Search results for "NYC Parks"

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Warehouse Modernism

Brooklyn's East River waterfront is defining itself in unexpected ways
Taking shape along Greenpoint’s once-industrial waterfront district is a series of surprisingly contextual modern condo developments using red brick and exposed black steel to tactfully insert tens of thousands of new residents along this sleepy East River shoreline. The largest of them, a 30-story tower that is part of Handel Architects’ Greenpoint Landing, includes 5,500 units sprawled over 22 acres at the mouth of Newtown Creek, with 1,400 apartments renting for as little as $393 to $1,065. Initial renderings presented for public review surfaced as bland massing diagrams, but the subdued details of Handel’s build-out hold promise for communities becoming accustomed to glossy, glassy, boxy towers in districts where rezoning permits greater height and bulk. To the stakeholders’ credit, the developer showed them a selection of schemes to choose from, including designs by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. In contrast to Long Island City’s gleaming, generic masses and Williamsburg’s spotty, uneven edges, Greenpoint’s waterfront retains enough of its traditional shipping warehouses to sustain the contours of a characteristically industrial neighborhood along West and Commercial Streets, even if most of the industry is gone. Despite a major waterfront rezoning passed by the city council in 2005, until a few years ago, most of West Street continued to host storage for building material and scaffolding, a lumber manufacturer, and a crane and equipment rental company. After large portions of Greenpoint Terminal Market were lost to a ten-alarm fire in 2006, Pearl Realty Management adapted the remains into a studio-and-workspace rental complex, an extension of its Dumbo-based green desk co-working enterprise. Slowly, smaller firms like Daniel Goldner Architects, Karl Fischer Architect, STUDIOSC, and S9 Architecture populated the upland side of West and Commercial with renovated warehouses and upscale condos echoing the material palette of the existing low-rises. Much of the post-rezoning development along West and Commercial stalled due to the 2008 mortgage-backed securities crisis. In 2009, the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Company building became the Pencil Factory lofts, and Daniel Goldner Architects filled in the corner lot with a syncopated colored brick addition and perforated aluminum garage. The project struggled in the post-crash housing market. But in the past two years, a rush of new buildings began to rise up along West and Commercial with a distinct material selection: red and light-colored brick and exposed black-painted steel, with glazed entryways and antique fixtures. Karl Fischer Architect’s 26 West Street opened in 2016, its redbrick and black steel facade filling out the six-story street wall, its large overhang resembling a meat market loading dock. The warehouse modern–aesthetic even extends all the way around the mouth of the Newtown Creek, where a 105-unit building by S9 Architecture employs the same neotraditional style—red brick, exposed black steel, industrial awnings, antique fixtures. An upscale ground-floor grocery store warmed some nearby loft residents up to it after months of sound-based trauma from the drilling of pilings. With leases from $3,350 to $4,350, locals will never be at peace with the rent pressures that come with these buildings, but at least they have the virtue of not extravagantly showing off their residents’ income. Not everything conforms to this trend: The expansive 140-unit development under construction by Ismael Leyva Architects at 23 India Street more crudely fills in its zoning envelope with affordable housing ranging from $613 for studios to $1,230 for winners of the NYC Housing Connect lottery, capped by a 39-story, 500-unit condo tower that promises in every way to form a bland massing diagram in the sky. In any case, contextual exterior cladding is little consolation for a community that fought hard for its 197-a plan—completed in 1999 and adopted by the city council in 2002—which would have allowed significantly less bulk and height, aimed to retain more light-manufacturing jobs, and mandated more affordable housing along with waterfront access. Jane Jacobs, in one of her final written statements, penned a strong defense of the original community plan against the eventual zoning resolution. Of course, the trade-off forced by the city—an upzoned waterfront in exchange for publicly funded parks and developer-mandated walkways—has already helped reduce heavy-industrial pollution, killed a proposed Con Edison power plant, and reduced and eliminated waste-transfer facilities and truck fumes. Some residents are just waiting for the dust and noise of construction to subside, while others hope for another recession to slow down the accelerated activity. In 2009, Andrew Blum published “In Praise of Slowness," for the launch of Urban Omnibus that, in retrospect, should have a more durable life as a critique of fast development. For New York City neighborhoods, slowness provides a much-needed stability in the absence of state-level expansion of rent regulation to protect against predatory development. Yet if there had to be luxury condos facing the former industrial piers, the emerging Greenpoint warehouse modernism was a more subtle and site-specific solution than anyone expected or imagined.
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Jane Reigns

