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Hailing the Future

For tired, cold New Yorkers stranded far from home, there’s no better sight than a yellow cab. But sometimes the sight can be less welcome. 

When a taxi passenger door swings out unexpectedly into the path of a cyclist, it can be a mortal threat. According to a Department of City Planning survey, being “doored” by cars is the number-one cause of crashes for cyclists in New York City. Taxis are a frequent culprit, due to their chaotic passenger pickups and drop-offs. 

But if taxis were better designed, cyclists would have less to fear. 

To that end, Antenna Design has come up with a highly visible roof light that declares when passengers are entering or exiting. The light is just one of many prototypes on display through April 15 at Taxi 07, a free exhibit created to spur discussion and development of the ideal taxis for the future. 

The exhibit is staged outside the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, on the convention center's inner roadway near the corner of 35th Street and 11th Avenue. Visitors can check out several full-scale, functional taxi prototypes. One model can zoom along at 200 miles per hour; dubbed the World’s Fastest Taxi, it's driven by a 1,000-horsepower hydrogen-fueled engine. 

Less sexy but more spacious internally, the Standard Taxi is wheelchair accessible. The Kia Rondo offers a smorgasbord of good design, including a Birsel + Seck child-safety seat that folds up when not in use, a light from Smart Design that illuminates the ground when passengers exit at night, and Antenna Design’s LED roof light. On the nearby sidewalk, visitors can view small-scale models, a film about taxi drivers, and a rendering of Weisz + Yoes’ concept for a GPS-enabled taxi stand that would let riders hail taxis digitally. 

The exhibit coincides with the centennial of New York’s gas-powered taxi, an appropriate moment to reflect on the less-than-progressive current state of our taxi system. Grimy, uncomfortable, toxin-spewing cabs constitute as much as half of all traffic at some times of day, according to Deborah Marton, executive director of the Design Trust for Public Space, the organization behind Taxi 07

The exhibit is just one part of a multifaceted program. The Design Trust will soon release a report with the working title “Taxi 07: Roads Forward.” Examining the current state of affairs and offering strategies for improvement, the report will be available online at www.designtrust.org. The group is also planning to launch an advocacy group to fight for reform. 

While there is growing momentum to explore green alternatives, of the 13,037 taxis currently operating in New York City, just 327 are electric hybrids and one is fully electric-powered, according to Allan Fromberg, a spokesperson for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Only 47 are wheelchair accessible, though more are on the way. And many cabs remain startlingly low-tech, though by the end of 2007 all cabs will offer at least a credit-card payment system and personal information monitors that provide maps, news, and entertainment. 

“The goals of Taxi 07 are to recognize that the New York City taxi is already an icon,” Marton said. “We think that the taxi should also be a symbol of our commitment to sustainable mobility, access for all, and good design. There’s no reason the taxi shouldn’t have the highest level of design for its usability, its access, its fueling systems, and its looks.” 

These issues don't only concern design geeks, political activists, urban planners, and nonsuicidal cyclists. Since most New Yorkers don’t have automobiles of their own, Marton observed, “the taxi is basically our shared family car.” Maybe it’s time to consider a serious upgrade. 

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He'll Take Manhattan
CRAZY!

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

The soon-to-open IAC/InterActiveCorp headquarters in New York is primarily being hailed as Frank Gehryys first building in the city, but it is so much more. Sited on the Far West Side in Chelsea, the ten-story billowing glass structure, which resembles a crystalline snow globe by day and a Creamsicle by night, is a flagship building for the booming Internet company.Yet it is also a catalyst to further development in the area that will sooner rather than later transform the neighborhood it was designed to complement. Right now, that neighborhood includes truck garages and storage warehouses, a womenns prison, and, lately, a few chic galleries. But they serve the IAC building well as a gritty brick backdrop against which its milky white slopes can swell and stand out.

The setting that shows this dynamic gem off to best advantage is changing fast. Across narrow 19th Street, excavation is underway for Jean Nouvells 20- story condo that, in renderings, appears to be encrusted in giant mirrored Post-it notes. Immediately behind the Gehry building, 520 West Chelsea, an 11-story condo by Annabelle Selldorf, is rising with just enough space between the two, purportedly, to squeeze in a condo-cumgallery in the near future by Shigeru Ban. Other apartments by Robert A. M. Stern and Neil Denari are also in the works well within visual encroachment range. Such an embarrassment of riches makes one wonder if a new zoning rule stipulating only one icon per block ought to be put into effect.

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

The IAC headquarters has a compact, dynamic scale that more than holds its own against the behemoth Chelsea Piers that stretches for blocks just across the West Side Highway. The tall-shipsat- full-sail metaphorran incredibly romantic conceit for jaded Manhattann that inspired the buildinggs form is experienced most immediately and effectively by the cars whizzing by on the adjacent highway, making the IAC the cityys first LA building. The pedestrian experience is less welcoming: sheer featureless walls on all three street sides with a slight bulge and no signage to speak, not even an easily discernible entrance. Apparently, Barry Diller, IACCs chairman and chief executive officer, was adamant that no signs should mar the structurees monolithic It-ness. Bruce Mau, hired to handle graphics throughout, has complied with an exceedingly diffident aluminum bar protuberanceea kind of anti-marqueeeover the main entrance, on 18th Street.

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

In a January 11, 2006 article in The Wall Street Journal, Diller was quoted as saying he wanted a building that was a wondrous environmentt of its own. And so it comes as a surprise that the interiorssapart from a few very glitzy gesturesshave such a scattered look. The flashiest feature is the 118-footlong video wall in the lobby (one of two envisioned by Gehry and Mau and produced by McCann Systems, Trollbbck + Company, and Warren Z Productions) powered by 18 12,000-lumen projectors and streaming a collage of images of flowers, client product endorsements, and art projects. The video screen will be somewhere between advertising and art,, said Eric Levin, an associate director in the companyys real estate department, on a recent tour that included a stop behind the video wall to see a sound-andlight setup worthy of a Madonna tour.

The treatment of the glass curtain wall makes for a more contemplative but no less technologically daring display. Much has been written about how the curvature in the glass was achieved by coldbending the glass on-site. Less familiar is the fascinating fact that it was not the flexibility of the glass but the tensile strength of the silicone adhesive anchoring the fourth corner of each sheet of glass to the frame that determined a maximum torque (up to 4 inches). Oddly, the best place to see the effect is on the back side, where the building rotates up to 150 degrees as it rises unbroken from the ground up. (A zoning- mandated sixth-floor setback breaks up the volume on the front and sides.)

Up close, the glass surface has a busy, pulsating pattern. Clear across each middle section (at a point where people of average height might stand to look out), the glass then shades gradually to opaque white due to miniscule ceramic frit dots arranged in irregular waves that collect at their densest at top and bottom. This irregular wave patterning creates a striated look recalling a Xerox machine thatts running out of toner ink. The glass, like the building itself, seems intended for viewing from a distance.

Studios Architecture designed the interiors on all the floors except the sixth, where the executive offices are located. The partnership with Gehry (who was responsible for the interior of the lobby and the sixth floor) is a compatible one, marked with a predilection for bright colors, lots of patterns, and shiny surfaces. The glass partitions and doors leading to the private offices on nonexecutive floors are the color of Tropical Fruit Lifesavers. Austin Powersorange seating pods dot the floor, and supergraphics by Mau cover the elevator landing walls. Gehry installed a rug with a tiger-striped pattern in Dillerrs executive suite. It all screams Youth! Creativity! Energy!! which could become tiresome in the long run.

Courtesy DIRTT

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

Attempts at unifying the interior space fall flat. Each floor has a constant 8-foot wall that serves as a datum line to counteract ceiling heights that are the 91⁄2 feet on lower floors and the 101⁄2 feet on upper floors. A plenum below each floor slab is recessed from the angled facade, creating space for a constant 4-foot-deep perimeter cove light, which accounts for the buildinggs nighttime glow. A problem arises, however, at the messy juncture of cove edge, private office clerestory, and tilted facade.

