Search results for "432 Park Avenue"

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432 Park

The highest completed penthouse in New York City is also one of the most beautiful
New York-based designer Kelly Behun has completed a half-floor penthouse at Rafael Vinoly’s 432 Park Avenue. Co-developed by CIM Group and Macklowe Properties, the 3,977-square-foot model penthouse is located on the 92nd floor of the 96-story, 1,396-foot-tall residential building, which is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. Priced at $39.75 million, the penthouse sits at 1,224 feet in elevation and faces south with views of nearly every New York City landmark including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan skyline, and New York Harbor out to the Atlantic Ocean.

@kellybehunstudio perfection on the 92nd floor

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Asymmetrical design pieces respond to the building’s signature 10-foot by 10-foot square windows and iconic white grid. “My goal was to create a timelessly elegant space that feels warm and comfortable. My favorite aspect of the apartment has to be the views through those oversize windows,” said Behun. “To have all of Manhattan unfurl below you in this way is nothing short of extraordinary, and nothing I would do inside could ever upstage that, so I just sought to create a warm embrace from which to enjoy it.” The penthouse has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a powder room, library, gas and wood-burning fireplace, laundry room, service entrance separate from the elevator landing, and formal entrance gallery.
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Mastering the Metropolis

Two new exhibitions at MCNY dive into the soul of New York
Two new exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) excavate the past and future of New York with a historian's eye for patterns and an urbanist's love of variety. The permanent exhibition, which tries to present New York's entire 400-year history, adheres to the platonic ideal of the 19th-century museum with forward-thinking updates that open up the urban encyclopedia for perspectives on the city of the future. New York at Its Core occupies three galleries—the whole first floor—divided chronologically and organized around the themes of money, density, diversity, and creativity to reveal the city's essential qualities and explain its changes. Although featured artifacts anchor the historical galleries—Port City, 1609-1898 and World City, 1898-2012—the exhibition, part of MCNY's ten-year, $100 million renovation, is a multimedia bonanza that uses digital representation to both immerse visitors in the past and visualize the Gotham to come. Your correspondent is wall text's #1 fan and one of the world's slowest museum-goers. Via immersive visuals like a colorized floor-to-ceiling projection of Mulberry Street around 1900 and touch-screen "learn more" graphics that highlight New Yorkers famous and obscure, Port City and World City gratify a pendant's desire to learn as much as possible about New York's development, but the cheerfully packed graphics and 400-plus artifacts will provide a quick review for the less patient. The exhibition was designed by New York–based Studio Joseph while Local Projects executed the media and playful UX design. Pentagram was responsible for the graphic design throughout. A spatial thread, Mapping New York, links changes in the city's land use to cultural and political changes through the three galleries. That element gets its biggest expression in the third and thrilling Future City Lab, a suite of interactive virtual-reality installations that open up questions around the challenges of an ever-growing city. Facing the entrance, the digital map overlays almost 100 maps to document the present and peer into the future (up until 2050). "Our philosophy past and present is that New Yorkers' actions shape the city," said Jake Barton, founding principal of Local Projects. Actions on a screen count, too: Visitors are invited to explore the intersectional problems of housing, transportation, outdoor space, living together, and getting by in New York through SimCity-like games that amuse and edify. In the housing section, visitors can construct an apartment building from one of the five boroughs to create a structure based on context, budget impact, and sustainability—the very real factors architects and developers consider when building in the city. Your corresponded saw a visitor create an eight-story Morris Adjmi–esque condo in East Harlem with large units, subtract volume to make a ziggurat, add trees to the terraces, and put a seniors' disco (programming) all along the third floor. Aside from housing, the outdoorsy can redesign a street or create a park. This reporter made a Manhattan waterfront recreation area that scored major points on biodiversity and flood mitigation for its oyster beds and native grasses, but went over-budget with a floating pool, public art, windmills, and a skatepark. A video of the final product (below) is projected onto a wall-sized screen in the museum for all to admire or make fun of: Each of the five themes is complemented by street photography from Joseph Michael Lopez. For metadata nerds who desire transparency, the curators set up the Data Nook, a cozy display that offers insight into how and why the exhibition's statistics were chosen and represented. After the joy of the lab, it would be a mistake to stop exploring. Upstairs, a second and thematically compatible exhibition, Mastering the Metropolis: New York City and Zoning, 1916-2016, delves into the city's zoning code on its centennial. The show injects brio and vitality into the rules—which, in today's iteration, fill three thick binders—that both govern building in New York and shed light on how ideas for the "ideal metropolis" have evolved. New York is New York because of tightly packed millions that generate wealth and art as well as explosive tensions over light and air that major code revisions in 1961 and this year have addressed. New York–based Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) built models that visualize urban planners' favorite acronym, Floor-Area Ratio (FAR), and show how the FAR allowance from nine lots, for example, was used to assemble air rights for Rafael Viñoly's cloudbusting 432 Park Avenue. while the exhibition explains a just-added suite of requirements on height and setbacks, plus affordable the new housing legislation.
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Total Basket Base

