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Carbon Canceled

A built environment symposium closes out Climate Week NYC 2019
With Climate Week NYC coming to a close, the Built Environment Symposium was a fitting finale, gathering together political bodies, industry professionals as well as architects and designers to speak openly about their collaborative efforts to make New York City a greener place The third panel discussion in particular, “New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act: Significantly Reducing Building Emissions,” brought together preeminent voices working to address the environmental impacts of New York’s buildings. Melanie La Rocca, commissioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB) sat down with Jason Vollen, director of architecture for Metro New York at AECOM and Christopher Toomey, vice president of major projects at McKinsey & Company to discuss the importance of addressing the costs of the built environment, and why pieces of legislation are invaluable to instituting rapid change.  With 67 percent of the city’s emissions stemming from its buildings, the need for action is acute, and the mayor’s office has accentuated the urgency by implementing Local Law 97, a mandate that all buildings over 25,000-square-feet comply with aggressive carbon caps by 2024. The very building the panelists sat in, the Midtown Manhattan office of host firm AECOM, is one such building that will fall under the new jurisdiction.  Local Law 97 is the first of its kind to make the financial penalties for non-compliance so significant that building owners will have to address the issues head-on. Fines start at $268 per metric ton over the predetermined limits (based on a building’s size and class) and additional fees are added for non-submittal of records, as well as false or flawed reports, all on an annual schedule. Hopefully, these financial roadblocks will incentivize building owners in ways that previous legislation has only wagged fingers.  This regulation doesn’t just apply to new buildings, but all buildings in New York City. That’s roughly 50,000—and this measure has sparked controversy as older buildings will have to invest in major renovations, as many did not incorporate energy efficiency in their original designs. Aged technologies like boilers and old-fashioned window glazing will need to be replaced, likely at a great initial cost to those landlords.  The panelists talked very seriously and practically about the realities of retrofitting all these spaces. “We could build an entire industry around retrofitting structures,” Toomey said, adding that there are studies that speculate that this would necessitate the creation of up to 140,000 new jobs.  However, the bureaucracy involved in clearing thousands of new buildings in the next four years in advance of the “penalty stage,” where non-complying structures will be fined heavily for carbon use, is intimidating even for the DOB: “We don’t want 20,000 applications coming in 2023,” said La Rocca. To avoid this, the DOB, architects, and project managers are encouraging companies to act now and stay ahead of the curve for not only the 2024 benchmarks but the 2030 ones as well. “No one wants to be an SUV in a Prius world,” said Vollen, “It would be an embarrassment down the line.” Architects like Vollen are encouraging high-profile companies to handle their compliance measures sooner than later with a leading mindset—to both leverage their names as well as allow for more time to design creative, innovative solutions to emissions targets rather than hasty adaptations.  While the panelists all acknowledged the risks and experimentation needed in NYC’s fight to lower emissions, La Rocca closed the discussion, saying, “This is an opportunity for us all to reimagine what we do.” 
