Search results for "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey"

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Archtober Building of the Day 5> World Trade Center Transportation Hub
World Trade Center Transportation Hub World Trade Center, Manhattan Downtown Design Partnership; STV, AECOM, and Santiago Calatrava A team from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey wowed the crowd of lucky Archtober fans this morning with a full-length tour from the Hudson River to the beating heart of the new World Trade Center. Robert Eisenstat, the chief architect at the Port Authority Engineering Department, was joined by Thomas L. Grassi, a program manager on the World Trade Center construction, and a number of others along for the ride. These dedicated people, along with many others, have been working on the site since “the day.” Today was a little reminiscent of that day, over 14 years ago—a crisp sunny day with only wisps of clouds. It is hard to visit the site at all, for some of us. But now because of the sublime poetry of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub—they call it the “oculus”—a brighter future can be imagined. It is a futuristic creature born from the construction chaos that still defines the neighborhood, with white, spiked ribs rising up like the barbs of a chalky peace dove’s feather. Peace is not easy. I kept thinking, we have to tell the crowd how complicated this all was, how many levels, how many logistical nightmares, how many times its seemed like it could never be completed. I have to do my thing about how architects are problem solvers, which of course is true. But some problems are spiritual ones, hard to put in the brief for a nearly $4 billion transit integration project. This is where the architect’s special poetry comes in. Whatever you may say about this project, and there has been a lot of negative press with Santiago Calatrava certainly taking some knocks along the way, it is uplifting.  The spirit soars; the room has an ineffable majesty of great architecture that defies easy explanation. While the Port Authority was getting its “network cohesion” out of the tangle of subway lines and trans-Hudson modalities, it also got a cathedral that looks like the waiting room for heaven. wtc-trans-hub-04 Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the managing director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture & Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989–2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. Tomorrow: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Entry Building, and Arch.
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Can the latest plan to salvage LaGuardia take flight? New York Governor Cuomo unveils ambitious $4 billion airport redesign scheme
For New Yorkers and visitors alike, LaGuardia Airport is a confusing maze of disconnected terminals. Beset with delays, chaotic transfers, poorly designed wayfinding, and congestion for both passengers and planes, the airport was recently, not undeservingly, characterized by Vice President Biden as feeling like a “third-world country.” Now the facility is slated to get a much-needed, and long overdue redesign. Governor Cuomo presented a far-reaching plan to overhaul the tired facility, which would cost roughly $4 billion, and be completed over a 5-year period. Once the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey green light the plans, construction will commence, with the goal of opening the first half of the project to passengers by early 2019, and then finishing up the second half 1.5 years later. The proposal was guided by the Governor’s Advisory Panel with recommendations from Dattner Architects, PRESENT Architecture, and SHoP Architects. It would bulldoze the airport's Terminal B building and essentially replace an existing series of small terminals with a single unified structure situated closer to Grand Central Parkway. According to the Governor’s website, the redesign would include new terminal space, a new arrival and departures hall, and a connection to Delta’s Terminals C and D. In addition, the Governor detailed plans to add transit with a new AirTrain and ferry service, as well as address potential flooding by elevating infrastructure. “New York had an aggressive, can-do approach to big infrastructure in the past—and today, we’re moving forward with that attitude once again,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “We are transforming LaGuardia into a globally-renowned, 21st century airport that is worthy of the city and state of New York.” Few can argue that LaGuardia, the smallest of New York’s three airports, needs to be re-imagined, but the question is whether this proposal is a band aid solution to a much more complicated problem that requires a greater comprehensive strategy. “The Governor's intentions are good, but the proposal is disappointing because it does not attempt to deal with the main problems plaguing LGA. Its runways are too short, which causes safety issues, delays, and limitations on destinations. It's in a flood