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AN presents all of the national pavilions at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale
As the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale gets ready to welcome visitors, AN has compiled a list of the 65 national pavilions that will open to the public on Thursday, May 24. Although two countries have canceled their pavilions, the remaining projects are all an interesting take on the biennale's theme of “freespace”; how we use, negate, and integrate open spaces into our daily lives. This year’s Biennale will also mark the first show for these six countries. Each of the pavilions mentioned below have been represented in their teams’ own words. National Pavilion Events: Albania: Zero Space Location: Arsenale “This pavilion is composed of architects and artists, devoted to the dynamism of everyday life in the ground floors of Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It is a moment of reflection of Tirana's lifestyle and the future of Albania's capital city. Visitors live through the experience of Albania's capital city the same way as its citizens.” Antigua & Barbuda Environmental Justice as a Civil Right Location: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Argentina Vértigo Horizontal Location: Arsenale “Proposes a cross-cutting dialog between geographical spaces, places and architecture. It is an invitation to rethink our territory as a collective construction and see architecture in its capacity to convey unexpected generosity in every project. The collection focus on projects produced since Argentina’s return to democracy, in 1983.” Australia Repair Location: Giardini “Repair addresses the call ‘to stimulate discussion on core architectural values’ and focuses on architecture that integrates built and natural systems to effect repair of the environment through three installation: the first is made of ten thousand plants inside and outside of the Pavilion, including 65 species of Western Plains Grasslands. This component of the exhibition, entitled Grasslands Repair, will serve as a reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land – just one per cent of these threatened species are left in their native ecosystem; an experimental video series, entitled Ground, showcasing fifteen Australian projects that unpack diverse iterations of repair, which will be projected inside the Pavilion. A third installation, Skylight, incorporates lighting to simulate the sun’s energy required to sustain the plants inside the Pavilion. The curators aim to provoke a rethinking of how we value and therefore create the built environment.” Austria Thoughts Form Matter  Location: Giardini “Is a plea for the power of architecture as an intellectual analysis of the world and for the freedom to design spaces that are not subject to functional and economic constraints. LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh are creating a conceptually and materially complex spatial installation which draws together inside and outside, vertical and horizontal, the historic pavilion and the language of contemporary architecture and design. Concepts such as ‘deviation’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘beauty’ become tangible in a three-part, converging spatial installation.” Bahrain (Kingdom of) Friday Sermon  Location: Arsenale Artiglierie “The pavilions curatorial team is composed of Nora Akawi, an architect and researcher based in New York, USA and Amman, Jordan and Noura Al Sayeh an architect based in Bahrain. The pavilion features an installation and research on the ritual of the Friday Sermon and its influence on public space and public opinion. When thinking about free space, and by extension free speech for Arab and Muslim communities, the Friday khuṭbah becomes a key protagonist, especially as state, law, and religion remain as entangled as ever.” Belgium Eurotopie  Location: Giardini “Eurotopie, addresses the issues and challenges tackled by the European Union. Despite being the E.U’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels seems in no way to contribute to a collective European identity. The pavilion also addresses architects and space-makers in considering how the European democratic space can be constructed, and how it can cohabit with Brussels.” Brazil Walls of Air Location: Giardini “Investigates the wall as an element of Brazilian architecture, culture and identity, and envisage in the act of bridging this wall an invitation to coexistence and multiplicity on two design fronts. The first consists of the presentation of ten cartographic designs created based on research with a network of collaborators, consultants and institutions, as a way of visualising the forms of spatial and conceptual separation resulting from the process of urbanisation of Brazil. The second, in an initiative unprecedented in the history of Brazilian participation in the event, focuses on projects chosen through a public selection process. Projects are examples that use architecture as a tool to measure conflict, transitions between public and private domains and connections between different urban fabrics.” Canada Voices of the Land Location: Giardini “On the occasion of the unveiling of a state-of-the-art restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini, and the celebration of the pavilion’s 60th anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada promotes the exhibition: Canada Builds/Rebuilds a Pavilion in Venice.” Chile Stadium: an event, a building and a city Location: Arsenale “An event of the past, which rendered a city within a building. In its origin, the word stadium is a measure of a running distance between two points. The exhibition narrates such double story interweaved by a plan: that of a building (with its dissimilar uses) and that of a city (with its atomized housing development), overlaid in a single event. The Event – On the 29th of September 1979, this landmark building was filled by 37,000 workers from all over Santiago. The focus of this gathering was not a concert or a sport match, but a massive operative which provided, in a single day, ownership titles to dwellers (pobladores) fixing decades of makeshift land occupation and policies. This day-long massive event organised by the military regime was a day of celebration, of government propaganda and reinforcement of a new popular capitalist scheme. By signing these property titles these former dwellers were also acquiring a debt instrument with specific spatial coordinates, setting a plan of a city where there was no plan” China (People’s Republic of) Building a Future Countryside Location:  Arsenale “One of the major challenges facing contemporary built environments is the future of rural ‘development’. In China, the countryside has become a new frontier for experiments in this area, and the country is developing its countryside at a speed and scale unseen in the West. Drawn by the promise of boundless opportunity, architects, artists, developers—as well as capital flow—are converging in rural areas across the nation. The return to pastoral life has long been an ideal of Chinese literary tradition. In modern times, living in rural areas typically involves aspects such as policy, capital, infrastructure, and technology. While modernization and technological progress promise us better lives with modern living conditions, they also, to some extent, sever the link between rural life and tradition.” Croatia  Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality Location: Arsenale “Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality is a collaborative site-specific environment conceived by the pavilion curator, Bruno Juričić, with curatorial advice from Branka Benčić. Cloud Pergola is an installation crossing the boundaries of architecture, art, engineering, robotic fabrication and computational models. The exhibition is structured through the interplay of three interventions: Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić, To Still the Eyes by Vlatka Horvat and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović & FoAM.” Cyprus (Republic of)  I Am Where You Are Location: Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, Castello 3865 “By highlighting, questioning and then deconstructing sets of binaries, key to cultural perceptions in and about Cyprus, the pavilion disengages from convention. Multiplicities, found in-between these binaries, ‘built/unbuilt, tradition/modernity, Island of Love/place of conflict, immigration/local identity,’ are revealed in the pavilion, allowing unexpected experiences to be celebrated.” Czech and Slovak (Republic) Meetings on Architecture Location: Giardini “A program of encounters It's nothing new under the sun, yet it's necessary to talk about it. Beautiful historical towns, of course not only in the Czech Republic, suffer under the heavy burden of tourists. And the local people suffer also. In the streets of such cities we see empty houses, unnecessary shops, streets people prefer to avoid – just like in socially excluded localities. One such city in our country is Český Krumlov, an example from abroad is Venice. Both cities are among the magnificent treasures included on the UNESCO list, but the only ones who really desire them are the tourists. Tourism is growing into dangerous dimensions." Denmark Collaborative innovations  Location: Giardini “The Danish Pavilion exhibition will present a collaborative approach to innovation and illustrate its impact through a handful of very different cases. The cases look at the potentials of working with a number of fields outside the traditional realm of architecture, such as mobility, cultural resilience, housing and computational resource efficiency on a global level. Each of the cases branch multiple fields of knowledge and numerous stakeholders and demonstrates the transformative potential of collaborative efforts as well as architecture’s impact on innovating the built environment. Through large scale installations, including a presentation of the new OMA BLOX building in Copenhagen, the exhibition focuses on ’Collaborative Innovations’. BLOX, represents a framework for the exhibition since it embodies the idea of a freespace for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural innovation. BLOX is the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre and a new international innovation hub.” Egypt The phenomenon of “free” Location: Giardini “The pavilion, curated by architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid, architecture professor Cristiano Luchetti, art director and producer Giuseppe Moscatello, and art director Karim Moussa proposes the theme of a redevelopment of spontaneous commercial spaces across the entire country. The phenomenon of ‘free’, unstructured, often illegal, trading is predominant in many urban and suburban areas. The traditional souk is no longer confined to narrow streets and interstitial spaces of historical areas. Indeed, the space of commerce extends its tentacles seamlessly along the lines of urban streams without any rule. The project for the pavilion focuses on these strategic spaces but also on their content. The trading of ‘roba becciah’ is a large portion of all market activities. Disused items produced and dismissed by consumerist societies are first collected and then stacked in areas to create mono-functional enclaves for future trading.” Estonia Weak Monument Location: Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church “Weak Monument explores the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectural forms. Curated by Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa and Tadeáš Říha, the exhibition takes over the former Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church in Venice with pavement and a monument-like concrete wall that divides the exhibition space in two. As visitors cross through the wall, they'll find a collection of photos, drawings, and models of Estonian and European examples of “weak monuments”. They will then encounter a ‘wall altar.’” Finland Mind-Building Location: Giardini “The Finnish pavilion transforms the Alvar Aalto-designed space into a temporary library. Titled ‘Mind-Building’, the exhibition explores the development of Finnish library architecture and showcases Finland’s leading role in developing the libraries of the future. The exhibition is conceived by the commissioner Hanna Harris, director of Archinfo Finland, and curator Dr Anni Vartola, architecture critic and architectural theorist, who present the public library as a case-study of ‘modern monumentality’ and reminds us of the values of the civic society and the power of education and knowledge.” France Infinite Places Location: Giardini “This year, in its 16th edition, the International Architecture Exhibition seeks to remind us of a dimension of architecture no doubt somewhat neglected, and yet so fundamental: ‘thoughtfulness.” Our concerns focus so often on the built object, or one intended to be built, that we often underestimate the importance of this frame of mind that goes beyond needs or the desires of others. Freespace needs to be a place of opportunities, a democratic space, un-programmed and open to unforeseen uses, as yet undefined, such that buildings create new ways of sharing and participating for people over time, long after the architect has left the scene… places that are in some sense infinite in possibility.” Germany Unbuilding Walls  Location: Gardini “The exhibition responds to current debates on nations, protectionism and division. In the German Pavilion, GRAFT and Marianne Birthler will take the parallel as an opportunity to explore the effects of division and the process of healing as a, special focus will be given to outstanding examples of urban and architectural design that address aspects of division and integration. An example project is Checkpoint Charlie. This Location: was the third crossing point after Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo between the American and Soviet sectors. After the construction of the Wall and the tank confrontation shortly afterwards in October 1961, it became, alongside the Brandenburg Gate, the most symbolically potent image of the Cold War. A current competition initiated by the new owner of the site will elaborate a new vision for the Location: of Checkpoint Charlie in conjunction with the Senate. A Museum of the Cold War is planned that will be run by the State of Berlin.” Greenland Greenland's magnificent nature Danish architect Dorte Mandrup will be exhibiting at the main exhibition of the Biennale Architettura 2018, and with over 200 square metres at her disposal, is one of the most comprehensive installations on display at this year's Architecture Biennale. The forthcoming Icefjord Centre in Greenland is the inspiration source behind a large sensuous exhibition, designed to give Biennale's visitors an authentic experience of the magnificent and harsh nature in Greenland.” Holland Work, Body, Leisure Location: Giardini Bed-In Interviews With Beatriz Colomina #BED, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 4pm Visions of the Future With Mark Wigley, Liam Young, and respondent Amal Alhaag #LOCKER ROOM, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 12pm Work Body Leisure | Official Opening WELCOMING WORDS 4pm – 4:30pm SONGS FOR HARD-WORKING PEOPLE A project by Noam Toran, composed and performed by Remco de Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk. This afternoon concert launches the official soundtrack of the 2018 Dutch Pavilion. 4:30pm – 5pm Great Britain Island Location: Giardini “The curatorial team, Caruso St John Architects working in collaboration with artist Marcus Taylor, responds to the theme of Freespace with the construction of a new public space on the roof of the British Pavilion. This elevated piazza offers visitors to the Giardini a place to meet and a unique vantage point looking out across the Lagoon. At the centre of this new public space, the peak of the Pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor, suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath. Below, the doors of the Pavilion are open to visitors, but the building is empty of exhibits.” Greece Utopian Visions of Learning Location: Giardini “‘The Faculty of Athens,’ will focus on the structure of the educational commons – from Plato’s Academy to recent college designs. It re-imagines the Greek Pavilion adopts the architectural trope of the stepped panorama to create an energetic house of discussion and trade. Inside of this panorama, architectural fashions depicting instructional commonplace areas from throughout historical past and all over the world, each learned and unrealized, will create a box of architectural specimens that fills the pavilion in all instructions.” Guatemala Stigma  Location: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, 4118 Cannaregio “The Guatemala pavilion investigates space with models all linked to a sense of utopia and lexical incompleteness, that reflect and try to give an answer to the language crisis brought by the postmodern age. The exhibition proposes a sort of ‘Virtual City,’ understood as the articulation of urban systems designed according to new modes of collective intelligence.” Hungary Liberty Bridge – New Urban Horizons Location: Giardini “In 2016, one of the oldest Danube-bridges of Budapest, the Liberty Bridge became car-free due to an infrastructural development in the neighborhood. Citizens, mostly millennials immediately put the road and tram tracks to creative use and re-imagined the historic place. The construction turned into street furniture, hosting picnics, grill-parties, yoga classes. The curators choose this episode to tackle fundamental issues of urban development: What does a free public space represent today? How can a bridge or any built structure act as a medium of freedom? How can we change our own identity by transforming our city?” Indonesia Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness Location: Arsenale “Here emptiness is meant as an active entity; a singularity that functions as a prominent agency in life and at the same time, as a void which demands to be conquered. This conquest expresses in various ritualization. Emptiness is a concept strongly rooted in Indonesian’s Architecture. This project argues that the concept of Emptiness that has been practice in Indonesia is the approach to liberate spatial experience and tactility.” Ireland The Free Market Location: Asenale “The Irish Pavilion is centered around the theme of the Free Market. The exhibition will explore the common space of market towns in Ireland, their gradual demise and importance for economic and social engagement. The pavilion will be transformed into a rural Irish market square, complete with market stalls, goods, soundscape and a daily newspaper.” Israel In Status Quo: Structures of Negotiation Location: Giardini “Through the lens of architecture, the exhibition explores the status quo mechanism that was established in the 19th century to regulate conflicts and facilitate co-existence in the Holy places. In the exhibition, visitors move through five holy sites that highlight Israel’s fragile system of cohabitation and disputed territoriality. Each holy site raises different phenomenon and their highly uncertain territorial claims over centuries has made them some of the most significant and challenging sites to reexamine within this context. The Israeli Pavilion team chose 10 of the most captivating architectural proposals of the Western Wall plaza over time, including those by Louis Kahn, Isamu Noguchi, Moshe Safdie and Superstudio. For each plan, the team created custom-made, 3-D printed models. In front of the models, a live stream of the Western Wall precinct will be screened, highlighting the dichotomy between past and future.” Italy Arcipelago Italia “Projects for the future of the country’s interior territories” focuses on the urban space that runs along the Italian ridge, from the Alpine Arch, along the Apennines, up to the Mediterranean. An itinerary with a hundred stages, suggested by small, high quality architectural projects realized in recent years and the result of a call promoted by the curator, in dialogue with examples taken from history, with the relationship between architecture and landscape; a journey into the future, investigating the current situation and proposing a reflection on contemporary issues such as the urban periphery, the earthquake aftermath, brownfields, railways and mobility; five experimental projects in as many areas of Italy.” Japan Architectural Ethnography from Tokyo: Guidebooks and Projects on Livelihood Location: Giardini “The Japan Pavilion’s curated presentation showcases over 40 exhibitors, ranging from university design studios and architectural offices to contemporary artistic practices from all over the world from the last twenty years.” Korea Spectres of the State Avant-garde Location: Giardini “The Korean Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will present Spectres of the State Avant-garde, an imagined archive of the Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. (KECC), a technical consultancy for architecture and civil engineering established by the government in 1963. Spectres of the State Avant-garde seeks to reconstruct a hidden narrative about the state’s paradoxical pursuit of a utopian vision for society through oppressive government policy. KECC enjoyed an unparalleled dominance over Korea’s architecture and construction industry, and the breadth of its activities reached beyond civil engineering and infrastructural projects to include urban master plans and expo pavilions. Their visions at times mimicked the radical architectural experiments of the West but more often assumed a pragmatic attitude in line with the state developmental agenda.” Kosovo The City is Everywhere Location: Asenale “The Pavilion’s