AN picks this year's most promising Jane's Walks, a free celebration of NYC urbanism
Just in time for spring, the venerable New York nonprofit Municipal Art Society (MAS) is hosting its annual Jane's Walk NYC, an on-foot (but by no means pedestrian) celebration of the city's architecture urbanism. This year, over 200 New Yorkers have volunteered to show others interesting buildings and sites around their neighborhoods. The walks, all of which are free, are named for beloved urbanist Jane Jacobs and are held annually on May 4 through 6 all over the world in her honor. Below, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) rounded up 13 of the most interesting strolls for architecture aficionados, from the Orphan Asylum and bird (mural) walks in Manhattan, to midcentury modern in Queens, and terra-cotta in Tottenville. All event descriptions are from MAS; head on over to mas.org/janes-walk-nyc for more details on the weekend's programs. Monumental Fire
"The Firemen’s Monument, is one of the most beautiful architectural elements of Riverside Park. We’ll contemplate the history and significance of this memorial plaza – a combination of public sculpture and landscape architecture. The walk will continue into the adjoining neighborhood, where we’ll consider Jane Jacob’s notion that the streetscape facilitates safety. Fire-protection infrastructure and firehouses will be discussed along the way."
Queens Modern: Mid-Century Architecture of Forest Hills and Rego Park
"This walk will look at the development of Forest Hills and Rego Park from the 1930s to 1960s along Queens Boulevard, exploring how these neighborhoods developed and continue to change. We’ll explore the diverse architecture on and off the boulevard, from apartment towers to parks and synagogues to civic buildings. The walk will end at Rego Park Jewish Center (possibly with a visit inside)."
The Historic Arts and Crafts Houses of Douglas Manor 
"Join us for a walk back through time, to nearby Douglas Manor, a century old residential neighborhood overlooking the Long Island Sound that has the largest collection of Arts and Crafts style houses in New York City, including three by master Gustav Stickley. Our sojourn through this NYC-designated Historic District culminates with refreshments and a reception in the garden of a picturesque 1911 gambrel roofed Arts and Crafts style gem. This walk is co-sponsored by the Douglaston Local Development Corporation and the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society."

The Art and Architecture of Park Avenue

"Everyday over 700,000 New Yorkers pass through Midtown along Park Avenue to and from Grand Central Terminal. This is a part of the City where, in a few blocks, you can see many of the forces that have shaped our city. There are icons of architecture (Midtown Modernism) and capitalism such as the Lever, the Seagram, and the Chrysler building. There are icons of real estate such as the Grand Hyatt and Helmsley. There are great clubs and great churches."

The Audubon Bird Murals Project
"Audubon Mural Project is an exciting effort by National Audubon Society and Gitler Gallery to create murals of 314 birds in northern Manhattan. As all the birds painted are threatened by climate change, the project is designed not only to portray the beauty of the birds, but also to make us aware of the challenges they face. In addition to seeing about 30 murals, we will visit Audubon’s impressive grave site in Trinity Cemetery at 155th & Broadway."
POPS: Privately Owned Public Spaces
"Harvard Professor Jerold S. Kayden and New York City Department of City Planning POPS Program Manager Stella Kim will visit some of the City’s celebrated and lesser known privately owned public spaces. How are these outdoor and indoor spaces contributing to the lives of those who live and work in the city? How do they function for visitors to the city? What can be done to make they function better for all?" Uncovering the City’s Scottish Roots
"Two representatives from the American-Scottish Foundation will trace the contributions to New York’s history by Scottish architects, designers and engineers, from colonial to modern times, focusing on Lower Manhattan." Tottenville’s Terra Cotta Legacy
"The Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. (ATCC) was the world’s largest manufacturer of architectural terra cotta. Join us as we explore the former site of ATCC on Tottenville’s waterfront where several repurposed buildings still exist. Conditions permitting, we’ll explore the shoreline (wear appropriate shoes), dotted with 100 yr. old remnants from the past. Optional: continue to the Terra Cotta Sculpture Garden opening, Biddle House, Conference House Park." Lost Carmansville: Manhattan’s Last Village
"We’ll explore parts of the village of Carmansville along the Hudson in what is now Hamilton Heights. We’ll find a few almost-hidden relics from the village days and learn about the history of the place and the village founder, Richard Carman. Please note: walk includes steep hills and staircases. We will visit a cemetery, where pets are not allowed." La Magia de Brooklyn Heights en Español

"This tour, led in Spanish, explores the greatness of Brooklyn Heights, from a small original Dutch Settlement to becoming the first historical district in NYC in 1965. We will admire the variety of its architecture, its elegant residences, great churches, hotels and institutional buildings. There are hundreds of stories and artists that made it their home. And yes, there was a big struggle to preserve this unique neighborhood. Come and join us!"

Gowanus Landmarks—Make It So!

"As Gowanus prepares for a potential neighborhood re-zoning, join Gowanus resident and preservationist Brad Vogel for a walking tour of approximately two dozen structures proposed for city landmark status. The sites—largely cataloging the industrial character of Gowanus, along with some residential sections—were proposed by a coalition of local groups during the Gowanus Places planning study in 2017."