zone and its level needs to be raised to deal with future storms. Furthermore, the proposed rail connection is terribly convoluted,” explained Jim Venturi, the principal designer of ReThinkNYC. “With people finally speaking seriously about closing Riker's Island, and with the airport's proximity to the Northeast Corridor, it is disappointing that the Governor did not take the advice of Vice President Biden and choose a more ‘holistic’ approach to solving the region's transposition problems. There are many opportunities that this plan does not take advantage of and we would urge them to rethink their approach.” Venturi recently detailed his own proposal for doing just that in a recent edition of The Architect's Newspaper. LaGuardia isn’t the only airport in line to be revamped. The governor stated that he will soon issue an RFP for a redesign of JFK International Airport. In the meantime, the iconic Eero Saarinen–designed TWA Flight Center will be transformed into a LEED certified hotel, consisting of 505 guestrooms, 40,000 square feet of conference, event and meeting space, and an observation deck. This will be JFK's first airport hotel.
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JetBlue wants to turn Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA terminal into a hotel
JetBlue Airlines—the one with free snacks and live television—is interested in getting into the hotel business, and it wants to kick things off with Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. The Wall Street Journal reported that JetBlue and New York–based hotelier MCR Development are in "advanced negotiations" with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for the rights to turn the swooping structure into a modern hotel. While things seem promising, similar attempts have failed. In 2013, hotelier André Balazs won the rights for a terminal-to-hotel conversion, but ultimately decided not to move forward with the project because of how long it would take to complete—he's a busy guy and said he had more interesting things to pursue. After that episode, the bidding process was relaunched and JetBlue and MCR came out on top. If this new plan doesn't meet the same fate, the two companies plan to fill the terminal with 500 rooms, many of which will be occupied by frustrated fliers whose flights were cancelled and need a convenient place to stay before they catch the next flight at the crack of dawn. Honestly, having to spend a night in Saarinen's masterpiece wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
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Thanks to Rupert Murdoch, Norman Foster’s 2 World Trade Center might actually happen
Richard Rogers' long-stalled 3 World Trade Center finally climbing again, it's concrete core rising steadily above its nearly-complete podium. Now, it's Norman Foster's turn to bring the last of the World Trade towers to life, and it might happen this time with the help of a media giant. It's starting to look like Foster + Partners' 2 World Trade Center might actually get built, and it's all thanks to Rupert Murdoch. The New York Times reported that News Corporation and 21st Century Fox—both owned by the billionaire media mogul—are interested in using half the building (1.5 million square feet) as a joint headquarters. While there are no firm plans to speak of, the companies have reportedly been in talks for months with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and developer Larry Silverstein, who has rights to build at the site. If the tower is built, it would effectively complete the drawn-out rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Two World Trade Center was originally scheduled to open in 2011, but, as is the case with just about everything with the World Trade Center redevelopment, that deadline didn't stick. The building, as designed by Foster, is widely considered to be the most architecturally adventurous of the glassy World Trade Center bunch. The 79-story structure appears as four rectangular forms, diagonally sliced at the top to form a set of four diamonds. “The building occupies a pivotal position at north-east corner of Memorial Park, and its profile reflects this role as a symbolic marker,” Foster + Partners said in a 2006 statement. “Arranged around a central cruciform core, the shaft is articulated as four interconnected blocks with flexible, column-free office floors that rise to level sixty-four, whereupon the building is cut at angle to address the Memorial below.” The building’s design was drawn up between 2006–2007 and is expected to change at least slightly if this deal moves forward—which the Times noted is far from certain. But if it does go through, the companies might select their own architect for changes. “Given that the foundation has been built, the two sides are assessing whether the structure can accommodate the changes they want for television studios,” reported the Times.
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Santiago Calatrava
Inside the World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Courtesy Santiago Calatrava

