All posts in East

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The Bigger Apple?
Lately, it seems like there have been a lot of going away parties for friends leaving New York to escape the high cost of living or to find jobs elsewhere. But maybe that’s just me. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released figures from 2007-2008 showing a surge in new residents in New York, as well as in other cities. According to the new data, New York continued to be the nation’s most populous city, with 8.4 million residents, twice the population of Los Angeles, which ranked second at 3.8 million. Then came Chicago, with 2.9 million, Houston (2.2 million) and Phoenix (1.6 million). New York also led in numerical increase of population, adding more than 53,000 residents, while Chicago boasted its second straight year of population increase after five consecutive years of decline. New Orleans leads the growth percentage of US cities between 2007-2008 with 8.2 percent, faster than any other large city, though it hasn’t yet reached pre-Katrina population levels. Four cities made it to the top 10 in Texas, including Round Rock, the second fastest-growing city (8.16 percent) in the nation during that period. Since people’s mobility is directly related to job opportunities, it is safe to assume that the numbers might have changed significantly during the past year. Certainly there must have been a population shift—a decrease in international young professionals, like my friends—though, obviously, other people cannot afford to move at all. Environmental awareness might also play a role in people’s choice to stay in the city. After all, isn’t suburbia becoming a synonym for unsustainable?
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Cooper-Hewitt Director-in-Waiting
Last November, Paul Thompson announced he was giving up directing the Cooper-Hewitt and heading back to London to take over at the Royal College of Art. Ever since then, the speculative interest has been anything but wild, and frankly tepid, about who was going to lead the nation’s only and reputedly arduously bureaucratic National Design Museum, the only New York museum in the Smithsonian’s crown. MoMA’s Paola Antonelli? Cincinnati’s Aaron Betsky? Design’s Everywoman Chee Pearlman? Why not, Mark Robbins? Those who have been watching were expecting an answer, after hearing for months about the interviews. Well, we can now wait some more as the museum has just announced that longtime deputy director Caroline Baumann, who joined the museum as development director in 2001, has been named acting director, effective July 13.
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Washington Lights
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has completed the installation of LED fixtures on the necklace of the George Washington Bridge. The 156 light emitting diode fixtures replace the span's mercury vapor lamps and are expected to save $49,000 in energy and maintenance costs annually. The LED fixtures have 80,000-hour, or 15-year, life spans, while the mercury lamps only lasted one year on average. The Port Authority also expects the new energy-efficient fixtures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 220,000 pounds per year. The capital project was approved by the authority's board of commissioners in 2007 as part of an initiative to reduce green house gas emissions at Port Authority facilities.
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Stuytown Gets Reatard-ed
Among the amenities--Oval Lounge, Oval Kids, lots and lots of trees--Tishman Speyer has rolled out at Stuytown to justify the ever-higher rents is a new summer concert series. And performing tonight is none other than... Jay Reatard? Kaki King and Budos Band we kinda get, though really, wouldn't the Klezmonauts have made more sense? Or perhaps that is the genius behind bringing in this would-be-Ozzy Memphis garage punk Jay Reatard (the name alone says it all). This is a man, after all, who punched a fan for being too rowdy at a Toronto show, who regularly poses for pictures drenched in blood. What better way to drive out what's left of Stuytown's intractable, crotchety, and old (i.e. rent-controlled) residents than to have hundreds if not thousands of sweaty hipsters descend on your quaint little park and cause mayhem. Video evidence after the jump.
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The Emerald Coast of Queens
On Thursday, we wrote about a new park that had been unveiled as part of the city's plans for Hunter's Point South. Not to be outdone, Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens West's original greenway, is expanding, with a new 6-acre stretch opening tomorrow. Designed by Abel Bainnson Butz, the new section of park brings Gantry Plaza to 10 acres of waterfront open space. With Macy's fireworks moving north up the Hudson this year, those new lounge chairs and hammocks could be a perfect place to watch. Check 'em out after the jump.
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See Bruce in Court!