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System Update

URBAN-X 6 showcases new tech solutions at A/D/O
This past Thursday, URBAN-X hosted its sixth demo day in Brooklyn at A/D/O, where startups that were showing what Micah Kotch, the startup accelerator's managing director, called “novel solutions to urban life.” URBAN-X, which is organized by MINI, A/D/O’s founder, in partnership with the venture firm Urban Us, began incubating urban-focused startups back in 2016. Previous iterations have seen everything from electric vehicle companies to waste management startups, and for this session, the brief was intentionally broad, said Kotch. On display was everything from machine-learning solutions to building energy management to apps that let people buy leftover prepared food from fast-casual restaurants and cafes to prevent food waste and generate some extra revenue.  Pi-Lit showed off a networked solution to highway and infrastructural safety. Many lives are lost each year as people sit after accidents, or as construction workers operate in dangerous work zones. The California-based company has developed a smart solution of mesh-networked lighting that can be deployed by first responders or work on existing work zone infrastructure. In addition, they’ve developed an array of sensors that can be affixed to bridges, roads, and temporary barriers—which founder Jim Selevan says are prone to impact but without transportation departments being aware, leading to unknown compromises that can cause accidents later on. Sensors could also let relevant parties know if a bridge is vibrating too much, or when roads begin freezing and warnings need to be put out, providing users with “real-time ground truth.” 3AM also presented their plans for using mesh networks, with a focus on safety, as their program relies on drones and portable trackers to help support operational awareness for firefighters. More whimsically, Hubbster showcased their solution—already deployed in Paris and Copenhagen—to support urban play: basically an app-based rental system for basketballs, croquet set, and everything in between, which would deploy from small, battery-powered smart lockboxes. Less glamorously but quite critically, Varuna is trying to make a change in the old-fashioned U.S. water infrastructure system, which exposes as much as 63 percent of the country to unsafe water and largely relies on manual testing, even for federally mandated across-the-board chlorine monitoring. They hope that by introducing AI-equipped sensors to utility systems, U.S. water can be delivered more safely, efficiently, and cheaply, addressing "operational inefficiencies in water supply, outdated tools, and a lack of visibility.” Also working with utilities was the Houston-based Evolve Energy, whose AI behavioral classification solution, currently available in parts of Texas, allows electricity to be bought at wholesale prices at the times of day when it is cheapest, for the comfort and needs individual users value most. For example, a home can pre-cool with cheap electricity and then turn off when prices surge. Variable rates, a la airline tickets, were a common theme—for example, Food for All, an app that is designed to reduce food waste and create extra revenue for fast-casual restaurants, offers flexible pricing for customers to pick up food that might otherwise be tossed. Most relevant to architects, perhaps, were Cove.Tool’s recent updates. The startup reports that they’ve made big strides on their cloud-based app that helps architect’s create efficient buildings. Reportedly cutting down energy grading from tens of hours to mere minutes, the app can now simulate the effects of sunlight—through various types glass—on utility usage, among many other new micro-climatic simulation features.
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Pollution Resolution

EPA rejects tunnel plan for Gowanus Canal cleanup, says tanks will happen
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected a proposal by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to clean up the Gowanus Canal with increased efficiency. The 1.8-mile-long canal in Brooklyn has long-been considered one of the nation’s most contaminated bodies of water. The canal’s pollution can be traced back as far as the 19th century. Located in a major industrial hub, it served as an active dumping site for chemicals from the paper mills, gas plants, and leather tanneries that surrounded it. Today, the canal faces the harmful effects of combined sewer overflow (CSO), which occurs when substantial rainfall causes the sewer system to release wastewater into the canal. Since 2010, the Gowanus Canal has been a designated Superfund site, marked by the EPA for high-priority cleanup because of contamination by hazardous waste that poses a threat to public health or the environment. As residential development continues to add luxury buildings to Gowanus, the push to save the canal has gained even more momentum. Dredging of the waterway began in the fall of 2017. In a letter to the City, the EPA formally rejected a proposal to construct a 16-million gallon underground CSO tunnel to divert pollutants. Instead, Peter Lopez, regional administrator of the EPA, announced that the agency planned to move forward with the installation of two CSO retention tanks along the canal. Lopez cited several EPA concerns in the letter, including cost impacts, insufficient protection, and external factors outside of the agency’s federal jurisdiction. In addition to holding four million more gallons than the tanks, the tunnel’s design would have given the City the opportunity to expand it in the future if necessary. While the EPA has remained steadfast in its plans to fix the canal, it claims that the City’s proposal was given careful consideration; the letter concluded with the following statement from Lopez:
“In terms of advising the community of this decision, we plan to concentrate our outreach to advising them that we have cooperatively reviewed the City's proposal and focus on the many steps occurring as we move ahead with the selected remedy. We look forward to our continued, close collaboration as we work to bring the benefits of this critical work to the Gowanus community.”