With the World Trade Center site incrementally becoming more a part of Lower Manhattan, and the blades of the Transit Hub peaking interest from behind the fence, Santiago Calatrava sat down with former AN executive editor Alan G. Brake to discuss the civic role of his architecture, which he hopes will rank among New York’s great infrastructural works of the past. He is also completing the Greek Orthodox Church at the south side of the site, his first religious structure, which is scheduled to open for Easter 2017.

Santiago Calatrava.
Michael Falco

Alan G Brake: You’ve been working on the World Trade Center site for a long time, what do you think of how it’s coming together as an urban composition, now that people are able to access it more?

Santiago Calatrava: You see, it’s a little bit early to judge it. Fulton is not yet open. Greenwich is also cut in two, or is only accessible at one end. And at this point the platform where the Greek Orthodox Church is is still a construction site. Even the skyline is not finished, but in any case it’s very promising. You see that the site will be concluded. Once Greenwich is open and you have the church in place and then the skyline is concluded and the PATH is working and the plaza we have done is also accessible, it will become a very interesting site, just from the pure urban point of view. You see I always considered my project from beyond just the architectural aspects and the engineering aspects—very much from the urban point of view. The mezzanine under the 1 and 9 [subway] is like a plaza. The oculus is like a plaza, very light with open views out to the skyscrapers. My project was always about the urban configuration and even complementing the original master plan. I proposed detaching the station from Tower Three and making it an autonomous building in a plaza, which was different from the master plan. My approach has been looking at it as a contribution to the city. I think the whole scheme with the memorial gardens and the enormous towers is very powerful, and also the station is like one block of New York with a plaza around. We create a lower scale, it brings the scale of towers to the scale of the pedestrian.

The East/West Corridor has opened, and it’s giving people a preview of what’s to come. How does it relate to the larger composition of the station?

I tried from the very beginning to do that whole network of connections extending from the oculus as a single unit. So the character of the structural members you can see with the ribs, and a certain character in the paving, and a certain character in the front of the shops is already delivering a character that a person will see all the way through. So if you are in the oculus or the mezzanine, or in the other corridors to Liberty Street or the other internal streets towards Liberty Plaza, or towards Wall Street or towards Fulton, all these areas are marked with the same character. My goal is to create a space where as soon as I arrive in the transportation hub I know I am in the transportation hub, no matter what corner I enter from. Also, something that the corridor delivers is a sense of quality of spaces. I have built seven of the major transportation hubs in Europe, in Lisbon, in Lyon, in Zurich, in Italy, and so on. Getting out of this experience, it’s very important to create places of quality, because people behave according to that. You see after all the enormous effort to bring all the subways and the trains to this place and see to maintain the service through all the construction—why shouldn’t these places have a certain material and structural quality that you can enjoy in a day-to-day way, not just commuters but visitors who arrive in this place. I think the station will match with the tradition in New York of great infrastructural works, as you see today in Grand Central and in the former Penn Station. If it had not been demolished it would be recognized as one of the greatest stations worldwide. I hope people can see some of these material qualities in the East/West corridor.


The development of the World Trade Center site as a whole has been very complex, and there have been a lot of delays, and changes of authority and ownership. Can you talk about how that has impacted the transit hub and what you have fought to keep through all those changes?

The transit hub is more than just a series of stations that are linked together, and maybe that is difficult a priori to understand. It is conceived to represent all the transit access to the towers, also all the vehicular access of cars and lorries, it represents the energy center for many of the towers, for the museum, the memorial. The transit hub is also the basement of Towers Two and Three. The first three or four floors of Tower Three have been built as a part of the Port Authority’s commitment. It is also the support for the memorial plaza. It is the support to the entry to the museum, and the support for the future art center. All these things will let you understand materially what extends into the transit hub. It is also the 1 train diagonally crossing the site, which we have had to underpin, and keep in service the whole time. All of this has been done while fully preserving service of the subway lines and the commuter trains to New Jersey. To build the hub has been an enormous challenge.

Greek Orthodox Church.
Courtesy Santiago Calatrava

Your work has often been described as cathedral-like. What has it been like to work on your first religious structure, the Greek Orthodox Church?