Planning and Preservation on West 14th Street
"14th St. has been home to communities, architecture, storied NYC establishments and more. This border street Village on the south, Chelsea on the north, teems with public art; former row houses; the first Spanish-speaking Catholic parish in NYC, Our Lady of Guadalupe; Art Deco Salvation Army building (finally landmarked!), and much more. Led by Save Chelsea President Laurence Frommer and GVHSP’s Director of Research and Preservation Sarah Bean Apmann." City College and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum: Institutions Through Time

"We invite you to join us on an architectural perspective of the City College of New York and the former Hebrew Orphan Asylum (currently The Jacob H. Schiff Park). From the bustling Gothic campus, to the summer concerts at Lewisohn Stadium and student life in the old Orphan Asylum. CCNY and the surrounding institutions served the disenfranchised and those seeking a better life. We will remember these places in this walk."

Descriptions have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Sugary Sweet

Check out in-progress photos and new renderings of the Domino Sugar Factory
Ahead of its June 2018 opening date, Domino Sugar Factory developer Two Trees Management has released new renderings of the project’s forthcoming park, as well as opened the site up for a tour. AN had a chance to check out the James Corner Field Operations-designed Domino Park, as well as the completed 325 Kent Avenue and the ongoing interior demolition at the Domino Sugar Refinery. The SHoP Architects-designed 325 Kent, a doughnut-shaped rental building set back from the Williamsburg waterfront, was the first building to reach completion at the SHoP-master planned site. The 16-story, 500-unit rental building (105 of them affordable) began welcoming residents back in September of 2017. As the weather warms up, residents will get to make use of the rooftop amenities on display, such as curved concrete furniture, lounge chairs, and the central strip of courtyard that runs between the building’s central arch. Domino Park is taking shape at the foot of 325 Kent and is on track to open in only 8 weeks. The quarter-mile-long park breaks its programming into “active” and “passive” activity spaces, with the more active areas located closer to the thrum of the Williamsburg Bridge. The second Domino Sugar Factory tower, the mixed-use, COOKFOX-designed 260 Kent, is on track to open in 2019. A dog run, two bocce ball courts, a 6,300-square-foot “flexible playing field” and a volleyball court make up the more energetic half. At the other end, a Japanese Pine garden, 80-to-100 person picnic area, and the Danny Meyer-run taqueria, Tacocina, will sit at the quieter half of the park. A technicolored children’s play space designed by artist Mark Reigelman, with industrial pieces inspired by the sugar refining process, can be found at the passive end of the park, as can 585-linear-feet of elevated walkway. The walkway sits directly on top of Tacocina, and incorporates 21 steel columns from the former Raw Sugar Warehouse into its superstructure; the sight will be a familiar one to visitors familiar with Kara Walker’s The Sugar Sphinx. Linking each area along the waterfront will be the Artifact Walk, a five-block-long stretch that proudly displays historical refining artifacts salvaged from the site. Four 36-foot tall cylindrical syrup tanks embedded in the Syrup Tank Garden, mooring bollards, signage, and corkscrews have been installed across an elevated platform on the water’s edge. Damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the existing platform was raised to a uniform height above the river, and the new piles have been encased in concrete. To build a historical link to the pre-existing structure, a hole has been cut in the platform and visitors can view the existing wood posts and river below. Work on gutting the Domino Sugar Refinery is still ongoing, in anticipation of the PAU-designed glassy office space that will soon sit within. While the exterior of the factory has been landmarked, preserving the interiors would have been impossible due to the interconnected nature of the refining machinery. Even though the factory shut down in 2004, the thick smell of molasses is still hanging around the building at the time of writing. As for the park, although it’s technically private, Two Trees has opened the expanse to the public and is working closely with the New York City Parks Department. A representative from the development company has stated that James Corner Field had their designs reviewed and approved by Parks, that the stretch will operate on normal NYC park hours (dawn to dusk), and that they’ve given the city permission to claim the park if maintenance falls behind. AN will provide a final look at the finished Domino Sugar Park once the project is completed this summer. COOKFOX's 260 Kent will be featured in detail at the upcoming Facades+ workshop "K. Domino Site A: Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) & When and Why to Use It" on April 20.
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Sunnyside Up

Vishaan Chakrabarti and PAU reportedly tapped for Sunnyside Yard master plan
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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ESCR OK