We recently wrote above how opponent's best hope of stopping Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project was not the departure of Frank Gehry but lawsuits. There was a good possibility the "sweetheart" deals the state had crafted to make Ratner's project easier to move forward could have triggered further litigation, but it seems it may not even come to that, as the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, has decided to hear Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's challenge to the state's use of eminent domain. With oral arguments not due until October, the outcome of the suit may not even matter, as it will likely further delay a scheduled fall groundbreaking on the new arena and could make it even harder for Ratner to secure tax-exempt financing before year's end. Update: Forest City Ratner remains confident in the success of its project, with spokesman Joe DePlasco emailing along the following statement:
The Appellate Division ruled unanimously in May in favor of the use of eminent domain because of the public benefits associated with Atlantic Yards. We’re confident that the Court of Appeals will come to the same conclusion. We are moving forward aggressively following last week’s approval by the MTA and authorization by the Empire State Development Corporation. We intend to be in construction before the end of the year.
What he failed to mention but what the Observer astutely, uh, observed was that the decision to hear the case in October was in contravention of a request from the state's attorneys to hear the case no later than September 9. This could be seen as yet another attempt by the state to accomodate the developer's very tight timeline for financing and construction, something that has been an acute complaint for opponents. Whether or not it means greater sympathy from the court, who knows, though it is also a welcome sign of judicial independence. As we noted above, litigation, while often unsuccessful, has been at the heart of opponents' efforts to stall, and thereby derail, Ratner's project. In fact, the deals reached last week will tentatively be rescinded if Ratner cannot secure financing by March 31, 2010, be it tax-exempt or otherwise. Depending on whom you ask, DDDB and company were given a decisive rebuff by the state appellate court's unanimous dismissal of the eminent domain case back on May 15 or a more apologetic there's-nothin'-we-can-do rejection. This may still be the case, but again it may not matter. As the dogged Norman Oder put it a thorough post on his Atlantic Yards Report: "At the very least, the appeal delays Forest City Ratner's announced plans to begin construction by October and severely narrows--but does not close--the window of opportunity to have crucial tax-exempt bonds issued by the end of the year." He also recounts the constitutional issues raised by the lower court's decisions that could lead to a different outcome at the Court of Appeals, which he had previously expounded upon when the state first asked the court to allow its "slum clearance" program to go forward earlier this month.
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Taking Back the Streets x2
Before closing Broadway got her branded a car-hating communist, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was already well on her way to transforming the city's streets. One of the most memorable events--and a sign of things to come--was last year's Summer Streets program, which, for three Saturdays last August, closed off a large swath of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street, with most of the course running up Park Avenue. (There was also a less publicized closure of Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.) Never one to stand (or bike) still, Sadik-Khan and the mayor announced today the expansion of the program throughout the summer and across all five boroughs this year. Details after the jump, but first two quick thoughts: Brooklyn, with seven sites, is the obvious winner; and why no Park Avenue this year?
* Bronx Summer Walks – 167th Street between Gerard and Cromwell Avenues, Saturday June 20th, 27th and July 11th, 12 p.m.- 4 p.m., Sponsored by Local Development Corporation of the Bronx.
* Williamsburg Walks – Bedford Avenue between North 4th and North 9th Streets, Saturday June 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th and July 4th and 11th, 12 p.m.- 9 p.m., Sponsored by Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, L Magazine. * Summer Streets on Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt Avenue between Dean Street and Park Place, Sundays in June, 12 p.m.- 5 p.m., Sponsored by Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Coalition. * Summer Plazas, 5th Avenue – 5th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, Sunday July 19th, 26th and August 2nd, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sponsored by Sunset Park BID. * The Sunday Scene on Knickerbocker – Knickerbocker Avenue between Suydam and Starr Streets, Sunday July 19th, 26th and August 2nd, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sponsored by Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. * Pitkin Saturday Plazas – Pitkin Avenue between Strauss and Thomas Boyland Streets, Saturday September 12th, 19th, and 26th, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sponsored by Pitkin Avenue BID. * Move About Myrtle – Myrtle Avenue between Clinton Street and Emerson Place, Sunday September 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sponsored by Myrtle Ave Partnership. * Montague Summer Space – Montague Street between Hicks and Clinton Streets, Sunday September 13th, 20th, and 27th, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sponsored by Montague BID.
