All posts in East

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Fontainebleau Anew
Morris Lapidus' Fontainebleau in Miami is one of the most recognizable hotels in the United States, thanks in no small part to its frequent appearances in television shows and films, perhaps most notably and intimately in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. A recent two-year revitalization has brought the old bastion of luxury and class—which had begun to show its wear—back to prime condition. More than just polish up the surfaces, the effort included the addition of a free-standing spa. The designers, Dallas-based architectural firm HKS, selected a blue tinted glass for the spa's curtain wall. In addition to referencing the adjacent pool's azure complexion, the glass (1 5/16-inch thick Viracon laminated units with a Vanceva Storm interlayer) meets Miami's strict large missile impact and hurricane codes. Goldfinger would be proud.
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GSA Now Hiring
With the prospects for architectural work tilting downward once again, we can imagine you might be uncertain about the future. Not to worry, though, as a friend sends along the message that the GSA is hiring in its New York office, among many others. And best of all, things are looking up at the agency, as you could go to work, at least in some capacity, for the new director of the Design Excellence program, which is getting a much-needed shot in the arm. Best of luck.
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Two Strikes for Chiofaro
After the recent mixed reviews of his KPF-designed Boston Arch project, local developer Don Chiofaro has been told within the last few days by both state and city officials that his proposal is considerably too large and may take years of regulatory review and planning to get off the ground. No worry, as the infamously forthright developer has taken his project to the people, counting on concerts and blaring signs like the one above to show that it is the mayor and the BRA that are bullying his grand vision and not the other way around.
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Unite de Stoop
In today's "Today's Pictures" feature over on Slate, Magnum presents photos of a subject near and dear to New Yorkers' summertime hearts: stoops. Many of the photos, including some by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bruce Davidson, feature the environs of our fair city. But the one pic that really caught our attention was from Marseilles, where Rene Burri snapped some children at play on the patio of Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation. Modern architecture never looked so fun.
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To Every Season
Wednesday night the Guggenheim held a benefit dinner to honor the fiftieth anniversaries of the Wright museum and of the Four Seasons restaurant. During dessert Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong interviewed Phyllis Lambert and critic Martin Filler about the two architects, though Lambert held sway for most of the conversation. Lambert was delightfully off the cuff throughout her remarks. When asked about meeting Wright, Lambert, she replied that she and Philip Johnson thought Wright was “from another century,” apparently a reference to Johnson’s banishment of Wright to the hall outside the famed International Style show. She was complimentary about Wright’s building for the way in which it breaks up the street wall of Fifth Avenue, an urban transformation simultaneous with creation of the Seagram Plaza on Park Avenue. Filler cited the great metaphor-maker Vincent Scully’s characterization of the Wright building as a primitive drum in the heart of Manhattan, and praised the building for being as relevant today as it was when it opened fifty years ago. Talk of Mies and Johnson, however, dominated the conversation. At one point, Filler said that Johnson could be more Miesian than Mies, citing the Four Seasons interior as an example. Lambert disagreed, saying that the interior was all Johnson and that Mies would have created an entirely different restaurant had he been in charge. Lambert’s I-was-there certainty was difficult for Filler to refute. Also in attendance were Four Seasons restoration architect Belmont Freeman, Architectural Record’s woman about town Suzanne Stevens, Winka Dubbeldam, Michael Bell, Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman and Cynthia Davidson, Michael Gabellini, Gisue Hariri, and Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
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Didya Hear the One About Pitetsbkrrh?
Ask anyone from Pittsburgh (present company included) what the blinking light atop the Grant Building is, and they'll quickly respond, "Easy! It spells out Pittsburgh in morse code." Well, not exactly. Turns out a local grad student who also happens to be a ham radio operator was up on Mount Washington for the annual 4th of July fireworks (of which we have the best, courtesy the great Zambelli family). While he waited for the lights to go off, he was watching the red flashing light atop the Grant Building--the city's first skyscraper when it was completed in 1929 and a wonderful art deco achievement by Henry Hornbostel--when he noticed something that didn't belong. "I was looking at it, and I saw the letter 'K,' which is [dash-dot-dash]," Tom Stepleton told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I remembered 'K' because my sister's name starts with 'K.' And I knew that wasn't supposed to be there." The P-G further investigated and found out the building owners were unaware of the mistake and also when it had begun, nor, sadly, when it might be corrected. That's Pittsburgh for you. Heck, it could even just be a rendition of the city name in the local dialect. And it's not the only problem the city's buildings have. Our tallest, the Steel Building, rusts wantonly, and the lights at Fifth Avenue Place had to be shut off, and then for better and worse turned blue, because they were disrupting the planetarium's telescope at CMU.
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Drinking in History
Last night, the Museum of the City of New York hosted the first installment of their summer long prohibition-era themed parties on the newly renovated Polshek Partnership-designed terrace overlooking Central Park.Though not so secret, the Museum’s Speakeasy was complete with Roaring 20’s music and old-fashioned cocktails that were commonly seen on old New York City menus during Prohibition, including the Manhattan, the Bronx, and my personal favorite Planter’s Punch.
Recipe Courtesy City Room: 2 ounces dark rum ¼ ounce grenadine Equal parts sour mix and either pineapple or orange juice to fill Club soda (optional) Maraschino cherry for garnish Lemon or orange slice for garnish
The Speakeasy at 1220 Fifth will be open every Wednesday night from 6-9pm through August 26th. Admission is $12 ($10 for members) and includes one free drink and access to the Museum’s first floor galleries where you can view the Mannahatta/Manhattan exhibit. Be sure to stop by and tell them The Architect’s Newspaper sent you!