Key Manhattan community board declares support for massive east side resiliency project
Last night the design team behind the massive flood barrier park on the east side of Manhattan presented updated designs to the public at a meeting of Manhattan's Community Board 3 (CB3), whose board ultimately approved the designs. Representatives from One Architecture and Urbanism, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA), and the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency discussed their proposal at P.S. 20 on the Lower East Side in front of an auditorium generously peppered with community members who would be some of the park's local users. The overall goal of the plans, which are officially known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), are to prevent catastrophic flooding while improving the quality of and access to parkland along the East River from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side to East 25th Street. East River Park already occupies most of that stretch, so plans will improve existing parkland but add roughly 11 linear blocks of green space. The preliminary designs (PDF), a collaboration between the city, One Architecture, MNLA, AKRF, and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), were reviewed by CB3's parks committee on March 15 and presented to the full board yesterday. Readers can learn all about the proposal here. Mathew Staudt, senior designer at New York's One Architecture, told the assembly that the team hoped to rely on flood walls and traditional levees, plus earthen levees as space allows, to minimize the use of functional but not-too-pretty movable gates that can close to protect inland areas from rising waters. The flood protections are built to oppose a 100-year coastal storm in the 2050s, a model that assumes 2.5 feet of sea level rise over the next three-plus decades. Carrie Grassi, deputy director of planning at the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, noted the ESCR is also shooting for Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) accreditation. Park access played a big role in last night's discussion. Per community feedback, the team adjusted the design of the Delancey Street pedestrian bridge, subbing a sloped walkway for a ramp-and-stair set and widening the path. On East 10th Street, the team is creating a new bridge with ramps and stairs. The adjacent playground will retain its equipment, but the firm is adding a grade change and new planting to help with flood control. Trees, explained MNLA Principal Molly Bourne, will be saved in large groves, and the firm is looking to create a new forest for the park. Although the project timeline stretches into 2024, stakeholders have until 2022 to spend $335 million in federal money, so the team hopes to move to final design stage soon. The project is also supported by over $400 million from the city. The audience mainly sought clarity on some of the finer points of the design, like the size and location of the ballfields (Bourne said there will be the same amount of active recreation space but MNLA has rotated the soccer field). Like any major public improvement, the proposal takes time to be critiqued and adjusted, but the ESCR is approaching some significant milestones. The draft of the project's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is due this July, and its lengthy public review (the ULURP, short for Uniform Land Use Review Process) begins the same month. Final design proposals should be ready by winter. If the ULURP goes smoothly, shovels are slated to hit the ground in spring 2019, and the project should wrap by the end of 2024.
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Surge Forward

New East River flood barrier park aims for quick approvals
Ahead of a presentation before the full Community Board 3 (Lower East Side) tonight, March 27, planners from the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project have released new details and renderings for an updated "resilient park" along the shores of the East River. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency is hoping to receive approval for the snaking project before the end of 2018, though the combination of seawalls, berms and levees hasn’t pleased everyone. The updated concept, a joint venture between AKRF, One Architecture and Urbanism, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA), and several city agencies, was unveiled at a CB3 Parks Department meeting on March 15. The proposed park would stretch from East 25th Street down to Montgomery Street, and would fortify the existing green space, but also include new parks, lawns and nature walks. Rather than installing hard infrastructure that would block off the waterfront from the public, MNLA attempted to expand out the usable parkland where possible. In the narrowest areas between FDR Drive and the East River, a flood wall gate would swing (or possibly slide) into action to cordon off stormwater. Several bridge upgrades have also been included, as well as new footbridges at Delancey Street and on 10th Street that would loop into the park. The approximately 2.5-mile-long stretch is just one part of what was once the BIG-U coastal resiliency plan (neé The Dryline), which has been broken up into the aforementioned ESCR and the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project. The ESCR’s southern counterpart will stretch 3.5 miles, from the northern tip of Battery Park City to the Lower East Side’s Montgomery Street. Once completed, the entire system should be able to protect (though mitigate would be a more apt phrase) southern Manhattan from the likes of a 100-year storm. Time is quickly running out for the ESCR to reach approval and hit its accelerated 2019 groundbreaking target. The $335 million distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in the wake of Hurricane Sandy for the construction of the ESCR must be spent by September of 2022, and with the project a year-and-a-half behind schedule, the city is hoping to move through the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and ULURP process quickly. AN will follow up this post with more information about the outcome of tonight’s CB3 board meeting. The feedback gleaned from community boards 3 and 6 will help the city inform changes that they may need to make before presenting to the Public Design Commission in the coming months. The full March 15th presentation can be viewed here.
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Jerome Avenue

