A team headed by Vishaan Chakrabarti has been chosen by the de Blasio administration to create a master plan for Western Queens’ Sunnyside Yard rail pit, according to Crain’s New York. While nothing has been officially announced, Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will be responsible for envisioning how to deck over the 180-acre yard and support parks, retail, commercial, and thousands of residential units. The idea to deck over the still actively-in-use train yard with housing has been kicking around since 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a feasibility study from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Released in February of 2017, the report found that it would be feasible to deck over anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of the site, and up to 24,000 residential units could be built for around $19 billion (about the cost of Hudson Yards). Each of the three schemes in the feasibility report offsets the mixture of residential units with space for cultural centers, schools, retail, and office space, though it’s unclear what PAU will focus on. Sunnyside Yard, which is so large that it stretches across the triangle of Astoria-Long Island City-Sunnyside neighborhoods, is still in active use by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, and any plan would need to allow for its continued use. Because of the difficulty involved in building over an active train yard, the master plan will help inform Amtrak’s decision to upgrade its facilities in the future. PAU’s selection comes on the heels of a Request For Qualifications released by the NYCEDC in September of last year, though neither party were willing to confirm the choice to Crain’s. Assuming the report's sources were correct, PAU will draw up a vision for the rail yard and create a specific development plan for the megaproject, a process city officials estimate could take up to two years. “We remain on track with the original schedule for this project,” a spokesman for the NYCEDC told Crain’s. “We continue to work closely with Amtrak, and we will also engage community stakeholders before beginning any master-planning process.”
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Hudson Yards isn’t the only megaproject on Manhattan’s far west side. Developer Brookfield Properties has released a new set of renderings and a fly-through video of what the area will look like once its Manhattan West development is complete. Once complete, the seven-million-square-foot “neighborhood” will link Hudson Yards on the far west side with Penn Station’s renovated Moynihan Train Hall. Hemmed between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and 31st to 33rd Streets, Manhattan West will hold offices, retail, hotels, and residential units, with most of the buildings featuring sleek glass facades. REX’s recent retrofit of 5 Manhattan West; the rising 69 stories of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) One Manhattan West office tower; SLCE’s recently completed The Eugene, a 62-story residential tower and the tallest of its type in Midtown Manhattan; SOM’s Two Manhattan West, a 59-story office tower which recently filed DOB permits and the 13-story “The Loft” are all on track to finish construction by either 2019 or 2020. Fewer details have been released about the more mysterious Four Manhattan West, which will be a 30-story boutique hotel with condo units. A 60,000-square-foot public plaza designed by James Corner Field Operations and 200,000 square feet of ground floor shops and restaurants will round out the public amenities. Now, Brookfield has released a flythrough of the project, starting at a revitalized Empire Station (the forthcoming rebrand of the new Penn Station complex) with stops along each of the campus’s towers. Watch the video below: Brookfield has also created a VR walkthrough of the entire development, including interior views from each of the office towers, as well as street-level shots. Construction on the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall is ongoing, and it may be a number of years before the area comes into its own. That doesn’t seem to be a hurdle for Amazon (who are already renting space in 5 Manhattan West), and reps from the tech giant will soon visit New York to scout out prospective HQ2 office space on the far west side.
Welcome to AN Interior's inaugural top 50 interior architect and designer list, featuring emerging and established firms across the U.S. While these architects' and designers' talents certainly go beyond interior work, they are deftly pushing the boundaries of residential, retail, workplace, and hospitality spaces and cleverly reimagining the spaces we inhabit. Ensamble Studio Boston, Madrid With a distinct focus on the process of making, Ensamble Studio leverages material technologies to produce dramatic spaces and forms. 64North Los Angeles Multidisciplinary studio 64North provides branding, interiors, website, and product design services. Architecture is Fun Chicago
As the name implies, Architecture Is Fun produces playful designs, frequently working with children’s museums; it won AIA Chicago’s 2017 Firm of the Year award. UrbanLab Chicago, Los Angeles
UrbanLab’s highly graphic design sensibility brings together smart solutions and visual identity in projects ranging from small storefronts to urban infrastructures. Design, Bitches Chicago, Los Angeles
The irreverent work of Design, Bitches employs layers of color, light, and material to build engaging interior spaces across Southern California. LADG Los Angeles
LADG produces uncanny forms and clever spaces by leveraging common construction materials.