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I Brought My Pencil
We have covered the East Harlem School a few times, once in a studio visit we did with the architect, Peter L. Gluck & Partners (09_05.21.2008), and once in our 2009 favorite sources issue (specifically here). Now construction on the project has been completed and Gluck has sent us some images of the finished product. According to the architect, who also provided construction management services, the school was built for $330 per square foot. Gluck also reports that his firm returned $500,000 to the client in unused contingencies. See what $330 per square foot will get you in Manhattan when your architect is also your CM after the jump.

Times Square Time Lapse
My In Detail piece in the current issue is about Eleven Times Square, a speculative office tower at the corner of 8th Ave. and 42nd St., which was designed by FXFowle and is now in the final stages of construction. Lucky for you and me, Plaza Construction had the site photographed everyday for the past two years or so from the same vantage on a nearby tower, and has compiled these daily progress photos in the above stop-action video. There is much to admire in the presentation, but pay close attention to the erection of the structural elements. (Hint: The Tootsie Roll center of the Tootsie Pop goes up first.) Like at least half of all tall buildings constructed in New York City in the post-9/11 era, this is a composite structure of a concrete core with steel-framed bays. But this is the first of those buildings in which the erection of the concrete preceded that of the steel. As is the case with vampires and werewolves, the steel and concrete trades in this city do not mix, due in part to long-held grudges. My information tells me that, in the erection of previous composite structures, ironworkers refused to work beneath the less-schooled concrete laborers because they feared being hit by fumbled debris. So does the erection of Eleven mark an historic accord between the warring unions? Or is Plaza simply the Talleyrand of construction management, capable of smoothing the ruffled feathers of even the most angry birds?
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The Big Bad Box Store?
Yesterday, the Bloomberg administration announced the winners of its eighth annual Neighborhood Achievement Awards. Among the honorees was the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the Placemaking Award, the Bronx Library Center for the Development Award, and IKEA Red Hook for the Norman Buchbinder Award for Neighborhood Beautification. The latter makes sense, as it sure is a nice park, but we also thought it a bit ironic considering what we saw earlier that day on Archinect, namely an Atlantic article calling the big blue designer retailer the "least sustainable company on the planet." Basically, the writer for The Atlantic, Ellen Ruppel Shell, compares IKEA if not to McDonalds than at least Starbucks, in that the Swedish design retailer has consider clout it lets go to waste in the name of affordable fashion. To wit:
IKEA designs to price, challenging its talented European team to create ever-cheaper objects, and its suppliers—most of them in low-wage countries in Asia and eastern Europe—to squeeze out the lowest possible price. By some measures the world’s third-largest wood consumer [...] Nor, despite a lot of self-serving hoopla, is energy conservation: the company boasts of illuminating its stores with low-wattage lightbulbs but positions outlets far from city centers, where taxes are low and commuting costs high—the average IKEA customer drives 50 miles round-trip. [...] Wig Zamore, a Massachusetts environmental activist who was recently recognized for his work by the Environmental Protection Agency, is working with IKEA and supports some of the company’s regional green initiatives. But as he put it, “IKEA is the least sustainable retailer on the planet.” And in real costs—the kind that will burden our grandchildren—that also makes it among the most expensive.
And to think our dear Brooklyn store is the most popular in the world. Maybe you should think twice before picking up that new EKTORP or POÄNG, think twice. (Almost made those names up, but the real one's couldn't be faked, so we just used them instead.)
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Chasing One Manhattan Plaza
The financial crisis has officially hit architects. No, not in the way you think. We're talking about banks selling their marquee properties, namely the news today, delivered by the Observer, that JPMorgan Chase may be selling its former headquarters building at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Designed by Gordon Bundshaft of SOM under the auspices of then-bank president David Rockefeller, the building, which also features an Iasmu Noguchi rock garden, was named a landmark by the LPC in February of this year. Maybe that helped auger the sale, which could include 22 buildings and which the bank continues to deny. (See, we care about commercial real estate, too, and not just famous houses.)
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Trouble for Chiofaro?
A double whammy came last week for Boston developer Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch project, which we first wrote about last month. On Thursday, The Boston Business Journal ran a story suggesting Chiofaro was stuffing the BRA's mailbox with letters supportive of his KPF-designed project, while the following day it reported that the aquarium the project was meant to improve feared for the worst. The letters are part of the redevelopment authorities public comment period, and among them was one from the president of the Boston Aquarium who wrote that, according to the Journal, "the project threatens the long-term viability of the Aquarium." As we noted in our June report, officials at Massport were concerned about undue impacts on Logan flight paths, something Chiofaro told us was being addressed. But maybe note, as the Journal turned up the following comment in a Massport letter:
“Massport strongly supports the continued economic development of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the letter stated. “However, as owner and operator of one of the Commonwealth’s most critical transportation infrastructure assets, Massport cannot condone and urges you to help prevent any degradation of the airspace surrounding Boston-Logan by tall structures proposed as part of this project.”
Chiofaro did not comment for the story, but what he had been doing was far more intriguing:
In total, there were 381 letters and postcards submitted in support of the Harbor Garage project, compared with the 252 letters opposed to the project. [...] Of the 266 postcards in favor of the 1.5 million square foot mixed-use project, 144 were signed by people who do not live in Boston, according to the BRA.
Then again, most of those letter opposing the project came from residents of the neighboring Harbor Towers apartment buildings, who obviously have a stake in the project not going forward. Looks like it's up to the BRA on this one, though if that is any indication, Chiofaro may just be out of luck.