be an exciting, though challenging, one for the architects. Built by Robert Gilbert Wilson as the Children’s Aid Society Mission House in 1894, the faux-gothic building was not designed to accommodate the crowds Fotografiska plans on attracting. Exits, elevators, and plans had to be entirely revised and the space revamped for viewing a wide variety of photographic works from simple black and white traditional images, to the many new mixed media projects. What has resulted from the endeavor is an impressive and exciting new venue. The project wasn’t just another commission to the group. From the onset, the architects were excited to work with what they call the “jewel of the building.” The goal was to devise a system that would retain the flavor of the old building while producing a state-of-the-art new photo venue. Interestingly, they did not have any original/historic drawings from when the building was constructed and therefore required the structural engineer to take many probes and samples of the assembly to help with the analysis of what was required. The egress requirements for the new use required the entire team to strategize very early on in the process how to plot safe pathways for the occupants. Jan Broman with a team headed by Geoffrey Newman worked with the Landmarks staff in order to preserve the distinctive faux Gothic details that gave the building its charming character, taking care to retain the stained-glass windows and refurbish the mosaic detailing. For historical accuracy in the preservation and restoration, the team consulted with engineering firm Higgins Quasebarth. CetraRuddy’s initial concept involved opening up the space to afford an easy flow through the six floors. The vast areas, some spanning 560 square feet, would be reconfigured to allow for more intimate viewing and punctuated by areas for rest and conversation. There will be three total floors for exhibition space, with one functioning as a major exhibition hall, while another will provide space for alternating experimental works. The architects managed to incorporate the building’s existing, extravagantly sculpted deep poche windows into the project by deploying them to block out the daylight while addressing passersby. The notion behind this solar shading was to develop a way to integrate Fotografiska into the neighborhood by offering a spectacle that would provide the street a taste of the activities within the center while still remaining functional. The lighting system was another complex issue because of the wide range of photographic forms to be presented at the center. The design team researched to first determine the various requisites for viewing traditional photographic prints, often with reflective surfaces, to projection systems requiring more elaborate wiring and for which the work required a darkened spaced. Then, they had to develop a complex strategy for the basic support system for the building itself. Rather than simply replacing the columnar structures, they crafted a kind of bone replacement system—reinforcing from within to preserve the original character of the structure. In addition to the exhibition floors, the design includes a ground floor bookstore with posters and prints and cafe. The entire second floor is devoted to the restaurant, designed by Roman and Williams. It will function in a way similar to the much-acclaimed restaurant in the Stockholm center. All the pieces are in place for a unique and flourishing photo center that addresses global issues, with a particularly intimate approach.
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It makes an impression

Post-Office Architectes stamps Tribeca with corrugated cardboard concrete formwork
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Tribeca is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that non-landmarked lots throughout the area are being snatched up and redeveloped for commercial or residential purposes. 30 Warren Street, which is currently wrapping up construction, is located on a northeastern corner of Church and Warren Streets. Designed by the Paris-based practice Post-Office Architectes, which was founded by The Ateliers Jean Nouvel alumni David Fagart, Line Fontana, and Francois Leininger, the new luxury condominium joins the scene with an ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) facade formed with corrugated cardboard. The approximately 50,000-square-foot project is located just outside of the official boundaries of the four historic districts within Tribeca. As a commercial center for the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the architectural makeup of the neighborhood is defined by Renaissance Revival masonry and cast-iron offices and warehouses, differing in scale according to their proximity to either the avenue or side street. For the architects, it was integral that the design of the new residential development stands on its own as a contemporary project while still paying reverence to the context with a mineral-based cladding. In terms of massing, the 12-story project rises on the entire footprint of the corner lot and sets back at the fifth floor in unison with the cornice line of the adjacent historic structures. The north elevation will eventually rise to two stories and will serve as a retail space.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL Schuco Rainscreen Solutions
  • Architect Post-Office Architectes
  • Facade Installer GGL Enterprises
  • Facade Consultant Front, Inc
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion Fall 2019
  • System Custom TAKTL system
  • Products TAKTL RAL 8019 Schuco window system
"Thanks to its very fine grain, UHPC typically allows all kinds of textures," said Post-Office Architects Co-Founder Francois Leininger. "Rather than creating a complicated texture using readily available digital processes and having to deal with the constrains (repetition, uniformity...), we wanted to create something crafty, something that would look a bit handmade, something with a unique feel. This was our way to pay tribute to the magnificent cast-iron architecture across the street and all around Tribeca." In total, there are approximately 921 UHPC panels across the facade, all of which are 3/4-inch thick and vary in size; the largest is about 11-by-3.5 feet. The system is not complex, as the panels are secured to a stud system that rests on the floor slabs. Where the assembly does stand out is in the use of a matrix of 1.5-inch-wide black aluminum channels placed behind the joint of each panel—a challenge when many of the panel dimensions are in fact unique. The aluminum channels serve two functions; the depth of the concrete panels is visually extenuated, and they obscure the insulation located behind the rain screen. Detailing for the precast concrete panels is fairly subtle and clever. The team suggested industrial-grade one-sided corrugated cardboard, pressed against the concrete slabs at a 45-degree angle. The 70 molds produced are imperfect; cardboard has a habit of micro-tearing and causing other impacts associated with the fabrication process. "The result, as one can observe on site today, is an ever-changing texture, reacting to the slightest inflections of light," continued Leininger. "The presence of the ribs helps to make the concrete panel look homogeneous, while the change of direction of the ribs, at each setback, modifies the perceived color of the panels." The project is slated to wrap up in the fall of 2019.
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A Complex Complex

