Last week, AN reported on the development of Alameda Square in Los Angeles, the 1.5-million-square-foot mixed use project being designed at the old American Apparel factory site on the southwest edge of LA's Arts District. Movement on projects like this beg the question: Just how hot is LA's Arts District? AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell sat down for a short chat with James Sattler, a Vice President of Acquisitions at JP Morgan Asset Management, to find out. The Architect's Newspaper: What potential do you see in the LA Arts District? Do you see it as one of the major development areas of the city? James Sattler: Clearly there is a lot of development activity in the area, and this mirrors the pattern we are seeing in many parts of Downtown. I think the Arts District has the potential to become a terrific example of LA’s current wave of post-industrial urban renewal and can ultimately mature into a veritable live/work/play neighborhood with a deeper array of housing, office, and retail uses. Why is it such a major draw for real estate investment? I think the residents, artists, and businesses here today are attracted to the Arts District because it is such a truly authentic urban environment that is connected to the energy and grittiness of Downtown but with a very approachable, pedestrian-friendly scale. Access to a rapidly improving public transport system is also a big plus. It’s hard to find this combination of characteristics in a neighborhood here in Southern California, yet people appear increasingly drawn to the type of urban lifestyle that the Arts District offers. Investors are drawn here for similar reasons. Are there any particular projects in the area that you see as transformative? I think the LA MTA’s Regional Connector project will be huge. When complete it will provide much more convenient access from the Little Tokyo/Arts District station to the rest of the Metro Rail system which will ultimately link to other parts of LA County like downtown Santa Monica, and potentially LAX and UCLA. I also think that the city’s plan to revitalize the LA River corridor, which runs along the east side of the Arts District, will have a big positive impact. Some people call this the next Meat Packing District, ala Manhattan. Do you agree? While I think there are some parallels in terms of an industrial neighborhood in transition, I think it’s too facile to compare them like that. I think one of the reasons for the success of the Meat Packing District is that the city took a very active role in developing the High Line and helping to preserve historical elements of the neighborhood that create its unique sense of place. Time will tell if the Arts District evolves similarly in LA.
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New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has completed blasting through bedrock far below Grand Central Terminal for the East Side Access Tunnels that will connect the station with Sunnyside, Queens. As part of the announcement, one of the last production blasts from late March has debuted on YouTube. The video above reveals what has been transpiring beneath the streets of Manhattan during the tunneling process, and the sight is rather impressive. A camera caught the final blast that made way for a massive cavern. So far 2,424 production blasts have occurred below the commuter rail terminal station, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. For this explosion, sandhogs drilled more than 200 blast holes and loaded them with over 300 pounds of powder to guarantee a powerful explosion that could rival any action movie’s special effects.
With the launch of the Citi Bike share program around the corner, New York City's bike advocates are focusing their efforts on the next cycling obstacle: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Harbor Ring, an advocacy project of the Regional Plan Association, is calling for a 50-mile cycling and pedestrian route encircling New York harbor. The group has published a new petition with over 1,000 signatures at press time pushing for the construction of a bike and pedestrian lane across the double-decked suspension bridge, which turns 50 next year. The Brooklyn Daily reported that bike advocates are hoping Governor Cuomo will support the proposal for the new bike path, which would not only connect Brooklyn and Staten Island, but also provide a critical connection for the Harbor Ring. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has said it will “consider conducting a feasibility study,” but not until 2014 or later. MTA spokesperson Judie Glave told the Daily, "MTA Bridges and Tunnels is considering this issue as part of a future Belt Parkway ramp reconstruction project." This proposal to add a bike path isn't new: A feasibility study conducted in 1997 by the Department of City Planning revealed that it would be possible to build a bicycle lane without removing any vehicle lanes, but could cost around $26.5 million.
Manhattan's Second Avenue Subway continues construction on the island's east side. A new construction update from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority details excavation work at what will one day be the line's 86th Street station and the various pieces of heavy machinery that are used in the construction process. Take a look at the photos below and be sure to check out more spectacular tunneling photos from the Seven Line subway expansion and the East Side Access Tunnel for the Long Island Railroad. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy the MTA / Patrick Cashin.
There's plenty of tunneling going on underneath the streets of Manhattan. On the west side, digging through the city's bedrock has given way to interior station fit-ups for the Dattner-designed 7 line subway stations connecting Times Square to Hudson Yards as early as 2014. To the east, sandhogs continue to carve through solid rock for the $4.5 billion Second Avenue Subway Line while other crews outfit the tunnels with concrete and rebar. Between the two, more massive caverns are being opened up beneath Grand Central Terminal, which turned 100 this month, that will extend the Long Island Railroad to the famed station from Sunnyside, Queens in 2019. The $8.24 billion East Side Access Project will allow commuters to bypass Penn Station and enter Manhattan 12-stories below Grand Central. Now, the MTA has released a dramatic set of photos from inside the 3.5-mile-long tunnel, revealing enormous cathedral-like spaces connected by perfectly cylindrical tunnels. Take a look. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin. [Via Gothamist.]
Earlier today, a 36-inch water main burst in Manhattan, sending water skyward into 23rd Street and Broadway at Madison Square Park. The 98-year pipe flooded the intersection with several inches of water, enough to breach the subway vents to the N, Q, and R line trains, sending a waterfall into the station and shutting down service. According to CBS New York, a total of three feet of water made it into the station. The MTA released a video showing the dramatic waterfall, a chilling reminder just how fragile New York's vital infrastructure can be and making us wish that a few more of those designer-subway-grates by the like of Rogers Marvel and others were installed throughout the city.
Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand 'ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world. In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)
Starting last night at the Lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place World Financial Center, 24 teams of architects, engineers, and MTA employees stacked cans into the small hours of the morning for the 20th Annual NYC CANstruction Competition. Large amorphous structures—some abstract, others more recognizable—emerged out of more than 80,000 cans of food. The firms were given 24-hours to build their sculptures, which will then go on display for 11 days at the World Financial Center, and later dismantled and donated to City Harvest to provide food for the hungry. Last year, the competition yielded 90,000 cans of food, and Lisa Sposato, Associate Director of Food Sourcing Donor Relations at City Harvest, said they've already received 35,000 pounds of cans. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy delayed the competition, and a few teams had to drop out, but several of them donated their cans of food. For several firms, this event has become a tradition. This is Severud Associates’ 19th year in the competition—and by 10 pm, they were almost finished with their sculpture of chess pieces called Can you Check Mate Hunger? WSP Flack + Kurtz and Gensler were more than half-way through their Can’s Best Friend, a balloon-dog-inspired piece that resembled Jeff Koons' iconic sculpture. Patrick Rothwell, an associate at Gensler and a returning competitor, estimated a 1:00 am finish time. “We’re trying to make something unique that also benefits people who are hungry,” said Rothwell. There were a few more abstract concepts, such as STUDIOS architecture’s VeCAN HAM-mer Hunger! a sculpture of a hammer breaking a piggybank or DeSimone Consulting Enginners’ CANdroid based on Google’s Android logo. A few steps away, the MTA team assembled an elaborate 2nd Avenue train creation entitled, CAN YOU DIG IT? The sculptures will be judged by a panel including: Carla Hall of Alchemy and Chef/Co-host of The Chew; John DeSilvia, Host of DIY Network’s Rescue my Renovation; and Frances Halsband, Founding Partner of Kliment Halsband Architects.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has seen some success in his time in office. But one element still remains a thorn in his side: MUNI, the city's transit agency. In his State of the City address the other day (watch full speech below) Lee vowed to improve the notoriously late and overcrowded system, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. "We need to modernize our system...to better match up with 21st century patterns of where people live, work, and shop," said Lee. A few remedies that Lee has suggested: the formation of a task force to help develop a plan for modernizing the system and dealing with the city's growing population; expansion of BART, the Bay Area's regional transit system; new work rule reforms; and a bevy of new technologies. "Truly great cities have great transportation systems—Paris, New York, London, Tokyo," Lee said. "I say San Francisco is pretty great, too, and deserves one as well." The city is in fact adding a new transit line, the downtown T-Central, to help alleviate congestion problems. It's slated to open in 2019. Check out images of the city's upcoming line below.
The much-talked-about 7 line subway extension on Manhattan's West Side isn't the only mega-infrastructure project making progress in New York. Construction continues far below the streets of Manhattan's East Side as crews tunnel through bedrock for the Second Avenue Subway line. This week, the MTA released a gallery of photos showing construction progress on stations between 63rd and 73rd streets. The photos show the enormous rock caverns that will one day be subway stations being prepped with liners, rebar, and concrete casing. According to Gothamist, construction progress varies by station, with the 72nd Street station 96 percent complete and the 86th Street station 42 percent done. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow:
Lowline boosters James Ramsey and Dan Barasch spoke with the Wall Street Journal this week, shedding light on a few economic details surrounding what could become New York City's first subterranean park, built in an abandoned trolley terminal owned by the MTA underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. Project co-founders Ramsey, an architect and principal at RAAD Studio, and Barasch have most recently been working on creating a full-scale mock-up of their fiber-optic skylight that will bring natural daylight to the cavernous underground space after raising $155,000 on Kickstarter. The team is now promoting the park armed with a new economic impact summary, claiming that it will add value to the adjacent Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). Specifically, Ramsey and Barasch argue that building the park would boost SPURA land values by $10 to $20 million and generate up to $10 million in taxes over the next 30 years. The Lowline also revealed its estimated budget, clocking in somewhere between $44 and $72 million to be paid for by a combination of fundraising, donations, and tax credits. If all goes according to plan, the Lowline could be financially self-sufficient, with a $2 to $4 million operating budget paid for by special events and commercial space. Uncertainty still looms over project, however, as the MTA hasn't agreed that the space will be allowed to be converted into a park.
Manhattan's newest neighborhood at Hudson Yards broke ground one week ago today, but the West Side area can be tricky to get to using the city's existing subway system. In 2014, however, the rumbling of trains far beneath the city's streets will stretch west from Times Square, extending the 7 Line subway a mile and a half over to 34th Street and 11th Avenue where Hudson Yards' first tower will be rapidly climbing at 30th Street and 10th Avenue. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has now shared a series of photos of the $2.4 billion, city-funded project, showing quite a bit of progress since AN toured the site one year ago this month. Most notable are the web of miles of conduit lining the walls and ceilings of the tunnels and the nearly complete ventilation towers rising near the Javits Center. Eventually, interior fit-ups will finish off the station's sleek interior with curving walls designed by Dattner Architects.