I have been working in Greece for a number of years because of the Olympics in 2004, on the Olympic Ring covering the stadium and the velodrome. So I have an enormous sympathy for the culture and for the Greek diaspora. I discovered the beauty of the Orthodoxy. I knew Hagia Sophia, but I had never approached it from a religious point of view. I approached it as you approach the Parthenon. You can study it. You can buy books. But you can never fully understand it as a religious place. If you look at the project, it’s very anomalous with the rest of my work. I’ve never used a dome before, except in the competition for the Reichstag in Berlin, where I proposed a dome. Also there is the problem with scale, simply because the building is very small. The restraints that the Greek Orthodox Church negotiated with the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is a small building where the height is limited, the width is limited. But I knew that the monumentality was important. It will bring an accent to the site, as the entry to the PATH will do. This building will bring you a relation to the scale of the person because they have almost a domestic scale. I like that. We try with these two buildings to give a sense of the human being, the scale of man. It’s like a three-story house. I have to say it was a great idea from the Port Authority and the church to put it on a podium, which is the vehicular entry for security screening. It’s a small church floating above an oak forest. The oaks will not become enormous because they are in planters. I like this scale in relation to the pools of the memorial. We came up with this idea of making the dome out of translucent stone, so the light from the interior will have a little glow. It will never be excessive, but it will help give the impression of a 24-hour open place. So that people who need help, they will be able to find a place to go. Finally, the interiors, we are trying to do a place for everybody, an open place.

So it won’t have heavy religious iconography?

Certainly it will have the necessary iconography to officiate the liturgy. People can enter and light a candle if they are believers or not believers, if they are Christians or not, they can light a candle close to the memorial.

There has been a certain architectural language that runs throughout much of your work. Can you talk about the shared language of the church and the transit hub, and what you are working toward in terms of light, space, and structure?

I am also an engineer. If you look at my work, there is a very marked presence of structure. This is without any doubt the case with the hub. All these beams are steel and they are carrying the weight. The structure is used as an expressive element. So if you look back at all of the transportation hubs and railway stations in Europe, this is the case. In the hub you see the idea of bringing in light and making a very clear place. I employ it because it is also a matter of comfort. In places with high levels of security concerns, the feeling of safety is not only an objective feeling, it is also a subjective aspect. So a woman waiting for a train at midnight when the station is not so busy has to feel comfortable. For that, the ambience of clarity. Also orientation, if you take the East/West corridor as you see today you end up in the Fulton corridor. And you can see that optically through, because easy orientation, particularly in chaotic or dangerous circumstances is the most important aspect. So I am mixing architectural aspects—the color and the light—with functional aspects and the sensation of comfort for the users and also the quality of the spaces.

It’s interesting to compare with the Greek Orthodox Church. These aspects are much more mitigated because we’re not making an expressed structure. We’re trying to make a building that is expressive through the relation of the volumes. So I am stepping into a more complex and maybe a more classical aspect of architecture: the game of the volumes and delight. There are the four towers, the front facade, and the dome. Not the expression of the nerves or the tendons or the muscles of the body, but an expression of the relations of volumes and proportions, related to the person. It is much more classical. The Hagia Sophia, why is it what it is? You see the effort of carrying this enormous dome, but you do not feel it in the interior—it is all sublimated by the light. And also you enter the narthex and the anti-narthex and then into the nave. It’s a continuous crescendo. We also have this in our building.

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It will cost $11 billion to fix the Port Authority Bus Terminal, so says the Port Authority
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey claimed it will cost $11 billion to overhaul its supremely hated bus terminal in Manhattan. Yes, everyone agrees the place is pretty much a dump, but $11 billion? That sure seems steep. The plan will be presented to the Port Authority board on Thursday, but it may not go given that it doesn't seem to have the support of governors Christie and Cuomo. And the eye-popping figure may actually be a way to preemptively kill the project, so says Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. She told Streetsblog: "There’s a tendency to over-inflate transit costs just to kill them."
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MoMA’s Midtown Monotony
Paul Gunther

Mission accomplished: The mid-town brownstone block where Alfred Barr and his fellow Modernist pioneers placed their Museum of Modern Art as America’s definitive destination for the Euro-centric discovery, interpretation, and advocacy of the Western world’s most progressive and putatively inevitable artistic trajectory will soon complete its path to final, filled-in form.

It began officially when the townhouse leased from John D. Rockefeller in 1932 was demolished for the first purpose-built International style MoMA headquarters by Goodwin and Stone, standing in breathtaking contrast to the 19th century context of residential masonry facades on the surrounding lots. It was precisely this bold juxtaposition that told the dynamic story best. And with it, the Museum set in motion its enduring dual role as both museum and real estate developer.