At the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT in Boston, which opened in 2004, Gehry was allowed more latitude in plugging things together with an ad-hoc haphazardness that comes across as vigorous and dynamic. Here, attempts to tame irregularities merely look slipshod and fussy. For instance, columns along the perimeter are planted parallel to the glass, meaning they tilt, some as much as 20 degrees. Meanwhile, interior columns are straight but not arranged in any particular rhythm. They align instead with the columns above and below on floor plates that are themselves rotated. Trying to impose visual order is a losing proposition here, and aesthetically counterproductive. Let creative impulses reign.

If only the approach to the interiors had been executed with the same spirit of derring-do as the building itself, the IAC would be the wondrous object Diller intended. As is, passers-byybe they on foot or in a car, without much time to pick out detailssare the ones who can best enjoy its considerable thrill.

JULIE V. IOVINE IS AN'S ARCHITECTURE CRITIC. SHE CONTRIBUTES TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, ART & CULTURE, ART REVIEW (UK), DEPARTURES, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS.



IAC Headquarters In Detail

Courtesy Permasteelisa

CURTAIN WALL CONSULTANT AND FABRICATOR
PERMASTEELISA
Frank Gehryys designs have often challenged manufacturers and contractors to develop new systems. In the case of the IAC/ InterActiveCorp headquarterss curtain wall, Gehry Partners and building envelope engineer/manufacturer Permasteelisa collaborated using a centralized 3D computer model to accomplish everything from the design and fabrication of its panel shapes to the positioning of its anchoring system.

Unlike a rectilinear building whose curtain wall units are by and large identical, skinning IAC required a variety of panel shapes to form a tight wrapper for the designns billowing sail-like forms. The designers determined the shape of each panel on the model and then fed this data directly into an automated fabrication process that cut the aluminum and glass. Of the 1,450 curtain wall units, 1,150 are unique.

Permasteelisa manufactured the panels flat, but once on site, bent them into place, in a process called cold warping. Installers connected three corners of each unit first then manually forced the fourth into place, literally contorting the glass and metal and giving IAC itts curvy looks. This puts enormous stress on each panells perimeter seal, so to prepare the units for cold warping, Permasteelisa specially designed each silicon seal with the glass fabricator.

This created an extremely rigid cladding system that required construction tolerances much smaller than most contractors are used to working within. According to Alberto Gobbi, president of Permasteelisa, the curtain wall had only 1⁄8 inch of flub room, whereas the concrete frame could be expected to vary an inch in any direction from the idealize model. To address this issue, Permasteelisa designed a special anchoring system that could absorb tolerances between frame and curtain wall. Composed of horizontal and vertical aluminum brackets, the anchors bolt to the slab edge and can slide three dimensionally until the connection point is reached. To find the connection point, Permasteelisaas survey team used the 3D model in conjunction with a GPS system and lasers to triangulate the exact location.
AARON SEWARD



Courtesy Mechoshade

ELECTROSHADE SYSTEM
MECHOSHADE

This is Frank Gehryys first major glass building, and as it turns out, titanium and stainless steel are a lot easier to make conform to his signature curves than glass panels. Although the solar shading company MechoShade had worked with Gehry Partners before on projects like Bard College Performing Arts Center in the Hudson Valley and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The IAC building literally presented us with a new twist,, said company vice president Glen Berman.

More than three-quarters of the unitized glass panels that make up the IACCs cladding have a compound curve, so standard roller shades would never match both the window head and sill. In order to conform to the buildinggs irregular geometry, MechoShade (with the support of Studios Architecture) created more than one thousand customtwisted shades, all individually motorized. By modifying the systemms hardware, we were able to twist the shades up to 30 degrees, matching and exceeding the slight twist of IAC glass panels,, said Berman. We developed an innovative technology for these types of structures.. Berman hopes that the new system will be ready for market very shortly, because the IAC is clearly not the last building that will use twisted and torqued forms.
MASHA PANTELEYEVA



Courtesy Dirtt

STICK-BUILT WALL SYSTEM
DIRTT ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS

Designing interiors to match a building by Frank Gehry can be a daunting task. When DIRTT (Do It Right This Time) heard that much of the budget for the IAC building was devoted to the facade, and that the custom scheme by STUDIOS architecture (the firm in charge of the interiors) was prohibitively expensive, the 2-year-old Canadian company pitched its Stick-built modular wall system to the construction manager. The Stick Built walls not only conform to the irregular shapes dictated by Gehryys design and maintain STUDIOOs vibrant color scheme but they also fit the budget. It saved them a ton of money,, said Akua Lesesne. The savings stem from the modular nature of the walls, which are essentially a lattice of steel frames into which DIRTTTs or locally-sourced glass can be installed. Lesesne said that unlike custom work, the Stick-Built Walls eliminate the waste and time of cutting and disposing of glass on-site, or shipping it from the factory, both of which save time, money, and the environment.
MATT CHABAN



AUDIOVISUAL CONSULTANT
MCCANN SYSTEMS

Corporate art is so passs: These days, video screens often adorn a businesss walls instead. IAC/InterActiveCorp has even gone so far as to make video an integral part of the design of its new headquarters. Motorists on the West Side Highway will catch an eyeful of the 118-foot-long video wall displayed in the buildinggs lobby like a huge indoor billboard. At night, the bright projections will be visible through the buildinggs glass facade. Prominent design firm Trollbbck + Company has created advertising for IAC brands such as Ask.com and Match.com for the wall, but this is just the beginning. By June, the programming will include a mix of projects from video artists, students, and even community organizations.

While its sheer size and visibility make the west video wall the flashiest display in the building, itts far from the only one. On the east side of the lobby, a finely detailed image of Earth will shine on a 20-by-11-foot display surface. Using handheld touch screens, lobby visitors will be able to spin the high-res virtual globe to find the companyys offices around the world, get real-time statistics on Web traffic for IACCs many businesses, and launch live TV feeds from a company network. Warren Z and Tank Design helped to create the content for the interactive installation.

Elsewhere around the building, staffers will use video for virtual collaboration.The headquarters is designed to be a gathering point for employees from around the world, and when people cannt make it to New York, video is the next best thing. The buildinggs eight office floors feature more than 20 meeting facilities outfitted with highdefinition videoconferencing equipment and large plasma smartboards devoted to video or the Web.

Not surprisingly, the IAC had to enlist a full-time AV engineer to oversee the buildinggs videoconference equipment, video walls and other audiovisual systems, said Eric Levin, an associate director in IACCs real estate department. But the payoff is clear: For a company whose mission to promote interactive technologies, a high-tech ddcor is more than a luxury.
LISA DELGADO

Affordable Manufacturing
The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) has been restoring vacant factories in North Brooklyn for their intended uses since 1992, with the aim of sustaining the boroughhs vibrant manufacturing sector. After a few years of inactivity, the center has a new project underway near the Montrose L stop in Williamsburg as the result of financial support from various city agencies. The New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) announced on March 13 that it will extend tax benefits to the not-for-profit organization to help it acquire and renovate the 72,000-square-foot facility. In addition to $4.5 million pledged by the IDA, City Council has contributed $3.5 million, and the Brooklyn borough presidentts office will furnish another $500,000.

The facility will support small and medium industrial companies, providing an estimated 125 jobssas many as are supported in all of GMDCCs five other projects, which together cover 770,000 square feet at sites in Greenpoint and East Williamsburg. Tenants have included architects, woodworkers, and apparel manufacturers, among others. Since restructuring in summer 2005, GMDC has expanded its focus beyond North Brooklyn; its first project to develop a factory for a company in the Bronx fell through, however, because it was less expensive to move to New Jersey.