City Council approves major Bronx rezoning
The New York City Council has approved a major rezoning of the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue, a vital thoroughfare in the East Bronx that’s lined with auto body shops and crowned by the elevated 4 and 5 trains. The rezoning has been in the works since 2016 and is the first in the Bronx under Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 92-block-long rezoning of the North-South street is meant to encourage the construction of up to 4,600 new housing units in the area, 1,150 of which will fall under the city’s affordable housing programs. The city will subsidize new construction, because it says rents in the area are too low to lure market-rate developments. The rezoning unanimously passed votes by both the City Planning Commission in January and the City Council’s Land Use and Zoning and Franchises Subcommittees in March, and was again unanimously approved by the City Council yesterday. The basic outline of the rezoning follows that of East Harlem, which passed in December of last year; the city had initially wanted to rezone the major commercial spine of the Bronx to allow for the densest development possible under the zoning code (R7, R8, R9). Opponents who felt that the rezoning would displace local businesses and drive up rent costs throughout the area were opposed, as was Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who negotiated with the de Blasio administration to preserve more than 2,000 units of affordable housing. As part of the new conditions of the final deal, the city will include $189 million for improving the area’s parks and streetscapes, including pedestrian safety upgrades and lighting, cameras and crosswalks under the elevated subway tracks. The construction of two 458-seat elementary schools are also part of the package, as is an anti-harassment bill–to prevent landlords from pushing out tenants–and a $1.5 million grant for retraining and relocating displaced businesses. The Bronx rezoning, the fifth of 15 planned neighborhood rezonings under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, follows those in East New York, Far Rockaway, Midtown East, and East Harlem.
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Emerging Park

Ten temporary public art installations coming to ten New York City parks in June
In June 2018, the Department of Parks & Recreation is launching its Art in the Parks: UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant initiative. The initiative will deliver the work of ten emerging New York-based artists across ten city parks designated as in need of more cultural programming. The artists were awarded their grants in February, and are tasked with temporarily transforming these parks into cultural destinations attracting residents from across the city. This is the second year of operation for the Park Expressions Grant, which in total has provided $200,000 in funding for the Arts in the Park program. The initiative builds off of the NYC Parks’ longstanding Art in the Parks program that invests in the installation of temporary and permanent installations throughout the city’s public park system. Notable past installations of the decades-long initiative include the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Indiana and Tony Smith. The locations of this year’s art installations are evenly distributed across the five boroughs, and are listed below. Bronx: Dionisio Cortes Ortega, Sitting Together Joyce Kilmer Park Located adjacent to the Bronx Supreme Courthouse, Sitting Together is an interactive and sculptural critique of the status quo of proceedings in courtroom cases. Cara Lynch, I’m So Happy You’re Here Virginia Park I'm so Happy You're Here will transport a gradient of interior parquet flooring patterns, with a broad color palette, to the public ream. Brooklyn: Tanda Francis, Adorn Me Fort Greene Park Tanda Francis' Adorn Me questions the lack of African-American representations in American public space, and draws upon African sculptural tradition and Ife portraiture. Roberto Visani, (x)ofmanychildren Herbert Von King Park  Visani's (x)ofmanychildren utilizes 3-D modeling software and is inspired by West African figurative sculptures. Manhattan: Karla & James Murray, Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S. Seward Park Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S consists of four-life sized mom-and-pop businesses that have recently disappeared from the Lower East Side streetscape due to rising gentrification. Harumi Ori, I am Here Thomas Jefferson Park I am here consists of folded and sewn orange industrial mesh depicting snapshots of Thomas Jefferson Park taken by Harumi Ori.

Queens:

Zaq Landsberg, Islands of the Unisphere Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Landsberg recreates several islands from the adjacent Unisphere, which will form a publicly accessible archipelago representing the diversity of Queens. Rose DeSiano, Absent Monuments Rufus King Park These mirrored obelisks will stand upon blue and white Dutch Delft photographic tiles which interact with Native American pattern work. Staten Island: Jackie Mock, The Pencil Museum Faber Park The Pencil Museum is a collection of antique writing instruments, located on the former grounds of Johann Eberhard Faber's Mansion. Faber was the owner of the Johann Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory, the first of its kind in America. Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao, Stick Stump & The Lawn Lumps Tappen Park Frezza & Chiao's exhibit is a collection of playful forms meant for public interaction.
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Greening the Bay

Brooklyn's Jamaica Bay waterfront slated for huge state park

Like the generous soul in the "Twelve Days of Christmas," Governor Andrew Cuomo likes to bestow gifts—usually big-ticket public projects—on the people of New York right before his annual State of the State address. In his speech this week, the governor dropped news that a new 400-acre state park is coming to Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn. Today (the Twelfth Night!), the governor's office, in conjunction with federal and local agencies, released more details on the forthcoming waterside green space, which, after Freshkills, will be New York City's second huge park on a former garbage dump.

The planned park will sit atop the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue landfills, which ceased operation in 1983. The sites, separated from each other by Hendrix Creek and from the rest of the neighborhood by the Shore and Belt parkways, is just a short jaunt from the Gateway Mall in East New York. Eleven years after the dumps closed, the land was given to the National Park Service as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, an archipelago of open spaces in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey. In 2009, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection completed a $235 million site remediation effort that prepared the land for other, non-garbage uses. Now, the newly-planted grasses and woodlands undergird coastal ecosystems and ease erosion along three and a half miles of shoreline. Plus, there are gorgeous views of New York Harbor and Jamaica Bay.