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Basin-Based

Plans for ex-Amazon site in Queens aim to move forward with the community in mind
Shortly after Amazon backed out of building a new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, (LIC) on February 14, developers and city officials began revisiting earlier plans for a mixed-use development on the 28-acre waterfront site. Due to the controversy of the failed Amazon proposal, all plans for the site will now have to face New York City’s public review process, meaning the community board, borough president, and city council would all have a say in the plans moving forward.  According to the Licpost, a coalition of community organizations have been calling on the developers since April to produce one comprehensive plan for the area as opposed to rezoning separate sites with different goals. Back in 2017, Plaxall’s residential redevelopment proposal was centered around rezoning the former industrial shipping port, Anable Basin, through the creation of the “Anable Basin Special District” which would include eight mixed-use buildings, light manufacturing, and retail space.  Out of the group of property owners who recently spoke with the de Blasio administration and City Council, one landowner was noticeably absent: Plaxall, who had proposed the original conversion on the site before Amazon moved to claim it and commissioned WXY to create a master plan. However, Plaxall’s managing director, Paula Kirby, told POLITICO earlier this week that they “remain committed to pursuing a vision that builds on LIC’s history as a center of innovation and creativity, and to working with our neighbors and the city on a plan to make Anable Basin an integral part of the future LIC waterfront." While their scheme would require rezoning, the general idea seems to be guiding the future of the site.  Throughout the Amazon debacle, it seems all participants have learned that the swath of land has a great untapped potential for bringing in jobs, but that community needs must be addressed first. Rather than building more condos, developers are now welcoming the idea of multifamily buildings that would have some income-restricted units, per city mandate. Other priorities discussed with the community organizations include several new schools, an arts center, a contiguous bike lane, and open parks.  According to one consultant, the number of new jobs doesn't have to be sacrificed to achieve those things. “Just based on the scale, the scope and breadth of the district, including the Plaxall site…in its full build-out, it approximately comes out to about 50,000 jobs,” MaryAnne Gilmartin of L&L MAG told POLITICO Brent O’Leary of the Hunters Point Civic Association told the Licpost that, “Instead of developers telling us their plans for our neighborhood, the community should express their vision and needs and the developers work within that vision so that the neighborhood develops properly.” He has helped organize meetings with TF Cornerstone and L&L MAG which are expected to take place in October at a currently undecided date.
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One Month of Design

AN rounds up all the must-see events happening this Archtober
Archtober is just days away and AN is here to get you ready by rounding up all the must-see events beginning October 1. Organized by the Center for Architecture, the month-long design celebration is now in its ninth year and there’s so much to see and do.  Ample new building projects have popped up throughout New York since last October, which means this is your chance to tour some of the most talked-about spaces in town. Not only that, but there will be plenty of after-work lectures, panels, workshops, films, conferences, and special events you can attend every day. Sales go fast, so purchase tickets to Archtober events today. Here’s our breakdown of 2019's can't-miss activities:  Buildings of the Day tours One Vanderbilt Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox October 3 Building 77 Contemporary Renovations by Marvel Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle October 8  Solar Carve Architect: Studio Gang October 10  Hunters Point Library Architect: Steven Holl Architects October 11  Moxy East Village Architects: Rockwell Group and Stonehill Taylor October 16 Statue of Liberty Museum Architect: FXCollaborative October 23  Bronx Music Hall Architect: WXY Architecture + Urban Design October 24  MoMA Renovation and Expansion Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler October 25 121 East 22nd Street Architect: OMA New York October 29   Lectures + Panels: Building Better Cities with Crowdfunding Organized by: Syracuse Architecture October 1 Cocktails & Conversation: Marlon Blackwell & Billie Tsien Organized by: AIA New York October 4 Shohei Shigematsu & Atelier Bow-Wow on the Past & Future of Tokyo Architecture Organized by: Japan Society October 11  Daniel Libeskind: Edge of Order Organized by: Pratt Institute October 15 NOMA '19 Conference Organized by: nycobaNOMA October 16-20 Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women Organized by: The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union; Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation; Phaidon October 18  A History of New York in 27 Buildings with Sam Roberts & Alexandra Lange Organized by: Museum of the City of New York October 21 Extra Tours: Architecture and the Lights of Gotham: Nighttime Boat Tour Organized by: AIA New York; Classic Harbor Line Multiple Dates  Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital Organized by: Untapped New York October 19  VIP Tour of the Woolworth Building Organized by: Untapped New York October 5  Special Events: Opening of Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City Organized by: Center for Architecture October 2 Architecture of Nature / Nature of Architecture Organized by: The Architectural League of New York October 3 World Cities Day Organized by: UN-Habitat October 31