Itts been a difficult market for a not-for-profit group,, GMDC CEO Brian Coleman said. Real estate speculation and the Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning contributed to the absence of new GMDC projects, he said. Its last project was completed in 2001. It has persevered with the latest project, which Coleman said cost almost twice as much to acquire as its earlier ones.

On the Waterfront

While the neighborhood around South Street Seaport is rapidly changing, the company that operates the mall there is taking its time to develop plans to connect the complex with the rest of Manhattan. The operator,General Growth Properties, hired Sharples Holden Pasquarelli (SHoP Architects) to develop a masterplan for making the Seaport more compelling to locals, citywide shoppers, and tourists. SHoP (along with the Richard Rogers Partnership) is also working for General Growthhs landlord, the city, to implement a plan that will turn the waterfront north of the Seaport into a major new park. The other major change that has made the area more attractive for development was the Fulton Fish Marketts 2005 move to Huntts Point in the Bronx.

Pasquarelli told AN that his firmms work for both clients aims to make the South Street waterfront more accessible and further open its views to the Brooklyn Bridge..We have spent three years working with the community and are trying to make sure that any [mall] proposal complements and hopefully even solves some issues with the esplanade..He added that preserving the current three-story mall remains a distinct possibility.

But some community residents worry that the private operator will try to cash in on the public improvements at South Street by creating a condo or a hotel.That was clear at General Growthhs scheduled February 27 presentation to a Seaport subcommittee of Community Board 1.While presenting the many concepts currently under study, Pasquarelli and others found themselves defending their work to the often hostile crowd of more than 100 people.

Pasquarelliis presentation stressed Pier177s current disconnect from the street grid..You get to Fulton and Water [streets], and you cannt see the historic ships,, he said. The ideas he presented included restoring the rotting piers under the three idle Fish Market buildings and moving one, the 1907 Tin Building, to line up Beekman Street with waterfront access. But meeting attendees dwelled on a single slide that showed how shrinking the mallls footprint to create a slender tower would open more of the pier.Many charged that the operator secretly plans to sell condos without providing parks and schools. General Growth representative Michael McNaughton insisted that any redesign would enhance the community..This is the beginning of a process,, he said. Pasquarelli echoed this, saying that there were at least 25 plans under discussion, and many more months of design research.

Many groups want to influence the process: Preservationists want to refurbish the South Street Seaport Museum and its historic vessels.And the Drawing Center, which was originally slated for the cultural institution lineup at Ground Zero, is one of many nonprofit organizations that have expressed interest in using the site.

And New York City, as owner of the underlying piers,will scrutinize any decision on aesthetic and contextual grounds..The city would seek improved access to the waterfront and development that enhances the unique historic waterfront and important views,, said a city planning spokesperson. This means balancing residentss views with those available to visitors.

ALEC APPELBAUM

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LMDC's Legacy
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Courtesy WEISS / MANFREDI
Weiss/Manfrediis concept design for Park Row introduces a landscaped, terraced pedestrain connection to the elevated Police Plaza.

The mandate of the LMDC, formed by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11, was not only to oversee the rebuilding of the WTC site but to spearhead the comprehensive, integrated urban renewal of all of Lower Manhattan. To that end, it commissioned several major urban studies in areas below Canal Street by top-tier design firms, and encouraged them to truly think big-picture about rebuilding downtown. Weiss/ Manfredi, H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, Robert A. M. Stern, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson were all awarded contracts, amounting to over $2 million in fees, according to research compiled by AN at the time of these particular planss completion in 2004 (see World Trade Windfall,, AN 19_11.16.2004). When the LMDC announced last July that it would dissolve in the months to come, it maintained that its primary responsibilitiess selecting a masterplan and memorial design for the WTC site and allocating more than $2.78 billion in federal grants toward fostering business, residential, and cultural growth downtownnhad been fulfilled. Construction of the memorial and development of urban design guidelines for the site has been since delegated to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, but the fate of the urban studies the LMDC initiated has been more difficult to assess.

The LMDC was never intended to be the agency that implemented such plans. Moreover, there is never a guarantee that any commission will translate into a realized work. But the fact that so little has been publicly discussed with respect to urban design at the WTC site or its surrounding neighborhoods since 9/11 merits a closer look at these plans, and at how or whether the ideas they propose might be expressed in built form.

According to LMDC spokesperson John DeLibero, all of the above-mentioned plans have been transferred to the Department of City Planning (DCP). Rachaele Raynoff, DCP press secretary, confirmed that the DCP is in possession of them but could not specify how the plans are being prioritized. At present, the DCPPs biggest initiative in Lower Manhattan is the East River Waterfront Study by SHoP Architects and the Richard Rogers Partnership.

One piece of news that gives reason to be optimistic that the plans wonnt end up in a drawer is Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis announcement in May 2005 of a comprehensive allocation plann for the LMDCCs unspent $800 million. The plan earmarked $110 million to implement certain elements of the LMDCCs urban plans, including the studies conducted by Weiss/ Manfredi, H3, and Stern. For some of the designers, the announcement was the last concrete news they received regarding their projects.

Raynoff confirmed that the DCP, together with the Department of Transportation (DOT), is currently studying one aspect of Weiss/ Manfrediis larger plan, which looked at the area surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage (see A View from the Bridge,, AN 10_6.08.2005). The plan envisions connecting Chinatown to the seaport through streetscaping, and makes specific recommendations for reinvigorating the closed-off area under the Brooklyn Bridge and replacing the concrete retaining wall behind Police Plaza on Park Row with a grassy, stepped pedestrian path to connect the elevated plaza with the street.

After the architects presented the plan to the LMDC in 2005, the LMDC and other consulting city agencies focused on their recommendations for Park Row as a feasible project. Shortly after, as part of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis allocation plan, $32 million was granted to fund components of their study and a related Chinatown study, including Park Row. As of yet, however, the DCP and DOT have not announced any concrete plans or schedule for the project.


Courtesy H3 HARDY COLLABORATION ARCHITECTURE
H33s design for Greenwich Street South proposed roofing over the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to create a park along with new residential and commerical space.

Aspects of the Greenwich Street South Study, developed by a team of seven design and consulting firms headed by H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, also appear to have a promising future. This study proposes decking over the existing entry to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (owned by the MTA), which currently separates Battery Park City South from the financial district south of the WTC site. The plan suggests that the new surface area of the deck would create valuable buildable space in an area where opportunities for largescale development no longer exist. In that new space, it recommends the creation of a 2-acre park surrounded by residential and commercial developments, as well as a bus garage south of Morris Street that would decrease current street-level congestion and house buses that might be displaced by potential developments on the East River Waterfront and Pier 40.

At H33s last meeting with the LMDC in September, attending city officials agreed that if the engineering required to build the deck could be coordinated, the MTA would revisit the proposals. The DCP anticipates working with the Governor Eliot Spitzerrs administration to realize this plan. Though the prospects for the plan seem positive, principal designer Hugh Hardy still worried, With the fading of the LMDC, [the plan] doesnnt have a champion.. Senior associate John Fontillas added, The unfortunate thing is that [the LMDCCs former vice president of planning and development] Alex Garvin intended for all of these parts to knit together. With personnel changing, therees little institutional memory.. Though the designers have not received any updates on the status of the plan, it has been allotted $40 million under the 2005 Bloomberg-Pataki initiative.