Manhattan’s mid-blocks as placeholders of lower density and contrasting styles in a joyful discordance of design history and shifting accommodation of existing fabric to contemporary needs is headed towards extinction, excepting designated landmarks sandwiched amid the leapfrogging glass curtain walls scraping at a disappearing sky. This unfolds despite Section 81-00 in the “General Purposes” section of New York’s Zoning Code (as approved and enforced by the City Planning Commission) calling for “the historic pattern of relatively low building bulk in mid-block locations, compared to avenue frontages.” Such good intentions yield to overriding development interests amid what seems yet another ceaseless real estate boom; landmark designation holds as the sole buffer to demolition, and the street wall uniformity following it, and is labeled therefore as an impediment to change. “Amber” (as in “fixed”) is just another word for nothing else to lose.


Somehow it seems fitting that with the exception of a few narrow mid-blocks, as between Madison to Park, where two midcentury Avenue-fronted lots accommodated new towers touching in the middle as of right, Barr’s bold 53rd Street launch pad signals the final victory of Modernism’s 80-year old call for what was back then a radical paradigm of new form.

MoMA president Glenn Lowry as much as said so back on April 10, 2013, when first announcing the plan to demolish Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s 12-year old American Folk Art Museum: “The building’s design does not fit our plans because the opaque facade is not in keeping with the glass aesthetic of the rest of the building…” This is official modernism writ large as proscribed four generations beforehand and apparently non-negotiable across time. When contemporary classicists appeal for comparable design deference, they are generally labeled reactionary.

The block is now maxed out and done. It is not easy to demolish 50+ story buildings. To refurbish or redefine interiors like downtown’s residential conversions of old corporate towers is possible, even likely, but by and large the formal exterior envelope is now sealed excepting perhaps some occasional decorative refreshment (as usually regretted eventually when styles shift and the original integrity seems right after all).

This final transformation is made official at two sites: one nearing completion, the other finally set to start with the financing in place. The Folk Art Museum demolition is under way, starting with facade removal for placement in storage as a trace of a lost landmark, like the eagles from the parapet of the old Penn Station pulled from a New Jersey landfill years after its destruction.


That nearing completion is the Enrique Norten TEN Arqitectos 46-story flagship Baccarrat Hotels and Resorts replacing as it did Aymar Embury II’s restrained classically-tinged yet modernist 1955 limestone-clad Donnell Library Center. The new library, housed at street level and subterranean as is so often the trade off on such zoning deals, is reduced in size from 97,000 square feet to just 28,000, including space-consuming “bleacher steps” eerily reminiscent of Koolhaus’s Soho Prada. Just when public library usage surges to unprecedented demand, Norten’s clients have set aside one third the total size for this oddity and future users can only hope that these bleacher steps have some sort of relevance to intended function as opposed to a spot for noisy and noisome crowd congregation.

The city sold the old five-story Donnell for a measly $39 million, which is about one half the price of the new luxury hotel/condo’s penthouse sale price alone. While it is unfair to yet judge the design result on its own merit, its role in “completing” the block’s south side facade is fact. It fills it in with the side street facade of Caron and Lundin’s 1957 666 Fifth Avenue to the east; to the west is Kevin Roche’s 1986 red granite–clad pharaonic Post Modern EF Hutton Building and the fabled CBS Black Rock tower of Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll, completed in 1965 and daring to veer from high Miesian orthodoxy with emphasis on unbroken, order-free vertical columns instead of a glass curtain wall.

Meanwhile, the urban infill at its block-wide maximum on the northern street wall is the last piece, namely the MOMA-hatched real estate deal leading to what will open in 2018 as Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre. It will be an 82-story luxury residential tower rising to 1,050 feet after the City Planning Commission knocked off a submitted 200 feet more despite ambiguous authority to do so as back then (prior to approval of the 57th Street mother lode of needle towers) it was deemed unseemly to equal the height of the Empire State building envelop and even eclipse that of the Chrysler. Times change, values change when it comes to the sky and the impact on infrastructure and existing communities alike. Three street level floors designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro will again expand MoMA’s gallery and programming space, including easy, transparent access into the Sculpture Garden with the rest of the tower reserved for the world’s wealthiest, who will thus sadly most likely never actually reside there.

