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A New Millennium
A leaning Manhattan tower draws blame from both sides
Will We All Float on Alright?
OCEANIX and BIG unveil a floating city of the future at the United Nations
By 2030, approximately 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities that are exposed to grave economic, social, and environmental pressures. Further, approximately 90 percent of the largest global cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. Out of the world’s 22 megacities with a population of more than 10 million, 15 are located along the ocean’s coasts.Serious stuff, all discussed at today’s high-level round table in New York hosted by UN-Habitat, the UN’s coalition on affordable and sustainable housing, along with the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, the Explorers Club, and OCEANIX, a group investing in floating cities on this new marine frontier. Bjarke Ingels of BIG—architects of the "Dryline" around lower Manhattan—unveiled his design for a prototypical floating city today, which would be made out of mass timber and bamboo. This proposal would be “flood proof, earthquake-proof, and tsunami-proof,” according to Marc Collins Chen, co-Founder and CEO of OCEANIX. The renderings show a series of modular hexagonal islands with a productive landscape, where bamboo grown on the “islands” could be used to make glulam beams. BIG envisions the cities as zero-waste, energy-positive and self-sustaining. The necessary food to feed the population would be grown on the islands. BIG has put toether a kit of parts for each part of the man-made ecosystem: a food kit of parts, a waste kit of parts. Each island would be prefabricated onshore and towed to its location in the archipelago. What would living on one of these islands be like? "All of the aspects of human life would be accommodated," according to Ingels. They would dedicate seven islands to public life, including a spiritual center, a cultural center, and a recreation center. "It won't be like Waterworld. Its another form of human habitat that can grow with its success." Oceanix City, as it is called, features mid-rise housing around a shared, green public space where agriculture and recreation co-exist. Underground greenhouses are embedded in the “hull” of the floating city, while in the sky, drones would buzz by with abandon. The systems on each city would be connected, where waste, food, water, and mobility are connected. Because the cities are towable, they can be moved in the event of a weather event. Land reclamation (creating new land by pouring sand in the ocean) is no longer seen as sustainable, as it uses precious sand resources and causes coastal areas to lose protective wetlands and mangroves. Could floating cities be the way forward for expanding our cities as we deal with the consequences of climate change and sea-level rise? According to the coalition, “Sustainable Floating Cities offer a clean slate to rethink how we build, live, work, and play…They are about building a thriving community of people who care about the planet and every life form on it.” Doesn't this sound a lot like the Seasteading Institute, the infamous group of libertarian utopianists who want to break away from land and society altogether? For Collins, his floating infrastructure is less ideological, and more about infrastructure technology. These floating cities would be positioned near protected coastal areas, less ocean-faring pirate states and more extensions of areas threatened by rising sea levels. "These cities have to be accessible to everyone. We can't build broad support for this without populist thinking," said Richard Wiese, the president of the Explorers Club. The first prototypes will start small, even though they are thinking big. The 4.5-acre pods will house 300 people, while the goal is to scale the system by repeating the unit until the city can hold 10,000 people. Can floating cities be more sustainable and affordable than building on land? Would they only be for the rich? Would they be self-sufficient? Would they prevent climate gentrification and curb climate migration? Or, as has been the case in the past, will the idea prove too expensive to actually build?
Going Up, Way Up
Western Europe's tallest tower could have sheep grazing at its base
NOMA President Kim Dowdell on the politics of Detroit and the architecture profession
Going Up, Going Down
Vessel and Hudson Yards are open. What do the critics think?
Fashion magnate Giorgio Armani’s flagship boutique in Manhattan, designed by Peter Marino Architect and opened in 1996, could be torn down to make way for a 12-story tower containing a new Armani store and 19 luxury condominiums above, including one for Armani himself, if the city approves the demolition.
New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has scheduled a hearing for next week to consider an application to raze the four-story Armani store at 760 Madison Avenue and portions of two apartment buildings next to it at 19 and 21 East 65th Street.