The Shed’s temporary gallery partitions don’t work, and more updates
Nearly six months after the opening of Hudson Yards, and five after the opening of the Shed (now The Bloomberg Building), it has come to our attention that there has been a snafu at the Shed, the “new Fun Palace” designed by DS+R and Rockwell Group for New York's Hudson Yards. Heralded as a flexible platform for performance and arts of all kinds, the movable elements such as the translucent ETFE sheath and interior walls are what give life to the $485 million complex. However, recent reports indicate that there were some hurried details in the large gallery space, and the temporary partitions do not work. The floor grid does not align with the ceiling grid, making it impossible to install the partitions as originally designed. As such, the gallery currently can’t be subdivided. Whoops! Shoddy construction? Budget cuts? Blame the architects? UPDATE: In a statement, Diller Scofidio + Renfro told AN, "The Shed utilizes anchors in the floor to cantilever freestanding partitions, which allows for a thinner dimension than most fixed museum walls that are typically braced from the ceiling. The same system was used successfully for The Broad museum's gallery floors. In a few limited instances, construction deviations left the anchors slightly off center. The wall system has easily adapted to these conditions and continues to serve the Shed well. For example, Level 2 was partitioned to separate the two different performances (choral and orchestral) of Reich Richter Pärt." In other Shed news, on the heels of a $250,000-a-plate fundraiser for President Trump’s reelection held by CEO and chairman of The Related Companies Stephen Ross, calls to boycott The Shed have been growing. According to Hyperallergic, artists Zackary Drucker and A.L. Steiner withdrew their contribution to the Shed’s Open Call show, Rag & Bone dropped out of the Fashion Week show that would be held in the Shed, and artist Thanushka Yakupitiyage staged a “Decolonize This Place” performance on Sunday, August 25, in protest. Yakupitiyage, through a combination of remixed music, dance, and audio clips put on MigrantScape as part of Open Call and spoke out against the government’s treatments of migrants—as well as Ross’s complicity. The piece was put on on top of the concrete plaza in front of the building, which, when the ETFE envelope is rolled forward, forms the 17,000-square-foot McCourt space, the venue’s main performing area. In more positive news, The Shed was named to TIME Magazine’s second annual list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places today, placing it in high accolades among other exemplary recent projects, such as Snøhetta’s underwater restaurant and a suite of refined museums.
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He Came in Like A Wrecking Ball