Toshiko Mori Architect New York
Tacklebox’s interiors are filled with “ordinary” materials deployed in unexpected ways, recontextualizing the quotidian.
Michael K Chen Architecture New York
MKCA’s puzzle-like built-ins make the most of tiny living spaces. NADAAA New York, Boston
NADAAA’s work engages with high-tech material investigations and form finding. LOT New York, Athens
The influence of LOT’s Greek office is clear in its mellow, refined interiors and the firm’s furniture line, Objects of Common Interest. MOS Architects New York
The highly intellectual work of MOS plays on contemporary and historical architectural philosophies. Norman Kelley Chicago, New York
A self-described superficial practice, Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley explore the concepts of play, illusion, and flatness, all within an often tongue-in-cheek understanding of historical precedent. Snarkitecture New York
Part think tank and part design firm, every INABA Williams project is rooted in an in-depth research process.
Elliott + Associates Architects Oklahoma City
Rand Elliott has been focusing the country’s attention on Oklahoman design for the past 40 years. SPAN Architecture New York
SPAN creates high-finish spaces full of carefully chosen materials and details. Home Studios New York
Home Studios produces polished, finely detailed commercial and hospitality interiors filled with fine wood, stone, and metal detailing. Architecture in Formation New York
AiF brings together eclectic styles for a wide range of projects, from large hospitality to urban lofts.
Only If— New York
Only If— fuses smart geometries with clever materials for striking interiors.
Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan
Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin draw from their collaborations with Mexican artisans and use local materials to create contextual works for high-end clients. Bureau Spectacular Los Angeles
The comic book sensibility of Bureau Spectacular delves beyond the superficial with spaces that encourage the occupants to live a less ordinary life. Barbara Bestor Los Angeles
Between her many residential and commercial projects across L.A. and her book, Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake, Barbara Bestor is an influential force on Southern Californian design.
Johnsen Schmaling Architects Milwaukee
Johnsen Schmaling translates the beauty of the rural upper Midwest into site-specific residential projects.
Morris Adjmi Architects New York
Carefully proportioned spaces and forms—and a sensitivity to history— define Morris Adjmi’s elegant work.
Neil M. Denari Architects Los Angeles
Teaching at UCLA in addition to running his practice, Neil Denari is a perennial thought leader in the space where technology and architectural form meet. WORKac New York
With clever twists on typical programs, WORKac’s interiors are unexpected and playful. archimania Memphis
The progressive Memphis-based firm is taking a leading role in redefining what architecture can be in the Southeast through its numerous projects and help in redeveloping its city’s waterfront.
Shulman + Associates Miami
Shulman + Associates draw on the history, materials, and culture of South Florida to formulate vibrant, innovative commercial and residential interiors. Clive Wilkinson Architects Los Angeles
Focusing on workplace and educational facilities, Clive Wilkinson has helped define the aesthetics of contemporary creative professional and learning spaces.
The workspaces designed by Studio O+A express its clients’ stories and personalities, pushing the envelope of the modern office.
New Affiliates New York
New Affiliates works in “loose forms and rough materials” to create elegant spaces.
Biber Architects New York
James Biber approaches every project with a fresh vision, letting design and function guide the form.
Olson Kundig SeattleOFFICIAL Dallas
With a dedicated interiors studio, Olson Kundig has redefined the Pacific Northwest architectural typology.
OFFICIAL designs bright interiors with pops of color and custom furnishings. The two-person studio also has its own furniture line.
Aidlin Darling Design San Francisco
Materials are at the forefront of and celebrated in each project by Aidlin Darling Design. Leong Leong New York
Brothers Christopher and Dominic Leong use broad, decisive formal moves to organize space into crisp, refined interiors. Alexander Gorlin Architects New York
For the past two decades, even when minimalism reigned, Alexander Gorlin has been layering colors and patterns with great success. Craig Steely Architecture San Francisco
Craig Steely celebrates the tropical locales of his projects with interiors that reflect and embrace the native flora.
Aranda\Lasch New York, Tuscon
Truly experimental, Aranda\Lasch explores pattern and fabrications as easily as space and form.
Andre Kikoski Architect New York
Known for creating everything from architectural interiors to furniture and finishes, Andre Kikoski consistently delivers refined designs. SO-IL New York
Airy and ethereal, yet highly programmatic, the formal and material exercises by SO-IL are unmistakable. Peter Marino Architect New York
Leather-clad Peter Marino is the go-to for sumptuous interiors in high-end retail and hospitality around the world. Slade Architecture New York
Slade’s lighthearted approach brings together form, color, pattern, and material. Charlap Hyman & Herrero Los Angeles, New York
Bold interior forms with a refined material palette typify the work of RISD graduates Andre Herrero and Adam Charlap Hyman.