New renderings revealed for CetraRuddy’s basket-inspired Manhattan tower
New renderings confirm that CetraRuddy's new tower, at the border of Manhattan's Upper East Side and Midtown East, is a total basket case. The images of 200 East 59th Street released in November featured the latticed main entrance, and the wraparound roof decks with spiral staircases, but these are the first images to depict the full tower. 200 East 59th Street is developed by Macklowe Properties, the same entity behind Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue, but this tower is downright diminutive compared to its nearby cousin. It's set to rise 490 feet (35 stories), with 67 units over 99,848 square feet, YIMBY reports. The ceilings will be 14 feet tall, on average, although renderings seem to show the ceilings becoming progressively higher as the floors rise. The base of the tower will host almost 15,000 square feet of retail, and is clad in a shiny facade that takes inspiration from a woven basket. The ground floor looks awfully similar to Shigeru Ban Architects' Aspen Art Museum, a contemporary art space for the ritzy Colorado ski town that was completed in 2014 (and reviewed by AN here). The woven wood panel facade encircles 33,000 square feet of galleries; art sits cozily inside like a hatchlings in an artificial nest. The video below gives a full tour of the museum, for further comparison: https://vimeo.com/165649176 But, since CetraRuddy is a homegrown firm, maybe the luxury tower's true inspiration was the "Big Basket" out in Newark, Ohio that's now threatened with demolition? Regardless of inspiration, CetraRuddy's new Manhattan structure will cost approximately $278 million to build (think of how many crafty woven baskets you could buy for that!). Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
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Ridge Flats

Morris Adjmi- and Onion Flats-designed Philadelphia development one step closer to realization
A mixed-use complex designed by New York-based Morris Adjmi, in collaboration with Philadelphia-based practice Onion Flats Architecture, was widely praised at a monthly Civic Design Review (CDR) in Philadelphia. Located on 4300-4326 Ridge Avenue in the East Falls neighborhood, the scheme required CDR approval due to it encompassing more than 100,000 square feet of gross floor area, and more than 100 new dwelling units. Known as "Ridge Flats," the project has been in the works since at least 2011 when the proposal, then originally just by local practice Onion Flats was given the go ahead by authorities. The complex was due to be built by 2014, but three years ago the CDR committee advised altering the building's primary access point. "By virtue of that we had to redesign it entirely because of the way it affected parking," said David Grosso of Grasso Holdings, the developer behind the project. Since then Morris Adjmi has has stepped in and plans have been drastically changed to offer a staggered facade and a much larger courtyard. The scheme will be built on a 1.7-acre plot and offer 206 residential units—up from the originally planned 147. A fifth of these will come already furnished meanwhile plans also include 20,188 square feet of commercial space, a rooftop pool area, and a garage that will hold 194 parking spaces. Totaling 236,084-square-feet, the scheme retreats from Kelly Drive and is orientated southward toward the Schuylkill River. A green wall will be located on this side of the building and is set to a host living art installation as per the Percent for Art Program. After enjoying success at the CDR, plans will now go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the City Planning Commission. Despite the praise offered, however, the CDR did make some suggestions. Nancy Rogo Trainer, the committee chair, spoke out against the "monolithic" north-side elevation that looks onto Ridge Avenue. "It makes the building seem a little relentless. It would be terrific if there was some way of breaking up what could be a very monotonous building," she said. Other suggestions included integrating the ground level with more public spaces and varying the color scheme with the paneled facades.
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Breaking Ground