So except for MOMA’s sequential architectural iterations and the abutting St. Thomas Episcopal Church the inn is full.

This glimpse of midtown’s now inevitable future began in part in the 1970s, when the Museum set out successfully to secure zoning permission for the revenue-generating and facility expanding mid-block tower on land it owned by drawing on the air rights of the Philip Johnson-designed Sculpture Garden. This seminal exception to the planning tenet mixing the density of Avenue vs. side streets that characterized midtown’s archetypal form and function set a precedent. It was granted the variance despite vociferous objection from local neighborhood and civic organizations alike, presciently knowing that that act alone spelled the end to the Manhattan plan as evolved. Excepting landmarks and designated historic districts, all midblock lots would be replaced eventually by a seamless continuity of the Avenue street fronts in what would be finally a colossal uniform cube of street wall verticality.

That path-breaking commission went to Cesar Pelli Associates, who delivered the 52-story Museum Tower at 15 West 53rd Street in 1984, along with a coat checking friendly atrium, expanded restaurant and gift stores, and new gallery spaces of still conventional scale.

The Pelli commission led a generation later to another major overhaul and expansion, this time built largely with capital contributions and the taxpayers of New York City. The demolition of all remaining 53rd Street brownstones and the Dorset Hotel behind it on 54th Street heralded Yoshiro Taniguchi/Kohn Pederson Fox’s 2004 six-story David and Peggy Rockefeller Building, eight-story Lewis and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, and tucked in 16-story Museum Office Building, all framing a refurbished Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Following its completion was the sale of the remaining empty lots to the Hines Corporation for $125 million and then, finally, the purchase of the imperiled Folk Art Museum lot, completing the Tower Verre footprint.

The initial variance became the rule and today it’s inexorable as this finished block offers surest sign. Visit and see the future of zoning in Manhattan, and likely soon beyond.

To announce the end of history in this way in any social, economic, or cultural context is a fool’s errand as best demonstrated by what is now a fairy tale prophecy of political scientist Francis Fukuyama in his utopian, post-perestroika 1992 book, The End of History and The Last Man.

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human governance.

So much for that prediction, as shown with such brutality in the last weeks of global unrest deconstructing what seemed irrevocable. It turns out there is no end of change whether progressive or regressive and that history keeps unfolding in a constant, tautological, and occasionally violent way.

Just as such, wishful thinking and its inherent delusion fade, it is equally foolish in the fullness of time to declare a place and its architecture or other hands of man to be complete. Change is constant whether going forward or other times back; user needs, expectations, and capabilities adapt, including the ample supply of cheap financing, which underpins much of our present bounty.

At the same time, however, are there limits to growth? It is a question of particular currency in the absence of any commensurate will or allocation of resources to expand the public networks of transportation, communications, and essential services that any increased density demands. The failure to do so imperils the social contract on which all else relies.