concept revolves around the idea of ‘house’ as a compensation for the city. During ‘90s Kosovo Albanians were expelled from all activities of public institutional life because of the political conflicts in ex—Yugoslavia. Due to that Kosovo Albanians created a parallel system of public institutions into their private houses in peripheral areas of the city. The pavilion space, named The City Is Everywhere is a house always on the making and somehow unfinished because of these new additional public functions. The inside represents the outside at the same time. All public life of Albanians during ‘90s for 10 years were provided into these inside private spaces opened by by Kosovo Albanians for public uses. The house became a metaphor for the city—it was a public space / a school / a gallery / a hospital / a shop / a café and a home at the same time. Latvia Together and Apart Location: Arsenale “The Latvian pavilion looks at apartment buildings in relation to architecture’s role in organizing the society. It examines how this architectural typology generates ways of living together and apart — with one another, the market, and the state. During its 100–year–long history, Latvia has undergone several fundamental political and economic transformations that have employed housing as a means of reform. Today, despite being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe, nearly two thirds of Latvians live in apartment buildings, which is the highest ratio in Europe.” Lebanon The Place That Remains Location: Arsenale The project involves a reflection on the built environment through a reflection on the unbuilt land and the possible visions for the future of the national territory and landscape. The focus will be on Nahr Beirut (Beirut River) and its watershed. The project explores the preconditions for architecture through assessing its bedrock and the challenges protagonists face, such as the fragile nature of territory, scarcity of resources and commodification. The format chosen for the project is a combined 3D relief map, landscape photography and video surveillance, while the watershed setting allows its creators to ensure that the resources remain the key focus.” Lithuania  The Swamp Pavilion Location: Il Giardino Bianco Art Space (Castello Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 “In a time marked by existential threats of war and climate change, the pavilion highlights the vital urgency of human cohabitation with humans and forms of life. Inaugurated with the launch of live broadcasting programmes on Swamp Radio, The Swamp Space and its extended network will engage audiences in a variety of acoustic space explorations. ‘The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him,’ maintained Bertolt Brecht. Acts of revalorizing the Swamp over solid ground and exploring its complex web of interactions are both conceived as pedagogical exercises by the project’s initiators with aims to transmit possibilities of speaking for the silenced voices of this planet.” Luxembourg The Architecture of a Common Ground Location: Arsenale “Highlights the importance of land and property for architecture and urban planning: privatisation as well as speculation, especially with urban land, has risen dramatically in the past decade. Many European towns and cities, which, like Luxembourg, are under enormous pressure to develop, have virtually run out of building land. The project draws attention to this striking lack of public land with a spatial installation and literally confronts it with projects – tracked down in the architectural history of ideas, flanked by initial research results from the young University of Luxembourg – that make as much public space available as possible over and above the defined programmes. The social and political dimension of architecture is linked to its creative power. The Architecture of the Common Ground puts forward a clear statement that does not mean to deliver universal answers but to show to what extent architects may conceptually react to the privatisation of land. The Architecture of the Common Ground is an appeal to view the unreproducible and indispensable resource of land as a common good, like air and water. “ Macedonia Freeingspace Location: Arsenale – Sale d’Armi Mexico My Art Guide Mexico City  Location: Arsenale “A paper guide and digital issue dedicated to Zona Maco and the art week in Mexico City is now available online, as well as an iOS app. This edition has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Carlos Amorales (Artist), Juan Gaitán (Director of Museo Tamayo), and Mauricio Galguera (Director of Galería Hilario Galguera and co-director of El Cuarto de máquinas). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town.” Mongolia (Cancelled) Understanding Location: Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 Montenegro Wo/man Under Umbrella Location: Palazzo Malipiero (ground floor), San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero “The exhibition is a framework for future research, which will actualize the need for a holistic approach, through imperative resilience of socio-ecological systems. Such approach entails transdisciplinary methods i.e. broadening the architectural knowledge base, and understanding complex, adaptive and self-regulating systems where narrow-range activities have unconceivable consequences.” Nordic Countries Explore Nature's Relationship to the Built Environment Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the relationship between nature and the built environment. The goal is to explore new ways of making buildings that emphasize the delicate but often invisible interactions between the built and natural worlds. The Nordic pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, celebrates nature’s different phenomena: light, sound, materials bringing them together to form a unique architectural experience. The 2018 installation in the Nordic pavilion will build on the context created by Fehn and ask how we see ourselves in relation to nature today.” Pakistan  The Fold Location: Levante section of the Gardens of Marinaressa, along Riva dei Sette Martiri “The National Pavilion of Pakistan team Presenting Pakistan’s architectural design prowess to the international community are Coalesce Design Studio, a Karachi-based multidisciplinary design practice, and Antidote Art & Design, a Dubai-based platform that serves the careers of emerging and mid-career visual artists and designers, with the generous support of GAA Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization that aims to heighten awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, architecture, and culture. The Pavilion of Pakistan, titled The Fold, explores these ideas of limitation and interdependence, inviting visitors to comprehend Freespace as a consequence of unity, mutuality and harmony amidst a restrictive physicality. This makes it simultaneously a global as well as a local phenomenon.” Peru Undercover. 4000 Years of Architecture and Urban Planning in an Unexpected Place: Lima Location: Arsenale “Peru immediately brings to mind the Incas and the grandeur of Machu Picchu. Little is known, however, about its capital, Lima, a city where it never rains. With 7 mm of annual rainfall, it is one of the driest on Earth. This has been a decisive factor in the survival of a great number of adobe architectural monuments in the past 4000 years – 447 structures, to be precise. The curators found reserves of generosity in this legacy.” Philippines The City Who Had Two Navels Location: Arsenale “Inspired by Filipino National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961), the Philippine Pavilion confronts the tension between the vicissitudes of the past and the challenges of constructing contemporary subjectivity. It highlights two ‘navels’ that are in constant dialogue: the forces of colonialism and neoliberalism. Through the speculations about the intertwined forces and the concomitant architectural and urban issues, Philippines’ ‘Freespace’ anticipates possibilities for renewed life and hope.” Poland Amplifying Nature Location: Giardini “Architecture serves not only to offer protection from nature, but is inherently connected with phenomena such as gravitation, water circulation, or the day-night cycle. This concept is present in nature-amplifying designs from the history of Polish architecture: the Warszawianka sports complex, inscribed in the Vistula River escarpment, designed by a Jerzy Sołtan-led team of the Art-and-Research Workshops of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Zofia and Oskar Hansens’ Szumin House, and Jacek Damięcki’s visionary, unrealised design of the Floating Rotary Pavilion, and in two original designs by CENTRALA — the vertically open Cabrio House and the Rain Pavilion. Throughout the 6 months of the show, the pavilion will be actively shaped by factors including water, daily and annual light rhythms, or viewer interaction, demonstrating how architecture is inclusive in processes of physical change.” Portugal Public Without Rhetoric Location: Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco “This theme underlines how closely State investment in accessible, quality public space is directly related to the rise of a democratic, cultured and inclusive society. Portugal is showcasing a tour of the “Public Building” on the main floor in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco. Its representation includes a collection of drawings, models and photographs of the 12 selected projects that include temporary structures, buildings or infrastructures dedicated to culture, education, sport and mobility. This is the work of several different generations of Portuguese architects, born between the 1930s and 1980s and built in the last ten years. The diversity of programmes and scales in this exhibition are used to reveal the universal culture and cross-generation excellence of these Portuguese architects. ‘Public buildings such as cultural, educational and sports facilities and infrastructures,’ as the curators point out, ‘belong to the idea of evolution and progressivity as regards social opportunities. They in fact simultaneously reconstruct and rehabilitate the city and renew public space in terms of quality and culture.’” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) presents the project Living with Water in the Pavilion of Slovenia at the 16th Venice International Architecture Biennale. They developed a series of installations that investigate the relations between the hydrological systems and constructed structures, territory and landscapes on a range of spatial, temporal and operational scales. Furthermore, Plemenitaš and his team developed a Multi-Scale Flow Map.” Romania Mnemonics Location: one for the Giardini and one for the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research (RICHR) in Cannaregio Mnemonics is the ancient technique of collecting memories. The ultimate challenge of architecture is the ability of a space to generate strong memories. In Romania the image of children playing outside the buildings is the universal icon of the space between the apartment buildings. The installation uses props specific to the environment mentioned above in order to invite everyone to exchange roles on the playground, to interact and reflect over the effects of the appropriation of a common space by communities.” Russia Station Russia Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the past, present and future of the railways in Russia. The space itself will be transformed into a train station. The focus of the exhibition forms a parallel with the history of the Russian Pavilion itself, which was inaugurated in 1914. The building’s designer, Alexey Shchusev, was also responsible for the Kazansky Railway Station. The space will be divided into five halls: Hall 1: The Geography of Free Space Hall 2: The Architectural Depot Hall 3: The Waiting Hall of the Future Hall 4: The Crypt of Memories Hall 5: Aboard the Free Space” San Marino Urban Colors Location: Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 947 “The project we propose for the 16th Architecture Biennale focuses on the relationship between architecture and urban environments, with particular attention to color, often absent or arbitrarily used, in modern architecture. There will be projects, models, videos, photographs, works of art by architects, designers, and artists from different countries.” Saudi Arabia Spaces In Between Location: Arsenale  “‘Freespace invites opportunity. It welcomes passersby, visitors and tenants. Once, open land accommodated independent settlement. Today, the consumption of space drives suburban growth. Within the peripheries, where development meets desert, the distinction between city edge and hinterland is blurred as bare expanses are punctured by swift development. Structures ranging from pathways, forums to flexible spaces, activating the inherent potential of the spaces in between.’ Over the past four decades, Saudi metropolitan centers have undergone rapid urbanization, with rural migration propelling built territories outwards. Settlement-driven growth produces disjointed, mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods connected by highways. In this state of fragmentation, over 40% of city land lies vacant. The wide distances between residential enclaves erode social ties and deplete natural resources.” Serbia Free School Is Free Space Location: Giardini This work was inspired by the Drawing on the Wall found in a basement room of the house which used to be Bogdan Bogdanovic’s Village School of the Philosophy of Architecture from 1976 to 1990. After the school was closed, over its long history of decay, the house became a Free Space for refugees, football players, hunters, vagrants… The metaphysics of this drawing and the history of the place introduce us to a state of archetypal intimacy of primitive peoples or theological-cosmological interpretations of ourselves. As a rule, such a psychological state turns us into self-taught architects of our personal inner space while the process of transition from the surreal to the real unfolds within us.” Singapore No More Free Space Location: Arsenale “Under the direction of lead curator Dr. Erwin Viray, Head of Pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design. The exhibition comprises twelve Singapore-based architecture projects, spanning residential, commercial, private and public buildings, each demonstrating how to turn constraints into opportunities for ‘free space’ by re-imagining what a highly compact city can be. Each project incorporates light, air, greenery or water to create oasis and delightful free spaces in dense urban environments, bringing joy and connectivity to the community. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be an interactive installation – an ethereal cloud of handcrafted acrylic knots with multi-sensory sounds, light and image projections, re-creating the experiences of Singapore for the audience.” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Living with Water commissioner appointed a group of internationally acclaimed architects, landscape architects, researchers and educators, who applied for an open invitation to participate in the development of a joint presentation at the Pavilion of Slovenia. The multidisciplinary process of their work is presented in two installations. Because of water, life in Slovenia is enjoyable and satisfying, but at the same time water represents a particular danger. Nearly 160,000 Slovenian inhabitants live in flood-prone areas and some 50 to 70 floods of varying sizes affect Slovenia every year. At the same time, the right to drinking water has been enshrined in the Constitution since 2016 and almost one-fifth of Slovenia's territory is protected in order to safeguard drinking water resources. On the other hand, many concessions for the management of important water resources have been granted to corporations.” South Africa (Cancelled) Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng “In response to the Biennale’s theme, the South African Pavilion invites viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible and disregarded at the level of cultural, political or economic representation? The exhibition reflects on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-­political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.” Spain Becoming Commissioner: Ministerio de Fomento Agencia Española de Venue: Giardini Turkey The Shift/Vardiya Location: Arsenale “The Shift/Vardiya, follows an atypical architectural discourse compared to other installations or projects that are set to be exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Tackling the essence of the biennale's theme Freespace directly or indirectly, or both analogically or metaphorically, the Pavilion doesn't feature a unique installation or a series of exhibition objects. Instead, it focuses on the process of production through which architecture is studied collectively and experimentally with many students and professionals coming from different disciplines from around the world. The Shift is envisioned to be a hotspot for various workshops, roundtable discussions and informal meetings, welcoming over a hundred international students of architecture, tens of tutors, guest professionals, keynote speakers and visitors while inviting all to a continuous learning and production process throughout the twenty-five weeks of the biennial.” United Arab Emirates Lifescapes Beyond Bigness  Location: Arsenale Lifescapes Beyond Bigness, the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition at the 2018 Venice Biennale, will reveal hidden scenes of everyday life in the UAE across four ‘human-scale’ urban landscapes. Opening on 24 May 2018 at 12 noon, the exhibition will highlight the interplay between the built environment and the dynamism of informal social life through images, technical drawings, maps and three-dimensional models. The exhibition and accompanying publication examine four urban typologies, including: residential neighborhoods, morphology and social rhythm of the four typologies. Case studies and detailed personal stories offer insight into the anthropology of each research site.” Uruguay Prison to Prison, an Intimate Story between two Architectures Location: Giardini “The project for the pavilion explores the existence of an unprecedented Freespace inside the unlikeliest place and in close relationship with its larger opposite. Last year the largest building created in Uruguay was a prison and this symbolic fact bears witness to the desires and fears of our society and the effect that architecture can have.  Ironically, this new prison was built adjacent to the existing Punta de Rieles Prison, often referred to as the “village jail.” A unique experience in Uruguay, and in the world, in which the prison is understood as a lively, vibrant neighborhood that imitates the outside on the inside, resulting in an unexpected Freespace for collective projects and negotiations inside a detention center.” Vatican City Vatican Chapels Location: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore “The pavilion will consist of ten full-scale chapels that can reconstructed and deployed to parishes anywhere in the world. Vatican Chapels, as the project is officially known, will be erected in a forest on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, opposite St. Mark’s Square.” Venezuela  CCS – Espacio Rebelde Commissioner and curator: Nelsón Rodriguez Location: Giardini “The show on display at the pavilion projects three large-scale urban plans in Caracas: Avenida Bolivar-Bulevar de Sabana Grande, Simón Bolívar Parl in la Carlota and the Hugo Chávez Park in La Rinconada.” Switzerland Svizzera 240 Location: Giardini “The Salon Suisse offers a series of lectures, talks and cultural events supplementing the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. Curated by architectural historian Marcel Bächtiger, cultural theorist Tim Kammasch and architect Stanislas Zimmermannwith the support of local Salonnière Laura Tinti, this year’s programme is an invitation to a journey. If architecture is an island within the archipelago of the artistic and scientific disciplines, then the Salon is a ship that has left the harbour. From foreign shores, we will look back at architecture and explore its cultural and social relevance today. In the long history of architecture, such moments have always proved most fruitful when the discourse opened up to ideas, insights and inventions from other disciplines. Today, it is time to set sail again. On our journey, we will encounter philosophers and anthropologists, writers, musicians and artists, comparatists and social researchers. By discussing their work and its relevance to architecture, the Salon Suisse will open new perspectives, not only on the potentials of architecture in the 21st century, but also on hidden connections that have always existed among the different disciplines. Each soirée is also a cultural event: a concert, a lecture or a performance; a tangible sensory experience that will initiate conversation between the audience and our guests, all of them present over the whole length of a salon.” United States  Dimensions of Citizenship – U.S. Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale Location: Giardini “The exhibition is an effort aimed to investigate how the very concept of citizenship has changed in recent times and is changing these days. Does the conventional notion of citizenship is being undermined by transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, geopolitical transformations, climatic change, populism, social inequality? How architects and designers should respond to such transformation and in which way their traditional role in contemporary society is changing because of it?”
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Look on the Sunnyside