* Meet the Street – East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, Saturdays in June, 3 p.m.-8 p.m., Sponsored by Fourth Arts Block. * Stanton Street Summer Sundays – Stanton Street between Allen and Orchard Streets, Sunday August 23rd and 30th and September 6th and 13th, 1 p.m.- 6:30 p.m., Sponsored by Lower East Side BID.
* 46th Street Weekend Walks – 46th Street between Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue, Saturdays in August, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m., Sponsored by Sunnyside Shines BID. * Astoria Water Walk – Shore Boulevard between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard, Sunday August 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., Sponsored by Astoria Park Alliance.
    Staten Island
* Van Duzer Days – Van Duzer Street between Wright and Beach Streets, Saturday August 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd, 12 p.m.- 8 p.m., Sponsored by Downtown SI Council.
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The Porch That Swings
The Southwest Porch at Bryant Park, a summer-long lounge sponsored by Southwest Airlines, officially opens next week and will offer small dishes and cocktails provided by Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft. Designed by Nancy Thiel, principal of Thiel Architecture + Design, the Porch includes adirondack chairs, porch swings, and enclosed sings that resemble birdhouses, under a pergola. “It’s a new amenity in this exquisite park,” Thiel told AN. The lounge seats 175 in its normal configuration but can accommodate larger crowds for special events. In contrast to the French café tables and chairs used elsewhere in the park, Thiel hopes the swings and lounge seating will encourage people to look up to take in the skyline and the open air. The Porch is located, appropriately, in the southwest corner of the park.
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White Love Lair in Foreclosure
Sure, there are lots of foreclosures sweeping the city, sadly to say, but none is quite like 22 West 24th Street. Beyond the property's current $82,987 in back taxes, an ownership fight between an infirm mother and her mentally challenged son, a 2003 fire and 2007 collapse, the property is also the location of renowned architect Stanford White's dalliances with a married 16-year-old girl over 100 years ago, according to an article in The Real Deal today.
In 1901, White, a famous playboy, began liaisons with actress and model Evelyn Nesbit, who was 16 at the time. White was a partner at the prestigious firm McKim, Meade [sic] and White, where he designed iconic New York City structures such as the Washington Square Arch and the New York Herald Building. White and Nesbit would rendezvous at the four-story building at 22 West 24th Street. They carried on the affair for years, fueling the rage of Nesbit's husband, millionaire Harry Thaw, who fatally shot White during a musical in the architect's own creation, Madison Square Garden, in 1906.
And to think all these years we'd assumed he was famous simply for being part of that incomprable Beaux Arts trio. And mustache. Funny how history has a way of coming around, though. We guess some buildings are just cursed. (via Curbed)
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Up on the Roof
Last night was the opening party for No Soul For Sale a (very) temporary show (it closes Saturday night) at the old Dia space on West 22nd Street organized by X Initiative. The crowning achievement--literally--is a lounge designed by LA-based architect Jeffery Inaba and his eponymous firm. An amusing if uncertain follow-up to Dan Graham's former installation, the new piece, entitled Pool Noodle Roof, is meant to provide both comfort and unease. Composed of 15,000 individual pieces of pool noodle foam tubes, each X-shaped (get it?) seat took five hours to make. With 150 seats scattered about the roof, well, you do the math. Part of the time involved in construction was getting the patterns just right, as the chairs spell out a secret message, "bububluooopppp," which Inaba explained is the sound of something either sinking or rising, a commentary on the uncertain state of art and design (markets) and the world in general. But more than anything else, the chairs made for a nice respite from the downright sweltering conditions inside the building. Sadly the capacity crowd was crammed into the Dan Flavin-lit stairwell because strict fire marshall's would only allow 150 people up at a time. Still, it was well worth it, seeing as this is apparently the show of the moment. (Is Jerry Saltz ever wrong?) For the remaining four nights of the exhibition, there will be live events on the roof, so don't think you've missed the party yet. Do hurry, though, before the whole brilliant (colored) thing sinks for good. Or is it rising to heaven, seeing as how Inaba plans on donating the chairs to local communities groups. Assuming, of course, they can stand the relentless abuse of the art world.
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A Few Bright Satellites
In recent years, the proliferation of satellite events at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair has grown robust enough to compete for the attention of fair-goers. Now, a handful of young designers have identified a parallel void surrounding NeoCon in Chicago, and this week, they mounted The Promise of This Moment: Objects that Augment the Everyday, a group exhibition including work from 14 Chicago-based designers.