BarlisWedlick Architects New York
BarlisWedlick produces super-efficient, passive projects without neglecting aesthetics. Schiller Projects New York
Schiller Projects works through analytic research to design everything from architecture to branding.
The sprint to finish the first phase of the Hudson Yards megaproject is on, as the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group-designed 15 Hudson Yards (Ismael Leyva Architects is serving as the architect of record and handling the interiors) topped out today. The 917-foot-tall condo tower will be the first residential building to open in the new neighborhood, and if construction finishes at the end of 2018 as planned, then the first phase of the new neighborhood will be on track for its March 2019 opening. The 285-unit 15 Hudson Yards is one of the last pieces of the project’s first phase, including the recently completed, bronzed stepwell Vessel nearby, and represents a culmination of five years of work at the site. Although the tower features a glass curtain wall similar to the other buildings on the site, 15 Hudson Yards gradually splits and rounds as it rises, resembling a set of conjoined smokestacks emerging from a square base. The LEED Gold-certified tower will also recycle stormwater, and use capture runoff to support the cooling systems. Once completed, residents will have 40,000 square feet of amenity space, including a 75-foot-long swimming pool in a full “aquatics center,” a fitness club, golf lounge, wine storage and tasting room, and a co-working space for residents. The lucky buyers get to look down on The Shed, as 15 Hudson looms over the extendable cultural venue, also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. As the first phase of the 28-acre, 18-million-foot mixed-use development winds to a close, speculation is heating up over who developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group will tap to design the largely residential second phase of Hudson Yards. As AN reported earlier this month, architects Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry are both in the running to design residential towers on the western half of the site. Hudson Yards will contain about 4,000 residential units once it’s fully complete in 2024. Check out a time-lapse video of 15 Hudson’s construction below.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and Los-Angeles-based Frank Gehry have been chosen to design an undetermined number of residential towers for phase II of Manhattan’s Hudson Yards megaproject, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to “a person familiar with the matter,” the two sometimes-controversial architects were among a crop of designers chosen by the project’s co-developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. As the first phase of Hudson Yards, development on the eastern half of the 28-acre site, has been racing towards the 2019 finish line, Related and Oxford have begun looking ahead to the project’s residential western portion. Phase one saw the rise of Thomas Heatherwick’s pinecone-shaped Vessel, the eventual completion of four surrounding office buildings, a subway extension on the 7 line, and the High Line-straddling cultural Shed. The second phase will see the rise of 4 million square feet of residential space spread out across seven towers, and another 2 million square feet of office space. The western portion of the site is bounded by the High Line to the west, and is where the elevated park dips to street level. Phase II will likely wrap up by 2024, the projected deadline for the entire project. Handing the reins over to Calatrava and Gehry is an interesting choice by Related and Oxford, as neither architect has realized many residential projects in New York City. While the billowing metal façade of 8 Spruce Street (aka New York by Gehry) is a familiar site on the skyline, Calatrava is most well known in New York for the soaring curves of the Oculus transportation hub. Gehry hasn't shied away from his tepid opinion of the High Line, saying "The High Line is a rusty rail bridge and they put some plants on it." Whatever flair either architect brings to the project will also need to fit within the context of the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed master plan for the site. AN has reached out to the relevant parties for confirmation and will update this post when more information becomes available.