"This new state park will be a treasure in the heart of Brooklyn, offering hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland on the shores of Jamaica Bay," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring every New Yorker can access the recreational, health and community benefits of open space, and this park will open new doors to wellness for New Yorkers who need it most."

New York State has inked preliminary deals with the National Park Service to plan the park's financial future and maintenance operations. Under the agreement, New York State Parks will develop and run the park in collaboration with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Phase one of the project is funded by $15 million in state money, part of which will go towards building biking and hiking trails, fishing spots, and kayaking infrastructure, as well as park vitals like restrooms, shading, and food stands. The first phase, open next year, will also include coastal highlands planted with native species. At 407 acres, the green space will be a little less than half the size of Central Park. The landfill park is in East New York, one of the target areas of Vital Brooklyn, Cuomo's $1.4 billion revitalization initiative focused on the central Brooklyn neighborhoods of BrownsvilleFlatbush, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York.
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Bay Area Basin

2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design
2017 Best of Design Award for Urban Design: India Basin Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Francisco
Embodying a commitment to sustainable placemaking, the India Basin project proposes the transformation of acres of overgrown former industrial land on the San Francisco Bay into an active waterfront destination and a vibrant, diverse village. The comprehensive design reconnects surrounding communities with the shoreline, cultivates economic opportunities, and provides mixed-income housing. The mixed-use project creates a complete community at a human scale, with all basic services and amenities located within short walking distance. It interweaves parks, plazas, and open space with new pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly connections, as well as buildings for residential, commercial, and community-serving purposes.
The design also embraces the existing ecology of the land. A robust stormwater management strategy links streetscape streams and bioswales (landscape elements that remove silt from runoff water) with a landscape of canals, reservoirs, and wetlands. "This is a significant redevelopment that will affect this part of the city in profound ways. That said, it is an elegant and reasoned plan that integrates nicely with its surroundings." —Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, Architect's Newspaper (juror) Client: Build Inc. Landscape Architect: Bionic Civil Engineer: Sherwood Design Engineers Urban Design and Planning: Gehl Studio
Honorable Mention Project: Atlanta's Park Over GA400 Architects: Rogers Partners and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Location: Atlanta
Atlanta’s Park Over GA400 seizes the opportunity to reclaim the GA400 highway void with a 2,500-foot-long public space for community gatherings and public art. A dense cover of native trees over the highway links adjacent canopies and reduces the heat island effect, captures stormwater, and supports native flora and fauna. Honorable Mention  Project: The Reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square Architect: WXY Location: New York The network of streets in and around NYC’s Astor Place and Cooper Square benefitted from configurations that improve the experiential nature of the neighborhood. At the behest of the city’s Department of Transportation, the design team developed a rich pedestrian environment, relieved pedestrian and vehicular congestion, and created custom-designed seating throughout the plazas.
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Year in Review

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Best preservation stories of 2017
In the trenches, preservation can feel cyclical—historic buildings are defended and saved, others destroyed, and public appreciation grows for once-loathed styles (looking at you, Brutalism). This year’s brilliant adaptive reuse projects are worthy of their own list, but we chose to highlight the epic sagas—new landmarks, victories against out-of-scale development, priceless buildings pulverized, and the controversies that will shape preservation debates through next year and beyond. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2017 posts here.) New York City is losing its modernist public spaces 2017 was rough on New York City's modernist landscapes. In June, bulldozers unceremoniously demolished a landmarked Sasaki fountain and plaza at the Citicorp Center—a move that was sanctioned by the city without input from the public. Over in Battery Park City, officials are considering a total redesign of Machado Silvetti and Hanna/Olin's Wagner Park, a public postmodern marvel. Out in Brooklyn, the Parks Department is set to replace a rare public commission by landscape architect A.E. Bye in Fort Greene Park with a bland promenade. At least no one here is turning Brutalist landscapes into climbing walls...

Lawrence Halprin’s Freeway Park slated for major overhaul

Seattle’s Freeway Park, a pioneering work of modernist landscape architecture by Lawrence Halprin and Angela Danadjieva that's widely recognized as the world’s first freeway cap park, is undergoing a series of wayfinding-oriented renovations. Nonprofit park stewards Freeway Park Association (FPA) hired Seattle-based landscape architects SiteWorkshop to add a bandshell, new restroom facilities, a food kiosk, a playground, and even a bouldering wall to the Brutalist landscape. The interventions are meant to soften the verdant but austere park, a move that some say runs counter to Halprin and Danadjieva's original design intent. New York Public Library interiors landmarked The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main branch in Midtown Manhattan is a definitive New York building, but until recently, its splendid interiors were mostly unprotected. That changed this summer when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) added the Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Catalogue Room to its roster of interior landmarks. (The exterior of the Carrère & Hastings–designed building was protected 50 years ago.) Now, the structure is slated for extensive remodeling by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle, who debuted a master plan for the changes in November.