COOKFOX–designed Bronx affordable housing with social mission—and stellar views—tops off
High on a hill in the West Bronx, the view from the top of COOKFOX's latest building plays tricks on the Manhattan skyline: One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and 432 Park Avenue seem to stand next to each other. Next year, thanks to a nonprofit developer, hundreds of lucky residents will get to take in the view. On Tuesday, the Bronx's latest affordable housing development for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families topped off. The homeless services organization Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) partnered with New York City–based COOKFOX to design Park House and Webster Residence, twin structures that provide supportive housing with on-site social services and community space that complement the residences. Citywide, Breaking Ground operates two transitional houses (390 units) and 2,899 units of permanent supportive housing. The new Bronx apartments offer "a sense of permanence, a sense of belonging to the streetscape," explained Rick Cook, founding principal. Both buildings in this latest development, set between wide Park and Webster avenues, incorporate biophilic design, one of COOKFOX's guiding practices. The approximately 102,000- (Webster) and 247,000-square-foot (Park) structures are arranged around a residents-only courtyard; common areas are oriented towards green space. The warm brick and stone facade references the neighborhood's grand turn-of-the-century apartment homes. Recessed brickwork adds visual interest to the streetwall; up top, residents can access a green roof on the Webster Residence. The building, Cook noted, qualifies for Zone Green benefits, which allows additional floor area to be used for affordable housing. All interior treatments are low- or non-VOC, while  large windows take allow for ample natural light. The housing, Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground, responds to community needs for two and three bedroom apartments. The most frequent questions she fields about the project are "How do I apply, and when?"
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Big box retail

Glass cube of retail and offices will sit next to Viñoly-designed supertall 432 Park
New York-based real estate investor Harry Macklowe, behind the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed Fifth Avenue glass cube Apple Store, is working on bringing another cube to Manhattan, this time on Park Avenue. “On Tuesday, Macklowe Properties unveiled renderings for what it calls a ‘Park Avenue Cube’—a low-rise retail building adjacent (and connected) to its luxury condominium tower,” The Real Deal reports. The cube was designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects. “Together, the cube and tower will hold 130,000 square feet of retail and office space.” The cube is sited for 432 Park Avenue—also designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects—and will host two floors of retail space totaling 6,600 square feet and a Zion and Breech-designed marble plaza featuring birches. The cube will connect to the supertall condo tower via a below-ground 30,000 square-foot concourse. 432 Park Avenue, which opened at the end of 2015, is currently the tallest residence in New York City, topping out at 1,396 feet. The property was previously the site of the 1926 Drake Hotel which once accommodated celebrities (Judy Garland, Muhammad Ali, among others) and musicians and bands (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Frank Sinatra). Macklowe bought the property and hotel in 2006, and demolished the hotel in 2007. 432 Park Avenue will also feature 17,600 square feet of office space above 20,000 square feet of retail.  “There are only two markets, ultraluxury and subsidized housing,” Rafael Viñoly told The New York Times in May 2013, at the start of 432 Park construction. At the time, the first ten floors were finished, with 78 left to go.
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Penthouse Plans

Rafael Viñoly gears up redesign of office space on Manhattan’s Auto Row
Rafael Viñoly Architects will lead the redesign of—and two-floor addition to—an office building at 787 11th Avenue on Manhattan's "Auto Row." Viñoly's $100 million renovation will add 86,000 square feet of office space over two floors to the 10-story building, owned by the Georgetown Company. The additions will bring the structure's size to over half a million square feet. The work space, recessed from the building's original footprint, will have wide open floor plates and oversize windows to flood the space with natural light. Renovations will include a two-story penthouse and a 12,000-square-foot roof deck, accessible only to office tenants. Currently, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, and Infiniti have showrooms and offices in the space; post-renovation, BNF Automotive Group and Nissan North America will lease 265,000 square feet for their flagships on the building's lower floors. Viñoly, whose recent New York projects include the Rockefeller University Campus Master Plan and supertall 432 Park Avenue, offered unvarnished praise for the developers in a statement. He added: “The opportunity to combine the building’s historic architecture with a sleek and modern design is one I could not pass up.” The building is one of many new projects outside of Hudson Yards to blossom on Manhattan's Far West Side. A block away from Hudson River Park and the West Side Highway, tenants will have access to a private subway shuttle service, and a CitiBike station across the street. Work is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
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Pictorial> Take a look inside Dattner’s 34th St-Hudson Yards subway station, now open to the public
On Sunday, September 13th, New York City got its first new subway station in 25 years. Located at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, the 34th St-Hudson Yards station extended the 7 train one and a half miles to serve Manhattan's Far West Side. Dattner Architects designed the 364,000 square foot, $2.4 billion station. The new station is ten stories underground, and features the subway system's first inclined elevator. Below the canopied main entrance, designed by Toshiko Mori Architect, a multicolored mosiac mural by artist Xenobia Bailey greets passengers. MVVA designed the park surrounding the main entrance. See the gallery below for images of the new station.
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In Conversation: Alternative Developers
Sumaida + Khurana's 152 Elizabeth St. in Nolita by Tadao Ando Associates + Gabellini Sheppard Associates.
Courtesy Noe & Associates and The Boundary