Designed by NLÉ
The Shed kicks off programming in a smaller shed
While Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group's The Shed might not open until spring 2019, its creative team will be hosting nearly two weeks of free arts events this May to build anticipation for the ribbon-cutting. A Prelude to The Shed, held on a vacant lot at 10th Avenue and 30th Street in Manhattan, will feature live concerts, dance battles, art-focused political panels, and experimental classes that foreshadow offerings of the under-construction telescoping arts venue in Hudson Yards. From May 1 until May 13, visitors can experience Prelude in and around a reconfigured steel shed designed by architect Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works and artist Tino Sehgal. Prelude’s smaller shed will echo its larger counterpart by being fluid and transformable, with elements of the building able to move in response to the dancers within. “Using simple technologies, we made the structure so that it can be moved and transformed by people, enabling its participation in different formats of art, education, events, and public life,” said Adeyemi, in a press release. Each day of Prelude will bring a different program, though everything will be connected through Sehgal’s curation. Every morning, artist Asad Raza will lead experimental classes, based on his ongoing “Schema for a school” work, while panels on art’s role in social connectivity and the politics of ritualized gatherings will be hosted every other evening. Bolstering the series’ connection to The Shed, Prelude will host reproduced ephemera from architect Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, an unrealized moveable and multi-purpose venue that heavily influenced The Shed. Mobile exhibition carts stocked with artifacts from the Fun Palace will move around the temporary space to encourage public interaction. “Like The Fun Palace, Prelude is a hybridization of exhibition and performance, functionally structured to encourage open engagement with audiences and fresh, collaborative approaches from artists,” said Hans Ulrich Obrist, The Shed's artistic advisor. “It is emblematic of our own era in that it lends itself to the choreography of 21st-century time-based exhibitions.” A full schedule of Prelude’s programming can be found here, including a lineup for the concert series.
Thomas Heatherwick and developer Related Companies have teamed up yet again, this time for a double-pronged condo tower that wraps around a section of Manhattan’s High Line. As first reported by CityRealty, marketing materials for the Heatherwick-designed 515 West 18th Street, and the nearby 555 West 22nd Street, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), are available via an EB-5 investor website. (EB-5 is a federal program designed to spur international investment by promising green cards in exchange for financing, or through the creation of 10 or more permanent jobs.) The two 18th street towers will straddle the High Line while remaining a single, connected building under the elevated rail park. The east tower will be 10 stories tall, while the west tower will be 22 stories, likely an attempt to maximize views of the neighboring Hudson River. The 425,000-square-foot development will contain 181 condos split across both towers, as well as 17,000-square feet of gallery and retail space. The most defining feature of the project are the barrel-shaped windows, which seem to balloon from within against a constraining brick frame. According to a Related official, the design is a “modern interpretation of the bay window.” As expected of a pricey development along the High Line, the Heatherwick's twin towers will be amenity-heavy and hold a fitness center, spa, entertainment lounges, and 175 on-site parking spots. The video walkthrough of the project seen below, including a look at the high-end interiors and amenity spaces, can also be found on the EB-5 site. Much less is known about the second project on West 22nd Street. The boxy, brick tower designed by RAMSA will likely contain 141 condo units and many of the same amenities as its cousin on 18th Street, but Related has released fewer details on this second building. Together, both projects will form a development tentatively titled the Hudson Residences. Related expects both projects to finish in mid-2020, though neither have fully cleared the city’s approval process. As such, the renderings and information released thus far are still subject to change. Heatherwick and Related have most recently worked together on the massive Vessel sculpture in Hudson Yards, and this collaboration makes sense as Related continues to develop projects along Manhattan’s west side, including the Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th. AN has reached out to Related Companies for a comment on the Hudson Residences, and will update this article with more information when it becomes available.