By comparison, aspects of Sternns Fulton Street Revitalization seem to be moving forward. With $38 million (again, part of Bloomberg and Patakiis 2005 initiative) approved by the LMDC board of directors in February 2006, the parts of the plan that have been retained for implementation, according to the DCP, include: enhancing the 35,000-square-foot Titanic Memorial Park and Pearl Street Playground, both set for completion in 2008; improving retail, facades, and streetscape elements along Fulton toward the East River; and creating a new open space at corner of Fulton and Gold streets. It is difficult to know, however, how close these elements are to the original design recommendations of Stern and partner on the study, Gensler. A public presentation of the study in 2005 was cancelled at the last minute, and even then, the plan was reportedly only in draft form (see Fulton Street Plan Chugs Along,, AN 12_7.13.05). Moreover, both then and now, the designers have declined to comment, barred by the LMDC from speaking about the plan.


COURTESY SMITH-MILLER+HAWKINSON ARCHITECTS
Louise Nevelson Plaza is the result of a larger study by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects to identify open-space possibilities in the blocks east of the WTC site. View west toward William Street.

The most tangible results from any of the studies are from Smith-Miller + Hawkinsonns comprehensive urban study Strategic Open Space: Public Realm Improvement Strategy for Lower Manhattan. The study, which won a P/A Award in 2003, canvassed 500 acres of Lower Manhattan in the area roughly bound by Fulton, Church, and Water streets to identify possibilities for creating new public spaces and bolstering existing ones. One site, Louise Nevelson Plaza, a run-down traffic island at the corner of William and Liberty, stood out as a feasible location to move forward on right away. The architects worked with the LMDC and other consulting city agencies to draft construction documents, and had successfully gone through the majority of the approval process well before the LMDC began to phase out. Since the LMDCCs dissolution, the Department of Design and Construction has taken over execution of the project, and has folded it in among its general infrastructure improvements on Liberty Street.

The design for the plaza involves a series of changes meant to create, in principal Laurie Hawkinsonns words, a 24/7 open spacee in an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. The park will feature benches of cast glass, new lighting and planting, and seven restored Nevelson sculptures that the artist herself donated to the park in the 1970s. The project will break ground this summer, and is expected to be completed in 2009.

The LMDC has never been forthcoming about its undertakings, despite the fact that these compelling urban design studies are nothing to hide. Even now, no one from the LMDCC including Kevin Rampe, chair of the LMDC boarddwill comment on the planss respective fates. The arrival of Governor Spitzer, who has been critical of the way the LMDC has been operating, may bring a change in direction. A. J. Carter, spokesperson for Empire State Development Corporation, the LMDCCs parent body, offered, We are taking a fresh look at everything and re-evaluating whatts been done and what needs to be done as we get started with the [Spitzer] Administration..

SAMANTHA TOPOL IS AN EDITOR AT AN.

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Fragmentation and Absence at WTC

To date, the most realistic view of the future streetscape and urban environment of the WTC site is a drawing that Silverstein Properties released in late September (below) for the unveiling of the designs of Towers 2, 3, and 4 by Foster and Partners, Richard Rogers Partnership, and Maki and Associates, respectively. The site plan, credited to Fosterrs office, offers a dimensionality and level of detail that previous site plans offered by the LMDC do not. The irony of this situation becomes clear when you realize that the Foster-generated coordinating plan was not made by a public authority but by a private developer who is shaping one third of the original WTC sitees 16 acres. No such excellent, professional plan has been offered to the public by the public authorities that own and administer the land, and there has been no public discussion of urban design on or around the WTC site to date.

The Silverstein plan maps various vital open spaces and streetscapes, including the vast memorial (conceived by its designers as encompassing everything to the blockks curbline); the plaza areas around the Freedom Tower and 7WTC, the enigmatic Performing Arts Center, and WTC Transportation Hub; and the multi-level, glass-fronted commercial realms along Church and Greenwich streets, defined by the Silverstein towers.

Formal urban design guidelines, which until recently were expected to be released by the LMDC, would have formed these streetscapes. (Even as late as August 2006, LMDC board president Kevin Rampe was quoted in a New York Times article as saying that the agency would release guidelines in September.) Now the Port Authority is charged with the task of considering the voids between its real estate developments, voids that contain the civic life of the city. With so many of the sitees designs now in refinement phase, even the imminent release of commercial and urban design guideliness which the Port Authority promises to release in the coming monthss seems moot.

This sad situation might be contrasted with the more open process that accompanied the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, wherein vociferous critics challenged the developer, Forest City Ratner, leading to the projectts downsizing and improvements to Frank Gehryys design. No such democratic process has been applied to the WTC site since its inception nearly 40 years ago, when David Rockefeller, then the chair of Chase Manhattan Bank, influenced his brother Nelson, then state governor, to influence the Port Authority to create the corporate WTC complex. (David had something to gain: Chase had just built an expensive tower nearby and had a vested interest in the revitalization of the area.) The resulting WTC complex was recognized as an urban disaster long before it was destroyed on 9/11 with its vast, windswept podium and unremarkable, dull design.

Now we face a design disaster of a different order, with yet another dull tower looming over yet another roof-garden plaza. The title of Aradds memorial design, Reflecting Absence, states the current problem exactly: Absence of coordination now dominates all. There is no sense of a whole among the fragments, each of which will assert itself around the memorial. Each project stands on its own block, dealing with the landds slope toward the river with its own podium, stairs, and blank sidewalls.

Everything is subservient to the Twin Towerss absenceefrom the memorial design, with its landscaped terrace divided into small secure areas by the original towerss footprints, entry buildings, ramps, steps, benches, and side walls; to the surrounding towers that rise high from their sites, matching in volume the absent towers. The result is a disjointed streetscape that is only now being addressed as an afterthought by the Port Authority. We can only imagine what would have come from the site had it not been for the appealing distraction of Daniel Libeskindds original masterplan, with its sad central void and towering (though pointless) symbols.

D. GRAHAME SHANE IS AN URBAN HISTORIAN WHO TEACHES AT THE COOPER UNION AND CITY COLLEGE. HIS MOST RECENT BOOK IS RECOMBINANT URBANISM: CONCEPTUAL MODELING IN ARCHITECTURE, URBAN DESIGN AND CITY THEORY (JOHN WILEY & SONS, 2005).




The Silverstein-issued site plan, rendered
by Foster, shows the
WTC Memorial (H) surrounded by steps along West Street, Liberty Street, and
the southern part of Greenwich Street (I), with level access only
at the junction of Fulton and Greenwich (J), opposite the PATH Station/Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava

 



SOMMs drawings of the Freedom Tower (A) show its Fulton Street side as level with the street. Facing West Street, however, the site slopes gently upwards, with sets of stairs and terrace landings forming a triangular plaza (B). One drawing of the plaza also indicates a 6-foot-high wind break,, extending partially toward the plaza and raising the height of a retaining wallla
dead sheer walllthat appears to continue down Vesey Street (C). The tower neighbors Frank Gehryys Performing Arts Center (D), which the city has assumed responsibility for, but whose fate remains undetermined.

 




Though the entrance of Silversteinns 7WTC (E) by David Childs is transparent, art-enriched, and faces
a friendly plaza on Greenwich Street (F),
its Vesey, Barclay, and Washington elevations are featurelesss windowless and doorless facades that convey the deadly effect of fear on urban street life. The towerrs fortified base, housing several floors of Con Ed generators, is also a monument to our failure to learn from past mistakes, i.e., creating
a single transformer center (and easy target) instead of a system
of geographically dispersed transformer stations.

 




Silverstein and mall developer Westfield are locating two thirds of
the Foster towerrs (G) retail at or above grade, and one third below.
The tower is complex
in section because it contains trading floors on lower levels, with a hotel and offices above. The design takes into consideration the slope of the site, incorporating cascading steps into a multi-level lobby. With its prime location and more urban engagement, this building could easily upstage the Freedom Tower, making Patakiis tower entirely redundant.