As part of the AN developers feature, Matt Shaw interviewed representatives from four developers who are innovating in New York and elsewhere using alternative models for development. These perspectives offer new ways forward as the architecture and business communities work together to find new design, housing, and community-oriented solutions to our 21st century urban issues.

Sumaida + Khurana

Up-and-coming developer Sumaida + Khurana is bringing high-profile international architects to do its first buildings in New York, including NoLita condos by Tadao Ando and a forthcoming 400-foot midtown tower by Alvaro Siza. Amit Khurana has more than two decades of experience in the real estate industry, while Saif Sumaida holds an architecture degree from the Cooper Union. Together, they are changing how New York development is designed.

Matt Shaw: How did you end up working together as developers?

Saif Sumaida: I graduated from Cooper Union with a degree in architecture, and the education was very rich in discourse and concepts. Just by accident, I actually ended up in construction, and over the last 23 years, I’ve been building in New York. I like working as a developer because you have control of authorship both from a construction and architecture perspective, but also as the developer when you put the vision together.

Amit Khurana: Saif is tremendously experienced and when we met it was an interesting fit just because I love architecture and design. I have to give Saif such credit for this but when we are in a room with an architect and we sit down, his knowledge is so fantastic, to not only think of just construction but to think of how architecture relates to construction. And I think that it was a unique situation because there was a shared vision and very complementary sets of skills.

Courtesy Sumaida + Khurana
 

What do you feel these projects bring to New York as a city, not just for the residents of the buildings?

AK: We see ourselves as developer/custodians of the built environment and ultimately we have a responsibility because we play a very important role that really changes the city. Small or large—it doesn’t matter. It’s about uplifting people, and fulfilling the dream of the city too, right? I think if you ask anyone, at the end of the day people appreciate excellence. It’s not about the asset type, it’s not necessarily about who is going to live there or rent there or work there. It has something to do with a kind of purity of design and the impact it has on people.

SS: I think the problem is a lot of developers are really looking at buildings as commodities to monetize. But I think there is a legacy to be made in selecting the architect and making something that has meaning and has a place in the fabric of the city and that is something that you’ll ultimately be proud of. We want to create places. We feel that we have some sort of a social responsibility to do that.

Why bring in these architects?

AK: New York is a melting pot with a lot of influence from outside. We also came from different countries although we spent so much time here. We wanted to just focus on, in a very pure fashion, this idea of bringing master architects to New York to design their very first buildings here. Especially in New York where as-of-right sites are such a tremendous opportunity to work in a specific way and to push the envelope a little bit. looking at it and finding a site, we’re actually looking for a site for Ando or for Siza. This inverted process allows us to think about things a little bit differently.

SS: A lot of developers rely on marketing people to tell them what has worked. They’re following formulas because they believe that these are the formulas that will get them the profit. People find a proof of concept and just follow it. You don’t have to think too much. When you bring somebody else from abroad or somebody who hasn’t built anything in New York, they actually bring a certain amount of freshness. What’s amazing about New York is that it allows for this diversity. You can still be visionary and make it successful.

Courtesy Noe & Associates and The Boundary
 

Do you think that your experience as an architect lets you work with these architects in a different way rather than other developers?

SS: I think the one thing is, I’m very respectful of the process. I’m always able to talk to architects in their language. Instead of looking at it, again, as a commodity, I can engage them in their concepts and be able to enter that dialogue and be able to discuss it with them as opposed to always looking for an end product. I can enter the process and into a discourse with them so that once I understand what they’re trying to do we can then figure how best to get there.