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The Everlaneing Story

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson brings Everlane’s Williamsburg outpost back to basics
You can never have too many black t-shirts, particularly if they are sustainably and ethically made. This sentiment rings true for online clothing retailer Everlane and their latest minimal, refined, and airy outpost; set in a historic 1960s two-story structure. For their fourth and largest store to-date, located in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the brand sought out US firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ)—best known for their work with Apple and Blue Bottle—to helm the design. The result is a 2,700 square-foot space illuminated by a 20 foot-high glazed facade that punctures the white brick exterior to flood the paired-back interior with natural light, all while nodding to the transparency of the brand. Pale maple fixtures with white metal accents, designed by BCJ in collaboration with the retailer, line the women’s department while adding warmth to the muted walls and flooring. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Build it Buffalo

Cuomo’s Buffalo Skyway Corridor competition announces top prizes
Last Tuesday, a panel of New York state and local officials announced the winning design of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Aim for the Sky” competition to reimagine the Buffalo Skyway Corridor. Out of over 100 entries, nine finalists were asked to pitch their ideas to a live audience and panel of judges. The $100,000 top prize was awarded shortly after the presentations to Rochester-based firm SWBR Architects for their submission titled “City of Lights: Re-View our Waterfront”, a collaboration with Fisher Associates and MRB Group.  The competition’s aim was to define “a clear vision for the City of Buffalo’s waterfront, helping inform the direction for investment in placemaking and economic development opportunities.” The Skyway, a four-mile-long, four-lane expressway that follows the Lake Erie waterfront was completed in 1955 and originally designed to connect truck traffic to and from factory complexes along the Port of Buffalo. Since the closure of the area’s steel plants in the 1980s, the corridor has transformed largely into a commuter highway system carrying up to 400,000 trips per day.  SWRB’s $300 million dollar proposal involves a portion of the Skyway north of the Buffalo River to be torn down. “This is going to let people view the skyline of Buffalo in a way that they have never been able to see it before... and we were able to break down the barriers that separate the waterfront from the community and the individual neighborhoods around it,” said Bill Price, a landscape architect with SWRB, according to local Buffalo news network WGRZ. The remaining portion of the skyway would be turned into a High Line-Esque elevated park for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The proposal aspires to strengthen connections between downtown and the Outer Harbor.  In fact, all of the proposals promoted connectivity to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, which currently has no direct bike or pedestrian route to downtown. The second and third place finalists included the “Skyway River Loop” by Marvel Architects and “Queen City Harbor: Bringing Buffalo to the Water’s Edge” by Christian Calleri, Jeannine Muller, Min Soo Kang, and Andrea De Carlo, and the teams were awarded $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. “Queen City Harbor” also calls for portions of the Skyway's removal but focuses on how to open up that land for mixed-use infill development. Marvel’s proposal emphasizes the opposite form of action—keeping the skyway completely—but adding a street-level greenway and local bridge connections. Whether or not the grand winning scheme could be a reality is yet to be determined especially considering that New York State just spent close to $30 million to repair the Skyway and the estimated cost for its removal could be up to $600 million. But Cuomo is hopeful that this is the right move for this rust belt city. “The Buffalo waterfront has always been one of our state’s great assets, and by removing the existing Skyway we will lay the foundation for further transformation and growth in this community,” he said during the announcement. If all goes as planned, by utilizing an expedited Environmental Impact Statement, project construction could possibly be completed in five years.