PAU confirmed as Sunnyside Yard master planner
Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia, announced at a media briefing yesterday that master planning for Sunnyside Yard in western Queens would begin summer of 2018. A steering committee made up of local stakeholders and technical experts will be guiding the process, while Vishaan Chakrabarti’s PAU will be leading the master planning team (confirming a leak from late March). PAU’s team and the steering committee will utilize the results of the feasibility study commissioned in February of 2017 as a starting point in planning for the future of the 180-acre active rail yard. Over the next 18 months, the steering committee and planning team will establish long-term plans for how to best develop the site, and what the most feasible first steps will be. Regular check-ins with the community will also be scheduled, as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Amtrak want to keep the process forward-facing. Co-chaired by the city and Amtrak, the 35-person steering committee includes several members of Sunnyside’s Community Board 2; President of the Regional Plan Association Tom Wright; President of LaGuardia Community College Gail Meadow; and representatives from developers, construction associations, Amtrak, NYCHA, and other groups with a vested interest in the project. Also of note was the appointment of Cali Williams, a long time NYCEDC employee as the Director of Sunnyside Yard. Any of the resulting plans will involve decking over an extensive portion of the rail yard while keeping it running for the Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit trains running below. To that end, the actual master plan consultant team is something a who's-who of New York firms. Thornton Tomasetti will be handling the structural engineering, Sam Schwartz Engineering will be responsible for the mobility planning and engineering, and Nelson Byrd Woltz has been tapped as the landscape architect. The Italian firm Carlo Ratti Associati has also been selected as the project’s “futurist”, to help guide expand the team’s thinking about what’s possible. The initial NYCEDC feasibility study determined that decking over 80 to 85 percent of the site was possible, with the potential to build out up to 24,000 residential units, 19 schools, and 52 acres of parkland, at a cost of $19 billion. While monetary considerations weren’t raised explicitly at the May 2nd meeting, it was pointed out that this project would be a significant investment to Western Queens. Right now, the steering committee will be dedicated first and foremost to deciding how to advance what the community wants most out of the development. The steering committee’s formation comes at a critical time for the yard, as the MTA will also be working at the site to bring the East Side Access project online (allowing LIRR trains to reach Grand Central). Governor Cuomo has promised that that particular project will be ready by 2022.
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New Lab, New You