Edward Durell Stone gem gets a comprehensive rehab

Halfway between Chicago and Denver along Interstate 80, Grand Island, Nebraska is perhaps best known as the home of the Nebraska State Fair, but it also hosts an important work of modern architecture. Designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1963, the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer documents the lives of Europeans who first settled in Nebraska. Recently, the museum underwent a comprehensive renovation and rehabilitation, led by Lincoln, Nebraska–based BVH Architecture. Snøhetta takes on the AT&T Building   Architects took to the streets to protest changes to the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic postmodern tower. Among other changes, the Snøhetta-led redo would glass in the building’s signature 110-foot-tall arched stone entryway. Denise Scott Brown, Sean Griffiths, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Paul Goldberger, and others took to AN‘s pages to weigh in on the design (TL;DR most folks think glassing in the base is a bad idea). Thanks to activists’ efforts, the pomo marvel on Madison Avenue is now up for landmarking. OMA menaces Gordon Bunshaft's Albright-Knox addition When it was revealed that OMA would design an $80 million expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, preservationists were concerned. OMA's concept design—new galleries and parking organized around a huge class lobby—would eliminate Gordon Bunshaft's suave 1962 addition to the Buffalo, New York museum. Over protests, the museum is now raising money for the project, which it has dubbed AK360 (perhaps in reference to the assault on good taste). Helmut Jahn's Thomson Center still imperiled  Designed by Helmut Jahn and completed in 1985, the James R. Thompson Center is the hub of Illinois state government in the City of Chicago. From the moment it was constructed, its vertiginous interior has turned heads and sparked debate. Today Governor Bruce Rauner is keen to see the building either demolished or converted into a private property. This year saw the premiere of Starship Chicago: A Building on the Brink, a new documentary on the oft-misunderstood building.

Louis Kahn’s endangered floating concert hall is headed to Florida

This summer it looked like Louis Kahn's concert-hall-on-a-barge was headed to the scrap heap. The 195-foot-long boat, dubbed Point Counterpoint II, was commissioned as a floating venue for the American Wind Symphony Orchestra (AWSO) for the Bicentennial, and it's traveled the country's waterways ever since. Despite its design pedigree, longtime owner Robert Austin Boudreau struggled to find an owner for two decades, and was going to chuck the boat if he didn't find a suitable buyer. In early December, the Hudson Valley's Daily Freeman reported that Boudreau sold the vessel to a consortium of Florida businesspeople. This winter, it will be restored in Louisiana and will eventually dock in Lake Okeechobee, about 50 miles west of Palm Beach, Florida. Master plan for The Alamo stirs debate A $450 million plan for the treasured historic site of The Alamo in downtown San Antonio is causing a stir. Architects, planners, professors, patriotic preservationists, and the public are in disagreement over a rejuvenation scheme that looks to open up the plaza but relocates a historic cenotaph in the process. House of Tomorrow is saved  The House of Tomorrow, the first residence to be clad with a glass curtain wall, is set to receive a much-needed update from a team of Chicago firms. Originally designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck for the city's 1933 World’s Fair, the 12-sided glass-and-steel home sports an open floor plan, also a rarity for the time. After the fair, the early modern home was moved to Beverly Shores, Indiana, to be incorporated into a vacation village that was never completed. Now, Indiana Landmarks is spearheading the renovation of the National Register–listed property in collaboration with chosen firms. Monument removal After white nationalists provoked violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and amid a national climate of heightened bigotry, cities and towns across the county are re-evaluating their public monuments. With little fanfare, under the cover of night, the City of Baltimore took down four Confederate monuments in August. After protests, New York City established an independent commission this fall to review the city’s public monuments for "symbols of hate." Should these monuments be saved in the name of history? Or should they be altered—even destroyed—because they no longer positively embody contemporary values?
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Bye Bye

Landmarks approves Fort Greene Park design that eliminates rare A.E. Bye landscape

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has unanimously approved a Parks Department plan to build a grand new entrance to Fort Greene Park. While the redesign will make the park more visible from the street, the work will eliminate a rare public commission by the late modern landscape architect Arthur Edwin (A.E.) Bye, Jr.

In September, in light of conflicting testimony, Landmarks decided not to vote on the Parks Department’s plan. However, at a recent November 21 hearing, the agency approved Parks Department plans (PDF) to substantially modify the northwest entrance of the park by adding a grand promenade from the base of a McKim, Mead & White monument to the park’s northwest corner. Although Parks added more greenery around the proposed thoroughfare and narrowed the main stairs at the entrance, the plans were virtually unchanged from those presented to Landmarks in September.

The $10.5 million scheme is part of Parks Without Borders, the Parks Department’s initiative to make green spaces more welcoming by removing physical barriers between parks and streets, among other design interventions. In service of this goal, the LPC-approved design completely removes three low-rise, cobblestone-edged landforms, Bye's work from the 1970s.