You mentioned affordable housing a little bit. Do you see that as a project that could be interesting to take on?

SS: Very much so. I think there’s a responsibility for developers to be able to bring to the city various projects. It can’t just be building for the wealthy, you have to be able to do it for all. Otherwise, you’re not really making an impact in the city as you think you are. To make an impact on the city you have to touch on the various fabrics.

AK: Well I think that it’s also responding to the realities of where you are in a market cycle. Currently we’re in a market where land is insanely expensive. So we have to respond to that. It’s always allowing yourself to be flexible with different opportunities. I mean, imagine bringing in a famous Spanish architect to New York to build a wonderful, affordable housing project or something like that. It isn’t about how many dollars per foot you spend on a construction; it’s about thoughtfulness. We have the ability and skillset that allows us to also control costs and control some of these variables that can get out of control.


 

Proposal for a pool at the Shore Club in Miami by Isay Weinfeld.
Courtesy HFZ Capital Group
 

Thorsten Kiefer, HFZ

Thorsten Kiefer is Director of Design and Development for HFZ Capital Group. In this role, he has helped initiate collaborations with architects such as David Chipperfield, BIG, Moshe Safdie, and Isay Weinfeld on projects at various scales in New York and Miami. He talked with AN about his background at OMA, SOM, and SHoP, and what someone in his position can bring to the firm and ultimately the city.

As an architect at OMA in Rotterdam, his job included working in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on a master plan for Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2001. This experience at OMA also led to HFZ bringing in OMA to develop an entire empty city block in New York between Tenth and Washington streets along the High Line. However, OMA wasn’t able to continue because of previous contractual commitments, so HFZ turned to another OMA alumni, Bjarke Ingels of BIG, who had worked with Thorsten 15 years ago.

 
Thorsten Kiefer.
Courtesy HFZ
 

Matt Shaw: You have an interesting background. How did you end up in this role as an experienced architect working directly for a developer?

Thorsten Kiefer:  My time at SHoP was truly formative. At SHoP I worked on competitions in London and New York as well as the redevelopment of the South Street Seaport, initially with General Growth and then followed by Howard Hughes. I formed a number of connections with the development side of the business and after a couple of years at SHoP I began looking for the next career challenge. This opportunity seemed interesting for myself.

What is your role at HFZ?

As Director of Design and Development, I work closely with the marketing team and our executives on the overall conceptual and programmatic framework. The team establishes a list of architects, which we believe would be a great fit for the project. In high-end residential development, the branding aspect of an interior designer or design architect can make a difference in sales.

The global desire for design is higher now than it was 20 years ago. There is money from many countries. Different cultures have different attitudes toward design, and the global market is reacting to that. A lot of global people invest in the city. HFZ tries to offer a high quality product. We do high-end residential, and without design, we wouldn’t get the margins. The value added from the architecture is necessary to get the numbers. 432 Park Avenue by Viñoly has a tremendous location, so people would buy there anyway. But 432 is getting astronomical numbers. Would you get the same price per square foot without the good design? Would the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, and South Americans still choose it?

This position is more common than maybe known in the architectural community. Large developers like Related or Extell have in house design teams. I do believe that this role is valuable. There are very different mindsets in design, construction, and development. The architect is best suited to mediate in between all of them. I also work with zoning lawyers to see if our massing is possible, and also with the construction team to make sure quality is good.

20 West 40th Street.
 

How do you see your role impacting the designs and ultimately the city?

Ziel Feldman, founder and chairman of HFZ as well as Nir Meir, Principal partner at HFZ are very keen on design and quality. Good design simply distinguishes our product within a very competitive market, and we understand this well. I’m also really interested in finding smart solutions to making the city a nice, vibrant place to be.

We are working with David Chipperfield on the last empty lot at Bryant Park and those units will come on the market in the next couple of months. I truly believe that it will not just be a beautiful piece of architecture completing an important urban space in New York, but also a very successful development.

What can this position bring to a company?

I believe an architect is best suited to communicate between all the different groups involved within the development process. We all know that the motivations of construction, marketing, development, or design are not always necessarily aligned, so the role we have with the position is to bring the different mindsets a little closer and hope that the end result is good design.

Do you ever push for different types of projects, like affordable housing?

I certainly have my personal opinion on “affordability” in New York and I do think that affordable housing will be a challenging component in any future residential development in this city.