Brooklyn's New Lab goes big with a tech hub for urban entrepreneurs
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located in a former shipbuilding space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New Lab is an 84,000-square-foot collaborative tech hub dedicated to entrepreneurs working on scalable technologies and products. New Lab supports companies in nine disciplines: robotics, AI, urban tech, the built environment, energy, connected devices, additive tech, life sciences, and nanotechnology. Members benefit from access to a dizzying array of fabrication labs, including 3-D printing, woodworking, casting, CNC milling, and electronics, along with access to free software, including Autodesk and SolidWorks. But it’s also important to note that New Lab’s location in New York City is part of the draw, as the city itself is offered as an ideal laboratory to test the technologies in real-life urban conditions. The flagship tech hub opened in 2016 and was founded to provide a supportive center for those companies working at the forefront of technology and human experience and to ensure that they have a reason to stay in the city. David Belt, New Lab’s co-founder and CEO, is careful to stress that the lab is not an incubator—that is, it is not dedicated to helping companies at the beginning of their research or product-development cycles, but rather those that have concrete products and built technologies and are ready to take the next step. Through a formalized arm of the company called New Lab Ventures—a $50 million venture fund—the lab itself invests in some of its member companies and currently has investments in 14 of them; the lab also connects members to the world’s leading venture funds. And a joint program called the Urban Tech Hub, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), allows New Lab to support companies that strive to make a more livable, resilient city through their technologies and products. Additionally, the lab has other private-public partnerships in the works and a global partner network with Barcelona, Spain, and Copenhagen, Denmark, that offers other opportunities to members. New Lab currently has 103 member companies, with 600 individuals working at the space. Competition for entry is steep—just 15 percent of applicants are accepted.

