All posts in East

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Only In Brooklyn: Archostumes
Last week, we threw out some ideas for architectural-themed Halloween costumes, including a proposal for a New Museum costume. Well, we've been one-, make that twice-upped by this adorable trio, who were spotted Trick-or-Treating in Cobble Hill by a colleague. Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SANAA must be so proud.
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Engine Company 201
Last week, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) broke ground on a police station in Staten Island designed by Rafael Vinoly. This week, the agency announced the completion of another such project: a firehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Both projects were commissioned under the DDC's Design and Construction Excellence program, which has raised the bar on design in public architecture. The firehouse—Engine Company 201—was designed by RKT&B Architecture, a local firm that has been around since the 1960s and has completed its fair share of  city work. The building's red glazed brick and backlighted Maltese Cross telegraph its function to the neighborhood, while the glass apparatus doors—a first for a firehouse in the city—maintain a close connection with the community. Look after the jump for more pictures.
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Pratt Is Back
Pratt Institute was founded in 1886 by Charles Pratt, who had sold his family’s Astral Oil works to Standard Oil in 1874. It was Pratt’s original intention that the school train industrial workers for the changing economy of the 19th century, and this it did for many years before growing into one of the leading art and design schools in the country. Like any institution, the school has had its stellar moments and its sleepy periods. The art department has been a training ground for dozens of important American artists, and its architecture school once had faculty like Sibyl Moholy-Nagy and experimental designers like John Johansen, Michael Webb, and Raimund Abraham. Pratt even spawned this country’s most important community advocacy organization: the Pratt Center, founded by Ron Shiffman, a legend in the world of community planning. Having weathered a rough stretch 15 years ago, when it was nearly bankrupt, the institute has undergone a transformation under its current president, Thomas Schutte. He has built a sizable endowment, upgraded the campus buildings and grounds (including a Steven Holl­-designed school of architecture), strengthened its academic programs, and turned the institute into a design powerhouse with many of its programs rated in the top ten nationally. Typical of its notion of itself as a New York-centered institution, tonight it will honor Marc Jacobs, David Rockwell, and Patti Smith at a special scholarship benefit party. If you want to see how far the school’s industrial and product design departments have come, though, you can visit the new Rogers Marvel-designed townhouses at 115 Third Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Under the direction of Professor Anthony Caradonna, the institute has cleverly used both faculty- and student-designed furniture and household objects to furnish the residence, and has thrown in pieces by famed graduates including Eva Zeisel, Giovanni Pellone, Harry Allen, and William Katavolos.
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The City of Benchly Love
It would seem Philadelphia has a bit of a seating fixation going on with this year's Design Philadelphia event. First there was the new Veyko subway chairs, and now—as you've noticed if you've been out wandering the streets of town during October—more than a dozen seats/sculptures scattered about, all cut from DuPont Corian, all created by prominent local designers. Reading-based C.H. Briggs, the interiors supplier, decided it wanted to celebrate Philly's top designers and the city's popular public spaces by commissioning them to create site-specific seating from that most ubiquitous of building materials. The results will only officially be up through the end of the month, though Briggs is currently negotiating with the city and certain institutions to donate the pieces so that they might find a permanent home—not unlike those damn cow parades that were so popular earlier in the decade, though at least these seats have a far greater purpose. You can see a slideshow of all 14 here.
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Ritchie Engineering
On Friday, Matthew Ritchie opened his new solo show, Line Shot, at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea. While the work is impressive as always, most notable is the installation of the newest piece of "The Morning Line," a work unveiled at the Biennale last year (we saw it first hand!) that has begun to trek around the world in different forms, popping up earlier this summer in London, which is where the above video was shot. Inspired by the Big Bang, The Morning Line is notable not only for Ritchie's typically uncanny sense of and attention to detail but also its intricacy and precision, aided in part through a partnership with ARUP's Advanced Geometry Unit, led by Daniel Bosia, and the architects Aranda/Lasch, whose Ben Aranda walks us through the project in the video below. The piece is on view through December 2, as well as after the jump.
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Yankees Do Over Dandy
This weekend, a lot of New Yorkers were fixated on Yankee Stadium, though for far different reasons than the Times, which paid the House That Ruth Didn't Build some overdue (or undue, if you're a Steinbrenner) attention. The biggest and most alarming story was that the vaunted stadium—the most expensive ever built in the U.S., in part thanks to questionable public financingwas cracking, particularly in the ramps, a troubling spot given all the foot traffic. It was revealed over a year ago that a faulty concrete tester was employed on the project, along with hundreds of others in the city, though it also turns out the mob was involved in pouring all that concrete. The Times' description is so matter of fact as to be breathtaking:
The ramps were built by a company accused of having links to the mob, and the concrete mix was designed and tested by a company under indictment on charges that it failed to perform some tests and falsified the results of others. But it is unclear whether work performed by either firm contributed to the deteriorating conditions of the ramps.