The Armani Group disclosed plans earlier this year to “reimagine” its Madison Avenue property, and now more details about the project are coming out, and getting scrutiny, as a result of recent filings with the preservation commission. They show that the project is far more extensive than a store renovation and would represent a significant change for a tony stretch of Madison Avenue.
The replacement project is a joint venture of The Armani Group and SL Green Realty Corp., the city’s largest commercial property owner. They say it will be “a milestone in Giorgio Armani’s journey into interior design.”
COOKFOX is the architect for the 83,000-square-foot replacement building and Higgins Quasebarth & Partners is the historic preservation consultant. Armani would design the residential interiors.
Armani is the sole occupant of the 23-year-old Armani building, which has a landscaped roof terrace. The first two levels are for women’s clothing and accessories, the third floor is the men’s department and the fourth floor is currently off-limits to shoppers. The symmetrical exterior, with an indentation on the Madison Avenue side, is clad in white stone and features street-level display windows.
Now 84, Armani commands a global empire that includes hotels and upscale housing as well as clothing, accessories, watches, jewelry, eyewear, cosmetics, perfume and furnishings. The one-time window dresser ranks No. 173 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, with a “real time net worth” of $8.8 billion as of March 21, according to the publication.
Through his Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio, launched in 2004, the designer opened the Armani Hotel inside the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and the Armani Hotel Milano in Italy and created luxury housing in Miami, London, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Beijing, among other cities. The Madison Avenue project would be his first residential project in New York City, and he has said he will live there.
Armani indicated in a statement released by the development team that he doesn’t regret tearing down his own building if it means he can construct an even more ambitious project at the corner of Madison and 65th.
“Madison Avenue is by definition an iconic luxury location,” he said. “In the 1980s, when I opened my first Giorgio Armani boutique in Manhattan, I chose this exclusive and refined area because it was perfect for the timeless elegance and attention to detail I wanted to communicate. Today, thirty years later, I still believe this place reflects my philosophy and my aesthetic vision.”
As proposed, the replacement tower will have an exterior of limestone and brick, with a series of setbacks and terraces that break up the massing and take advantage of views to nearby Central Park. In all, about 19,000 square feet will be devoted to retail space and about 66,000 square feet will be devoted to residences, and the average size of a residence is 3,516 square feet, according to permits filed with the city.
COOKFOX designed the replacement building to reflect the Armani aesthetic while fitting into the context of Madison Avenue, said principal Rick Cook.
“This special project is an opportunity to design a modern home for the next generation of Armani’s presence on Madison Avenue,” Cook said in a statement. “Our approach is to reinterpret the design sensibility of classic Madison Avenue building, like The Carlton House at 21 East 61st Street and 45 East 66th Street, to create a contemporary and iconic residence and retail building for both the Upper East Side historic district and the Armani brand.”
Marino, 69, founded Peter Marino Architect in 1978 and is well known for his work for arts- and fashion-oriented patrons. One of his early clients was artist Andy Warhol, who hired him to design a renovation of his townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a home at 860 Broadway for his studio, The Factory.
Marino’s first retail commission was for the owners of Barneys New York, for whom he eventually designed 17 stores in the U. S. and Japan. He has designed stores for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Ermenegildo Zegna, among others.
The structures facing partial demolition were designed by Scott and Prescott and are described in LPC materials as vernacular buildings in the neo-Federal style. One dates from 1928-29 and the other was built in 1881 and altered in 1929. The applicants are seeking to “modify masonry openings, replace infill, and install a canopy at existing buildings.”
If their plan is approved, the developers say, they expect to begin construction in 2020 and open in 2023. The team has not disclosed a construction budget or name for the building.
An Upper East Side citizens group, Community Board 8, voted on February 20 to support the project. The city’s preservation commission has oversight because the three buildings are part of the Upper East Side Historic District, and any changes to building exteriors there must be approved by the panel. Its hearing is scheduled for March 26 in the LPC offices at 1 Centre Street.