Notable alumni include:

CARMERA

The founders see potential for their technology to be crucial for urban developers, autonomous vehicles, public transportation, and infrastructure. It allows for real-time, constantly updated 3-D mapping of cities.

Voltaic Systems

The portable solar power company creates lightweight solar panels and solar-powered solutions for people, products, and structures alike.

StrongArm Technologies

This company develops ergonomic solutions for injury prevention and peak performance for the industrial workforce, including the construction industry.

Terreform ONE

An architecture and urban think tank that advances ecological design in derelict municipal areas. Terreform is New Lab’s only nonprofit and its only architect-centric member.

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Sunnyside Up

Vishaan Chakrabarti and PAU reportedly tapped for Sunnyside Yard master plan
A team headed by Vishaan Chakrabarti has been chosen by the de Blasio administration to create a master plan for Western Queens’ Sunnyside Yard rail pit, according to Crain’s New York. While nothing has been officially announced, Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will be responsible for envisioning how to deck over the 180-acre yard and support parks, retail, commercial, and thousands of residential units. The idea to deck over the still actively-in-use train yard with housing has been kicking around since 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a feasibility study from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Released in February of 2017, the report found that it would be feasible to deck over anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of the site, and up to 24,000 residential units could be built for around $19 billion (about the cost of Hudson Yards). Each of the three schemes in the feasibility report offsets the mixture of residential units with space for cultural centers, schools, retail, and office space, though it’s unclear what PAU will focus on. Sunnyside Yard, which is so large that it stretches across the triangle of Astoria-Long Island City-Sunnyside neighborhoods, is still in active use by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, and any plan would need to allow for its continued use. Because of the difficulty involved in building over an active train yard, the master plan will help inform Amtrak’s decision to upgrade its facilities in the future. PAU’s selection comes on the heels of a Request For Qualifications released by the NYCEDC in September of last year, though neither party were willing to confirm the choice to Crain’s. Assuming the report's sources were correct, PAU will draw up a vision for the rail yard and create a specific development plan for the megaproject, a process city officials estimate could take up to two years. “We remain on track with the original schedule for this project,” a spokesman for the NYCEDC told Crain’s. “We continue to work closely with Amtrak, and we will also engage community stakeholders before beginning any master-planning process.”
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Marvel-ous

City taps Marvel Architects to design Bronx YMCA
Today the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) unveiled preliminary designs for a new YMCA in Edenwald, a north Bronx neighborhood that borders Westchester County. The 50,000-square-foot community and recreation facility will be designed by local firm Marvel Architects. The city selected the YMCA to develop and run the facility back in August 2016. In addition to the all-ages programming the Y is known for, the building will feature two pools, a gym, and a full-size basketball court. It will be located on the eastern side of what's known as the Edenwald site (1250 East 229th Street), a property that's owned by the city's child welfare agency and includes the Christopher School, a residential institution for students with developmental disabilities. “For more than 40 years, we’ve been trying to establish a recreational center of this magnitude. Our district is one of the few districts without one," said City Council Member Andy King, in a prepared statement. "I am grateful that a brand-new YMCA is coming to our community. It will serve thousands of residents in the 12th Council District as well as create jobs and eventually bring much needed activity and meeting space in our community.” The preliminary design of the $58 million project is subject to the Public Design Commission's approval. Construction is expected to begin this fall, and the project should be completed by 2020. Before shovels can hit the ground, however, the planned YMCA has to go through Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the city's public review process.
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Don't Stop Believing