Crain's has released its annual Book of Lists, which includes a listing of the largest 25 New York-area architecture firms, ranked by the number of New York-based architects. The New York area, in this case, includes New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in New Jersey. All of the information is based on 2016 numbers, and most of the information was self-reported by firms. The project totals includes projects in the design stage, under construction, or completed in 2016. In the case of a tie, firms were listed alphabetically. Without a doubt, these are the giants that are shaping New York's built environment, and far beyond. 1. Gensler New York-area architects: 254 Worldwide architects: 1,177 U.S. projects: 6,806 International projects: 1,742 2. Perkins Eastman New York-area architects: 253 Worldwide architects: 452 U.S. projects: 650 International projects: 200 3. HOK New York-area architects: 224 Worldwide architects: 1,171 U.S. projects: 981 International projects: 814 4. Skidmore, Owings & Merill New York-area architects: 157 Worldwide architects: 374 U.S. projects: 375 International projects: 357 5. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates New York-area architects: 127 Worldwide architects: 212 U.S. projects: 44 International projects: 164 6. Spector Group New York-area architects: 86 Worldwide architects: 88 U.S. projects: 169 International projects: 10 7. CetraRuddy Architecture New York-area architects: 84 Worldwide architects: 84 U.S. projects: 76 International projects: 3 8. FXFOWLE New York-area architects: 75 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: 136 International projects: 8 9. Ennead Architects New York-area architects: 72 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 10. STV Architects Inc. New York-area architects: 71 Worldwide architects: 93 U.S. projects: 1,712 International projects: 13 11. Robert A.M. Stern Architects New York-area architects: 64 Worldwide architects: 64 U.S. projects: 186 International projects: 41 12. Gerner Kronick & Valcarcel New York-area architects: 60 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: 75 International projects: 0 13. SLCE Architects New York-area architects: 57 Worldwide architects: 58 U.S. projects: 63 International projects: 1 14. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 78 U.S. projects: 261 International projects: 21 14. Dattner Architects New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 54 U.S. projects: 98 International projects: 0 14. Stephen B. Jacobs Group New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 56 U.S. projects: 30 International projects: 2 17. HLW International New York-area architects: 48 Worldwide architects: 74 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 18. CannonDesign New York-area architects: 47 Worldwide architects: 453 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 19. AECOM New York-area architects: 46 Worldwide architects: 1,491 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 20. H2M Architects & Engineers New York-area architects: 43 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 21. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects New York-area architects: 36 Worldwide architects: 36 U.S. projects: 24 International projects: 21 22. Francis Cauffman New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 83 U.S. projects: 176 International projects: 1 22. TPG Architecture New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 33 U.S. projects: 1,238 International projects: 11 24. EwingCole New York-area architects: 32 Worldwide architects: 150 U.S. projects: 400 International projects: 0 25. Perkins & Will New York-area architects: 30 Worldwide architects: 684 U.S. projects: 3,263 International projects: 1,088
Eager to combat a serious housing shortage in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, State Senator Simcha Felder (D- Southern Brooklyn) announced Tuesday that the MTA would be opening a Request for Proposals (RFP) for developing a 3.8-acre stretch of rail bed that runs through the area. Decking over the site and building residences, similar to what’s happened in Hudson Yards and proposed for Sunnyside Yards, could bring thousands of units to an area of south Brooklyn that’s grown rapidly in recent years. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Bay Ridge Branch section cuts from 61st Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway, and 8th Avenue, and is seldom used apart from the freight trains that might pass through once or twice a day. Looking to create a long-term revenue stream from the site, the MTA released their RFP for developing the site’s airspace, at least 22 feet over the rail bed, on Thursday, available here. Calling for private developers to apply, the RFP demands that teams would not only be responsible for the architectural aspect of the residential buildings on the site, both market-rate and affordable, but also retail and office space as well as parking lots. Additionally, any scheme has to leave the rail track in place, and engineering solutions must be included for decking over a gap that ranges from 82 -feet wide in some places to 118 feet in others. This is no easy feat, especially as utilities must also be supplied to the site and would presumably run through the decking; it’s no wonder that the MTA is requiring the entire project to be privately financed. The cost of decking over the much larger, 180-acre Sunnyside Yards has been projected to cost up to $19 billion for similar reasons, though no cost estimates have been released for this stretch of the LIRR yet. The fight to build over this stretch of tracks has been going on for years, with local community groups only recently embracing the plan. Senator Felder stressed that any new construction would have to fit the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. “The vision is to create residential development that is consistent with the character of the neighborhood,” said Felder. “The location of this project presents a significant opportunity to create additional housing units on a gigantic parcel of land that covers a few city blocks.” Interested applicants have until April 27th, 2018, to submit a proposal.
Plazas in Peril
Why are we wrecking our best modernist landscapes?