 



The landscaped terrace of the WTC Memorial (H) is split into small secure areas by
the towerss old footprints/reflecting pools, entry building, ramps, steps, benches, and side walls that address the sitees slope. Itts plausible, too, that the memorial will have perimeter barriers for public safetyy (or to prevent spontaneous demonstrations). Animations on Silverstein Propertiess site (viewed in December 2006) pan across West Street to the base of the Freedom Tower and appear to show 10-foot-high security mesh fences in the park across from the base of the tower. It is difficult to read from Fosterrs site plan (at right), but lines appear to show fences parallel to West and Liberty as well, creating a penned-in area within the park. Meanwhile, the severely downsized Memorial entry pavilion and visitor center by Snnhetta (L) will no doubt be dwarfed by the surrounding towers and serves merely as a light cover and security gate to the underground realm of the memorial.

 



Grimshawws Fulton Street Transit Hub at Fulton and Broadway (not shown on the map) won a recent victory when the MTA agreed
to go ahead with the construction of a passage beneath
Dey Street, linking
to the Calatrava Transportation Hub (J), just one block west.

 


Calatravaas Transportation Hub (K) is a monument to
the power of the Port Authority, costing $2 billion to accommodate 33,000 commuters daily. Its vast scale is out
of proportion to its passenger flow (compare with the 500,000 commuters
who pass through Grand Central daily). The station also contains a part of the underground Westfield shopping mall, which will link to the adjacent Foster (G) and Rogers (M) towers, and an underground tourist bus parking garage. Tourists will pass through the underground mall to reach street level and then cross Greenwich Street to enter the memorial plaza.

 



Of the three tower designs Silverstein unveiled in late September, Richard Rogerss tower (M) was the least detailed. (All three teams are working to meet a March 1 deadline for schematic designs.) Rogerss crude, giant exterior trussessa signature that also appears in his design of the Silver Cup Studios in Long Island Cityywill loom above Calatravaas delicate and costly wings..

 



Makiis tower (N) has an enormous entry on its east side, facing Cooper Robertsonns Zuccotti Park (V).
The majority of the commuters who arrive at Calatravaas station and work in Wall Street will pass through the underground mall (which continues through the Rogers tower) and exit through Makiis portal. Inside, the retail space climbs 85 feet up on
the Church Street side
from the underground concourse and then crosses through the building to Greenwich Street, terminating in a restaurant overlooking the memorial.



Cooper Robertson, designers of Zuccotti Park (V), acknowledged the sitees natural downward slope and allowed the park to
drop diagonally from its Church Street corner toward Wall Street. If
the same idea had been applied to the memorial site, we might look forward to an incredible new civic space, wherein the natural slope creates a kind of open theater, allowing for performances or other free expressions.

 


The Department of Transportation (DOT) website shows that the PA will build a plenum under the recently reconstructed West Street to serve the PATH tunnels below, disrupting the street for the next three years. When completed, vent stacks will protrude from the sidewalk in front of the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (O) and the traffic median (P). The DOT drawings also show a Proposed Pedestrian Concoursee connecting the underground shopping mall under Fulton Street via a bank of escalators (Q) that ascend to the Winter Garden.
 



Though the block below Liberty Street, between West and Greenwich, was originally designated to be Liberty Park, the park has been relegated to the northwest corner of the site (R). The rest of site is destined to be occupied by a sloping entry/exit ramp (S) leading to the belowground Port Authority Vehicular Security Center, which will house service areas for the memorial and route trucks and buses beneath the Greenwich Street towers to a parking lot beneath the Calatrava station. The site will be punctuated by 40-foot-high vents (T) for the underground security center. The site will also house Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (U), which was on the southwestern portion of the WTC site but was destroyed on 9/11. The new church (whose design has not yet been approved by the Port Authority) will be wrapped in diesel exhaust as it is placed between the ramp and another 40-foot-tall exhaust vent at Liberty and Greenwich.



The DOT Environmental Impact Study (EIS) by Eng-Wong, Taub & Associates (posted on the Port Authorityys website) reveals that, in 2015, 100 percent of the tourist buses heading toward the Vehicular Security Center on Liberty Street (entrance ramp, S) will go down Greenwich Street, past the memorial. The study also reveals that 100 percent of the buses exiting the center will go up Church Street and 90 percent will turn left at Fulton Street, spewing their exhaust and noise beside the memorial on their way to West Street.

 

 

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Progress at Ground Zero

Five and a half years after 9/11, the WTC site and its surrounding streets are rumbling nonstop, with armies of workers laboring to finish site preparation and complex below-grade work. It will be more than a year before most of the key projects begin rising above grade. While the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, MTA, NYC Department ofTransportation, and private interests such as Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties coordinate underground work involving tunneling, linking pedestrian passageways, and threading utilities through the catacombs beneath the site and the cityys streets, the architects behind the iconic projects continue to refine their designs.

The process of design development and establishing construction schedules seems much clearer now that the LMDC is essentially out of the picture and the Port Authority has assumed control of the major WTC construction projectssa role it announced it would take last June and that was finalized on December 14. The Port Authority is overseeing the construction of the Memorial and Memorial Museum, the Freedom Tower, and the Transportation Hub. The agency is also producing Commercial Design Guidelines for private developments around the site, which should be released in the next few months. These guidelinesswhich are being produced with the help of Studio Daniel Libeskind and can be seen as a continuation of his work on the WTC Master Plannwill address issues such as massing, building heights, and street interface for commercial developments. The Port Authority is also in the process of contracting a consultant for streetscape design, following an RFP issued in December. The timing for these initiatives seems belated, given that the designs of the areaas most notable projectssincluding Silversteinns towers by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Makii are well underway. With most of the projects looking at completion dates well beyond 2009, however, hopefully latee will prove better than never..

CATHY LANG HO




WTC Memorial




Courtesy WTC Memorial Foundation

The WTC Memorialls beleaguered design process is close to clearing another obstacle: resolving the treatment of victimss names. In Michael Aradds original design, the victimss names were randomly arranged in a ribbon surrounding the twin pools, viewed from contemplative below-ground galleries that encircled the pools. Following Frank Sciamees June 2006 cost-saving recommendations that eliminated underground components of the memorial, designers were asked to propose ways of integrating the names with the above-ground pools. Another new design requirement, which was ratified by the WTC Memorial Foundation in early December, is the grouping of victimss names according to where and with whom they might have been during the attack.

The designers are now exploring ways of integrating the names with the parapet surrounding the twin pools. Weere concerned with how to treat [the parapet] as not just a utilitarian object but as a contemplative one,,said Arad. Weere thinking about how a visitor approaches the edge of an enormous void, and how we can create an area of quiet reflection around it.. While he couldnnt offer specifics, Arad pointed out his desire for a parapet height that induces visitors to bow their heads, and a treatment of the inscriptions that allows visitors direct contact with names while discouraging behavior that might undermine the sacredness of the space.

With the memorial raised to the plaza level, consulting landscape architect Peter Walker has been called upon to revise his park design..Now therees pressure on the areas around the pool to have a more spiritual quality,, he said. Hees reexamining the space behind the parapets, considering densifying the canopy of trees or other measures that will give people a greater sense of a private space,, he said.

Walker is also studying the northeast corner of the plaza. The original design of the cultural center [by Snnhetta] provided an archway, which acted as a natural gateway into the park,, said Walker. Now the plaza itself must serve as a gateway, and our dilemma is how to create a meaningful sequence into a space thatts hallowed and quiet..

The Port Authority and Memorial Foundation expect to have design options for these memorial elements in the first quarter of this year. Also expected to be unveiled in the coming months is a revised design of the much smaller Snnhetta facility, which will now function only as the Memorial Museum and visitors center.