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Clay Bae

Architectural terra-cotta is advancing in Buffalo, New York
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Now in its fourth consecutive year, the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) has reached a new level of maturity. The annual conference, hosted in Buffalo, New York, counted a total of nine teams hailing from leading architectural and engineering firms across the country. For attendees, the gathering is an opportunity to part the veil behind the architectural terra-cotta manufacturing process, experiment with new concepts, and physically transform them into full-scale prototypes.  The collaborative project is the product of an ongoing partnership between manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (UB/a+p); engineering firm Walter P Moore served as an additional sponsor for the event. Buffalo, New York is home to a broad range of 20th-century architectural heritage. It should then come, perhaps, as no surprise that BVTC made its bones in the field of architectural preservation. The company, originally founded in 1889 as Boston Valley Pottery, was purchased by the Krouse family in 1981 who converted the operation into a manufacturer of architectural components. Beginning with local restoration projects such as Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building, BVTC has since partnered with UB/a+p in the use of digital documentation to mass-produce historic architectural pieces. The use of digital design has facilitated BVTC's ascent in the field of custom terra-cotta assemblies; current projects range from Kohn Pedersen Fox's (KPF) supertall One Vanderbilt to Morphosis's Orange County Museum of Art The teams were made up of new attendees and familiar faces who had developed their prototype concepts in the months leading up to the conference. The prototypes largely followed the ACAW statement of intent, which encouraged an exploration of the intersection between ceramic furniture and cladding. Projects ranged from SHoP Architects' self-supporting structure formed of interlocking terra-cotta units to KPF's manipulation of geometry and glaze embedded atop a concrete panel. There was also a significant alteration to the overall procedure of the conference. Andy Brayman, founder of the Kansas City ceramics collaborative Matter Factory and past ACAW attendee, recently partnered with BVTC to develop the company's first off-site Research & Development Lab within his own facility. "This strategy is helpful when taking on the ACAW projects which by their very nature contain at least one element (and often several) that could be considered experimental," said Brayman. "The bulk of the technical know-how comes from BVTC and it is augmented by research that has been done at the Matter Factory. Taking the projects out of the main factory that is focused on the production of existing jobs allows a different dynamic to take place." The conditions present at the BVTC are effectively replicated at the Kansas City collaborative as the gas-fired kilns are produced and calibrated by the same Italian manufacturer. Keynote speakers, many of them also workshop attendees, included Andy Brayman;  Dr. William M. Carty, a ceramics professor at Alfred University; Billie Faircloth, partner at KieranTimberlake; Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects; Sameer Kumar, director of enclosure design at SHoP Architects; Jason Vollen, vice president High Performance Buildings AECOM. What is the overarching goal of this annual earthenware gathering? According to UB/a+p associate professor and conference organizer Omar Khan, "ACAW’s ambition is to make Western New York a recognized center for architectural ceramic research. It is the only one of its kind and we feel that it will influence design and innovation in terracotta usage. From this year’s success, we are already receiving many inquiries to participate next year but our intention will be to internationalize the participants to some extent. This will put other issues and traditions in the mix, which we feel will help us better address more global concerns." Let's see what the future has in store for this corner of the Empire State.