This is a feature article from Issue 8 of The Architect's Newspaper. If you’ve seen the movie Columbus, you’ll remember, among all the nerdy dialogue about modernist bank branches and James Polshek’s buildings, that scene where the two protagonists passionately discuss the Dan Kiley landscape outside the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House. No? That’s because landscape architecture, though intrinsic to the experience of some of the best modern buildings, rarely gets the conversation it deserves. Despite being featured in all the film’s promo shots, the landscape by one of the last century’s best landscape architects got zero shout-outs. This snub, brought to light by the Cultural Landscape Foundation Executive Director Charles Birnbaum in a Huffington Post op-ed, reflects larger attitudes toward landscape architecture in the United States. It’s a long-held and frequently heard complaint inside the discipline that even successful landscapes by the very best designers are treated like scenery for architecture. While New Yorkers love Central Park, concrete plazas between modernist skyscrapers—even though they are essential to the experience of the buildings themselves—don’t elicit the same joy. Modern and late-modern landscapes in American cities are the least appreciated and least understood outdoor spaces, though they shape day-to-day experience in the contemporary American city more than leafy 19th-century destination parks. These modern spaces contrasted with—and challenged—the platonic ideal of the American urban park, established by Frederick Law Olmsted and largely unchanged since the 1860s. Urban renewal gave designers the opportunity to think up supersize projects (New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Government Center, Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center, Philadelphia’s Penn Center) that afforded new ways of experiencing space and the city. Instead of offering the faux-countryside, 20th-century designers summoned concrete and right angles to create dynamic public spaces rooted in modernist functionalism. In the postwar years, as industry abandoned cities en masse and corporations moved white-collar workers to lush suburban campuses, cities and captains of industry commissioned the best landscape architects in practice to activate declining downtowns with plazas and parklets. In smaller urban projects like Heritage Park Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas, Fountain Place in Dallas, and Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, designers like Lawrence Halprin, Kiley, and M. Paul Friedberg offered contemporary city experiences that both responded to and represented these profound changes in the American urban form. This not only applies to plazas from the boomer or Gen X era, but to Millennial landscapes, too. Just as chokers and platform sandals are cool again, designers are expressing renewed interest in successful 1990s postmodern landscapes, like Wagner Park or Pershing Square. Despite their significance, these parks are now threatened by thoughtless development. Unlike their forbearers—most of which were baked into city plans or carved from large swaths of open space—modernist landscapes like Freeway Park in Seattle shaped vestigial areas, harnessed from leftover space (like vest-pocket Paley Park in Manhattan), or repurposed former industrial land (Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco). In their comparatively tiny areas, designers deployed textural materials like concrete, gridded trees into mini urban forests, and masked obtrusive city sounds with water features. Despite their historic significance, these sites are constantly imperiled by bad maintenance, and the public antipathy that follows—“What’s with all that concrete, and where are all the flowers?” While it can take decades for an artist’s work to be appreciated, as Halprin noted, landscapes and the land on which they sit are often at the mercy of changing real estate interests and don’t have time to mature in the public perception. Though some, maybe most famously Boston’s Government Center, are wildly unsuccessful and are being (sensitively) adapted right now, many upgradeable landscapes whose potential could be teased out with thoughtful changes are instead being plowed over with heavy-handed schemes that dishonor the original design intent. Maybe because they are underappreciated, many postwar urban parks and plazas are threatened by market forces and dumb human decisions: out-of-place nearby development, revamps that turn parks into front lawns for speculative real estate, rising downtown land values, and, paradoxically, resilience measures that anticipate future coastal flooding. Compared to buildings, landscapes have fewer protections afforded to them. Since June, there’s one less: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the demolition of a Sasaki fountain and plaza that anchored the base of Citicorp Center, a suave Hugh Stubbins–designed 1970s angle-topped tower on Lexington Avenue at 53rd Street. The architect would faint if he were around to see the flowerbeds proposed for the base of his building. Though developments like these can be jarring, the cities around these landscapes have changed substantially, too. After fleeing in the mid-20th century, people and prosperity have returned to cities. Though regional development is always uneven, there’s a persistent and widespread demand for walk-to-work neighborhoods with a healthy mix of day-into-night life. Downtown is hot. And tastes have changed, too. As megaprojects like Hudson Yards and smaller regional ones like SWA’s San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso, Texas, demonstrate, there’s a desire for more programmed space, with Ping-Pong tables and colorful, interactive public art. These landscapes reflect a turn from urban production to urban consumption; though the social life of these public spaces still includes people-watching and book-reading (or phone-staring), spaces are increasingly programmed around shopping, tourism, and scenery that’s good content for Instagram. Planners today promote infill housing and mixed-use everything, so visitors to these downtown parks are, increasingly, residents too. Outside of a few true classics that have never lost their luster, how do modernist landscapes fare against their newer predecessors? For this feature, we chose some of the notable urban landscapes of that era currently under redevelopment to assess where they are now, and how they’re being adapted—or not—for the future. Their designers never intended for their landscapes to be built and forgotten. There’s little to love in badly patched concrete, treeless planters, or dry fountains. We’re looking anew at famous landscapes by the best of the best and at those that are less familiar. Some honor the landscape architect’s original design intent, while others…don’t. Preservation isn’t about ossifying landscapes in some vintage ideal, but framing updates around the original design intent. Across the country, designers are looking at landscapes with consideration of their significance while adapting them for contemporary knowledge of ecology, accessibility, and programming. In a May 2017 talk at the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Meyer, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, explained why landscapes of the 1950s through the 1980s are significant today: They are a record of postwar modernization and urbanization, and they should be reimagined—not cast in amber—for the 21st century. “Adapting modernist landscapes does not require demolition and redesign,” Meyer said. Just like the designers who revamped the 19th-century city park in the 1970s, these projects will need careful updates for today’s users, made with intelligent materials, to facilitate life in the present while looking back to history, not to pickle the past but to energize urban life.