Common Ground’s Schermerhorn supportive housing in Downtown Brooklyn by Susan Rodriguez/Ennead Architects.
David Sundberg/Etso
 

Brenda Rosen, Common Ground

Common Ground is the largest supportive housing developer and operator in New York. The organization offers formerly homeless people quality environments and services to recover, and also works to develop more traditional affordable housing. Its non-profit status makes its work different from many other developers in the city. Brenda Rosen is the president and CEO, and she gave us some insight on how Common Ground supports its tenants and navigates the non-profit development process.

 
Brenda Rosen.
Courtesy Common Ground
 

Matt Shaw: What is the mission of Common Ground?

Brenda Rosen: Supportive housing is affordable housing with onsite services so that’s what is different from your cookie-cutter affordable or market rate operation. There is a percentage of the tenants that come through the lottery process like any other affordable low-income tenant. And the other part of the building is filled with formerly homeless people who oftentimes are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse issues or medical issues and often times all of the above.

So there’s 50 percent or 60 percent of the building that is set aside for people coming from those circumstances and that is why we have onsite support to make sure that all of our tenants—low-income, regular working people, and those who are formerly homeless and who are coming with a lot of challenges and a lot of issues—have the support that they need to do that and to be as successful in housing as anybody else. With the exception of a few projects, one in Rochester and two in Connecticut, we are the property managers for all of our projects so we never leave the project.

We are about to break ground on our first stand-alone conventional affordable project which will be 248 units of affordable housing and that will not have a supportive housing component at all. Because our buildings are tax-credit buildings, your income has to be at 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income. We do the same marketing, advertising, and lottery like any other developer in the city for the affordable housing.

Webster Avenue by COOKFOX.
Courtesy COOKFOX
 

What are some of the challenges of being a non-profit? What does it mean to be a non-profit developer?

What it means is that the financing of the projects can be incredibly complicated compared to for-profits. When we finance a project we have multiple streams of support coming in for capital and for operating. We’ll use bonds, we’ll use tax credits, we’ll use state and city subsidies. And sometimes borough presidents or city council funds will fill a gap that we might have on the capital side. We also have government contracts that are providing operating support so we have regulatory agreements and government contracts, which means we are under intense scrutiny at all times regarding the services that we’re providing and the quality of the housing.

Can you talk more about what it means to be non-profit and specifically do affordable housing?

Fortunately or unfortunately we are not in this business to make a ton of money as we develop. Any non-profit developer that builds housing—for whatever population—will be collecting a developer fee. I think that the thing that really sets a non-profit apart from a for-profit developer is that all of the development fees that we collect, all of the net proceeds of whatever we’re doing, goes right back into the services and the housing that we’re providing. At the end of the day, again, we’re here to have a sound investment for investors that will buy our tax credits and finance a building. But we aren’t here to come out with this monstrous surplus in our budget. I think that because we are a mission-driven organization, our goal is ultimately to develop and operate housing for vulnerable people in New York.

2010 Brook by Gorlin Architects.
Courtesy Common Ground
 

What role does design play in your mission and in your projects?

Design in all of our projects is a top priority for us. We believe that a pride in home and surroundings helps recovering people to gain stability and to really end up succeeding. Ennead [Architects] did Schermerhorn in downtown Brooklyn for us. It has a ton of green elements, is cantilevered over a subway, and it’s incredibly beautiful. We have worked with COOKFOX who designed a building for us in Brownsville and is designing our next two buildings up on Webster Avenue in the Bronx—both a supportive building and an affordable building. The apartments and hallways are really flooded with natural light.

COOKFOX and Robert A.M. Stern are normally known for high-end buildings and yet they come back and work with us again and again, and bring those same design elements into an affordable project. Not many non-profits get to say that Robert A.M. Stern is going to be doing their next project and build in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. We also develop mini studios, where the average apartment is between 225 to 300 square feet. We have to be really thoughtful about the design of the interior of each apartment. I’ve joked that we were doing micro units long before micro units were popular.

What are some of the challenges that you face when choosing sites?

Years ago when we were looking for land, we would site projects in Manhattan and in Brooklyn and in other places. Over the last several years we’ve done new construction in downtown Brooklyn, Brownsville, the South Bronx, and the Lower East Side, in addition to our older Manhattan sites in Midtown. But now primarily the only affordable land for us at this point is in the Bronx.