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A Concrete Vision

Höweler + Yoon will plant fluted concrete in the center of Boston
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Breaking ground later this year, 212 Stuart Street is located on the northern edge of Boston’s Bay Village Historic District between two very different contexts: a midrise commercial corridor and the 19th-century enclave of brick rowhouses. Architecture firm Höweler + Yoon was challenged with bridging these distinctive neighborhoods via a 20-story residential building that is contemporary in design but still deferential to the landmarked neighborhood. The architects found inspiration in the masonry buildings in the area, notably the fluted piers on a nearby 1930s garage dubbed “Motor Mart.” In response, they designed a series of super-scaled precast concrete panels to break up the relatively straightforward massing of the high-rise building into “courses” of varying height.
  • Architect Höweler + Yoon Sasaki (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Consultant Vidaris
  • Structural Engineer McNamara Salvia
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2021
  • System Precast concrete barrier and window wall system
The facade is constructed from 14-inch-thick concave panels whose rhythms produce a dynamic play of light and shadow; there’s a depth and richness to the facade that echoes the surrounding historic architecture. The design was developed and refined over many iterations and with many physical models. The developer-client was won over by the idea with a small plaster prototype of the fluting but was ultimately convinced with a full-scale foam mockup created to study the lighting effects and to better understand how the deep concrete panels would affect the views from the inside. The concave panels and the overall assembly were optimized in collaboration with pre-casters, who helped the architects realize that it would be more efficient to use nine unique panels than the three they initially proposed. Window walls and glass spandrels complete the envelope. The design is more complex than it first appears, with a lot of movement and deflection that required extensive coordination between multiple systems to create the appearance of a single unified building envelope. “Ultimately, we worked out all the details with the help of the pre-caster, the glazier, the facade consultant, and the architect of record, Sasaki,” said principal Eric Höweler. “It’s a very clear diagram, but it turns out that requires a lot of work to get right.” The design of 212 Stuart Street was a collaborative process during which the architects also worked closely with the Bay Village community—who needed to be convinced. For nearly everyone except architects, concrete has a bad rap in Beantown, and the architects had to prove that they weren’t trying to build another Boston City Hall. The 1930s Motor Mart that inspired their design helped with this: “People thought it was limestone, but it’s actually precast,” noted Höweler. “So we were able to show that there is a way to do precast beautifully. It doesn’t have to look like City Hall.”
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Let the Sunshine In

The leaking Oculus skylight will cost another $200K to fix
Port Authority officials are currently working on repairing the damaged Oculus skylight at the Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have already spent at least $50,000 on waterproofing the $3.9 billion dollar Manhattan transit hub's glass ceiling, according to The Wall Street Journal, and are expected to spend another $200,000 on repairs.  The skylight consists of dozens of glass panels that run the 355-foot length of the Oculus's spine and are powered by a mechanical system with 130 motors that move each of the panels in sync, rather than as two static hemispheres. Officials believe that the retractable skylight began leaking on to the marble concourse in 2018 after a rubber seal that spanned the length of the roof ripped due to a system malfunction. As the software failed to work, workers were forced to repeatedly start and stop the program to get the skylight to open and close. Despite sealing the ring around the skylight with water-resistant tape, the agency expects to spend more on sealing the skylight with an actual waterproof membrane instead of a stopgap.  The feature is designed to open each year during the September 11 commemoration, envisioned by Calatrava as a symbol of a dove being released from a child’s hand. The architect's initial proposal required that the entire roof pivot open but that idea was nixed after the building's soaring budget doubled from the initial $2 billion dollar estimate.  One Port Authority spokesman said last Thursday that the agency is conducting an engineering analysis on how to permanently repair the skylight. “While that analysis is ongoing, we are taking prudent steps to better protect the skylight with a more durable barrier system,” he said.  City officials had anticipated the skylight would be able to open for the 2019 memorial, however, it remained closed for the first time since the building opened in 2016.