What’s going on with the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar?
With the recent revelation that New York City’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar project had missed its deadline for launching the public review process at the end of December, new questions have arisen over how feasible the project is. As the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has instead chosen to begin a review of the streetcar’s cost and feasibility this year, it’s worth looking back at the BQX’s bumpy ride through 2017. The last time AN wrote about the BQX, it was to report on the release of a leaked memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s advisory team to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in April. While the 16-mile-long BQX line was originally envisioned as a way to transport residents up and down a revitalized Brooklyn-Queens waterfront by April 2024, the memo called into question the rising costs of relocating below-grade utilities along the line’s route. It was additionally suggested that the use “value-capture” for the $2.5 billion project, which would finance the BQX through rising waterfront property values, might not be enough. Fast forward to November 9th, when two anonymous sources with connections to the project told the New York Post that “It’s going to die.” Citing the contentious relationship between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, and breaking with the mayor’s assertion that the BQX would require no state-level intervention, the sources broke down why the streetcar relied on the governor’s approval. Several parcels of land along the BQX’s proposed route are owned by the state government and would need permission to build over, and the MTA has stated that it would not cross-honor BQX tickets for the bus and subway systems. Killing the “last mile” aspect of the streetcar is especially important, as the project was initially pitched as linking neighborhoods that lacked mass transit options. Four days later on the 13th, the nonprofit group Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector unveiled a life-sized streetcar prototype at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The mockup featured enough room for 150 passengers and open gangways, while Friends of the BQX have promised that the streetcar would have an average speed faster than the busses it would share the street with. As December drew to a close, the BQX missed a major milestone in failing to launch the public review process. As the EDC begins an in-depth review of the project, Crain’s has noted that the review would save taxpayers $35 million if plans for the streetcar were scrapped, but would delay the project’s launch another six months, potentially costing up to $100 million every year that it’s delayed. Only a few days after, on December 28th the Post reported that the Department of Transportation would need to repair the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway directly over the proposed streetcar route, potentially delaying the project further. While the Friends of the BQX and the mayor’s office have remained adamant that funding for the project can be found, there are still significant hurdles in the way. A route has to be finalized, some sort of agreement between the city and MTA must be worked out, and protection measures for flooding will need to be discussed as the entire line runs along the most climatologically vulnerable part of the waterfront. As 2018 progresses, it will be worth keeping an eye on whether the BQX can meet its original 2019 groundbreaking date. A Friends of the BQX spokesperson gave AN the following statement in regards to the project's future. "The BQX will dramatically increase opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront who are clamoring for better access to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation. We're optimistic that the project will take significant, concrete strides forward in 2018."
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Parks and Rec

New York City pledges over $100 million to fill East Harlem greenway gap
Following the city council’s approval of a comprehensive, sometimes contentious East Harlem rezoning earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced yesterday that the city will be committing $83 million towards creating a new waterfront park in East Harlem. The seven-block-long, seven acre-park will feature new bicycle and pedestrian paths, connect the East River Esplanade from East 125th to East 132nd Street, and create an unbroken greenway from East 51st Street to East 145th Street. On top of the newly pledged $83 million in capital, the city had already promised $18 million to restore that same area and another $15 million to fix up the section of the esplanade between East 96th  and East 125th Street. All of this follows an announcement by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) that the $100 million riverfront stretch between East 53rd and East 60th Streets was inching towards a construction date. The greenway, a 32-mile-long strip that runs around the edge of Manhattan, will eventually become both an unbroken loop for both bikers and pedestrians, as well as a buffer from coastal flooding. “The East River Esplanade is a major public open space asset that offers wonderful views and a chance to relax for New Yorkers up and down the east side of Manhattan,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a press release. “As El Barrio/East Harlem neighborhoods have witnessed, however, part of this greenway has been neglected for far too long. That’s why the Council prioritized investing in this important open space as part of the recent East Harlem Rezoning. We are proud to welcome this $101 million capital investment for the construction of a brand new waterfront promenade.” The EDC, in conjunction with the Parks Department, will also be responsible for designing and permitting the revitalized section of East Harlem Esplanade, while Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architecture is the prime consultant for this section of the greenway link. A renewed investment of capital and attention in the upper half of the East River Esplanade has been sorely needed. This year, sections of the promenade’s seawall have sloughed off into the river, shipworms continue to eat away at the wooden piles underneath, and sinkholes keep forming as a result of gaps between the underlying concrete slabs, according to the Parks Department. Construction on the new park is expected to begin in 2020, when work on the adjacent the Harlem River Drive is completed. The EDC is expecting that the work will take approximately three years, and finish in 2023. As for the section between East 96th and East 125th Street, the EDC is expected to re-survey the area in 2018 and present their recommendations afterward.
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Arms Conflict

NYC approves controversial Bedford-Union Armory plan
Today the New York City Council voted to approve a controversial redevelopment plan for Brooklyn's Bedford-Union Armory. The plan, Bedford Courts, proposes revamping the vacant, city-owned armory with a 67,000-square-foot recreation hall, 330 rental apartments and 60 condominiums. The recreational facilities would include multi-purpose courts, a swimming pool, and an indoor turf field.The project still must be approved by the Mayor's Office before it can begin development. The project is designed by Marvel Architects, with Bedford Courts LLC and BFC Partners as the plan developers. CAMBA, a local non-profit, will manage the recreational facility and administer the initial affordable housing program. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will administer leases and provide project oversight. The New York City Housing Preservation and Development agency (NYCPHD) will serve as an advisor to NYCEDC and Bedford Courts on affordable housing and regulate the affordable housing program after construction, taking over CAMBA's responsibilities. Although 50 percent of the rental units and 20 percent of condos would be made affordable, the plan's opponents have argued it does not include nearly enough affordable housing, given rising rents and the potential for displacement as Crown Heights gentrifies. City Planning Commission member Michelle de la Uz told DNAinfo"Given that this is publicly owned land, the community has come to expect more." When the City Planning Commission greenlit the plan on Monday, de la Uz was the only Commission member to vote against it. Monday's decision was also met with public opposition, with protesters gathered outside and within City Hall. Two demonstrators were arrested at the meeting.
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BID CITIES