Turns out the ramps are safe, according to a Department of Buildings inspection, but given recent revelations about the mob's infiltration of that city agency, we're glad we're Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Then again, maybe not. Elsewhere, About New York columnist Jim Dwyer took the team to task for not yet making good on its promise to replace the city park on which the new stadium sits with one on the site of the old one, forcing local Little Leaguers to travel as far as Staten Island for "home" games. Then again, part of the reason the Bronx Bombers could be dragging their heals is that preservationists are still fighting to keep part of the old Yankee Stadium intact at that new park, a facadist reminder to what once was. Or maybe all the mob contractors were too busy with other projects to get started on this one.
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New York Presses Its Green Collars
If there is one thing the recession has taught New York, it's not to put all the eggs in one basket. While Wall Street may not have collapsed as much as everyone feared—just look at those Goldman Sachs bonuses—the Bloomberg administration has been determined to diversify and strengthen the city's economy in industries beyond FIRE. Programs in media and fashion have been unveiled recently, and yesterday, green collar jobs took center stage as the mayor announced 30 initiatives to create a foundation for sustainability jobs in the city. The mayor has already taken steps in this direction with the well-known PlaNYC and the April announcement aimed at greening the building code. Now the city's Economic Development Corporation will offer a range of incentives [full list, PDF], from tax credits to training programs to green business incubators, many of them targeted at the city's building stock. There are tax abatements for green tech, "Solar Zones" where permitting will be easier, a wind turbine demo program, and educational opportunities for designers, contractors, amd building operators to create, install, and run such installations. The most visible of these 30 initiatives is a massive solar array that the EDC will build atop the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a 4 million square foot industrial building on the Sunset Park waterfront. When completed, the 500 kilowatt will generate 750,000 kilowatts per year, according to the EDC, enough to power 150 homes and save the city $120,000 on energy costs in its Sunset Park buildings. But the real hope is that it will prove the viability of PVCs to the private sector so they will begin to proliferate across the city. An RFP for the project is expected in December.
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Jailbreak
City-funded architecture work is becoming scarce, if the DDC's latest list of Design and Construction Excellence firms is any indicator, so it's heartening when public projects promised during the boom times move into the construction phase. Today, Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, and DDC Commissioner Burney broke ground on the Rafael Vinoly-designed 121st Precinct Stationhouse, which was unveiled in last year. It will be the first police station built on Staten Island since 1962, and the first in the city to be built under the 2030 sustainable design initiative. The project is expected to earn a LEED Silver rating and to be completed in 2012. See a rendering after the jump.
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Terminal B
Today, The Port Authority awarded a $59.8 million contract to a New Jersey construction company to complete the next phase of work in an ongoing project to modernize Newark Airport's Terminal B. VRH Construction Corp. of Englewood got the job of installing new check-in counters, baggage handling systems, and airline offices for domestic departures in an old baggage claim area on the lower level. The Port Authority, whose architectural office conducted the design work, is spending $324.6 million in the overall project to enlarge the terminal to make way for an increase in passengers, and expects the modernizations to be completed in 2012.
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Our Academy Awards
Or so they like to say, when referring to the Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards, or more accurately, the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum’s National Design Awards.  And that’s exactly what it was like: a little too much of a mouthful of an event. But it was also an undeniably bounteous banquet of everyone Who’s a Who in architecture and design of all stripes. The party was held last night not in the backyard tent as of old, but in the marbled bank hall palace of Cipriani 42nd Street. The stars were all out and too many to name as this year the museum was also celebrating its tenth year anniversary for the awards.  Herding everyone to table was not easy but a hush spread as gala chair Richard Meier passed the podium to Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary who expounded on our nation’s children and the great role modeling that designers/architects could provide.  Everyone was impressed with themselves as next up was broadcast princess Paula Zahn, the evening’s tirelessly beaming emcee. And for the next three hours great awards were dished out (along with some seriously thick slabs of prime beef) to the very deserving and, among them, our especial friends SHoP Architects (winsomely introduced by Reed Kroloff) who received the Architecture Design Award; Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown (nicely roasted by Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti who recalled days when the four sculpted the great women’s hairdos of the 20th Century in the Long Island sands) who received the Interior Design Award; Constantin and Laurene Boym who gamely shared the mic just like Julia Roberts and Clive Owens might at the real Academy Awards; and Walter Hood of HOOD Design whose urban landscapes we want to know much more about. As often happens at the Design Awards, the presenters outshone the winners in matters only of sheer star dust: Chuck Close presented the Corporate Award to the Walker Art Center (the first museum ever to get one); John Waters riffed hilariously through the Boym’s disaster building paperweights; actress Eva Longoria had trouble with the teleprompter (everyone else handled their 4x5s or 8x11s adroitly enough) when awarding Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein the Fashion Award; Charlie Rose was so smooth I have forgotten which award he presented, but Armory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute was surely the bravest and coolest of them all when he bared his Pocket Protector & Pens when accepting the Design Mind Award for among very many other things, his Passive-solar Banana Farm.