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"Collective" Living

Sou Fujimoto Architects will bring coliving to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Sou Fujimoto Architects (SFA), in collaboration with The Collective, a London-based coliving developer, will be developing the former Slave Theater site at 1215 Fulton, in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The building, currently in permitting, is projected to open in 2022.  The 10-story, 240,000 square-foot project will be composed of three separate structures and will feature a mix of public cultural space and coliving apartment units. Its form takes inspiration from New York City’s local building typologies, iconic water tower tanks, and plentiful rooftop living spaces. This will be the Tokyo- and Paris-based office’s first foray into red brick, which was derived from the surrounding buildings of the historic neighborhood.  Ammr Vandal, US Architecture Director at The Collective, said the decision to work with Sou Fujimoto was an immediate and definitive choice, because of the “empathy and creativity that runs across the studio’s body of work.” Fujimoto’s office approached the formal design of this project through a process of subtractive carvings, establishing key amenity spaces as void spaces within an otherwise generic block of housing. “A certain curiosity is developed towards the building, where you can see something which stands out but and feel intrigued and invited into what is going on inside,” said the architects in a design statement. A large lobby space designed to engage the public at street level will help establish a mid-block connection between Halsey and Fulton Streets, and taps into a stepped interior courtyard—the building’s largest common space, which will be open to the public. Glossy white interiors work to create a homogeneous space which the architects say will “receive the varied individual identities of each future member and local visitor.”    The project is rallying behind the cultural prominence of its immediate site—the former Slave Theater—which served as a social gathering point, an icon of the civil rights movement, and a symbol of black pride in Brooklyn from 1984 to 1998.  “Designing for New York presents such a significant moment for our practice,” said Sou Fujimoto in a design statement. “I am honored, in particular, to be working in a culturally rich neighborhood like Bed-Stuy, and to reimagine this historic site. I hope our design will sustain and serve the incredible culture of this community.” Along these lines, Vandal said the project team had a deep appreciation and respect for planning the redevelopment of such a significant site: “We have been actively working with key neighborhood stakeholders, including the Community Board, local organizations and groups, and plan to continue throughout development process to ensure we are honoring The Slave Theater's legacy in response to local input.”  In addition to providing free housing and studio space for 6-to-10 participants per year, 1215 Fulton’s development includes various theatrical and social gathering spaces intended to be activated with local artists, community-focused business incubation, and an accelerator program for young entrepreneurs. It remains to be seen how this heightened sensitivity to context, with white-washed interiors and blend of public, cultural, and private residential programming will pan out here. And likely, we won’t know until the paint dries and the novelty of coliving typology normalizes. It is a tall order to attempt to recover the memory of such a public site, but if anyone can pull it off, it might just be this team. PROJECT DETAILS AND CREDITS Total Square Footage: 240,000 Number of Units: 440 Number of Floors: 10 Completion: 2022 Gross Development Value: $260 million Design Architect: Sou Fujimoto Architects Architect of Record: Ismael Leyva Architects Development Partner: Tower Holdings Group
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Concrete Ideas

Protestors shut down the New Museum’s IdeasCity Bronx
IdeasCity Bronx, a festival organized by the New Museum and scheduled for this past Saturday, was canceled shortly after the programming began. Held at Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River, the festival was supposed to feature discussions, performances, and workshops by artists, architects, and local community organizations as a way to address “the physical, social, and economic forces that define the Bronx and other cities.” Themed “New Ecologies 3755,” many of the discussions were to be centered around the effects of global climate change but also how they relate to Bronx communities, but plans were derailed after protesters intervened. During the event’s opening talk by V. Mitch McEwen, the festival’s curator, a group of activists to the side of the stage interrupted the proceedings with a speech of their own, leading to about 30 minutes of heated back-and-forth between the protesters and the scheduled speakers, ultimately ending with the day’s events being canceled. Prior to the festival’s commencement, a few Bronx grassroots organizations scheduled to participate, including DreamYard, Take Back the Bronx, and No New Jails, had already withdrawn. Other groups, such as Bronx-based arts organization