A revealing look at how cities bid for Amazon's new headquarters
On October 19, Amazon received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America, all vying to be the home of HQ2, the $5 billion, 50,000-employee co-headquarters the company wants to build over the next two decades. A decision is expected sometime in 2018. Bidders were asked not to divulge details of their proposals, but information has leaked out about many of them. Baltimore officials held a news conference at the waterfront site they’re touting, saying, “This must be the place.” The District of Columbia identified four possible locations and created a hashtag: #ObviouslyDC. Birmingham, Alabama placed giant Amazon packages all over town. New York City lit up the Empire State Building and other landmarks “Amazon orange.” While much of the news coverage has focused on some of the more publicity-seeking stunts by cities and locales, it is worth sifting through the news to consider how the urban landscape is being imagined and parceled off for a single corporate giant. Some bidders don’t meet Amazon’s criteria for consideration, such as having a metropolitan area of at least one million people or zoning to build up to 8 million square feet of office space. Others are making strong cases for why they should be chosen by combining their forces with other locales. Overall the bids reveal a glimpse of how seriously some cities are taking the chance to host Amazon, and what they believe the strengths of their metropolitan areas are. Some cities put all their eggs in a single basket, offering up a single site within their city boundaries. Boston offered Suffolk Downs, a soon-to-close horse racing track in East Boston, and touted its concentration of leading colleges and universities. “Boston sells itself,” Mayor Martin Walsh was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe. “We have world class colleges and universities. We’re the youngest city per capita in America.” Baltimore offered the 235-acre Port Covington redevelopment area south of downtown. An independent citizens’ group offered a second site in midtown Baltimore, including land currently occupied by the state penitentiary, a proposed Innovation Hub, and State Center, a government office complex. Dallas extended a transit-oriented development surrounding a proposed $15 million Hyperloop terminal that will run between Dallas and Houston. New Jersey offered an 11.5–acre riverfront site in Newark as well as tax breaks worth up to $7 billion. Practice for Architecture and Urbanism would be the master planner for the project, working with Michael Green Architect, TEN Arquitectos and Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners. Surprise, Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’s “newest emerging city,” made an unlikely bid for the Amazon project by offering 100 acres of prime downtown real estate, Bizjournals reported. Offering big city amenities but also a “blank canvas waiting to be painted,” the municipality west of the Phoenix metro area boasts sports training facilities for national teams, a college stadium that hosts professional football games, and a foreign trade zone already being developed by international corporations. The bid sets aside the 100-acre site beside its civic center with the intention of having Amazon “help to create the culture of downtown.” In case Amazon isn’t content with creating a new downtown from thin air, the municipality also offered up the suburban town of Prasada nearby that also has 100 acres of vacant, highway-adjacent land that can be used. Surprise joins Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Tucson, Arizona as cities making bids for the HQ2 project in the state. Other cities proposed a range of sites, suggesting that their cities were more than equipped to handle the space and tech needs of a headquarters like Amazon. Washington, D. C. proposed four locations for Amazon HQ2: the Anacostia Riverfront, Capitol Hill East; Shaw-Howard University, and NoMa-Union Station. Another promising site would have been the RFK stadium property, but as a federally owned property, leasing terms require that the land be used for sports and recreation, so it wasn’t offered. New York City identified four potential sites: Midtown West, Long Island City, the Financial District and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which includes DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yards and downtown Brooklyn. Philadelphia proposed three locations: Schuylkill Yard, uSquare and the Navy Yard. Chicago offered 10 potential sites and an incentive package that could be worth $2 billion.  The sites are the “Downtown Gateway District,” which includes space in the Willis Tower and the Old Post Office; the endangered Helmut Jahn-designed James R. Thomson Center; two separate sites along the Chicago River’s North Branch; the now booming Fulton Market in the city’s West Loop neighborhood; the Illinois Medical District; a 62-acre site along the Chicago River’s South Branch; the now vacant site of the former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville, and two sites outside of the city at the former Motorola global headquarters in Schaumberg and the soon-to-be former McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook. Huntington Beach and Long Beach in California offered three sites: the Boeing campus in North Huntington Beach,  the World Trade Center in Long Beach, and a site next to the Long Beach Airport. Another set of cities, perhaps due to their size, offered a regional package, either by applying to be part of a regional headquarters or teaming up with nearby cities and even across international borders to put together an offer. Omaha, Nebraska does not meet many of the company’s stated requirements, but it submitted a bid in the hopes that Amazon may choose to break up the project over multiple cities. If not, city leaders expressed the hope that their bid will be a chance to put the city in front of Amazon executives, and those of other tech companies, for the possibility of future investments. Missouri offered three sites: Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City, with a Hyperloop transit system connecting all three. In Kansas City, Mayor Sly James purchased 1,000 items on Amazon, leaving reviews and product videos for many of them. Each review included not-so-coded language about the advantages of living and working in Kansas City. Buffalo and Rochester, New York, submitted a joint proposal offering the metro corridor between the two cities. The Buffalo-Rochester team highlighted the region’s contributions to technological research in many fields relevant to Amazon–among others, RFID technologies, drones, and software development. They also highlighted the corridor’s ties to businesses and universities just across the border in Canada. Detroit-Windsor, Michigan and Ontario, Canada teamed up to submit an international bid that presents unique opportunities for Amazon in terms of hiring and wages. Amazon would have more flexibility in building a staff with the option of hiring either Canadian or U.S. employees. There is also the possibility that Amazon could save on wages thanks to the exchange rate. Currently, one U.S. dollar is worth $1.26 in Canadian currency. Finally, another set of city bids crafted multi-nodal offers across multiple cities or scattered sites within city borders rather than proposing a single-site headquarters. In the San Francisco Bay area, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Concord, and Fremont joined forces to make one bid. The San Francisco portion of the bid offers up the Candlestick Point and San Francisco Shipyard, a stretch of land called “Southern Bayfront” running down Mission Creek to Candlestick Park, and another area in the South of Market district for the development. In Oakland, the Uptown Station, 601 City Center, and Eastline Development sites are offered. Concord is providing the decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons facility, a 2,300-acre site includes 500 acres slated for a potential first phase of the project. Richmond is offering a new research and development facility on the University of California, Berkeley campus that could potentially serve as a brain hub for the tech giant. Fremont is offering a 28-acre parcel at a transit stop that is zoned for 1.8 million square feet of commercial development. The combined regional bid includes adding 45,000 housing units to the area. In Los Angeles, leaders with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation are offering a dispersed, nine-site proposal. The specific sites have not been disclosed, but according to the Daily News, areas of the San Fernando Valley’s Warner Center complex, Cal Poly Pomona’s campus, and sections of Santa Clarita are up for grabs. Sites in Long Beach are also potentially included as part of the proposal. Colorado pitched what Governor John Hickenlooper described to 9 News as a “collaborative community that works to solve our own problems,” adding that with Colorado, Amazon would be “not just getting a site. They’re getting a community.” The proposal was generated by the Denver Economic Development Corporation, a private entity that works across the nine-county metropolitan area surrounding Denver. The bid involves eight sites across the state and an unspecified number of tax incentives, which Hickenlooper described as being “1/20th” the amount of incentives offered by other states and municipalities. Outside the melee of bidding, at least two cities made a point of announcing they weren’t submitting a proposal. In Texas, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote an open letter to Bezos stating, "The public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war,” and “blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style.” Rather than jump through hoops to try and attract Amazon’s attention, Little Rock, Arkansas, took the opportunity both to graciously decline and promote itself. In a full-page ad taken out in The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, the Arkansas capital of 200,000 penned a “Dear John” letter to announce its intention not to place a bid. “Amazon, you’ve got so much going for you, and you’ll find what you’re looking for,” read the letter. While Little Rock was a long shot, unable to meet some of the company’s requirements, it’s also the home of one of Amazon’s largest rivals, Walmart. Arkansas was one of only seven states that did not have a jurisdiction bidding for the new headquarters. The others are Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Additional reporting for this article was provided by AN editors Matthew Messner, Antonio Pacheco, and Jackson Rollings. 
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Bezos Bids

New York City's bid for Amazon offers up four neighborhoods, but no extra incentives
Last night, major buildings and billboards around New York City, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade, were lit in orange, the color of Amazon's logo, in support of the city's bid to host Amazon's HQ2, its headquarters outside Seattle. Overall, the application submitted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation is unremarkable. It points out that Amazon can hitch on to the tech industry already in the city, and highlights the talent, the city's infrastructure as a "proven ecosystem for innovation" and its track record of implementing grand plans. The application also underscores New York City as a bastion of higher education and a host to thriving industries beyond tech, including fashion, media, and manufacturing. What the bid did not do is provide a plan for how the company would integrate with a single neighborhood in the city. Unlike other candidate cities, it did not offer extra subsidies or tax breaks for the tech giant. Four neighborhoods are forwarded as potential sites for HQ2: Midtown West, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Tech Triangle, and Long Island City. All of these neighborhoods applied for inclusion in the EDC's application through an RFP released by the city, and were selected largely due to their access to public transit lines and housing markets ripe for expansion. New York's application was accompanied by a letter to Jeff Bezos, the Chairman and CEO of Amazon, co-signed by more than 70 elected officials from New York. The letter focuses on the city's role as a transportation hub for the East Coast and Mayor Bill de Blasio's commitment to sustainability through the city's OneNYC plan. In the EDC's promotional video accompanying the application, a mouse scrolls through a faux Amazon page for the city, listing "product details" like 2.3 million residents with bachelor's degrees or higher, the largest number of Fortune 500 companies of any city, and 9,000 startups. Near the end of the video, Mayor Ed Koch is even resurrected in the form of a customer review dating from 1986: "New York is the city where the future comes to rehearse." Rehearse for what exactly, we wonder. HQ3?
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Island Power