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Vice President Biden and Governor Cuomo announce design competition for New York City’s airports
If you’re not a fan of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, then LaGuardia Airport really has nothing to offer you. Besides travel-friendly food options like “jalapeño and cheese pretzel dogs" the aging, dirty, sometimes-leaking airport is by all accounts a disaster. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden who once said that if he blindfolded someone and took them to LaGuardia they would think they were in “some third world country.” The Vice President adding, "I'm not joking." A few months after the Veep made that non-joke, he appeared alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce design competitions to revamp LaGuardia and JFK, as well as the smaller Republic Airport on Long Island and Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley. Those competitions will be launched in 30 days and last for 60 days; three finalists will be awarded $500,000. The New York Observer reported that the governor wants to see better retail and restaurant options at the airports (move over Auntie Anne's!), a Long Island Railroad link and ferry connection to LaGuardia, faster rail connections to JFK, and tax-free zones around Republic and Stewart airports. At LaGuardia, at least, the results could possibly look like the totally non-official rendering above. How would any of these changes be funded? That’s a question the governor did not address at the event. According to the Observer, "[Cuomo] did not tell reporters how the cash-strapped state, Port Authority or Metropolitan Transportation Authority would pay for these upgrades, but told reporters all options ‘were on the table,’ including new tolls on bridges.'” Cuomo later told the New York Times that designs had to be selected before financing could be secured, and he deflected criticism that his competition would get in the way of the Port Authority's multi-billion-dollar plan to overhaul LaGuardia's main terminal. There's no word yet on who will oversee that project, or what it will entail, but the Port Authority's very announcement of its plans earlier this year led to the exciting, but entirely unsolicited, completely non-official rendering at top.
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From 67 floors above the World Trade Center, a progress report
Earlier this week, AN went up to the 67th floor of the recently-opened 4 World Trade Center to get a progress report on the 16-acre redevelopment taking shape below. Inside the wide-open and raw space, Larry Silverstein, the site’s developer, told reporters that his vision for a new World Trade Center had finally become a reality. “I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation as a wild-eyed optimist,” he said in front of a wall of windows. “But even I have to admit that I didn’t see all this coming.” Noting that it had been 13 years since the attacks, he went on to refer to the anniversary as the site’s “bar mitzvah.” From high up in Fumihiko Maki’s celebrated 4 World Trade it’s easy to see how much has changed at the World Trade Center site over those 13 years—and how much still needs to get done. Looking straight down the tower’s western edge, you can see the pools of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza which opened in 2011 and the adjacent 9/11 Memorial Museum that came on-line three years later. Next to that is Calatrava’s bird-like transportation hub where workers could be seen busily welding on the structure's skeletal wings. That project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2015, years behind schedule and at a cost of nearly $4 billion. A few blocks north of the winged creature is 7 World Trade, the David Childs–designed building that opened in 2006 and is fully leased. Across Vesey Street is another Child's tower—the site’s centerpiece—the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade. After years of delays, the building is expected to open some time this fall. As of now, the tower is about 60 percent leased. The same can be said for 4 World Trade. "I am both humbled and inspired by the process. It is never an easy process, and why should it be?" asked Daniel Libeskind, who crafted the site's masterplan. "This is New York City, there are so many stakeholders, so much to be done, and so much to think about." But there is obviously so much more to be done still—so many missing pieces in Libeskind's plan. Just this month, the board of the World Trade Center's performing arts center announced it had scrapped Gehry's decade-old design for the project. The board told the New York Times that is currently looking for a new architect to take over. And then there is Calatrava's other project at the site, the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is still a few years off. While looking straight down from 4 World Trade shows how much has been rebuilt since 9/11, looking straight out reveals how much has not. The Midtown skyline that served as a backdrop for the event's speakers may have been impressive, but it was a blatant reminder of what has not been accomplished since the Twin Towers came crashing down. Because, at this point in the reconstruction process, employees in 4 World Trade Center shouldn’t have an entirely unobstructed view of Midtown—there should be two other glass towers in the way: 3 World Trade by Richard Rogers and 2 World Trade by Norman Foster. Silverstein said that the former should be completed by 2018, but as for 2 World Trade Center, it’s anyone’s guess. In a fact sheet distributed by representatives of Silverstein Properties, the tower's completion date is conspicuously left off.
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Video> How the Bayonne Bridge’s roadway will be lifted 64 feet
The 82-year-old Bayonne Bridge is getting some work done. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has begun the $1.3 billion process to raise the bridge's roadway by 64 feet. Why, exactly? Well, to keep up with the times of course. To accommodate larger shipping container–laden boats, the authority decided that the structure, which connects New Jersey with Staten Island, had to be raised. "The expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to result in a shift to larger, cleaner, more-efficient ships servicing our region and other East Coast markets," explained the Port Authority on its website. "In order to ensure these new ships can reach our ports, the clearance limitation must be addressed." And, apparently, the quickest and most cost-effective way to address that is to keep the main structure intact and just raise the roadway itself—hence the "Raise the Roadway" project. When all is said and done, the road's surface will be 215 feet high and include a 12-foot-wide shared bike lane and pedestrian path. According to the authority, this design also "allows for future mass transit service." The project is slated to take four years, but the Port Authority is running things, so go ahead and tack on a few more years to that. In the meantime, check out the authority's strangely mesmerizing video on the construction process to get a sense of how this will all go down—or, rather, up.
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A Berm Grows in Brooklyn
Courtesy MVVA