Hydro Punk, had declined the offer to participate from the beginning. During her opening remarks, McEwen passed the microphone to Tiara Torres, one of the protesters from Hydro Punk, who stated, “New Museum has never invested anything into the Bronx. This is a one-day event. They are not contributing any long term financial backing or support into any of the ideas that come from today.” According to Hyperallergic, the activist went on to say that they had declined to participate after finding out that the events were being promoted by the real-estate company South Bronx Luxury. McEwen told AN that the organization had received no financial support from real estate developers. Highlights from the event were supposed to include a keynote discussion by Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, but after attempting to speak during the protesters’ interruptions, Cruz and Forman did not continue with their presentation. But the site was the biggest point of tension, to be sure. Concrete Plant Park is located in the Southern Boulevard part of the Bronx, a neighborhood that activists say is actively being threatened by “gentrification-driven rezoning.” McEwen explained to AN that the location wasn’t the first choice to begin with. Since its opening in 2011, IdeasCity New York was staged across from the New Museum in Manhattan along the Bowery, but with ongoing conversations surrounding new ideas in ecology, the Bronx seemed like a better fit. McEwen said, “we started to map out sites on the Bronx River and other waterways believing that this borough defined by waterways is more complex and robust than Manhattan.” They had anticipated the site to be located near the Soundview Ferry Terminal, but according to McEwen, they were “strongly encouraged to move” by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. “We should not have been in [Concrete Plant Park],” she said, while also agreeing that many of the protester’s points were “brilliant and spot-on” and were even “aligned with the framework of how we organized IdeasCity” to begin with. 
 
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The DreamYard Project will no longer be participating in IdeasCity Bronx—based on the lack of clarity, collaboration and communication in the planning of IdeasCity Bronx, as well as the compromised integrity of DreamYard’s community-centered values. . Three months ago, we were approached by IdeasCity for the opportunity to uplift our young people and community’s work around Arts and Activism. We were asked to collaborate in organizing a panel discussion, a student performance and community-based organization /activism booths; since then, a small team of DreamYard staff members have worked diligently to organize these parts of the event, and ensure fair compensation for our young people and representing CBOs that we have asked to get involved in this event. DreamYard staff members initially created a panel discussion on the relationship between politics and grassroots movement, “Who’s Got the Power?” which centered a young DreamYard participant, and a DreamYard alumna and current staff member. Since then, IdeasCity renamed the panel discussion we were organizing, shifted the original intention of the discussion (shaped by intentional labor of Black Indigenous Queer Femmes), and was essentially handed over to another party who was not involved in the concept, the process, nor the work we do and are seeking to uplift. We do not feel safe having our young people participate, nor having DreamYard’s name further implicated in what has turned out not to be a collaboration, but something in which DreamYard’s name has seemingly been used as merely a means to an end. . We entered this collaboration in good faith, and since then have been made aware of the missteps inherent in the planning of IdeasCity. Based on the feedback from the community as well as the challenges in planning this event, we have decided not to participate in IdeasCity Bronx. . <Continued in comments>

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In a public statement McEwen made on Twitter, she ends with a series of questions aimed to open dialogue and to keep the conversation going. “NYC Parks Department—I have no words,” she asks, “what would a functional democratic process around public space look like for New York City?” She urges for a “radical imagining” of the spaces in which we exchange knowledge outside of the academic institution, and of a place where the pain expressed by the protestors can “coexist in dialogue with the technical, creative, and spatial work involved in change.” In a statement shared via email, the New Museum told AN:
We wholeheartedly support V. Mitch McEwen’s curatorial vision for IdeasCity over the past year, and the ciphers and convenings that have advanced thinking in significant directions. We believe it is more important than ever to continue to provide platforms for productive dialogue, debate, and healing in a challenging and divided world. Knowing this can only happen through deeper engagement, proximity, authentic and time-tested connectivity, and sustained commitment, IdeasCity will continue to organize events in the hope that, going forward, groups of every type can come together, voicing differences, but collaborating on possible futures.