Will Chicago’s South Loop get its own Hudson Yards-scale development?
Chicago may be set to build an entirely new waterfront neighborhood master-planned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and a state-of-the-art research center on the south side. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, together with University of Illinois System president Timothy Killeen, announced the creation of a $1.2 billion public-private research partnership that will establish the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a scientific research center that will focus on three key areas: computing, health and wellness, and food and agriculture. The DPI is supported by The University of Illinois, The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and has been designed as a research incubator meant to keep Illinois students in the state and to help link the disparate university campuses around Chicago, while also serving to attract students to Related Midwest’s newly unveiled “The 78” development. Once completed, the innovation center would hold up to 1,800 students, and feature residential, commercial, recreational and cultural space. At 62 acres, The 78 will be built on a waterfront parcel that is an extension of the Chicago Loop and one of the city’s last undeveloped pieces of land. The name references the city’s 77-officially recognized neighborhoods, and Related hopes the project will be seen as a full, integrated neighborhood once it’s finished, similar to Hudson Yards in New York. Prospective residents and commuters won’t be lacking for transportation options either, as the CTA has Red, Orange, and Green Line stations located nearby, as well as a water taxi stop. Related has promised an as-of-yet unspecified amount of land to the DPI inside of The 78. The 78’s SOM-designed master plan envisions the new neighborhood as a continuation of Chicago’s central business district, and will bring residential, commercial, cultural and institutional projects, though 40 percent of the total land area will be green or public open space. A new half-mile long riverwalk will follow the entire length of The 78’s coastline and connect to already existing esplanades in adjacent neighborhoods. Other than SOM, a full suite of architecture studios have already signed on to contribute work to the massive ground-up project, including 3XN, Hollwich Kushner, and AS+GG. While The 78 and DPI have broad support from state and city-level politicians, as well as University of Illinois leaders, no public or private money has been raised for the project yet. Another make-or-break factor may be the result of Amazon’s HQ2 search, as Related is hoping The 78 will lure the tech company to set up shop in Chicago. With funding for the development currently uncertain, no timetables for either project have been released yet.
Step It Up
Hudson Yards centerpiece “Vessel” tops out
Thomas Heatherwick’s $150 million Vessel sculpture has topped out only eight months after beginning construction. The freestanding staircase is set to anchor phase one of the Hudson Yards megaproject when it opens in 2019, when the five-acre public plaza where Vessel sits, opens to the public. The 150-foot tall, bronzed-steel and concrete Vessel is designed to react to its surroundings in both material and function. Containing over 2,400 steps, 80 landings and 154 flights of stairs, the sculpture gradually widens out from a 50-foot base to a 150-feet diameter at the top, and will offer visitors unobstructed views of the surrounding Hudson Yards neighborhood and the other side of the Hudson River. Fabrication on Vessel began in January, with the individual pieces made in Italy and shipped to the site from Port of Newark in New Jersey across the Hudson River. A time-lapse video of the sculpture's construction provided by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies can be found below. In a statement, the London-based Heatherwick said the following about the project: “Vessel is one of the most complex pieces of steelwork ever made. Today we are marking the exciting moment when the last of the enormous 75 pre-fabricated pieces which traveled all the way from Italy to Manhattan, has been assembled ahead of schedule and with astonishing geometric accuracy.” The climbable sculpture has been compared to a pinecone, a beehive, and countless other forms, while critics have questioned everything from the sculpture’s ADA compliance to the implications of running privately-funded public art spaces. Although the sculpture is only waiting for its cladding, railings, and lighting, Vessel won’t open to the public until early 2019. As part of phase one of Hudson Yards’ development, the surrounding construction on the landscaped plaza and nearby supertalls have necessitated that everything opens at the same time. Once that happens, visitors will be able to move from one west side attraction, the High Line, straight to Heatherwick’s soaring atrium.