WTC Transportation Hub


Courtesy Port Authority

When Santiago Calatrava unveiled his design of the birdlike Transportation Hub in January 2004, the $2.2 billion project was heralded as an optimistic symbol for the rebirth of the WTC site. Located kitty-corner to the memorial plaza, the sculptural building has taken on new importance since the Snnhetta project was reprogrammed and no longer spans the northeast corner of the memorial plaza, anticipated to be the memorialls busiest entrance point.

This change in plans opens the station to more space and sky, but has also presented a new dilemma: The northeast corner of the plaza will now serve as the prime gateway to the memorial, and must be designed to convey a dignified approach. The problem is, the plaza is also the roof of the underground stationns mezzanine area, which Calatrava designed to be lit with skylights. At present, he and landscape architect Peter Walker are working intently on a solution that will preserve the capacity for light to descend into the mezzanine while also ensuring that the space shapes an appropriate procession to the memorial itself. The Port Authority anticipates that design options will be presented in the next few months.

Meanwhile, this month construction crews began work on a pedestrian concourse that will link the hub to the Winter Garden across West Street.



Freedom Tower




Couretsy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The Freedom Tower has been a magnet for skepticism, since its first vague envisioning by masterplanner Daniel Libeskind as a soaring symbol for freedom, through its bumpy process, which included a complete design overhaul in 2005 due to 11th-hour security concerns raised by the New York Police Department. Many still question whether or not the project, by David Childs of SOM, will really materialize, with detractors persistently vocalizing alternative plans for the site. (As recently as January 18, at a Downtown Alliance event, Rafael Viioly issued a call to scrap the tower and divert its funding subsidies to the WTC Memorial, which is still shy of its fundraising goals, and cultural facilities, which have all but disappeared from the site.)

Itts time for skeptics to put away their doubts. The 82- story, 2.6-million-squarefoot tower is indeed rising: Foundation work is essentially complete and on December 19, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg showed up to watch the first three 25-ton steel columns installed on the site. Theyyre the first of 27 extra-large steel columns that will line the perimeter of the tower base, to be in place by May. By the end of the year, more columns will brace the lower level and a second tier will bring steelwork to grade.

Of course, design goes on until the last day because field conditions change,, said Childs, but basically the building will look like how we showed it in June.. At that time, the designers revealed that the 186-foot-tall, 200-by- 200-foot base would be clad in 13-foot-tall glass prisms. I wanted to make sure the facade would be as lively as possible,, he explained. At present, the designers are working with three different glass manufacturers to test a range of options. The glass might be cast, or rolled, or milled,, he said. We want an interesting texture and a reflectivity that will cast a multicolored spectrum of light..

Childs has brought on top collaborators, including Washington, D.C..based lighting designer Claude Engel, who worked with Norman Foster on the Reichstag project, and New Yorkkbased sculptor Kenneth Snelson, an innovator in tensegrity structures, who will advise on the design of the towerrs broadcast antenna. (The Port Authority is in the midst of negotiations with the Metropolitan Television Alliance over the antenna.) Childs is also working closely with landscape architect PeterWalker on the design of the towerrs surrounding grounds (terraced plaza at Vesey and West streets, pictured). The choice of Walker, who is also working on the memorial, was especially sensitive given that itts been left to individual designers to addresshoweach project relates to one another.



Fulton Street Transit Center


Courtesy Grimshaw Architects

As recently reported by William Neuman and David Dunlap in The New York Times ((Planners Clash Over Transit Hub, and Riders Win,, January 8, 2007), the Fulton Street Transit Center has overcome its latest hurdle, with theMTAagreeing to fund the difference between the $847 million in federal funds committed to the project and the current estimated cost of $888million.The funds secure the future of a passageway beneath Dey Street, leading to the WTC Transportation Hub one block west.

The project, which will serve as a headhouse for a multitude of linessthe A, C, E, J,M,Z, R,W, 2, 3, 4, and 55 has had its share of hairy moments since it was commissioned to Grimshaw Architects in 2003. The initial design, a bulbous, glasssheathed steel cone, unveiled in May 2004 and budgeted at $750 million, had to be modified one year later due to budget problems: To build the center, the MTA had to acquire all the real estate on Broadway between Fulton and John streets, and no one anticipated real estate prices would skyrocket as they did.


Courtesy Grimshaw Architects


Courtesy Grimshaw Architects

In spring 2006, the architects offered a scaled-back design that included the elimination of a sub-basement, the relocation of MTA offices to a ring around the domed atriummoccupying what principal Vincent Chang described as found spacee?and a reconceived dome. It was a different program, so we had to design a different building,, said Chang. Importantly, the new design preserves the architectss essential concepts: providing a strong civic icon as a response to the previously hidden, building-embedded subway entrances scattered in the area; bringing natural light and some of New Yorkks vibrant street quality to the stationns subterranean depths; and clarifying views within the station to aid in wayfinding. Performance and light were the conceptual drivers,, said Chang, explaining how their terms of analysis applied equally well to the new design. For the dome, which is not only slightly shorter but has lost its outward bulge, designers have decided on an elegant diamond cable-net (left, below) suspended from a steel ring that will form an oculus, outfitted with glass blades that will filter incoming light (left, above). From the projectts outset, the firm, in collaboration with James Carpenter, has been conducting extensive studies to predict the angle and nature of lightts reflection inside the cone and how it is redirected to the spaces below.

The team is still finalizing the design of the facade of the rectangular glass pavilion, following requests last August from the NYPD for a more beefed-up perimeter to withstand blasts. (Chang assured that the amount of glass and transparency would remain the same.) Construction drawings will be finished in March, and a completion date is set for 2009.


Courtesy Grimshaw Architects

Eavesdrop: Alexander Gorlin

I was advised to find a pseudonym before writing Eavesdrop, and looked to the example of Charles Edouard Jeanneretts fabulously successful Le Corbusier or even Maria Louise Ciccone>s Madonna as the paragon of simplicity. Alas, my own name will have to suffice. With that said, letts hope the arcane world of architectural gossip, perhaps of interest only to a few, even in our own community, serves the purpose not only to bind our group together but also to humanize the increasingly faceless world of global architecture.

Now, down to business: To recap Art Basel, the international art fair held in Miami Beach in early December, a number of New York architects were found Jet Blueing south, including Robert Stern, Walter Chatham, Gisue and Mojgan Hariri, Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio, Peter Marino, Lee Mindel, and Joseph Giovanni. Also seen were the Rizzoli honchos, the legendary editor David Morton and chief publisher Charles Miers, to lead the charge against their nemesis, Taschen, omnipresent at the art fair. Zaha Hadid was ensconced at the Setai Hotel, in town to unveil a new furniture design for Established & Sons. Greg Lynn was on the same mission, and was seen during the weekend partying solo (sans wife Sylvia Lavin) at the Raleigh and the Surface magazine party on the rooftop of the Townhouse on the Beach.

Heard at the fair that Ole Bouman, formely editor of the Dutch magazine Archis, was taking the position that Aaron Betsky, new director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, abdicated at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). Betsky appeared at the glamorous party sponsored by the Dutch Consulate, hosted by Robert Kloos and Jeanne Wikler, in honor of Li Eidelkoort, head of the famous Eindhoven Design Academy. The party was held at the apartment of yours truly, at Aqua, high above Indian Creek on the Beach.

Among the many exhibitions during the Art Fair, one of the most smashing was French Modern Sources, an exhibition organized by the Georges Pompidou Art & Culture Foundation. Magnificent examples of original furniture by Chareau, Jean Prouvv, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Le Corbusier as well as the original model of Rem Koolhaas> house in Bordeaux were displayed. Incidentally, Robert Rubin, who last year bought the extraordinary Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet, has revived the foundation, which was founded by Dominique de Menil but languished after her death. He donated to the foundation the prefabricated Maison Tropicale by Prouvv, which he rescued from Brazzaville, Congo, in 1997. The structure will be installed on the fifth-floor terrace of the Pompidou later this month.