Trump's Grand Hyatt New York will be demolished, replaced with offices
The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, once owned and reclad by President Trump, is headed for the wrecking ball. A new joint development by TF Cornerstone, RXR Realty, and MDS Capital has been announced in its place and will feature 2 million square feet of office and retail space, as well as a brand new identity for the Grand Hyatt. Located at 109 East 42nd Street, just southeast of Grand Central Station, the 26-floor structure wasn’t always a Trump hotel. In fact, it’s 100 years old. Built in 1919 by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels group, the Commodore Hotel was originally a brick-clad building with over 2,000 rooms and a world-renowned lobby. In the late ’70s, the Trump Organization purchased and remodeled the entire structure for $100 million, redoing the facade with its now-signature all-reflective-glass curtain wall. It then reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt New York. AN’s editor in chief Bill Menking wrote that the story behind the hotel revamp and the addition of the sign-slash-restaurant that hovers above the sidewalk on 42nd Street is a prime illustrative tale of negative development in New York.  Construction on the new building is expected to cost $3 billion. It will include 500 rooms for the luxury Grand Hyatt New York and state-of-the-art office space. Major transit upgrades could also come with the development, enhancing the pedestrian experience near Grand Central and offering better circulation and connectivity to the currently congested subway beneath it. A new entrance has also been discussed.  No architect has been chosen for the design project yet, though the development team aims to announce one soon. When complete, the new structure will join a handful of other commercial office towers in the area that have popped up since the 2017 rezoning in Midtown East. Progress on One Vanderbilt by Kohn Pedersen Fox, Tower Fifth by Gensler and Adamson Associate Architects, and JP Morgan Chase’s 270 Park Avenue by Foster + Partners is already underway. 
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Prepping for Sandy 2.0

Army Corps of Engineers will erect miles of seawalls along Staten Island

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is slated to begin construction on a $616 million seawall in the New York City borough of Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The storm, which wreaked havoc on much of the mid-Atlantic coast between New Jersey and New York, exposed and exacerbated Staten Island’s vulnerability to storm surges and flash flooding. In light of predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other climate-monitoring agencies that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes will increase as global warming progresses through the 21st century, local and federal officials hope that the seawall will prevent higher levels of physical damage in the future.

When Sandy struck the New York metropolitan region in October 2012, floodwater depth in certain parts of Staten Island hit 12.5 feet above sea level. Within the area protected by the proposed seawall, depths exceeded previous records by four feet and damaged 80 percent of all structures, including critical infrastructure like schools. The storm killed 43 people in the city, including 24 in Staten Island alone.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the seawall system will include several components, known collectively as the Staten Island Multi-Use Elevated Promenade. About 4.5 miles of buried seawall, which will be topped by a walkable promenade, will protect the area against up to 21.4 feet of seawater rise. In addition to the 0.6-mile gate in the levee, there will also be 0.35 miles of floodwalls, 300 acres of natural water storage to manage surge, and over 226 acres of tidal wetlands and ponding areas. The latter two components will have the capacity to absorb an immense amount of floodwater, forming a robust natural barrier against major storms. One priority of the project is to protect vital infrastructure on the island, including senior centers, schools, hospitals, a wastewater plant, and police and fire stations.

While Sandy served as a catalyst to mobilize resources and agencies to officially begin the project, research that led to the ultimate seawall system proposal actually began after a pair of severe storms in 1992 and 1993. Hurricanes, Nor-easters, and superstorms present a major threat to the borough, but the low-lying parts of Staten Island also face flooding damage in the face of regular rainfall. In addition to protecting the coastline from such stress, state officials have promised that the seawall system will enhance waterfront access for members of the public. The boardwalk will be open to cyclists, pedestrians, and other hobbyists, allowing users to experience both the shoreline and the coastal wetlands. Governor Cuomo’s office also suggested that the seawall might one day serve as a tourist attraction, bringing in visitors from across the region and country.

Signing on to a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA), New York State and the Army Corps have committed to reducing the costs of flood damage in the area by about $30 million per year. The PPA opens the project up to $400 million in federal contributions, which will be added to the existing budget of $216 million—$65 million from the city and $151 million from the state. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will hopefully be completed before the next major weather event.

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The Air up There

André Fu stages a model apartment in the MoMA-adjacent 53 West 53 tower
Celebrated interior designer André Fu has completed a model apartment on the 36th floor of the new Jean Nouvel-designed 53 West 53 residential tower. Sitting adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and incorporating portions of its soon-to-open expansion, the new building soars high among a slew of super-tall and thin residential projects reshaping New York City's Midtown neighborhood. Accentuating the 2,000 square foot, 2-bedroom unit’s southern and eastern exposures, Fu and his Hong Kong-based design team implemented a scheme that is indicative of the practice’s recognized “relaxed luxury” aesthetic. However, the accolated talent still took stock of cultural nuances and was careful to juxtapose his design vocabulary with the building’s sharp features and the city’s dynamic skyline. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Anti-Terrorism Aesthetics