Brooklyn Bridge Park has evolved in the past 15 years from a landscape of abandoned piers and fenced off concrete parking lots to a spectacular 84-acre greensward along the East River. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owners of the site, once planned to build 3 million square feet of residential towers on the land that would likely resemble the current Williamsburg waterfront wall of residential skyscrapers. Fortunately the powerful and politically connected Brooklyn Heights Association opposed the 1986 plan and instead proposed a “harbor” park, which has, in many respects, been realized by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The park is a stunning template of a 21st century open space in a dense urban site. The park is divided into various sections, each with its own formally programmed landscape, hardscape, and pier play areas.


However, the central area near Pier 3 (the park runs from Atlantic Avenue to Jay Street) is not only a narrow area, but is squeezed between the river and busy Furman Street. Overhead, is the double stacked and always-busy Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), which sits beneath Clarke & Rapuano’s Brooklyn Heights promenade.

The area of the park beside Pier 3 has been a no-mans land since it opened due to the noise emanating from the BQE—which directs the sound of traffic away from the heights and toward the water. It was so intense park goers could barely hold a conversation, let alone relax on the park’s future green grass.


Brooklyn Bridge Park officials and MVVA came up with an ingenious idea that has dramatically transformed this once inhospitable landscape into an oasis. Labeled Pier 3 Greenway Terrace, the new area has a south-facing landscaped sloping lawn and a walkway that is part of the 14-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. The walkway is outfitted with 30 benches made of long-leaf yellow pine salvaged from warehouses on site and is bordered by stacked blocks of recycled granite that rise 6 to 8 feet. Plantings of flowering shade trees and evergreens provide shade for the seating areas.


Behind the terrace is a 30-foot-high berm planted with trees and meadow grass that hides the BQE from the park and acts as a sound attenuating barrier, reducing noise pollution in the park up to 75 percent (or from above 80 decibels to below 68 decibels). The granite blocks, all of which were salvaged from the reconstruction of the Roosevelt Island Bridge and demolition of the Willis Avenue Bridge, act as the foundation of the berm.

This summer, visitors to the area will also encounter Dahn Vo’s: We the People, a new sculptural installation sponsored by the Public Art Fund, which is inspired by the Statue of Liberty. The berm runs along the entire length of the Pier 3 Greenway Terrace. Michael Van Valkenburgh has said that contemporary parks are not escapes from the city but are escapes in the city. To make this space an urban escape it was necessary to create a man made hill that may not look natural on this flat waterfront site (in fact it effectively replaces the escarpment that was cut down when Robert Moses built the BQE) but works perfectly.

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Port Authority asks store to stop selling merchandise with New York City skyline
In what may or may not be performance art, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey—an organization charged with overseeing the region's bridges, tunnels, and airports—recently told Fishs Eddy—a small home goods store in Manhattan—that printing a pre-9/11 New York City skyline rendered in cartoon-like drawings on its merchandise was of “great concern.” Specifically, the authority would like the store to immediately stop selling all mugs, plates, bowls, and dish towels that depict any of its “assets” including the Twin Towers, One World Trade Center, and even the tunnels Holland and Lincoln. Acccording to the New York Times, a lawyer for the authority sent a letter to Fishs Eddy saying that the store is “unfairly reaping a benefit from an association with the Port Authority and the [9/11] attacks.” Right, because people go to Fishs Eddy to pick out a demitasse saucer that best portrays their favorite transportation organization. And, apparently, just depicting the New York City skyline before September 11th now constitutes “reaping a benefit” from the tragedy. A spokesperson for the authority told the Times that Fishs Eddy is part of its larger "trademark enforcement efforts." The lawyer who wrote the letter also added that the store’s items “[interfere] with the Port Authority’s control of its own reputation.” But come on. The Port Authority is, of course, in control of its own reputation and it’s done more than enough to sully it over the years. A ramekin isn’t going to change that.