Also in Miami, albeit weeks after the fair was over, I had dinner with Michael Graves and Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk at Yuca, a Cubanesque restaurant. Michael was zipping along Collins Avenue in his motorized wheelchair and can be happily reported to be in good spirits, clearly using his hands without problem.

Closer to home (well, at least this writerrs home) is the cacophonous, daily, insistent pile-driving of Donald Trump>s 45-story SoHo projecttdespised by all, except perhaps its architect Gary Handel. Both of our offices overlook the site: For Gary the noise must be music to his ears. Meanwhile, we have powerful telescopes trained on the excavation, hoping to discover Native American bones to shut down the site permanently. Unfortunately, the discovery of remains of Episcopalians only delayed construction for a few days.

Send observations, tips, suggestions (no matter how banal), et cetera, to EDITOR@ARCHPAPER.COM

Eavesdrop


I was advised to find a pseudonym before writing Eavesdrop, and looked to the example of Charles Edouard Jeanneret’s fabulously successful Le Corbusier or even Maria Louise Ciccone’s Madonna as the paragon of simplicity. Alas, my own name will have to suffice. With that said, let’s hope the arcane world of architectural gossip, perhaps of interest only to a few, even in our own community, serves the purpose not only to bind our group together but also to humanize the increasingly faceless world of global architecture.

Now, down to business: To recap Art Basel, the international art fair held in Miami Beach in early December, a number of New York architects were found Jet Blueing south, including Robert Stern, Walter Chatham, Gisue and Mojgan Hariri, Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio, Peter Marino, Lee Mindel, and Joseph Giovanni. Also seen were the Rizzoli honchos, the legendary editor David Morton and chief publisher Charles Miers, to lead the charge against their nemesis, Taschen, omnipresent at the art fair. Zaha Hadid was ensconced at the Setai Hotel, in town to unveil a new furniture design for Established & Sons. Greg Lynn was on the same mission, and was seen during the weekend partying solo (sans wife Sylvia Lavin) at the Raleigh and the Surface magazine party on the rooftop of the Townhouse on the Beach.

Heard at the fair that Ole Bouman, formely editor of the Dutch magazine Archis, was taking the position that Aaron Betsky, new director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, abdicated at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). Betsky appeared at the glamorous party sponsored by the Dutch Consulate, hosted by Robert Kloos and Jeanne Wikler, in honor of Li Eidelkoort, head of the famous Eindhoven Design Academy. The party was held at the apartment of yours truly, at Aqua, high above Indian Creek on the Beach.

Among the many exhibitions during the Art Fair, one of the most smashing was French Modern Sources, an exhibition organized by the Georges Pompidou Art & Culture Foundation. Magnificent examples of original furniture by Chareau, Jean Prouvé, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Le Corbusier as well as the original model of Rem Koolhaas’ house in Bordeaux were displayed. Incidentally, Robert Rubin, who last year bought the extraordinary Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet, has revived the foundation, which was founded by Dominique de Menil but languished after her death. He donated to the foundation the prefabricated Maison Tropicale by Prouvé, which he rescued from Brazzaville, Congo, in 1997. The structure will be installed on the fifth-floor terrace of the Pompidou later this month.

Also in Miami, albeit weeks after the fair was over, I had dinner with Michael Graves and Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk at Yuca, a Cubanesque restaurant. Michael was zipping along Collins Avenue in his motorized wheelchair and can be happily reported to be in good spirits, clearly using his hands without problem.

Closer to home (well, at least this writer’s home) is the cacophonous, daily, insistent pile-driving of Donald Trump’s 45-story SoHo project—despised by all, except perhaps its architect Gary Handel. Both of our offices overlook the site: For Gary the noise must be music to his ears. Meanwhile, we have powerful telescopes trained on the excavation, hoping to discover Native American bones to shut down the site permanently. Unfortunately, the discovery of remains of Episcopalians only delayed construction for a few days.

Send observations, tips, suggestions (no matter how banal), et cetera, to EDITOR@ARCHPAPER.COM

Last But Not Least


Mechanical engineering has come a long way since the end of the 18th century when industrialization introduced new building technologies and construction methods. Heating and ventilation became part of everyday building, but mechanical services were still seen as subservient to style and structure in architecture. Consequently, mechanical engineering remained somewhat behind the progress of architectural thought, and MEs were last to join the design team.

Modernists changed this by declaring the new era of stylelesss architecture, and establishing a relationship between the aesthetic and the technical. Some architects searched for ways to give aesthetic expression to mechanical systemssmost notably Le Corbusier, who sculpturally exposed the roof ducts in the Unitt ddHabitation in Marseilles. Today, the way mechanical engineering affects the representational aspect of architecture varies from building to building, of course. But growing interest in sustainable designnwith many concepts derived from mechanical engineeringghas made the close collaboration between architects and mechanical engineers essential.

In fact, for some projects, it seems that mechanical engineering technologies have become equal in importance to a projectts structural aspects, challenging the priorities of conventional architectural process. It has become more important to collaborate with mechanical engineers as early as possible in the design process,, said Robert Fox, a principal at Cook + Fox Architects, acknowledging the potential of MEs to strongly influence the design of a building..

On a high-performance and highly intensive infrastructure building such as One Bryant Park, the mechanical engineerrs role is absolutely critical to the success of the project,, agreed Serge Appel, a senior associate at Cook + Fox and project director for One Bryant Park. I cannt imagine a well-designed, high-performance building whose overall composition hasnnt been impacted by the mechanical criteria.. For example, for One Bryant Park, a 54-floor skyscraper thatts aiming for a LEED Platinum rating, the architects took the input of their MEs from Jaros Baum & Bolles (JB&B) early enough to be convinced of the value of an underfloor air systemma decision that, in turn, raised floor heights and provided opportunities for more flexible floorplans, affecting the way the architects planned interiors.

Contemporary mechanical systems do impact the design of the buildinggnot necessarily how the building looks on the outside, but definitely its efficiency and its structural system,, explained David Cooper, managing director of Flack & Kurtz. MEs can help optimize all the functions of the building, if the collaboration with designers and other consultants starts early enough.. He cited the New York Times tower, which his firm worked on with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and FXFowle Architects, as a great example of truly integrated space, where architecture, structural, and mechanical engineering become one.. For example, together with structural engineers from Thornton-Tomasetti, Flack & Kurtz helped architects develop a double-glazed curtain wall that ties into the buildinggs HVAC system. Air circulates between the layers of glazing, a cavity that also contains motorized shades.

In a complex case like the New York Times tower, building information modeling is designed to bring this sort of dialogue to a new level. For Daniel Libeskindds Denver Art Museum, the extreme geometries made the full integration of mechanical and structural systems essential. By importing plans into a 3D structural model, Ove Arupps team from its Los Angeles office could successfully accommodate the complex blend of the buildinggs mechanical and structural elements. The improved communication that comes with information management systems like BIM can significantly reduce the number of requests of information (RFIs) between the design team and the contractors, and in some cases allows direct constructability, bypassing 2D drawings altogether.

Another important development has been the extent to which mechanical engineers are engaging in computer simulations that allow them to test a buildinggs performance. Itts expensive to build mock-ups, so when we create complex spaces, computer simulations are extremely helpful,, said Cooper of Flack & Kurtz. For example, for his firmms work on the Hearst Tower, they used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to analyze indoor airflow, which they knew would be affected by the irregular angles of the structure.

The future of design seems to be closely linked to BIM. Murat Karakas, a mechanical engineer at Arup who worked on the Denver Art Museum, certainly thinks so. We see a lot of potential not currently in place,, he said, suggesting that in future, the BIM model could serve as a user manual for building owners, So if a part fails ten years down the road, they will be able pinpoint the problem,, he said.