New 3D-printed, crash-proof benches debut in Times Square
This May, designer Jou Doucet x Partners, working with the Times Square Design Lab (TSqDL), debuted a 3D-printed concrete alternative to the now-common heavy concrete planters, bollards, and more traditional “Jersey” barriers that surround public places and prominent buildings across the country. Anti-terror street furniture is the often ugly urban peripheral that plugs into our cities to add a new feature—specifically the capability to stop speeding vehicles and other terrorists attacks. Doucet’s design offers what he calls “a different, humanist approach to security.” The project was commissioned for the second annual TSqDL initiative, which was created to bring new design ideas to the public realm—specifically, New York's crossroads of the world that is visited by nearly half-a-million people daily. On display and in use since May, the Rely Bench comprises gently rounded, interconnected concrete platforms that each weigh over one ton. With its modular components connected with steel rods, the benches are designed to almost act like a net, catching a vehicle and absorbing its impact. The design is nice enough, but the real innovation is in the method used to make it. The Rely Bench is the first product to be manufactured through HyCoEx, a fully digital production method that street furniture company Urbastyle believes will “revolutionize the concrete furniture market”. Little information has been made available about the technology other than it uses an extrusion technique powered by a 3D printing robotic arm developed by Concrenetics and produced by UrbaStyle in partnership with Autodesk, ABB and Cementir Group. Though extrusion is common with plastics, HyCoEx is the first method to adopt it for concrete; other methods primarily use deposition, layering concrete to build the final form. The benefits of 3D printing over traditional concrete casting include lowering production costs resulting from reduced waste material and the lack of required mold. Indeed, Urbastyle believes that the HyCoEx method “may one day completely replace mold production.” Perhaps most significantly, HyCoEx empowers designers to efficiently create any form or surface pattern they can imagine. The company sees it as a type of “artisan” technology that removes the separation between design and fabrication. The Times Square installation was just a prototype of the design and technology, but prepare to see more of both soon. The Rely is currently being tested against international crash barrier standards.
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Old Bay

Waterfront exhibits a total history of Brooklyn's coastline
Waterfront Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO Empire Stores 55 Water St. Brooklyn, NY On view through December 1, 2022 The first major exhibition on the history of Brooklyn’s vast coastline is now on view at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s DUMBO location in Empire Stores. Designed by New York studio Pure+Applied in collaboration with production firms Potion and batwin + robin productions, Waterfront engages visitors through digital interactive storytelling techniques, Kinect technology, archaeological artifacts, and even oysters, to highlight over 100 years of local narratives. The large showcase centers around 12 concept areas that detail the past development of Brooklyn’s shore and speculate on its future in the face of climate change, sea level rise, and gentrification. Both children and adults can uncover the secrets of the borough’s shoreline and the people that worked there. A section dedicated to the factory women workers of the Navy Yard provides a dress-up playspace while a magnetic wall offers visitors the chance to create a personalized waterfront. The multimedia exhibition not only zeroes in on the activists, innovators, neighborhoods, and ecosystems that have made Brooklyn’s waterfront what it is today, but it also unveils the coastline’s significance at a global scale.
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Being John Malkovich

NYC Department of Buildings fines owner who split two condo into 20 apartments
This week, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) busted a Lower East Side landlord who had divided part of a building into hobbit-like warrens with ceilings as low as four-and-a-half–feet. Owner Xue Ping Ni subdivided his 634-square-foot condo on the fourth floor of 165 Henry Street into 11 tiny units by splitting the space with a new floor. DOB photos show a male inspector kneeling beside one lilliputian door, his head just below the top of the frame. The illegal units, home to nine people at inspection time, were climate-controlled with double-stacked window-mounted air conditioners. It almost goes without saying that the SROs lacked adequate egresses as well. During a later visit, a reporter noticed from the street that the air conditioners in the windows on the floor above were installed in a similar pattern. When inspectors entered the fifth-floor apartment, they found another nine diminutive single room occupancy units that looked like those in the first apartment. All tenants in the micro micro-units were evacuated. According to one, the closet-sized dwellings rented for $600 per month. The New York Post reported that the DOB slapped Ni with over $144,000 in fines for the sprinkler-less rooms and a lack of permits for plumbing, electrical, and structural work. According to paperwork on file with the DOB, the five-story building is supposed to have just 27 apartments.

Councilmember Ben Kallos likened the firetrap half floors to the 1999 film Being John Malkovich where John Cusack's character takes a job at Lester Corp, which is on the short-ceilinged seven-and-a-half floor of an office building in Manhattan. (Kallos does not represent the district that includes the building in question)

"It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life," he told the Post.