Puerto Rico's energy crisis calls for sustainable solutions, not more of the same
On September 20th, Hurricane Maria pummeled into the Puerto Rican coast with wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour, deluging the entire island with rain and quickly pulverizing its energy grid. The entire island was left without power. Puerto Rico's energy infrastructure is notoriously fragile. As Ruth Santiago, a climate advocate and attorney with Comité Diálogo Ambiental, Inc., a Puerto Rican environmental law group, told AN, three fallen trees in 2004 once took out energy for the entire eastern seaboard. Santiago explained that this was largely a geographic problem. Energy is by and large produced by two power plants – the Aguirre Power Complex in Salinas and the Costa Sur plant in Guayanilla. An additional coal-burning plant owned by US-owned AES Corporation is another player. Yet these sites are huge distances from some of the most populated cities. Nearly 230,000 kilowatts of energy are produced by the Aguirre plant, extending through power lines over the central mountain range of the island to the metropolitan area of San Juan, which along with its neighboring cities has a population of about 2 million people – over half of the island's total population of nearly 3.5 million. Transmitting energy at that distance makes the whole grid extremely prone to collapse. In September 2016, a similarly massive outage occurred, but this time due to faulty maintenance, Santiago explained. A general lack of resources and oversight means it is difficult to maintain the grid in the long term, especially as it faces the duress of hurricane-power winds and as these storms become more intense with climate change. Luis G. Martinez, Senior Attorney and Director of Southeast Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told AN that Puerto Rico's energy problem has been caught in a vicious cycle for quite some time. Earlier this summer, the Puerto Rican power utility PREPA filed for bankruptcy with a $9 million debt. Petroleum isn't cheap, and Puerto Rico is one of the only islands in the Atlantic to operate off of a petroleum-based energy grid (it is the source of about half of the island's electricity). When prices spike, utilities spend all their funds securing fuel, sinking further into debt and unable to break the cycle until they are no longer able to borrow money. Until about two years ago, Martinez said, the Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority (PREPA) was operated with very little oversight. In 2014, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC) was created to regulate PREPA. Two days after the storm hit, another infrastructural system showed signs of imminent collapse: the Guajataca Dam located on the northwestern end of the island, a 90-year-old, 120-foot-tall structure holding back about 11 billion gallons of water. Three nearby towns, Isabela, San Sebastián and Quebradillas, were immediately evacuated, displacing thousands. Supplying relief from the mainland United States faces its own challenges. Yesterday, President Trump waived the Jones Act for a period of ten days. The Jones Act is a century-old law requiring goods delivered to Puerto Rico to be carried there exclusively on American-owned vessels. This Act has been hindering the delivery of relief supplies to people in need. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) was responded: "For an entire week, the President was touting his concern for the shipping industry, while refusing to suspend the Jones Act. A ten-day waiver, as the Administration has announced, is far from sufficient given the scope of this tragedy ... To that end, I repeat my call for a one-year waiver of the Jones Act." The President shows no signs of budging. On the ground, recovery efforts are unfolding in myriad ways. Santiago has been working with local advocates on a short-term response to the island's energy crisis, noting that long-term solutions like sustainable energy sources – localized, solar micro-grids being the ideal – are important, but should be implemented carefully in the months to come. For now, she said, municipalities need smaller-scale solutions: cell phone chargers and generators chief among them. She described recently visiting a facility where individuals with diabetes, heart conditions, and cancer were going without their medications because they could no longer be refrigerated. Fortunately, some groups have arisen to work on long-term solutions to the frail energy grid, alongside the efforts of Puerto Rico-based organizations. A Brooklyn-based initiative called Resilient Power Puerto Rico, a project of the Coastal Marine Resource Center (CMRC), is focused on solar energy solutions. In their first phase, they are seeking to provide mobile solar-energy hubs, which are being prototyped in Santurce (a district of San Juan), which will be scaled up to be based in Caguas, a city in the central mountain range of the island when they have more resources. These hubs, if effective, will be able to provide limited power to the residents of small towns around the island. CMRC's mission is quite extensive both in time and scale: by the end of 2017, they hope to deliver more than 100 mobile solar kits to be assembled in public spaces in municipalities, training communities to install the projects along the way. The timeline for the initiative extends through 2021, when they hope to advocate for solar energy for the entire island as a permanent replacement to today's over-stretched grid. The organization has experience implementing these kinds of projects, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when CMRC produced scalable solar panels and generators for the hard-hit Rockaway peninsula in New York City. As Santiago explained, with the economic and fiscal crisis the island was already undergoing when Maria hit, any investments should be made in renewable energy and micro-grids, and set the stage for future investments in the same field. As the Hurricane Sandy anniversary approaches on October 29, let us not forget that the same effects in Puerto Rico are currently being suffered tenfold, while receiving much less coverage in the news. When asked what he thought was missing from coverage, Martinez had an immediate response: "The degree of desperation is not being expressed properly. People don't know when food, medical care, or power will come back. People need aid immediately." In Puerto Rico, there are a number of groups doing on-the-ground recovery work, including:

Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico), led by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, is one of the largest initiatives garnering funds for recovery.

ConPRmetidos (Committed) is a non-profit completing impact and needs assessments and seeking to provide power and structural repairs to the communities most in need.

Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico (Community Foundation of Puerto Rico), based in San Juan, is a philanthropic foundation awarding grants for, among other things, housing and economic development in local communities.

Comité Diálogo Ambiental, Inc. (Environmental Dialogue Committee, Inc.) is the Salinas-based group that Santiago works for, housed under an umbrella organization bringing together community groups, fishers associations, and others, called IDEBAJO–Iniciativa de Ecodesarrollo de Bahia de Jobos, Inc. (Jobos Bay Ecodevelopment Initiative).

In the stateside diaspora, here are a few groups participating in recovery work:

El Puente | Enlace Latino de Acción Climática (Latino Climate Action Network), based out of Brooklyn, has been holding fundraisers to raise awareness and support for Maria recovery efforts.

Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY) have been pooling community voices, news, and fundraising opportunities since the storm.

Note: We know this list is not comprehensive, and encourage you to leave additional resources in the comments section.
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Reflection zone

African Burial Ground memorial and mixed-use development approved for Harlem
While completing work on the Willis Avenue Bridge in East Harlem in the early 2000s, an unexpected discovery was made. A building adjacent to the bridge – a bus depot operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – seemed to have been built on top of a colonial-era African burial ground. In 2011, the MTA hired a consultant to complete a formal archaeological study (Phase 1A), which found that the depot grounds had indeed been an active burial site from the late 1660s to at least 1856. In 2015, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) completed a Phase 1B archaeological assessment and the depot was shut down, its operations relocated offsite. The nearby Elmendorf Reformed Church – a descendant church of the burial ground – were involved in the extraction of more than 140 bone fragments from the site, which will be preserved and reinterred within a memorial. As the MTA and NYCEDC discovered, the site had been the cemetery for descendants of Africans in the colonial era when the neighborhood was a Dutch settlement called Nieuw Haarlem. An adjacent cemetery for white parishioners was relocated to the Bronx when its attendant church moved, but the ground holding the Africans' remains was repeatedly resold and developed over, its history obscured and desecrated. Yesterday New York City Council approved a zoning application giving developers the go-ahead to construct a memorial at the historic burial ground, as well as a mixed-use housing and commercial complex including about 730 residential units, 80 percent of which will be made affordable. Before development begins, additional archaeological work will be conducted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPS), supervised by the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force (HABGTF), which has advocated for the site's formal recognition since 2009. The development, intended to be about two-thirds residential and one-third commercial, will center itself around the outdoor burial ground memorial and include up to 15,000 square feet of indoor memorial or cultural center space. The memorial itself will be allocated about 18,000 square feet, a wedge-shaped area near First Avenue. The overall site will span the entire city block. In the HABGTF's original design proposals for the memorial, the names of the deceased are carved into walls of black granite surrounding a reflecting pool with its ripples illuminated onto the ceiling by internal light fixtures. Reverend Doctor Patricia A. Singletary of the Elmendorf Reformed Church managed to find the names in the church's records. The promenade, also etched with quotes from black luminaries like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., can double as a presentation space for guest lectures "pertinent to the site's history and larger issues concerning the legacy of slavery and colonization." The memorial corridor, lined with bronze sculptural reliefs depicting scenes of slavery and Native Americans, extends out onto an open, public lawn dotted with fiber optic lights that illuminate the grasses at night. The NYCEDC plans to issue an RFP for development proposals for the site in 2018, with the final team selected in late 2018 or early 2019. The site is scheduled for construction on a tentative timeline from 2020 to 2023.