Common Ground tends to build large. Our smallest building has 72 units and our largest has 640. We prefer to have a building with 200 or more units. So you need a lot of buildable square feet for that, because in addition to the apartments we have a lot of community space in our buildings for our tenants—so we can have computer labs, a multi-purpose room, a gym, outdoor spaces, and offices for the onsite support staff.


Tom Fruin, kolonihavehus, in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Matthew Williams
 

Lisa Kim, Two Trees

Two Trees Management Company was founded in 1968 and has developed over 3 billion dollars in real estate. It is most famous for its redevelopment of the industrial neighborhood of Dumbo, Brooklyn. The company has remained committed to fostering artistic and cultural activity in the area through subsidized spaces for arts community tenants, and more broadly, supporting art as an urban issue. Lisa Kim is the Cultural Affairs Director for Two Trees. She formerly served as Private Collection Manager and Director of Exhibitions and Operations at Gagosian Gallery.

 
Lisa Kim.
Courtesy Two Trees
 

Matt Shaw: What initiatives does Two Trees have to support arts and culture?

Lisa Kim: Just having someone in my position is different. I am not a real estate person. My entire background comes from the art world. And so they brought me in to be the liaison to the art community and to think about this notion of organizing the company’s efforts of cultural philanthropy and making space for arts and artists in the neighborhood and how that integrates into our development. For Two Trees in Dumbo, it was really organic from the beginning. They own the majority of this neighborhood, and have seen it change.

It has become expensive for artists to work in Dumbo. The reason for the cultural space subsidy program is to find an organized way to create a level of support for the art community and open up space in our buildings for artists and non-profit groups. We thought an application process was the best way to do it. The space subsidy is rather dramatic. If you are granted a space subsidy here you’re given a lease of up to three years at basically a dollar a foot per month.

It’s tricky because there are a lot of people that certainly do want to bring artists in just to kind of spruce stuff up and then leave them when they don’t need them, but that’s not our case. We have 17 tenants—11 artists and six non-profit groups. With the cultural space subsidy tenants who’ve come in, we want to make sure that they’re also an active part of the community over there.

We want them to know who else is in the neighborhood. We had a little happy hour event last month where we brought in, not just the cultural space subsidy tenants, but our other artists and arts organizations tenants.

A mural in DUMBO.
Daniel Greenfeld
 

Who are some of the tenants?

We have New York’s first feminist cooperative gallery that was founded in 1972 and has been in Dumbo for eight years. On the 2nd floor of 20 Jay Street is a young theater group that goes to empower young women, to teach them how to write, direct, and perform plays about women’s issues. So here you have an A.I.R. gallery, a 40-year-old institution meeting Girl Be Heard, a six-year-institution with very-like minded initiatives talking about what they do.

We’ve been the go-to for arts groups that need a space once they’ve been booted from Tribeca, or Chelsea, or Soho. So we have arts support groups such as the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Faith Program. We also have the sculpture studio for the NY Studio School. Brooklyn Arts Council has their offices here. Arcadia is another arts funding organization that has its office here. We’ve been very supportive, for decades, to St. Ann’s Warehouse and to Smack Mellon. These are all tenants who had free to low rent. So it creates a very serious art community and a cluster in this neighborhood.

Do these cultural initiatives translate to added value for the developers? Or is this sort of a cultural, philanthropic project?

I think it’s cultural and philanthropic. A lot of people want to quantify what happens when you bring culture, but you can’t say when you put in X amount of dollars into arts support that you’re going to affect your bottom line by another number because you can raise property values or rents are higher or various other things. I mean I think it’s really anecdotal. I wish I could give you a metric. If you have cool shit for people to see they’re going to come see it. So who’s doing the cool shit, it’s the arts groups, right?
So how are these initiatives structured financially? Are they part of a separate non-profit? How does it relate to Two Trees?

Well, we’re a two-person part of the staff of Two Trees. The cultural space subsidy program is straight out of Two Trees. You get the same commercial space you would get if you were a market rate tenant. In Dumbo we have three commercial buildings—45 Main, 54 Washington, and 20 Jay Street—and our subsidy tenants are spread throughout all three buildings.