While the improved integration of efficient mechanical systems is by no means dependent on 3D modeling technology, it can definitely ease the process. With 3D modeling, you get a better set of tinker toys,, said Lenny Zimmerman, another Flack & Kurtz mechanical engineer. Now, you donnt just draw what you are going to builddyou actually build it..

Masha Panteleyeva studied architecture at the cooper union and is an editorial intern at AN.

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Growing a Green Building Market

A cornerstone of sustainable building is buying local: Sourcing products and materials from local manufacturers both conserves fossil fuel energy that is expended to transport of a product
and supports the regional economy. The New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), a not-for-profit founded in 1997, supports this sustainable strategy by helping to strengthen the local manufacturing economy. NYIRN has developed a free
online business-to-business network (www.madeinnyc.org) to
help connect them to architects, designers, and builders.
Furthermore, NYIRN encourages its network of nearly 4,000 industrial businesses to stay competitive by developing
sustainable products and practices.

The city has thrown its support behind their efforts: In 2005,
City Council awarded NYIRN, with the Industrial & Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC), an economic development nonprofit also devoted to retaining jobs for New Yorkers, a
$75,000 grant. NYIRN also administers a City Councill funded program, the North Brooklyn Energy Grant, and recently allotted $50,000 toward Brooklyn-based Colonial Glasss purchase a cogeneration plant, which would remove its operations from the power grid.

While there is still no widely adopted standard about what exactly
a green manufacturer is, NYIRN director of business services Tanu Kumar acknowledged that at least 30 businesses within its network are fully committed to the cause of sustainability. Among them: Mercury Paint in Brooklyn, which makes non-toxic, non-VOC paint and varnishes; DFB Sales in Long Island City, a manufacturer of solar shades and environmentally sensitive window treatments; and Green Depot in Brooklyn, a supplier of green building materials ranging from recycled denim insulation to bamboo flooring. Herees a closer look at a some of the suppliers in the network:




Globus Cork
www.globuscork.com


Corkkwhich is actually the bark of a cork treeeis a rapidly renewable resource, and does not endanger the tree when it
is harvested. Of a growing number of cork distributors in the
United States, Globus Cork is one of the few that imports raw material and does manufacturing on site. The material used for
the companyys glue-down and snap-lock tiles is an industrial
byproduct from the wine and other cork-stop industries. It can be dyed to resemble stone or wood, and muffles sounds. It also adds cushion to hard surfaces, making it ideal for environments like
retail or banks where people spend a lot of time standing. Cork maintains a median temperature around 60 degrees, so it can
be applied on a heat-absorbing surface like cement for insulation, reducing energy costs. Globus also uses all water-based stains and adhesives, so its products do not produce harmful off-gases.




IceStone
www.icestone.biz


Based in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, IceStone offers hard surfaces made from 100 percent recycled glass that can be used as flooring, countertops, or even wall cladding. Cook + Fox used the product, which comes in 24 colors, in its own sustainably designed office and has specified it for the bathroom counters in One Bryant Parkkthe largest order Icestone has had to date. Currently, the glass used by IceStone is brought in from out of state because New York does not sort and crush glass by color, as most other cities do. This will change, however: On July 21, City Council approved an initiative to build a glass recycling plant in Red
Hook. Our ultimate goal is to have no waste,, said IceStone spokesperson Ilya Perchikovsky. It would be ideal for us barge over glass from Red Hook, which would be more sustainable
all around..





Bettencourt Green Building Supplies
www.bettencourtwood.com


Williamsburg-based Bettencourt Green Building Suppliesss main inventory is a variety of reclaimed and recycled wood products
for flooring and construction. The company carries well-known products like Plyboo (plywood bamboo), as well as lesser-known sustainable alternatives such as Kirei board, an MDF-like sorghum grass composite made from the agricultural byproduct of sorghum harvests, and Dakota Burl, a sunflower-seed hull composite that looks like burled wood. Co-founder Bart Bettencourt has also started a furniture design business called Scrapile, which reuses locally reclaimed woods.

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Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.


Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.
Whitney now eyeing Meatpacking District site 


Dia's now-defunct design by SOM 
COURTESY SOM 

When the Dia Art Foundation’s galleries at 548 West 22 Street closed in January 2004, it left a temporary void in New York’s cultural landscape, filled later that year with the promise of a new location connected to the proposed High Line Park. But on October 24, as reported in the New York Times, Kate Levin, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) received a letter from Dia’s new board chair, Nathalie de Gunzburg, announcing that the institution would not occupy the city-owned building at 820 Washington Street as intended. The announcement was followed by the surprising news that the Whitney Museum of American Art is considering the site as an alternative to expanding its Marcel Breuer–designed home on Madison Avenue.

The Dia’s Gansevoort proposal matched the pioneering spirit the foundation embodied. Just as the museum settled in the then-burgeoning West Chelsea area in 1987, spurring its rise as an arts district, Dia would have created a stronghold for art in the transitioning Meatpacking District, and become a crucial part in the transformation of the High Line from an aging elevated railway into a dramatically landscaped public space.

In February of this year, Dia’s director Michael Govan was hired away after a 12-year tenure to become director and CEO of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Shortly thereafter, Leonardo Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, stepped down from Dia’s board after serving for eight years, thrusting the institution into a state of instability as both men were key leaders in Dia’s growth.

Sources close to the situation suggest that between time pressure from the city, which aims to open the building by 2009, and the Whitney Museum’s expressed interest in the location as an alternative to their much-contested uptown expansion plans, Dia was forced to make a decision before they had a new director in place. Laura Raicovich, Dia’s deputy director, conceded that timing was a factor. She stated that going forward with the Meatpacking District plan did not make sense until the foundation had a director in place and the “New York City program is developed.” 

While construction on the Meatpacking site had yet to begin, Dia had been working with Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the design of the 92,600-square-foot location. “It would have been a perfect project for the city,” Duffy said. “We worked closely with Ricardo Scofidio and James Corner [the masterplanners of the High Line] to make sure that the projects would interface well. I am a huge fan of Dia, and anyone who thinks highly of them is disappointed by the news.

“The site wasn’t entirely easy,” he continued. “There are meat lockers close by, and the maintenance and administration areas for the High Line—and public bathrooms—had to be in the building. But we managed an elegant solution. Maybe a wiser person would have seen the writing on the wall when Michael left.” 

Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, maintains that despite Dia’s decision, the emphasis of the High Line continues to be on its cultural and artistic value, but added, “That site is unusual because it’s owned by the city of New York, so the city has the ability to shape how it is used.”

Despite the disappointment, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden seemed sure that another cultural institution will take over the space. “A cultural use at 820 Washington is ideal for the southern terminus and principal entry to the High Line. The city will be actively seeking another cultural use,” Burden wrote by email.

Whitney spokesperson Jan Rothschild declined to comment about the museum’s intentions at 820 Washington Street other than to reiterate that the Whitney is “keeping its expansion options open.” But, she added, “No matter what we do, we are committed to working with Renzo Piano, and he is committed to us.” In an interview with Newsweek on November 2, Piano said that in September the museum asked him to consider the notion of designing a new building on a downtown site, and brought him to 820 Washington Street.

The Whitney’s attempts to expand its facilities spans 20 years, during which time it has hired and fired two architects—Michael Graves in 1985 and Rem Koolhaas in 2003—before hiring Renzo Piano to draw up plans in 2005. Piano’s initial plan met with stiff resistance from the community and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) but ultimately won all the necessary approvals and was granted several zoning variances in July from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals. A new hurdle took shape when a coalition of Upper East Side neighbors filled suit against the museum in late August to contest the variances.

Meanwhile, Dia remains committed to finding another location in New York. “The Gansevoort site is a great location, but New York has other great locations,” Raicovich said. “Dia’s top priority is looking for the site that will best accommodate its programs.”