In its presentation, Parks dug deep into its archives to give the LPC commissioners a fuller picture of Fort Greene Park's design history. It's a long one: The park is Brooklyn’s first, conceived by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted in 1868. Since then, major American designers in three eras have shaped the park, each in the spirit of their time but in deference to the original plan. After Olmsted and Vaux, McKim, Mead & White added a grand monument and staircase, imposing neoclassical organization to the park’s wending paths and rolling hills. In the 1930s, Robert Moses’s parks designer, Gilmore D. Clarke, regraded the terrain and added a stone retaining wall, among other changes. In the 1970s, Bye added Brutalist landforms that acted as platform for events, a space to relax in the shade, and a gentle climbing terrain for children. Resembling burial mounds, the raised earth plateaus are a modern lead-up to McKim, Mead & White's imposing Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument at the top of the stairs. Bye, who eschewed drawing in favor of on-the-ground sculpting, worked with Berman, Roberts & Scofidio to produce stampable plans for the city. (Ricardo Scofidio eventually left the firm to found what is now DS+R.)

In the presentation, Bye's as-built work with Berman, Roberts & Scofidio is characterized as a "reality check" in the presentation, even though the other designers' as-built also changed substantially from concept to completion. When reached for comment on its word choice, Parks said that the plan "called for a radical transformation of the park that was likely not well received by Parks at the time due to historic design precedents as well as budget considerations."

Beyond its antipathy for Bye's work, the agency says the mounds are not ADA-compliant and would have to be removed for the new proposal. However, the grand stone staircase, a historic feature double-underlined by the new entrance and allée, is also not ADA-compliant, but a Parks spokesperson said it has "has analyzed the entirety of Fort Greene Park and located possible ADA-compliant routes to the monument."

Paul Kidonakis, a landscape architect with the department, explained that, in the new plan, the agency had increased the planted area by 17 percent, with most of that greenery arranged along the contested allée. That thoroughfare will be widened into a grand promenade, leading strollers from a new low stone stair at the northwest entrance toward's the park's monumental stone steps. At 43 feet wide, the path will be a foot wider than the Central Park mall; there would be more paving—and more planting—overall, Kidonakis said. The view-impeding Honey Locust copse at the corner will be replaced by new trees as well.

In light of September's divisive testimony, Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan and Commissioner Frederick Bland said they visited the park between the two hearings to get a better sense of the place and Parks' proposed modifications.

"The axial arrangement, the opening up of the park—not just metaphorically, but physically—to the disabled and to people pushing baby carriages [creates] a sense of place at the corner that is consistent with this park. The memorial at the top of the hill cannot be denied, and a more formal relationship to that hilltop seems to be important to have," Bland said. The paved plaza, he added, would open up the space to a greater variety of public gatherings.

“This is a park that's really evolved and changed. Some respect the earlier designs, some are adding something new. To me, it was helpful to understand that evolution," said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. According to landscape preservation consultant Michael Gotkin, all the designers responded to Olmsted and Vaux’s design intent, though it would be a grave mistake to assume the richly layered park could be returned to a pure or original form.

“[The] current proposal rolls out a massive paved plaza across the original green open space, removes the 1930s landscape details, and eradicates the modernist landscape mounds, and instead creates a strange ersatz rendition of a City Beautiful era formalism on steroids,” Gotkin said. “Actual survey drawings and photos of this corner of Fort Greene Park reveal a different story—of a modest green space at the base of the monumental staircase, where different generations of landscape designers attempted to reconcile the formality of a national monument with the informality of a pastoral neighborhood park."


Before this hearing, concerned neighbors formed a group, Friends of Fort Greene Park, to advocate against the Parks Department's proposed changes to the northwest entrance. (The group is separate from the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, the group that stewards the park.). To the Friends group, issues with the design extend beyond preserving Bye's mounds and up to the trees. 

Back in August, a member of the group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the department's forestry report to confirm if Parks had accurately represented the condition of the trees in the park, particularly the ones that would be felled for this project. To advance its design proposal, Parks told neighbors that dozens of trees near the northwest entrance were dying and needed to be felled for safety reasons. Of 54 trees slated for removal, the department's internal survey showed that only seven of them were in their sunset years, while the other 47 were to be removed for "design reasons."

When reached for comment, a Parks spokesperson clarified that some of the trees will be removed and replanted to advance the design, and that the others slated for removal are nearing the end of their lives and are species the department no longer plants. The spokesperson said that all the forestry reports obtained in the FOIA were different than the (more accurate) tree information the capital projects team accessed to prepare its recommendations for the redesign.

The Friends group has retained attorney Michael Gruen to explore options for opposing the plan. Gruen is also the president of the City Club of New York, a civic advocacy group that was one of Pier 55's main opponents. As far as legal options go, "we are aware of possible approaches, and we're now going to consider what to do," Gruen said.