Sponsored by The Object Design League and curated by The Mighty Bearcats, a design collective started in 2006 by Bryan Metzdorf, Steve Haulenbeek, and Jason Chernak, the show takes its cue, according to Chernak, from their intrigue with reports of the “lipstick effect,” the recession phenomenon of people buying small things that offer a sense of luxury under financial constraint.

As the show’s subtitle suggests, there’s a departure here from the material interpretation of “the everyday”—where common materials are recontextualized, as has been popular both in a post-Droog era and amid conversations about sustainability—and an attention to objects that bring levity to rote, quotidian activities.

Greg Bethel designed a soft rubber water-bottle cap in the shape of a faucet handle, evoking both the humorous connotation of water bottles as portable spigot, and the historical collision of current habits with archetypical models. The Teton Blanket, by Mighty Bearcat member Metzdorf, turns an unmade bed into a sculptural statement: Fabric reinforced with Pelon, typically used for shirt cuffs and collars, creates a composed topography no matter how casually the blanket is cast aside. And with Materious’ oversized ceiling-mounted tassel, the MASTER SWITCH, pulling the tassel sends radio signals to nearby power outlets, turning on whatever appliances are plugged in, lending theatrical flair to one’s sense of household command. The piece that most directly touches on the show’s economic underpinnings is Garrett Smith’s Trickle Down, a basic vacuum-formed plastic container meant to filter out the change from the other detritus left in your pocket at the end of the day. While many of the show’s inclusions intervene in domestic space, one of its standout pieces is also the only nod to the presence object designers could have in territory more typically defined by architects and urban planners: Michael Savona’s Goose Cones playfully reconfigures orange construction cones as a line of crossing geese. The Promise of This Moment, a phrase taken from President Obama’s first speech on the economy, clearly aligns with the curators’ vision for the exhibition, but also suggests something about the overarching mood of the Chicago designers involved. Coproduced by the Object Design League (ODL), an initiative launched this spring by Caroline Linder and Lisa Smith, two recent graduates of the Design Objects masters program at the School of the Art Institute, this show is ODL’s first foray into exhibition programming. According to Smith, ODL aims to “become a resource for independent designers,” and if the response in membership and event attendance they’ve seen in just a few short months is any indication, this show will be the first of more to come.

Both the ODL and a number of the designers included in The Promise of This Moment made an appearance in another satellite event Tuesday night called the Guerrilla Furniture and Art Truck Show. It was the biggest turnout in the event’s five-year history, with 28 designers showing their work from the back of U-Haul trucks parked for a few hours near Morlen Sinoway’s design shop in the Fulton Market. Despite periodic sheets of rain, intrepid design connoisseurs came out in good numbers to see what Sinoway, the event’s founder, described as “something formed out of the necessity for young designers to have the opportunity to show.”

The Object Design League, perhaps because it functions more as a platform for designers than a venue for production, decided to forego a truck altogether, and find a way, as Smith described, “to be a spatial presence.” Using their logo as a base, ODL members Thom Moran, Eric Rosenbaum, and Mingli Chang built an inflatable, inhabitable, spherical polygon, nearly 10 feet in diameter, from little more than Tyvek and duct tape. Inside, the atmosphere was something like teepee meets geodesic dome on a construction site. As for the origin of the logo? “We wanted something generic that could come to mean something through community and history,” said Moran.

There’s a resonance between these two events that hints at how that community and history is poised to take shape: through curiosity, humor, and commitment to design.

Check out The Promise of This Moment through June 22, by appointment at 312-560-1532.