Then, separately, there is the non-profit Walentas Family Foundation with two programs as part of it. One is a neighborhood school program where grants are given for innovative school programs. The other half is the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program that offers 17 selected artists free studio space for one year in New York.
What does someone in your role bring to the development firm?

Because I’m naive to the world of development I can really be fresh about my approach in thinking about the art first. I go create it first and then there’s the reality check of is it possible to do this? On this site? Is it possible to do it in this budget? Does it make sense for this project or development?” And that’s when you start to put things together.

One of the buildings is a rather significant renovation and that’s the old Galapagos Art Space building at Water and Main streets. Four galleries will occupy that space. We spent the winter and spring months renovating that building from a cavernous, theater event space/bar to four beautiful sixteen-foot-ceiling white box gallery spaces.

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A circular bridge will go up this November over Uruguay’s beautiful Laguna Garzon, connecting two formerly remote shores
If conservatives bristle at building a bridge over a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just make it circular. This ring-shaped bridge by architect Rafael Viñoly will superimpose the Laguna Garzon, its circular design meant to minimize its environmental and visual impact by recalling a winding road—plus the fact that it uniquely affords veritable 360-degree views. [Video courtesy Teledoce.] The final cost of the project is $11 million, with the state providing $1.8 million. Argentinian real estate developer Eduardo Costantini, owner of high-end guesthouses Las Garzas in Rocha, will foot the remaining bill. The Uruguayan Ministry of Transport has eyeballed the prospect of a bridge over the lagoon since 1950, but the project did not start until May 2013. Slated to connect the cities of Maldonado and Rocha when it opens in November, the bridge has the potential to mediate the flow of travelers and tourism dollars up and down the eastern seaboard. It will replace the current system of rafts that connect the two cities, which allows only two cars to pass at time, depriving Rocha of the development frenzy seen in Maldonado. Statistics indicate generally favorable views of the project, with 81 percent of Rocha residents and 64 percent of Maldona residents who spoke positively about the bridge. Government estimates indicate that 1,000 vehicles will traverse the bridge daily, with an increase in those numbers during the peak summer months. Scheduled to open in November, the bridge is well under construction. View the video above from Teledoce to see how it works.
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Eavesdrop> The Bell Rings In Silence: Gossip swirls over changes at AIANY
There was one question on everybody’s mind in New York this spring: What happened to Rick Bell? On March 27, without warning or explanation, the former executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture tendered his resignation, effective immediately, which AIANY’s board of directors promptly accepted. The unforthcoming announcement stirred up a steamy fountain of rumor and conjecture—very little of it fit for printing—over what could have precipitated Bell’s speedy departure, and AIANY’s continued reticence on the matter (there seems to be a gag order in place among its staff) hasn’t done anything to lessen the sheer salacious heights to which the gossip has climbed. Bell, for his part, doesn’t seem to be very phased by the upheaval. Eavesdrop spotted him at the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s annual benefit party—held this year in the unfinished lobby of the Rafael Viñoly–designed 432 Park Avenue—wearing a T-shirt that read “I Am Still Alive” and smiling like the cat that ate the canary. Also like a cat, Bell has landed on his feet. On May 8, New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora announced that the agency had hired him as its executive director of design and construction excellence. Meanwhile, in an interesting game of musical chairs, the AIANY appointed David Burney, who recently left his post as commissioner of the DDC, as its interim executive director.
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Viñoly’s latest Manhattan skyscraper will only be half the size of his 432 Park tower, but that’s still really tall
Rafael Viñoly's latest Manhattan luxury tower almost seems quaint next to his 1,396-foot-tall, trashcan-inspired 432 Park AvenueNY YIMBY has published renderings of the architect's 281 Fifth Avenue in NoMad, which is only about half the size of his Park Avenue behemoth. To be clear, this does not mean the new tower is short—it weighs in at 705 feet tall—but it does reinforce that 432 Park Avenue is really, really tall. As for its design? On its most basic level,281 Fifth Avenue's limited renderings released so far show a glassy box—a lot like other recent New York City skyscrapers. The tower sets itself apart with a series of horizontal spandrel bands between rows of ribbon windows that increase the amount of glass as it ascends—much like a slinky being pulled up from the ground. According to permits filed with the New York City Department of Buildings, the building contains 141 condominiums and nearly 8,000 square feet of retail on the first and second floor. Demolition is currently underway at the site, and the building is slated to be completed in 2018.