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Eavesdrop NY 17
HAPPY B-DAY, MR. ARCHITECT On October 12, Richard Meier turned 75. His birthday bash for 150 was held that night at the Four Seasons, or rather under a white tent on Park Avenue alongside the Seagram Building fountains. Eavesdrop didn’t find anyone on the B-List who was invited, but all the A’s were there including Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, David Rockwell, Robert A.M. Stern, City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden with TV talker Charlie Rose, and President of the American Academy in Rome Adele Chatfield-Taylor with playwright John Guare. A Meier follower tells us that his 50th was held at his duplex on East 72nd Street, where he raised eyebrows by exiling his mother to a far corner of the room, while putting Burden on his right. Interior designer Rose Tarlow hosted his 60th birthday on the tennis court of the house he designed for Norman and Lisette Ackerberg in Malibu. This time, he was sent into his fourth quarter of a century by daughter Ana, who arranged everything in no-surprise white. No roasts among the toasts made by family and friends, with Meier himself going only slightly off-color in his effusive compliments to his lovely offspring. The cake was a layered white slab. ET TU, GUY? Buried but not deep enough for our eagle eyes is this passage in the October issue of literary journal The Believer, from an engaging interview with Guy Nordenson: “Frank Gehry’s relationship to engineering and construction says: the cruder the better. You visit the Disney Concert Hall and, in the office of the musical director, there’s this gigantic gusset plate that’s part of one of the trusses in the system. It’s exposed and fire-protected. One of the architects who worked on the project described it to me as a train crash in a room. It’s monumentally messy.” TURNING THE PAIGE It’s that time of the month again when bets are placed in showrooms across the nation. What is the future of Paige Rense and, for that matter, Architectural Digest? Authoritative rumor has it that AD’s eons-long editrix has been told she’s out at the end of the year. One shelter magazine editor-in-chief reports having been interviewed and insists that Condé Nast is going through the usual suspects one by one. We’re guessing that’s Deborah Needleman, editor-in-chief of defunct Domino; Stephen Drucker of House Beautiful; and Margaret Russell, the editor-in-chief of Elle Décor. But La Rense is not likely to shuffle off quietly. According to a prominent designer, she recently arranged a skit to impress bosses Si Newhouse and Chuck Townsend. Honorees on her coveted AD 100 list gave testimony to a group of advertisers that AD is still the number one shelter magazine in the world and that, hard times notwithstanding, they should continue to buy pages. Take away? Paige is essential to Si’s ongoing health and wealth. Another source says that Si only makes major personnel changes twice a year—right after Labor Day and right after New Year’s. Look for the other Louboutin to drop around January 2, 2010. Send engineering tips and ad pages shart@archpaper.com. A version of this article appeared in AN 17_10.21.2009.
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Google Goes to Governors Island
Among the revelations in Nick Paumgarten's recent meandering piece for The New Yorker was that the designs for the park had actually been completed months ago and are under lock-and-key within the former Coast Guard grounds, awaiting the stabilization of Albany—sometime in 2012, perhaps?—for a proper unveiling. The other piece of news that struck us was that Leslie Koch, the director of GIPEC who had fought to have the island put back on maps it had been excised from decades prior, had gone so far as to convince the notorious Google Street View car to come over to the island so people could explore the place inside-out, in-season and out. (The park closes the second weekend of October.) Well, upon reading The New Yorker story, we went online to see for ourselves, but were dismayed that the magazine's vaunted fact-checking department had somehow let us down. Turns out that wasn't exactly the case. Thanks to Curbed, we were alerted to the fact that the Google car had indeed been on the island, as the picture above from the Governors Island Blog proves. The actual Street View did not go online until yesterday, though. Check it out for yourselves, and while you're there, see if you cant turn up some of those models of the new park.